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The main difference in the various types of RV generators is in the fuel source that they use. The most common RV generators are powered by either diesel or gasoline. Some generators are designed so they will run on liquid propane. Owing to their intended use, many of these are designed to operate more quietly than a traditional generator. Many RV owners choose to supplement their vehicle’s generator with a second power source, such as a smaller portable generator or a solar power system. The purpose of the RV generator is to run appliances, such as a refrigerator, lights, and air conditioners, when taking the vehicle on trips.
Gas and diesel RV generators are often the first choice of consumers. Both types run on their respective fuel and are able to provide enough electricity to run RV air conditioners. Some generate enough power to run a single air conditioner, while others are capable of powering two air conditioners for larger RVs. These generators are often enclosed in a box, with a muffler and vent pipe that extends outside the RV to release emissions. The purpose of the box is to help keep the noise from the generator down, because RV owners often travel to areas where noise restrictions are in place, such as national parks and campgrounds. The downside to gas and diesel RV generators is that they need to be operated year round, typically at least once a month, in order to prevent problems with the fuel system.
Liquid propane generators are another common choice for RV owners. Propane is often cheaper to purchase than gasoline or diesel, making this type of generator more economical to run. Propane generators also require a muffler and vent pipe to release emissions. More space is often needed in order to transport enough propane to operate the generator on trips. Although they are quieter than standard portable generators, propane generators are not as commonly found enclosed in a sound-reducing box, making them more useful in areas where noise restrictions are not in place.
Many RV owners buy a second type of generator system to supplement their main power source. This often makes camping trips more economical and puts less strain on the RV’s main power system. Some owners have a hybrid system built to run their RV, which consists of the main RV generator and a solar backup system. The backup system includes solar panels built into the roof of the RV, which powers a smaller generator that can run minor appliances. This reserves the main generator power for bigger uses, such as air conditioning. Another option to take the strain off of RV generators is to purchase a portable gas or diesel-powered generator, sometimes referred to as a camping generator.