A lot of new RV owners make sure to run out and get their hands on a quality generator to provide plenty of backup power on demand. But a lot of these RV owners are unsure of whether or not they can (or if it’s even safe to) run a generator while their RV is rolling down the road.
We can tell you (pretty definitively, in fact) that most generators can be run even while your RV is on, driving – even at highway speeds! You’re usually not going to cause any damage to your vehicle or to your generator if you have it running while your RV is driving.
At the same time, it’s important to understand when you’d want to have your generator running while your RV is on and driving and when it would be a good idea to have your generator off.
We cover that (and more) below!
Is It Safe To Run The RV Generator While Driving?
As we highlighted a moment ago, in most circumstances there’s absolutely nothing wrong – and nothing unsafe – about running your RV generator while your RV is driving down the road.
In fact, this can be hugely beneficial. Particularly if your RV is a little older and you’ve installed new appliances or electronics that require more “juice” than your RV can supply!
Of course, you may find that some states, towns and cities, or even local municipalities have rules and regulations about whether or not you can run your generator while your RV is driving.
Most of these rules and regulations are tied to the kind of fuel that your generator leverages, too.
For example, some localities might not be crazy about the idea of you running a propane powered generator down the road at highway speeds. At the same time, they really wouldn’t care if you had a solar powered generator providing the same juice – driving the same roads at the same speeds, too.
It’s generally not a good idea to operate diesel powered RV generators while you are rolling down the road, either.
The last thing you want to have happen is to find yourself in an accident and not only have to worry about your RV but also whether or not your generator fuel source is going to cause even more trouble for all involved.
Why Would I Need To Run The RV Generator While Driving?
There are a couple of reasons you might want to run your RV generator while your vehicle is driving.
For one thing, you might have installed a bunch of new appliances that are a little more power hungry than the ones that they are replacing. Your RV might have been able to provide all the juice necessary to run those appliances in the past – but now it just doesn’t have enough zip to keep everything rocking and rolling.
This is where an “on demand” portable RV generator can sort of piggyback on your main RV electrical system, providing that extra bit of juice (even while you’re driving) to make sure that everything is working the way it should be.
On top of that, you may have climate control systems – especially air conditioning systems – that get really power-hungry when the temperatures start to reach different extremes.
Your RV might be able to meet some of your climate control needs in very hot or very cold temperatures. But having that extra bit of juice in reserve will guarantee that you and your passengers roll down the road a lot more comfortably than you might have otherwise.
Finally, it’s nice to have the ability to use things in your RV that you might not have been able to use without a secondary power supply ready to roll.
A lot of the galley appliances (particularly microwaves, toasters, toaster ovens, etc.) are designed not to work while you are driving.
When the vehicle is in motion something happens in the electrical system to shut these appliances off, preventing you from coming distracted while driving – but also preventing anywhere else from using them while in motion, too.
Secondary power (from a generator) gives you access to those appliances and entertainment systems that you wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.
Can I Run a Portable Generator While Towing My Travel Trailer?
There are a lot of folks in the RV community that wouldn’t necessarily recommend you run a portable generator while towing a travel trailer – but that doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t be able to pull it off if you really had to.
The trouble here (the reason so many recommend against it) is that a portable generator needs to be situated outside of an RV or travel trailer so that it doesn’t fill up the interior with dangerous exhaust chemicals.
If you can find a way to avoid that problem entirely – and never put yourself or your loved ones in jeopardy or at risk – you might be able to get away with this.
Most times, though, folks wait to flip on their portable generator until they’ve set up base camp somewhere.
How Will My MPG Be Affected While Running The RV Generator?
You might think that running your internal generator (the one powered by your RV) is going to drain your fuel efficiency, but believe it or not your MPG rating isn’t going to be all that impacted by your generator – if at all.
If you generally get 10 miles per gallon without the generator on, you’re going to get close to 10 miles per gallon with the generator running full bore.
If you do a little better, you’ll do a little better with or without the generator – and if you do a little bit worse than 10 miles per gallon without a generator running, you’ll have about the same MPG when you run it.
Don’t worry about your fuel efficiency numbers getting thrown out of whack just because you need to flip on the generator and get a little more juice rolling through the cabin.
That’s nothing to worry about!
Can You Run Your RV Generator While Driving FAQ’s
Is It Legal to Run an External Generator While Driving?
Yes, it’s legal to run a generator while driving according to most states. However, to err on the side of caution it’s best to check with your state’s laws.
Why Does My Generator Shut Off While I am Driving?
A generator shuts off while you are driving for a number of reasons. One common problem is a low fuel level. If the engine can’t start because of a low fuel level, the generator will turn off to prevent damage. A defective ignition switch is also a common cause of generators shutting off while you are driving. When the ignition switch malfunctions, it causes the engine to stall, which in turn shuts down the generator.
If you’re headed out on the open road, be sure to pack your RV generator. Because, you can run your RV generator while driving.
First, make sure that the generator is properly wired and that the cables are appropriately protected. Additionally, be sure to obey all traffic laws while operating the generator – even if it’s just cruising down the highway at a slow pace.