Safety should always be your primary concern anytime you operate a generator, and a major part of that is knowing how far your generator should be from your home.
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The general rule for placing a portable generator outside your home is at least 20 feet, and the engine exhaust should face away from the house so the fumes cannot enter through windows or doors.
If you place a portable generator in a shelter, it should also be 20 feet away, with the exhaust facing away from the home. Follow manufacturer recommendations for distance and enclosure specifications.
Avoid Carbon Monoxide Danger
A fuel-operated generator produces toxic exhaust – C0 (carbon monoxide) gas that can cause severe injury or death. Under no circumstance should you ever run a generator in an unventilated space and never indoors. Generator safety can quite literally be a matter of life or death.
A generator produces higher amounts of carbon monoxide than car exhaust. On a low wind day, the C0 can build up and increase the risk of poisoning if placed within a home’s proximity.
Generator Placement Requirements
You should always check with your community’s zoning office before placing a portable or standby generator. Many local zoning ordinances (see example here) indicate the distance from a structure to place standby generators. Zoning codes are designed for safety, so following them is imperative.
While most city zoning regulations are for standby generators, it is crucial to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the placement of portable generators. Be aware that some communities require a permit to install and use a generator within the city limits.
Generator permits and placement law examples:
How Far does a Standby Generator Need to be from House?
Most diagrams or photos of standby generators show them close to a home. Company installers typically place standby generators and follow local permits and zoning compliance requirements. Following manufacturing standards, their emissions must comply with the community ordinance, and they may be at a minimum distance of five to ten feet from the structure.
How Far Should My Generator Be Away From My Camper?
There are many articles and examples for using a portable or installed generator in an RV, and they give guidelines to size, fuel type, connections, and more. However, the research found minimal information on the distance your RV generator should be from your RV, so relying on the manufacturer’s guidelines appears to be the best direction.
Campground Use of Generators
Camping in an RV park presents some challenges for using a generator. Most campgrounds have restrictions on generator use, mainly focused on non-use during nighttime or specified quiet hours. In addition, the distance between campsites may limit how far a portable generator can be from one’s RV.
Your RV is Your Home
Nearly all fuel-powered generators come with manufacturer guidelines that state the distance from a structure (home) but do not share the exact details for an RV specifically. Therefore, think of your RV as your home and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Be Aware of Other Campers
Place the portable generator as far away from the RV as possible on your campsite. Remember to turn the engine exhaust away from your RV, but not place it near another camper’s home as both the exhaust and noise may be invasive. Be aware of the distance to surrounding campers, and do not allow the generator exhaust to harm them.
Always maintain a generator distance from any campfires or places where people gather.
Installed Generators in RVs
Your RV may have an installed generator. Use caution when running an installed generator and close any windows or doors in the RV to avoid exhaust fumes from entering. If the RV does not have a CO detector, get one and install it to ensure that you and your family stay safe.
Keep safety as the primary goal any time you operate a generator to avoid harm to you or your family.