Best RV Generator For RV Air Conditioner
The most common question that comes up when it comes to choosing the right generator for your RV is which one will provide the best cooling?
There are many factors that go into selecting a good generator. One of these factors is how much power they produce and how long they last. A small engine may not have enough horsepower to cool your RV properly so you need something with more horsepower. Another factor is how efficient they are at converting electricity into heat. Some generators use natural gas or propane while others run on batteries. All of these factors affect the amount of power produced and their lifespan.
Another consideration is the type of generator itself. You want a generator that can handle all types of weather conditions, but some models are better than others for certain applications such as cold climates where gasoline powered generators aren’t always available.
To determine which generator is best for your needs, you’ll first need to choose a suitable size RV. Most RVs come equipped with a standard sized furnace and refrigerator. If you’re planning on using the generator only during the summer months then you don’t need anything else. However if you plan on running the generator year round, then you’ll probably want to consider adding another appliance such as a microwave oven or even an electric stovetop range.
This will help you figure out how much power your RV needs along with how many appliances it can handle. You should then use this information to determine which size generator is best. An average sized RV can run on a 5000-watt generator, while larger units may need upwards of an 8000 or even a 10,000-watt model.
You’ll also want to think about whether or not you’re going to need a portable unit and if so, what size does your vehicle require?
In general, look for a generator with a high power to weight ratio and one that is fuel efficient. Always refuel generators outdoors and never use them in an enclosed area such as a shed or garage. If possible, try to find a model that allows you to fuel it with either gasoline or natural gas so that you don’t have to rely on diesel fuel if you find yourself in an area that doesn’t sell it.
Best RV Generator For Cold Climates
If you are planning on using your RV generator during the winter, then you will need one that can handle freezing temps without breaking down. Most RV generators are not made to be used in freezing temperatures. They are usually put together with low-quality parts that will fail when the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
RV generators need to produce a consistent supply of power and they should also be easy to start up when there is no power available. Even an 8000-watt generator will not work if the ac unit freezes and breaks. The same goes for other appliances that you use during these times. You need a generator that will maintain a steady temperature no matter what the conditions.
The best RV generators for cold weather are made by Champion and are fueled by natural gas or LP (liquid propane). These generators produce a highly consistent supply of power and can maintain a steady temperature even when operating at full capacity. Unlike most other RV generators, these models have a special feature that prevents them from burning out when the temperature drops too low.
In addition to these features, the Champion generators are easy to transport and start. While many other models require a large vehicle to tow them, these can easily fit inside an RV or even the back of a car. They are also one of the most affordable types of RV generators available and cost less than most 5000-watt models.
How To Choose The Right RV Generator
When you’re looking for an RV generator, there are a few things that you need to consider. First and foremost you need to think about how much power your RV needs, along with how many appliances you want to be able to run at one time.
Most RVs come with a leisure battery that powers the interior lights, refrigerator, and television. If you plan on using more than just these three things then you are going to need a generator. Depending on what appliances you want to use, you might need anywhere from 1000 watts all the way up to 10,000 watts or more.
After you have figured out how much power you need, you should then decide what types of appliances you will be running. Most RVs come with a standard 13,500 BTU RV air conditioner and at least one television that requires around 1000 watts each. If you want to run more than one television then you will need to either choose a generator that has more power than you need or add additional generators to the system (this can become very expensive).
You also need to think about the length of time that you will be using the appliances. Running the appliances for long periods of time will put more strain on your generator and could cause it to burn out. For longer trips you might want to consider buying a larger generator (or more than one) and adding to your system later.
RV Solar Power
An alternative energy option that is growing in popularity with RV owners is solar power. There are two different ways to use solar power in your RV and both have their own benefits and downsides.
Installing Solar Panels On The Roof Of Your RV
One option is to have a company come out and install a set of solar panels on the roof of your RV. These will directly power whatever you hook them up to inside the RV. The obvious benefit of this is that it is completely independent of any type of fuel source.
The one drawback is the cost. Installing RV solar panels is an expensive procedure, especially when you consider that most RVs don’t have the best orientation for capturing the sun’s energy. It is an expensive investment that only makes sense if you are going to be living in your RV full time and using a lot of power.
Using A Portable Solar Generator
A cheaper solution is to use a portable solar generator like the Goal Zero Yeti 1250. This is a relatively small unit that can be moved around and hooked up to whatever you want to run. It comes with an AC outlet that you can directly plug appliances into or you can use it to charge up a battery that you then use to power the appliance.
The benefit of this system is that not only is it much cheaper than installing full-scale solar panels, but it is also more flexible. If you are just going to be in one location for an extended period of time then you can simply leave the unit hooked up and it will keep your battery charged up. If you need to move it is easy to take with you.
The obvious drawback to this system is that it is dependent on the weather. If you happen to pick a week where there is no sunlight at all then your batteries aren’t going to get charged. If this is a short vacation then this might not be a problem, but if you are living in your RV full time and there happens to be week with no sun, then you are going to have a bad time.
The other drawback is that the Yeti is not exactly small or light. While it can be moved easily, if you need to travel any significant distance with it (especially up stairs) you are going to have a difficult time.
Other Types Of Alternative RV Energy Sources
In addition to the two options above there are some smaller options that can be used as supplements to your main power source.
Hand Crank Generator
This device generates power by using the energy from you hand cranking it. It produces very little power and is not a good option for someone wanting to power their entire RV, but it could be used in an emergency. An example of when you might want to use it would be if you ended up in a situation with no batteries in your TV remote or maybe you needed to make an emergency phone call and your cell phone was dead.
It can also be a good way to teach kids about the energy in their own bodies and turn something ordinary like exercise into producing energy. With that being said, these hand crank generators are not that common to find in most stores. They are easy enough to find online though.
The downside to these types of generators is that they are typically only good for small appliances and don’t produce enough power to run your RV appliances. (You would need a much bigger generator like the ones used in fancy RVs).
These are probably the most common RV solar generators that you see people using. They consist of a small generator hooked up to a fan or series of fans that act as a wind turbine. These are positioned in an area where they get the most wind and are sized to handle the needs of your RV.
On the plus side, these units can provide renewable energy that is available almost anywhere. By their nature, they also tend to be very quiet and don’t require any fuel or maintenance.
On the negative side, these units do need wind in order to generate power so they are less than ideal if you live in a heavy fog belt or in an area where the winds are very turbulent. They are also on the more expensive side and can face complex home placement rules.
The most common type of generator that you see RV owners using are the gas-powered variety. These generators typically run off of gasoline and propane tanks. The nice thing about these generators is that they produce a lot of power so you can run a lot of different appliances at once.
The main negative aspect of these units is that they are noisy and if you run them for long periods of time, then your gas supply isn’t going to last very long. In addition, maintenance is required in order to keep them working properly.
The nice thing about these types of RV generators is that they are readily available and you can find them at any store that sells RV supplies.
RV Solar Power
One of the newer options for RV power is to have solar panels installed on your RV roof. These work similarly to the solar panels you see on people’s homes, but instead of sending the power into the house, it goes directly into your RV battery via an inverter.
There are a few pros and cons to this system. First of all, the initial cost is going to be higher than some of the other options. However, if you are going full-time and staying in one spot most of the time then it could be a good source of power.
You need to be in an area that gets a lot of sunlight for this to work well though, and you may have to face complex placement rules from the city or county you live in.
The advantage to this system is that you can unhook your rig from the utility company and run completely off of your solar panels. If you choose to do this, then you might need to upgrade your battery system.
The disadvantage is that in order to get enough power to run all of your appliances, you may need a very large solar panel system. The larger the system, the more it is going to cost you up front.
If you plan to stay in one place for a long period of time then solar power could be a good option for you. Check with your city or county to see about required permits and any restrictions on their use.
Other Tips For Conserving Energy
Now that we have covered the major options available to you, here are some additional tips on how to conserve energy while RVing.
Turn off the Water Heater – If you are not going to be at your RV for an extended period of time, then one of the easiest things you can do is turn your water heater down to its lowest setting or even turn it off all together. This will keep the tank from continuing to draw power and wasting propane.
Unplug Electronics – Most of the appliances and electronics in your rig that require power draw it from the batteries directly. Things like the television, DVD player, laptop, battery chargers, inverter, etc. If you are not using them, then it only makes sense to unplug them. Even things like ceiling fans and lights that are switched on even when not in use are drawing power from your batteries.
Charge Things Individually – If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time, then you may want to think about only charging certain things like your laptop, camera, and other electronic devices. You can simply leave the others plugged in without them being on to prevent them from continuously draining power.
Use Motion Sensor Lights – If you have a permanent campsite or roadside location that you stay at regularly then it might make sense for you to outfit it with motion sensor lights. Not only do these lights conserve energy since they turn off and on when they sense motion, but it also makes your rig more visible to traffic if you are parked on the side of the road.
Get a Low Draw Dish – There are now low draw dishes available that can help to conserve your battery power. These dishes require less power to operate, but still get the signals you need. If you plan on being in one location for an extended period of time, then this may be a good investment.
Add a Diode – This is a more complex and technical modification, but adding a diode to your rig can help to prevent the alternator from draining your battery when the generator is running. You can Google how to add this in yourself, or take the RV to a mechanic who will be able to do it for you.
Add a Solar Panel – If you are going to be in one location for an extended period of time and have access to sunlight, then you may want to invest in a solar panel. These can be wired to your batteries to help keep them charged during the day. You will need to check with local laws on how to install and position the panel so you don’t run into any issues with the law.
Plug Into the Grid – If you are staying at a campground that has power, then you can simply plug your rig into the same power grid as the rest of the campsite.
In some cases, you might be able to extend the power line from your rig into your vehicle as well. This would allow you to operate windows and other things that run off of the 12v battery.
Dealing with Your Fridge
The refrigerator is one of the biggest power draws in your RV. By reducing the amount of time that you let the motor run, or by using a few modifications, you can greatly improve the life of your battery.
The first step is to determine whether or not your fridge is gas or electric. If it’s electric, then you don’t have too many options for reducing its power consumption since it’s off grid anyway. If it’s gas, then you can turn the motor on manually instead of having it run all the time.
To turn the motor on, simply open the door to the fridge and pull out the drawers. The motor should start. After you have retrieved or placed items in the fridge, push the “start” button again to turn it off.
If your fridge is gas then you can also simply turn the thermostat down. This will cause the compressor to run less and will save a little bit on power.
What not to do
There are some things that you should never do when operating your RV’s power system. Never run the generator in “Constant” mode. This is a big no-no because it puts too much strain on the engine and will burn it out quickly.
There are also some things that you should avoid doing even if the generator is in “Auto” mode. Running the a/c or charging a battery with the generator is likely to cause overheating, which can cause a fire. This goes for any other device as well, if it requires more power than the generator can produce in auto mode, then you are probably better off not using it.
With a little common sense and some preparation you can enjoy the comforts of home while out enjoying the great outdoors.
This post has been updated from its original version
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