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Anyone with a little boondocking experience will agree that a portable generator is the most reliable source of power when dry camping.
But the problem arises when it comes to transporting your portable generator safely from one campsite to the next.
Sure, you can carry the generator on the bed of your tow vehicle or inside your trailer.
But that will mean lifting a heavy generator in and out of your truck every time you need it, making it difficult for some.
So, you’re just left with one option, mounting the generator on your RV.
But, how and where do you mount a portable generator on an RV? Well, here are three of the safest ways for mounting a portable generator on an RV and travel trailer:
- Hitch mounted cargo carrier
- RV bumper-mounted cargo carrier
- Mounting generator on the trailer tongue
In the rest of this post, I’ll be discussing each mounting method and talk about the pros and cons of each to help you make an educated decision.
Before that, let’s start by looking at why you should mount your RV generator.
Table of Contents
- 3 Reasons Why You Should Mount a Portable Generator on Your RV
- Best Generator Mounting Options for Your RV
- Other Considerations
3 Reasons Why You Should Mount a Portable Generator on Your RV
You may have seen many people mounting their generators on their RV and thought:
Why go through the hustle of installing a cargo carrier?
You could simply throw your generator in the back of your truck or inside your camper.
Here I will give you my three best reasons for moving your generator from the back of your tow vehicle to a generator carrier on your RV.
#1. Improve Safety
Carrying a portable generator in the back of your tow vehicle or trailer when traveling is a risky idea.
When you’re on the move, the generator may tumble around if not secured (which is the case most of the time). This may cause serious damage to the generator resulting in your generator not working at all.
Additionally, the tipped-over generator may leak fuel, making your coach smell of gas and increase the chances of fire.
#2. Reduce Chances of Injury
Carrying a portable generator in your tow vehicle or RV means you have to lift it in and out whenever you need it or the moving day.
You don’t have to worry if you have a small generator like the Honda eu2200i that weighs about 50 pounds.
But, what do you do if you have a large generator that needs two people to nudge and you’re a solo camper? Or your age or physical injuries doesn’t allow you to lift heavyweights.
A good generator mount for your RV is what you need.
#3. Save Space
Lugging your generator in your truck or RV can take up a lot of real estate that could have been better used to store other camping gear.
Gears that can’t be carried on a cargo carrier.
Additionally, the truck beds are filled with other camping equipment that may come in the way when trying to access the generator and vice versa.
Now you know the reasons why you should mount your generator on your RV. It’s now time to look at some of the best generator mounting options.
Best Generator Mounting Options for Your RV
You now know the benefits of mounting a portable generator on your RV.
Now let’s take a look at the various options you have in safely mounting your generator.
#1. Hitch Mounted Cargo Carrier for Generator
A hitch-mounted cargo carrier is a type of external carrier that mounts to the receiving end of any towing hitch (both front and back) of your vehicle or RV.
There are various types of hitch-mounted cargo carriers on the market today. But the one we’ll be taking a look at is made by CURT that comes with an open-framed body and a mash base.
There are various factors to keep in mind when choosing a hitch-mounted cargo carrier, with weight being the most important. It’s important to have an estimate of how much weight your hitch carrier will be carrying, especially when you’re on the road.
The CURT 18153 with its 60×24 inch basket can accommodate a lot of camping gear with a max weight of about 500 pounds. Additionally, this generator carrier comes with 6 inch high walls all around that prevents gear slides and provides a secure place to fasten your cargo using a net or fastener.
The main reason I like the hitch-mounted generator carrier is that it is the easiest to install and use. However, your RV should have a receiving hitch to use the carrier.
Most importantly, its weight carrying capacity should match or be more than the carrier’s weight carrying capacity.
You can buy a trailer receiving hitch like the CURT 13703 if your trailer doesn’t come with one.
To install a hitch-mounted cargo carrier, lift and slide it into the receiving hitch. Slide it till the latching pin holes line up. Next insert the latching pin all the way and the security clip from the other side.
Pro Tip: Spray paint on the latching pin after fastening it to prevent corrosion from eating away the metal.
Alternatively, you can buy a lockable latching pin like the CURT 23518 to keep your carrier from getting stolen.
You’re now ready to mount your portable generator and hit the road worry-free. For me, the most difficult part of the installation process was lifting the tray, as it weighs about 70 pounds.
This cargo carrier is built sturdy that can comfortably carry loads even when you’re barrelling down the highway. However, I would suggest installing a hitch tightener to prevent rattling and wobbling on the road if you often carry heavy loads over long distances.
With the hitch tightener in place, you have increased its strength by a few folds. But make sure you don’t test its limits by overloading or going over speed bumps and potholes without slowing.
The carrier is foldable and the angled shank increases the ground clearance. So now you can go to the most remote boondocking location with the worst roads and don’t have to worry about scrapping the carrier.
One question that many campers have asked is: will it work for my RV?
Well, the answer is, a hitch-mounted cargo carrier will work on any type of RV, travel trailer, 5th wheel, camper van, pop-up campers, and jeeps or trucks. All you need is the right receiving hitch.
Out of the box, the carrier is well balanced, but I wouldn’t put the balance off by putting more weight on one side compared to the other. For instance, if you have a generator on one side, place filled-up fuel cans and other things on the opposite side.
Moreover, tie-down your generator and other gears securely to prevent it from bouncing and falling off the carrier on the highway. You can use a ratchet strap or cargo net to secure them in place.
There are a few downsides to using a hitch-mounted cargo carrier worth mentioning.
First and foremost, your RVs license plate and tail light can be obstructed when the carrier is fully loaded. This is especially true for small teardrop-type trailers, jeeps, and camper vans.
In such cases, have spare license plates at hand and mount them on the carrier. Plus, install rear tail lights on both ends of the carrier to prevent accidents, especially at night.
Additionally, your backing camera may get obstructed, and you may have to go old school when backing your RV.
Overall, a hitch-mounted cargo carrier for generators is a secure way to carry your portable generator and other camping gears. It’s the easiest to install and use and can be mounted on any type of RV or motorhome.
#2. RV Bumper Mounted Cargo Carrier
The second and the most popular method for mounting a portable generator on your RV or travel trailer is using a bumper-mounted generator rack.
It is similar to a hitch-mounted carrier, with the only difference being it mounts on a bumper.
The bumper rack uses mounting brackets to hold onto a trailer bumper. This creates a rock-solid foundation for your generator and other camping gears.
The RV bumper-mounted generator rack we’ll be talking about here is from Mount n Lock. It comes in a few different configurations and built materials that dictate how much weight it can carry.
There is one thing that comes above all other aspects when choosing a cargo carrier for your RV, i.e. how much weight it can carry.
This is especially important for carriers that are mounted on the rear bumper of the RV.
Generally, the primary purpose of any bumper is to reduce or prevent physical damage to the vehicle body in a minor accident.
In addition to that, RV bumpers are also designed to carry lighter cargo like tires, bikes, and kayaks. They are, however, not designed to carry the weight of a generator, especially when barreling down a bumpy highway.
So, irrespective of the weight carrying capacity of the rack, you’re limited by the weight carrying capacity of your bumper.
For example, let’s say the user manual of your RV specifies that the bumper is designed to carry about 100 pounds of weight. But you selected a heavy-duty steel tray, and the mounted weight of your cargo is around 200 pounds.
The extra weight on the bumper may not affect when you’re parked. But, will certainly tear the bumper of its welds on the road, resulting in an expensive repair or generator replacement. Or worse, imagine a tumbling bumper and generator flying right at your car from the RV in front of you.
Additionally, adding large weight to the back of your travel trailer will move its center of gravity, causing it to fishtail on the highway leading to accidents.
Watch this YouTube video to witness the dangers of towing a trailer with the wrong weight distribution.
Therefore, first, calculate the total weight of your generator with fuel in it and any other cargo you plan on carrying. Next, refer to the user manual to find out how much weight you can carry safely on the rear of your trailer before lugging on the cargo.
Note: Please replace your bumper with a new one or avoid this method if your bumper is old or looks worn out to avoid catastrophe.
Additionally, you can reinforce the bumper to boost its strength to carry more weight. There are various methods to increase the strength of your bumper.
Of them, the easiest and safest way is to install a pair of heavy-duty supporting struts from Mount n Lock. These brackets will not only increase its weight carrying capacity but will also prevent any directional play on the road.
The carrier comes with a standard size of 2×2 feet, which is sufficient to carry most small to medium-sized generators. You can also assemble multiple trays to get a larger surface area to haul more or bigger items.
Additionally, the carrier’s sidewalls come with 60 tie-down points that hands you the ability to secure any size generator.
So how much weight can each carrier carry?
Generally, the weight carrying capacity of the carrier mainly depends on its built material and the number of legs it has. You have the option to choose between 2 and 4 supporting legs. Aluminum, steel, and hybrid are the 3 different types of materials used to build.
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty option, go for a 4 legged steel carrier as steel is stronger than the other two. The 4 legged steel carrier is rated to carry about 400 pounds.
However, make sure you know how much your generator weighs and add 50% more to choose the weight lifting capacity of your carrier.
Let’s say I have a generator that weighs in at 100 lbs with fuel. I would choose a tray that can carry at least 150-200 lbs. This is because the weight of a generator bouncing on a highway will feel more to the tray.
The extra carrying capacity will make sure both your generator and carrier are safe.
Keep In Mind: The weight carrying capacity of the tray is only true when the center of gravity of your cargo is closer to the bumper, ideally within one foot of the bumper.
The further the center of gravity goes away from your bumper, the less weight the rack will be able to carry.
Installing the Mount n Lock GennyGo RevX is very straightforward, and anyone with little to no experience can install it.
The carrier comes with 2 to 4 mounting brackets depending on how much weight you want to carry. All you have to do is put the mounting brackets over the bumper and fasten the bolts, and you have a solid platform to lift your generator and other cargo.
Additionally, there are three different configurations you can choose to mount the carrier: compact, standard and extended. Each assembly type allows a different configuration depending on your needs shown in this pdf.
However, one thing worth noting is that the carrier will fit any RV, given it has a 4×4 inch bumper. Anything big or small will mean compromised strength.
Overall, the bumper-mounted generator carrier is a safe option for carrying your generator. You can add multiple trays to accommodate more cargo, depending on your needs.
Make sure to reinforce the bumper and know the weight limit so that you don’t put the center of gravity of your trailer off balance.
#3. Mounting Generator on Trailer Tongue
The last and my preferred method for mounting a portable generator on an RV is using an A-Frame Cargo Carrier.
This method of mounting your generator is very different from the other two methods discussed above. The A-Frame cargo carrier mounts over the propane tanks on the tongue of your travel trailer.
The tongue-mounted cargo carrier we’ll be taking a look at is the Stromberg Carlson CC-255.
What I like the most about this method is that the tongue on a travel trailer experiences the most comfortable ride, irrespective of the terrain. This gives me peace of mind that nothing in my expensive generator will break due to all the jerking commonly seen when mounted on the rear end of your RV.
Additionally, the space the rack used is otherwise not used for any purpose. So you can use your rear bumper or hitch to accommodate other camping gears.
The carrier itself is exceptionally strong that sits on the strongest part of your travel trailer to carry a load of about 300 pounds. The hind legs of the carrier are adjustable so you can mount it on any trailer tongue. All you need is an A-frame that is between 14-55 inches in width.
The tray is pretty spacious and can fit two Honda eu2200i comfortably. However, make sure you’re within the limits of your tongue jack before you mount your generator or other cargo.
The height of the carrier is such that you will have to remove the top tray to get the propane tanks out for a refill. This is especially true if your propane tank has a hardcover on it.
However, you can ditch the hardcover and use a soft vinyl cover to avoid going through the hustle of removing the tray every time you need to refill the tanks.
The height is 29.5 inches from the top of the A-frame to the bottom of the tray. That is sufficient height to fit two 30 lb propane tanks without needing to remove the carrier, which is not possible with 40 lb tanks.
The height of the tray may make it difficult for some to put the generator on the tray, especially if the generator is heavy. Moreover, shorter people may find it difficult to use the recoil to start the generator at this height if the generator lacks an electric start.
Though you can adjust the height of the carrier to fit your needs, that will mean sacrificing the size of the propane tanks.
Because the generator mount sits on a very sturdy platform, the vibration from the generator can be felt inside the cabin. This is especially true if you have an open frame or an old generator. You can place a thick rubber mat on the tray and the generator on it to help dampen the vibration.
The position of the tray may be disturbing for campers whose bedrooms are on the front of the trailer. The noise from the generator may make it difficult to sleep while it is running.
Unlike the other two methods, you can’t mount an A-frame cargo carrier on any type of RV. You need a towable travel trailer that has a tongue as the carrier mounts on it. Moreover, you can’t mount it on a 5th wheel either.
This is the most difficult carrier to install amongst the three types. It needs a few tools, including a drill machine to fix it to your trailer tongue. Check out the installation video to make the process easy.
Overall, if you’re looking for the most secure option to carry your generator, then mounting it on your trailer tongue is your best bet. This is the most secure place for your generator compared to the other two as no mishap can reach it and is my preferred way.
Now you have come a long way, learning the benefits and the safest way for mounting your generator.
It’s time to look at a few minor issues that can quickly turn into major problems if not taken care of.
#1. Strap Down Your Cargo
Irrespective of the type of mount you use to carry your generator, make sure it is strapped down securely when on the road.
This will make sure your generator or other cargo doesn’t jump out of the carrier, causing chaos on the road. You can use a cargo net or rope to tie the lighter items.
However, to secure heavier items like your portable generator, use heavy-duty ratchet straps.
Once the generator is tied down securely, make sure to nudge it to see if there is any movement.
#2. Reduce Vibration
Generators have moving parts inside them that produce vibration when running.
You may not have to worry about it if you’re running the generator on the ground. But, running a generator on any cargo carrier means the vibration will reach the cabin.
This is especially true if you have an old open-framed type of generator.
The vibrations from the generator may annoy you if the generator is mounted closer to where you spend most of your time in the RV. It may be worse if the generator is mounted next to your bedroom and you’re trying to fall asleep.
You can place a sheet of thick rubber mat on the tray of the carrier and then put the generator on it. This will dampen the vibration and prevent it from disturbing you or your family members.
#3. Face Exhaust Pipe Away
The exhaust gases produced by the engine of a generator are hot and poisonous. And when mounted on a generator rack, they come closer to your RV.
The hot gases from the exhaust when facing your camper may damage the outer wall. Moreover, toxic fumes may get inside the cabin through open doors and windows.
So make sure to position the exhaust away from the walls and close windows that are closer to the generator rack. For an extra layer of security, use a carbon monoxide detector.
On the other hand, cargo carriers mounted close to or in the direct path of your motorhome exhaust pipe may damage the cargo in it. Make sure you add metallic barriers to the tray to divert the hot gases away.
#4. Lock Down Your Generator
Generators are expensive, and thus they are a prime target of thieves.
You don’t want a lingering thought constantly running in the back of your mind about losing your generator taking the fun of camping away.
Therefore, you need to make sure your chain down your generator to your carrier and discourage thieves from taking it away. You can also use a bicycle lock instead of a chain, which will look aesthetically better.
Whatever the method may be, make sure the generator is key locked.
#5. Proper Weight Distribution is Essential
Mounting a generator or other heavy cargo on the rear of any towable travel trailer disturbs its weight distribution. A trailer with its center of gravity moved far behind will sway or fishtail on a highway resulting in catastrophe.
Check out this video to find out what fishtailing can do to your travel trailer.
On the other hand, lugging huge loads on the tongue will put unnecessary stress on the tongue jack, tongue hitch, and your tow vehicle. This may damage your tongue jack, hitch and make steering difficult when on the road.
Refer to your trailer’s user manual to find out the weight carrying limits on both the front and rear to stay safe.
You now know the benefits of mounting a generator on your RV and the best generator mounting options to keep it safe.
Every mounting method discussed here is very secure whether you choose to mount it on the hitch, bumper, or the A-frame. Each has its pros and cons, so it finally comes down to your preference.
However, as for me, I will be mounting my generator on the A-frame as I find it to suit me, both in terms of security and convenience. As on the rear bumper, I am at risk of getting hit from behind or may hit something while backing up.