What Size Generator to Choose for RV Camper or Travel Trailer

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Having an RV, motorhome, or travel trailer means you can go camping anytime any day you want to explore nature, or spend a fun-filled weekend with your family at your favorite destination. They allow you to carry all the comforts of your home wherever you go. However, the appliances that your RV has need electricity.

There are a lot of questions and doubts that would pop into your head,

How much power do I need?

How big a generator do I need for my RV?

What generator is capable of running the entire RV electric appliances?

Can I run the RV refrigerator/AC/microwave while using a generator?

What Size Generator for RV

All of these questions are common that will surround you when you consider buying a generator for your RV. If you want to power the whole of your RV, it is critical to buy a generator with the right size and capabilities.

What Size Generator for RV Travel Trailer?

The size of your RV and its appliances that you are intended to run play a critical role in determining what size generator for travel trailers you need. However, generally, a generator that provides 3,000 to 4,000W of power is considered the ideal generator for a travel trailer.

But it doesn’t mean that you overlook other aspects when buying a generator for your RV. It is critical to keep a tab of your electricity usage. For example, if your RV has an AC that requires between 2,000 to 3,000W and an additional 1,000 to 1,500W power to run other appliances, a 4,500W generator would be the ideal one for your RV.

This post is intended to explore all the electrical options for RVs and travel trailers, and some tips for buying the best generator for your travel trailer.

Why Do You Need an RV Generator?

RV generators are exclusively made for RVs and travel trailers to keep running the RV appliances and to provide a consistent and stable source of power to your RV. RV generators are great to have as they keep you comfortable throughout your travel, camping, and long road trips.

If you are boondocking, dry camping, or sitting at independent parking, there is nothing better than an RV generator that can serve you better – except your RV. If you are traveling off the grid or have access to only limited power options, it is safe and reliable to depend on your own power source. If you have the best size generator for your travel trailer, you will be able to enjoy all the appliances of your home away from home.

How Much Power Do You Need in Your RV?

This is a tricky question. It is like you are being asked what three things you would choose to live in a desert. Just like that, you will need to spend some time thinking about the electricity requirements that your RV needs to run all the appliances.

Try to calculate the power of all the appliances that your RV has. In this regard, the owner’s manual can help you calculate the appliance’s approximate power. Once you are done calculating the power required for your RV appliances, it will be easier for you to determine how much power your RV needs.

Different RV Generator Types

Now, when buying a generator for a camper, you should know that there are three types of RV generators available to choose from. It includes;

1. Battery Powered Generators

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 1000, 1002Wh Solar Generator (Solar Panel Optional) with 3x110V/1000W AC Outlets, Solar Mobile Lithium Battery Pack for Outdoor RV/Van Camping, Emergency
  • 【MASSIVE CAPACITY & IMPRESSIVE ENDURANCE】 With the 1000W wattage and 1002Wh capacity, this Explorer features 3 PURE SINE WAVE AC outlets, 2*USB-C, and 1*Quick Charge 3.0 port. It will power your full-size refrigerator, TV, blender, electric grill, mini cooler, and more for your outdoor and home needs.
  • 【UPGRADE ENDLESS SOLAR POWER】 As an option to own the endless solar power, the Explorer 1000 can gear up with two Jackery Solarsaga 100W solar panels, upgrading into a Solar Generator 1000 System. The revolutionized MPPT technology provides a 23% higher conversion charging efficiency.
  • 【POWERFUL & VERSATILE PORTS】 The Explorer 1000 features 3 standard PURE SINE WAVE AC outlets, which will provide extra capacity to power more AC devices and appliances. Extra bonus for the built - unlike most other portable generators, this supports PASS-THROUGH CHARGING while its battery life is protected.
  • 【NOISELESS, STRONG & SAFE】At a such large capacity, this Explorer will leave you with VERY LITTLE to NO noise, giving you the peace and power all at once. Its interior/exterior is well designed to ensure the product’s safety, while your devices and appliances are protected while being charged.
  • 【 WHAT YOU GET 】 1* Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station (1002Wh Portable Power Station), 1*AC Adapter, 1* Car Charger Cable, 1*SolarSaga Parallel Adapter Cable, 1* User Manual.

2. Gasoline Powered Generators

Westinghouse Outdoor Power Equipment WGen9500 Heavy Duty Portable Generator 9500 Rated 12500 Peak Watts, Gas Powered, Electric Start, Transfer Switch & RV Ready, CARB Compliant
  • 9500 Running Watts and 12500 Peak Watts; Remote Start With Included Key Fob, Electric and Recoil Start; Up to 12 Hours of Run Time on a 6.6 Gallon Fuel Tank With Fuel Gauge
  • Features Two GFCI 120V 5–20R Standard Household Receptacle, One Transfer Switch Ready 120V L14-30R, One RV Ready 120/240V 14–50R, and Two 5V USB Ports; All Outlets Have Rubber Covers for Added Safety
  • Powered by a Heavy Duty 457cc Westinghouse 4-Stroke OHV Engine Featuring a Long-Lasting Cast Iron Sleeve With Automatic Low Oil Shutdown and Digital Hour Meter
  • Plug-and-Play: Comes With a Remote Start Key Fob, 12V Battery Charger, Oil, an Oil Funnel, a Tool Kit, and a User’s Manual to Get You Started Right Out of the Box (Minimal Assembly Required)
  • All Westinghouse Portable Generators are Functionally Tested in the Factory and May Contain Minimum Residual Oil and/or Fuel Odor; EPA and CARB Compliant; Backed by 3-Year Limited Service, Labor, and Parts Coverage with Nationwide Customer Service Network

3. Propane Powered Generators

Champion Power Equipment 100307 4375/3500-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Generator
  • Your purchase includes One Champion 3500-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Generator and One LPG Hose with Regulator
  • Portable Generator dimensions – 23.2” L x 19.1" W x 20" H | Product weight – 104.9 lbs. | Hose length – 3.3’
  • Specifications: Noise level – 68 dBA. Fuel tank capacity (GASOLINE) – 3.4 gallons | Engine Size 224cc
  • Operate your 3500-watt portable generator right out of the box on either gasoline or propane, plus the unit holds 0.6-quarts of oil and has a low oil shut-off sensor
  • Keep track of voltage, hertz and run-time hours to easily monitor power output and track maintenance intervals with Intelligauge

However, generators use more than one fuel type, which is useful if you run out of one type of fuel and look for a backup plan. When buying a generator for a camper, you can decide a generator based on its fuel type to narrow down your search.

Different RV Generator Styles

There are two types of RV generators that are,

1. Permanent Generators

Cummins Onan Quiet Series Gasoline RV Generator - 4.0 kW, CARB and EPA Compliant, Model Number 4.0KY-FA/6747
  • Runs 1 rooftop air conditioner
  • Quieter than National Park Service sound level requirements
  • Constant speed operation
  • Digital voltage regulation
  • Hour meter

Most of the RVers prefer to have a permanent generator. They are vented, enclosed, and encased. These generators generate 3x more horsepower than conventional generators. Moreover, they are also more durable and intended to last for years.

The best feature of these generators is their transfer switch, which automatically turns on and off the generator. When connected to a power source, you just need to plug into the power source. Although permanent generators are also more expensive than portable generators, they are worth your money.

2. Portable Generators

Westinghouse Outdoor Power Equipment WGen9500 Heavy Duty Portable Generator 9500 Rated 12500 Peak Watts, Gas Powered, Electric Start, Transfer Switch & RV Ready, CARB Compliant
  • 9500 Running Watts and 12500 Peak Watts; Remote Start With Included Key Fob, Electric and Recoil Start; Up to 12 Hours of Run Time on a 6.6 Gallon Fuel Tank With Fuel Gauge
  • Features Two GFCI 120V 5–20R Standard Household Receptacle, One Transfer Switch Ready 120V L14-30R, One RV Ready 120/240V 14–50R, and Two 5V USB Ports; All Outlets Have Rubber Covers for Added Safety
  • Powered by a Heavy Duty 457cc Westinghouse 4-Stroke OHV Engine Featuring a Long-Lasting Cast Iron Sleeve With Automatic Low Oil Shutdown and Digital Hour Meter
  • Plug-and-Play: Comes With a Remote Start Key Fob, 12V Battery Charger, Oil, an Oil Funnel, a Tool Kit, and a User’s Manual to Get You Started Right Out of the Box (Minimal Assembly Required)
  • All Westinghouse Portable Generators are Functionally Tested in the Factory and May Contain Minimum Residual Oil and/or Fuel Odor; EPA and CARB Compliant; Backed by 3-Year Limited Service, Labor, and Parts Coverage with Nationwide Customer Service Network

Portable generators are great if you want to use them for purposes other than RV. They are moveable, and you can use them in a workshop or garage, but you will also be required to lift and set up things whenever you move them around.

They are great for shorter and weekend travels. Moreover, they are also fuel-efficient, reliable, and produce less noise than permanent generators. However, they are not a good option for consistent usage.

How to Select the Right Size of the RV Generator?

If you want to know what size of generator for a travel trailer you need, the best you can do is to figure out what appliances require power. Here are some approximate power requirements of most of the RVs and travel trailers appliances.

  • Air Conditioner: Anywhere between 1,400W to 2,400W.
  • TV: Anywhere between 200W to 600W.
  • Coffee Maker: Anywhere between 800W to 1,100W.
  • Microwave: Anywhere between 8,00W to 1,200W.

Difference Between Starting and Running Watts of RV Generators

Most of the generators for travel trailers are rated based on starting watts and running watts. It means an RV generator of 3,000W is capable of generating 3,000W when you start your RV’s AC or any other appliance. However, when talking about consistent use running Watts, they may only be rated up to 2,700W.

For example, a 300W travel trailer generator can start 13,500BTU AC that will consume 2,000 running Watts.

After the start-up, the remaining Watts will be around 600W that you can use for other appliances, such as TV, laptop charger, etc.

What Size Generator is Good for a 30 Amp RV?

If you have a 30 Amp RV and wonder what size generator for RV you should have, I recommend you consider Champion 3400 Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Generator. This generator would be a solid investment as it is capable of running all the standard appliances of a 30-amp RV.

Sale
Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Electric Start
  • Dual Fuel – Operate your 3400-watt portable generator right out of the box on either gasoline or propane, plus the unit holds 0.6-quarts of oil (recommended 10W-30) and has a low oil shut-off sensor
  • Convenient Electric Start with 3-Position Ignition Switch – Battery included, plus Quick Touch Panel allows you to access all your controls in one spot.Noise Level :59 dBA at 23 feet. Frequency 60 Hz
  • Ultra-Quiet Operation – 59 dBA is perfect for RVs, tailgating, your next project or backup power for your home, featuring 3400 starting watts and 3100 running watts with up to 7.5 hours run time on gasoline
  • Clean Power for Sensitive Electronics – RV Ready with a 120V 30A RV, plus two 120V 20A household outlets with clean electricity (less than 3% THD) and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter
  • Champion Support – Includes 3-year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support from dedicated experts

Although it has many of its competitors, I like its quick touch control with Smart Economy mode. This mode is useful that lets you save a bit of money on fuel costs.

Other options that you can consider includes;

  • Honda EU3000is Gasoline Portable Generator

Honda Power Equipment EB3000C 3000W Portable Gas Powered Industrial Generator
  • Compact Design
  • Honda commercial OHV engine
  • Lightweight
  • Industrial grade
  • Full GFCI Protection
  • Briggs & Stratton P3000 Power Smart

Briggs & Stratton 30545 Inverter Generator, Gray
  • Run time: Up to 10 at 1/4 Load
  • Running Amps 21.7A
  • Alternator: Permanent magnet
  • Clean and instant power to keep appliances and other important electronics running during a power outage, 30545s engine speed reduces noise, fuel consumption and emissions
  • Quieter than a traditional camping generator with enough power to start a standard RV air conditioner

What Size Generator for a 50 Amp RV?

50 amp RVs need more power than 30-amp RVs. If you have a 50-amp RV and wondering what size generator for your RV you should have, I recommend taking a look at Westinghouse iGen4500.

Sale
Westinghouse iGen4500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator 3700 Rated & 4500 Peak Watts, Gas Powered, Electric Start, RV Ready, CARB Compliant
  • 3700 Rated Watts and 4500 Peak Watts at Less Than 3% THD – Telescoping Handle – Gas Powered – Remote Start With Included Key Fob, Electric and Recoil Start
  • Features a 5–20R 120V Duplex Household Outlet, an RV-Ready Tt-30R 30 Amp Outlet and Two USB Outlets – Great Choice for Travel Trailers or Home Use – Strong Enough to Run All Your Essentials
  • Led Data Center: Rotating Digital Display Shows Fuel Level, Power Output, Remaining Run Time, Voltage Output, and Lifetime Hours
  • Extremely Quiet, Extremely Fuel Efficient: as Low as 52 dBA Noise Output and Up to 18 Hour Run Time on a 3. 4 Gallon Gas Tank – Features “Economy Mode” for Maximum Fuel Efficiency

This generator delivers up to 4,500PW (Peak Watts) along with 3,700RW (Running Watts), which is sufficient for most of the modern camper’s standard appliances. The RV generator is also easy to install and operate. It comes equipped with a 120V 30-amp outlet and an LED display. The LED will show you information like current output, remaining runtime, volts, fuel level, etc.

Other options that you can consider includes;

  • Champion 100302 – 4000W

Champion Power Equipment 100302 4000-Watt RV Ready Open Frame Inverter, Yellow
  • Advanced Open Frame Inverter Design: 50% quieter and 20% lighter than a traditional Champion 3500-watt generator, plus our Economy Mode feature saves fuel and extends engine life
  • Quiet Technology and Extended Run Time: 64 dBA is great for RVs, tailgating, your next project or home backup, with 4000 starting watts and 3500 running watts for up to 17 hours run time on gasoline
  • Clean electricity for sensitive electronics: RV Ready with a 120V 30A RV, plus two 120V 20A household outlets with clean power (less than 3% THD) and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter
  • Parallel Ready: Increase your power output by connecting up to two 2800-watt or higher inverter or digital hybrid with the optional Parallel Kit
  • Champion Support: Includes 3-year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support from dedicated experts
  • Westinghouse iGen4500 – 3700W

Sale
Westinghouse iGen4500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator 3700 Rated & 4500 Peak Watts, Gas Powered, Electric Start, RV Ready, CARB Compliant
  • 3700 Rated Watts and 4500 Peak Watts at Less Than 3% THD – Telescoping Handle – Gas Powered – Remote Start With Included Key Fob, Electric and Recoil Start
  • Features a 5–20R 120V Duplex Household Outlet, an RV-Ready Tt-30R 30 Amp Outlet and Two USB Outlets – Great Choice for Travel Trailers or Home Use – Strong Enough to Run All Your Essentials
  • Led Data Center: Rotating Digital Display Shows Fuel Level, Power Output, Remaining Run Time, Voltage Output, and Lifetime Hours
  • Extremely Quiet, Extremely Fuel Efficient: as Low as 52 dBA Noise Output and Up to 18 Hour Run Time on a 3. 4 Gallon Gas Tank – Features “Economy Mode” for Maximum Fuel Efficiency
  • WEN 56380i – 3800W

WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator with Fuel Shut-Off and Electric Start
  • Dimensions: 23.2" L x 18" W x 20.1" H | Weight: 99.2 lb
  • EPA III and CARB Compliant
  • 212cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 3800 surge watts and 3400 rated watts with a half-load runtime of up to 8.5 hours
  • Fuel shutoff maximizes the generator’s lifespan by using up the remaining fuel in the carburetor before shutting down
  • Produces clean power to prevent damage to sensitive electronics such as smart phones, tablets and laptops

Wrapping Up

That is all about what generator size for a travel trailer is ideal and how big a generator you need for your RV. I have discussed everything in detail. Before buying a generator, you should also consider the type of camping that fits you. I sincerely hope that the above guide will help you find the best generator for your travel trailer or RV. For further queries and suggestions regarding the travel trailer generator, you are always welcome to leave a comment below.

FAQ

What size generator do I need for my 30-amp travel trailer?

For a 30-amp RV or travel trailer, a 3,000W generator is considered the best. However, I still suggest you calculate the power usage of your RV before buying a generator.

What are some quietest RV generators?

Some quiet RV generators that you can have for your RV include WEN56200i, Griggs and Stratton30651, Yamaha EF2000iSv2, and Champion Power 2000.

How do I opt for an RV generator?

Before buying a generator for a travel trailer, you should calculate the power usage of your RV appliances.

About Ted Mosby

My Name is Ted Mosby from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a freelance Architect. I live in New Jersey, USA right now and I take my RV every alternate weekend. As I am a Freelancer I can work anywhere so most of my work is done inside my camper remotely.