HomeGeneratorsWhat Is a Generator Used For In an RV?

What Is a Generator Used For In an RV?

An RV generator powers several pieces of equipment and appliances in your RV. It provides power to these devices and appliances via the circuit breaker panel. It also delivers energy to your converter/charger, which charges the batteries in your RV.

This article will help you determine the purpose of an RV generator, how often you need to run it, and if it is necessary to run it all night long.

An RV generator delivers power to the RV’s electrical appliances and outlets, allowing you to plug in equipment such as computers, hair dryers, and coffee makers.

The RV’s fuel tank supplies the fuel for the built-in generator. Therefore, more gasoline will be required if you use a lot of electrical gadgets and air conditioners in your RV. A good rule of thumb is that a generator will use around one gallon of gasoline each hour of operation.

Why Do You Need An RV Generator?

Generators supply power to your RV. The generator in the RV serves two functions. First, it is utilized to store energy within the house batteries of your RV. Second, it may be plugged directly into 120v AC power outlets. These two options enable you to use plentiful energy with the generator or store energy for later use while the generator is turned off. 

The second alternative is more efficient because a generator can only charge your house battery at a specific amperage. As a result, demanding the house batteries will take some time. You’ll want to ensure your RV is adequately matched to your vehicle and that you can keep up with it.

Additionally, it also boils down to how much power you need. If you’ve spent a lot of money on a motorcoach RV with many expensive electrical gadgets, not purchasing an RV generator would be a waste.

If you have a modest, towable travel trailer or camper, you won’t need a large generator, but some primary backup power may come in handy occasionally.

If you own an RV that would benefit from a generator, you’ll need to establish your wattage requirements, which you can do by totaling up the wattage requirements for all of the equipment in your RV.

Can You Camp Without A Generator?

Tent campers do not often require a generator unless they intend to use an electric stove or another type of gadget that requires energy. Some people may utilize a generator to watch television or listen to music. You can skip the generator if you’re camping with the bare necessities.

Here are some suggestions for camping without electricity if you’re planning your first hiking trip or searching for methods to make outdoor life a little easier.

Purchase A Headlamp

most campers use an LED-powered headlamp for all their evening lighting needs

Nobody said that camping without power entails always sitting in the dark. Even when you’re off the grid, there are numerous ways to brighten your surroundings. While flashlights are popular in cities, they are not as helpful in the woods. Instead, most campers use an LED-powered headlamp for all their evening lighting needs.

Make Yourself At Home With A Camp Stove

Make Yourself At Home With A Camp Stove

The secret to successful camping cooking is to keep things as basic as possible until you find a system that works for you. Once you’ve mastered using a 2-burner gas stove, you may begin experimenting with more sophisticated recipes.

Bring Portable Power Banks


Unless you want to travel fully off the grid, a set of portable power banks is an excellent addition to any camping equipment list. When automobile camping, larger power banks with adequate juice to charge numerous iPhones are often acceptable. Pack as light as possible for hiking trips.

Accept Nature’s Natural Cooling Cycles

Even if you’re planning a camping vacation in the middle of summer, some excellent methods exist to take advantage of the Earth’s natural cooling cycles and stay cool while camping. However, if the weather is hot, try to schedule your walks and other activities for the morning and afternoon.

Consider Solar Panels

PowerEasy Solar Generator 300

Solar panels are a good option for powering your electronic equipment while camping off the grid. Going automobile camping, you should consider purchasing a substantial solar panel and possibly even a solar generator. These little generators act as a charging station for your small electronics, eliminating the need for electrical hookups.

Do RVs Come With Built-In Generators?

Many campers, including travel and hybrid trailers, do not include a built-in generator. That being said, you might be able to find one used in a travel trailer, and they do produce some extremely high-end ones with generators built-in.

A generator rarely significantly raises the selling price of a camper or RV above what you are willing to pay. Once you’ve found a trailer that fits your budget, locating a similar camper with a built-in generator that fits your budget will be a piece of cake.

Finding a comparable camper with a built-in generator may be less expensive than purchasing an additional generator.

How Often Do You Have To Run the Generator In an RV?

How Often Do You Have To Run the Generator In an RV?

You should be able to run your generator for 8 to 20 hours with an appropriately sized generator and battery bank. With the proper setup, 8-10 hours should be enough to recharge your batteries for overnight use.

Not every campsite or region you want to visit will have on-site power. This is especially important if you intend to go boondocking or off-grid camping. A generator ensures you can power all your appliances and modern conveniences regardless of your proximity to shore power or hookups.

Generators designed expressly for RV use are engineered to survive for years, but both built-in and portable RV generators require regular maintenance to perform correctly. Change the oil and filters on your generator regularly, and inspect the fuel lines. Routine maintenance can help extend your generator’s life and function more efficiently.

While your generator may be able to run indefinitely, especially if it is a built-in generator, there are occasions when it must be turned off.

Limitations of a Portable Generator

While a portable RV generator is a valuable asset, it does have limitations. You may only be able to power the absolute necessities depending on their size. They have a limited power supply and must be turned off and refueled more frequently than a built-in generator.

Quiet Hours

Many prioritize picking a quiet generator when purchasing a generator for camping use. This is advantageous for both individuals utilizing the generator and your camping neighbors. Most campgrounds have quiet hours, or when you can make less noise to be considered of those camping nearby. It is a good idea to learn about and adhere to these hours.


Before refueling, gas generators must be turned off and cooled. Gasoline vapors are highly flammable and can be ignited by a single spark. You don’t want to risk the heat from your generator igniting them.

Because a built-in generator pulls fuel straight from your RV’s fuel tank, refueling is as simple as filling up your automobile. Your built-in generator will switch off automatically when your gasoline level drops to one-quarter of your tank, preventing you from mistakenly emptying your whole fuel tank.

Average Life Expectancy

Most portable generators have a life expectancy of 10,000 to 25,000 hours, depending on how frequently they are used and how well they are maintained. In contrast, built-in generators have a life expectancy of 15,000 to 20,000 hours.

People Also Ask

Can You Run RV Generator While Driving?

Driving with a built-in generator is not dangerous. Using your built-in generator to power your roof-mounted air conditioner is more fuel-efficient than running the dashboard air.

A built-in generator is attached to a specific place, is adequately ventilated, and shares the same fuel tank as your RV, allowing it to run safely while on the road.

However, using a portable generator while driving is not advised. It is significantly more challenging to do so in a safe manner.

In addition, you risk filling your RV with deadly carbon monoxide fumes if it is not adequately ventilated. You also risk spilling fuel or causing other damage if it is not sufficiently secured.

Do you need the generator to run AC in RV?

You can run your RV’s air conditioner on a generator for 8 hours and not use more than 2 gallons of gas. Diesel generators use even less fuel than unleaded gas generators. You can use a portable generator if you are camping off-grid or do not want to operate your air conditioner on power.

Besides that, you can also run your RV AC unit on batteries if you have the right equipment and enough batteries. In addition to the lithium batteries, most air conditioning machines require an inverter to convert the DC battery power into AC electricity.

While powering your RV AC unit with your batteries is possible, there are a few more considerations. First, due to the high power demands of an RV AC unit, even larger battery banks will not be able to sustain it for long. This makes running them for extended periods problematic.

Running your RV AC unit on lead-acid batteries, on the other hand, was nearly impossible. So the fact that it is possible with lithium batteries is a game changer!

How long can you run a generator in an RV?

How long can you run a generator in an RV?

Depending on the classification of a generator, you can keep it running for a couple of hours to several days. To narrow down the options, we’ve compiled 11 of the most popular portable generators for comparison. Their stated run times range between 8 and 20 hours.

While some other units fall outside of that range, you can expect a good average from the great majority of these generators. On the other hand, built-in RV generators may frequently run for several days due to their unique architecture.

Can I run my RV generator all night?

A built-in RV generator in a motorhome may power anything in the RV all night. Keep the windows closed to avoid fumes or carbon monoxide entering the vehicle. A trailer or fifth-wheel portable generator can run for around 6 hours before running out of gas.

It is entirely safe to sleep in an RV with all windows and doors closed while a generator positioned outside the RV is running to supply power for the RV.


Ultimately, operating your generator for extended periods is safe and advantageous. That’s true; regardless of the type of generator you own, it’s best to start and operate it for a couple of hours every month.

Allowing your generator to lie idle for an extended period can result in a variety of problems. Lack of use is harsh for these guys, from the fuel breaking down to the moisture piling up. 

That’s why appropriate maintenance, including regular generator use, is the best method to ensure yours lasts as long as possible. Also, as always, examine your owner’s manual.


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