Why you Need to Exercise an RV Generator? (How to Exercise)

exercise rv generator

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Exercising a generator is an important part of generators maintenance that we often forget as the unit sits in storage.

Exercising is important as it ensures consistent performance and long working life.

But, what does exercising a generator mean?

Exercising a generator simply means running it periodically even when it is not in use, especially in storage. All you have to do is run the generator with some load on it for a few hours every few weeks.

In this post, we’ll take a detailed look at everything you need to know about exercising your generator so you don’t have to stay without power when boondocking.

Let’s start by taking a look at the benefits of exercising a generator.

Why do you Need to Exercise your RV Generator?

There are a lot of benefits to exercising a generator when in storage. Exercising a generator keeps it in top working order, ensuring it will start every time you need it.

Moisture can attack a generator that’s sitting in storage and running it regularly will prevent moisture from damaging the generator parts. Running your generator regularly will keep the moving parts lubricated, prevent your fuel from going stale, and keep your carburetor from clogging.

Moreover, exercising a generator regularly will help you detect issues at an early stage that will be easy to address at home, then going to your boondocking site and finding your RV generator won’t start.

Exercising your RV generator in storage is the easiest maintenance you can perform to enhance its performance and working life.

How Long should you Exercise your RV Generator?

You need to exercise or run your generator with load for no less than 2-hours a month. Though, the more you run it, the better it is.

However, Onan, the top RV generator manufacturer recommends at least 2-hours every month at half rated load. That means if you have a generator like Honda EU2200i that is rated to produce 1800-watts, you need a load of at least 900-watts on it while exercising it.

They also say that a continuous run for a few hours is better than regular short runs. Make sure to check the user manual of your specific model to find out other runtime and load options.

How should you Exercise your RV Generator?

Exercising a generator keeps it in optimal working order and makes sure it starts and produces power whenever you need it. Now let’s take a detailed look at the best way to exercise your RV generator.

Here are the steps to follow to exercise your generator to ensure peak performance.

  1. First, bring the generator out from the storage area into the open, where there is natural air. Running a generator in the garage, shade, or close to your home will increase the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  2. Now, check the fuel tank or gauge to determine if it has sufficient fuel to last the duration of the exercise. Moreover, check the engine oil level, signs of oil or fuel leaks, and any damage to the wiring system.
  3. Next, fire up the unit and let it run for a minute or two without any load. Now, connect a load to the generator that is no more than 50% of its rated wattage. In the case of an onboard RV generator, you can turn on a few appliances inside the RV to add load.
  4. Let the unit run for at least 2-hours with the load connected, and don’t leave it unattended.

Here are a few things you need to keep an eye on while the unit is running.

  • Check if the generator sounds normal, no excess vibration and heat
  • Check to see if there are any fluctuations in voltage and frequency
  • Attend the generator if any alarms ring
  • Check to see if there is any fluid leaking, be it motor oil, gasoline, etc

Plan to exercise your generator on a day that you don’t have other engagements to ensure you’re there to identify even the minor issues. You can mark the day on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone so that you don’t miss the maintenance schedule.


Exercising your RV generator regularly will ensure its peak performance and extend its working life. It will also help you detect any issues at home so that you don’t get a surprise at the campsite.

All you have to do is run the generator with a load on it for 2-hours each month, and your generator will serve you well.