Deciding what generator you need for a caravan can be daunting, especially if you are in the dark and have no clue what to look for.
Luckily, there are simple factors to consider and easy enough to understand. So, what size generator do I need for a caravan in Australia? Let’s cover them.
Depending on your requirements your best option is to choose a petrol-powered generator of between 2000 and 3000 watts. A 2400 watt is perfect because it can run all your appliances (even your A/C), and it will compensate for the power loss at high altitudes and high temperatures.
Not all campers have the same needs when enjoying the outdoors in a caravan, and not everyone would need the same size generator.
What Size Generator For A Caravan In Australia?
When choosing the correct size generator that you need for your caravan trips in Australia, there are a few elements that you will need to consider.
These factors will include what you are planning to use the generator for (air conditioning, refrigeration, TV, laptop, etc.), what form of gas will run it, what type will suit your situation best, and some more subtle elements you might not have thought about that are relevant.
As a general rule of thumb, many people choose caravan generators that have a power rating of between 2000 and 3000 watts. This is because generators of this size can almost definitely power an A/C (air conditioning) unit.
Consider that caravanning in Australia’s outback; you can have temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius; thus, being able to run an A/C in your caravan is almost a necessity.
Although most individuals opt to choose an inverter generator of between 2000 and 3000 watts, it should be noted that depending on how many appliances you have and what you are running, you will not be able to run all your appliances simultaneously on a generator of this power.
Before we dive into the factors for consideration, let’s start by detailing the various types of generators, how they run, and the sizes you get.
What Are The Different Types Of Generators?
There are two distinct types of generators that you get when. These are namely;
Petrol-Powered Generators (Inverter Generators)
If you can help it and you are able to find a generator large enough (you typically can), you will usually want to opt for a petrol-powered inverter generator.
This is because these generators are usually inverters (pure sine wave generators). This means that the power they produce is clean and won’t have any spikes in the signal that can affect or damage your expensive electronics.
Additionally, you will find these generators range in size from small to large vehicle-mounted ones, with some even producing 2600 continuous watts of power.
Take note that there are not many inverter generators, and for caravanning, you typically do not want to purchase a generator that is less than 2000 watts.
Diesel-Powered Generators (AVR And Inverter Generators)
If you don’t have a choice and are looking at Diesel-powered generators, you will have to understand that many of them are fitted with AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulation) units.
Although the power generated to run your appliances in your caravan is not quite as clean as pure sine wave inverters, the power produced is still very clean, and you should not have a problem running anything on them.
The other main element to consider is that diesel-powered generators are typically larger than your standard petrol variants. Additionally, they will produce much more power, with the vehicle-mounted versions running up to 6 and 8kVA (approximately 6000 and 8000 watts).
Generators In Terms Of Output / Power
If you do not already know, Generators are rated in kilowatts (KW) or watts (W). The higher the power rating, the more load (in this case, your caravan appliances) it can handle. If you have a look at any generator (petrol or diesel), you will be sure to find two power ratings which are namely;
Continuous output/Continuous power
Peak output/Peak power
The continuous power rating is the one you should worry about because this rating is the total amount of power all your caravan appliances should remain under when they are running.
Peak power output refers to the generator’s ability to provide that amount of power in a short time. You will usually rely on this rating to run appliances that use compressors (A/C units) or electric motors.
Generators In Terms Of Size
The size of the generator here refers to its physical size and not its power output. Petrol-powered inverter generators are small and can be carried using one hand. These even refer to petrol-powered generators that are between 2000 and 3000 watts.
These generators will usually weigh approximately 25Kg and have dimensions of roughly between 50cm (Length) X 30cm (Width) X 450cm (height).
Take into consideration that you do get larger petrol-powered generators that can be mounted into your vehicle.
In terms of diesel-powered generators, these will be your larger generators; more often than not, many of these generators are vehicle mounted.
Picking A Generator: What Do I Need To Consider?
Now that you understand the various types of generators you get, we can consider what factors will play a role in determining which type you will need for your caravan trips in Australia.
What Are You Planning To Use The Generator For?
Probably the most important factor your will need to consider (because this will determine the power of the generator you need) is what you will need it for.
Here is a table of the most common appliances (not including A/C because we will discuss that later) that you are most likely to have with you in your caravan.
|Refrigerator||Between 150 & 1000 watts depending on the size|
|Battery Charger||350w For A 20A Battery Charger
1050w For A 60A Battery Charger
|Washing Machine||Between 1200 & 1600 watts|
|Microwave||Between 900 & 2200 watts|
|Laptop||Around 50 watts|
|Phone Charger||5 watts|
|TV||Approximately 200 watts|
If we look at this table, you will realize that purchasing a generator of between 2000 and 3000 watts will be the most beneficial and practical. As we said, you may not be able to run all your appliances at once, but you will be able to run them all.
Factoring In Temperature And Loss Of Power
You may not know that the ambient temperature surrounding your generator will affect its efficiency. This means the hotter it is outside, the less power your generator will produce.
As a general rule, for every 5 degrees Celsius that the temperature rises, your generator will lose approximately 1.5% efficiency rating.
Thus, in some situations where you intend to caravan in temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius, you should opt to choose a generator of 2400 watts or higher. A good example of a generator that can handle this is the Yamaha EF2400IS.
A simple rule is that the bigger the generator, the louder it is going to be. If you do not want something that is noisy and going to drive you insane, then your best bet is to find a generator with the lowest KW output that will suit your needs.
These two links below can help find a quiet generator and ideas for making it quieter,
For a list of camping generators decibel levels, click on – What Is The Quietest Generator For Camping In Australia?
For 6 easy ways to make your generator quieter, visit – How To Make Your Camping Generator Quiet
Another factor to consider is altitude. Suppose you plan to go caravanning in the snowy mountains or the Victorian High Country in your new Jayco Outback. In that case, you must understand that in these areas, because there is less oxygen available in the air, your generator will produce less power.
It will help if you remember that petrol-powered generators run on 4-stroke motors. This means they are combustion engines and these types of engines require oxygen as a fuel to drive the pistons that produce the power. Less oxygen means less power.
Thus, you should again choose a generator that can handle more than what you need and not just settle for a generator that covers your power needs at the minimum.
The last factor to consider is price. Everybody has a budget and petrol-powered generators between 2000 and 3000 watts will cost you between $1800 and $3500, or less on sale.
Depending on your budget, your needs, how often you will use it, and what you will use it for, you may want to consider spending a little bit extra to get one that will be more beneficial to you.
My Generator has some good prices and quality brands, (affiliate links) to view there range of inverter camping generators and check the latest prices or sales – Click Here for My Generator
What Generator Do I Need To Run My Caravan Air Conditioning Unit?
Now that you understand what generator options are available to run your caravan, the next situation that usually comes up is what type of generator you need to run your A/C unit.
We touched on the fact that most people tend to choose generators of between 2000 and 3000 watts. For the most part, generators within these power limits will be able to run your A/C unit.
A very important factor to consider is that air conditioners will have a power rating referred to as their “cooling capacity.” This will be measured in watts, and it should not be considered when determining what power rating your generator will need.
We touched on the fact that there are two power ratings for a generator, and the peak power rating is the one you will have to factor in when looking to get one to power your A/C unit.
There are two types of A/C units that you can get, and they are namely;
Inverter powered models
Non-inverter powered models
Inverter-powered models have a low start-up current. Thus many of these can utilize inverters with a lower power rating of only 2000 watts.
Conversely, non-inverted models will require larger generators to run because they have a high startup current.
Here are some popular generators that will pretty much run any A/C unit on the market.
Domestic PGE121 2100W
Briggs & Straton P2400
Briggs & Straton P3400
Your best option, if you want a generator that is small and compact, can run all your caravan appliances (including your A/C), is quiet, and relatively affordable, will be to purchase one that is petrol-powered (inverter) and has a power rating of about 2400 watts (just to be on the safe side). It will be able to compensate for high altitudes and high temperatures (meaning you won’t have to worry about losing power).
Author – Ted Jones from the OutdoorsGap.com team.