What Size of Generator Do You Need to Run a 50 Amp RV?

What size of generator do you need if you’re going to draw about 50 amps to run everything? There isn’t one simple answer, since it depends on everything you plan on running. Let’s look at what size generator for 50 amp RV living is sufficient to power your lifestyle without wasting your money.

Each appliance draws power at startup that is somewhat higher than the continuous load that it will continue to pull after that point. If you want to run a basic 13500 BTU air conditioner, expect it to draw 14 amps of continuous load.

A 15000 BTU AC will pull about 16 amps. You’ll need at least 3000 Watts of peak power to meet their startup load, after which you can use the remaining amps (50 minus the continuous load) to power things like a blender or computer.

The solution for determining the size of generator you need is to total up the Watts each item you’d likely run continuously. That is the minimum running load the generator will need to support. Give yourself another 500 watts of power, since you may want to run an extra appliance during the day.

Or you may find that the fridge and computer are working harder than that ideal, base load. If your AC requires 3000 Watts and everything else you’ll be using requires another 1000 Watts, the smallest generator you could get is 4000 Watts.

Remember to factor in household power needs aside from your big appliances. For example, do you want to recharge a cell phone or laptop computer from the inverter on the generator? Are you going to use the generator to recharge your house batteries? The more power you pull from it for these purposes, the less is available for other uses.
The next factor to consider is starting load.

When the air conditioner or refrigerator starts up, the appliance will pull several hundred more Watts for at least a few seconds before the power draw drops down to the continuous load. Not all generators have inverters or intelligence built into them to handle these peaks.You should know what size generator need to run a air conditioner.

If you’re going to often start up everything in the morning like the fridge, AC and microwave, you’ll need a generator with sufficient peak load to handle demand. If you’re willing to carefully monitor the generator’s load, you could get something with lower peak power.

You may be able to get away with 2 2000 Watt generators connected in parallel, assuming you buy generators that can be connected in parallel. Be careful to buy units whose peak power together matches the peak load you want to meet. Don’t assume that three or more small generators can be connected together – they usually cannot be, though that depends on the brand.

Give yourself some margin and buy a 4000 Watt continuous load generator or better with peak power that good or better. Then you don’t have to worry about brown-outs killing your AC, power fluctuations wearing out mechanical systems and shepherd your power usage.

A generator that barely meets its load causes motors to stop and start, wearing it out and increasing the odds it will fail. And that’s aside from confusing the control boards in smart appliances like refrigerators every time they don’t get enough power.

If in doubt, there is no doubt a 5000-6000 Watt generator will meet anything you need for a 50 amp household.

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