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How to Select the Best RV Generator for Your RV

There is hardly anything better than camping. Filling your lungs with fresh mountain air and enjoying the outdoors brings new, exciting experiences season after season. But as beautiful as it may be to get in contact with nature, modern amenities come in handy now and then.

Maybe you want to blow dry your hair, watch that important baseball tournament or cook scrambled eggs for breakfast. Whatever small appliance you have to power up, you need a power generator.

But how to select the best RV generator for your RV? Before delving right into the matter, let’s see if you need a generator in the first place.

Do You Need A Generator In An RV?

Perhaps the most frequent question. The truth is, it depends. How much time do you plan to spend camping and what type of vehicle do you have?

If you have a small tent camper, a small solar powered generator could suffice. Such a tiny generator could also be sufficient if you don’t plan to spend more than a night out in the wilderness.

If you have a big RV, such as a camper van or travel trailer, you might want a bigger generator. Size can obviously vary from small to industrial-size. However, sizing the generator could be rather tricky.

A too big unit could blow all the circuits in your RV. A too small one might not produce sufficient power for your appliances.

With this in mind, there comes the question:

What Size Generator Do I Need To Run My RV? 

Once again, there isn’t a universal answer. It depends on the size of your RV and the number of appliances you want to run.

To start with, take a piece of paper and write down all the appliances you’d like to use while camping and that require 120V current.

Then, check the appliance and find out how much power it needs to run, so you can figure out the number of watts you need. Some devices may not have the watt requirements disclosed, but you can find it out easily by multiplying volts by amps.

Sum up the numbers and find out what is the power requirement for all the appliances you will be running at the same time.

Once you know that, you can decide what size generator to buy.

Another thing you have to decide is whether you want a permanent or portable generator.

  • Permanent RV generators: As their name suggests, are installed permanently into the RV. These machines are equipped with a transfer switch that turns the generator on and off as needed, so you won’t have to worry about anything. They are very easy to use, and all you have to do is plug in your appliances and use them as you would at home.
  • Portable RV generators: Often represent a better option, as long as they are designed specifically for a recreational vehicle. These generators come in various sizes, from 3,000 to 10,000-watt units. They are relatively cheap and easier to install than a permanent type. Furthermore, you can replace them with a newer model whenever you want.

Choosing A Fuel For Your RV Generator 

One of the most important things to decide when choosing an RV generator is fuel. You can typically choose from diesel, gasoline, and liquid propane. There are also dual fuel generators that could bring further value for money, especially if you plan to carry more than a fuel type with you.

However, each choice comes with pros and cons.

  • Diesel: Is the safest fuel you can use. It is also the most effective; it burns cleaner than gas and won’t explode even if exposed to higher temperatures. If your van also runs on diesel, choosing the same fuel for both camper and generator could save you a lot of hassle. The only downside is that diesel generators are heavier and noisier than all other types.
  • Gas: Perhaps the easiest to source fuel, gas is a great choice if you want to make sure you can refill the generator even in remoter areas. Keep in mind though that it burns faster than diesel and is extremely flammable. It can quickly turn into a hazard if exposed to higher temperatures and has a shorter lifespan than diesel.
  • Liquid propane: Often considered an eco-friendly choice, liquid propane has a long shelf life and burns super clean. However, it has a lower power output than gas and diesel, and runtime is limited to the size of the LP tank. If you’re camping in the middle of nowhere and don’t have a backup tank with you, chances are you’ll be out of power for the rest of your trip.  Nevertheless, LP is a great backup fuel if you decide to invest in a dual fuel generator.

Although diesel is the most effective choice, these generators are so loud that many camping sites banned them. Gasoline and liquid propane are much more popular choices.

While liquid propane is safer to use, gasoline produces more power. Indeed, a gallon of LP produces around 91,500 BTU, whereas a gallon of gasoline outputs up to 125,000 BTU. When choosing the fuel, therefore, you should weigh in the pros and cons of each of these fuels.

How Much Power Does My RV Generator Need To Produce?

The simplest way to determine how much power you need is to consider the average requirements of the most frequently used appliances.


Average power requirement

RV air conditioner

2,000-3,000 watts

RV heater

1,300 watts


1,000 watts


600 watts


50-200 watts


120-200 watts


250 watts

With this in mind, if you want to run many appliances, go for a generator capable of outputting at least 5,000 watts.


Taking into account all the above, you should now know how to select the best RV generator for your RV. Indeed, all you have to do is consider the power requirements based on the number of appliances you want to run and the most appropriate type of fuel.

Whatever your choice, a generator will surely enhance your camping experience.


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