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What Size Generator Do I Need to Run My 30 Amp RV

Containing all the conveniences of a stationary house and the freedom of a vehicle, an RV is a true “home away from home.” 

However, that magic doesn’t happen on its own.

To really take advantage of the luxuries an RV offers, you need to first invest in the best generator for your recreational vehicle. 

A 30 amp RV can handle any generator between 3,000 and 3,600 watts, but the ideal generator would be the most powerful possible. 

A 3,600-watt generator should be large enough to suit most of your needs while not being too powerful for your camper to process. 

WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator with Fuel Shut-Off and Electric Start

In this article, we are going to be discussing how to match your camper’s needs to your generator. 

Read on to learn more about how to select a generator and what you can do to enjoy the most luxurious trip possible!

What Can a 3,600-Watt Generator Power on My RV

3,600 watts may not be enough power to cover all of your needs at once, but it should be plenty to keep you comfortable on your trip.

To calculate your electrical needs, you must first examine which of your appliances pulls the most energy, then factor in which of these you most need.  

Before starting your trip, take a moment to consider the climate and setting.

These will be major factors in determining where your electricity is best spent. 

Is your journey taking you to the deep American South during the heat of summer? 

In that case, an air conditioner is going to be non-negotiable. 

During the winter months, a trip to Alaska will be the complete opposite, with a greater need for both heat and light.

Once you’ve considered which of your electrical needs are essential, calculate your needs. 

Start by factoring in what you know are your trip requirements, then fill in the blanks to learn how to best use your power source when dry docking.  

At 3,600 watts, you may not be able to blast the AC, watch your plasma screen TV, blow-dry your hair, and cook an entire meal all at once, but by balancing your needs, you can enjoy a comfortable environment while enjoying each luxury in its own time.

How Many Watts Will a 30 Amp RV Use

When picking out a generator, you want to look at the range of watts your RV can handle, then select the largest size.  It’s better to be more prepared rather than less!

A 30 amp RV can operate on anywhere from 3,000 watts to 3,600 watts. 

If possible, you should select a generator that provides 3,500 watts or more. 

This amount should be enough to keep you comfortable while not overloading your RV. 

By picking the largest generator your 30 amp RV can safely handle, you will be able to take full advantage of the power available while still not wasting too much extra gas.

What if I Have a Smaller Generator

If you have recently upgraded to a larger RV and already have a generator, you may find yourself wondering if your small generator has just been deemed useless.

You can use a generator smaller than 3,000 watts for your RV, but you soon may find that it isn’t enough to suit the needs of your larger camper. 

By upgrading in size, you’ve increased the amount of space needed to light, heat, and cool. 

Using a generator under 3,000 watts may result in less time enjoying your trip and more time fiddling with the unit. 

In fact, smaller generators are so rarely used with larger recreational vehicles that many don’t naturally connect without using a converter.

There is hope for your small generator, though, in the form of parallelling generators. 

You might also want to check out: What Size Generator Do I Need for a Pop-Up Camper

Can I use 2 Generators to Equal The Watts Needed

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By connecting two generators to your RV, a technique known as “paralleling,” you may be able to reach the appropriate wattage for your needs.

While paralleling is more common for a larger 50 amp unit, it may be helpful if you already own multiple smaller generators. 

Parallelling two generators may take a bit of adjusting, but there are numerous benefits, including: 

  • Increased power wattage
  • Soft power transfer if one generator fails
  • Compliance with electrical standards
  • High efficiency
  • Easy maintenance
  • Continuous power

Before attempting to use two generators to reach your necessary wattage, you must check that these generators can handle it. 

Not all generators are capable of parallelling, and as with all things electrical, it can be dangerous to force a connection where none exists.

Can I Buy Too Big of a Generator for My RV

While you naturally want to buy a generator capable of providing for as many luxuries on the road as possible, purchasing a generator too large for your RV can be equally problematic.

Buying a generator too powerful for your RV can result in money lost to operate a generator your RV can’t entirely take advantage of, as well as “wet stacking.” 

Wet stacking occurs when carbon builds up in the generator, causing power loss and possible long-term failure.

Suppose you find yourself in a position where using an oversized generator is unavoidable.

In that case, electricians advise that operators run the generator to its natural strength for short bursts at a time. 

This technique should help avoid wet stacking. 

While using an oversized generator is possible in the short-term, it is asking for a headache and drained pocketbook in the long term. 


Figuring out what size generator you need for your 30 amp RV might seem daunting, but really, it comes down to math. 

Be patient and realistic when calculating your electricity needs, and be sure to factor in outside elements such as weather and light. 

Be smart when reaching your desired 3,600 watts, and remember always to follow the directions on your equipment.

Even if you find that you can’t power all your luxuries at once, there’s no reason that an appropriately sized generator shouldn’t be able to keep you happy and comfortable in your home away from home!