Installing an Automatic Generator Starter so the AC stays on when shore power goes off.
One of the great joys of RVing is being able to bring our dogs with us wherever we go. But sometimes we need to leave our furry friends “at home” in the RV while we visit museums, eat out at wonderful restaurants, or head out for a hike or bike ride.
If it’s a hot day, of course we leave the air conditioners running so that our puppies can remain cool and comfortable. But what if there’s a power failure at the campground? What if the circuit breaker on the site’s power pedestal is faulty and shuts off?
We have a monitor (SensorPush) that we’ve set to alert us if the temperature in the RV reaches 80 degrees. That’s good to know, but what if we’re too far away to get back in time to rescue them from overheating? Fortunately, we’ve not had that kind of situation, but it could be a tragic death sentence for our beloved companions!
While visiting the Tampa RV Supershow this past January, we stumbled across a solution: the “Alert Command Auto Gen Start System,” made by RV Automations. After a thorough explanation of how it worked, we bought one on the spot and installed it in our 2004 Fleetwood Southwind motorhome just a few weeks later.
- Constantly monitors shore power.
- Automatically primes and starts built-in RV generators (gas or diesel) when the power goes out. (According to the manufacturer, this is the only automatic generator starter on the market that can prime a gasoline-powered generator.)
- Sends real-time text alerts when shore power is lost and generator starts, as well as when power is restored. (Text alerts are an optional subscription for $9.99, which can be suspended when not needed.)
- Turns off generator when power is restored.
- Optional temperature monitor (which we don’t need right now since we have a SensorPush).
What about when boondocking? We were told by the company that they plan to release an upgraded version of their system this summer that will start the generator when the temperature gets too high while boondocking! Of course, you’ll have to have your air conditioning set to “on” and ready to go when the generator starts.
The installation process was fairly simple (except for a complication in the position of the transfer switch unique to our type of RV). Complete instructions are downloadable from the RV Automations website, with telephone and email support available if you need it. We had to email them once, and they answered promptly.
The biggest challenge in installing the Alert Command is running four wires between the unit and your RV generator, and two more wires between the unit and your RV’s automatic power transfer switch. In our case, we decided to mount the Alert Command on our bedroom wall, which is directly above our generator, so we only needed about 12 feet of wire. But our transfer switch is tightly wedged behind our electrical panel, and it took an enormous amount of effort to reach. In most RVs the transfer switch is located in an outside compartment near the RV power cable, which makes the installation a lot easier.
Most supplies that you’ll need are included in the box, with the exception of the wires themselves and a couple of wire nuts, which you can get at a big-box hardware store or electrical supply company. You’ll also need wire strippers and probably a drill depending on where have to run your wiring.
Overall, I’d rate the installation difficulty a 4 out of 10, assuming that you have some level of familiarity working with electrical wiring and can follow directions (and your power transfer switch is in an easily accessible location).
Ultimately, the Alert Command gives us greater peace of mind to enjoy the days without worry when we need to leave our pets alone in the RV. Just turn it on and say goodbye, knowing our guys (well, two guys and a princess) will sleep most of the day away, safe and sound.