I’ve been thinking about buying a generator for my RV, but most of them have some sort of twist-lock plug that won’t connect to my RV shore power cord without an adapter plug. Is that adapter dangerous to use? And what about those RV Ready generators? Are they any better than a Honda generator that needs an adapter plug? They’re certainly a lot cheaper than a Honda. —Ralph
That’s a really good question that’s not easily answered in a single article. So I’m going to cover the basics of what makes a generator “RV Ready” here, and you can read much more about selecting a generator for an RV based on its noise level in my feature story in the RV Electricity Newsletter Issue 8 tomorrow (Sunday).
So here’s what makes a generator “RV Ready,” according to advertising literature. In addition to the twist-lock outlet on the generator, they’ve simply added a TT-30 RV outlet like you find on a campground pedestal, and which your 30-amp shore power cordset will plug right into. Some of these RV Ready generators will also include built-in surge protection, but that’s not really needed when you’re running from a generator since that implies you’re not on the power grid anyway.
But are twist-lock generator adapters safe to use? Yes, as long as you purchase a quality unit. I think the dog-bone style adapters (like the one on the left) tend to be safer than the puck style adapters (like the one on the right) simply due to the fact that hanging a big lever on any electrical outlet will only add to the stress and tends to make the plug walk out of the outlet. And that can lead to lost contact area, which can cause overheating in the plug. Of course this goes for any type of shore power connection, not just a generator hookup.
In either case, make sure you tie off your cordset to the handle on the generator so you don’t have the full weight of the heavy cordset hanging on the generator outlet. And visually inspect any adapter and cordset for corroded or bent contacts before plugging into a campsite pedestal or generator power.
So does RV Ready mean that a generator is quiet enough for a camping? Sadly, not by a long shot. While the advertisement for this particular RV Ready generator (left) states that it’s only 68 dBA, which they imply is “quiet as a conversation,” you’ll find it’s basically a loud contractor generator with an RV outlet added for convenience. While the TT-30 RV outlet is a nice touch, it does nothing to lower the sound levels of this generator (or your neighbor’s complaints) when it’s running. That’s because 68 dBA is not just 25% (1/4) louder than a generator that’s rated for 54 dBA, the 14 dB (deciBel) difference between 54 dB and 68 dB is actually 25 times as much acoustic energy and noise. Really….
Want to know more about how deciBels (dBs) work and generator sound levels are rated? Then read all about it in my RV Electricity Newsletter Issue 8. What! You’re not already signed up for it?
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40 years in the industry. Visit NoShockZone.org for more electrical safety tips. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com.