Best 8 Generators for RV & Camping + Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Power

This is an ultimate guide, so can bet it will be wayyy too long. Here are a few quick links to get around (yes, besides the table of contents):

Our Favorite 8 Generators

Table could not be displayed.

Obviously, a lot goes into choosing the best of something. Heck! We barely scratched the surface. But for everything we consider important, our favorite generator is the best balance of whisper quiet, most portable, easiest to use, and overall top choice you could ask for.

FYI: I’m going to do an incredibly thorough review of #1 (right below). Skim past it to see the other seven or jump past.

1. Champion 3,400 Watt (Overall Favorite)

Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Electric Start (Yes, they all have really long names)

Whether it’s camping, RVing, air conditioning, boating, or anything, this is the first generator to consider. The Champion series is the best out there (and not just because of the name).

While we’ve selected the 3,400-Watt model as the all-around top, we have compared two other highly-rated models below if there is a particular size or power output you’re looking for.

We chose the Champion 3,400W because it offers more than enough power at a reasonable volume and price. Also, it has wheels for portability and is an incredibly flexible inverter generator. Not only is it a great fit for RVers and campers, it also works well for tailgates and even has enough power to take double duty during power outages—it always has your back!

Pros

  • 120V / 30A outlet specifically for RVs
  • Takes gasoline or propane
  • Clear and easy-to-use control panel
  • Supports parallel system (run two together to double power)
  • 2 Household Outlets
  • Low oil shutoff sensor
  • Durable: cast iron sleeve
  • Comes with 2 USB adapters

Cons

  • Weight (heavy, though it does have wheels)
  • Price (sort of…you’re paying for quality and power)

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Power

I doubt you know the exact amount of power your RV needs, but for almost everyone 3,400 watts is plenty (if you’re camping, 3,400W would probably cover the whole campsite). 2,000W is easily enough to supply power for things like:

  • Lights
  • Phones and laptops
  • Other batteries
  • Fridge
  • TV
  • Appliances

A 30 Amp RV (if you don’t know what that means, quickly jump over to our guide to RV plugs and wiring) can run a maximum of 3,600 Volts in its system.

120 Volts X 30 Amps = 3,600 Watts

You can have less, of course, but not more.

3,400 Watts, is perfect then, for 30 Amp RVs.

If you have a 50 Amp RV, still use the 3,400 Champion generator. All you have to do is hook two up in parallel (see how).

The Champion has the same kind of RV ready outlet you’d find at an RV stop (120V), 2 regular household plugs, and the ability to connect it to other generators to use in parallel (if you’ve got, say, a beast of an air conditioner).

Speaking of power, when you factor in AC the Champion steps up…

Air Conditioning

Most air conditioners you’ll find in RVs sit somewhere between 1,600 to 2,500 watts on startup and run much less than that. The Champion, at 3,400 watts can take it and all your other demands easily.

Fun Fact: This model has a starting wattage of 3,400W and a running wattage of 3,100W.

If you want more details, jump down to the AC units section.

Portable

If it’s on wheels, it’s portable—that is the rule for most things, including inverter generators. Regular generators are called portable if they move at all.

This portable Champion is 95.7 pounds, which would be a problem if it didn’t have wheels. 

One of the biggest cons of this model is the weight. It can be difficult to lift this unit in and out of an RV, truck, or car, especially alone. If you think this may be a problem, check out our super portable star. That said, most people out RVing are pretty capable. Don’t underestimate yourself!

Quiet

The decibel rating of this generator is 59.0 dB. While that’s not whisper quiet, it is about normal conversation volume.

It also has an economy mode to save fuel and make it run quieter, in case regular operation is too loud for meditation or nap time. (Seriously!)

Funny Fact: Say something out loud. The average voice is about 59.0 dB. I wanted to give you an example with an audio clip, but then I realized I don’t know where your volume is set.

Clean Power

All Champion generators we’ve considered (and the rest on this page, actually), have “clean energy” because they have less than 6% THD. In fact, these Champion generators have less than 3%. Learn what THD is and why low THD is great for batteries.

Looks

I admit, visual appeal is not the first thing that springs to mind when you think generators, much less RV generators. But why not? Normally you picture an industrial tank belching smog, whirring dangerously off behind a bush.

Needless to say, seeing a Champion generator (or any of the enclosed, inverter generators on our top picks list) sitting next to the RV is a thing to be proud of. I’d go so far as to say it’s something to admire after a day of long traveling.

Oil

FYI the 3400 Watt Champion takes 0.6 quarts of oil. They recommended 10W-30.

Summary

The Champion 3,400 Watts is heavy, but it’s quiet, clean, stylish, economic, and powerful. It comes at a price (see it here), but from my research it is the best one out there. If you’re not sold, keep reading—see the competition. Otherwise, learn even more and get your own.

Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Electric Start
  • Convenient Electric Start with 3-Position Ignition Switch - Battery included, plus Quick Touch Panel allows you to access all your controls in one spot.Noise Level :59 dBA at 23 feet. Frequency 60 Hz
  • Clean Power for Sensitive Electronics - RV Ready with a 120V 30A RV, plus two 120V 20A household outlets with clean electricity (less than 3% THD) and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter
  • Champion Support - Includes 3-year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support from dedicated experts

Don’t Forget About A Generator Cover

Yes, they’re real. Yes, we cover them in extreme detail. And yes, of course the Champion 3400 Watt has a custom cover. It shouldn’t need to be said, but separating water and electricity is one of the most important and iconic safety rules ever.

Protect your generator from the elements for $17 (as of the time of writing this). Trust me, it’s worth it.

FYI: This cover fits all inverter Champion generators 3,100 Watts and above. Don’t run the generator with the cover on it.

Time for the Other 7: Situational RV Gens

We realize that you may have some non-negotiables when you’re out researching a generator. That’s the best way to buy anything: figure out exactly what you need (not want), then find the cheapest product that ticks off every box on the need list.

Anyway, this section covers portable quiet generators for camping and RVs, but finds the best for each of the most important characteristics: portable, power, price (for the money), quiet, small RVs, and for camping. Please note these are all the best inverter generators. Learn why we recommend only inverter generators for RVs, camping, campers, and travel trailers.

The numbers are for navigation, FYI, not for ranking. Each generator is the best in its category.


Best RV/Camping Generator For the Money


Though this section is about the best deal, don’t worry—we won’t be skimping on quality. For less cost, it generates less power. This the only comprise we’re making to shrink the budget. 

So long as you don’t have an RV with a really fancy AC system, you should be fine. 

Camping Sidenote: Camping is about getting away from technology, right? Though don’t worry, we enjoy air conditioning—one of the best inventions ever, if you ask me.

That’s why you should check out our article on tent air conditioners and heaters. They’re real and actually quite popular—a glamping essential. Check it out!

2. WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt

Portable Inverter Generator, CARB Compliant

This model almost won our award for most quiet generator. It has a decimal rating of 51 dB. Also, a variety of outlets built into the generator make it incredibly versatile. 

The main reason this generator is second and not first is because of its low running power, at 1600W. It also has a (relatively) low run time. At ½ load of the fuel tank it will run for 6 hours. Both may sound very good—and they are! We just have high standards. 

Light and easy to carry!

If 1600 W is all you need, this is the generator for you. With or without an RV to power, the WEN 56200i is a quality generator. I would go so far as to call it the perfect generator for camping without an RV.

If you’ve brought your phone or laptop along—I’d be surprised if you didn’t these days—the THD of this model is renown for not exceeding 1.2% (plug your chargers straight into the outlets on the back)!

Pros

  • Portable (48 lbs)
  • Extremely Quiet (51 dB)
  • Clean Electricity (low THD)
  • Gas powered
  • Compact (18 x 11 x 18 in)

Cons

  • Running power output of 1600W
  • Relatively low run time (6 hours)

WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, CARB Compliant
  • Epa III and CARB Compliant 79. 7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 2000 surge watts and 1600 Rated watts
  • Great for campgrounds, construction sites, tailgates and power outages
  • Produces clean power to safely operate and prevent damage to sensitive electronics such as Smart phones, tablets, televisions and computers
  • Includes two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle and one 5V USB port

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Our second place for the money is the Westinghouse iGen2500 Inverter Generator. It won our place as the best generator for camping, a large reason it didn’t get best generator for the money. It’s also a bit more expensive.


Best Inverter Generator For Small RVs


The key factors that go into choosing a power source for a small RV are…

  • Extremely portable
  • Extremely Quiet
  • Power (somewhere in the middle)
  • Compact

This is the generator that best meets those needs:

3. Honda EU2200i 2,200 Watt

Super Quiet Gas Power Portable Inverter Generator

The Honda excels in all these categories. Its volume rating of 47-58 dB, meaning it may be the quietest on the market. This rating makes it great for RVs, camping, and tailgating—any outdoor event with other people around.

It has what is called an eco-throttle system, which, in combination with its inverter system, means it is incredibly fuel efficient. The quality, durability, and lifetime value make it worth the price. It produces clean energy from a small, compact design.

It is also highly versatile, with an exceptional THD level. The electrical output is alternating 120V 15 Amp current (explanation). The control panel, as you can see, allows for parallel operation, where you connect two or more generators in sequence to sum their power.

Pros

  • Eco-Throttle System
  • Versatile & Compact (46.5 lbs)
  • Crazy Fuel Efficient
  • Volume (48 to 57 dB)
  • Reasonable Run Time (4.0 to 9.6 hours)

Cons

  • Power (peak of 2,200 Watts)
  • There was a recall on an earlier model (problem solved now, of course, but I thought I’d mention it)
  • Run time can be low on high demand (no less than 4.0 hours)

Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt Super Quiet Gas Power Portable Inverter Generator
  • This popular model can operate a wide variety of appliances, making it perfect for portable use at home, camping, on the jobsite, or much more.
  • Need more power? Add a second EU2200i for additional power.
  • Thanks to our exclusive Eco-Throttle System, the EU2200i offers great fuel efficiency. Runs 4.0 to 9.6 hours on a single tank, depending on the load. This makes it the ideal choice for overnight power, or long time applications.

Most Quiet Generator For RVs, Camping, & Trailers


If you’ve been reading through, you have already seen the best whisper quiet generator. It’s the Honda, a two time winner for volume and the best for small RVs.

If you missed it, don’t worry. Hop back and check it out.

Honda EU 2200i Camping Generator
Sourced from Honda.

It also won first place for the best generator for small RVs—the smaller the power demand, the smaller the generator, the quieter the noise (but not too small, at 2,200 Watts). It utilizes an eco-throttle system you’ll only find in Hondas which makes it both quiet and fuel efficient.


Best Inverter Generator For Camping (And High Fuel Efficiency)


Camping is an essential part of RVing but you don’t have to have an RV to go camping.

Heck, your car becomes a recreational vehicle when you take it camping!

The problem with camping is that you’ve got your tech with you. You have lights, maybe an electric grill, your phone, computers, a camera (don’t forget it).

Our top choice for camping generators provides ample power while staying quiet.

Whether you’re in a busy campsite or the middle of nowhere, we tried to pick a reliable choice.

To go camping, you want to forget about the generator. Turn it on, stick it out in the woods with a quality extension cord, and trust your devices stay powered.

The Westinghouse is a great choice.

5. Westinghouse iGen2500 Inverter Generator

This model is very similar to our top choice for small RVs (the Honda). They both are…

  • Extremely portable
  • Extremely Quiet (52 dB)
  • Not too powerful (running 2,200w)
  • Compact

However, this Westinghouse model has an appealing LED display. This high-tech display is beyond any other generator on this list and any (that I’ve found) not produced by Westinghouse.

Clear LED Display for Westinghouse Inverter Generator for home power backup or RVs
Another cool feature included in this generator is an LED display. Sourced from Westinghouse.

One problem with the Westinghouse is that it cannot take propane.

Though this model does not have the eco-throttle system of the Honda (it is exclusive, after all), the Westinghouse has an efficiency mode.

Further, this specific Westinghouse model has over 1,000 review on Amazon alone, ranked above 4.5 stars. It is one of the most popular RV generators for camping out there.

Westinghouse iGen2500 Portable Inverter Generator
  • 2200 Rated watts and 2500 peak watts at less than 3% THD - weighs only 48 lbs. - Gas powered - two 120V 20 amp outlets, two USB outlets
  • Great choice for home use as an emergency backup in a power outage - strong enough to run all your home essentials
  • Three Year and Free Lifetime Technical Support at 1-855-944-3571 - EPA, USFS, and CARB Compliant (Legal for Sale in California)

Most Portable Inverter Generator for Camping & Trailers


The most portable, like the quietest, is a straightforward choice. I’ve scourged the market for the lightest generator from a reputable manufacturer. This fits the bill.

6. WEN 56202i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, CARB Compliant

There really isn’t much to say for this one. It’s a quality generator for a good price. It is extremely light, sitting at 38.6 pounds.

We rank another WEN generator (also 2,000 Watts) as the best choice for the price. It comes in at 48 pounds, 10 pounds heavier than this model.

It has a few more features like another USB port plus all the internal modifications that change the weight so much.

WEN 56202i Portable Quiet 2000-Watt Light Generator
  • EPA III and CARB-Compliant 79.7cc 4-Stroke OHV engine produces 2000 surge watts and 1700 rated watts
  • Great for campgrounds, construction sites, tailgates and power outages
  • Includes two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle, two 5V USB ports, and a two-year warranty

The tradeoff for low weight, like mentioned before, is power.

Still, the WEN 562029i has a starting wattage of 2,000 and runs at 1,700 watts.


The Beast: An Extremely Powerful Generator


I’m making an exception in this page: to include a non-inverter generator. I know, it is heinous. But some RVs are massive and—needless to say—this will be the most powerful generator on this list of the best.

7. Westinghouse WGen3600v Portable Generator

The problem with regular generators without inverters is…not just one thing, actually, but a whole list. First off, they’re much louder.

Another problem is their THD (the cleanliness of their electricity). I wouldn’t go charging your phone by plugging directly into the outlets on the generator itself.

That said, the Westinghouse does come with RV-ready plugs. It’s 30 Amps at 120 Volts—check out our full article RV wiring.

Being a larger generator, it can run for 18 hours (something you won’t get, I have to admit, with an inverter gen). There’s also a 3 year warranty—something we like about Westinghouse as a manufacturer.

The Westinghouse certainly comes with plenty of power. It’s called the beast for a reason: 3,600 Volts is the running power. The starting power peaks at 4,650V.

Pros

  • Power
  • 18 Hour Runtime
  • Price
  • RV Ready Plugs

Cons

  • Noise (over 70dB)
  • Size
  • High THD
  • Less Portable

If you have doubts about choosing one with enough power, this is the generator for you.

Because it is not an inverter generator, the extra power does not add to the cost—the opposite, in fact. For non-inverter generators, 3,600 Volts isn’t that impressive.

Westinghouse WGen3600 Portable Generator – 3600 Rated Watts & 4650 Peak Watts – RV Ready – Gas Powered – CARB Compliant
  • 4 Gallon Fuel Tank with Fuel Gauge; Up to 18 Hours of Run Time Per Tank
  • Features One 5-20R 120V Household Duplex Receptacle, One RV-Ready TT-30R 30 Amp Receptacle, and One L5-30R 30 Amp Receptacle; All Outlets Have Rubber Covers for Added Safety
  • Plug-and-Play: Comes with Oil, an Oil Funnel, a Tool Kit, and a Users Manual to Get You Started Right Out of the Box (Minimal Assembly Required)
  • EPA, CARB, and CSA Compliant; Backed By a 3-Year Warranty; Nationwide Customer Service and Support Network at 1-855-944-3571

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Overall, non-inverters have their own pros—power and runtime—while also cons comparatively—noise and THD. All (on this list, at least) are highly-rated, quality generators designed to be safe and reliable.

Like everything, what you choose to run your RV and camping trips is situational. If you need power, this Westinghouse model is the solution. If not, go back and find an inverter. As you can probably tell, I love my portable inverter generators.

One last thing: this engine has an open body, which means it should have a generator cover.

When I say should, I mean it needs one if you plan to run it in any rough weather (even if you’re saying no to yourself, do you really trust the weatherman with all of your electricity?). We cover them later in the article. Jump down there now.


Best 50 Amp Generator


If you’ve noticed, all the generators above are 30 Amp. It’s not surprised, as they’re all inverter generators.

(So yes, that makes the Champion 3,400 Watts the best 30 Amp generator.)

The best 50A choice—all, 50 Amp choices, actually—for me to go beyond the scope of inverter generators.

My dear inverters simply cannot produce enough power.

I have to admit, the title of ‘Beast’ should go to this one…but honestly, its power is unreal. That’s why I went with title of ‘Monster’.

8. The Monster: Westinghouse WGen7500

The 7,500 in the name is 7,500 running watts. The surge is 9,500. So yes, it is a monster.

I decided to include this on the list because…I couldn’t resist.

If you want an engine to serve as a backup generator for your house that doubles as an RV generator, this will certainly do.

I wouldn’t recommend taking this camping (it is loud) but it can run any RV on the planet. (If you find an exception, please let me know!)

Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator with Remote Electric Start – CARB Compliant
  • 7500 Running Watts and 9500 Peak Watts; Remote Start With Included Key Fob, Electric and Recoil Start; Up to 16 Hours of Run Time on a 6.6 Gallon Fuel Tank With Fuel Gauge
  • Features Two GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) 5-20R 120V Household Duplex Receptacle and One L14-30R 120/240V Twist-Lock Receptacle; All Outlets Have Rubber Covers for Added Safety
  • Plug-and-Play: Comes with a Remote Start Key Fob, 12V Battery Charger, Oil, an Oil Funnel, a Tool Kit, and a Users Manual to Get You Started Right Out of the Box (Minimal Assembly Required)
  • Powered by a 420 cc Westinghouse 4-Stroke OHV Engine Featuring a Long-Lasting Cast Iron Sleeve with Automatic Low Oil Shutdown and Digital Hour Meter
  • EPA, CARB, and CSA Compliant; Backed By a 3-Year Warranty; Nationwide Customer Service and Support Network at 1-855-944-3571

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Summary

And there you have it! Whatever your situation, there’s always a best generator for the job.

I sincerely hope we help you find yours. In short, we think the best camping and RV generators are…

If none of these fit your needs, email us at info@rvsupplyco.com and we’ll help you find one!

Generator Covers

Did you know there were such things? If there are RV covers, motorcycle covers, and backpack covers, then of course there are generator covers!

GenTent is our #1 choice of generator covers, essential when RVing, camping, tailgating, and nice to have anywhere else, just in case.

We love GenTent because it is designed to be in place while the generator is running, something you have to be extremely careful about when purchasing any generator covers.

Safety first: Most generators’ exhaust contains carbon monoxide. Make sure to always set it up twenty feet from your RV or camping area, exhaust pointing away.

The setup can be a bit of a pain, as Kelly from Camp Addict explained in her full report.

The silver lining is that once it is assembled, it doesn’t have to be fully dismantled to move or store.

We recommend GenTent because it takes its job seriously. It is just a cover, plain and simple, but it is patented, for Pete’s sake! It protects your machine from:

  • rain
  • snow
  • ice
  • sleet
  • wind

It is designed for universal use of all generators from 3,000 to 10,000 Watts. Our first choice, the Champion 3,400 Watt does not require a cover because it is a fully encased generator. Many of the other generators listed here do not require a cover either; they are enclosed.

The GenTent cover separates electricity for water—a very good thing. If you don’t have one yet, get one now.

GenTent 10k Generator Tent Running Cover – Universal Kit (Standard, GreySkies) – Compatible with 3000w-10000w Portable Generators
  • Safely run your portable generator outside in any wet weather - rain, snow, ice, sleet, and wind.
  • Waterproof and sheds water away, prrotecting sensitive electrical areas, large door for easy refuel.
  • Patented design maintains generator natural cooling air flow; keep generator portable.
  • Universal welded waterproof cover size fits portable generators 3000-10000 watt.

The Checklist: Things to Consider When Buying A Generator for RVing & Camping

  • Power
  • Price
  • Noise
  • Weight
  • Inverter or Regular (THD and AC/DC)
  • Interface
  • Looks?

Air Conditioner (AC)

There are many different types of AC units out there for RVs, much less beyond. You’ll have to check your user’s manual (or it might be on the actual unit), but I’d guess your unit has less than 2,000 W running power demand.

Note: Your AC definitely lists BTU somewhere. If you can’t find watts, anything under 14,000 BTU should be fine for the Champion 3,400 Watts. For other generators, check this guide.

However, it takes more power to start an AC unit than to run it. Be sure to check both values—”starting” or “surge” values and “running” wattage—when choosing your generator. Make sure your generator model has a “running” wattage that at least matches the “surge” wattage of the AC.

What Are Inverter Generators? And Why Are They Awesome?

In terms of power generators, inverters are better. They are quieter, smaller, lighter, and more efficient than regular generators.

Standard generators spin at a constant RPM (rotations per minute) and get a set AC output from them. In the US it’s 120 V at 60 Hz.

Inverters (shortened way of saying inverter generators, not only the inverting piece itself) spit out a higher output of AC power initially. The unpredictability of the high power can’t be used directly. Instead, it is converted to DC current, then inverted back to 120 V at 60 Hz.

Inverter: a device for converting direct current into alternating current

Merriam Webster

The new power has a sine curve, fluctuating between crests. The smoothness of this sine curve is, essentially, its THD level. Inverters, because of how they switch electricity back and forth, have an incredibly small THD level. 

Inverter generators are awesome because they adjust their fuel consumption and power output based on demand.

The more energy you need, the more they make. 

The Difference Between Alternating Current & Direct Current (AC/DC)

You can think of current as a closed loop, a circular pipe of water. Moving the water transports power. If you move some water forward, the water behind it flows into its spot and all the rest moves too.

Except the water is electrons, elementary particles (the smallest particles in existence—smaller than an atom). 

DC is direct current. Direct current works like the pipe example. In batteries, chemical reactions push the electrons through the circuit like a pump. On one end they pull electrons into the reaction, on the other they push electrons out. The compressed water at one end pushes all the other water around the circuit to fill the uncompressed section where the battery took in the electrons.

AC is alternating current. It works a bit different. Instead of pushing all the electrons continually around, it pushes them forward for a second, then flips around and pulls them back for a second, and forward, and back. It alternates. 

Alternating current appears in wall outlets. It is generally considered better because it is more stable.

Source: http://www.generatorgrader.com/what-is-an-inverter-generator/

What Is THD?

Total Harmonic Distribution, measured as a percentage, is the quality of electricity. You can think of it as a value of how accurate the electricity is in terms of power. The math behind it is…complicated, to say the least. It has to do with the accuracy of the sine curve of the outputted AC.

But all it really means is that the smaller the THD, the better the electricity is to power sensitive devices, like a phone. Anything below 5% is considered clean electricity and acceptable for all computer chips pre-quantum, where clean electricity is much less important than a quiet work environment.

The other side of the coin is THD measuring above about 6%, which is considered—you guessed it—unclean electricity. Most standard, non-inverter, regular generators hit somewhere around the range of 9% THD, even getting up to 30% in some cases.

The problem with using THD in, say, a TV for example, could be blurred lines. However, its no trouble for lights, most appliances, heating elements, all the way to crass jackhammers and construction equipment.

The computer chips inside them simply aren’t fit to handle the unpredictable nature of inconsistent energy. They are too fine, too precise to be able to account for massive swings and still have the precision of their engineering.

As most RVers bring their devices, even if their RV can take high THD we champion the Champions among other low-THD portable generators.

Source: http://powerupgenerator.com/total-harmonic-distortion-portable-generators/

Whisper Quiet Generators

If a generator can stay below 70 dB, its good. If it can keep itself below 60 dB, that’s awesome. Anything above 80 dB becomes a problem—something, we joke, you’d want a long extension cable for. (Though seriously, you would. We like the American-made all-weather US Wire and Cable 50 footer). We recommend an extension cable for anything over 65 dB.

What Is a Decibel?

The standard way to measure noise is a decimal reading at 23 feet. Decibels work on an odd system, similar to a logarithmic scale, where an increase of 10 times the volume correspondence to 10 dB. For example, a sound increase of 1,000 times is 30 dB higher (103 = 1,000).

  • No sound – 0 dB
  • Whispering – 15-30 dB
  • Regular talking – 60 dB
  • Alarm clock – 80 dB

Long or significant exposure to >85-90 dB can cause hearing loss.

  • A car horn – 110 dB
  • Plane engines (at takeoff) – 120 dB
  • Ambulances – 130 dB
  • A gunshot – 140 dB 

Above 140 dB is painful and causes permanent hearing loss.

Quick FAQ

What are inverter generators and how are they different from standard generators?

In terms of power generators, inverters are better. They are quieter, smaller, lighter, and more efficient than regular generators.

Standard generators spin at a constant RPM (rotations per minute) and get a set AC output from them. In the US its 120 V at 60 Hz.

Inverters (shortened way of saying inverter generators, not only the piece itself) spit out a higher output of AC power initially. The unpredictability of the high power can’t be used directly. Instead, it is converted to DC current, then inverted back to 120 V, 60 Hz.

How to run RV/camping generators in parallel?

Most inverter generators have the ability to be run in parallel (with another of the same manufacturer). Most companies will sell a parallel kit that makes it easy to connect two generators.

We favor the Champion generators—specifically the 3,400W—for RV and camping generators. But if you need more power, get the Champion RV ready parallel kit.

Other manufacturers sell their own kits. This is the WEN kit and this is the Honda kit. Find others here.

What size generator is best for a 30 Amp RV?

Like anything, there isn’t just one answer. That said, we recommend the Champion 3,400 Watts as an end-all be-all of RV and camping inverter generators.

Not only is 3,400 watts plenty for almost any RV, it is quiet, portable, and comes with many features that make versatile as well. Another pro is that it’s designed to run in parallel (for the giant RVs out there). Read our full review.

What size (how much power) generator do I need for my RV?

Ah! What a question! It’s difficult to give a good answer because it is so situational. If you have the time, read this section of the article (or the whole thing). Then you’ll have a good idea of what you need and the options that meet those needs.

The quick answer is the quiet, portable Champion 3,400 Watt. Unless you have multiple large AC units, 3,400 Watts should be plenty. You can read why we like it so much or just jump to the product page.

What cables & wiring do I need to run generators in parallel?

Every manufacturers sells their own kits because inverter generators are not made to run in parallel between manufacturers. They prefer you buy two other theirs rather than only one.

We like the Champion generators the most; this is their kit. The WEN kit and the Honda kit are other good options. Find others here.

What kinds of generators need generator covers?

The larger the generator, the more important a cover is. That said, separating water from electricity is critical for any device. Generators are no exception—the opposite, really.

That is why covers are so important. They protect your generator from ice, rain, wind, snow, and anything else falling from the sky.

Furthermore, you have to be incredibly careful to only run covered generators if the cover is designed for it. We favor GenTent’s patented universal cover for generators from 3,000 to 10,000 Watts.
GenTent Generator Cover

When should you change the oil in your generator?

Your first oil change comes after 20 hours of use or one month.

The standard response after change #1 is every 6 months or 100 hours, whichever comes first. However, I just recommend replacing the oil at the start of the season. Unless you really rev up your generator constantly, it should be fine.

Every model is different, so check the instruction manual (when you first get it) to see what type of oil it requires (the viscosity). If you’re not sure, this motor oil is a great choice.

*Something you shouldn’t forget: when you first buy your generator you may not have any oil to begin with. Make sure to check before powering up.

What constitutes a quiet generator on the decibel scale?

Most portable/inverter generators range from 50-75 dB. Anything lower than 60 can be called a quiet generator. 60 dB is around conversation volume. If it gets up to 75-80 dB, you might consider getting an extension cable.

Our quietest generator on our list—which won both the title of the best generator fo small RVs and the whisper quiet generator—is the
Honda EU2200i. It can get as low as 47 dB.

What Is THD (in electrical context)?

Total Harmonic Distribution, measured as a percentage, is the quality of electricity. You can think of it as a value of how accurate/consistent the electricity is in terms of power. The more electricity a device takes, the less THD matters. For things like phones and computers, THD has to be low—less than 5%. That’s why we prefer inverter generators for RV and camping use

What is a decibel and how does the decibel scale work?

The standard way to measure noise is a decimal reading at 23 feet. Decibels (dB) work on a logarithmic system where an increase of 10 times the volume correspondence to 10 dB. Ever increase of 10 decibels means the sound is 10 times louder, so an increase of 100 decibels is 10 billion times louder (10 to the 10th power).

How loud (in decibels) is the average generator?

Most portable/inverter generators range from 50-75 dB. Anything lower than 60 can be called a quiet generator. 60 dB is around conversation volume. If it gets up to 75-80 dB, you might consider getting an extension cable.

Our quietest generator on our list—which won both the title of the best generator fo small RVs and the whisper quiet generator—is the
Honda EU2200i. It can get as low as 47 dB.

Images sourced from Amazon API, manufacturer’s website, in the public domain, or/and sourced in the caption or near the image. Featured (top) image by Eugene Quek.

Disclaimer: RV SUPPLY Co is part of the Amazon affiliate program, which means we may be paid for qualifying purchases made through our links.


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