How to Choose the Right-Size Generator for Your RV

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How to Choose the Right-Size Generator for Your RV

Keep these things in mind before you make a purchase

Size is often one of the main areas people focus on when shopping for an RV. They want to make sure it’s big and roomy enough for everyone who will use it but perhaps not so big that driving and parking are difficult. But another size issue that shouldn’t be overlooked concerns the generator.

Most RVs come with generators that are adequate for all the built-in appliances. However, if you’re planning to buy a used model with an old generator, it may need to be replaced. In addition, even with a new RV, the generator may not be right. It could be producing more energy than you need, which is a waste of money as well as a strain on the environment. And if you’re thinking about adding extra appliances that need to be powered, your current generator might not be strong enough to support them. This guide can help you choose just the size you need.

Make sure it fits

The first thing you should do is check out the generator compartment in your RV and take accurate measurements. The worst thing would be if you buy a new generator and discover that it won’t fit. And even if you plan to get the same one you have, measure anyway. A new generator of the same make and model may not be the exact same size as one that’s just a few years old.

Figure out how much power you need

The next step is finding all appliances in the RV that need 120 volts to run. You will need to get the wattage of everything you plan to run at the same time. Multiplying volts by amps will give you watts. You also need to know the minimum wattage of the other appliances, as well as the starting watts for the air conditioner. When you add that all up, you’ll know what wattage you require from your generator.

Choose the correct RV generator size

When you know what will fit in your RV and the wattage you need, you can then start looking for the right generator, and the choices are generally small, medium, and large.

  • Small. A small generator will give you up to 2,000 watts. If you don’t need to power a lot, this could be the best choice. Because they are light – usually less than 60 pounds – they are very easy to move. A small generator is good for powering a 10,000 BTU air conditioner, but if yours is bigger than that, you may need to get something larger.
  • Medium. A medium size generator will produce 2,500 to 3,500 watts. They typically weigh over 80 pounds and perhaps as much as 150 pounds, so they can be cumbersome to move. But most RV owners find that this size gives them the perfect amount of power.
  • Large. With a large generator, you will get more than 5,000 watts, which is quite a bit of power. In fact, a generator this large would probably be big enough to power your house, and because many come with a transfer switch, this is an option. If you were considering buying a backup generator for your home, going this route could help you cross two things off your list. It’s important to know that large generators weigh 250 pounds or more, so it would have to be mounted on your RV. Plus, unless you have one of the largest types of RVs, you’re probably not going to need so much power.


Looking for more information about generators, maintenance, or anything else related to RVing? Check out our blog for helpful tips and tricks.

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