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RV Generators

Is an RV generator necessary for your motor home, fifth wheel or trailer?

I was changing the oil in my rv generator today and it got me to thinking. The generator in my 1993 Dolphin 32D motorhome is not

Generac 6.6kw LP RV Generator

Generac 6.6kw LP RV Generator

the latest whiz bang technology. It is a Generac 6.6kw propane fueled RV type generator with almost 3000 hours on it. It has been nearly trouble free and the few things that have gone wrong with it like the voltage regulator was easily diagnosed and replaced by me with little effort. I can’t say if the older, simpler technology has contributed to the longevity of this generator or not. I do know that you rarely see a propane generator in a newer recreational vehicle these days. I have puzzled about that and the only thing I can figure is people were uncomfortable with the inherent danger of a propane fueled small engine in a motor home. That is a shame because a propane fueled generator burns cleaner and causes less wear and tear on the components than its’ gas or diesel generator counterpart.

Generators love to work and the worst thing you can do is let them sit idle month after month. I exercise my Generac generator at least 2 hours each month under a load. Maybe this strict exercise policy and routine maintenance have contributed to the longevity of this particular propane generator.

I would not want to do without my generator. I read on the various rv forums about people with 4 or 5 year old recreational vehicles and the generators don’t have a hundred hours on them. I guess from reading they use them to power the motor home air conditioning when they are traveling and maybe an occasional asphalt boondock in a Wal Mart parking lot. I do the same thing. I also use it to boondock or dry camp on a regular basis. I was enroute to our current jobsite when I found the electricians had been unable to install the 50amp hookups that day. I just continued on my way and fired up the generator when I arrived. Not a problem!

A recreational vehicle generator gives me the flexibility to go and live wherever I choose with any level of services. In most instances, we do at least have electrical service available. However, in the late summer of 2007 we contracted a job which required me to stay on site for 6 weeks with no amenities what so ever. I detailed it in the Extreme Boondocking post. It taught me a few things let me tell ya! I was 4 miles from the closest hard top road and 26 miles from a decent grocery store.

Late on September 12th, 2008 I had the unfortunate opportunity to be present when Hurricane Ike made landfall in Texas and swept over Houston. My elderly dad underwent hip replacement surgery earlier in the week and my parents did not feel comfortable with the hurricane so I went down there to help. I got them all squared away in the hospital and stayed until they locked the facility down at noon. I rode Ike out in a hotel a few blocks away. The next day I checked on my parents and all was well. They were probably in the safest, best prepared place in Houston to deal with the aftermath of the storm and the hospital was going to stay locked down for at least 2 more days so my work was done. I left Houston and headed north on the heels of the storm. I did not see a single fuel stop open or a single light burning for the first 100 miles. Ike had devastated the infrastructure in that area and on to the north.

Our jobsite at the time was in an extremely rural area about 175 miles north of Houston and I arrived there with 60mph winds still blowing. No electricity and no water since we were on a well. Taking stock, I had 60 gallons of propane and 40 gallons of fresh water. The refrigerator and pantry were well stocked — well stocked to bachelor standards! Lots of frozen dinners and fix quick foods. I estimated I could do fine for 7 days and could even stretch it to 10 days with little trouble. The power was restored 6 days later.

We have two additional generators on the jobsite and I have studied the specs on both of them and used each to generate power. The smaller of the two is a John Deere Compresserator which is our gas fueled on the job air compressor. It also has a 3.5kw generator built in. It will run 2-3 hours on a gallon of gas and I used it to stretch my propane supply after Ike. I was hoping it would run the charger/inverter and maybe a coffee pot or microwave. It kept my house batteries charged but could do litte else without tripping a breaker. The other generator is a Miller Bobcat welder. It has a 10kw gas generator and it is a brute. It could power 2 RVs or a small sized house (within reason) with little or no problems. It will run about 12 hours on 12 gallons of gas.

I think most recreational vehicle owners think they can depend on their recreational vehicle as a refuge after a cataclysmic event. Ice storms, hurricanes, tornados; anything where there could be a prolonged power outage, shortage of potable water or decreased availability of food can be a cataclysmic event. If the disaster plan does not include a generator –whether it is portable as in the case of a recreational trailer or permanently installed in a motor coach – is just plain stupid. The typical travel trailer or fifth wheel has one 12 volt battery and 10-15 gallons of propane. That battery is not going to last long and neither is the propane if the weather is cold. A small portable generator like the Honda EU series would be invaluable in a situation like this and could quite literally be a life saver.

Bu tit is definitely not enough to just buy the generator and leave it sitting in the box in your garage. I know what my resources are and what capabilities I have and that comes from actually doing it. I think every recreational vehicle owner should try a few days of dry camping, even if it is in their backyard or driveway just to see what their capabilities are ad how they should amend their disaster plan. There really is no substitute for experience!

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RV Generators, 9.6 out of 10 based on 10 ratings