Complete Beginner’s Guide To RV Generators

Guide to RV Generators

This RV generator guide for beginners is a great resource for those new to the world of recreational vehicles. These units are designed to provide power for RVers when they are away from traditional electrical hookups.

Many people choose to use RV generators when they are boondocking, or dry camping, as they can provide the necessary power to run air conditioners, microwaves, TVs, and other power-hungry appliances.

Some are portable, while others are permanently installed in the RV. The amount of power they can generate varies, but most can provide enough power to run the RV’s basic systems and appliances. 

Do RVs Come Equipped with Generators?

Some recreational vehicles come with what are referred to as onboard generators. Onboard generators have their own storage compartment in the underbelly of your RV and remain in place while in use. 

You’ll most likely find this power source on newer and higher-end Class A motorhomes. However, most towable campers and other classes of drivable campers, do not come equipped with onboard generators. 

Onboard Generators for Campers

Diesel generators are the most common type, but there are also gasoline and propane options. As mentioned before, these types of generators are most often found on newer, luxury Class A motorhomes, fifth wheels, and travel trailers. Onboard generators are a reason that some RVers choose to buy a Class A RV while avoiding travel trailers and other types of RVs that do not have built-in generators. Diesel generators tend to be more expensive but are also more fuel-efficient than their counterparts. 

Portable Generators for Campers

A portable generator is a great way to have the ability to run your RV when you are not plugged into shore power or if you do not have a solar set-up. As with onboard generators, portable ones come in diesel, gasoline, and propane. The major downside is storage when not in use and how to keep them out of the elements when needed during bad weather

If your RV doesn’t come equipped with a generator you will need to decide if you need this portable power source.

Do I Need a Generator for My Camper?

Your RV’s batteries are not built to run most appliances on their own, so without an additional power source you will not be able to use much more than your lights, fridge, and maybe your heating system for one night.  If you are boondocking or dry camping, you will need to have a power source to run most of your appliances. If you don’t have a solar set-up you may be wondering if you need a generator to go RVing.

An RV generator is a great way to have a backup power source while on the road or RVing off-grid. They are also great for powering up your RV when there is no hookup available or when the electricity goes out in the campground on a hot day. However, they can be noisy and expensive to run and maintain, so it is important to decide if you really need one before purchasing a generator for your camper.

What Size Generator Do I Need for My Camper?

When it comes to generators, bigger is not always better. You’ll need to determine the amount of power your RV needs and select the generator that can provide that much power.

How to Determine What Size Generator You Need

To determine the amount of power you need, add up the wattage of all your camper’s appliances you want to run at the same time, including the amount of start-up power an appliance needs, such as your RV’s air-conditioning system. Then make sure you buy a power source that will can run all of these appliances simultaneously.

Some people use RV generators to power their entire home while they travel. Others use them to power just the essentials, like lights and a refrigerator. Ultimately, it depends on the individual’s needs and how much power they want to be able to generate.

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

A 30-a You will usually need a generator that can supply at least 3,000 watts. You will not be able to go over 3,600 watts. Ideally, if you purchase a 4,000-watt generator, you won’t have to worry about powering your RV.

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

A 50-amp RV with a 120 V electrical feed is capable of handling 12,000 watts of electric power. This means a 12,000 or 12,500-watt generator could be your top end choice.

Two Types of RV Generators

There are different two types of RV generators: inverter and conventional.

What is an Inverter Generator?

An inverter generator is a portable generator that uses an inverter to convert DC power to AC power. The inverter allows the generator to produce clean, stable power that can be used to run sensitive electronic equipment. Inverter generators are typically quieter and more fuel-efficient than traditional generators.

What is a Conventional RV Generator?

Conventional generators use a mechanical alternator to produce alternating current (or AC) power that’s ready to use. A conventional generator does also produce high quality electrical output but needs to operate at a fixed speed to accomplish It. They are cheaper than inverter generators but are more prone to power surges and often quite loud.

Three RV Generator Fuel Types

There are three main types of fuel that can be used to power an RV generator: gasoline, diesel, and propane.

Gasoline is the most common type of fuel used in RV generators, as it is generally the most readily available and affordable option. However, diesel and propane are also viable options for powering an RV generator, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Diesel fuel is typically more expensive than gasoline, but it is also more efficient, meaning that a generator powered by diesel will run for longer on the same amount of fuel.

Propane Powered RV Generator

A propane powered RV generator is a great way to have a backup power source for your RV. Propane generators are very efficient and can run for a long time on a single tank of propane. They are also very quiet, so you won’t have to worry about disturbing your neighbors while you’re camping.

Propane is another efficient option for powering an RV generator, but it can be difficult to find propane tanks that are large enough to power a generator for extended periods of time.

Gasoline Powered RV Generator

A gasoline powered RV generator is a type of generator that uses gasoline to power appliances in an RV. Gasoline powered generators are not as efficient as propane or solar powered generators.

Diesel Powered Generator

A diesel powered generator is a great option for powering an RV. RVs that run on diesel fuel are typically more efficient than those that run on gasoline or propane. Diesel generators are also less likely to produce harmful emissions than gasoline or propane generators.

What Does it Cost to Run an RV Generator?

The cost of running an RV generator will vary depending on the size and type of generator you have, as well as how often you use it. However, you can expect to spend anywhere from $2 to $5 per hour to keep your RV generator running.

How Do I Choose the Right Generator for My RV?

As a beginner to RV generators, there are a few things to consider when choosing the right generator to go RVing. The size of the generator is important, as you need to make sure it can power all of your RV’s appliances and devices. You also need to consider how often you will be using the generator, as this will affect how much fuel you need to keep on hand. Additionally, noise level is an important consideration, as you don’t want to disturb your neighbors or other campers while you’re enjoying your vacation. With all of these factors in mind, you can narrow down your choices and find the perfect generator for your RV.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Run a Generator While Driving?

Yes, you can run an onboard generator while driving. However, it’s recommended that you do not run a portable generator due to exhaust fumes and the possibility of the generator tipping over.

Can I Boondock Without a Generator?

Yes, you can boondock or camp off-grid without a generator, but it requires careful planning and use of resources. Without a generator, you will need to rely on solar power or battery power for your electricity needs. This means that you will need to be very mindful of your energy usage and conserve as much as possible.

Will the RV Generator Run an Air Conditioner?

Yes, the RV generator will run an air conditioner. However, it is important to note that the air conditioner will use more power than other appliances, so it is important to make sure that the generator can handle the additional load.

Let us know below, do you prefer onboard generators or ones that are portable?

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