What Size Generator Do I Need for 50 Amps?

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A woman sitting by her RV and her RV generator 50 amp

When you’re out RVing, there are a lot of things to think about. You consider what route you’re going to take, what sites you want to stay at, and, of course, what kind of generator you need for all your electrical needs.

That’s especially if you need a generator for 50-amp service.

If you’re not sure what size generator is right for powering 50 amps in your RV, don’t worry – we’re here to help!

Here, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about generators and 50-amp service so that you can make the best decision for your next road trip. Read on!

What Is the Difference Between 50-Amp and 30-Amp RVs?

The difference between an RV with 50 amps electrical service and one with 30 amps electrical service is much greater than these two numbers might indicate.

In real-world terms, a 50-amp service is not simply 20 amps more.

An RV with a 30-amp service is wired with one 30-amp leg providing power to 120-volt appliances and outlets.

We need to know how much power this provides, as most devices have ratings by wattage.

To figure this out, we need the simple equation of amps x volts = watts.

In the case of a 30-amp service, 30 amps multiplied by 120 volts equals 3,600 watts.

That means when you power up devices on a 30-amp service, their total wattage cannot exceed 3,600 watts, or you will start to trip breakers.

For an RV with 50-amp service, there’s a significant difference to consider. A 50-amp RV doesn’t simply have one 50-amp leg of electrical service.

Because of how a 50-amp RV is wired, it powers two 50-amp legs. 

Figuring the wattage is similar. Fifty amps multiplied by 120 volts equals 6,000 watts.

The big difference, however, is the two legs of service.

So now we have 50 amps multiplied by 120 volts equals 6,000 watts, which is then multiplied by two for a total of 12,000 watts.

That is a massive difference in the number of electrical devices a 50-amp RV can power.

In essence, a 50-amp RV service provides 100 amps of power.

What Size Generator Do I Need for 50 Amps?

To fully power a 50-amp RV, which provides 12,000 watts of power, it would be easy to assume you’d need a 12,000-watt generator for such a rig. That’s not necessarily so, however. 

Though you’d need a 12,000-watt generator to use all 12,000 watts at one time, most folks don’t use all the available power at once.

Most of us operate different combinations of appliances that rarely bump up against the top end.

For instance, most air conditioners operate at about 1,500 watts.

A residential refrigerator needs between 500 and 800 watts (much less for an RV-specific refrigerator).

A washing machine needs another 1,100 to 1,250 watts.

A coffeemaker needs about 750 watts and a microwave around 600 to 700 watts. 

You rarely need all 12,000 watts at once, but why not just get a 12,000-watt generator and be done with it?

Because a 12,000-watt generator can cost several thousand dollars more than what you need and will largely be underutilized.

Most folks with a 50-amp RV can operate quite comfortably off of a 6,000-watt generator, even with two air conditioning units.

If you add up how much wattage you need for two A/Cs, a residential refrigerator, a washing machine, and a microwave (all power-hungry appliances), you’d need about 5,500 to 5,900 watts. 

You won’t often use all your power-hungry appliances simultaneously, and you can always plan your usage accordingly.

A 6,000-watt generator would be a comfortable baseline for a 50-amp RV.

Still, if you anticipate using several appliances simultaneously, you may want to bump that number up to 7,500 watts or so, depending on your budget.

Close up of an RV generator 50 amp

Keep in Mind: An RV generator rack is a must for boondocking! Take a look at these RV Generator Racks You Can Get Online before hitting the road.

Is There a Generator With a 50-Amp RV Plug?

Yes, there are several generators that allow for a 50-amp RV plug, which you would need to get the full benefit of the generator.

If the generator doesn’t have a 50-amp RV outlet, that would limit you to the highest-rated outlet available.

That could severely limit the generator’s effectiveness.

Can I Run My 50 amp RV on a 30-Amp Generator?

You can run your 50-amp RV on a 30-amp generator.

You need the appropriate adapter to connect your 50-amp plug to the 30-amp generator outlet.

It’s important to be aware that you will be limited to the 3,600 watts available via a 30-amp outlet.

You must be careful how much wattage your various appliances need when operating off a 30-amp outlet.

Close up of an RV generator 50 amp

Best Generators for 50 Amps

Many different generators will work with a 50-amp RV. There are, however, different trade-offs among them.

Some are quieter, while others have more features.

Ultimately, the question is whether or not the generator will meet your power needs.

We’ve assembled a list of our top three portable generators to consider powering your 50-amp RV.

Pro Tip: Solar power has become a bigger part of the RV world, but Can You Power an RV With a Solar Generator? Let’s find out!

Quietest: GENMAX 6000W Portable Inverter Generator with Remote/Electric Start

GENMAX Portable Inverter Generator, 6000W Super Quiet Gas Propane Powered Engine with Remote/Electric Start, Ultra Lightweight for Backup Home Use & Camping Travel Outdoor .EPA Compliant(GM6000iED)
  • 【 DUAL FUEL OUTPUT】 312cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 6000 peak watts and 5250 rated watts with 3.6 gallon fuel...
  • 【 EASY TO CARRY AND USE】 1 telescopic rod and 2 rolling wheels for easy travel; Light weight and compact design,...

To our ears, the GENMAX 6000-watt Portable Inverter Generator is one of the quietest on the market of this size.

It’s also versatile, operating on gasoline or propane, though gasoline provides for greater power and a longer duration of use.

It provides clean, stable power.

It’s easy to move around and automatically shuts off if an unsafe level of carbon monoxide is detected. 

Budget Pick: DuroMax XP12000EH Generator 12000 Watt Gas or Propane

DuroMax XP12000EH Generator-12000 Watt Gas or Propane Powered Home Back Up & RV Ready, 50 State Approved Dual Fuel Electric Start Portable Generator, Black and Blue
  • Powerful DuroMax Engine: the XP12000EH is powered by a DuroMax, 457cc OHV engine.
  • Dual fuel technology: the ability to run on propane or gasoline allows the freedom and flexibility of fuel choice....

The DuroMax XP12000EH Generator, as its name suggests, provides up to 12,000 starting watts and 9,500 running watts.

That’s ample power for almost any rig.

This beast of a generator has a 50-amp outlet so that you can fully power your 50-amp RV.

It’s also a dual-fuel generator, operating off of gasoline or propane. It has an extremely rugged build and comes with a three-year warranty.

Best 50 amp Generator: Champion 7500-Watt Portable Generator with Electric Start

Champion Power Equipment 100813 9375/7500-Watt Portable Generator with Electric Start
  • Ultra-Powerful: At 9375 starting watts and 7500 running watts, enjoy up to 8 hours of run time on a full tank of...
  • Electric start: Trust the reliable 420cc Champion engine with its battery-included electric start featuring a reliable...

It goes for a great price, has a beefy build, and everything necessary to run a 50-amp rig.

For our money, the Champion 7,500-watt Portable Generator is the best combination of price when compared to what you get in return.

You get 9,375 starting watts and 7,500 running watts from a generator that isn’t much louder than the GENMAX (it is still loud though).

Champion provides a dedicated 50-amp outlet, a 30-amp outlet, and four 120-volt 20-amp outlets.

It has a built-in surge protector and comes with a three-year warranty.

Close up of a Champion 7500- Watt generator 50 amp
Source: Amazon

Power Your Whole RV with a 50-Amp Generator 

So, if you’re looking to upgrade your RV and purchase a generator that can handle powering a 50-amp rig, we hope this article has been helpful.

We’ve listed three of the best generators for 50 amp RVs – each with unique benefits.

You also know how to power a 50-amp RV using a 30-amp generator. Now it’s up to you to decide which one is right for your needs and your budget!

Last update on 2022-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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