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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Safely getting rid of RV generator exhaust fumes

RV owners who like rally-style camping, that is, parked shoulder-to-shoulder with other rigs, should give serious thought to their generator exhaust. Several "near-miss" incidents of serious health problems with generator-produced carbon monoxide bring this up.

Typically an RVer who needs to run a generator is off in the boondocks somewhere, and not packed in with others like sardines. But dry-camping at rallies puts folks closer together, and the natural air flow that tends to dilute generator exhaust often isn't present. Result, your generator exhaust may drift into your own (or your neighbors') rigs with potentially deadly consequences.

Enter the after-market RV generator exhaust system. One popular commercially produced system is sold under the brand name, "Gen Turi." The concept is this: Your built-in generator exhaust pipe gets a slight extension and turn upward; from there it meets up with an open air space of a few inches, and above that, a much larger pipe sucks the exhaust skyward, and above your rig's roof level.

The promoters of these systems suggest a two-fold benefit: Getting your exhaust high up in the air where it will safely disperse and not infiltrate living spaces and reduced generator noise. The general pulse among users is in agreement that indeed, these systems carry off dangerous exhaust fumes. As to the reducing noise, well, that's a different story. We haven't seen any studies which indicate a real "noise reduction" value. However, even many of those who own Gen Turi and similar systems will tell you the reduction isn't all that significant.

So how much is the price of enhanced safety and neighborliness? If you don't mind waiting a few days you can order a Gen Turi system through Walmart for less than $110 (with free site-to-store shipping). Other enterprising RVers haven't been willing to shell out that much money for something they figured they could "do it themselves." You can read about one such project here. 

With such a system in place you can have an exhausting day and still feel good about it.


  1. A few years ago, we had to move our coach because the Prevost next to us was stinking up our vehicle with fumes from its generator left on all day while the owners were gone! We were lucky that we were able to move. Ours vents at roof level, and we are cautious that we do have CO detectors in use in case of leaks from the exhaust. This product sounds like a good idea.

  2. Cummins Power Generation, manufacturer of Cummins Onan generator products, does not endorse the use of RV generator exhaust pipe extensions. Like all fuel burning devices, engine-driven generators emit carbon monoxide (CO) which, if not safely handled, can produce serious injury or death. Cummins Onan generators, in conjunction with RV OEM installed tailpipes, are designed to meet RVIA standards for safely handling exhaust gasses while minimizing noise and maximizing generator performance. Improper modifications to the exhaust components can result in unreasonable hazards to the vehicle occupants.

    Cummins Power Generation has been unable to this date to identify any commercially available exhaust extension kit which meets reasonable standards for safely handling exhaust gases.

    Cummins Power Generation’s concerns revolve around 6 areas:
    Weight: Unless entirely self supporting, extensions add weight to the end of the generator tail pipe which can stress and crack or break the exhaust system parts that are not designed to carry the additional weight. This could result in exhaust gases escaping directly under the coach, and therefore could be extremely
    dangerous to vehicle occupants.
    Fit: To be effective conveyors of exhaust, connections & joints must be gas-tight. Such connections are not guaranteed unless the exhaust extension kit is properly assembled each time it is used.
    Exhaust Direction: Because exhaust extensions vent at the roof line, there is a major concern that exhaust will be sucked in by rooftop air conditioners, vents and windows.
    Heat: Many extension designs involve exposed metal that can be a burn hazard to anyone passing by who might contact the exposed extension pipe.
    Back pressure: Adding an extension may increase back pressure on the engine, and thereby reduce engine performance or cause the engine to fail meeting government-regulated exhaust standards.
    Warranty: The use of an exhaust extension kit may void the Cummins Onan warranty.

  3. As mentioned above one big danger is the exhaust being sucked into a neighbors roof vent. There have been several documented incidentds. If you are using the system make sure your roof vents are closed. The same applies if your neighbor is using one.

  4. new laws make it a lot better for generators operating on diesel. I can't tell mine is on except for the noise.