What Size Generator Do I Need for a Travel Trailer

No matter how much you may like the outdoors, it doesn’t make sense to go on a trip with your RV and not being able to use your fridge. Traveling with your RV means basic life, but it still means that you can use your AC, microwave, various kitchen appliance, or your TV.

It’s where the generator comes into the picture as it’s capable of powering up your TV, AC, or anything else you may need. But is it so? Can any generator provide the power you need for your appliances? Does the size of the generator matter?

You cannot just go and buy a generator for your RV as it may be too small for your needs. You need to get all the bits and bobs so scroll down for the details.


  • 1 Why do watts’ matter?
  • 2 Watts, amps, volts- confusing?
    • 2.1 2000 Watt RV generator
    • 2.2 3600 Watt RV generator
    • 2.3 4500-6500 RV watt generators
  • 3 Heavier or lighter generator?
  • 4 How many watts do your appliances consume in the RV?
  • 5 A general recommendation
  • 6 What else matters when selecting the generator for your RV?

Why do watts’ matter?

The size of the generator depends a lot on the appliance you have in your RV (the big ones). The watts they consume when running gives the watts you need for the generator.

The refrigerator and the air conditioner are consuming the most power in an RV, which is why you should pay attention to their power needs. If you use them a lot, you should look for a higher wattage.

It’s a good idea to list down the appliances, taking a look at how much wattage do they need. Keep in mind that both and AC use more power to start, and less while running.

It’s a meticulous job, and you need to check the stickers of your appliances to get the right numbers. Once you have the final number, it’s good to choose a generator a bit higher than that.

Watts, amps, volts- confusing?

If this is the very first time you’re buying a generator, you need to do your homework about Watts Law. It’s a straightforward way to identify the wattage and to understand how much power do you need.


Amp refers to the amount of electricity you use, whereas Volts refer to the pressure of power. When you multiply the amps by volts, you obtain the number of Watts. The moment you know the precise wattage, the better and more comfortable for you to select the products to use.

Let’s see the numbers!

It’s easier for anyone to see the numbers for making a clear idea about the size of the generator you should pick.

  • 2000 Watt RV generator

This generator is only going to supply under 20 amps, which recommends it for an RV when you need to use small devices. It’s enough for charging a cell phone, your TV, or other small appliances.

You cannot use it for powering the microwave, refrigerator, electric water, or the microwave- you need a more significant generator for that.

It’s the generator for the minimum usage possible, which may be enough for a short trip in your RV.

  • 3600 Watt RV generator

It’s an excellent generator to use for air conditioner, fridge, the converter, and a couple of other devices. Your refrigerator may need 540 watts, whereas the water heater somewhere around 1300 watts. If you have a small generator, you could turn the fridge on gas so that you don’t use the heating element and take too much wattage from the generator.

It’s the same case for the water heater, if it runs on gas or electric, with the latter pulling more watts. A small sized generator cannot handle it, which is why you should use gas appliances as much as you can.

  • 4500-6500 RV watt generators

If you’re willing to spend the high dollar and make an investment for the long run, you should look into this kind of size for your generator. Not only that it gives more power, but it’s also more durable. It’s going to be powerful enough for sustaining more of your appliances. Just make sure that you’re ready to open your wallet big.

A generator of this size can power the refrigerator, air conditioning, TV, cooking hob, TV, battery chargers, and other appliances. You shouldn’t worry about running out of power when using a generator of such size.

Heavier or lighter generator?

A larger wattage for your generator means a more significant and a more massive model. Do you have the strength and space for storing it? Look for a model that comes with wheels so that you eliminate the carrying issues.

On the other hand, a lighter generator is always going to be easier to carry around. If you have many appliances but don’t want to buy just one heavy and strong generator, you may connect two generators in parallel. For instance, two 2000 watts’ generators connected in parallel are going to offer 3600wats.

How many watts do your appliances consume in the RV?

Various appliances have different power requirements, with some running on DC and others needing AC power. Here are some numbers to keep in mind when planning for an RV trip.

  • Air conditioner

It’s one appliance that needs more watts than any other device. You need to know the watts it needs when running and, more importantly, the watts when starting (typically higher).

The air conditioner comes in various sizes, and it’s measured in BTU (British thermal unit). 15,000 BTU is high for an AC. For instance, a 5000 BTU needs at least 1000 watts for starting and 400 watts when running. A 2000 watts’ generator may be enough for an AC of BTU up to 5000. Don’t forget about your other appliances when placing the order, though!

  • Refrigerator

You should always consider the fridge when selecting the size of your generator. A standard refrigerator needs 600 watts for starting and 200 watts for running.

  • Microwave

The majority of microwaves consume around 900 to 1000 watts.

  • Television

Most are going to install a small TV which doesn’t need more than 150 watts.

  • Laptop

Any laptop or computer needs somewhere around 2000 watts.

  • Microwave, cooker, grill & coffee maker

The microwave is going to consume 900-1000 watts, whereas the cooker takes 200-300 watts. An electric grill needs somewhere between 1500 to 1800 watts, but always pay attention when using it. Five hundred watts is what a coffee maker needs, which is why you should do it when boondocking.

  • Heater

You are going to need a heater when traveling with your RV, so keep that in mind it consumes around 1300 watts.

  • Lights

It depends a lot on the bulbs you’re using, and you should go with LED lights that need a lot fewer watts.

A general recommendation

When you are using the appliances above, a 3500 watts’ generator is going to do it. If you anticipate intense usage, you should look for a model higher than 6500 watts.

Should you only have light usage, it’s a good idea to connect two 2000 watts’ generators in parallel, with the second one using it only when needed.

What else matters when selecting the generator for your RV?

Size is the first thing to consider when selecting your generator, but there are some other aspects to pay attention to before buying.

Portability (especially if you get a higher and stronger model) is fundamental. Higher watts always mean bigger size, and you want to be able to carry the generator around.

The level of noise is also something to keep in mind. Even if generators are not loud, the last thing you want is to wake up in the middle of the night because of the noise of the generator.

Weight, efficiency, price, type of fuel, and the extra features are also essential aspects to check when making the deal. You are paying for the generator, so it’s better that you check at least once every single one of them before buying.

Buying the right generator for your RV isn’t difficult, but you should do it while knowing all the facts. It depends on having a pleasant experience or not later on.