How Much Gas Does an RV Generator Use?

Recreational Vehicles (RVs) have become a preferred choice for families who love camping, road trips, and outdoor activities. These vehicles offer the comfort of home while you travel, complete with amenities such as air conditioning, microwaves, and even a home theater system.

However, to enjoy these amenities, RVs are equipped with generators. While generators provide comfort and convenience, they also consume fuel. One question that commonly arises among RV owners is: “How much gas does an RV generator use?” This article will delve into that subject, examining the factors affecting fuel consumption and ways to optimize usage.

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Factors Affecting RV Generator Gas Consumption

The amount of gas an RV generator consumes is influenced by a variety of factors, including the generator’s size and capacity, the electrical load placed on it, and the type of fuel it uses.

1. Generator Size and Capacity

RV generators typically range in size from 2000 to 7000 watts. The larger the generator, the more gas it uses. For example, a 7000-watt generator will consume more fuel than a 2000-watt generator, given the same load and operating conditions.

2. Electrical Load

The electrical load on the generator has a direct impact on its gas consumption. If you’re running multiple appliances simultaneously – such as an air conditioner, microwave, and refrigerator – the generator will consume more fuel. Conversely, if you’re only powering a few lights and charging your phone, the fuel consumption will be significantly lower.

3. Type of Fuel

RV generators are designed to run on different types of fuel, including gasoline, diesel, and propane. Each of these fuels has a different energy content, and thus, the fuel consumption rate will vary. Diesel generators are generally more fuel-efficient than their gasoline counterparts, while propane generators have the lowest energy content per gallon, resulting in higher fuel consumption.

Estimating Gas Consumption of RV Generators

Despite the variables, it’s possible to estimate the amount of fuel an RV generator might consume.

Let’s take a look at a 5000-watt generator, a common size for many RVs, to illustrate this.

For a gasoline generator of this size, you can expect it to consume approximately one gallon of gasoline per hour. This estimation is, of course, influenced by the load on the generator. So, if you run this 5000-watt gasoline generator for 8 hours a day, you could consume about 8 gallons of fuel.

In contrast, if you have a 5000-watt generator running on propane, it would consume more fuel because propane has less energy per gallon compared to gasoline. You can expect this generator to consume about 1-1.5 gallons of propane per hour, depending on the load. Consequently, running a propane generator for 8 hours could consume between 8-12 gallons of propane.

Lastly, diesel generators are known for their fuel efficiency. A 5000-watt diesel generator might consume around 0.75 gallons of diesel per hour, considering the load. Therefore, if you run this diesel generator for 8 hours, it could consume about 6 gallons of diesel.

These estimates provide a ballpark figure but remember that actual consumption will depend on the specific conditions of use, including the overall load and the generator’s efficiency.

Find Out More: How Much Fuel Does An RV Generator Use?

How to Optimize Fuel Consumption in RV Generators

While RV generators need fuel to function, there are ways to optimize fuel consumption and save money.

1. Manage your power usage

You can reduce the load on your generator by managing your power usage carefully. Turn off appliances when they’re not in use, use energy-efficient appliances, and avoid running multiple high-power appliances simultaneously. Also, consider using alternative sources of power, like solar panels, for some of your energy needs.

2. Regular maintenance

Regular maintenance can help your generator run more efficiently and consume less fuel. This includes changing the oil and filters as recommended by the manufacturer, checking the fuel system for leaks, and making sure the generator is properly ventilated. A poorly maintained generator will not only consume more fuel but also has a higher risk of malfunctioning.

3. Properly size your generator

If your generator is too large for your needs, it will consume more fuel than necessary. Conversely, if it’s too small, it will have to work harder and still consume more fuel. Therefore, choose a generator that is the right size for your power needs. Consult with an RV professional or use online calculators to determine the appropriate generator size.

4. Use the generator’s energy-saving mode

Many modern RV generators have an energy-saving mode that reduces fuel consumption when the electrical load is low. This mode allows the generator to run at lower speeds, thereby saving fuel. If your generator has this feature, use it whenever possible.

5. Monitor fuel consumption

By keeping an eye on your generator’s fuel consumption, you can identify any sudden changes that may indicate a problem. If your generator starts consuming more fuel than usual, it may need maintenance or repairs.


The Bottom Line.

While it’s not easy to provide an exact figure for how much gas an RV generator uses due to various influencing factors, we can still provide a range. As an example, a 5000-watt generator, which is a common size for many RVs, consumes fuel at different rates based on its fuel type:

  • A gasoline generator consumes approximately one gallon of gasoline per hour.
  • A propane generator consumes about 1-1.5 gallons of propane per hour.
  • A diesel generator consumes around 0.75 gallons of diesel per hour.

Bear in mind that these figures are approximate, and actual consumption may vary depending on the load and generator’s efficiency. It is essential to manage your power usage effectively, maintain your generator regularly, choose the right size generator for your needs, and use energy-saving modes whenever available to optimize fuel consumption.

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Frequently Asked Questions: How Much Gas Does An RV Generator Use?

To further assist you in understanding RV generators and their fuel consumption, here are some frequently asked questions on the topic:

1. What is the best fuel type for an RV generator?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this as the best fuel type for your RV generator depends on several factors. Diesel generators are typically more fuel-efficient than gasoline or propane generators. However, diesel fuel can be more expensive, and these generators tend to have a higher upfront cost. Propane generators, on the other hand, are less fuel-efficient but propane is a cleaner-burning fuel. Gasoline generators are a popular choice due to the wide availability of gasoline, but they are less fuel-efficient than diesel generators.

2. Can I use solar panels instead of a generator for my RV?

Yes, solar panels can be a great alternative or supplement to a generator for your RV. Solar panels can power low-consumption devices like lights and charge your devices. However, for high-consumption appliances like air conditioners, you might still need a generator.

3. How much gas does an Onan 5500 generator use?

The Onan 5500 is a widely used generator in many RVs. The fuel consumption of this generator varies depending on the type of fuel and the load it is operating under. When running on gasoline, the Onan 5500 consumes approximately 0.6 gallons per hour at half load and around 0.9 gallons per hour at full load. On the other hand, when the generator is running on LPG, it consumes about 0.8 gallons per hour at half load and roughly 1.1 gallons per hour at full load. Keep in mind that these figures are estimates, and actual consumption can differ depending on specific conditions.

4. How long can an RV generator run continuously?

This largely depends on the generator’s capacity and the load it’s under. However, it’s generally advisable not to run your RV generator continuously for more than 8 hours. After that, you should let it rest and cool down.

5. How much gas does an RV generator use per hour?

The amount of gas an RV generator uses per hour depends on several factors including its size, the type of fuel it uses, and the electrical load it’s under. An RV generator’s gas consumption per hour can vary, but as a general estimate, a 5000-watt generator typically uses about one gallon of gasoline per hour.

6. How much gas does an Onan 4000 generator use?

The fuel consumption of an Onan 4000 generator, another common model among RV enthusiasts, differs based on the type of fuel used and the load under which it operates. When running on gasoline, it typically consumes approximately 0.5 gallons per hour at half load and around 0.7 gallons per hour at full load. Switching to LPG, this generator sees slightly higher consumption at half load, about 0.6 gallons per hour, due to propane’s lower energy content. However, at full load, the LPG consumption remains similar to gasoline at about 0.7 gallons per hour.


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