What Size Generator for RV

by Dean

(Calgary Canada)

Question: What is the minimum size RV generator that I need to run my 26’trailer with air conditioning as well as the microwave or TV?

We cannot give you a specific answer because we do not know the specifications of your air conditioner, microwave, TV nor how long you intend to running them nor in what combinations.

However, we can help you decide on the right size by having you research and answer the following questions: Follow the steps outlined below.

You especially need to give step 1 and step 2 some careful consideration or you could end up buy a unit that will either be to small or too large for your needs.

Step 1

  • How long do I need the generator to run while I use the air conditioner, the microwave and the TV or whatever?

Step 2

  • Which appliances (air, microwave, TV) will I operate at the same time

Step 3

  • How many watts does the air conditioner draw at start up
  • How many watts does the air conditioner draw while it is operating
  • How many watts does the microwave draw at start up
  • How many watts does the microwave draw while operating at the highest setting
  • How many watts does the TV draw at start up
  • How many watts does the TV draw while operating

Note: The wattage draws of most appliances can be found in the specifications page of your owners manual or on a sticker or plate attached to the appliance.

Here is a chart that might be helpful in assessing your overall power use:

Appliance Wattage and Amperage Consumption (Approximate)
Appliance Watts*   Amps*
Air Conditioner 13,500 Btu 1700   14
Air Conditioner 15,000 Btu 1950   16
Blender 300   2.5
Coffeemaker 900   7.5
Computer (desktop) 100   8
Computer (printer) 240   2.0
Converter (30 amp) 550   4.5
Converter (40 amp) 650   5.5
Converter (75 amp) 1050   8.5
Heater (electric) **   12.5
Hair Dryer 1200   10.0
Iron 1200   10.5
Microwave 450 Watt 900   7.5
Microwave 650 Watt 1,300   10.5
Refrig/Freezer 600   5-8
TV 100   .75
TV Satellite & Receiver 170   1.5
VCR 90   .75
Washer/Dryer (RV type) 1900   16.0

* Normal running operation amps/watts; start up may draw more power
** See wattage info for your specific heater

Step 4

  • Are there other appliances that some one might be tempted to use at the same time (refrigerator, hair dryer, PC, etc,‚Ķ)

Step 5

  • Add up the watts for the appliances that might run at the same time

Step 6

  • Go online and look at some websites that sell generators

For example Amazon sells many different sizes and brands of portable generators. We came across one that seemed to fit your description with a little extra power that might come in handy:

No products found.

Remember that not all generators are built to run full time or on full load for more than several hours. Please make sure that you find out what the output is and how long the generator can run at a specific load level.

We hope this helps you in your search for the right generator for your specific application.