The Best RV Generator for Camping and Travel

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best generator for your RV is, then we recommend the Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt generator as the best one.

If you are buying an RV for the first time, or need to replace an old generator with something more up-to-date, some incredible options are popping up on the market. Some of these cost far less than generators of years past. Additionally, some have newer features such as USB outlets and cleaner energy for your modern devices.

In this article, we’re going to review the following generators:

 

What to Look for in an RV Generator

If you’ve never purchased a generator for an RV before, it’s vital for you to look for a few key specifications. You might initially think the more wattage, the better. However, this is not true, especially if you start checking into generators that climb up into the 7000-watt range.

I can attest from blowing out a tablet with an improperly-working converter while abroad, too much power can be a detriment to your electronics. The type of generator (an inverter) and the wattage are going to be some of the most important things to look at. Beyond that, price, weight, brands, and smaller design features come into play, also.

Inverter Generators

When camping, you definitely want an inverter type of generator, not a construction site style generator. Construction site type of generators may be cheaper and have a lot of power. However, they are extremely loud and will disturb not only neighboring campers but also wildlife. Inverters also produce pure sine wave energy which will allow smaller electronics—such as microwaves or hair dryers—in an RV to work correctly with low distortion.

Wattage Needs

Generally, you will need somewhere in the range of 2000-watts for a standard RV if you’re only using minimal electric devices. However, you won’t be able to power an RV air conditioner with a 2000-watt inverter generator. Running an air conditioning unit will require more in the range of 3000 to 4000-watts.

2000 or 3000 Watts

Cables are available if you decide to use two 2000-watt generators rather than buy a 3000-watt inverter. The benefits of selecting a one or two 2000-watt units are that they are often lightweight, and it is occasionally cheaper to buy two in that wattage than to purchase a single 3000-watt generator. With two smaller wattage units, you have a backup for essential devices if one generator breaks down.

However, if you know you will use air conditioning in your RV often, buying one 3000-watt has its conveniences. If you have two inverters, it means you will have to deal with two changes of oil and air filters. Additionally, two 2000-watt generators will put out more noise. A 2000-watt device can also be more accessible for someone to steal because they tend to be lighter and are easier to move around.

Features

Some generators will boast additional features such as a boost for extra power output when needed, for example when powering on an air conditioner. Other things to look for are eco-mode to save power, the fuel efficiency, whether it has a key turn or push-button start, or an “old school” pull chain start like a lawnmower, and its noise level (or its decibel output). Wheels and weight might be noteworthy for you to consider if you have trouble lifting or moving bulky items.

What Brand to Buy

The leading brands for many years now in camping generators are Honda and Yamaha. They have excellent reputations. They are high-quality, have plenty of repair centers, and tend to last for ages. However, these brands often cost a lot more to buy and repair.

Some manufacturers making a reliable name for themselves more recently are Honeywell, Champion generators, and Westinghouse. There are also some more generic brands at lower prices. These vary significantly in ratings and sometimes come with fewer features. A few of these “off brand” units seem to be showing they can keep up with the competition, though, with outstanding customer ratings. However, if you purchase an off-brand, you may not have a warranty if it breaks down.

WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

The WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Generator has an EPA III as well as CARB compliant 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine. With a convenient carrying handle, a direct USB port, low-oil shutdown to safeguard the unit, and a lower-end price, it’s easy to see how this underdog racked up so many five-star reviews (75 percent of over 500 ratings).This generator produces 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts. The WEN 56200i generator limits harmonic distortion (disturbances in your energy) to under 0.3 percent. This makes it safe enough to run your laptop, cellphones, tablets and other touchy electronics.

I love that this device runs for far less than the top brand names, but still has features such as eco-mode. It does have a pull cord start, but for the price and overall fantastic ratings, that’s a small sacrifice. This inverter measures 18 x 11 x 18 inches and is relatively lightweight at 48 pounds.

Pros:

  • Mirrors clean sine wave energy.
  • Eco-mode.
  • Weighs only 48 pounds.
  • Low-oil shutdown.
  • Safe for sensitive electronics.
  • Extremely quiet.
  • Includes two three-prong 120-volt receptacles.
  • Also has one 12-volt DC receptacle.
  • A 3100-watt model is available.
  • Features a 5V direct USB port.

Cons:

  • Stopped working for a handful of customers quickly.
  • Not a reputable brand name.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

 

Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt 120-Volt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

The Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt 120-Volt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator is the prime example of the idea of “you get what you pay for.” It does cost more than some competitors. However, with nearly perfect customer ratings this machine is ideal for those who don’t want to worry about replacing their generator in a year. If you want quality from the start, this is an excellent option.This 2200-watt generator features a Honda GXR120 engine. It also has a large spout and oil draining gutter, so those changes are cleaner and more manageable. Considering changing the oil on your generator is one of the more annoying tasks, anything that makes it easier will make you happier with your decision.

This lightweight inverter also has a carrying handle for convenience. Honda also has a two-pack of these machines with essentially free parallel cables if you want this model but have an air conditioner to run. The Honda EU2200i Generator measures 20 x 11.4 x 16.7 inches and weighs only 47 pounds.

Pros:

  • Excellent fuel efficiency.
  • Quality brand name and warranty.
  • If taken care of properly, can last eons.
  • Extremely quiet at 48 to 57 decibels.
  • Runs 4 to 9.6 hours on a single tank of gas (depends on energy load).
  • Weighs only 47 pounds.
  • Available in a two-pack with compliant cables.

Cons:

  • Costlier price than some competitors.
  • Need two if you want to power an air conditioner.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

 

Champion 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator with Wheel Kit

The Champion 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator with Wheel Kit is This machine has some fantastic reviews. It does appear to need slightly more frequent oil changes (it has a 0.6-quart oil capacity, and it’s recommended you use 10W-30). Overall, it seems to be a reliable and affordable unit for most customers.Champion makes a model with a push-button start. However, this one has a recoil pull-chain start. Upon testing it, the unit only took one pull to get going, though. So, in my book, this is not much of a drawback considering it starts up so quickly. This inverter is a bit louder than WEN and the Honda models, so keep that in mind.

The Champion 3500-watt unit has a 120-volt 30A locking outlet, a 120-volt 30A RV outlet, and a 120-volt 20A household outlet. This makes for excellent versatility between your RV and also your home if you need it for minor power needs during an outage. For the price, this is a unit I would personally give some serious consideration if you’re in the market for something in the 3500-watt range.

Pros:

  • Outstanding reviews.
  • Fantastic price for a generator.
  • Low oil shut-off sensor.
  • Easy to get started.
  • Volt guard to protect sensitive electronics.
  • Powerful enough to run RV refrigerator.

Cons:

  • Oil needs changed more frequently.
  • Not CARB compliant—Champion model 46533 is CARB compliant.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

 

Champion 4000-Watt RV Ready Digital Hybrid Open Frame Inverter

The Champion 4000-Watt RV Ready Digital Hybrid Open Frame Inverter features quiet technology. While it does cost a couple hundred more than the 3500-watt model, it claims to be 50 percent softer in sound and 20 percent lighter than their traditional 3500-watt generator. Admittedly, it did seem noticeably quieter to me.The ratings on this model are again, excellent. It comes with a (limited) three-year warranty, so as long as you treat it correctly, you can rest assured you’ll have a working generator for at least the first few years. This unit, like the 3500-watt, also has a recoil pull start, but gets running smoothly. I personally like that it has “cold-start technology” to make for simpler start-ups even during RV trips in cold months.

You can increase your power output with this machine by connecting up to two 2800-watt or higher inverters, as this model is parallel cord ready. This model has outlets of 120-volt 30A for RVs, plus two 120-volt 20A household outlets, and a 12-volt DC outlet with a dual USB adapter. So, again this unit is also handy for your home in emergency outages for your most basic energy needs. This generator measures 20.5 x 17.9 x 17.7 inches and weighs 81.6 pounds.

Pros:

  • Features eco-mode.
  • Quieter at only 64 decibels.
  • Can run for up to 17 hours per tank of gas (depending on energy use).
  • Clean electricity for touchy gadgets.
  • Cold-start technology makes for easier recoil startups in frigid weather.
  • Has RV and household outlets.
  • Direct USB converter.
  • Quick touch control panel.

Cons:

  • Heavier than smaller-wattage models.
  • Costs a couple hundred more than the 3500-watt model.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

 

Westinghouse WGen3600 RV Ready Portable Generator

The Westinghouse WGen3600 Portable Generator (3600 rated watts and 4650 peak watts) is RV ready. It has roughly a 12-hour run time at a 50 percent energy load, and up to 18 hours at a 25 percent load, which makes it quite usable for overnight usage. The majority of ratings on this generator are by far five stars, and I can see why with some of the features.Firstly, the price is outstanding for the wattage on this machine. It’s also CARB compliant for those who reside in places like California, which is an obvious bonus in that region. Small design features such as the rubber covers for the outlets and the steel frame roll bar caught my eye as an excellent touch for added safety.

This generator runs via a 212 cc Westinghouse 4-Stroke OHV engine with a four-gallon fuel tank. It also comes with oil, an oil funnel, and of course, the manual so you can get started quickly (as long as you have gasoline on hand). This is the heaviest generator of the lineup here, at 107 pounds. It measures 23.23 x 22.83 x 21.56 inches.

Pros:

  • Fantastic price.
  • EPA, CSA, and CARB compliant.
  • All outlets have rubber covers.
  • Low oil shutdown.
  • Three-year (limited) warranty.
  • Long run time.
  • Can power most RV air conditioning units.
  • The wheel kit is included.

Cons:

  • Main complaints are with customer service.
  • Heavy at just over 107 pounds.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

 

So, Which Generator Do I Buy?

Naturally, your power needs and your budget are going to make a huge difference in your decision. All of the generators here are excellent options for an RV and are well-reviewed models. So, you’ll have to consider what’s most important to you and how much power you need.

If you have a little extra wiggle room in the amount you’re willing to spend, I love the Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt generator simply for its reliability and quality engine. There are more service centers for a Honda model than some of the lesser known brands. Additionally, the low noise level and parallel cord capability make this a great model to add onto for more power. I’d pick the Honda for smaller energy needs but extreme reliability.

If you don’t want to shell out quite that much cash, but still want something that will work well, has some decent power behind it while remaining relatively quiet, and has fantastic ratings, the Champion 4000-Watt is probably my other favorite inverter listed here. You’ll get more power outright from this generator than the Honda, and for about half the price.

Neither of these is the absolute cheapest of the bunch, but sometimes spending just a little extra outright can save you money in the long-run. If you don’t use an RV often, or have only the most basic, minimalist of power needs, some of the more affordable options are indeed worth looking into. With proper care and maintenance, they can also last a long time and power up your smaller devices for only a few hundred dollars. Considering some generators cost a couple thousand, that’s a tiny price to pay for RV electricity.

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