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What Size Generator Do I Need for a Pop-Up Camper

When you’re camping in a pop-up camper…

You’re likely prepared to “rough it” a bit more than you would in a standard RV.

In many ways, a pop-up is a highly upgraded tent.

You don’t go into this experience expecting to lounge in absolute luxury.

However, calculating how much luxury you want is vital before picking out what size generator you need for your pop-up camper. 

The average pop-up camper requires a smaller generator and can fully function on 1,500 to 3,000 watts.  Some air-conditioning units may push that need to 3,500 watts. Your wattage requirements are entirely dependent on your comfort level and the size of your pop-up.

Champion Power Equipment 200951 2500-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, Ultralight

Before boondocking your pop-up, you should be certain that you’ve got the right size generator to get the job done.

In this article, we’ll be answering a few questions about pop-ups and your generator needs.

Is More Power Better When it Comes to a Generator

When buying a generator to fit your pop-up camper, bigger is not always necessarily better.

While you want enough power to fit your needs, buying too large of a generator can cost you more money in the long run.

The greater the wattage of your generator, the louder and less gas efficient it will be.

Which creates a high bill for the energy you aren’t entirely using.

Generators work by turning gas or diesel into energy that your camper can use.

When you produce more power, you require more gas.

You won’t damage your camper using an oversized generator.

But you will waste money by burning gas you can’t actually take advantage of.

Another disadvantage to buying a large generator is an increase in noise.  

One of the significant disadvantages that lead pop-up owners to switch to a full RV is the noise produced by a generator. 

Any boondocking RV that depends on a generator will have to contend with noise.

But the thin, light exterior of the pop-up camper means that the noise appears louder. 

By picking a generator that produces the amount of energy you need, you’ll be able to enjoy a cheaper, more peaceful camping trip.

Champion Power Equipment 200951 2500-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, Ultralight

Do You Even Need a Generator for a Pop-Up Camper

Without using a generator or other power supply, camping in a pop-up camper is almost identical to a rustic, tent-camping experience.

While not necessary, a generator can provide a greater level of comfort to your time in the great outdoors.

Even a small generator should be enough to enhance your stay.

This will provide just enough electricity to boil coffee, cook small meals, and enjoy heated water.

If you are against using a generator, a few alternatives include solar panels, batteries, or shore power.

By utilizing shore power, you guarantee yourself a steady supply but limit yourself to camping only in specific campgrounds. 

Luckily, the wattage needs of most pop-up campers are far lower than that of a full RV.

Meaning that battery power alone may be enough to keep you comfortable. 

How Many Watts do Pop Up Campers Use

Most pop-up campers require anywhere from 1,500 watts of energy to 3,000.

But when deciding how much energy a camper requires, your calculations should focus less on the camper and more on appliances.

By determining your wattage needs beforehand, you can guarantee yourself a comfortable trip. 

Some pop-ups come fully equipped with microwaves, air conditioners, and even complete plumbing.

While others contain just the basics.

The amount of power your pop-up camper will draw depends on what extent to which you plan on using your modern conveniences. 

The air conditioning unit is one of the most significant factors determining how many watts your pop-up camper will use. 

In most cases, air conditioners pull more power than any other appliance in your camper.

Depending on the size, the air conditioner alone will use anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 watts just to cool the small space a pop-up camper provides.

However, by timing your energy usage, you can likely get by with an even less powerful generator than you might initially imagine.

Air conditioners require a strong wattage during startup.

But their draw subsides after the initial burst of energy.

Read also: Do Pop Up Campers Have Air Conditioning

By limiting what lights, chargers, and other power sources you use during this startup time…

You can effectively cool your camper without requiring an especially powerful generator. 

Other major energy draws include heaters, microwaves, and mini-refrigerators.

Do Pop-Up Campers Come With Generators

Champion Power Equipment 200951 2500-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, Ultralight

Most pop-up campers do not come with separate generators.

But buying a pop-up camper with a generator built into the unit itself is possible.

When deciding whether or not to invest in a built-in generator, it’s helpful to weigh the pros and cons.

Before making any significant purchases, be sure to research other opinions and investigate what your personal needs include. 

Pros of a Built-In Generator

Above all, a built-in generator provides the comfort of knowing that your camper is equipped to keep you in comfort no matter where you go.  

Built-in generators generally provide a higher level of power than many smaller, portable options.

As we discussed, bigger is not always better for a generator.

But if you prize reliability, this might be the option for you.

In many cases, these generators can be set to automatically switch on and off, saving you gas by only powering your camper when you need it.

By connecting all your appliances to this single power source, you may be able to save yourself valuable time during setup. 

Rather than fighting with one or several generators, you should be able to power your entire camper with the flip of a switch.

Cons of a Built-In Generator

Ironically, the most significant disadvantage of a built-in generator is simply that: it’s built-in.

Because this generator is a part of your camper, you must integrate it into a part of any camping trip. 

Whether or not you want to use your generator, it is there, taking up valuable space in your likely already tiny camper.

The convenience and reliability of these generators come at a literal price.

Campers with built-in generators can be significantly more expensive.

And adding a permanent generator to your camper after purchase requires costly installation fees.


Regardless of how you choose to power your pop-up camper…

The small size and limited appliances of these lightweight options mean that you’ll easily be able to produce the energy you need to power your pop-up!

Champion Power Equipment 200951 2500-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, Ultralight