Hitting the open road, enjoying the great outdoors and meeting fellow RV enthusiasts is part of what makes the RV lifestyle so appealing. As someone who has cut their teeth on everything from boondocking to fifth-wheeling, you know how important reliable power – more specifically, RV generators – are on the road.
As you travel, you may or may not set up camp in a place that offers power for all your needs. By simply being prepared with your own power source, it guarantees your RV adventure will be far more convenient and enjoyable.
Okay, let’s take a look at some of the best options on the market today.
Our Top Picks for Power on the Road
|Best RV Generators||Category|
|Cummins Onan 2.5HGJBB-1121||Best Permanent RV Generator|
|Honda EU2000IC 2000 Watt Portable Generator||Most Reliable Portable Generator|
|Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Inverter Generator||Most Affordable Generator|
|Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Generator||Quietest Generator|
|Champion 7500-Watt Portable Generator||Best Heavy Duty Portable Generator|
A Deeper Look at The Best RV Ready Options
Let’s dive into the nitty gritty details of all our top picks!
Best Permanent RV Generator
Cummins Onan 2.5HGJBB-1121
This generator lands top pick status for best permanent model partly because it’s fully enclosed and offers convenient single-sided service, making maintenance a breeze. It also features the unique Cummins Onan sound-attenuating enclosure, complete with a safe USDA Forest Service approved spark arrestor muffler. The set up and installation of this model is fast and easy. The 3-year limited warranty gives you peace of mind when installing it on a permanent basis.
The microprocessor digitally regulates voltage to prevent damage caused by spikes, helping to protect from overloads and faults. It is powered by LP vapor fuel for an energy efficient, clean fuel source and boasts low fuel consumption.
Although considered lightweight for the 120V of power it generates, it still weighs in at 125 pounds. For its size, it’s also one of the quietest generators at 70 dBA readings at 10 feet, which meets National Park Service sound level requirements.
- Consumer Friendly – RV enthusiasts agree on positive reviews for durability, dependability of this model.
- Reputation – Cummins Onan is a solid manufacturer with a well-known brand and high-quality product.
- Performance – This model performs to spec and in accordance with the product description and specifications.
- Price – The price reflects that this is an investment for serious RV fans only (> $2,000).
- Maintenance – It’s important to follow manufacturer’s instructions, especially with checking oil levels properly.
Most Reliable Portable RV Generator
Honda EU2000IC 2000 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
Many RV aficionados rely on portable generators for powering up either due to cost restrictions or preference. This Honda model is a reliable portable power source due to its longevity. Owners of this compact generator claim to be able to use it for years.
It features a pull-start cord, much like a lawn mower, so there are fewer moving parts to break or malfunction. It generates 120V (2000 watts) and features parallel compatibility with other EU2000i units with a simple parallel cord. The unit comes with both a 20A and 30A receptacle for RV applications (optional adaptor required).
Even though a lightweight at a mere 50 pounds, it can easily handle power for all your RV needs such as TV, DVD, refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, electronics and more.
It is extremely fuel efficient, powered by gas. It is also an extremely quiet running model.
The cost is moderate (> $1000) but worth the price for the longevity and advantage of a portable, reliable power source. This model is just about the best portable generator for RV trips.
- Lightweight – At right around 50 pounds for easy portability.
- Brand Name – Honda has an excellent reputation for manufacturing quality products that last, along with excellent customer service.
- Out of Stock – The popularity of this generator means that it’s frequently out of stock. You may have to pay a little more depending on how badly you want it.
Most Affordable Generator
Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Inverter Generator
This model is another candidate for best portable generator for RV power requirements.
It pumps out 120V or 2000-watt maximum AC output. It works with a gas-powered inverter system for optimum fuel efficiency, using a Smart Throttle varied engine speed depending on your load requirements. It is built with noise reduction in mind using an extremely quiet muffler (USFS-approved spark arrestor) coming in at 51.5 dBA at ¼ load.
At under $1000, it is truly an affordable generator, loaded with a lot of features and benefits. It features upgraded, advanced programming with new generation updates and convenient controller to regulate applications.
Weighing less than 50 pounds, it is extremely portable and storage-friendly. Fueled by the unleaded gas-powered inverter, you can clock about 10.5 hours of non-stop use before refueling. You can also feel good about this generator being both EPA and CARB compliant in emission ratings.
A few preventative and useful features include a fuel gauge, oil protection system and electrical overload breaker.
- Affordable – For basic RV needs at a reasonable price.
- Extremely Quiet – Only 51.5 dBA at ¼ load
- Fuel efficient – Comes with a handy fuel gauge
- New Technology – Inverter and programmable applications
- Expensive replacement parts / accessories
- Manual choke can be temperamental
- The older the unit, the more oil it tends to consume
Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Generator
This is one of the top-rated and quietest RV generators. It operates at a 59 dBA level @ 23 feet, which is well tolerated for RV usage or even running power for outside uses such as parties or campfires without noise disturbances.
The unit operates on a “dual fuel” basis with either gas or propane. It also senses and activates a low oil shut-off feature. It kicks into gear with a 3-position electric start switch and the “Quick Touch Panel,” which provides access to controls in one central location.
Running for up to 7.5 hours at 120V/3100 running watts on gas, you enjoy RV-friendly benefits like one 30A and two 120V/20A outlets. This is more than enough to run all the basics and even those delicate electronics with ease. If additional power is needed, the unit is parallel ready for connection with other Champion units for even more power. The economy mode feature saves on precious fuel, extends engine life and the generator runs even more quietly.
This is a fairly lightweight model at around 100 pounds and is reasonably priced.
- Reasonably priced (around $1000)
- Runs multiple items at the same time without outages or surges
- Operates with propane, a cleaner fuel source
- 3-year limited warranty
- Gas leaks; smell of gas while operating
- Problems reported with propane input valve input and carburetor
- Battery life wanes after consistent heavy usage
Best Heavy Duty Portable Generator
Champion 7500-Watt Portable Generator
This Champion generator is the king of heavy-duty portable generators. It is a 7500-watt powerhouse with a dual fuel feature. When gas-fueled, it starts at 9375 watts and runs at 7500 watts from there. The gas tank holds up to 6 gallons. If choosing propane, it starts at 8400 watts and runs on 6750 watts. A propane hose is included. Real-time running hours are up to 8 hours on gas or 5.5 hours on cleaner burning propane.
This unit also holds 1.2 quarts of oil with a handy low oil shut-off sensor to prevent engine damage. The smart “Intelligauge” feature helps you keep track of real-time run hours, monitor voltage and hertz levels for easy maintenance tracking.
It is built to last with a durable steel frame. Add to all of this a built-in Volt Guard surge protector and electric start featuring a battery-operated toggle switch, along with Cold Start Technology. The 120V/240V workhorse with GFCI-protected outlets provides all the heavy-duty power you need for under $1000.
- Easy to set up and get running with clear, easy-to-follow directions included.
- Solidly built and generates plenty of power in an emergency or to power multiple items at the same time.
- 3-year Warranty
- Frame supporting the engine, generator overall could be stronger
- Control panel limitations (no fuel gauge or way to identify power output)
- Noise output at 74 dB
Recap: Best RV Generators of 2020
- Cummins Onan 2.5HGJBB-1121 – Best Permanent RV Generator
- Honda EU2000IC 2000 Watt Portable Generator – Most Reliable Portable Generator
- Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Inverter Generator – Most Affordable Generator
- Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Generator – Quietest Generator
- Champion 7500-Watt Portable Generator – Best Heavy Duty Portable Generator
Things to Look Out For Before Buying an RV Generator
Let’s look at some of the most important pre-purchase considerations you should be making before you purchase an RV generator.
First off, you need to figure out the purpose(s) for the generator:
- Main power supply for multiple electronic devices and appliances?
- Back up power supply or for emergency purposes?
- How often will generator be used?
- How much power is needed to run everything safely and efficiently?
- What sort of features are important? Do you want remote start?
- What kind of fuel, noise, weight specifications are important?
- What is your budget?
Once you determine your needs and whether you want a bare-bones model to do the job efficiently or something a bit more advanced with more bells and whistles, it’s time to move forward to compare specific models.
Power Needs / Voltage Output / Usage
One of the most important factors is to determine the primary reason for purchasing the generator.
How many appliances and devices will be running at the same time? In addition to basic power and small appliances, how many electronics and cell phones are involved? If you use the RV on a closer to full-time basis, is a heavier duty generator a better choice? Appliances like air conditioners, fridges, and others are going to take up a lot of power in your motorhome or travel trailer.
Be sure to factor in whether you will be using the power to charge RV batteries, which will take a considerable amount of energy on its own.
There are also RV generators that can connect with others to produce twice as much power. Is that an important feature for you?
Make sure the generator can handle all the power demands you need for extended periods of time.
It’s important to consider the size and weight of the generator to make sure that it fits properly into the RV. While it needs proper storage, remember that it needs to be accessible for maintenance and repairs, if necessary.
If you will be moving the generator from one location to the next, you probably want to get a model that’s lightweight and small enough to carry by yourself and fit into your vehicle.
Keep in mind that while portable, some of the generators can weigh around 100 pounds. If you have mobility limitations, be sure to do your homework in terms of generator size and what you will realistically be able to handle.
Fuel Type & Consumption
Some fuels burn “cleaner” than others (i.e.; propane). While propane generators may be cleaner, it tends to run at about 10% less efficiency than gas or diesel. If environmental issues are important to you, keep in mind the fuel source for your generator. Perhaps a dual fuel model is for you. Also, is your selection based on the ability to tap into larger fuel sources such as a more permanent supply like a propane tank? Make sure to take that into account as well.
Here are the main fuel types:
- Diesel powered RV generators – a good choice if your RV already runs on diesel
- Gas powered RV generators – very budget friendly, easy to find
- Propane powered RV generators – more environmentally friendly option, less emissions
Brand Name / Reputation
You may be sold on a name brand that has a ton of positive user reviews. Make your decision based more on the long-term trend of durability and sustainability of your generator regardless of the manufacturer.
The decibel levels can be a huge consideration if you plan to use the generator on camping trips or where there may be a lot of people nearby. It’s always a good idea to be a considerate neighbor.
Last but not least, take the time to compare features and benefits to price.
You want a safe, dependable generator for a reasonable price. Look for models with outage and surge protectors to avoid potential damage to your electronics and devices.
Weigh the cost of your investment over the long haul and if what you are getting justifies the up-front cost. If you know you are going to use the generator a lot, a higher price up-front may mean less maintenance over the long haul. Will you use a more costly generator enough to validate the purchase price?
Looking for more advice on generators? Check out these recent guides from our RV expert, Brian: