Are you looking for the best portable generator for RV camping and not having too much success? Is the number of choices online just making things too confusing? I know what it is like to go through that, having been living in an RV for years.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a full-featured, functional generator for camping trailers. I have spared you the trouble by giving you a list of the top portable generators for RV today, and I have prepared other information to help you as well.
Westinghouse WGen3600 Portable Generator
5 out of 5
DuroStar DS4000S Gas Powered 4000 Watt Portable Generator
5 out of 5
Champion 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator
4.5 out of 5
Duromax XP4400E Gas Powered 4400 Portable Generator
4.5 out of 5
Champion 3800 Portable Generator
4 out of 5
Best Portable Generator Review for RV Camping
When reading product reviews, don’t forget to check the company's reputation. Buy only from well-known players in the industry. Also, you have to consider how you will be using the best portable generator for camping. Will you be using the generator a lot in hot, humid temperatures for a lot of appliances? Will you be driving on occasion or are you living in your RV? All of these will come into play.
1. Westinghouse WGen3600 Portable Generator
The WGen3600 has a peak watt level of 4650 and running watts of 3600. When set at a 50% load, the generator gives you a 12 hour run time. With a four-gallon fuel tank and a recoil start the Wgen3600 should last longer than most other generators. The unit is also compliant with CSA, CARB, and EPA.
This generator for travel trailers can produce a lot of power because it runs on a 212 cc four-stroke OHV. There is also a low oil indicator, so you’ll know when it's time to get a refill. The portable generator is plug-and-play, so installing is quick.
The WGen3600 also comes with an oil funnel and a toolkit so you can get started right away. The set includes rubber covers for all the outlets for extra safety. There are also receptacles for the L5-30R 30 Amp and the TT-30R 30 Amp, which is built for RVs. It has a 4-gallon fuel capacity and is lighter than other generators, so it is less of a hassle to set up.Highlighted Features:
2. DuroStar DS4000S
The DS4000S runs on a 7 HP motor for extra performance. It also has a low oil indicator that shuts the generator off automatically. This EPA-approved generator simplifies operations with its EZ Pull recoil start, so no need to struggle with its operation.
When filled to its four-gallon capacity, the DS4000S is good for an 8 hour run time. It is good for 3300 watts nonstop and goes up to 4000 watts in surges. It has a complete power panel with power outlets, circuit breakers, voltmeters, and warning lights. Even with all these features, the unit is still easy to use.
The DS4000S DuroStar is made with a durable steel frame so it can withstand extensive use. Its motor mounts are isolated and built for heavy-duty work on RVs. This portable generator also runs quietly, even when set to the highest level. The generator also runs quietly during operation, so it’s not irritating. Aside from being used on RVs, the DS4000S is also good as a power backup.Highlighted Features:
3. Champion 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator
The Champion generates up to 3500 watts running and 4000 watts starting. It has a dBA noise level of 68 from 23 ft. This makes the Champion less noisy compared to other generators. When at full capacity the run time is 12 hours.
There is a volt guard built in that keeps the unit from overloading. This is an essential feature that ensures RV appliances and electronics. Aside from providing protection against spikes, the portable generator also has a voltmeter so you can keep an eye on the power output.
The Champion isn’t lacking in outlets either. The portable generator comes with a 120V 20A household outlet, a 120V 30A RV outlet, and a 120V 30A locking outlet and so you won’t be lacking in choices.
Like other Champion generators, this model is designed for RVs. It’s ready to go whether it is for an RV, a power outage, and so on. It carries enough power for appliances, electronics, and other equipment.Highlighted Features:
4. DuroMax XP4400E
The XP4400E has many of the features you’d expect from a high-quality RV portable generator. It has an automatic shutdown in case the oil goes below critical levels. The power is exceptionally good at 3500 watts nonstop and up to 4400 watts on the surge.
With its EPA-approved design, you’re assured it is of good quality. Starting the generator is easy thanks to the electric key. The battery is bundled so you don’t have to buy it separately. When filled to its 4-gallon capacity the XP4400E runs for 8 hours at a maximum output of 50%.
The XP4400E has idle control so the RPM is at the appropriate level no matter what the load is. This reduces the noise level and improves fuel efficiency as well. The unit also comes with a muffler that further reduces the noise.
The XP4400E uses unleaded gasoline and fills up easily. Configuring for RV for use is straightforward and the steel components keep the unit in good shape. As good as it is for RVs the XP4400E is also utilized as an alternative power source.Highlighted Features:
5. Champion 3800 Portable Generator
The Champion 3800 is portable all right but that’s not the only reason it made this list. This is the best portable generator for RV camping that can run on propane or gas without needing any special configuration. Now you are no long er limited in your choices.
Fill it up with 20 lbs of propane and the Champion is good for 10 and half hours. With a tankful of gas, the unit runs continuously for 9 hours. Starting wattage power is 9 hours and up to 3800 watts running. Installation is straightforward and does not make as much noise as other generators so that is a plus. The built-in is also durable and should last for years.
The Champion Touch Start uses an electric push-button so it is faster than usual. The battery is included, and so performance is assured by the 224cc engine. There are also the essential outlets for RV, locking, and household. All the outlets also have protection against overloading and overcharging.Highlighted Features:
6. Champion 3100-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator
The Champion is equipped with a wireless remote start that enables you to start the machine even when you’re 80 feet away. With its 58 dBA rating, this small generator for camping is quieter than your typical RV generator so it is convenient to use.
The Champion is designed for RVs but it is versatile enough to be used as a home backup power source, tailgating, and other projects. With starting watts at 3100 and 28000W running, the Champion run time is good for 8 hours at 25% load.
Another noteworthy feature of the Champion is that it won’t damage electronic components. It is compatible with RVs with a couple of 120V 20A outlets and a 120V 30A RV outlet. This inverter generator for camping also has a 3-position ignition switch for quick starts.
The Champion also comes with a Quick Touch Panel, so you can quickly access all the controls anytime. All the controls are in one location, so you don’t have to look for them when making adjustments.Highlighted Features:
Comprehensive Buying Guide on The Best Portable Generator for RV
This section is going to look at all the factors that determine what the best generator for camping trailers is. And we should start with the reasons you may need one.
Why You Might Need a Portable RV Generator
Here are some scenarios where you’ll need a portable generator.
Scenario 1 – You will be visiting an RV camp that doesn’t have charging points and other essential facilities.
A lot of the places that we like to visit such as campgrounds and nature spots have limited facilities or none at all. With a portable generator, you’ll be able to cook, turn the lights on, and use appliances and cookware while still enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.
Scenario 2 – You’re visiting friends or relatives but their residence is already full.
A popular tradition during the holidays is to visit friends and family, and why not as it’s the best time to bond with them. But often you’re not the only one who’s visiting, so chances are your family’s home is already going to be full of people.
In that case, it’s ideal to have a portable generator in your RV. This way you can spend the day at your family’s home and sleep in your RV. You don’t have to burden your hosts deciding where you should sleep, and you’ve got access to TV, air conditioner, and other amenities.
Scenario 3 – There is no power due to a natural calamity and the power grid is not functioning
Nobody wants to think about natural calamities but they can occur. And when they do strike one of the first things that usually goes is the power. If you've got a portable RV generator, you can still use your electronics and appliances.
A portable RV generator also gives you a nice backup power source for your home. In case there is a power outage you can use your RV’s generator to produce power. All portable RV generators have 120 AC power, and so compatibility won’t be a question.
The top generators for RVs have more than 2000 watts, and that is enough to run a computer, lights, fridge, TV and water heater at the same time. If you have a 3000 watt or higher system, it can run all those as well as an AC unit and an electric grill.
RV Generators vs. Conventional Generators
Above I mentioned that you can use a portable motorhome generator for your house, and that’s because they have the same function and specs. There are many types of generators, but they can be classified into two types, AC and DC generators.
The majority of appliances in the US use AC though there is support for both. The set up is more intricate in RV generators, but the basic principles are the same, use fuel to produce mechanical energy and turn that into the current that appliances and electronic equipment can use.
There are two basic types of RV generators, portable and fixed. As you might expect the portable version is light. They have sound reduction mechanisms and specially designed motors.
Fixed RV generators are installed in your rig’s undercarriage and are bigger than the portable version. These also have a mechanism that automatically transfers power to the generator in case the mains power supply gets cut.
How To Choose The Best RV Generator?
Okay, we've determined that you need an RV, but how do you determine which one to get? Consider the following.
Step 1 – Determining the Wattage
The wattage determines how much power the generator has and how many appliances and components it can run.
To keep things simple, list the appliances you want to run and their respective running watts and surge watts. Start with the A/C as that’s the most power-hungry. Next, combine the appliances that don’t have a starting wattage needs. Add the zero starting wattage with the highest starting wattage to get the generator’s peak power.
For a 13,500 BTU, you need a 3000 watt generator. For a 15,000 BTU air conditioner, a 3500 watt unit is essential. Check the running and under load watt so that you'll know how much power is required.
Step 2 – Fuel Types
For energy emission and clean-burning, go with diesel. However, it is not ideal for small engines, and its lifespan is short.
Liquefied propane is the most eco-friendly. It is stable and has a longer lifespan compared to diesel. But it needs special containers for storage, limiting its use to the size of your propane tank. Energy yield is lower compared to diesel or gasoline though.
Gas is the most popular option, and that is hardly a surprise given that it’s cheap, widely available and easy to store. Gas yields 125,000 BTUs per gallon compared to 91,000 BTU of heat per gallon from propane.
Step 3 – Noise Emissions
RV generators are of the inverter type so they don’t produce as much noise as a regular generator. A typical RV inverter generator has a 52 to 59 noise decibel compared to 70 to 80+ for standard generators.
At 85 decibels that is similar to what you’d hear in construction sites or a plane taking off, so that gives you an idea of how quiet these RV generators are. Note that an increase of 10 decibels is double that from the previous level so keep that in mind.
Step 4 – Portability and Miscellaneous Features
If you’re going to use the generator beyond your RV, portability will be a huge factor. Aside from that, you may also want to consider:
- Top-mounted carry racks
- Folding arms
- Padded grip rails
- User friendly control panel
- Remote start
- Low oil indicator lights
- Safety valves
- Outlets for households and RVs
Tips on Getting the Best RV Generator for The Money
If you want the maximum value for your money then you’ll have to go deeper than just the product advertisements. Here are some tips.
- Generator For RV Purchasing Considerations - The best portable generator for RV camping should provide sufficient Power output for your requirements. Since the needs of RV owners differ there is no right amount of power.
- Portable vs Permanent – if you’re only going to use the unit for the RV, a permanent setup is ideal. A portable version is better if you’re going to use the generator for your home and other applications besides your RV.
- Electrical capacity – this is measured in watts and tells you how much power the generator can handle. Use the method I provided earlier to figure out the amount you need.
- Size – this refers to the physical dimensions of the generator itself. A large unit packs more power but can take longer to install. A bigger generator is also harder to lift and may need two people to set it up.
- Runtime – this tells you how many hours of power the generator can provide. This can range from 8 to 12 hours. The runtime is dependent on how many appliances you run.
- Emissions - to put it simply, propane is the cleanest, gas is the dirtiest and diesel is somewhere in between. Aside from emission, you also have to consider other factors such as its performance.
- Fuel Consumption – the type of fuel you choose is just one aspect. You also have to consider the number of appliances you will run at the same time.
- Overall Construction – this refers to the durability of the generator. Can this unit run for months or years? Can it withstand use in extreme temperatures? Is the fuel container made of heavy-duty material?
- Fuel Efficiency – we have already mentioned your consumption has a direct effect on the longevity of the fuel. But some types of fuel are also more efficient than others. This is where it becomes important to pick out the right brand.
- Ease of Use – there are few things more frustrating than a generator that is hard to use. A good one should be intuitive to use and allow you to power up your RV without being too complicated.
- Warranty – how long is the warranty? Is there customer support? What is the extent of the coverage?
Camping Generator Guide
The best generator for RV air conditioners needs to have the following qualities and features. Remember this is not only for you but you also have to consider the other folks in the campground. Before you buy, ensure that it conforms to the regulations of the camping ground.
How Quiet Should My Camping Generator Be?
As quiet as possible. We have already discussed the decibel levels, so no need to go over them again. Suffice to say that those in campgrounds prefer quiet generators so get the quietest generator for rv camping.
Portable Inverter Generators- The Only Way To Go!
A portable inverter generator comes with mufflers and sound reduction devices that keep the noise down without sacrificing quality. You’re not going to find conventional generators in RV campgrounds because they’re noisy.
The bottom line is: if you’re going to stay in a campground, get a portable inverter generator that meets the decibel requirements set by the campground where you plan to stay. If it is too loud, your neighbors won't be happy about it, and you could be thrown out.
What Does a Portable Inverter Generator Do?
A portable inverter generator does pretty much the same thing as a conventional generator, but it can do a few more. These units can charge RV batteries and sub for your solar charger during cloudy skies. These also have enough power to run appliances and gadgets.
Portable Inverter Generators Can Protect Your Electronics
Today’s electronics are sensitive and can be permanently damaged by a sudden surge. That’s another reason to use portable inverter generators since they are built specifically to handle these types of components.
Portable inverter generators cost more than a conventional unit, but it’s a worthy investment if you don’t want to damage your computer and electronics.
Cost Considerations for Purchasing a Quiet Portable Inverter Generator
The cost ranges from $500 to $3000, and the more expensive the unit the more features it has. But more features and power are not always the best. As I have pointed out, consider your requirements and not necessarily the price. More than the cost, think of the brand and the feedback the product gets from other RVers.
How to Charge Your RV Batteries
There are three ways to charge RV batteries, and each one has its benefits.
- A portable generator
- Portable solar panels
- Hooking up your RV to a campground power source
Do I Need a Portable Camping RV Generator?
If you’re going to stay in a campground and get plugged in, there’s no need to use a generator. But if the campground doesn’t have a power source then you’ll want a generator. You’ll also find a generator useful if you depend on batteries or solar panels to power up your appliances as sometimes those systems are not available.
Bottom line. Battery power is limited and will run out eventually. If you use appliances regularly you’ll find a portable generator useful.
If you’re going to dry camp, a power generator is necessary. A solar panel can do the trick as well but it isn’t as efficient during cloudy days. That is the reason why a portable generator is more suitable. Even if you depend on solar energy, it is a good idea to have a portable generator as a backup just in case.
Factors to Consider When Comparing Small Portable Generators
Portability isn’t the only thing you have to look for. You also need to account for power and how you intend to use it. Here are a few general guidelines.
- If you want to run an AC, you’ll need two portable generators or a powerful generator for RV air conditioners. If you’re not going to use an A/C unit, a 2000 watt generator will do.
- If you have simple needs like topping off batteries, using your laptop, mobile device charging, and such, a 2000 watt generator should do fine.
- Some RV microwaves require AC power. But if you don’t run other appliances simultaneously a 2000 watt unit is enough.
- If you run several appliances at the same time or have lots of computers, then a 3000 Watt generator is more appropriate. You’ll also find this more practical if you run the furnace, plasma TV, and coffee maker at the same time.
Tips on Connecting Your Portable Generator to Your RV
If the portable generator is designed for RVs it should be plug and play. Plug your RV power cord into the generator and it is good to go. But what if the generator is not made for RVs in particular?
- If you purchased a 2000 watt portable generator – 2000 watt generators are equipped with 15 amp 120 volt outlets. You need to buy a 30 or 50 amp power cord for RVs. Now plug it in and your generator should power up. Note: a 50 amp has 4 prongs and a 30 amp 3 prongs.
- If you purchased a 3000 watt portable generator – these come with a 125 volt 30 amp outlet. These won’t work with your RV so you have to purchase a compatible adapter.
- For all generators – pull the power cord on your RV and connect the female end of your RV. Hook up the adapter to the end of the power cord. Plug the adapter’s other end to your generator and fire it up.
How to Connect a Portable Generator to Your RV?
The steps are not that different from the ones that have been listed above. However, there are a few other things you’ll have to mull over.
1. Find a Good Location to Set up Your Portable Generator
Place your portable generator on a solid, flat surface that can support its weight. Most RVs have a generator tray built-in. If not you can buy one online.
2. Juice up the portable generator
Fill the portable generator with the appropriate fuel. Once filled up, secure it to prevent leaks. Use only the fuel designed for that generator to avoid damage.
3. Connect the Batteries
Link up the batteries and use a clamp to secure them. Connect the battery’s terminals to those on the generator’s.
4. Re-route the exhaust system
Position the exhaust system away from your rig to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Once this is done, you can turn the RV on.
The Importance of Investing in the Best Generator for Travel Trailer
A generator serves as the power source for your RV. You use this to run appliances and computers, lights, air conditioner, heaters, and other essentials. A quality portable generator provides the power you need without compromising performance or risk damage to your electronics.
RV Generator and Its Different Kinds
There are many types of generators. Some are built specifically for use with RVs, while others are all-purpose, good for the RV and the home. In general, they are divided according to the type of fuel used.
Gas and Diesel Generators
Gas and diesel are popular with RV owners because they are easy to find and provide lots of electrical power required to run AC units and other power-hungry appliances. These units also often come with a muffler to reduce the noise.
Diesel generates more power than propane and it isn’t as dirty as gas. Because diesel is not explosive you can store it without worry. Gas is still the preferred choice by many because it’s cheaper. It is flammable though so you have to be careful during storage.
Liquid Propane Generator
If you’re looking for a long shelf life and environment conscious, liquid propane will be more to your liking. They’re also quieter than gas or diesel generators. But their power output is about ten percent less than gas or diesel.
Commercial Mobile Generator
If the standard RV generator doesn’t provide the power you’re looking for, then a commercial mobile version is better. These are similar in function to regular RV generators, except they pack more power.
Prepare and Maintain Your Portable Generator for Your Travels
A portable generator isn’t going to last if it isn’t well maintained. Check the status of your generator before you head out and after a long journey.
Monitor the Fuel From Time to Time
Fuel degradation leads to generator damage so make sure the one you’re using is in good condition. Check it up on a consistent basis. A fuel stabilizer goes far in keeping the fuel in top shape and avoids start-up problems.
If your rig has been inactive for a long while the fuel might get stale. If it has, drains the oil and replace it with a new one.
Give Your Portable Generator a Regular Exercise
Turn the portable generator on and load it to a third of its power. Let it run for half an hour to an hour. Do this exercise every week or a couple of weeks to keep the parts lubricated. Just as a car can get stuck if not used for a long time, the same rule applies to generators.
Clean the Air Cleaner Regularly
The air cleaner or air filter makes certain only clean air gets in your rig. But dust and dirt can accumulate on air filters, so you’ve got to clean them regularly. Some cleaners just require compressed air while others need soap and water.
Proper Storage for Fuel
If you’re buying several months worth of fuel supply, make sure they are properly stored. Use the right containers for each one.
Get the RV Serviced
Don’t wait for engine problems to show up before you take your rig to the service center. Have it checked up consistently to nip problems in the bud.
Old Fuel is Bad News for Your Generator
This cannot be stressed enough. Replace old fuel immediately as it could permanently damage the engine and other components.
Routine Generator Exercises
Again, make sure you turn the generator on now and then to make certain that it is still running.
Lubrication is vital for the engine and other components in your RV. They work hand in hand with good fuel. If your RV doesn’t start as smoothly as before there could be problems with lubrication so have it checked.
Clean the Batteries
We often think about batteries only when it’s time to replace them, but that should not be the case. What you need to do is clan them so dirt doesn’t affect performance.
RV generator reviews play a huge part in helping consumers find out the best portable generator for RV camping, and I hope I was able to do that here. Many RVers take generator units for granted until they end up with one that doesn’t provide the cooling they need. By following the advice here you’ll get maximum value from the generator you buy.