How to Select the Best RV Generator for Your RV

A reliable source of power is necessary on the road. Full time RVers especially need an RV generator, as you never know where you may camp next. RV generators are specifically built for RV appliances, and cost more than portable generators.

RV-Install- generator

Choosing a Fuel for Your RV Generator

RV generators are designed to run on different types of fuel. The type of fuel you choose should be whatever is most compatible with your travels.

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You will need to know the type of fuel your current RV generator uses, if you are replacing a generator in a used RV. Also, measure the generator compartment to ensure a good fit.

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  • Diesel-powered RV generator. Diesel burns cleaner than gasoline, and produces more power than propane. If your RV uses diesel fuel, get a dialed generator.
  • Liquid propane-powered RV generator. Compared to gas or diesel, propane produces about 10% less power. However, it has a longer shelf life.
  • Gasoline-powered RV generator. Gasoline is cheap, and can be found everywhere, which is why this is a favorite fuel among RVers. It is a highly-flammable fuel though, and burns through faster than diesel does.

Gasoline vs. Propane

These two fuels are the most popular options for RVers. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages. The fuel you choose should be dependent on your RVing lifestyle.

Propane Rv generator installation

Propane generators score a zero against the portability of a gasoline tank. A propane generator needs to be powered using a propane tank.

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Propane and gasoline costs can vary widely, but heat output is always constant. Propane produces about 91,500 BTUs per gallon, while gasoline produces 125,000 BTUs per gallon.

Propane lasts longer than gasoline does. It is stored in a canister and cannot degrade, even if used once a year. Gasoline, on the other hand, has a shorter expiration date, and should not be stored in your house, garage or RV.

How Much Power Does My RV Generator Need to Produce?

You definitely don’t want too much power, or you could blow every circuit in your RV. And you don’t want too little, as you won’t be able to power some appliances.

Look around your RV for all the appliances that use 120 volts. Add these all up.

Air conditioners use the most power in an RV, and have different startage and running-wattage requirements. All this will help you come up with a minimum wattage requirement. (Minimum as– you may carry some accessories with you, that will require extra wattage.)

Remember, this is the power requirement for all the appliances that you will be running at the same time.

Watts = Volts x Amps

If you are permanently installing a generator into your RV, a transfer switch automatically switches the generator on and off, as required, depending on whether you are connected to the electric grid. You can then plug your accessories in the power outlets as usual. Never operate generators indoors, and never refuel them while they are running.

Choosing a Portable RV Generator
Modern RVs are just as cozy as home, making boondocking a pleasant experience. You need a generator, if you like to go miles away from electricity in your RV, but still want to enjoy the comforts of modern-day living.

Portable generator
An RV class generator is the best way to go if you do not have one already. It has 3x the horsepower of ordinary generators. They are also built for years of continuous use. A portable generator is a viable option, but you need to save your dollars for an RV class generator.
Size matters when it comes to power, but you do not want something too bulky. The size of your air conditioner will determine how big a generator you need. It consumes the most wattage.
For example, if your air conditioner requires 2800 – 3000 starting watts, and 1500 – 2000 running watts, a 3,000 watt RV generator will be sufficient for working your air conditioner.
Do you need to microwave something (1000 watts), maybe keep your beers cold in the fridge (600 watts), listen to the radio (50 to 200 watts), or watch TV (120-200 watts), perhaps?
Maybe all you need is your coffee in the morning– so that 600-watt coffee maker needs to be in working condition. Laptop (250 watts), heater (1300 watts), and lights whose light bulbs have the wattage written on them also consume more wattage. Figure out your minimum wattage before going to purchase anything.
Generators also have a maximum starting wattage, and a maximum running wattage.

As in the example of the 3,000-watt generator, it may only be rated for 2600 watts for long term use.
Appliances, such as your air conditioner, also have a lower running wattage. In this scenario we shall use, say 2400 watts. So you have 200 watts to use on another appliance. Needless to say if you want to power a fridge, laptop, and everything else, you need a larger generator.

Noise levels should also be considered when buying an RV generator. Your generator should not be a nuisance, to you or anybody else. Another important consideration is weight.

The bigger it is, the heavier its bound to be, and the more power you can get out of it.
You may need some accessories to connect your portable generator to your RV. Extension power cords are also a good idea, as they let you place the generator far from your RV, if noise is a real problem for you.

Selecting a Style for Your RV Generator

RV generators run quieter, are more reliable, but also more expensive than conventional generators. Several manufacturers offer numerous RV generators. The best RV generator for you is the one that provides the power you need, at the noise level you are comfortable with.

Pull string  portable RV generator.

Some generators start, like lawn mowers, with a pull start. Others simply require the turn of a key. Remote start generators are also available, making it unnecessary for you to walk out of your RV in the middle of the night to switch it off, or on…

portable remote controlled generator
  • Does the RV generator have its own enclosure?
  • Does it have parallel jacks?
  • How much fuel do I need? The size of the tank will determine how long the generator can run continuously. What your ideal time frame in-between re-fuels?
  • Which safety features does it have? Does it come with accessories, such as mufflers or adapters or cords?
  • What is the warranty like?

Choose what works best for your situation.

Best RV Generators

  • ETQ TG1200
TG 1200 generator

This generator runs for eight hours on a 1-gallon tank, at half load. It has a 65-db noise level, and can run 1200-watt peak power, but 100 watts at continuous use.

  • Honeywell HW2000i
Honeywell generator

For those on a really tight budget, the Honeywell would be a suitable cheap RV generator. Its 2000-watt engine has two power outlets, and costs $500.

  • ETQ TG32P12
ETQ TG32P12 portable generator
This generator is priced between $320 and $520. It isn’t portable, in the sense of the word, as it weighs 165 pounds, but its size is the reason for its power. It can power one major appliance, such as the air conditioner, and one small appliance such as a rice cooker. Or it can run seven small appliances at once. The 4-gallon tank will give you 13 hours of continuous running time, at 50% load.
  • Generac 5724
Generac generator

This generator retails for about $500 . It has a wheeled cart that makes movement easy, and a generator muffler to keep the noise down.

  • Honda EU2000iA
Honda generator

Honda knows how to build engines. This generator will give you 1600 watts of power. Honda generators have a 3-year warranty, and are very portable.

  • Yamaha EF30ISEBH
yamaha

Seasoned RVers say that this generator will work just fine for all your needs.

Remember that you need to maintain your generator. If left unused, the fuel in the generator will degrade and become gummy. This will cause damage to your generator. Run the generator every 2 weeks, or at least every month, with at least half a load on it for 2 to three hours. If you have access to electricity, plug in your RV generator and let it run a little.

In conclusion, here is a summary:

Check the oil.

Fix fuel leaks, and ensure any filters and monitors that need replacing, are replaced.

Above all keep your RV generator as clean as possible, and you can expect it to serve you for a few years.

Thanks for reading!

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