What Size Generator Do I Need to Run a 30 Amp RV? Complete Guide

3100 watt generator

For RVing newcomers, understanding the significance of factors like sizing, output, runtime, and noise levels is vital before making a buying decision.

By carefully considering these aspects, you can find the perfect 30 amp RV generator that caters to your needs, ensuring a delightful and hassle-free camping journey.

A 3000 – 3600 watts generator will be more than enough to run almost every essential of a 30-amp RV including an AC unit, microwave, refrigerator, electric stove, etc Anything more than 3600 will go to waste as a 30 amp RV requires a maximum wattage of 120V X 30Amps = 3600 watts.

After extensive research, I settled on the Champion 4500-watt dual fuel Inverter generator, which I believe delivers the perfect balance of performance and cost-effectiveness.

What Is a 30-Amp Service?

A 30-amp service refers to an electrical power supply system that can handle a maximum current of 30 amperes at 120 Volts (3600 watts)

The service uses a TT-30 plug that features three prongs (1x hot wire, 1x neutral wire, 1x ground) and a dedicated 30 amp breaker.

This system is commonly used in RVs equipped with a roof AC unit, microwave, fridge, TV, and several 120-volt outlets for various appliances and devices.

What Size Generator Do I Need for a 30 Amp RV?

A 30-amp service is designed to handle a maximum current of 3600 watts (30 amps x 120 volts) Therefore, when selecting a generator, it is best to stay within the range of 2 to 3 6 kW, depending on your specific power requirements.

List of the Basic Appliances Available in a 30 Amp RV

Appliances Wattage Range Estimated Amps at 120 volts
Small Refrigerator 300 – 500 watts 2 5 – 4 1 A
Crockpot 230 watts 1 91 A
Television 100 to 400 watts 2-4 A
Laptop or Computer 50 to 200 watts 1-4 A
Medium Size Refrigerator 600 to 800 watts 2-5 A
Air Conditioning 450 to 1500 3 7-1 5 A
Microwave 800 to 1000 6 6 – 8 33 A
Toaster 800 - 1500 6 6 – 15 A
Hair Dryer 1000 - 1800 8 33 – 15 A
Coffee Maker 800 to 1,200 watts 8-12 A
Washer 400 – 500 3 33 – 4 16 A

How Many Appliances Can Run On 30 Amps?

It depends on the individual power requirements of each appliance and the total combined power load they draw.

A 30-amp service at 120 volts can handle a maximum of 3,600 watts (30 amps x 120 volts = 3,600 watts) of power.

To determine how many appliances can be run on 30 amps, we recommend doing the basic power calculation.

How to Calculate the Power Needs:

List down the appliances of the RV you are going to operate with their starting and running wattages/amps You can find the starting and running watts from the Specifications/Nameplate of specific appliances/equipment.

Sum up the starting and running wattages of the appliance/equipment and Keep them in a separate column.

Compare the sum of wattages with the generator you are going to own

Practical Example:

Appliance Starting Watts Running Watts
Camping Refrigerator 400 250
Microwave 0 1000
Coffee Maker 0 800
Total Wattages 400 2050

From the above calculations, we got 400 starting and 2050 running watts, hence a solid 2 3 – 2 4kw generator would be enough.

NOTE: We recommend keeping a margin of at least 10 – 15% of the load so that the generator can run smoothly.

Pulling 100% load from a machine will not only reduce the life span but also consumes more fuel and repair costs down the road.

What to Look for in a 30 Amp Generator?

1 Wattages:
To figure out the maximum wattage needed for a 30-amp RV, you just need to perform a simple calculation.

Multiply the amperage (30 amps) by the voltage (120 volts), and you get a total of 3,600 watts (amps x volts = watts).

Therefore, a generator with a capacity of 3,600 watts is sufficient for a 30-amp RV There's no advantage in opting for 5,000 or 10,000-watt machines unless you have to operate some of the heavy appliances simultaneously.

Remember a machine with high power will need more fuel and maintenance cost down the road, we recommend sticking with a 3,600-watt generator if your needs falls between 2000 – 3000 watts.

2 Fuel Type:

RV generators come in various fuel options like diesel, propane, gasoline, and natural gas, choosing the right one depends on your specific needs and preferences of the user.

If your RV runs on diesel fuel, it's recommended to choose a diesel-powered generator, as they are specifically designed to provide optimal power and efficiency.

However, if your RV runs on gasoline, we suggest investing a bit more to opt for a dual-fuel option for an uninterrupted operation and greater flexibility in case you encounter fuel availability issues.

While propane may not be as easily available as gasoline and offers slightly lower power output, still having a large 40lb propane tank can provide peace of mind in case you run out of gasoline.

NOTE: Before choosing a generator, think about what type of fuel your RV uses, how easily you can find that fuel on your trips, the amount of power you need, and of course, your budget.

3 Generator Type:

Below are the most common types of 30-amp RV Generators

  • Inverter Generators: These generators produce stable and clean power, making them ideal for sensitive electronics like laptops and smartphones They are more fuel-efficient, quieter, and have the capability to adjust the engine speed based on the load to save fuel and reduce the noise.
  • Conventional Generators: These are traditional generators that provide a consistent output but may have slight power fluctuations They are generally more affordable than inverter generators but may not be suitable for sensitive electronics.
  • Built-in Generators: Also known as onboard or RV generators, these are permanently installed in the RV They are more convenient as they draw fuel directly from the RV's fuel tank However, installation might require professional help, and they are less versatile than portable options.

Humble Recommendation: Built-in generators should be your first priority, however, if you have to purchase a portable machine that could also be used for camping, spend a bit more and go for an inverter machine for cleaner and cheaper power supply with minimum noise levels.

4 Noise Level:

The noise level of a generator is typically measured in decibels (dB) Consider quieter models if you prefer camping in peaceful and noise-sensitive locations.

Inverter generators are generally quieter than conventional generators, making them a popular choice for RVers who value a more peaceful camping experience.

5 Weight and Portability:

If you plan to move your generator around frequently, especially for outdoor activities, consider the weight and portability.

Smaller and lighter generators with reliable carrying handles or mobility kits are easier to transport compared to a heavy machine of more than 200 lbs.

6 Runtime and Fuel Efficiency:

Check the manufacturer's specifications for the generator's runtime at various load levels.

A longer runtime means fewer refueling stops during your camping trips.

Fuel efficiency is crucial for extended use, as it reduces the overall fuel consumption and operating costs.

7 Parallel Compatible:

Though this feature isn't necessary for a 30 amp RV as we don't have to exceed 3600 watts, still it's worth mentioning.

If your power demands exceed, the Paralleling is the ultimate solution to double the power capacity by combining the two parallel ready machines with the help of a parallel kit.

Here is the guide to parallel the generators safely.

8 Safety Features:

Look for a generator with built-in safety features such as low oil, automatic shut-off, overload protection, and circuit breakers These features safeguard the generator and your appliances from damage

9 Brand, Warranty and Customer Support:
When it comes to selecting a generator, go for a trusted brand with a solid reputation for durability, efficiency, and excellent customer support.

Brands like Honda, Champion, Westinghouse, or Generac are my top choices, as they offer modern features, extensive warranties, instant customer support, and reliable performance.

10 Budget:

I strongly suggest setting a budget and looking for a good-quality generator that falls within that range.

Keep in mind that investing in a reliable and properly sized generator is essential to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable RVing experience.

Top 3 Recommended 30 Amp RV Generators

Parameters Honda EU3000IS Champion 4500-Watt WEN 56380i
Starting Watts 3000 4500 3800
Running Watts 2800 3500 3400
Noise levels 52 - 56(dB) 60 – 64(dB) 61 – 62(dB)
Runtime 18 - 20 hours at 25% 4 hours at 50% load 4 -15 hours at 25%
Warranty 3-year 3-year 2-years
Fuel Type Gasoline Dual Fuel Gasoline
Parallel Ready Yes Yes Yes
Weight 144 lbs 95 lbs 99 2lbs
Dimensions 26 x 22 x 17 6 inches 23 2 x 17 7 x 20 1 inches 23 2 x 18 x 20 1 inches
Mobility Kit NO Yes Yes
Remote Start No Yes No

What's The Difference Between 30 Amp And 50 Amp Service?

The main difference between 30 amp and 50 amp service lies in the amount of electrical power they can handle.

These designations are commonly used in the context of recreational vehicles (RVs) and campgrounds to describe the electrical hookup options available.

Below is the table to understand the difference between 30 amp and 50 amp in detail.

Parameters 30 Amp Service 50 Amp Service
Amperage Capacity 30 50
Voltage Capacity 120 2x120
Watts 120x30 = 3600 watts 2x120x50 = 12000 watts
Plug and Receptacle Design Three-prong plug (NEMA TT-30P) Four-prong plug (NEMA 14-50P)
Commonly Found in Older or smaller RVs Larger and more modern RVs


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Can I Use A 50 Amp Plug For A 30 Amp RV?

Yes, you can, but we don't recommend using it for the following reasons.

Overloading the RV's electrical system: The RV's electrical system is designed to handle a maximum of 30 amps Using a 50 amp plug could lead to excessive current flow, potentially damaging the wiring and electrical components.

Safety Concerns: Mismatching plugs and outlets can pose safety hazards, such as improper connections and potential electrical shocks.

Risk of electrical damage: The electrical systems in RVs are not interchangeable Plugging a 30 amp RV into a 50 amp outlet can cause electrical damage to the RV's appliances and systems.

Fire hazard: Overloading the electrical system can generate heat, leading to a higher risk of electrical fires Top of Form.

If you still want to use it get a 30 amp to 50 amp adapter/converter before making any connection.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

Will a 4000-watt generator Run a 30 Amp RV?

Yes, A 30-amp RV typically requires a maximum power of around 3600 watts, which is well within the capacity of a 4000-watt generator.

This means you will have sufficient power to run most of your RV's appliances and devices comfortably.

How Many Watts Does It Take to Run a 30 Amp RV?

As previously mentioned, a 30-amp RV only needs 3600 watts of power Anything beyond this would be wasted unless you have specific appliances that require higher wattages.

What Size Generator Do I Need for a 30 Amp RV With AC?

It depends on the starting and running wattages of the RV air conditioner you want to run.

For exact measurement you have to skim the specification of the RV AC unit and match it with the generator you are going to own, however as a general rule a 2 2 – 2 5kw generator would be enough to run a midsized RV air conditioner.

Can You Run Camper AC on a 30 Amp Generator?

Yes, a typical camper's air conditioner will not be a problem for a solid 30 amp generator of 2 5 – 3kw, however, you have to make sure how much starting and running will be needed

Additionally, it's essential to avoid running multiple appliances simultaneously to prevent overloading the system and excessive fuel consumption

Images provided by: depositphotos.com


In conclusion, determining the right size generator to power a 30 Amp RV is crucial for ensuring a smooth and enjoyable camping experience. By understanding your RV's power requirements and considering other electrical appliances you may use during your trip, you can make an informed decision.

About Author:

image of Kashif

Kashif is an Energy engineer with over 5 years of proficiency in diagnosing, troubleshooting, and maintaining generators of all sizes and types. His keen eye for detail and passion for power systems have earned him a reputation for delivering exceptional results in ensuring generator performance and reliability.

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