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Best RV Generators of 2020

Best RV Generator Reviews of 2020

Best-in-class
Generac 7117

Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator [Parallel Ready]

Best RV inverter generator

This inverter generator provides a clean, stable power for you to run all your sensitive devices.

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1 Generac 7117 Review

The Generac 7117 is by far the best RV generator around. Designed to power all your camping needs, this inverter generator produces clean energy for you to run all sensitive electronics and appliances.

This means that you can safely stream Netflix movies on a laptop, charge your phone, or even power a television, all while camping.

Super-compact and portable, it boasts 1,700 running watts and 2,200 surge watts. You can plug in and use multiple electronics at once, and even double the power if needed, thanks to its parallel-ready feature.

Providing up to 10 hours of runtime – depending on the load – fairly lightweight, compact, and extremely portable, this inverter generator is your best bet if you want to settle for nothing less but the range-topper.

Best value
WEN 56203i

WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Best quiet RV generator

Whisper-quiet operation makes it possible to run it without disturbing your camping neighbors.

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2 WEN 56203i Review

The WEN 56203i might not have as much surge power as our best in class, but it impresses with the same running watts, and comes at a fraction of the price. Like the Generac, it’s an inverter generator designed to provide clean power.

You can plug in all sensitive devices without worrying about current fluctuations that might damage them.

Very quiet operation also makes it a pleasure to run. Its noise level won’t exceed those of normal conversation, so you can use it without disturbing the entire camping site. Suitable for powering multiple devices at once, it comes with two 120V receptacles, USB ports, as well as a 12V DC socket.

Other highlights include a fuel shutoff feature that enhances lifespan and a convenient eco mode. Capable, portable, and relatively cheap for what it is, this RV generator brings outstanding value for money.

Also great
DuroStar DS4000S

DuroStar DS4000S Gas Powered 4000 Watt Portable Generator [RV Camping Standby]

Best standby generator

Compact and portable, this power generator is great for an RV as well as home backup.

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3 DuroStar DS4000S Review

If you don’t want to power any sensitive appliances but need a multi-functional generator that you can use both while camping and in the event of a blackout, the DuroStar DS4000S could be the right one.

Impressing with 3.300 running watts and 4,000 surge watts, it can power up an entire small house.

We like its excellent fuel efficiency – it can run for up to 12 hours on a single fuel tank – and has sufficient outlets to accommodate all your devices, from the RV’s A/C to a portable washing machine.

It may not be your best bet for sensitive devices, but apart from that, it is affordable and powerful. No doubt, a great choice at an excellent price point.

Best budget
Jackery Explorer 240

Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Solar Power Station

Best solar power generator

A portable power station designed with eco-friendly adventurers in mind.

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4 Jackery Explorer 240 Review

Power generators don’t have to run on gas. If you need a small inverter generator to power up a few devices or charge your phone while you’re camping, then the Jackery Explorer 240 could be perfect for you.

This eco-friendly generator comes with a 240 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. It can fuel a tent lamp, phone, or laptop for the night, and it’s also compatible with a solar-ready recharger pack, so you can easily recharge the battery even when there is no wall outlet around.

It also comes with a car charger cable; plenty of alternatives to make sure you’ll never run out of power.

Ideal for charging laptops, drones, and other outdoor electronics, this is the best RV generator for the eco-savvy campers or those on a budget.

What are RV generators and RV-ready generators?

According to the definition, an RV generator is a power generator built specifically for a recreational vehicle, and that comes built-in your vehicle. In a broader understanding, though, an RV generator is a portable generator designed to be placed outdoors, near the RV, but that can also be installed in the RV’s generator compartment if you’re looking for a more permanent solution or if you don’t have a lot of floor space to store and transport the unit inside your vehicle.

Depending on the model, you can use such a generator to power up a laptop or small appliances, while some of the best portable generators are powerful enough to power everything from the RV air conditioning or a tower fan to a small fridge and even a portable washing machine.

What is an inverter generator? Do I need one?

Portable generators fall in one of the two categories:

  • Conventional generators: Are large, powerful generators that produce alternative current (AC). They are designed to use on worksites and can power up several tools and construction equipment at once – thus, they are powerful enough for your RV needs too. These generators have excellent fuel efficiency and can run uninterruptedly for hours, but they are typically loud – usually, as loud as gas-powered lawn mowers. Not something you’d want to run on a campsite.
  • Inverter generators: Are smaller than the conventional ones and don’t produce AC directly. Instead, they generate direct current (DC), which is then converted into AC through the use of various technologies. Due to this current transformation, these generators produce “cleaner” energy that allows you to power sensitive devices and appliances. They are also much quieter and cleaner than conventional generators; thus, more suitable to use on campsites.

While you can use either type of portable generator for your RV, it is often recommended to go for an inverter type. Not only you can use it to charge your laptop or phone; inverters are usually whisper-quiet generators that won’t disturb your campsite neighbors.

What are parallel-ready inverter generators?

Portable inverter generators usually have low power output levels that rarely exceed 3,000 running watts. For this reason, many manufacturers equip their units with parallel-ready kits you can use to connect two generators together and double the power capacity. The only thing to keep in mind is that both generators have to be of the same model (or manufactured by the same company and deemed as compatible) to be able to pair them.

What is the difference between surge watts and running watts?

The two most important numbers to check when buying a RV generator for camping are the surge watts and running watts.

  • Surge watts: Refer to the maximum power the unit can generate to start electric motors. A few appliances that need a higher peak of power to start off include RV air conditioning systems, refrigerators, and washing machines.
  • Running watts: Refer to the continuous power output generated while the unit is running. This number is extremely important, as it will tell you how many devices you’ll be able to run simultaneously.

How many watts should an portable RV generator have?

It really depends on what you want to power up. If you only need energy for a laptop or to charge your mobile devices, a small unit with a power output around 1,000 watts or less will suffice. Most RV enthusiasts, however, will need at least 2,200-2,500 surge watts and around 1,500 running watts or more. To figure out which is the best RV ready generator for you, check out the table below.

Device/Appliance

Required surge watts

Required running watts

10,000 BTU air conditioner

2,000

700

RV fridge

600

180

650-watt microwave

1,000

1,000

Coffee maker

600

600

Portable electric grill

1,700

1,700

Small flat TV

170

170

Laptop

250

250

Portable fan

120

40

With this in mind, sum up the power requirements of all appliances you’d like to run at the same time to figure out how many watts your RV generator should have.

Gas vs. dual-fuel generators. Which is best?

When buying a fuel-powered RV generator, you can typically choose between gas and dual fuel generators.

  • Gas generators: As their name suggests, run on gasoline alone (although some models run on diesel). They are relatively cheap and effective, providing up to 12 hours of continuous runtime, depending on the model. However, you will have to stock up gasoline for longer trips, unless you want to run out of fuel in the middle of nowhere.
  • Dual fuel generators: Can use two types of fuel, such as gas and propane, diesel and propane, or diesel and natural gas. Gas and propane dual fuel generators allow you to switch from one fuel to another, so you’ll get longer runtime – sometimes up to 24 hours. Propane is also easy to carry, as it comes in readily available tanks.

Because carrying two types of fuel with you while camping can be cumbersome, we recommend gas inverter generators for RVs. Dual fuel generators are a much better choice for construction sites or to use as home backup generators.

What about solar power generators?

Solar power generators, also known as portable power stations, are compact, portable units equipped with lithium-ion batteries and/or solar panels. They are more similar to power banks and are ideal for powering a laptop, charging mobile devices, or a small box fan. However, they are usually too weak for anything larger, such as appliances or a TV. Some of the best RV generators in this category come with solar panels, plug adaptors as well as car chargers, giving you various possibilities to recharge the battery.

How quiet are the best quiet RV generators?

A quiet RV generator is by far the best RV generator. Defining quiet isn’t easy, but you can use the table below as a guideline.

Appliance

Noise level

Last generation air conditioner

60 decibels

Vacuum cleaner

70 decibels

Hair dryer

80 decibels

Normal speech noise levels typically vary between 60 and 62 decibels, so it’s safe to say that a portable generator with a noise level in that range is fairly quiet. Anything louder will likely disturb your campsite neighbors, especially if you run it during rest hours.

Features to look for when buying the best RV generator

Not every portable generator is a good RV generator. To make sure yours fits the bill, check out the important features below:

  • CARB-compliant: As an RV enthusiast, you’ll probably want the freedom to go anywhere with your vehicle and RV ready generator. To do this, buy a CARB-compliant portable generator.
  • Number of outlets: Some of the best portable generators come with two or three 120V AC receptacles, a 12V DC receptacles, as well as one or more USB ports. The best RV generators should also have a TT-30R outlet, which is designed specifically for RVs and campsites.
  • Control panel: While most camping generators are easy to use, don’t take it for granted. Make sure the control panel is intuitive unless you want to spend your outdoor time to figure out how to start the unit.
  • Portable RV generators: Depending on the size of the generator, the unit could come with carrying handles or wheels. If you don’t plan to take the generator out from the RV’s compartment, a heavier unit that is harder to move could do. If you also plan to use it for other outdoor activities, such as powering up the lights or charging your devices in a tent, you should go for the lightest and most portable generator that suits your needs.

Best RV Generator for the Money

Best value
WEN 56203i

WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Best quiet RV generator

Whisper-quiet operation makes it possible to run it without disturbing your camping neighbors.

Check price

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