Camping in the great American outdoors is a fascinating experience.
However, you do not want to be left without electricity for hours or even days.
That’s why you need only the best RV generator. The one that you can trust that can run the most crucial electric equipment (such as the AC or fridge).
In the following article, we explain everything you need to know before buying the best portable generator for RV. We will also show you our top recommendations for the best RV generators on the market.
If you’re in a hurry and simply want to know what the best generator for RV is – we recommend the Champion 3400 Dual Fuel RV Ready Inverter.
It is an excellent RV-ready dual fuel inverter generator attracting stellar reviews from buyers in the US. It is a very quiet portable unit that can run on either gasoline or propane. It has enough wattage to run a large RV AC and other appliances in your travel trailer.
|Inverter Generator||Wattage |
(Start / Running)
|BEST CHOICE: 1. Champion 3400 Dual Fuel Inverter||3400 / 3100||59 dB||95.7 lbs||Check Latest Price|
|2. WEN 56380i||3800 / 3400||57 dB||111 lbs||Check Latest Price|
|3. Champion 75537i||3100 / 2800||58 dB||44 lbs||Check Latest Price|
|4. Yamaha EF2000iSv2||2000 / 1600||51.5 dB||44 lbs||Check Latest Price|
|5. WEN 56200i||2000 / 1600||51 dB||48 lbs||Check Latest Price|
|6. Westinghouse iGen2200||2200 / 1800||52 dB||46 lbs||Check Latest Price|
|7. Westinghouse iGen4500||4500 / 3700||52 dB||98 lbs||Check Latest Price|
|8. Pulsar 4000W||4000 / 3500||63 dB||92.6 lbs||Check Latest Price|
|9. Briggs & Stratton P3000||3000 / 2600||58 dB||85 lbs||Check Latest Price|
|Honda EU2200i||2200 / 1800||48 dB||47 lbs||Check Latest Price|
Top 10 Best Generators For RV – Our Reviews
1. Champion 3400 Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator
Champion 3400 is IMHO the best generator for RV.
It is one of the very few inverters with dual-fuel capability.
You can run it on gas and propane, depending on the availability of fuel.
That gives you ENORMOUS flexibility in terms of balancing your fuel consumption and actual power needs.
Propane generators are also generally cheaper to run.
You can save a lot of money in the long run when using propane of gasoline.
So even though you have to pay a bit more for this generator, the lower fuel costs will get you a quicker return on your investment.
Champion 3400 is a fully RV ready generator.
The unit comes with a dedicated 30Amp outlet ready to connect to your travel trailer without the need to buy any adapters.
This RV generator runs very quietly. It produces only around 59 decibels of noise at a 25% load.
The generator delivers 3400 peak watts and 3100 running watts.
That is more than enough power to run even the most demanding travel trailers.
You could use it to run things like an 11,000 BTU AC, freezer, and lighting circuits.
Since it is an inverter unit, the generator produces clean power suitable for sensitive electronics such as laptops and TVs.
Due to the larger engine size, the generator is a bit heavier than 2000 watt units.
However, it has a comfortable carry handle, making it easy to move around.
The only thing I miss about it in comparison to its gas-only cousin – 75537i – is the lack of wireless remote start.
The generator is CARB compliant – you can legally use it in California.
If you are looking for a quiet and durable dual fuel inverter to power your travel trailer – this is the right RV generator for you.
Curious to learn more about this generator? Read my detailed review of Champion 3400W dual fuel inverter.
2. WEN 56380i
They also consistently attract positive reviews from the buyers in the US, proving that your new RV generator doesn’t need to have a Honda logo on it to do its job fine.
WEN 56380i is one of the best RV generators on the market.
It also costs only a fraction of the price of some of its most expensive competitors.
The power output of this RV generator is 3800 peak watts and 3400 rated watts.
That is more than enough to power pretty much everything you need in your RV, including the 13,500 BTU AC.
The generator has been designed to cater specifically to RV owners
It has a dedicated NEMA TT-30R output allowing you to plug it into your travel trailer directly.
The control panel has also got 2 x 120V receptacles and 1 x 12V DC receptacle.
This generator incorporates an inverter technology. It’s suitable for charging sensitive portable electronics.
Unfortunately, it only has one USB port, which might not be enough for some users.
On a positive note, the generator is very quiet.
Its noise level is around 57 dB depending on the current load.
That makes the WEN generator great for RV campsites and national parks with strict noise regulations, usually requiring a generator to operate underneath 65 dB.
The WEN 56380i is also a very fuel-efficient unit.
You should expect it to run for around 8.5 hours at half load.
These and other advantages make the WEN 56380i one of the best choices for RV camping.
3. Champion Power Equipment 75537i
The Champion 75537i is a fully RV ready portable inverter generator.
The manufacturer designed it specifically for RV enthusiasts.
That means you can connect it to your trailer pretty much straight out of the box. There’s no need to purchase any specific adapters or other accessories.
It provides up to 3100 starting and 2800 rated watts of power.
That’s enough to power most of the equipment in your travel trailer.
You could run an 13,500 BTU AC along with a few other appliances and electronics.
Champion 75537i is very fuel-efficient. Even at high load, it should last for around 8 hours, making it possible to run air conditioners for the whole night.
What we love about this RV generator is the remote start!
It’s much more comfortable than a manual recoil start.
You can easily switch it on and off by using the simple remote control included in the kit.
You can practically control the generator without even having to get out of your bed!
It’s also one of the quietest generators out there.
As numerous portable RV generator reviews online show, a lot of people seem to have used this inverter for many months or even years without reporting any severe issues.
And as you could guess by now, it’s also cheaper than the Honda or Yamaha.
All of these qualities make it one of my preferred choices for RV.
4. Yamaha EF2000iSv2
Yamaha is one of the leaders on the market of portable generators for RVs.
The engines they make for their generators (and a lot of other stuff they produce!) are among the sturdiest and most reliable power generators you can find.
Yamaha doesn’t go on compromises when designing their generators.
Have a quick look at Yamaha EF2000iSv2 and you could easily tell it’s made of very solid materials which are meant to last for ages.
The EF2000iSv2 is a modern portable generator offering qualities you would expect from a top-quality 2000 watt portable generator.
At a 25% load, its noise level is only around 51 dB, depending on how far away you measure it.
That is comparable to a few people having a casual chat.
It is a trendy choice among campers and those who need a 2000-watt generator for their travel trailer.
You could use it to power an 11,000 BTU AC.
If you are not planning to use it along with air conditioners, then you would have plenty of power at your disposal to run a wide variety of portable electronics.
What we love about Yamaha EF2000isv2 is how little fuel it consumes. The run time is around 10 hours at half load!
Of course, you would get much less run time if you decide to plug in a very energy-hungry appliance (such as the AC again). Nonetheless, Yamaha EF2000isv2 performs exceptionally well on this matter.
If you are curious to learn more about this RV generator, make sure you read the detailed review article I’ve posted a while ago!
5. WEN 56200i
WEN might not be the most famous name in the industry.
The fact that it’s a Chinese company might be a detractor at first.
The company was probably well aware of the fact that they would have to work hard to win the customers’ trust in this very competitive market.
And it seems they’ve done an excellent job.
WEN 56200i – their most popular model up to date has received a lot of love from US customers who bought in on Amazon.
There are a lot of 5-star reviews of this generator praising its low noise level, ease of use, reliability and finally – a very low price tag
If you are looking for a genuine low-cost 2000 watt portable generator which is much cheaper than Yamaha or Honda – WEN 56200i is your best bet.
The generator is remarkably quiet and very lightweight. You won’t have any problems carrying it around.
The fuel economy is one of its strongest points. It can run for around 6 hours on a full tank of gas at 50% load. That is quite an impressive result, given its small size and weight.
It does have a handy economy mode, which further helps optimize its fuel consumption and automatically adjusts the engine speed based on current requirements. The inclusion of this economy mode significantly increases the overall runtime.
As you would expect from a cheap generator for RV, the materials used for finishing are perhaps not the top-notch quality. Its lifespan might be, therefore, shorter than Honda.
On the other hand, if you don’t plan to use it too often, this RV generator can offer you a very cost-effective solution to your energy problems.
I’ve published a detailed review of WEN 56200i where I’ve revealed more fascinating info about this portable generator. Check it out here!
6. Westinghouse iGen2200
Westinghouse is a very trusted American electric company. They’ve been making electric equipment for more than 100 years. As you would expect – they have a lot of experience behind their belt and certainly know how to make excellent generators.
The iGen2200 is currently the best portable inverter unit Westinghouse has got on offer.
It is one of the most silent generators we have ever seen.
It releases only around 52dB at 25% load which, while a bit louder than Honda, is still remarkably quiet.
The generator comes in two color variations – blue and camo.
The latter looks awesome. I could imagine that those who need a generator for camping, fishing or hunting are going to like that design.
Fuel efficiency is another big selling point of the WGen2200.
You can run this portable generator for nearly 12 hours on a single 1.2-gallon tank.
Bear in mind that this depends on the load. It’s going to consume more gas if you continuously run it close to the 100% load.
IGen2200 has got 2 x 5V USB ports ideal for charging cameras, smartphones, etc.
A 20A circuit breaker is a great feature that prevents the portable RV generator from being damaged if you accidentally try to run it above the maximum load.
The low oil warning mechanism will automatically shut the generator down when there’s not enough oil to prevent the engine damage.
Overall it is a high quality 2000 watt portable generator.
It also usually sells for twice as cheap as Honda EU2200i.
I highly recommend it for small RVs and camping.
7. Westinghouse iGen4500
It is a powerful portable RV generator delivering the total output of 4500 starting and 3700 running watts.
That is enough power to run everything in your RV, including the air conditioner and the lighting circuits.
The gas tank has got a total capacity of 3.4 gallons.
One thing we liked about this portable generator is how fuel-efficient it is.
Depending on the current load, its 3.4-gallon tank can last for up to 18 hours.
That’s a lot of runtime for a generator that small.
You could run your air conditioner for the entire night without any problems.
The control panel has got a dedicated TT-30R 30 Amp RV plug.
It allows you to plug in your generator to the travel trailer with no external adapters.
The generator has also got a 5-20R 120V duplex outlet and 2 USB ports for charging portable electronics.
It has an inverter system, so you can rest assured knowing that its 100% safe for charging computers, phones, etc.
The only downside of this portable RV generator is that it’s a bit heavy to move around.
However, this is perfectly understandable, given its higher output and larger size.
On the plus side, what’s worth mentioning is how quiet this portable RV generator is for its size.
It’s quieter than many other similar generators, making it a perfect choice for most parks.
To sum up, the Westinghouse iGen4500 is a very good RV generator – easily one of the best 10 units in the market.
8. Pulsar 4000W
The Pulsar is a good choice if you need a solid generator for RV.
With its 4000 starting and 3500 running watts, it provides enough output to run all appliances in your travel trailer.
That is also enough wattage to help you power your household items in the event of a blackout.
This unit is a remote start generator – you can control it from inside the comforts of your RV using the included remote control.
When it’s freezing outside at night, you will not have to move out of your warm comfy bed to turn off the generator.
That will make your RV camping or boondocking experience much more enjoyable.
Although this is not the quietest RV generator on the market, it is still reasonably silent.
At a 25% load, its noise level oscillates around 63 dB.
That’s much quieter than most other generators out there.
The control panel comes with a dedicated 30A RV outlet.
You don’t have to purchase any additional adapters to connect this generator to your RV.
The generator is an inverter type, so you can safely use it to power your portable electronics.
It has dedicated USB outlets for your phones or cameras.
The generator can be a bit heavy to move around the campsite.
However, the wheels and the comfy handle make this job much more manageable.
Extended run time is a big pro of this Pulsar RV generator.
According to the manufacturer, the 3.4-gallon tank can last for up to 15 hours.
Your actual run time will depend on the current load and what appliances you run.
Rest assured, you should be able to run the RV air conditioner for the entire night without difficulties.
One little thing we miss in this generator is the LCD screen showing the current status of the generator.
It would be an excellent handy addition to this already good RV generator.
Overall, the Pulsar generator is one of the best generators money can buy.
It fully deserves to be included on our list of top 10 generators for RV.
9. Briggs & Stratton P3000
This 3000 watt generator is a popular choice among camping enthusiasts.
It provides the total output of 3000 starting and 2600 running watts.
That is enough to start and run a typical air conditioning unit in your RV.
The control panel comes with 4 x household outlets in case you need this generator to power your home appliances in case of a blackout.
Most importantly, the generator has got a 12V 30 Amp outlet for RV.
The fuel tank has got a capacity of 1.5 gallons.
That would last for around 10 hours at 25% load.
Compared to many other generators, the P3000 shines when it comes to its fuel efficiency.
Running the AC units for the entire night won’t be an issue at all.
It is also a reasonably quiet generator, thanks to the Quiet Power Technology designed by Briggs & Stratton.
At a 25% load, the noise level stays around 58 decibels.
It could be compared to an idling car engine and is quieter than a conversation between a few people.
The low noise level also means that the generator is suitable for use at most campsites in the US.
Briggs & Stratton is a well-known brand, and you can undoubtedly trust their products, including this RV-ready portable generator.
However, if there is any problem with the generator, you are covered by a 2-year warranty.
Unfortunately, one downside of the P3000 generator is that it’s not CARB compliant. That means that if you are located in
California, you can’t purchase and use this unit there.
The generator is perfectly legal for all other states.
Overall, it is an extremely reliable generator suitable for RV and other outdoor use.
If you are planning to do a lot of RV camping this coming summer – you should consider getting the Briggs & Stratton generator.
10. Honda EU2200IC Companion
Here we go – the younger sibling of the godfather of all portable inverter generators – Honda EU2000i.
Honda was the first company to introduce inverters to the market back in 1999.
Even now, nearly 20 years later, the original Honda EU2000i has been the most popular choice among the professionals shopping for the highest quality generators.
Back in 2008, Honda replaced it with the newer, slightly more powerful model – EU2200i.
The EU2200IC Companion is one of the variations of EU2200i.
It’s the best choice for RV as it has a built-in 30 AMP receptacle for RV.
Other than that it offers the same capabilities and great design features as Honda EU2000i.
It is a super quiet generator. At 25% load the noise level is only 49 dB!
Even at the full load, the generator is very quiet.
It is one of the best choices for campsites.
It has an original Honda engine – the synonym of the best quality.
The finishing is very robust.
This RV generator is suitable for use in all kinds of rough circumstances.
I have personally seen the construction workers working in the mountains at high altitudes using this Honda generator to power the construction equipment they used to build the iron steps and ladders for trekkers and mountaineers.
That can give you a good idea of how versatile it is, especially for outdoor use.
The EU2200iC generator provides 200 more watts than its predecessor while keeping the same noise level and selling for the same price.
That’s perhaps not a revolutionary change but is certainly a nice improvement.
The design can feel already slightly outdated though. Especially the lack of electric start is a bit of a nuisance. On the other hand, the recoil start works flawlessly. The generator usually starts with a single pull.
The generator has got a Honda patented eco throttle system that minimizes its fuel consumption, adjusting the engine speed according to the current needs.
If you need a 2000-watt generator that will serve you for a long time and comes from a trusted manufacturer – Honda EU2200i fully deserves your attention.
If you google its photos online, you might quickly notice that it’s very often shown used in parallel with another Honda generator.
It’s also worth noting that this portable generator is both EPA and CARB compliant. That means you can use it in all 50 states including California.
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Generator for RV
The first question you should ask yourself before buying the best portable generator to power your RV is:
How much power do you need?
You don’t want to purchase a portable generator just to realize that it’s too small to run anything.
By saying “small,” we don’t mean the actual physical size of the generator but its power output.
All appliances and electric equipment in your RV require a certain amount of power to run.
In the US we usually use watts (W) or kilowatts (kW, 1kW = 1000 watts) as the basic units of measurements
E.g., a typical LCD TV would need around 120 watts to run. A refrigerator would require at least 180. A 15000 BTU RV air conditioner would consume much more – about 2000 watts.
However, there is a little catch.
The appliances with a built-in motor require higher wattage to turn them on and run for the first few seconds. The amount of watts these devices need to kick in is called the starting wattage (sometimes referred to as surge or peak watts)
After a few moments, their consumption goes back to “normal.” That’s called running wattage (also known as rated watts).
Let’s have a look at the refrigerator again.
While an average RV fridge requires approx 180 watts to run, since it has a motor, it requires a much higher number to start. That would be around 600 watts depending on the model.
Therefore an RV refrigerator needs 600 starting watts and 180 running power watts to start and run properly.
As for the big 15,000 BTU AC unit – it would need, on average, 3300 starting watts and 2000 running power watts.
The following table lists the average wattage requirements for the commonly used RV equipment.
|Approx. Starting Watts||Approx. Running Watts|
|RV Air Conditioning Unit (11000 BTU)||1600||1000|
|RV Air Conditioning Unit (13500 BTU)||2800||1800|
|RV Air Conditioning Unit (15000 BTU)||3300||2000|
|Microvawe Oven (800 Watts)||1300||1300|
|Lightbulbs (incadescent type)||60||60|
|Flat Screen TV||120||120|
These two numbers: starting & running watts are also the ones you should pay close attention to when shopping for a generator.
A portable generator needs at least as much peak power as the starting wattage of the most energy-consuming device you are planning to run OR the sum of the added starting wattage of all devices you want to connect.
Sounds complicated? Let’s have a look at a specific example for better illustration.
One of the most popular portable generators for RVs is Honda EU2200iC.
Its maximum power output is 2200 starting watts and 2000 running watts.
Would it be enough to run a large 15,000 RV air conditioner?
Such AC requires a starting wattage of 2000. That’s what Honda EU2200i can provide. So far, so good.
Unfortunately, this AC needs 3300 starting watts to turn on and run for the first seconds.
That is well above the maximum starting wattage output offered by Honda EU2200i.
So the final answer is – no. Honda EU2200i sadly cannot run a 15,000 AC.
Ok, but what if you have a smaller AC unit. Let’s say – an 11,000 BTU one?
On average it would need 1600 starting watts and 1000 running watts.
As both figures are well below the maximum capabilities of Honda EU2200i – you could use it to run this air conditioner.
On top of that, you would still have enough spare power to run a couple of other smaller electronics such as a TV, computer, and a set of lights.
Ok, so by now, you should get a decent idea of how running and starting watts work. You also know to use these figures to determine what size of a generator do you need to power your appliances.
But what if your air conditioner or a refrigerator has got its power requirement written in amps? How do you calculate this?
Don’t panic as it is straightforward to convert amps into watts.
First, you need to determine the voltage of your equipment. In the US, the most common standard is 120V. Some appliances, however, may operate at higher voltages such as 220V. If you are not sure how many volts your equipment use, you should also be able to find out on its label.
Then use the following formula to find out how many watts does it consume:
Wattage = Amps x Volts.
For example, if your equipment draws 20 Amps at 120 voltage then its wattage would be:
20 x 120 = 2400 Watts
Which type of generator is the best for RV?
You might ask yourself – Can I simply save myself a headache counting all these power requirements and simply get the largest portable generator?
Technically, yes. But trust us, that’s something you DON’T want to do.
That is for a few reasons.
Conventional open-frame portable generators are VERY LOUD.
Most portable generators are designed for two purposes – to be used at a construction site or as a backup stable power supply for homes or businesses during a blackout.
Those are the situations when the noise level is not such a significant nuisance.
Nobody cares about the sound produced by a single portable generator with all this noisy construction machinery around.
On the other hand, when then the power goes out in the entire neighborhood, none of your neighbors are going to mind your generator noise level since they’re probably going to run them too.
But then imagine trying to run such a generator at a campsite.
It’s a beautiful summer night. You are enjoying the scent of crystal clear air.
You’re far away from the nearest big city.
There are no sounds to be heard except some quiet indistinctive chatter from somewhere far away.
Feeling peaceful and relaxed, you are ready to go to sleep.
You’re just about to hit the hay when suddenly the loud noise destroys your peace.
The guy in the RV next door just turned on their portable generator to run the air conditioner for the night.
That’s it for the silent peaceful night.
For the next couple of hours, you’re going to listen to the lullaby of the portable generator engine running continuously up until the early morning.
That guy who turned on their loud generator is now the perfect candidate for the title of the Most Hated Man on Camp.
You don’t want to be that man.
That’s why you should get the quietest generator possible.
We measure the generator noise level in decibels (dB). Any generator operating at higher than 60dB is already too loud for RV camping trips.
Which FYI is pretty much the case with ALL conventional portable generators.
That is why your only choice is a portable inverter generator.
You should also get the one with at least 3000 watts such as this Champion generator.
I’ve explained more about what inverter generators are and how do they differ from conventional types in this article.
One of the best things about them is that they are much smaller and lighter than ordinary open-frame portable gens.
They also have a few more essential features, which make them the only viable choice for RV.
Benefits of Portable Inverter Generators
1. Inverter Generators are much quieter
The quietest units operate in the 50 – 59 dB range depending on the load.
That’s already silent enough not to ruin everyone’s night.
Inverters are by far the best portable generators for boondocking.
On the other hand, if you stay at the designated RV park, which explicitly prohibits ANY sorts of portable RV generators from being run at night – sorry, you won’t get away even with the most silent of a generator.
That is unless you use solar generators like one of these.
Note that those usually provide only minimal output wattage.
You can’t use them to run an AC or a fridge unless you get the one with the highest output.
A power station can nonetheless be an excellent supplemental power source for an RV, suitable for powering RV batteries.
2. Inverters are the only safe choice for sensitive electronics
If you are planning to live off the grid for a while, you will certainly need a reliable power source to charge your phone or laptop.
Using a typical portable generator to charge one of these can easily damage them.
That’s because the conventional generators run at higher levels of so-called Total Harmonic Distortion (THD).
The energy created by them is, therefore, less stable and clean.
While this is not a concern at all if you use them along with the heavy construction equipment or big kitchen appliances – modern portable electronic equipment is much more sensitive.
That’s why we refer to tablets, phones, flatscreen TVs, etc. as sensitive electronics.
Inverter RV generators, on the other hand, are perfectly fine.
They usually produce less than 5% of THD, which is safe for your portable electronic equipment.
On top of that, inverters often come up with dedicated USB ports to make charging your iPads or Bluetooth speakers even easier.
3. You can use two inverters in parallel
Imagine that you already have a 2000 watt portable inverter generator. It works fine until day one you realize that you could do with a bit more power.
Or perhaps you need a bit more powerful generator to use as a home backup supply.
What’s the best solution?
Buy another portable inverter generator with the same wattage and get twice the power.
Most quality inverter RV generators offer the so-called parallel capability.
That means that you can plug in two generators using a dedicated parallel kit.
By doing so, you can double the total energy output. More power to you!
Connect two Honda EU2200i generators, and you’re going to get 4000 running power watts at your disposal – more than enough to satisfy even the most energy-demanding RV.
Still not enough?
Get two Champion 3400 recreational vehicle generators, connect them in parallel, and voila – you’ve got a massive 6800 starting wattage at your hands.
I honestly can’t think of any RV which would require such high power levels.
On the other hand, that would be more than enough power to run the essential equipment in a mid-sized household!
Generally speaking, it’s a much better solution to use two inverters in parallel rather than one single conventional portable generator (Remember? Inverters are safe for portable electronics and are much quieter).
Who makes the best portable RV generators?
When it comes to the market of portable RV generators, there are a few brands that stand out.
In our opinion, Champion makes the best generators for RV and camping.
They have released an excellent 3400 watt RV ready inverter generator that regularly receives raving reviews from RV enthusiasts.
You can connect it to your trailer without having to buy any adapters or extension cords.
It’s a dual fuel RV generator – you can run it on either gas or propane.
That would save fuel and money, reduce your dependence on one single fuel source and give you longer runtime.
If you’re looking for a smaller 2000-watt generator, I’d recommend the WEN 56200i.
WEN is a fast-growing generator manufacturer that took the US market by storm in recent years.
They make reliable portable generators selling only for a fraction of the price of most competitors.
56200i is living proof that a quality portable inverter generator does not have to cost a fortune.
It has the same capabilities and performance features as much more expensive generators.
It’s also a remarkably quiet generator.
You simply can’t beat the price either.
That makes it an optimal choice for those looking for a reliable and silent 2000-watt generator for RV camping and who don’t want to spend a little fortune on one.
If you want to dive deeper into its specifications and functionalities, check out my detailed review of WEN 56200i here.
How Do You Connect a Generator to an RV?
There are at least two highly recommended generators that you can hook up to your RV straight out of the box without having to purchase any additional adapters.
Both are excellent choices for RV and are clearly among our favorites.
For most of the other generators, you would need the RV adapters.
Fortunately, those are very cheap and easy to find online. Just make sure you get the right type!
Both 2000-watt and 3000-watt inverters require similar types of adapters to connect to the power cord.
What makes the difference is the amperage of your power cord.
Cords are usually rated at 30 or 50 amps.
You can quickly tell the difference between a 30 amp and a 50 amp power cord by counting the number of “male” power prongs.
Three male power prongs = 30 amp.
Four male power prongs = 50 amp.
Simple as that!
Onwards to the right types of adapters.
These adapters are suitable for 30 amp RV power cords
This is the right choices for 50 amp RVs
Additional Things to Look For When Buying a Generator for RV
When considering which generator you want to buy, it’s important to know which features you should look for and what’s recommended for each of them. Not only do you want to ensure that you get something that can power your RV batteries and other appliances, but you also want to find something that’s built in a way that reduces the number of issues you might encounter.
Keep in mind, that these features are the most common and usually the most important, but there are other additional features that different generator models might have. The most important thing is to just look at all of this information and compare it to the generators you’re considering to make sure they’ll meet your needs.
Power Output (Wattage)
One of the biggest things people consider when buying a generator for their RV is how much power output or wattage they need.
This feature is essential as you want to make sure your RV can run smoothly. It gets a little confusing when you consider that different-sized RVs will need different amounts of power.
To find the amount you need, you’ll want to consider a few things. For starters, figure out which appliances are 120V and add all of them together.
You’ll also want to make sure you get a minimum wattage that’s equal to your air conditioner because these use the most power.
Next, multiply the total volts and amps to get the amount of wattage you need.
This amount is the minimum you need, so you might want to get a little extra to ensure you can power any additional appliances you might end up using.
Depending on what type of generator you plan on using, there are some things you’ll want to install.
For example, a generator that will be built right into the RV can have a transfer switch installed.
This switch will automatically switch the generator on and off, depending on whether or not you’re connected to the electricity grid.
Not only is this much more convenient, but you’ll be able to plug in any appliances or accessories when you need to instead of having to wait until you’re connected to electricity or needing to stop to turn on the generator manually.
You’ll also want to consider the noise level that the generator puts out. It might not seem like a big deal, but it’ll be essential, depending on where you’ll be camping.
For example, a lot of campsites have strict noise regulations after a specific time, so having a loud generator could end up getting you kicked out or having to pay extra fees as a result of breaking the rules.
The majority of generators that you’ll see will have a decibel rating that lets you know how loud it is.
One thing to consider is that for every 10-decibel increase, the noise is ten times louder.
For example, a generator that is 70 decibels will be ten times louder than one that has 60 decibels.
If at all possible, you’ll want to find a generator that runs between 49 and 65 decibels, which is about as loud as a normal conversation.
If you can’t find a good generator within these decibels, you could get away with having one that’s a little louder.
Once you get to around 110 decibels, though, you’ll have a noise level that’s similar to the sound of a running chainsaw.
If you already know where you’ll be camping or driving, see what kinds of regulations they have to ensure you have a machine that falls within those guidelines.
Since fuel can be quite expensive in different areas, it’s important to know what kind of fuel economy your generator has.
Not only will this ensure that you aren’t going to blow through your fuel budget, but you’ll also be able to figure out how long you can run your generator before needing to fill it up again.
Generators with more power output will consume more fuel.
In the same respect, the more you run the generator, the more fuel it’ll consume.
Since there’s a chance that you won’t use the generator the same way every time, it’s essential to calculate the average amount of use you’ll have.
Another thing to keep in mind is that different types of fuel will burn differently.
For example, a 4,000-watt diesel-powered generator will go through about 1 gallon of fuel per hour at full load.
On the other hand, running the same generator at a 50% load will result in using about 1 gallon of fuel every 3 hours.
Regardless of how you plan to use your generator, make sure you’re looking at all of this information to ensure you have a big enough budget to keep fuel stocked up.
The quality of the design is essential. Not only do you want to ensure that the generator is made of high-quality materials, but you also want to make sure it’s built in a way that can help it withstand a lot of wear and tear.
With that being the case, there are a few things to consider.
One of the biggest things is that everything is secured where it needs to be. The last thing you want is some parts being loose and causing other parts to get disconnected or interfere with each other to create a dangerous situation.
Another thing to look for is whether or not it has an enclosed frame. An open frame generator is at a higher risk of water or other elements getting in and causing it to stop working.
One last thing you want to look at is whether or not it’s made with strong materials like metal, which will help ensure it can withstand most situations.
Weight & Portability
Most people will end up using a portable generator instead of one that’s built into the RV. With this being the case, it’s important to consider the weight and how easily you can move it.
When looking at weight, you want to find a generator that has the wattage you need, while also being light enough to move around. The issue here is that the ones with a higher power output tend to weigh at least 100 pounds.
Not only is this hard to move around, but those who are using the RV by themselves might find that they have issues.
The weight of the machine should be right on the box or in the item description, which means you’ll know the information before you even buy it. A lighter generator will be a lot easier to move.
Keep in mind, that a lot of the newer inverters will provide you with higher power output, without all of the extra weight added.
Warranty & Customer Service
One final thing to consider is the warranty and customer service. Since you never know what might happen while you’re on the road, it’s crucial to be able to use a warranty and reach out to the company without any issues.
Before purchasing, look at reviews to see how customer service usually responds and make sure you know every detail of the warranty and what’s covered under it.
Which Fuel Should You Use?
For the most part, generators are going to run on three types of fuel: diesel, gasoline, and dual fuel (gas and propane). While most will also be able to plug into an electric outlet, riding in an RV means there will be times when you won’t have access to one of these, and you’ll have to use the fuel.
Each of these has its benefits and setbacks, which we’ll talk about next. Once you get more information on each fuel, you should be able to figure out which one will work best for your needs and which kind of generator you need.
Gasoline is the most common type of fuel used for generators, mostly because it’s so widely available. The cost tends to be cheaper than other alternatives, which means you can get more for the same amount of money. The good thing is that you can go to the gas station with a few gas cans and fill them up. Keep in mind, though, that there’s usually a limit by the government on how much you can store because it’s so flammable.
Another thing to remember is that it’s only good for around one year before it goes bad, so those who have been storing it for a long period might find that you can’t use it anymore. On the other hand, those that will only be storing it for a short period of time should be fine. You should also remember that the supply can be scarce if there’s some kind of emergency because everyone is buying it up.
Dual Fuel (Gas/Propane) – Best Choice
The most common fuel type for RV generators are ones that use more than one. The most commonly used dual fuel generators are ones that run on either gasoline or propane. Not only does this give the option to use whichever one you want, but you’ll have to refill fewer times because you have both types of fuel.
It’s also cheaper to run a generator on propane.
The best dual fuel generator will give you a longer run time and decrease your dependence solely on gas will save money in the longer term.
Diesel is a fuel that’s very stable and has a lot less chance of being explosive than other fuels, like gasoline. It has more energy than most other fuel types, and machines that use it are a lot easier to maintain as a result of not containing spark plugs. There are a few ways you can stock up on diesel. The first is by filling up cans and keeping them stored in a specific place. The other way is by having a tanker come and fill up an external tank that you can use to fill up your generator whenever needed.
However, portable diesel generators are slowly going extinct these days. That’s mainly due to their bad environmental footprint, outdated design, and large size.
You will have a hard time looking for a decent portable diesel generator for your RV.
That’s why we recommend either gas-powered or – the best choice – dual fuel generators instead.
Frequently Asked Questions About Generators for RV
What size generator do I need to run my 30 amp RV?
A 3,000-watt generator can run a 30 amp RV quite smoothly. With that said, though, you should try and calculate how much you’ll use and make sure that it will be enough.
A 3400 Watt generator like this Champion generator would be the ideal size for most RVs.
Will a 3500-watt generator run my RV?
A 3500-watt generator should be able to run a 30 amp RV smoothly. With this power output, you should be able to run everything at once without too many issues. That includes a 13,500 BTU AC and refrigerator.
Can you run a generator overnight?
Yes, as long as you have enough fuel to keep it running. Keep in mind that some areas might have restrictions on how long you can run your generator, so make sure you get that information.
What is the difference between surge watts and running watts?
Running watts are the amount of power that’s required to continuously run your appliances, while surge watts (also known as peak watts) are the amount of energy that’s needed to start large appliances. You’ll want to get a generator that can easily handle both load requirements at once.
What’s the acceptable noise level for RV generators?
While it’s going to depend based on where you’re staying, almost everyone agrees that a noise level of an RV generator shouldn’t exceed 65 dBa. This decibel level is about as loud as a vibrant conversation or idling car engine.
How to start an RV generator?
That will vary greatly depending on what kind of generator you have. Some have to be started by pulling a starter cord, while others require you to turn on a switch. We’d recommend going with a generator that has a remote start like the Champion 3400.
What’s the Best Fuel Type for RV Generators?
The two fuel types used in the best portable RV generators are gas & propane. Not only it such a unit more cost-efficient but also more flexible since it gives you a choice between gas and propane. You will also get a longer total continuous run time from a dual fuel generator.
Can I Run a Generator While Driving?
If you’re using a portable generator, the answer from a purely technological point of view is “yes”. However, in most cases, it’s not recommended.
Here’s why: running a generator while driving can be dangerous for both you and other drivers on the road. It also voids the warranty on most generators. So, if something goes wrong, you could be stuck with a hefty repair bill.
If you absolutely need to use a generator while driving, make sure to follow these safety tips:
– Only use generators that are designed for automotive use.
– Make sure the generator is properly mounted in the vehicle.
– Never run the generator inside the vehicle—this can create deadly carbon monoxide