What is the Safe Runtime Duration for an RV generator?
An RV generator is a great piece of equipment to have. It may not be as important if shore power is available at the campground, but it becomes a necessity if you are staying overnight or on the road.
Sometimes power is needed for more than a day or two. A generator can run continuously for that period of time with enough fuel, but is it safe to do so?
The run time of an RV generator is determined by the load it delivers at a given time, the size of a fuel tank, the type of fuel, and the model of a generator.
If you are wondering how long you can run an RV generator continuously, this article will provide the answer. And also give a few tips on how to improve fuel economy.
An average continuous run time for any RV generator, whether it’s portable or built-in, is between 8 and 20 hours; there are exceptions as well. In this article, we will also see the top RV generators and how long they can run.
How long can a portable generator run?
As we mentioned earlier, the run time of a generator depends on many things. Most portable generators use either gasoline or propane as fuel. When it comes to efficiency, propane is much more efficient than gasoline, but produces less electricity than a gasoline-powered generator can.
With a gasoline-powered generator, the continuous run time depends mainly on the size of the gas tank. How long it runs before it needs to be refueled is an important factor in deciding the continuous run time.
For propane, the deciding factor is the size of a propane tank; there will be no tank on the unit; they are available separately and in different sizes. The larger the propane tank, the higher the continuous run time. Also note that this is also limited by other considerations and not just the size of the propane tank.
Now someone might argue that we can increase run time by putting gas in while the generator is running. But that’s not safe, not safe at all.
A running generator is hot, which can cause gasoline vapors to ignite, leading to a fire or explosion. Also, gasoline can expand, posing the risk of spilling onto the hot engine. So do not do that; let it cool down before refueling.
The size of the fuel tank for a portable generator can range from 1 to 10 gallons, and the wattage determines the fuel consumption and how long the fuel will last.
When these two things are combined with the type of fuel and wattage needed, you will get your uninterrupted run time.
And ultimately, all of these things lead to a general result of 10 to 13 hours of continuous use without needing to refuel.
How long can a built-in generator run?
Built-in generators are the same as portable ones. The main difference between them is the rated power and the fuel tank. They are usually rated from 2000 watts to 6000 watts.
As for the fuel tank, they do not have one on the generator itself, but there is a separate fuel tank where the gasoline is stored, from where it is piped to the engine, or there is a direct connection to your RV’s main gas tank. There will also be a separate tank for propane.
The size of the fuel tank for a built-in generator can range from 6 gallons to a 60 gallon capacity tank. Let us say you have a generator rated at 4000 – watts, and it is running at full power; everything it can supply is on. In this condition, it consumes about 1 gallon of fuel per hour.
The same goes for propane, because a 30-pound tank can store about 7 gallons of propane, which gives you 7 to 8 hours of run time before it needs to be replaced.
If the tank is larger, then you will get a longer run time. So, in summary, a 4000 watt appliance will use 1 gallon of fuel per hour regardless of the type of fuel used.
So your continuous run time is determined by how big your fuel tank is. This is another reason why you can not add gas or replace the propane tank when the generator is running.
That being said, certain campgrounds will only run your generator for a certain period of time, which can limit the continuous run time, which has nothing to do with the specs of the generator.
How to Improve the Fuel Consumption?
Improved fuel economy will result in longer run times. By doing a few simple things you can increase the run time of your generator.
When you run your air conditioner, keep the windows and doors closed. This way, the temperature will be maintained longer.
This leads to an increase in the time intervals between successive sessions, as AC works when the temperature drops below a certain threshold.
In addition, you can replace your bulbs with LED bulbs; they are more efficient and require little power to operate. Proper and regular maintenance can also increase the run time of a generator.
Running times of the various generators
In this section, we have listed the top five RV generators, their run times and fuel tank size.
- The Briggs and Stratton P2200 Power Smart Inverter generator
- Fuel – Petrol
- Run time – 4 hours at half load
- Tank size – 1 gallon
2. WEN 56200i 2000- Watt Gas Powered Inverter Generator
- Fuel – Gasoline
- Run time – 6 hours at half load
- Tank size – 1 gallon.
- DuroStar DS4000S portable generator.
- Fuel – gasoline
- Run time – 8 hours at full load
- Tank size – 4 gallons
4. Generac GP2500 Inverter Generator
- Fuel – Gasoline
- Run time – 4 hours at half load
- Tank Size – 1 Gallon
5. Champion 3400- Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Inverter Generator
- Fuel – Gasoline, Propane
- Run time – 7.5 hours on gasoline and 14.5 hours on propane
- Tank size – 1.6 gallons
Regardless of whether you use a portable generator or a built-in generator for your RV, the continuous run time is limited by many factors that we have discussed in detail.
The make, model, and maintenance of the generator will also determine its run time.
Now the question is, is it safe for a generator to run continuously for days?
The answer is yes. If you need power for more than a few days, then you better have a standby generator as they have better and more robust components; a portable generator is simply not designed to run continuously for that long.