Which RV generator is best?
It’s great to get back to nature, but sometimes you want to use amenities available at home while on the road. Recreational vehicles don’t have a built-in power supply, and you’re not always guaranteed to find an electrical socket when you park for the night.
The simplest solution to always have electricity is to have an RV generator. These gadgets are relatively bulky but cost-efficient and reliable. Most popular generators work on fuel to produce AC power, which you then feed into your RV. (Keep in mind that generators don’t store electricity, so if that is something you need to do, there are other additional devices you need to buy.)
If you’re considering an RV generator, the quiet and lightweight Champion Global Power Equipment Open Frame Inverter RV Generator is an excellent choice.
What to know before you buy an RV generator
Consider if you need a generator
Before looking for a powerful RV generator, consider whether you need one. You might have seen that other RVers have them, but they could have a specific need. For example, your RV undoubtedly has a 12-volt battery installed for primary systems. You can use that battery for your electrical appliances and charge mobile phones, but if the 12-volt battery dies, you will be stuck. Many don’t use a generator to overcome this but prefer to install solar panels or alternator chargers to keep the juice flowing.
Portable vs. built-in generator
Most RV generators look alike, but typically there are three kinds available. Portable generators are common among campers and RV users who don’t have the luxury of a built-in generator. They are easy to use, as the generator has an outlet socket that connects directly to the RV. A contractor or frame generator is a portable generator that provides a lot of power but to be noisy. On the other hand, inverter generators are much quieter but produce less power and cost more.
As the name implies, built-in generators are built into your RV’s frame. They are the most convenient but cost a lot more and are usually part of an RV upgrade.
Fuel type for generation
Most people think of gas when it comes to generators. While gasoline is the most common fuel type, some generators work on diesel or propane. Built-in generators exclusively use the same fuel as the RV.
While slightly more expensive, another option is solar power. Typically, this produces less power than a gas generator, but having enough panels and the proper circuitry can make your RV trips even more self-sufficient.
What to look for in a quality RV generator
Depending on your requirements, the generator must output more power than you draw. The output capacity is measured in watts, and the difference between generators is based on size. A good-quality RV generator will produce around 4,000 watts of electricity.
What you can operate will depend on the output capacity of the generator. A straightforward calculation adds up the wattage needed for each appliance or device and compares that to the generator. For example, an electric kettle requires 1,200 watts when switched on, and a microwave uses 1,000 watts. If you have a 2,000-watt generator, running both appliances simultaneously will trip the power.
The fuel capacity of a generator determines how long it can run. Portable generators operate at steady revolutions per minute, or RPM, regardless of how much power they draw. On the other hand, inverter generators fluctuate the RPM depending on the load. In both cases, it affects how much fuel is consumed. A good-quality generator will have a large enough fuel tank to run regularly for a few hours.
Reduced noise levels
The noise levels of a generator will vary significantly between types. For example, frame or construction generators are the loudest and can be uncomfortable for those around them. Typically, the noise level is about 80 decibels, roughly the same as heavy traffic on a freeway. On the other hand, inverter generators are much quieter and typically produce around 60 decibels of noise, which is about the same as a normal conversation.
How much you can expect to spend on an RV generator
The average price of an RV generator greatly depends on the output capacity and any additional features. A portable generator can cost $300-$900, while a built-in generator can cost $2,000-$3,000, depending on the installer.
RV generator FAQ
Can you connect two generators to double your power?
A. Yes, you can, but it is only possible with specific generators. If the device isn’t compatible with parallel connections, you might need an upgrade kit or adapter.
How heavy are portable generators?
A. They can be relatively hefty, with most of them weighing over 100 pounds. You’ll find that many generators have roller wheels for portability, or you can install them on a trolley for moving around.
What’s the best RV generator to buy?
Top RV generator
Champion Global Power Equipment Open Frame Inverter RV Generator
What you need to know: Producing 4,250 watts of electricity, this portable inverter generator has a 2.3-gallon gasoline tank. It powers a 224 cc, 4-stroke engine that can run for 22 hours.
What you’ll love: You can connect this generator in parallel with another to double your output. The touch panel on the front gives you monitoring access to voltage, frequency and runtime. It has two household outlets, two USB ports and one 3-ampere RV outlet.
What you should consider: While it is an inverter, the noise level at 23 feet is the equivalent loudness of a normal conversation.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top RV generator for the money
WEN GN4500 4500-Watt 212cc RV-Ready Portable Generator
What you need to know: This generator has a 4-gallon gasoline tank that can produce 4,500 watts of electricity for up to seven hours. At half-load, the generator will remain operational for as long as 13 hours.
What you’ll love: A digital data meter on the side of the generator displays the voltage, frequency, session runtime and total runtime. The front panel has four standard 120-volt 20-ampere outlets, one 3-ampere RV outlet and one 120-volt three-prong transfer switch outlet.
What you should consider: The generator has a 212 cc, 4-stroke engine, so it can be rather noisy.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Champion Power Equipment 4500-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator
What you need to know: This portable inverter generator can produce 4,500 watts of electricity and features a remote to start or stop it from 80 feet away.
What you’ll love: Since it is an inverter, it is much quieter than other models. It has a 2.3-gallon gasoline tank, enough for the generator to run for about 14 hours.
What you should consider: You can buy an optional parallel kit to double your output by connecting two generators together.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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