How Big of A Generator Do I Need for My Camper (30-Amp & 50-Amp Camper)

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How Big of A Generator Do I Need for My Camper (30-Amp & 50-Amp Camper)

 

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A 2000 to 12000 watt-generator is a great power choice for campers, RVs, travel trailers, SUVs, and pickup trucks. They can run basic electrical appliances in your RV, including portable air conditioners, refrigerators, space heaters, microwaves, coffee makers, and dishwashers. However, accommodating a large generator in a camper is not possible. That's where portable solar generators for campers sound like a great solution.

Jackery Solar Generators are compact and powerful solutions that can charge 99% of RV or camper appliances for long hours. They are available in different sizes, so you can use portable power stations in small trailers, minivans, large RVs, fifth-wheel towables, etc. This guide will walk you through how big of a generator do I need for my camper, the best solar generators for campers, and some things to consider when choosing the best generators.

How Big of A Generator Do I Need for My Camper?

A 2000-watt generator is a good medium-capacity generator for average camper use. It will support lights, cell phone charging, TVs, stoves, laptops, and other appliances. However, you can use smaller generators of 500 to 1000 watts for powering just the bare minimum, and large generators of more than 3000 watts can power all your favourite appliances.

Calculating How Big of A Generator I Need for My Camper

To calculate what size generator do I need, you need to know how many appliances you will be running on the generator and for how long. It is also essential to know that there is a running wattage requirement of devices that shows how many watts it needs during operation. In comparison, the surge watts is the high power required for a fraction of a minute while starting the device.

Total Running wattage = sum of running wattages of all required appliances

Total Required Wattage = Total Running Wattage + Highest Surge Wattage

Similarly, you can calculate what size generator do I need for my house.

How Big of A Generator I Need for My Campe

What Is A Camper Generator?

A camper generator powers all the equipment and appliances within the camper van.  While discussing how big of a generator I need for my camper, it is also essential to know how these generators work. The basic working principle of these camper generators is that it works on AC power; thus, you can run the equipment you use in your house.

Built-in Camper Generator

Built-in camper generators are fixed into the built-in generator compartment of your camper. This generator is hardwired into the camper's electrical system and takes fuel from the vehicle.

Built-in camper generators are high-capacity generators that can support up to 3000 watts. It is easy to operate because it starts with a push button inside the vehicle and uses its wiring. The high performance is also guaranteed because it adjusts performance to altitude at high altitudes.

However, the maintenance and repair of built-in generators is challenging and expensive. Also, if it malfunctions, it can shoot your CO alarm even while they are exhausted outside. 

Portable Camper Generator

Portable generators are the camper generators attached to your appliances in the camper. Since they have no connection with the camper's wiring or hardware, these are two different identities. Portable camper generators are smaller units that are easier to maintain and are more versatile. Portable generators can be powered by solar energy, gas, and propane and can also be inverter generators.

Camper Generators

Noise Level

Pros

Cons

Solar Generator

 Close to none

1. Silent

2. Environmental friendly

3. No fuel cost

4. Low maintenance

1. Limited capacity.

2. It may not work in the more extended rainy season.

Gas Generator

 50 dB - 95 dB

1. Not dependent on the weather.

2. Ease of use.

3. Efficient

1. Toxic fumes.

2. Fossil fuels. 

Propane Generator

 60 dB

1.  Low maintenance.

2. Long shelf life.

3. Low carbon footprint.

1. High upfront cost.

2. Less efficient.

3. Requires Heavy Tanks.

Inverter Generator

 60 dB

1. Fuel efficient.

2. Environmental friendly.

3. Easy maintenance.

1. Upfront cost.

2. Lower power output.

How Many Watts Does A Camper Use?

Generally, campers can use between 2,000 and 12,000 watts, depending on the camper size and appliances you're planning to use. For example, small trailers, campers, SUVs, pickup trucks, and minivans might need a generator of around 2000 watts like Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro. On the other hand, large motorhomes and RVs need more power. Here are some generator sizes for campers:

2000-watt generator: It is suitable for small RVs like pop-up campers and travel trailers with limited electricity.

4000-watt generator: It is suitable for most light-duty RVs and small travel trailers with basic appliances, like refrigerators.

6000 watts-generator: It is suitable for larger RVs with heavy-duty appliances such as air conditioners, dishwashers, refrigerators, microwaves, and more.

How big of a generator for your camper depends on the camper size, the wattage requirements of your appliances, and their running watts and starting watts. Running watts are the operational requirement of the device, while the starting watts are the high requirement for a fraction of a minute to start the machine.

Air conditioners, refrigerators, microwaves and heaters are the big power eaters. The camping lights, phone chargers, and fans take a few watts. Apart from the appliance's wattage, you will also need to know if your camper is 30 or 50 amperes so you do not overload the system.

What size generator do I need? Campers may need 2,000 to 12,000 watts of energy. The following table summarizes the wattage rating of common appliances used in campers. It will help us answer how big of a generator I need for my camper.

 Appliances

Starting Watts

Running Watts

Kitchen Items

Coffee Maker

600 W

600 W

Slow Cooker

170-270 W

170-270 W

Microwave

1000 W

1000 W

Camper Refrigerator

600 W

180 W

Electric Frying Pan

1000-1500 W

1000-1500 W

Hot Water Heaters

1000-1500 W

1000-1500 W

Living Room

DVD Player

350 W

350 W

Laptop

250 W

250 W

Small Television

120-200 W

120-200 W

Radio

50-200 W

50-200 W

General

Hair Dryer

1900 W

1800 W

Portable Fan

120 W

40 W

Blow Drier

1,250 W

1,250 W

Clothes Washer

1,150 W

2,300 W

How Many Watts Does A Camper Use?

What Potential Problems Does A Undersized Camper Generator Have?

An undersized generator causes frequent problems because it will need more power to run appliances smoothly. The result is appliances shutdown and also overloaded breakers. It is also a safety hazard because of overheating that can cause damage not only to the machine but also to the property.

What Will Affect The Camper Generator Performance? 

Environmental conditions are significant factors when it comes to camper generator performance. Your generator's efficiency may suffer because of high humidity, altitude and extreme temperatures. I would always consider these conditions when deciding how big of a generator I need for my camper.

High Humidity

Humidity, i.e., moisture in the air, can cause condensation in the generator engine. Your generator might corrode and not perform at total capacity because, in humid air, the engine will have to work harder to produce the optimum amount of power.

Extreme Temperature

Extreme temperature also affects generator performance as high temperatures make the engines less efficient and will need more fuel raising the cost of operation. On the other hand, very low temperatures can cause damage to the engine components. 

Altitude

There is always less oxygen supply at high altitudes. This means the generator will have low combustion efficiency and use more fuel to produce the same results. Research shows up to 16% power loss at 5,000 feet above sea level.

What Size Generator Do I Need for My 30-Amp and 50-Amp Camper?

A 3,500-watt generator is a great size for most camper sizes, especially 30-amp RVs. For larger campers, you may need a 6,000 to 8,000 watt-generator. How big of a generator I need for my camper is a relative question as the estimation changed with your intended use. However, we can discuss this question about general usage. If you want to support cooking, heating and air conditioning for longer stretches along with other devices, you will need 4000 watts at least. For lighter use, a 2,000 watts generator meets your necessities.

What Size of Generator Do I Need for My Camper?

Let us describe the basic electrical terms so we can clearly answer how big of a generator I need for my camper or what size generator do I need for my camper.

  • Watts: watts is the measure of power or rate of energy.

Power = voltagevoltage x Current

Watts = Volts x Amperes

  • Volts: volts are the unit of voltage. Voltage shows how much force is applied to an electron. In other words, volts show the pressure of the flow of electrons.
  • Amperes: Amperes measure current i.e.the flow of electricity or the volume of electrons passing through a certain point in one second.

Now we will discuss how big of a generator I need for my camper or what size generator I need.

How big of a generator do I need for my 30-amp camper?

A 30-amp RV has one 30-amp service leg for powering appliances and outlets of 120 volts. So, if we want to calculate the required wattage, we will use the formula. Here’s what size generator for a 30 amp RV air conditioner is the right choice:

Wattage = Volts x Amperes

Wattage = 120 V x 30 Amp

Wattage = 3,600 watts.  

It means that a 30 Amp camper can use a shore power of 3,600 watts. So, the highest wattage that a 30 Amp camper has is 3600, or you can use a 4,000-watt generator. On average, a 2,000 to 2,500-watt generator is a good fit for 30 Amp campers.

How big of a generator do I need for my 50-amp camper?

Larger RVs provide two legs of 50 amp service. So we will need to multiply the maximum power handling by two. Here’s what size generator for a 50 amp RV is the right choice:

Wattage = Volts x Amperes

Wattage = 120 V x 50 Amp

Wattage = 6000 watts.

Maximum power handling = 2 x 6,000 watts = 12,000 watts.

So, you can use a maximum of 12,000 watts generator for a 50 Amp RV.

What size generator do I need for a 50 amp RV with 2 AC units?

A 50-amp RV with two AC units typically needs a solar that has a power output of 4,000–8,000 watts. However, this may vary depending on the wattage of the RV AC and how long you would run two ACs. Let's take an example to understand what size generator I need to run RV AC:

The first step is to check out how many watts an RV AC uses. While the actual wattage will depend on the manufacturer, size, and the BTU of RV AC, the general wattage consumption is around 600 - 1700 watts. You can check the wattage consumption on the device itself or in the RV wattage chart.

Now, you'll need to choose the right size generator that can supply more wattage than the power consumption of RV AC. If you are charging the RV ACs with Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Plus Kit (4kWh) with a battery capacity of 4085.6Wh, it will help you run RV ACs for 1.0 - 2.8 hours.

What Size Generator Do I Need for a Travel Trailer?

A 4000-watt generator is perfect for most light-duty RVs and small travel trailers with basic or essential appliances. While this size generator can run many travel trailer appliances, you might not be able to use all the appliances simultaneously.

What size generator Do I Need for a 25-foot travel trailer?

Now, what size generator do you need for a 25-foot travel trailer can be calculated as follows:

A 25-amp travel trailer will run on 120V and 25A.

Wattage = Voltage × Current = 120V × 25A = 3000W.

This means, a 3000-watt generator will be ideal for a 25 foot travel trailer. If you need some additional or spare power, you may go ahead with a 3500-watt generator for RV.

Jackery Solar Generators for Campers

The Jackery solar generators are high-performance solar generators that use portable power stations combined with solar panels. These generators are strongly built, portable and lightweight. They support superior fast solar and wall outlet charging while their BMS ensure equipment safety and against fire hazards.

These generators are available in a range of sizes for a variety of uses. You will connect your solar panels to the power station while ensuring that the sunlight directly hits the solar panels. Once it starts operating, the solar power is then converted into electricity. You can now connect your appliances using the power station output ports.

How big of a generator do I need for my camper from the Jackery solar generator range? The following section summarizes the recommended solar generators for RVs to make your decision easy.

Jackery Solar Generator 3000 Pro — Best Generator For Pop-up Camper

The Jackery solar generator 3000 Pro has a large capacity of 3024 Wh which can easily power a 30 Amp camper and operate your refrigerator, TV, laptop, cell phone charger, lights, and so much more. Fast charging is a distinguishing feature of the Jackery solar generators, as the 3000 pro only takes 3 to 4 hours for complete charging using solar panels and only 2.4 hours with wall charging. It is 30% lighter and smaller than its contemporary generators, perfect for camping and outdoor adventures.

Jackery Solar Generator 3000 Pro

Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Plus — Best Generator For Campers

The Jackery solar generator 2000 plus has a unique expandable capacity that covers a range of 2-24 kWh. Since it can support appliances up to 6000W, it is a good fit for camper requirements. It also supports fast charging and provides fluctuation-free smooth power flow.

Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Plus

Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro  Best Generator For Medium Camper

The Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro has a capacity of 2160 Wh and an output power of 2200 Watts. Its BMS battery management ensures that there is always a smooth flow of current that keeps you and your appliances safe. Also, the 2000 Pro is a powerfully built generator with heat dissipation and high temp protection, making it weather resistant.

Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro

Series

Capacity

Cell Chemistry

Camper Watts

Working Hours

Solar Generator 3000 Pro

3024Wh

 Lithium-ion

Camper Fridge: 600W

4.2 H

Microwave: 1000 W

2.5 H

Hot Water Heaters: 1500 W

1.7 H

Laptop: 250 W

10 H

Small Television: 200 W

12.8 H

Portable Fan: 120 W

21.4 H

Blow Drier: 1,250 W

2 H

Clothes Washer:1,150 W

2.2 H

Solar Generator 2000 Plus

 2042.8Wh

 LFP (LiFePO4 battery)

Camper Fridge: 600W

 2.8 H

Microwave: 1000 W

1.73 H

Hot Water Heaters: 1500 W

1.1 H

Laptop: 250 W

6.9 H

Small Television: 200 W

8.68 H

Portable Fan: 120 W

14.4 H

Blow Drier: 1,250 W

1.3 H

Clothes Washer:1,150 W

1.5 H

Solar Generator 2000 Pro

 2,160Wh

 NMC

Camper Fridge: 600W

 3 H

Microwave: 1000 W

1.8 H

Hot Water Heaters: 1500 W

1.2 H

Laptop: 250 W

7.3 H

Small Television: 200 W

9 H

Portable Fan: 120 W

15 H

Blow Drier: 1,250 W

1.4 H

Clothes Washer:1,150 W

1.5 H

** It is important to note that the above estimations are based on the 85% capacity of the generators. There is always a loss of efficiency in operation and transmission, so we multiply the solar generator capacity by 0.85 to calculate the working hours.

Working hours of appliance = Capacity of generator x 0.85 / wattage of appliance

How to Choose a Solar Generator for My Camper?

When choosing a solar generator, you will first ask how big of a generator I need for my camper. Apart from the size, it would be best to decide on other factors, including charging time, portability, etc.

  1. Choose a solar generator to support your required appliance while considering the starting watts.
  2. Always go for solar generators that support a high number of charge cycles. Multiple charge cycles are the number of times a solar generator can completely charge and discharge before the battery starts losing storage capacity.
  3. Weather resistance and waterproofing are also essential factors for camping.
  4. Portability is also critical so that it can be transported easily.
  5. Quick recharging ensures smooth operation, especially in areas where sunlight is available for a few hours during the day or when the weather is rainy or cloudy.

Camper Generator FAQs

1. Will a 3000-watt generator run a pop-up camper?

A 3,000-watt generator is an optimum capacity for average 30 Amp campers. You can operate your microwave, fans, camper refrigerator, lighting, laptop and phone chargers. So, the Jackery solar generator 2000 Plus and solar generator 3000 are good choices for a pop-up camper.

2. How many watts does it take to run an AC in a camper?

The average camper air conditioning operates on  600 to 1,700 watts per hour, while startup costs 1,900 to 3,500 watts.

3. Can you run a camper generator while sleeping?

Yes, you can run a solar generator while sleeping, but make sure that you follow all the manufacturer's safety precautions. However, running diesel or fossil fuel generators can be dangerous and noisy too. 

4.  What size generator do I need for a 30 ft camper?

A 3000 - 3500-watt generator is a great size for most 30-amp campers. With this size of solar generator, you can run a small RV AC, a few lights, and other appliances, like refrigerators and microwave ovens. If you want to know what size generator I need for a 30-amp RV, you can consider investing in the Jackery Solar Generator 3000 Pro that has 3024Wh capacity.

5. What size generator do I need for a 30-amp RV air conditioner?

A 2,500-2,800-watt generator is often a good minimum threshold for 30-amp RVs that have an AC unit.

 Final Thoughts

How big of a generator I need for my camper is becoming a common question as camping and outdoors are becoming the new sensation. Many factors help you decide the best solar generators, including the battery capacity, durability, portability and quick recharging. You can determine the optimum size of the required generator by determining which devices you will be using and their wattage ratings. On average, 2,000 to 4,000 watts is a good size for campers. 

If you are looking to charge most of your camper appliances with free solar energy, you may consider investing in the Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Plus or Jackery Solar Generator 3000 Pro. They can charge up to 99% of your camper appliances, including ACs, microwaves, refrigerators, space heaters, etc.

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