What Size Generator for a 30-amp RV (My Best Choice)

What Size Generator for a 30-amp RV Should I Buy

A reliable, efficient generator is central to your enjoyment of your RV. However, replacing or upgrading your RV generator can get you bogged down in a quagmire of complicated electrical jargon and sales terms. I’ve been there, and learnt the hard way, so I’m going to share the best and simplest way to find the right generator for your 30-amp RV.

As you’ll be needing your generator anytime you don’t have shore power, the easiest way to go about finding a new generator for your 30-amp RV is to look at what capacity you’re going to need. That way you can stay cool with your AC on, whilst making your morning coffee. Get the capacity wrong and you’ll get cutouts, which means you would need to restrict your usage.

So, if you’re looking for a generator for your 30amp RV and you want to be able to keep the lights on, cook and keep cool or warm, you’re going to need a 3,000-watt generator. Here’s my recommendation: the Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Portable Inverter Generator.

Let me tell you why this is the best generator I’ve purchased. For a start at 3,400 watts it’s got plenty of juice for powering all my appliances, it’s quieter than my last generator so I don’t have to worry about using it for extended periods late or early on, and it even comes with smart economy mode. I’ve already saved a load in fuel so this really has been one of my best purchases.

In case you’re wondering how I came to the conclusion that you need a 3,000-watt generator for your 30-amp RV, simple. Here’s how you can find out exactly how many watts you’ll need to power your 30-amp RV.

Fully powered, with a shoreside 120V power outlet, you RV’s running power comes in at 3,600 watts. Simply multiply your 30 amps by the 120V. However, when you’re stopping over without shoreside access, boondocking, faced with an emergency scenario and so on, you’re more than likely not going to need full capacity. To find out your average needs simply add up the amps required by each of your electrical items and multiply the total by 120 for your personalized average running power needs.

In my case my AC start up (always use your AC start up as it can be quite a bit higher than the running power) is 12 amps, my fridge is 4 amps, my coffee maker is also at 4 amps then I need a couple of extra amps for my laptop, TV, lights and so on. That takes me to around 24 amps which works out at 2,880 watts. If I wanted to, I could economize a little but best to take a maximum ball park figure, so I know I’ll have access to what I need. Also, once my appliances have started up, their actual running consumption will be lower, so I’ll have more power free once I have the essentials up and running.

And there you have it, that’s why a 3,000-watt generator is the best overall choice for your 30amp RV.

Your exact needs will depend on the number of appliances you tend to use at the same time, as well as the specific startup wattage and running wattage ratings for each of those appliances.

And how do you calculate those wattages? This Wattage Calculator will answer that very question and more.

Still have questions? Read on to find out more about 30-amp RV generators.

What is a 30-amp Service?

A 30-amp service essentially refers to the intensity of the electric current.  It’s a 120-volt recreational vehicle standard that supplies 3,600 watts. The service uses TT-30 plugs, three-prong receptacles and a single dedicated 30-amp breaker.

What is the Difference Between a 30-amp and 50-amp Service?

For a start, a 50-amp service provides a lot more watts, with a maximum of 12,000 compared to 3,600 for a 30-amp service. So, you can run a lot more appliances at the same time as well as bigger appliances with a greater electrical consumption.

Secondly, you will also notice that the plugs and receptacles are different. Whereas 30-amp plugs have three prongs, consisting of a 120V hot wire, a neutral and a ground, 50-amp RV plugs have four prongs. A ground wire, neutral and two 120V hot wires. They go on to supply two individual 50-amp 120V feeds.

Can I plug my 30-amp RV into a 50 amp Plug?

Yes, you can, but you’ll need a 30-to-50 amp adapter, commonly known as a “dogbone” because of its shape. Simply plug your RV cord into the female end of the adaptor and then plug the adapter into the 50-amp camp park power supply.

If you don’t already have a dogbone, I strongly recommend purchasing one to keep spare, you never know when you might need it. On my last trip all the 30s were taken up, but that was not a problem for me thanks to my Camco RV Dogbone Electrical Adapter. It serves me just fine, I really like its pull handles and it’s a great price for a quality, heavy-duty product.

What Size Generator Do I Need for my RV?

When you’re weighing up what size generator to go for, you’ll need to take into account the needs of all of your electrical appliances that you’re going to need to use simultaneously. The biggest drain will without a doubt be your AC, so factor that in first at its starting rate, that will give you a bit of leeway once you’ve got it up and running and a few more amps to play with.

Add on the running watts or amps of all of your other appliances you’re likely to be using, you can find all of this information on the items themselves, or look online for general estimations. If you’re using amps, multiply them by 120V to find the exact wattage you’ll need. In general, a 3,000 watt generator should be sufficient for a 30-amp RV, however, if possible, it’s best to calculate your own individual approximate usage. This will also serve you in the future whenever you’re thinking of investing in or upgrading an appliance. You’ll know what kind of load you’re currently at and how much leeway you have before you need to start prioritizing usage.

Other Factors to Consider

You’ve worked out your wattage and are ready to purchase, but hang fire there’s just a few more things to consider before you commit.

Noise level

This is an important yet frequently overlooked factor, until it’s too late. Be sure to check what the noise level of your generator is before you purchase. Not only will this help you to sleep at night but it will also prevent problems from arising with any neighboring RVers. For reference, average speech levels come in at around 60dBA. Every extra 10 dBA actually doubles the previous level of noise, so you really don’t want to even be looking at very high figures. Portable generators tend to be the quietest and come in between 55-70 dBA.


Weight is also equally overlooked, remember you’re going to need to get it into and out of your RV. Any extra weight will also cost more in RV fuel consumption over time. If you can, hook up two lighter generators for combined use, making them easier to move. You’ll also find that there may be times when you will only need to run the one, saving you on generator fuel and keeping noise levels down.

Generator fuel

Fuel is also a major factor to consider when purchasing a generator for your RV. You will need a fuel that is most compatible with your needs. The three most popular generator fuels with RVers are: diesel, propane and gasoline.

Only you can decide which one is best for your circumstances. However, there are some important considerations to bear in mind. If your RV uses diesel, it makes sense to use a diesel-powered generator. These are designed to provide maximum power.

If your RV runs on gas, you’re probably going to want to go for a gas-powered generator. Inverter generators in particular are classed as being much more economical and you can get gas just about anywhere.

Propane generators are popular for their fuel’s long shelf life and cleaner emissions. However, your power will be dependent upon its tank size and refill opportunities may be less frequent if you are headed to more secluded areas.

Dual fuel generators offer many benefits as they can run on different combinations of fuel, meaning you’re less likely to be left without power when it comes to an emergency or unexpected stopover. They are also economical to run and can reduce your fuel storage needs. The only downside is the price, expect to pay a good bit more for a duel-fuel generator although you can recoup this in savings on fuel over time.


When you’re looking for a generator for your 30-amp RV, you’ll need to figure out how much power you need, consider the type of fuel that will be most practical for refilling, alongside weight and noises levels. In general, with an average consumption, a 3,000-watt generator will suffice, allowing you to become truly self-contained with the freedom to decide when and where you park up.

2 thoughts on “What Size Generator for a 30-amp RV (My Best Choice)”

  1. Due to a house fire i just bought the Coleman powermate 6250 wt /5000 wt generator. I also just purchased a 1990 Sierra by Cobra travel trailer (outside plug says it’s 30amp) for my family and I to sleep in at my in-laws house (as their house is too small for 4 more ppl to sleep in). My question is “can this generator run the furnace and lights on this travel trailer”? We’re completely new to this and with winter barring down on us we need heat at night. Thank you for your time and help.

    1. I have a Briggs and stratin 5500 watt generator and when I connect it to the camper trailer and turn the ac on, the generator has a reset button on it that keeps popping and the ac goes off what’s wrong?

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