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RV's with Generators? Enhance your Camping experience.

Updated on March 30, 2016
Don Bobbitt profile image

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life and he shares his knowledge of motorhomes and other RVs.

Power Generators in Motorhomes

Just having an AC generator in your Motorhome is a fantastic convenience for the RV owner.

In fact, installed generators are so popular that there is one present on the vast majority of motorhomes and are even being installed in quite a few of the higher end fifth-wheel RVs, as well.

Sure, modern Campgrounds provide power connections at every site for the RV owners convenience, but also having a good, quiet running, installed power source that you can turn on whenever you desire broadens your camping options, dramatically.

Onan Generator for use in RV's

A Standard gas-powered Onan Model-5500 power generator mounted in an RV.
A Standard gas-powered Onan Model-5500 power generator mounted in an RV. | Source

RV Generators are unique designs

RV generators are not your normal generator that you purchase at your home improvement store for $400 - $500 dollars.

First of all, an RV generator runs off of the same fuel source as the RV. So, if your RV is Diesel, or Gas powered, then your generator will also run on the same fuel source.

Quiet Generators

Because the generator is mounted in the RV and is so close to the living quarters of the RV, they are all designed to run smoothly and very quietly. No one wants to run a generator and have it sound so loud that they cannot even relax from being bothered by the noise.

Generator Loads

RV generators will typically be able to provide the same amount of power as you would get from your exterior power input used in campsites.

This means that considering that most RV sites will provide at least 30-Amp service and most of the time even 50-Amp service, then the generator can do the same.

So, you will see that your RV generator is going to be at least a 5500-Watt generator. This calculates to 110-VAC at up to 50-Amps, the same as your RV power cable input.

There are some of the "Big Rigs" that have even higher wattage generators, but regardless of how high the generator output capacity might be, your RV and its major and necessary appliances are designed to operate within this 5500-Watt power range.

Reasons for having Generators in RVs

The generator exists in RVs for a number of reasons, and here are a few of the top ones;

Rough Camping

When you decide to go “rough camping”, or Boondocking, which is where there is no power available, such as in many State and Federal Parks.

Many fishermen and hunters will rough camp near their favorite sites and there will typically not be any kind of "hookups" for them to use.

But, when you are rough camping in an RV has a generator, you can not only use the camper as protection from the weather and a place to sleep, but you use all of your AC-Voltage accessories, run your Air Conditioning, and even watch a little TV before going to bed.

And, of course, you can keep your chassis and coach batteries charged giving you the opportunity for longer stays, allowing your to freely use you interior lights at will, run your Fridge, operate your Air Conditioning or Furnace, and operate numerous other items that run on AC-Voltage.

Stops on the Road

Today, people will travel a lot further to get to a campground than they did a couple of decades ago. Where a vacation used to be a day trip, now it is not uncommon to gr=trave for hundreds of miles to get to your vacation destination.

For the vacationer or traveler who takes these longer trips, there is one great thing about having a generator.

When you do stop at a rest area and need a little break from driving and maybe even a quick meal, having a generator gives you some comfort options while stopped.

You can run your generator and either cook or warm up and then serve a small meal, run your air conditioning or furnace, and even watch a little TV while you rest before the next leg of your trip.

Overnight Stops

sometimes, your trip might be so long that you actually need to break the trip into two parts and spend the night somewhere. Well, when you own a motorhome with a generator, you can plan your trip so that you stop at one of the many overnight rest area, or maybe just in a department store parking lot such as Walmart.

Once you get to one of these sites, you can simply park in an out of the way area, set up for the night, fix a nice meal, watch your TV and eventually get a good nights sleep right there ,in the comfort of your RV, for free.

Then, the next morning, you can have your breakfast, take a last look at the local news and weather, and then hit the road, rested and refreshed.

These reasons alone make the presence of a generator in your RV a valuable accessory for the owner.

Generator Preventive Maintenance

Of course, a generator is a mechanical device and requires a certain amount of maintenance and care to be performed regularly; and Preventive Maintenance is a very important task that must be performed to keep your Generator in top shape for years.

But all mechanical devices will eventually break down, even if they are maintained properly. So every RV owner that has a generator should be prepared to have certain things go bad, eventually.

It is always the hope of the owner that they have taken good care of their generator with an effective PM program so that when something does go bad, it will be a relative cheap repair job and the generator will not be severely damaged.

Again, mechanical devices, such as a generator will have problems, and the RV owner needs to not only maintain them properly, but the frugal owner needs to be prepared to performs some of the simpler repairs themselves.

Boondocking and generators

RV Generator Tips for the RV owner

© 2015 Don Bobbitt


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    • Don Bobbitt profile image

      Don Bobbitt 15 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Ken - I am not familiar with your model of RV, but I can tell you that it has been a standard for decades for all motorhomes to only have one fuel tank.

      Now, because of so many early campers using up all of their fuel when out in the wilderness and not having enough to get back to civilization, the manufacturers would run the fuel line for the generator only down to the 1/4-tank level and not to the bottom. This made sure the camper driver could always get back to civilization. And, I have heard many stories of camper who thought they had a generator problem because of this.

      Check it out.


    • profile image

      Ken 15 months ago

      Which tank does my generator draw from on a 1982 Ford Eldorado motorhome.