Last Updated on :
A RV is definitely incomplete without a generator inside it. Boon docking needs a good generator for your RV. Even though campground have electricity hookups that cost less as compared to RV generator, your motorhome will always need a generator to run that roof top air conditioner while going down the road.
Having a generator but not using it often is a common thing among many of us but that may not be good for its life.
So, how many hours do you think will your new RV generator last. Lets get a average and direct answer to this mostly asked question.
An RV generator like Onan can last for long provided good care is taken. If you want an answer in terms of numbers then take this, a RV generator can go strong even after running 15,000 or more than 20,000 hours.
In terms of years, i will be happy to show you people who just topped 15 or 20 years using their rv generator and aren’t having a second thought of buying a new one. That sounds like you may have to buy it only once in a lifetime.
But, wait ! All this applies if you take good care and maintain the generator as per manufacturer recommendations. In fact, it wont be wrong to say that at times the generator will last longer than your RV or motorhome.
Looking at the average life of RV generator i am sure you are already flying in air. It kind of makes you happy looking at the money you pay, but remember this is all only after you take good care of the generator.
Importance of Maintenance
So, what do you need to do to make sure the Rv generator lasts so long. And, can it fail earlier if care is not taken. The average life that we saw above is possible with simple precautions that you need to take to keep the rv generator going.
Most people do these things and thus the generator life is seen to be longer. At times, major service may be needed but that depends on how the periodic maintenance was done.
During the entire lifespan of the RV generator you will need to do periodic checks and maintenance on it. This will make sure of a life that will be similar or in-fact more than your motorhome or RV. Lets go through each of the points,
1. Change Oil periodically
Changing oil in the rv generator is perhaps the most important thing you need to do. So, how often do you need to change the oil. The best thing to understand this is to follow the manufacturer recommendation. Or otherwise the number that most people follow is around every 100-150 hours of running.
This again depends when those number will flash on your generator screen. Some people get the generator but do not use it often and thus the 100 hour mark may not reach that easily. That’s bad, to be frank. You need to make use of the generator more, that’s why it was purchased. Lets see the next point related to the use itself.
Do periodic checks on oil : You also need to check the oil frequently. The RV generator may have an oil level indicator, the oil helps in keeping the lubrication. Many times the main reason why the RV generator needed a major servicing happens to be the oil wasn’t changed properly on time.
It is also important that you use recommended oil for the generator, the manufacturer will normally list out the type and brand of oil but it may not always be the case. Also, its not compulsory to use the same brand, but use something that is known.
It also depends on the temperature conditions where you are located. The oil viscosity is to be determined based on the temperature. If its very cold then the viscosity need to be lower. A local RV generator specialist will be able to help you in this case. You can take suggestions and then buy the oil.
2. Usage – make use of generator at-least few hours monthly
This is one reason why the generator may fail early or may need a major servicing at an early stage than it would normally need. Not using your RV generator at least few hours a month may mean you are doing a great deal of bad service to the generator.
Not using the generator will lead to issues that will be visible only when you start the generator after many months. Even the manufacturer recommends using the generator at-least few hours monthly. Even, if you do not need to use it, make sure you run it compulsorily.
Do you boon dock often ? One of the reasons why people wont use the generator is because they do not boondock. Even at campgrounds you would normally get the electricity hookup and it makes sense using it as the generator would be costly to use. But, making us of generator once in a while would also make sense as it will be similar to doing a servicing to the RV generator.
3. Regular maintenance
Apart from changing oil in he rv generator you will also need minor servicing from time to time. That may include things like changing oil filters, Cleaning of slip rings which may get rubbing from brushes.
No wonder an RVers who says that his or her RV generator is more than 15 years old must have taken great care of it and done periodic maintenance like Changing oil timely and many other things.
4. Do not shy from major servicing
A RV generator no doubt will last long years but that may need a major servicing at some point in time. Apart from regular servicing like changing oils, filters it may need replacements in belts, changing all fluids. You may also need to flush cooling system.
A major repairing and service can also be costly. As per manufacturer the belts in rv generator should be replaced in every 1500 to 1800 hours of running.
RV generator’s life expectancy is heavily dependent on the major servicing you carry out on them. There will always be a time when this has to be done. Whether it comes early in its years or later will depend on how much it was used and how the minor servicing like changing oil and other were done.
Gas vs Diesel RV generators
An Rv generator could be running on gas, propane or diesel. Now, each of them have their own pros and cons. I have seen people talking about how their diesel generator is doing so well and also people just not satisfied with the gas generator.
Fuel Efficiency : One of the top advantages of diesel generator is that it consumes less fuel as compared to gasoline ones. A gas generator works on the principle of mixing the gas and the air resulting in reducing the overall efficiency.
On the other hand, the diesel ones does not do this, both diesel and air remain separate during the running time and thus, fuel efficiency increases. To know more about RV generator fuel consumption go through this post that details out everything.
Remember, if you are full timing, then the fuel consumption does matter. With gas and diesel prices going up, the generator usage will increase the cost of living inside the RV. A electric hookup at campground will be lesser costly in terms of usage per hours. And thus, it is better to go for electric hookup if its available.
Noise : A general thought about diesel generators is that they are noisy conventionally. But, with newer models, there has been lot of improvement and it is more the case. You get less noisy diesel generators and cannot be considered as their disadvantage anymore.
Maintenance factor : A diesel generator is good on maintenance. A major servicing for diesel generator is needed much later as compared to the gas or propane ones. It can run 30 to 40 % more number of hours before a major haul takes place in them.
Life comparison : Also as we already saw, the RV generator in general will last long enough provided the maintenance is done with proper schedule. Comparing the diesel generator and the other fuels, diesel may live an extended life. But, with maintenance all can have similar life. Yes, the servicing with diesel will be a little better.
Cost : Diesel generator also tend to be more costly as compared to gasoline or propane ones. One of the downsides of diesel RV generators is the exhaust, its little but more as compared to propane or gasoline generators. And with poor maintenance, the exhaust can become worst. I am sure you definitely don’t want smoke inside your RV.
Need of a generator
So, you have been rving for few months and haven’t felt the need of generator. No wonder you have been thinking why do people even get those generators for their RV.
Remember, RV’s do come with on boarded generators and some of those do not get the built in ones. That is when you go for a portable one. Had posted this article about pros and cons of built-in and portable generators for RV.
High end RV’s most of the times would be given the on-boarded one but its upto you whether you want a one pre-installed or not. There are pros and cons of both of them.
But, the most important thing is to have one at all or not. If you are 100% sure that you wouldn’t go boon docking or you wont be using air conditioner while driving then you should be fine without one.
Travel trailers cannot carry passengers while traveling so, there is no need to air conditioner. But, what about campgrounds that wouldn’t give you electric hookups Well, most of the time you would easily get that electric hook up but there are chances where you wouldn’t find them and then the need of generator arises.
If you are one of those who would love to RV day in and day out then its better to have one installed in the RV, however small it may be. A normal boon docking would need you at-least 5000 W or above say 7500 watts.
Yes, its totally dependent on the usage and number of things that need to run using generator. Various appliances take different watts to run and start. A refrigerator for example, would need around 500 to 600 watts to run where as a air conditioner would need a little higher watts.
Whats the cost like
So, is it really worth it to install one in your RV? How much do you pay for a good generator for RV. On average you may pay around $500 to $2500. It all depends on the brand, wattage and different features that are incorporated inside it.
Some of the brands include Honda, Generac, champion, WEN, DuroStar, Yamaha and many more. You can go through this my earlier post about RV generator costs for more details, this will help you if you have any plans to buy a new RV generator.