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Old 08-22-2009, 11:33 PM   #1
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Can a portable generator be used on the road?

Pretty new to this whole thing. We bought a 1991 32' Winnebago Itasca this spring and are learning as we go.

The generator was not dependable from the start. We had the control board removed and sent out for testing . . . came back "OK". Local RV shop tinkered with it, tuned it and it would start if I got out and pressed down on a loose part near the carb. Within 5 or 6 weeks, it stopped working again.

I got the bright idea of having a friend of a friend, "small engine repair" guy look at it since the RV shop was jammed up.

He removed the carb, cleaned it and got it running . . . better than ever . . . then the trouble began!!

I've since learned that you can't tune a generator by "ear".

The repair guy said (as he was taking everything apart) that getting the governor set back could be fussy! . . . let's just say that's an understatement. It was running good, but not putting enough juice out for the rooftop AC. He tried adjusting things and did get more power, but within minutes, the generator head threw a small piece of metal through one of it's openings and started screaming.

Bottom line . . . it's dead . . . and the estimated repair cost is more than a new one.

I've looked at some used ones on Craigslist and eBay, but fitting one into the bay we have could be a problem. The people who've I've asked about installing one tell me that size, component placement. airflow, fuel supply and exhaust all are important and could make a unit I find difficult to get into my motorhome.

It almost looks cheaper to get a new one, but that is still in the $2000+ range, so I'll have to wait until next year for that.

That all being said (and thanks to those who are still reading) . . . I know that many people use portable generators after arriving at a campsite. Our biggest concern is just heading down the road. Without a generator it gets unbearable in there in this heat. As a short term solution, is it possible to use a portable generator mounted on a hitch style cargo rack going down the road?? Many of the newer portable generators have a 30 amp RV style outlet and my 30 amp plug is in a door right above the hitch.
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:39 AM   #2
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What you are asking is possible. I think it may need to be covered enough in case it rains but still can get good air flow. I would not recommend installing it in the compartment the original was located. A construction type generator is not approved for RV use due to things like CO emissions. A construction generator will not be able to hold up to 24/7 running either. This will get you by in a pinch but be careful that it is secure with no fuel leaks and should be checked a few miles down the road and regularly after that.
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Old 08-23-2009, 06:20 AM   #3
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Another concern would be the gas can for the portable generator.

You wouldn't want to carry that in a storage compartment, but on the rear rack also.

Your idea would work, but a built in generator is far more convenient.
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Old 08-23-2009, 12:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RV Wizard View Post
What you are asking is possible. I think it may need to be covered enough in case it rains but still can get good air flow. I would not recommend installing it in the compartment the original was located. A construction type generator is not approved for RV use due to things like CO emissions. A construction generator will not be able to hold up to 24/7 running either. This will get you by in a pinch but be careful that it is secure with no fuel leaks and should be checked a few miles down the road and regularly after that.


Mike,

I wouldn't think of putting it in a compartment, especially for the reason you mentioned. 24/7 isn't a problem, I think the longest continuous use I've had so far is approx. 4 hours. I could conceivably see 8 -10 hours on a long trip, but that would be once or twice a season.

This would be a temporary arrangement . . . hope to get it done properly before next summer.

Regularly checking for fuel leaks makes good sense . . . it might be getting a little more vibration than it was built for. I am concerned about adequate ventilation/cooling, do you think that just the electronics/plug output areas could be covered or should it all be enclosed?

Some of the new construction type generators are being labeled as "RV" generators with a 30 amp outlet. Do you think they are any more durable or just the same think marketed to RVers?

Thanks for your input!

-Ken
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Old 08-23-2009, 01:00 PM   #5
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Another concern would be the gas can for the portable generator.

You wouldn't want to carry that in a storage compartment, but on the rear rack also.

Your idea would work, but a built in generator is far more convenient.

Dirk,

I was planning on using a Type 1 gas safety can and storing it in the closest compartment to the back. I had read that putting it next to the generator could be a heat issue. I wonder which way is better/worse?

A gas can strapped to the back should keep tailgaters at bay!

Thanks!

-Ken
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