What Size Generator Does a 30 AMP RV Need?

by Angela Malcolm
make-a-camping-generator-quiet

While RVs are well-equipped to make camping fun, they don’t have the same electrical capabilities as a home. 

For this reason, many RV owners prefer campgrounds that offer electric hookups. However, even these are limited to 50-amp service. 

If you have an RV with 30 AMP service and want to explore different campsites, getting a generator is the perfect solution! 

Generators come in several sizes, so finding the right one for your needs can take time and effort.

Here’s a complete guide to picking the right power source.

What Size Generator Does My 30 AMP RV Need?

Most generators are rated in watts, so you first need to determine how many watts your RV needs. If your RV has a 30 amp power supply, you’ll need a generator that can produce at least 3,600 watts. 

But don’t worry if your RV requires more than that because most generators can go up to 10,000 watts. If you’re unsure of the generator size you’ll need for your RV, contact an expert for help!

How to Determine the Right Generator Size for a 30 Amp RV

If you have an RV that is 30 amps, you should get a generator with at least a 3600-watt capacity. The generator size will depend on how many appliances and devices you plan to use while camping. 

To figure out which size is right for your needs, consider the following: 

  • How many people will be using the RV? 
  • How long will you be camping? 
  • What time of year is it? 
  • How many hours per day will you be plugged in? 
  • Do you want backup power for your RV? 

Some RVs come with pre-installed generators, which is convenient if you want to avoid guessing your power needs.

Calculating your RV’s power needs

To determine your power needs, you must know the amps and watts of the appliances/devices you’ll run simultaneously with your RV generator. 

Most campers will use a 15-amp 120-volt circuit. So if you want to run your air conditioner, microwave, and television simultaneously, your best bet is a 5000-watt unit with two battery chargers and a gas-powered engine. 

This would allow for non-stop operation of up to 10hrs/gas tank under average temperatures of 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Parameters to Pick the Right Size Generator for Your RV

The parameters used in rating generators can be confusing. Yet understanding them is crucial in making informed decisions.

Most manufacturers rate their units in watts and kilowatts. So, the best way to know if it can support your RV is by looking at its output. Does it have the capacity to provide enough wattage for your RV? 

This can be challenging because not all generators are in watts; some makers list horsepower instead.

AMP

The first is the amperage of your RV. You want to pick a generator that delivers enough power to run all your appliances and electronics in your RV. 

To determine how much power you need, add up how many amps each appliance uses and multiply by 120 volts to get the wattage. 

Here’s an example: A 13-amp air conditioner would use 13 x 120 = 1,560 watts of power or 1560 watts or 16 amps at 120 volts.

Wattage

The second factor to consider is your RV’s wattage rating. A wattage rating is found by multiplying its amps by 120 volts. 

If you’re considering buying an RV generator, you’ll likely have its wattage rating already. It’s in your owner’s manual or on stickers inside your RV. You can also research online or inquire at your dealership.

RV rating for continuous operation

Another factor to consider is your RV’s rating for continuous operation. This tells you how many amps can be used continuously without damaging your appliances or generator. 

Some manufacturers give a rating for generators only, while others give one for both. 

Either way, you’ll want a unit that can handle your needs and not damage its motor or other components by exceeding these ratings.

What Other Factors Matter to an RV Generator

Low noise

A generator can make all the difference when you’re out on the road, and a quiet one is even better. You want to choose a relatively quiet generator. After all, you don’t want to disturb fellow campers with a loud engine. 

Ease-of-movement

You never know when you’ll need to take your RV to a new campsite, so you need a unit that you can carry around easily. Portable generators are ideal for RVs because they’re small and easy to move around.

Fuel type

Fuel is another crucial consideration for an RV generator, as different fuels have different pros and cons. 

For example, propane is a popular choice for RV generators as it is relatively inexpensive and easy to find. But propane can be dangerous, so you must understand the safety procedures before using it.

Another fuel option for RV generators is gasoline, which is more readily available than propane but can be more expensive. 

The Bottom Line

When shopping, the salesperson will ask about your RV’s ampere ratings and the size you need. However, only some salespeople give great advice, so it’s crucial to understand what matters.

A few factors determine the generator size you need, e.g., the ampere ratings and wattage needs of your appliances.

Most portable types are a great option if you’re looking for an RV generator. These designs are quiet and have dual-fuel capability– so you can run them on gas or propane. 

For more convenience, always look for an RV-ready unit with a 30-amp outlet, so you can plug it in and go.

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