Top 6 Do's and Don'ts When Using Caravan Generators

Living in Australia is like taking part in one great adventurewith its thriving wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. Aussies don't need to travel that far to truly enjoy the great outdoors. They only need to find a suitable camping ground, pitch a tent, and enjoy the wild. For those who are not completely comfortable in roughing it up with nature, they can still enjoy the city life comfort while camping with caravan generators.

Why travel in a caravan?

Being the sixth largest country in the world, driving around Australia is a joy in itself. This is a good reason majority of vacationers in this beautiful and expansive continent choose to travel either by caravan or campervan rather than by car or by plane. Exploring Australia through a caravan has its advantages. For one thing, you don't need to spend a lot of money on hotel rooms and other accommodations. Because the towed caravan works as both your transportation and accommodation, all you really need to spend on is gas and other travel necessities. Moreover, traveling by caravan gives you more privacy and a greater camping experience. You can stay as close to nature as you want to be. Best of all, you can also take as much stuff as you want without worrying about excess baggage weight (or fees, if you choose to travel by air). You can also bring some appliances that would help bring home's comfort even when you're in the middle of a camping ground. You can even carry an inflatable spa, if you feel like soaking your stress under the full view of the stars. You just need to purchase one of those portable generators, which are widely available in the market, to power all your electrical appliances.

Caravan vs Campervan: Which one is better?

To the camping novice, a caravan and a campervan might sound the same. However, these are two very different vehicles, with their own pros and cons. Campervans are basically popular because they come in various types at an affordable price. Compared to caravans, they are also lighter to tow, which translates to lower fuel consumption for your vehicle (you'll probably drive a bit faster, too). Because it is relatively smaller than a caravan, a campervan can access off-road locations that a caravan cannot. On the other hand, caravans are bigger than campervans for a very good reasonthey can provide all the amenities (e.g. toilet and bath), storage, and privacy that a campervan cannot. Some caravans even offer separate bedrooms and are equipped with luxuries such as air-conditioning, TV, and a fridge. If you are not used to living with just the bare necessities, then getting a caravan equipped with a generator will make your camping experience a bit easier.

Purchasing Tips: How to Choose a Caravan Generator

Just like any equipment, you need to have, at the very least, a basic knowledge on how to purchase and operate a caravan generator. If you are new to caravan camping, you might want to consider these factors when shopping for a camping generator.

1. The number of appliances that it will power

The first thing any camper needs to consider when it comes to choosing a caravan generator is how much power it will generate. Hence, it is extremely important to make a list of all the electrical appliances that you're planning to bring with you to the campsite and calculate how much power you need to get all of them to work. If you're only bringing some small kitchen appliances like a coffee-maker or a toaster, then you wouldn't need to worry so much, as a simple portable generator can probably power those up. However, if you are planning to hitch your AC unit, then you might want something with more power. Technically, you'll be needing around 3,000 watts. Still, you need to consult your AC owner's manual to check the exact power it requires to run. Some AC units tend to require a start-up and running power, so you might also want to take that into consideration. You can use the following as basic guide: - For small and low-demand appliances (i.e. mobile charger, fridge), buy a portable generator that can produce up to 1,200 watts. - For medium-sized appliances and high-demand appliances (i.e. TV, laptop, blender), get a 2,000-watt camper generator - For large appliances (e.g. AC unit), get a heavy-duty caravan generator capable of producing more than 3,000 watts.

2. How much noise it makes

Most veteran campers tend to use their camping generators at the minimum. Some even decide to use generators for emergency cases only. This is because majority of generators produce noise when they're running. This can be a big problem, especially if you are camping near other campers. After all, the main reason a person goes camping is to get some peace and quiet. Thus, a noisy caravan generator can also generate some animosity between you and your camp neighbours. Fortunately, there are some generator brands that can produce the power you need quietly. Of course, the luxury of a silent generator can come at a steep price. Your best bet is to purchase a unit that produces a noise lower than 7 decibels (equivalent to human speech). It's not as expensive as the ultra-silent generators and produces a tolerable ˜noise' level that won't disturb your neighbours.

3. The type of fuel engine it uses

Ideally, you'd want a generator that consumes the same fuel as your vehicle because it would make it more convenient when refuelling time comes. The fuel will also dictate how efficient your camper generator will be when it comes to producing power. However, more than the choice of fuel, you'd need to consider what type of fuel engine your chosen generator should have. A generator's fuel engine can be categorised into three: 2-stroke, 4-stroke, and diesel. If you are on a tight budget, you might be enticed to buy a generator with a 2-stroke fuel engine, as it is, by far, the cheapest. However, this type of engine is also considered to be the most unreliable in producing power. You might end up refuelling your unit more than usual if you choose this type of generator. A 4-stroke fuel engine, on the other hand, might be a lot heavier than a 2-stroke, but it is also more fuel efficient and reliable to use. If you favour a nice balance between affordability and quality, then this is the best choice for you. Still, if you don't mind splurging on caravan generators, then you might as well choose a diesel engine. It is considered safer (as diesel has a higher ignition point than petrol) and is the most fuel efficient.

4. The unit's weight

The term ˜portable generator' can be regarded as a misnomer as most units are heavy and might even require two persons just to lift them off the ground. The weight is critical especially during refuelling, because you might need to lift the whole unit just to reach its fuel valve. There's also the problem of storing such bulky machinery without causing undue damage whilst you travel the off-beaten path.

Basic Do's and Don'ts When Operating a Caravan Generator

The thing about camper generators is that they come with plenty of hazards. This is a given in any equipment capable of producing such power. If you are still a novice operator of caravan generators, here's a list of what you need to know:

1. Do keep your generator dry

As generators produce massive amount of electricity, it is in your best interest to store them properly and keep them dry when you use them. As much as possible, never bring a generator out in the open when it's raining or snowing. You shouldn't also touch it (or its components) with bare, wet hands to avoid electrocution. Moreover, electric sparks can cause unintentional fires.

2. Don't use a caravan generator in an enclosed space

More than the threat of electrocution and fire, carbon monoxide poisoning can be a hazard when using a caravan generator. Just think about it: most generators are powered by the same fuel used for vehicles. Like in vehicles, the burnt fuel must go somewhere in the form of emitted smoke (mixture of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, among other things). To use a generator inside an enclosed space is almost akin to putting a hose on your exhaust pipe, putting the other end inside your own vehicle, and rolling up the windows with you still inside. You can avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by bringing your caravan generator outside, preferably under a tarp to protect it from the elements.

3. Do turn the generator off every once in a while and whenever you are refuelling

As mentioned earlier, generators tend be noisemakers. Most of Australia's campgrounds have their own guidelines on generators and the level of noise they make. In addition, it would be a waste to let your generator run for the entire duration of your trip, as it consumes fuel. Most veteran campers only turn their generators on during emergencies or when the outside heat is so intense that they need to use the caravan's AC unit. If you are planning to refuel, turn the generator off and let it cool down first. Remember, gasoline is ignitable, so a direct contact with the generator's hot engine can lead to a serious accident. The fuel should also be stored properly to prevent accidental fires.

4. Don't overload your generator

Appliances are usually plugged directly to a generator, or at the very least, to a heavy-duty extension cord (rated in either watts or amperes). However, you need to be careful on how many appliances are plugged to your generator. Overloading it can result in overheating, which in turn can lead to a myriad of problems. The best case scenario is you end up only with a ˜toasted' generator. Worst case scenario? The overheated generator might inadvertently start a forest fire. If you need to plug multiple appliances to your generator, just make sure the sum of power required is equivalent to the power capacity of your unit.

5. Do read the instruction manual

Whilst it's quite tempting to simply skim over the generator's instruction manual, it is not recommended that you do so. You might miss some important details (e.g. the compatible fuel for it to run). Even when it's not your first time to operate a caravan generator, you should still take time to read the instruction manual of your current one for safety purposes. After all, each generator model has its own unique list of do's and don'ts. What you can do for one portable might not necessarily work (or be safe to do) with another.

6. Don't let your generator stay unused for too long

Nobody really expects you to set out camping every month. However, storing your caravan generator and letting it go unused for more than a month can significantly shorten its lifespan. Bring it out at least once every month and let it run for just a few minutes to ensure that it will still be in good working condition by the time that you are ready to hit the road again with your caravan. It is also best practice to fill your generator with fresh gasoline before you let it run. Because it would be impractical to bring your caravan generator to a gasoline station prior to the maintenance start-up, you can try investing in a gasoline stabiliser so that you can still use your stored fuel.

Looking for an affordable, quality caravan generator?

Outbax, together with its partner brand GenTrax, offers a wide range of inverter generators to suit every camper's electrical power needs. Its line ranges from low power supply (800 watts) to heavy duty (6000 watts) ones. If you are planning to enjoy Australia's great outdoors, trust Outbax to provide the right camping equipment for you. Visit the site now!

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