Having a solid generator for your RV is absolute game changer! If you go camping or boon docking, a generator can keep you safe from nature’s worst elements, like extreme heat or cold.
Having a generator hooked up to your RV is the difference between a hot, sticky night, and a comfortable air conditioned night.
The generator size necessary to run your RV depends on what you intend to run inside the RV. Running a television and air conditioning unit will requite considerably more power than running the fridge, water pump, and LED wall lights.
First, write down a list of all the household items you intend to power with your generator. For example, your list might include charging your cell phone, running the television, air conditioner, water pump, wall lights, refrigerator, etc.
All these devices have a startup wattage and a running wattage. Likewise, your generator will have specific startup and running Watts it can handle.
Here is a sample list of items and their wattages:
- Fridge 500 running Watts, 1500 startup watts
- Air Condition 1200 running Watts, 3600 startup watts
- Television 300 running Watts, 0 startup watts
- Laptop 50 running Watts, 0 startup watts
- Floor fan 100 running Watts, 0 startup watts
Adding up these wattages gives us a total of 2,150 running Watts and 5,500 startup Watts. To run all of these items at the same time, we would need a generator that can handle 2150 running Watts and 5550 startup Watts.
However, expect there to be items that you forgot to take into account. For example, you need power to run the water pump, to ignite the propane to heat up water, wall lights, and the vent fan over the stove.
Permanent inverter generators are popular with RV owners because they are relatively light and quiet. If you need to replace a permanent generator on an RV, carefully measure the compartment where it will be housed. You want it to have a snug fit so it doesn’t move around while you are traveling.
Portable generators are best if you want to also use the generator to power things other than your RV. For example, if you want to use your new generator to run power tools, a portable generator could be best because you can easily take the generator to the work site.
Portable, conventional generators are heavy and loud, while enjoying a lower price tag than permanent, silent generators.
Generators run on either gasoline, liquid propane, or diesel fuel. Gasoline is cheap but burns dirty. Diesel is more expensive but it burns clean. Liquid propane has a longer shelf life than gasoline and Diesel, but propane is less efficient. Some generators run on a combination of these fuels.
Conventional generators are very loud and can annoy your camping neighbors from a mile away. The noise is too loud to have at a camp site, so get a permanent inverter generator if you plan to camp around other people.
A generator can be a big factor in considering the overall weight of your camper. A conventional generator will weigh considerably more than a permanent inverter generator. This is important when traveling. If you travel with a heavy, conventional generator, you will ultimately spend more gas money for your travels. For frequent RV traveling, a lighter, permanent generator is best.
Permanent inverter generators tend to cost more, but they are lighter and often silent. Portable generators are heavy and loud, but usually have a lower price tag.
A key tip for buying a generator is to buy a new generator and get the warranty. Another excellent tip is to err on the side of too much power, rather than too little power.
What size generator do I need for my travel trailer?
If you have a small trailer and very limited power needs, a 2000 Watt generator will probably be enough. To be on the safe side, add up the wattage used by all the items you intend to power with your generator.
What size generator do I need for a 30 amp RV?
It could seem that calculating the generator needs of a 30 amp RV could be determined simply by converting 30 amps into watts. The reason this does not work is because while the RV is capable of powering 30 amps, you are not necessarily running 30 amps inside the RV. The best course of action then is to add up all of the Watts needed for the individual items you intend to run inside your RV. This will tell you how many watts your RV generator needs to be able to handle.
What size generator do I need for a 50 amp RV?
If you were to buy a generator that could power a 50 amp RV, you would probably be buying more of a generator and spending more money than necessary. This is because you will not necessarily run 50 amps of power inside your RV. Being labeled as a 50 amp RV only means the RV is capable of powering 50 amps. Instead, we need to add up the Watts of the individual items you intend to power with the generator inside your RV. But if you do need the power of 50 amps, check out our guide that covers everything you need to know about finding the right size generator for your 50 amp RV.
Will a 3500 watt generator run my RV?
Once you have made a list of the devices that you intend to power inside your RV, add up the number of Watts the items use. This will give you the best idea of how many watts your generator needs to power. A 3500 watt generator will run most RVs, but you should adjust that number based on your calculation.
What size generator do you need to run an RV air conditioner?
Air conditioners run anywhere from 1200 Watts – 2400 Watts. Be sure your generator can handle the amount of Watts your air condition uses plus the wattage of every other device you intend to run with your generator. You will probably need a generator that runs in excess of 3000 Watts. If you want a more detailed answer, check out my latest post covering the 5 best generators for running an air conditioner with your RV.
Selecting a new generator for your RV boils down to how much power you need, how loud you want it to be, and what you can afford. Calculating the amount of Watts necessary to run your RV will get you started on the right path.