How to Start an RV Generator

If you’re new to RVing, or if you’ve recently purchased a new RV, you may be wondering how to start your generator. An RV generator is an essential piece of equipment that provides power for your appliances, electronics, and other devices while you’re on the road or camping off-grid. Starting a generator can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before.

In this article, I will provide a complete guideline on how to start your RV generator, so you can be confident and prepared when you’re ready to hit the road.

I will also cover everything from safety tips, and equipment requirements to step-by-step instructions on how to start an RV generator. Whether you have a gasoline, propane, or diesel generator, I will provide you with the knowledge and confidence you need to start your RV generator with ease.

Before diving into the details of starting an RV generator, let’s take a quick look at some of the different types of generators available for RVs.

How to Start an RV Generator?

Turn off all the appliances and devices in your RV: Before you start the generator, make sure that all the appliances and devices in your RV are turned off. This will prevent any electrical surges or damage to your devices when you start the generator.

#1 Locate the generator: The generator is usually supposed to be located on the outside of the RV, either at the back or on the side.

#2 Check the fuel level: Before you start the generator, check the fuel level. Ensure there is enough fuel in the tank to run the generator for the time you need.

Turn the fuel valve on If the fuel valve is closed, you must turn it on to allow fuel to flow to the generator.

#3 Prime the generator: The next step is to prime the generator. This involves pressing a button or lever to allow fuel to flow into the carburetor. You can follow the instructions in your RV’s manual to prime the generator properly.

#4 Turn the starter switch on: Once you primed the generator, turn the starter switch on. This will start the generator.

#5 Let the generator warm up: After starting the generator, let it run for a few minutes to warm up. This will ensure that the generator is running smoothly before you start using it to power your appliances and devices.

#6 Turn on the appliances and devices: Once the generator is warmed up, you can turn on your appliances and devices. Make sure to turn them on one at a time, giving the generator time to adjust to the added load.

#7 Monitor the generator: While the generator is running, it’s important to keep an eye on it. You should check the generator frequently to make sure that it’s running smoothly and that there are no leaks or other issues. If you notice any problems with the generator, turn it off immediately and consult with a professional technician.

#8 Turn off the generator: When you’re done using the generator, turn off all the appliances and devices in your RV. Then, turn off the generator using the switch on the generator or the RV control panel. Allow the generator to cool down before putting the cover back on.

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Safety Issues You Should Keep in Mind

Starting an RV generator may seem like a simple task, but there are some safety issues that you should keep in mind to ensure your safety and the safety of others around you.

  • Make sure the RV is parked on a level surface before starting the generator. This will prevent the generator from tipping over or causing other issues.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for starting and operating the generator. This will ensure that you’re using the generator safely and efficiently.
  • You should definitely wear protective gear, such as gloves and eye protection when working with the generator. This will protect you from any debris or fuel spills.
  • Keep the generator away from any external flammable materials. This will reduce the risk of fire or explosion.
  • One thing you must keep in your mind carefully. Never operate the generator indoors or in an enclosed space like in a tent. This can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be deadly.

Different Types of RV Generators

There are different types of generators for RV. Here, I will provide some commonly used generators, their advantages and their disadvantages as well. This may help you to choose the perfect RV generator according to your needs.

1. Gasoline Generators

These are the most common types of generators used in RVs. They run on gasoline and are generally easy to start and maintain. Gasoline generators are also relatively affordable, making them a popular choice among RV owners.


Power Output: Gasoline generators can produce a lot of power, making them suitable for running multiple appliances and devices simultaneously, including air conditioners and other heavy-duty equipment.

Portability: Gasoline generators are typically lightweight and compact, making them easy to transport and store when not in use.

Cost: Gasoline generators are generally less expensive than other types of generators, making them a popular choice for RV owners on a budget.


Fuel Consumption: Gasoline generators can consume a lot of fuel, which means you may need to refuel frequently. This can be especially inconvenient if you are camping in a remote location where gasoline is not readily available.

Maintenance: You have to do regular maintenance for it, including oil changes and air filter replacements. If you don’t keep up with this maintenance, your generator may not work properly or could break down completely.

Safety: Gasoline generators produce carbon monoxide, which is a colorless, odorless gas that can be lethal in high concentrations. You should never use a gasoline generator inside your RV or in an enclosed space, as this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

2. Propane Generators

Propane generators are a cleaner and more efficient alternative to gasoline generators. They run on propane, readily available at most RV parks and campgrounds. Propane generators are also quieter than gasoline generators, making them a good choice for camping in quiet areas.


Fuel Efficiency: Propane generators are more fuel-efficient than gasoline generators. It means they can run for longer periods of time on the same amount of fuel. This can be especially useful if you are camping in a remote location and need to conserve your fuel supply.

Cleaner Burning: Propane is a cleaner-burning fuel than gasoline, which means propane generators produce fewer emissions and are better for the environment.

Quieter Operation: Propane generators tend to be quieter than gasoline generators, which can be beneficial if you are camping in a campground or RV park with noise restrictions.

Longer Shelf Life: Propane has a longer shelf life than gasoline, so if you store propane properly, you can keep it on hand for a longer period of time without it going bad.


Higher Upfront Cost: Propane generators tend to be more expensive than gasoline generators, so you may need to pay more upfront to purchase a propane generator.

Maintenance: Propane generators require regular maintenance, just like gasoline generators, including oil changes and air filter replacements.

Lower Power Output: Propane generators generally produce less power than gasoline generators, so they may not be suitable for you if you are going to run heavy-duty equipment or appliances.

3. Diesel Generators

Diesel generators are the most powerful and efficient type of RV generator. They can provide a lot of power for extended periods and are ideal for RVs that have a lot of appliances or devices that require a lot of electricity. But, diesel generators are also the most expensive type of RV generator.


Fuel Efficiency: Diesel generators are typically more fuel-efficient than gasoline generators. So, you can run these generators for longer periods of time on the same amount of fuel.

Durability: Diesel engines are known for their durability and can often last longer than gasoline engines. This can definitely be beneficial for you. If you want to use the generator frequently.

Power Output: Diesel generators can produce a lot of power, making them suitable for running multiple appliances and devices simultaneously. Also, you can smoothly use air conditioners and other heavy-duty equipment.

Safety: Diesel fuel is less volatile than gasoline, which means diesel generators are less likely to catch fire or explode.


High Initial Cost: Diesel generators are relatively more expensive to purchase and install compared to other types of generators. The high cost can be a barrier for small businesses and individuals with limited budgets.

Regular Maintenance Required: Diesel generators require regular maintenance to ensure they remain in good working condition. This maintenance can be costly and time-consuming, particularly for large generators.

Environmental Impact: Diesel generators produce harmful emissions, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter, which can have a negative impact on the environment and human health.

Noise Pollution: Diesel generators can be noisy, particularly when running at full capacity. This can be a problem in residential areas and can lead to complaints from neighbors.

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Starting an RV generator is a simple process that can provide you with the power you need to enjoy your RV adventure. By following the steps I have outlined in this article, you can start your generator safely and efficiently. Remember to keep in mind the safety issues when you are going to start and operate your RV generator for ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience. With the right generator and safety measures, you can enjoy all the comforts of home on the road. Have an enjoyable and safe trip!