6 Steps to Select Right Generator for Your RV – Size, Fuel & More

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ReviewsWorthy Team

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Recreational vehicles, or RVs as they are popularly known as are vehicles that are designed to function as living quarters.

A typical RV has beds, furnace, refrigerator, dehumidifier, water heater, kitchen, bathroom, and so on.

While RVs can use the electricity available to run appliances like refrigerators, furnaces, etc. in the RV, the average camper generally travels longer distances without access to any steady electricity supply.

Therefore, RV generators are brought into the picture. Generators are devices that can run on any fuel and produce electricity.

RV generators are made to run RV appliances.

They can run on different types of fuels like diesel, propane or gasoline.

RV generators can be chosen based on the type of fuel available to run them, the type of RV used and by keeping in mind the power requirements of each and every electrical device in the RV.

Benefits of Having an RV Generator

RV generators offer several benefits. These generators can power the RV appliances while on the go when electricity is not available. RV generators are small, portable and lightweight. They can work on a variety of fuels like propane, gasoline or diesel. RV generators are fuel efficient. These generators can also charge the RV battery.

RV generators provide power to all the appliances within the RV. Therefore, all appliances can be used on the go without electricity being available all the time.

RV generators are small, lightweight and portable.

RV generators can either be used to charge the RV house battery bank or can directly provide power to the outlets.

The house battery bank is the main battery which can get charged by the generator and then power all appliances.

This is generally disadvantageous because efficiency is low and there is always a risk of overcharging the battery.

Generators work much better if they are directly connected to the power outlets of microwaves, heaters and other electrical appliances.

Different types of RV generators give differing USPs.

Diesel generators are relatively economical while gasoline generators have an easily available fuel source. Propane generators have a longer shelf life and produce cleaner emissions.

Most generators adjust their motor speed based on what power is needed from them.

They also adjust their working based on their power load. This feature of RV generators is called Smart Throttle feature.

RV generators make sure that they supply the required amount of power to every electrical appliance connected to it. They regulate any spikes in the supply voltage and protect appliances from any excess power supply.

Most RV generators make a low noise, with the exception of diesel generators.

Since RV generators are to be put through lots of travel, they are designed to be weather resilient.

RV generators are to be chosen with care, keeping in mind the power requirements of all the RV appliances.

Moreover, it is necessary to keep a fuel tank specifically for the generator’s purposes.

6 Steps to Choose the Right RV generator

The correct generator for your RV can be chosen by first choosing what type of fuel you can provide for the generator. Then, note down the power drawn by each and every device in the RV. The total power consumed by all the devices can be calculated. With this, the appropriate generator can be looked up.

how to buy right rv generator

Step 1- Type of fuel

The type of fuel can be chosen based on its availability and compatibility.

Diesel generators provide greater power compared to its propane or gasoline counterparts.

However, its emissions are harmful. Diesel generators also have a reputation for being very noisy.

Gasoline generators are widely preferred because gasoline (or kerosene) is easily available. However, gasoline generators have a short lifetime.

Moreover, gasoline is very flammable and explosive. They also emit harmful fumes.

Propane generators run on liquid propane. They are environment-friendly as they do not emit any harmful emissions. They also have a long shelf life.

However, they do not produce as much power compared to gasoline or diesel RV generators.

Step 2- Wattage of all appliances

1) Make a note of the appliances that will run on the generator.

These are the appliances that are necessarily present in a typical RV. Some examples include the air conditioner, heater, microwave, refrigerator, and the computer.

Low power devices like laptops, mobiles, television may also be added.

2. Determine the starting and running power of all such appliances.

It is calculated in watts, the unit of power.

Starting power is the power required for a short time, like two to three seconds, to start appliances. These appliances are usually motor driven, like refrigerators and air conditioners.

Running power is the power required to keep the appliance running. This power must be in continuous supply.

This power must be calculated so as to locate the generator that can supply the required wattage.
For example, if an air conditioner requires 2000 watts starting power and 1500 watts running power then a 3000

watts RV generator can be used.

The power drawn by the electrical appliances can be found in their specifications.

Sometimes, they may contain this specification in amps. If so, the wattage can easily be found out by multiplying amps with the voltage being supplied by the RV battery.

3. Determine which of these appliances will be running at the same time.

In real life, more than one appliance will be running at the same time. In this case, the user has to add up all the wattages to determine the total load on the generator.

Therefore, the best case would be to calculate the total power consumed by all the appliances in the RV.

4. Determine approx. the running time of all these appliances.

A rough estimate of the total running time of all these appliances can also be done. This is because most generators are not designed to work at full load for the full time.

Therefore, to have foresight on how long the generator is very beneficial.

Step 3 – Voltage

The RV battery has an operating voltage which must coincide with the operating voltage of the RV generator.

This voltage value will be the constant value which can be used to find wattage from amps and vice versa.

Step 4 -Noise

Some generators make more noise than others. If you are easily disturbed by the constant noise of a running generator, it’s best to choose one with lower noise levels.

The noise levels are mentioned under the specifications of each generator.

Step 5 – Running Time and Fuel Tank

The running time of the generator while working with a specified amount of fuel can help in determining the maximum load it can take on.

Bigger generators have bigger capacity fuel tanks and vice versa. Therefore, the size of the generator can speak about its running time.

Step 6 – Select Accessories

Several accessories are available with RV generators.

Wireless generators are also available so there is no problem of any wire connections.

Some heavyweight generators also come with trolleys for ease of movement.

These accessories can help the user to choose an appropriate RV generator according to their convenience.

Therefore, these criteria with the generator sizing can be done to choose a good generator.


RV generators are devices that can power the RV appliances without them needing electricity. Therefore, RV generators are essential devices needed for heavy travel in RVs.

RV generators must be sized before being bought. Other considerations include fuel used, noise produced, the voltage used and accessories offered.

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