Best RV Generators: Meet All Your Camping Power Needs
Keep all of your appliances running with our top picks for the best RV generator
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PUBLISHED ON May 27, 2019
Every RV owner knows the pleasure of staying in a camping ground with a motorhome. What’s better is having a camping generator to power the RV even when you are in the most remote areas. But, how will you know what to choose when the market is filled with a variety of options? Well, that’s where we come in. Sort through our compilation of some of the best generators for travel trailers or recreational vehicles to pick out your best option.
- Best OverallChampion 100307 3500 Watt-Dual Fuel GeneratorSummarySummaryA powerful dual-fuel generator that uses either propane or gas. It runs for 10 hours on a full tank and comes with a fuel selector to allow for safe fuel switching.ProsProsDecently priced. Portable. High starting power output. Offers the convenience of a dual fuel tank. Features Cold Start technology. Includes a three-year warranty and free lifetime tech support.ConsConsNot a quiet generator. No wheel attachments, they have to be purchased separately.
- Best ValueChampion 46533 3500-Watt Portable GeneratorSummarySummaryAn affordable gas generator with a 12-hour run-time on a full tank. It offers a 30-amp RV outlet and comes with a sensor that shuts off the unit when the oil levels are low.ProsProsReasonably priced. Portable. Designed for safety. A good amount of power with a long running time. Also includes a three-year warranty and free lifetime tech support.ConsConsTank opening can only handle small refills at a time. It sounds like a vacuum when running.
- Honorable MentionDuroStar 4400/3500 Watt GeneratorSummarySummaryA powerful gas generator that’s easy to use and comes with wheels to make it easy to haul around the device. It’s fitted with an isolated motor mount that promotes smooth operation.ProsProsProvides up to eight hours of power. Has a shut-off mechanism for when the oil is low. Comes with AC and DC regulators and spark arrestors. Allows you to switch between different operating volts. Great build.ConsConsHeavy. Expensive. Unpredictable performance at power outputs of over 3,500 watts.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of RV Generators
- Stay off the grid. If you have enough fuel, you don’t have to leave your camping site to interact with anyone. You could enjoy your quiet time alone and have enough power to last you for days if you don’t want to leave the comfort of your RV.
- Maximum comfort. You may not be able to rely on your RV’s power to hook up all the appliances that will make your outdoor trip more enjoyable. However, a generator is a reliable power source that will keep all your luxury amenities running.
- Portability. A generator is a flexible power source that you can carry with you wherever you go. If your RV uses a renewable source of energy, like solar power, you can bring along the generator for when the weather changes.
Types of RV Generators
Gas-Powered RV Generator
Gas generators are the most common type since gas is typically available and cheap. These generators are efficient and can power many appliances at the same time. However, gasoline is less efficient than diesel, has a short shelf life, and is an extremely flammable liquid. It also breaks down after a few months and absorbs moisture from the atmosphere.
Propane RV Generator
Propane generators use propane as the main source of fuel to convert it into electricity. However, these generators require a separate propane tank from the generator for safety. Propane is a non-toxic fuel, safe to store, and produces fewer emissions than other fuel types. However, propane generators burn more fuel than gasoline or diesel generators, and very few are portable.
Diesel RV Generator
Diesel generators offer the most fuel economy, a longer shelf life, and are cleaner to burn than gas generators. They also provide a higher horsepower per gallon of fuel than most gas generators. However, diesel is more expensive than gas or propane.
Dual-Fuel RV Generator
With a dual generator, you can switch between gas and propane. This is convenient for interstate travelers who may have a hard time finding stations that sell propane since gas is typically available nearly anywhere you travel.
Champion Power Equipment is a leading manufacturer of power generators. All of its products are designed and engineered in the United States for the global market. Champion is headquartered in Santa Fe Springs and has a line of portable generators, inverter generators, standby generators, winches, engines, and log splitters. One of its best portable inverter generators is the Champion 100307 3,500 Watt Dual Fuel Generator.
Honda was established in 1948 and has its head offices in Tokyo, Japan. The company mainly specializes in producing and selling motorcycles, automobiles, and power products. Honda aims to make products that rapidly conform to the needs of the industry. The Honda Gas Generator is a super quiet generator that conforms to this company policy.
Yamaha is a Japanese multinational company that was founded in 1887. The company specializes in making musical instruments, audio equipment, power sports equipment, electronics, and power tools. Its headquartered in Shizuoka, Japan, and its products are sold globally. One of Yamaha’s best generators for an RV is the Yamaha EF30000iS 3,000 Watt Gas Generator.
DuroPower is a California-based manufacturer of engines and power tools. The company operates an online store and a factory outlet. It manufactures and sells portable and standby generators for residential and industrial use. Consider buying the DuroStar 4400/3500 Watt Generator; it represents all the great features that you would expect from an apex DuroPower product.
RV Generator Pricing
- Below $500: Expect to find powerful, small generators with a power output of 1,500 watts or less. The options available are either portable or standby generators, but the cheaper options may not be noise-free. Nonetheless, you will find some decent products from reliable manufacturers that are built to last.
- Above $500: Generators in this price range have a power output of 1,500 to about 3,000 watts and the best fuel-efficiency. Most generators here are noise-free, RV-ready, and can also be used as backup power units for households. You may also find some high-quality dual-fuel generators, but the majority are gas-powered.
Ensure that the generator produces enough power for all your appliances. If you have a new recreational vehicle with a number of luxury amenities, you can go for a generator with a high power output. However, if you only need a generator to power your basic amenities, then you could save a few bucks by going for a low-power generator.
Ease of Use
You may not have a mechanic with you when you are outdoors. Starting up and running the generator may always turn out to be a one-man task. Therefore, you need a generator that’s easy to get running and does all the work for you once you plug in all your appliances. Also, consider a generator that adjusts the power levels for you so that you don't have to worry about burning out its engine.
- Running Time: How long will the generator run after refueling it? If you plan to power large equipment, go for a generator that has a running time of at least 10 hours. However, some generators can run for 19 hours and even longer if they only power small appliances.
- Noise Level: You may not want to tolerate a lot of noise from a generator, especially when you want a quiet night outdoors. Go for a noise-free generator; you will also avoid annoying other campers with the noise from your unit.
- Portability: Do you want a portable or a permanent unit? A permanent unit is attached to your RV at all times. Most brands make portable generators as they can be easily moved from one camping site to another.
Best RV Generator Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Champion 100307 3500 Watt-Dual Fuel Generator
Our best generator has dual fuel capability, which is convenient since it can use two types of fuel, namely propane and gas. The fuel selector lets you switch safely from one fuel to another. The unit has starting watts of 3,950 and operates at 3,500 watts. It can run for nine hours with a 50-percent load of gas and for 10.5 hours with a 50-percent load of propane fuel. The tank can hold 0.6-quarts of oil and features a low oil shut-off sensor.
The machine comes with a Volt Guard surge protector that prevents overloads and short circuits and generally keeps your equipment safe. The unit features Champion’s Cold Start Technology where the machine is easy to start up even in the coldest temperatures. Intelli-Gauge lets you monitor the unit’s run-time hours, voltage, and hertz so that you can track the maintenance schedules. In addition, this product is EPA-certified and CARB-compliant.
The downside to the product is that it produces sound at 68 decibels from 23 feet, meaning that you will constantly hear a humming sound that’s irritating. Also, the wheel attachments for the unit have to be purchased separately. However, in case there are a few hitches with the system, you should know that Champion offers a three-year warranty on the product and a lifetime of free technical support.
Best Value: Champion 46533 3500-Watt Portable Generator
The Champion 3500 RV gas generator is a reasonably priced model with a starting wattage of 4,000 watts that runs at 3,500 watts once it has settled. The product is designed for safety as it comes with a surge protector to prevent overloads and voltage spikes. It also has a low-oil shut off sensor that turns the unit off when the oil level is low to prevent the unit from burning or blowing up.
The unit has Cold Start Technology, which means you will have no trouble starting up the machine during winter temperatures. Additionally, Intelli-gauge acts as the unit’s monitoring system for frequency, voltage, and running hours. The unit has a 4-gallon fuel tank with a maximum running power of 12 hours.
The noise levels, however, are at 68 decibels from 23 feet, which can sound like a running vacuum cleaner. Moreover, the fuel tank has a small opening and can only take small refills at a time. That can be time-consuming. Despite the minor flaws, this unit is suitable for powering air conditioning units, fridges, lights, and a variety of other electrical appliances.
Honorable Mention: DuroStar 4400/3500 Watt Generator
DuroMax made our list due to its great features and performance. First off, the unit is made of a heavy-duty steel frame and features a 7-horsepower engine. It can run up to eight hours at 50-percent load and features a voltage selector where you can switch between 120 and 240 operating volts. Also, the machine has a low oil shut off sensor that protects your engine from harm.
A starting output of 4,400 watts is not only enough for RV use but can also act as a secondary power source in case of a power outage in your residential area. The engine best runs on 87-octane gas for the greatest efficiency. The machine is fitted with wheels to make transportation easier, and the wheel kit has an adjustable handle.
The downside to this machine is it’s heavy at over 120 pounds. The manufacturer also offers only a one-year limited warranty, which is disappointing when other brands offer guarantees of up to three years. Moreover, the unit is more expensive than other brands, and the performance is unpredictable when it goes over 3,500 watts.
- Leaves, pebbles, and other debris may block your generator’s cooling vents. Ensure that you check for any junk that may result in overheating. Also, check the radiator’s coolant level while you are at it. Generally, do this routine check-up after every 50 hours of running time and tap the vents to get all the debris out.
- Change the generator's oil after every 100 hours of use. Warm up the oil by starting the generator and letting it run for about a half hour so that the oil can drain out easily.
- Run your generator at least once every three weeks to prevent the fuel from gumming up your generator, even if it’s a low season and you have your generator tucked away. Also, do not remove the cover from the generator as it’s designed to improve airflow and cool the generator as it runs.
Q: How often should I service my RV generator?
A: When your generator is not in use, you should service it at least once every three weeks. However, if you constantly use your generator, refuel the fuel tank after every 50 hours of use and change the air filter annually. Also, change the spark plugs after every 100 hours of use.
Q: How do I service my generator?
A: First off, you need to clean your generator to make it easy to identify any leaks. Then, clear out any dirt from the cooling vents and change the oil. Replace the oil and air filters and check the battery power level to ensure that there are no visible signs of corrosion.
Q: How much fuel does an RV generator burn?
A: It largely depends on the generator’s power output and the type of fuel it’s running on. A gas generator of 5,000 watts burns at least 18 gallons of gas in 24 hours. A propane generator of 20 kilowatts burns 3.44 gallons per hour. Lastly, a diesel generator of 20 kilowatts burns 1.6 gallons per hour.
We chose the Champion 100307 3500 Watt-Dual Fuel Generator as our best pick as it is a dual generator with a high power output of 3,500 watts. It allows the user to switch from gas to propane or vice versa when either fuel isn’t available.
Our budget-friendly pick is the Champion 46533 3500-Watt Portable Generator. It’s relatively cheaper in comparison to other 3,000 watt generators.