If you’re looking for an RV generator, there are a few characteristics to consider. So what size generator for 50 amp RV becomes a question which has its answer in the appliances you use. The more devices or appliances you have, the more amp power you will need.
If your RV has a 50-amp capacity, you probably have multiple appliances. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a 50-amp service from the generator. Generator power comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. The more power the generator has, the heavier it will be to carry. It is why you should be fine with a power of around 6,000 watts for a roof AC and a microwave or a toaster which can run at the same time. If you have multiple devices and appliances such as two ACs, a multimedia system or a large fridge, you might need more power which can come from a 12,000-watt generator.
What is a 50 amp Service?
A 50-amp service comes with 4 wires with two 120-volt hot wires, a neutral wire, and a ground wire. It can be connected to a generator and it can draw 120 volts or 240 volts from both hot wires. There is a formula to calculate the watts of such a service. (A 50-amp service) X (120 volts) = 6,000 watts. But since there are two hot wires of 120 volts, it means that you get double power 6,000 + 6,000 watts = 12,000 watts total capacity. This is referred to as the 120/240 split service. So it is important to remember that a 50-amp service uses two 120-volt hot wires.
Difference Between a 30-amp Service and a 50-amp Service
A 30-amp service is considerably different from a 50-amp service. If your RV doesn’t have large electrical requirements, it is highly likely it comes with a 30-amp service. This service covers the power needs of an air conditioner, microwave power, refrigerator power, TV power and possibly a few outlets around the RV. This service can also power regular 120-Volt appliances such as a coffee maker. It is why 30 amps X 120 volts = 3,600 watts.
A 50-amp service is much more powerful. Since it comes with two 120-Volt hot wires, it is considerably more powerful than the 30-amp service with its 12,000-watt capacity.
Can I Plug My 50 amp RV Into a 30-amp?
One of the questions which are often asked is if a 50-amp can be plugged into a 30-amp. In truth, this can happen using a dogbone electrical dapter. But in reality, if you choose to use a 50-amp plugged into a 30-amp, your RV will be limited to a 30-amp capacity.
What Size Generator Do I Need for My RV?
Buying your first generator is not too complicated if you can estimate your electric consumption needs. Most of the power will go towards your air conditioner. Other power consumers include a fridge or a TV, but at a smaller rate when compared to an AC.
So it is often worth considering your AC needs first as it will be the biggest consumer in the AV. Before taking the decision, you also need to know that it is normal for an AC to consume more when starting when compared to its running time.
This being said, the cooling capacity of a typical RV AC is comparable to what you might have at home. At 13.000 BTU, the AC requires up to 3,000W to start. Its running power needs will vary between 1,500W and 2,000W. In this case, you would be fine with a 3,000W generator.
In comparison, more powerful RV air conditioners need even more power. At 15,000BTU, it takes up to 3,500W to start the cooling process. Running wattage considerable diminishes after that up to 1,800W. In simple words, a 3,000W generator can power your 13,000BTU air conditioner. Once the air conditioner is running, you have the capacity to use the TV, a coffee machine, a toast maker, etc. A fridge consumes 600W. A coffee maker needs the same power. A microwave needs more power of up to 1,000W. A small TV consumes up to 300W, which is very close to your laptop’s energy needs. In normal conditions, this generator offers sufficient power. However, if you plan to use more than just the air conditioner, the fridge, and your TV, you will need a larger capacity generator.
Other Factors to Consider
When purchasing an RV generator, there are other aspects to consider apart from its power capacity. Characteristics such as functionality are important when on the road. Comfort levels are also influenced by the noise a generator makes. Its weight can certainly be an issue in many cases. Fuel consumption is also worth noting, especially if you are a person who travels frequently.
There are many technologies which are being used to diminish noise levels. In many cases, the first thing to notice over a long period of time is just how much influence a noisy generator can have on the overall comfort. It is why you want to focus on the solutions which work best both for your budget and for your own comfort.
An air conditioner is usually below the 60 dBA level. In many cases, it can be among the noisiest machines in the RV. In comparison, a vacuum cleaner is even noisier. It comes with a noise of up to 70 dBA. A normal conversation is around 60 dBA. In these conditions, you can find a generator between 60 and 80 dBA. In many cases, ultra-low noise performance can also lead to increased purchasing costs, but the improved comfort might be worth for some RV owners.
At the same time, you also need to consider the additive impact of all the machines. A generator with an AC working together can create quite an impact. It is why it would be recommended to choose a generator with low noise levels if you plan to use your AC intensely.
The weight of the generator is another important characteristic to consider. It comes to influence the mobility of the generator. Some senior RV owners might be concerned about the weight even more. It is why you should always look for a design with built-in wheels if you are looking for a power generator which can even be close to the 200lbs weight mark. It is also recommended to choose the solutions which are right for your RV. If you do not need the most powerful generator, you should not purchase the most expensive solution as it will add weight to your RV, it will be heavier to move and it will also consume more fuel.
Fuel for Your RV Generator
Fuel consumption is another important aspect to consider. Most generators run on a single type of fuel, such as gasoline. Complex generators run on multiple fuels such as gasoline, propane, and oil. All of them have their own burning rate. But it is not unusual to see a generator run up to 8 hours with 1.6 gallons of gasoline.
The fuel consumption of each generator can be found in the product description. But you need to be aware that not all consumptions are tested in real-world conditions. It is why you can notice small differences when it comes to everyday consumption, especially if you plan to use multiple appliances or devices.
The Best Portable Generator for 50 amp RV
Choosing the best 50 amp generator is not complicated. Depending on your power needs, you can choose one of the following solutions for your RV.
WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
With a power of 3800 Watts, the WEN 56380i is one of the recommended solutions for the average RV needs. It comes with a portable design which allows it to be a solution both at home and on the road. With its built-in transportation wheels, it can also be one of the generators used by seniors who might be looking towards lighter designs. Its portable design is also enhanced by the pulling handle which is recommended when you want to move it further away from the RV or for simple maneuverability. The noise levels are quite low at 57 dBA, it is one of the quietest designs in its class and it is highly recommended for overnight use when you want less noise for added comfort while sleeping.
I would strongly recommend the generator if it is your first purchase. Because it comes with a simple panel with all the controls in a single location, it is easy to operate if you are not used to these products. With gasoline and oil fuels, it can be one of the solutions for a better economy as well. This can also be seen in some advanced functions such as the auto shut-off which works well when it comes to saving oil for emergencies.
The generator will work under normal conditions for up to 8.5 hours with 2.2 gallons of gasoline which represent a full tank. Designed to be RV-ready, it comes with 120V outlets for clean energy, highly recommended if you are charging devices such as smartphones or laptops.
Champion 7500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator with Electric Start
If you need more power, Champion’s generator comes with an impressive capacity of 7.500 watts. The Champion 7500 is recommended when you have multiple large consumers such as air conditioners. But is also one of the solutions which can be considered for continuous use. With 6.1 gallons or a full tank, it will run for up to 8 hours. I would also recommend the generator if you need more starting power as it is able to produce 9375 watts before running on 7500 watts.
The generator also comes with multiple outlets which means you can connect other appliances directly. Since it comes with a powerful engine, it also works well for power tools. So when I need to work with power tools in areas which are hard to reach, I consider the generator as the on-the-go power solution.
Of course, the extra power also means that it comes with an increased noise level. Measured from 23 feet, the noise level is over 70 DBA. It makes it a bit louder than other less powerful generators and also a bit louder than a traditional vacuum cleaner.
As all generators, it also comes with an included warranty. Covered by an average 3-year warranty, it can be considered for long-term use. At the same time, the manufacturer is offering free lifetime technical support with the generator. So if anything goes wrong after its warranty expires, Champion offers the needed support to get the generator running again.
With propane, gasoline, and oil, the generator is a versatile solution for extra RV power. I would see it as a generator to be considered when you need to power multiple devices or when traveling with a large RV with friends or family.
Finding the best 50 amp generator is a matter of understanding power needs. Not all solutions on the market are made to meet the needs of multiple electronic devices but it is up to the RV owners to establish the needed power capacity of such as a generator.
Furthermore, aside from actual power, characteristics such as weight, ease of use and noise levels need to be assessed as well. In many cases, RV owners need to compare the noise levels of the generator with other noises such as those produced by a vacuum cleaner to get a better understanding of what can be expected. A good generator is also easy to use. With leading manufacturers offering a control panel which is compact and easy to use, a modern generator can be operated by adults of all ages. Finally, the fuel versatility of a generator such as propane, gasoline or oil is also important for proper cost control and energy efficiency.