Living off the grid and in your RV means choosing your power supply well, and the simplest answer for many campers is to have a generator.
Although it’s easy to figure out this is the power source to use, determining what size you need to keep your camper powered up and comfortable is another thing altogether.
So, what size generator does an RV need?
A good range to consider for an RV inverter generator is between 2,000 and 4,000 watts, but this depends entirely on the RV occupants and how much power they plan on using.
The best generator size is one that provides you with a steady supply of electricity to power up your most basic requirements for electronics and devices, so this is the smartest way to calculate what’s required.
The size of your generator will dictate how much you can use and how long it can run, so it’s not a number you want to get wrong.
We’re here to break it down and show you how to do this crucial calculation so you can figure out what size generator for RV comfort you need to buy.
- 1 Why Does a Generator’s Size Matter?
- 2 How to Calculate the Power You Need
- 3 Important Points to Note When Choosing a Generator Size
- 4 Choosing the Right Generator
- 5 The Key to Portable Power
- 6 Related Questions
Why Does a Generator’s Size Matter?
When you’re away from home and living out of your RV, you want to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible while you do it.
A generator is a reliable source of power that can keep you connected to the most important appliances and electronics your RV has, so you want to make sure it’s the right size to do so.
A generator’s size doesn’t usually refer to its dimensions but rather the wattages it can provide.
These generators can range in size from the smaller 1000 and 1200 watt variety through to the more beastly 6000 and 7000 watt styles.
Usually, for general RV usage, something mid-range at between 3,000 and 4,000 watts will suffice, but this also depends on the RV’s needs.
The size of a generator cannot also determine how much wattage you have to use for your appliances but also how long it can hold this power supply.
Therefore, getting the right calculation and choosing the size that’s going to suit your needs is an essential part of finding the ideal generator, and it’s something that no RV owner wants to be without.
How to Calculate the Power You Need
The first step to finding the generator of your RV camping dreams is to establish exactly what it is you need from this power source.
To do this, you’ll need to imagine a standard day in your RV from morning to night, and what that entails in terms of appliances, electronics, lights, heating, cooling, and everything else that uses electricity.
For some campers, this will be minimal, and these are the people who like to live as simply as possible without relying on electricity.
For others, it will mean a lot of power usage and a comfortable camping experience with all of the usual amenities that they enjoy at home.
If you have an RV that already has a generator built-in, it will have enough to supply the vehicle with all of the basics on board, otherwise, you’ll want to purchase a portable one.
With a list of appliances and their estimated wattage requirements, you can start to do some calculations.
Here’s a list of basic appliances that campers might use and how many watts they require to run, so you’ll know what’s then needed of your generator each day:
- Electric frying pan: 1300 watts
- Small refrigerator: 700 watts
- Dishwasher 1400 watts
- Laptop: 250 watts
- Microwave: 700 watts
Obviously, you won’t be running everything at the same time, and there may be some adjustments you’ll need to make when using generator power so that it all runs smoothly.
However, you should be able to find something with enough wattage to suit and to keep you powered up until you can plug back into electricity.
Important Points to Note When Choosing a Generator Size
In addition to finding one with the watts to suit, there are other things you’ll have to take into consideration when buying a generator. Keep these in mind to be sure you get the right one for your RV:
- All appliances come withrunning watts and starting watts requirements, and in some cases like refrigerators, these may be the same. You’ll not only need enough watts to run the appliance but also to get it going, which is often a lot more.
- Some appliances are rated in amps and not watts, but there are lots of easy online calculators that can help you convert them.
- Spend a few days making a note of how you use your RV when you’re connected to shore power and start a diary with everything that’s being operated. This is the best way to prepare for what you’ll be able to do with a generator.
- Determine whether your RV runs on 30 or 50 Amps of power as these will need something unique from a generator. A 50 Amp RV can provide a max of 12,500 watts whereas a 30 Amp is only capable of 3,600 watts. Each of these will want a different sized generator to suit their capabilities.
Choosing the Right Generator
The size of a generator is always an important feature to get right, but it’s not everything. If you’re in the market for a reliable generator to keep your RV up and running, there are a few features you’ll want to get right.
- Fuel type: There are three main fuel types used in generators: propane, gasoline, and diesel. Whatever you choose to run yours, you’ll want to make sure you have access to a backup supply, and it’s always wise to choose one that operates with two different types just to be safe.
- Weight and size: The weight of a generator will be hugely important when you’re choosing on for RV use and camping. Likewise, the overall dimensions need to be considered so that you can figure out where it stores away in your RV.
- Noise output: The noise output of a generator is measured in decibels and this rating should be easy enough to find for each model. Choosing something that suits your style of camping, whether it’s out in the middle of nowhere or right beside fellow campers, will be important.
- Fuel efficiency: Look for a generator with good energy efficiency that allows you to run it for longer periods with less fuel. When you’re trying to ration fuel during an off-grid RV experience, having a generator that has proven efficiency will be a gamechanger.
- Outlets and ports: Most inverter generators allow you to plug appliances and electronics directly into them thanks to a number of ports available. If you’re seeking a specific type of port, you’ll want to make sure the generator you choose can deliver.
- Extra features: Other features found on generators include wheels to help with portability and a carrying handle that makes it easier to transport. A longer warranty might be important for some users whereas others will just want the most cost-effective options.
The Key to Portable Power
There’s not always a reliable source of electricity available to plug your RV into, so having an inverter generator on standby is a smart choice.
Provided you’ve chosen the right size to meet your power needs and know what it’s capable of delivering, you’ll never go without electricity to keep your most prized provisions up and running.
An inverter generator is a must-have for any RV owner, and even if it’s just kept on board as a backup power supply, you should never leave home without it.
If you’re still unsure which direction to take your RV’s generator and don’t know what size is best, read on to see the answers to some commonly asked questions about these devices to help you out.
What Is the Difference Between Inverter and Regular Generator?
A standard generator only creates AC electricity and isn’t ideal for camping because it’s not ideal for this setting.
An inverter generator produces three phases of electricity which makes it a cleaner power source, with high-frequency AC, then DC, and then a stable AC current all being created.
Are Inverter Generators Worth the Money?
If you’re looking for an RV-friendly generator, choosing an inverter type is worth spending extra money for.
Although usually more expensive, an inverter generator is also energy efficient, provides a clean power source, and is portable enough for camping when compared to the standard type.