• May 24, 2024, 3:44 am

The best RV generators in 2024 SoftAIT

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Update : Friday, November 17, 2023

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RV generators have become increasingly essential as RVs themselves have become increasingly power-hungry. From larger TVs and refrigerators to more powerful air conditioners to an ever-expanding array of devices, today’s RVs use more electricity than ever, and a generator is the best way to meet that demand whether you’re heading off for a weekend jaunt or hitting the open road for many days or even weeks on end. But there are countless generators on the market, many of which are not well suited for RVs for one reason or another. To help navigate and narrow down the many options, below you’ll find tested recommendations for the best RV generators to suit a variety of situations.

How we chose the best RV generators

I’ve spent some 40 years camping in just about every manner imaginable, and that has involved using dozens of combinations of RVs, van conversions, and portable power stations across a variety of scenarios. Accordingly, I know all too well which generators will suit which purposes and which aren’t up to the task in the first place. I’ve used this experience in testing home generators, power banks for camping, and other gear for publications like Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, the Daily Beast, Thrillist, and more. In some cases, I looked to reviews from other experts, as well as real-world buyers on sites like Amazon, to verify that these picks truly are excellent generators for RVs.

The best RV generators: Reviews & Recommendations

Power generators can be essential to charging all the other electricity-hungry items you might take with you and your RV, like laptops, drones, ebikes, etc. The generators below represent a wide range of needs, formates, budgets, and power demands. As you’ll be transporting them, all are at least relatively portable, though some are more portable than others. Each, however, will deliver outstanding performance in a specific realm and certainly rank among the best RV generators in 2023.

Best overall: Honda EU2200IC Companion Portable Generator

Specs

  • Wattage: 2,200 peak/1,800 running
  • Power source: Gas
  • Weight: 46.5 lbs

Pros

  • Very portable
  • Very durable
  • Very quiet

Cons

We named the Honda EU2200i Companion our best portable generator overall, and it tops our list here, too, because it offers pretty much everything you could want from an RV generator, albeit at a high price. Compact and clocking in just over 45 pounds, it’s about as easy to lug along camping as can be. It’s one of the quietest generators on the market, which is an essential consideration while enjoying the great outdoors. And it’s built with Honda’s famed craftsmanship, meaning it will last through many years of overland adventure.

True, its output isn’t the highest on the list. But its 1,800W running wattage is more than enough for most typical RV needs, providing plenty of juice for an AC, lighting, and a smattering of devices and small appliances. And thanks to its 30 amp receptacle, if you need a bit of added oomph, it can be chained to another generator and run in parallel. It’s also highly efficient, with its 1.1-gallon tank lasting between 3.2-8 hours depending on power demands.

No other generator offers such a perfect balance of portability, performance, and durability. While you’re certainly paying for all this capability, this is the standard bearer for RV generator greatness.

Best dual-fuel: Wen DF475T Dual-Fuel Generator

Wen DF475T Dual Fuel Generator

Specs

  • Wattage: Gas – 4,750 peak / 3,800 running; Propane – 4,350 peak / 3,500 running
  • Power source: Gas or propane
  • Weight: 105.8 lbs.

Pros

  • Affordable dual fuel
  • Decent specs
  • Relatively portable

Cons

Dual-fuel generators running on both gas and propane are an excellent option for RVs as they can hook directly to your RV propane tank in a pinch (so don’t use it all for the grill). This is not only highly convenient, but propane runs a bit quieter and produces less emissions than gas, helping to preserve the natural setting. And the Wen DF475T is not only dual-fuel, it’s dual-fuel at a budget price, which is exceedingly hard to find. It also delivers solid specs. Its 3,500W running output is more than enough for just about any RV.

While it’s just shy of 100-pound weight and isn’t exactly feather-light, it’s still reasonably movable, especially thanks to its sturdy handles and wheels. And for a generator this affordable, it scores surprisingly high in the lifespan category, with many owners reporting that theirs has held up through long and hard use.

Best portable: Goal Zero Yeti PRO 4000

Goal Zero 4000

Specs

  • Wattage: 7,200 peak / 3,600 running
  • Power source: Solar or wall outlet
  • Weight: 115.7 lbs

Pros

  • Solid electrical performance
  • Lots of ports
  • Expandable capacity

Cons

  • Carrying cart not included

These days portable power stations are an increasingly popular alternative to loud, polluting gas generators, and the Goal Zero Yeti PRO 4000 is among the most RV-ready around. With its massive 3,993Wh capacity, it will keep a full-sized fridge going for 51 hours, and its 3,600W output is plenty to power pretty much anything you could want to run in an RV, though an air conditioner would drain it fairly fast. However, add on between one and four of Goal Zero’s 4,000W expansion batteries, and its capacity becomes enormous.

While it is somewhat heavy, its compact size makes it relatively easy to move around, and with the (not included) Yeti Roll Cart, it’s a snap. All in all, if you’re looking for a big, portable box of power, this is about as big yet portable as they come.

Best solar: Jackery Explorer 2000 Plus Solar Generator+Manual Transfer Switch

Jackery 2000 Plus

Specs

  • Wattage: 6,000 peak / 3,000 running
  • Power source: Solar or wall outlet
  • Weight: 140.36 lbs

Pros

  • Solid electrical performance
  • Very portable
  • Expandable

Cons

  • Deploying solar panels takes some trial and error

For a full solar array that delivers plenty of power while somehow still remaining extremely portable, check out the Jackery Explorer 2000 Plus. The full solar generator package includes not only the 2000 Plus power station itself, but also two 200W solar panels and a 2000Wh expansion battery—everything you need to keep your RV charged wherever the sun shines.

Its solid 4,000Wh capacity and 3,000W output are solid numbers for a solid generator, and thanks to its rapid recharge rate, it tops off fast over the course of a moderately to majorly sunny day. And while its weight might seem heavy when read off the page, keep in mind that its weight is distributed across four separate components, each of which is easy to lift. So it offers plenty of power in a plenty portable package.

Best lightweight: Generac 7128 GP3500iO 3,500W Generator

Generac 7128 GP3500iO

Specs

  • Wattage: 3,500 peak / 3,000 running
  • Power source: Gas
  • Weight: 74.3 lbs

Pros

  • Solid performance specs
  • Light for a full-sized generator
  • Quiet

Cons

  • Wheels would be a nice addition

Look far and wide, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a generator that offers such great wattage output in such a lightweight package. While the Generac 7128 GP3500iO churns out a solid 3,000W—more than enough to power pretty much all and everything in an RV—it also weighs in at just over 74 pounds, which is light enough for a single person to carry. While wheels would boost movability a bit, it’s still very carriable, especially considering its specs.

It’s also considerably quieter than most generators of its wattage, producing roughly the same volume as a vacuum cleaner. And according to reviewers, it holds up strong under long hours and high power loads. In other words, it offers pretty much everything you could want from any generator, yet it’s lighter than the competition to boot.

Best budget: Genmax Portable Inverter Generator

GENMAX Portable Inverter Generator - best RV generators

Specs

  • Wattage: 2,000 peak / 1,600 running
  • Power source: Gas
  • Weight: 34 lbs

Pros

  • Good wattage for an RV
  • Very portable
  • Affordable

Cons

It’s pretty difficult to find a well-built generator with the specs to power an RV for less than $400, but the Genmax Portable Inverter Generator delivers. Its 1,600W output is enough to keep all the essentials going in your RV, And if the need for more power does arise, it’s parallel ready for chaining to a second generator.

At just 34 pounds, it’s also about as light as a generator can be. All told, if you’re searching for decent specs and great portability on a budget, look no further.

An RV generator is obviously an investment, but also in terms of your comfort and safety when you’re relying on it to keep the lights on. With this in mind, here are a few key considerations when choosing which is right for you.

Power output

If it’s not powerful enough to suit your needs, what’s the point? A generator’s “rated” or “running” wattage indicates how much it is capable of producing under normal conditions, with the “peak” or “surge” wattage indicating the extent to which it can max out in order to provide for the momentary usage spikes that occur when starting an appliance, power tool, or air conditioner. Be sure that these numbers will deliver on your power needs.

With an RV generator, you generally need something that will produce a minimum of 1,500W to power the air conditioner plus a few other essentials, or the entire RV without the air conditioner. With that as your floor, you typically won’t need more than 3,500-4,000W unless you have a particularly power-thirsty RV.

Fuel type

All of the generators on this list run on either gas, propane, or solar/electrical power. Gas is dependable and accessible but produces the most noise and emissions. A dual-fuel generator can also operate on propane, which is a bit quieter and produces slightly less emissions. Solar generators and power stations can be charged either by wall socket or solar panel, and while they are the eco-friendly, basically silent option, they can only be recharged if you have access to sun or electricity.

Starter type

All of the gas generators on this list include both traditional recoil cord starters plus electric starters. The former is reliable under all circumstances but can be very physically demanding, while the latter is effortless but requires that you keep the starter battery charged. The solar and power station options are as easy as can be as they are essentially plug-and-play.

Operating noise

A major consideration when RVing—whether out in nature or in a crowded campground—involves noise. Gas is the loudest with propane running slightly quieter, while solar is the winner in terms of keeping the peace. The smaller the generator the less volume, and some brands have equipped their products with thick shielding to reduce noise, though they tend to cost a bit more. Consider how much noise is tolerable, then make compromises in power and price accordingly.

Plugs

While it’s always nice to have plenty of plug options on your generator, when it comes to RVs in particular, your main priority should be to find one with a 30 amp plug capable of powering your rig. All of the inclusions on this list feature 30A ports except for the Jackery and Genmax, which are, however, compatible with a 20A to 30A adapter.

FAQs

Q: How long can you run an RV generator continuously?

This depends on the fuel capacity and model specifications, but generally you can expect them to run anywhere between 6-16 hours. Be sure to adhere to all manufacturer recommendations, and never refill the fuel tank while the generator is running.

Q: How often should you start an RV generator while in storage?

A well-maintained generator can be stored without much worry, but to ensure that fuel resting in the components doesn’t muck up the works, it’s a good idea to fire it up at least once a month.

Q: Can a generator operate in the rain or snow?

Running a wet generator can pose risks to both you and the generator. Keep the generator out of the rain or snow, especially while running. Many brands offer covers to protect their products from the elements.

Q: Can a generator operate in the rain or snow?

If your generator is getting unusually loud and struggling to keep up with the power demands, it’s likely that it is overloaded. This can cause damage to both the generator itself and the electronics it is powering. To avoid this, stay without your generator’s output capacity by prioritizing essential devices and appliances.

Final thoughts on the best RV generators

A quality RV generator will be a great companion through many years of camping. Be sure to get one that suits your power needs, maintain it properly, and it can easily last for a decade or more. While there are a lot of great models out there, those we’ve recommended above are picks you can depend on.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

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