January 27, 2017

New Generator

As mentioned previously, our Yamaha generator malfunctioned on the last day of our westbound trip, setting in motion a chain of events which resulted in us replacing our microwave and installing a full-size Samsung gas range. The replacement generator is now installed in the truck.

The Yamaha gave us exemplary service for 14 years. Every year, for the first three days of our trip, the generator runs nonstop 24 hours-a-day to keep the refrigerator and furnace running, until we reach warmer temperatures where campgrounds are open. The Yamaha was originally installed on the back of our Class C motorhome, and when we sold that and purchased our Laredo fifthwheel, it took up residence inside a housing in the truck bed.

For reasons described in this post, we decided on a Champion generator as the replacement. The unit we purchased is a Model 100261, which produces 3100 watts continuous and 3400 watts short-term. We ordered it from Nationwide Generators in Illinois, and it arrived safely via UPS on January 23. Shipping was free, and there was no sales tax. I unpacked the unit, and filled it with 600 ml of 10W30 oil, and put in 1 liter of gasoline. I pressed the "Start" button on the included remote control, and after 3 starts, the unit ran smoothly. Because the generator was shipped dry, it had to fill the fuel system before it would run. Subsequent starts using the remote were almost instantaneous. The choke is electrically-controlled, and operates automatically to allow remote starts when the engine is cold. There is a manual choke lever to allow pull starting if the battery is ever dead.

The Champion unit is well-designed, with a clear and logical layout of the controls. Attention to detail is apparent, with small features like drip spouts to catch the oil when filling after an oil change.
The valuable feature for us is the wireless remote control, which will allow starting and stopping from inside our rig. Remote starting seems to work extremely well, with seamless control of the choke, which is the difficult part of implementing a remote control system with this type of generator.

Installed in the housing. The unit to the left is our compressor.
I lifted the generator into the truck, and with some minor modifications to the generator housing, it fit perfectly. I reduced the height of the housing by 2 inches, as the new generator is lower than the old unit. As with the Yamaha, cooling will not be an issue. The generator draws in fresh air at the left end, over the electronic inverter module with its heat sink, then the air cools the engine. It exits at the right (exhaust) end, cooling the exhaust system as it goes. There are no air intakes or exhausts on the sides, bottom or top of the generator. My housing is open at both ends, so it will not interfere with cooling air flow.

Remote starting
The noise level of the generator seems to be slightly higher than the Yamaha, but not objectionably so. It is considerably quieter than typical built-in RV generators. As expected, the performance is better than the Yamaha, because of the higher power rating. It starts our 15000 BTU rear air conditioner easily, even when running in eco-throttle mode. I turned on a 12 amp heating load, and it still started the air conditioner, albeit with a little more fuss. I increased the load briefly to 27 amps, and the unit held this load, with an output voltage of 118V.

The Champion generator has a 3-year warranty, which hopefully will not be required. It is now part of our fulltiming equipment, and I look forward to years of dependable service, as provided by the unit it replaced. A generator is essential for our kind of travel, giving us self-sufficiency wherever we are parked.

Forced retirement for the old Yamaha. The hitch and cargo box have been
temporarily removed to allow the new unit to be installed.


  1. Glad it all worked out, great write-up! It's too bad the Honda wouldn't have worked for you, they're supposed to be "super quiet". But with the new Genny being in the truck bed, like you said, I imagine it's manageable.

  2. The Honda is over twice the price we paid for the Champion, as is the Yamaha. This was also a factor. When we bought the Yamaha 14 years ago, Champion had a very limited range, and a poor reputation for quality. They seem to have fixed this quality issue in recent years.

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