The Best Portable Generator For RV Life
Having an RV generator is an essential part of off-grid RV living. A good generator makes it possible to run your electric appliances when you are off-grid or to charge house batteries so that they can do this job. In my opinion, the best portable RV generators that run on fuel are inverter generators because they are a lot quieter than regular generators while also being more fuel-efficient. While Champion did not sponsor this post, two of their models rank at the top of my list, and here’s why.
There are 3 basic types of RV generators:
- Dual fuel propane-powered
I chose a dual-fuel inverter generator because of its quiet operation and the fact that it runs on lower-emission propane. Gasoline is a hassle compared to propane and nobody wants to breathe gasoline exhaust fumes when they are camping. Still, it’s good to have options when it comes to fuel, and dual-fuel provides just that.
RV Generators Come In Different Sizes
Standard sizes for portable generators for RVs are between 2,000 and 4000 watts. A bigger generator can be better in some situations, but bigger also means heavier and noisier. Less weight is often better because no one wants to pack around more weight than necessary. You also don’t want to ruin the charming ambiance of the campground with the rumble of your generator. The size of the generator you choose will depend on the amount of electricity you use and what you can physically manage. The lightest RV generators weigh around 36 lbs and the heaviest weigh 250 lbs.
How Many Watts Do You Need?
The size of RV generator you need depends on how many electric RV appliances you are going to be using while you are off-grid. If you intend to use many appliances at once, you’ll need a bigger generator. If you just want to charge your lithium batteries; and run a few lights and the fridge, you’ll probably get by with a 2000 Watt generator. But if you are going to run a fridge, a toaster, and the air conditioner all at once, you’ll want a bigger generator. For example, an RV refrigerator usually pulls 600-800 Watts, a toaster pulls 1000 Watts and electric water heaters and stovetops can pull as much as 2500 Watts. Click here for a free RV power calculator from RV Supply Co.
Champion Dual Fuel Inverter – The Best Portable Generator For RV Life
I looked for the top-rated RV generators for running most things in the RV. My hands-down favorite was the 2500 Watt Champion dual-fuel portable generator. This generator is getting rave reviews from RVers. At 36 pounds it’s the lightest-weight RV generator on the market, making it an easy choice for those without a lot of room to spare in their RV as well as anyone who is not up for lugging around a heavier, more unwieldy generator. The option to run off of cleaner-burning propane as well as gas means you won’t have to lug around a smelly gas can.
The 2500 has a run time of 11.5 hours on gas or 34 hours on a 20lb tank of propane. It produces 2500 starting Watts on gas or propane, and 1850 running Watts on gas or 1665 running watts on propane. The 2500 makes about the same level of noise as a dishwasher, so it’s not nearly as intrusive as many generators. AN optional clip-on parallel kit allows you to run two of these generators in parallel to get a full 30 Amps of power. RVers who couldn’t manage the 100 lb weight of a larger generator will appreciate being able to link two of these smaller inverter generators together to enjoy the same level of power as being hooked into shore power.
The Champion Dual Fuel 2500 Inverter is a great choice for smaller RVs and campers and for smaller RVers too. But what if you are a more robust camper, looking for a more robust power source to power a larger RV? Check out the unit below.
The Champion Dual Fuel 3400 Watt Inverter Generator- The Best RV Generator For Higher Power Needs
The Champion Dual Fuel 3400 inverter won a close second place for best RV generator. It also runs on either propane or gas. We like the RV-ready features and higher power output of the Champion Dual Fuel 3400 Watt inverter. This relatively lightweight portable generator on wheels is well suited for those with large RVs who have higher power needs, room for a larger generator, and are able to manage its 90 lb weight. It has all the advantages of the 2500 plus more power and an electric start. This generator also comes with a 50 Amp plug.
The 3400 runs for 7.5 hours on gasoline and about 14 hours on a 20lb propane tank. This RV generator has 3400 starting watts and 3100 running Watts on gas and 3060 starting watts and 2790 running watts on propane. For even more power, you can get an optional parallel kit to connect two 3400s in parallel and produce enough power to run two 15000 BTU air conditioners. Remember that a SoftStart unit in each air conditioner can help start those ACs on lower power.
Whatever generator you choose, you’ll need to take steps to maintain it the right way. Click here for great tips for keeping your generator in tip-top shape. While my pick for the best portable generator is a Champion Dual Fuel Inverter Generator, that doesn’t mean it’s the only brand out there. Let us know which RV generator you use on your adventures and why in the comments.
Lynne Fedorick is a freelance writer with 35 years of RVing experience. She specializes in topics such as fulltime RV life, great destinations for RVers, RV organization, RV News, RV tech, and dog behavior/training.