It is that time when people are looking for outdoor recreational activities, and camping tops the list. But, of course, the summer season makes the best period for camping. And if your RV doesn’t have a solar panel for running an AC unit, investing in a portable generator is the best bet for operating your RV appliances. A portable generator also comes in handy to other campers without an RV; they need light, entertainment, and cook at the camping site. The best portable generators for camping and RVing are portable inverter generators.
Many portable inverter generator brands can power your RV and meet your camping power needs. However, to get the value for your money, you should do due diligence before buying one. Get to know how many watts your appliances will draw; this will help you determine the size of a portable generator for your needs.
Here is a review of the best portable generators for camping and RV and a comprehensive discussion on the factors to consider when buying one. You will also get answers to some frequently asked questions related to portable generators for camping and RV.
Our Top 10 Portable Generators for Campers
1. Champion 3500 -Dual Fuel Portable Generator for Camping
Suppose you’re looking for a flawless performance from a reliable portable generator. In that case, the Champion 3500-Watt dual fuel RV-ready inverter generator is the right pick. This model tops our list because of its ability to run on either propane gas or gasoline. You can run it with whichever fuel option is accessible to you.
This model can deliver up to 3500 starting watts and 3200 running watts when running on gasoline. When running on propane gas, it delivers a starting wattage of 3150W and 2880 running watts. Either fuel source delivers more power from this generator for powering your RV appliances, including a 15,000 BTU AC unit. Other appliances that this generator can power include lightings at the camp and an electric cooker.
The unit has a 192cc Champion engine that delivers clean power for powering sensitive electronics. With a fuel tank capacity of 1.6 gallons of gasoline, it can operate for 7.5 hours at a quarter load. It has more run time of 14.5 hours when running on a 20-pound propane tank while at the same load. The runtime is sufficient for powering most of your appliances when camping. If propane gas is within your reach, you can get more value in running hours when using it to power the generator instead of gasoline. Propane is also environmentally friendly than gasoline.
It is easy to start this generator in cold weather with a convenient electric start feature thanks to the Cold Start Technology its features.
The parallel capability feature allows you to connect this unit to a similar model for double the power output. With an RV-ready outlet, you will have an easy time connecting it to your RV trailer. The 120V outlets will help you power other appliances. The presence of a 12V DC outlet and USB adapter will keep your RV battery, and smartphones charged while in the bush.
You can lower its fuel consumption by switching to economy mode, which lowers noise output and increases the engine’s lifespan. This generator has a rated noise of 59 decibels allowed in all parks and residential estates in everyday operations.
- Dual fuel technology
- Highly portable thanks to its foldable handle, wheelset, and less than 100 pounds in weight.
- Cold Start Technology for easy start-up in a cold weather
- It’s an expensive model but worth the price.
2. Briggs and Stratton -Quiet Portable Generator for Camping and RV
A more silent and yet powerful inverter generator with an RV-ready feature for powering your RV appliances and other camping equipment. However, its power output cannot allow you to run a 15000 BTU AC unit unless you parallel connect it to another unit. Yes, it has a parallel connection feature.
With a 171cc engine size running on gasoline, this generator can generate a maximum of 3000 watts and 2600 running watts. The power output can comfortably run a 13,500 BTU AC unit in your RV. It has a fuel tank capacity of 1.5 gallons which can power the unit for 10 hours when running on a quarter load. With a low noise production of 58 decibels, you can sleep with this unit running outside your RV without the need of waking up at night to refuel. Ten hours’ runtime is impressive.
The LCD gives you an easy time to monitor the performance of this generator and schedule for its servicing. In addition, the presence of a fuel gauge gives you real-time information on the remaining amount of fuel on the unit. This generator utilizes the conventional recoil start mechanism, and it produces stable power ideal for powering even vulnerable electronics.
On portability, this unit weighs less than 90 pounds. It comes with H-design handle for easy sharing of the load with a colleague when loading it to your RV. It also has in-built telescoping handles and 6-inch never-flat wheels to enhance portability, especially on level ground.
Power your RV with this RV-ready inverter generator through its 120 volts 30A outlet. You can also connect other camping electrical through the 120V 20A outlet. In addition, this generator has a single USB port and a 12V DC charging outlet for powering your smartphone and RV battery should it die.
- Low operating noise levels
- It has an impressive runtime considering its fuel tank capacity
- It’s relatively expensive when compared to generators within its power range.
3. Honda EU3000iS- Fuel Efficient Portable Generator for Camping and Rv
Honda is another top portable inverter generator maker in the market. It’s a reliable brand for campers who wish to have a reliable power supply while camping.
With this model, you will enjoy 3000 peak wattage and 2800 running watts of clean and stable power. This power output is not big but can comfortably power a 13,500 BTU RV AC unit, furnace, microwave, and lightings. If you more power demands, this gen allows parallel connection with a similar model.
The generator runs on a 196cc engine size with a fuel tank capacity of 3.4 gallons. When the fuel tank is full, the unit can power your appliances for 19.6 hours when running at a quarter load on a single tank. Unlike the first two models in our review, this model has a bigger fuel tank hence the extended running hours. Even so, Honda EU3000iS offers remarkable fuel efficiency when running on an eco-mode.
The CO-MINDER is an advanced feature in this generator. This feature monitors the ambient carbon monoxide levels and automatically shuts down the generator when CO levels become dangerously high.
It’s a super quiet generator that operates within 50 to 57 decibels, depending on the load. Although the noise level is low when operating a lower load, it will not bother your sleep or conversation when in the RV or tent.
Easily connect your RV via the 120V 30A outlet and other appliances through the 120V 20A household outlets. For charging your RV battery if it is low, this unit comes with a 12V 12A DC outlet.
While this generator is relatively heavy at 131 pounds (big tank size contributes), the provisions for a two or four wheels kit improves its portability. On either side, you will find two large metal handles for easy lifting with the support of an adult.
- It has both an electric and recoil start mechanism.
- It has long runtime and an impressive fuel efficiency rate.
- It is a heavy portable inverter generator. It can be challenging for one person to lift it by themselves.
4. Honda 663520 EU2200i- Super Quiet Portable Generator for Camping and RV
Another reliable portable generator ideal for camping and RVing from Honda, Honda 663520 EU2200i. You can easily maneuver with this generator because it has a set of wheels, weighing 54 pounds.
This model can deliver 2200 peak watts and 1800 rated watts of clean power. The unit runs on a 121cc Honda GXR120 engine. While the power output may not be ideal for running a 13,500 BTU RV AC unit, it can comfortably power an 11,000 BTU RV AC unit. It’s therefore ideal to use it in a small RV unit that only requires a single air conditioner unit. If you’re not boondocking, this unit can comfortably power your entertainment devices, coffee maker, light your camping ground, among others.
An admirable feature in this unit is the ability to operate it from your RV unit while the generator is outside. In addition, you can operate this generator via Bluetooth, thanks to the Honda My Generator app. With the app, you can monitor its operation and receive alerts when the servicing date is due.
With a fuel tank capacity of 0.95 gallons, this unit can operate for up to 8.1 hours on a single tank. The runtime is achievable if it is running on an eco-throttle mode and a quarter load. The runtime is excellent with the small tank size; power your small RV unit overnight and enjoy a peaceful rest. The unit has a rated noise level of 48 to 57 dBA, low noise level than a normal conversation. Its noise level is perfect for camping, RVing, and tailgating.
With the CO-MINDER feature, you don’t have to worry about dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. The unit has a sensor that powers it off when the ambient CO levels are getting dangerous.
This unit comes with a duo 120 volts 15A receptacles to enable you to power your appliances. For more power demands, the model supports a parallel connection with a suitable inverter generator. In addition, it has a smooth recoil start system for easy starting.
- It’s an energy-efficient portable generator.
- A super quiet generator when running on quarter load.
- It is an expensive option.
5. Westinghouse WEN 56380i -Super Quiet Portable Generator for Camping and Rv
This model has a fuel shut-off feature which allows it to entirely consume the fuel in the carburetor before it shuts down. The feature extends the engine’s life span because there will be no blockage in the carburetor caused by stagnant fuel. Blockages in the carburetor hamper the optimal performance of the generator. The generator has a traditional pull start mechanism and an electric start option; start the generator at the button press.
The 212cc 4-stroke OHV engine generates 3800 surge watts and 3400 running wattage. Its power output can run a 15,000 BTU RV AC unit and other power-heavy appliances without any struggle. This generator has a rated noise of 57 decibels even with this power output, similar to that of a running window AC unit. With the inverter technology, the unit produces clean and stable power for running sensitive electronics such as TV and laptops. If you need to double the power output, the unit is parallel capable.
WEN 56380i has a 2.2-gallon fuel tank capacity. This model can serve you for approximately 8.5 hours on a single tank when running on a half load. The runtime increases when there is less load. Considering the amount of power the unit generates, its runtime is still recommendable for running many appliances in an RV. If you settle for this option, there is an eco-mode switch that gives you more fuel economy.
With its digital wattage meter, you can easily monitor the unit’s voltage, frequency, remaining runtime, and fuel level. The digital meter comes in handy, especially when you don’t want power interruptions. Check the remaining runtime and fuel levels to get an idea of how long the unit will serve you before the next refill.
The generator has a 120V 30A outlet that gives you an effortless connection to your RV. In addition, there are double 120V 15A receptacles, a 12V DC outlet for battery charging, and a 5V USB port for powering other power essentials at the camping ground.
- It is a powerful and quiet portable inverter generator
- It’s more affordable than other brands within its power range.
- The finishing materials on this gen are cheap, and the unit cannot withstand harsh environments.
6. Yamaha -Easy to Start
This is the best straight-up portable generator you can get on the market today. It can generate 2400 starting watts and 2000 rated watts. Unlike other generators in the 2000-watts category, this unit has an increased motor starting capability, enabling it to run a 13,500 BTU AC unit. If you need to power a more powerful AC unit, you will need to go for a powerful generator.
Yamaha EF2400iSHC has a 1.6-gallon fuel tank which can power the generator for 8.6 hours when running at 25% load. The runtime is decent enough to power your essential appliances in the RV or when doing a regular camp. However, to achieve this efficiency, the generator must be running on a Smart throttle mode. When running on the same load, this generator has a rated noise level of 53 dBA, rising to 58 dBA when running on full load. Nevertheless, it is still among the quietest portable generators for camping and RVing you will find today.
The presence of a fuel gauge makes it easy to monitor the fuel level from a glance. In addition, you don’t have to open the fuel tank to view the fuel level. For better storage of the unit, the manufacturer designed a gasoline petcock. With a petcock, you can stop the engine from consuming fuel from the fuel tank and instead consume the entire fuel in the carburetor before it powers off. Doing so will prevent the probability of having stale fuel in the carburetor, which can cause engine problems.
It offers easy maintenance; this model has detachable back access, allowing you to reach the essential components during servicing. It is a feature that most portable generators don’t have.
On portability, at 75 pounds, it is not the lightest portable generator for camping and RVing. However, the manufacturer compensates for its heaviness by designing double handles at the top for easy lifting or moving by two people. In addition, its straight-up style makes it easy to store this generator in your RV or even at the boot of your car when going out for outdoor activities.
The unit has double 120 volts 20A outlets for effortless connecting of the generator with your appliances. You will also find a single 12 volts DC outlet for charging your RV battery, among other items.
- It’s an efficient generator
- An easy to start generator
- It’s a heavy generator for outdoor activities.
- It does not support parallel connectivity.
7. Champion- Good Run time Portable Inverter Generator
This model has an easy and quick start mechanism. The Cold Start Technology makes starting this unit in a cold-weather easy. With an electric push button, you can effortlessly start the engine. You don’t have to pull the conventional recoil start mechanism. The unit runs on a 171cc Champion 4-stroke engine that delivers 2800 running watts and 3100 peak wattage of clean and stable power. This output power is enough to start and run a 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner unit and other appliances. It is one of the best RV portable generators that will give you value for your money.
Champion 75531i generator has a 1.6-gallon fuel tank. On a full tank, this generator can operate for 8 hours on a single tank when running on a quarter load. You can, however, adjust to the economy mode for more runtime. This means it can serve you for the better part of the night without the need of waking up to refuel it. In addition, it operates at 58 decibels which is less noisy than rainfall.
As an RV-ready generator, the unit has a single 120 volts 30A receptacle for easy connection with your RV. Other outlets include double 120V 20A receptacles and a single 12V DC outlet for charging your RV battery with ease. The double 120V 20A receptacle is ideal for powering your camping appliances and even an easy connection to your home. This model will comfortably serve your interests at home and during any of your outdoor activities.
With two wheelsets and the presence of a folding handle, you can quickly move the 83.8 pounds on this unit. Furthermore, the double handle design further improves portability; you can share the weight with a colleague.
- Offers good value for your money
- Relatively quiet
- Good runtime, especially on eco-mode
- It can be noisier when it is running at full load.
8. Westinghouse -Suitable for Outdoor Activities
If you’re worried about the noise level of most portable generators for camping and RV, you should consider IGen2200. The unit produces 52 decibels noise level, which cannot bother your sleep or that of your neighbor at the camping ground. In addition, the IGen2200 model supports the conventional recoil start system.
Running on a small 80cc 4-stroke OHV engine, this unit can produce 2200 starting watts and 1800 running watts of clean power. This power output can run a 10,000 BTU RV AC unit and other essential appliances in your RV. If you’re doing regular camping, this power can run your lightings, microwave oven, coffee maker, among others. However, for the big appliances like a coffee maker and microwave oven, you have to run them individually. The gen allows parallel connection with a similar model to double the power output.
With a fuel tank capacity of 1.14-gallon, it can generate power for 12 hours when running at a quarter load on a single tank. Furthermore, when the efficiency mode is on, this unit achieves high fuel efficiency. It alters the engine speed to match the existing load. According to the manufacturer, this model can achieve 30 to 50% more fuel efficiency than conventional generators.
The generator weighs 46 pounds and has an in-built carry handle that eases its transportation. As a result, you can comfortably lift it to your RV trailer or car boot.
iGen2200 inverter generator duo 120V 20A household outlets that you can connect with your appliances in your RV or campsite. This unit has two 5V DC USB ports for charging your smartphones, tablets, and camera. USB ports are essential in any portable generator for campers because you need to keep your phone on.
- The unit has an efficiency mode that guarantees high fuel efficiency leading to an extended runtime.
- Its compact and light design makes it suitable for outdoor activities.
- Customers complain of difficulty in starting the generator during the cold weather.
9. Generac 7117 GP2200i- Lightweight Portable Inverter Generator
The Generac 7117 GP2200i provides the best solution for outdoor power demands. It delivers clean and stable power with bearable noise output. To start it, it features a conventional recoil start mechanism.
Generac 7117 GP2200i is powered by an 80cc Generac OHV 4-stroke engine running on gasoline. It has a peak wattage of 2200W and 1700 running watts. Its output power is ideal for running essential electric appliances in your RV or at the camp. For example, for an RV air conditioner, this unit can power an 11,000 BTU size. If you have more power demands, this generator is parallel capable. You can therefore connect another unit to achieve double the power output.
With a 1.2-gallon fuel tank, this unit can run for a maximum of 10.75 hours when it’s 25% loaded on a single tank. This runtime will keep essential appliances at your camping site running. Even so, this fuel efficiency rate is achieved when the unit is running on an economy mode. The economy mode makes the unit consume less fuel and minimize its noise production, giving it an extended time with less noise.
This generator has four outlets; double 120 volts 20A outlets, a single 12V DC 8A receptacle, and a 5V USB port. So besides powering your RV appliances, you can conveniently charge your RV battery and your smartphones, camera, and tablets.
The approximate weight of 47 pounds makes it qualify to be a portable inverter generator for camping and RV. The positioning of its handle adds convenience to its portability. Its small size aspect is excellent for storage when the unit is not in use or when loading it to your RV or car.
- Easy to start and operate
- It is a lightweight inverter generator.
- Has a relatively good fuel-efficient rate
- Some buyers complained that GP2200i quickly overheats.
10. A-iPower SUA2000i – AffordablePortable Inverter Generator
It’s a generator that you can count on for your outdoor recreational activities and your power backup plan.
Running on a 79cc Sensi engine, this generator can deliver 2100 peak watts and 1600 running watts of clean power. Its power output is suitable with light power demands, including a small RV trailer with an 8,000 BTU AC unit.
While the AC is running, you will be limited to the number of appliances you can plug in. To avoid overloading this generator, you can only run light appliances like laptops, lightings, and charging your smartphones. Suppose there are other appliances you need to power, like a coffee maker and microwave oven. In that case, you will need to power them separately. That is, you have to power one appliance at a time.
If you need to power heavy appliances at a go, the generator supports a parallel connection. In addition, cable powers are included in your purchase; this makes your purchase worthier.
This gen has a 1.1-gallon fuel tank that allows the generator to run for approximately 7 hours on a half load. At the same load, it generates a rated noise of 58 decibels. However, running this unit on an eco-throttle and 25% load will give it more operating hours on a single tank. And it will also run quietly. An in-built fuel gauge will give you an easy time to monitor fuel levels and help you plan for the next refill.
While A-iPower SUA2000i isn’t an RV-ready generator, there’s a provision for connecting an RV adapter (included in your purchase) into the 120V 30A receptacle. The unit has a 120V 20A household outlet, a 12V 8.3A outlet, and a dual-port USB adapter. The USB adapter makes it easy for you to charge your phones, laptops, tablets, and cameras.
The generator weighs roughly 46 pounds qualifying it to be among the lightest portable inverter generators running on gasoline. You can quickly load and offload it from your RV or boot of your car by yourself. With a molded handle on the top of its casing, it is convenient to move this unit.
- It is an affordable model and yet a reliable one.
- It’s a portable generator
- The noise level is within the acceptable range
- Even though it’s easy to start this generator, choking it on colder days can longer.
5 Tips For Buying a Portable Generator For Camping and RV
Even with a hint of the best portable generators for camping and RV, there are critical factors that will influence your purchasing decision. They include;
How Much Power You Need
It depends on the type and number of appliances you wish to power. If your RV has the standard 15,000 BTU RV AC unit, you’ll need a generator that can generate about 3500 starting watts. It’s because the size of such an AC unit requires at least 3500 starting watts. On the other hand, a small AC unit of about 7000 BTU may only need a generator with 1800 peak wattage. The size of the generator may increase depending on the number of appliances you’d wish to run concurrently with the AC unit. However, if you will be tent camping, a small generator may be ideal for you.
Learn the starting and running wattage of every appliance you will be running on your potential portable generator. It will help you determine your power needs.
Operating Noise Level
A quiet portable generator is better than a noisy one. Unfortunately, some portable generators in the market are louder than others. Most camping grounds, national parks, and estates have a limited level of noise allowed.
The noise level of a generator is rated in decibels (or dBA). An ideal portable generator for camping or RVing shouldn’t have a rated noise of above 65 decibels when placed about 20 feet away. Generators with a rated noise of more than 65 dBA are considered a nuisance to the environment. High noise levels will also bother your sleep and conversation with your friends. In our review, Honda 663520 EU2200i is the quietest portable generator with a rated noise of 47 decibels. Champion 3500-Watt dual fuel is the loudest at 59 decibels.
Solar-powered generators operate at about 0 dBA because they don’t have a motor.
Different portable generators have different fuel consumption rates. The consumption rate can be determined by the amount of load on a generator. A higher load will consume more fuel than one with less load. It’s because the generator will run more, consuming more fuel to deliver the required amount of power. Even so, different generators have different consumption rates regardless of the amount of load. To determine the consumption rate, divide its fuel tank capacity by the runtime given in hours. In this review, Westinghouse IGen2200 has an average of 0.1 gallons per hour, being the best rate.
While looking at the fuel consumption, some models, like our first choice Champion 3500-Watt Dual Fuel Generator, can run on either propane gas or gasoline. The other models in the review can only run on gasoline. Dual fuel portable generators are ideal because they allow you to use your most accessible fuel source.
Ease of Use
Not every portable generator in the market is designed to be sued in an RV or camping. However, few options are RV-ready, making them perfect for use in an RV. Other options are not RV-ready but come with an adaptor to make it easy for you to connect to your RV. Therefore, if you are purposely looking for an RV generator, it’s recommendable that you go for one with an RV-ready feature. Otherwise, other models which are not RV ready but have an RV adapter can serve you as your home power back plan, for camping, and even for an RV.
When looking at ease of use, check whether the generator has a data center. The data center makes it easy for you to monitor the generator’s performance, see how much fuel is left (if the unit has an in-built fuel gauge) and when the service is due. Portable generators with such features are easy to use.
Cost of the Generator
How much are you willing to spend? Your budget is critical in determining which brand you are going to choose. Honda and Yamaha brands in this review are the most expensive compared to other brands like A-iPower and Westinghouse. However, the differences in price ranges do not compromise the quality of the affordable brands. Champion models are averagely priced. If you have a big budget, go for Yamaha or Honda brand, you will not regret buying either option.
While there are affordable brands in the market, going for a very cheap brand can disappoint. For example, cheap generators can be noisy and of poor quality. So instead of buying a cheap generator, keep your money and invest in a better one.
Frequently Asked Questions on Portable Generators for Camping and RV
1. What is an RV-Ready Generator?
These are generators with either the 14-50R or TT-30R outlets, allowing you to plug your RV directly into the generator. TT is an abbreviation for a travel trailer, while R stands for the receptacle. With an RV-ready generator, you don’t need an extra adapter to make the connection. Most portable generators in this review are RV-ready units except for a few, like A-iPower SUA2000i. However, A-iPower SUA2000i comes with an additional RV adaptor that gives you an easy time to connect your RV to the generator.
2. Which Type of Fuel Does an RV Generator Use?
Depending on the brand, RV generators can run on propane gas, gasoline, or diesel. All three fuel sources will run your RV AC unit depending on the power of the generator. However, they all have their pros and cons. For instance, gasoline and diesel produce more carbon dioxide levels, which is not friendly to the environment. Propane gas burns cleaner than gasoline and diesel; the level of carbon monoxide it produces is half that of gasoline. However, propane gas is not readily available, and its storage can be delicate. RV generators running on diesel are the noisiest compared to those running on gasoline or propane.
3. Do I Need an Inverter Generator for my RV?
If you have a solar panel for your RV AC unit, you don’t need to invest in an inverter generator. Otherwise, an inverter generator is ideal for your RV than a traditional generator. Subsequently, inverter generators produce sufficient power for starting and running most RV AC units. However, this will depend on the size of the generator. Traditional generators are noisier than inverter models, making the latter suitable for camping and RV. Furthermore, inverter generators are portable than traditional generators.
Portable generators are the perfect accessories to any camper or RV reveler in places with no power. Power is essential when you are camping. You need your phone to have the power to communicate with people at home. You also need power for powering your RV AC unit, cooking, lighting, entertainment like watching a movie, among other power needs. A reliable portable generator will provide you with the power you need.
With many portable generators in the market, choosing the right one for your needs can be tasking. The review above is to help you in making the best choice. However, you need to put your needs and budget first. You have to know how much power you need in your RV or camping and budget for the amount you want to spend on the generator. In the review above, every generator is worth the amount you are investing in; pick the right one for your camping or RV.