What Size Generator Do You Need for a Camper?

Even if you have a small camper, you might be surprised at how much power you need to run all of your appliances. Use this guide to help you select the right size generator for your camper.

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RV Generator Sizing Basics

When you’re RVing, there’s nothing worse than being in the middle of nowhere and having your generator fail on you. To avoid this, you need to make sure you have the right size generator for your camper. In this article, we’re going to outline the basics of RV generator sizing so that you can make sure you have the right size generator for your needs.

Know the difference between start and running watts

Start watts are the amount of power a generator can produce to start a motor. Running, or rated, watts are the amount of power the generator can produce continuously. Most motors need more power to start than they do to run.

For example, a coffee maker may have a start wattage of 600 watts but a running wattage of only 50 watts. A hair dryer may have a start wattage of 1800 watts but a running wattage of only 1500 watts.
A general rule of thumb is that you need two to three times as many start watts as running watts. And, most importantly, make sure your generator can provide enough power for the items you want to run at the same time.

Use a wattage meter or online calculator

If you want to get a more accurate measurement of your power needs, you can use a wattage meter or an online calculator. These tools will help you determine the wattage of each appliance and electronic device in your RV. Once you have this information, you can add up the total watts required and choose a generator that meets or exceeds that number.

RV Generator Types

There are many types of generators on the market, but not all are created equal. When narrowing down your search for the perfect RV generator, it’s important to first determine what size you need. This article will help guide you in finding the right RV generator size for your camper.

Portable RV generators

Portable RV generators are great for camping and tailgating, and they can come in handy during a power outage. They’re small enough to be easily transported, and they can be used to power a variety of RV appliances, including air conditioners, refrigerators, and TVs.

Most portable RV generators run on gasoline, but there are also propane-powered models available. The size of the generator you need will depend on how much power you need to generate. For example, a small generator might be enough to power a couple of lights and a TV, but if you want to run a larger appliance like an air conditioner, you’ll need a bigger generator.

When shopping for a portable RV generator, keep in mind that you’ll also need to purchase a power cord that is compatible with the generator. The length of the cord will depend on how far away from the RV you plan to set up the generator.

Inverter generators

Inverter generators are similar to conventional generators, but they have one big advantage: they can generate AC power that’s identical to the power you get from your home’s electrical outlet. That means you can run sensitive electronics like laptops and TVs without worry.

There are two types of inverter generators: single-stage and two-stage. Single-stage inverter generators are more affordable, but they’re not as efficient as two-stage models. Two-stage inverter generators cost more, but they run for longer periods of time and produce less noise.

If you need a generator for occasional use, a single-stage inverter generator should be sufficient. If you plan on using your generator regularly or for extended periods of time, a two-stage model is a better investment.

Standby generators

Standby generators are permanently installed and wired to your home’s electrical system. They run on either propane or natural gas and start automatically when the power goes out. They usually supply more power than portable models and can run for days at a time if you have a large tank or an external connection to a natural gas line.

RV Generator Brands

If you’re in the market for an RV generator, you’ll want to do your research to find the best option for you. There are a few different brands that you can choose from, and each one has its own benefits. Here’s a look at some of the most popular RV generator brands.


Honda generators are considered some of the best in the business. They offer a wide range of turnkey products, from small camping units to business and industrial-sized units that can provide enough power for an office or construction site. They are also incredibly quiet, making them perfect for use in RVs.

Honda’s RV generator lineup includes the EU1000i, EU2000i, and EU3000i Handi models. The EU1000i is the smallest and lightest generator in the group, weighing just 29 lbs. It’s perfect for powering small electronics like TVs and laptops. The EU2000i is a bit bigger and heavier at 46 lbs., but it can output more power, making it ideal for RVs with more appliances. Finally, the EU3000i Handi is the largest unit, weighing in at 72 lbs. It can power everything from air conditioners to refrigerators and is even capable of running RV air conditioners


Yamaha generators are some of the most popular on the market, and for good reason. They offer a wide range of options for every need and budget, from small portable models to large industrial ones. Yamaha is also known for its innovative features, such as its inverter technology that makes its generators much quieter than traditional models.


Champion generators are powered by gas, propane or diesel, making them versatile for several types of RVs. They offer quiet power options that enable campers to enjoy the sounds of nature without being disturbed by a roaring generator. Additionally, some models come with electric start for easy operation.

Other Considerations

In addition to finding out what size generator you need for your camper, you also need to take into account the following:

Run time

How long do you need the generator to run? This is an important question, because it will determine the size of generator you need. If you only need the generator to run for a couple of hours at a time, then a small portable generator will suffice. However, if you need the generator to run for extended periods of time, then you will need a larger, more powerful generator.

In general, a portable generator can run for 8-10 hours on a full tank of gas. A larger standby generator can run for days or even weeks on a single tank of gas.

Noise level

There are a few other considerations you should take into account when choosing a generator for your camper. The first is noise level. If you’re planning on using your generator while camping, you’ll want to make sure it won’t bother your fellow campers. Fortunately, most generators nowadays are pretty quiet. However, some are quieter than others, so it’s still worth considering.

Another consideration is weight. If you plan on traveling with your generator, you’ll need to be able to lift it and load it into your vehicle. Some generators can be quite heavy, so make sure you can handle it before you buy it.

Finally, you should consider the price of the generator. There are a wide range of prices for generators, so find one that fits your budget.

Weight and portability

When shopping for a generator, you will want to consider the weight and portability of the unit. If you plan on using your generator for camping trips or other outdoor activities, it is important to choose a model that is lightweight and easy to transport. Some generators can be quite heavy, so be sure to check the specifications before making your purchase.

In addition to weight, you will also want to consider the portability of the unit. Some generators come with wheels and handles, which makes them easier to move around. If you plan on using your generator in different locations, it is important to choose a model that is easy to transport.