What Do RV Generators Run On (Most Common Fuels)

Generators need fuel to generate electricity but what exactly do they run on? We’re covering that and more on this page.

The topic can get even more confusing when you consider the different types of generators that are available, which rely on different fuel types while rejecting others. 

What Do RV Generators Run On (Most Common Fuels)

Below you’ll find out which fuels modern commercial RV generators use and the qualities of each fuel type, so you know how to power your RV effectively.

The Three Fuels

There are three general fuel types that you should be aware of while powering your RV.

They are gas, diesel, and propane, and each come with their own pros and cons that everybody should consider when buying and maintaining their mobile home. 

You need to keep things like price, availability, storage, and ease of use when making your decision.


Gas is a readily available fuel that’s very popular for both domestic and RV use. This is because many RV models connect their fuel tank to the generator, making it much more convenient.

This can also be a problem, of course, since you could drain the fuel tank doing other things with the RV. That isn’t a problem if your generator has its own dedicated fuel receptacle.

You could also circumvent this issue if you have a safety shutoff system that detects a depleting tank and powers down to save fuel.

Gasoline has a short shelf-life – approximately three months – so it can’t be bought in bulk and could damage your generator if it turns bad inside your generator unit.

Because of this, gasoline generators require frequent maintenance.


Diesel is another high ranker when it comes to RV fuels. That makes sense since diesel is known for being efficient, clean, and cheap. That also means generators that run diesel tend to require less maintenance.

It can be the most effective fuel for those who want to stay on a budget but this does depend on where you are and what options are available to you.

It’s also the noisiest, so you’ll have to contend with that too. It can be stored for approximately six months before becoming unusable.


Propane generators aren’t known for their efficiency because they burn through their fuel supply quickly. It can also be the most expensive fuel in most areas.

So what’s the main benefit of propane generators? Propane is very easy to find, easy to store, and can be transported with almost no worries.

If you’re running on propane, you’ll need a large tank onboard to store enough fuel.

Propane is stored in sealed tanks and so it has a longer shelf-life than the other two options above, capable of lasting thirty years or even more. It’s also the lightest of the three fuels when stored.

Portable Generator Options

If you need to work with a portable generator, typically because your RV doesn’t have the right one built-in, then you should pay attention to how they are powered.

Portable generators have their own independent fuel tanks and, if you have propane, then you can connect to an external tank on the campground or RV premises.

Remember that weight is important for portable generators too, so you can haul it around if needed.

Dual Fuel

Generators that market themselves as dual fuel can run on both gasoline or propane, whichever you’d prefer.

They can support both a gas tank and a propane tank, so it’s properly equipped for different fuels.

If you have multiple fuel resources that you need to get rid of, these generators are great for eating them up.

They tend to be at the center of commercial price ranges.

This is making them a popular choice for consumers who want to take advantage of new technologies and the flexibility inherent to gasoline and propane as fuel sources.

Battery Operated

Battery-operated generators are the lightest and typically the quietest when it comes to modern generators.

They house a rechargeable battery that plugs into main power sources to recharge the RV. 

Some also come with a solar panel option but this will be more expensive and more useful in sunnier climates.

Battery generators are more expensive in general and the portable ones are often small enough to come with power concerns, especially when compared to other generators of the same size.

The batteries also take some time to charge, so you may need to be patient.

RV Generator Maintenance Tips

Now that we’ve covered the three different fuels and two different generator power types, you should know everything about what RV generators use to run.

You know the most common fuels that are used and how long they’ll last. To finish off, here are some maintenance tips that’ll help when powering up your RV.

When adding fuel to your generators, you’re creating wear and tear that may need to be dealt with in the future.

If you take care of your generator, it can take care of you and your RV for years to come. 

Nowadays, most generators don’t even need much in the way of TLC to stay at their peak performance.

We have some maintenance tips that every owner of an RV generator, and a portable generator, should keep in mind.

You should also consult any literature that comes with your generator, like owner’s manuals, because they’ll have model-specific information for your power supply.

  • Ensure there are no loose connections and inspect your wiring frequently.
  • Ensure there are no obstructions or damage to the exhaust pipe.
  • Check for oil/fuel leaks too!
  • Run the generator often to keep it performance-ready. You only need to run it for a few minutes to keep it lubricated and functional for the whole month. It also gets rid of moisture and the problems that come from that.
  • Drain any fuel before letting it sit in storage. The fuel will harm the generator from the inside if not properly drained.
  • With battery-operated generators, it’s a good idea to avoid letting it fall under 50% charge.

I'm an environment and energy blogger who teaches outdoor and energy enthusiasts how to be better informed when it comes to purchasing or maintaining a generator, solar panel system, or anything else related to your energy needs.