Best Portable Generator for RV Camping

Camping is a time when people are roughing it. They are in the middle of nature, whether near a river, in the middle of a forest, desert or savannah, by a beach, or on an island somewhere. People go camping to leave behind the basic amenities of modern life. On top of the list are utilities, especially running water, indoor plumbing, and electricity. A couple of decades ago, campers don’t have access to phones, but that has changed because there are fewer areas in the world without a cellphone signal.

 

The expectations about camping or traveling in an RV are no longer the same. Nowadays, campers expect to have access to electricity. RVs park or stay the night at camps which have full amenities like hot water, shower, clean toilets, laundry, and electricity. If they cannot find an RV camping ground, they usually have a portable generator which they can use to run their electrical devices.

Choosing a Portable Generator

A portable generator is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity, not only for campers, and it powers the RV’s electrical needs. However, choosing the right portable generator is not like picking a shovel from the hardware store. Before buying a generator, the RV owner has to determine how much power he needs. He also needs to determine the quality of power generation, the fuel, and what type of appliances will be plugged into it. The following are factors to consider when buying a portable generator:

 

  • Regular load requirements. Check the wattage for all the appliances and lights to be connected to the generator. The generator will be generating at least this amount of wattage once the appliances are already running. These appliances don’t have to be running all at the same time. Pare down the list to include only the necessities. Generator specifications list this as the “Running Watts.”

 

RV owners don’t have too many lights on, and the appliance which has consumes the most would be the air conditioner. The RVs themselves don’t have a washer and dryer, but they have a microwave and a TV. Considering this short list of appliances, a 1000W generator can fulfill the electrical needs. Using a 1600W or 1800W unit would provide enough leeway for other appliances.

 

  • Startup load. The startup load is the amount of electricity needed by a device upon starting. For example, an AC would need two to three times the rated wattage when starting up. If there’s an AC, it is best to power it up alone without any other devices connected.

 

If there is no device with a high startup power requirement, use the regular load requirement as a guide. It might be necessary to have a shorter list of electrical devices which will actually be used. The smaller the actual load, the less generator fuel would be used. If there is more than one device which has a high startup power requirement, it would be prudent to use only one of those devices. Additionally, it is best to start up appliances one at a time. Generator specifications list this as “Starting Watts.”

 

A 1800W running load generator is usually rated for 2000W to 2200W starting load. This is enough to meet an RV’s startup power needs.

 

  • Fuel capacity. There is a correlation between the load capability and fuel capacity. The larger the generator, the more fuel it uses. This explains the bigger fuel tank capacity on larger generators. Additionally, larger generators are also run for longer periods of time. RV and campers would usually need to run generators from 5 to 8 hours. Most 2000W units have a 1-gallon capacity and can run up to 9 hours.

 

  • Load and running time. Generators adjust their power according to the load. With a half load, some 2kW units can run up to 7 hours or more. Although generators have ratings for a full load, these are not usually run continuously for the full load. Always running generators at full load is not recommended because this will damage the unit.

 

  • Generators have to be placed a short distance away from the RV. This would prevent the exhaust and fumes from getting inside the vehicle. Small portable units can be up to 50 lbs. Heavier units can be hard to transport the short distance away from the RV. They may also be hard to store inside the RV due to their size. Although portability is related to the size, there are some features which help the user in transporting the generator. Most of the small units have built-in wheels. Larger units have kits to add wheels. A 50-pound generator is light enough to carry up to 20 feet from the RV. It would be better if the generator had wheels, whether built-in or part of an optional kit.

 

  • Noise levels. Generators are run by internal combustion motors. Smaller portable generators use gasoline as fuel. Larger units can be diesel powered or propane. For backup generators, these can also be powered by propane or natural gas. The noise levels can differ between units depending on the fuel used. For RV generator units, the noise is already dampened, but these can still be quite loud. Proper placement of the generator can help keep the noise levels down. The quietest portable generators have anywhere from 51 dB up to 59 dB in noise levels. The noise level of a normal conversation is around 60 dB. Placing the generators about 20 feet away can help to further soften the noise. Both to keep the noise level down and for health reasons, the generator is kept at least 10 feet away from the RV. If the generator is too loud, it is easy enough to move it a few feet away or even out of sight behind a tree.

 

  • Traditional generators directly output AC electricity. This results in electric power which is prone to spikes and fluctuations. The inverter solves the problem of dirty power by generating DC power. The unit has a built-in inverter, which converts the DC power to AC. This extra step cleans the output. It is not uncommon to have AC power with only 6% distortion, or even as low as 3%. This clean power can be used with laptops without corrupting data. Most of the popular portable generator models are inverters. These also happen to be the type which has USB ports, which can be used to recharge cell phones, tablets, and some computers.

 

It is not enough to know what type of generator an RV owner wants. The above features should also be considered before buying one. There is a wide range of features which can be helpful for an RV. These include safety features like an automatic shut off, which shuts down the generator when the oil level is too low. Another helpful feature is a remote control power on switch. Other features which are incorporated in some inverter generators are spark arrestors which monitor the engine and ensures that no sparks escape to the environment which can start a forest fire. It is also common for generators to be parallel-ready. This feature allows two units to be connected together to produce twice the power. Those with plenty of devices might want one with a USB port. These are “nice to have” features, but are usually not the primary reason that consumers buy them.

Five of the Best Portable Generators for RV Campers

Considering the features above, the following are 5 portable generators which have a good following among RV campers.

Best Portable Generator for RV Camping

  1. Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Portable Inverteris rated at 1600 watts with a starting power of 2000 watts. It has a sensing mechanism for automatically adjusting the engine speed to match the output load requirements. It weighs 44 lbs and has a 1.1-gallon gas tank. It can run up to 10.5 hours at a quarter load. It has a noise level of only 51 dB. One advantage of the EF2000iSv2 is that it is one of the few eco-friendly units which can be sold in California. Yamaha is a major manufacturer and produces popular models. There are plenty of repair shops which can fix their generators.
  2. The major disadvantage of this model is the oil consumption. It is fine for the first few hundred hours. After that, the oil consumption increases, and it stays that way. It becomes necessary to add oil, whenever the gas is refilled.

 

Best Portable Generator for RV Camping

  1. Honda EU2200Ihas a rated 1800W power and 2200W starting. It has a 0.95-gallon gas tank, which allows it to run at more than 8 hours with a quarter load. It weighs only 47 lbs, with noise levels of 48 dB at 25% load. It has a 3-year warranty. It has a total harmonic distortion of 3%. It has an Eco-throttle system which allows variable speeds according to the acquired load. This greatly helps in fuel economy and efficiency. It is also CARB+ compliant. Two units of this model can be connected together to deliver twice the power. Honda is another popular brand and they have 3 years warranty on their product.

Best Portable Generator for RV Camping

  1. Westinghouse Igen2200produces 1800W rated power and 2200W starting power. It has a 1.2-gallon gas tank, and a 79 cc engine delivering 3 hp. It can run for up to 12 hours at a quarter load. It is capable of parallel operation, with an optional parallel cable connector. Westinghouse is a respected brand and their generators have a growing reputation. It has two 120V outlets and two USB ports. At 46 lbs, it is easy to carry, but it does not have any wheels. It has an auto-sensing mechanism which adjusts the work depending on the connected output. This also reduces the emissions and increases fuel economy. Like most 1800W/2200W units, the Westinghouse Igen2200 is not suitable for power tools. It also does not have wheels which help in storing it away.

 

  1. Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmartis an impressive generator inverter capable of 1700 running watts, and 2200 starting watts. Briggs & Stratton is a long time manufacturer of small engines for different uses. The unit has a one-gallon gas tank and is capable of 8 hours of operation at a quarter load. It has 3% total harmonic distortion and produces less than 60 dB of noise. It has output ports for one DC, two AC, and one USB. Weighing 54 pounds, it is heavier than most generators in the 2kW range. If there is a need for more power, it is capable of parallel-operation, which can deliver twice the capacity. It comes with a 2-year warranty.

 

  1. Champion 2000 Watt Inverter Generatorhas a uniquely shaped box design which enables users to stack one on top of another. This stacking box design comes in handy when connecting two units together in parallel. It is only 48 pounds in weight and easily carried in and out of the RV. It has a noise level of 53 dB during operation. It has a rated 1700 running watt capacity and 2000 starting watts. It can run up to 9.5 hours at a quarter load. It has a 1-gallon gas tank. It has two 120V AC outlets and a 12V DC outlet.

 

The above list of inverter generators can easily meet the requirements of an RV. In terms of usability, these are representative of the 2000W class of generators and incorporate the state of the art. Generators for campers and RVs have a unique niche where the smallest would be capable of a  maximum running load of 800W. The next larger class of generators tend to be too large and heavy to be truly portable. It would be a chore to set up and stow away after every use. Generators are no longer luxury items, but necessities for campers and RVs. When not camping, these can also be used as an emergency electrical supply in times of power failure or disasters.

Best Portable Generator for RV Camping:Waiting for you to sit on the sofa!

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