An RV vacation is a chance to see historic sites, various monuments of old and natural wonders without the constraints of flights, hotels, or rentals. An RV is a home-on-wheels, a place with the comfort of home and the enjoyment of a vacation. That said, while getting or renting an RV, choosing a generator to pair with it can be a difficult process. There are many options, each with its pros and cons. This begs the question, what type and size of generator to get for an RV / Camper?
What is an RV Generator?
Any device that generates electricity is known as a generator. Solar panels, water and wind turbines, and diesel engines are all generators. An RV generator refers to any generator powered by fuel onboard the RV to produce electricity.
The electricity of the various equipment and appliances within an RV is provided using an RV generator. The generator uses a circuit breaker panel to give various equipment and appliances electricity.
An RV generator can be built into the RV or be portable. That said, all RV generators can be used as a source of backup power, be it in homes or an RV. They come in many shapes and sizes. A bigger generator can produce more electricity than a small one. However, bigger ones make a lot more noise and vibrations and they also have a very low fuel efficiency.
The power of RV generators can range from 2500-12000 watts. Before choosing which watt generator to get, it is best to understand the type of generators available.
Types of Generators for RV
There are many RV generators, and no one generator is suitable for all. Some generators can provide more energy while others work more efficiently. Therefore, it is best to go through all the options to find the one that is best suited. Broadly, RV generators can be divided based on 2 categories:
1. Fuel Type
Different types of generators use different fuels. Gasoline, diesel, and liquid propane are the main fuels used in the generator. Some use two fuels, Gasoline, and Propane, known as dual fuel generators. Out of all, diesel generators provide more energy per liter.
Liquid propane generators have special features and drawbacks separate from others. These generators are more environmentally friendly and have fewer carburetor problems compared to others. Propane has a lower energy content per liter than gasoline, so more fuel is needed. Liquid propane bottles are bigger and heavier, too, making them difficult to carry.
It is usually best to pick a generator that uses the same fuel as the RV to reduce unnecessary weight. Generally, generators built into the RV by the manufacturer use the same fuel.
2. Energy Generation
Another way of classifying generators is by how they produce energy. Any generator can produce current in one of two ways:
- Alternator: This type of generator spins an armature enclosed in a stator using the engine to generate alternating current. Since the armature needs to spin at a constant RPM, these generators produce a lot of noise and vibration. Alternator generators don’t function properly if the electrical load varies too much.
- Inverter: These generators produce direct current by using the engine to drive them. The current is then used to drive the inverter. They usually produce a standard 120vac. While not as powerful as an alternator, these inverters have their advantages. Inverters are very silent since the current generation uses a variable RPM device. This allows the inverter to reduce noise, fuel consumption, and vibrations when the energy demand isn’t too high.
Exploring various generators is the best way to find the most suitable one. The type of fuel, their efficiency, type of current, weight, etc., are some considerations when picking a generator.
What Size Generator for RV or Travel Trailer?
Choosing the size of an RV generator is affected by many factors since different RVs come with different feature sets. For example, some RVs have onboard batteries. Some charge from the RV engine, while others use a tow vehicle alternator. A small number of RVs even uses solar panels. These features greatly affect the size of the generator needed. Let’s find out how many watt generator is perfect for your RV.
1. Portable Generators
The standard size of portable RV generators is anywhere between 2000-12000-watt. Before getting a portable generator, it is important to know the electricity consumption of the RV beforehand. It is always recommended to get a smaller generator if possible. Smaller ones are more fuel-efficient, make less noise and vibrations, and are lighter. They also help to reduce the weight of the RV.
2. Built-In Generators
Many manufacturers these days provide the option of a built-in generator in the RV. This generator is usually housed in an exterior compartment not to take up any precious interior space. Built-in generators like portable ones vary a lot in size. These types of generators have a size between 3000-12000-watt. Built-in generators are usually connected directly to the fuel tank of the RV. This allows them to be used when traveling in the RV.
It is best to check the RV’s feature set and requirements before deciding the size of the generator. For example, some RV’s come with many bells and whistles and need a large generator, while others, which are pretty basic, can do with a small generator. Bigger generators provide more electricity, but they have their drawbacks. They can be bulky, make a lot of noise and have very low fuel efficiency.
Generator of 3,000 watts will be perfect for 30 amp RV. You can choose in between 3000 watt to 3500 watt, but not more than 3600 watt.
For 50 amp RV, 12,000 or 12500 watts generator will be the perfect choice. In emergencies you can also use 30 Amp generator (i.e., 3500 watts) to power your 50 amp camper.
How Big of a Generator Do I Need to Run for my Camper AC?
Air conditioners are appliances that use a very high amount of electricity to power on and keep running. Therefore, an average RV air conditioner would need a generator of at least 2000-4000-watt capacity. That said, there are other considerations as well to know what size generator required to run RV AC.
- Energy Consumption: Any appliance has two energy requirements: power on and running. Usually, an appliance will use the most energy when it switches on and uses a small amount to stay powered on. The energy an appliance uses to stay on is the more important figure. Small air conditioners have a wattage range of around 900-1440.
- Buffer: Before getting a generator, calculate the amount of wattage the RV will need per hour. This will allow you to get the most suitable generator and help in leaving a buffer wattage amount. It is always best to leave a 250-400-watt buffer from the power-on requirement of all the appliances. This buffer will help in case of an energy shortage.
- Recommended Sizes: In most cases, the air conditioner will be the most power-hungry appliance in an RV. In such cases, an RV generator in the 2200-2500-watt range is very suitable. This range of generators can run a 10,00 BTU air conditioner quite comfortably. That said, these generators will have trouble if the microwave, air conditioner, water heater, etc., are all running together. If too many appliances are used simultaneously, it is best to get a higher-end generator.
Every RV doesn’t need a 5000-watt generator to run an air conditioner. Most small appliances and air conditioners can function properly with a 2300-watt generator. One must know their electrical consumption before deciding on which generator to pick.
The size of an RV generator largely depends on the type of RV and its appliances. A large number of options available can confuse a person new to RVs. When choosing a generator, it is important to know the energy requirements of ones’ RV. If there are a lot of appliances, then a larger generator is suitable. On the other hand, if the RV only has a small number of appliances, a small generator should take care of the energy requirements. To help customers escape this problem of choice, some manufacturers have started installing the generator directly built into the RV.