Standby Sizing Calculator
Standby Sizing Calculator
RV Generator Buyer's Guide

RV Generator Buyer's Guide

How to Pick the Perfect RV Generator

By  | Generator Product Expert

RV TripWhether you travel in your Recreational Vehicle (RV) to spend more quality time with family and friends or to escape from it all, you will need a reliable source of power. RV generators are specifically made for powering RV appliances and accessories.

Although RV generators are more expensive than portable generators, as an RV enthusiast myself, I can tell you that having constant power, day or night, is worth the investment.


Select a Fuel Type

RV generators come in different styles designed to run on different types of fuel. Make sure you select the one that's most compatible with your RV and that will meet your personal travel expectations.

If you are replacing an existing RV generator, you will need to know what fuel type you currently have: diesel, propane, or gasoline.


Diesel RV GeneratorIf your RV runs on diesel, then it's best to have a generator that also runs on diesel. With a diesel generator, you can utilize one fuel source for both your RV and your generator.

Diesel also produces more power than propane. It's cleaner burning than gasoline, non-explosive, and safer to store.

Liquid Propane

Liquid Propane RV GeneratorLiquid propane is an environmentally-friendly fuel choice with cleaner emissions and a longer shelf life.

The downsides, however, are that the runtime is limited to the size of your propane tank and the power output tends to be reduced by around 10% compared to gas or diesel.


Gasoline RV GeneratorSome people prefer gasoline-powered RV generators because the fuel is easy to find and less expensive.

However, gasoline is highly flammable, has a shorter shelf life, and burns more quickly than diesel.


Select a Size

Nothing is worse than under-sizing a generator — or oversizing one. Save yourself money and ensure every appliance will work by sizing your RV generator properly.

1. Make sure your generator will physically fit into your RV. Take measurements in your RV generator's compartment to make sure you select one that will fit.

2. Determine your power needs. Start by jotting down every 120-volt appliance you'll need to run. The A/C unit will require the most power to run, and has a higher starting wattage requirement than running wattage.

Here is a list of common appliances and their average wattages:

Watts= Volts x Amps

 Appliance Wattage Requirement Estimate Chart
Source: Cummins Inc.

Add up the power requirements (in watts) for every appliance you will run simultaneously. Make sure to note the minimum running wattage of every other appliance, and the starting watts for your A/C unit. The total is the minimum wattage needed. 


RV AC Generator Sizing Chart

When connecting the generator to your RV, you may need additional accessories. Make sure you have all the parts you need before you hit the road. Our product pages have a handy list of recommended accessories for RV generators to help you prepare.


Commercial RV Generator

Commercial Mobile Generators 

If you need more power than an RV generator, or it's going to be used on a regular basis for extended amounts of time, you may want to upgrade to a commercial model.

Commercial mobile generators are the ones you rely on for commercial and large-scale emergency services. They're rugged and designed for the toughest of conditions. These are the mobile generators used by telecom workers who repair the power lines; they're the generators used for emergency response vehicles that need to provide lighting, communications, and medical care on the spot.

A popular use today for commercial mobile generators is powering food trucks. Food trucks are rapidly growing in popularity, offering the ability to reach a wider market with less overhead costs than a brick-and-mortar location, and these generators offer reliable power for all of your onboard appliances day after day.

If you're looking for serious power that you can rely on for the biggest and toughest of jobs, then commercial mobile generators are exactly what you need.


Gas RV Generator EPA Regulations

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), gas fumes produced inside the tanks of RV generators must be captured and returned to be burned. This has lead to the manufacturing of EVAP generators that are specially designed to meet these regulations.

Typically, motorized RVs already have a built-in system that complies with these regulations, but most tow-behinds don't. The towable RVs require that you install an EVAP generator, certified hose, special fittings, a specially designed metal tank, and a carbon canister.

If your system is missing any one of these certified EVAP components, you'll be subject to a hefty fine should you get stopped and inspected. So unless your gas RV generator pulls its fuel from the chassis fuel tank, you'll want to be sure you're compliant on the roadway so you don't get stuck with a major fine.

NEXT: View & Shop All RV Generators