When I first started having an interest in RVs, I thought it was as simple as having a regular van. I assumed I’ll just have to start the engine and go wherever I want without thinking of anything else. 

One of the most common questions about RVs is if it can you run an RV generator while driving? 

I usually run the generator on long drives especially if I have the kids with me. We’ve never had problems with it, but just to give you more info on this topic, I did some research.

I started by renting an RV to feel what it’s like to have one and to see if it’s really something I’ll have a connection with. The first thing I tried was a basic RV, so I didn’t really think much of generators back then.

And as my interest in RVs grew deeper, I tried other RV classes and realized there’s more to it than just having somewhere to sleep comfortably when taking long drives. The advanced classes made me want more of RVing than I initially had.

For wanderlusts like me, owning an RV gave me a sense of freedom to explore more of the world. And having my home on wheels allows me to do that. I can have the comforts of home while we’re on the road.

Discovering more of RVs made me realize how little I knew about it in the beginning. As I got more exposure to RVs, I also got to know the intricacy of having more features for my own comfort.

One of the things I appreciate most is that RVs really feel like a home away from home – even with the kids around. That’s when I really started to appreciate the power of generators in RVs.

We can use the TV and kitchen appliances anytime. Hitting the roads for days has been a breeze since then.

Having more understanding how RVs work made us maximize our resources to full potential. It also allows us to know how to take care of our own RV better. 

And when we can’t hook up to shore power, our generator has always been dependable. But how much do we really know about RV generators?

So, can you run an RV generator while driving an RV?

The answer to this is YES. You can run your generator while driving your RV.

But before we  go to the details, let’s look into the types of generators first because each type has its own limitations.

Types of RV Generators

Regardless if your generator runs on propane, diesel, or regular fuel, the two main types of RV generators are:

  • Built-in Generators – these are the generators that are directly installed in the RV. they are designed to run the appliances that are already in the RV.
  • Portable Generators – these are relatively smaller generators and easy to move around.

Is It Safe to Run the RV Generator While Driving?

Here comes the more comprehensive explanation on running the RV generators while driving.

The reason I specifically mentioned the main types of generators is because built-in generators and portable generators work differently in terms of running them while driving.

If we are talking about a built-in generator, it’s generally safe to run while driving your RV. Because it’s installed in a fixed location within the RV, then it technically runs using the same fuel tanks that run the engine. Take note, however, that these generators normally shut off once the gas is less than a quarter of the tank.

On the other hand, portable generators are not typically safe to run while you are driving your RV. The reason for this is plain and simple: portable generators are placed inside the RV and its fumes are harmful to your health.

And since it is moveable, then it might not be stable inside the RV and can tip over anytime. If it does, then it may cause damage to the RV and is also hazardous to health if the fuel spills.

Therefore, you need to take these factors into consideration for your own safety.

Can You Run an RV Air Conditioner While Driving?

One of the most important features of an RV is the air conditioner. Majority of the RVs have dual air conditioning systems: the dash air conditioner and the rooftop air conditioner.

We all know that you can run the dash air conditioner while driving. But can we run the rooftop air conditioner as well?

Yes, you can run both the dash and the rooftop air conditioner while driving. However, you must take into consideration that running both at the same time would require more fuel, depending on what you are using for your RV.

This is because the rooftop air conditioner is run by the generator, and the generator requires fuel for it to work. So the bottom line here is that more power required means more gas utilization.

How Long Can You Run an RV Generator?

Another frequently asked question among RVers is how long an RV generator can run. This is very important for every RV enthusiast to know as this will greatly affect the trip if done carelessly.

Not all camping grounds have shore power for you to hook up to. And in these cases, you need to rely on your RV’s generator. And can you even run your generator in state parks? More on that here.

For this, I initially learned from fellow RVers that built-in generators can run for days as long as you have gas. However, you have to remember that if your gas is less than a quarter of the tank, then the generator will automatically shut off.

On the other hand, portable RV generators are known to last for 8 to 20 hours depending on the model.


While it is okay to run a built-in RV generator while driving, it’s not the same case for portable generators. There are safety concerns you need to consider if you intend to use the portable ones.

On the other hand, you can run the dash and rooftop air conditioners while driving. One thing to note is that rooftop air conditioners run on generators, so you have to also take into account that it will affect your gas consumption.