RV Generator Safety Advisory
(These Units Can Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning!)
What sparked my interests in the RV Generator issue? Two things actually, the first one was close to
home. A good friend of mine, unbeknownst to himself had a carbon monoxide leak slowly seeping into his RV.
After installing his rigged up exhaust system, he ran his air conditioning and other appliances off
of the portable generator versus off of the RV power.
One day as he was driving along, he inexplicably came down with an overwhelming headache and
started feeling sick, the cabin felt like it was turning around in circles and he was having trouble thinking
I believe the only thing that saved him was his military training and background. Once those
symptoms flared up, he immediately pulled over and got his family out of that death trap on wheels.
They had the RV towed to a shop and tests were ran to determine if it was carbon monoxide poisoning
or some other issue. When they fired up that generator and let it run, it set off the carbon monoxide detector
after twenty minutes. An examination of his homemade system revealed that the integrity of the connector that tied
the muffler and the exhaust system together was not properly sealed.
Had they let that RV generator run after they had parked, we’d most likely be reading about them on
the Channel Five News. Please heed this warning carefully; avoid homemade RV generator exhaust systems at all
costs! I have to be honest, being in the generator business, I have seen some pretty dangerous setups jimmy rigged.
To this date I have yet to see or identify any homemade installation that meets reasonable standards for safely
handling RV generator exhaust gases.
Unless you are a mechanical engineer, this is not a do it yourselfer project. The second thing that
sparked my interest in addressing this matter is that every year more than a thousand people die in their sleep due
to carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t take a chance and become one of them. When these accidents happen due to fumes
from a portable generator or some other
type of generator, rest assured the incident always
finds its way across my desk. Many nights, I have pondered how different the outcome would have been had the person
or family been educated on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
There are plenty of options available for those who would like to run their RV generator while
parked. If you decide to use one, make sure that the installation is done to specs. Don’t allow the person doing
the install to cut corners or jimmy rig anything. I’ve seen people use common couplers and U-clamps to join the
muffler from the RV generator to their exhaust system. A million times NO! I’ve watched them wrap duct tape around
that connection, thinking that would seal it, once again, NO! If you’re going to do it, have it done right.
Remember, your life and the life of others is at stake.
And finally, don’t learn this next lesson the hard way. One thing many of these RV generator do it
yourselfers very rarely take into consideration is the hot pipe their exhaust system exposes others to. All it
takes is a child or an unsuspecting adult to touch that piping, and you’ve got a potential lawsuit on your hands.
My suggestion, if you’re going to add an exhaust system to your RV generator, get it done professionally if at all
possible. If not, use one of the pre-fabbed kits that are recognized by industry experts as being safe.