Installed Vs. Portable Generators For RVs

Purchasing a generator for your RV is an important step toward your travel independence. In order to keep from plugging into a dedicated campground electrical outlet during an recreational excursion, a generator will keep your RV on the road and powered without the need to stop off and attach with an electrical cord.

The need for an RV generator is especially important when using an air conditioner or multiple air conditioners and appliances that draw a lot of power like microwaves or large screen televisions or various combinations of lights, heaters and appliances that will run throughout your stay. While some RV campers might choose to simply use an external outlet and “boondock” their trailer or motor home, sometimes it isn’t always possible to plug into a power source and that’s when prepared travelers can fall back on a generator in order to get the electricity they need to keep their vehicle’s accessories running smoothly. Depending on the region and the remoteness of the campground area, a plug in may not be accessible. The availability of power can sometimes make or break an RV vacation.

Owning an RV generator can make a big difference on a vacation. That being said there are some pro’s and con’s to owning either a dedicated, installed generator for RV use or having a portable generator for your RV travels.

Portable RV generators are good to have if you have other needs besides just camping for your generator. For instance, if there are times when you may need a generator for work and want to haul it to a job site then a portable generator would be useful. The other is for home use. In this scenario if there is ever a major storm that causes a power outage then having a portable generator available is a good idea.

Things to keep in mind when using a portable generator for RV use: make sure there is a plug in adapter on the generator that is specific for RVs. This will typically be a 30 amp plug that will allow the RV to run all its equipment on this circuit. Having an RV ready 120 volt receptacle is a must in this situation. A good 3500 to 4000 watt system is a good overall wattage to have. Champion makes a generator set called the 46515 that is designed to work well with RVs. There is this website called and the have reviewed and tested the majority of best portable generators for your RV, so if you want to learn more about different kinds and models you should definitely visit them.

The upside to portable RV generators is that they can be used for more than just RV camping, they may be less expensive than the installed version and they can be moved from one end of a campsite to another if power needs to be transportable. The downside is that they are typically much noisier than dedicated RV generators. They can be less efficient in gas-to-power ratio (portables use more gas and provide less power) and they must be manually loaded and unloaded into a truck bed or trailer every time. Also their exhaust direction must be considered very seriously for safety reasons.

Installed RV generators are useful since they are always kept with the RV. The pros are that they don’t need to be loaded into a truck during the drive to a campground. Installed RV generators can use the same fuel the RV uses and will also actually draw from the large reservoir tank that a motorhome, for example, draws from. This way the generator doesn’t even need to be refueled the way a portable generator does. Everything on this type of RV generator is tuned into the RV’s electrical system meaning there is no guesswork as to whether it will work or if the loads are correct. The exhaust system should already be adequate and verified when the generator is installed by an RV dealer. Noise levels will most likely be lower in a dedicated generator over a portable one.

The cons to having an installed RV generator is that it will probably cost more to buy and to own while a portable can be considerably cheaper. A higher price means that if there is a breakdown or major repair then this can also be more expensive.

RV camping and traveling is a great way to get out and see the country. Make sure you have the right equipment for your travels.

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