Do Motorhomes Have Generators?

Class B have generators

Generators act as an extra power source for the RV. Class B motorhomes come equipped with a standard battery for use with any 12 volt DC systems which are your more basic electronics, such as lights and stereo. The generator provides extra energy in the form of 120 volt AC system.

This powers electronics over and above the limits of this battery and is used for the higher-powered appliances, such as microwaves, televisions, air conditioners, instant pots, coffee makers and pretty much all other unnecessary items that are considered a luxury.

So, do motorhomes have a built-in generator? It really depends on factors such as the age and style but mostly all the newer models of any motorhome, whether it be class A, B or C, will come equipped with a built-in generator. 

If you happen to be purchasing an older, used model, there is a good chance that you will need to purchase and take along a portable model. Some of the more low-end models may also be missing this feature.

You may also need to check the size of the generator if you are planning on using such things as an air conditioner.  Look if you aren’t too sure.  It will be in an outer compartment, underneath the RV, most likely on the side opposite of the RV door.

So, did your model come with a built-in generator? What if I need to purchase one separately? Do I need to use it all the time? What kind of maintenance is involved? What kind of fuel does it use? Will it provide as much power as I need? In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about your RVs generator.


What You Need To Know About Your Motorhomes Generator

Do Motorhomes Have Generators? 1

While running, your motorhome’s generator will provide a steady stream of a 120-volt current to all of the appliances as well as all of the 120-volt outlets. These standard outlets are good for items such as hair dryers, coffee makers, and phone chargers.

Most RV models range from 2000 watts to 4000 watts. You can purchase a larger one but it isn’t necessary as it won’t make the appliances run any better. Most RVs won’t need any more than this amount. Even air conditioning units generally only need a 3000 watt to run.

How Much Do Generators Weigh?

A generator’s weight can vary greatly depending on the size, make, and model. Many manufacturers are working towards making lightweight or “suitcase” styles to be easily lifted by one person.

So how much do generators weigh? They can weigh anywhere from 46.5 lbs for a smaller 2200 watt Honda up to 261 lbs for a 7000 watt.

The following lists common generators and their respective weights:

Generator Model


Champion 2000

48.5 lbs

Honda 2200

46.5 lbs

Yamaha 2200

55.2 lbs

Westinghouse 2600

46 lbs

Honda 3000

152 lbs

Champion 3500

95.7 lbs

Yamaha 4500

194 lbs

Yamaha 6300

200 lbs

Yamaha 7000

261 lbs

keep in mind that a 7000 watt is probably a bit overkill for what you will need the generator for but is still an option if you are OK packing the extra weight around. While a Westinghouse is the lightest option at only 46 lbs, it may not be large enough to run everything you need.

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Check out this article if you would like more information on the best generators for RV’s. It does a great job of going all the different specs of each generator and breaking down the finer points.

How Long Can A Generator Power My RV For?

A generator can power an RV for a wide range of time depending on the size, make and model of the generator as well as how much power the RV is using.

How long can a generator power an RV for? The approximate time frame of most units is 8-20 hours subject to the amount of power you are drawing. If you have a 30 ft RV with a TV playing, air conditioning on, and a coffee brewing in the maker all while you blow-dry your hair, you can bet that it won’t last as long as if you have a 15ft RV with only a phone charger plugged in.

One thing to remember is that, while these devices will all operate with a generator running, you can overload the capacity of what it is able to power.

Do Motorhomes Have Generators? 3

Will The Air Conditioning Run In An RV While It Is In Motion?

The air conditioning can be run in an RV while it is in motion. The source is available through either the dashboard of the vehicle. This is similar to how any vehicle will run its ac while driving. It can also be run through the unit located on the roof of the bunker area.

But will the ac run in an RV while it is in motion? This depends on how much energy is being supplied to the air conditioning unit and whether you are using a built-in generator or a portable one. Never try to use a portable system while the vehicle is in motion as these are not meant to be used inside a unit and improper ventilation can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. As long as you are using a built-in generator system with a wattage of 2000 to 3000 or higher, then both the unit on the dashboard of your vehicle and the rooftop unit will be able to run.

However, if this is not turned on you will only have access to the dashboard ac, much like in any other vehicle.

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It is important to be aware that any rooftop ac unit will only run with a generator system. While the dashboard system of an RV is similar to that of any standard vehicle, it can be run without. Not all ac units will run with a 2000 watt generator. For information on what ac units will run on only 2000 watts check out this link. It provides an invaluable source of knowledge on what needs to be considered for your ac unit to run.

How Often Should I Run My Generator?

A generator should be run approximately once per week to avoid any damage or build up, especially if there is a carburetor.

So how often should I run my generator? You should be running your generator without a load anytime between once per week up to no longer than once per month. Not only does this help to test everything and ensure that it is in proper working order, but this also helps to lube the carburetor and prevent any blockage which might compromise the generator’s abilities.

Some generators have an automated test run cycle. If you are interested in any more information on what maintenance should be involved with your generator check out this article.

How Do I Transport A Portable Generator?

A portable generator should be transported by being safely stowed away where it will not move around or cause any harm or damage.

So how do you transport a portable generator? A portable generator should be transported upright, and solidly secured in any moving vehicle with the fuel shut off and enough time to cool off. Either an A-frame cargo carrier or a hitch mounted basket is the best area on a motorhome.

Even though some motorhomes have a roof mount luggage rack, this is not the best place for transporting it. The strain from getting it up there could cause injury and if you were to be involved in a car crash, this could be thrown and quickly become a lethal object.

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Never store a generator inside the cab of a vehicle as there will be fuel fumes coming off the device which could quickly overtake the small area and cause harm to those that are inside. It is also good practice to refrain from either setting your generator on top of anything or leaving anything on top of it.

These can be quite heavy and are likely to cause damage to what it is sitting on. If you want other information when you buy a generator check out this article. 

Deciding If You Need A Generator In Your Motorhome

While most Class B motorhomes will already come equipped with a generator, you may be wondering if it is even necessary. You need to decide on what your needs are in terms of power. Will you need to charge any devices? Do you have to have that coffee maker or is a stove top percolator good enough? Is air conditioning from the roof unit a must have for you?

Or perhaps you have an older motorhome that either didn’t come equipped with one or it has stopped working and you want to purchase a separate, take along model.  Whether you are travelling for months on end or simply spending a weekend at the lake, they can be beneficial but certainly not something that is needed for everyone.

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