RV Generator Comparison – Diesel Vs Propane Generators

Diesel or propane may be the choice of the RV onboard generator. After seven years on the road in three different RV’s, we are comfortable talking about the differences between the two. The pros and cons of diesel and propane generators will be discussed.

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PROS of Diesel Generators

  • The cooling system has a sound-controlling housing and a double isolation mounting system.

Availability of Diesel Fuel

The availability best silicone spatulas of fuel is a concern when choosing an RV generator. Diesel fuel is more readily available than propane. Trying to find fuel is not a problem.

Our generator is powered by our diesel fuel tank, which is great. We can power two engines from one tank.

Fuel Efficiency

Diesel generators are more efficient than onboard propane generators. A full load of electricity uses about one third of a gallon of fuel per hour for our diesel generator. We can power our vehicle for 60 hours. This is a huge benefit.

Our RV generator is shut off before the coaches fuel tank is empty, thanks to a built in safety feature. We can still drive to a fuel station with proper planning, thanks to this.


We think our generator is very reliable. Generator maintenance is inexpensive.

Any diesel mechanic should be able to help with regular service, repairs, and problems.

CONS of Diesel Generators

The initial cost is one of the biggest drawbacks to an RV diesel generator. A diesel generator is more expensive than a propane generator. You have to consider how you will use your RV to determine if you should pay the initial cost.

If the generator on the RV is working, you will be able to sell it for a profit.

Fuel Cost

Fuel cost can change. It also depends on where you are. Higher fuel costs can be found in certain regions of the country. RV generator operating expense is related to the economy. It will take less to operate a diesel generator when diesel prices are low.

Fuel cost can change from being pro to con depending on the economy. One for you to think about is the consideration that is changing.

For $36, we can power every aspect of our vehicle for 2 and 1/2 days.

Slightly Less Power

The Cummins Onan 3200QD RV generator is rated to produce 3000 watt under ideal conditions. The propane-powered generator has a higher output.

This difference is negligible, but still less powerful. All of the appliances can be powered up all the time. We don’t want to overload our electric output, which can cause strain on the generator.

Fumes and Noise

Diesel generators emit fumes. On social media and around the campfire, that topic is frequently discussed. Diesel generators emit fumes and an exhaust smell.

The exhaust fumes can be mitigated by installing a Gen-turi exhaust vent system above the roofline of your RV.

Diesel generators are louder than propane generators. This is dependent on several factors. It is where the generator is located in the RV, where the RV is parked when running the generator, and where the windows and door are located.

We use our diesel generator for routine maintenance. The solar and energy management system was installed by us in the Class C Winnebago View motorhome.

There is a diesel generator located in the front of the motorhome. The diesel generator is located in the back.


PROS of Propane Generators

  • The National Park Service requires a sound level of 60 decibels. Microprocessor control. Four point isolation for smooth operation. The Cummins-Onan engine has a full housing with an enclosed muffler.

Initial Purchase Cost

The money you save by purchasing an RV with a propane powered generator is the most obvious point. If you buy a propane generator, you could save thousands of dollars.

You need to assess how the generator will be used. You could use the savings to install more efficient RV batteries, solar panels and components for a reliable energy management system.

It is wise to purchase an RV with a propane generator if you are a park-to- park camper.

Burns Cleaner

The exhaust odors associated with diesel generators are not associated with onboard propane generators. You won’t annoy your neighbours with the exhaust. You don’t have to use a Genturi.

Slightly More Power – 400 watts more

A propane generator produces 400 watt more than a diesel generator. If more power is needed, this may be helpful.

propane generators weigh less It’s something you should consider if your vehicle is heavy. The initial cost is appealing to RV buyers.


The debate about propane generators being quieter than diesel is still going on. propane generators are quieter than other generators.

We can’t really tell the difference between the two sides as we can’t take one side or the other side. When boondocking, we rarely use our generator because of the cloudy days.

CONS of Propane Generators

Propane availability and Efficiency

The availability of fuel is one of the first points to consider when choosing a generator. It can be difficult to find propane in some parts of the country. Adding in the location of some refilling stations makes it hard to get your big rig motorhome to access them.

The inefficiency of propane generators is another concern. A full load propane generator can easily burn through 10 gallons of propane in a day. It could cost up to $30 a day. That is twice as much as a generator.

You should be aware that a propane generator can consume a lot of propane. It won’t shut itself down before emptying your propane tank, so you won’t have heat, water, or cooking appliances.

The propane generators are always near the motorhome.

It comes down to this…

We hope the differentials between the diesel and propane generators help give a better perspective. Generator preference is dependent on how much money you want to spend and how you are going to use it.

If you need to run your generator for hours at a time, you may want to look into the diesel option. The initial cost will be offset by accessibility.

If you are plugged in most of the time, you should choose the propane option. Better batteries or solar panels can save you thousands of dollars.

The key to successful generator life is regular periodic maintenance. Generators don’t start or run properly when ignored. It is important to exercise an RV generator every month for at least two hours to keep it functioning.

If you buy a pre-owned RV that has low hour usage on the generator, be aware that it may not have been serviced or maintained.

Cummins Onan onboard generators are quieter than National Park Service requirements. They are only intended for RV applications.

The pros and cons of diesel and propane are summarized. We want this to give you a good perspective and help you decide which one is better for you.

Don’t own a motorhome? There is an article on portable generators for towable RVs.

WEN 2000 Watt Inverter Generator

Other related articles that may interest you:

RV Living: CPAP Device Power Solutions for RVs

How to prepare an RV for camping.

Absolute Must-Have RV Boondocking Gear

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