When dry camping, you need a source of power. For many this is a generator for essentials like cooking, plugging in a TV, or anything else that requires electricity. Some RVs have a built-in generator you can use for these things while others require a portable RV generator. If you need a portable unit, it can be overwhelming to figure out the best generator for your needs. Here’s a list to help you choose.
Table of Contents
- Can You Run Your RV on a Portable Generator?
- What Size Generator Do I Need for My RV?
- 7 Best Portable Generators for Your RV
- 1. Honda Power Equipment EU3000IS 3000W
- 2. Champion Power Equipment Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Generator
- 3. Honda EB2200i
- 4. Pulsar Products G450RN Portable Inverter with Remote Start
- 5. WEN 56380i 3800W Inverter Generator
- 6. Generac 7127 iQ3500-3500 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
- 7. Generac 76711 GP 1200i 1200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
- How Do I Choose a Portable Generator?
- Is a Portable Generator Worth Buying for an RV?
Can You Run Your RV on a Portable Generator?
Yes, you can run your RV on a portable generator if the wattage is high enough. Remember that you don’t have to run all appliances and devices at once, so you could use a lower-watt generator if you’re watching your power usage accordingly.
Usually, you’ll hook your RV up to a generator the same way you would to campground hookups. You’ll want to set the generator 5 to 10 feet away from your rig with the exhaust vents pointing away.
As a reminder, never use your generator inside your RV. Doing so will fill your rig with carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas.
What Size Generator Do I Need for My RV?
Generators usually have a rating on them so you can see which wattage will work best for your RV. If you need minimal power, a 2,000-watt RV portable generator is a standard size. However, if you need more power, RV generators have a rating of up to 5,500 watts, and sometimes even more.
To decide how much wattage you need, think about the appliances that will be using it. If you have an air conditioner and a few other appliances that will use the generator, consider more than 2,000 watts.
➡ Still not sure what size you need? Read our in-depth article: What Size Generator Do I Need for My RV?
7 Best Portable Generators for Your RV
With several competing generator brands on the market, we want to help you make the best choice for your needs. Check out our list so you can explore which option is right for your rig. Note that most of the generators are inverter-based. This makes them more expensive, but makes them a much better camping generator. Check out our article all about inverter generators to learn what makes them special.
1. Honda Power Equipment EU3000IS 3000W
If there’s one thing that generators are known for, it’s their noise. However, this Honda model is quiet. It operates at 49 to 58 dB(A), which means less noise than a typical conversation.
The fuel efficiency means it can last up to 20 hours on 3.4 gallons of fuel, lending to its reliability. With built-in oil detection, the generator will shut off when the engine oil is low.
The Honda 3000 is one of our top picks for reliability, power, and sound. Because it’s so common there are many aftermarket parts and adapters for this generator as well.
- Popular model can operate a wide variety of appliances, including...
- Super quiet: so quiet, your neighbors will thank you; the...
- Fuel efficient runs up to 20 hours on 3.4 Gal. of fuel: thanks to...
2. Champion Power Equipment Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Generator
This portable RV generator runs just under $400 with 3500 output wattage. Not to mention, you can operate the generator right out of the box for your convenience. You can keep track of run-time hours, hertz, and voltage efficiently with an Intelligauge system. You never have to worry about running over your power limit as you can easily track the power output to this generator.
This is a popular choice for those just hitting the road for shorter trips due to its cost and propane capability, however, it is not a good choice for extensive use. This is not an inverter generator meaning it will be much louder and burn more fuel. This style generator is generally frowned upon by many campers due to its noise.
- DUAL FUEL: Operate your 3500-watt portable generator right out of...
- POWERFUL: At 4375 starting watts and 3500 running watts on...
- INTELLIGAUGE: Keep track of voltage, hertz and run-time hours to...
3. Honda EB2200i
The Honda 2200i portable RV generator is one of the most popular, and for good reason. You get more power at the same outstanding quality with this model. In fact, it provides 10% more power than the previous version, EU2000i.
The CO-MINDER function gives you peace of mind with continuously monitored carbon monoxide levels. This model is lightweight and compact as it weighs a little over 47 pounds.
- MORE POWER. SAME LEGENDARY QUALITY. - The EB2200i delivers 10%...
- CO-MINDER - CO-MINDER continuously monitors carbon monoxide (CO)...
- PORTABLE POWER FOR YOUR JOB SITE - The EB2200i can operate a wide...
4. Pulsar Products G450RN Portable Inverter with Remote Start
With convenience in mind, this model comes with a wireless remote start so you can operate the generator from up to 80 ft away. This portable RV generator is easy to handle and store as it has an extendable handle and Never-Flat wheels. The tank is 3.2 gallons, and you can take advantage of up to 4,500 peak watts.
- 4, 500 peak watts/ 3, 700 running watts
- Capable of up to 15 hours of extended operation at half load on...
- Convenient wireless remote start allows you to operate the unit...
5. WEN 56380i 3800W Inverter Generator
This generator is quiet, but it’s also powerful with 3800 watts, a decent amount for camping. You can feel confident knowing that this generator produces clean power, so you don’t have to worry about damage to your electronics. The fuel shutoff on the WEN 56380i maximizes the generator’s lifespan by using any leftover fuel in the carburetor before shutting down.
- Dimensions: 23.2" L x 18" W x 20.1" H | Weight: 99.2 lb
- EPA III and CARB Compliant
- 212cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 3800 surge watts and 3400...
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6. Generac 7127 iQ3500-3500 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
This Generac model is ultra-quiet. In fact, it’s 40% quieter than other brands thanks to the Advanced inverter technology, along with the enclosed design. With a convenient digital smart LCD screen, you can check the wattage meter, generator status, fuel level, and the remaining run time. Additionally, you can charge mobile devices like tablets and smartphones with built-in USB ports.
- ULTRA-QUIET – 40% Quieter than Honda* Advanced inverter...
- Ideal for work or play - durable steel enclosure, clean inverter...
- 16% more power than Honda, Featuring power rush advanced...
7. Generac 76711 GP 1200i 1200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
Reviewers tout this Generac model as one of the best portable RV generators. You won’t bother nearby neighbors when using it, thanks to its fully enclosed design and dramatically low noise levels.
With True Power Technology, you can rely on a stable and clean power supply, which is ideal for sensitive electronics and other appliances. The convenient Economy Mode will automatically adjust engine speed, so you can save fuel while reducing sound emissions.
- Quiet and Neighbor Friendly fully enclosed design dramatically...
- True Power Technology provides clean, stable power ideal for...
- Compact and lightweight makes transportation easy with built-in...
How Do I Choose a Portable Generator?
With several awesome portable RV generator models on this list, how do you decide? Let’s take a look at some important criteria to consider.
First, think about which electronics you need to charge and operate. Calculate the generator’s size by considering the running watts of each appliance/device. Add them all together, and you have your minimum generator wattage. (Keep in mind that you may not need to run all appliances at the same time.)
Next, determine the necessary run time. Will you be running your generator all the time, like you might if you had to keep a refrigerator running? Or will you be using it occasionally to charge and operate simple electronics?
The run time is not necessarily the number listed on the box; it’s defined by whether or not it can run at a half or quarter load. For example, if your 2000W generator says 12 hours at half load, that means it can run 12 hours if you’re not using more than 1,000W of power. If you’re using 2,000W all the time, it will run for six hours.
Think about other essential components like noise levels, digital alerts, safety alerts, number of outlets, running power versus surge power, remote start, the ability to install a transfer switch, and more. Doing thorough research into the types of generators will help you avoid buyer remorse once you have your portable RV generator.
Is a Portable Generator Worth Buying for an RV?
A portable generator is worth the money for those who boondock or dry camp. While you can live without it, a generator can provide the necessary power for things like running your refrigerator or heater.
Compare the benefits of a portable generator and a built-in generator for your RV. Often, built-ins will have more power and added convenience. But portable generators offer additional flexibility. Plus, you can use them to power things other than just your RV.
➡ Learn more about the different generator types and their pros and cons here: The Complete Guide To RV Generators
Consider your power needs and what’s most important to you. We think portable generators can be pretty useful, but it’s all about what you need!
Have you used a portable generator to power your RV? Would you recommend it? Let us know in the comments.
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