Running a Generator Whilst Driving?

Submitted: Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 12:56
ThreadID: 100750 Views:5317 Replies:11 FollowUps:14
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OK, please don't flame me here as I'm only asking a question!


Is there any reason (legal or otherwise) why I couldn't or shouldn't run a portable generator secured to the drawbar to run power to my van whilst driving? Of course the lead would need to be secured well running to the power inlet on the van.


I realise this isn't established practice, but is it advisable and if not, why not?! :-)


Many thanks,


Alan
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Reply By: Member - Wamuranman - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:06

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:06
HI Al,

I have seen vans with this option but built from new that way. Recently came across a Sunland Winton with an in built diesel generator in the middle front locker. It was designed to run whilst being towed. In this case the power to the van from the generator was all wired internally.
Not sure how safe it would be to have a power cable from generator going along to the power inlet on the side of the van????
Cheers
AnswerID: 505505

Reply By: Member - Gerald V - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:07

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:07
Hi Alan,

Not flaming, but the first question that pops into my mind is: what could you possibly need to power while driving that your vehicle alternator in conjunction with a good dual battery system can't deliver?

I'm not aware of any reasons (legal or otherwise) but purely from a safety and practical point of view I don't think I would want to leave anything operating on a 240v power supply unattended and bouncing around in/on a van(assuming 240v output and not 12v from the gen?)

Interested to see where this leads...

Gerald

AnswerID: 505506

Follow Up By: Aussie_Al - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:19

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:19
Thanks Gerald,


To be honest I am not seriously contemplating this, just daydreaming here at work haha! If anything, it would be while towing the van in hot places during summer and having the air-con running so when you get there, it's all nice and cool!!


Cheers


Alan
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Reply By: bullet4x4 - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:29

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:29
I wouldn't want to fry. A emergency worker trying to cut me out of the wreckage after a car accident same reason I wouldn't hardwire a inverter
AnswerID: 505509

Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:32

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:32
Refrigerated trucks run a separate motor .....? - so theoretically it's possible... as long as the motor ventilates
AnswerID: 505510

Follow Up By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 15:41

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 15:41
Also the Mr Whippy vans.
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Follow Up By: gbc - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 15:44

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 15:44
And all those coffee vans you see roaring around the place
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 22:09

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 22:09
...not to mention electric cars :)

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Friday, Mar 01, 2013 at 21:27

Friday, Mar 01, 2013 at 21:27
Talk about coincidences...........Mr Whippy 'vans that is.

Was walking down to work the other day, in Longreach, and this ice cream van comes round the corner, and into the main street.

On the back, mounted off the chassis on passenger side, is a little Honda powered genny. Can't remember if he had the genny going, but my camera was packed away so no chance of a photo.

After reading this thread a couple of times the day before, it sort of made my day :-) I'm easily amused these days.........

Bob.

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Reply By: Member - Andrew - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:34

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:34
Hi Alan

Seem to remember that some of the really big motor homes from the really old days used to do this before the big capacity and reliable alternators became available.
You also see refrigerated trucks set up this way, but of course all the wiring etc is internal and protected.
I also have a vague memory of fridge trailers for medical supply deliveries being independently powered to ensure the fridges were running to protect the drugs in remote areas.
Not aware of any rules that prohibit a second engine being operated.

Regards

A
AnswerID: 505511

Reply By: 492 - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:55

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 13:55
Hi,I am electrician,and from safety point that would be very dangerous,if your van has external power point, like most vans do ,which is design to connect power from power point on caravan site via extension cable,not the opposite way, that power point will become LIVE ,as it has two prongs exposed despite having a lid ,if for any reason any one (kids) will flip the lid up , and tuch both prongs or Active one and another source of Grounded Earth, than some one could be killed,because you sending power 240V the opposite way from generator,and Active and Neutral prongs will be exposed,very dangerous mate ,does it make sense? regards Adam.
AnswerID: 505513

Follow Up By: Aussie_Al - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 14:00

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 14:00
Thanks Adam,


I do understand however I don't mean to hard wire it into the van's electrical system; I was talking about running from the genset to the normal caravan inlet (just as I would do if free camping).


Many thanks


Alan
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Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 17:30

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 17:30
If you want to wire the genset up permanently - install a 2 pole changeover switch to avoid live pins on the inlet plug.
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FollowupID: 782471

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 20:21

Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 20:21
Hi
If it is a "standard" portable generator[ with no inbuilt RCD]
& is wired up permanently,It SHALL comply with the STANDARDS AS/NZS3001 AND AS/NZS3000

A 2pole Change over switch cannot do THAT!!!
In any case it is a job for a licensed electrician !!


PeterQ
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Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 22:20

Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 22:20
Hi Oldtrack – I should have known you would nail me on regulations.
I agree it should be done by a licensed electrician.
As for the caravan's RCD - it is not functional when plugged in via an extension cord to the genset anyway – so the danger hasn’t been increased by the installation of the changeover switch.
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Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Friday, Mar 01, 2013 at 10:58

Friday, Mar 01, 2013 at 10:58
Hi Dennis

I agree the danger has not ben encreased,.
but carried out to the RULES the danger is decreased!!

PeterQ
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FollowupID: 782729

Reply By: Bushranger1 - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 15:52

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 15:52
G'day Alan,
Sorry but my opinion is that anyone who does that might as well just stay home!

Besides the safety issues of having 240V live in the case of an accident the idea of going away is so that you can experience the great outdoors?
Hardly doing that if you jump straight in the airconditioned van on your arrival.

Cheers
Stu
AnswerID: 505520

Follow Up By: Aussie_Al - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 16:05

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 16:05
Thanks Stu, I certainly take your point on the live 240V point however by your argument, no-one should bother with purchasing or using a caravan with air con to go away with!


I am sure many people quite enjoy going away in the middle of summer or up north but enjoy the respite of having an air-conditioned van to return to! I certainly enjoy the the experience of the great outdoors but that doesn't necessarily extend to doing it without an non-airconditioned van to return to on a 40 degree day haha! I definitely don't go away and then just live in the van!!


You are probably not aware but the van would take several hours to cool down sufficiently on a hot day with the air-con running, so this was simply a thought on getting a head start if possible!


Thanks for sharing your opinion!


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FollowupID: 782458

Follow Up By: Bushranger1 - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 17:10

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 17:10
G'day Alan,
I guess your suggestion just did not wash with me at all because I spend most of my time in the OUTDOORS. I don't even have an airconditioner in my car or home.

Done lots of outback travel in temps over 40 deg & basically just work my lifestyle according to the weather. Afternoon siesta in the over 40's heat!
I do admit to having a 12v fridge for a cool drink though so I will admit to that. Not much fun drinking liquids that are like drinking warm bathwater.
Each to their own I guess. If more people stick to their airconditioned vans I will still have lots of places to get right away & enjoy everything the environment throws at me.

Cheers
Stu
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FollowupID: 782465

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 17:18

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 17:18
Hi Stu,
I have an enclosed genset permanently fixed to the van - runs in all weather.
Often on a hot day we pull up on side of the road, turn on the aircond, whilst having lunch.
There’s no point in being uncomfortable, just because you’re on the road.
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FollowupID: 782467

Follow Up By: Bushranger1 - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 17:31

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 17:31
Guys I have to say that generators in the bush drive me nuts!

I think I will have to stick to my nice lunch stops & camps in the bush well away from all the racket of airconditioners & generators listening to the bird calls & water flowing down the rivers. Thats if we get any rain down here that is!

Cheers
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FollowupID: 782472

Reply By: ben_gv3 - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 17:45

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 17:45
Don't the refrigerated trucks use 24V powered A/C units?

Also I just had a thought but are caravan A/C units designed to be run when the caravan is in motion, i.e. dynamic vs static loads/motions?
AnswerID: 505528

Reply By: Member - sue and shaun - Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 20:58

Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 20:58
hey alan

great question for what ever reason driving all day in 40 degree heat how nice to stop and eat and sleep in a reasonably cool van straight up if possible and i am sure most would be welcoming of fellow campers who did not have the option of air conditioning

cheers best country in the world australia

sue and shaun
AnswerID: 505556

Reply By: Member - ross & chris - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013 at 10:44

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013 at 10:44
Hi. One of our friends comes home from the gulf every year with one or two of his Honda generators going properly mounted to keep all the fish frozen he also carries two other frigs a wae co and an engle all set up on y f250 cheers chris
AnswerID: 505594

Reply By: Batt's - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013 at 23:52

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013 at 23:52
It was a common site yrs ago up north for 4WDrivers to run a 2 stroke genny in the back of their ute to run a 240v house chest freezer to bring their catch home after a big fishing trip. So it can be done and probably a lot safer with the better range of plug conections available these days. At least if something catches fire all you have to do is disconnect and drive away not like the old toyota utes if a fire started in the back dam your gonna loose your catch oh and maybe the ute.
AnswerID: 505660

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