2021’s Best Portable Generators For RV: Top 6 Generators For Every Budget

  • RV Hub

Not everywhere you go is going to have access to recharging stations.

While solar panels are good, they’re nothing on cloudy days.

For those, you’re going to need a portable generator to carry out the tougher tasks.

We’ve gone through power ratings, starting versus running power, and every little detail that goes into a complex piece of electrical equipment like this.

Let’s start with the best, based on durability and energy ratings, and go on from there.

Here's The Best Portable Generator For Your RV At A Quick Glance

Champion 3500

Why is it better?

Champion 3500-Watt RV Review

6 Best Portable Generators For Your Rv

With that in mind, let’s now take a closer look at our top picks.

TOP PICK
Champion 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator, 46596 model
Rating
-
More Information
RUNNER-UP
Honda EU2000I 2000 Watt Portable Generator with Inverter
Rating
-
More Information
WEN 56200i 2000-Watt Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator, CARB Compliant
Rating
-
More Information
BEST BUDGET
Durostar DS4000S Portable Generator, Yellow/Black
Rating
-
More Information
Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator with Remote Electric Start 7500 Rated Watts & 9500 Peak Watts, Gas Powered, CARB Compliant, Transfer Switch Ready
Rating
-
More Information
Briggs & Stratton 30545 Inverter Generator, Gray
Rating
More Information

Let’s dive into the specifics and review each portable generator individually. You can use the list below to jump and review specific models, or you can read along and go through all the information.

Best Overall: Champion 3500

This Champion portable generator stole our hearts with this stellar solution. Every which way you look, there’s something to benefit from.

As loud as a vacuum cleaner and compact enough for mobile storage, this 140lb portable unit gives you 12 hours of runtime and supports up to 15,000 BTUs of power for air conditioners. For a little perspective, that’s powerful enough to heat or cool up to 875 square feet.

This requires 3.8 gallons of gasoline for a full run and comes with a 0.6-gallon oil tank. One of our favorite parts of this unit is the ample electrical outlet supply that also comes with Volt Guard’s built-in surge protection to provide a safe shield.

You get a 120V 30A RV outlet, as well as a 120V 30A locking outlet, and two 120V 20A outlets for basic household items/small appliances.

Smaller though important features, such as the three-way electric ignition, are fantastic additions that minimize your time to get set up, including cold start technology for every weather condition.

Comes with a Champion-made engine, so you won’t have to have separate warranty information for the engine versus the electrical system/battery.

With large purchases like these, warranty information is always a must – the last thing you want is for your investment to be squandered.

Champion gives you three years on the warranty, and just for being a customer, you get free technical support for the rest of your life. EPA-certified, CARB compliant, and ready to fuel your off-the-grid lifestyle.

PROS

  • Excellent runtime of 12 hours
  • Above-average warranty at three years, including free-for-life technical support

CONS

  • No Eco-Mode feature available
  • Slightly loud model

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Durable wheels make moving this heavy unit extremely easy
  • Built-in Volt Guard protection against surges

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Dimensions: 22 x 22.8 x 30.7 inches
  • Weight: 140lbs
  • Noise (dB): 68dB
  • Eco-Mode: No
  • Noise in Eco-Mode (dB): N/A
  • Portable: Yes
  • Fuel Type: Gasoline
  • Runtime: 12 Hours
  • Power: 4000 starting watts / 3500 running
  • BTUs: Supports up to 15,000 BTUs
  • Warranty: 3-Year limited warranty, free lifetime technical support
  • Compliance Certifications: EPA-Certified + CARB Compliant

Runner Up: Honda EU2000I

Our runner-up comes with different features, and an equal amount of ease of use to our top pick.

The Honda portable generator produces 2000 watts, and is extremely portable, coming in at just over 46lbs, and runs quieter than any other generator we’ve used. You get excellent fuel efficiency, with over 8 hours of use on a single gallon of gasoline (max capacity).

This unit also comes with a low oil indicator so you can avoid issues.

They call it Eco-Throttle, but this unit does come with an eco-friendly mode.

When you hit 25% load capacity, it runs quieter and more fuel efficient.

2000 starting watts and 1600 running watts give you enough power to support a 12,500 BTU air conditioner (730 square feet of living space) and includes a stellar warranty.

As a disclaimer, the warranty information still needs to be requested from the seller, but when you receive it, you get paperwork to go along with it: three years on parts and excellent customer support for technical needs.

This comes with both compliance certifications and is ideal for the one-man army out on the road. Load this up, run it for the time you need it, and you’re good to go.

The fuel efficiency is something we can’t get over – buying a five-gallon gas can at any gas station is enough to support you for forty hours of use with intermittent cooldown periods. You’re never RVing alone with your EU2000I behind you.

PROS

  • Extremely portable
  • Energy efficient at 8.1 hours of runtime

CONS

  • 2000 watts may not be enough to run all your items, so you may need to be choosy

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Ultra quiet operation (in the realm of generators), which is even lower on Eco-Throttle
  • Numerous RV aficionados report having this generator for over a decade, and it still runs like new

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Dimensions: 11.4 x 20.1 x 16.7 inches
  • Weight: 45.6lbs
  • Noise (dB): 59dB / 53dB w/ 25% load capacity
  • Eco-Mode: Yes, though they call it Eco-Throttle
  • Noise in Eco-Mode (dB): 52dB
  • Portable: Yes
  • Fuel Type: Gasoline
  • Runtime: 8.1 hours on 1 gallon of gas
  • Power: 2000 starting watts / 1600 running
  • BTUs: Supports up to 12,500 BTUs
  • Warranty: Must contact customer support; purchases include warranty paperwork
  • Compliance Certifications: EPA-Certified + CARB Compliant

Alternate: WEN Super Quiet 2000

Small, lightweight and ready to go when you are, WEN’s super quiet 2000 watt generator has some impressive features.

With 12 hours of runtime, eco-mode enabled, and the ability to support up to 10,000 BTUs of AC/heating power, there’s a lot of value in this small package. This starts at 2000 watts and runs at 1600 watts, evenly distributing power to the 120V three-prong outlets (2), as well as the 5V USB port.

You get a low-oil indicator that shuts down to prevent damage to the system, as well as overload protection for the same reason. The carrying handle makes this convenient to move around, and this model comes with a few perks.

For one, if 2,000 watts isn’t enough for you, but you truly enjoy this unit, you can purchase two and an adapter to connect them and utilize their joint power.

Apart from the quiet operation, this generator is prime for running multiple small electronics, and small appliances.

With a two-year warranty and access to stellar customer support and technical support, you get so much more than just a generator; you get a commitment from WEN that you’re going to love your product.

PROS

  • Best portable generator with inverter
  • Straightforward control panel with additional ports and indicator lights

CONS

  • Capability to run 10,000 BTUs, though some A/C units flicker and don’t run properly when hooked-up to this generator

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Two-year warranty with WEN’s excellent customer support
  • Ability to use multiple generators in a small grid

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Dimensions: 18.0 x 18.0 x 11.0 inches
  • Weight: 48lbs
  • Noise (dB): 51dB
  • Eco-Mode: Yes
  • Noise in Eco-Mode (dB): 51dB
  • Portable: Yes
  • Fuel Type: Gasoline
  • Runtime: 12 Hours
  • Power: 2000 starting watts / 1600 running
  • BTUs: Supports up to 10,000 BTUs
  • Warranty: Two-year warranty
  • Compliance Certifications: EPA-Certified + CARB Compliant

DuroStar Portable Generator

This model is not CARB-backed, but for its excellent features, it still found its way onto our list.

This portable model comes in at just under 100lbs, so a two-man lift or keeping it stationary on the bed of a truck is recommended.

With a four gallon tank, you get eight hours of runtime on 50% capacity3300 watts of running power, and 4000 watts of starting power.

This is encased in a durable steel frame to protect the vital components from physical damages and comes with a one-year limited warranty for protection on parts on the off-chance that you sustain critical damages to your generator.

This operates a little louder than a vacuum cleaner, giving you one 120V 30A outlet for high-powered tools and an RV hookup, as well as two three-prong outlets on a 120V 20A system.

The price is one of the major attractions of this model.

It’s inexpensive, has earned Amazon’s Choice ranking, and gets the job done when you need it to.

This is ideal for up to three people using small, lightweight electronics with a few larger ones plugged in. If you’re going solo-RVing, this will be more power than you need for multiple items.

PROS

  • Best portable generator for the money
  • Top notch BTU support for large heating and cooling systems

CONS

  • Poor energy efficiency / gas consumption
  • Awkward and uneven weight make this a chore to move around

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Low oil shutoff
  • Forced air cooling system to promote continuous use

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Dimensions: 18 x 23 x 17.5 inches
  • Weight: 94lbs
  • Noise (dB): 69dB
  • Eco-Mode: N/A
  • Noise in Eco-Mode (dB): N/A
  • Portable: Yes
  • Fuel Type: Gasoline
  • Runtime: 8 Hours
  • Power: 4000 starting watts / 3300 running
  • BTUs: Supports up to 15,000 BTUs
  • Warranty: One-year limited warranty
  • Compliance Certifications: EPA-Certified, Not CARB Compliant

Westinghouse WH7500E

These are the big guns for the family RV trip.

Westinghouse doesn’t mess around when it comes to power and durability, giving you over 11 hours of runtime at 25% load capacity.

When it comes to noise, decibel ratings are a funny thing. They don’t account for the type of noise. Most generators have a lot of exhaust noise, while this one has mostly mechanical noises, making them much more bearable and easy to listen to.

You get a 120/240AC Twist Lock Power Outlet, which is compatible with the Westinghouse Transfer Switch, and comes with four 120V AC outlets for maximum output. This is one generator that won’t quit on you, no matter what.

This generator is just plug-and-play and comes with an oil funnel, starter oil, and a customized toolkit specifically designed for maintenance and repairs on your unit.

Your battery for the electric ignition is included; a very simple push-button operation gets you going in no time. This engine is high-performance and heavy duty and is best meant for larger families or big trips.

You can support up to 25,500 BTUs of air conditioning power on this, which is the equivalent to an entire 1,500 square foot home. Built for power, built to last, and built superior.

PROS

  • Low oil shutdown feature
  • 20 hours of runtime on a single tank

CONS

  • Various problems surrounding quality control

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Comes in ten different models for your specific needs
  • Additional compliance by CSA

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Dimensions: 27.5 x 28.75 x 26 inches
  • Weight: 100lbs
  • Noise (dB): 69 – 71dB
  • Eco-Mode: N/A
  • Noise in Eco-Mode (dB): N/A
  • Portable: Yes
  • Fuel Type: Gasoline (6.6 gallon tank)
  • Runtime: 11 Hours at 25% load capacity
  • Power: 9000 peak watts / 7500 running
  • BTUs: Supports 25,500+ BTUs
  • Warranty: Three-year limited; customer service + support
  • Compliance Certifications: N/A

Briggs & Stratton 30545

Last on our list is the powerful and portable Briggs & Stratton model.

Quieter than normal camping generators and more than enough power to light up your RV’s air conditioner (up to roughly 8,800 BTUs), this stellar model features easy maneuvering with an H-style handle, evenly distributing the weight as you move it.

You get excellent runtime and good fuel efficiency, while also sporting an EPA certification, though it is not CARB backed.

Full-time solo RVers agree that this comes in with excellent power at a great price, powering small appliances, tools, and home electronics like it’s nothing.

The noise on this isn’t too bad, though it is exhaust-based, not mechanical.

You get a killer two-year warranty if not for commercial use, with optimum fuel efficiency. Based on the weight, this is best handled by a two-person team.

If you’re bringing a vehicle on site besides the RV, loading this up into the bed of a truck of the trunk of an SUV works well and doesn’t emit too much heat, so you can operate your generator without having to remove it.

PROS

  • Best generator on our list for portability; the wheel kit makes it feel like you’re moving a suitcase, not a generator
  • Quiet operation

CONS

  • Cannot be shipped to the state of California
  • Coil problems persist, and getting a solution from customer service can be a chore

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Optimum fuel efficiency
  • LCD screen displays important information

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Dimensions: 15.3 x 29.5 x 23.6 inches
  • Weight: 85lbs
  • Noise (dB): 58dB
  • Eco-Mode: Yes
  • Noise in Eco-Mode (dB): 51dB
  • Portable: Yes
  • Fuel Type: Gasoline
  • Runtime: 10 Hours on 25% load capacity
  • Power: 3000 starting watts / 2600 running
  • BTUs: Supports up to 8,800 BTUs
  • Warranty: Two-year consumer, one-year commercial
  • Compliance Certifications: EPA-Certified, Not CARB Compliant
Table of Contents

What Even Are LED Lights? What’s All The Fuss About?

With the vast range of options and seemingly infinite decisions to make, purchasing and installing an RV LED light system can be an intimidating task.

We’re here to help.

Lucky for you, we’ve wasted money on enough lights that don’t work so that we can help you buy ones that do.

If you’re overwhelmed with options, take a look at our purchasing guide below. In it, we’ll walk you through a couple of our favorite LED light system options and the details of each, so that you can make the most informed purchasing decision possible.

LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes, are extremely energy efficient and use up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs.

That energy efficiency means extreme savings in your power bill.

But LEDs aren’t the only alternative to incandescents, there are also fluorescent and halogen options, so why not use them?

Let’s start with fluorescents.

Fluorescent lights

These were the first alternatives to incandescents and as such, they feel a bit dated.

Many people still struggle with the slow warm-up time of these lighting options, as well as the much higher wattage necessary to produce the same lumens when compared to LEDs.

Halogens, on the other hand, are actually very similar to incandescents, and as such are very affordable. Upfront. Their lifespan is somewhat abysmal compared to LEDs, so the overall investment of this lighting system ends up costing much more than an LED light system.

Halogen lights

Which brings us to LEDs, our hands-down recommendation for upgrading your RV interior lighting.

While LED technology has been around for decades, only recently has it been adapted into products for RVs.

With the current vast market of products, there truly is an LED option for every light in your RV, and the installation is as easy as changing a lightbulb.

The lifespan of LED lights varies but each bulb can last decades, this is where cost becomes a big factor. Price tends to be a big roadblock stopping people from switching to RV LED light systems, as the upfront cost of LED lights is higher than some alternatives.

If you look at the long-term investment, though, you’ll find that LED lights are actually the more affordable option. A $10 bulb that lasts 20 years is a better buy than a $1 bulb that needs replacing every year for 20 years.

Another rather surprising bonus of LED lights is that they emit a cleaner, more vibrant, warm light, that many people believe improves the overall look of their RV interiors. They also come in several color ranges, allowing you to select the exact type of light you find best suited for your space.

Types of LED lights

The light they emit also tends to burn cooler, and the fixtures themselves don’t seem to heat up the way traditional light fixtures tend to when left on for extended periods of time.

LED lights have some particularly nice features for RV dwellers. One is that LED lights thrive in cold temperature, and perform efficiently even in extreme colds. Another is their durability.

Without the fragile components of a traditional light bulb, LED lights are much more adept at withstanding impacts and vibrations.

As we’ve mentioned, the only real downside is the price.

If you’re still not sure if LED lights are worth a $5 bulb, I recommend taking a look at the following chart.

LED savings chart

Here you’ll see that LED lights are not just about long-term savings, they’re about savings.

Even within the first year, you’ll see enormous savings over incandescents, and within the second year over fluorescents. The savings continue to pile up over the years, making this switch incredibly affordable.

Types Of LED Lights

As mentioned, one of the benefits of LED light systems is that they’ve become so in demand, that supply has caught up.

That means that there is almost every type of LED light you could possibly want, likely available at the click of your cursor.

CEILING LIGHTS

LED ceiling lights are available in a wide range of styles, finishes, sizes, and designs. Ranging from simple and functional to abstract and artistic, your ceiling light doesn’t have to lose out on style when you make the switch to LEDs.

Most of your RV ceiling lights should probably have minimal embellishments to take up less headspace, but spaces such as over countertops, desks, or tables pose the opportunity to include designer details to your interior decor.

DOME LIGHTS

Dome lighting is extremely common in RV spaces, which makes this a great option for your RV LED light system. Often, you’ll be able to find a near identical LED light fixture to your existing outdated one, making installation an absolute breeze.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a bit more of an upgrade to your existing features, don’t feel limited to those that feel familiar.

Typically, these lights are easily interchangeable, and switching to a slightly different profile will hardly hinder installation.

AWNING LIGHTS

LED Awning lights

Another huge benefit to the bandwagon of LED lights; LED awning lights.

Whether you choose to purchase an LED system designed specifically for RV awnings or a simple waterproof LED strip to attach to your existing LED system, you won’t be disappointed.

The clean, bright light of LEDs are perfect for an outdoor setting, and the extreme energy efficiency means more light when you’re off the grid, making these LED awning lights a camper’s dream.

STRIP LIGHTS/INDIVIDUAL LED BULBS/LIGHT BARS

The beauty of LED light strips lies in their flexibility, not just the physical aspect, but in that these strips can truly go just about anywhere you might need light.

Stick them to the interior of your kitchen cabinets, or maybe in the back of that dark storage closet, and instantly fill hard-to-reach spaces with immersive, bright light.

The only real downside to these LED lighting options is the appearance. As they aren’t encased in a fixture, they can require a little creativity to hide from sight.

This is why people typically only use these light options in out-of-the-way places, or in locations that they can be tucked away, such as lining the top of trim work.

What To Look For When Buying LED RV Lights

So, you’re convinced, you want to switch. But again, where to start? Lots of products seem incredibly similar, how do you know what to look for when buying LED RV lights?

NEED

First, ask yourself what you need to replace. Are you going to overhaul your whole RV or just start with a few lights? Are you going to need multiple types of lights or just several of the same kind?

Write down a general list of how many lights you’ll need of each type.

SIZE

Don’t put that paper away just yet, next you need to know the size of lights you’ll need. If you’re looking for straight replacements, write down the measurements of your existing features so you can look for ones that match.

If you’re considering mixing things up with some different, new types of lighting and you’re not sure exactly what size you’ll want, it’s a good idea to remove your existing features and measure the size of the actual space you’ll need to cover with your new features.

Sometimes, older fixtures will actually leave behind burn marks from the head of the outdated bulbs.

If you find yourself in this situation, you can decide if they’re minor enough to be fixed with a coat of paint, or if they’re severe enough that your new fixture will need to be large enough to cover the burnt areas.

COLOR TEMPERATURE

LED color temperature

As we’ve mentioned, LED lights come in a variety of color temperatures, typically indicated in Kelvin.

LED lights in the 2700-3000K range are considered “warm white” which is a softer light that tends to have hints of yellow rather than the pure white of higher temperatures.

3000-4000K LED lights, or “clean white” lights, are in the mid-range of color temperatures. These are a good balance between warm and bright, if you’re unsure what type of lighting is best for your space.

“Natural white” or “cool white” reference LED lights over 4000K. These lights are extremely clean, crisp white and are ideal for task-oriented settings.

This kind of lighting provides higher contrast than “warmer” temperatures, so in workplaces or kitchens, this may be preferable.

VOLTAGE REGULATOR

LED lights may seem ideal for running on battery power because they consume so little energy, however, they do have one seeming flaw.

Most LED lights run on 12v-DC with an AC-DC transformer, that means that the voltage into these products cannot exceed ~13V without damaging the LEDs or even outright shorting and killing them.

This can be an issue as most automotive electrical systems reach 15-16V when charging the battery, enough to blow your system.

Guess you can’t use LEDs in an RV, right? Wrong!

There are two simple solutions to this problem; either purchase LED lights designed for use in automotive systems with built-in surge protection that allow them to handle massive voltage spikes without issue, or you can purchase a voltage regulator.

If you choose to purchase voltage regulators, as we would highly recommend, first you’ll need to know the total milliamps that you’ll need to support.

This means you’ll need to purchase all of your LED lights prior to calculating the required voltage regulator. Once you have all your milliamps added, you’ll simply need to buy enough voltage regulators to handle the milliamps.

For example, if you calculated a total load of 2,300mA, you’d need to purchase 3 800mA voltage regulators which, when wired together, would cover your entire system.

AMPERAGE DRAW

You’ll also need to ensure that you have the proper amperage supply for the amount your LED system will draw. To do this, simply add up the amperage of all your fixtures.

For LED strips, you can use the following formula: (Strips Wattage per Foot) x (Total Feet of Strip) = Total power required (Watts)

Installation Tips

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision, you’ve purchased your equipment, but now, how to install your new RV LED light system?

We’ve got you covered.

HOW TO INSTALL 12V LED LIGHTS IN YOUR RV

Installing LED lights to your RV

The final hurdle between you and an energy efficient light system: installation. Some RV owners find themselves stuck at this precipice. They’ve researched and compared products, and finally purchased the LED fixtures for their RV, where they sit uninstalled for months.

For those of us that are less mechanically-inclined, replacing your lighting system is an extremely daunting task.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Follow our simple, comprehensive guide to installing your RV LED lights and the only question you’ll be asking is why you didn’t do it sooner.

Step 1) Turn off your power supply.

If you’re looking for more excitement in your life, playing with live electrical wires isn’t the way to go about it. Many of us have had our forgetful moments and are fortunate to not have become human toast, but we think it’s better to err on the side of caution and avoid tempting fate.

TURN OFF YOUR POWER SUPPLY NOW.

Ok, now you can move on to step 2.

Step 2) Remove light covers.

Many lighting fixtures have caps that cover the actual bulbs. Some fixtures don’t require this step for installation, but again, let’s err on the side of caution and save ourselves the trouble.

Each fixture is different, so removing the cover might take a bit of experimentation. Some you simply pinch inward from both sides and pull away, while others require a screwdriver to remove. If it’s not coming away easily, don’t force it or you’ll likely break the fixture.

Step 3) Remove light bulbs.

Lots of older light fixtures will have glass light bulbs, which you should remove first before removing the entire fixture.

This is a safety precaution, as we’ve found it exceptionally easy for these tiny glass bulbs to shatter otherwise, and broken glass is the worst to clean out of the tiny nooks and crannies of an RV.

So while this step might not be necessary for all fixtures, we’d rather be safe than sorry.

Step 4) Remove the old fixture.

Now it’s time to get that thing off the wall. Remove any screws that are securing it with a drill and DO NOT LOSE THEM! I cannot stress this enough, with any project, ALWAYS have a secure baggie or two to house all loose screws.

This will save you massive amounts of time and frustration should one little screw decide to venture off.

If your fixture has been affixed for a very long time, it might not want to come off that easily. If this happens, lightly pry the casing away from the wall so that it’s hanging by the wires.

Step 5) Disconnect the wires.

STOP. Did you follow step 1? Are you sure? Okay, go on.

Before you disconnect anything, take a long look at the current wiring to familiarize yourself with where the wires connect. If you’re a beginner, it could be helpful to take a picture for reference when you’re trying to put it all back together.

Once you have a firm grasp on the wiring to this unit, disconnect the wires by simply twisting them off the fixture, which should then fall away.

Step 6) Connect new light fixture wiring.

LED wiring

Take a look at the wires coming out of your new device. Figure out which one is the ground, this will typically be black, but consult the manual for confirmation. You should already have determined the ground wire from your previous setup, so you should be confident on connecting these.

You’ll then need to twist together the wires of the fixture to those you disconnected from your old unit. If you don’t have enough live wire to do so, use wire strippers to the revealed extra live wire.

Then, twist the ground to the ground (typically black to black) and the power to the power.

Cap off your connections with wire nuts. Feel free to reuse the wire nuts from your old connection, but make sure to use separate wire nuts for your ground-ground connection and your power-power connection.

If your wire nuts don’t feel secure, or if you just want extra peace of mind, you can use electrical tape to completely seal and bind these connections.

Step 7) Turn back on your power supply.

Ensure that nobody is touching any live wires, if you have multiple people swapping out units at the same time, make sure everyone is aware that the power is being turned back on.

Do this step before putting the casing back on to avoid wasting time if your connection isn’t properly set up. If the power is on but your light is still not switching on, TURN THE POWER BACK OFF and try twisting your wires together more completely.

It can be an easy mistake to see a non-functioning light and forget that the wires are still functioning, so DO NOT FORGET to turn the power off before messing with any live wires.

Once you get the light to turn on, success! You can now proceed to step 8.

Step 8) Remove new light fixture covers.

In order to reach the screw holes in the new light fixture, you’ll need to remove the bulb covers. This will likely be very similar to step 2.

Step 9) Screw in the new fixture.

Most light fixtures will include the hardware necessary for instruction, but if not, consult the manual for the proper size and type of screws necessary.

If your new light fixture is a different size than your old one, and even if it’s exactly the same, you might need to put new holes in your wall or ceiling to fit with the profile of the unit.

When doing so, try your best to cover the old holes with the new unit for a nicer finished look.

Step 10) Replace the fixture’s bulb covers.

Snap back on the bulb covers and you’re good to go! Proceed to our final step.

Step 11) Enjoy your new RV LED light system.

Turn on your power and enjoy your new energy efficient light system.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! It wasn’t as bad as you thought, admit it. And now that you’ve got one under your belt, the next 15 or so should be a breeze. Go forth and conquer.

How To Wire LED Lights With An Existing Light Switch

Wiring your LED lights to your existing light switches might seem like a complicated task, but in reality, it’s very simple. Since LED lights run on 12V, and your typical electrical system is much higher, you’ll need a step-down transformer or power adapter.

These are very reasonably priced, and you can pick on up on Amazon or at your local hardware store for $10-$35.

In order to purchase the correct unit, check your LED lights in particular. Make sure you know the voltage and if they run on AC or DC. You’ll also need to know if your LED strips have 4 or 2 wires coming off of it (If it’s three colors, you likely have 4 wires, if it’s one color, you likely only have 2).

Then, you can purchase a transformer that will work for your specific setup.

If you’re unsure, take your specs to a hardware store and ask for help, they’ll happily direct you to an adapter that will work with your LED lights and existing system.

How To Replace LED Bulbs

Replace LED bulbs

Never thought you’d be googling how to change a lightbulb, huh?

Even the mythically long-lasting LED light bulbs will need replacing eventually, and doing so can be surprisingly confusing due to the totally foreign interface of LED bulbs.

On the bright (hah) side, since a single LED light fixture is typically made up of dozens of individual LED lights, when a single one goes out, you typically don’t need to change it out right away, and can get by on the remaining several dozen LED lights.

Eventually, though, they will need replacing. And we’re here to help you do it.

Step 1) Identify the size, type, and color of the burnt-out LED light that needs replacing. Since there are so many varieties of LED lights and light bulbs, finding the exact same one can be a challenge.

If you’re getting frustrated, just take the dead bulb into a hardware store, they’ll be happy to match it and help you find a replacement.

Step 2) Read the manual. Each LED light has unique installation instructions, while some simply pull out of the socket, others twist or require other means of removal.

This is important, read the manual and figure out how your specific bulbs should be removed and installed to avoid damaging them before their first use.

Step 3) Remove the existing bulb. This can be tricky since they’re so small, and you’ll likely need a screwdriver to remove any casing covering the actual LED bulbs.

DO NOT LOSE THESE SCREWS!

These things are tiny and love to run away and hide forever, so keep a close eye on them and a safe bag to keep them in.

Step 4) Replace the burnt-out bulb with your new bulb. Since you should be replacing with an essentially identical bulb, it should go in smoothly and without much resistance. If you do feel resistance, stop. Re-read the manual and make sure you’re not forcing it in incorrectly.

Continuing to force it could break the bulb.

Once it’s installed, turn it on before screwing the covering back on, to ensure that you’ve installed the proper temperature color and that the new bulbs are fully functioning.

Step 5) If all looks good when you turn them on, it’s time to close up shop and call it a day. Screw any coverings back on and return any loose fixtures to their original place. You’ve just replaced an LED light bulb!

To Sum It All Up

Hopefully, you’re now feeling confident in your abilities to select and install your new RV LED light system. If not, don’t feel like you can’t consult a professional, there’s no shame in hiring an electrician to complete your setup.

No matter how you go about it, your energy bill will be thanking you for years for making the change to LED.

Introduction To RV Generators

RV generators are similar to all other types of backup generators, except these ones that we’ve selected are prime for the open road, campsites, and everything you need to get your appliances and electronics moving.

We’re going to cover various types of portable generators available, including some types that aren’t shown in our list, as well as the key features you should be looking for, and what they all mean.

Different Types Of Portable RV Generators

We’ve premiered gasoline models on this list for versatility, renewability, and more, but there are more different types of RV generators available.

Here’s a breakdown of the various power sources before we head into the different styles:

  • Gasoline: The easiest to plug-and-play, the quickest way to get started – gasoline generators are the most common, and provide 10+ hours of energy per gallon of gasoline for the higher-operating models. With constant availability, gasoline generators are the best way to jump from work to a three-day RV trip.
  • Propane: You’ve probably used a propane grill in your time. Propane burns at a higher heat and utilizes less volume, making it optimal for grills, but not always the best for a generator. You won’t find a lot of propane generators, but the ones that you do find will generally have similar benefits to gasoline-powered generators.
  • Diesel: Diesel fuel is different than gasoline and propane, containing a higher concentration of carbon atoms than gasoline. Diesel is directly distilled from oil, and generally costs more than gasoline to run on a generator, which is why you won’t see too many.
  • Solar Generators: While these types are still up-and-coming, solar generators help give you some energy independence. They take a good amount of time to charge, and are primarily used in emergency situations. For constant, full-time RVing, solar generators are not ideal when you’re continuously running equipment, such as a refrigerator or small appliances/household electronics.
  • Dual Fuel: These are simply a mix that can run off of either gasoline or propane. They don’t have two separate tanks, they’re just optimized to use either fuel source to increase versatility. Power consumption rates vary depending on which fuel you’re using, or if you’re using a mix.

What Is An Onboard Generator?

As the title suggests, it’s a generator that’s integrated into your RV as opposed to resting on the ground on the outside of your RV.

There’s a reason that the market for onboard generators isn’t vast – they’re more trouble than they’re worth.

Noise, exhaust, and heat are all major issues that occur when you run onboard generators.

There’s an irony that the cabin heats up, so you run the AC, but in the end, the AC is aiding in throwing the heat from the generator. All in all, it’s a bit of a mess, but they do have their perks.

If it’s raining or snowing out, or you’re on a campsite that doesn’t allow noisy, exterior generators, an onboard generator is best. For the most part, campsites don’t tend to have a problem with generator operation, so long as it’s before their set hours.

Going with a portable generator is preferred by many RV owners and experts of 40+ years.

Are Solar Generators Like Solar Panels?

Portable Generator Next To An RV Connected

When you put a solar energy system into place, there are numerous factors that tie-in to your endgame.

Panels are simply the beginning; they extract energy from sunlight, which is then fed through cables to a charge controller, and from there to a battery bank.

With a solar energy generator, all of those things are tied into one item.

There’s less setup, hassle, and you don’t need to purchase several components to get the energy that you need. In short, they’re two entirely different items that both utilize sunlight as an energy source.

Do I Need A Portable Generator If I Already Have An Onboard One?

Onboard units have their problems.

In comparison, portable generators and their setbacks are child’s play to deal with – there’s no overheating, exhaust ventilation problems, etc. like you get with onboard units.

With a portable generator, potential malfunctions occur far away from your RV, you run no risk of exhaust causing respiratory issues (as long as you’re not having the thing).

Apart from those, there’s something simple about filling the gas tank, turning it on, and having everything be taken care of.

Uncomfortable heat and noise are all 10-20 feet away from your RV. The only problems you encounter with portable units are usually inclement weather.

All About Using Multiple Generators

Bus-sized RV with a large family?

You’re going to be using up a lot of electricity, especially with little ones afoot.

Some models, such as the WEN portable generator on our list, can utilize adapters to connect to other same-sized generators and double your power output.

When using multiple motors, there are a few things to consider, mostly in the cost category.

If you purchase a larger generator, you may actually be spending more money in average fuel consumption.

Depending on the hours per gallon, you might have better energy efficiency with a few smaller generators being used together. It also gives you the opportunity to only use one if you’re going on a solo or two-person trip.

If you run into system malfunctions with a single unit, you’re out of luck, but going with a few smaller ones means that either way, you’ll have one that’s operational.

How Do Portable Generators Work?

Honda EU2000I 2000 Watt Motor Review

Your portable generator has a system to get electricity to your preferred devices.

Much like your car engine, the first step is gasoline turning in your combustion chamber, which kickstarts the alternator.

The alternator is essentially trading combustion energy for electricity, which then flows through to your outlets.

From there, it’s just plug-and-play.

Your generator keeps a constant stream of electricity going to your outlets, so make sure you get the most out of them and don’t underuse them.

The Anatomy Of Portable Generators

If that last bit was too quick, let’s break down the different components of your portable generator into individual parts.

Understanding these will help you when we get to a later entry in our buying guide: maintenance.

The Frame

Think about your car engine. You have a body and hood to keep it safe, right?

Your frame is doing the exact same thing for the valuable working parts of your entire unit.

Most frames are made of hollow steel tubing or corrugated aluminum and provide enough protection to store boxes and other items atop your generator in storage and transit.

Combustion System

There are only so many types of combustion chambers/engines used in generators that are available to the public.

Your system is the generator, and one component of how it works is the combustion chamber/engine.

These build up raw power from ignition and gasoline and kickstart the alternator.

Your Alternator

The alternator is something that can be replaced if ever need be, and is the key that transfers your fuel source into electricity.

The easiest way to know if there’s an issue here is if your engine is running, but you’re having little to no electrical output.

Fuel Tank

Given their position, it’s easy to spot maintenance issues with your fuel tank.

These are rarely over 7 gallons, and in comparison to the rest of your unit, they’re sized accordingly. These are a bit of an intricate pain to replace considering what you have to connect them to.

How Loud Are Portable Generators?

The sound is measured in decibels when you’re talking about consumer products.

This is where it gets tricky.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary , decibels are: “degree of loudness; also: extremely loud sound.

They don’t really measure how aggravating or distracting a sound is, just how loud it is.

For example, some units have louder mechanical noises, which are easy to ignore, and some have louder exhaust noises, which can be distracting. Decibels are essentially a loudness scale.

What’s “Eco-Mode”?

Eco-mode lowers the RPM of your engine, reducing sound (slightly) while optimizing performance with lower gas.

When you’re low on fuel of any type, it can impede upon the way that your equipment operates.

Eco-mode slightly lowers the performance safely.

When you look at the sales page for any model, you may see information pointing to eco-mode kicking in when the fuel indicator reaches a certain load capacity, such as 25% or 50% (common).

RV Generator Etiquette

These are a few rules of thumb when using a portable RV generator.

Following these are a matter of safety, efficiency, and keeping your system running smoothly without damaging it.

  • Monitor Heat: Just because your unit can run for up to 12 hours doesn’t mean you should push the envelope on a daily basis. If it’s a hot 90F+ day out, and your generator is sitting directly in the sunlight, it may get a little too hot to handle after continuous use. It’s an engine – it’s meant to heat up, but maintaining the temperature helps maintain your system’s integrity.
  • 20ft Rule: You can put your generator close to your home, but there are a few safety concerns with it. For one, the decibel rating on your unit is usually inspected/measured at an 18-21ft distance away from an RV or campsite. It will appear louder the closer it is to your RV. Furthermore, keeping exhaust as far away from your RV as possible is always preferred. It prevents it getting sucked in by your RV roof vent fan, leaking in through the windows, and keeps the air quality nice and clean. Wind speed and direction play into this.
  • Keep it Level: Your fuel tank should be as level as possible. Don’t offset it on one side when you place it on the ground – having half of it over a tree root or something of that nature is going to mess with fuel efficiency. You’ll have fuel tilting to one end of the tank, and that can mess with your eco-mode.

The Items That Drain Power In Your RV The Quickest

High Power Consumtion Devices

Your personal items may differ, but you can find out use the specs on your items with a formula to figure out how much energy they’re using.

The fact of the matter is, your generator is going to operate at the best possible capacity, so you want to utilize your runtime.

Find other rechargeable devices and alternatives to consistent electronics.

Charge a Kindle to use when you’re not using the TV (you can download movies and such, and view them offline).

Use this bulk of electricity to charge other items. If you’re running large appliances such as a chest freezer, refrigerator, or anything else that’s using 240V, those are going to use up your available electricity the fastest.

The Environment And Your Portable Generator

You’re bringing a heat-bearing device into the wilderness.

Placing it down somewhere safe is key.

We talked about it being level, but you should also factor in the surroundings.

Don’t put it near dry brush or sticks. If available, use a tool to clear an area in the dirt, and avoid grass. You’re producing emissions in the environment, throwing heat, and there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that.

Look out for a spot that has little to no branches overhead.

A clear path for exhaust to travel will avoid damaging plantlife and cut down on how hot one area of your campsite can get. Keep it level, clear of grass and dry brush, and out in the open away from tree trunks.

What To Look For When Buying A Portable Generator For Your RV

These are the main components that you should really take a hard look at during your purchase.

We’ve expanded on the importance of each individual factor, and what role they should play in your decision.

Portability

We’ve only covered portable models here, and it’s for a good reason – portability is everything.

It allows you to have complete control over exhaust, heat distribution, and where you need your power. Portable gasoline models are favored among the RV community for multiple reasons.

Runtime

We don’t all have a big budget when heading out to RV.

The runtime directly plays into your costs with fuel purchases, but also factors in how much time you’ll be able to use your generator for.

If you’re planning to binge-watch a television show or movie marathon, or you’re looking to keep your fridge constantly running, the longer the runtime, the better.

Compatibility

Outlets, RV direct hookups to power your electric system, adapters for multiple generators – they’re all important parts of compatibility, and versatility.

Pluging in RV Portable Review

Fuel Efficiency

Another play into your cost.

With portable generators, it’s all about getting the most efficiency.

You’re making an investment, one that can last for well over a decade even with continuous use. Over time, fuel efficiency is going to save you a fortunate (potentially the initial buying cost of your generator).

Certificates

Depending on your state of origin (notice for California residents at the end of this guide), your state may require you to have EPA and CARB certification.

Not every model on our list comes with both, so pay close attention before committing to a purchase.

Warranty Information

You always want to be backed by a warranty, at least a little bit.

Most problems are going to occur within the first six months based on full-time RVer reviews, and the models on our list start out at a one-year warranty, all the way up to three years.

Maintenance For Your Portable Generator

You’ve committed to the purchase. Now, it’s time to equip yourself with a touch of knowledge on maintenance to upkeep your system through any incident.

Here’s what you need to know:

Cleaning Air Filters

Maintanance of a Champion Generator

Each model is different, but your air filter is located close to your air intake fan/valve.

From here, you’ll usually need a Phillips head screwdriver to remove 2-4 screws from the area, remove the cap, and you’ll be able to find the air filter.

Most models made foam air filters that you can clean in 1-2 minutes. Just be certain to have this completely air dry before returning and reapplying the cover. Water and electricity don’t mix.

Replacing Fuel/Oil Filters

This is especially useful for off-the-grid users.

We all know the importance of replacing oil once it’s been burned through, but the damages left behind aren’t that much different from your car. The longer you run your generator, the closer you’ll come to needing to replace the filter.

The rule of thumb behind this is to change your oil filters after every 100 hours of use. Since these are air-cooled, not water-cooled like a car engine, build-up and sludge occur at a rapid pace.

These are simple to replace, and are located within the pages of your starter’s manual. They’re most commonly located near the fuel tank.

AC and DC Wiring Information

When it comes to your electrical system, you can’t be too careful. DC stands for direct current, while AC stands for alternating current.

Your direct current is used to power larger items, such as appliances or power tools. You’ll be familiar with the various plug styles when you think back to your washer and dryer hookup.

When it comes to your electrical system, there’s not a whole lot to it.

The primary focus is generating the electricity, which all involves your fuel tank, combustion chamber, and your alternator.

You’ll know when you have an issue with wiring when you’re running the engine, and that works fine, but you’re not getting any electrical output on the other side.

You’ll have to purchase brand-specific wiring packages, which will come with detailed instructions on how to change them out for that specific model.

Notice To Residents Of California

Depending on certain EPA and CARB standards, these items may not ship to your location, based on zip code, due to California’s emission laws and governing policies.

For more information, visit localized municipality websites, as well as California’s state government official website.

Where Will Your RV Take You?

With advanced electricity generator solutions at the helm, what are you your goals?

How did your journey with purchase, setup, and operating your system go?

Let us know in the comments below. You’ve been tied-down by metered utility lines for too long – take control, generate your own electricity today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *