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Is the Camco Gen-Turi Generator Exhaust Venting System Necessary?

The Gen-Turi generator exhaust extension has got to be in the Top 5 of RV internet forum subjects– right up there with running your refrigerator on propane while you are driving, how much can I tow and parking overnight at Wal-mart.

Now you know I am a big fan of the Gen-Turi,  I praised it in a previous blog entry here.  So here is how the debate got started on one of the popular internet forums I frequent:

Gen-Turi exhaust extension on the Old Girl

Gen-Turi exhaust extension on the Old Girl

“We have a 2007 Class C with an Onan Microlite generator. We often overnight in parking lots while on the road. Usually we travel in cooler weather when A/C is not required overnight. We are leaving soon on a trip where A/C will be necessary while sleeping and I am nervous about running the generator while asleep. We have working CO detectors.
Interested to know how many are OK with running generator while sleeping and how many think it is too dangerous?”

Innocent enough right?  And a valid question right?  I knew better! The replies started to flood in.

“I use one whenever I am parked.  I would never run the generator without it!”

“Save your  money!  I have been RVing for 20 years and never needed one!”

“It will void your manufacturers warranty.  Don’t even think about it!”

Hmmmm…  Some strong opinions here and some negative replies from some experienced recreational vehicle owners.  It appears the Gen-Turi debate divides up into 4 factions.

Group 1: I have been RVing for xx years and I have never needed a Gen-Turi.

Great!  What about the one in a million chance that you will need it? Carbon Monoxide will kill you deader than a hammer in a short time.  I didn’t have to Google but a minute to find this news article:

“Police said the colorless, odorless gas came from an auxiliary generator built into the rear of the RV. The victims were using the generator to run the RV’s air conditioning. Police found sod and dirt inside one of the motor home’s exhaust pipes, which police said caused the gas to seep into the RV while the men slept.”

There are literally hundreds of scenarios that could contribute to carbon monoxide seeping into your RV…..

You are parked next to someone who is running their generator and the exhaust is pointed at your RV.

You park next to high weeds, a wall or some other obstruction that prevents the generator exhaust from dispersing away from your RV.

You unknowingly damage the exhaust by hitting something or there is just a failure in the exhaust system of your generator.

People’s thinking can just get plain bizarre!  From the thread mentioned above one poster says:

“Some units are not insulated very well and will allow carbon monoxide into the living area, and mine is not one of them. Like I said…I use my generator all the time while sleeping without the Genturi just fine. Other results with other units might vary, and I think if you use one, good for you!”

So this guy thinks his RV is some sort of airtight egg?  My reply:

“My 16 year old RV is far from air tight. Holes where the plumbing pipe passes through the subfloor. Holes in the subfloor for the vent pipes. Holes for the wiring harness, the steering column, pedal linkages, propane lines etc. Ants and other crawling critters find their way into my living space more often than I like and I am pretty sure most of them are bigger than a CO molecule. Nope, the small investment (< $150? ) and 5 minute setup time for the Gen Turi are well worth it to me. Best of luck to those that choose otherwise.”

Group 2: The Gen-Turi will void my warranty.  To be fair, if you look at the manufacturer’s warranty quite literally, black and white, this is a true statement.   From Onan:

“Statement Regarding Exhaust Extensions
Cummins Power Generation, manufacturer of Cummins Onan generator products, does not endorse the use of RV  generator exhaust pipe extensions. Like all fuel burning devices, engine-driven generators emit carbon monoxide (CO) which, if not safely handled, can produce serious injury or death. Cummins Onan generators, in conjunction with RV OEM installed tailpipes, are designed to meet RVIA standards for safely handling exhaust gasses while minimizing noise and maximizing generator performance. Improper modifications to the exhaust components can result in
unreasonable hazards to the vehicle occupants.  Cummins Power Generation has been unable to this date to identify any
commercially available exhaust extension kit which meets reasonable standards for safely handling exhaust gases.
Cummins Power Generation’s concerns revolve around 6 areas:
1. Weight: Unless entirely self supporting, extensions add weight to the end of the generator tail pipe which can stress and crack or break the exhaust system parts that are not designed to carry the additional weight. This could result in exhaust
gases escaping directly under the coach, and therefore could be extremely dangerous to vehicle occupants.
2. Fit: To be effective conveyors of exhaust, connections & joints must be gastight. Such connections are not guaranteed unless the exhaust extension kit is properly assembled each time it is used.
3. Exhaust Direction: Because exhaust extensions vent at the roof line, there is a major concern that exhaust will be sucked in by rooftop air conditioners, vents and windows.
4. Heat: Many extension designs involve exposed metal that can be a burn hazard to anyone passing by who might contact the exposed extension pipe.
5. Backpressure: Adding an extension may increase backpressure on the engine, and thereby reduce engine performance or cause the engine to fail meeting government-regulated exhaust standards.
6. Warranty: The use of an exhaust extension kit may void the Cummins Onan warranty.”

The venturi set up on the Gen-Turi

The venturi set up on the Gen-Turi

So lets examine this document.

1.  The Gen-Turi is mostly self supporting. It uses bungee cords to support the weight. It is pretty light to start with.  If you are concerned, get an additional muffler hanger to put on your generator exhaust.

2. The use of the venturi and the upward motion it creates effectively exhaust the carbon monoxide.

3. Roof top air conditioners do suck in outside air but the air NEVER enters the RV.  It is exhausted back out on top of the roof.

4. The main plastic part of the Gen-Turi never gets hot enough to burn anything–even after many hours of continuous use.

5. Backpressure is a non-issue because there is none added by the Gen-Turi.  The venturi takes care of that.

6. The use of an exhaust extension kit may void the Cummins Onan warranty.  The operative word here is “may”.   A flexible hose attached to the generator exhaust and snaking across the ground, a heavy metal extension that cracks the original exhaust at the manifold; yeah, that would void the warranty.  Use common sense people!

Group 3: I can build a homemade Gen-Turi and save the money.

A nice homemade Gen-Turi

A nice homemade Gen-Turi

The picture on the right is a nice example. However, I have read other articles where the plastic melted, it was too heavy, it got too hot or it was bulky and hard to store away. For less than $150, you can get the real deal at Amazon. Here is the link. For my piece of mind and convenience, I did not even blink twice. The assembly instructions are readily available if you Google but I am certainly not going to post any links here.  Think of the liability issues if you fab one of these up from parts you bought at Lowe’s for $30 and it kills your whole family.  No thanks!  You are on your own here.

Group 4: The group who attaches the Gen-Turi whenever they are parked and the generator will be used.  Using a piece of equipment that is this close to your living space and spews enough carbon monoxide to kill you still requires a degree of caution even if you use the Gen-Turi.  I have two working carbon monoxide detectors.  One is in the forward living area and the other one is in the bedroom.  I change the batteries and follow the manufacturer’s recommendation to replace the entire unit every 5 years.  I make sure my generator exhaust pipe is sound and in good working order.  I have never set off one of the CO detectors while running my generator.  Some people recommend leaving a roof vent open when running the generator.  I am cautiously supportive of this practice.  If there is a nice, constant breeze, I will open the vent slightly.  If it is calm and still, I generally leave the roof vents closed.

I just don’t understand a person’s reluctance to purchase a Gen-Turi if they are going to be running a generator. They are not unreasonably priced, setting one up is quick and easy and they perform exactly as advertised.  Could it be that these people are just stubborn because some of us are so insistent on the use of the Gen-Turi?  I just don’t know.  To me it is better to be safe than sorry!

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7 comments to Is the Camco Gen-Turi Generator Exhaust Venting System Necessary?

  • Neighbor Jim

    Very good questions and answers for the RV generator operators, but what about me – your neighbor? Your generator exhaust contains a host of annoyances (smoke, odor, carbon monoxide etc.) that creeps into my space covering the ground between my RV and yours. Your generator exhaust produced while cooking, heating, air conditioning, watching TV may have a health and safety concern for my family. This article does not address neighbors parked nearby who may want to relax or eat outside, or even sleep with their windows slightly open. Thanks for being a considerate neighbor. Join the “Be a Good Neighbor” Program.- Jim

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  • Herbert K. Shaffer

    How about using one of these venturi exhausts on a Aqua-hot heating system? I’ve heard that the heat is too much for them.

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    • admin

      I have no direct experience with the Gen-Turi and the Aqua Hot. I have read of people using the Gen-Turi with the Aqua Hot

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  • Dean

    I plan on buying the exhaust in the near future, primarily because of the reasons listed above by Neighbor Jim. Our family tailgates quite a bit and the space between motorhomes is not always far. Especially when you have “pushers” lined up beside each other; their generator exhausts blow directly into the door of the person beside them. (I’ve been the victim and the guilty party.) Some locations such as The State Fairgrounds in SC have mandated the use of such exhaust systems in order to run your generator at special events. I support this move as it will make tailgating experience better for everyone.

    At the same time, I would NOT discount Cummins item #3 – Exhaust direction. No, the A/C units are not designed to draw in outside air but they can. Not to mention your roof vents certainly will. Remember, CO is heavier than air, so it sinks! Therefore under the right conditions the CO could be lifted up by the exhaust extension, dispersed on to the roof and then enter the motorhome through open roof vents.

    My suggestion would be to use the exhaust extensions (with vents closed and functioning CO detectors inside) in areas where close quarters with your neighbors are necessary. If you are out in wide open spaces I would not bother with the “few minutes it takes to set up” because it is not worth the risk of “killing my whole family” even for $160…

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    • admin

      Thanks for the good points Dean — with one exception. Carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air — like 3% or so. That is one of the reasons I always connect the Gen Turi. I have plenty of ways for the CO to get in the Old Girl from the bottom.

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  • Jerry Newberry

    Hi, I agree with most of what has been said but I want to caution everyone not to open a vent while using a gen-turi. The carbon monoxide will settle right into the RV, If you are not using the gen-turi it is safe to open roof vents but if you use the fans reverse them to bring in the air above the RV. Keep all windows closed near the generator. Never operate the ceiling fan “with it drawing air out” with the generator on and windows open anywhere close to the generator or down wind from it..

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  • Matt

    Great opinions, I’ll stick with facts and science though

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