What Size Generator For A Travel Trailer

Choosing the right size generator for your travel trailer is crucial to ensure a smooth and comfortable camping experience. The last thing you want is to be left without power in the middle of nowhere. But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to figure out what size generator you actually need. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about finding the perfect generator for your travel trailer.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that the size of the generator you require depends on various factors such as the appliances and electronics you plan to power, the size of your travel trailer, and your overall power needs. By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and avoid any unnecessary expenses or inconveniences.

Determining Your Power Needs

Before diving into the world of generators, you must evaluate your power requirements. Make a list of all the appliances and electronics you typically use while camping. Consider their power consumption in watts and prioritize them based on necessity. This will help you determine the total wattage you need to power your travel trailer.

Understanding Appliance Power Consumption

Each appliance or electronic device has a power consumption rating, usually measured in watts. This rating indicates the amount of power the appliance requires to operate. You can usually find this information on the appliance itself or in the user manual. It’s important to note that some appliances may have different power consumption levels for their startup (surge) and continuous (running) modes.

Creating a Power Consumption List

To accurately determine your power needs, create a comprehensive list of all the appliances and electronics you plan to use in your travel trailer. Include items such as air conditioners, refrigerators, microwave ovens, televisions, and any other devices that are essential for your camping experience. Note down their power consumption in watts.

Calculating Total Power Consumption

Once you have a list of your power-hungry devices, you need to calculate the total wattage they consume. Add up the wattage of each appliance, focusing on the starting wattage for devices with motors or compressors. This will give you a rough estimate of the minimum wattage your generator should provide.

Understanding Surge and Running Wattage

Generators typically have two power ratings: surge wattage and running wattage. Surge wattage refers to the temporary boost in power required when starting an appliance, while running wattage is the continuous power needed to keep the appliance running. It’s important to consider both of these ratings when choosing the right size generator for your travel trailer.

Identifying Surge Wattage

Surge wattage is crucial for appliances that require an extra burst of power to start, such as air conditioners, refrigerators, and power tools. These devices require a higher wattage for a short period before settling into their regular running wattage. Be sure to check the surge wattage of each appliance and factor it into your generator selection process.

Calculating Running Wattage

Running wattage is the continuous power consumption of an appliance once it has started running. It’s important to consider the running wattage of all your appliances to ensure your generator can handle their combined load. Make sure the generator you choose has a running wattage capacity equal to or slightly higher than the total running wattage of your appliances.

Choosing Between Portable and Permanent Generators

Next, you need to decide whether you want a portable or permanent generator for your travel trailer. Both options have their pros and cons, so it’s essential to consider your specific needs and preferences.

Portable Generators

Portable generators are versatile and can be easily moved and used in different locations. They are typically fueled by gasoline or propane and come in various sizes and power capacities. Portable generators are an excellent choice if you prefer flexibility and plan to camp in different places. However, they require manual setup, maintenance, and fuel management.

Permanent Generators

Permanent generators, also known as standby or onboard generators, are installed directly into your travel trailer. They are usually powered by propane or diesel and provide a more convenient and seamless power solution. With a permanent generator, you don’t need to worry about setup, refueling, or storage. However, they can be more expensive to purchase and install, and they may require professional assistance for maintenance.

Determining Generator Type

Generators come in various types, including conventional generators, inverter generators, and solar generators. Each type has its own set of features and advantages, so it’s essential to understand them before making a decision.

Conventional Generators

Conventional generators, also known as portable generators, are the most common type available. They run on gasoline, propane, or diesel fuel and come in different sizes and power outputs. Conventional generators are generally more affordable but tend to be louder and produce less stable power compared to other types. They are suitable for powering basic appliances and electronics in your travel trailer.

Inverter Generators

Inverter generators are a more advanced and sophisticated option. They use advanced technology to produce cleaner and more stable power, making them ideal for sensitive electronics such as laptops, smartphones, and televisions. Inverter generators are quieter, more fuel-efficient, and offer better power quality compared to conventional generators. However, they are usually more expensive.

Solar Generators

Solar generators are an eco-friendly and renewable energy solution. They harness the power of the sun to generate electricity, making them a sustainable option for camping. Solar generators are typically lightweight and easy to transport, but they may have limited power output depending on the size and efficiency of the solar panels. They are ideal for charging small devices and powering low-wattage appliances.

Evaluating Fuel Options

Consider the fuel options available for generators, such as gasoline, propane, or diesel. Each fuel type has its own advantages and considerations that you should take into account.


Gasoline is the most common and readily available fuel for generators. It is relatively affordable and can be easily obtained at gas stations. However, gasoline generators tend to be noisier, emit more exhaust fumes, and require more frequent refueling compared to other fuel options. If you choose a gasoline generator, ensure you have sufficient fuel storage capacity for your camping trips.


Propane is a cleaner-burning fuel option for generators. It is stored in tanks and can be easily connected to your generator. Propane generators are generally quieter, emit fewer emissions, and require less maintenance compared to gasoline generators. However, the availability of propane refill stations may vary depending on your camping location, so it’s essential to plan accordingly and ensure you have access to propane when needed.


Diesel generators are known for their efficiency and durability. They offer excellent fuel consumption and are often more fuel-efficient than gasoline or propane generators. Diesel is also more readily available in remote areas, making it a suitable choice for off-grid camping. However, diesel generators tend to be more expensive upfront and may require professional maintenance due to their complex internal components.

Assessing Noise Levels

If noise is a concern for you, make sure to check the noise level of the generator you are considering. Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB), and generators typically provide this information in their product specifications.

Understanding Decibel Levels

Decibels are a unit of measurement used to quantify sound intensity. The higher the decibel level, the louder the noise. When choosing a generator, look for models labeled as “quiet” or “low noise” to ensure a more peaceful camping experience.

Considering Noise Regulations

Keep in mind that some camping sites and national parks have specific noise regulations in place to preserve the tranquility of the environment. Be aware of these regulations and choose a generator that complies with the noise limits imposed by the campsite or park authorities.

Estimating Size and Weight

Consider the size and weight of the generator, especially if you have limited storage space in your travel trailer. Portable generators are typically smaller and lighter, making them easier to transport and store. However, permanent generators may require dedicated space within your trailer.

Portable Generator Size and Portability

When it comes to portable generators, size matters. Smaller generators are more convenient for transportation and storage but may have lower power output. Consider the dimensions and weight of the generator, ensuring that it fits comfortably in your available storage space. Look for features such as built-in handles or wheels for easier portability.

Permanent Generator Size and Space Considerations

Permanent generators are designed to be installed directly into your travel trailer, which means they require dedicated space. Consider the available space within your trailer and choose a generator that fits without compromising other essential items or living areas. It may be necessary to consult with a professional to ensure proper installation and compliance with safety guidelines.

Researching Brands and Reviews

Before making a final purchase, research different generator brands and read customer reviews. This will help you determine the reliability, durability, andcustomer satisfaction associated with each brand. Here are a few points to consider during your research:

Brand Reputation

Take some time to research the reputation of different generator brands. Look for brands that have a good track record of producing reliable and high-quality generators. Read online reviews, forums, and customer testimonials to gather insights into the experiences of other users.

Customer Reviews and Ratings

Reading customer reviews and ratings can provide valuable information about the performance and reliability of specific generator models. Look for patterns in reviews to identify any common issues or positive qualities mentioned by multiple reviewers. Consider both positive and negative reviews to get a balanced perspective.

Warranty and Customer Support

Check the warranty offered by the generator manufacturer. A longer warranty period indicates the brand’s confidence in the product’s quality. Additionally, consider the availability and responsiveness of customer support. It’s important to choose a brand that provides excellent customer service, in case you encounter any issues or have questions during the ownership of your generator.

Seeking Professional Advice

If you are still unsure about what size generator to choose, it’s always a good idea to seek professional advice. Consulting an electrician or a specialist in RV power systems can provide personalized recommendations based on your specific needs.

Electrician Consultation

An electrician with experience in RV power systems can assess your power requirements and recommend the best generator size for your travel trailer. They can also offer guidance on the installation process and help ensure that your generator is properly integrated with your trailer’s electrical system.

RV Specialist Consultation

An RV specialist or technician can provide valuable insights into the power needs of travel trailers and the compatibility of different generator models. They can guide you through the selection process and assist with any technical aspects or questions you may have.


By understanding your power requirements, calculating wattage, considering generator types, fuel options, noise levels, and other factors, you can confidently select the right size generator for your travel trailer. Remember, it’s always better to have a generator that slightly exceeds your power needs rather than one that falls short. With the information provided in this guide, you are now well-equipped to make an informed decision and enjoy a worry-free camping experience with a reliable generator by your side.

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