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RVing needs you to carry a lot of appliances. You either need electrical shore power or a portable source like DC battery or generator inverter to run them. Boondocking, or dry camping or when you are traveling you can’t be connected to shore power. And that’s when the generator can come handy.
You will find cheap RV generators online but its better to get one from reputed brand.
Not all Rv’s come with built in generators and that’s when you go for a portable generator.
So, what’s the best one out there that you can buy? There are several good generators from top-class companies like Honda, champion, generac and many more. A particular best generator may be good option for one Rver but may not be the best option for others.
There are lots of factors that come into the picture and you have to decide depending on your priorities. For some weight of the generator is critical and for some, it should be the quietest one. In this post lets explore things like the quietest RV generators, the less weighing compact generators for RV and other aspects of choosing a best RV generator.
1. Champion 3100-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator
Inverter generators from champion are a great buy and this 3100 watts RV ready generator is popular among Rvers. This is a great product and you hardly see anyone talking negative about it. Check its current price here on amazon
One of the most important thing people check is whether the generator will be able to run their RV AC or not. And guess what this one passes this test, a lot of people have confirmed about using 13,500 BTU AC on this.
- Great capacity, AC of 13,500 can run on it. A 15,000 BTU ac can also start on this but it struggle a little bit.
- Can run on QUITE economical mode
- Its RV ready
- Excellent build quality. Sturdy and suits well for camping in RV
- Great value for money. For the price, the noise isn’t that high under normal load (around 58 db).
- Provides free lifetime technical support at the time of this writing. Standard 3 year warranty available.
- Good features like smart mode, quick touch panel and low oil put off sensor.
- Slightly noisy when running on full load. Like a 13,500 Air Conditioner powered through this would be producing a noise of around 62-64 decibels. Else otherwise when the load isn’t high, the noise drops down to 56-58 db. So, wouldn’t call it a great disadvantage.
- Its slightly on the heavier side if you compare with others in same category.
Important Features :
- Fuel tank capacity of 6 liters or 1.6 Gallons.
- Running hours – 8 Hrs and around 25% load capacity.
- Comes with a handle to carry it.
2. Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator – Parallel Ready
This is a smaller, compact and reliable product from Generac that may not give everything that other companies give. However, this is a well priced product that gives value for money. Check its current price here on amazon.
This cost effective generator will work well for those who have moderate requirements and aren’t looking to run bigger air conditioners on it. This again is loved by RVers and is very popular.
- Its really compact and a perfect fit for your small travel trailer or pop up camper
- Ease of use especially starting.
- Its parallel ready. Now what does that mean? It means you can connect another inverter in parallel to double the power output. This however will need a kit which can also be bought together with this generator. This can be a handy feature specially when you have RV with 2 AC.
- One can run it in economy mode saving on fuel and reducing noise.
- Its less costly. In fact connecting two of these together to get 4000 watts would be cheaper than buying a 4000 watts alone of different company.
- It is light weight as compared to other in the category.
- Since its a 2200 watts may not be great in running bigger appliances together. Running refrigerator and other smaller appliances would go perfectly fine. However, you may not be able to run bigger air conditioner with this.
- Its slightly noisier if you are talking about 2200 watts generator.
- There is no oil drain plug and you have to tip over the generator to drain.
- Fuel gauge for monitoring is not present.
Important Features :
- On-off choke knob for startup
- LED indicators for users to know overload, low oil and ready to use status. Its parallel ready generator
- Fuel tank of 1.2 Gallons. A little larger tank even with the compact design.
- 10.75 Hours of running at 25%, which is great.
3. Honda 662220 2,200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
Honda is one of the reliable manufacturer of generators that not only gives awesome design but also value for money. Their generators are normally quite and good in terms of fuel consumption. No doubt Honda generators are popular among people in RV community. When investing in a generator what one looks for is quality and durability which Honda gives in its products. With noise level of less then 53 db its super quite for RV use. Here is the amazon link for this generator to check its current price.
- Super quite in operation
- Good economy mode to save fuel
- Compact and less in weight
- Portable and good for camping use
- Little bit costly generator
- Weighs around 47 lbs
- 2200 watts
4. Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000 / P2200
This Briggs & Stratton generator of 2200 watts or 3000 watts is a good buy and most RVers who use them have shown satisfaction. You can buy or check its current price on amaozn at this link.
You would also find people where they faced problems initial itself but that could be due to various reasons like product defects or using the generator in wrong manner. That’s when you should take help from their manual or call them for technical support. Overall the generator is good and for the price its not a bad buy. This is a best generator for running air conditioner in your camper or trailer.
- Good capacity to power appliances. 3000 watts generator is good enough to run the 13,500 BTU air conditioner
- Its parallel ready generator.
- Fuel efficient.
- Affordable as compared to other bigger brands.
- Its easy to move and operate.
- Not so cleaner and in-fact it cannot be shipped to California due to emission. That is to say, its not CAR compliant.
- Gives only 2 years warranty. Most other good generators give 3 years or more.
- Little bit noisy. In general, Its quite as compared to traditional ones but at 59 db if you compare those at 53 db of a Honda then its little bit more i should say. However, it depends a lot on your camping habits. 59 db for some may not be great noise but if you want pin drop silence then this may not be the one you want to buy.
Important Features :
- A very impressive fuel tank of 1.5 gallons
- Average running of 10 hours with around 25% load
- Provides 4 outlets
- Includes digital display for load output and other vital performance parameters.
5. WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, CARB Compliant
This is another series of generators by WEN and its really good for RV camping. You can get a 1000 watts, 1600 watts, 2000 watts, 2250 watts, 3100 watts and 3800 watts. Its upto you how much wattage you want but a very small 1000 watts wouldn’t be sufficient for sure. Here is the amazon link for this generator if you want to check its current price.
Its very nicely priced and even the noise level is low enough. A lot of people prefer this generator.
- Fuel consumption is reduced using economy mode, and it really works great in that mode.
- Maneuverability is good and thus a good buy for your travel trailer or RV. It weighs around 50-55 lbs
- Its CARB compliant and obviously that means no bad emissions
- Not expensive
- Noise levels are very less and they claim it to be 51 db which is really impressive.
- Build quality is not very great and if you are willing to use this daily then go for something more sturdy like honda.
- Maintenance and cleaning is a bit of more work
- Not so compact, its bit more in height.
- Eco mode for fuel saving
- Parallel connection ready generator
- Harmonic distortion of less than 1.2%
- Indicator LED for low oil, overload and output
- Moderate fuel tank of 1 gallon
- 6 hours running on half the load.
6. Westinghouse WGen2000/WGen3600 Portable Generator
This is a gasoline only type of conventional generator. Its noise is higher as compared to what we have put in the list above. It comes with a very large fuel tank. You can either go for 2000 watts or 3600 watts depending on your needs. If you want to run a bigger air conditioner then go for 3600 watts. Check its current price on amazon here at this link.
Its a good value for money and a lot of people i have talked to have found them good.
- Its reasonably priced
- Its sturdy and easy to mount
- Good fuel efficiency with full tank giving operation of around 18 hours (they claim this but may not give this much in practicality)
- Can run air conditioner on this without any issues
- Its easy to set up and comes assembled.
- Its CARB compliant and can be shipped to California.
- Noise level of 69 db is higher if you compare with other in our list. But, the noise that gets generated isn’t that high unless you are looking for very very quite one.
- It does not come with wheel kit which is normally seen in other portable generators
- It Weighs 104 lbs, now thats on higher side. And thus, you need to think twice before buying it for your smaller trailer. Otherwise,, a good buy with bigger fuel tank and price.
Important Features :
- It comes with oil, funnel and a tool kit
- Very big 4 gallon fuel tank capacity
- can run for around 18 hours on full tank
- Its gasoline only type generator
- Engine size of 212 cc
7. Yamaha EF2400iSHC, 2000 Running Watts/2400 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Inverter
Starting watts of 2400 and continuous use can be upto 2000 watts. This gas powered inverter generator has fuel capacity of 1.6 gallons. Check its current price on amazon here.
Yamaha are known for producing generators that are sturdy and last for many years. But, they tend to be little bit more on price range if you compare them with others in the range. They are really durable. This product is loved by many. This is definately one of the quietest generator you can buy for your travel trailer or camper.
- They are much quieter. At 52 decibels you really get a quite generator.
- Durable due to design. They have Good design that enhances its life.
- Many power outlets making the usage easy.
- Throttle feature for automatic control for engine speed to match load.
- Better capacity to operate appliances.
- Can operate a 5000 BTU, 8000 BTU and even 13500 BTU air conditioner in your camper or travel trailer.
- They are more expensive
- Higher weight. Weighs around 75 lbs.
- Little bit difficult to maintain like oil changing isn’t that easy.
- 30 amp outlet not present, but you can always use the conversion adapter for this.
Important Features :
- Runs around 8.6 hours on 1/4 load capacity
- Fuel gauge to monitor the fuel level
- Comes as 2000 watts and also 2400 watts.
- CARB compliant
- 1.6 gallons of fuel capacity available
8. DuroStar DS4000S, 3300 Running Watts/4000 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator
This DuroStar product comes at less cost and provides value for money. It isn’t the one that you get in a Yamaha or champion but at this price 3000 watts can be great. Noise level with 3000 watts aren’t that high. It also comes with a protective frame that helps in isolating motor mounts. Also muffler is used which helps to reduce noise. If you wish to try and see if it works out then go for this. Else spend more and buy any of the ones mentioned above. Check it here on amazon
- Peak watts of 4000 watts is really good for running RV air conditioner
- Has low oil shut off feature
- Not expensive at the watts it is giving.
- Relatively Quite generator. Doesn’t make much noise at this level.
- Not great in terms of hours of operation. Gets around 8 hours on 1/2 load.
- High on weight. Weighs around 102 pounds. That’s a concern if you own a smaller RV or camper.
- Not so compact in terms design
- Does not have wattage meter to show load
- Oil draining is little difficult.
Important Features :
- Gives 2 120 V outlets and 1 120V 30A outlet
- Its CARB compliant
- Noise level at 69 decibels
- Has 102 lbs of Weight
- It is gas powered
9. DuroMax XP4400E 4,400 Watt 7.0 HP OHV 4-Cycle Gas Powered Portable Generator
This sturdy generator by DuroMAx gives high watts but its bulky and may not be ideal when it comes to Rving. But at the price at which it is sold makes a great case to consider this. If you are not worried about extra 50-60 lbs (its weighs 120 pounds) then go for it. If you want a one that can be used for many other purposes then this one can be a great buy. But, if you want a one that will be needed only for your travel trailer camper then have a look at other mentioned above.
- Good maneuverability. Includes wheel kit
- Has electric start
- Its built quality is great and thus increased durability.
- Quite operation. Noise suppressed with the help of muffler.
- Reasonably priced
- Less maintenance required (at least during first initial years)
- Weight is 120 pounds and thus for RV usage you need to think twice.
- Not compact and thus for campers it may not be really a good choice as compared to others.
Important Features :
- 4 gallons of fuel capacity
- 4400 max watts capacity for starting
- Automatic low oil shut off feature
10. Pulsar G2319N 2,300W Portable Gas-Powered Quiet Inverter Generator
The Pulsar G2319N series of generator are great if you are looking for a generator only for camper. You also get 4000 watts and 200 watts variants in this series. This is a compact low on weight generator that can be good for a small travel trailer or pop up camper. It also comes at 4000 watts but with this the price increases. This can be good for running bigger Air conditioner at 8000 BTU or even 13500 BTU. Check this generator’s current price on amazon.
- Its reasonably priced to give 2300 watts
- Overall good quality product with very nice design
- Its very compact and a perfect fit for Rving
- Provides good sine wave for operations
- Parallel connect ready generator. Meaning you can connect other similar generator to get more watts.
- Weighs very less and thus great for RV’s
- Its fairly quite but at higher load becomes a little noisy.
- Slightly lagging in terms of hours usage.
Important Features :
- CARB complaint
- Provides starting watts of 2300 and running 1800 watts
- Noise at 59 decibels as claimed by them
- 6 hours of operation on half loads
- Weighs just 47 pounds
- Fuel capacity of 1.18 gallons
What to look for in a generator for RV
Okay! we have seen so many generators and each of their manufacturers boast so many good things about them. No doubt all of them are really good ones and you can easily get confused as to which one should you buy.
People RVing in different conditions have various questions like “which is the best generator while boonodocking?” or which genertaor can i use for both home and RV? or which one is the quitest generator for RV? People have different needs and thus its important to map your requirements with whats available in market.
So, how do you decide which generator is right for you? Well, there are lots of factors that you need to consider. Lets go through them one by one and then you should be able to filter out the right one for you.
This will help you decide how many watts generator you will need while camping. Getting a one with insufficient watts will lead to annoying you when you will need it the most. Similarly, getting a over-sized generator will be waste of money and extra weight on your travel trailer or motorhome. Thus make sure you get the calculation right before finalizing.
In a competitive market of generators you will find lots of brands selling generators. But, be sure to get a one that has been delivering generator products for years. Its a big investment and thus going for a brand can actually save your agony later on.
Make sure you get standard warranty product. Electrical appliances are always prone to defects and issue and generator are no different. Mae sure you get at-least 3 yeas of warranty product.
This one is a critical factor when you are RVing. You definitely don’t want that continuous irritating noise while you take a nap in your otherwise quite RV or camper. A noise level of 53- 60 decibel is considered very quite.
Decide whether you want gasoline, propane or diesel one. Each have their own pros and cons
This one is critical but most portable generator come at low weight. But still make sure you don’t opt for a one that’s more on weight.
This is obvious factor and you should always go for something that provides value for money. A lot of above mentioned generators are in fact value for money picks.
With lots of models coming in market, you get features that make your life easy. A fuel indicator, a display to show load, low oil shut off and many other features can be great to have.
Having a compact generator in RV can be great and thus look for compact design generator.
You should be able to move it easily while camping.
Obviously you should get good hours if running on fuel. For full timers its more important as otherwise the budget shoots up very easily.
Why do you need generator in RV
A generator inverter can provide power to all you electrical and electronic appliances when you aren’t connected to electric hookup. A generator is needed when you are dry camping or boondcking when you don’t have power source. Whether you have a class A RV or Class C RV, dry camping without electrical hookup will mean you need that portabel or built-in generator.
Even while driving on the road you may need to take help from generator. Most RVs are packed with amenities and appliances that need good watts to run. An air conditioner in camper is the most consuming appliance. Also, other appliances like microwave, coffee maker, refrigerator, television can be run using generator.
A good branded generator providing pure sine wave can also help in charging laptop, mobile and also camper DC batteries. Charging batteries through generator however may not economical way as you will have to use voltage converter leading to power loss.
Cant you RV without a generator?
Having a generator in RV is almost a must if you are full timing. An occasionally camping guy who mostly prefers to camp in a bigger campground may do even without a generator. But, even in such times you may come in need of power while traveling.
Thus, having at least a small portable generator wouldn’t be a bad idea. If you are boondocking then be sure you have a good watts generator with you.
Having solar installed on RV or having a good big DC battery with a inverter can opt as second option for you. But, a good generator is the best option when it comes to getting good watts source.
What makes some people avoid generator? Well, there shouldn’t be many people doing it but yes generator do come with minor disadvantages like noise, weight, space issue, maneuverability, maintenance. These are minor cons when using with camper or travel trailers but one shouldn’t be too annoyed by these compromises i guess.
Don’t RV’s have pre-built generators?
Yes, motorhomes like class A or class B or even fifth wheels do come with in built or on board generators. Bigger luxury RV’s are given an option of pre built generators. But, not all RV’s will have such generators. Specially travel trailer or pop up campers or even fifth wheels wont have built in generators.
This is for the simple fact that generators are skipped to avoid extra cost, weight and size of the RV. It not only needs specially built generator but also special arrangement to accommodate it inside.
Also, not all RVers would need generators and thus to keep it simple such generators are not added. But, as we have seen above one can always opt for a portable generator that is not only low in weight but also less noisy and less expensive.
How big generator should you get?
This is one question that most RV generator buyers have in their mind. Getting right sized generator is key if you boondock often. This basically has to do with the number of appliances that you wish to operate using generator. It also depends on the maximum watts that are needed by those appliances.
Running many appliances in parallel would increase your watts requirement. Bigger appliances like air conditioner or refrigerator need most watts. They also have higher starting watts as compare to continuous running watts.
In most cases the watts that you need on your generator will be dictated by the BTU of your air conditioner. To run a bigger 13,500 BTU or 15,000 BTU AC you will definitely need a bigger generator more than 3000 watts.
Smaller AC’c like 5000 BTU or 8000 BTU can be run using 2000 – 3000 watts generator. This calculation should be done based on other parallel run appliances as well. You wouldn’t only be running AC, you will also have some other smaller appliance or refrigerator running for sure.
Therefore do sum of watts needed by each of your appliances and then go for a generator that’s slightly more than what you may need. Below is the watts consumption of typical appliances having standard features.
- Refrigerator : Starting watts of around 550-620 watts and running watts of 200
- Air conditioner : 5000 BTU needs around 1000 watts, 8000 BTU will require around 1800 watts, 13500 BTU requires 2700 starting watts and 1300 running watts.
- Microwave : 1000 watts running
- Water heater : 1200 watts
- Coffee maker : 500 watts
- Cooker : 200 watts
- Lights : 60 watts (it depends on what kind you have)
So, with a 2000 watts generator what can you actually run on it? Based on this calculation you can figure out how big generator you would really need. Now, there will always be exceptions as electrical or electronic appliances do not always function in ideal conditions. But, ideally a 2000 watts generator should be able to operate below,
- A smaller television
- A good sized refrigerator
- Small cooker
- coffee maker
- Small sized Air conditioner(less than 5000 BTU)
- Charge batteries
How long will the RV generator last?
Portable generators can last for 10,000 to 20,000 hours on an average. But, obviously this number can vary for people. It totally depends on how the generator is maintained. A good maintenance and proper usage can increase the life of generator.
Having said this it also depends on the brand and the quality of the generator. In most cases after 1000 hours of operation one may need bigger servicing, otherwise regular oil changing and minor servicing will be needed.
Now, how fast you will hit the number of hours is upto your usage. One person boondocking very often will end up using the generator for 5-8 hours a day and with that calculation more maintenance will be needed.
So some points you should remember to make sure your generator does not reach its end early.
- Follow manual point to point if you are not sure about the operation
- Buy from a branded and reputable manufacturer only.
- Look for warranty and get at-least 3 years warranty
- Follow maintenance schedule strictly
How much gas a RV generator normally uses?
RV portable generator can be a propane, diesel or gasoline run. Each for these fuels have their own advantages and disadvantages. Diesel among the three generator burns well. Diesel generator will also give more hours before making a major haul.
Having said this propane is a better source for rv generator as its very easily available and portable. Propane run generator for RV also produces minimum noise as compared to other tow.
So, how much fuel does the generator consume per hour? It obviously depends on what fuel it is, how much load is put on generator and also the age and condition of the generator.
On an average a 6000 watts generator running on propane can consume around 1.5 gallons for every hour. A diesel run 6000 watts generator on an average will consume less than 1 gallon per hour. Where as gasoline will need 1 gallon for an hour of operation. These numbers may vary slightly with different factors listed above.
How many decibels is too much for rv generator
Most portable generators in our list above have noise level between 53 to 65 db. And this is a great noise level to have in generator for RV. Remember, the lesser the noise more will be the price of the generator. Companies like Honda, Yamaha produce good quieter generators but they are also high priced .
A 65 db level noise cannot be considered bad, but when you are sleeping inside the RV even that noise can be annoying. Mostly, manufacturers list decibel levels but that may not necessarily mean it will operate at that level always. Its the ideal decibel level and there will always be variation depending on on factors like load, age of the generator.
Everybody wants a silent generator but at times it starts to make noise. During such times you can also take help of noise reduction equipment like mufflers.
Where to place portable generator on a travel trailer
Travel trailer most of the time don’t come with built-in generator and thus you go for portable one. A towed travel trailer is a modest RV with limited space and thus obviously getting this extra appliance on-board will need special consideration.
So, where do you add the generator on a travel trailer? Below are multiple option that you get.
- You can add generator above battery box behind the propane tank
- Build a custom box at the bumper and place the generator inside it.
- If you are using truck to tow the trailer then place it inside the truck bed
- Mounting the generator at the bumper hitch
- A- frame on top of the propane tank.
These are different solution that one can use for adding a portable generator to a travel trailer or even fifth wheel.
Can you run generator in RV while driving
Running a portable generator while driving should be avoided as it will not be properly mounted. One can run a built-in generator while driving the RV. Mostly people try to run their refrigerator or roof top air conditioner while driving but avoid the generator while driving as far as possible.
There are other ways how you can keep the RV or refrigerator cool while driving. Using propane while driving is also not good and thus avoid it. Using a DC batter can however be good while driving so if you have a good DC battery then make use of it wherever possible.
Some things like parking the RV in shade, keeping good air circulation inside RV, using sun protective covers for windows can help in avoiding air conditioner and thus generator.
Whats the average weight of portable generator for RV
Getting a heavy generator for RV cannot be a sensible thing to do. Specially for a smaller travel trailer a weight of more than 80 lbs for a generator is a negative. Portable generators are built to be small and weigh less and therefore don’t go for the ones that weigh higher.
Most of the generators that i listed above weigh much less. There are few that weigh above 100 lbs but they do have their pros. So its up to you to get a one that suits your needs. Most of the generator in our list weigh less than 55 lbs and that is great for camper use.
A Generator will weigh less when bought but once you fill it up with fuel and oil the weight will increase so be sure to keep this point in mind when buying.
Having gone through all the best options in portable generators for RV, i am sure you have decided the best one out there for you. Getting generator without much thought can result in disappointment if it isn’t fitting your needs.
Choosing right watts, size, weight, and noise level for the generator is important specially because they cost so much. Hopefully you will be making the right decision and buying the best one out of all the options i have put above.