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What Size Generator Do I Need For My RV?

Not all RV generators are the same. Anyone who has ever owned one can attest to this as a reality of life. What good is knowing your RV generator’s horsepower if you don’t understand how it works?

Some individuals believe that their smaller generator can do more than it can (or less, which is less amusing when it happens), but the truth is that most RV generators are very conventional and function just fine.

If you are looking for a generator, you should determine which generator size is best for you.

In this article,  we’ll walk you through why you need a generator, how big a generator you need, and what the ideal generator sizes are.

The size of your RV and the number of appliances you intend to use at the same time will decide the size of the generator you require. In general, a generator rated between 3,000 and 4,000 watts should suffice. Again, however, it is preferable to estimate your usage.

A 4,000-watt RV generator, for example, would be excellent if your air conditioner takes anywhere from 2000 to 3500 starting watts plus an additional 800 to 1000 watts for running other appliances and equipment.


Common RV Generator Sizes

Manufacturers typically rate generators in terms of watts produced. (You may see this given as kilowatts instead.) For example, most RV generators run 1,500 to 4,000 watts, which equals 1.5 to 4 kilowatts.

Portable RV Generator Sizes

Portable RV Generator Sizes

Portable generators for RVs are typically 2,000 to 4000 watts in power but can be as high as 12,000 watts. Sometimes, bigger is better, but more significant implies heavier, less fuel-efficient, and noisier. No one wants to carry extra weight in an RV unless essential.

Traditional-style generators are the most powerful and least expensive, but they should not be your first choice for an RV because they are noisy, less fuel-efficient, and susceptible to power spikes.

Inverter generators are more efficient and quieter. In addition, microprocessors manage voltage and current to protect sensitive electrical equipment such as computers and cell phones.

Built-In RV Generator Sizes

Many larger RVs have generators incorporated within a compartment. They draw directly from the gasoline tank or burn propane and can be used safely while in transportation.

You may also configure them to turn on and off automatically or connect them to the electrical systems of your appliances. Sizes vary, but they are generally at least 3,000 watts and can go up to 12,000 watts.


Wattage Needed for Common Appliances In Your RV 

Wattage Needed for Common Appliances In Your RV 

RVs have different electrical and power requirements. Therefore, an RV’s average watt consumption might vary depending on various factors. It is determined by your equipment, your RV size, and your habits.

Appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners, microwaves, televisions, and others consume a lot of watts. For example, during the winter, an electric furnace or heater can consume a large quantity of energy.

Numerous appliances could be drawing power from the RV. The items use energy in different ways.

What Exactly Are Watts?

Watts measures the amount of energy released when amps and volts are combined. This is the amount of water flowing via the garden hose. The more the watts, which we now know are a combination of electrical potential and flow, the greater the power and output. For example, the higher the microwave wattage, the faster it will cook your meal.

                                      Starting Watts             Running Watts                   Amps

Air Conditioner                 1400-2000                    1700                                    14.1

Dishwasher                      200                               200                                     1.7

Stove                              530-1500                       675                                     5.6

Hair Dryer                       500-1500                       1000                                    8.3

Iron                                500-1200                        850                                     7.1

Washer                           400 to 1,400                    700                                     15

Coffee Maker                   550-750                           650                                     5.4

Microwave                       1000-1500                       1250                                  10.4

Toaster                            1200                               1200                                  10.0

Refrigerator                     600-1000                         800                                    6.6

Blender                           300 to 1,000                    750                                     6

TV                                  200-600                           400                                    3.3

Radio                              50-200                             125                                    1.0

Laptop                            50-100                              100                                    0.5


How do you calculate watts?

Amps (A) x Volts (V) x Power Factor = Watts (W)

Remember that watts are equal to volts times amps, or watts/volts times amps. As a result, if you’ve discovered that your RV rarely requires more than 2,100 peak watts of shore power, you can safely plug into a 20-amp electrical outlet (2,100 watts / 120 volts = 17.5 amps). Because 17.5 amps are less than 20 amps, you can have a comfortable margin of “excess” power.


What Is the Difference Between Starting and Running Watts on a Generator?

Most generators are rated in terms of starting and operating watts. This means a 3,000Watt generator can theoretically produce up to 3000Watt when something like the RV’s air conditioner is first turned on. Regarding long-term use, the running Watts may be only 2,500 to 2,700W.

In this case, the 3,000Watt generator on the RV can power the 14,000 BTU air conditioner, which consumes 2,000 operating Watts. Following startup, you would have approximately 600W to utilize on other objects such as the TV, crockpot, or laptop charger.


What Size Generator Do I Need For My RV?

RV generator should be at least 2400 watts

An RV generator should be at least 2400 watts and preferably more than 2400 watts. Larger generators are more expensive but can easily supply electricity to larger appliances and equipment.

Another factor to consider when selecting a generator for your travel trailer is how much space it will take up in your camper. You need enough RV or truck bed space to load and unload the generator conveniently.

We recommend you determine which appliances are installed in your travel trailer. It determines how much electricity each appliance requires and the type of generator required.

We recommend always getting one at least 50% larger than your travel trailer requires to avoid power interruptions when utilizing these appliances for extended periods.


What Is the Difference Between 30-amp And 50-amp RV?

Some RVs have 30 amp service, while others have 50 amp. The distinction is the amount of power the RV can draw based on amperage and voltage. While 30 amp service provides around 3,600 watts, 50 amp service provides approximately 12,000 watts.

As a result, 50 amp service enables you to run more appliances, particularly more significant appliances that demand more electricity. However, these two services also have different plugs and receptacles. For example, a three-pronged plug with a 120-volt hot wire, a neutral, and ground is required for a 30 amp service.

A four-pronged connector with two 120-volt hot wires, a neutral, and ground is used for 50 amp service. A 50 amp plug’s two hot wires deliver two separate 50 amp 120-volt electrical feeds.


What Size Generator Do I Need for a 30-Amp RV?

What Size Generator Do I Need for a 30-Amp RV?

For a 30–amp RV, I’d recommend getting a generator with at least 3,000 watts. Still, if you have the air conditioner on and try to reheat food in the microwave simultaneously, you may be pushing it.

A 30 amp RV requires a maximum wattage of 3,600 watts. So, if you want to ensure adequate power if you switch on all of your appliances, I recommend getting a portable generator with a wattage of 3,600 or more.

Generator Wattage

The maximum wattage for 30 amp service may be computed by multiplying amperage by voltage. In other words, 30 amps x 120 volts = 3,600 watts (amps x volts = watts).

As a result, we can conclude that a 30 amp RV will necessitate a generator with a maximum output of 3,600 watts.

Purchasing a 5,000-watt generator to power a 30 amp RV provides little benefit. The additional 1,400 watts will be effectively squandered.

Parallel Operation Of Generators

This is less common for 30 amp RVs than for 50 amp RVs, but it is still worth mentioning. For example, suppose your power requirements surpass what a single generator can give.

In that case, you may be able to connect a second to increase your ability to power your RV, its appliances, and any other items you choose to operate off the generators. However, connecting two generators to deliver concurrent power is only viable if they are intended for parallel operation.

Level of Noise

An average human conversation has a sound level of roughly 60 dB.

Even a casual chat might be irritating when attempting to sleep, so you don’t want a generator that makes considerably more noise.

Fortunately, when operating in their respective economy settings, most of these 30 amp RV generators produce between 55 and 70 decibels.

Type of Fuel

Most RV generators use one of three fuel types: gas, propane, or diesel. If your RV runs on diesel fuel, you’ll probably want a diesel-powered generator because they’re built for optimum output.

A gas-powered generator makes more sense for an RV that operates on gas because gas can be found almost anywhere. These inverter generators are more fuel-efficient and cost-effective than regular gas-powered generators.

Lately, solar generators have become more and more popular as well.


What Size Generator Do I Need for a 50-Amp RV?

What Size Generator Do I Need for a 50-Amp RV?

For a 50 amp RV, the bare minimum size generator I would recommend is a 4,000-watt generator. Although your exact power requirements will depend on the ratings of your specific appliances and how many appliances you generally operate at once, the size of the generator you need will be determined by these factors. When using many appliances simultaneously, your power requirements may surpass that limit.

Generator Wattage

Because a 50 amp plug contains two 120-volt hot wires, a 50 amp service provides 12,000 watts. Some call this a 120/240 split service. In a 50 amp service RV, the formula for estimating wattage needs multiplying amps by volts. 

For example, when we multiply 50 amps by 120 volts, we get 6,000 watts. However, because a 50 amp connection contains two hot wires, we can double the wattage to get a maximum rating of 1200 watts. But we must be cautious because it is simple to assume that the generator you select should be able to generate 12,000 watts.

Parallel Operation Of Generators

While most 30 amp RVs may not need this extra wattage, it is a more relevant issue for those looking for a 50 amp service. Although these generators are rated to produce adequate startup watts for the average RV air conditioning unit, running your A/C, refrigerator, microwave, and fans while having other gadgets plugged into wall outlets may overload your generator, causing it to fall short of your power needs.

Level of Noise

Many of these 50 amp RV generators claim to use ‘Quiet Technology,’ and while it is true that these generators are quieter than some of their predecessors, they are not entirely silent.

When running, they create between 55 and 70 decibels, and some only attain their most modest noise output when in Eco-Mode, which usually is at 25 or 50 percent load.

Type of Fuel

Most generators run on gas, propane, solar, or diesel fuel. However, some are called ‘dual fuel’ generators because they can run on a combination of these fuel types. Because gasoline and propane are more readily available than diesel fuel, they are the most commonly used combinations in dual fuel generators.

It makes it logical to select a generator that uses the same gasoline as your RV. Diesel RVers may easily stock up on that fuel type for their generator every time they stop for gas, and gas RVers can do the same.


People Also Ask

Can you run a 50 amp RV on a 30 amp generator?

Yes! Using an adaptor, a 50-amp RV cord can be plugged into a 30-amp power pedestal at a campground. The female end of the adapter connects to your RV cord, while the male end connects to the power pedestal.

However, because you won’t be operating at full power without a 50-amp receptacle, the number of appliances you can use at once will most certainly be limited.


What size generator do I need for a 25-foot travel trailer?

If the usage is light, 5000 watts should be sufficient; however, when large loads such as air conditioner units, microwaves, or coffee makers are present, the wattage must be significantly increased.

Plan how many appliances you’ll need and any additional power requirements, such as air conditioning units, electric heaters, space heaters, etc.

If you intend to use high-power appliances such as laundry washers or stoves, acquire a generator with greater capacity than you require for entertainment devices.


Can I plug my 50 amp RV into a generator?

A 50A plug is typically found in large RVs, travel trailers, and fifth wheels. These vehicles require it because of larger air conditioners (often multiples) and more power-hungry appliances such as a domestic refrigerator, microwave, and other gadgets.

You’ll need the Camco 15 Amp Male to 50 Amp Female to connect a 50 amp plug cable to a generator with a 15 amp AC outlet.

You might use this converter to plug your camper into a generator and campgrounds with only a 15A outlet, or if you’re visiting a friend’s house and want to hook into their outlets.


Conclusion

To choose the best generator for your RV, consider your other electrical appliances while assessing your generator requirements.

In the field, the correct generator can make all the difference. This will certainly alleviate any fears that your RV is not as well equipped as it should be. In addition, it takes a lot of the guessing out of camping when you know how many watts your gadgets consume and how much power you need.

While having more electricity and a backup generator is preferable, you must ensure that you have the correct equipment for anything you intend to power.

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