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Does a Travel Trailer Need a Generator?

Does a Travel Trailer Need a Generator?

Travel trailers are a fun way to travel, whether you are going all over the country or just a quick getaway close to home. Either way, you need to power all the appliances in your trailer if you want to survive for more than a few hours, and many people assume a generator powers travel trailers. So, does a travel trailer need a generator?

Travel trailers do not need a generator, and they usually do not come with a generator. You need to camp somewhere with an electrical hook-up box to get power to your travel trailer. However, you may want a generator if you need to use your power on the go or remotely without an electric hookup.

So, let’s discuss when you need a generator for your travel trailer and some alternatives to using generators to power your trailer. I will also explain how trailers with built-in generators work and how you can choose a generator to add to your trailer.

When You Need a Generator for Your Travel Trailer

Travel trailers do not need a generator, as there are other ways to get power to your trailer. However, there are some situations when you should have a generator, which I will detail in this section.

You Often Travel to Remote Locations

The most common reason to have a generator in your travel trailer is when you are not camping at campsites with electricity hookups often or on the road with your trailer a lot. 

When you are traveling a lot in your trailer, electric sites can be hard to come by, and you never know when you will need to stop in the middle of your journey for a night and will not have power. 

Electric power hookups are especially hard to find if you are camping in natural areas like national and state parks that allow parking but do not have many areas designated for electric travel trailers. 

A generator guarantees you will always have something to power your trailer no matter where you are, which is especially important for cooking food in your trailer’s kitchen and keeping your trailer warm in the cold. 

You Want To Prepare for a Power Outage

Another reason you should have a generator for your travel trailer is in case of an emergency or a power outage. Even if you can go a night without electricity, something might happen where you might need it, or you could be in the middle of the road and end up having to stop without power. Generators are a great way to ensure you have a backup form of power if you ever need it. 

Alternatives to Generators

While generators are nice to have in trailers, they are not necessary. You do not need a generator in your travel trailer if you are solely staying at established campgrounds or other locations where you can hook the trailer up to electricity. 

You need to be more diligent with where you stay, but electric campsites are pretty prevalent, so it is not hard to find them.

If you are not moving around often and you have your trailer parked in the same place or few places every year, you can leave it hooked up to an electric power source all the time, which eliminates the need for a generator. 

Staying in one place with a power hookup is the easiest way to go without a generator because you always know where your power is coming from, and you do not have to hook and unhook it up every time you move. 

You also do not need a generator if you have a trailer with no electric appliances. These are often smaller trailers, sometimes more like a van. These are the easiest way to go without a power generator, so you do not need to worry about an electric hookup. 

However, you’ll have to forego using electronics of any kind. Otherwise, you may need to use solar power or a backup battery to charge devices like phones, lights, or laptops.

Travel Trailers With Built-In Generators

Furthermore, some travel trailers come with a built-in generator. These trailers are a great way to keep power available to your trailer whenever and wherever you need it. If you are camping in many off-the-grid locations or away from traditional campsites, you should consider a travel trailer with a built-in generator. 

Travel trailers with built-in generators are often the nicest and biggest ones, although it is becoming increasingly common in new travel trailers. 

Most motorhomes and large RV home-style trailers are the majority of travel trailers that come with generators since these trailers are made to move around more often. 

Moving means more time without access to electric hookups and a higher need for the appliances in the trailer, like kitchen and temperature controls. So, having a generator in these trailers for immediate electric use is essential. 

travel trailer with built in generator

Arctic Fox Travel Trailer with Built-In Generator

If you are buying a new trailer and plan on using it often, especially on the road and away from campsites and electric hookups, you should consider one with a built-in generator. Something like the Arctic Fox North Fork. These are more expensive than travel trailers without generators, but they will save you time and money in the future if you should ever choose to install one yourself.

If you have a trailer without a generator and want to install one, or you end up buying a travel trailer with no generator, you can always add one. We will explain how to choose a generator in the next section. 

Choosing a Generator for Your Travel Trailer

Built-in generators are a great feature in a travel trailer, but it is not practical to expect them from every trailer. 

Some smaller trailers being made and sold today do not have built-in generators to keep the cost down because the demand is lower. And, there are lots of trailers out there that do not have a generator since they are older. 

Still, you can always add a generator onto a travel trailer. If you consider adding one, you need to know how to choose the right one for your trailer and your travel style. 

So, let’s look at some factors to consider when choosing a generator for your travel trailer: 

  • Calculate output of all appliances – When choosing a generator for your travel trailer, you need to select one with enough output for all the appliances in your trailer. You should know where the devices in your trailer are and how much wattage each one requires to run. Add them all up, and that is the minimum wattage you need for your generator.
  • More power than needed – You should always get a generator with more power than you need if you add any appliances or hook something else up to the generator. Using the wall outlets for devices, TVs, video games, or charging your electronics will take up extra power from your generator. So, always be more generous with wattage to ensure you have backup power.

Consider the cost of the generator. If you are traveling a lot, especially on the road and in off-grid places where electric hookups do not exist, you should not be cheap when choosing a generator. A good generator will last you a long time, and you will have minimal issues throughout its lifespan, even if you are using it all the time.

A popular generator option is the RV Ready Portable Generator by Champion. It comes with an electric start and can run on propane or gasoline.

Closing Thoughts

Travel trailers do not need generators because there are electric hookups to get power to the trailers at most campsites. 

However, if you are not always at an electric campsite or you are on the road a lot, you might want a generator for your trailer to keep the power running when you need it, especially for kitchen and temperature reasons. Some travel trailers, especially newer or larger ones, have a built-in generator nowadays, but you can always install a generator in your trailer. 


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