Best Generators for RVs: Never Lose Power on the Road
These generators will keep your power going wherever you are
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BY William Byrd / LAST UPDATED ON September 13, 2021
The open road calls, and setting off for destinations unknown in a recreational vehicle (RV), unplugging from everything, is more important than ever to escape our world's day-to-day craziness. Buy you may need some air conditioning, depending on your destination. Also, you should charge your mobile devices in case of an emergency, just to be safe. And maybe you should bring a small TV to continue binge watching your favorite show. OK, you’re going to need a refrigerator for food and drinks. Perhaps “unplug” was the wrong word as you’re going to need to get yourself a generator, my friend! There are hundreds to choose from, so how do you pick the one that will fit your RV needs the best? Fear not, we are here with this guide to the best generators for RV use. Happy RVing!
This 3,800-watt generator uses either gasoline or propane. It runs up to 14 hours on a full tank of gas and 10.5 hours on propane.
- Dual fuel feature provides on-the-go flexibility
- Relatively lightweight and maneuverable
- Easy electric starting mechanism
- Some buyers actually report louder decibel ratings
- Handles may not be ideally placed
- Additional reports of power button malfunctions
This gas-powered generator is portable and very lightweight for easy transportation. It also has multiple connection ports for added versatility.
- Extremely portable compared to most generators
- Low decibel rating claimed by the manufacturer
- Lightweight and maneuverable
- Only a 1-gallon fuel tank
- Owners report short service life and questionable customer care
- Side panel reportedly not high quality
You can connect this generator directly to your RV (with an additional cord), and it can power air conditioners up to 15,000 BTU. It features two USB outlets for charging smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
- Simple start/stop/run dial
- Two USB outlets for charging mobile devices
- Relatively lightweight for its size
- Can handle RV air conditioners up to 15,000 BTU
- No wheels make moving the unit difficult
- Additional adapters may be needed, even though it says “RV ready”
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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.
Best Generators for RVs Reviews & Recommendations
How We Selected the Products
We researched dozens of generators for sale, and carefully weighed dozens of owner comments on each product to help you find the right option for your RV. We weighed the owner assessments against our own expertise, which includes nearly 20 years of experience seeking out the best place to charge our phone in the middle of nowhere. We also prioritized well-known, high-quality generator brands and owner reports that spoke to construction quality, ease of use, and durability.
Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.
Best RV Generator Buying Guide & FAQs
Types of Generators for RVs
Diesel generators are best if your recreational vehicle runs on diesel fuel. This enables you to use a single fuel source for both your generator and your camper. The best diesel generator for RVs also produces more power than propane and is safer to store because it's nonexplosive.
The main benefit of a liquid propane generator is that it is environmentally friendly. The best propane generator for RVs produces cleaner emissions and has a longer shelf life than other types of generators. However, the run time of the generator is dictated by the size of your propane tank. Also, it doesn't have as much power output compared to gas or diesel generators.
The third type of generator is gasoline-powered. Some RVers like them because gasoline is easy to procure, and it's not (usually) very expensive. But there are several drawbacks. First, gasoline is highly flammable, so you need to take special care when handling it. Also, gasoline's shelf life isn't as long as other fuel sources, and it burns a lot faster than diesel, so fuel efficiency is an issue.
Top RV Generator Brands
Honda Power Equipment
Honda has been manufacturing power products for decades. Its headquarters are in Alpharetta, Ga., and it manufactures lawn mowers, pumps, snowblowers, tillers, and trimmers in addition to generators, which range from 1,000 to 10,000 watts.
Champion Power Equipment
Champion, based in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., has been manufacturing power equipment since 2003. It produces portable generators, home standby generators, portable inverter generators, as well as engines, winches, and log splitters. The company has facilities in Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Canada.
WEN, based in Elgin, Ill., was founded in 1951. The company has been manufacturing high-quality power tools for decades and has sold 50 million units as of 2001, half a century after its launch. In addition to generators, the company designs drill presses, air compressors, hand tools, and bench grinders..
Based in Waukesha, Wis., Generac was founded in 1959 and designs and sells backup power generation products for residential, light commercial and industrial markets. The company also produces a line of pressure washers, water pumps, and other small equipment.
Generators for RVs Pricing
- Under $500: There is no such thing as an inexpensive RV generator. Expect to pay several hundred dollars if you want a unit that is durable with decent power output and a good running time.
- $500 to $1,000: If you want the great portable generator for RV camping, this price range is a sweet spot. These units are reliable and have more features (such as dual-fuel options) than their less-expensive counterparts. But more significantly, they tend to have higher power outputs, which means they will be able to power larger air conditioner units and more accessories at once.
- $1,000 and up: While mid-range units can do the job adequately, you may want to consider a top-end generator, such as the Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator. It has great features, such as dual-fuel capabilities and a good run time.
What to Consider When Buying an RV Generator
One of the most important features to consider is a generator's power output. It needs to have the ability to power all your electronics and appliances. Make sure to estimate the amount of power you think you will need to run a variety of items. For example, the best generator to power an RV air conditioner will have enough wattage to accommodate your particular needs.
Size and Portability
Look for a generator that is large enough to provide the power that you require but isn't too bulky. A running generator should generally be placed at least ten feet away from sleeping quarters to reduce carbon monoxide risks, so portability is critical in the RV generator world. While on the go, make sure to measure your camper to make sure it can be stored in the allotted space. Smaller units are more portable and easy to move from one area to another. The best portable generators for RVs are very versatile and can be used for RVing as well as tailgating, or if you have a power outage at home.
Look for the quietest generator you can find. Some RV generators are noisier than others so pay attention to the decibel ratings from the manufacturer, but always read user reports for confirmation. You want a camping generator that does the job but doesn't keep you up at night because it's too loud. Many companies specifically produce generators that can run in a quiet mode when in operation. This is important because many national parks and private campgrounds have noise regulations.
Think about how often you need to add fuel to the generator. The best RV generator should last for several hours without refueling. Some products have an eco-mode that reduces the amount of fuel that is burned. Plus, you have to consider the type of fuel it uses and whether it's available in your location or along your route.
Q: What type of fuel is best for a generator?
There are many options available, including gasoline, diesel, propane, and natural gas, and they all have advantages and disadvantages. Gasoline is widely available but doesn’t last long in storage. Diesel generators are efficient but can also be expensive. Propane doesn’t degrade when it is stored and is a bit cleaner than gasoline and diesel, but like a lot of fuels, storage can be dangerous if you aren’t careful.
Q: How much power do I need with an RV generator?
Different RVs have different power requirements. Some appliances, like air conditioners, use more energy than others, such as TVs. It’s best to get the maximum wattage ratings of the generator and compare it to the total requirements for your particular RV.
Q: How do I maintain an RV generator?
It’s best to consult the service manual for your particular generator. Generally, they should run for at least an hour every month, and the oil should be checked regularly. The filter, oil, and air cleaner will also need to be changed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Our pick for the best generator for an RV goes to the Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Generator. It uses two different fuel types and has a lot of great features for the cash. For a more affordable option, try the WEN Super Quiet Inverter Generator.
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Founded as the /DRIVE YouTube channel before growing into a full-fledged online publication in 2015, The Drive brings you the best of what’s new in the world of speed, from gear reviews to the latest industry coverage—all from a veteran team of writers and editors with many decades of combined hands-on experience. 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.