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What Size Generator for 50 Amp RV?

The sales of portable generators is increasing nowadays as homeowners, construction contractors, and small businesses are investing these devices to provide backup power during power outages, blackouts, and even in emergencies (storms, floods, hurricanes, etc.). During these situations, it might take anywhere from few days to weeks to restore the grid supply and living without electricity in these times can cause severe damage to lives, property, etc. There is another set of people who are also investing in portable generators not due to emergencies or power outages but rather to actually use them as “portable” electricity supplies. Of course, we are talking about RV owners.

Different RVs have different power requirements. So, buying a proper-sized generator for your motorhome is crucial. Small and medium-sized RVs have 30 Amp Electrical System (and the corresponding 30 Amp RV Plug). But if you take a modern and slightly larger RV, then it usually comes with a 50 Amp Electrical System (along with a 50 Amp RV Plug). If your RV falls into the second category, then the question you might ask is what size generator for 50 Amp RV Plug?

In this generator and RV Guide, let us understand the basics of the RV Electrical System, the importance of a 50 Amp Plug or Service in RVs, different ways to provide electricity in an RV, and also the size of generator you need for a 50 Amp RV Plug.

A Brief Note on RVs

We have ready access to electricity in our homes and offices. Can you imagine a day going by without electricity? No. You cannot. We became so dependent on electricity that even if the power goes out for a couple of hours, there will be chaos in our homes, offices, shops, roads, etc.

When we say electricity, we are talking about the 120V 60 Hz Alternating Current that is available through the grid (in North America, other regions might have different ratings but essentially, they also use AC). It is cheap to produce, easy to transmit over long distances, and simple to distribute to our homes, offices, and industries.

As AC Power is easily available everywhere, all our appliances, be they large as refrigerators, air conditioners, etc. or small as coffee makers, laptop chargers, etc. are designed to run on AC Mains Supply.

The reason we are bringing this up is nowadays, many of us are interested in traveling in RVs, campers, and motor homes to explore different parts of the country.

Even though you are traveling cross-country in your RV or Motor Home, you try to include everything in them to make it feel like home as you spend weeks or months in RVs. When we say everything, we mean both electrical and non-electrical items such as couches, recliners, air conditioners, refrigerators, heaters, stoves, TVs, and many more.

You can see that most electrical appliances in this list usually run on AC Mains supply. Now how are we supposed to provide that in an RV?

It is not as difficult as one might think because most modern RVs come with a 120 V AC Electrical System so that we can plug all our appliances into different outlets that are identical to the ones we use in our homes.

Next, we take a single large service and connect it to all the outlets inside the RV. One such common “service” in larger RVs is the 50 Amp Plug while slightly smaller RVs have a 30 Amp Plug.

Even if your RV doesn’t have a factory-installed AC Electrical System, it is very easy to design and implement your own electrical system in the RV, provided you follow all the rules, regulations, guidelines, etc. while making such complex installations.

Using the RV plugs, you can power all the devices and appliances in the RV through shore power, generators, and solar. If you are planning to purchase a generator to take it in your RV, then the important question is what size generator for a 50 Amp RV Electrical System?

The Scene of Electrical System in RVs

If you are an RV Owner, then you already know the essential parts of a typical RV Electrical System. But if you are a beginner, a first-time RV Buyer, or planning your first RV purchase, then understanding how the electricity flows in your RV is very important.

We can divide the electrical system in an RV into two types. A 12V DC System and a 120V AC System. Further, the 12V DC System can be divided into 12V Chassis System and 12V Coach System. Let us briefly see about all these systems. If you are interested, we can make a dedicated beginner’s guide on the entire RV Electrical System.

12V DC System

The first and most important electrical system in any automobile (cars, RVs, trucks, etc.) is the 12V Starting System. A battery, commonly known as SLI Battery, provides energy to crank the engine. Apart from this, it is also responsible for the ignition system of the vehicle, lighting, cabin air conditioning, stereo, etc.

Once the battery starts the engine of the RV, the alternator of the RV kicks in and supplies electricity to some parts of the car and at the same time, it also charges the Starter Battery.

There is another 12V DC System in RVs and it is separate from the previous “Chassis System”. In this system, we have one or more 12V Deep Cycle Batteries in the “Coach” part of the RV that help in running lighting, fans, and other 12V DC Electrical and Electronic devices.

Apart from running 12V electrical devices, you can use a 12V DC to 120V AC Inverter and run household AC appliances as well (here AC means alternating current). Hence, the Coach Power or Batteries are sometimes known as House Power and Batteries.

An important point here is that the coach batteries are separate from the Starter Battery. There will be usually only one Starter Battery under the hood (near the engine) but you can find a bank of Coach batteries that are in the deep cycle category.

Another difference is the alternator starts the Starter Battery once the engine starts. This is not the case with house batteries. You could rewire the alternator of your RV to charge the house batteries as well.

Or you need to install a special charger (a combination of inverter charger is quite common) to charge these batteries either from the shore power or a generator.

120V AC System

Speaking of shore power and generator, the next electrical system of the RV consists of 120V AC Power. Similar to a residential electrical system, the 120V AC system in the RV has a distribution panel, circuit breakers, outlets, etc.

The input to the main breaker panel can come from shore power i.e., directly plugging it into an appropriate receptacle available on the campground or RV park. Another way to supply AC Input to the RV’s main breaker panel is by connecting it to a generator.

Depending on the size of the RV and its power requirements or handling capabilities, the input of the distribution panel can either be a 30 Amp plug or a 50 Amp plug. Usually, the RV side of the AC inlet is the plug (male with prongs) and the receptacles on the campground or generators are ports (female with slots).

Apart from these two, slightly older RVs have the regular household 120V 15A or 20A inputs. But these are becoming less common nowadays as power consumption is on the rise and there is a limit to the amount of power you can draw from a 15A or 20A outlet.

Can We Use Solar in RVs?

Yes. You can use a combination of solar panels, inverters, batteries, and battery chargers in RVs. For a true off-grid living experience, you can install Solar Panels on top of your RV. Solar Panels fall under the category of DC Power Systems.

As the power requirement of an RV is slightly less than that of a house, you only need 12V Solar Panels. But keep in mind that you can get Solar Panels with higher voltage ratings as well (which are quite common for residential and commercial applications).

The advantage of Solar Panels is that you can either directly use the power from the solar panels with appropriate regulators and controllers or charge the Coach Batteries.

A Brief Note on the 50 Amp RV Service

The 50 Amp Electrical System is relatively common in medium to large-sized motor homes, RVs, and campers. This means the main distribution panel or breaker panel in the RV has a 50 Amp main circuit breaker. From here, we can run several 15A or 20A circuits with individual circuit breakers for different parts or devices of the RV.

It is a 240V system. So, when you combine 240V and 50A, the maximum power you can get from a 50 Amp RV Plug is 240V × 50A = 12,000 Watts (W). That’s a lot of power.

As we mentioned earlier, the RV Side of the AC Input Power usually consists of a 50 Amp Male Plug of type NEMA 14-50P. On campgrounds and generators, where we connect the RVs inlet, is usually a 50 Amp Female Receptacle of type NEMA 14-50R.

So, in order to connect the RV to the campground or a generator, you need a 50 Amp female (which plugs on the RV side) to a male (which plugs on the campground or generator side) type cable.

What Size Generator for 50 Amp RV?

In the previous section, we briefly discussed the power capabilities of a 50 Amp RV Electrical System. If you are planning to buy a generator for your RV and wondering what size generator for 50 Amp RV Electrical System, then this power rating becomes crucial.

The maximum theoretical power you can draw from a 50 Amp RV Plug (which of course is the size of the main circuit breaker in the RV) is 240V × 50A = 12,000 Watts (W).

So, while choosing a generator, make sure that it can deliver at least 12,000 Watts if you want to draw maximum power from your 50 Amp RV Plug.

However, depending on your power requirements and the number/type of device or appliance you want to plug inside your RV, you can get a generator with a power rating of anywhere between 10,000 Watts to 13,500 Watts.

There is no real advantage in getting a higher power generator, say a portable generator with 15,000-Watt or more power. You are anyhow limited to a maximum power draw of 12,000 Watts.

If you purchase a higher power generator (with a rating of 15,000 Watts or more), you are unnecessarily spending extra money for the extra power that you are not going to use.

You can get a slightly low power generator, provided it has the 50 Amp RV Receptacle. But this will limit the number of devices you want to connect or have problem running multiple powerful appliances.

But if you choose a generator in the range of 10,000 to 13,500 Watts for a 50 Amp RV plug, it is perfect in terms of size, power capabilities, and also cost.

Calculate Power Requirements (Starting Watts and Running Watts)

While the power rating of the generator is the main priority while purchasing a generator, you need to be aware of the Starting Watts and Running Watts of the Generator.

For a 50 Amp RV Electrical System, the 12,000-Watt power we mentioned earlier is the maximum it is capable of handling. Anything beyond this, the breaker will trip.

So, the total power consumption of all the appliances you want to run inside your RV, including the highest of Starting Watts rating of all the devices must not exceed 12,000 Watts.

So, while choosing a generator, make sure that the Starting Watts of the Generator is at least 12,000 Watts (slightly above this value is good). In this way, you can be confident that the generator can deliver the maximum power your RV needs even in the worst-case scenario.

Popular Generators for 50 Amp RV Electrical System

Now that we have seen the basics of the electrical system in modern RVs and also understood what size generator you need for a 50 Amp RV Electrical System, let us take a look at some popular generators that fall under the category of “50 Amp RV Electrical System”.

50 Amp RV Generator Running Watts Starting Watts
Westinghouse 12500-Watt Home Backup Portable Generator 9,500 Watts 12,500 Watts
DuroMax XP12000EH Generator 9,500 Watts 12,000 Watts
All Power America APGG12000GL 12000-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator 9,000 Watts 12,000 Watts
DuroMax XP13000HX Dual Fuel Portable Generator 10,500 Watts 13,000 Watts
WEN DF1100T 11,000-Watt 120V/240V Dual Fuel Portable Generator 8,300 Watts 11,000 Watts
Champion Power Equipment 100485 PRO 11,500/9,200-Watt Portable Generator 9,200 Watts 11,500 Watts
A-iPower SUA12000E 12000-Watt Portable Generator 9,000 Watts 12,000 Watts

The generators we mentioned here are only as a suggestion. Before making a purchase, we recommend you to properly list out all the devices and appliances you intend to run inside your RV along with their peak power and rated power (or Starting Watts and Running Watts).

Based on these values, you can get a much better idea regarding what size generator you need for a 50 Amp RV Electrical System. Regardless of which generator you choose, double check if it has the 50 Amp 14-50R Receptacle.


The number of people investing in RVs or Motor Homes is increasing year after year. Earlier, RVs were seen as homes on wheels for retired persons. But things are different nowadays as even the younger generation is ready to explore different parts of the country in an RV.

To make it feel like a true motorhome, RV owners customize the interiors of their campers with sofas, refrigerators, cooking areas, TV, bed, air conditioner, etc.

There are several ways in which you can power the electrical and electronic appliances inside your RV. The simplest way is to connect the RV’s electrical system to shore power. While small and medium RVs come with a 30 Amp RV Plug, slightly larger RVs and Motorhomes come with a 50 Amp RV Plug. You can simply connect a proper cable to this plug and a receptacle on the campground or RV Park.

Alternatively, if you don’t have access to shore power, then a portable generator is the next best thing. As the 50 Amp RV Plug supports a maximum power of 12,000 Watts, you can select a generator that falls in this power category. You don’t have to spend extra and get a large generator as you cannot use that power with a 50 Amp RV Electrical System.

In this guide, we saw the basics of Electrical systems in RVs. We saw both 12V DC and 120V AC Systems.

Then we calculated the power rating of a 50 Amp RV Plug and understood what size generator for 50 Amp RV Electrical System. We hope that this guide could help you understand the basics of the electrical system in an RV and also how to properly size the generator in case of a 50 Amp RV Plug.

If you feel we missed something or want us to add anything, do let us know in the comments section below. It will not only help us but even other readers.

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