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The Best Generator For Your RV Air Conditioner

Wondering what’s the best generator for your RV AC? Find out what size generator you need and what one is best for your RV air conditioner.

Many of those beautiful sunny RV destinations require air conditioning to camp comfortably. For boondockers, there are only two options: solar or a generator. Even for those of us who stick to powered campgrounds, electricity isn’t always a guarantee. Power outages happen and sometimes the powered sites are full. With a generator, you never have to worry about where your power will come from.

Newer RVs have some more efficient AC units however, in general, RV air conditioning systems are large power consumers. The real power draw is the initial startup of your AC. During this time, the power needed can be double or more than the power required to continuously run your unit!

Basically, any generator will run lights, plugs, and most of the other small items in your RV, however, AC requires much more power than many of these “camping generators” produce. The best generator for your RV air conditioner will be more stout than these smaller units but ideally still an inverter style for RV use.

Generators are an expensive investment and so it is important to do your research before buying. Spending over a thousand dollars on a generator just to find out it won’t run your AC is a painful mistake.

What Size Generator Do I Need For My RV?

Your generator needs will be based on the size of the air conditioner and how many air conditioners you have. Most RVs have a 13,500 or 15,00 BTU AC unit. Many larger units will have two. So, what size generator do you need to run an RV AC?

For single-unit RVs smaller generators in the 2,000-watt range will run the AC however, as mentioned, it is starting the AC that is the issue. Another issue with these smaller units is that even with a soft start to lower starting draw, it will still limit anything else you can run if the AC is on.

Can some smaller generators in certain circumstances run your AC? Yes… but is it the best option? No.

Considering these things you will be looking at generators in the 3,000-watts and up range. Generators of this size and larger will start and run your AC and allow for continued use of other needed items in the RV. A typical 13,500 BTU AC unit needs at least 2,500- watts to start. The average 15,000 BTU AC can require 3,500 watts or more to start and approximately 2,000-watts to run.

Best Generators to Run RV Air Conditioners

Let’s take a closer look at two of the best options for generators to run RV air conditioners.

Champion 3400 Dual Fuel

Product shot of Champion Dual Fuel Generator
Champion Power 3400 generator. Photo from Champion Power

The Champion lineup of generators is among the most popular in the RV space. They are affordable and have solid reviews and feedback from thousands of happy owners. With a large line of generators for all applications, Champion’s Dual Fuel line has been the winner with RVers. Traditional generators run on gas or diesel, however, propane is now an option as well! A flick of a switch changes the fuel source from gas to propane.

The Dual Fuel line has a few different power options with the 3400 falling in the middle. The 3,400-watts of starting power is perfect for RV AC units and 3,060 running watts means no tripping breakers while the AC is on.

This model is RV-ready with a 30-amp plug. The unit can be joined to a second unit with the available parallel kit which includes a 50-amp plug and ups your ability to start and run two 15,000 BTU air conditioners!

Even with all this power, the Champion 3400 is surprisingly quiet with a noise rating of only 59.0 dBA. Operating on gasoline offers slightly more power, while when in propane mode, run time is increased to up to 15 hours.

Champion offers a 3-year limited warranty on their products and is backed by tons of real-world positive reviews and feedback.

Westinghouse iGen4500 Dual Fuel

The Westinghouse iGen4500DFc Dual Fuel Inverter Generator is a great generator with tons of power and features. A 30-amp RV-ready outlet means just plug it in and you are all set!

With 4,500-watts of start-up power along with 3,700-watts of running power at only 52.0 dBA, this makes this unit a very solid performer. The variable engine speed means it only produces the power you need at any given time. This greatly increases fuel efficiency with running time up to 18 hours on a 3.4-gallon gas tank. The iGen4500DF operates on gasoline or propane for your convenience.

More convenient features include push-button electric start and wireless remote start for easy start-ups. The iGen4500DF also comes with an automatic low oil and carbon monoxide shutdown, voltage regulation, and overload protection. These safety features are great peace of mind for your investment and your family.

Westinghouse offers a 3-year limited warranty and lifetime technical support on its products.


Choosing the best generator for your RV air conditioner is a big decision. Know your power requirements and invest wisely in a quality generator and you will have years of worry-free power.

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  • Kendall lives with his wife and their cocker spaniels full-time in their RV currently in Mexico. He is one half of DashboardDrifters.com and the co-founder of RVSpotDrop, a web service for full-time RVers.

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31 thoughts on “The Best Generator For Your RV Air Conditioner”

  1. A 2000 watt generator works fine if you install a Soft start capacitor system. That way you can use a generator that is smaller, lighter and easier to carry in your RV or vehicle you use for towing.

  2. Fans work for me. I slept comfortable in Vietnam, with daytime temperatures of over 120 degrees, with a single fan, so if I can’t make do with just fans in an RV it is time to stay home.

    Yes, I lived in a barracks, so had a fan, also a small fridge. I was assigned to a headquarters unit, but that didn’t mean I didn’t go out for up to a week on inspections. Drove thru a whole lot of II Corps, mostly in convoys. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

  3. The Westinghouse has terrible reviews. Choke/carb issues and no output seem to be the biggest issues. And Westinghouse customer service is reported to be terrible. Not sure I would take the chance on this.

  4. A concern not mentioned is the elevation your generator will be working at. What works at sea level doesn’t work at 3000 ft. I have a Honda 2000eu that runs the air conditioner at sea level but won’t run it at 2800 ft.

  5. There are many 14′ TTs, and teardrops that only use a 5,000 BTU (small room) wall-mount AC. What would be your recommendation for them?

  6. I like the champion 3400 however the gas model has the remote which was the tiebreaker. Since we only need the generator periodically such as using the AC or microwave/ coffee turning it on/ off remotely is important also under heavy use it would seem you would always be getting propane refills.

  7. Powerhouse from Harbor freight is near identical to champion at least the 8,700 watt unit.
    It also has very good consumers report rating. I use mine to back-feed/power my home when the commercial power fails & the overhead valve 430 cc engine is easy on fuel + easy to start with pull or 12v electric. There are smaller & l by lighter generators by Powerhouse.

  8. Adding a start-up device (eg EZ Start, etc) to the AC unit can greatly reduce the voltage required to get your AC unit going. I think that component is every bit as important as choosing a generator.

  9. One important item to remember is “Hertz”. Hertz is best described at muscle and your RV unit requires 60 Hertz in order to provide the correct power needs. True watts is important and will determine what appliances can be operated. However, proper hertz is critical to the safe operation of the RV.

  10. I have the Westinghouse iGen4500DF, Works FANTASTIC, almost as quiet as my Honda 3000 was. I got rid of the Honda (No remote, less power, no portability I did add my own wheels)

  11. We have both a HF 3200 Predator and a Honda EU7000is. The HF unit does well and can run our 25′ RV with the 13.5K AC and most other things. It has run all night under light loading with the AC cycling. The water heater is the next largest draw on the generator. If you are cooking – microwave, etc – it pays to temporarily switch off the water heater. Not a real big deal. The Honda is as quiet – sometimes quieter – than the HF unit and will run the RV and support our 34′ race trailer at the same time. I don’t typically use the AC in the race trailer but there are other loads like fans, computer, battery charger, air compressor, etc. Summer at the drag strip can see ground temps in the pits of 130F+ so any AC will run continuous and power budgeting is required with a smaller genset. The HF unit weighs right at 100 lbs. I can just get it in the back of a pickup, wife and I both can get it there easy enough. The Honda weighs about 400lbs full of fuel. It rides with the race car. It’s a beast. I do have a lift kit that lets me use a hoist to place it in the bed of a truck.

  12. I’d also comment that I think – from a BTU standpoint – that you’d use twice as much propane as gasoline for the same power output. Why I haven’t bothered with a dual fuel. Cold nights and cooking will chew through a typical 20 lb BBQ tank in short order. Might be a more viable option with dual “30lb” tanks.

  13. I use a Champion Power Equipment 3500W Digital Hybrid for my 15,000 btu AC while boon docking. It will charge the batteries and run the AC at once, but that’s it. If you want to run the microwave you need to shut off the AC, you can run wither one or the other, not both. It’s not the quietest but it is not the loudest. It’s priced good, weighs about 82 pounds and runs good. Pretty quiet in economy mode. Can be had for about $600 on sale. Works well at high elevations. https://www.championpowerequipment.com/product/100302-4000-watt-digital-hybrid-open-frame-inverter/

  14. As with many discussions on this topic, fuel consumption is often left out of the equation. We routinely camp in areas without shore power and for 5 years, used a Honda EU3000is to power our 30A camper. It’s a great generator, but it’s heavy. In the interest of weight reduction, lower fuel consumption and redundancy, we’ve switched to a pair of Honda EU2200i’s. With the addition of an electronic soft starter on the AC unit and good power management practices, a single 2200 doesn’t struggle at all at startup and we seldom need to run both generators in parallel. Our overall fuel consumption is down by about 30% which means we don’t need to lug along nearly as much gasoline to fuel our electrical needs. That’s a significant factor when packing to camp in remote locations. I’m not a Honda purist as I own three other inverter generators, including a Predator 2000 and a pair of Champion 2000s. All are well performing generators that sip fuel at a remarkably low rate, but not quite up to the task of individually powering our AC unit, even with a soft starter.

  15. My Westinghouse 4500DF worked great – for one week. It’s been in for repair since early September. That’s 5 months. Still not fixed yet due to unavailability of parts. Buyer beware.

  16. My trailer is wired for 50 amp plug but has only one ac … I only need 30 amp so I got a 50 to 30 amp cable adapter. I purchased a 3200 watt inverter from etrailer which is OEM from Firman … manual, electric, remote start … you can also get it at Costco …. Works week for me … I recently install a east start to the AC for added insurance.

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