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What Size Generator Do I Need to Run My 50 Amp RV

Determining “what size of generator do I need to run my 50 Amp RV?” may feel like a secondary question for new converts to the RV lifestyle.

After all, shore power is available at most parks and resorts, right?

In reality, in many rural or remote parts of America, it may still be difficult to connect to 50 amps of shore power.

To keep your appliances powered beyond battery life, you will need a generator.

For an RV that works with 50 amps of power, you should get a generator of at least 4,000 watts, and ideally of at least 8,000.

A 50-amp system can take a wattage of up to 12,000.

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What Will a 6,000-Watt Generator Power on My RV

The wattage or “size” of a generator determines how many appliances you can use at the same time inside your RV.

When calculating the size of generator that you will need, you should differentiate the long-use or permanent-use appliances, which will always be on, from those that you will only use for short periods of time.

Reading tip: Can I Leave My RV’s Hot Water Heater On All the Time

Ideally, you should have enough wattage for all your permanent appliances (A/C, lights, refrigerator, WiFi router) and a couple of small appliances (oven, microwave, TV, stove). 

Finally, you will have to calculate the wattage of all these appliances and ensure it doesn’t exceed 6,000.

Long-term appliance consumption:

  • 10,000 BTU A/C system: 2,000 watts on startup, 700 watts to run
  • Refrigerator: 600 watts on startup, 180 to run
  • Satellite internet receiver: 250 on startup, 240 to run
  • Lights: 12 to 40 watts for each light bulb, depending on the model
  • Microwaves: between 1,000 and 1,500 watts
  • Electric grill: between 1,500 and 1,700 watts
  • Coffee maker: approximately 800 watts
  • TV: between 200 and 600 watts

How Many Watts Does a 50 Amp RV Use

Watts are the same as amps multiplied by volts.

RVs usually come equipped with two hot wires that can handle 120 volts each. This adds up to a maximum of 1,200 watts:

120 x 50 = 6,000 watts per wire

In addition, your RV also includes a ground wire and a cold wire.

However, these do not play a role in electricity usage.

You should also remember that the maximum wattage is not the same as the wattage that you will actually need.

Let’s take the consumption numbers we showed above as a reference.

A 6,000-watt generator should allow you to keep your A/C, fridge, and internet working at the same time, plus five 20-watt light bulbs alongside the microwave and TV.

However, you would need to wait before powering up your electric grill.

Does this mean that you will absolutely need a larger wattage?

Realistically, it may be easier to wait a few minutes until you are done with the microwave and then starting up the electric grill.

What’s the Best Generator for a 50 Amp RV

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The best generator for your 50 Amp RV should be one that is just large enough to meet your consumption requirements, with no more than 1000 watts to spare.

In addition, you should also look at the following features:

Size and weight

When you are traveling long distances in an RV, each pound and square inch of space counts.

This is why you don’t want to saddle yourself carrying a generator that is significantly larger than what you actually need.

Yet, even with generators of the same “size,” you will have a variety of layouts and dimensions available.

Look for what is more efficient and what fits your RV’s layout best.


There are three fuel options for RV generators:

  • Diesel, which is cost-effective and easily available
  • Gas, which can be bought at any gas station but can be hazardous to store
  • Propane, which may cost the same as diesel, but is significantly harder to find while on the road

If you will be traveling through remote or poorly-served areas, a diesel or gas generator is probably your safest bet. 

Propane is harder to find, but it can be stored safely for much longer.

If you are planning to stock up in advance, you will need to account for the weight and space of your propane tanks.

Noise levels

Generators are never silent.

Many high-end generators advertise “quiet operation,” which in reality only means that they will generate less noise than a standard generator.

If you can afford it, you should consider buying a generator that is as quiet as possible.

The permanent racket produced by a generator can begin to grate on your nerves after a few weeks.

Plus, in shared facilities such as campsites, they may upset your fellow campers.

Even if you are traveling in the wilderness, the noise made by an RV generator will bring an unfortunate reminder of city life.

Can I Run a 50 Amp RV on a 30 Amp Generator

It is possible to run a 50 amp RV on a 30 amp generator, but it requires an adapter.

This is known as a dogbone adapter, and it is usually sold separately.

There are two caveats to using a 30 amp generator instead of a 50 amp one:

First, your total wattage will be capped at 3,600 watts.

You will only be able to connect the generator to a single 120-volt wire rather than two. 30 x 120 = 3,600 watts.

Some high-end appliances (especially kitchen appliances, such as microwaves) are designed for 50 Amp energy.

If you use a 30 amp generator, you may not be able to operate them reliably.

Can I Plug My 50 Amp RV Into a Generator

Ultimately, the connection between your RV’s wiring system and a generator will work in the same way as if you were connecting to shore power.

They connect to the AC system of your RV and will power any appliances designed to work with AC power. 

If you have any appliances that work with DC power, you will need to add a transformer to your set-up.

This installation will have to be done, or at least checked, by a licensed electrician.


A 50 amp RV can take a generator of up to 12,000 watts.

The capacity that you will actually need will depend on the types of appliances you have on your RV and that you plan to use at the same time.

Usually, this generator should be of at least 4,000 watts. If you plan to have A/C, you will need between 6,000 and 8,000 watts. 

Get some pen and paper and start thinking about the type of lifestyle that you want while traveling on your RV.

Champion Power Equipment 100485 11,500/9,200-Watt Portable Generator, Electronic Fuel Injection Technology and CO Shield