RV owners treat their RVs as a second home. And rightfully so. Modern RVs are very sophisticated with almost all the necessities you would need for a comfortable road trip. Now, you probably have a generator inside your RV for powering all sorts of things. And if you are here then you must be wondering – “Can you run RV generator while driving?”
It is perfectly safe to run the generator while the RV is running. The thing you need to keep in mind is the generator and the engine will most like be connected to the same fuel source which might increase fuel consumption.
Running the Generator While Driving
That being said, there are some things you need to know about running the generator while driving if you are an enthusiast RVer. Like state or local laws considering the matter and much more. All of which I will discuss in this article.
Some might be wondering why RVs have generators in the first place. One of the main reasons RVs have generators in the first place is to actually minimize wastage. As I already mentioned, RVs have a lot of quality-of-life features inside them.
There are heaters, air conditioning, blow dryers and more. If you always run these with the battery, you will drain it too fast. It goes without saying this is also very wasteful.
That is primarily where the generator comes in. It helps you use the appliances inside the RV which makes for a more comfortable experience.
If you are close to a shore power then it is a different case. But RVs are meant to travel and it is not unlikely to find yourself without shore power when on the road. That is the main reason RVs have generators.
That is why RV owners, especially new ones, wonder if it is safe and okay to run the generator when the engine is running or when you are driving.
Fortunately, there is absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to running your generators when you are driving. Running the generators on when on the road is technically safe. There are some caveats though.
If your RV has a gas-powered generator, then you can run it while you are driving. It needs to be installed by a professional and according to laws and code. If you do this, make sure to keep an eye on the fuel levels.
It is best to top up on gas since both the engine and the generator will use the same fuel. That might cause you to run out of gas faster. However, almost all RVs will have a built-in safety feature. The generators will likely turn off when the gas comes down to ¼ of the tank.
For older RVs, this might not be the case. This is where you need the model of your RV and what features it comes with.
Gasoline-powered are not the only generators in RVs. There are propane-powered generators as well. These are a bit special.
For gasoline-powered generators, you will need to check with local laws. Some states and local laws have restrictions for using propane while driving. Other places can even have rules against just carrying propane.
That is why it is especially important to know what kind of generator you have if you do not want to get in trouble with the law.
When Should You Not Run Your RV Generator?
Even though I established that it is completely okay to keep your generator running while driving, there are times where you should not. These are primarily safety reasons. So, let’s take a look at instances when keeping your generator off is for the best.
When You Are Sleeping
This one is probably the most obvious. You certainly do not want to keep the generator running when you are fast asleep. Generators exhaust carbon monoxide. It is an odorless and colorless gas that is very harmful when you breathe it in.
On top of that, it is also flammable. So, you can probably see why it is wise to keep the generator off while sleeping. But there are times when you need to keep the generator running when you are sleeping.
Well, there are some safety precautions you can take for that. Have a certified professional inspect the exhaust of your RV’s generator. You can also get a CO detector for RVs. Those are a worthwhile investment.
Running a generator when refueling is a complete fire hazard. The risks are even more substantial if you are doing it near a gas station. The fuel can burst into flames with a single spark from the generator and cause major damage and at worst death.
It might sound obvious to turn the generator off when refueling, but I still mention it to be thorough. If you already knew this, take it as a gentle reminder.
When You Are Not Close to the RV
Never leave a running generator unattended. This is because you do not know for sure what can go wrong. A generator uses fuel and has a motor running at full blast. Sometimes a bad generator (or a completely good one) can have a short.
If you leave it unattended, the short can cause a fire and can become uncontrollable. Something you could have taken care of if you were close by it. Besides this, it is generally very unsafe to completely leave a running generator alone for a long time.
Does Running the Generator Affect the MPG?
This is a very real concern for people. You do not want to keep the generator running on for hours and reduce your MPG. MPG here is referred to as miles per gallon. While running the generator does not directly affect your RV’s MPG, it can bring your fuel levels down faster.
As I already mentioned before, some generators use the same fuel line as the engine. In that case, if you have both the engine and the generator running, you will naturally eat up more fuel. RVs now have a safety feature to turn the generator off when the fuel levels come down to a certain level.
Are There Any Substitutes to Running the Generator?
If sometimes you do not want to solely rely on your generator while driving, there are other ways you can still power the appliances inside the RV. You can get retail solar panels to harness the power of the sun. Now that is some futuristic stuff right there.
Another option would be buying a wind generator. It can get its power directly from the wind as you drive. But it isn’t the best of options since they have a maximum speed limit.
If you are running the generator primarily for the refrigerator, you do not always have to. You can turn off the refrigerator for 1 or 2 hours to save some power. Most refrigerators have enough insulation that they will not lose more than a few degrees.
Alright, now that you know whether or not you can run a RV generator while driving, you can go on your road trips and enjoy your mobile home with ease. There really are not any big worries if you do decide to keep the generator running while you are on the road.
All you need to keep in mind is how it is powered. For propane-powered generators check with local or state laws to be safe. Gas-powered generators are fine but there is the fuel consumption issue you need to deal with.