Truck Camper Magazine Blog

The Portable Generator Conundrum

If we had a turnbuckle for every time someone told us they either didn’t use or didn’t like their built-in generator, we could build an Eiffel Tower of turnbuckles.

While the always-ready convenience of a built-in generators is indisputable, the cost, weight, noise, and maintenance requirements of built-in generators is equally high.  For some folks, these are acceptable trade-offs to be able to run the air conditioner in hot weather, microwave dinner, or make coffee on a residential size coffee maker in the morning.

For our personal truck camping habits, we make do without a generator and don’t feel we’re missing a thing.  In fact, we have not had a built-in generator on a truck camper (on loan or our own) since 2012.  That’s tens of thousands of truck camping miles and hundreds of camping experiences – Walmart parking, BLM boondocking, and full hook-up campgrounds – with nary a moment when we thought, “Sure would be nice to have a generator”.

To keep us honest, we have had 100-plus watts of solar, dual batteries, and all LED lighting on every unit since 2012.  If you took those three elements from our rig right now and sent us back to no solar, one battery, and incandescent lighting, we would instantly require a built-in or portable generator.

Still, there’s something really comforting about having a generator when you need one.  For example, what if we got caught in hot weather without the ability to plug-in?  As humans, we can adapt, but our cat might be in trouble.  Another example is the accidental battery discharge.  Say we forget to turn-off our 600-watt inverter and it nearly drains our AGM batteries.

If we did buy a generator, it would be a 2000-watt portable like a Honda EU2000i.  One of the main reasons we haven’t bought one yet, other than cost, is the size and weight of the unit.  In short, where the heck would we keep the thing?

I don’t want to keep something filled with gasoline inside the truck cab.  I don’t want to give up our generator compartment.  I’m not too keen on putting it inside the camper, and I would prefer not to have it mounted outside.  In short, something would have to be sacrificed for this expensive, big, and heavy “might need it someday” item.

In the end, I would probably store it in my camper’s generator compartment.  That would mean other items like my tool bag would need to find another home, but that’s no big deal.  The bigger question is would I ever get it out and actually use it?  I’m still not sure.

This week’s Question of the Week was suggested by TCM reader Chan Crangle.  He asks, “Where does everyone keep their portable generators?”

Excellent question Chan.  To Chan’s question I’m adding, “Have you used your portable generator as much as you thought you would when you bought it?”

Click here to read the reader responses to this QOTW.


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