How Many Watts Does a Pop-up Camper Use? (Facts & Numbers)


How many Watts does a pop-up camper use

If you are looking to power the electronics in a pop-up camper, you probably are looking for either a place to plug in the ground cable or a generator to run. The wattage value for any pop-up camper is a gauge by which you can figure out if the electricity you are supplying to your camper is going to be enough.

How many watts does a Pop-up camper use? On average, pop-up campers use between 1500 and 3000 watts with some air conditioning units pushing the watts up over 3500. This will depend on the size of your camper and the size of you air conditioning unit.

When you are planning on the electrical needs of your pop-up camper, a chart like the one below can help you to estimate the amount of juice you need from either a 120-volt cord plug-in or a generator run by fuel.

Read on to find out more about the wattage you will need for your pop-up camper.

How Much Wattage do Pop-Up Camper Appliances Use?

 When determining how much watered your pop up camper requires you have to add up all of the major appliances that you will be using. This is the only way to be absolutely certain of the exact wattage that you will be using over all.

 Use the chart below to add up all of the appliances you may be using that 1 time to determine what your power needs are and how you should proceed to supply electricity to your pop up camper.

Electrical ApplianceBase WattsPower Consumption
Coffee Maker600W600W
Refrigerator600W180W
Microwave1000W1000W
TV200W200W(More for Tube TV)
DVD player350W350W
Heater1300W1300W
Satellite250W250W
Electric Grill1700W1700W
Fan120W40W
Light bulbsDepends on the light bulbDepends on the light bulb
13,500 BTU AC Unit2800-3000W1500-2000W
15,000 BTU AC Unit3300-3500W1300-1800W
Power Consumption Chart for Electrical appliances

(Source: Steady Power)

Supplying Your Pop-Up Camper With Power

 Pop up campers can vary in the amount of wattage that they need to run properly. Since most pop up campers use a combination of appliances it is important to add up your major appliances from the chart above to determine how much wattage you will need. 

Once you’ve determined the overall wattage that you will need for your pop up camper you can go shopping for one of the most reliable sources of power for when you’re in the great outdoors: a generator.

Generators

Choosing the right generator for your RV can be challenging since there are different features for generators on the market. 

Even though it is possible to overwork your generator and since most of them have limited warranty’s this can be a problem, in general, they are work beasts that can handle the wattage.

 Some of the most important features that you want to consider for using a generator to power your pop up camper are listed below:

  • Noise level
  • Fuel type
  • Power Output
  • Portability
  • Cost

 Matching your power needs is the most important part of choosing a generator for your pop up camper. However, if you’re in the market for a generator choosing the one with the wattage needed is easy.

Other factors such as those listed above  Will make your generator an ideal addition to your pop up camping adventures.

 (Source: Best of Machinery)

Below is a chart of some of the best generators that you can use to power your pop up camper on the market. This buyer’s guide of generators has the key features raided for your convenience.

Generator NameNoise LevelFuel TypePower OutputPortability
BALDR Portable Power Station  ExcellentRechargeable Lithium Battery330 WattsExcellent
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer  ExcellentRechargeable Lithium Battery1002 WattsExcellent
Rainier R4400 Portable Generator  PoorGas3600 WattsDecent
Westinghouse WGen7500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator    Very PoorGas or Propane7500 WattsPoor
Goal Zero Yeti 200X Lithium Portable Power Station  ExcellentRechargeable Lithium Battery200 WattsExcellent

Things to Consider

There are several parts to the equation when it comes to balancing what you pop up camper can handle and whether you have an extra generator to support what’s inside.  If the pop up doesn’t meet your needs, you can always consider adding in extra help or upgrading to a different option.

–       How much wattage an electrical device uses.

–       What generators can support your needs. 

–       What the pop-up camper can support on its own.  

–       Other options.

Typically, if you are someone who is renting a pop-up camper for the first time, then more likely than not, the company who is renting it to you will go over all the electrical and power information that you would need inside.

The owner’s manual that can also be found possibly in the front glove compartment also usually has a section about the power capabilities of your pop up camper. Whether you need a generator or not has long been a debate between frequent campers.

For those who did have a generator, it was more likely that they used a portable generator than they would use a built-in generator because of needing additional power for the pop-up camper as a whole.

I recently wrote an In-depth article about How to Use a Generator with a Travel Trailer: Complete Guide, have a look at it:

How Many Watts Does it Use?

If you try to run your AC while plugging in your phones and starting your hairdryer on a 2000 watt allowance, you won’t last long or many start at all. Running the AC in a camper is the most common culprit for using up all the wattage.

Air Conditioning

An air conditioner may use all 2000 of watts to start up. But while it’s running, it will only uses about 1500 watts of power to continuously run. This would allow you to plug in a few phones after you were turned on the AC.   

Midsize Fridge

Super surprising, but a fridge once running only uses about 200 watts once it’s up and running. To get it started, it would need 1200 available watts to get going. 1800 available watts could allow to run the AC also charge some phones.  

Heater

Not everyone takes recreational vehicle trips in the summer, as it is a popular month to travel. Spring and fall are other options for campers, and in certain parts of the country, they might need some heat. The surge can be typically around 1400 watts, but once running maintains about a 700-watt power load.

How to Choose Between Lithium Battery and Fuel Powered Generators

This list has a combination of lithium battery power stations and fuel-powered power stations. Each has its pros and cons which are listed in detail below.

Each type of generator boils down to preference and needs. If you don’t need that much power, you can get the lighter, more portable lithium battery generators.

If you need more energy for longer periods of time, you will sacrifice noise level and portability with the heavier fuel-powered generators.

Lithium Battery Powered Generators

 The lithium batteries in generators  Are not like the batteries that you put in your TV remote or camera. Instead, they are incredibly high-quality and powerful and can get the job done for the wattage included in pop up campers.

However, they will never put out as much power as fuel-powered generators. Even though they are quieter they are always going to be less powerful than their fuel-powered brothers and can be annoying to charge when you really need power.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Very portable
  • Green energy with solar panels
  • Multiple ways to charge the battery

Cons:

  • Limited power time
  • Lower wattage output
  • Takes time to recharge batteries

Fuel Powered Generators

 Generators with a motor that burns gasoline propane to power their engines are always going to be the more powerful of the 2. You will also be able to last with power for as long as you have fuel which can be easily added to a generator.

The downside of fuel-powered generators is that they are incredibly noisy and must be refueled from outside sources.

Pros:

  • Powerful wattage
  • Long-lasting power
  • Many power outlets

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Hard to transport
  • Fuel costs money
  • Very loud engine

Built-in Generators vs Portable Generators

The debate on whether to have a portable generator along for the ride or building a generator within your pop up camper ray has been raging for as long as R v’s have been around.

There are pros and cons to having each and the list below can help you to decide which will best fit your pop up camper experience.

Built-In Generators

 If you are willing to spend a little extra money and give up some of the space in your pop up camper a Built-in generator is a great way to make absolutely certain that your power needs will be met with a fully integrated power system that’s connected to all of the wirings of your appliances.

Pros:

  •  Can be programmed to turn on and off automatically
  •  Provides more power generally
  •  Can be integrated into the appliances and wiring already in the pop-up camper

Cons:

  •  More expensive
  •  Takes up space within the camper at all times
  •  Requires regular maintenance
  •  Must be professionally installed
  •  Very noisy when running

Portable Generators

 Portable generators are another great option to have why you are camping in the great outdoors because they can be taken anywhere.

Although they might not be as powerful as Built-in generators and are a little bit more difficult to transport they have their benefits as well.

Pros:

  •  Less expensive
  •  Portable and doesn’t take up space within your camper
  •  Limited maintenance needed
  • Long-lasting power
  • Many power outlets

Cons:

  •  Must be run and used manually
  •  Less powerful then Built-in generators typically
  •  Noisy when running
  •  Difficult to transport

(Source: Fixr)

What size generator do I need to run my RV?

GeneratorProsCons
Champion Dual Fuel GeneratorRuns quietly so you can sleep at night without being disturbed. Powers up to 3400 watts, which allows you to start and run multiple things at once. Clean power reducing risk to sensitive electronics.This is a great choice with little to no cons other than the warranty for a great product is so low for only three years.
Honda EU1000i Inventor GeneratorA quiet operation to keep everyone asleep at night while running the AC. Has a low oil alert, so no unexpected shutdowns occur. Lightweight and compact, allowing for easy portability.It is a single fuel use due to its size, meaning that you may have to refill more than you like. This adds an inconvenient factor, but if you don’t mind, then this is the only drawback.   
Briggs and Stratton P3000 – Inverter Generator Generator   Not disturbing your neighbors is also important, so quiet operation is a must. 10 hours of run time is because of the one-and-a-half-gallon fuel tank.  Two-year warranty is not long for an investment in a generator. Not CARB compliant.  
Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Super Quiet Portable Inverter GeneratorRated at 1800 Watts, which allows you to have multiple things running at once. It is CARB compliant making it energy efficient. Parallel capable allowing for multiple connections of generators.  Three-year warranty again is just too little time based on the wear and tear that these machines go through.

Generator Sizing for RVs  >> Check out the video below:

The Champion

One of the top generators available today (the Champion) markets on Amazon for $1,449.99, making it no small purchase. Having said that, a little investment can go a long way when you plan on spending a lot of time living out of a pop-up camper.

The Honda

The Honda comes in cheaper on Amazon at $859.00, originally $939.00. Still a great option and a little more affordable compared to the Champion Generator. This price is probably due to the single fuel use and because it’s much more compact.

Briggs & Stratton

Working our way to even more affordable is the third option of the Briggs and Stratton generator priced at $799.00 on Amazon. This is a 3000 Watt option, but they do have a 2200 Watt option as well.

Westinghouse

Lastly, the Westinghouse generator is on Amazon for the cheapest available price at a low of $413.00, It has 1800 rated watts and 2200 peak Watts and is on sale for $66.00 less than its original price of $479.00.

Other Options

If you have a big family and plan on needing more power then a few generators of find the investment to be too pricey for possibly a one-time use, consider upgrading your pop-up camper to a large recreational vehicle. The convenience factor of this is that usually, RV’s already have a built-in generator to support the appliances that come with the recreational vehicle. Of course, sometimes customers bring their own generator anyways in addition, but it’s not necessary.

Pop up campers don’t come with a generator as frequent as a recreational vehicle would. This being said, you can way the costs of upgrading or just buying your own generator. The plus is that most of these generators are not limited to pop up campers use.   

Final Thoughts

The idea of going camping is to enjoy the world with the simplicity of being able to go wherever you want without being tied down.

If you are constantly tied down by our electronics, than you’re probably missing out on the trip. That being said, in today’s world, with a non-stop work culture and advanced technology, it’s hard to get away.

Finding a generator that supports you and your family or friend’s needs is important. Above are just a few of the highly recommended by other campers.

But it is important to do your own research to avoid getting halfway across the country to blow out your generator. Now, of course, you can reorder one, but who wants to do that?

Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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