A portable generator at a campsite

The Best Portable Generator For RV Life

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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:

  • Diesel-powered
  • Gasoline-powered
  • 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

Champion generators in front of a 5th wheel at dusk.

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.

Conclusion

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.

27 thoughts on “The Best Portable Generator For RV Life”

  1. Please! Don’t show a picture of an open frame construction generator in front of an RV!
    Your story sticks to Inverter generators, but you mention the Champion 3400 dual fuel inverter, but show the Champion dual fuel 3400 construction generator. Not the same thing.

  2. Propane is most certainly NOT zero-emission! It is considerably lower than gasoline and oil, but nowhere near ‘clean.’

  3. Note that propane generators will put out less watts than a gasoline generator of the same generator.

  4. Whatever kind of generator you buy it needs to be an INVERTER generator. A standard portable generator produces junk for electricity. None of your expensive electronics is going to like it. An inverter generator takes the crappy electricity produced by the engine powered generator and rectifies it to DC. It then inverts the DC to AC and produces a very low noise waveform. They are more expensive but you get what you pay for.

  5. The duel fuel 3400 is not good for RVing because it’s to loud and other campers will get really mad at you for running it in a campground or boondocking anywhere close to anyone. Quiet is one of the most important features you are looking for when buying an RV generator.

  6. The cost per hour of running on gas versus propane is a big difference. You should have that in your comparison. My experience is gas is a lot less cost.

  7. Good catch, the photo in question has been changed. Thanks for your comment.

  8. My goodness what a bunch of ‘nay sayers’! We have the 3400 duel fuel and run only propane thru it. At a dry campground we had our Champion 3400 running in the back of our truck and our neighbors couldn’t believe we had a generator going. I have rubber pads (like horse stable mats) under the generator so no vibraetions and in eco-mode so it is VERY QUIET!

  9. You must not have tried the Honda line of inverter generators. I think that they are by far the best in quietness, durability, and quality. They are easy to get parts for DIY (Amazon, etc.) and/or easily found service nationwide.

  10. Propane is an problem because of the venting issues. ASME code does NOT allow for storage in a closed compartment and attached to front or rear bumper is shades of a Ford Pinto tragedy.

  11. Its Funny no one ever talks about Yamaha Generator.
    I am on my second one sold the first one to get a larger .
    Had EF3000ISE now have a
    EF6300ISDE both are great on
    Fuel. Better then Yamaha states . I found Yamaha is better then Honda thru freinda that had Honda.Do your research and talk to people to own other brands.
    We have a Open Range 5th
    Wheel.

  12. Nice choice! At 57 dB (around background music levels) the Predator 3500 is pretty quiet.

  13. We’ve had the same Honda 3000eu for over 15 years . Gets the job done just fine just turn off or down when using other appliances . Just change oil once a year and put gas in it .

  14. A nice reliable model that operates at 50 to 57 dB(A). If it isn’t broken, no need to fix (replace) a good one.

  15. Desert Camper

    No mention of starting ease, no mention of Eco Boost.
    I have had a Honda 4K for my house since 1997.
    Always run premium fuel with Stabil and a splash of Marvel Mystery Oil.
    I bought it to have electric start, but never needed it because it ALWAYS starts on 2nd or 3rd pull.
    It’s never been in the shop.
    As for camping, nothing beats the Honda 2000EU!
    I’ve had it for 12 years, and it’s never been in the shop.
    Light enough for this 73-year old gal to carry.
    It, too, always starts on 2nd or 3rd pull.
    It is amazingly quiet, often quieter-running than many TV sets!
    But, the outstanding feature is the Eco Boost switch, which powers it down to a murmur,
    giving me an outstandingly economical machine.
    Out of power for 11 days last winter, ran it to power fridge, modem, 2 laptops, portable ice machine; ran it 24/7 and used only 8 gallons gas the entire time.
    When I use it camping, many people already know about this little powerhouse.
    The ones who don’t know always comment on how QUIET my machine is.
    I’m always happy to inform them how economical it is, too, so I don’t have to carry a lot of gas.
    Easy to service it—bought a Yanmar hand-held fluid-transfer pump to change the oil and have nitrile gloves to service the filter (wash, dry, oil).
    I’ve seen these little Champion generators, but I believe, overall, the Honda is better.

  16. I’ve had a harbor freight 7000 w and I also had a champion dual fuel 4,750 w, the harbor freight was a pile from the get-go and eventually ended up bending a valve. The dual fuel ran okay at first but within 300 hours began using oil and by 500 had no compression. They claim it’s designed and assembled in the US, big deal! Where the problem is is the inferior metals and materials the Chinese are using to build these with. Spend your money on a champion, you’re wasting your money,in my opinion. Now, I have a 1995 Honda 5000w and it has not failed me once,in hundreds of hours of use. Need I say more?

  17. I dont see prices. Shouldnt a “review” include that?
    I imagine that when seeking advertizers, Reviewers say, “well we wont be too hard on your product. We wont include prices.”

  18. 3 honda 2000EUs at work. I’ve had to pull and clean all three carbs.
    1 honda 4000w GX390 at work. Have had to pull the carb a couple of times and replaced bent calves.
    Have had my Predator 3500 for a couple of years now and no problems. Predator engines are made by the same company as Briggs & Stratton engines.

  19. We apologize for not including prices. We appreciate your feedback and will keep that in mind in the future. Below are some prices for the models mentioned in the article found around the internet.

    Champion Power Equipment 200961 2500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Inverter Generator and 30-Amp ParaLINK Parallel Kit for Linking Two 2000 to 3000 Watt Inverter Generators is available on Amazon for $772.99.

    The 2500-watt model is also available on the Generator Prime online store without the Parallel Kit for $389.00.

    The Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Electric Start is available on Amazon as well for $1,890.00.

    A Champion 3500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Inverter Generator is also available from Camping World for $999.97.

    Lowe’s appears to have stopped carrying the 3400 model.

    Thanks for reading.

  20. Interesting , everyone has an option.
    No one mentioned Generac brand, they have several inverter model units that are quite and fuel efficient. The truth is all these small generators area built over sea.
    And you can’t go wrong with any of the Honda generators. A little more money but well worth the investment. Oh forgot to say, I have a Generac 3000 ic inverter generator because I am Generac dealer, if I wasn’t I would own a Honda. Enough said. Happy Rving.

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