Gone are the days of camping with a monstrous diesel-powered generator which spewed fumes and generated so much noise, it scared the wild animals.
Today, you can go camping with an eco-friendly portable generator that promises to keep your phone, laptop, and cooker powered throughout the trip.
Unfortunately, finding the best camper generator that meets all your weight, portability, size, noise and reliability conditions requires a little more digging.
To save you planning time, we’ve rounded up the our favorite rv portable generators for RV living by taking into account the most reliable generators, the smallest size and the generators with the lowest noise level.
These generators are ideal for RV campers and travel trailers.
Best Portable RV Generators
Honda EU2200i Inverter Generator
- It runs for over 8 hours on just one gallon of fuel
- It needs little maintenance
- Portable as it only weighs 46 pounds
- Some parts are of a poor quality
- There are rare reports of starting issues
- It is expensive compared to other generators of its class
If you have been in search of a camping generator that emits little noise, then you should consider this Honda EU2000i Inverter Generator as it is the quietest 2000Watts generator. It runs quietly at as low noise levels as 53dB this way; you can nap comfortably or hold a conversation with this generator running. Besides running quietly, it is light, and you can carry it in and out of your RV with ease. It only weighs 46 pounds.
At 2200 volts, it gives 120 volts of power. This power is enough running a small refrigerator, microwave, hair dryers, and other small AC units. Therefore, it is the ideal camping generator. You can use it at home too or at a job site.
- Advanced Inverter Technology
Honda remains a superior brand in the world of mechanical devices. This Honda generator makes use of an advanced inverter technology which makes the generator a reliable power source for sensitive equipment like computers.
The inverter technology is responsible for the stability of the power preventing power surges which could damage your laptop. The inverter technology is also responsible for the clean power emitted in a small and light package. This technology is precise and ensures that the inverter generator produces reliable power like power from electrical outlets at home!
- Super-quiet operation
All the animals in the wild will thank you for not scaring them. This generator operates super-quietly at a range of 48 to about 57 decibels. If you are keen on noise levels around you, then you know that this is less noise than noise in normal conversations hence perfect for camping. It will also supplement RV power as well as any other quiet camping activities.
Whether you are camping in an RV or not, you need lightweight camping gear. This generator gives you exactly what you need. Thanks to Honda’s inverter technology, this generator weighs a mere 46 pounds. It is the smallest portable generator.
- Fuel efficiency
This Honda EU2000i Inverter Generator runs efficiently for up to 8.1 hours on a little under one gallon of fuel. This is possible thanks to the exclusive Eco-Throttle System. On one tank, it runs for between 3.4 and 8.1 hours. Of course, the efficiency depends on the amount of load on the generator. If you need overnight power when camping, this generator is the best fit.
- Doubling power
With the generator’s parallel capability, you can double the power. All you need to do is to add an extra EU2000i. With two identical models paralleled with an optional cable, you can get up to 4000 watts of power.
- Unregulated DC output
It has a 12v – 8.0A unregulated DC output which you can use when charging a 12-volt automotive battery. You need an alternative charging cord though.
You will get value for your money noting that this generator comes with a 3-year warranty for residential and commercial use. So, you rest easy after buying knowing that the generator will last a long time.
- Using the generator
To start it, make sure that all appliances are disconnected then turn ON the fuel valve lever. If the engine is cold, pull out the choke knob out to its closed position but leave it on if restarting a warm generator.
Turn on the engine and hold it until it starts. Gradually move the choke knob to the open position if it was closed as the engine warms up. You can use the eco mode.
To turn it off, unplug connected appliances and then turn off the engine switch and the fuel valve lever. In emergencies, just turn off the engine switch.
Finally, the generator stays safe from damage thanks to the oil alert which shuts off the engine when the oil level is low. It is also circuit protected, and this prevents overloading.
- It is lightweight weighing a mere 44 pounds
- It is super portable
- It is quiet emitting between 51 and 61 decibels of noise
- Its emission compliance is the longest
- It has a lower output than the bigger and heavier generators
- It is pricey
If you are looking for a super quiet 2000 Watts camping generator, get this coveted generator. Even though it is relatively expensive compared to other generators in its category, the price tag is worth the service it offers.
This Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is super-quiet, and despite the price tag, it is reliable. If you are an occasional camper or you just need a generator at home for occasional use, then this is the best generator for you. Despite the small size and the portability, the function of this generator is enhanced by the fuel gauge and the cut-off valve system. You will also like how it uses up all the fuel in its system preventing the lines from getting gummed and the need for constant repair. With these features in mind, this is the smallest portable generator.
- Power efficiency
This generator has 1600 running Watts for continuous use and peak power wattage of 2000. It is an inverter generator, and this means that it gives off reliable and clean power. Having an inverter generator is a plus for any outdoor enthusiast because you need to charge a laptop without frying it from unregulated power or a power surge. So, having this generator protects your devices. The 1600 running AC output and the 2000 peak AC output translate to 13.3/ 16.7 amps at 120volts.
- Quiet operation
You cannot go wrong with this generator if you are looking to create a relatively quiet camping environment. It produces noise of between 51 and 61 decibels, and with ¼ load, it only produced 51.5 decibels of noise. The low noise levels also result from the fitting with the high-tech, super quiet muffler that has an USFS-approved spark arrestor. It also features a rubber vibration isolation feet smooth operation which reduces the generator’s noise levels.
- Clean operation
The clean operation of the generator and the high-quality power come from the generator’s inverter system. Other than the inverter system, there is a Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) which ensures voltage stability remains at ±1% and the frequency stability at ±0.1HZ. The PWM has a pure sine wave that is as clean or even cleaner than the public utility power.
- Smart Throttle
The generator’s smart throttle changes the engine’s speed depending on the load. By doing this, it improves fuel efficiency and also reduces noise production. It runs for up to 10.5 hours with it has a rated load on a tank of gas.
- Longer runtime
Thanks to the Smart Throttle and the load sensing RPM control, there is increased fuel efficiency as well as noise reduction which takes place automatically as it adjusts the engine speed to match the load. With a ¼ rated load, it runs for up to 10.5 hours on one tank of gas.
- OHV Engine
This engine gives the generator an efficient, powerful and reliable performance. It is also responsible for the generator’s long life, as well as the heat dissipation mechanism. The OHV engine has a steel camshaft, a cast iron cylinder liner, and a valvetrain compartment.
- Easy starting
You wouldn’t want to spend hours looking starting a generator when darkness is taking cover, would you? Well, this generator will save you starting time given the auto-decompression system. It reduces the compression for easy starting. There also is an auto warm-up feature which increases the engine’s speed when it’s cold for the generator to handle the high power demands of appliances instantly.
- Safety and damage prevention
This generator has an oil watch warning system which prevents the engine damage resulting from low oil levels. This way, you will avoid costly repairs and also minimize the generator’s downtime. For your peace of mind and confidence in the generator, there is an electrical overload breaker that prevents any damage from in case you overload the generator.
- Centralized control of the AC/DC output
You will get easy access to the generator’s controls. The fuel gauge allows you to glance at the fuel level. There are two 120V AC outlets and one DC outlet – 8A, 12V outlet for the charging of batteries. It comes with cables.
- The Fuel Gauge and Gasoline petcock
As mentioned above, you can always tell the level of the fuel so that you don’t accidentally run out. The generator also comes with another feature, the gasoline petcock which lets you shut off the gas and to run the carb dry when not in use. This prevents state gas problems and blockages.
- Clean emissions
Thanks to the inverter technology and the stealth design of this generator with the environment in mind, it meets EPA and CARB emission Engine Durability Rating. Just like other Yamaha generators, this generator has the longest emission engine durability ratings as issued by the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the California Air Resources Board. It is acceptable for use in 50 states.
This Yamaha EF2000iSv2 has an ‘economy’ mode switch. In the ‘on’ position, the RV generator regulated the engine’s speed depending on the load.
- How to connect it to the rig
To connect a rig to this unit, you will need a puck adapter. With a 50Amp RV, you’ll require a 50Amp to a 20 Amp adapter. On the other end, a 30Amp RV requires a 30 amp adapter that works with a 30amp RV receptacle. To tell the features of your RV and generator, look at the number of prongs on the RV’s power cord. Three prongs mean that you have a 30amps and four prongs mean that you have a 50amps.
To connect them, pull the RV’s power cord then attach the adapter to the shore power cord’s male end. Next, connect the male end of the adapter to the 15 amp plug located on the side of the RV generator. Before turning it on, you should turn off all high-draw appliances so that the RV generator doesn’t have a difficult time starting.
It has a three-year warranty
- Starting your Yamaha EF2000iSv2
To start it, turn OFF the economy control switch and the air vent on the fuel cap, fuel cock, and the engine switch ON.
Pull the choke OUT fully unless the unit is warm then pull the starter cord fast without letting it snap back as it can damage the starter.
Let it run for 3 minutes if cold then turn ON the economy control switch.
- Switching off the Yamaha EF2000iSv2
Turn OFF the economy control switch, disconnect the electrical devices, STOP the engine, switch OFF the fuel cock and the air vent on the fuel cap.
Champion 3100-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator
- It is easy to start
- It is a high-performance generator
- It is CARB-compliant
- Works well in extreme weather
- It is affordable
- It runs quietly producing on 58 decibels of noise
- It is efficient running for 8 hours with ¼ load and a 1.6-gallon fuel tank.
- In rare cases, it stops working the first time
- It is on the heavy side and weighs 80 pounds. It is only ideal for RVing.
If you are looking for a generator that offers a double dose of versatility and convenience, then you should consider this RV-Ready Champion 75531i 3100-Watt Portable Inverter Generator. Though it isn’t the lightest generator, it offers more power than other generators. It is, however, cheaper than other generators in its category. It emits 58 decibels of noise and runs efficiently for 8 hours on a 1.6-gallon fuel tank.
- Ease of use
The generator has a Quick Touch Panel that gives access to all controls in one place. Also, this generator has a safe design that includes a low oil shut off-off sensor. It also holds 0.6 quarts of oil that is within the recommended level of 10W – 30 for the ambient operation of this Champion generator. You will also enjoy the conveniently located push-to-reset circuit breakers which make is easier to use this generator.
- Setup and storage
Since it comes fully assembled, it has a hassle-free setup. Storage is also easy with the foldaway U-Shaped handle. There also is the built-in carrying handles and the never-flat tires in the wheel kit which makes transportation of the generator easy.
- Ultra-quiet operation
At only 58dBA, this generator runs quietly. It is therefore ideal for RVing, camping, tailgating, job sites, and you can also use it as a backup power source in case of a storm.
- High power efficiency
This RV-Ready Champion 75531i 3100-Watt Portable Inverter Generator runs efficiently on a 177 single cylinder Champion engine to the 3100 watts peak power output and the running power output which stands at 2800 watts and lasts for 8 hours. With all this power, this is the most powerful generator.
- Clean energy
As a portable inverter generator, it gives clean energy for use with sensitive electronic devices. The inverter technology makes a generator reliable, gives clean energy and prevents power surges protecting electronics.
For RV-readiness, this generator has a 120V 30A RV and two 120V 20A household outlets as well as a clean power 12V DC outlet. It emits less than 3% of THD.
The generator features a reliable recoil start, and there also is a Cold Start Technology which ensures that the generator is up and running soon after even in cold weather.
You are assured of safety when using this generator thanks to the low-oil shut-off sensor.
You have the Smart Economy Mode which reduces the electric load. The economy mode also makes for a quieter operation. It also extends the engine’s life while increasing the fuel consumption efficiency.
- CARB & EPA Compliance
This generator is both EPA and CARB compliant meaning that it is eco-friendly.
It comes with a three-year limited warranty.
- Using the generator
To use it, make sure that the generator is placed on level ground. It should be disconnected from all electrical loads.
Once disconnected, switch the fuel valve ON, and pull the choke out to the start position. You should also switch ON the engine and pull the starter cord. Once the generator is running smoothly, push the choke down on to the run position. You can then connect the loads, select the Economy mode if you desire and use DC (but with the economy mode off).
You can easily connect it to a rig, and you don’t even need an adapter. It has a 30 RV outlet, and if you intend to use it on a 50 amp rig, then you will need to get a 50 to a 30amp adapter.
To switch it off, disconnect the loads first and then let it run for a few minutes without the load. You can then turn off the fuel valve unit until it reaches the fuel starvation level and it stops on its own. Turn off the engine.
What happens when a generator runs in a high-altitude area?
If you intend on camping at a high altitude, you should know about the effects of altitude on the efficiency of the generator.
The engine’s output drops at high altitude because of reduced air density which drops by 3.5% for every 1000 feet elevation. So, at altitudes above 3500 feet, you should consider altering your unit. Getting a high-altitude carburetor main jet is one of the best ways of keeping the performance of the generator high.
You shouldn’t, however, use the main jet at low altitudes because that will damage the engine.
WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
- It is super-quiet
- It is lightweight
- It is affordable
- Its performance is inferior to the performance of Yamaha and Honda generators
- It is relatively heavy in comparison to Yamaha and Honda
Being one of the smallest portable generators on the market, this WEN generator makes a great fit for camping and RVing. It is reliable and it runs quietly with the noise it produces comparable to the sound of normal human conversations according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. It is also one of the cheapest 2000W generators and ideal for use by individuals on a budget. Its biggest competition is Yamaha and Honda and going by the price alone; this WEN generator wins the race.
From the stellar reviews about this generator, it is arguably one of the best lightweight 2000W generators. Its small size and the low decibel rating of 51 dB make it a great pick.
It has 2000 surge watts at its peak output and 1600 Watts when running continuously. Alongside the high-power is the inverter generator which makes the generator even more reliable and eco-friendly. The inverter technology gives off reliable and clean power. It also protects sensitive electronics from damage coming from power surges. So, you don’t have to worry about the generator frying your phone or your laptop when charging.
- Quiet operation
As mentioned above, it produces 51 decibels of noise which is quiet and comparable to the noise made by humans when conversing. It comes with two 120V outlets plus one UDB outlet.
- Lightweight design
At only 48 lbs. it is one of the lightest and the best camper generators in terms of portability. Enhancing portability is the convenient carrying handle.
This generator maximizes fuel consumption thanks to its Eco-Mode. This mode allows the generator to adjust its fuel consumption automatically. At half-load, it runs for 6 hours on 1 gallon of fuel. So, it is efficient, and the runtime increases at quarter-load.
- Minimal Harmonic Distortion
It has a total harmonic distortion of less than 1.2 percent off from the true Sine wave. With this, this WEN generator handles the most sensitive electronics.
- Ease of use
Other than the eco-mode the generator has indicator lights for output, low oil, and overload. It comes with a 2-year warranty.
- How do I connect my generator to RV and what’s needed?
If this is your first time trying out this WEN generator, you will need to make use of the two-three prong 120V receptacles with one 12V DC receptacle and a 5V USB port. You also need an adapter to connect this rig to the generator. With a 50amp RV, you will need a 50 to 15 amp adapter, and with a 30amp RV, you’ll need a 30 to 15 amp adapter.
Still confused? To determine what size generator for 30 amp RV or what size generator for 50 amp RV, here is a simpler explanation: look at your RV’s power cord on the outside in a storage box. If there are three prongs, then yours is a 30amps RV and a 50amp if it has four prongs!
To connect it, pull the power cord out from the RV then connect it to the male plug on the RV’s side. Make sure you attach the adapter to the rig’s power cord end. Connect the 15amp plug end of the adapter to the 15amp plug on the generator. Plug it in before or after starting the generator.
- Using the WEN generator
Turn OFF the economy control switch, keel the air vent in the fuel cap on as well as the fuel dock and the engine switch. You can then pull the choke carefully out unless it is warm.
Then, pull the start cord quickly being careful not to let it snap back into place lest it damages the starter.
Let the engine run for three minutes if cold then switch on the economy control switch.
- How to stop the generator
Switch off the economy control then disconnect the electrical devices. You can then stop the engine, the fuel cock knob, and the air vent.
- CARB Compliance
This generator is CARB and EPA III compliant. The 79.7cc stroke OHV engine is efficient and the emissions within the acceptable range.
For safety, this generator features a low-oil shutdown, overload protection, and low-fuel automatic shutdown.
Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Portable 2200-Watt Inverter Generator
- It has a lightweight build: weighs 55lbs
- It is quieter than most generators in its class
- It is portable
- Delivers a lot of power
- It may stop after a few hours of use
- It takes a few attempts to start
- It cannot be shipped to California
Briggs & Stratton is a big name in the mechanical world, and it prides itself in some of the most versatile outdoor and indoor appliances. This generator is portable, and it has a sturdy housing which makes it ideal for outdoor use.
This generator has a running power of 1700 watts and a maximum surge power output of 2200 watts. It is one of the quietest generators in its category. It is also fuel efficient with a 111cc OHV engine. The engineering of this generator features H-handle design which makes it easy to transport. Unlike other generators, one or two people can carry this generator. Other features of this generator include:
- Quiet Power Technology
It is easy to use, and at the flip of a switch, its Quiet Power Technology automatically adjust the engine’s speed reducing noise emission while increasing run time and fuel efficiency. It only produces 59 decibels of noise at 25 percent load. Therefore, you can hold a conversation with this generator running thanks to the inverter technology.
The sound level of this generator will vary depending on the location and the proximity. The 59 decibels produced is when the noise is measured at ¼ load at 7 meters away from the side of the control panel.
It is power efficient. One gallon of fuel gives a run time of 8 hours at only 25 percent load.
- Various outlets
There are two 120V-20A household outlets and one 12V-20A DC outlet. Included is a USB adapter which offers the flexibility to power sensitive electronics and essential appliances.
- Parallel Capabilities
It comes with a dedicated parallel connector port which allows connection of two PowerSmart Series inverter generators together. The parallel capability allows pulling more power without sacrificing any household power outlet. A P2200 can be parallel to another P2200 or a P3000.
- How to use the generator
To connect the generator to a rig, you have to get the right receptacle. You will need a 120V AC single-phase 60HZ electrical loads that require up to 1700 watts of current. You should also use a cord set rated for 125 volts AC loads at 15 amps or greater.
The maximum current available for a 12-volt DC receptacle is 60 watts. Fortunately, it comes with a circuit breaker which protects the receptacle from possible overloads.
To start it, disconnect it from electrical loads then switch on the fuel valve, pull out the choke to start position, switch on the engine and pull the starter cord briskly. You can push back the choke once the generator is running smoothly.
To shut off the generator, disconnect all the loads and then let it run for a few minutes without any load. You can then turn off the fuel valve until the generator is completely starved of fuel and it stops automatically. You can then switch off the engine.
The generator comes with a 2-year warranty for residential use and 1-year warranty for commercial use.
Buying Guide for Camping Generators
When buying a camping generator, you will realize that there are many details you need to keep under consideration. While the brand says something about the generator, determining the best camper generator is more than the name. You need to find answers to the following questions:
How Loud Is The Camping Generator?
You don’t want to be the guy who uses a loud camping generator killing the peace and making the outdoors scary even for wild animals. You also need to note that the best camping generator allows you to hold a normal conversation as it runs. Therefore, you have to look for the quietest camping generator you can find. The monstrous and extremely loud generators are cheap, but there are cheap but quiet generators too.
What Are Your Power Needs?
Determine how much power you need when camping. Unless you intend to keep the air conditioning on, you will be fine with a 2000Watts camping generator. Otherwise, you will have to get two 2000W generators or one powerful generator.
As long as you don’t load many appliances at once, you can use a 2000W generator to power a microwave.
This brings us to the number of generator watts to consider for running your air conditioner. The right generator depends on the size of the air conditioner and the AC’s starting and running watts. You need more watts to start than running your air conditioner. A 3000 watts generator is preferable to a 2000 watts generator for starting and running an air conditioner.
Inverter Generators Or Conventional Generators
Inverter generators aren’t just eco-friendly, but they also contribute to the low noise emissions of the generators. You also need to consider getting an inverter generator as it will prevent energy surges. Lastly, conventional generators will fry your laptop and phone easily, but the inverter generator prevents frying of sensitive electronics. The price shouldn’t be your biggest worry because there are several affordable inverter generators.
You also need an inverter generator because it will charge your RV batteries and it can replace the solar charger on cloudy days. You can also use it to run high-wattage appliances like microwaves and AC units. The versatility of the inverter battery comes from the fact that it powers your interior/ household 120V AC outlets. The household power outlets will not work if you lack an inverter generator. A conventional generator won’t do all this, and it is loud.
Why Is Portability Critical When Buying A Camping Generator?
Even though generators are commonly used by RVers, truck and tent campers can use them too. So, if you intend to go camping and to keep your electronics powered, and you don’t have a solar power source, you should consider getting the best camper generator that runs quietly.
When looking for a portable camping generator, you should consider the emission ratings, the warranty period and the cost of the generator.
With a portable generator, you will be able to charge your RV batteries by connecting them to a rig.
How Much Should I Spend?
Though they are the best and they enhance camping etiquette, the smallest portable generators and the best low noise generators aren’t cheap. You will have to part with a bit of money. Consider the design, size and the wattage. The price will range from $500 up to $3,000. When buying a generator, you get what you pay for.
30 AMP & 50 AMP Generator Adapters
Most generators aren’t designed for use in RVs. Therefore, you have to get an adapter unless you want to get the generator home only to realize that it lacks a plug that fits the power cord from the RV.
2000 Watt generators
A 2000 watt generator comes with a standards 120v amp outlet which is like the one on the outside of your RV or even the house. To use the generator, you have to buy an adapter for you 30/ 50amp shore power cord plugs in powering your RV.
How will you know if you have a 50amp or a 30amp power cord? Look at the number of male prongs. 30amp cords have three male prongs, and 50amp cords have five male prongs. Note that the adapter will either come in the hockey puck style or the bone dog style.
3000 Watt generators
On the other hand, if you have a 3000-watt generator, you’ll be dealing with a 30amp, 125V outlet. This isn’t compatible with your RV’s power cord unless you have an RV-ready generator. Since there is a high likelihood of you owning a generator that isn’t RV-ready, you’ll have to buy an adapter that plugs into a 30amps, 125V outlet on the generator. This way, you will plug in either a 30amp or a 50amp power cord.
You know if you have a 30amp or a 50amp power cord by looking at the number of prongs on the power cord. There are three and four prongs on a 30amp and a 50amp power cord respectively.
Safety precautions when using generators
- You shouldn’t use a generator in the rain or snow
- You shouldn’t use the generator indoors because the generators put out carbon monoxide.
- Ensure that the exhaust faces away from the rig
The best camper generators are powerful, quiet, portable, and they also protect your electronic appliances. Keep your budget in mind but always look for an eco-friendly, safe, EPA and CARB compliant generator.
I am a well traveled Marine Corps veteran that enjoys the outdoor and nomadic lifestyle that RV living provides. I am also a member of the National RV Inspectors Association (NRVIA.org). As the founder of Camperguide.org my goal is to provide you with well researched information so that you can enjoy the best of the RV lifestyle.