What size generator for a 30 Amp RV air conditioner

What size generator for a 30 Amp RV air conditioner

RV camping is an incredible way to explore the great outdoors while enjoying the comforts of home. However, to ensure an enjoyable experience, equipping your recreational vehicle (RV) with the right amenities is crucial. A reliable generator is essential, especially if you plan to run an air conditioner. But what size generator do you need for a 30 amp RV air conditioner? Let’s delve into the specifics.

Understanding the importance of proper generator sizing

Choosing the right generator size for your RV air conditioner is important for several reasons. First and foremost, an undersized generator can need help to power your air conditioner efficiently, leading to frequent breakdowns and potential damage to both the generator and the appliance. On the other hand, an oversized generator may be unnecessary and result in wasted fuel and increased costs.

RV air conditioners typically operate on 30 or 50-amp electrical systems, with 30-amp setups more common in smaller or older RVs. Therefore, determining the appropriate generator size requires careful evaluation of various factors.

Factors to consider

Wattage and amperage requirements

The first step in choosing the right generator size is to understand the power requirements of your RV air conditioner. Most 30-amp air conditioners require about 3,500 to 4,000 starting watts and 1,500 to 2,000 running watts. However, it is essential to check the specific features of your unit, as these may vary depending on the brand and model.

Starting vs. Running Wattage

It is very important to distinguish between starting (or surge) wattage and running (or continuous) wattage. Starting wattage refers to the additional power required to start appliances with electric motors, such as air conditioners and refrigerators while running wattage is the power required to start once. The generator must be able to handle both the air conditioner’s starting and running wattage.

Types and sizes of air conditioners

The size and type of your RV air conditioner play an important role in determining the appropriate generator size. Larger units with higher cooling capacity will require more power to operate, requiring a larger generator. Additionally, rooftop air conditioners are more common in RVs and have higher power requirements than portable or window units.

Additional appliances and electronics

Consider any other appliances or electronics you run simultaneously with air conditioners, such as lighting, televisions, and kitchen appliances. These devices will add to the total power load and affect your generator size requirements.

Altitude and temperature considerations

Note that altitude and ambient temperature can affect generator performance. Higher altitudes and hotter climates can reduce the efficiency of combustion engines, potentially requiring a larger generator to compensate for the reduced power output.

Accounting method

Determining the correct generator size involves some simple calculations based on the power requirements of your RV air conditioner and other appliances.

The basic formula for sizing generator

Add the starting wattage of all the appliances you plan to run simultaneously.

Add up the running wattage of all appliances.

Choose a generator with a rated wattage equal to or greater than the total starting and running watts. If you want RV AC service, you can go to RV Air Conditioner Repair, which is near me. I hope you get good service.

Example calculations for various RV air conditioner sizes

  • Small RV with a 3,500-watt air conditioner:
  •  Starting Wattage: 3,500 watts
  •  Running Watts: 1,500 Watts
  •  Total watts: 5,000 watts
  •  Larger RVs with a 4,000-watt air conditioner and extra appliances:
  •  Starting Wattage (Air Conditioner): 4,000 Watts
  •  Running Watts (Air Conditioner): 2,000 Watts
  •  Running wattage (additional equipment): 1,000 watts
  •  Total watts: 7,000 watts
  •  Recommendations for different situations

Small RV with single air conditioner

For small RVs equipped with a single air conditioner, a generator rated at about 5,000 to 6,000 watts is sufficient. This size provides enough power to comfortably start and run the air conditioner along with other essential appliances.

Large RV with multiple appliances

If you have a large RV with multiple appliances running simultaneously, choose a generator with a higher-rated wattage, usually between 7,000 and 8,000 watts. This ensures sufficient power to meet increased demand without overloading the generator.

High altitude camping

When camping at high altitudes or in hot climates, consider choosing a slightly larger generator to reduce engine performance. Additionally, investing in an inverter generator, which adjusts its engine speed based on power demand, can improve fuel efficiency and overall performance.

Types of generators

Inverter generator vs conventional generator

Inverter generators offer several advantages over conventional generators, including quieter operation, cleaner power output, and improved fuel efficiency. Although they tend to be more expensive, their benefits make them an attractive option for RV camping.

Portable vs. built-in generators

Portable generators are versatile and can be moved around as needed, making them ideal for RV use. However, built-in generators, often integrated into larger RVs, offer the convenience of permanent installation and can provide higher power output.

Tips for optimal performance

To ensure optimal performance and longevity of your generator and air conditioner, follow these tips:

Proper Maintenance: Service and maintain your generator regularly according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Energy conservation: Reduce energy consumption by using energy-efficient appliances and turning off unnecessary electronics when not in use.

Safety Precautions: Operate the generator in a well-ventilated area away from flammable materials and never overload it beyond its rated capacity.


Choosing the right size generator for your 30 amp RV air conditioner is essential to a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience. By considering factors such as wattage requirements, generator type, and environmental conditions, you can select the perfect generator to meet your needs. Be sure to prioritize safety and maintenance to ensure reliable performance on your outdoor adventures.

Frequently Asked Questions (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Can I run my 30 amp RV air conditioner on a small generator?

It is not recommended. Undersized generators can struggle to effectively power the air conditioner, leading to potential damage and frequent outages.

2. What if my RV has a 50 amp electrical system?

If your RV has a 50-amp electrical system, you will need a generator capable of providing enough power for your high-amperage requirements.

3. Are inverter generators worth the extra cost?

Inverter generators offer several benefits, including quiet operation and improved fuel efficiency, making them a worthwhile investment for many RV enthusiasts.

4. How do I determine the elevation of my camping location?

You can use a GPS device or consult online resources to determine the elevation of your camping destination.

5. Can I use a portable generator indoors?

No, portable generators should never be used indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Always operate the generator in a well-ventilated outdoor area.

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