What Size Generator Is Best for a 30 Amp RV?

Do you own a 30-amp RV and wonder what the best size generator to buy is?

Having electricity to camp off-grid or keep your RV appliances running if shore power goes out is important. A generator can provide the electrical load you need to camp in comfort and safety.

Buying the right size generator for your 30 amp travel trailer, motorhome, or fifth wheel is how to ensure you can continue your camping adventures during emergencies or boondocking.

While most experts in the recreational vehicle industry say a 2,000-4,000 watt generator is suitable for a 30-amp RV, your particular camping style may require a bigger or smaller unit.

RV generators for 30-amp RVs are an investment, so this article is to help guide you through what you need to know to determine what size generator to get and discuss how 30-amp camper wattage works. You’ll also find what important generator features to look for and a list of the top five best generators for 30-amp RVs.

Experienced RV owners know how valuable a quality generator is when shore power is unavailable, so check out the information below to get the right size generator for your 30-amp RV!

How Many Watts of Electricity Does an RV 30-Amp Service Provide?

Many small to midsize recreational vehicles and camping trailers feature 30-amp electrical service.

A 30-amp RV electrical service will provide 3,600 watts of power to run the camper’s appliances and devices.

Bigger RVs, such as Class A motorhomes or 40-foot travel trailers or fifth wheels, feature more or larger appliances, so the amperage of the camper moves up to a 50-amp service that provides 12,000 watts of power.

So, should you match your RV generator size to the 3,600 watts a 30-amp RV provides?

You can certainly purchase a 3,500-4,000 watt generator for a 30-amp recreational vehicle, but there are other factors you need to consider before you buy such as:

  • Generator dimension and weight
  • What appliances are in your RV and how you use them
  • Generator starting watts vs. running watts
  • How and where you camp
  • Generator fuel source
  • Generator noise level

Some people with a 30-amp RV can get by in an emergency with a low-wattage generator, while others may want continual power at full load for extended off-grid camping trips in complete comfort.

How to Determine What Size RV Generator to Get for a 30 Amp RV

Buying a generator to use with your 30-amp camper begins with assessing your power needs if you cannot hook up to shore power.

Make a list of your normal camping activities while using your RV that use electricity to work.

Many modern generators for RVs will have integrated sockets for your 30-amp plug, as well as 120v and 12v outlets, along with USB ports that transmit a clean electrical source to charge sensitive devices safely.

Once you determine which lights and appliances you run, how often you use them, and which combinations you’re most likely to use at the same time, you can then take the wattage draw from each and figure out what size generator will fit your needs.

If you only plan to keep the bare minimum of appliances running if the power goes out, such as the refrigerator and some lights, total up only those wattages. You may only require a small, lightweight, and less expensive RV generator under these conditions.

One important note is that when you tally your RV generator wattages, always use the “starting” or “peak” watts versus the “running” watts.

How to Calculate 30-Amp RV Appliance Total Wattage

Below I list out the average RV appliance wattage for common 30-amp recreational vehicles to help you get an idea of what size generator you’re going to need.

If you can access your RV appliance stickers (or check the owner manual), you should be able to get the exact wattage for that specific model to calculate your final figure better.

Remember to add up the starting wattage of an appliance if there is a difference from the running watts. Many devices and appliances will draw the same amount of electricity when both starting and running.

The biggest wattage hog in a 30-amp RV will be the air conditioner. This fact means you’ll have to decide if you want the capability to operate your AC during hot weather.

Many RV owners find they can purchase a lower-watt RV generator and run the air conditioner as long as they juggle which other items they turn on while the camper cools down.

RV Air Conditioner and Appliance Wattages

There are several different RV air conditioner sizes and appliances in a 30-amp travel trailer, fifth wheel, or motorhome.

Next is a list of average wattage draws, so you can quickly calculate the best size of a 30-amp RV generator to buy for camping trips.

RV Air Conditioner –

  • 7000 BTU: Starting- 1700 watts/Running- 600 watts
  • 10,000 BTU: Starting- 2000 watts/Running- 700 watts
  • 13,500 BTU: Starting- 2750 watts/Running- 1250 watts

RV Microwave –

  • Starting/running: 1500 watts

RV Refrigerator –

  • Starting: 600 watts
  • Running: 180 watts

Television –

  • Starting/Running: 190 watts

RV Satellite Receiver –

  • Starting/running: 20 watts

Single light (60 W incandescent/10 W LED )-

  • Starting/running: 60/10 watts

Hair Dryer –

  • Starting: 1900 Watts
  • Running: 1800 Watts

Curling or Flat Iron –

  • Starting/running: 1,500 watts

Blender –

  • Starting: 800 Watts
  • Running: 300 Watts

Insta-Pot –

  • Starting/running: 3 Quart-700 watts, 6 Quart-1,000 watts, 8 Quart-1200 watts

Laser Printer –

  • Starting/running: 900 Watts

Cell Phone Charger –

  • Starting/running: 25 watts

Coffee Maker –

  • Starting/running: 750 Watts

Laptop Computer –

  • Starting/running: 250 Watts

Clothes Iron –

  • Starting/running: 1,500 watts

Space Heater (2kw) –

  • Starting/running: 2,000 watts

RVingZone.com has more wattage information and a handy RV wattage calculator to help you compute 30-amp RV portable generator size.

Please remember that RV appliance wattages in the list above are averages, and it’s best to find the exact figures for your model and brand.

Finding Right RV Generator to Match Your Power Wattage Total

Now that you have the total wattage requirements for your 30-amp recreational vehicle and your camping style, you can begin comparison shopping for the right size generator.

Experienced RV owners try to closely match their power needs to the generator size, as going way too big means you’re wasting money, wattage, and storage space, along with adding unnecessary weight to your motorhome or tow vehicle.

For example, if your wattage needs add up to 3,800, I suggest you don’t go larger than a 5,000 watt RV generator. However, if you plan to camp in the spring or fall when the weather is more moderate and you don’t need to run the AC, you may be okay with a 3,500-watt generator.

If you have the room in your camper and can find room in the budget, it pays to invest in a larger size portable RV generator. A bigger unit gives you more power flexibility while boondock camping or if you upgrade to a bigger RV in the future.

Features To Consider Before Buying A 30 Amp RV Generator

RV Generator Wattage

The point of investing in a portable generator is to have the output you require in your 30-amp RV for appliance starting and running power.

Double-check your wattage calculations for your RV and read the fine print on different generator models, as some vary in peak and running performance.

Generator Noise

Generators can be pretty noisy, which is why many RV parks don’t allow them at all or restrict their use during certain hours.

The best 30 amp RV generators should have a running decibel level under 70 to prevent bothering campground neighbors or damage your hearing. Luckily, modern generator designs keep many sizes suitable for a 30-amp RV to a level between 50-70 dBA.

Please note that the standard measure of decibel level for generators is from a distance of 23 feet. If the noise is an issue, try out some portable RV generator sound-deadening techniques as shown in this video by Soundproof Guide.

Generator Weight

30-amp RV generators can be heavy, which you must consider if you’re already pushing the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of your motorhome or travel trailer/tow vehicle combination.

Looking at the weight of a generator is also essential since you’ll be needing to lift and move the unit to take it with you on RV trips and store it when home. The lighter the generator, the less strain on your back and arms.

A portable generator with wheels can help alleviate issues with trying to transport the unit. If you dry camp in rougher terrain, look for bigger wheels so they can roll easier over bumpy ground.

Generator Fuel Source

Portable generators operate on gasoline, diesel, or propane fuel. Some units can run on two sources and sell as “dual fuel” generators.

RVers like the flexibility of a dual fuel generator as it provides a secondary option when one fuel source runs out or the nearest fill station is a distance away.

The real key to consider is matching your motorhome or tow vehicle’s fuel type with the generator you choose. For example, if you have a gas Class C motorhome, buy a gas or gas/propane generator versus a diesel model to eliminate the need to carry extra fuel canisters on RV trips.

Propane (LP) generators tend to get the most extended run-time but will have a lower power output. Still, propane is less difficult and smelly to transport, and many campgrounds have a refill station onsite.

Does it Have a Parallel Connection

A parallel connection on a portable generator allows you to boost power by adding on a second generator when necessary.

Buying a generator with the parallel connection feature is a good choice as you never know if you’ll need extra amperage but don’t have the budget to buy a new larger size generator.

Top 5 Generator Models For 30 Amp RV

Here are the five best RV generator models that come with a 30-amp socket so you can plug directly into the unit when shore power is unavailable.

These brands are the top generators RV owners repeatedly turn to for high quality, reliable performance, ease of use, and portability.

1. Westinghouse iGen 4500 Inverter Generator

Wattage: 3700 Running/4500 Peak

Weight: 98 lbs

Noise Rating: 55 dBA

Dimensions: 24.5″ x 20″ x 18″

Price: $1,050.00

If you want a portable generator for your 30-amp RV, this gas-powered Westinghouse iGen 4500 has it all.

Enjoy features such as:

  • Remote start with key fob
  • Electric and recoil start
  • 30-amp, 120v, and USB ports
  • Telescoping handle and wheels
  • Digital display with fuel level, lifetime hours, power output, and remaining run time
  • 18-hour run time per tank in “eco” mode
  • Quiet operation
  • Parallel ports
  • Low oil and overload indicators

The biggest downside of this generator is following the time-consuming initial operating instructions precisely to avoid any damage to the unit.

2. Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator

Wattage: 3400 Running/3100 Peak on Gas-3060 Running/2790 Peak on Propane

Weight: 96 lbs

Noise Rating: 59 dBA

Dimensions: 25.1″ x 17. 3″ x 18.3″

Price: $1,950.00

The gas or propane dual-fuel Champion 3400-Watt Portable Inverter Generator is ready for all your camping adventures both on and off-grid.

Enjoy features such as:

  • Clean power for sensitive electronics
  • Electric start with Cold Start Technology
  • 30-amp, 120v, 12v, and USB ports
  • Parallel ready
  • Quick-touch panel with Eco-Mode
  • 7.5-hour run time per tank
  • Quiet operation
  • Low oil and overload indicators

The biggest downside of this generator is some issues with the carburetor clogging when run on gas, and it seems to run better off of propane.

3. DuroMax XP4850EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator

Wattage: 3850 Running/4850 Peak

Weight: 125 lbs

Noise Rating: 69 dBA

Dimensions: 24″ x 21″ x 25″

Price: $599.00

The DuroMax XP4850EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator is an excellent choice for RVers on a budget who want a reliable power source to keep all the camper’s appliances running.

Enjoy features such as:

  • Runs on gas or propane fuel
  • Electric and manual recoil start
  • 30-amp and 120v outlets
  • Folding handle and wheels
  • Up to 20-hour run time on propane
  • Power panel with voltmeter and 12V DC charging posts
  • Low oil indicator

The biggest negative of this generator is the lack of outlet options, but the ability to switch between 120v and 240v power is a nice touch.

4. Yamaha EF3000iS Gas-Powered Portable Inverter

Wattage: 2800 Running/3000 Peak

Weight: 136 lbs

Noise Rating: 53 dBA

Dimensions: 26.8″ x 17.5″ x 22″

Price: $1,899.00

The Yamaha EF3000iS Gas-Powered Portable Inverter is possibly the quietest 30-amp RV generator you can buy because it features insulation in the casing and uses Smart Throttle technology to reduce engine noise when the electrical load drops.

Enjoy features such as:

  • Safe for sensitive devices
  • 30-amp, 120v, and USB outlets
  • Automatic decompression for easy starts
  • Continuous operation for up to 19 hours at 25% load
  • Centralized control panel
  • Super quiet operation
  • Comes with battery-charging cables
  • Oil Watch Warning system

The biggest pitfalls of this generator are the lower power output, cost, and weight, which may be too problematic for some people to use with a 30-amp camper.

5. Generac GP3500iO Inverter Generator

Wattage: 3000 Running/3500 Peak

Weight: 74 lbs

Noise Rating: No dBA listed

Dimensions: 19.3″ x 17″ x 16.5″

Price: $790.00

The Generac GP3500iO Inverter Generator is a bit smaller than the other top picks for best RV portable generator but is also much lighter, and while the decibel level isn’t available, the unit runs quietly.

Enjoy features such as:

  • PowerRUSH Technology – Delivers over 50% more starting capacity
  • Easy-pull recoil start
  • 30-amp, 120v, and USB ports
  • Clean power to run sensitive devices
  • Lighter than most other generators
  • Runs 4.5 hours per tank at 50% load
  • Parallel ready
  • Low oil level automatic shutdown

The biggest issue with this generator is the lack of wheels, which means one person will have to lift and carry it into the RV or around the campsite.

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Final Thoughts

A quality generator is a vital camping accessory that allows you to enjoy your 30-amp recreational vehicle when power isn’t available.

The best generator size for a 30-amp RV is around 4,000 peak and 3,500 running watts for motorhomes, travel trailers, and fifth wheels. However, the size can differ depending on your camping style and which RV appliances are must-haves during power outages.

By using the information above, you can tailor your generator size to fit your needs perfectly and get a jump on the best brands and models to consider so you can hit the road with confidence!

QUOTE:
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide

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