Most people are used to having electricity at their fingertips, with the ability to make coffee, watch the morning news on TV, or run an air conditioner without a second thought. But in an RV, you must think about your power usage a little more carefully. Sure, you may be parked at a campground and your RV is plugged into shore power, but what about those times when you’re on the road and stop for a single overnight or go boondocking and need to charge batteries? That’s where an RV generator comes in.
Whether your RV comes with a generator or you purchase one separately, it’s a machine that requires general care and maintenance, just like every other part of your rig. Luckily, by following these few tips, you can help keep your generator running and performing at optimum levels:
- Exercise your generator – Exercising your generator means that you should run it under load at least once a month. To start, turn on the generator and run it for a few minutes without turning anything in your RV on. Next, you’ll want to put the generator under load for up to two hours or so, at about 50 percent of its total wattage. For example, if you have a 4000-watt generator, you’ll want to run an appliance that requires about 2000 watts. Running one or two air conditioners (or one or two other appliances) might do the trick for this part of the exercise. Finally, in the last few minutes of exercise, you’ll want to run the generator off load again. Doing this each month – even when your rig is in storage – will help keep the machine from gumming up and keep everything in working order.
- Don’t use your generator for only a few minutes at a time – Running the machine for only a few minutes every time you need to make a pot of coffee, for example, puts a lot of wear and tear on the unit. In general, it’s best to run your generator for a couple hours at a time at least, giving it the ability to warm up properly and run without interruption.
- Change the oil in your generator – Just like your everyday car or truck, your generator will need its oil changed regularly. To do so, you’ll need to access the drain plug from underneath the generator, remove the drain plug to drain the oil into a pan, replace the plug, and then pour fresh oil into the generator’s reservoir. Make sure you check the owner’s manual and confirm whether your unit requires standard automotive oil or synthetic oil.
Additionally, you should follow all the other instructions in the owner’s manual and remain consistent with other maintenance requirements as needed, such as changing oil and air filters when needed, checking for leaks, and examining the exhaust system. You can also have your RV mechanic check out the generator when you bring in your rig for regular service.
Keep your generator in tip-top shape and it should operate properly for you when you need it most!
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