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Built In vs Portable Generator

Here are the reader responses to last week’s Question of the Week, “Do you prefer a built-in generator or a portable generator, and what brand and size generator do you prefer?”

Pro Built-In Generator Responses:

“This is a very easy question.  Built-in generators are better because I have not seen a single manufacturer of portable generators or inverter generators that allow you to run their units in the rain.

Case and point was our last Jamboree up in Freeport, Maine.  With rain starting Wednesday afternoon and continuing all day Thursday and into late Thursday night, I was not going to take the chance of blowing up or shorting out a $900 generator for the sake of running a few lights.

But, more importantly, is the refrigerator I keep in my trailer for the Sunday morning breakfast foods.  So I ended up putting almost thirty hours on my propane on-board generator. Now I concede that my electrical needs are more than most RVs need, but I want to close with this scenario…

It’s dark and cold outside and “Martha” says to “Henry”, “Honey I need the generator to cook supper tonight unless you want to eat your dinner cold”.  Henry puts his coat on and trudges outside.  He opens the compartment where the generator is stored, pulls it out, peeks inside the gas tank and swears because it’s low on gasoline.  Then he goes to a second compartment, pulls out the gas tank, fills up the generator and swears again as he spills gasoline over his shoes.  Then he trudges over the the shore power cord compartment, drags the stiff cord out and over to the generator and fires it up.

Martha smiles and proceeds to warm up supper while complaining that Henry smells like gasoline.  Five minutes later, Martha is done with warming up of the food.  Henry trudges back outside and puts the shore power cord away, puts the spare gasoline away, hauls up his portable generator and swears again as he steps in the puddle of gasoline he spilled five minuets ago.  Then he puts the generator back in its compartment and climbs back in the truck camper for supper.  Martha orders him to take a shower because he stinks of gasoline so much.  Henry takes a shower and finally has his dinner, only to have to eat it cold.

The moral of story is get an on-board generator where all you have to do is “pusha – da – button”. – Mikeee Tassinari

“Our built-in 2500 propane generator has served us well.  It also helped when a tropical storm knocked the power out for thirty-six hours.  With an extension cord and an adapter, I just plugged into a power outlet.  We ran the refrigerator and fans, using about five pounds of propane.  During the Fall, I keep the two propane tanks in our Lance 1050 full, as well as the two smaller tanks for our grill.” – Tom Martin

“Hi Angela.  I prefer the built-in generator.  It eliminates the need to carry an extra gas can.  And it’s so convenient to just push a button inside the camper to start it up, especially when the weather outside is bad.” – Gary in Oregon

“A Built In generator’s pros are that it’s more convenient in regards to running and general use.  Fueling is easier, and it runs off internal propane tanks.  You can still use them to power things in your house during a power outage; just run an extension cord to the camper.  The cons of a built-in generator is that you are married to the camper.  There is more noise, but they’re neighbor friendly.

A portable generator’s pros are that you can use them away from your camper.  There is less noise for you, but not your neighbors.  Cons are storing and transporting is labor intensive, and you have to carry extra fuel.  It has to be setup and stowed for trips and you have to worry about security.

Enough said.  I definitely prefer a built-in generator.” – Doug and Diane Goerz

“Hi Angela.  I prefer to have a built-in generator like the one in my Lance camper.  The things I like about the built-in is that I can start it from inside the camper without having to go outside.  With a portable generator you run the risk of theft.  I have been in campgrounds when other campers got their generators stolen.  Being built in, my generator would be very difficult for a thief to remove and make a fast getaway.  My generator is a 2500 Watt Kohler propane powered generator.  Anyway, those are my reasons for the built-in version.  Keep up the great work.  Happy Holidays to you and Gordon.” – Bob Chan

“My wife and I bought a used 1994 Lance Squire 8000 without a generator.  We were going on our first three week trip from California, to Colorado, to Missouri, to the Grand Canyon, to Yuma, Arizona, and then to Disney Land, California.  Our oldest son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren came with us looking for adventure.  Did I mention we were going from June through July of 2011?  Hot, Hot, Hot!

We installed an Onan MicroLite Series 2500LP and thought we would be cool and comfortable with the truck camper air conditioning as we crossed the desert.  Well, you know the, “Best laid plans of Mice and Men”.  Sure!  Right before leaving Missouri, our brand new Onan went “ka-put”!

We did stop in Albuquerque to see if the dealer could fix it.  Turned out it would be a two day wait and we were short on time.  What great memories we made.  It was only 107 degrees in the shade, and we’re still talking about it.

Once we got home I took the Onan into the shop.  It was under warranty.  Ty’s Electric in Tulare did a wonderful job.  Somehow a small bolt got lose and tore up the armature which was over $700 dollars worth of damage internally.

Granted those little LP generators are pricy, but I would have it no other way.  I would not trade our built in MicroLite for anything!  It serves the purpose.” – Lloyd Thomure

Pro Portable Generator Responses:

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