Back to Basics: How to Use a Generator

Author: Tahlia Maynard   Date Posted:16 October 2016 

Generators can make caravanning much more enjoyable, and encourage the reluctant camper to hit the open road for a change.

How to Use a Generator

Love it or hate it, but there are undebatable advantages of carrying your own generator while caravanning. Of course it keeps you insured against mobile phones and laptops running out of battery, but that’s just the beginning. A generator eliminates your dependence on caravan park power supplies, allowing you to whip up a cup of coffee, prepare a nice, slow-cooked dinner on the road, do laundry, watch TV, and even sleep in air conditioned comfort!

However, with great ‘power’ comes great responsibility. The following are some basic guidelines and recommendations to keep in mind while using a generator.

First things first – do your homework:

Certain camping grounds and caravan parks do not permit the use of generators. This is particularly true for areas close to protected forests and natural reserves. Do some research to find out whether caravan parks along your slated route will allow you to use a generator. Even if they do, they will most likely have certain guidelines governing generator usage; in the interest of a hassle-free caravanning holiday, it’s always best to check these out in advance.

Basic generator etiquette at camping grounds:

You might be out on the open road, but basic civic sense doesn’t cease to apply. Continue being a good neighbour. Set up your generator such that its exhaust faces away from fellow campers. Not only is inhaling ULP fumes highly unpleasant, you definitely don’t want to perpetrate a carbon monoxide poisoning situation! Even if you do need to use your generator in a relatively constricted space, inform your fellow campers well in advance. Try not to run the generator when everyone’s trying to sleep, and if you absolutely have to, invest in a silencer to reduce the noise.

Regular generator maintenance:

Powering most modern generators on or off is quite simple, even for an amateur. What’s slightly trickier is developing some basic generator maintenance routines. These can range from periodically checking lubricant and coolant reservoir levels, to replacing a dirty fuel filter or faulty spark plug, to having a professional mechanic take a look at anything that looks or sounds different. If yours is an electric generator that uses your vehicle’s fuel, ensure that your fuel tank is at least 1/4th full. Most modern motorhomes with inbuilt generators come with this self-checking feature, but to avoid running to a fuelling station, it’s always good to be aware of how much fuel you have available.

Regarding security and possible theft:

Generator theft isn’t uncommon on camping sites. You can secure your generator any way you like, from chaining and locking it to a tree, to placing it in a dedicated box with an inbuilt locking mechanism on your caravan’s A-frame.

A few safety precautions:

Your generator fuel is combustible and needs to be stored safely. It’s always best to keep your ULP containers outside your motorhome, both for safety reasons, and because the smell of petrol isn’t a very desirable attribute in a motorhome! There are many safe-carriage solutions available for generators and generator fuel; essentially, these are compartmentalized boxes affixed to your caravan’s exterior, wherein the generator and the fuel containers can be stored separately. If you’re placing your generator on your caravan’s A-frame, make sure you’re including it in your tongue weight calculations.

Another important safety measure is to power down all other appliances before turning on your generator-compatible air conditioner.

Generators can make caravanning much more enjoyable, and encourage the reluctant camper to hit the open road for a change. Taking the above measures just ensures that you can extract the maximum benefits from your generator, and have that comfortable camping trip you’ve been looking forward to all year.