A Guide to Choosing Best RV Generator
If you like to venture off the beaten path when you go camping, you can still enjoy your trip in comfort. At a minimum, the best RV generator should keep your lights on at night, the radio or television powered up, and your cell phone fully charged.
Depending on the type and size of the generator, it may also run your RV water pump, keep your fridge running and your electric appliances powered.
Because choosing the appropriate generator for your RV, your electric needs and your camping style will make every camping trip more of a pleasure, you should carefully consider a number of factors before making your final decision.
- Top 5 Best RV Generator Reviews In 2017
- #1 - Honda EU2000I 2000 Watt Inverter Generator
- #2 - Westinghouse WH7500E Portable Generator
- #3 - Champion Power Equipment 75537i Portable Inverter Generator
- #4 - Champion Power Equipment 46539 Portable Generator
- #5 - Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000 PowerSmart
- Do You Really Need A Generator For Your RV?
- What Is The Best RV Generator For Your Purposes?
- Evaluating Your Fuel Sources
- How Noisy Is The Generator?
- How Much Juice Is Enough?
- Value For The Money
Top 5 Best RV Generator Reviews In 2017
Best For RV Air Conditioner
Best For The Money
59 dB at rated load 53dB at 1/4 load
58dBA from 23 ft.
68 dBA from 23 ft.
13 hours on a 6.6 gallon tank (at 50% load)
Up to 8 hours run time on a full tank of gas
Runs up to 12 hrs. on a full tank of gas.
3 year warranty
2-year limited warranty
Champion Support - 3 year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support
Champion Support - 2 year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support
Best Quiet Portable Generator For RV
If you are looking for a quiet generator that will not keep you up at night while you are camping in your RV, then the Honda EU2000i is a very user-friendly option that you may want to consider. It is manufactured from a reliable brand that offers a good warranty, it is fuel efficient, and it has an industrial design that is compact enough for travel. What makes it so great?
This is a lightweight generator that is ideal for your RV. It is only 46 pounds, so it will not weigh you down or be difficult to carry, especially with the built-in ergonomic handle that is designed to make it more comfortable. In addition, the fuel tank only carries a little over one gallon of fuel.
This generator is fitted with eco throttle technology that is designed to help you save as much fuel as possible while you are camping. That being said, the single gallon of fuel that the generator holds can last up to nine and a half hours without any issues.
If the oil level in the generator ever reaches a critically low point, there is a warning system on the unit that will automatically shut off the engine. There is also a spark arrester on the device to ensure that if it overheats, it will not start a fire.
One of the main features that you will find on this generator is the noise dampening system. It has a two-tiered operation that only operates at 59 decibels, which mean that you will only hear a low humming sound when it is in operation.
If this generator does not offer enough power, it has parallel operation capability. That means that you can run to generators side by side and link them so that they can carry double the load. The two generators need to be EU series generators, but with this feature activated, you can run several appliances at once without an issue.
- It has a very quiet motor, which is ideal for camping. During operation, it generates only 53 to 59 dBA.
- It is a lightweight generator. The EU20001 weighs just 47 pounds, and has a built-in handle that makes it easy to move around.
- Less than a gallon of gasoline is a fill-up.
- It is highly efficient when it comes to fuel. It runs up to 8 hours on a full tank, depending on the load you put on it.
- The Honda EU2000I has a built-in inverter, so it delivers stable AC power suitable for sensitive electronics.
- It can meet a 1600-watt running load demand.
- You can connect it to another Honda 2000W generator for twice the power output.
- It is very easy to use and service.
- It comes with a generous three-year warranty.
- It has no mechanism to track total run time, so you don’t know for sure when maintenance is due.
- It does not have an automatic fuel shutoff switch, so you have to go outdoors and manually shut if off.
- The generator may take more than a couple pulls to start in cold weather.
- It is not powerful enough to run an average RV air conditioning system.
- When filled with gas, it is too heavy to carry easily.
- The price is on the high side for a 2000W generator.
The Honda EU2000i is a great generator for someone who likes to go camping. It is big enough for most of your camping needs, but it may not be sufficient for running multiple devices at the same time. Regardless, you can link two together to get more power, and you'll have a quiet generator that is ideal for camping excursions with your family.
Best Portable Generator For RV
The Westinghouse WH7500E is one of the most portable RV generators on the market this year. Even though it is a bit on the heavy side, weighing in at a little over 200 pounds, this generator is positioned on wheels that allow you to roll it around the campsite as well as foldable handles that will make it easier to maneuver. Let's take a look at some of the other features of this generator.
This generator is a true powerhouse. It runs at 7,500 watts, which gives you more than enough power to have several appliances functioning in your RV at once. The best part of having all of that power is that the generator can run at 50 percent for up to 13 hours of time.
Since the unit is only able to hold 6.6 gallons of fuel, this Westinghouse generator is very efficient. This is a relatively large engine, which typically means that it has a crank start that is tedious for some, but fortunately, this generator comes with an electric start that makes it easier to use.
Since this is a large, powerful generator, you would expect a lot of noise being generated from the machine, but fortunately, it only produces 71 decibels. Surprisingly, the 200-pound model has a relatively small footprint that is 22 inches high, 27 inches long, and 20.5 inches wide. The compact design is positioned on a set of wheels and it comes with collapsible handles that you can use to move it.
On the side of the generator, there is an LCD display that lets you know how much runtime that you have used so that you can get an idea when you are going to run out of power. There is also a low oil alert that shows up here as well. If the oil becomes too low, the engine will automatically shut down. You will not be able to restart it until the oil has been refilled to safe levels.
- It has 7,500 watts of power that are ready to be used.
- It is a great value.
- The generator has a reasonably quiet operation.
- It is fuel efficient.
- It comes with a three-year warranty.
- It is positioned on wheels.
- It has an electric start.
- There is no gas drain on this generator, which makes it difficult to store for the winter.
- It is a heavy device.
- There is not a voltage meter on the generator.
I really love the Westinghouse WH7500E as a portable generator for RV traveling. It is a bit on the heavy side, but the wheel kit that comes with the unit makes it one of the easiest to maneuver. In addition, you are not going to find many more powerful generators at this price point, which is what makes it a great value and a generator that you should consider.
Best Inverter Generator For RV
If you are looking for an inverter generator, then the best one that I have found this year is the 75527i from Champion Power Equipment. It provides a lot of clean power for all of your RV appliance needs. It is also one of the quietest types of generators on the market, so you do not have to worry about excess noise while you are trying to enjoy nature. Let's take a look:
Insofar as fuel, this generator holds 1.6 gallons, but that little bit of fuel will last for about eight hours, which makes it a pretty fuel efficient device. That being said, those stats are based on a 25 percent load, but it is still pretty good.
Pull starters on generators can make them difficult to start, but fortunately, that is not the only way that this generator can be powered on. In fact, you can even start it at a distance of 80 feet because there is a remote electric start option that makes it a lot more user-friendly. It also comes with an easy touch start option that can be found on the side panel.
When it comes to portability, this model is amazing. It does weigh about 108 pounds, but the manufacturer has given you a few options for transporting it. This generator has two carry handles to move it from place to place, but if you do not want to lift it, there is also a built-in wheel kit and foldable handle that can make it even simpler to maneuver.
This generator runs at 3,100 watts, which is more than enough power to keep a few appliances inside of your RV up and running. When the oil does get low, there is a low oil sensor that will shut off the engine so that it does not overheat.
- It has a very portable design.
- It comes with two standard outlets to accommodate your appliances.
- This generator utilizes clean power.
- It is a fuel efficient device.
- It provides plenty of power for all of your RV needs.
- It is very quiet.
- The wheel kit makes it extremely portable.
- This generator has a remote start feature.
- It is a great value.
- This generator has a small gas tank.
- There is not a fuel gauge on this unit.
- The wheels are small, so they can easily get stuck.
- It often takes several tries to start the generator.
The 75527i from Champion Power Equipment is a great inverter generator. It has a lot of power, it is easy to move, and it has a convenient remote start that you will love using while you are camping in your RV. It also comes with a three-year warranty, so even if you are not sure that this generator is the best option for you, the warranty and the price point make it a tempting purchase.
Best RV Generator For The Money
RV generators are not always the cheapest thing to purchase, but they are required for most trips that you make in your RV, unless you plan on roughing it of course. With this in mind, you will want a generator that gives you the most for your money. After looking at several generators on the market, I found the Champion Power Equipment 46539. It is a great portable option that meets all of your RV needs.
This generator runs at 3,500 watts, which is actually a great amount of power for a portable generator to have. It will be able to run several appliances at once, and if you happen to draw too much power, there is a surge protector in place to keep your devices safe.
This generator runs on a four cylinder engine so that it is more fuel efficient than some of the other generators at this price point. The gas tank holds 3.8 gallons of gas, and it should run for a period of 12 hours at half load.
Unfortunately, there is not a fuel drain on this generator, so if you plan to store it away for winter, you may need to siphon the fuel or use additives to make sure that it does not freeze. For the sake of convenience, when the oil becomes too low to run the generator, there is an automatic shut off to protect the device. An indicator light will also light up before the engine shuts down.
There are a few ways that you can start this device. The first option is the best because it allows you to turn the generator on without being right beside it. The remote starting mechanism is great for getting the generator started when you first wake up or before you go to bed, depending on your needs.
- It is a very fuel efficient generator.
- It comes with a two-year warranty.
- It is sold at a great price point.
- It has a remote start option.
- It can also be started electronically or manually.
- It has a 12 hour run time at half load.
- There is not a way to drain gas with this model.
- It only has two regular outlets.
- It is a bit loud, but it should not be overpowering at a campsite.
If you are looking for a generator for mid-level RV needs, then the Champion Power Equipment 46539 is a great option. It is powerful, it has a great portable design with wheels and collapsible handles, and it is sold at a low price point.
Best Generator For RV Air Conditioner
If you are looking for a powerhouse to generate energy for your RV air conditioner, then the Briggs & Stratton 30545 is a generator that you should consider. It is powerful enough to run energy draining appliances like air conditioners and refrigerators, it is a very portable device, and it has all of the bells and whistles that you might want while you are camping.
Insofar as fuel efficiency, this is a model that holds a gallon and a half of fuel, and it will utilize this fuel over a period of 10 hours while running at 25 percent load capacity. To help save fuel even more, there is an idle mode that will kick in when the generator is not in use.
In addition, there is a convenient LCD display on the top of the device to help you keep tabs on the amount of fuel that you have left.
There is also a low oil warning on the generator. Insofar as power outlets, there are seven on the device. Four of them are 120-volts, one is a 12-volt outlet, one is an RV outlet, and the last one is a USB port; all of which can be very useful during an RV camping trip.
This is a lightweight unit that only weighs 94 pounds, but it is designed with airless wheels and a handle to make it more portable. This generator has a manual start, so it could take a few pulls to start. Once it is up and running, it will provide 3,000 watts of energy, which is more than enough to power an air conditioner, a television, and a microwave.
Running them all at the same time could result in a surge, but if you really need more power, you can double the amount that you are outputting be connecting two of these generators together.
- Capable of handling a 3000W startup load and a 2600W running load, it has the capacity to run an average RV air conditioning system.
- This unit is easy to set up.
- The generator is easy to transport from one location to the next.
- It produces stable AC electricity suitable for your laptops and other electronics. It even has an integrated USB port so you can recharge your devices directly.
- Its 1.5-gallon gas tank extends total run time to over 10 hours at one-quarter load.
- The Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000 PowerSmart Series Portable 3000W Inverter-Generator incorporates four household outlets, one 12-volt, 30-amp locking outlet and a DC charging port.
- It features double carry handles for two, making moving this 60-pound unit easier. It also has telescoping luggage-style handles and dual wheels for ease of transport.
- An integrated computer automatically adjusts running speed to save gas.
- Quiet operation produces just 59 dBA.
- You can combine two units for twice the power.
- It comes with a two-year warranty.
- Not CARB-compliant, so you cannot purchase the Briggs & Stratton 30545 PowerSmart in California.
- It only has a manual start.
- It only holds about 1.5 gallons of gas.
- Filling it with gas can be difficult because of the positioning of the tank.
- The higher price may be prohibitive.
- It will not power all RV air conditioners, just those within its power capacity.
- It may be too heavy when filled with gasoline to transport without help.
- The required parallel cable connector kit is sold separately.
- It is a bit loud when it is running at a higher than 25 percent load.
If you are looking for a generator that has a lot of bells and whistles, is very efficient, and has a portable design, then the Briggs & Stratton 30545 is a great option. It can power your air conditioner or can take care of all of your other RV needs. If you need to have more power, you can even link two devices together, which is why this is the best all around generator.
Do You Really Need A Generator For Your RV?
Different people have varied opinions on what you need for camping in the great outdoors. Backpackers, for instance, travel light and camp rough. Tent campers prefer sleeping on the ground and cooking over an open fire.
RV owners like me love to camp in comfort. Equipped with refrigeration, a stove, an oven, a TV and stereo, a VCR and other not totally essential but entertaining features, your RV was designed to use electricity.
If you want the freedom to take your rig into the backcountry, you really need a portable power source.
What Is The Best RV Generator For Your Purposes?
Of the two major categories in generators, standby and portable, a portable model is most appropriate for use with an RV.
A standby generator is hard-wired into your household power in case of an outage whereas a portable model can go wherever you do.
My portable generator delivers enough wattage to power everything I need in the great outdoors. I have my DVD player so I can watch my favorite flicks, my small TV to keep me up to date with the news, and my coffee maker, without which I never go anywhere overnight.
Depending on your personal power needs, a portable generator is smaller and likely to be less expensive than a hard-wired model. It will accept an extension cord connection to whatever equipment or appliances you want to power.
Many feature a pull-start that works reliably, even in cold weather. Some also have electric start switches that are exceptionally nice to have when the mercury drops.
Evaluating Your Fuel Sources
Different portable generator models can run on solar power, gasoline, propane or diesel.
When choosing a portable generator, compare current fuel costs, availability, how efficiently the unit burns fuel, comparative noise levels of particular models, and the overall cost.
In a perfectly predictable climate, a solar generator would be my choice.
The fuel is free, and ideally it would be available 12 hours per day. A solar-powered generator would not emit pollutants or run too loudly.
However, in the real world, you cannot always count on sunshine to power what you need off-grid. I would rather spend my money on a generator I know is going to start and run until I turn it off, rain or shine.
Diesel fuel typically costs less than propane or gasoline, but in a volatile market, this is not always the case. It is a good idea to investigate current pricing and cost trends on all three petroleum-based fuels to make the best decision possible.
Both gasoline and diesel are readily available and convenient to purchase on your way to your campsite. For propane, you need a tank, and you can find refilling facilities at some, but not all, gas stations.
Even though you may not plan to use a generator for more than a few days each year, consider fuel efficiency. This is the total power generated per gallon burned.
Naturally, you want a fuel-efficient generator, but this is one of several factors to mull over when shopping for the right unit.
Other things you should take into account are the loads you put on a generator - typically, larger demands for electricity require more fuel - and the weather because colder weather often means the engine must work harder.
Liquid propane burns cleanly and has a lengthy shelf life. Diesel and gasoline do not burn as cleanly, and both have shorter shelf lives than propane.
It is up to you to determine the importance of these factors in your purchase decision. Personally, I like the convenience of my little gas generator.
How Noisy Is The Generator?
Even though your generator is always outside your RV when in operation, the noise can become intrusive.
I have trouble hearing my favorite DVD when the generator is running, so choosing a model that is on the quiet side is a high priority for me.
The standard measurement for noise level is decibels. A generator’s dBA rating - or noise output - is the actual noise it makes from a particular distance.
Any generator sounds louder when you are standing next to it than it does from 10 feet away. Be sure that when you compare generator noise, the dBA numbers reflect a similar distance from the source.
The sound of a person breathing is around 10 dBA, and it is barely audible to others.
At the other extreme, the sound of a jet airplane at takeoff at a distance of 25 meters is around 150 dBA, a noise loud enough to rupture your eardrums, according to noise level charts from Purdue University.
Portable generators designed for quiet operation are rated in the 60 to 80 dBA range at a distance of five feet. Ideally, you should test the noise level of the models on your short list to see what you find tolerable.
How Much Juice Is Enough?
Many online resources provide specific power calculations for various RV needs.
Keep in mind a few variables:
- Just because your RV has it, that doesn’t mean you have to use it. For example, you really need to run your bathroom fan for a few minutes at a time rather than an hour. Also, you can save a significant amount of wattage by letting your laundry dry on the line outdoors instead of using your RV drier.
- You can save money on fuel by leaving your hair dryer, space heater and other small electric appliances at home.
- A generator has a start-up rating and a running rating. Power tools like circular saws, for example, draw a surge of power when you first start them up, but they use less wattage once they are running. If you plan to hook everything up at once to your portable power source, be sure the generator can handle the start-up surge. Alternatively, start your generator with a light load and then add appliances until you reach your running load capacity, and you won’t risk flipping the overload circuit.
- The HVAC system in your RV is the biggest power hog you have, so if keeping cool in summer or warm in winter are your priorities, consider sizing your generator for both the start up wattage and the running wattage required.
When shopping for an RV generator, research various brands to see which ones are the most reliable. Believe me, the last thing you want is a power source that fails to deliver when you are camping off-grid.
I remember one night when I was dry camping in Montana, I was watching TV and cooking a frozen pizza in the oven by generator power. All of a sudden, with no warning, the generator turned off.
I was already in my pajamas, and I had no idea where I had stowed the flashlight. That night, I went to bed hungry, in complete darkness, because my generator let me down.
In general, a reliable generator should always start on a pull or two of the cord or a flip of the starter switch, if available. It should continue to run until you shut it off or it runs out of fuel.
If you faithfully change the oil and the filters and winterize the unit as the manufacturer recommends, your generator should provide several years of reliable service.
Another factor you might consider is the brand of the equipment.
- Does the brand enjoy a reputation for making reliable products or is it so new on the market that no real product feedback is available?
- If a brand has collected several negative consumer reviews, you might not wish to take a chance on it.
Check to the manufacturer’s warranty to find out how long the company will cover product defects and what, exactly, the coverage consists of.
In general, a more reliable brand will offer a good warranty because standing behind its products indicates reliability and trustworthiness, according to market research.
Value For The Money
As with any purchase, price is an important factor when making your final choice in portable generators.
Once you have narrowed your choices to just a few models that meet your other criteria, including fuel source, fuel efficiency, noise level, reliability and power capacity, determine which one provides the best value for the price.
Such a value judgment is bound to be subjective, according to Investopedia because you are likely to be willing to pay a premium for the features you value most.
For example, if you value the quiet enjoyment of nature when you RV off-grid, you would look for a quiet-running, clean-burning generator that provides just enough power for essentials like lighting and music.
In contrast, a person who values creature comforts more than enjoying nature would pay a premium for a generator that produces enough power to run everything in the RV, from central AC to satellite TV.
Several factors are important when you are choosing a generator, and some of these are influenced by your personal power demands.
If your RV is on the smaller side, like mine, 2000W of electricity is likely to be all you need to camp in comfort.
If your rig is larger or you have a big family, you would more logically choose to stack inverter-generators or go with a more powerful single generator.
In terms of versatility, quiet operation, fuel efficiency and portability, the super-quiet inverter-generators are the best choices for getting power to your RV.
The Briggs & Stratton model provides these qualities plus more power, better connectivity and features that make it easier to move from place to place.
Inverter-generators are typically not the most inexpensive options although you can probably find a few models that may sacrifice quality for economy.
If you can afford the initial cost of a reliable inverter-generator, you will enjoy savings down the line in terms of gasoline, repair costs, noise pollution and carbon emissions.
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