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Old 02-24-2021, 08:39 AM   #1
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Portable Generator Hookup

When I go to the storage lot to do things on the 5'er, I usually take my Champion generator and hook it up for while I'm there. For all I know I could be hooking it up all wrong. I usually start the generator, let it run for a minute, start the batteries in the 5'er, then connect the power cord to the RV, then the generator. I've done this many times and it seems fine. When I plug in the power cord to the generator, there's a slight draw the generator and everything is fine. Am I doing anything wrong? Just want to make sure I'm not damaging anything this way.

I will add when connecting to shore power at the campground, batteries on rv are on, I test the pedestal, turn off, connect power cord, then turn pedestal on. Hopefully this is correct too.
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Old 02-24-2021, 09:21 AM   #2
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That's the right way to do it. Then, when shutting down, do it in the reverse order ensuring that you disconnect the generator from the camper before powering it down. This prevents a low AC voltage condition that can potentially damage anything that is powered via the generator at the time.
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Old 02-24-2021, 09:31 AM   #3
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That's the right way to do it. Then, when shutting down, do it in the reverse order ensuring that you disconnect the generator from the camper before powering it down. This prevents a low AC voltage condition that can potentially damage anything that is powered via the generator at the time.
I agree that is a good way of doing it, to add a suggestion, I generally speaking try to have everything I can powered off when connecting or disconnecting the generator. That way you don't get the generator surge you mentioned.
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Old 02-24-2021, 09:38 AM   #4
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Main Breaker

I've always turned my breakers off at the panel until I get plugged in. I think the dealer told me to do this during our walk through. Not sure if this is the safest SOP or not. Seems to be good so far.
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Old 02-24-2021, 10:05 AM   #5
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I agree that is a good way of doing it, to add a suggestion, I generally speaking try to have everything I can powered off when connecting or disconnecting the generator. That way you don't get the generator surge you mentioned.
Yep, I do the same. Good tip!

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I've always turned my breakers off at the panel until I get plugged in. I think the dealer told me to do this during our walk through. Not sure if this is the safest SOP or not. Seems to be good so far.
I think this is overkill if you do as craigav mentioned and minimize load before connecting or disconnecting but I cant see any harm in it (other than maybe a little extra wear on the contacts in the breaker).

That said, when I plug in to shore power I do generally use the breaker on the pole as a switch. That doesn't make much sense since I don't do the same with my generator but I guess it is just a habit. I suppose it can provide a little personal protection in case the outlet on the pole is messed up. I do not do this at home when I plug in.
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Old 02-24-2021, 12:44 PM   #6
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Yep, I do the same. Good tip!



I think this is overkill if you do as craigav mentioned and minimize load before connecting or disconnecting but I cant see any harm in it (other than maybe a little extra wear on the contacts in the breaker).

That said, when I plug in to shore power I do generally use the breaker on the pole as a switch. That doesn't make much sense since I don't do the same with my generator but I guess it is just a habit. I suppose it can provide a little personal protection in case the outlet on the pole is messed up. I do not do this at home when I plug in.
I think I've connected/disconnected at shore power and at generator any and every which way you can and I've been lucky, haven't hurt anything, knock on wood, lol. Then this morning the more I thought about it the more I felt I was doing something wrong so I needed to ask.
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Old 02-24-2021, 02:20 PM   #7
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You might check the prongs on the plug that goes into your generator to see if there are any scorched marks. If you've been plugging into your generator last, and there are large electrical loads in the trailer that are on (refrigerator, water heater, etc.), it could cause a spark to jump to the generator plug. That's why turning the main breaker in the trailer off first is a good idea.
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Old 02-24-2021, 02:34 PM   #8
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You might check the prongs on the plug that goes into your generator to see if there are any scorched marks. If you've been plugging into your generator last, and there are large electrical loads in the trailer that are on (refrigerator, water heater, etc.), it could cause a spark to jump to the generator plug. That's why turning the main breaker in the trailer off first is a good idea.
No, when it's the generator, I'm going to the storage lot and the only draw when I turn the battery disconnect off, are power to the batteries, the basement light that comes on and the carbon monoxide detectors, that's all. Nothing else is turned on. But you're right, I have seen a tiny spark before when I plugged in the rv to the generator. So maybe before making the rv "hot" by turning the battery disconnect off, I should plug in rv first then turn the batter disconnect to activate power in the rv.
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Old 02-24-2021, 03:21 PM   #9
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When I'm boondocking I leave my Honday EU2000 generator plugged in all the time, and just start it up with everything connected. My fridge is set to gas all the time and my water heater is off, so the largest load would be to the charge converter.

I've read opposing views as to whether it harms the generator doing this. Some say it's a bad idea to start up a generator when connected to a load. I've also read that inverter generators don't supply output until it's running full speed, so it's not a problem.

My Honda has well over 5000 hours of use on it, and it's never caused a problem doing what I do, but I may have just been lucky.
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Old 02-24-2021, 04:48 PM   #10
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I do the same as SmokerBill. I'm not going to unplug my camper from the generator every time I turn it off/on, it's usually only the first time that I use it during a trip that I will make sure the generator is on before I connect to it. I don't leave it running any longer than needed. When my Champion inverter generator starts up, there's a second or 2 delay before the 'green light' turns on, indicating that is when the generator is actually providing current. My generator will not supply power at all until that 'green light' is on anyway so the camper isn't seeing any 'juice' until it's supplying the expected 60Hz 120Volt. Has worked for us. The cheaper construction-grade generators, I would be more careful. I know I used to own one that would start energizing circuits just by pulling the starter cable.
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Old 02-24-2021, 05:05 PM   #11
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I do the same as SmokerBill. I'm not going to unplug my camper from the generator every time I turn it off/on, it's usually only the first time that I use it during a trip that I will make sure the generator is on before I connect to it. I don't leave it running any longer than needed. When my Champion inverter generator starts up, there's a second or 2 delay before the 'green light' turns on, indicating that is when the generator is actually providing current. My generator will not supply power at all until that 'green light' is on anyway so the camper isn't seeing any 'juice' until it's supplying the expected 60Hz 120Volt. Has worked for us. The cheaper construction-grade generators, I would be more careful. I know I used to own one that would start energizing circuits just by pulling the starter cable.
Yep. I have the 3100 Champion and know what you're talking about with the green light. Sometimes I've seen it not come on at all and when that happens it's not providing power as I've seen happen before. I just shut it down and restart and it's fine.
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Old 02-24-2021, 05:18 PM   #12
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Yep. I have the 3100 Champion and know what you're talking about with the green light. Sometimes I've seen it not come on at all and when that happens it's not providing power as I've seen happen before. I just shut it down and restart and it's fine.
Just to add, anyone that has run out of fuel while on generator power.. I bet it has happened to most of us, it's just the same thing in reverse really. If the generator is not providing the expected input into the generator's inverter, the inverter section of the generator just doesn't output anything. Totally safe in my opinion. It's either on, or off as far as the camper is concerned. Generators do fail from time to time, but that's what my EMS is for (PT-30X). I'd make an analogy that involves condoms, but probably not necessary with this group
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Old 02-25-2021, 12:25 AM   #13
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When I run my generator, I still plug my surge protector into the generator and the RV into the surge protector the same way I do for shore power. There is 4 minute delay on before the surge protector releases power to the RV while it checks that everything is safe to send power. I don't bother with unplugging and plugging in every time I start the generator. That is why I got the remote start.

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Old 02-25-2021, 07:40 AM   #14
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I think the main key here is that if using a generator make sure it is the inverter style. They will provide the safest power on your electronics.
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Old 02-26-2021, 09:51 AM   #15
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I start the generator with the breaker on generator open and then plug in rv and then close breaker after generator has run for a minute
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Old 02-26-2021, 02:45 PM   #16
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I start the generator with the breaker on generator open and then plug in rv and then close breaker after generator has run for a minute
How do you do this? I don't understand.
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Old 02-26-2021, 03:10 PM   #17
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Some generators have a toggle switch type of circuit breaker that you can turn off like your home breakers. Some generators have a popout breaker that you cannot turn off. I have a couple (several) generators here, and only one has the flip type breaker, but if yours had that style then you could turn it off until everything is connected and the generator warmed up and running. Probably a safer way to do things I suppose. ~CA
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Old 02-26-2021, 03:24 PM   #18
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How do you do this? I don't understand.
Different generators have different abilities. My portable has a pushbutton circuit breaker reset, I cannot flip off the generator's circuit breaker unless I trip it.

I think the most important item when using a generators with RVs; ensure it is an inverter style. It has very clean power for all of our electronics.

The next two important items is to let the generator warm up before adding a load, and cool off before shutting down.

I have never tried starting my generator while it had a load on it. By that I mean, say having the AC or the electric heat turned on. I cannot believe it would be good for the generator. I would expect it would be very similar to trying to start a stick shift car, while in first gear.
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Old 02-26-2021, 03:28 PM   #19
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Some generators have a toggle switch type of circuit breaker that you can turn off like your home breakers. Some generators have a popout breaker that you cannot turn off. I have a couple (several) generators here, and only one has the flip type breaker, but if yours had that style then you could turn it off until everything is connected and the generator warmed up and running. Probably a safer way to do things I suppose. ~CA
Ok, thanks. I had a feeling it was something like that. I just have a push fuse breaker on my Champion that either works or is blown.
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Old 03-03-2021, 02:11 PM   #20
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Thanks for the tip to unplug before powering down. I have a Champion duel fuel but I have never used gas and the shut down procedure said to turn the propane off and let the generator drain down.
I’ll try this in the future.
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