The Best RV Generators in 2020

Comparisons, Guide, and Reviews

When the discussion turns to all the ways you could generate or receive power for your RV, the terminology can be confusing. While batteries and battery banks are obvious, the terms used get more confusing when recommendations come up for RV generators, inverter generators, inverters and so forth. What is an RV generator? How does it differ from your other options? And what are the benefits of the best RV generator?

Top 3 Best Rated RV Generators - Comparison

Here are the Top 13 Best RV Generator Full Reviews

After completing a long time research, I created a great list of the best RV inverter generators. In making this, we didn't keep any part of the issue what can make you angry. We hope- our reviews will guide you honestly.

01) Cummins Onan Model 5.5HGJAB-1270 5500 Watt 120V LP Generator Set

Editor Rating: 4.4 out of 5

This powerful, compact generator only runs off liquid propane. It will burn through a single large tank in eight hours at peak usage.

It puts out 5500 Watts. That’s powerful enough to run two 15000 BTU air conditioners. For the average RV owner, it means you can run the fridge, the air conditioner and one or two smaller appliances at the same time.

The four cycle V-twin engine is relatively quiet, and the noise level is further dampened by the housing. At a 10 foot half load, the standard measure for noise, it puts out only 67 decibels. That’s well below the 70 dB cutoff in many noise regulations.

This Cummins Onan generator is CARB compliant. That means you can take it anywhere and run it. For example, you can run it in state parks and anywhere in California without violating emission rules or noise restrictions.

It is relatively heavy. It weighs about three hundred pounds. It isn’t mobile per se, but it is made to be fixed inside the generator or carried on a trailer. This RV generator is thus only an option if you build it into the vehicle or plan on pulling it along.

There are several built-in safety features. It has a built-in frequency regulator and two 30 amp circuit breakers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t put out high quality power, so it shouldn’t be used to recharge your smart devices without an additional inverter.

  • Powerful enough to run several heavy loads at once
  • Can be operated anywhere
  • Heavy
  • Limited charging capability

02) WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, CARB Compliant

Editor Rating: 4.5/5

This generator by Wen is ultra-efficient; that’s why it is CARB compliant. That makes it legal to sell in California and ideal for eco-conscious campers. The efficient system that is smart enough to downshift along with decreasing demand is also quieter than average. 

The name is somewhat confusing. It puts out 2000 watts of peak power, drawing from the inverter. This generates 1600 watts of continuous power.

The WEN generator creates a steady stream of high quality power that is safe to use with your smart devices. The generator comes with two standard 120 volt plugs, a single 12 volt plug perfect for recharging house batteries and a single USB charging port ideal for recharging your electronics. It is middle of the pack in terms of price. 

The downside of this model is its less than ideal reliability. This is made worse by the weak customer service and challenges getting work done under warranty. These generators sometimes leak oil, especially if you don’t reinstall the filter correctly. 

  • Quiet
  • Efficient
  • Difficulty getting service with or without the warranty
  • Oil leaks

03) DuroMax XP4400E 4,400 Watt 7.0 HP OHV 4-Cycle Gas Powered Portable Generator With Wheel Kit And Electric Start

Editor Rating: 4.5/5

This is a powerful portable generator. It has 3500 watts of continuous power generation, and it puts out up to 4400 watts of peak power. It consumes a lot of fuel; the four gallon gas tank is used up in eight hours at half power, a fraction of that if at full power. 

While it is a large generator, it comes with a number of convenient features. It has a wheel kit to make it easier to move. It comes with a smooth electric start and a deep cycle battery to support this. You’re never going to be pulling repeatedly on a cord trying to get this generator to start.

You pay more for this generator because it is so powerful. You can save money by buying a company approved refurbished model. 

The DuroMax is One of the Best Powerful Generators

This powerful generator manages to be EPA and CARB compliant.  This makes it legal to use in national parks and a good choice for environmentalists who don’t want to choose between powering appliances and minimizing their footprint. 

This generator has two 120 volt outlets and a single flexible 120/240 volt outlet. This is one of the few generators that would let you run a 240 volt appliance with such ease. 

The workmanship on the generator isn’t as good as you’d expect given the price tag, and the shipping department sometimes leaves much to be desired. There are complaints of wheel kits arriving without all the necessary hardware, rendering it useless.

Sometimes the protective bars around the generator are bent and the body scuffed even if you bought an officially new generator. There are reports that the gas tanks of some units leak. If the generator is defective, you have to take it to the repair shop at your expense. 

  • Powerful
  • Let’s you plug in 240 volt appliances
  • Quality

04) Honda 662250 EB2200i 2200-Watt 120-Volt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

Editor Rating: 4.5/5

This generator puts out 2200 Watts of continuous power. It can be connected to another Honda generator with a compatible inverter to provide even more power. The inverter built into the generator provides high quality power. 

This generator at full power creates noise at 57 decibels; that is quieter than some of its rivals at quarter power. This is the best RV generator for those who want to have it run all night near where they sleep. At 47 pounds, it is not particularly heavy. 

One of the benefits of this model is the ease of maintaining it. It is easy to add fuel to it. The oil drain is accessible and takes no effort to clean. Honda generators have the benefit of being so common that service locations are found almost anywhere.

This is an expensive generator. Be careful to clean it thoroughly. And never run it indoors, or Honda won’t honor the warranty. However, there are complaints Honda doesn’t honor the warranty if the generator has been heavily used even if it is within the warranty time frame. 

  • Quiet
  • Easy to do maintenance work
  • Cost

05) Champion 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator (EPA)

Editor Rating: 4.5/5

This portable generator by Champion is advertised as RV ready. The unit has a built-in protective frame. 

This generator produces 3500 watts of continuous power and 4000 watts of peak power. One of the benefits of this unit is that it can run up to 12 hours on a single tank of gas. Don’t use ethanol mixes with this generator. 

This unit has three different 120 volt outlets. Where it stands out are the safety features such as the “volt guard” that prevents overloads. 
Champion has a better than average warranty.

Expect to have to use their service centers, because Champion doesn’t sell very many replacement parts online. This unit is also cheaper than similarly powerful generators. 

One downside of this model is the noise. Frankly, it is loud. If you’re right next to it, conversation is impossible because it generates up to 70 decibels of noise. Expect to park the generator twenty feet away if you’re going to have it run all night.

A minor annoyance is that the oil has to be changed more frequently than its rivals – you need to change the oil every 50 hours it is run. 

  • Cheap
  • Protective features
  • Loud
  • Maintenance needs

06) DuroStar DS4000S, 3300 Running Watts/4000 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator

Editor Rating: 4.0/5

This generator puts out 3300 Watts of continuous power. It can meet a peak starting load of 4000 Watts. This model is incredibly affordable given the power it produces.

It has two 120 volt 20 amp plugs, one 120 volt 30 amp plug and one L5-30 plug. It meets basic EPA efficiency standards but is not CARB compliant. 

The Durostar generator comes with a built-in protective frame. You have to pay extra for a compatible wheel kit. Weighing in at more than ninety pounds, you’ll want the wheel kit unless the generator is mounted on a trailer or RV compartment. Compatible handle kits are also sold separately.

The four gallon gas tank will let it run for up to eight hours. It has basic safety features like a low oil shutoff and circuit breaker. There is no spark arrestor. It has a pull cord to start it. This can be much more work than the push-button models. That’s especially true when the pull cord breaks, typically after several months of use.

The company warns not to use a transfer switch when it is running at half power or you’re close to its maximal load.

The generator has a tendency to leak oil as it ages. This is made worse when you don’t properly drain it and store it for the off-season. However, some people have reported that it leaked oil almost right out of the box. 

  • Affordable and powerful
  • Multiple plugs
  • Effort to start it
  • Odds of oil leaks

07) Rainier Model R2200i Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator - 1800 Running & 2200 Watts

Editor Rating: 4.6 out of 5

This inverter generator by Rainier puts out 1800 Watts or 11,000 BTU of continuous power. It can deliver 2200 watts of peak power. You can connect it with another generator by the same manufacturer and operate them in parallel.

However, that parallel kit is sold separately.

The built-in inverter means it can deliver high quality power that is safe to use to charge your smart phone. It has one 12 volt port and 2 120 volt household outlets.

The Rainier R2200i generator is gas powered. It is also CARB compliant. That means you can run it anywhere without violating environmental regulations.

This generator is small, relatively lightweight and compact. It weighs less than 50 pounds. It is also portable. It even has a carry handle on the top. Unfortunately, it has a small gas tank. Its 1.3 gallon tank will run for three to four hours at full power.

The unit is relatively quiet. The manufacturer says it can put out as little noise as 52 dB if running at one quarter power. In reality, it is 60 to 70 dB. It is quieter in eco-mode, but it can’t handle surges as well in eco-mode. It is a decent RV generator as long as you know that it isn’t “whisper quiet”.

This model is user friendly. For example, it has simple to use stop and rest buttons. The control panel has a number of obvious alarms such as when it has low oil, overload and output. There are reports that the stop button sometimes breaks.

The company has a three year warranty, but there are reports they take weeks to replace something like a faulty oil level switch.

  • User friendly
  • Can operate anywhere
  • Can charge smart devices
  • Small gas tank
  • Can’t handle surges in fuel-saving mode

08) A-iPower Model SUA2000iV 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator CARB/EPA, 2000 Watt, RV Ready

Editor Rating: 4.5 out of 5

This 1600 watt inverter generator is small, lightweight and compact. That means it isn’t just an RV generator but can serve as a backup generator for your home or travel with you to a game.

Note that while it is listed as a 2000 watt generator, it can only deliver 1600 watts of continuous power.

On the flipside, this generator can be connected with several A-iPower and Yamaha models in parallel to get 3000 or more watts of power. And you don’t need a separate parallel connector kit to do so. 

This inverter generator is capable of delivering high quality paper safe for charging a smart device. However, there is no USB port. It only has a DC adapter plug. 

Do research on adapters so that you can find a compatible adapter for smart devices or even household appliances.

This generator uses relatively little fuel, but it also has a tiny fuel tank. It can only run for four hours on a fuel tank of gas. In the low idle mode, it can run for eight hours. It is low-emission, so it is legal to buy in all fifty states. One concern with this model is that the gas tank sometimes leaks.

It puts out about 60 dB of noise when running in low, idle mode.

This unit has an unusual control switch. The single switch controls the engine, the choke and the fuel control. If it has problems, the generator is junk.

  • Can connect in parallel with a variety of generators out of the box
  • Fuel efficient
  • Small gas tank
  • Can’t plug in AC and USB plugs without additional adapters

09) Yamaha EF2000iSv2, 1600 Running Watts/2000 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Inverter

Editor Rating: 4.5/5

This generator by Yamaha is more expensive than average. At 1600 watts running power, it can run a couple of basic appliances. It has a peak load of 2000 watts, enough to let you start up one mid-grade appliance without shutting down everything else.

The inverter allows it to provide relatively “clean” power for use with sensitive electronics. 

One of the benefits of this generator is how quiet it is relative to others of the same power level. It has a 52 dB noise level when running at half capacity.

The smart throttle will reduce both the noise and engine speed based on demand, so it will both reduce noise and fuel consumption when you aren’t using all 1600 watts. 

One advantage Yamaha generators have in general is how easy it is to find cables and other parts for their generators. This generator is CARB compliant, meeting California’s super-strict energy efficiency mandates.

The downside of this model is how much oil it goes through. The oil often needs to be topped off after you’ve used up several full gas tanks. Getting service for this or any other issue under the warranty is a challenge. 

  • Quiet
  • Serviceability
  • Price relative to power output
  • Oil consumption

10) Goplus Gas-Powered Inverter Generator Portable Digital 4 Stroke 53cc Single Cylinder CE, GS, CARB & EPA Compliant, 1250W

Editor Rating: 4.5/5

The biggest advantage of this generator is its price. It is quite affordable. At 35 pounds, it is very portable. 

The generator is rather quiet. At a quarter power, it puts out about 58 dB. It uses rather little fuel because of its high efficiency.

The Goplus generator is so efficient that it is approved not only by the EPA but is CARB compliant, CE compliant and meets GS standards. It runs about six hours at full power. 

This generator has the standard control panel lights indicating its status. It goes above and beyond the generators in its class with the air cooling system that prevents overheating. 

  • Cheap
  • Efficient
  • Limited power production

11) Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator with Remote Electric Start - 7500 Rated Watts & 9500 Peak Watts - Gas Powered - CARB Compliant - Transfer Switch Ready

Editor Rating: 5/5

This is one of the most powerful generators on this list. It puts out 7500 Watts of continuous power, and it generates 9500 Watts of peak power.

This is the best RV generator for someone who needs to power an air conditioner, refrigerator and one or two other big appliances.

Or you can use it to power up a cabin. It can run up to 16 hours at a quarter of its full load. It will certainly run overnight at half power. Just push to start. 

Given how much power it puts out, it isn’t expensive. Compared to other, smaller generators, it is expensive. The generator itself is big, but that again has to be compared to the capacity. 

The Westinghouse Generator included All of the Amazing Features

It is very portable given its size. It has built-in wheels, and it has a protective frame. This is aside from the ground fault circuit interrupters and outlet covers to protect you and the electronics plugged into the generator.

Not only does it have two 120 volt double receptacles (four conventional plugs), but it has an L14-30R receptacle, too. Very few generators offer this. The generator has everything you need from the get-go. It comes with not only the remote starter but a 12 volt battery charger, an oil funnel, tool kit and oil.

The three year warranty and customer service are outstanding if, and this is a big if, there is a Westinghouse repair center near you. If there isn’t an authorized repair center by you, they’ll either tell you to ship it or drive all the way to an authorized center to get it fixed. If you aren’t careful about the oil you use, the company may not honor the warranty.

The battery that comes with this generator is not suited for very cold weather. If things are too cold, it won’t charge the battery unless you remove it from the frame. 

  • Power
  • Convenience to start using
  • L14-30R plug plus 4 conventional 120 volt plugs
  • Cost
  • Difficulty getting served under warranty

12) Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Portable 2200-Watt Inverter Generator with Parallel Capability

Editor Rating:

The Briggs and Stratton model 30651 generator pouts out 2200 Watts of starting power, 1700 Watts continuous power. This generator stands out for the parallel capability, the option of connecting two of them together for twice as much power.

In fact, you can connect it with either another Model 30651 2200 Watt model or P3000 generator. 

One of the major benefits of this model is its high power quality. It has less than 3% total harmonic distortion, making it safe for your most sensitive electronics. It has a built-in USB charging port.

This is the best RV generator for recharging smart phones, laptops and other advanced devices. It also has two 120 volt household outlets. The circuit breaker has a “push to reset” option for when you do happen to trip the breaker. 

This generator can run up to eight hours at a quarter load. It has a small gas tank, and this requires regular refills if you want to run it all day at full power.

It is somewhat portable; the built-in carry handles allow it to be carried by one or two people. At 55 pounds, it isn’t convenient for one person to carry. This unit is not efficient enough to be sold in California. Conversely, it isn’t a gas hog, and it will work whether the weather is hot or cold. 

The Briggs and Stratton generator comes with a limited 24 month warranty. Getting it serviced under the warranty can be a challenge. The unit puts out 59 decibels at quarter power; that’s average for its product class. At full power, it puts out up to 70 decibels. Frankly, it is loud. 

  • Parallel capability
  • Affordable
  • Weather-resistant
  • Loud at full power
  • Limited run time at full power
  • Limited to meaningless warranty

13) Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator - Parallel Ready

Editor Rating: 4.0/5

This generator is middle of the pack in terms of price. It generates 2200 watts of peak power and 1700 watts of continuous power. Furthermore, you can connect two of them together to generate even more power. The parallel kit is sold separately. 

It has the standard array of status lights like overload alerts. The controls are easier than average to use. The off/run/choke knob makes it easy for new users to start it and stop it.

The unit automatically shuts down if oil levels are too low. The outlets are covered to protect them from the elements. 

It has a 12 volt outlet for charging house batteries and a USB outlet for charging electronics. It puts out high quality power, so it is safe to use for charging laptops and cell phones. 

This model has a larger gas tank than several others on this list at 1.2 gallons. It could run up to ten hours at one quarter power.

This is one of the more compact generators on this list. It is ideal for taking off the grid or over to the tailgating party. The cord storage compartment on the back of the generator is a unique benefit.

The warranty is middling, but the warranty service is mediocre. It is hard to get them to repair it under the warranty, much less doing so quickly. 

  • Ease of use
  • Parallel capacity
  • Difficulty getting service

What is the Best RV Generator Actually?

An RV generator is simply a generator that is designed for use with an RV. For example, an RV generator is designed to draw its fuel supply from the same fuel tank the RV engine uses.

Many RV generators are designed to run off of propane tanks to save gas, though this is not universal.

Propane powered generators don’t have as much power as diesel or gas powered generators, so they don’t provide the same benefits as gas fueled generators though they burn through propane tanks quickly.

For this reason, we’ll only address the benefits of owning a gas-powered RV generator. 

what is the best generator for an rv

How much Types of the RV Generator on the Market?

There are two ways to divide up RV generators. The first way to classify RV generator types is based on the fuel it uses. The second way to classify RV generators is the type of installation: is it a permanent generator or a mobile one? We’ll discuss each type of RV generator in detail. 

01) Diesel Generator 

Diesel generators are simply RV generators that run on diesel fuel. The upside is that they generate more power per unit of fuel. The downside is that this fuel usually costs more than the generic gas available at the gas station.

Diesel fuel is available at many gas stations, but it isn’t as commonly available as unleaded gas. Diesel fuel is safer to store long-term, too. 

In general, a diesel generator is a good choice if your RV already runs off of diesel generator. If your RV runs off of conventional gas, don’t add logistical complexity by needing yet another type of fuel. 

best rv diesel generator

02) Gas Generator 

The greatest advantage of a gas generator is the ease of finding fuel. Anywhere you can fill up a car, you can fill up the RV and fuel the generator at the same time. Conventional gas is also cheaper than diesel fuel.

The downside is its lower power per unit of volume. Diesel cars and generators last longer on a full tank than conventional gas motors because diesel fuel contains more energy. Downsides of gas generators include the fact that the fuel is more flammable and has a shorter shelf life than anything else. 

03) Propane Generator 

One benefit of propane generators is that you can run it off propane tanks. This is incredibly useful if you’re staying somewhere that lets you connect to propane. It is almost like running your house off natural gas. You won’t get the same fumes from a propane generator as you’d get with a gas burning one. 

If you already use a propane oven and stove, then you only need one fuel source to run everything in the RV. Propane has a longer shelf life than gas, too. 

There are downsides of propane generators. Diesel is easier to acquire than propane tanks. Propane tanks are not only hard to get, but backup propane tanks are bulky. Exchanging them can be a hassle.

Your run-time is limited by the size of your propane tank, and you may be torn between running the generator or fueling your propane stove or oven.

what is the best rv propane generator

Do not assume that a propane generator can run off of natural gas. There are dual fuel generators that can run off of either propane or natural gas. However, you need to verify that the propane generator can safely use natural gas or you’re creating a dangerous situation. 

04) Mobile Generator 

A permanent generator is just that – it is permanently installed in the RV. You can’t take it out unless you’re essentially disassembling part of the RV. In contrast, a mobile generator is separate from the RV’s electrical system and separate from the RV itself. You can take a best portable generator for rv camping and up to a secondary campsite. You can remove it from the RV and set it up to power everything at a tailgating party. 

The benefits of mobile generators include portability and price. They tend to be small and lightweight so that you can port them around. They tend to be cheap, because they aren’t intended to power your life. The downsides include limited fuel capacity, less power than the average permanent generator, and possibly taking up more space than a permanent generator because of its permanently installed carrying frame.

One of the downsides of portable/mobile generators is that you have to manually operate it. It won’t automatically kick in once you have a drop in power, such as when you turn off the engine and try to turn on appliances. In short, it requires more work to operate. 

05) Others 

Dual fuel and tri-fuel generators are capable of running off of more than one type of fuel. All of them require fuel, but the ability to use more than one type of fuel ensures that you will always have fuel for it. The downsides of dual fuel and tri-fuel generators include their high cost and the difficulty of finding them. 

Things to Consider for Choosing the Right RV Generator

Here are a few tips on how to choose the right RV generator for your particular situation. We’ll also explain how much weight to give to various factors that can be used to decide between one model of RV generators over another. 

01) Generator Type 

Generators are typically divided into classes based on the types of fuel they use. Gas generators use unleaded gasoline, while propane generators run off propane. Diesel generators use diesel fuel. A good rule of thumb is to select a generator that uses the same fuel the RV runs off of.

If you have a propane heater, stove and fridge, your RV probably has a large propane tank perfect for supplying a propane generator. There are generators that can run off of more than one type of fuel, but you’ll pay dearly for that privilege. These same generators are harder to find spare parts and consumables for because they’re so rare. 

02) Fuel Consumption

Fuel consumption is a factor too many people ignore when shopping for generators, though this has a direct impact on the logistics of running a generator.

The more fuel efficient generators don’t need to be refilled as often, reducing the number of runs you have to make for propane tanks or trips to the gas station.

A more efficient generator may let you run it all night without having to lose power at 4 AM or closely monitor power usage to make it last all night.

Why don’t people automatically opt for the most fuel efficient generator? The answer is price. The only exception is when local rules mandate high efficiency generators by outlawing the sale of anything else, notably California. 

how much fuel does an rv generator use

03) Noise Level 

Generators are noisy, but they aren’t equally noisy. There are generators that are hardly louder than your air conditioner. And there are generators that will keep you up at night unless kept a fair distance from the RV while operating.

In general, you want to pick the quietest generator you can afford. Note that poorly maintained generators will be louder than those that aren’t, so look for generators that are easy to keep up, such as replacing air filters or cleaning the spark plugs. 

04) Price / Cost

Price is but one deciding point when you’re shopping for a generator. Before you make a decision based on the price, look at what else you need to buy. For example, a portable generator that comes with power cables and hardware is a better deal than one of the same price that lacks that hardware.

A generator that costs a little more but has a built in inverter is a better deal than a generator plus a separately purchased inverter. If you have to pay extra for wheels for your portable generator along with cables and fuses, it may be worth paying more for an entire set that has everything you need in one box.

However, you don’t want to pay a lot more for a generator that comes with a spare filter and plug that cost less than the package deal. 

05) Noise Level

No generator is silent. While portable generators tend to be louder than permanent ones, there is significant variability between models. Research the decibel level of each model you’re considering, and all other things being equal, pick the quieter one.

A few generators have far quieter motors, while a few add insulation to dampen the noise. The extra insulation is worth it in a portable generator, assuming it still fits in the RV. 

06) Construction System 

The construction system refers to how the generator is built and how it connects to everything else. You don’t want a generator that won’t fit into the space allocated for it. Nor do you want a generator designed to plug into the power grid on the right side but only fits in to the space upside down.

The ideal generator is designed to fit in the space in the electrical closet or easily plugs into the electrical system from your RV’s storage bay. The worst case scenario necessitates cutting holes into the RV’s walls and shielding so that you can connect the generator. 

07) Portability 

There are several variations of this factor. If you’re looking for a portable generator, this factor includes a protective frame and built-in wheels that make it easy to pull around. If you’re looking at a big generator, portability could include the ability to easily load it onto a trailer or even having its own trailer. This isn’t an issue with permanently installed generators

08) Extra Features 

A generator with a built-in inverter so that it provides high quality power is probably worth the extra money. You don’t want to risk the generator putting out variable power that burns out your laptop and smart phone while wearing out the motor of your air conditioner and refrigerator. 

Safety features are something to consider, especially if you’ll be running the generator continuously or aren’t an expert at setting up generators. If you are concerned about carbon monoxide from a portable generator close to the RV or overload protections, search for generators that have the safety features built into them.

One factor to consider when looking for a portable generator is how easily you can secure it from theft without making it a hassle to pack up. A generator that is both easy to set up and secure may be worth paying a little more for. 

09) Power Output 

Generators put out power, but they don’t all produce the same horsepower. Select a generator that puts out as much power as you expect to draw from it. This load will include both power hogs like microwaves and smaller items like fans. 

Other Considerations

Peak power is an incredibly important factor that is not given enough consideration. When you turn on an air conditioner or other device that draws a lot of power, it may pull up to twice as much power on startup.

A generator that could support a 2000 Watt constant load may not be able to support the 3000 Watt draw of an AC when it is initially turned on. You may need to turn on appliances in stages to stay within the operating limits of the generator, or you’ll want to pay more for an inverter to provide that temporary “peak” power load.

Another issue you may need to consider is the number of plugs. That doesn’t matter if you have a permanent generator installed in the RV, but it matters in portable generators. A generator with two appliance plugs isn’t going to let you plug in three devices. A few generators have USB charging ports built into them, but not all do. 

What’s the Benefit in Using an RV Generator?

01. Less Work 

A built-in generator is far more convenient to use than lugging around and maintaining a portable generator. The built-in RV generator doesn’t need to be refilled with fuel every few hours. A built-in generator may be mounted in the RV, so there’s no need to pull it out of storage and set it up when you need to run it. 

02. Run Any Appliance 

RV generators allow you to power appliances that can’t run off of 12 volt house batteries. For example, you need an RV generator to run a small air conditioner or microwave oven.

Those appliances simply use more power than a battery bank could provide or require 120 volt AC power that house batteries can’t deliver. Yes, there are inverters that can transform 12 volt battery power to something a 120 volt appliance could use for a little while. 

However, these devices lose some power in the process and can’t deliver enough power to meet the heavy load vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens and an air conditioner starting up require. 

03. The Ability to Run an AC 

If you will be traveling in a hot climate, you may want an RV generator. Running an RV generator to power a roof-mounted air conditioner is more fuel efficient than trying to use the dash AC to cool off the RV.

Yes, an RV generator and roof mounted AC is more efficient than using the RV’s built-in AC. You’ll either use less fuel to stay cool or be able to get cooler with the same investment of cool. 

04. Greater Energy Efficiency for Your Appliances 

If you’re often running heavy loads, supplying power via a generator actually improves the operational efficiency and operating life of your appliances. Cheap inverters deliver rough power that barely approximates smooth AC power. This will cause vacuum cleaners, power tools and AC motors to wear out faster than they otherwise would.

If you have to choose between a generator and a higher end inverter, go with the generator – it solves that problem and delivers consistent power in all situations without drawing down your batteries. 

05. Camp Anywhere in Comfort

If you own an RV generator, you can park somewhere without a power connection and still enjoy your electric appliances. You can dry camp and still run creature comforts like a TV or laptop. Dry camp comfortably no matter where you are. It is true that you can probably get away with not having a generator if you always park somewhere with hook up service.

However, you cannot guarantee that the campsite has working electrical power. They may have improperly wired power ports. The power may be out when you get there, whether it is due to rolling blackouts in the summer or downed power lines caused by the latest wind storm.

Sometimes you want to dry camp, and you can get away with this for a day. You might manage it for two days if you carefully manage power consumption.

A generator ensures that you can keep the batteries charged if you’re stuck dry camping for an extra day or two for any reason. Know that your house batteries won’t die if you decide to stay for an extra day or are too sick to drive the RV. 

06. Peace of Mind 

One of the benefits after owning an RV generator is the fact that it ensures your 12 volt batteries won’t run dry. The generator is able to recharge your house batteries every time it runs if everything is set up so you can do so as long as you have fuel. 

Generators provide peace of mind. You don’t have to worry about your phones not fully charging when connected to portable solar panels. You’ll be able to fully charge portable devices like cell phones and laptops you need to connect to the internet and critical services.

Then there’s the fact that the generator puts out enough power to fully charge smart phones and laptops even as you use it, whereas small inverters or renewable power sources may only put out a trickle charge that forces you to choose between recharging the device or using it. 

07. Less Weight, Space and Effort to Live Off the Grid

For some people, the generator is simply the only way to get enough power to run everything. They don’t have the space to install a large array of solar panels on the roof, and they don’t want to have to set up separate solar panels after they reach a campsite.

A generator may take up less space than a large battery bank, too; if the generator weighs less than a large battery bank, you’re saving weight, too, letting you get more miles per gallon out of your RV. 

Gas powered generators are far easier to refuel than propane powered generators. It is far easier to find gas for the RV and thus for the generator. You can’t assume that the places that sell gas to RVs sell propane tanks they use, either.

A side benefit of owning a gas-powered RV generator is that you don’t have to find a place to store all those extra propane tanks. Your gas is stored in the gas tank, and the spare gas cans will power both the RV’s engine and the generator.

If you have a diesel powered RV, you want a diesel powered generator – but you have the same benefit of using the same fuel for the RV and the generator. 

Portable Or Permanent; What's the Best Type for RV?

If you rarely rely on a generator, such as when you only want it as a backup source of power, you would like a portable generator. This is the ideal case if you’re almost always connected to shore power at campsites.

A permanent generator is the best choice for those who rely on generator power often. Maybe you like to dry camp. Perhaps you stay in places where safe, reliable and good AC power at the right voltage is hard to secure. Then you want a permanent generator in the RV. Portable generators are usually louder, but then again, they’re designed to be used outside.

Also, A permanent generator is designed to be quiet because it is inside the RV; this has the side benefit of ensuring the generator can’t be stolen. A portable RV generator could be stolen unless you have it locked down.

Permanent generators need to be professionally installed. Portable generators are something the average RV owner can run themselves, though it involves more work than the permanent generator. Both units require maintenance. 

What to Look in an RV Generator especially?

We’ve addressed fuel types and the design already (portable versus permanent). Another factor to consider is the type of power is supplies. For example, you may want a generator with a built-in inverter capable of providing high quality power.

A generator with an inverter could provide power with less than 3% total harmonic variation, something you need if you’re running sensitive electronics off of generator power. This is critical if you’re using smartphones, laptops and medical devices like CPAP machines. 

Weight is a factor when you’re shopping for RV generators. If you’re choosing between two models, the smaller, lighter unit is often worth it though you may pay more for the privilege. Another issue is how easy it is to connect the generator.

Some permanent generators are plug and play with specific models of RVs, though some require a variety of hardware to be plugged into the average RV. Even if you have the generator installed by a professional, the difficult to install units will cost more to be installed. 

Capacity matters. Pick a generator that can put out the level of power you need, assuming you can fit it in the RV and afford it. 

Final Words

In order to find the right generator for you, understand what matters most to you. How much power do you need? Do you want it in a single generator or two connected units? Some generators will put out a lot of power at the risk of shorting out your smart phone. Other features like ease of use and portability may be make or break deciding criteria for different people. Make your list, and then compare it to our list to find the best RV generator for your family. 

John S.

Hello guys! I'm a 37-years-old author, traveler, writer, blogger, and a camper. I enjoy life as much as I can and love to visit beautiful places in my RV. That's why while traveling I have decided to dedicate some time to share my experiences with everyone that might be interested in traveling, camping, and RVs.