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5500-watt generators are big and powerful machines.
Compared to a 3500-watt portable generator, a 5500-watt generator produces more power allowing you to run more appliances at a time.
But, are 5500-watt generators powerful enough to run an RV or camper?
Yes, a 5500w generator produces enough juice to power a 30 amp RV while having sufficient power left over to run other RV appliances. However, a 5500-watt generator will not run everything in a big rig like a 50 amp camper.
In this post, we’ll take a look at how much power RV appliances use to determine what all you can run on a 5500w generator at a time. We’ll also take a look at my recommendation of 5500-watt generators for RV and more.
But first, let’s take a look at some generator power basics.
Table of Contents
What are Starting and Running Watts on a Generator?
Starting watts of a generator are a momentary boost of power a generator is designed to produce to help start an appliance. Running watts, on the other hand, is the power a generator produces continuously to run appliances.
To determine what appliance a 5500-watt generator will run, you need to find out the power output of your generator. Generally, generators come with two different power ratings, starting and running.
Starting or surge watts are the maximum wattage a generator is designed to produce for a short period. This momentary boost of power is necessary to help start the motor and compressor-based appliances.
Running or rated watts, on the other hand, is the constant wattage a generator will produce while in operation. The running watts of a generator are what keep your appliances functioning smoothly.
Generally, the starting watts of a generator and appliance is higher compared to running watts.
Though most generator brands clearly state the starting and running watts on the unit itself, some just mention the starting watts as it is the higher number. However, make sure to find out both the wattage ratings to ensure you get the right size generator for your RV.
What Appliances will a 5500 Watt Generator Run in my RV?
A 5500-watt generator can power any appliances in your RV from kitchen to heating and cooling to entertainment. However, you need to perform a power audit to know what appliance you can run simultaneously.
A 5500-watt portable generator like the Honda EU7000iS is powerful enough to run many appliances in your RV. However, the number of appliances it can power simultaneously depends on what you plan on using and the wattage ratings of those appliances.
The easiest way to figure out what appliance can be powered simultaneously, you need to perform a power audit of your appliances. A good rule of thumb is a generator that produces 5500-watts of power can run appliances that have a combined power draw of less than 5500-watts.
Here is a list of the wattage ratings of some of the most common RV appliances.
Note: The wattage ratings of the appliances on the table below are industry standard and may vary depending on your specific appliances.
|Appliances||Starting Watts||Running Watts|
|Flat Screen TV||120||120|
|Microwave Oven (650 watts)||1000||1000|
|Hair Dryer (1600 watts)||1900||1800|
|Electric Grill (tabletop)||1650||1650|
|11000 BTU AC||1600||1010|
|13500 BTU AC||2800||1800|
|15000 BTU AC||3300||2000|
From the table above it is clear that a 5500w generator can run all RV appliances, maybe not all at once. However, it is highly unlikely you’ll need to power all the above-mentioned appliances at a time.
Here is how to find out the total wattage of the appliances you want to run at once.
- Make a list of the most necessary appliances you want to run together
- Now, add up the running watts of those appliances (make sure the total is below the running watts)
- Next, add the starting watts of the highest draw appliance from your list (make sure the total is below the starting watts)
- Add or remove appliances from the list to balance the power usage
The Honda EU7000iS produces 7000 starting and 5500 running watts. From the power audit above you should know how many appliances you can run simultaneously on it.
In a nutshell, a 5500-watt generator can run your RV air conditioner along with one or two kitchen appliances, plus power your entertainment system while also charging the house batteries. This should also leave sufficient room so that the unit doesn’t run at full load.
Will a 5500 Watt Generator Run a 50 amp RV?
A 5500-watt generator can power part of your 50 amp RV. However, when run in parallel with another 5500w unit, it should power your 50 amp camper completely.
The electrical system on a 50 amp RV can use up to 12000-watts of power at a time as it has two 120v hot legs. The wattage rating is calculated using the formula Watts = Amps * Volts.
That means a 5500-watt unit alone cannot power a large 50 amp rig completely. But it can fulfill up to 50% of the RV’s power demands. However, when two 5500-watt generators are connected in parallel, you will get a total of 11000 watts of power that can easily power your 50 amp beast.
On the other hand, using a 5500w generator to power a 30 amp RV is a waste as the generator produces way more power than the RV can use. Here I have a detailed guide on how to select the right size generator for a 50 amp RV.
Will a 5500 Watt Generator Run my AC?
Yes, a 5500-watt portable generator can run the biggest RV air conditioner unit easily. In fact, it can even power two RV ACs at the same time, even the largest ones.
A generator like the Honda EU7000iS has sufficient starting and running wattage to power two 15000 BTU air conditioners simultaneously. With one AC unit running, you should have a lot of room for other large appliances.
Here is an in-depth guide on how to choose the right size generator for your RV.
The Best 5500 Watt Inverter Generator
There is one generator brand that every pro-RVer is a fan of, that is Honda. They make the best generator that is loved by users for its reliability and performance even after decades of use.
My top pick for the 5500-watt category is the Honda EU7000iS which is a powerful machine to make boondocking comfortable. At 7000 starting and 5500 running watts, you shouldn’t have any problem running multiple appliances at a time.
With a 5.1-gallon gas tank, this beast will run up to 6.4 hours at rated load and 16 hours at ¼ load. The noise it produces at the rated wattage is well below the acceptance level of any campground.
This is an inverter generator that produces clean electricity to keep your electronics safe. Out of the box, this unit is parallel compatible allowing you to double your power to run the most demanding 50 amp rigs.
How Long will a 5500 Watt Generator Run on a Tank of Gas?
A 5500-watt generator will run between 11-16 hours @ ¼ load depending on the brand and model you choose from. However, the runtime will greatly vary depending on the load on the generator.
The fuel consumption of a portable generator depends on factors such as electrical load, brand, model, etc. Most manufacturers usually list the runtime at a certain load which may be different from each brand.
The generators we spoke about above have a runtime between 11-16 hours @ quarter load. Check your specific model’s user manual to find how long it will run on a tank of gas.
A 5500-watt generator is a powerful machine that can run many appliances in your RV simultaneously. Though it is underpowered for a 50 amp RV, when coupled with a similar unit can run a big rig easily.
Make sure to perform a power audit of your appliance and use only the appliance necessary. If you don’t already have a 5500w portable generator and are looking for the best, then check out the Honda EU7000iS.