Living in a recreational vehicle (RV) is a home on the road, a way of life. When you decide to switch to simple living, an RV is an excellent choice for a prebuilt home on wheels. You have a refrigerator, oven, microwave, heating, and cooling. It has everything you need to live a happy life.

An RV has many advantages, but there are a lot of questions new RV owners usually have after making their purchase – such as: how do I empty the waste tank?, should I get an energy-efficient water pump?, and do I need a generator?. You might think an RV doesn’t need a generator if you’re stopping at an RV park. They have a hookup for power, right?

The answer is not always, and most of them have a plug-in for 30 amp RV. If you have a 50 amp RV, you may not get the power you need to adequately power your RV. It might even run the risk of damaging the electrical systems.

Searching for the right generator can be overwhelming. You have to consider the electrical needs for your appliances and wall outlets. In addition to your various other items, you may need to power like a laptop or a phone charger. I’m here to make it a little easier for you and take the guesswork out of choosing the right generator for your 50 amp RV.

Let’s take a closer look at what size generator you need for a 50 amp RV! 🙂

Understanding the power supply in your RV

A 50 amp RV is one of the more common RVs you find these days, but you might be surprised to know that some parks don’t always have the capacity for powering your RV or even have a hook up at all. Additionally, you may not always find a dedicated RV park. You may need to choose a more rural location to camp for the night.

Understanding how the power in your RV works is essential to living life on the road comfortably. There’s a lot to learn, but we’ll stick to the basics. Amp is short for amperes, and to determine amperes, you have to use the formula amperage = wattage/voltage.

Most RVs come in either a 50 amp service or 30 amp service. You may have guessed that a 50 amp RV can power more, and you would be right. Because a 50 amp has two 120v wires, it supplies a total of 12,000 watts. A 30-amp service has only one 120V wire which means it can only supply 3,600 watts. The calculation to determine how many watts your generator supplies is a simple calculation: Watts = amps x volts.

These come equipped with a plug with 4 wires: two 120V wires, a ground wire, and a neutral wire. When you plug in your 50 amp RV, you can draw 120V or 240V.

Alternatively, the 30 amp service is weaker and has a slightly different plug structure: one 120V, a ground wire, and a neutral wire.

So, what size generator to buy for a 50 amp RV?

A great starting point for any beginner would be a 4,000-watt generator. This question varies depending on really how you use your RV and what kind of appliances you run at the same time. Determining your electrical needs is evaluating the running wattages and the startup wattages for your appliances.

Startup wattage is the power an appliance needs when powering on and usually takes up more wattage than running the appliance. A running wattage is the amount of power you need to just keep the appliance running. You need to consider each appliance and its electrical rating, as many may differ from the standard for your appliances. I recommend keeping track through a chart specifically for your personal RV and its appliances.

Your largest energy consumers will be your air conditions, refrigerators, and your microwave in a standard RV. You don’t want to determine your generator by the startup wattage of your appliances. That would lead you to overspend on a generator you may not really need.

You likely will not be starting or running your appliances at the same time. If you are mindful of how you use your power and your appliances, you can actively reduce your power usage and increase the life span of your generator by doing so.

Here’s also a really cool YouTube video explaining what size generator you should buy for a 50 amp RV:

More considerations when choosing a generator

Choosing a generator is a little more complex than just choosing the correct wattage for your personal usage. You need to keep a few things in mind when making your choices.

When choosing a generator, you’ll want to consider the weight. The larger the engine, the heavier the generator will be. While some generators come equipped with wheels, you will most likely need to lift the generator at some point. Be sure to choose a size that you are comfortable with lifting.

Although you likely will be mindful of how you run and power your appliances, you might consider purchasing an RV with a parallel connection. This just means that you can connect your generator to a similar model to provide additional power.

Generators use either gas, propane, or diesel, and some even have dual-fuel capacities. Gas and propane are the most common dual fuel combination as these are more available than diesel. You may want to consider choosing a generator that runs on the same fuel as your RV so you can easily fuel both without making extra trips. Although a propane generator may be your best bet to extend the life of your fuel since you won’t always be using it.

Generators can be noisy even if the generator you choose claims to be running with quiet technology. Most generators put out between 55 and 70 decibels, while the quieter ones put out about 25 to 50. Noise is essential to keep in mind because you don’t want a generator that keeps you up at night or upsets your neighbors.

Figuring out what size generator to buy for a 50 amp RV can be much easier once you understand your RV’s electrical needs and how to power your lifestyle. If you have a basic understanding of a generator and how it powers your home, you can find a generator that fits perfectly for your specific needs without overspending or wasting wattage.