Built-in RV generators are great, but they have their drawbacks. The biggest problem is the exhaust so close to the RV. With portable generators, you can move them away to areas where they are not a problem, but a built-in generator might spew exhaust right into your neighbor’s site. We have built multiple exhaust stacks for our RV’s for both our generator and aqua hot boiler.
If you’re looking for a DIY project this weekend, this might be it. Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as you might think. Today, we’ll walk you through how to build your RV generator exhaust extension. Grab your tool bag, and let’s get started!
What Is an RV Generator Exhaust Extension?
An RV generator exhaust extension is a pipe or tubing that routes fumes away or above your camper. Typically, the extension connects to the generator’s exhaust outlet and directs the harmful gasses upwards. You can find them in various sizes and configurations, making it possible to adapt products to your situation.
Why Do You Need an RV Exhaust Extension for a Generator?
Exhaust from a running engine can create a hazardous environment and can smell terrible. If an RV generator is not vented correctly, the toxic fumes can accumulate inside the living space. This can cause headaches and progress until it leads to nausea, unconsciousness, and even potentially death.
While a properly working carbon monoxide detector will catch the buildup of dangerous gasses, there is a smell and nuisance issue as well. Even if the gasses are not to toxic levels, the smell alone might drive you or your neighbors nuts. This is the primary reason we have installed vent stacks on our RV’s.
Are Generator Exhaust Extensions Safe?
As long as you are not blocking the exhaust or running a pipe that is too long, then yes they are safe. Running an exhaust pipe that is too long or too small could cause the generator to overheat or cause other fire hazards as well as engine damage.
Most generator extensions only add a short distance of exhaust pipe to redirect, so there is no issue. The rest of the exhaust movement upward is due to convection and does not add any pressure to the gen.
Additionally, it’s wise to ensure your carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order. A carbon monoxide detector could save a life if the exhaust extension develops a leak.
Pro Tip: We crunched the numbers to determine What Size Generator You Need for Your RV.
Can You Buy an RV Generator Exhaust Extension Kit?
There are many RV generator exhaust extension kits from companies like RecPro and Camco. You may find these at your local RV supply store or an automotive or hardware store. However, your best bet will be to look online.
- Improves Air Quality: Diverts exhaust away from the ground and...
- Reduces Noise: Reduces noise from the generator
- Compatibility: Designed for use on most exhaust systems
You can find almost anything on Amazon, including these kits. If you’d rather go to the source, you can order directly from RecPro or Camco. Remember to factor in the cost of shipping. Ordering from Amazon typically means free and quick shipping.
- Directs Harmful Exhaust Fumes Up and Away from Living Spaces
- Easy to install and easy to put away, this generator exhaust...
- Add-on and additional Exhaust Transfer Kit to make switching...
Can You Use Exhaust Extensions For Aquahot Boilers?
According to the Aquahot Boilers 200 Series Installation Manual, it is possible to use an exhaust extension. However, it must terminate at least three feet from any openings. Additionally, they suggest not using galvanized pipes or fittings for the exhaust extension. You should only use black iron pipe fittings. Galvanized can overheat and offgass or even burn.
The manual also encourages you to contact the Aqua-Hot Heating Systems Product Application Department if you make any modifications. We always err on the side of caution and encourage you to contact them for assistance.
How to Build an RV Generator Exhaust Vent Pipe Stack
In general, the exhaust extension is a very simple product, and there are multiple ways to build it. Because of this we recommend you design your own that will fit your RV best. The following will help you figure out how to design and build it.
Before you start, you should understand that these systems almost always have a gap between the generator exhaust and upward extension pipes. This is intentional as the hot exhaust gasses will rise naturally through the pipe and, as they do so, will draw in extra air at the base with a gap. This will further dilute the gasses and reduce backpressure on the generator. The up pipe should be larger in diameter than the generator exhaust pipe.
If you are procuring parts from the hardware store, we recommend using the following for the simplest build.
- Pipe, long enough to extend 1 foot above the RV. 3 to 4 inch, ABS, PVC or another drain pipe will work
- Elbow Joint 90 degree, 1.25 inch conduit 90 elbows work great for this
- Clamps of couplers, 1-1/4 inch conduit coupler or whatever size is needed to connect to your exhaust pipe
- Hangers or brackets to connect the pipe to the elbow: this could be simple aluminum stock 1 inch wide that you can bend
- Nuts and Bolts to hold it all together, U bolts sometimes work
- Large Suction Cups
- Bungee Cord
- ***Flexible metal exhaust tube if you have special routing considerations
You will need a tape measure, hacksaw or pipe cutter, wrenches, and pliers. Additionally, you can’t overlook the importance of safety gear. A pair of gloves and safety glasses can help you avoid any dangers.
Determine Exhaust Pipe Size
Next, you need to measure the size of the exhaust pipe on your generator. This will vary depending on your unit. To measure your exhaust pipe, you’ll want to ensure it’s not hot. If it’s been running recently, it’s best to wait.
Once it cools, use a tape measure to measure the diameter. This will allow you to purchase the necessary pipe size to match. You don’t want it too tight or too loose.
Plan the Route
Before cutting your pipes, you’ll want to plan your route. A straight path is typically the best route. If you need to use elbows, plan for the path to extend away from your vehicle. However, sometimes your generator is under a slide or in a weird spot.
When planning the route, remember to consider how you’ll support it. Many people use suction cups and or other sturdy attachments. Whatever method you choose, keep them on hand.
When stationary at our property, we use a long length of flexible exhaust tube and strap the pipe to our back ladder.
Measure and Cut Pipes
Now you can start measuring and cutting your pipes. As the old saying goes, “measure twice and cut once.” However, if you want to avoid making a mistake, we recommend measuring as many times as it takes to feel confident.
Remember to measure each step, including using elbows and other attachments. Making a mistake in measuring could be costly and require an additional trip to the hardware store.
Depending on the material, you’ll want to use a hacksaw or pipe cutters. Again, wear eye protection and gloves to prevent any injuries.
Assemble the Pipes
Once you’ve finished cutting the pipes, it’s time to start assembly. However, we like to do a test run with these projects to avoid a more significant issue. Assemble everything and confirm your measurements. If everything looks correct, you can start assembling it onto your generator.
When connecting pipes, use the heat-resistant sealant. This ensures a solid connection between the components and prevents exhaust from leaking out or escaping.
Install Hangers or Brackets
Your RV generator exhaust vent is going to need support. Depending on where and how you mount it, you can use hangers, brackets, or suction cups. What you choose will significantly depend on where you mount it and how you plan to use it.
We’ve found that suction cups work on painted surfaces or windows. When you use them correctly, they create a solid connection and keep it in place. Clean the surface thoroughly and ensure you have a capable suction cup to do the job.
Attach the Generator Exhaust
With everything in place, it’s time to attach your generator exhaust. Fit the pipe over the exhaust pipe and place clamps around them both. Fasten them snuggly, but don’t over-tighten them. You don’t want to cause damage by showing off how strong you or your drill are.
Your job isn’t over once you’ve tested and everything is running. You must check and inspect your RV generator exhaust regularly. Look for any signs of leaks or abnormal wear and tear. You could get severe corrosion or damage if the materials are exposed to the elements.
If you notice any parts with issues, replace them immediately. When inspecting, also check that your safety measures are in working order. If it’s not working, it’s not protecting you.
Pro Tip: We think these 8 Best Portable Generators for RV Camping are worth the investment.
Is an RV Exhaust Extension for Your Generator Worth It?
It’s always worth the effort to keep yourself and others safe. It may cost you a few bucks to complete this project. However, it’s money well spent. If you’re uncomfortable tackling this DIY project, purchase a kit from one of the big-name brands. Just ensure it’s compatible with your unit before submitting your order.
Are you purchasing a kit or making this project DIY? Tell us why in the comments!
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