How to Use a Generator with a Travel Trailer: Complete Guide


How-to-Use-a-Generator-with-a-Travel-Trailer

New adventures are on the horizon. You just purchased a brand new camper and are ready to hit the road. The salesman told you almost everything you need to know about your new home-away-from-home. But he forgot to explain how to use a generator with a travel trailer.

How to Use a Generator with a Travel Trailer? Basically, you start the generator and plug in the electrical feed to the travel trailer. Power is then converted from the generator and routed to the lights and other features in the trailer. As with most things, though, it is never as simple as that.

If you are planning on camping in full-service campgrounds, you probably won’t need a generator. However, if your plans include rustic campgrounds, boondocking, or dispersed camping, you will probably need to know how to use a generator with a travel trailer.

The Best Type of Generator for a Travel Trailer

If your travel trailer or recreational vehicle (RV) came with a generator, it is probably rated for the usage your trailer requires. If you have a used trailer or are replacing a generator, you will need to determine a few things first.

There are three types of portable generators, gas-powered, diesel-powered, and propane-powered. The most common is gasoline, so our focus will be on that type.

The basic “job” of a generator is to create electricity. It performs this task by converting energy created by a reciprocating engine into electrical power. The size of a generator determines how many appliances it will power. More on that later, but for now let’s examine the different types of generators available.

Gasoline Generators

A gasoline generator works on regular unleaded gasoline. Some of these can be quite small, but deliver a reliable supply of power with good fuel economy. They are mostly portable, but can weigh as much as 200 pounds depending on the capacity. The average weight of a generator for a travel trailer will be between 35 and 75 pounds.

Gasoline generators need proper venting, so they should be run in an open-air setting. Fuel tank sizes will vary, which affects the run-time, so be aware of that also. Having a bit of mechanical knowledge will help maintain your generator for a long life. Regular spark plug checks and changes, checking the oil, and keeping the unit clean extend its lifespan. 

LPG/Propane Generators

Less common than gasoline generators, propane generators operate on Liquid Propane Gas (LPG). They can be connected to the LPG mounted on the travel trailer, or have a separate canister just for the generator. Dual-fuel generators are also available that switch from propane to gasoline. There are differences, but gasoline and LPG are very similar.

PROSCONS
Propane burns cleaner and has cleaner emissionsLess powerful output than gasoline generators
LPG runs quieterRefilling propane tanks is more difficult than buying gasoline
Propane doesn’t “expire” like gasoline doesInitial cost is higher

RV Propane Generators Are They Worth It? Dual Fuel Generators >> Check out the video below

Diesel Generators

The least common type of portable generator is the diesel units. While these are handy if you run a Class A motor coach that also uses diesel fuel, they aren’t as handy with a Class C that runs on gasoline. Who wants to have two different types of fuel?

The benefits of a diesel generator are that they supply more power than LPG generators, so your air conditioner will keep icicles on the ceiling. They are quite a bit louder, though, and may disturb neighboring campers. In a diesel motor coach, they can be fueled directly from the main fuel tank with an adapter kit. If your rig uses gasoline you’ll have to carry separate cans of diesel fuel.   

Portable Generators: Versatile but Less Powerful

Portable generators are easier to transport, which makes them more versatile to use. If you usually need a power source for things other than your RV, then you should go with the portable generator.

It’s quieter and more fuel-efficient than other types of generators. They’re great for short camping trips or doing some work in your garage.

While they’re less expensive than permanent generators, portable also means they’re not meant for heavy use.

Permanent Generators: Robust but Expensive

Even though permanent RV generators cost more than portable ones, they’re considered a sound investment. They’re built to last with nearly three times the horsepower of standard generators.

Permanent generators are encased in the RV itself. They’re well-vented to prevent overheating. They’re connected to an electric power grid. This allows you to plug your appliances into power outlets, just like what you do at home.

One of its best features is that it comes with a transfer switch. Through this switch, you can safely turn the generator on and off.

What Size of Generator Do I Need for a Travel Trailer?

Trailblazing in your RV travel trailer is an exciting way to discover interesting places and meet new people.

Yet travel trailers come with their fair share of responsibilities. You have to learn how to be prepared and well-equipped.

One of the most common questions that RV users ask is, “what size of generator do I need for a travel trailer?”

Several factors go into determining the answer to this question. So let’s dive in and find out more about RVs and generators.

The job of a generator is to be a reliable source of energy for all the appliances in your portable home. It keeps you and your family comfortable during your trips.

A generator would be a reliable source of power if you usually go RVing in places with limited amenities and power sources. They’re also useful if you do a lot of dry camping, aka boondocking.

Choosing the Right Size

To figure out which generator to get for your travel trailer, you have to calculate how much power each of your appliances requires to operate efficiently.

Here are some appliances you may have in your RV alongside their average power consumption.

  • RV fridge: 400 – 1000 watts
  • Toaster: 1150 watts
  • Microwave: 1000 watts
  • Coffee maker: 900 watts
  • TV: 200 – 600 watts
  • Air conditioner: 1400 – 2400 watts

Don’t forget to consider the other portable appliances that need power such as your laptop, space heater, or hairdryer.

Add up the power consumption to get the total needed wattage. Most RVs require an average of 3000 and 4000 watts of electricity. If you have a small trailer with only one or two people, then a 2000-watt generator is enough for you.

Bear in mind that as your power demand increases, you’ll have to get a larger generator. You have to make sure that you have enough space before taking such a decision.

Try to see whether you can power certain things up using propane or gas as an alternative source of energy. You’ll find it’s an efficient way to save wattage. Some of these appliances include:

  • Oven
  • Stove
  • Fridge
  • Water heater

Storage, Transportation and Safety

You have your generator, but now you need to know how to take care of it. The first thought is storage. Many people store their portable generator inside the storage bin in their travel trailer. Please don’t do that. Gasoline emits fumes and when those fumes collect in an enclosed space they get explosive. Gasoline is flammable also. The combination of fumes, heat, and the enclosed space can be dangerous. Apply the same handling precautions for diesel and LPG generators.

Store your generator in your garage or shed between uses. This allows for greater ventilation and safety. You will also have easy access to your generator for maintenance between trips. A good habit to develop is to start your generator periodically. Most manufacturers recommend starting and running it for 10 to 20 minutes at least once per month when it is not in use. This keeps the gasoline cycling through, makes sure the generator will start when you need it, and allows you to troubleshoot any potential problems before you get stuck in the woods.

To transport your generator, it should be kept in one of the exterior storage compartments under your travel trailer. It should be treated as hazardous material. Don’t store or transport it in the living areas of the trailer. Spare gasoline should be purchased as near to your destination as possible to avoid carrying extra gasoline while towing. The same warning applies to leaks and fumes during transport. An explosion would totally ruin your vacation plans.

Generators make your camping experience enjoyable by providing electrical power in remote locations. A little caution and care in handling yours will keep you and your family safer.  

Operating a Generator with Children Near

We may not need a separate note about safety where children are present, but we’re saying it anyway. Keep children away from a running generator. Whether they are your children or visiting from nearby camps, keeping a watchful eye on your running generator is a must.

The biggest danger is heat from the exhaust, but a child can also receive an electric shock or ingest fuel. They stick little fingers where they fit and that can just lead to all types of problems you don’t need while trying to relax on a vacation.

A quick and inexpensive way to protect children is to use a child safety enclosure to keep them at a safe distance. These are available at most retail stores and are easy to assemble around a generator. They are usually large enough for the generator and extra fuel canisters.

Maintenance, Fuel, and Oil

Performing simple preventative maintenance on your generator will extend the lifespan and reliability of it. There is nothing worse than finding out that the generator you use with your travel trailer won’t start. That will ruin your boondocking adventure quicker than a torrential rainstorm.

Even if you have never picked up a wrench in your life, you can perform the simple maintenance required to keep your generator running in tiptop form.

  • Check oil after every 8 hours of run time and top off as needed
  • Use a fuel stabilizer
  • Check the spark plug weekly during regular use (clean or replace as needed)
  • Change oil, spark plug, and empty fuel before long periods of storage
  • Start your generator weekly if you use it year-round

Checking the oil is quick and easy. Some engines have a small dipstick while others have a level marking on the oil fill spout opening. Your user’s manual will outline the correct procedure for your generator. Always use the recommended weight and type of oil for your specific model. At a minimum, you should be checking the oil every 8 hours of operation. Be diligent.

Check the air filter regularly or at least once weekly during periods of daily use. Not only will it collect dust and debris during normal operation, but sometimes little critters like to climb into the filter area for nesting.

Tips & Tricks for Generator Maintenance

Parts to considerTips & Tricks
Spark plugAfter replacing, keep your old spark plug (In case you own a gas generator) in case you need one in an emergency
Gas jetOnly a expert or trained mechanic should service this.
Air filterIf the generator is running rough, remove and clean the air filter for better performance, as a temporary solution.
Fuel filterKeep a spare, just in case, especially if you use your generator a lot.
Fuel linesFrequently check for wear or leaks, especially if you smell fuel.
DC and AC wiringInspect wiring periodically for wear and loose connections.
Diesel injectorExpert or trained mechanic should service this.
Motor oilFrequently check oil level and change as needed, or when suggested by the manufacturer.
CoolantUse the manufacturer’s suggested coolant (anti-freeze) mixture.

Why Premium Fuel Might be Better

One of the best things to extend the life of the generator is to use a fuel stabilizer product. There are several available so find one that works well with your model generator and use it religiously. Many people put a stabilizer product into each 5-gallon gas can as they fill them.

Aside from using a stabilizer product, and depending on the recommendations of the manufacturer, use premium fuel. Yes, it may cost you a little more per gallon, but it will add years to the life of your generator. You should use the mid-grade premium fuel in addition to using a good stabilizer product. Your engine will run cleaner, which will also prolong the life of your oil and spark plug and be friendlier to the environment.

Manufacturer’s Recommendations are Important

We have briefly touched on following manufacturer’s recommendations for oil and fuel requirements and maintenance intervals. But what if you purchased your generator used, or the user’s manual wasn’t included when you bought your travel trailer?

There are several online options for downloadable user’s and owner’s manuals for almost every mechanical product ever made.

  • Manualsearch.net uses your manufacturer and model number to provide manuals
  • Manualslib.com has a searchable database with over two million available manuals

You can also perform a search on the manufacturer’s website, although they often want you to pay for the printed or digital version.

For general maintenance, we found this handy video (below) that outlines the steps to change your oil and oil filter. Be sure to check the specifications in your user’s manual for the type and weight of oil to use. Your manual will also include the correct or recommended replacement parts for spark plugs, oil filters, air filters, and a fuel stabilizer.

Generator Tune Up and Oil Change >> Check out the video below

Setting up Your Generator for Use

If you purchased your generator new, it probably came wrapped up in plastic, foam, and tape. It is very important to remove all packing and shipping materials from your generator before trying to start it the first time. We recommend that you perform this step at home before you actually need the generator in a camping environment.

Once you have removed all the shipping protection, give the generator a routine look. Check the spark plug and wire, then check the oil, and add fuel (with a stabilizer). Follow the directions in the user’s manual for the correct starting procedure. Don’t forget the on/off switch. That is the most common mistake with most people when trying to start a generator.

Remember that if your generator has never been run before, you may have to prime the fuel system. It may take a few tries to circulate the fuel through the new system, so be patient.

Thoughts and Concerns for Your Neighbors

When you are using a generator with a travel trailer, you will probably be in relatively close proximity to other campers. Keep them in mind when you run your generator. Place your generator behind your trailer to shield the sound a bit.

We briefly mentioned safety earlier. If there are children in the camping area near you, even if they are not yours, keep that in mind. Try to place your generator in an area that is safe and will keep little reachy fingers out of hot, moving, and electricity-producing bits and pieces.

Kids “look” with their fingers, not with their eyes. Talk to your neighbors and let them know you will have a running generator. If you can, place a small, portable, open-air enclosure around your generator and fuel supply. Pet enclosures and collapsible-expandable playpens (the plastic or wooden X-shaped type) work great to add an extra layer of safety.

Load Values: How Much is too Much?

If your travel trailer did not come with a generator, or you need to replace one, how do you know how big to go? A simple rule of thumb – you will have to lift the generator in and out of the storage compartment, so bigger isn’t always better. What you want to concentrate on when shopping is the load value you will need.

Each appliance in your travel has an assigned load value. This is the power requirement needed to run the appliance reliably. For some items, like your air conditioner, this will be listed as both a surge requirement and a maintenance requirement.

The difference is that it takes more power when you first start the air conditioner (this is the surge power requirement). Once the trailer cools off, the air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard, so it uses less power (this is the maintenance power requirement).

Most 15,000 BTU air conditioners will use 3000 to 3500 watts during the surge phase. Once the trailer cools, they will drop to 1300 to 1800 watts during the normal run phase. The point is that you really don’t need that 300-pound 9000-watt generator. You can opt for the 75-pound 4000-watt model and be perfectly fine. Shop wisely and remember that bigger isn’t always better.

Can You Run a Generator Without a Transfer Switch?

Generators are a convenient way to bring life back to your home if you ever experience a power outage. They’re reliable, safe, and, in many cases, a lifesaver.

So you went out and bought yourself a portable generator. The question now is, ‘can you run a generator without a transfer switch?’ Well, it depends on the nature of your appliances. Read on to find out more.

When You Don’t Need a Manual Transfer Switch

Let’s keep it simple and start with the basics.

During a power outage, it can be hard determining which appliances you need to be turned back on, and which of them you can do without for a while.

If you plan on only needing the fridge, a couple of lights, and the TV, then you won’t need a manual transfer switch.

All you need is an extension cord. Plug it into your generator, then use it to power up the things you need.

Using the Correct Extension Cords with a Portable Generator >> Check out the video below:

The only problem you may face here is that cord might not be long enough to reach where you want it. So make sure you measure the needed length before buying one.

When a Manual Transfer Switch is a Must

Simply, a manual transfer switch is needed when you need to power an appliance that’s directly connected to your main circuit. Air conditioners, furnaces, and other high-duty appliances don’t get plugged into an outlet. They can’t be connected to the generator by an extension cord.

Just make sure you don’t exceed the generator’s rated wattage. One way to do this is to determine which circuits you need to stay on, and which you can turn off until the main power comes back on.

For your safety, if your generator has a rated wattage of 5000 and above, then you need a transfer switch.

Manual Transfer Switch: Pros and Cons

Here are a few benefits and drawbacks of using a transfer switch.

Pros

Transfer switches provide a safety net. They prevent an overload of current by stopping the power coming from the outside grid before it reaches your home.

Another major benefit to transfer switches is that they don’t limit the appliances you can operate. Besides furnaces and ACs, you can also power water heaters, cooking ranges, and dishwashers.

Cons

Transfer switches are expensive. There’s also the cost of the professionally trained electrician who will install the switch into your circuit box.

Some people try to cut down the costs by backfeeding the generator into their home power outlet. That can be extremely dangerous; it might even light the circuit on fire.

Troubleshooting

If your generator doesn’t start, there are several things you can check before hauling it off to the repair shop. You should have a small, general-purpose tool kit with you at all times. At a minimum, this should include (although more tools are never a problem):

  • Screwdrivers (Phillips Head and Slot)
  • Allen wrenches (these usually come in a set with various sizes)
  • Assorted sockets (including a spark plug socket)
  • Voltmeter

Make sure the on/off switch is in the “on,” “start,” or “run” position. The next check is fuel level. Make sure that you have an adequate amount of fuel in the tank. Hopefully, you have been using a fuel stabilizer, so the age of the fuel shouldn’t be an issue. Always check the oil to make sure that it is topped off. Check the air filter. Knock out trapped debris to make sure you have proper airflow.

If your generator still won’t start, it is time to check the spark plug. Gently remove the plug wire and remove the plug. Inspect the condition. If it is dirty or sooty, it may need cleaning. This can be done with some rubbing alcohol and dry, lint-free cloth.

An old, soft toothbrush can also be used to gently dislodge stubborn soot, but be careful not to damage the contact and electrode. If you have a spark plug gapping tool, verify that the gap is correctly set. Replace the spark plug, reattach the plug wire, and then try to start the generator again.

Your owner’s manual may have additional troubleshooting tips and tricks you can use with your specific model. Generally, most no-start problems are caused by one of the above problems. Beyond that and recommended checks, you may need to take your generator to a service center.

Environmentally Friendlier Options

Generators produce carbon dioxide and emissions. In short, they stink up the area. If you are concerned about more environmentally-friendly options, you can opt for solar panels. Solar collectors store power in one or more 12-volt batteries to provide power to your electrical appliances and lights.

Most solar rigs will not run an air conditioning unit reliably so that is a deal-killer for many people. The choice is yours. Some people utilize both solar and generator-produced power. While not as environmentally-friendly as full solar, this option allows campers to run an air conditioner with a lower impact carbon footprint.

What We Look For In A Portable Generator

If you’re a fan of comfort camping—or just escaping the rat race without going entirely off-grid—a portable generator can make a world of difference.

The trick is in finding the right portable generator for your needs. If all you’re running is a travel trailer and a few basic electronics, a 2000-watt portable generator will see you through. If you’re planning on blasting the AC for at least a small part of that Arizona desert road trip, you’ll need a more powerful unit.

With this in mind, we’ve rounded up the 3 best portable generators for travel trailers—according to us and the seasoned campers who love them. First up, though:

How much output does it have?

Generally speaking, 2000 watts (or 1500+ running watts) will provide enough power for a small family or for low power use. 3000 watts (or 2500+ running watts) will comfortably charge devices, run a standard RV AC unit, and run a few lights.

How big is it?

The smaller the better. This isn’t a problem for any of the portable generators on our list, as they all deliver maximum output in their range, with a minimal footprint.

How loud is it?

Hopefully, not that loud. For reference, 40 dB is the level of noise you find in a library. 52 dB is around the volume of an electric fan or running refrigerator. 62 dB is about as loud as a vacuum. 90 dB is as loud as a blender.

How fuel efficient is it?

Fuel efficiency matters. The more fuel efficient it is, the longer it’ll run off a full tank of fuel, the less you need to top it up, and the more power you can get for your dollar.

3 Best Portable Generators for Travel Trailers:

1. Honda EU3000is Generator

The EU3000is is a high-end generator with a lot of grunt. Quiet grunt. The unit operates at between 57 and 68 dB, give or take, and delivers a powerful 2800 running watts.

Off a 25% load, the Honda EU3000is will run for over 7 hours—plenty of time to get stuff done and still get a good night’s sleep after a full day in the great outdoors.

This generator is perfect for long trips and big families who require a lot of power for their off-grid adventures.

What sets it apart?

Honda really think ahead with their portable generator units. If you need more power, just string a couple—or three—together. For up to 6000 running watts, three units will do the trick.

PROSCONS
2800 running watts means you can run an AC and power devices with ease  Power expansion only allows you to connect identical models for additional power
Expandable power: parallel multiple units via extension cable for up to 6000 running watts of power   
Ultra-quiet at an average of 59 dB. Your neighbors and camping buddies will thank you.   
Eco Throttle delivers excellent fuel efficiency and up to 7.7 hours of run-time   
3 year warranty   

2. Champion 3500 Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Portable Generator

The Champion 3500 actually delivers more power than the Honda 3000—and at a lower price point. This portable generator has a small enough footprint to make it a friendly option when you’ve got limited space, and outputs between 55 and 65 dB—making it around as loud as a vacuum. What we’re saying is, this is one of the market’s quieter generator options.

The Champion 3500 is ideal for large groups or families, and anyone camping in crowded areas—this unit is pretty quiet for a portable inverter generator.

This champion model outputs around 3150 running watts of power and gives us dual fuel options—gas or propane. It features solid roller wheels for easy positioning, and comfortably powers a 15k RV AC along with all the kids’ gaming devices (and your phone).

What sets it apart?

Dual-Fuel is operational straight out of the box with the Champion 3500 portable generator. The patented fuel selector switch keeps things simple, straightforward, and safe. Off gasoline, the Champion will run for 4.5-5 hours at 25% load. Off propane, it’ll run for around 5 hours of a 20-lb propane tank.

PROSCONS
Powerful enough to run most camping electronics  Not as long running as the other generators that round out this list
Cold Start Technology guarantees a quick, easy start in cold climates  No option to expand multiple units
Dual-Fuel propane / gas switching   
Volt Guard built-in surge protector   
Intelligauge allows you to monitor voltage, hertz, and run-time easily   
3 year warranty   
Lifetime technical support   

3. WEN 56235i Super Quiet 2350-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

The WEN 56235i definitely lives up to its super quiet name. At just 51 dB at a 25% load, it is quieter than an AC, and around the same volume as the Honda EU 3000is. This unit delivers around 1900 running watts—slightly less than the others on our list, but WEN have a competitive edge in quiet and even running.

Campers who don’t require a lot of power, or anyone who is bothered by the volume of a standard generator should take the WEN 56235i generator.

This portable generator is also equipped with an auto fuel shut-off, when the unit gets low on fuel. It will use the remaining fuel from the carb and shut itself off—eliminating wear and tear and maximizing the generator’s lifespan.

What sets it apart?

The minimal energy fluctuation is another key selling point for the WEN 56235i. At less than 1.2% harmonic distortion off a full load, it is safe to run laptops and flow-sensitive electronics directly through the unit.

PROSCONS
51dB noise output—as quiet as a standard AC unit  3.5 hours run time off 25% load
Auto fuel shut-off  1900 running watts
1.2% harmonic distortion for peace of mind with all your electronics   
Ultra-lightweight at 39 lbs   
2 year warranty   
Expandable power: link two WEN inverter generators for more power capability   

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few common questions people often have about generators:

Do You Need a Generator for a Travel Trailer?

Some travel trailers come with a built-in generator. While others, leave the decision of whether to install a generator or not, up to you.

Do you need a generator for a travel trailer? Here’s what you need to consider.

What Are Your Preferred Camping Spots?

If most of your trips end up in campsites, where you can get a partial or full hookup, then a generator might not be a huge necessity.

The whole point of installing a mobile power supply is to power up your appliances. Trailer parks often provide more than enough electricity to operate the regular devices, plus an air conditioner.

On the other hand, dry camping and boondocking don’t have such amenities. You need to get your own power, and a generator is an optimal solution. The same applies to going to festivals, enjoying a long trip in nature, or taking routes where it’s not likely to find a Walmart parking area.   

What Is Your Appliance Usage?

If your devices are limited to a laptop, a smartphone, and a radio, then you can count on your vehicle battery for charging your gadgets.

Some people are also known to take their cooking outside on a BBQ. They often use an awning and park in the shade to reduce the need for an air conditioner. In fact, there’s a host of clever ways to reduce energy consumption.

Not everyone is such a minimalist though, and most of us enjoy watching TV, warming our food in a microwave, using a hairdryer, and turning the air condition on when the day is hot and sticky.

Moreover, some trailers have a washing machine, a water heater, an electric stove, and similar luxuries. The sum total is a power gobbling setup, that desperately calls for a high power generator. 

What Is The Nature of the Trip?

Generators often run on fossil fuel, which churns our significant exhaust to the surroundings. Also, if you have an industrial rather than an inverter generator, its rattle and buzz would be heard a mile away.

The heavy smell of the exhaust and the noise, usually, scare away the animals. It’s also not the best way to meet fellow campers. 

If your trip is around reserves or pristine natural spots, it might be better to leave the generator behind.  

This type of travel destination might be a bit of a niche trip. Most people camp at spots where generator usage is not considered a faux-pas.

The Bottom Line

Having a generator in a travel trailer certainly has its many perks. The best one is probably the mellow temperature inside the trailer, thanks to the air conditioner.

There are of course the added costs of the generator, its fuel, and the regular maintenance expenses. It’s totally worth it though.

One of the pleasant surprises trailer owners often report, is having a standby power source for domestic use as well. Occasional power outage back home happens, and being prepared is always better than waiting for the current to reappear.

Getting power anywhere is also a huge plus, that lets you travel with much higher flexibility. A Yamaha or a Champion are pretty good choices. Enjoy your trip!

Where Do Generators Go in a Travel Trailer?

Having a generator on board is quite practical, especially if you’re boondocking or dry camping.

It offers flexibility when it comes to travel routes and destinations. Plus, you get to enjoy a luxurious trip, where you can watch TV, prepare a hot meal in the microwave, and even turn on the A/C.

A built-in generator is an optimal arrangement, of course, but it’s expensive and hard to find in regular RV’s.

So where do generators go in a travel trailer? It’s best to put them where they would be stable, accessible, safe, and well ventilated. They should also be placed where their extra weight would not be problematic. Let’s check out the best mounting locations.  

The Truck Bed

This is one of the easiest solutions to set up a generator. There’s often plenty of room for the generator, plus the regular storage. The surface is stable, and the distance from the truck bed to the trailer is convenient. An extension cord is usually sufficient.

If you opt for this solution, you’d need to chain the generator to the bed. Stealing portable machines is always a possibility, especially if it’s one of the smaller lightweight models.

You should also buy a cover for the generator, to keep the elements at bay. A non-branded cover is better of course. And if you have a tunnel cover for the truck bed, make sure that the vertical height of the generator fits well inside it.

This method has its limitations though. If your vehicle is an SUV or any closed car, then you could check out the alternative options below.

At the Rear End of the Trailer

You can solicit the services of a professional contractor for this one. However, if you’re good with the tools, you can work on this as a DIY.  The idea is to prepare a suitable opening in the rear side of the trailer.

Add a sliding tray at the floor of that space for easy accessibility of the generator. Also, make sure to provide good ventilation and sturdy exhaust piping. For the connections, you can either plug in a cable externally or route a fixed cable internally.

Install RV generator on tray >> Check out the video below:

Weight distribution is essential here. Visualize how the system will perform when you’re driving at high speeds or stopping suddenly. A bumpy or shaky installation is the last thing you need. On a brighter note, this arrangement is often neat, versatile, and practical.

On the Rear Frame

You’d need to fashion a simple structure to hold the generator to the rear bumper. It’s easy to make and install. A word of caution though: be careful while rearing your trailer, you don’t want the generator to bump into things.

Portable generator installed in RV rear frame >> Check out the video below:

The main concern is the weight placement, especially if the loading of the trailer is leaning more on the backside. It should also get a proper covering to maintain the generator during tough weather. 

Above the Battery Box

There’s a good spot at the front of the trailer, right behind the propane tanks. You can DIY a tongue to hold the generator or have a professional cut it and install it for you.

This method is often convenient, and it’s better than the placement above the propane tanks. The main pro-point here is that the tanks are still fully accessible.  

Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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