RV & Camping Appliances: Power Consumption

We get lots of questions about RVs and energy needs. That is why we have decided to create this list of rough estimates of wattage consumption of the most common camping and RV appliances.

We hope these tables will help you calculate how big and powerful generator you will need for your camping and RV activities. Our team here at Generatorist has helped over 600,000 visitors find information about generators and we will help you as well.

The data is gathered from reputable government websites, popular generator manufacturers like HondaGenerac or Yamaha and merchants like Lowe‚ÄôsSears or Home Depot. We add new appliances and update the numbers on a regular basis to make this the most comprehensive resource out there.

Essential Appliances

Estimated wattage
Camping / RV Appliance Rated (Running) Watts Additional Surge Watts
Space Heater 1,800 W 1,800 W
4 Light Bulbs (75W) 300 W 300 W
Heating Pad 250 W 250 W
RV Roof-Top AC (13,500 BTU) 1,500 W 1,000 W
RV Roof-Top AC (15,000 BTU) 2,000 W 1,300 W
RV Roof-Top AC (11,000 BTU) 1,010 W 590 W
Furnace Fan (1/3 HP) 700 W 1,400 W
Electric Blanket 80 W 1,250 W
Fan 200 W 200 W
Electric Water Heater (6 Gal.) 1,440 W 1,440 W
Dehumidifier 785 W 1250 W

Washing Appliances

Estimated wattage
Camping / RV Appliance Rated (Running) Watts Additional Surge Watts
Vacuum 1,100 W 1,100 W
Curling Iron 800 W 800 W
Shaver 35 W 35 W
Blow Drier (Hair) 1,250 W 1,250 W
Iron 1,200 W 1,200 W
Clothes Washer 1,150 W 2,300 W

Kitchen Appliances

Estimated wattage
Camping / RV Appliance Rated (Running) Watts Additional Surge Watts
Electric Can Opener 170 W 0 W
Hot Plate 1,200 W 1,725 W
Waffle Iron 1,200 W 1,725 W
Electric Grill 1,650 W 1,650 W
Deep Fryer 1,200 W 1,200 W
Chest Freezer 450 W 900 W
Slow Cooker 170 W 270 W
Toaster 850 - 1,250 W 850 - 1,250 W
Toaster Oven 1,200 W 1,200 W
Dorm Size Refrigerator 350 W 500 W
Microwave (635W Cooking Power) 635 W 800 W
Electric Fry Pan 1,200 W 1,200 W
Coffee Maker 800 W 800 W
Corn Popper 275 W 275 W
Crockpot 250 W 250 W
Blender 350 W 500 W

Entertainment Appliances

Estimated wattage
Camping / RV Appliance Rated (Running) Watts Additional Surge Watts
AM/FM Cassette 10 W 10 W
Stereo 450 W 450 W
VCR 100 W 100 W
Satellite Dish & Receiver 30 W 250 W
Radio 2-Way 360 W 960 W
27" Color TV 500 W 500 W
19" Color TV 160 W 160 W
12" B&W TV 30 W 30 W
Desktop Computer 600 W 800 W
Laptop 50 W 0 W
Printer 500 W 500 W
CD/DVD Player 50 W 200 W
Clock Radio 100 W 100 W

Other Appliances

Estimated wattage
Camping / RV Appliance Rated (Running) Watts Additional Surge Watts
Battery Charger (Cell Phone) 25 W 0 W
Inflator Pump 50 W 150 W

Printable Chart

Determining your

wattage requirements

If you want to learn what electronic appliances will your generator run, you need to get ready to do some math. Don’t worry, it will be a very simple process of adding up several numbers.

To determine what appliances you can run on this type of generator at the same time, you need to follow these steps:

  1. List all electronic appliances in your home you want to keep running in the case you are out of power (here is a great list full of appliances you might use)
  2. Write information from their name tags on required running and starting watts into a table (see examples below)
  3. Then you need to add up all the running watts required to operate your appliances
  4. The next step is to find the item with the highest additional starting watts
  5. Then add this number to your total running watts
  6. The final number represents the amount of starting watts your generator needs to provide

Here is a good example of calculating wattage needs for a 4000 watt generator. 

We have decided that in case of a weather-caused blackout, we would need only essentials such as refrigerator with a freezer so our food will be safe, a lamp that will serve as an emergency light source, a small window AC unit to keep the temperature under control, a toaster, and a laptop.

Selected Appliances Rated (Running) Watts Additional Starting Watts
Toaster 850 W 0 W
Refrigerator / Freezer 700 W 2,200 W
Laptop 50 W 0 W
Lamp (2 Lightbulbs) 150 W 0 W
Window AC (10,000 BTU) 1,200 W 3,600 W
TOTAL 2,950 W
6,550 W

As you can see in our example above, if we add up all running watts of our appliances we get the number 2,950 – so we are well within the 4,000 running watts limit (850 + 700 + 50 + 150 + 1,200 = 2,950).

However, we would need a generator that is capable of producing at least 6,550 surge (starting) watts to power all these appliances (2,950 + 3,600 = 6,550).

Just keep in mind that some electric appliances in your home may not have running watts provided on their data tags. If this is the case, you can estimate the running watts required thanks to the following formula:

Watts (W or kW) = Volts (V) x Amps (A)
Amps (A) = Watts (W or kW) / Volts (V)

So, as long as you have required Volts and Amps, you can easily convert them into an estimate of required running watts. Maybe you remember that this equation represents the Ohm’s law¬†from High School physics.

Luckily, there is a device called “appliance load tester” that you can get to determine how¬†many watts each your appliance takes. You can easily get one from Amazon and avoid all that physic¬īs equation.

You need to check each appliance / power tool in your home individually to see the precise wattage requirements. Feel free to check out the wattage requirements of the most popular household appliances, RV & camping appliances, or power tools for contractors here on Generatorist.

Further resources:

About Generatorist

Matthew Gerther

Founder, Generator enthusiast

Our aim here at the Generatorist is to become the No. 1 resource for all things related to generators & your power needs. We have helped over 600,000 visitors with our tips, articles and reviews and we will help you as well.

Our work has been featured in many publications around the world – Yahoo.com, Telegram.com, PaylessPower.com, PopSci.com, TopTenReviews.com, TechRepublic.com, iRV2.com, ThePrepared.com, Renogy.com or ADT Solar. Generators are our passion, and we strive to provide the most reliable & most comprehensive information out there.

3 thoughts on “RV & Camping Appliances: Power Consumption”

  1. 300 watts for lights? Are you serious? You can get the same lighting from 3 10 watt or 4 7 watt led bulbs and save 250 watts of usage. Who in this day and age now that led bulb prices have come down a lot would even think of looking at energy pigs incandescent.

  2. I am trying to learn about RV electrical uses. I have wired many homes. I am trying to figure out how a 30 amp to 50 amp (240 volt) dog bone adapter works.The only way that I can see, is if RV appliances are all 120v….is that correct?

  3. we have a 5500 onan generator. for some reason randomly it will just shut off. it starts back up, but will after a while shut off again. it’s the original one put in when built. it’s a 2000 fleetwood bounder. it does this after only running for aprox 1 hr. then sometimes runs a couple hrs and never shuts off.
    why is it shutting off on its own

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