30 Amp Vs 50 Amp Generators: What Is Right For You?

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The main differences between 30 amp and 50 amp generators are that 30 amp generators can produce fewer amps and have a lower watt ceiling.

30 amp generators tend to be better for purposes like camping, RV trips, tailgating, and DIY sessions because you typically don’t need as much power and have the option to use multiple outlets.

50 amp generators tend to be better for home backup power if you want to power a lot of appliances or bigger devices like a central AC.

The main potential downsides of 50 amp generators are that they require a bigger budget and tend to produce slightly more noise than 30 amp generators.

In the end, you want to check your amp requirements, watt requirements, and how many outlets you can conveniently use.

Keep in mind that what a 30 amp generator can run can still vary a lot depending on the actual watt capacity of the individual model.

30 amp vs 50 amp generators: amp requirements

Devices that actually need 50 amps (or more than 30 amps) are not that common. Many people will find a generator that offers 30 amps enough in that area.

Even many 50 amp RVs can function reasonably well with a 30 amp to 50 amp plug adapter.

The main “unique” things a 50 amp generator can run are big central air conditioning systems and similar big systems and machines.

While amp capacity also influences the wattage you can get out of an outlet, knowing that a 30 amp generator could be good enough too can be helpful.

Watt potential 30 amp vs 50 amp generators

30 amp generators can only offer 7200 watts at best through one outlet whereas 50 amp generators can theoretically offer 12000 watts through one outlet.

Portable generators for home backup power benefit the most from this since you can typically only connect to your house through one outlet.

You do want to keep in mind that generators in these categories are not always strong enough for these amounts of power.

If you find choosing between 30 amp and 50 amp generators challenging, you are likely in a situation where you want to power your house, an RV, or bigger electrical tools through a cord.

As briefly mentioned above, the amp capacity of a generator does not only influence what devices you can use in terms of amps.

With the formula Watts = Amps x Volts it also becomes clear that the amp capacity of an outlet influences how many watts you can get.

In turn, how many watts you have available decides what and how many electrical devices you can run.

To put the difference between 30 amp and 50 generators in this area clear, you add a few standard amounts of volts to the formula above.

For example, with 240 volts, a 30 amp generator would be able to provide you with 7200 watts (if the machine is strong enough for this amount).

On the other side, a 50 amp generator would be able to provide 12000 watts (again, if the machine is strong enough.

So an important step in figuring out whether you need a 30 amp or 50 amp generator is estimating or measuring how many watts you need.

From a high-level view, if you don’t have a big central air conditioning or something similar and don’t mind paying some extra attention to what devices you run at the same time, a 30 amp generator could offer enough watts.

If you do have big electrical devices and/or want to just continue daily life without a second thought, a 50 amp generator could be a good idea.

30 amp vs 50 amp generator plug

Connecting to a 30 amp generator plug without adapters is typically easier than a 50 amp generator.

You will need different cords and/or adapters for these generators depending on what you want to power.

Of course, you also still want to keep the general generator safety guidelines like using a transfer switch when connecting the machine to your house in mind.

Two popular plugs for RVs are the 30 amp plug which looks like three prongs and the 50 amp plug with four prongs.

That being said, there are a variety of different 30 amp and 50 amp generator plugs too.

You will want to check the cord and/or adapter requirements for your situation and the generators you are considering.

What is the difference between a 50 amp and 30 amp generator plug?

The main differences between a 50 amp and 30 amp generator plug are their shapes and how much power they can provide.

30 amp vs 50 amp generator price

As you can expect, 50 amp generators are typically more expensive than 30 amp generators. This is not ideal even if you have the budget.

30 amp vs 50 amp generator sound

50 amp generators tend to be louder than 30 amp generators. The extra noise can be inconvenient for camping trips or small neighborhoods.

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30 amp vs 50 amp generator fuel sources

50 amp generators tend to come with dual or tri-fuel options more often than 30 amp generators although these have multi fuel models too.

This can be helpful if regular gasoline is not available or you simply prefer the other fuel sources for whatever reason.

In regards to fuel, it is also worth quickly mentioning that total run time and fuel efficiency can still vary a lot between individual 30 amp and 50 amp generator models.

It is hard to make any general statements about these details for the separate categories.

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Mats is the founder and head editor of Generator Decision. With a combination of critical thinking, tireless research, and a healthy interest in electronics he helps people find the right generators and how to use these. At this point in the journey, Mats has done research on hundreds of portable generators.