Choosing the Right Generator for Your RV

Choosing the Right Generator for Your RV

When you’re out on the open road in your recreational vehicle (RV), a reliable generator is a must-have. Generators provide the power you need for everything from cooking and heating to charging your devices and running your AC. But with a multitude of models and types available in the market, how do you decide which generator is the right fit for your RV? This guide is designed to help you navigate your way through the selection process.

Determine Your Power Needs

Before you start shopping, it’s essential to understand your power requirements. Calculate the total wattage of all the appliances and devices you plan to use simultaneously. Consider essential items like refrigerators, air conditioners, microwaves, lights, and charging ports for your electronics. Remember, some appliances require more power to start (starting or surge wattage) than to run (running or rated wattage). Always choose a generator that can handle the highest surge wattage you will need.

Select the Right Type of Generator

Generators for RVs typically come in three types: portable, inverter, and built-in RV generators.

  • Portable Generators: These are the most versatile and budget-friendly. They can be used for more than just RVing (like camping or as a backup home power source). However, they tend to be noisier and less efficient.
  • Inverter Generators: These are quieter and more fuel-efficient than their portable counterparts, and they produce a clean output that’s safe for sensitive electronics. They can also be paralleled to increase capacity.
  • Built-in RV Generators: These are installed directly into your RV and run off your RV’s fuel supply. They are the most convenient, but also the most expensive.

Consider Fuel Type

RV generators can run on different types of fuel – gasoline, diesel, propane, or solar power. The choice depends on your specific needs, convenience, and environmental concerns.

  • Gasoline Generators: These are the most common due to their low cost. However, gasoline has a shorter shelf life and is more flammable.
  • Diesel Generators: If your RV runs on diesel, it might be more convenient to have a diesel generator. Diesel generators are more fuel-efficient but are often more expensive.
  • Propane Generators: These generators are quieter and cleaner, but they offer less power output. Propane has a virtually unlimited shelf life, which is a plus.
  • Solar Generators: For those seeking an eco-friendly option, solar generators are an excellent choice. They are silent and emission-free, but their performance is weather-dependent.

Noise Level

Generators can be noisy, which is something to consider, especially when camping in quiet areas. Many campgrounds have noise restrictions, so check the noise level (measured in decibels, dB) before buying. In general, inverter generators are quieter than conventional portable generators.

Size, Weight, and Run Time

Size and weight matter, especially when you have limited space in your RV. While built-in generators won’t take up extra space, portable and inverter generators should be compact and light enough for easy transport and storage.

Check the run time of the generator at its rated load. A longer run time means the generator is more fuel-efficient and requires less frequent refueling, which can be a significant convenience when you’re enjoying the outdoors.

8. Price, Warranty, and Brand

Finally, consider your budget and the warranty offered by the manufacturer. While a higher price often means better quality and a longer lifespan, make sure the price aligns with the features offered and your specific needs. A good warranty can save you from potential repair costs down the road.

Choosing the right generator for your RV involves balancing power requirements, fuel type, noise level, size, run time, and price. With careful consideration of these factors, you can select a generator that will keep the lights on and your devices running smoothly, ensuring that your RV adventure is a success.

Consider the reputation of the brand when choosing your RV generator. Renowned brands are typically more reliable, have better customer service, and often come with comprehensive warranties. Some popular brands in the RV generator space include Honda, Yamaha, Westinghouse, and Cummins.

Installation and maintenance

While built-in generators will require professional installation, portable and inverter generators should be relatively easy to set up. If you’re not familiar with generators, look for a model with a straightforward, user-friendly design. Some generators will come with all necessary cables and connectors, while others may require additional purchases.

Like any other machine, generators require regular maintenance to run effectively. Consider the ease of maintenance of the generator you choose. How often does it need to be serviced? How easy is it to find parts if necessary? How complicated are typical servicing tasks? Some generators have features that make maintenance simpler, like easily accessible oil drains and filters.

Safety Features

Finally, safety should never be compromised when using generators. Look for safety features such as automatic shutdown on low oil levels or overload protection. It’s also beneficial if the generator has a fully enclosed design to protect from potential injuries.


When it comes to RV adventures, having a reliable power source can make all the difference. From meeting your electricity needs to keeping your appliances running smoothly, a generator is an indispensable companion for your journey. However, the multitude of choices available can make the decision daunting.

Remember, the best generator for your RV is one that balances power output, fuel type, noise levels, size, run time, price, and features with your specific needs and preferences. As a prospective buyer, making the right decision involves understanding these aspects and how they align with your RV lifestyle. This guide provides a comprehensive pathway to make that choice easier and more informed, ensuring you select the perfect generator to power up your RV adventures. Safe travels!

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