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Generator etiquette

By Tom Jones

We are occasionally asked about generator etiquette - when is it OK or not OK to run a generator. The following is a compilation of responses to this question provided by forum members.

Many campgrounds, including ones with no electrical hookups, have strict rules regarding generators, some prohibiting them altogether. So make sure to check with the campground manager or host.

If you are in a national park, state park, or national forest campground, it is very likely that your neighbors are under canvas - tents and tent trailers, which means they have no soundproofing. If that's the case, do everyone a favor and shut the generator down around sunset or about 7 pm. The cool of the evening obviates the need for air conditionning and you do have batteries to run things until morning. Cranking the generator up in the morning, wait until 9am or so.

If you are dry camping or boondocking, most folks would agree that generator use which disturbs neighbors at night would be frowned upon. Of course, it depends on how noisy/quiet your generator is and how far away your neighbors are. A noisy generator in close proximity to neighbors who are trying to enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors might not be appreciated even in the daytime. If I think my generator might be an issue for neighbors, I'll ask if they mind me running it.

One thing you might consider if space and budget allow would be to install an inverter to provide AC power during quiet hours. Then run the generator at a more appropriate time to recharge the batteries. However, most inverter/battery installations are not adequate to power air conditionners for any period of time.