An RV that is not plugged into a power source uses batteries for electricity. However, these batteries only run 12-volt devices, like small lights. An RV generator can be useful to run everything else, including the microwave, air conditioner, and outlets. Often they are built right into the RV. With a house, power is constant from the electric lines. Residential generators are generally only needed during power outages.
RV generators are available in 1,000-watt, 2,000-watt and 3,000-watt sizes. The smaller units run a few minor appliances, like lights and a coffee pot. The larger units can power larger energy items like a TVs and DVD players, TV-satellite combo or even an air conditioner.
Residential generators are available in small 2,000 and 3,000-watt sizes, but models as high as 6,500-watts are on the market. These larger generators are capable of running several appliances at once, like fridges and furnaces. They can provide stable energy for long periods of time.
It is common for RV parks and campgrounds to have noise ordinances limiting how much noise a generator can make. With RV generators noise output is of top priority, so these units tend to be quieter and are often enclosed to increase noise suppression. Residential generators, especially the larger units, tend to be significantly louder because they lack the suppression.
Size and Weight
Residential generators, with higher watt outputs and long run times, are built heavier and bulkier than RV generators. A big 6,500-watt generator can have 389 cubic centimeter displacement, and weigh over 250 pounds. These beefy units usually have wheels to help move them around. RV generators are often installed directly on the RV and never moved. A medium portable unit will have a displacement closer to 100 cubic centimeters and weigh less than 50 pounds.
A residential generator is usually set up outside the home, keeping the noise and fumes away from the living spaces. Because RV generators are usually enclosed in the RV, they have to meet specific standards for minimal emissions and carbon monoxide output to minimize harmful fumes.