How to Choose the Right Size Generator for 50 Amp RV?

How To Choose the Right size generator for 50 amp RV

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50 amp RVs are big and have high power demands as compared to a 30 amp RV.

Sure, you don’t have to worry about power if you’re camping on a developed campground with hookups.

But, if you’re boondocking, you need a reliable source of electricity.

A good solar setup can help power few small appliances.

But to power your RV air conditioners, washer, dryer, and furnace, you need a 50 amp RV generator.

However, buying an RV generator is the easy part. Selecting the right size generator that meets the power needs of your 50 amp camper is difficult.

So you ask, what size generator for 50 amp RV do I need? To be honest, there is no one size fit all type answer for this question. Your exact power need depends on the number of high draw appliances you plan to use simultaneously, which determines, how big a generator you need. However, my recommendation would be to not go below a 4000-watt generator for a 50 amp RV.

In this article, I’ll tell you how to calculate your RV’s total electrical needs so you can choose the right size generator for your 50 amp RV.

Additionally, you’ll find my recommendations of the 5 best 50 amp RV generators that you can buy with confidence.

Let’s start by looking at the difference between a 50 amp vs. 30 amp RV.

Read More: Best Portable Generator for RV Camping

50 Amp vs 30 Amp RV: The Difference

A 50 amp RV is very different from a 30 amp RV in terms of the electrical system, power consumption, plugs, and receptacles. They are usually bigger physically compared to a 30 amp RV.

A 50 Amp RV uses 3x More Power

30 amp vs 50 amp RV plug

The first most critical difference between a 50 amp vs. 30 amp RV is that a 50 amp camper can use 3x more power compared to a 30 amp RV.

This is because a 50 amp RV is bigger and uses a lot more appliances compared to a 30 amp RV.

The power to a 50 amp RV is delivered with a 4-prong plug and receptacle consisting of two 120 volts hot wire, a neutral, and a ground. Whereas, the power to a 30 amp RV is delivered with 3-prongs with one 120 volts hot wire, a neutral, and a ground.

Tip: The easiest way to find out if you have a 30 or 50 amp camper is by looking at the RV plug (image above). A 3 prong plug means 30 amp, and a 4-prongs means 50 amp.

In terms of watts, the two 120 volts hot wire of a 50 amp service delivers a total of 12,000 watts of power. On the other hand, a 30 amp service can bring in 3600 watts with a single 120-volt hot wire.

That’s 3x more power.

Runs More Appliances Simultaneously

Due to such a high wattage rating, a 50 amp RV can run many appliances at once.

You can run 2 air conditioners, a microwave, a washer dryer combo, watch TV and charge the onboard RV batteries without tripping breakers or overloading the generator.

On the other hand, running the air conditioner and using your microwave together on a 30 amp RV may be difficult.

The Power Distribution Centers are Different

50 and 30 amp RV power distribution board diagram

Every RV, whether big or small comes with a power distribution center that houses the fuses and breakers. Its primary function is to distribute the incoming power from shore power or a generator to the other appliances on the RV.

The power distribution box on a 50 amp RV is different from that of a 30 amp RV (see image above).

Read More: What size generator for 30 amp RV?

A 50 amp RV distribution panel comes with two separate circuit breakers of 50 amps each. This helps route the power from the two 50 amp hot legs to two different distribution boards. Now, you have 2 boards distributing energy evenly between your appliances without overloading anyone.

For example, you can use the first breaker to power your air conditioners and a few other items. With the second breaker, you can power your microwave, dryer washer, and other items.

On the other hand, a 30 amp RV comes with a single circuit breaker board because a 30 amp RV plug comes with a single 30 amp hot leg.

With this, you should have a good idea about the differences between a 30 and 50 amp RV and how to tell which type you have.

It’s now time to move on to answer our main question, “what size generator for 50 amp RV?”

How to Choose the Right Size Generator for 50 Amp RV

The answer to the question “how big of a generator do I need for my 50 amp RV” is anything but straightforward.

Just because a 50 amp RV can use 12000 watts doesn’t mean you should get a generator that big. Likewise, getting a 4000 watts generator because I told you so will also not work.

A 12000 watts generator may be overkill, and 4000 watts may be underpowered for your specific needs.

So what do you do?

To answer the question accurately, you need to calculate the wattage of all the appliances you plan on using simultaneously.

But, before that let’s look at the total wattage a 50 amp camper can use and how it is calculated.

How Many Watts Does A 50 Amp RV Use?

By now you know that a 50 amp RV is capable of using about 12,000 watts of power at any given time. 

But where did this number come from?

This is calculated using Watts Law.

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

Using the formula, we get:

120 (volts) x 50 (amps) = 6000 (watts)

Wait we’re not done.

Because a 50 amp RV plug comes with two separate 50 amp hot wires, we have to double the wattage.

i.e. 6000 watts + 6000 watts = 12000 watts

How to Estimate the Generator Size for your 50 Amp RV?

To find out what size generator you need for your 50 amp RV, you need to determine your total power needs.

To determine your exact power needs, you need to list down the wattage of all the appliances you plan on using simultaneously daily.

Especially appliances that require higher starting and running wattage first.

But, what is starting and running wattage?

In simple words:

Starting wattage is the extra power required by a motor or compressor-based appliance to kickoff. Whereas, running wattage is the continuous wattage an appliance requires to keep functioning.

The table below illustrates the starting and running watts of the most common RV appliances.

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

RV Air Conditioner Power Consumption:

RV ACStarting WattageRunning Wattage
11000 BTU RV  Air Conditioner16001010
13500 BTU RV  Air Conditioner28001800
15000 BTU RV  Air Conditioner33002000

Read More: What Size Generator to Run an RV AC

Other RV Appliances Power Consumption:

AppliancesStarting WattageRunning Wattage
Hair Dryer (1600 watts)19001800
Electric Grill (tabletop)16501650
Microwave Oven (650 watts)10001000
Blender850400
5200 BTU Space Heater750750
Coffee Maker600600
RV Refrigerator600180
Laptop200200
TV190190
iPhone55

Now, to find out your total wattage needs, add the starting wattage of all the appliances you want to run together, as starting watt is larger than running watt.

Let’s say, both your air conditioners are running, your husband is making coffee, you’re warming a pizza in the microwave, and your kids are watching TV.

All this happening at the same time.

So your total starting wattage needs according to above table would be:

2 AC (2800 + 3300) + coffee maker (600) + microwave (1000) + TV (190) = 7890 starting watts.

So you need a generator that comes with a wattage rating of 7890 watts. However, a generator that big is not just heavy to move around but very expensive on your wallet.

Being mindful of using certain appliances simultaneously will not only save you money both on the generator and fuel but will also be less in terms of weight.

Let’s take the above scenario and change it a bit to reduce power consumption.

Turn on the AC where all are sitting and use the coffee maker after you’re done heating the pizza.

1 AC (3300) + coffee maker (600) + TV (190) = 4090 watts.

That’s almost ½ of what we needed in the first scenario.

Buying a big generator with smaller power needs is a waste in terms of money and energy.

However, to have the right size generator for your 50 amp RV, add up your total power needs plus 20% extra.

In our case, 4090 watts + 20% = 4908 or 5000 watts.

The 20% extra wattage will ensure you have room for any miss calculation, add emergency devices, and most importantly, not run your generator on full load.

Note: Running your portable generator on full load will increase fuel consumption, noise and reduce its working life.

Things to Consider when Buying A 50 Amp RV Generator

By now, you know what size generator you need for your 50 amp RV to keep you and your family comfortable when out boondocking.

Now, let’s take a look at the other factors you need to consider before choosing a new generator for your RV.

Generator Weight

Overestimating your total power needs will not only lead you to buy a generator that is overpowered, expensive but also extremely heavy.

The increase in power output increases the weight and physical size of the generator.

The higher the weight, the less portable the generator gets, and the more difficult it to load, unload and move it around.

However, there are ways you can reduce the physical weight of your RV generator without sacrificing power.

How?

You can use two portable generators connected in parallel.

Let’s say, your camper needs roughly 6000-watts of electricity to run. Now, a single 6000-watt generator will weigh around 200 pounds. Whereas, two separate 3000-watt generators will weigh less than 90 pounds each.

For me, lifting and moving 90 pounds is easier than 200 pounds. Plus, you now have the option to use just one unit if you need less power and save on fuel too.

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 needs to be purchased separately.

However, you don’t have to worry about the weight if you’re planning to mount your generator on your RV bumper.

Below we’ve reviewed a few portable generators for your RV that are both lightweight and easy to move around.

Is your Generator RV-Friendly?

By now you must be familiar with the terms RV-ready and RV-friendly. An RV-friendly generator is very different from those conventional generators.

The two aspects that separate them are the outlets and noise level.

In terms of outlets, an RV-ready generator comes with an RV receptacle (30 or 50 amp). Thus there is no need to buy a separate converter or adapter to connect it to your camper trailer.

Generally, RV-friendly generators are pretty quiet compared to conventional generators. And this is an important one.

You don’t want a generator that sounds like a jackhammer while disturbing your neighbors and the wildlife around. In the RV dry camping world, a generator producing between 50-70 decibels is considered quiet.

Generally, a generator’s performance and sound may vary depending on factors like load, weather, age of the generator, and your camping altitude.

Below you’ll find reviews of some quiet portable generators with 50 amp RV outlets that you can buy with confidence.

Fuel Efficiency

Stocking up on fuel is as simple as hitting the gas station with few gas containers or empty propane tanks.

But what do you do if you’re camping far away from civilization?

You either need a large fuel stock on the bed of your truck or simply get a portable generator that is more fuel-efficient.

Though the fuel efficiency of your generator depends on factors like run time and load. But, some generators use less fuel compared to others.

Read More: How much fuel does an RV generator use?

Most portable generators use either gasoline, propane, or diesel as the source of energy.

Each type of fuel has its pros and cons, from availability to stability.

For example, gas and propane are readily available compared to diesel. Propane is more stable and can be stored safely for longer periods. Whereas, diesel has more energy compared to gasoline and propane.

You can get a dual fuel generator that usually comes with the propane and gas combination. This way, if you run out of gas on a long trip, you can use your RV propane to power the generator.

Look for a generator with a longer run time on a single tank of fuel.

Below you’ll find a review of a portable dual fuel generator to power your 50 amp RV.

Get an Inverter Generator

Buying an inverter generator for your RV is an absolute must. 

Inverter generators have a lot of advantages over conventional generators. They are quiet, fuel-efficient, and most importantly produce clean power that’s important for charging and using those sensitive devices like laptops and cell phones.

Though inverter generators are a bit more expensive compared to conventional ones, they’re well worth the investment.

In the 50 amp RV generator reviews below, I have recommended a few inverter generators.

The 5 Best 50 Amp RV Generators

You now have the proper knowledge required to choose the right size generator for your 50 amp RV.

You can go to your local dealer and get one that meets your requirements.

Or you can check my recommendations of the 5 best generators for 50 amp RVs that can help you cut down on your research time.

01. Westinghouse 6000-Watt Generator for RV Air Conditioners

Power to run 2 RV AC and more
Excellent fuel efficiency
Quiet enough not to disturb anyone
No 50 amp RV receptacle

Most small to mid-sized RV generators can run a small RV air conditioner.

However, powering two air conditioners at the same time to keep your family comfortable requires a powerful 50 amp RV generator.

With the Westinghouse WGen6000, you have sufficient power to run both your AC’s and still have sufficient power to run other appliances at the same time.

With the push of a button, the generator fires up, producing up to 7500 peak watts and 6000 running watts. This is a lot of power to keep your 50 amp RV running without interruption.

Additionally, you have a manual recoil start, which to me is a backup if ever the auto-ignition fails.

Equipped with a gasoline engine that runs off a 6.6-gallon tank of gas, providing a run time of 13 hrs at 50% load. Additionally, the fuel gauge provides a real-time fuel level, and a low oil automatic shutdown feature prevents engine damage.

At 72 decibels, this powerhouse sounds like any average vacuum cleaner. So you don’t have to worry about disturbing your neighbors or wildlife by running it.

Other features worth mentioning are its on-board display providing real-time data, an automatic voltage regulator, and a foam grip handle and wheels for easy transport.

The only downside for me is that it doesn’t come with a 50 amp RV receptacle. You have to buy an L14-30P to a 14-50R converter to connect it to your 50 amp RV or camper.

Overall, the Westinghouse WGen6000 is a powerful, fuel-efficient generator that will comfortably run multiple RV air conditioners and still has room to run other smaller appliances.

Noise Level: 72 dB(A) | Dry Weight: 174 lbs | Output Wattage: 7500W Starting, 6000W Running | Fuel Tank Capacity: 6.6 gallons | Run Time/Tank: 13 Hours


02. Westinghouse 3700-Watt Quiet Portable RV Generator

The quietest generator for your 50 amp RV
Extremely lightweight making it easy to load and unload
Fuel efficient with 18 hrs run time
No 50 amp RV receptacle

An RV generator that sounds like a jackhammer on the campground can be very disturbing for both you and the campers around you.

Worst, some national parks and campgrounds may not allow you to run your generator at all if it’s too loud.

You need a quiet inverter generator like the Westinghouse iGen4500, to silently power your 50 amp RV.

At 52 decibels, this generator sounds less than a normal conversation at home, making it the quietest generator on this list.

With a rated wattage of 3700, this portable generator produces enough power to run a 15000 BTU RV air conditioner. Plus, you have sufficient room to run a few smaller appliances and safely charge your phone or laptop.

The generator is highly fuel-efficient because of the engine’s ability to vary speed depending on the load. The remote start is a handy feature that allows you to start and stop the generator even in the middle of the night without getting out of bed.

It weighs in at 98 lbs making it the lightest generator on our list. Plus, the telescopic handle and never-flat wheels make towing around the campsite easy.

Other features worth mentioning are its multifunctional LED display that produces real-time data, and low THD produces cleaner power. It is also parallel capable if you want more power. However, you have to buy a 50 amp parallel cord separately.

It is an RV-ready generator that comes with a 30 amp RV receptacle and not a 50 amp. You have to buy a TT-30P to 14-50R dogbone adapter to connect to your 50 amp camper.

Overall, if you’re in the market for a quiet, lightweight but powerful generator for your 50 amp RV, then the Westinghouse iGen4500 is for you.

Noise Level: 52 dB(A) | Dry Weight: 98 lbs | Output Wattage: 4500W Starting, 3700W Running | Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.4 gallon | Run Time/Tank: 18 Hours


03. Pulsar 8000/7000-Watt Dual Fuel Generator with 50 amp RV Outlet

The quietest generator for your 50 amp RV
Extremely lightweight making it easy to load and unload
Fuel efficient with 18 hrs run time
No 50 amp RV receptacle

Fuel is the #1 factor that limits your generator use when boondocking or dry camping.

Finding the fuel your generator runs on may not always be easy.

Sure you can carry sufficient gas to cover your trip while sacrificing precious space and adding extra weight.

A dual fuel portable generator like the Pulsar PG10000B16 offers the flexibility to choose between gasoline and propane.

This dual fuel generator’s switch and go technology makes switching between the fuel type easy without needing to turn the generator off.

With a rated wattage between 8000 (gas) and 7000 (LPG), you have sufficient power at hand to run many high draw appliances simultaneously.

The large 6.6-gallon gasoline tank can run the generator for up to 12 hours non-stop. The electric push start makes it easy to fire up the generator that even your kids can turn on.

The generator comes with multiple types of outlets along with a 50 amp RV outlet so you can directly plug your 50 amp RV without any converter.

It comes with a propane hose so you can directly connect it to your RV propane tanks out of the box.

Though the wheels and a handle make it easy to tow around your campsite. But loading and unloading the generator will be difficult especially if you’re a solo camper. Mounting it on your RV bumper is your best bet.

Overall, the Pulsar PG10000B16 is an excellent dual fuel generator for your 50 amp RV that allows you to operate your generator without worrying about fuel.

Noise Level: 70 dB(A) | Dry Weight: 209 lbs | Output Wattage (Gas): 10000W Starting, 8000W Running | Output Wattage (LPG): 9000W Starting, 7000W Running | Fuel Tank Capacity: 6.6 gallons | Run Time/Tank: 12 Hours (Gas)


04. Champion 3500-Watt RV-Ready Inverter Generator

Connect two similar generator to increase power
Start and stop the generator with the wireless remote
A quiet and fuel efficient generator
Comes with 30 amp RV out not 50 amp

Running a large generator with a smaller power need means wastage of energy and money.

While getting a smaller generator will be limiting your power needs.

A medium-sized generator like the Champion 200987 that is parallel compatible is what you need. 

Use the single unit when you need less power or run two when you have higher power demands.

With 3500 running watts of power, you can run a 13500 BTU RV air conditioner and a few low draw appliances. However, when the need arises for more power, this parallel-ready generator can tag on a similar generator to increase output power.

This is an inverter generator that produces clean power making it safe for all your sensitive electronics. A wireless remote start fob hands you the ability to start and stop the generator without getting out of your coach.

This quiet and fuel-efficient generator allows you to run it overnight without disturbing anyone and needing to worry about refueling. Moreover, it’s lightweight making it easy to carry around.

The small screen on the control panel displays important data from voltage to operating hours.

Though this is an RV-ready inverter generator that comes with a 30 amp RV receptacle but requires a TT-30P to 14-50R adapter to plug into your 50 amp RV.

Plus, you need to buy the Champion RV-ready parallel kit separately that also comes with a 50 amp RV outlet.

Overall, if you’re looking for a light, quiet generator for your 50 amp RV that is parallel-ready then the Champion 200987 is for you.

Noise Level: 61 dB(A) | Dry Weight: 101 lbs | Output Wattage: 4500W Starting, 3500W Running | Fuel Tank Capacity: 2.3 gallons | Run Time/Tank: 14 Hours


05. Champion 12000-Watt Portable Generator with 50 amp RV Outlet

Can run everything on your RV simultaneously
Pretty quiet and fuel efficient
Comes with a 50 amp RV outlet
Extremely heavy

The bigger the camper, the higher are its power needs.

From running multiple air conditioner units to other high draw appliances, you need a big generator.

That’s why we thought of adding Champion 100111 to our list. A 12000 running watt portable generator to power the most demanding 50 amp camper.

This bad boy is the biggest generator on our list in terms of its power output. It packs in enough power for those who camp with a big family.

It can easily power multiple air conditioners, fridge, washer-dryer, microwave, and more all at the same time. Now you never have to think about limiting your power needs or worry about overloading your generator.

This is a pretty quiet generator for the power it produces. At 78 dBA it’s within the limits of any campground. With a 5.9-gallon fuel tank, you will get a 9 hour run time that is efficient in my opinion.

The cold start feature allows you to start the generator without any hustle during the winter months. Plus, it’s an RV-ready generator with a 50 amp RV outlet.

This is the heaviest generator on this list but comes with wheels for an easy tow.

Overall, if you need a powerful portable generator with a 50 amp RV outlet that can run everything on your 50 amp camper, then the Champion 100111 is for you.

Noise Level: 78 dB(A) | Dry Weight: 329.6 lbs | Output Wattage: 15000W Starting , 12000W Running | Fuel Tank Capacity: 10.9 gallons | Run Time/Tank: 9 Hours


Frequently Asked Questions

Can you Run A 50 Amp RV on A 30 Amp Generator?

Sure, you can plug a 50 amp RV on a 30 amp generator/service using a TT-30P to 14-50R dogbone adapter. However, plugging a 50 amp RV on a 30 amp service will limit its power use.

This is because a 50 amp RV can use 3x more power compared to a 30 amp RV. Trying to draw more power from your 30 amp generator will result in the generator overloading and tripping breakers.

Conclusion

Every RV has different power needs. Thus, there is no straightforward answer to the question “what size generator for 50 amp RV?”

An underpowered generator will not meet your demand. whereas, an overpowered generator will be a waste.

To determine how big of a generator for your RV, you need to calculate your total power need appliance by appliance.

In the end, you’ll find my recommendations of the 5 best generators for 50 amp RV.