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How Much Fuel Does an RV Generator Use?

Generators have transformed the vacation experience. Large RVs feature room for all of your friends and family, as well as luxuries you may never want to be without. However, you will require a generator if you plan boondocking or camping without hookups.

Some generators run on propane or diesel fuel, like your stove and refrigerator, while others run on gasoline.

However, how do you know how much fuel to purchase? Based on continuous operation, the article below lists approximate amounts of energy required to run an RV generator for a particular duration of time.

An RV Generator will burn about 1 gallon of gas every 3 hours if the air conditioning is in use. Stand-alone generators for trailers or fifth wheels typically hold 1-8 gallons of gas and use one gallon every 1.5 hours.

For example, a 4,000-watt diesel RV generator, if you run it at full power, you should expect to get roughly an hour out of one gallon of gas.

How Much Fuel Does an RV Generator Use?  

RV generators rely on one of three fuel types: propane, gasoline, or diesel. 

The fuel used by your generator also determines the amount of fuel used by an RV generator. This is because some fuel burns quickly while others burn slowly and produce more energy.

Propane RV Generator

Propane RV Generator

Propane is the most adaptable fuel since it is readily available, has a longer shelf life, and burns cleanly.

It is the most commonly used fuel type in RVs because it powers various appliances, including refrigerators, furnaces, stoves, and generators.

However, in terms of fuel economy, it ranks last and produces the least energy.

Propane costs between $3 and $4 a pound, and RVs have multiple 10–20-pound tanks. Therefore, a 20-pound propane tank refill will cost between $60 and $80.

When run at 25% load, a portable dual fuel generator with 2790 operating watts will consume around 1.4 pounds of propane per hour. A 20-pound propane tank will last approximately 14.5 hours at this rate.

Gas RV Generator

Gas RV Generator

Gas-powered RV generators are the most common generator among RVers because they are readily available on the market.

Gasoline is more fuel-efficient than propane, although it has the shortest shelf life of the three fuel kinds. However, adding a stabilizer before storage can increase its shelf life.

A portable gas generator tank may carry between 1 and 10 gallons of gasoline, costing about $2.76 per gallon.

A portable gas generator with a 3.4-gallon tank will also power your RV for approximately 19.6 hours at 25% load. You’ll burn about 0.173 gallons of fuel each hour at this pace.

Diesel RV Generator

Diesel RV Generator

Nothing beats a diesel-powered RV generator in terms of fuel efficiency.

Unlike gasoline, diesel burns slower provide more energy, and has a longer shelf life. However, you can extend its life using an aftermarket diesel stabilizer.

However, diesel emits the most pollution and is tough to come by if you’re camping far from a city. Furthermore, portable diesel generators are significantly more expensive than the other two options.

Diesel generators are commonly seen in motorhomes with built-in or aboard generators. They use the RV fuel tank diesel, so you don’t have to replenish your generator.

Diesel costs approximately $2.98 per gallon. Therefore, a portable diesel generator with a 12-gallon tank will cost roughly $35.76 per refill. At 50% load, this 5000-watt generator will provide approximately 32.4 hours of continuous electricity.

Factors that Affect Fuel Efficiency

Electrical appliances, including your RV generator, require a specific environment to function correctly. Any changes in these conditions may result in low efficiency and high fuel consumption.

In this section, we’ll take a quick look at two significant causes of decreased fuel efficiency and performance.

Generator Size And Type

Generators come in a range of types and sizes. Each of them is set to a specific output level. These are chosen and installed based on the facility’s power requirements. A conventional generator should be programmed to run at 80 percent of its capacity for continuous use.

In an emergency, it can be used to its full potential. Various generator manufacturers have now developed standard ratings for these generators, which give the buyer an indication of the actual generator capacity.

Because each brand’s capacity is regulated according to international standards, the consumer may choose between available brands based on his needs.

High Altitude

The lack of oxygen and pressures as you ascend above sea level can impair the proper operation of anything, even your generator. Without good air pressure and density, your generator will produce less power while consuming more fuel.

A decrease in the ambient air, on the other hand, will affect the generator’s ability to dissipate heat. As a result, your generator will overheat and perform even worse.

Generally, a generator’s performance does not fluctuate significantly up to 1000 meters above sea level. After that, however, your power will decrease by around 3% per 500 meters of elevation as you climb higher.

High Temperature

High Temperature

A change in air temperature, like an increase in height, can substantially impede the perfect functioning of any generator.

The air quality decreases as the temperature rises, resulting in poor combustion. As a result, power is lost.

Furthermore, as the ambient temperature rises above the recommended range, less heat is evacuated from the engine. This causes the generator motor to overheat, damaging the generator and dangerous.

Anything above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period will hurt performance and fuel economy.

To look after your generator from the sun, rain, and other elements, run it away from direct sunlight, under a covered location (tree or RV awning), or use a generator tent running cover.

Generator Maintenance

Your RV generator, like any other RV device, requires routine maintenance. Proper maintenance can not only enhance performance and fuel economy but will also extend the life of your vehicle.

In general, gas and diesel generators require more maintenance than propane generators. However, keep in mind that no generator is entirely maintenance-free.

Here are six generator maintenance guidelines to help you maintain peak performance and efficiency.

  • Replace the oil
  • Examine the Air Filter
  • Examine the Spark Plug
  • Use Only New Gas/Diesel
  • Regularly use your generator
  • Examine the Exhaust System

Generator Age

Any electronic appliance’s functionality degrades with age, and your RV generator is no exception. In addition, wear and tear grow with age, resulting in decreased performance and fuel economy.

Most generators are typically built to give 1000-3000 hours of optimal performance. However, it should last for decades with careful use, care, and maintenance.



The most basic type of work is pushing all of the vehicle’s components down the road, and how hard your motor works dramatically impacts how much mileage your car gets. For that purpose, the weight of a vehicle influences how much it consumes.

The more an RV vehicle weighs, the harder it must work to get started and remain moving along the road. 

A compact car’s narrower waistline allows it to have a smaller engine and a motor that doesn’t have to breathe heavily every time it has to accelerate. Heavy equipment, on the other hand, is required if a vehicle needs towing capability.


The principal component that converts engine revolutions into rolling tires is your transmission. Because of a series of gears, the work done by your engine can be increased to be more efficient. 

Assume a car has a four-speed transmission. To produce the same speed, the engine must turn faster than a car with a five-speed transmission. While this is beneficial when towing (fewer gear changes), it has little effect on fuel efficiency. This is because some cars have up to eight gears to do the job.

Rolling Resistance

All tires produce some rolling resistance or the amount of effort required to roll across the driving surface. While most people imagine their tires to be perfectly spherical, the truth is that where the rubber meets the road is a flat patch the size of your hand.

These contact patches are created by the vehicle’s weight pressing down on the tire. While a larger contact patch typically corresponds to more incredible handling and control, it can also negatively impact fuel efficiency.

Mechanical Resistance

Mechanical resistance, which has much to do with a vehicle’s automated components than tires, is another type of resistance that automobile makers are concerned about. 

Mechanical resistance describes the effort required to move each component of a vehicle’s powertrain. For example, automatic transmissions often generate more excellent resistance than manual transmissions. Still, other systems such as axles, wheel bearings, and other components propelling your automobile down the road also contribute to the total product.

People Also Ask

How long can you run an RV generator continuously?

Both built-in and portable RV generators are safe to operate during their 8-24 hour run duration as long as they are properly ventilated, have enough fuel, and are adequately equipped for operation in inclement weather.

If properly maintained, RV generators can run for days on end. Depending on the type of generator, it can run for a few hours to several days.

How do I make my generator more fuel-efficient?

However, regardless of where you utilize it, you may require some advice to save gasoline and keep your operations running smoothly. Here are five suggestions for lowering generator fuel use.

Maintain Your Generator

Maintaining your generator might help you save money on fuel. As a result, you should employ professionals to service your generator and repair any defects that may cause it to perform under stress, increasing fuel consumption.

Get Rid of Carbon Deposits

The accumulation of carbon deposits on the engine might result in excessive fuel usage. As a result, you must remove them on time and clean your generator with a diluted chemical solution or handwash the components. After cleaning, you should also change the oil.

Reduce Your Use Of The Generator

For example, you can use solar energy to power small appliances while solely using your diesel generator to big power machinery. You can also get a heavy-duty inverter to assist you with certain chores. This will extend the life of your generator.

Do Not Overload Or Underload

If you run a diesel generator at less than 50% load, the engine will not reach its maximum operating temperature on time. As a result, the generator will struggle to operate, resulting in increased fuel use. This may potentially shorten the life of your generator.

Maintain Proper Coolant Temperature

For optimal functioning, diesel generators require water as a coolant. Therefore, your water temperature should be just right to keep the engine’s generator cool. If it is not, it may result in incomplete combustion, which will raise the risk of fire.

Does a generator use more fuel with more things plugged in?

If the things plugged into the generator utilize electricity, the generator will require more gas with more things plugged in.

The more electricity is drawn from the generator, the faster the engine will crank the generator to keep up with the electricity output.

As a result, the engine will consume more gasoline as the load on the generator increases.


Ultimately, It is a matter of selecting the best RV generator for your motorhome or trailer based on your demands and lifestyle.

And now that you know how much fuel an RV generator uses, you can better determine which models will match your needs and deliver the best efficiency — regardless of how long you need every day or how much power you need to keep going.

It’s also a good idea to research the fuel efficiency of various generator models so you know what to expect if you’re doing more than just day-tripping with your generator set to light use.

Nowadays, popular solar power generators with free fuel – the sun. Check the nine best solar power generators and if you want to know more about solar generators, read this article.


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