Dear RV Doc,
I have heard of running the roof air conditioner off the generator while traveling. Is it safe to run the furnace off the generator while traveling? We travel to Florida every March and sometimes the first morning is quite cold, even after preheating the coach for several hours before leaving. The dash heater could not keep up with the heat loss while traveling. Riding in an over-sized icebox isn’t much fun.
– Bill Lemke, (South Wales, NY)
Bill, I think I’m a little confused by your question. Typically a stand-alone RV furnace is powered by 12-volt DC, whereby the fan, thermostat and internal components all run off the auxiliary battery. There’s no reason to run the generator at all.
But to run down the road with the LP on? You really want me to open a can of worms, huh? There are two schools of thought concerning running down the road with the LP on; one is that it is safe and permissible IF you are absolutely sure the LP system is set up properly and totally leak-free. However there may be some restrictions in some tunnels, on some turnpikes, ferry boats, certain roads and bridges. It may still be illegal to run with the LP on, so you must check your route and determine if there are any restrictions in the areas you will be driving. But as long as the RV has been maintained properly; all components cleaned and serviced regularly, the LP system inspected and adjusted properly, the entire system checked for leaks, etc., then as long as there are no local restrictions, go for it. After all, it IS a self-contained RV! Right?
The second school of thought is, why? Unless you are traveling in very cold weather and it stays below freezing inside your rig as you drive, it’s doubtful it will overtax the furnace to wait until you stop for the night. But if the dash heater just isn’t cutting it, and you are physically uncomfortable, perhaps running it in the morning as you drive will be sufficient. But remember this is only if you are satisfied every LP component is maintained properly and you can guarantee there are no leaks anywhere in the system. The problem is, many RVers are not aware of the many facets of RV safety as it relates to RV preventive maintenance. So if I’m driving my RV down the road, I’ll probably have my LP on and the refrigerator fired up, but as I pass other RVers, I’m hoping they do not!
(Please feel free to comment, however, please also note that due to the volume of communications I receive from multiple channels I cannot guarantee a personal response in every instance. However, questions of an overall general interest may be considered and published in an upcoming RV Doctor column.)