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How To Select The Right Generator For An RV

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Many American workers dream of a retirement spent traveling in a recreation vehicle with their spouse. Others fancy summer vacations traveling the highways of the country with their spouse and children.

Whichever your dream is, a recreation vehicle can be the foundation of memorable times in your life.

To assure that there are no troubles with the RV it is essential to match it with the right generator. The reason you purchased a massive RV is the freedom it offers to travel anywhere at any time. The trip will be remembered for all the wrong things if the generator doesn’t properly energize all the electric appliances that make such a vacation a joy.

You need to consider at least four things when searching for a generator for your RV. They include:

  • The type of fuel you want to power the machine.
  • The size.
  • Whether or not to select a commercial mobile generator.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regulations.

Type Of Fuel

Four types of fuels are used to run an RV generator –- diesel, liquid propane, and gasoline.

If you have a recreation vehicle that operates on diesel, then it makes sense to purchase a diesel-powered generator to energize it. A diesel generator generates more power than a propane one, it is cleaner than a gasoline generator, it won’t explode, and it is safe to store.

A liquid propane powered generator is more eco-friendly, burns cleaner than any of the other alternatives, and has a longer shelf life. However, run time depends on the size of the propane tank and it generates about 10 percent less power than a gasoline or diesel generator.

The benefits of a gasoline generator are that the fuel is less expensive than the alternatives; it’s plentiful and can easily be obtained at gas stations that exist throughout your route.

The Size

Making certain you acquire a proper size generator for your RV could be the most essential decision you will have to make. You want to be sure that the machine will power each and every electrical appliance or item you intend to use during your trip. That includes the refrigerator, the lights, the radio, microwave or oven, television, and more. You certainly don’t want to undersize or oversize it. Selecting the proper size generator will assure that you don’t spend money you don’t have to as well as ensure that every electric item is powered.

The first thing you need to do is determine how much power the generator will need to produce. To calculate this you need to list every single 120-volt appliance in the RV. Keep in mind that the air conditioner will need the most power and has a higher starting wattage need than running wattage.

Common Power Requirements

Appliance Average Required Wattage Amps
Air Compressor (1hp) 900-1800 7.5-15
Air Conditioner 1200-2400 10-20
Battery Charger Up to 3000 6-28
Blender 450-700 3.3-5.8
Broiler 1400-1700 11.6-14
Broom/Vacuum 1000-1440 8.3-12
CD/MP3 player & speakers 85 0.7
Coffeepot 900-1200 7.5-10
Computer 60-270 0.5-2.25
Laptop 20-50 0.16-0.41
Converter 500-1000 4.8
Curling Iron 20-50 0.16—0.41
Dishwasher 1200-2400 10-20
Drill 250-1000 2-8
Electric Blanket 60-100 0.5-0.8
Fan 10-175 0.08-1.45
Flat Iron 40-80 0.3-0.6
Frying Pan/Wok 1000-1350 8-11.25
Game Console 19-200 0.16-1.6
Hair Dryer 1200-1875 10-15.6
Iron 1000-1800 8-15
Light Bulbs 13-100 0.1-0.8
Microwave/Convection Oven 750-1100 6.25-9.2
Radio 50-200 0.4-1.6
Refrigerator 400-1000 3.3-8
Shaver 15-20 0.12-0.16
Space Heater 750-1500 6.25-12.5
Stove 900-2500 7.5-20.8
Television 43-600 0.35-5
Toaster 800-1400 6.6-11.6
VCR/DVD/Blu-ray Player 6-30 0.05-0.25
Washer 350-500 3-4
Dryer 1800-5000 15-42
Water Heater 1000-1500 8-12.5
Water Pump 250-1100 2-9.16

(Source: Cummins)

Assign the proper wattage to each electric item you will run simultaneously and note the minimum running wattage of every other appliance and the watts needed to start the air conditioner. Add the watts of all the appliances on your list. The total is the minimum wattage needed from the generator.

Use the total wattage to select the proper generator and then measure it to determine its size. Measure the size of the generator’s compartment in the RV to make certain it fits.

Commercial Mobile Generators

If after adding up the total number of watts of all the electric items that need to be accounted for and the total is greater than an RV generator can handle, then you may want to consider buying a commercial mobile generator.

These generators are commonly used for commercial and large-scale emergency services. They are designed to survive the roughest conditions and often used by utility workmen who repair power lines and by emergency first responders.

EPA Regulations

Environmental Protection Agency regulations require that any gas fumes that are produced inside the tank of an RV generator must be caught and returned to the generator for burning. This regulation has resulted in the manufacturing of EVAP generators that meet this standard. Commonly, RVs have already been equipped with the gear that conforms with this rule. However, recreational vehicles that are designed to be towed do not comply with the EPA regulation. These types of RVs can be upgraded to include an EVAP generator, certified hose, special fittings, a specially designed metal tank, and a carbon canister. Towed RVs that are not equipped with these items are subject to fines.

APElectric offers an assortment of generators specifically designed for RV applications. Visit the company’s website for a detailed description of each unit and for more information on selecting the proper generator for your needs.