Best RV Generators: Meet All Your Camping Power Needs

Skip the hookups and generate your own electrical power with one of these handy portable machines.

byHeather Fishel| UPDATED Jul 15, 2022 8:59 AM
Best RV Generators: Meet All Your Camping Power Needs

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BYHeather Fishel/ LAST UPDATED ON July 15, 2022

Sure, the campsite you’ve just pulled into might be wired for AC power so you can conveniently hook up and get your camper up and running comfortably. But often, that power poses problems. It can be unpredictable, short out, or, even worse, not actually be available for use. That’s where investing in an RV generator can be especially beneficial. A portable on-the-go power source that’ll generate all of the electricity you need, keeping everything from your smartphone to your TV to your air conditioning running smoothly. Available in a wide range of different sizes, wattages, voltages, and prices, there’s an RV generator for every camper’s needs. And carrying one of these powerful devices is the perfect way to ensure you’re always able to connect to power, even when you’re truly out in nature with few other options.

Best Overall
Champion Power Equipment 4500-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Champion Power Equipment 4500-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Summary
This powerful and efficient RV generator provides a great wattage and plenty of customization, along with reliable performance you can depend on.
Pros
  • Four-stroke, 212cc OHV gas engine
  • Up to 14 hours of runtime
  • RV-ready 120-volt, 30-amp outlet
Cons
  • Can’t skimp on preventative maintenance
Best Value

WEN 3800-Watt RV-Ready Portable Inverter Generator

Summary
With a reasonable price and plenty of helpful features, this RV-ready generator is convenient to carry and easy to operate, with a nice level of reliable output.
Pros
  • Four-stroke, 212cc gas engine
  • Up to 8.5 hours of runtime
  • Spark arrestor is safe for national parks and forests
Cons
  • Economy mode isn’t smooth or as efficient as it’s meant to be
Honorable Mention

Westinghouse iGen4500 Portable Inverter Generator

Summary
An extremely quiet and fuel-efficient option, this generator features a remote push button electric start system to make starting and stopping a breeze.
Pros
  • 224cc Westinghouse gas engine
  • Up to 18 hours of runtime
  • Super-quiet performance of just 52 decibels
Cons
  • 52 decibel sound level is only possible on lower loads

Summary List 

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Our Methodology

I chose the best RV generators by taking a look at the wide selection of options available online. I compared different models made by reputable names in both power tools and equipment and camping or RV gear, seeking out options that were well-reviewed online and performed reliably. To highlight the top products, I looked for generators made specifically for use with RVs, with reasonable sizing and weight so they could be carried easily on the road. I also looked at various wattages and power output levels for different needs. And I highlighted models that operated quietly, to meet campground noise limits and ensure these generators could be used around other campers reasonably. 

Best RV Generator Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Wattage: 4,500 watts
  • Weight: 95 pounds
  • Runtime: 14 hours

Pros

  • Four-stroke 212cc OHV gas engine
  • 2.3-gallon fuel tank
  • Easy-to-read Intelligauge for effortless monitoring
  • Includes USB adapter, oil funnel, and wrenches

Cons

  • Preventative maintenance is key for longevity

When it comes to reliability, consistent performance, and convenience at any campground, the Champion Power Equipment 4500-Watt Portable Inverter Generator is a standout. It’s one of the best RV generators you can buy, and it’s ready for anything and everything you might depend on it for. With a starting wattage of 4,500 watts and a typical running wattage of 3,500 watts, this gas-powered generator will give you up to 14 hours of electrical power on its tank. It’s RV-ready, with a 120-volt 30-amp outlet, plus two 120-volt 20-amp household outlets as a backup. This generator produces clean power, and it even offers extra perks like parallel ready connectivity to add another generator and economy mode to monitor your power consumption for longer runtime. And you’ll find monitoring your power effortless, thanks to the Intelligauge, which provides voltage, frequency, and operating hours at a glance along with an EZ Start Dial to get powered up fast. There are few complaints to be found with this powerful portable RV generator. However, it’s critical that you remember to perform regular maintenance on the gas engine. Without proper maintenance, you may find failures or problems occur with age and frequent use.

Specs

  • Wattage: 3,800 watts
  • Weight: 99.2 pounds
  • Runtime: 8.5 hours

Pros

  • Four-stroke, 212cc gas engine
  • 57 decibels at quarter output
  • Two three-prong 12V outlets
  • Digital load and fuel display for monitoring

Cons

  • Economy mode may not be smooth or as efficient as intended

If you’re looking for value in addition to solid performance, the WEN 3800-Watt RV-Ready Portable Inverter Generator is a great pick. This nicely priced generator delivers up to 3,800 surge watts and 3,400 rated watts, providing you with a runtime of up to 8.5 hours. Its four-stroke, 212cc engine generates clean, reliable power so you have safe electricity for even the most sensitive appliances and gadgets. This RV-ready generator is also equipped with a panel that makes operation a breeze, with features like keyless electric start, an eco-mode switch, a digital meter to monitor fuel consumption and runtime, and two three-prong outlets as well as a USB port. For extra value, it’s also designed with portable perks like built-in wheels and a collapsible handle, and its included spark arrestor makes it safe for use in all national parks and forests. The one drawback to this RV-ready generator is its economy mode option. Because this is a more budget-friendly option that more premium picks, using economy mode isn’t as smooth — or even as energy-efficient — as it is on other generators. It struggles to start large power loads, and may not run smoothly.

Specs

  • Wattage: 4,500 watts
  • Weight: 104.7 pounds
  • Runtime: 18 hours

Pros

  • 224cc Westinghouse gas engine
  • 3.4-gallon fuel tank
  • LED digital data center for easy monitoring
  • Push button and remote start

Cons

  • Reaches quiet 52 decibels sound level only at lower speeds

The Westinghouse iGen4500 Portable Inverter Generator can do it all. It’s equipped with enough wattage, solid reliability, and all of the ports you need to operate it with your RV or travel trailer, at home when there’s a power outage, or really anywhere you need electricity ASAP. With this powerful generator, you’ll get 4,500 peak watts and 3,700 rated watts from the 224cc gas engine. You can plug into the RV-ready 30-amp outlet, 5-20R 120V duplex house outlet, or one of the two USB outlets to get powered up. And it’s easy to start, too, with a key fob, electric and recoil start, and the ability to start and stop the generator from up to 260 feet away. If you’re looking for efficiency, this generator also offers a fantastic economy mode that’s extremely fuel efficient and lowers your noise output significantly. While this RV inverter generator promises to be as quiet as 52 decibels while running, keep in mind that this is only achievable when you’re not running at full speed. You can get down to 52 decibels, but you’ll need to be running on a lower load or economy mode.

Specs

  • Wattage: 4,500 watts
  • Weight: 98 pounds
  • Runtime: 18 hours

Pros

  • Four-stroke 224cc OHV gas engine
  • 3.4-gallon fuel tank
  • Push-button and remote start, with backup pull cord
  • Easy-to-read LED display for precise readings

Cons

  • Prone to rough running

When you don’t want to add a whole lot of weight to your RV’s essential gear, the Cummins Onan P4500i Inverter Portable Generator is a solid pick. This generator is lighter in weight than many competing products, and it’s designed with portability in mind. With a telescoping handle and built-in wheels, you’ll have no trouble maneuvering or moving this generator and its 98-pound weight around. Plus, you’ll get dependable electricity thanks to the 7.3 horsepower, 224cc four-stroke OHV engine that generates up to 4,500 watts. It’s ready to plug in and play, thanks to the 30-amp TT-30R outlet, plus two 5-volt USB ports for more sensitive electronic gadgets. And the LED display built into the generator provides precise readings on your fuel level, power output, voltage, and remaining runtime from the 3.4-gallon fuel tank. User reviews do mention that this lighter-weight RV generator can run rough. While it’s reliable and easy to manage or monitor, it can go from suddenly smooth to rough with little notice, so keep an eye out for issues while your generator is still new (and under its provided warranty).

Specs

  • Wattage: 3,550 watts
  • Weight: 108 pounds
  • Runtime: 14 hours

Pros

  • 224cc Champion OHV gas engine
  • 4.7-gallon fuel tank
  • Steel roll cage and water-resistant cover
  • Cold start design for performance in cold temperatures

Cons

  • Can be noisy at higher wattage loads

The Champion Power Equipment 3550W Weekender Portable Generator may have a somewhat lower output, but it’s no slouch when you need reliable power. This inverter generator runs on a 224cc Champion OHV engine and a sizable 4.7-gallon fuel tank, with up to 4,450 watts of starting power and 3,550 watts of running power. And it’ll provide you with up to 14 hours of electricity, while running at a 50 percent load. But it also features an impressively durable build. Constructed with a tough steel roll cage and a water-resistant cover, this RV generator is ready for the great outdoors. It also includes a folding handle and never-flat tires for added durability with extra ease of use. Plus, with special cold start design, it’s also easier to start in colder temperatures than your typical RV generator. While many reviewers call this smooth-running RV generator quiet as it operates, there are others who note that it can get pretty noisy at higher loads. It’s rated at 68 decibels from 23 feet away, so it should suit most campground use cases and environments.

Our Verdict

The Champion Power Equipment 4500-Watt Portable Inverter Generator is a fantastic combination of power, reliability, and smooth performance that you can depend on for years to come, which is why it’s my top pick. However, if you’re keeping value for your money in mind, the WEN 56380i 3800-Watt RV-Ready Portable Inverter Generator is another great choice, thanks to its long list of features, convenience, and solid power output. 

Things to Consider Before Buying an RV Generator

Before you settle for any basic generation, know what makes certain RV-ready models more convenient, powerful, and portable. Here’s what you should keep in mind as you consider and compare different generator options. 

Types of RV Generators

Open Frame Generators

When you’re looking for power, an open frame generator will deliver. These generators run loud, but they tend to be less expensive than their alternative, the inverter generator. They produce a lot of power, and they’re suitable fits to power most kinds of electrical appliances. However, there are a few key details that make open frame generators less popular for RV use. First and foremost, their high noise level isn’t a great fit for camping; they’re disruptive in peaceful outdoor settings, and they may not meet campground noise limitations. Additionally, open frame generators generate power that isn’t safe for more delicate appliances. They can power a fridge or AC, but not your laptop or smartphone, as they can damage some electrical gadgets. 

Inverter Generators

Inverter generators are the most popular pick for RV use. They’re available in many different wattages, and they can produce solid power — power that’s smoother and, in general, safer for delicate electrical appliances and gadgets. They convert AC power to DC, then back to AC so you have “clean” power heading into your RV. Plus, unlike open frame models, inverter generators are campground-friendly; they produce less noise and operate far quieter. As an added bonus, inverter generators tend to be more portable, as they’re usually smaller in size and lighter in weight. 

Key Features of an RV Generator

Power Output

The power output is the first detail you should consider on any RV generator. It’s what determines how much you’ll be able to power up — or, more simply, what appliances your generator can run. A lower wattage means light-duty appliances can run off the generator; a higher wattage gives you more potential. Try to estimate how much power you’ll need to run your most essential items, or if you plan to power your entire RV, to figure out what’s suitable for you.

Size and Weight

A portable RV generator isn’t exactly convenient to bring on the road if it’s too heavy and takes up way too much space. For a truly portable product, you’ll want to consider the dimensions and the overall weight to ensure those specs can be carried inside your RV or vehicle. Extra features, like wheels, a carry handle, or a slim profile, are especially helpful when you’re hitting the road and need your generator to come along. 

Fuel Type and Consumption

You have a few different options to fuel your RV generator: Propane, diesel, and gasoline. So, as you’re picking out a product, you’ll want to think about which fuel best suits your needs and is easiest to replenish as you travel. But you should also look into a generator’s fuel consumption, or how quickly it’ll burn through fuel as it powers your RV’s electrical systems. Look for fuel-saving features like eco mode or adjustable output to keep tabs on your fuel consumption. 

Noise Output

If your generator can be heard throughout the entire campground, it’s probably too loud. Some generators are especially noisy, but others are designed to produce fewer decibels and have an overall lower noise output. Take a look at the product’s decibel rating when you’re shopping for a generator; that’ll give you an idea of how loud it’ll be while running. If you’re particularly sensitive to noise (or need to keep campground noise regulations in mind), look for a quiet model that’s capped at a lower decibel level. 

RV Generator Pricing 

There’s a wide range of RV generators at almost every price point. If you don’t need a lot of power and don’t mind working with a smaller generator with fewer features, you can find budget-friendly options priced between $350 and $750. These generators can power certain appliances or systems within your RV for the short-term. Most 2,500-watt and higher generators will cost between $800 and $1,300, and they include higher-end models with extra features and capabilities. The most premium RV generators — and those with the most power — can run $1,400 or more. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: What size RV generator do I need?

A: It really varies, depending on the size of your RV and how many appliances you’re looking to power and run. If you’re looking for light-duty use, a smaller generator should be fine; for your entire RV and its air conditioning system, you’ll need a lot more power. On average, a generator between 2,500 and 3,000 watts should satisfy the typical RV owner’s needs.

Q: Is it cheaper to run an RV generator on gas or propane?

A: In general, propane generators tend to be less fuel-efficient than gas generators. When it comes to output, you’re likely to get fewer BTUs from a propane RV generator than a gas (or diesel) one.

Q: How long will a 20-pound propane generator run an RV?

A: You can expect to get about five hours of power off of a single 20-pound propane tank that’s fueling your RV generator.

Q: How long will five gallons of gas last in an RV generator?

A: You can expect to get about eight hours of operation out of a five-gallon RV generator.

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