Can You Run an RV Generator While Driving?

Taking your RV on vacation can be made more enjoyable by providing you with an RV generator. The generators of RVs provide DC power, which is then converted to AC power by the RV appliances through a special converter. Imagine you are driving on a long road, and you suddenly…

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Taking your RV on vacation can be made more enjoyable by providing you with an RV generator. The generators of RVs provide DC power, which is then converted to AC power by the RV appliances through a special converter.

Imagine you are driving on a long road, and you suddenly find yourself needing to turn on your electric appliances. It is obvious that RV generators will serve this purpose here, but can you run an RV generator while driving?

Can You Run an RV Generator While Driving

I understand it’s a sensitive question, considering you’re behind the wheel while a generator is running without knowing whether it’s a good idea at all.

There is no need to worry because this article will cover this question properly and after reading this I am sure you will not worry about your RV generator running while you are traveling.

Also Read: How To Start Generator Without A Pull Cord?

Can You Run an RV Generator While Driving?

Yes, you CAN run an RV generator while you are driving. Nonetheless, there are some things you need to know to ensure your experience is pleasant.

Propane Generators

There may be laws in your state or locality that prohibit the use of propane while driving if the generator is propane-fueled. There may be jurisdictions that prohibit the use of propane on roadways, bridges, or tunnels, or even the transport of propane itself.

Gasoline Generators

When you’re using a gasoline-powered generator, make sure the tank is full. Gasoline is used to fuel the generator, just as it is for the RV’s engine.

If the fuel tank drops below 1/4, the generator will automatically shut off. In most cases, the gas tank won’t run out while you are driving. It is a safety feature built into most generators to ensure that fuel can’t be consumed just by running the generator. By using this safety feature, you won’t be stranded without gas in the middle of nowhere.

RV Generator Types

Generators for RVs come in many different types, each of which requires different considerations. In addition to propane generators, diesel generators, and gasoline generators, there are two main types:

In-Built Generators

Generators like these are built to be used immediately. Both the RV’s electrical system and the onboard fuel supply are directly connected to them.  It is often possible to customize these generators so that exhaust fumes are directed away from people by modifying their enclosures. 

Portable Generators

Because they are mobile, these external generators tend to be smaller. It would be set up at a distance from your RV and connected via a shore power outlet. This type of generator requires you to pay attention to exhaust and grounding. These are sometimes fitted to travel trailers when they are being towed.

Since each generator has its own safety concerns and limitations, you should know what kind you’re using.

What Are The Benefits of Runnhile Driving?

We listed a number of reasons below why you should operate your RV generator while driving:

  • Air conditioning on the rooftop
  • Refrigerator 
  • Microwave oven
  • A water heater that uses electricity 
  • TVs 
  • Other appliances that run on electricity

Using this equipment while driving may also become necessary.

Rooftop A/C

Can you run an RV air conditioner while driving? This is the most common question, and one of the main reasons to use the RV generator is to run both the rooftop air conditioner and the dash air conditioner. Motorhomes of this size tend to have both. While not connected to shore power, the RV air conditioner is powered by the RV generator when you are not plugged in. Running the rooftop AC is needed for the following reasons:

  • It is possible that the dash AC cannot cool the RV in extreme heat
  • You may want to keep your passengers comfortable in the RV’s back.
  • When driving in mountainous areas, you can turn off your dash air conditioner to save fuel and use the rooftop air conditioner to stay cool.


In addition to keeping the RV fridge cold, the RV generator is needed to run. Some RV owners debate whether propane or electricity keeps the fridge colder. My understanding is that it depends on the refrigerator itself.

You can set the fridge on automatic and it will determine which power source to use. The default setting of fridges is electricity, but if no electricity is available they switch to propane.

Microwave Oven

In addition, it’s possible to run the microwave on the generator while you drive. Running the generator while running the microwave is the only reason you need to run it. Turn the generator off when you have finished using the microwave.

DVD Players And TVs

While driving, if you want to watch TV or a movie with fellow passengers on board, the generator must be running so you can power the TV and a DVD player.

What Time is Suitable to Run The RV generators?

In case, you have a built-in generator. Under the following doubtful conditions, an inbuilt generator can usually be run:

When You Are Driving

It is perfectly fine to run the in-built generator while you drive due to its fixed position and direct connection to the RV. The fuel tank that powers this generator probably powers the engine as well. At about a quarter tank, however, the generator will shut off. 

During your stay on shore power, you are welcome to run your generator if you feel it is necessary. The new and properly maintained systems will easily handle it. It is not recommended to attempt it if your RV’s electrical system is suspect. If an AC power source is already present, power will be switched on when the generator is hooked up.

During Rain

No matter what the weather, you can run the in-built generator. No worries. Portable generators are another story. In order to avoid electrocution, portable generators should be grounded and kept dry. The generator can’t just be brought indoors due to toxic fumes. 

What Time is Not Suitable to Run The RV Generators?

RV generators should not be run at all times. There can be serious health consequences if precautions are not taken. Experienced RV users usually warn against the following:

Don’t Use The Generator While Sleeping

For those people who want to know, Can you run an RV generator while sleeping, here is the answer:

When you are driving an RV, this can be the most dangerous time to run the generator. Deaths have occurred. In particular, the concern is raised over carbon monoxide emissions from the generator. 

It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, but if you breathe too much in, you can die from carbon monoxide. Your body’s vital organs are deprived of oxygen from carbon monoxide, which displaces oxygen in your blood. 

Don’t Run The Generators When You Are Away 

Approximately 35% of RV fires occur as a result of electrical shorts or faulty wiring, according to Crossing Creeks RV Resort. Running generators can also contribute to RV fires. 

A faulty wire can cause a fire that ignites and quickly explodes causing severe property damage not only to your RV but also to the surrounding forest. When you are not around and the generator is running, this is more likely to happen. In the event that you are nearby, though, there is a chance that you can put out the fire initially.

During Refueling, The Generator

When adding fuel to a generator, you should never run it. In this situation, you can also be seriously injured by a fire. A gas station can make this even more dangerous. A spark from the generator may ignite fumes released by the fuel being added to the generator. In such a case, an explosion can occur. 

Keeping a record of the fuel level is also a good idea, so you don’t overfill.



You will have a lot of flexibility when you have a generator built into your RV. Whether you’re driving, driving in the rain, or connected to the shore, this will run. You don’t have the same options with portable generators

It is important to keep safety at the forefront of your mind even when both types provide vital electricity. Weak maintenance and poor preparation lead to too many fires and carbon monoxide poisonings.

Following this article, hopefully, you will be able to decide whether you need to drive while using a generator, and, if you must, what the safety precautions are.

If you found this article helpful on, please spread the word to your family, friends, and travelers. Comment below with your thoughts.

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Jennifer Smith

Jennifer Smith, with a rich background marked by a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, boasts over 10 years in the power generation sector. Her journey includes a notable 5-year tenure as a Senior Engineer at a reputed energy firm, alongside numerous publications and speaking engagements in industry events, reflecting her deep-rooted expertise in generator design and development.

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