If you’re traveling in an RV, you are traveling with some of the comforts of home – air conditioning, fridge, microwave, television, and other appliances. To enjoy those amenities, you will need a power source. Portable generators provide an effective and economical solution to your power needs.
But what size generator to buy? First you need to understand that generator models are classified by watts – starting and running.
The more watts your generator has, the more items you can power at the same time. To know how much you will need, calculate all the wattage requirements of all the accessories you plan to operate on generator power. Typically, wattage is listed on the device, on the back or on the bottom. If not, a simple formula for determining watts is multiplying volts x amps. The total will tell you the model of generator you need.
One thing to remember is some devices have starting wattage requirements that are larger than running watts, like the air-conditioner, which is the biggest power user. To calculate the minimum number of watts you need, use the starting watts of the air conditioner plus the running watts for all other devices. This is the minimum wattage you will need from a generator.
Another important factor to consider is how long you will be running your generator. The generator run time is found on the generator spec sheet and owner’s manual. Run time is determined at 50% load levels and the power used directly impacts the run time. The more power used, the shorter the run time and the sooner you will have to refuel.
Always be aware of safety and the danger of carbon monoxide. Keep the generator in an outside space, far from occupied areas, with its exhaust pointing away from campsites. Never transport your generator in the back of your RV or your SUV if you are towing a camper. The best way to transport your generator is to have a platform built on the back of your vehicle.