What size generator do I need to power an RV?


Stainless steel refrigerators, microwave ovens, and air conditioners (ACs); modern recreational vehicles (RVs) are truly home away from home. In fact, some of the large and luxurious RVs feature RV generators that are more powerful than the back-up power generator you might be using at your home. 

You might feel overwhelmed as you try to find the right size generator to power your RV. There are lots of options in the market and terminology around watts, amperages and volts. Meanwhile, there are simple methods you can use to narrow your options. In this article, you will find the answers to common generator sizing questions. If you are new to RV generators, check out RV generator basics for an intro.

What size generator do I need for my RV?

While the size of the generator you need depends on specific equipment you have within the RV, below is some high-level guidance. 

Generator sizes for different RVs
  • Class B Van with one AC unit: 2,000 to 3,600 watts
  • Class C RV with one AC unit: 2,800 to 4,000 watts
  • Class A RV with two AC units (15,000 BTU each): 5,500 to 8,000 watts
  • Class A RV with three AC units (15,000 BTU each): 10,000 to 12,500 watts
  • Fifth wheel with two AC units: 5,500 to 7,000 watts 

Please keep in mind, these ranges could change based on your specific equipment. 

Let’s take a more detailed look at the equipment within your RV, which will help identify the generator size you need. 

The first consideration is the electrical power needed by each appliance and device. Here is a list of common appliances and the amount of electricity they each need. 

Electricity consumed by RV appliances
  • AC units are often the appliance that requires the most power in an RV. AC units 13,500 to 15,000 BTU need between 1,200 and 2,400 watts of electricity to run. If you have multiple AC units, you can multiply the wattage needed accordingly.
  • Dishwasher: 1,200 to 2,400 watts 
  • Stove: 900 to 2,500 watts
  • Hair dryer: 1,200 to 1,875 watts
  • Clothes iron: 1,000 to 1,800 watts
  • Washer: 1,000 to 1,500 watts
  • Coffee maker: 900 to 1,200 watts 
  • Microwave: 750 to 1,500 watts 
  • Toaster: 800 to 1,400 watts 
  • Refrigerator: 400 to 1,000 watts
  • Blender: 450 to 700 watts 
  • TV: 43 to 600 watts 
  • Radio: 50 to 200 watts
  • Gaming console: 70 to 180 watts 
  • Laptop: 20 to 50 watts 

Please note that some appliances have large compressors and motors. These could require higher wattage when they start.

The second consideration is looking at the usage pattern for the appliances and devices. For example, you would likely not operate all these appliances at the same time. In addition, some appliances like refrigerators will run more frequently than others, like toasters. 

The final consideration is the difference between starting and running power. Some appliances need more power for a short time at the beginning of their operation. For example, AC units would draw much more power when they first start. 

What is the difference between 30-amp and 50-amp RV?

Let’s start with the basics. Electricity is simply the flow of electrons. You can read more about it in our article explaining the difference between electricity and energy. Amperage is the volume of electrons that flow, and a higher amperage means more electrons flowing and consequently more electricity. 

Thirty amp and 50-amp are the two most common electrical service capacities used within RVs. A 50-amp service can handle more electric power than a 30-amp service; this is because a 50-amp service can handle a higher volume of electrons. When you multiply amperage with voltage, you find the electrical power. Most electrical equipment in RVs operate at 120 volts, independent of 30-amp or 50-amp service. 

To find how many watts of power you have available, you need to multiply volts times amps. For example, a 30-amp RV with a 120 V electrical source would be capable of handling about 120 x 30 or 3,600 watts of electric power. 

What size generator do I need for a 30-amp RV?

An RV with a 30-amp shore power connection and with 120 V equipment would be capable of handling a maximum of about 3,600 watts of electric power. This means a 3,600-watt generator would give you the same amount of power as shore power. Meanwhile, you can also get a 4,000-watt generator for these coaches to give additional electrical motor-starting power. 

A 2,500-2,800-watt generator is often a good minimum threshold for 30-amp RVs that have AC units. 

What size generator do I need for a 50-amp RV?

An RV with a 50-amp shore power connection typically has two separate 50-amp feeds. This is different than a 30-amp RV with only one 30-amp feed. A 50-amp RV with a 120 V electrical feed is capable of handling 12,000 watts of electric power. This means a 12,000 or 12,500-watt generator could be your top end choice.

You can also get a better sense of the generator you need using the bullet points in the first section of this article, under “What size generator do I need for my RV” header.

Now that you have a better idea on the generator size you need, don’t forget to check how to find a quiet generator for your RV.

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Aytek Yuksel - Cummins Inc

Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

No paint? No problem. 6.7 turbo diesel engine ditches clear coating for improved sustainability


For over 30 years, the Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant (CMEP) has built the heavy-duty diesel engine for pickup trucks and coated it in a rust-preventative. In 2021, this coating was eliminated, making manufacturing cleaner for the popular engine.

Despite how sophisticated a painted Cummins Inc. diesel engine may look, painting engines hasn’t always been for the dashing looks, cool style, and flash. As the most common source of material used to build an engine in the past was grey iron, it was necessary to use a rust-preventative coating on all of our engine models to avoid corrosion. Coating contributed to the extended lifespan of an engine, its components and overall durability.

While paint offers protection and, to some, great style, it comes with a heavy environmental cost – from massive water and chemical waste and increased energy use and natural gas output to emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Sustainability leaders and manufacturing and service engineers at the plant recognized the advancements in material diversity on the 6.7-liter engine and conducted an assessment on their coating process.
Through their assessment in 2020, engineers validated that the coating elimination would not expose the engines to excess corrosion, ensuring the same quality, capabilities, and durability without the environmental impacts.

In fact, less than 10 components were at risk of oxidation. With the advancements in technology, most engines today are built using a variety of materials from aluminum to cast iron, with composite components here and there. Over time, the 6.7-liter engine had evolved and with it, its components. As the majority of parts and surfaces on the engine would not be impacted due to the evolution of the engine over time, eliminating the coating process was clear. For the components that were prone to oxidation, engineers found more sustainable ways, like powder coating prior to final assembly, to seal these parts from potential exposure. Only a few components now still receive a rust preventative coating.

Inside our Newest Natural Gas Generators

generator rendering

Cummins Inc. is excited to introduce two new natural gas generators, the C175N6B and C200N6B, to our customers. These additions use the same QSJ8.9G engine platform as the C125N6 and C150N6  natural gas generators which are popular among various industrial applications. In North America, the market for natural gas generators has been increasing over the past few years. Environmental concerns regulations and convenience for fuel refill are some of the reasons customers choose natural gas generators over other fuel types. 

We invited Vijay Jayaprakash, Cummins Product Manager for <1MW Gas Generator Sets & G-Drive, to share his experience at Cummins and introduce the two new products. 

1. What was your role in developing C175N6B and C200N6B?

As a product manager, I performed extensive research on what the customer and industry needs are and how Cummins can meet and deliver those needs by building close relationships with the customers and the sales team.   Our team invested a great amount of time and effort in researching and developing the right generators to bring improved power output of our tried and tested QSJ8.9G engine that is well recognized in the market. With these two new products  , the QSJ8.9G engine generator product range will span from 125kW to 200kW.


2. Where do you see these two new products being used?

Similar to C125N6 and C150N6, C175N6B and C200N6B will be used in government buildings, water wastewater treatment plants, healthcare facilities, commercial buildings, public infrastructure and many more.  These products would also be amazing additions to wherever paralleling  is needed for one’s pre-existing power systems. To learn more about paralleling, click here.

With the QSJ8.9G engine, C175N6B and C200N6B run on natural gas fuel , making it better for more populated areas and cities. For more information on the benefits of natural gas generators, click here.

3.Working on these new products through the COVID-19 pandemic, what did you see in your team that made it possible and successful?

Teamwork and dedication to getting the product out faster was what made this project possible. Although there were hardships along the way, I really appreciate everyone putting in effort across multiple teams at the factory , engineering, marketing and so many more. The team members have been willing to come into the office/plant for beta builds, product testing  and working flexibly to deliver this product successfully for our customers. Teamwork is one of Cummins' Values and our team showed above and beyond what teamwork can achieve. Always powering on.

4. What is one word you would use to describe the new 175 and 200kw generator sets?

Power. C175N6B and C200N6B are the market leading natural gas generator products in power density with its 8.9-liter  engine. So far, no other product is able to bring this power  in a smaller footprint including sound level 2 enclosure (73.6 (175kW) and 74.4 (200kW) dbA). We believe the C175N6B and C200N6B will change the market with their footprint, providing reliable power to our customers.

Cummins C175N6B and C200N6B use 8.9-liter QSJ8.9G engine with natural gas as their fuel. With these two nodes, QSJ8.9G provides the highest power density among the natural gas generator set products in the industry. Cummins is dedicated to powering our customers' needs with our leading technology, expertise and commitment. 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Less waste, same legendary pick-up truck

employees in front of gloves

Whether it is the power, reliability, or durability, 75% of all RAM 2500 and 2500 Heavy-Duty pickup owners choose the optional Cummins Inc. 6.7L Turbo Diesel. Manufacturing of this legendary engine is getting cleaner every day.

In April of 2022, Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant (CMEP) Indirect Materials Manager, Sven Creutz and Continuous Improvement Leader, Clayton Johnson, implemented a nitrile glove recycling program to divert waste from landfills. But what are nitrile gloves and what has been the impact of the plant’s program so far?

What are nitrile gloves?

You have probably seen the bright purple, orange or blue gloves in your doctor’s office, pharmacy, or local automobile shop. Nitrile gloves are a standard PPE practice in many food, industrial, and chemical lab environments. Made from the compound nitrile, these synthetic, rubber gloves are particularly popular due to their chemical and abrasion resistance. They are water, grease, and oil proof, often making them the top choice in gloves, over others like latex, for occupations working long hours and exposed to harmful substances. 

How are nitrile gloves used at CMEP?

For plant employees, nitrile gloves work as a second barrier to protect Cummins employees from exposure to harmful chemicals and injury as they inspect the 6.7-liter diesel engine. Employees typically wear nitrile gloves as a base layer under a thicker pair of gloves for safety purposes.

Conversely, they also protect residue that employees may have on their hands from contaminating products.

Every hour, plant employees switch their gloves as a requirement to adhere to strict product quality standards. While use of the gloves protects both Cummins employees and products, the waste produced can be large. Nitrile gloves are a single-use PPE item; after first use, they cannot be worn again for protection against harmful substances potentially left on the surface. 

Nitrile gloves are considered less biodegradable than their latex counterparts and are often not recycled due to their use in facilities where they could be contaminated and therefore considered too hazardous to be reused.

In one year, 800 Cummins Mid-Range Engine Plant employees can go through over 530 cases of nitrile gloves, equating to roughly 875,000 gloves.

The impact of the nitrile glove recycling program 

Kimberly-Clark Professional, global corporation dedicated to producing consumer and company safety, healthiness, and hygienic products, and one of the first manufacturers to offer a recycling program for non-hazardous PEE, partnered with the plant to recycle and repurpose their biodegradable nitrile gloves. 

The plant fills gaylords full of nitrile gloves every two weeks and ships them to be sorted by a non-profit organization in western Virginia, Rightcycle, that provides jobs for disabled and disadvantaged workers. Used, non-contaminated gloves are then converted into plastic pellets and made into new products like storage bins, shelves, and lawn chairs. In the end, Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant has created a lifecycle for nitrile gloves while simultaneously creating jobs, Creutz explained.

Since the program launched, the plant has gathered and shipped one ton of gloves to the Rightcycle facility. If the plant continues to use an average of 530 cases of gloves they typically go through in a year, they could expect to divert almost 3.75 tons of waste from landfills each year.

The Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant is able to achieve key 2030 goals included in Cummins’ PLANET 2050 strategy by creating a circular lifecycle for materials as well as generating less waste in facilities and operations through the recycling program. For owners looking for sustainably manufactured engines, Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant is setting the standard.

Click here to learn more about key sustainability initiatives at CMEP. 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

New Mexico Solar Professionals are making a difference during a time of potential darkness

home generator

Most people may only know New Mexico for its heat and high mountain deserts. However, New Mexico is home to the owners of NM Solar Professionals, LLC whose owners are Elaine Silva Founder CFO and Albert Silva Co-Founder and CEO. Native to New Mexico, the Silvas have been providing Home and Business Back-up Power Systems in their community that can withstand the heat and high altitude of NM. The Silvas have integrated Home Standby Generators with Solar for secure affordable emergency power.  

New Mexico Solar Professionals, LLC (NM Solar Pro) was established in New Mexico in 2016. This company is uniquely positioned in the energy Generation Market (solar design, installation, and integration of power generation through NG, LP, and other electric generation). This local family business integrated their generation projects and joined Cummins as a Power Generation Home and Small Business Dealer Network. With construction backgrounds holding a general contractor and electrical license provides a huge benefit to giving the customers the best installations possible.

NM Solar Professionals logo

Of course, from the company's name you might not assume that they sell Cummins Home and Small Business power generators. However, with the solar industry growing at record pace, it was a natural transition to consider similar low-cost NG/LP power systems that could help customers with everyday needs. A business move that has proven to be a success for the Silvas. What they’ve found is that most homeowners are unaware that a solar expert is needed to combine their existing solar system with their added power generator system; a crucial benefit that NM Solar Pros can complete. 

With not many Dealers having the training, licensing, and background similar to the Silva’s in the New Mexico area, daily needs for back-up power are more frequent. One major reason, is the recent shut down of San Juan Generating Station, a local coal fire generation plant which the Silva’s have projected impacting roughly ~20% of the local electric market to go offline. Unfortunately, there is no indication from the local government to upgrade or build any new facilities to support, leaving a high need for a solution. NM Solar Pros wants to continue being a vital source of hope for the community.

For the Silva’s, this is a pivotal moment for them to install Cummins generators. In anticipation of what could be a 10-hour rolling electrical blackout on any given day, the Silva’s have begun working with the community on cost-effective investments with the Residential Quiet-Series Cummins 20kw Power Generators. They’ve estimated that customers spend about 50% less with and get 50% more power with a  Cummins Home-Standby-Generator co compared to a back-up battery option.

Being a Cummins Dealer has allowed them to support their community in more ways than one.

The Silva’s say, the most joy comes from training the customer to use the systems and knowing that they have energy freedom that can sustain long and short-term outages through all seasons. Ensuring that customers know that they have a safe and affordable backup system for their home even if their local utility isn’t providing reassurance, gives them great pride. 

NM Solar Pros has a bright future ahead, the company is growing month over month with the support of the community. In 2023, NM Solar Pros with Cummins is committed to help families secure power for their homes and businesses. 

working on generator

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

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