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Question Of The Week

Portable Generators Stocked, Stowed, and Challenged

This week TCM reader, Chan Crangle, asked, “Where does everyone keep their portable generators?

Having also considered this question, we added another, “Have you used your portable generator as much as you thought you would when you bought it?

As you’re about to see, these two questions received an impressive quantity of responses.  It seems the need and use of portable generators and the storage of portable generators are hotter subjects than we had realized.

Reading through the responses revealed practices that touch on safety measures that every RV owner should know and practice.  It’s no secret that TCM puts safety first, so we have assembled an overview of the most important safety tips regarding CO detectors and the filling and transportation of gasoline cans.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

When using a built-in or portable generator, or even camping in close proximity to someone who is using a generator, it’s critical that your propane (LP), carbon monoxide (CO), and smoke detectors are up to date and working.  Carbon monoxide from generators kills far too many RVers every year.  For detailed information on this important topic, please read, “ Replacing RV LP, CO, and Smoke Detectors”.

Safe Gas Can Filling and Transportation

Another important consideration with portable generators is the safe transportation of gasoline.  The first rule is to turn off your vehicle and not smoke near the gas pump or gas can when filling.

Only containers specifically designed to hold gasoline should be used.  All approved gas cans are red and indicate in writing that they are designed for gasoline.  When filling a gas can, you need to first discharge static electricity.  This can be quickly done by touching an exterior metal panel of your truck prior to handling the gas pump or can.  Your truck hood or door is likely a good example.

Always fill a gas can on the ground, never when it’s in a vehicle or RV.  By placing the gas can on the ground, the gas can should be grounded from electrical charge.  The gas can should also be placed a safe distance away from parked and moving vehicles when filled.

Immediately prior to filling the can, touch the gas pump nozzle to the side of the can in case of an electrical spark.  Then fill the gas can slowly to avoid splashing and overflow.  Never use the lock latch on the gas pump.  Leave a couple inches of space at the top of the gas can to prevent spills and overflow, and to allow for fume expansion.  Then secure the gas can cap tightly and wipe off any gasoline that may be on the exterior of the gas can.

Store the gas can upright and secure the gas can so it does not move when driving.  The selected storage area should be well ventilated.  For example, have the windows open.  Never leave gas cans in an enclosed car trunk or the passenger compartment of a vehicle.

Finally, keep gas cans away from all sources of heat, including the sun.  Gasoline fumes are harmful and should not be placed in close proximity to children, adults, or pets.  Never leave a child or pet in an enclosed vehicle with a gas can.

For more information about the safe transportation of gasoline, read, “How to Safely Fill and Transport Gasoline Using a Gas Can”.

Here are the responses to the Question of the Week:

“We use a Yamaha 2,000-watt portable generator.  I have the Torklift Lock and Load set-up mounted to the back of my flatbed.  It works perfectly with no issues at all.  The best part is that I don’t need to unlock the generator to use it.  I simply lift the generator cover up and plug the camper cord into it while it’s locked into place.

I use my generator about as much as expected.  We are about fifty-fifty on power and no power camping trips.” – Rich Bain, 1999 Chevy 1 ton, 12-foot flatbed, 2010 Adventurer 810WS

“Our portable generator has never been used.  It came with the camper, but we have never used it while camping.  I fire it up one time a year make sure all is well, and then put it away till next year.  The camper has its own spot for it, so I never worry about it.  Now, if we were to buy a new camper, I would not buy a generator with the camper.  We just don’t use it enough.” – Scott Vallie, 2008 Dodge 2500, 2005 Sunlite

“I have a Honda EU2000i.  I store it on my front rack for longer trips, or in the generator compartment for short trips.

Truth be told, I’ve never used the Honda out camping, but did use it twice at home during winter storms in the past two years.  I probably used the two previous generators more for storms also, than camping.  Overall I’d rather have it and not need it, than vice-versa, just like four-wheel drive.” – Kevin McCarron, 2013 Ford F-350, 2013 Northern Lite 10-2 CDSE

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