Using a generator when camping or during a power outage can be very helpful. But is it safe to run a generator under a soft tonneau cover on your truck? There are some important things to consider.
What is a tonneau cover and how does it work?
A tonneau cover goes over the truck bed. It helps protect items in the bed from weather and theft. There are two main types – soft covers and hard covers.
Soft tonneau covers are made from vinyl, canvas or other fabric. They roll up or fold for easy access to the truck bed. Soft covers are lighter and often less expensive than hard covers.
Is it safe to use a generator under a soft tonneau?
What are some safety concerns with generators?
Generators give off carbon monoxide gas. This gas is colorless and odorless. Carbon monoxide is very dangerous. It can make people very sick or even kill them.
Generators also get very hot when running. Parts like the muffler and exhaust pipe heat up. This poses a fire hazard.
How can I use a generator safely under a soft tonneau?
Here are some tips for safe generator use under a soft cover:
- Make sure the exhaust pipe faces the rear of the truck. This will blow dangerous gases away from the cab.
- Keep the tonneau cover open or partially open. This allows for airflow and prevents carbon monoxide buildup.
- Place the generator as close to the tailgate as possible. Keep it away from any fabric or gear stored in the truck bed.
- Pay attention to the noise level. Run the generator only when necessary. Be courteous to other campers.
- Let the generator cool down before storing it under the tonneau cover.
- Keep a carbon monoxide detector inside the truck cab. This will alert you if gas leaks into the cab area.
- Have a fire extinguisher handy in case of any fires.
What size generator will fit under a soft tonneau cover?
Truck bed dimensions vary by make and model. Measure the space under your tonneau cover first.
Small, portable generators around 2000-3000 watts will likely fit. Larger generators may be too tall.
Make sure the generator will slide easily in and out of the truck bed. You don’t want it to get stuck under the cover.
How do I know if my generator produces enough power?
Determine what items you want to power. Check the wattage requirements for each device. Then add up the total watts needed.
Choose a generator that provides a bit more power than your estimated wattage. This gives a buffer so the generator doesn’t get overloaded.
Many soft tonneau covers don’t allow for very large generators. You may need to adjust your energy needs to match a smaller generator’s capacity.
What factors should I consider when choosing a generator?
Generator fuel type
Generators run on gasoline, diesel, propane or solar power. Fuel type affects power output, weight, noise and price:
- Gasoline – Most common fuel for portable generators. Provides more power than propane but must be refilled often.
- Diesel – Best for very large power needs. Diesel is more expensive but stores well.
- Propane – Propane generators are quiet and need less frequent refueling. But propane offers less power output.
- Solar – Solar generators provide silent, renewable power but work only when the sun shines.
Generator noise level
Generator noise is measured in decibels (dB). Choose a quieter model rated at or below 65 dB. This reduces disturbance to other campers.
Lighter generators are easier to lift in and out of the truck bed. But they provide less power than heavier models. Consider the tradeoff between weight and wattage.
Additional generator features
Look for added features like electric start, fuel gauge and auto shut-off. These make a generator easier and safer to operate.
Running a generator under a soft tonneau cover is possible with proper precautions. Safety comes first when using generators. Follow the tips in this article to choose the right generator and operate it safely. With care, a truck bed generator can be a very useful addition for power needs on the go.