There are large varieties of RV generators out there, but the great question is; how can you find the perfect one that meets your needs without spending a fortune? The demand for RV generators has increased in recent years. The devices can come in handy when you are outdoors camping or when the power grid is down at home.
In this article, we are going to guide you on buying an RV generator that will power your appliances without busting your budget. We are also going to answer some of the most common questions about these devices as well as how to maintain.
Things to consider when buying a generator for your RV
Before buying an RV generator, there are some factors you need to keep in mind. These factors will help you make an informed decision. Below are some of these factors discussed in details:
Many generator users usually associate the size of the generator with its power output. It is a good idea to consider the generator’s power output before buying it. You need to be sure that it will power all of your appliances without consuming too much fuel. If your RV has a lot of cool gadgets, it is even more important that you get a generator that will be able to sustain your lifestyle. The best starting point is determining how much power you are going to need. This will be made easy if you can take into account every electronic device that requires power in your RV. The general rule of thumb is getting a portable generator with more than 2000 watts.
As far as the noise is concerned, the bigger and powerful your generator is the louder is likely to be. However that is not necessary these days, with the advancement in technology, there are many portable generators that function with minimal noise levels between 50 to 60 decibels, which is quite an improvement from the previous models.
Also, while many people might not know this, the fuel you use in your generator will influence its noise output. Diesel and gas-powered generators tend to be louder than their propane-powered counterparts. But inverter options will help you reduce the noise.
Assuming you want a quiet generator, you should get one for your RV with a tolerable noise output. Generally, if quietness is what you are after, then you should choose a generator that produces less than 65 decibels.
Note that if you are planning to go on a forest camping or any other camping ground, you are likely to be slapped with a noise restriction to about 60 decibels at 50 feet.
Alternatively, to avoid feuds with the locals or authorities, simply go for an inverter generator. These types of generators use special advanced technology that allows the engine to work using varying speed. They also use less fuel, which is why they make a minimal sound.
If you don’t do your homework well, you will end up with an RV generator that needs re-fueling every thirty minutes. You will end up spending a lot of money on fuel as well as time re-fueling. Those are not the only problems if you are out in the woods with your RV; chances are the nearest gas station is halfway around the earth. So if you generator run down the fuel every other hour, getting more might be a huge problem.
Today, you can find portable generators that can function up to 5 hours on just 2 gallons of fuel. Note that the more powerful your generator, the more fuel it will need. Also, open frame generators will burn fuel at a faster rate than other portable models.
To avoid being stuck in the middle of nowhere without power, you need to be rational. Going for a bigger, more powerful generator for your RV can be a wise move, but it is costly. However, buying two portable generators to run parallel to each other is a more cost-effective solution.
When buying an RV generator, choose the one that balances providing the most power out with least fuel usage.
A perfect RV generator is one that requires minimal maintenance; otherwise, you risk getting stranded right in the middle of your fun adventure. A generator that requires constant maintenance means burning more cash.
Get a portable generator that is reliable and will run for hours without any disturbances. Generally, diesel-powered tend to require minimal maintenance than their gas-powered counterparts.
Types of fuel RV portable generators use mainly four types of fuels; natural gas, propane, diesel, and gasoline. As you can imagine, different fuel will mean different performance. If you don’t want smelly fumes to invade your outdoor adventure, then your best bet is a propane-powered generator. It burns cleanest of all generators, followed by diesel, and then gasoline. Besides, propane is the most environmentally friendly fuel than others, and the easiest to carry
Top 5 best RV generators
1. Champion Power 3500 Portable generator
If you want a reliable, cost-effective portable generator, the Champion Power 3500 is the best one yet on the market. It will provide value for money, and you won’t regret your investment. It is a gas-powered machine and can continuously supply up to 3500 watts of power with a maximum power output of up to 4000 watts. This equipment is safely designed with a low-oil shut off the sensor and a 0.6-quart oil capacity. It is powerful and has a volt guard that prevents overloads and ensure safety for your valuable equipment in case of voltage spikes. The voltmeter allows you to check the power output at a glance. The machine also comes with a 3 years warranty to boost your confidence on the generator.
One of the cool features is the manual recoil pull-start, which let you use a very minimal amount of effort to get it started. The recoil start does not require batteries.
What we like
- It is so powerful to even run a 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner.
- The 196cc Champion engine has a cold start feature, which makes it easier to start the generator in the cold season.
- Comes with 3 years warranty
2. DuroStar DS4000S
This generator will be a great deal for your money. It is an excellent choice for someone who is looking for a mid-range generator at an affordable price but with decent power output. The model is a bestseller product of the manufacturer and has loads of positive reviews from consumers.
DuroStar is a budget-friendly generator, which makes it a perfect choice for an RV generator or as a backup at home. It has a tank capacity of 4 gallons, which when full, can run for up to 8 hours provided it is running at 50% load. The tank also has an easy-to-read gauge, so you don’t have to strain to know how low the tank is running.
What to like
- Low oil shut off
- Has a sturdy, heavy-duty frame as well as an isolated motor mount that enhances inaudible and smooth operation.
- It has fully-powered panel alongside power outlets, voltmeter. And circuit breakers.
- The generator has an impressive 400 watts power
3. Westinghouse iGen4200 Hybrid Open Frame Inverter Generator
This brand is among the well-knowns in the market when it comes to quality, durable appliances. Westinghouse portable generator is gasoline-powered and can produce more than 3,500 running watts alongside a maximum power output of 4,200 watts. The generator is also easy and convenient to start due to its one-touch electrical start button. The Pulse-Flo muffler allows the generator to operate stealthily.
With its 4-standard outlets, you can be sure to power all your electrical devices in your RV.
The generator is also backed by a warranty of 3 years from the manufacturer and is furthermore EPA approved.
What to like
- It has a starting power of 3,500 watts and a running power of 4,200 watts.
- It is a play and plug generator, meaning you can immediately start using it after getting it out of the box. Moreover, it comes with fuel funnel, toolkit, and oil, which can be used right away. It also involves minimal assembly to set it up.
- The generator includes a tank capacity of 6.6 that can run for up to 11 hours as long as it is on a 25% load.
4. WEN 56310i CARB Compliant Inverter Generator
The WEN generator is also an excellent choice for RV. It is highly portable and powerful, capable of producing clean energy so you don’t get distracted with fuel fumes.
This generator can power just about any kind of appliances you have, including laptops, phones, and televisions without power fluctuation. You also don’t have to worry about the noise with this machine, unlike many generators.
What to like
- Produces up to 1000 watts and 12500 surge watts
- It generates clean power, so you don’t have to worry about your electronics getting damaged.
- Comes with two 5V USB ports as well as two 3-prong 120V receptacles
5. Yamaha EF2400iSHC
This portable generator is an excellent choice if you are looking for a reliable RV generator. It is compact and highly functional, with capabilities of generating plenty of clean power. It is also super-silent.
What to like
- It is designed to prevent engine damage
- The cast-iron cylinder prolongs the life span of the engine.
- 16.7 amp surge capability to 20 amps which is great for starting appliances
- Quiet compared to other brands when under load
- Great build quality (fittings, fuel inlets and lines)
- Has a great display to show fuel usage
Maintenance of your RV generator
Maintaining your RV generator makes total sense. After all, you have just spent a lot of your money on it, and you want it last for long. Here are a few maintenance tips for your machine.
- Keep track of the hour meter
The hour meter keeps the track of the time your RV generator has been running. All RV generators have one. The benefit of checking this meter is so that you can know when to change the generator’s oil.
- Change the oil, filters, and fluids of your generator
Generally, you are supposed to change the oil in your RV generator after fifty hours of running and every hundred-and-fifty hours after the first change. You should also change the filters when changing the oil, as well as the topping the coolant level.
- Run your generator frequently
You need to use your RV generator frequently to ensure things run smoothly. If are storing your generator for future use, at least run it every 3 to 4 weeks to prevent the fuel from sticking up the generator.
- Don’t remove the covers
Never remove the front cover or any cover from your RV generator while it is still running. The covers are designed to enhance airflow in the engine.
Common questions answered
Q: how much power should an RV generator produce?
A: First check out your appliances in your RV and single out those that use 120 volts. Add the number of voltages to get an idea of the minimum wattage requirement. Remember too much power will blow the circuits in your RV, and too little won’t be able to sustain you.
Q: Gasoline or Propane?
A: While these two fuels are the most popular among the RVers, they both have their own good and bad sides. Go through each advantage and disadvantage and see which fuel suits your lifestyle, however for most people we highly recommend gasoline engines at least when starting out
Conclusion Buying a generator can be overwhelming especially when there are so many options and different price points. All of the generators in this review will suffice for most RV applications with general electrical usage We hope this article has covered everything you need to know about portable RV generators. In case you still have questions, don’t hesitate to let us know. We will love to help you out.
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