View Full Version : Generator placement

08-11-2018, 10:18 AM
Hi: My wife and I are new 5th wheel owners although we've had motorhomes for over 20 years. Our issue is that to add a generator through the dealer it would be a $6,200 add on for an Onan 5500 wired into the front compartment. Being uninformed, I bought the Costco dual fuel portable 7,000 watt generator for $700 and swung install labor as part of the purchase deal. However, the tech's nixed that deal saying the portable won't fit and isn't compatible with the existing harness in the front compartment. I see 3 possibilities at the moment:

1. Just return my Costco unit and pony up the extra $ to purchase and mount the unit they recommend.

2. Have them build a receiver out the back of the unit and mount the portable back there and use the shore power cord to plug into the Costco generator when I am going to use it.

3. (My latest idea without knowing if it is feasible...) would be to mount the Costco generator in the tow truck and extend the harness to the tow vehicle so that I would plug in an adaptor from the 5th wheel to the generator and have all the organic start/stop features inside the 5th wheel operational.

Anybody else's thoughts on this dilemma would be appreciated.

08-11-2018, 06:40 PM
Welcome to the forum.
Obviously there are no right or wrong answers here. Only you know what you expect or require for your equipment type or style of camping.
You didn't note trailer style, or if you already have generator prep installed which is an addition expense?

DIY is not rocket science but requires skills.

Using these boards for yrs. it's obvious no two people have the same wants or needs concerning aux. power options.
We found the Onan option worked well on our last trailer and did carry somewhat to the bottom line on resale. We opted for the same on current trailer, although we do not run a lot of hrs. on it as some might. I prefer not to require an additional fuel, already having ample LPG, Diesel not economically practical. We like the convenience, security, it's rather quiet and is operable underway. Other areas of storage mentioned are also in use (truck bed, trailer receiver / cargo carrier) con: cost.
Any of your options seems workable, and we have witnessed all of them.
2) I've seen the shore power plug right around the corner plugin to generator. 3) I've seen a 30 / 50 A receptacle, bulkhead shore power fitting mounted right there under the pin, neat as can be.
Research is a good thing. Best of luck.

08-11-2018, 09:24 PM
$6200 is not an unreasonable cost for an Onan 5500 completely installed and wired; may be a little high if the unit is already gen prepped. IF the unit isn't prepped, be very careful that they do it all correctly--when shopping replacements for my old Suites, had 2 dealers and a gen shop that declined to give me an estimate and all recommended not to do it if not prepped.
Having it on a rear carrier can usually work well if the carrier is well-built and stable.
In the tow truck will work good also, if you have the room and the fiver won't contact it when turning.

08-12-2018, 12:07 AM
Thank you, Mtntrek and wingnut60! We appreciate you taking the time to respond to us rookies. We have a lot to learn. Our recently purchased 5th wheel is a 2015 Forest River Cardinal 3875. It is pre-wired for the generator. Our purpose behind the desire for a generator is to be able to boondock up to a week at a time. Although we will get a solar array installed, I would still want the generator to cover extended periods of inclement weather or when extremely hot weather forces use of the airconditioner(s). Thanks again, and please feel free to share other insights or advice.

08-12-2018, 12:31 AM
If you aren't up to the solar yourself, I highly recommend AMSolar--they installed my system that allows me 5-6 days w/o gen use if plenty of sun, and have full use of coffeemaker/micro and TV/sat.
A generator is the first step to dry-camping; extra set of batteries will probably also be needed--suggest Lifeline AGMs for upgraded batts.
There is never an end to what we can recommend for you to spend your $$ on....

08-12-2018, 09:39 AM
Thank you, I do have a friend that has had a solar business for a long time.

08-12-2018, 06:19 PM
Goodness, I need to make some new friends....

half dimes
08-21-2018, 02:26 PM
You've already gotten some good answers but I'll add my 2 anyway. Our last two rigs have had an on board generator. We had to add the gen on our previous rig which wasn't prewired or had the box already installed. Our selling dealer did a reasonably good job and it proved its worth for the six years we owned the rig. However, fit and finish always looked a bit homemade. It also was a and Generac wasn't as quiet as the Onan on our current rig.
Our current rig, a HitchHiker had the generator installed at the factory and is fueled by two 40lb propane cylinders. This setup has served us well for the past 10 years. We don't use it for days at a time but like it if we stop for lunch or at no facility campgrounds. Never have run it overnight. If we're camping someplace hot, it will be at a full service campground. Strictly speaking, I'm sure we're not getting our 'money's worth' out of the extra capital expense, but on the other hand, we love the convenience. A propane generator will use a goodly about of that fuel, so the 40lb cylinders make refills further apart.
If we were to ever get another fiver, a factory installed built-in generator would definitely be on our list.
Happy decision making!