The Best Generators for Travel Trailers—A Comprehensive Buying Guide
Imagine heading out on the open road with your travel trailer. On the way, you’re already dreaming of your destination—the barren and beautiful Arizona desert. You wake up to the sun drenching the fascinating rock formations that surround you, bringing their orange colors to life. You chose to boondock, there is no-one around for miles, so it feels like this morning is a show being put on just for you.
Being surrounded by nature without anyone else around or the fuss of a campground is many camper’s dream. But, what if the weather changes unexpectedly, or you need to charge your cell phone, or you don’t want to just sit in the dark at night?
Having an AC, a working cell phone, and lights among other things can make a huge difference in the enjoyment of your trip and your safety. A generator can help make you feel like your travel trailer is your home away from home even in the desert.
Most travel trailers do not come with an onboard generator. Choosing one is a big decision, and with all of the choices out there, it’s difficult to know what the best generators for travel trailers are. In this article, I will walk you through the process of choosing the best generator for your travel trailer so you can get out into nature with ease.
Types Of Generators For Travel Trailers
Travel trailers come in all different shapes and sizes with numerous different features—and so do the best generators for travel trailers. It’s all about gathering all of the essential information and assessing your specific needs. What works best for your friend’s travel trailer isn’t going to necessarily work for you.
For example, if you are only going to need to charge the travel trailer’s deep cycle batteries and you just want to run a few small appliances, a smaller portable generator will work. However, if you are going to be off of the beaten path for a while, you may need to use your AC and major appliances. In this case, you will need a larger generator with more power.
First off, you need to consider which type of fuel you would prefer to use. Portable generators can run on gasoline, diesel, or propane. There are also dual-fuel models that allow you to switch between fuel sources. Dual-fuel generators can be great if you are on a long trek and prefer to use propane, but propane is not available where you are. If this happens, you can simply switch to gasoline which is readily available almost anywhere.
The fuel type you choose will significantly impact how the generator functions, how long it will last, how easy it is to access, and how much it will cost.
These generators require a separate propane tank just like the one you would use for fueling your grill. Propane is a clean-burning fuel which means it is better for the environment and your generator.
- Will not degrade in storage
- Safer to store than gasoline
- Propane is non-toxic and produces fewer emissions than other fuel types
- Generators that use propane typically require less maintenance than those that use other fuel types
- Not as efficient as diesel or gasoline
- Fewer generator options available
This is the most common fuel source option. It is easy to acquire and less expensive to buy. However, it is highly flammable and may not be safe to store in extremely dry climates.
- Gas-powered generators are typically less expensive.
- More efficient than propane but less efficient than diesel
- Easy to find, so it’s there when you need it
- Gas-powered generators may require more upkeep
- Has a relatively low shelf life
This is the most powerful type of generator. Diesel generators are also cleaner burning than gas generators but not as clean as propane.
- Requires less maintenance than gas generators
- The most efficient fuel type
- Should be run regularly
- Diesel is on the more expensive end as are diesel generators
Which Should You Choose?
In most cases, especially if you have a mid-sized travel trailer that uses a moderate amount of power, a gas-powered generator is your best option. Most of the best generators for travel trailers that I will recommend use gasoline as their only fuel source.
What Size Generator Do You Need?
How much power you think you will need on your trip will determine the size of generator you need will need. Generators for travel trailers can range from a 500-watt all the way up to 6500 watts.
If you only need to charge the deep cycle batteries and use a moderate amount of power, a small portable generator in the 2000-2500 watt range should do the trick.
This would be enough power for your refrigerator, microwave, and most other devices and appliances. But, with a smaller generator like this, you may not be able to power your AC, or you won’t be able to use any other appliances while your AC is on.
If you want to be able to power just about anything in your travel trailer including your AC—you will want to invest in a 3000-4000 watts portable generator. However, the size of your air conditioner will also play a part in the size of generator you need. If you go with a large enough generator, you will be able to power your AC and your much-needed coffee maker at the same time.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that most generators for travel trailers have both a starting watt and running watt rating.
So, you use your 3400W (the starting watt rating) generator to start your AC which runs at 2000W. After it has been started, your generator is now functioning at about 3100W (the running watt rating), so you now have around 1100W to use on other devices or appliances.
Inverter vs. Conventional Generators—Which is Best?
There are two basic types of generators available for your travel trailer—conventional and inverter.
This is a light, quiet, and efficient option. Most come with surge protection which produces a more stable power stream. A stable power stream is essential for sensitive devices like laptops and cell phones. However, depending on the size they can still provide enough power to run an air conditioner as well as other appliances.
- Small, light, and portable options
- Long run time
- Much quieter than conventional generators
- Higher fuel efficiency
- Higher quality power output
- Less power output
- Typically more expensive
This is the classic type of travel trailer generators that have been around for quite some time and have remained pretty much unchanged. They will work if you need a substantial amount of power for you AC or if you just want to keep your fridge cold but aren’t concerned about sensitive devices.
- Long run time
- Can be rated anywhere from 500-50,000 watts
- The less expensive option
- Large, heavy, and bulky
- Much louder than inverter generators
- Less fuel efficient
- Less quality power output
Which Should You Choose?
Some consider inverter generators the only option. They are my choice as well for many reasons. As you can see they have much fewer cons compared to conventional generators and in my opinion, their pros far out weight their cons.
One of the main reasons I recommend inverter generators is the fact that they are substantially quieter than conventional generators. All of the quietest generators for travel trailers are inverter generators whereas many conventional generators are in the same noise range as a lawnmower.
When you are trying to enjoy the peacefulness of nature, have a simple conversation, or if you have neighbors nearby, you will be happy you chose an inverter generator.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Generator
Before we introduce the best generators for travel trailers, there are a few more things you should consider when trying to choose which one will work best for you. While they are all quality generators, there is only one that will be your perfect fit.
Your Specific Power Needs
Are you the basic camper who just needs to power the fridge and microwave? Or, are you going cross-country and need full-power? More power is typically recommended and will meet any changing needs.
You don’t want your travels to be a hassle. Choose a power source for your travel trailer that you can easily move and is convenient to handle. Portable inverter generators are typically not too heavy and bulky, especially when compared to conventional generators.
You will want to choose a generator that is only running full-throttle when necessary. The right generator should be able to automatically lower the engine speed when you’re using light appliances to save fuel consumption.
Your generator should be easy for you to use. You should consider any extra features you may want for easy and convenient operation. This might include low-oil shutdown which prevents damage to the engine if the oil gets to low. A visible fuel gauge, an LCD screen, a voltmeter, or even a wireless remote are all great features.
Determine how much noise you can tolerate—even when you’re sleeping. A quiet generator will keep you from annoying your neighbors and yourself. Also, remember that many national parks have noise limitations. Many only allow up to 60 decibels at a 50ft distance.
Of course, the cost is a huge consideration. Keep in mind there are plenty of budget-friendly quality inverter generator options. You don’t necessarily have to resort to a conventional generator because of the price.
Top 7 Best Generators for Travel Trailers
1.Yamaha EF2400ISHC Portable Inverter
The Yamaha EF2400ISHC is a durable generator that produces electricity comparable to what your electric company may offer. This makes it safe for sensitive electronics. It also has the power to run your high wattage devices like microwaves and heaters.
It has a 2400 watt starting power rating and a 2000 watt running power rating. It should power most air conditioners rated below 13,500 BTU. However, you will not be able to run the AC while you use any other appliances.
This is a quiet generator with 53 decibels of noise at 25% load and 60 decibels at full load. Its fuel efficient 1.6-gallon gas tank can run for a minimum of eight hours at 25% load. This model features a fuel gauge allowing you to monitor the current gas level at a glance. It also automatically adjusts the engine speed to match the output load and has multiple power outlets.
2. Champion Power Equipment 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator
This is a dual-fuel generator rated at 3400 starting watts and 3100 running watts. This is enough to power a variety of appliances including your AC. You should also be able to run your AC while using other appliances. The energy it produces is safe for your sensitive electronics.
At a quarter load, this generator produces 59 decibels of noise. It can run around seven hours when using gas and up to fourteen hours when using propane.
This model offers a variety of user-friendly features such as an electric start button, low oil shut down, USB, two household outlets, and an easy access panel with RV-ready TT-30 plug. It also features an economy mode which will change its speed according to the output load.
3. Generac 7117 GP2200I Portable Inverter Generator
This is a lighter, smaller, and more compact generator with one focus—power. It does not have many extra features, but what it does do it does well. It has a 2200 starting watt rating with a 1600 running watt rating. This should power many different things on your camping trip but will not power a 13500 BTU air conditioning unit.
The 1.2-gallon tank will run for over seven hours at 50% load and over ten hours at 25%. The Generac 7117 GP2200I does not come with a fuel gauge for easy monitoring or many of the other bells and whistles that other generators offer. However, it does still offer an economy mode adjusting its speed to power output and is a quality budget-friendly option.
4. Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000 RV Ready Generator
This generator is designed with travelers in mind. It features a luggage-style retractable handle, a two-person carry handle, and can go across rough terrain with ease.
Equipped with a 1.5-gallon tank, this machine can run for up to 10 hours at 25% load. It is safe to use with sensitive devices. It has a starting watt rating of 3000 watts and a running watt rating of 2600 watts. This is enough power to run almost anything in your travel trailer including your AC.
This model boasts multiple user-friendly features. Such features include an LCD screen and maintenance reminders. It also has a convenient control panel and is fuel efficient.
5. Champion Power Equipment 3500W RV Ready Portable Generator
This is a durable and powerful generator for your travel trailer. It boasts an impressive starting watt rating of 4000 watts and a 3500 running watt rating. This should easily be enough power to run most anything in your travel trailer including the AC and even the full lighting system.
The Champion Power Equipment 3500W is protected by a steel frame and contains a 3.8-gallon gas tank. At a 50% load, this generator will give you a runtime of more than twelve hours. Still, it has a built-in surge protector that will protect your appliances or devices from voltage fluctuation.
While not the lightest or quietest, this generator has many user-friendly features. Such features include multiple power outlets, circuit breakers, low-oil shutoff sensors, and easy monitoring. It is also a great generator to have when in cold weather because of Champion’s “Cold Start Technology.”
6. Honda EU2200i Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator
This is known to be a reliable generator. It provides stable power for sensitive devices. While it will run many of the various appliances and devices on your trip, it may not power your air conditioning unit. It has a starting watt rating of 2200 watts and a running watt rating of 1800 watts.
This is a high-performance fuel-efficient option with an eco-friendly throttle. It is also one of the quietest generators available running at only 48-57 decibels at 20 feet.
The Honda EU2200i Super Quiet has a run time of about 4-9 hours. This model includes features like an electric circuit breaker, low-oil alert, and double power parallel capability. One of this model’s best features is how light-weight and compact it is making it easy to move and store.
7. Wen 56200i 2000 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
This is a lightweight generator at only 48 pounds. It has a 2000 starting watt rating with a 1600 running watt rating. It also supplies clean energy free of voltage spikes or drops protecting your sensitive devices.
The WEN 56200i 2000-Watt is quiet too at only around 51 decibels. Its eco-mode keeps it fuel efficient while being able to power many of your appliances or devices.
Its one-gallon tank will also provide over six hours of run time on half load. The WEN 56200i features low-oil and low-fuel automatic shut down with indicator lights and overload protection. This is also a budget-friendly option
Which Should You Choose?
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that come into play when choosing a generator for your travel trailer. It is essential to consider your specific needs when deciding which generator will work best for you.
However, my pick for the best generator for travel trailers is the Champion Power Equipment 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator.
It’s hard to beat the Champion Power Equipment 3400-Watt. It provides enough power to run just about anything anywhere. This way you don’t have to limit the length of your trip or where you’re going because of a generator. It is quiet, fuel efficient, and comes with great user-friendly features. The dual fuel option widens your possibilities and it comes at a great price for the value.
The Bottom Line *Plus A Few Bonus Tips
Even if you enjoy roughing it in the great outdoors, a week without a shower can be a lot for anyone to take. The right generator can make all the difference to the overall enjoyment and safety of your trip.
Likewise, the wrong generator can potentially ruin your camping trip. This is why it is essential to take in as much information as possible and consider your expectations before making a buying decision. This list includes some of the best generators for travel trailers on the market. Generally, my number one pick is going to be the Champion Power Equipment 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator.
Now, it’s time for you to choose what’s right for you so you can head out beyond the limits of a campground and get deep into nature.
Here are a few bonus tips for maintaining your new generator:
- When not in use store properly
- Get it serviced regularly
- Don’t use old fuel
- Run your generator regularly
- Clean the batteries
- Regularly check your oil
Quick Q&A Overview
Do any travel trailers have generators?
Typically your new travel trailer will not come with an onboard generator. If you are able to find a travel trailer with an onboard generator, it will likely be a fifth-wheel or a toy hauler.
Can you run a generator while driving an RV?
Short answer, yes. However, for the most part, this is not necessary.
Can a generator run an RV air conditioner?
Absolutely! You will just need to consider the size of both your generator and AC.
What size generator do I need to run my RV air conditioner?
This depends on if you only want to run your AC or you AC and other appliances at the same time. See the chart under “What Size Generator Do You Need” for more information.
How big of a generator do I need for a travel trailer?
Generators come in all different sizes just like travel trailers. The size you need will depend mainly on how much power you need. See the section “What Size Generator Do You Need” for more information.
What is the quietest generator for RV?
My choice for the quietest portable generator for a travel trailer is the Honda EU2200i SUPER QUIET at only 48 dB. @ 25% load.
What’s the best inverter generator to buy?
This depends on your specific needs. However, my choice for the best inverter generator for travel trailers is the Champion Power Equipment 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator.