How Many Watts Does a Pop-up Camper Use? Generator Size Tips 

When you use a pop-up camper for your camping vacations you are just one step away from nature. But that one step doesn’t mean you have to do without modern conveniences. Your pop-up can still have AC, a microwave, and other appliances if you have a power source.

How many watts does a pop-up camper use? On average you can expect your pop-up camper to use between 1500 to 3000 watts. Generally, the number of watts your pop-up camper will use will depend on the electrical appliances you have installed.

To learn more about the number of watts your pop-up camper will use just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to know in order for you to plan your vacation better. This information will help you buy the right generator as well.

How Many Watts Does a Pop-Up Camper Use?

It is hard to put an exact figure on the total amount of watts a pop-up camper uses because people have different appliances in their campers. Some people have a microwave while others cook over a camp stove or open flame.

Others do not turn on their AC at all during their vacation while still more people can’t live without it. The appliances you use will determine how many watts your pop-up camper will use.

Here is a little chart to help you figure out your total wattage use and may help you decide which appliances not to turn on when you are on holiday:

Typical electrical appliance Amount of wattage used
Coffee maker (600W) 600 watts
Fridge (600W) 180 watts
Microwave (1000W) 1000 watts
Television set (200W) 200 watts
DVD (350W) 350 watts
Satellite (250W) 250 watts
Electric grill (1700W) 1700 watts
Fan (120W) 40 watts
Light bulbs (40 to 100W) 40 to 100watts


We did not include the heater or the air conditioner as those two appliances will be talked about in the next 2 sections. The key takeaway here is that the number of watts you use will depend on the appliances you need to use each day.

How Many Watts Does a Pop-Up Camper air Conditioner Use?


The answer to this question will also depend on the size of the AC unit in your pop-up camper. A smaller 13,500 BTU AC will use between 1,500 to 2,000 watts even though its base wattage is between 2,800 and 3,000 watts.

The larger 15,000 BTU AC has a base wattage of 3,300 to 3,500 watts and will use on average 1,300 to 1,800 watts. Your generator should be rated for more watts than the AC can use up.

The trouble with having an AC unit in your pop-up camper is that it will take up most of the available power and you will have to shut it off when you need to use another appliance.

For example, if your AC unit uses 1,500 and your generator only produces 2000, then you have to shut the AC off to use the microwave. You will have to stop cooking on your electric grill, which can use 1700 watts if you want to cool the camper down before you eat.

It will take some planning to schedule the use of all the appliances you want to use or you may have to break down and buy a noisy generator that produces a lot of watts. Some models produce between 3500 and 7800 watts and run on either gas or propane.

How Many Watts Does a Pop-Up Camper Heater Use?

A basic heater may use about 1,300 watts but that figure may change depending on the type of heater you have inside the pop-up camper. This makes it hard to give you an exact figure on how many watts your pop-up camper will use. There are just too many variables to consider.

But like the AC unit, if your generator only produces 2000 watts of power, then you will be shutting off some appliances just to use the heater. Using the coffee maker in the morning will put you at the edge of your limit while staying warm and cooking breakfast will be out of the question.

Some appliances you will not have to worry about as they do not use enough power even when used at the same time. Be careful of those hairdryers though as some models can drain the wattage supply very quickly.

Again, if your generator is not that powerful, you will have to create a schedule to make sure you maximize the power you have available. Or upgrade your generator to a more powerful; one so you do not have to worry at all while you are away from home.

Will a 2000 Watt Generator Run a Pop-Up Camper?


It will but as we have already explained, you will have to figure out when to use certain appliances. Even the small ones add up if you are running them all at the same time. The coffee maker, fridge, lights, DVD, and fan only add up to 1,230 watts so you are good to go for that morning cup of coffee.

But you would have to turn off the coffee maker, DVD player, and possibly the fan if you want to cook a nice breakfast over your electric grill. As you can see, your appliance use will have limitations and you will have to enforce the schedule strictly to not lose power.

It will take some practice and a little adapting to the schedule but you can use your appliances at the right time and not overwork your generator.

What kind of Generator for a Pop-Up Camper?


There are several different types of generators you can buy. The one to avoid though would be the non-inverter style as that unit doesn't produce the same type of power and normally won’t power your pop-up’s appliances.

You want to make sure you have an inverter generator to make sure all your appliances will function. Then, to find the right generator for you and your pop-up camper, you will have to make some tough decisions.

Those decisions involve how many appliances you will use while you are away. If you do not need to use your television set, hairdryer, coffee maker, and other small appliances, then you may be able to get by with a small model.

Just make sure it can power those larger watts using appliances without any trouble. While they are cheaper, they also produce less electricity. If you feel you can’t live without some smaller appliances then you need to move up a notch to a medium-sized generator.

Then if you want to use a lot of appliances at the same time, you need to go to a larger power source and pay the extra money it will cost you. Keep in mind that the storage space needed gets larger for every size you go up.

Finally, you will have to decide what kind of generator you want. There is a lithium battery model, a propane unit, and a gas unit. Some models operate on both propane and gas to give you some fuel protection.

There is a wide selection of generators you can use.

What Size Generator for a Pop-Up Camper?


The size will depend on the number of appliances you want to use while you are away from home. When you are camping at a campground, you do not have to worry about this as most campgrounds have 30 am or 50 amp plug-ins you can tap into.

But when you are at a campground that doesn’t have a plug-in or you are out in the woods away from the crowd, then the size of generator you buy is important. Do not go cheap and buy a small one as it may not be powerful enough to handle all the appliances you want to run.

At a minimum, a 2000 watt producing generator should be ideal and give you lots of leeway if you change your mind about which appliances you will use midway through your holiday.

Then to be on the very safe side of things, a generator producing 3000 watts should have you completely covered except for the grill and the AC unit. Remember the larger size of the generator may produce a lot more noise which may disturb your neighbors.

Do You Need a Generator for a Pop-Up Camper?


When you are looking for that ideal back-to-nature camping experience, then no you do not need a generator. You will only need one if the appliances included in your camper cannot run on a DC battery.

That is if you want to use your appliances. For a real camping experience, you do not need one. But you should have one as you never know when you will need the power and having a generator around will spare you a lot of trouble.

There are low-weight generators that run around 30 pounds. These may not weigh a lot but they still produce the amount of power you will need. Plus, there are a lot of low noise units that do not disturb anyone while still giving you 2000 to 3000 watts of power.

The key to finding the right generator for your next camping trip is to determine how much power you will need at any given time and how many appliances you will use at the same time.

Once you do the math, then read the reviews on the different available models to find the unit that will do what you need it to do. Then make your decision. While you do not need a generator for your pop-up camper as batteries and solar power can be excellent alternatives, it is a good idea to have one along.

What to Buy for Your Pop Up Camper

Pop-up campers do not come with a lot of frills, luxuries, and so on and it is good to have a list of items to purchase to make up for this lack. Here are a few items to consider bringing along with you as you go camping.

  • 1. Generator - this is a must-have if you need to run a lot of appliances mentioned above and placed on this list.
  • 2. Dehumidifier - if you are going to camp in a high humidity region of the country, you will need to protect your pop-up camper and your health by using one of these units.
  • 3. Small heater - even if your pop up has one installed already, having an extra one along for the cold nights may come in handy
  • 4. Surge protector - this unit will protect your appliances especially at those campgrounds or RV parks that have fluctuating electrical current.
  • 5. DC Battery - it is good to have a backup system just in case you forgot to get a case for the generator or recharge its battery

Optional- solar panels and solar system just in case you do not want to fool with a generator. These work well if you get the right size that produce the number of watts you need to run your pop-up camper.

Some Final Words

Pop-up campers are a very viable option when you want the RV experience without the cost. What you give up in luxury you get back in convenience and easy handling. Having the right generator is important as you want to make sure you get the power you need.

The right generator will provide the power you need to make sure all your appliances work as they are designed to work. The key is to find the right unit at the price that fits your budget.

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