Do you need a generator for an RV? The answer is yes in far more cases than most RV owners would like to admit. When should you have a generator? And why would you need a generator even if you think you don’t need it, such as when you’re carrying solar panels on the top of the vehicle? You can find the answers below where we have listed some of the main ways you could benefit from having a generator for your RV.
1) The Ability to Camp Anywhere
A large number of RV owners expect to camp in campgrounds with shore power via a nearby pedestal. These parking spots cost the most, and they tend to fill up fast. Suppose you reach the RV park and find all the powered spaces full. You either have to go without power or try to find another RV park. If you have a generator, you don’t have to make that choice. You can run the generator to power your amenities or recharge mobile devices. Furthermore, generators allow you to enjoy fully charged house batteries and AC power when boon-docking or camped by the side of the road.
2) Backup to Your Renewable Power Source
Some RV owners expect to use solar panels to recharge the house batteries and run everything else. However, that’s not always possible. Heavy rains or days of overcast skies could prevent the solar panels from getting enough light to recharge your house batteries or run anything else. If you need to park the RV in the shade or a sheltered location, you have little or no solar power. If snow or leaves covered the solar panels while you were out and about, you have the same problem. Now you don’t have power, unless you brought a portable generator with you.
Solar panels may fail to send power downstream because of a loose wire, burned out solar charge controller or malfunctioning inverter. You may not even realize there is an issue until you found that the batteries haven’t charged despite a full day’s worth of rays. Without a generator, you can’t do much of anything.
3) The Ability to Meet Peak Loads
You may have fully charged RV batteries and an inverter to provide emergency power, too. However, that may not be enough for the greatest challenges you may face. For example, this isn’t enough to meet your needs in the face of a heat wave. Nor do you want to have to choose between keeping your food cool or the RV at a comfortable temperature. A generator is often necessary to run an air conditioner at all, unless you want to run the RV motor. And you can turn on the AC almost immediately after you turn on the generator in the RV followed by any other equipment you’d like to run. Don’t worry about the noise; there are generators that are more quiet than the AC.
4) The Option to Power All the Modern Amenities
The air conditioner is far from the only appliance that requires a generator to run. Nearly every smart device requires support from a generator at some point. For example, you don’t want to leave your smart phone’s GPS and ability to call for help at any time connected to solar panels by the RV, much less when you want to go hiking. Solar panels may not be able to deliver enough power to recharge house batteries and provide the power required to recharge a laptop computer.
Furthermore, there are many other devices you may want to power that house batteries and inverters cannot support. Classic examples include vacuum cleaners, power tools, hair dryer, blenders, microwaves and LCD TVs. If you want to be able to check your email while cooking dinner in the microwave while sitting at the RV dining table, you need a generator.
5) The Flexibility It Provides
A generator often gives you far more flexibility in how you live and when you come in for supplies. For example, taking a generator and gasoline with you allows you to use that to run an electric heater on cold nights instead of having to burn up your propane to keep warm. If you run out of propane, you can’t cook dinner on the stove, and your refrigerator may not work, either. On the other hand, a generator may let you power the fridge while you conserve propane in an area where you can’t find propane tanks. A side benefit of on-demand electric power is that you can decide at the last minute not to try to cook dinner over a campfire and just nuke it in the microwave instead.
6) The Peace of Mind It Gives You
Many RV owners are reluctant to buy a generator because it costs them money up front and adds weight to the vehicle. Yet it can give you incredible peace of mind. You know that you can recharge your house batteries without running the car engine. You don’t have to worry about juggling rechargeable batteries that you rely on for a portable CPAP machine, portable lights and cameras. You won’t have to stress over whether to let your kids play video games or charging your devices, because the generator can deliver enough power for both. A generator of any size can serve as a backup power source for critical items at home, even if it stays in the RV parked in your garage, as well.
Generators may serve as a backup to RV batteries recharged by the vehicle’s engine or solar panels. Or the generator may be the primary power source for your RV. In every case, you should own a generator to ensure that you have power whenever it is required. If you need help in deciding what kind of RV ready generator would be ideal for your specific needs, you could check out our article where we have listed and reviewed some of the best RV generators and their ideal uses.