How to Pick the Best 30 amp Generator for Your RV

How to Pick the Best 30 amp Generator for Your RV

Table of Contents

There is no point kitting out your RV with great appliances and being unable to power anything.

If you are boondocking or don’t have a camping hookup then you’ll need the right size generator to power your rig.

So, for a 30 amp RV you will need a generator that can give at least 3,000 watts, and a maximum of 3,600 watts. Anything over 3,600 watts is a waste of energy, fuel, and money for a 30 amp RV.

For a more accurate wattage requirement, you will need to add up the wattage of all your appliances in your RV. I have a table in the article below to help with that.

I have researched the market to find the best generators for a 30 amp RV, here are the best ones.

30 Amp Generators Top Picks

Best for Reliability

Predator 3500

4.2/5
  • Quiet
  • Portable
  • LCD Display
  • Electric Start

 

Best Overall

Generac IQ3500

4.5/5
  • Packed with smart features including LCD display and USB ports
  • Ultra Quiet
  • Electric Start
  • Fuel efficient
  • Portable
  • Quality build

 

Best for Smaller RVs

Briggs & Stratton P3000 Inverter Generator

3.9/5
  • Quiet
  • Lightweight and portable
  • LED Display
  • USB Ports

Generac IQ3500 Generator – Best Overall

Our pick of 30 amp generators has to be the Generac IQ3500 generator is packed full of smart features to make your life easier.

This generator is ultra-quiet, and is at least 5 decibels quieter than the Honda at 45 to 52dB(A), you won’t even know it’s running.

The PowerRush advanced technology delivers 50% more starting capacity at 3,500W allowing you to do more with less. 

It’s easy to start with its electric start capability with three operation settings (start, run and stop) integrated onto the intuitive PowerDial. 

You can also select from two engine speeds depending on your needs. This saves on fuel consumption and maintains the engine and noise levels as you only use as much power as needed.

The smart digital LCD display provides visibility to vital performance metrics, with an hour meter that tracks the maintenance intervals.

There is a telescoping luggage-style handle and 6-inch wheels make for easy transportation to your tailgate or campsite. 

It even has USB ports!

Pros

  • Packed with smart features including LCD display and USB ports
  • Ultra Quiet
  • Electric Start
  • Fuel efficient
  • Portable
  • Quality build

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Small Tank

Predator 3500 – Best for Reliability

The predator 3500 is a fantastic portable generator and is of a quality build that will last you for years. If reliable stable power with no surges is important to you (I can’t think why it wouldn’t) then this is a great choice.

There is only a 500 watts difference in the start-up wattage and running wattage so you can easily figure out how many appliances this generator can run effectively.

It’s also pretty quiet at 57 decibels, it’s not the quietest in this review but it’s not loud enough to annoy you or the neighbors.

The gasoline fuel tank takes 2.6 gallons, which will run the generator for up to 11 hours on ¼ load. This is less than some of the other models in the review and it would be better if the fuel tank was bigger.

The Predator has four never-flat wheels built-in and a handle so you can easily maneuver it around. However, a few people have noted that the inbuilt wheels are a bit flimsy, so it’s a good idea to replace them with some more sturdy ones. It also has the parallel capability so you can connect two units to get 7000 watts of power.

It also has a digital LCD display, that shows you all the important indicators like low oil, overload, and output light.

For its price, this is a well-built solid generator that won’t let you down.

Pros

  • Quiet
  • Portable
  • LCD Display
  • Electric Start

Cons

  • Small fuel tank
  • Poor wheels – it’s a good idea to replace these

Briggs & Stratton P3000 Inverter Generator – Best for Smaller RVs

The Briggs & Stratton P3000 is perfect for smaller RVs and trailers. It’s the lightest generator in the review and therefore the most portable and best suited for smaller rigs.

It’s RV-ready with a 30 amp outlet included so you don’t need to bother with an adapter, as in a small camper every little help.

This generator comes with a telescopic handle and never-flat wheels, so you can move it around easily.

It provides 3,000W start-up power and 2,600W running power, which is enough for a small rig. Because of its lower output, it’s really quiet and fuel-efficient.

It can run for up to 10.5 hours (depending on load) on its 1.5-gallon fuel tank.

Even though it’s small it still has some great features like an LED display and USB ports.

Pros

  • Quiet
  • Lightweight and portable
  • LED Display
  • USB Ports

Cons

  • Small fuel tank
  • Lower wattage than others in the review

Champion 3500 Watt Generator – Best for Dual Fuel

If dual-fuel capability is a priority for you, or you’d just like the option, the Champion 3500 watt generator is a great choice.

This generator can operate on gasoline and propane, so is a great choice for boondockers. It isn’t short on power either, on gasoline it will produce 3,500 starting watts and 3,200 running watts. On propane it will produce 3,150 starting watts and 2,880 running watts, so plenty of watts to run your 30 amp RV appliances. It has a Safety Fuel Selector Switch which ensures safe and easy operation on either fuel.

It’s also fairly quiet as it operates at about 59 decibels, and can run for 7.5 hours on a full tank of gas and up to 14.5 hours on a 20lb tank of propane depending on the load.

The generator comes with a standard 30A RV outlet, so you don’t need to buy an adapter. It has enough power to start and run a 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner.

It also has economy mode so the engine automatically idles lower as the electrical load is lowered. This saves fuel, noise and prolongs the life of the engine. 

It also has built-in never-flat wheels and a handle for easy mobility, which is perfect for RV use.

Pros

  • Dual Fuel
  • Parallel capability
  • Easy push button electric start
  • Enough power for a 15,000 BTU AC unit

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Small tank

Honda Inverter Generator – Best Safety

This Honda EU3000iS generator is our best for safety, with the co-minder technology it automatically monitors CO2 levels. If the carbon monoxide levels go above a safe level then the generator will automatically shut down.

This generator is 3,000W and can power a wide variety of appliances, including a furnace, fridge, microwave, most 13,500 BTU RV AC units, and much more.

It also operates at 50 to 57 decibels, which is the equivalent of a normal conversation, so it won’t annoy you or the neighbors.

The tank on this generator can take 3.4 gallons of fuel, this is enough for it to run for almost 20 hours depending on the load.

On the downside, it is quite heavy at 130lbs and it doesn’t have built-in wheels. The wheels and handle have to be purchased separately, so bear this in mind if you opt for this generator.

Pros

  • Co-minder technology monitors CO2 levels
  • Good quality build
  • Up to 20 hours from one tank of fuel
  • Quiet
  • Electric Start with recoil backup

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Wheels and handle need to be purchased separately

Westinghouse WGen3600 – Best for Price

If your budget is your biggest concern when buying a generator then the Westinghouse WGen3600 is an excellent choice for value for money. 

It’s the cheapest in this review (by a lot)  and also delivers the highest wattage at 4,650 start-up watts and 3,600 running watts. This is more than enough for a 30 amp RV.

Don’t let the price fool you, it’s a solid-built generator and has a huge 4-gallon tank, and can run for up to 13.5 hours.

It comes with a 30 amp RV outlet so you can use this out of the box. It also has wheels and a handle built in so it is portable.

However, there is a downside to this generator, the quietest this generator operates is 70 decibels which is as loud as a vacuum or a toilet flushing so you will definitely hear this generator running.

Pros

  • Inexpensive 
  • High wattage
  • RV outlet built in
  • Big tank

Cons

  • Loud
  • Poor customer service

How to Pick the Best 30 amp Generator for your RV – Buying Guide

Most RVs will come with a generator installed, which is great. However, you might find yourself needing to replace it or get a backup generator. 

I’d always recommend having a backup generator just in case, especially if you go boondocking or wild camping.

Follow this buying guide so you pick the best 30 amp generator for your RV. the most important things to consider when buying a generator are:

Generator Wattage

Generator wattage is an important factor to choosing the right generator. You want to make sure that there is enough wattage to power your appliances but not so much that it’s wasted.

To work out the maximum wattage needed for a 30 amp RV you can use the following equation:

Amps x Volts = Watts

So,

30 Amps x 120 Volts = 3,600 watts

This means you will need a generator capable of 3,600 watts maximum, there is no point in buying a more expensive generator capable of 5,000 watts because the extra watts will be wasted.

So, for a 30 amp RV a 3,600-watt generator is more than enough to power your appliances, you could even opt for generators with lesser wattage.

As you can see from this table from RV Tech Library, a lot of appliances require more watts to start up and then run on a lower wattage.

Start-up watts are the amount of power an appliance needs to start, and the running watts are the amount of power it draws once it’s on.

ApplianceStart-Up (Watts)Running (Watts)
Air Conditioner (each)1400-20001700
Battery ChargerUp to 2,0001000
DC Convertor300-1200750
Refrigerator600-1000800
Microwave Oven1000-15001250
Electric Frying Pan/Wok1000-15001250
Electric Stove Element530-1500675
Electric Water Heater (6 gallon)1000-15001250
Electric Iron500-1200850
Hair Dryer500-15001000
Electric Coffee Pot550-750650
Television (CRT)200-600400
Radio50-200125
Electric Drill250-750500
Electric Broom200-500350
Electric Blanket50-200125
Portable Heater (Ceramic)1500-7501500
Toaster12001200
Food Processor720720
Hand Vacuum240240
Crock Pot230230
Satellite Dish and Receiver200200
Heating Pad6060

If you want a more accurate wattage for your RV then you will need to break it down by each appliance. 

Add up the starting watts for each appliance in your RV to determine the wattage requirement of your generator. 

This will still be ample for your needs because you’re not going to be turning on every appliance in your RV at the same time.

It’s also a good exercise to know the running watts of your appliance so you have a better idea of how much energy they are using. Turning appliances off when not in use can save you a lot of fuel.

Noise Level

The noise level of your generator is important, whilst you might not think so at the time of purchasing a noisy generator will quickly get on your nerves, not to mention your RV neighbors.

Luckily a generator for a 30 amp RV is naturally going to be on the quieter side, most generators in this range produce between 55 and 70 decibels when running. Try to aim for the lower end of this scale.

For reference, 70 decibels is the equivalent of a vacuum cleaner or toilet flushing, so it is on the louder end of the scale. On the other end of the scale, 55 decibels is the equivalent of an electric toothbrush or coffee percolator.

Portability

Obviously when buying anything for your RV portability and weight are important considerations. 

Unfortunately 30 amp generators are on the heavier side at about 80lbs, make sure that you buy one with never-flat wheels and a collapsible handle. This will make them slightly easier to move but it’s still likely a two-person job.

You will need to be able to move the generator easily, as they are not the lightest bit of kit in your RV you could consider two smaller ones. This could save on fuel (and noise) if you find you only need the second one occasionally.

Parallel Capability

Parallel capability is another factor you can consider for your generator, it is where you can link two generators together with a special cable. This gives you the option for more power output if you need it.

For example, if you have a 2,000W generator powering your RV but you want to then use the microwave oven or AC then you can hook up a second generator to provide the extra wattage needed.

Although this feature isn’t as important with a 30 amp RV as it is for larger ones, it is something worth considering. Especially if you are planning on adding more appliances to your RV.

You will have to also purchase an inverter generator parallel kit to be able to do this.

Generator Fuel Type

The fuel your generator uses is another factor to consider, you want to select a generator that has a fuel that’s compatible with your needs.

The three main fuel types that all generators use are diesel, propane, and gasoline.

Diesel generators could be a good idea if your RV runs on diesel. These are also the highest-powered generators.

If your RV runs on gas then a gas-powered generator will make sense for you. It’s easy to get hold of and gas generators are usually the most economical.

Propane does have a longer shelf life and is better for the environment than diesel and gasoline, so if you are environmentally conscious then you might want to opt for a propane-powered generator.

There are also dual-fuel generators available that usually run on gasoline and propane. Dual fuel generators are a good option for boondocking, you’ll be less likely to run out of fuel if you have a backup propane tank. They are more expensive though.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel isn’t cheap and can be hard to get hold of if you are camping in the middle of nowhere. You want to make sure that the generator you buy has an economy mode feature.

The economy mode feature means that your generator will use initiative and only output the power that is needed at the time.

This will save you a lot of fuel and money in the long run.

It also makes the generator quieter, as it will lower the engine to match the output. This also extends the life of the generator as it’s not operating at maximum all the time.

Budget

As with everything you buy, you should have a budget in mind. Generators are expensive, luckily 30 amp generators are on the cheaper end of the scale, but this can still set you back between $700 and $2,000.

Make sure you know which features are the most important to you and which ones you don’t need and save some money on. 

RV Outlet Plug

Check that the generator has a 30 amp RV outlet. I have bought a generator before ready to hook up and then realised that I need to purchase an adapter for it. 

Save yourself the frustration by checking there is an RV outlet on the generator, or that you have the adapter.

30 Amp Generator FAQs

What Size Generator For 30 Amp RV?

For a 30 amp RV, you will need a generator that is between 3,000W and 3,600W, this should be enough to power all your appliances. You don’t need a generator over 3,600 watts as the extra power will be wasted.

What is a 30 Amp Service?

In an RV a 30 amp service refers to the amount of electrical current that is needed to power essential appliances and devices on your rig.

A 30 amp service means that your RV won’t receive more power than 3,600 watts (30 Amps x 120 Volts = 3,600 watts). A 30 amp service is found in RVs with lower load requirements.

A 30 amp plug is three-pronged, it includes a 120 volt wire, a neutral wire and a ground wire.

Can I plug my 30 amp RV into a 50 amp Plug?

You will need a 30 to 50 amp adapter, but yes, you can plug a 30 amp RV into a 50 amp plug.

The adapter you will need is usually called the “dogbone” because of its shape. Once you have the adapter just plug it into the power source and plugh your RV into the other end.

What’s The Difference Between 30 Amp And 50 Amp Service?

The main difference is the number of watts delivered from each service, a 30 amp service provides 3,600 watts and a 50 amp service provides 12,000 watts.

Due to this, you can run many more appliances on a 50 amp service, so larger RVs tend to be 50 amp.

The plugs also differ, the 30 amp plug is three-pronged, a wire for the 120V, neutral, and ground. The 50 amp plug is four-pronged as it has two 120V wires.

The two 120V hot wires in the 50 amp plug each supply 50 amp 120V feed.

Is 30 amp service enough?

The answer to this really depends on your RV and how many appliances you have. For a smaller RV with not many appliances, 30 amp is fine.

However as more RVs are becoming better equipped, it’s becoming more common for them to be 50 amps.

A 30 amp service is enough to run an AC unit, refrigerator, and electric water heater at the same time. 

If you need more power to run more appliances then it’s a good idea to get a backup generator, this will give you an extra power boost for when you’re using more appliances like cooking.

Best 30 amp RV Generators ReCap

WattageBest For
Generac IQ3500 3500 wattsOverall
Predator 35003500 wattsReliability
Champion 3500 Watt Generator3500 wattDual Fuel
Honda EU3000iS
3000 watt
Safety
Briggs & Stratton P30003000 wattsSmaller RVs
Westinghouse WGen3600  4500 wattsPrice

Final Thoughts

For a 30 amp RV, you will need a generator that is capable of delivering a maximum of 3,600W. A generator in the range of 3,000 to 3,600W will be perfect for powering your rig.

There are quite a few considerations to make when picking the best generator for your needs, and with such an expensive item, purchasing shouldn’t be done lightly.

Our favorite generator for a 30 amp rig is the Generac IQ3500 Generator. It’s packed full of useful features that will make your life easier and your trip more enjoyable.

References

www.rvtechlibrary.com/electrical/applianceloadchart.php

Heather

Heather is an avid camper and RV enthusiast! Her aim is to cut through the jargon and help you make the right decisions, to have THE BEST RVing trip EVER.
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