How to Select the Best Size Generator for 30 Amp RV?

What size generator do I need for a 30 amp RV?

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Electricity is at the top of my list of most essential things to have to make boondocking or dry camping fun and comfortable.

You may have the best RV solar setup, but a few days of overcast will drain all your batteries.

Whereas having a portable RV generator is, in my opinion, the most reliable source of electricity.

Hit the start button, and you have constant juice flowing and powering your electronics.

Simple!

However, before selecting an RV generator, you need to know what size generator you need for your 30 amp RV.

An underpowered generator will not power everything you need. While an overpowered generator will be a waste. Generally, a 30 amp RV can use a maximum of 3600 watts at any given time. Get a generator between 3000 to 4000 watts for a 30 amp RV to power most of your RV appliances, including your RV air conditioner, without overloading the generator. 

To find out how much electricity you need for your 30 amp RV, you need to calculate the total wattage of the appliances you’ll be using at once. Plus, the startup and running wattage of those appliances.

But don’t worry… 

In this article, we’ll discuss how to calculate your RV power needs (in watts) to help you find the right size generator for your 30 amp RV.

Additionally, you’ll find reviews of RV-ready portable generators to give a head start while answering the most common questions about 30 amp RV generators.

What is the Difference between 30 amp and 50 amp Service?

30 amp vs 50 amp plug

Modern RVs come with one of two different electrical services.

i.e. 30 amp or 50 amp.

Amp or amperage indicates the intensity of the electrical current.

The easiest way to find out if you have a 30 amp or a 50 amp RV is to look at a power line plug or receptacle that is used to get electricity to your rig (image above).

A 30 amp plug will have 3-prongs with one 120 volts hot wire, a neutral, and a ground wire. A 30 amp RV can use a maximum of 3600 watts at any given time.

On the other hand, a 50 amp plug will have 4-prongs, with two 120 hot wires, a neutral, and a ground wire. With a 50 amp service, you get two separate 50 amps of 120 volts that make up to a total of 240 volts.

Thus, a 50 amp RV can use a maximum of 12000 watts at any given time.

30 amp services are for smaller RVs with a single ac and a low overall power demand. Whereas, 50 amp services are for bigger coaches with multiple air conditioners and high overall power demand.

But, can you plug a 30 amp RV into a 50 amp outlet?

Yes, you can plug in a 30 amp RV into a 50 amp service. To do it the right way, you will need a 30 amp to 50 amp adapter (dogbone).

However, when you plug in a smaller amp into a bigger amp service, you’ll only receive the smaller amp. Here, when you plug your 30 amp to 50 amp with your dogbone converter, you will receive 30 amps of current.

Read More: What size generator for 50 amp RV?

Choosing the Right Size Generator for 30 amp RV

There is one question that confuses most new RV owners and campers when selecting a portable generator.

i.e. What size generator for a 30 amp RV do I need?

In general, you need a generator that is big enough to power your most essential RV appliances. Plus, it should be small enough to fit in your RV or truck bed and light enough to load and unload.

In this section, we’ll learn how to calculate the right size generator for your RV and look at other considerations to make the right choice.

How much power do you need?

To find the right size generator for your 30 amp RV, you need to find out how much power you need daily.

As mentioned earlier, a 30 amp service means your RV can take in a maximum of 3600 watts of 120 volts of electricity at any given time.

This is calculated using Watts Law.

Watts law states that: Power (watts) = Voltage (volts) x Current (amps).

Therefore, 3600 watts = 120 volts x 30 amps.

So, for a 30 amp RV, you need a generator that produces no less than 3600 running watts of current (wait! There is more).

Note: Getting a 3600 watts generator when your total power needs is way less is a waste. Whereas, a generator that produces more than 3600 watts is also a waste both in terms of energy and money.  

To determine your exact power need, you need to list down the appliances that you use daily. Most importantly, the appliances that you’ll be running simultaneously, especially the ones that require the most starting and running watts first.

But before that, what are starting watts and running watts?

In simple terms:

Starting watts (peak watts) are the initial boost a motor or compressor-based appliance needs to get started. Whereas, running watts (rated watts) are the continuous amount of current an appliance needs to keep functioning.

The below table will give you a general idea of the starting and running watts of the most common RV appliances. 

Note: The numbers are an approximate estimate and will vary depending on the type, model, and brand of your specific appliance.

Source: Honda

RV Air Conditioner Power Consumption:

BTU RatingStarting WattageRunning Wattage
1100016001010
1350028001800
1500033002000

Read More: How Big of a Generator do I need to Run an RV Air Conditioner?

Other RV Appliances Power Consumption:

AppliancesStarting WattageRunning Wattage
Microwave Oven10001000
Blender850400
5200 BTU Space Heater750750
RV Refrigerator600180
Laptop200200
TV190190
iPhone55

Generally, the starting watts of an appliance are far greater than its running watts (from the table above).

To calculate the right RV generator size you need to add up the starting watts of the appliances you plan to use simultaneously. This will tell you the maximum power your RV needs.

However, it’s less likely you will run multiple appliances together.

From the table above, with a 3000 running watts generator, you can run your RV air conditioner, RV fridge and charge a few small appliances comfortably without overloading your generator.

Keep in mind: Running your portable generator at full load continuously will increase fuel cost, sound and most importantly shorten its working life.

To be on the safer side, size your generator by calculating your total power needs (in watts) plus 20% extra. This way you’ll have room for any miscalculations of your power needs plus you don’t have to worry about overloads.

For example, if your RV needs 2400 continuous running watts, then opt for a generator that puts out 3000 running watts of power.

Is your Generator Portable enough?

Physical size plays an important role when determining the size of your RV generator.

The increase in output wattage increases the physical size and weight.

If the generator you buy has a large footprint, it will occupy more space on the bed of your truck or RV. Moreover, loading and unloading a heavy generator can be back-breaking.

You don’t have to think about the loading and unloading part if you plan to mount your generator on your trailer bumper.

Though less popular for 30 amp RVs, you can also opt for two smaller generators and connect them in parallel to get more power. This will increase the portability and ease on your back to carry.

Note: Not all generators can be used in parallel. They are specific units that are designed to work in parallel and usually connect with a special cord that you need to buy separately.

For the rest of us, look for a portable generator that’s easy to carry in and out of your RV or has wheels and a handle for easy towing.

Selecting a 30 amp RV Generator: Other Considerations

After finding the right size generator for your 30 amp RV, it’s time to look at the other factors that are important when selecting the best portable RV generator.

Get An Inverter Generator

When buying a new or upgrading your existing RV generator, look for one that comes with an inverter. An inverter generator comes with a lot of advantages over standard generators.

They’re super quiet, which is an extremely important feature to have when you have campers nearby or want to run the generator overnight.

They are fuel-efficient providing both Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC) that is clean electricity for powering and charging sensitive electronics like laptops and cell phones.

Though inverter generators are expensive compared to a standard generator, they are well worth the investment.

Choose A Fuel Type

Fuel is important, as, without fuel in the tank, your portable generator is nothing more than useless metal junk.

RV generators use one of three different types of fuel to function: Gasoline, Diesel, and Propane.

Generally, the choice of fuel type for most RV owners depends on factors like availability and storage.

Gasoline is widely available and is often the first choice of fuel for RV owners. Getting gas is as easy as a trip to a nearby gas station with a few plastic gasoline containers. Downsides being its short shelf life. Due to its high volatility, the government limits its storage to up to 25 gallons.

Diesel is a less volatile and more stable fuel when compared to gasoline. Diesel is also readily available and can be found on most gas pumps. Diesel itself carries more energy compared to the other two types of fuel and diesel engines need less overall maintenance.

Propane aka Liquified Petroleum Gas is a stable fuel that comes with an unlimited shelf life. Propane burns clean and produces no smoke and odor. To use a propane generator, connect the fuel line to your RV propane tank and fire it up. No need for an extra propane tank.

What fuel type to go with entirely depends on you. It makes more sense to choose a generator that runs on the same fuel type your RV runs on. That way you don’t have to hit the gas station to stock up every other day.

To be on the safer side, you can go for a dual fuel generator that comes in a combination of any two of the three fuel types we discussed.

Read More: The 8 factors that are affecting your RV generator fuel consumption.

The 6 Best 30 Amp RV Generators

By now you know what size generator you need for your 30 amp RV and know how to calculate your total power needs.

Moreover, you know why it’s best to get an inverter generator for your RV and know the different fuel types available for an RV generator.

It’s time to buy one. 

Here you’ll find reviews and recommendations of the 6 best 30 amp generators for RV camper trailers.

NOTE: RV generators usually don’t come with the following items and need to be purchased separately (if needed).

  1. Parallel cable
  2. Magnetic dipstick
  3. Altitude kit
  4. Grounding rod
  5. Refueling can
  6. Cover

01. WEN 1700-Watt Ultralight Inverter Generator for RV

WEN 1700-Watt Ultralight Inverter Generator for RV
Ultralight weight design for maximum portability
Super quiet making it virtually invisible
Affordable and good fuel economy
Lacks electric start switch
No dedicated 30 amp RV receptacle

If you need a camping generator that is lightweight, super quiet, and comes with an affordable price tag, then have a look at the WEN 56203i.

Weighing in at 39 pounds or 17.7 kg, this is the lightest portable generator on our list. Now you don’t have to worry about hurting your back while loading and unloading from your truck.

At 51 decibels, it is the quietest RV generator on our list. It’s so quiet that you might have to peak out of your RV window now and then to ensure it’s there.

This inverter generator produces 2000-watts of starting and 1700-watts of running power. This is enough for most dry campers who have moderate power needs.

The generator produces clean power that is safe for using and charging your sensitive electronics like laptops, cell phones, and iPads.

With 1.06 gallons of gasoline, you can comfortably get about 7+ hours on ½ load. Additionally, with the eco mode turned on, the output power is regulated depending on the load, thus increasing efficiency.

This generator is not designed to power an RV air conditioner. However, you can buy two of these generators to connect them in parallel to get up to 3400 watts of running power. Together they will produce 4000 watts and weigh less than a single 3000-watt unit.

The only complaints I have about this camping generator are, one it doesn’t have an electric start. Secondly, it’s not RV-ready, meaning it doesn’t have a dedicated 30 amp RV receptacle and thus you need to buy a TT-30R to a 5-20P converter to connect to your RV.

Overall, the WEN 56203i is extremely lightweight, super quiet, and an affordable camping generator designed for campers with minimum power needs.

Noise Level: 51 dB(A) | Dry Weight: 39 lbs | Output Wattage: 2000W Starting, 1700W Running | Fuel Tank Capacity: 1.06 gallons | Run Time/Tank: 7 Hours


02. Champion 3500-Watt Generator for RV Air Conditioner

Champion 3500-Watt Generator for RV Air Conditioner
Designed to run RV air conditioners
RV ready with remote start and stop
Quiet and extended run time
No fuel shut off feature

The Champion 100573 is a powerful, hybrid open frame inverter generator designed for those power-hungry 30 amp rigs.

This 30 amp RV-ready generator puts out 4000 peak watts and 3500 rated watts. This means you have sufficient power to run all your appliances including your air conditioner, furnace, microwave, and fridge.

Starting and stopping this generator is just a click of a button away. The wireless remote key fob hands you the power to operate it without getting out of your camper (80 feet range).

In terms of weight, it’s not the lightest generator on our list, but light enough to be carried out of your truck bed alone. Additionally, the never-flat tires along with an easy-grip handle make towing it around your campsite easy.

At 64 dBA, this open frame generator is relatively quiet for the wattage it produces. The noise further subsides when the economy mode is turned on, also making it more fuel-efficient.

With a 2.9-gallon fuel tank, you can expect 17 hours of run time at 25% load. The inverter technology produces clean power with less than 3% THD for safe charging and running your sensitive electronics.

Comes with a 120V 30A RV (TT-30R) receptacle so you can plug your RV without any converter. It’s also parallel-ready if you need additional power.

This is a CARB-compliant inverter generator that comes with a 3-year limited warranty and free lifetime technical support.

To me, the major downside of this portable generator is the lack of a fuel shut-off feature to use the remaining fuel from the carburetor. Plus, a fuel gauge and a display on the control board for displaying essential info would be great.

Overall, the Champion 100573 is an affordable inverter generator that is powerful enough to run a 15K BTU RV air conditioner plus other appliances without overloading.

What’s Included:

  1. Wheel Kit
  2. Remote Key Fob
  3. Battery Charging Cables
  4. USB Adapter
  5. Oil Funnel

Noise Level: 64 dB(A) | Dry Weight: 96.8 lbs | Output Wattage: 4000W Starting, 3500W Running | Fuel Tank Capacity: 2.9 gallon | Run Time/Tank: 17 Hours


03. Briggs & Stratton 2600-Watt Smart Quiet RV Generator

Briggs & Stratton 2600-Watt Smart Quiet RV Generator
LCD screen displays critical information
Runs clean and efficiently
The wheels and handle makes lugging it around easy
No electric start and fuel shutoff switch

The Briggs & Stratton P3000 is one of my personal favorites due to its performance and reliability.

This portable generator for your 30 amp RV comes with an LCD screen that displays various critical information. Information such as lifetime hours used, live power draw, and maintenance notifications like oil, air filter change, and spark plug change.

The only thing that the display lacks is a fuel gauge.

The unit uses Quiet Power Technology which is the same as an economy mode in other generator brands. With the flip of a switch, the engine will automatically adjust power output depending on the load, reducing the noise level, emission, and saving fuel.

At 84 lbs, it’s lighter than a few on this list. The 6-inch plastic wheels along with a luggage-style telescopic handle make moving the generator easy around the campsite.

The 58 dBA of sound produced by the motor is considered quiet. Additionally, the 1.5-gallon tank will keep your RV powered for more than 10 hours on a 25 percent load.

The unit lacks an electric start and a fuel shutoff switch which is a setback for such a high-performing generator. Additionally, you need to buy an L5-30P to a TT-30R adapter to connect to your 30 amp RV.

Overall, it’s a quality generator for your RV that can power your AC along with other appliances plus charge your laptop and smartphones safely without annoying your neighbors.

Noise Level: 58 dB(A) | Dry Weight: 84 lbs | Output Wattage: 3000W Starting, 2600W Running | Fuel Tank Capacity: 1.5 gallons |
Run Time/Tank: 10 Hours


04. Champion 3100/2790-Watt RV-Ready Dual Fuel Generator

Champion 3400 Dual Fuel Inverter Generator
Runs both on gas and propane
Can easily run a 13500 BTU RV AC
7.5 to 14.5 hrs depending on fuel type
The weight is pretty high

A dual fuel inverter generator has a lot of advantages over a single fuel generator. You don’t have to worry about the availability of fuel, as you now have two different fuels to choose from i.e. gas and propane (LPG).

This generator provides an easy option to switch between your fuel type on the fly, which is just a push of a button away.

It is fully RV-ready, meaning you don’t have to purchase any additional adaptors to connect it to your travel trailer.

The starting and running watts vary depending on the type of fuel the generator is running on. With gasoline, you get 3400 peak watts with 3100 running watts. Whereas, with propane, you get 3060 surge watts and 2790 running watts.

This is sufficient to power a 13500 BTU air conditioner along with your RV refrigerator and other appliances. Plus, you get clean power for those sensitive items.

With a 1.6-gallon fuel tank, you can expect a run time of about 7.5 hours on a 25% load. Whereas, a standard 20 lbs propane tank, will run about 14.5 hours on 1/4 load.

Other features worth mentioning are the electric start button, 3 years limited warranty, and lifetime technical support.

The only downside in my opinion is its weight. Though it has wheels and telescopic handles to move it around the campsite. However, getting the generator on and off your tow vehicle or trailer will be difficult.

Overall, this Champion inverter generator is a great option if you’re looking for a dual fuel RV generator for your 30 amp rig.

Noise Level: 59 dB(A) | Dry Weight: 98 lbs | Output Wattage (Gasoline): 3400W Starting, 3100W Running | Output Wattage (Propane): 3060W Starting, 2790W Running | Fuel Tank Capacity: 1.6 Gallons | Run Time/Tank (Gasoline): 7.5 Hours | Run Time (Propane): 14.5 Hours


05. Honda 2800-Watt Generator for 30 Amp Travel Trailer

Honda 2800-Watt Generator for 30 Amp Travel Trailer
Runs RV AC comfortably
Extremely durable and super quiet
Remarkably fuel efficient
Comes with a high price tag
Very heavy with no wheels

When it comes to portable generators or generators in general, Honda without any doubt is the leading brand. They make the best generators you can buy for your money.

The EU3000iS is an excellent choice for campers looking for the best RV generator.

This 30 amp inverter generator produces 3000 starting watts and 2800 running watts to power most 13500 BTU RV air conditioners. Once the AC is up and running, you can power and charge a few other small appliances.

Though not the quietest RV generator on this list, quiet enough not to disturb other campers on the campsite. At 50 dBA on 25% load, you may not be able to hear it running.

With a 3.4-gallon gas tank, you can get about 19.6 hours of runtime at a ¼ load making it very fuel-efficient.

Besides the manual recoil start, you have an electric start that can make turning the generator on and off very easy.

The generator is equipped with a carbon monoxide detection system which shuts down the generator if the CO levels reach high around the generator. This may not be a necessary feature if you’re boondocking but an important safety feature if you’re running it in closed spaces.

The downside is its premium price tag which makes many budget RV owners shy away from buying this generator. Plus, this is the heaviest generator on this list which doesn’t come with a wheelset and needs to be purchased separately.

Additionally, you need to buy an L5-30P to a TT-30R adapter to connect to your 30 amp RV.

Overall, if you have the budget to get one generator for your 30 amp trailer that will perform for decades, then the EU3000iS from Honda is the one.

Noise Level: 50 dB(A) | Dry Weight: 130.7 lb | Output Wattage: 3000W Starting, 2800W Running | Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.4 gallons |
Run Time/Tank: 19.6 Hours


06. Yamaha 1600-Watt Portable Generator for RV Camping

Yamaha 1600-Watt Portable Generator for RV Camping
Lightweight inverter generator
Excellent reliability in terms of performance
Great fuel economy
It’s not RV-Ready

Well, a generator review without including Honda and Yamaha (the leading brands) cannot be considered complete.

The Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is a gas-powered portable inverter generator that is known for its reliability and performance.

With a peak watt of 2000 and a running watt of 1600, this is a small generator for campers looking to power some small RV appliances from a reliable source of power.

Though it’s not powerful enough to power your RV air conditioner, it produces clean energy for sensitive items and powers small electronics. It’s parallel-ready, so you can connect two generators in parallel for higher power outputs and power an RV AC.

The Smart Throttle regulates the power output depending on the load making it very fuel-efficient. The fuel shutoff feature ensures that your carb runs dry for storage.

The low oil detection system shuts off the generator when low levels of oil are detected which prevents engine damage and saves you from expensive repairs.

It also comes with a fuel gauge that tells you how much fuel is left in the tank.

Its lightweight portable design makes carrying it around extremely easy. This also makes it easy for thieves to steal it. You can secure it by locking it in your trailer with a simple bicycle lock and prevent it from getting stolen.

The only thing I didn’t like about this generator is that it’s not RV-ready. You need to purchase a converter to plug it into your 30 amp trailer.

Overall, the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is an excellent portable generator for campers who don’t need a lot of power but need something reliable.

Noise Level: 51.5 dB(A) | Dry Weight: 44.1 lbs | Output Wattage: 2000W Starting, 1600W Running | Fuel Tank Capacity: 1.1 gallons | Run Time/Tank: 10.5 Hours


Conclusion

What size generator you need for your 30 amp RV purely depends on your power needs.

Apart from the technical factors, you need to calculate your total power needs accurately before you choose the right RV generator.

We have recommended some of the top portable generators to make it easy for you to decide which one to go for once you have your power needs calculated.