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Old 07-05-2015, 06:33 AM   #1
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Sleeping w/Generator on for AC use

Thor Owner's Manual has a warning about sleeping with either engine or generator running for obvious reasons, CO gas.

If AC is needed to cool the unit through the night, does anyone still use the generator? Or best to follow Thor's advice?
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Old 07-05-2015, 12:09 PM   #2
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I would make sure my CO detector is working properly before doing so. I have seen their warning and it is a valid concern, but with the CO detector working properly I would and have slept in an RV with the genset running. Just my opinion!
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Old 07-05-2015, 12:34 PM   #3
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I don't think I would ever sleep with the genny running. Too much opportunity for something to go wrong.

If we are traveling and find ourselves stopped at a rest stop we will use the genny and the engine to cool things down prior to sleeping. Once it's lights out, though, both engines will get shut off.

If it's that hot that we need A/C I find a campground instead of Walmart/Cracker Barrel/etc.

I would expect that you will get many opinions for this question--much like the "Do you turn off your fridge at gas stations" question.
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Old 07-05-2015, 03:11 PM   #4
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I don't think I would ever sleep with the genny running. Too much opportunity for something to go wrong.

If we are traveling and find ourselves stopped at a rest stop we will use the genny and the engine to cool things down prior to sleeping. Once it's lights out, though, both engines will get shut off.

If it's that hot that we need A/C I find a campground instead of Walmart/Cracker Barrel/etc.

I would expect that you will get many opinions for this question--much like the "Do you turn off your fridge at gas stations" question.
I researched this idea a bit when we first got our MH. Currently, my thinking is along the same lines as Jamiegeek. We've stayed at a few cracker barrels and a truck stop or two, but the weather was much cooler. If hot enough, I would splurge for a CG I think.....

My genny is located under my dining slide, so if I were to ever do it I would likely pull that slide in for the night. Also, I have in the back of my mind to get a genturi some day.....as I hope to set up down at sun n fun next year and so I may be confronted with this temptation to run the AC at night.
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Old 07-05-2015, 03:55 PM   #5
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I have and would do it again in a motorhome that is built well and sealed properly. I'm not sure many are though. In my Class C after finding gaps under the floor I did not do it again. In most Class B with their inherent tighter construction I'd have less concern.



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I would make sure my CO detector is working properly before doing so. I have seen their warning and it is a valid concern, but with the CO detector working properly I would and have slept in an RV with the genset running. Just my opinion!
Agree it's very important to check detector, and regularly. Although I have to admit that pushing a button to test a circuit doesn't make me feel 100% safe. If running a generator at night to sleep I may invest in a second detector for additional peace of mind.
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Old 07-05-2015, 04:14 PM   #6
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I was thinking more of boondocking rather then o/n in Wal-mart, etc. But, now that I think of it we seldom boondock when it is that warm!
But, it is still a personal issue whether you want to do it. You have to do what is comfortable for you in this issue.
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Old 07-05-2015, 06:37 PM   #7
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Interesting conversation.

What is more interesting is the concern over a generator running an internal combustion engine, installed in an outside compartment which should be open on the bottom and having a relatively well sealed exhaust system which extends beyond the wall of the coach.

There is however, no mention of running the hot water heater, furnace or refrigerator on LPG and all of those systems have open combustion chambers which are located somewhat inside the walls of the coach. I believe I would be more concerned about Carbon monoxide from those items than that generator.

As long as you verify the exhaust system does not leak and open a vent or window for some fresh air ventilation there shouldn't be a problem.

As for myself, if I am travelling and I can't afford the 30.00 for a campground for an overnight stop I'm not travelling.
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:48 PM   #8
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I've never avoided a campground to save the cost, or stayed at a Cracker Barrel, Waltmart, etc... not that there is anything wrong with that as far as I'm concerned. On the other hand there are numerous reasons we might want to spend the night where shore power is not available. And we do occasionally -- not often but it happens. I like the option.

For that reason being able to run the AC at night without plugging in is a big plus. And because of safety, noise, vibration, and Natural Park restrictions, I would very much like to run it off batteries instead off an internal combustion engine. For a Class A that may still not be practical/affordable, but I look forward to the day it is. For a Class B I would definitely pursue it at present level of technology.
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Old 07-06-2015, 12:37 AM   #9
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I would make sure my CO detector is working properly before doing so. I have seen their warning and it is a valid concern, but with the CO detector working properly I would and have slept in an RV with the genset running. Just my opinion!
Does the generator know it's night, and how does it run differently at night than during the daytime?
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Old 07-06-2015, 01:37 AM   #10
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Well the answer seems rather obvious. The subject was sleeping with the genset on. Usually at night (but you can certainly take a nap/sleep in the day and the same rules would apply).
While sleeping you might not notice that strange odor of exhaust (I know CO is colorless and odorless but the exhaust carrying it is not)! You will not notice you are getting confused easily, slurring your words, etc.
The point is not night or day but not situational awareness while your genset is running and you are sleeping.
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Old 07-06-2015, 06:00 AM   #11
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The generator is set up to be run continuously and its exhaust is vented to the outside. The generator can run all night if necessary and I have done that on occasion. There is also a CO2 detector located in the couch if by chance any fumes did sneak in the alarm would sound.


The fans and furnace fan will run off the battery and if that gives you enough ventilation you may not need to run the generator and the A/C.
I did notice in the State parks and in RV parks that generators are not permitted to run.

I usually run the generator in rest stops, or parking lots or on the road if I need the roof A/C.
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Old 07-06-2015, 08:58 AM   #12
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CO is strange, while in it's pure form it is naturally slightly lighter than air, that has nothing to do with how it dissipates. Depending on environmental factors; temperature, mixture with other exhaust chemicals, etc. it can either rise, sink, or stay at the same level until it dissipates.

Simply, the path that CO takes can be unpredictable.

Therefore, it is possible that you could become asphyxiated in a bedroom with a CO detector on the ceiling in another part of the RV and it never goes off.

I remember not too many years ago, there was a string of deaths from CO asphyxiation on several boats. Some of these incidents occurred in the daytime, with people swimming in the water.

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/coboating/
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Old 07-06-2015, 12:39 PM   #13
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At night there is typically less wind (at least in my area) which could make it easier for exhaust to accumulate in area of RV rather than being blown away from RV.

Modern automobile engines are extremely clean and don't produce much CO. Most generators, lawn mowers, boats, etc. don't have automobile-level exhaust treatment and therefore concern me more. Modern cars can be so clean when operating properly that their exhaust is reportedly cleaner than the intake air in some cities. Unfortunately generators don't have that level of emissions control.

I knew a mechanic who worked with my dad who died while sleeping in the back seat of his car with the engine running to stay warm. That was a long time ago when cars polluted a lot more. That's not to say it would be safe today.
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Old 07-06-2015, 01:51 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by dstankov
There is however, no mention of running the hot water heater, furnace or refrigerator on LPG and all of those systems have open combustion chambers which are located somewhat inside the walls of the coach. I believe I would be more concerned about Carbon monoxide from those items than that generator.
Good point: While we really wouldn't have an issue with running the water heater overnight I really wouldn't have a reason to do so.
Running the furnace overnight is a common thing everyone does (even at home)--thus how is this fundamentally different than running the generator? Does propane burn cleaner than gas and thus not produce nearly as much CO? (at home the furnace has a separate flue for the combustion products and thus they exit the house..)

I've noticed that the refer doesn't use nearly as much propane as the furnace or water heater. Comparably like a bunsen burner vs a jet engine (at least that is the difference in sounds between the refer and water heater/furnace) and thus the refer probably doesn't produce that much CO/CO2. In addition, if the refer is kept closed all night, it is likely that the cooling cycle wouldn't run as much anyway (given the cooler temps overnight, and no radiant heat from the sun heating the unit).

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CO is strange, while in it's pure form it is naturally slightly lighter than air, that has nothing to do with how it dissipates. Depending on environmental factors; temperature, mixture with other exhaust chemicals, etc. it can either rise, sink, or stay at the same level until it dissipates.

Simply, the path that CO takes can be unpredictable.
Isn't the resulting CO created from combustion typically hotter than the surrounding air and thus would rise due to convection?
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Old 07-06-2015, 01:52 PM   #15
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Modern cars can be so clean when operating properly that their exhaust is reportedly cleaner than the intake air in some cities.
I have heard that as well, but I don't think I'd want to test it...
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Old 07-06-2015, 05:50 PM   #16
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I have heard that as well, but I don't think I'd want to test it...
Just curious, does your generator have emissions controls like a catalytic converter for exhaust treatment? Mine had none, and on newer rentals I haven't seen one either, although I didn't look that hard. I just remember seeing a muffler.
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Old 07-06-2015, 06:27 PM   #17
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Thank you for the discussion. Exactly what I was looking for. My question stemmed from our recent stay with relatives near Waco, TX and we parked on their driveway. We only had 15V available and considered running the generator for ac. Breeze with open windows was fine during day but not at night.
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Old 07-06-2015, 08:06 PM   #18
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There is however, no mention of running the hot water heater, furnace or refrigerator on LPG and all of those systems have open combustion chambers which are located somewhat inside the walls of the coach. I believe I would be more concerned about Carbon monoxide from those items than that generator.
The water heater, furnace, and refrigerator are all specifically designed to operate safely and combust propane fuel without concern. They are all shielded and vented to the outside to vent CO away from the living quarters.

The generator is a different issue. It's nothing more than a portable unit strapped to a convenient available location on the chassis. The generator is located in very different locations on different coach floorplans. The only provision for safely directing the flow of toxic gasses and CO is the location of it's exhaust pipe. It's not intrinsically designed like the RV water heater, furnace, and refrigerator are to operate without giving it a thought.

While it's commonly used in RVs, the similar design is also used as a stand-alone unit in industrial and commercial applications. It's engine produces far more toxic gasses and CO in a few minutes, than all the other RV appliances combined produce in hours.
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Old 07-06-2015, 08:15 PM   #19
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I have heard that as well, but I don't think I'd want to test it...

Not if the engine is burning gasoline, diesel, propane, or compressed natural gas. The combustion and exhaust process will still produce and allow toxic substances to vent to the atmosphere on all of the current state of the are emissions systems.

With current technology, the quote only applies if it's a fuel-cell electric vehicle with very good air filters. In that case the polluted intake air is filtered and exhausted with water vapor. So, the dirty air that came into the fuel cell, is filtered on it's way out, and is cleaner. The air was never burned or combusted, but simply contributed to a chemical reaction.
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Old 07-06-2015, 08:35 PM   #20
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Just curious, does your generator have emissions controls like a catalytic converter for exhaust treatment? Mine had none, and on newer rentals I haven't seen one either, although I didn't look that hard. I just remember seeing a muffler.
Not any that I can see.
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