RV Generator FAQs – All You Need To Know
Owning an RV can be one of the most liberating things available to people who love the outdoors.
Simply put, these recreational vehicles let you travel the country and enjoy the wilderness without having to completely lose some of the creature comforts of civilization.
With this said, there are several questions that people who are new to the world of RVs might have.
One aspect of RVing that we constantly encounter is questions about the RVs generator, which is why we created this FAQ so that all of your questions can be answered.
#1 What Size Generator Do I Need For My RV?
This is typically a major one. When someone speaks about the size of an RV generator, they aren’t always speaking about the device’s purely physical dimensions.
In fact, for the most part, they are talking about the overall wattage of the generator. It’s important to remember that an RV generator is designed to power numerous components in your vehicle.
These can include the refrigerator, the TV, or even your coffee pot, so it’s important to know what kind of power you’ll need in order to easily run your RV.
To do so, let’s take a look at the average wattage draw from three traditionally RV-friendly items:
- A Refrigerator: Most RV fridges will need at least 400 to 1,000 watts of electrical current to run.
- An Air Conditioner: An air conditioner is an even bigger draw in an RV, but there are rare campers who would want to go on a trip without one. Most RV air conditioning units will need an electrical draw of at least 1400 watts.
- A Microwave: Microwaves also need a lot of current. Expect a microwave to need at least 1,000 watts or so.
As you can see, you may need a larger generator for your RV, especially if you plan on running a lot of appliances. If you have more questions about RV generator size, check out our article on the matter.
#2 Does An RV Generator Charge RV House Batteries?
In short, yes. Most generators that can operate on propane, gas, or even diesel fuel can be used to charge the house batteries when shore power isn’t readily available.
Typically, to charge your RV’s house batteries, you will need at least a generator with an available 500 watts of power.
Most modern generators are designed to be able to accommodate a variety of appliances, which means that you should have plenty of juice to charge your RV house batteries as well.
For example, if you have a generator with 4,000 watts, which will run several appliances, the AC current will also be available to add a current to the RV’s converter.
This extra current will then be used to charge the house batteries. Typically, the higher the amperage on the smart multi-stage charger, the shorter time it will take to charge up the house battery in your RV.
#3 What Does It Mean To 'Exercise' An RV Generator?
Exercising a generator is just a means maintaining your RV generator so that it doesn’t experience faults.
RV generators are one of the more expensive devices that you can have in your RV, so it’s important that you keep it running for as long as possible.
To exercise your RV generator, you should run it at least once a month.
During this run time, the generator should be placed under load for about an hour with a five minute warm-up and cool down period.
Once it’s warmed up for five minutes, you can run a power-intensive appliance.
You want to run your generator to at least 50 percent of the generator’s rated load for this, which is why an air conditioner is good for this purpose.
On a 4,000-watt generator, the typical air conditioner will need about 2,000. Run your generator for an hour, then turn off the AC and run it for an additional five minutes and you are done.
If you find that you need to do any RV generator repair or maintenance, check out our guide for some helpful tips.
#4 What Are Some Of The Better Brands Of RV Generators?
There are several great brands of RV generators. Some of the best are:
- Champion Power Equipment
- Cummins Onan Power Equipment
#5 How Do I Prepare My RV For Winter Storage?
One of the most important steps in winterizing your RV generator is to ensure that your RV generator’s fuel is completely full. Having a somewhat full fuel tank will allow condensation to form, which will add water to the fuel.
Additionally, the water can also cause rust to form, which can almost completely ruin your generator. It’s recommended that, as the winter approaches, you let your generator’s fuel get low, and then replace the existing fuel with a winter-grade fuel.
For more cold weather friendly advice, check out our Winter Driving Tips guide for your RV.