RV Living: How Much Gas Do Generators Use? (Average Consumption According To Fuel Type)

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Whether planning a road trip with your family or heading out alone, having an RV generator can provide a great power source and convenience. But how much fuel does an RV generator use?

It greatly depends on the size and model of the generator, but generally, a 5000-watt generator consumes one gallon of gasoline per hour. On the other hand, a 5000-watt RV generator running on propane consumes about 1-1.5 gallons an hour, while diesel generators have a fuel consumption of around 0.75 a gallon per hour.

propane camper generator

The consumption varies depending on the type of fuel used and how many appliances are plugged in. In this article, we break down everything you need to know about RV generator fuel usage so that you can make the most informed decision possible. We have also mentioned some tips to ensure you get the best efficiency from your generator. So, let’s hook in!

What Is The Average Fuel Consumption Of A Generator?

The average fuel consumption of a generator can vary based on the type and size of the generator as well as how often it is used. Generally, generators are designed to be efficient with their fuel usage, but there are different levels of efficiency from one model to another. 

The consumption of the fuel varies based on the generator’s fuel type. The fuel consumption of a 5000 watts generator that runs on propane will differ from that of gasoline or diesel.

Natural Gas Consumption

Natural gas consumption for generators has grown steadily over the years due to its cost-effectiveness and reliability. Natural gas is a clean, reliable fuel source that can be used in many different types of generators.

The consumption of a gasoline-based generator also depends on the generator size and several appliances used. The following table displays the average natural gas consumption by different size generators at various loads:

Generator SizeAt Full Load (ft3/hr)At 3/4 Load (ft3/hr)At 1/2 Load (ft3/hr)At 1/4 Load (ft3/hr)

Propane Consumption

Propane consumption for generators is a major concern if you plan to use your generator for an extended time. Depending on the efficiency of your generator and the size of its fuel tank, you can generate power with propane for days or weeks before needing to refuel.

The table given below highlights the average consumption of propane per hour at different loads percent:

Size of Generator (kW)At 100% Load (Full Load) (gal/hr)At 75% Load (gal/hr)At 50% Load (gal/hr)At 25% load (gal/hr)
4000W0.670.53 0.400.19 
5kW0.840.67 0.50 0.24
8kW1.341.07 0.800.38
12kW2.011.601.20 0.57
13kW2.181.73 1.300.61
16kW2.682.131.60 0.75
17kW2.84 2.271.71 0.80
28kW4.693.73 2.811.32
34kW5.69 4.533.41 1.60 
35kW5.86 4.663.511.65
40kW6.695.334.01 1.88 

Diesel Consumption

Fuel consumption rates can vary significantly depending on the size of the engine, its type, and design, as well as the load it is placed under. Generally, a diesel-powered RV generator that produces 5000 watts typically uses 0.75 gallons per hour. It is important to consider all these factors when calculating fuel consumption.

Here is a table that shows the average diesel consumption by generators at different loads:

Generator Size (kW)At greater than Full load (gal/hr)At greater than 3/4 Load (gal/hr)At greater than 1/2 Load (gal/hr)At greater than 1/4 Load (gal/hr)

What Fuel Type Should You Use In Running A Generator?

Generators are powerful machines that can provide power to homes and businesses in case of a blackout or shortage. Depending on the fuel type, they can be cost-effective and efficient solutions for your energy needs. 

Before purchasing, it is important to consider which fuel type is best suited for powering your generator. Here are some of the most common fuel types typically used in generators: 

Propane RV Generator 

Generators powered by propane are the least effective option. They frequently burn through fuel significantly more quickly than gas or diesel. Additionally, it may be the most costly gasoline. The fact that propane is the simplest fuel to locate, store, and transport is one of the key advantages of owning a propane generator.

Diesel RV Generator

Diesel-powered generators are becoming increasingly popular among RV owners because they provide reliable power with improved efficiency and require less maintenance. The diesel may be stored for roughly six months before it loses its use. Emptying the tank is a good idea before putting the generator away. These generators are also noisier than other generators.

Gasoline RV Generator

Gasoline is the most popular fuel type used in portable generators because it is readily available, easy to store, and relatively inexpensive. Its combustibility makes it good at producing high amounts of energy with minimal effort.

Check Out Is It Cheaper To Run A Generator On Propane or Gas?:

Is The Fuel Type The Only Factor In Choosing An RV Generator?

When choosing the right generator for your RV, fuel type is a major factor. But there are many other important factors that you should keep in mind as well. Here are some of the most important things to consider when selecting your next generator:

Size & Weight

When choosing an RV generator, size and weight play a big role. Generators come in various sizes and weights, so you should always consider the available space in your RV before investing in one. You also need to factor in how easy it is to transport and set up the generator. Some models are smaller and lighter than others, making them easier to move around. 

Noise Level

The noise level generated by any engine will significantly impact the overall comfort level of people in the vicinity. Although most RV generators are relatively quiet compared to traditional gas engine-powered generators, what may seem like a small difference can greatly impact how comfortable it is for you and your fellow campers when using the generator. 

Finding a specifically designed generator for RVs is important, as these produce significantly less noise.

Key Takeaway: With all of this in mind, there are still plenty of great reasons to make aftermarket modifications to your car. Just be sure to do your research and understand the potential risks before making any changes.

Inverter Features

Inverter technology is a major feature that should be considered when deciding. An inverter generator produces AC power from DC power. It can also adjust its motor speed as needed to ensure it’s running efficiently, resulting in quieter operation, less vibration, and lower fuel consumption. It makes them ideal for RVs since they typically use less gas than their traditional counterparts.

Load & Wattage Rating

Load indicates the amount of power drawn by appliances or devices using electricity in your RV. When estimating load requirements for an RV, it is important to account for all items requiring electricity, including air conditioners, fans, lights, televisions, and other electrical appliances.

The wattage rating indicates the amount of power the generator can provide. When selecting, choose a model with a rating equal to or greater than the total wattage of all appliances and devices required. It will ensure that the generator can handle demand from multiple sources without overloading system components. 


Another factor that should be considered is the warranty offered by the manufacturer. It’s essential to understand what kind of protection you will have and where to go wrong with your generator in terms of repair or replacement costs. 

Ideally, you want to look for a generator with a comprehensive and long-term warranty covering most parts and components of the generator. Extended warranties and service plans can provide additional protection and peace of mind.


It is important to research each brand of RV generator before making a purchase—look for customer reviews and ratings on reliability and performance. You may also want to consider the available special features when researching different brands of generators. 

Many models come with additional options to help make life easier in your RV. It is always worth taking the time to find out the best available in various models to make the best choice for your needs. 


Price is another important factor to consider when choosing a generator for your RV. Except for a relatively small number of brands, the price and quality of RV generators are often comparable. You may need to increase your budget a little if you plan to use your camper regularly because you will need more electricity. 

You need a trustworthy, inexpensive generator to supply adequate electricity to your trailer. Choosing the most costly choice is to your best advantage, but ensure you investigate the manufacturers beforehand. You wouldn’t want to squander your money on a difficult generator to produce a significant amount of electricity.

How Long Will A Generator Run on a Full Tank of Gas?

A generator that can run on a full tank of gas will depend largely on the size and power of the generator. It also depends upon how many devices are plugged in with generators and their power consumption per hour.

Most generator tanks hold about 5 gallons and require 5 gallons of fuel. An 8-hour runtime is expected from a 5000-watt generator after one fuel tank is used. It can operate for 12 hours or more if a few appliances are hooked into the generator. 

Around 5 hours are spent driving on a gallon of petrol on average. It is the typical running time, and it will change depending on how frequently the generator is used and how well it is maintained.

Check Out RV Fuel Efficiency Tips:

Tips For Increasing Fuel Efficiency

When you own a recreational vehicle (RV), fuel efficiency is something you should always consider. An RV can guzzle more fuel than the average car or truck, depending on size and weight. Fortunately, several ways to increase your RV’s fuel efficiency don’t require major investments. 

Following some simple tips can set you up for long-term fuel savings and significantly improve your RV’s overall fuel efficiency.

Monitor Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is one of the most important factors in maintaining fuel efficiency in an RV. Tires that are not properly inflated are more prone to wear and tear, which can lead to decreased fuel economy. To ensure your tires remain in optimal condition, check their pressure monthly with a tire gauge and adjust as needed. 

Use Cruise Control 

If your RV has cruise control, make sure to use it whenever possible. It can help you maintain your RV at a steady speed and improve fuel efficiency. By maintaining a constant speed, especially at or near 50 mph, you can increase the fuel efficiency of your RV.

Drive Smoothly

Driving too aggressively can significantly reduce fuel efficiency in an RV and lead to greater acceleration forces. To maximize fuel economy, drive as smoothly as possible by increasing speed gradually and avoiding sudden stops or accelerations whenever possible. It will help minimize fluctuation while on the road.

Limit Unnecessary Weight

Carrying excess weight is one of the quickest ways to decrease fuel economy in an RV. Your RV’s fuel efficiency decreases by 1% for every 100 pounds you add. You can minimize the load by:

  • Reducing your luggage and leaving behind unnecessary items.
  • Reducing the volume of your water tanks to no more than one-third.
  • Purchasing a septic tank and eliminating your black water tank.
  • Changing out old, heavy furniture for newer, lighter ones.
  • Getting rid of any heavy equipment you won’t likely use.

Minimize Idling

Letting an RV idle for too long can waste fuel, so try to minimize how often you do it by turning off the engine when stopped for extended periods. Try to turn off your AC when not necessary. Because your fuel efficiency may drop by more than 25% when you use your air conditioning on hot days.

Monitor Your Driving Habits

The way you drive can greatly impact your fuel efficiency. Avoid rapid acceleration and hard braking, as this can strain the engine and require more gas to move the vehicle. Also, try driving in the highest gear possible without straining the engine, and use cruise control when feasible. By making small adjustments to your driving habits, you will see an improvement in fuel economy over time.

Plan Ahead

Planning the route of your journey ahead of time can help you conserve fuel. Before hitting the road, look at traffic reports and plan your route accordingly. It will help you avoid congested areas and minimize the amount of time spent idling in traffic—both of which can reduce fuel efficiency. 

Improve Aerodynamics

It’s useful to keep additional items on your RV’s roof to conserve inside space. But carrying luggage on your roof also makes your RV’s drag greater, reducing fuel efficiency. In fact, at highway speeds, a blunt rooftop cargo box can impair your fuel economy by as much as 25%.

Avoid Poor Condition Roads

Another important factor in maintaining RV fuel efficiency is driving on roads in good condition. Driving on rough terrain or pothole-ridden roads can significantly increase wear and tear on your vehicle, resulting in higher fuel consumption. Try to stick to roads that are well-maintained and not too bumpy whenever possible. It will help your RV remain as efficient as possible for longer periods. 

Does The Environment Affect RV Fuel Efficiency?

Environmental factors can have a big impact on RV’s fuel efficiency. The factors like wind, temperature, terrain, altitude, etc. directly affect the fuel consumption of RV. The main factors are discussed below:


Winter driving conditions and cold temperatures may dramatically affect fuel efficiency. On the other hand, a hotter temperature increases fuel efficiency. Warm air creates less aerodynamic drag than cold air, and your engine heats up to an efficient temperature faster.


Higher altitudes reduce the oxygen density in the air, meaning engines have to work harder to get the same amount of power. It leads to decreased fuel economy as more fuel has to be used for the same performance. 

Wind Resistance

RVs are larger and heavier than other vehicles, which means they can be affected by wind resistance more so than smaller cars or trucks. Driving into a headwind will cause an increase in drag on the vehicle, resulting in decreased fuel efficiency over time. There is a 13% reduction in fuel efficiency for every 10 mph headwind or crosswind.


Hills, curves, and uneven terrain all increase the amount of work an engine has to do to keep going. It means fuel efficiency will decrease as more energy is used to move the vehicle forward. Drivers should plan their routes around flat or slightly hilly terrain whenever possible to maximize fuel efficiency. Additionally, taking breaks during long drives can help reduce the strain on the engine and help improve mileage over time. 

How To Regularly Maintain Your Generator For Fuel Efficiency?

Regular maintenance of your generator for fuel efficiency helps you save money on fuel costs in the long run and prolongs your generator’s life for years to come. With regular maintenance and a bit of care, you can rest easy knowing that your generator is always ready when you need it.

Some steps to maintain your generator for fuel efficiency include:

Keep Your Generator Cool

Heat build-up can significantly reduce the performance of your generator, resulting in decreased fuel efficiency and increased running costs. To prevent this, keep the generator away from direct sunlight and run it in a cool environment. Additionally, check the cooling system regularly to ensure it is operating properly.

Perform Load Testing

Be sure to perform regular load testing on your generator to ensure it is running at its peak performance levels. It allows you to identify any issues before they become major problems down the line and monitor any changes in fuel efficiency over time. 

Be sure to consult with an experienced technician if necessary to get the most out of your generator in terms of cost and performance. So, when you test your generator each month, test it for 30 minutes at 30%-50% of its maximum load.

Keep It Clean

It is essential to keep your generator clean if you want it to operate efficiently. It means keeping it free from dust, debris, and other clutter that can cause it to work harder than necessary. Additionally, clean the generator’s exterior regularly and inspect its components for any visible signs of wear or damage.

Ensure a Regular Maintenance Schedule

It is important to stick to a regular maintenance schedule for generators. It should involve draining any old fuel from the tank and replacing it with fresh fuel regularly, in addition to having any necessary repairs done promptly. Additionally, check the oil and filter regularly and always use high-quality fuel for the generator.

Monitor the Performance

Keeping your generator running at an optimal level requires that you regularly monitor its fuel levels. It should include checking for leaks and monitoring the oil levels to ensure it is properly lubricated. In addition, be sure to check the air filter and spark plugs every few weeks to ensure they are in good condition and not clogged up with dirt or debris.

Invest In Quality Parts

Invest in reliable generators as they make your life easy. You can also maintain your generator by investing in quality parts. It means using only genuine manufacturer-approved parts whenever possible, as these will help ensure your generator runs smoothly and efficiently over time. If a part needs to be replaced, always choose a high-quality option so that you don’t have to deal with problems later down the line. 

Can You Run Your RV Generator All Night?

Running your RV generator all night can be a safe and efficient way to power different appliances in your RV. Generators can typically run for 8 to 10 hours on 1 to 2 gallons of gasoline, sufficient for operating continuously overnight.

However, RV owners must consider several factors before deciding whether running the generator all night is viable for their particular situation. Some of them include:


Firstly, it can be expensive. The fuel consumption of a generator is generally high, and running at night will mean higher costs as you may end up using more fuel than necessary.


The noise level of a running RV generator is typically quite loud, and it can be difficult to sleep through. Therefore, running the generator all night can disrupt sleep and annoy nearby campers due to its loud noise. 

Carbon Monoxide(CO)

Carbon monoxide poisoning is the greatest danger of running the generator overnight. The portable generator naturally releases carbon monoxide when its engine is running. Inhaling too much of this gas can cause serious health issues and even death because of a lack of oxygen. 

So, if you plan on using your RV generator for an extended period, it is important to keep your generator about 20 feet away from your RV. You should keep carbon monoxide detectors nearby. This gadget has an alarm that will sound when there is a particular amount of carbon monoxide in the air.


Lastly, running the generator for long hours every night may also reduce its longevity. Continuous engine running can cause wear and tear on its components, affecting performance over time. Things become considerably more problematic if the generator is incapable of handling cooling.

Related Questions

How much gas does an Onan 4000 generator use per hour?

Onan 4000 generator generally consumes 0.5 gallons of gas per hour, which means it would use 2 gallons of gas in a 4-hour period. When running continuously, an Onan 4000 generator with a 50 percent load will consume around 12 gallons of gas in 24 hours. Remember that this is just an estimate, and your actual gas usage may vary depending on factors like the age and condition of your generator, the elevation you’re at, the humidity level, etc.

How much gas does a 5000-watt generator use?

A 5000-watt generator typically runs at .75 gallons of gas per hour, so it will use 3 gallons of gas in a four-hour period running time and 18 gallons of gas per day if you run it for 24 hours. If you are using the generator for only a short period of time, like to power a microwave for five minutes, it will use much less gas than if you were running the generator for four hours straight.

The Bottom Line

RVs generally have small generators which use gasoline, diesel, or propane to generate power. The amount of fuel they use depends on how long the generator runs and how much electricity it produces. On the other hand, if the generator is used only occasionally or for short periods, its usage is likely much less than that. 

You should practice proper maintenance and careful consideration when using the RV generator to get maximum fuel efficiency. It’s important to factor this in when budgeting for your RVing trip, as gas prices vary widely by location. Be sure to come up with an estimate ahead of time to ensure you have enough fuel!

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Written by William Perry
William was born and raised in the United States and currently lives in Utah. A retired police officer, he is the father of three and grandfather of six. Along with writing, he enjoys traveling, the outdoors, reading and spending time with his grandchildren.
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