Solar vs Generator for RV










Love off-grid camping? If so, you will probably want to enjoy days out in the remoteness without having to constantly worry if you will run out of electricity to power your equipment on your RV. Electricity is so important for a comfortable trip, as it powers your heating system, your refrigerator and so much more.

With so many options out there, you are probably wondering which generator will be the best choice for you to have in your RV. To help you in making this decision, we will be sharing some pros and cons of the two main types of generators- the gas powered generator and the solar generator.


Gas powered generators

Gas generators work by using gasoline. They convert the chemical energy of gasoline into mechanical energy and into electrical energy. This allows electricity to be supplied to power devices on our RV. This is done using an engine and an alternator. Gasoline undergoes combustion in the engine, which then turns the rotor in the alternator.

The rotor is a coil that is made out of copper wire. The rotor spins past stationary magnets, resulting in the magnets inducing a small electrical charge in the wire. The rapid spinning of the rotor allows sufficient electricity to be generated.


Pros and cons

Here are the benefits of using a gas generator on your RV:

– If you are pressed for space on your RV, and would rather have extra space to store a comfy beanbag or a game console, a gas generator might be your best bet. Gas generators can be small and compact, but still generate a large amount of electricity, making them extremely space efficient.

– On a budget? If you are feeling the pinch, a gas generator might be a better choice for you. Gas generators are usually mass produced for a large market, and are more affordable compared to solar generators that can operate at the same capacity. If you are just starting out on your RV journey, and you are not sure how much you would want to invest in it, getting a gas generator might save you on a large sum upfront.

– If you are the type of person who struggles assembling their IKEA furniture, and hate equipment that are a challenge to figure out to use, a gas generator is good news for you. Gas generators are generally easier to operate and to start going. To use it, you will simply have to fill it up with gas, and press the starter button.

Just these simple steps, and you will have your RV equipment powered up and running. As long as you make sure that the gas does not run out, electricity will continue to be produced.

– Unlike the solar generator, a gas generator will work even in the dark! If you decide to camp at a particular shady area without much exposure to sunlight, a gas generator might be a better choice for your needs.

– Gas generators are usually portable, so you will be able to use them even if you are not up on your RV. Especially if you do not get many opportunities to spend time on your RV, letting your generator sit there might be a huge waste. With the portability of a gas generator, you will be able to make use of it anywhere you want, making sure that you maximise the use of it.

On the other hand, here are some cons of the gas generator that might sway you away from opting for it.

– Since gas generators are powered by gas, they will not run when the gas supply to it runs out. For it to continue to operate and generate electricity, you will have to constantly top it up with gas when it runs out. This might be a huge inconvenience especially if you are taking your RV out to an area without easy access to gas.

– Gas generators burn fuel, and will produce exhaust. This contains harmful gases that are detrimental for our environment. If you want to minimise your harm to the environment so that it will be conserved for future generations to enjoy, a gas generator might not be the best option.

– Depending on the type that you get, a gas generator can produce a very loud noise. If you enjoy your peace and quiet on your RV, a gas generator can quickly get annoying with the noise that it makes.

– Some campgrounds might ban the use of gas generators, so also take this into consideration.


Solar generators

Solar generators work by using solar power. They are composed of photovoltaic panels, batteries, a charge regulator, and an inverter. The photovoltaic panels convert light into energy and then sends it to the charge regulator. The charge regulator then pumps the electricity to the batteries. This process stops when the batteries are fully charged. The inverter takes direct current electricity from the batteries and converts it into alternating current electricity.


Pros and cons

Here are some of the benefits of using a solar generator for your RV:

– If you are passionate in protecting the environment, and want to create as little pollution as possible, using a solar generator will be the better choice. Solar generators run on solar power and not on burning gas. They also do not give off toxic exhaust, making sure that you are keeping the outdoors smelling fresh and clean, and also doing your part against global warming.

– You will never have the hassle of having to buy fuel and refill your generator for it to work. Once you have set up your RV solar generator, it will run independently without you having to do much anymore. In daytime, when the sun is out and bright, the batteries are charged and the excess power generated powers your RV equipment.

This is especially important if you will be carrying out a lot of remote camping, where you are out in nature with no signs of civilization in sight. When the nearest place you can get gas is a day’s drive away, you will definitely thank yourself for installing these solar generators in your RV. With them, as long as you let the sun hit these solar panels, you will get the electricity you need.

– If you are sensitive to noises, and want something that will operate smoothly without making much sound, a solar generator will do just that, as they are usually completely silent.

Solar panels are not the perfect solution to your electricity needs, so they too come with their cons. Here are a few important ones that you will want to take into consideration in deciding what type of generator you want to get.

  • If your solar generator does not come with an inverter, it will not be able to power any 110 volt equipment.
  • If you are planning to camp in places that are relatively shady and grey, your solar panels will not be exposed to a constant supply of sunlight. This will also be a concern if you are camping in the winter months, where the days can be really short. Without sufficient exposure to the sunlight, your solar generators might not be able to generate sufficient electricity to power all of the equipment you have plugged in on your RV.
  • The cost of purchasing a solar generator is higher, and you will also probably have to pay someone to help you to install it as it can get tricky to figure out yourself. However, consider the savings you will get on buying gas, and the total costs of running a gas generator and a solar generator might even itself out, depending on how frequently you use your RV.
  • Setting up a solar generator will also require sufficient roof top space, so that you can fit all the solar panels up there. If you do not have that space on your rooftop, or your RV is a small one, a solar generator might not be the best for you.


Which is the option for you

There is no single answer to the best type of generator, as they are different and will suit people with different needs. After looking at the pros and cons of the gas generator and the solar generator, consider what you are looking for in a generator and your RV camping habits to make the best choice for yourself. Have a great time on your RV, and we wish you luck in finding a generator that will best suit your needs!