RV Power Sources Tips

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What do I do before running my generator?

RV Generator Safety

The first rule of owning an RV is safety and the same applies to your RV generator. There is always carbon monoxide present when using a generator, so if the RV generator exhaust system is not operating properly, do not use the generator. For electrical safety use a volt meter to measure for proper voltage. Some built-in RV generators run off the RV fuel tank and will shut down if the fuel level is below one quarter of the tank to prevent fuel exhaustion. But if the generator does not have this feature, keep tabs on fuel use. It is safe to use the generator while traveling, but it's best to plug into shore power (electric outlet) when you park. Remember: Always turn off the generator before refueling!

   
Why consider solar and wind power for your RV?

Harness Energy for Your RV with Solar and Wind Power

If you like to camp in primitive areas without a readily available RV power supply, or if you like to conserve energy, RV solar and wind power systems can be used to charge your RV battery. Unlike a standard RV generator, they cannot be used to operate all appliances at once, but they have been used for years to power almost any electric device found in an RV. Using RV solar power or RV wind power to charge batteries during storage can extend their lifetime. It is not recommended that off-grid users run large electrical loads, like air conditioning or heating, using solar or wind power. Large loads will drain the RV battery bank quickly, so it's wise to consider using an LP gas refrigerator.

   
What is basic RV generator maintenance?

RV Generator Maintenance

Along with safety comes maintenance. Your generator, like any vehicle, needs scheduled oil changes to run smoothly. RV generators, both gas and diesel, need to be exercised regularly.

Gasoline generators can develop fuel related problems within as little as one month if left idle. Varnish (a gummy residue from old fuel) can clog the carburetor. Be sure to use a fuel preservative when your RV is in storage. However, you should still run the generator to heat the generator windings, counter moisture accumulation, lubricate your engine seals and prevent carbon build up.

To exercise the generator, run for at least two hours monthly with a fifty percent load (turn on the air in the summer or heat in the winter = 2,000 watts). If your generator fails, look to accessories like the RV power inverter or RV power converter. An inverter converts DC to AC power, while a converter converts AC to DC. Also check the breaker for a trip or a blown fuse. Always consult your owner's manual or an RV parts and service store for your unit's load ratings, maintenance intervals and RV generator parts.

   
How can I be safely work on my RV generator and power supply?

RV Power Supply Repair and Maintenance

There is a myriad of RV generator parts and accessories on the market to maintain, beef up or repair your RV power supply. Many RV enthusiasts prefer to do these tasks themselves, but if you are not experienced with electrical maintenance or repair work, it may be best to consult a trusted RV service center for anything related to RV power supply.

Never do repair work on RV parts like power jacks, cords or outlets unless you are completely disconnected from the power source and make sure the circuit breaker is off or open. Like working with any type of electricity, stay away from water. Also, make sure you have the correct continuity between ground and power source. Normally, ground wires are white and power wires are black, but always consult your RV repair and maintenance manual for schematics to ensure proper safety. Repair and maintenance to RV power cords, RV power jacks or RV power outlets; even simple tasks like plugging in your RV generator adapter require knowledge that safety comes first!

   
What brand of RV generator do I choose? How do Kohler and Generac rate?

RV Generator Reviews: Kohler and Generac

Purchasing or replacing an RV generator requires that you consider cost, safety, size, and setup. RV generator reviews can help you choose the right unit for your RV.

  • Kohler mobile generators offer quality when it comes to motor starting, heat recovery, and performance. They are rated to handle a variety of electrical equipment and voltage fluctuations. Single-slide access allows for easy maintenance checks and servicing. They also include a feature that do-it-yourselfers especially value: Cast-iron cylinders. They make Kohler mobile generators more durable and easier to repair.

  • Guardian by Generac Power Systems has been a trusted brand in RV generators for over 35 years. Generator reviews rate them as compact, fuel-efficient and easy to service. They are especially valued for their RV generator mufflers.
If you are serious about a generator, read product reviews and talk to experts at an RV parts and service center. And if you aren't, leave the work to the experts!

   
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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.