What size generator for 30 AMP RV?

Looking for the right size generator for a 30 AMP RV? Worry not, this blog is going to help you find one that meets all your needs.

The right size generator can be a life-saver when living in an RV. After all, you never want to be without power for too long and that is exactly what happens when you purchase the wrong size generator.

The last thing you want is to run out of fuel while on vacation or camping, but it’s easy to do with the wrong sized unit.

When it comes to the size of a generator, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. This is because generators vary in their output wattage and amperage ratings which will determine how much power they can provide for your RV.

The average 30 AMP RV uses about 3000 watts per hour with 12 hours of use per day. The most common types of generator used for RVs are 2000-3000 watt rated units, but if you’re looking for something more powerful than that we recommend going with a larger sized unit such as 4500-5000 watt models to ensure you have enough power as reserve.  

Selecting the right generator boils down to what type of appliances you plan to use, and how much power they would draw. The more the need of power, the larger the size of the generator.

Let’s break this down into simple questions, and try answering them one by one.

What Size Generator Do I Need For my RV?

As we mentioned earlier, you would need a 3000-4000 watt generator for a small size 30 AMP RV.

But this is just the average estimate. We have considered all things that an RV needs (even a small AC unit) to come to this conclusion. And we have included a factor of safety to cover almost every type of appliances and 30 AMP RV can have.

Your needs might be less or more than this average, so what to do now?

It would work best if you have a rough estimate of how  much power you actually need to run all your appliances smoothly.

How to estimate Generator size for 30 AMP RV?

To rightly estimate the generator size for small to medium size RV, you will have to consider starting watts and running watts.

What are the starting watts and running watts of an electric appliance?

Starting watts as the name suggests is the  amount of electricity that an appliance consumes right when it kicks off. Heavy duty appliances like an Air Conditioner might have a large power consumption while turning up.

Running watts is the power the appliance needs to run continuously for as long as you need it to be running. Running watts are considerably lower than starting watts.

So if your RV has large appliances, make sure that the generator delivers enough power to cater both starting and running watts.

Check out this guide by Honda to have a rough estimate of both starting and running watts of appliances.

(https://powerequipment.honda.com/generators/generator-wattage-estimation-guide)

Rounding up Power-hungry Appliances in the RV

A small and mid size RV can fit only these units. Here we have summed up major power users for a 30 AMP RV.

Small RV Air Conditioner: [ up to 1600 watts starting, 1000 watts running]

Microwave: [1000 watt starting, 800 watt running]

Small Fridge: [600 watt starting, 350 watt running]

keep in mind that these are just rough estimates. You would have to bend backwards to find the running and starting wattage of all the appliances.

To estimate the size of the generator, let’s consider you have only these three appliances to power via the generator. If run simultaneously, the starting power needs to be 3200 watts and the running power needs to be 2150 watts.

A 3000 Watts generator might end up failing you in this scenario. so you should be looking for a generator that can deliver at least 3500 watts.

If you can fork out money, a 4000 watts generator would be perfect. One never knows when your friends or family members come over to your RV on a hot summer and you have to make dinner for them.

Other power users in the 30 AMP RV:

Other power users in a 30 AMP RV can be:

  • TV
  • Refrigerator
  • computer
  • Satellite receiver
  • Coffee maker
  • Blender
  • Hair Blow Dryer

If you combine the three major users, they draw significantly more power than the rest of the appliances combined.

So you need to adjust the generator size accordingly. you should at least add 1500 watts to cater to small appliances, and keeping in mind that you won’t be running all the appliances at once.

Now you can see the point in why we recommended a 3000-4000 watts generator for a small 30 AMP RV.

If you don’t need the major appliances like AC, oven and fridge in your RV, a small generator size would be sufficient for your needs.

What is the difference between 30 AMP service and 50 AMP service?

50 AMP service vs 30 AMP service? They are a world apart.

Small RVs have 30 AMP services as there is less room to fit inside heavy duty equipment but most importantly they need less power. A 30 AMP service can cover a small AC unit, a tiny microwave oven, coffee maker, TV and a few other things.

In order to understand the 30 AMP service, you would have to do this simple calculation.

Watts= Volt x Amp

A 30 AmP service would use 120 V, and the power it would need is 3600 Watts.

50 AMP services use 240 V wires, and they need about 12000 wattage. But that depends on the appliances running simultaneously.

Can I plug my 50 AMP RV into a 30 AMP?

Most campgrounds have power sources for RVs, and a great many of them are rated 30 AMP, bad luck if you own a large 50 AMP RV.

So can we connect to the service?

It should be avoided, but there are a couple of ways around it.

You can use a dogbone electrical adapter. But make sure you don’t pull more power than a 30 AMP outlet can provide.

Generally the 30 AMP has a circuit breaker. So if you connect the 50 AMP RV to the 30 AMP service,  it will overload the circuit breaker of the campground, which may result in power outage for other people who are using the same service and creates safety hazards.

A 30 AMP service outlet can provide more or less 4200 watts (considering 17-20% tolerance). Imagine a fully loaded 50 AMP RV ready to pull 12000 watts from it.

Therefore, It would be much safer to use 15A-20A for running your appliances inside your RV.

The distance between your RV outlet and 30 amp socket has to be at least 6 feet, so make sure you have enough space before connecting them together or else you might blow fuse when powering up both simultaneously due WIRE STRENGTH limitations.

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