The Size Generator For Camper (You Need…)

Campers have become more popular over the last few years but finding a reliable power source was always challenging. Thankfully with advancements in portable power sources, there are now many types of generators in varied sizes available for campers.

An average camper needs a generator that delivers a min of 5500-watts, but a 7500-watt generator would be better. The right size generator for a camper is crucial because all the appliances and utilities in the camper will be running on the power from the generator.

In this post, we will discuss these key points:

  • What size generator is best for a camper?
  • Suggestions to reduce the size of the generator in a camper
  • The difference between a mobile generator and an off-grid generator
  • Different generator sizes available for a camper
  • Most common questions asked about generator sizes for campers.

Gauging the power needs of a camper can get intimidating but read on for better clarity.

Camper van in the country on the road

What Size Generator Should Be Used For A Camper?

The power needs of an average camper are between 5500-watts and 7500-watts. All the power needs of the camper will be running on the generator; this includes lights, charging ports, water, heating, and air conditioning systems.

Appliances That Will Run On The Generator Power

All the appliances and utilities will run on the generator; here are some examples:

  • The lights of the camper inside and outside
  • The water pump system
  • The air conditioning system
  • The heating system
  • The charging ports
  • Bigger appliances like stove tops, tv’s, refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers
  • Smaller appliances like coffee makers, toasters, hairdryers, blenders, microwaves, and fryers

Power Needs Of The Appliances That Will Run On The Generator

The power needs of the different appliances directly influence the size of the generator you will need to power your camper adequately. Here is a table to illustrate the power needs in the camper:

UtilitiesRunning CurrentSurge Current
Lights x10 inside and outside9-watts each x 10= 99-watts0-watts
Water pump system1000-watts2100-watts
Water heater4000-watts0-watts
Air conditioning system1500-watts4500-watts
Heating system (wall-mounted)750-watts2000-watts
Charging ports (cellphones, laptops, and tablets)150-watts (combined)300-watts (combined)
Watts For Utilities and Surge Current
Big AppliancesRunning CurrentSurge Current
TV85-watts250-watts
Stove Top1200-watts1725-watts
Refrigerator800-watts1200-watts
Dishwasher1500-watts1500-watts
Washer and dryer combo1150-watts2300-watts
Watts For Big Appliances and Surge Current
Small AppliancesRunning CurrentSurge Current
Coffee Maker1000-watts0-watts
Toaster1200-watts1200-watts
Blender400-watts0-watts
Hairdryer1250-watts1250-watts
Microwave1100-watts0-watts
Fryer1000-watts0-watts
Watts For Small Appliance and Surge Current

To calculate the needs you add the current of the applicable utility or appliance together to get total wattage.

Based on calculations using the tables above, a suitable size generator for a camper is between 5500-watts and 7500-watts, depending on what appliances and utilities need to be powered.

It is very important to consider all the utilities, big and small appliances when calculating the number of watts you require to power your camper adequately. Error in calculations may lead to damages to appliances and even the generator.

Options To Reduce The Size Generator Need For A Camper

While it would be great to run the entire camper on the generator’s power, there are ways to reduce the size of the generator needed for a camper.

  • You can run some of the bigger appliances on gas to reduce the size of the generator, such as the stove, the refrigerator, the heating system.
  • You can run some of the smaller items on a small solar system, such as the lights, the charging ports, and tv.
  • You can pump water once a day into suitable containers, thus leaving extra power in the evenings for heating, it helps to distribute the load.
  • Depending on where you choose to camp, you might not need to use the water heating system or the water pump in your camper as some campsites have bathroom and laundry facilities.

Are Off-Grid And Mobile Generators Different In Size?

There are a few differences between off-grid and mobile generators and their sizes. Off-grid generators are bigger and used more permanently, while mobile generators are smaller and mainly used temporarily, like on vacation in a camper.

Below we will go into more detail concerning off-grid generators and the smaller mobile or portable generators that are used as power sources for campers.

Off-Grid Generators

Off-grid generators can be installed in a camper for a more permanent power source. Off-grid generators are bigger and have more power output than mobile generators. Off-grid generators are best suited for people who live in their camper more permanently.

Off-grid generators are an excellent option if you have to power more than one camper. There are entire communities of campers that power their campers by sharing the power generated from one big off-grid generator.

Mobile Generators

Mobile or portable generators are smaller and lighter than off-grid generators and easy to hook up to a camper or remove. They have less power output than the bigger off-grid generators and are best suited for vacations or short road trips.

Even though mobile generators are smaller than off-grid generators, some models can easily power an entire camper, including utilities and appliances.

Different Type And Size Generator Options For Campers

Here are some of the best-suited generators for a camper, starting from 5500-watts up to 7500-watts.

DuroMax XP5500EH Electric Start Dual Fuel Portable Generator

The DuroMax XP5500EH is a portable generator and can be powered by fuel or propane gas. It is one of the best-sized generators for a camper. With 5500-watt power output, this generator can deliver enough power to all aspects of the camper.

Key Features Of The DuroMax XP5500EH:

  • The dual-fuel technology makes it less expensive to power as propane is less expensive than fuel and can be stored indefinitely.
  • It has a powerful DuroMax 224cc OHV engine and is a workhorse capable of running high voltage appliances easily.
  • It is 22-inches x 25-inches x 22-inches in dimension.
  • When assembled, it weighs 140 pounds.
DuroMax XP5500EH Electric Start-Camping & RV...
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DuroMax XP5500EH Electric Start-Camping & RV...
  • Plenty of Power – With 5,500 starting watts and 4,500 running watts, this unit can handle heavy loads, from lights and a refrigerator to a home air conditioner and high amperage power tools
  • Dual Fuel Technology – This generator runs on gasoline or propane, giving you the freedom and flexibility of fuel choice. Low Oil Shutoff
  • Powerful Engine – The DuroMax 224cc OHV engine is a workhorse that provides plenty of power to handle multiple jobs, from powering high voltage appliances to heavy duty power tools

Generac 5939 GP5500 Gas Powered Portable Generator

The Generac 5935 GP5500 is a portable propane gas-powered generator that is a great option for any camper. It has a 5500-watts power output and will easily meet all the power needs of a camper.

Key Features of The Generac 5939 GP5500 Gas Powered Portable Generator:

  • Because it is a propane-powered generator, and propane can be stored indefinitely because it is less expensive than a gas-powered generator.
  • The 7.2-gallon fuel tank gives up to 10 hours running time when at 50% load.
  • It has a powerful Generac 389cc engine that gives continuous power and has a durable, long life.
  • It is 28.75-inches x 26.75-inches x 25 inches in dimension.
  • When assembled, it weighs 180 pounds.

WEN GN6000 6000-Watt RV-Ready Portable Generator

The WEN GN6000 has a 5000-watt running capacity and a 6000-starting capacity. It is ideal for a camper with lower power needs or alternative power sources like a propane gas stove and a refrigerator.

Key Features of the WEN GN600-Watt RV-Ready Portable Generator:

  • It is a fuel-powered generator but is carb compliant.
  • It has a 3.4-gallon fuel tank and can provide 7.5 hours of runtime at 50% capacity.
  • It has a powerful 272cc OHV engine that will give any camper the power it needs
  • It is 23.2-inches x 16.9-inches x 17.2 inches in dimension
  • It weighs 130 pounds
WEN GN6000 6000-Watt RV-Ready Portable Generator...
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WEN GN6000 6000-Watt RV-Ready Portable Generator...
  • Generate up to 6000 starting watts and 5000 running watts
  • 3.4 gallon fuel tank provides up to 7.5 hours of half-load runtime
  • Compact design combined with wheel and handle kit maximize portability

Champion Power Equipment 100231 5500-Watt Portable Generator

The Champion Power Equipment 100231 5500-Watt portable generator is ideal for campers with bigger power needs. It can power all the appliances and utilities the camper needs.

Key Features of the Champion Power Equipment 100231 5500-Watt Portable Generator:

  • It is a duel-powered generator that can be powered by fuel or propane. It is more budget-friendly to use propane, which can be bought in advance and stored indefinitely.
  • It has a 6-gallon fuel tank and can provide between 6.5 hours of runtime at 25% (Propane)capacity and 9 hours of runtime at 25%(gas) capacity.
  • It has a powerful 389cc OHV engine that will give a camper enough power for longer.
  • It is 27-inches x 27.7-inches x 24.4-inches in dimension
  • It weighs 162.5 pounds when fully assembled
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Champion Power Equipment 100231 6900/5500-Watt...
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Champion Power Equipment 100231 6900/5500-Watt...
  • Dual Fuel – Operate your 5500-watt portable generator right out of the box on either gasoline or propane, plus the unit holds 1.2-quarts of oil and has a low oil shut-off sensor
  • Fuel Safety Switch – Our patented fuel selector switch allows for quick and safe switching between fuel sources
  • Intelligauge – Keep track of voltage, hertz and run-time hours to easily monitor power output and track maintenance intervals

Champion Power Equipment 100813 7500-Watt Portable Generator

The Champion Power Equipment 100813 7500-Watt Portable Generator is the most powerful generator on this list. It will provide enough power to any camper even if you have high-power appliances.

Key Features of The Champion Power Equipment 100813 7500-Watt Portable Generator:

  • It is a fuel-powered generator with an electric start.
  • It has 9375 starting watts and 7500 running watts, and you will have 8 hours of runtime on a full tank of fuel.
  • It has a powerful 420cc OHV Champion engine with built-in cold start technology, allowing the generator to start more easily in the winter.
  • It is 29.9-inches x 27.2-inches x 25.2-inches in dimention.
  • It weighs 200 pounds when fully assembled.
Champion Power Equipment 100813 9375/7500-Watt...
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Champion Power Equipment 100813 9375/7500-Watt...
  • Ultra-Powerful: At 9375 starting watts and 7500 running watts, enjoy up to 8 hours of run time on a full tank of gasoline with a noise level of 74 dBA from 23 feet
  • Electric start: Trust the reliable 420cc Champion engine with its battery-included electric start featuring a reliable toggle switch, plus built-in Cold Start Technology for easy starts in cold weather
  • Covered Outlets: Four 120V 20A GFCI outlets, a120/240V 30A locking outlet and a 120/240V 50A outlet (14-50R), plus Volt Guard built-in surge protector prevents overloads and keeps your equipment safe

FAQ About Generator Sizes For Campers

Some frequently asked questions and their answers regarding generator sizes for campers will be:

What Affects The Choice In Size Of A Generator For A Camper?

Many factors play a role in choosing the right size generator for a camper, including:

  • The budget you have to work with
  • The number of appliances that will run on the generator and their power needs
  • The quality of the generator (cheap is not always the best option)
  • The warranty the manufacturers give

What Happens If A Wrong Size Generator Is Used For A Camper?

A few things can happen when the wrong size generator is used for a camper.

Using a generator that is too small for the camper needs (overloading):

  1. There will be unreliable power, and the generator will throttle the appliances as it tries to stabilize the current.
  2. The generator can overheat as the power needed outweighs the current it can provide. It could cause power surges that, in turn, can damage or completely fry the appliances and devices attached to the generator.
  3. When a generator is trying to give out more current than it can handle, it will drop its voltage but still try hard to up the current; it will overload and can cause damage to the generator itself.
  4. Overuse of the wrong size generator will mean it burns out faster, and you will need to replace it sooner; a generator is a big investment, and choosing the wrong size will be costly in the end.

Using a generator that is too big for the camper needs (Underloading):

  1. If you use a generator that is bigger than the total load of your camper, it creates low cylinder pressure, making the Genset work harder to maintain its efficiency. It will cause a build-up of soot that will clog the cylinders breaking the generator.
  2. It will be very costly to run; you can save a lot of money by properly calculating the generator’s size and avoiding underloading your generator.

What Warranty Does The Right Size Generator For Camper Have?

A warranty on a suitable size generator for a camper shows that the manufacturer believes in their product. A good warranty for a generator is between 2-5 years.

Some manufacturers have terms attached to their warranties called limited warranties. It means that if the manufacturer finds there is a fault on the generator due to misuse or negligence, the warranty will be void, and all repair costs will fall to the owner.

It is why buying the correct size generator from the beginning is crucial, and ensuring you read the warranty terms and conditions carefully will protect you from costly mistakes.

How Does The Size Of Camper Generator Affect The Placement?

The correct placement of a camper generator is not really affected by its size; however, if the generator you choose does not fit in the allocated space and has to be set up outside without any protection, it could damage the inner components and the outer protective shell.

Remember that the bigger the generator is, the more current it needs to produce. It, in turn, leads to more toxic fumes escaping from the exhaust. A build-up of these gasses can be a health hazard. So proper placement of any size generator is key.

Experts suggest placing bigger generators at least 10 feet from the camper or investing in a proper gas extraction system.

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