When you bought your travel trailer or fifth-wheel recreational vehicle, maybe you decided to save money by choosing a model without a generator. But now, you want to expand your outdoor horizons and need to learn about the best generator for travel trailer life.
Choosing the best generator for travel trailer use isn’t easy. There are lots of things to consider, from fuel to output to portability to noise. And, of course, there’s always the matter of price.
Read on for some guidance in pondering the best generator for travel trailer life in your circumstances. You’ll see our top recommendations for travel trailer generators, get help with a buyer’s guide, and find answers to some frequently asked questions.
Our Top Picks
Best Premium Option
DuroMax XP13000EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator
Best Budget Option
Champion Power Equipment 100555 RV Ready Portable Generator
One thing you don’t want to do when exploring the countryside in your travel trailer is spend time fiddling with gear. That’s a major reason the Champion Power Equipment 4500-Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator is our top recommendation for best generator for travel trailer campers.
Ready to run almost right out of the box, this Champion generator can provide up to 14 hours of power when fueled by gasoline. But if you’d rather not have to deal with gasoline, the Champion generator can also use propane.
In addition, both you and your camping neighbors will appreciate the low noise output of this generator. It operates at a volume of 61 decibels, roughly equivalent to the volume of a running refrigerator or normal conversation.
- Assembly and operating instructions are easy to follow
- Electric start is convenient
- Quiet operation
- May use fuel too quickly for some campers
- Propane operation may be problematic
- Power surging may be an issue
Best Premium Option
If you’re paying a premium price, you should expect premium performance. That’s exactly what you get with the DuroMax XP 13000 EH generator. Among the top-level features of the DuroMax HP is its quiet operation, slightly less noisy than a vacuum cleaner or a radio played at normal volume.
But that’s far from all the DuroMax offers as our premium best generator for travel trailer life. In addition to quiet operation, the DuroMax offers convenient dual-fuel use, powered with either gasoline or propane.
Providing 10,000 watts of power, this DuroMax generator also offers multiple types of plugs to handle a full range of electrical items.
- Runs for hours on gasoline fueling option
- Enough power for lights and appliances
- Quick starting
- Instructions and other documentation could be clearer
- Some bolts not securely installed
- Power fluctuations may become an issue
Best Budget Option
If you’re budget-conscious, the Champion Power Equipment 100555 generator is a great choice for powering your travel trailer. As our recommended best budget option, the Champion generator will reliably supply 3,500 watts of power.
Also, the Champion Power Equipment generator includes a built-in surge protector to protect the appliances and other items being powered in your travel trailer. And just in case you need it, Champion Power Equipment provides you with free lifetime technical support should you need help.
You can expect 12 hours of operating time with a full tank of gas. And finally, the Champion Power Equipment 100555 RV produces just 68 decibels of noise from 23 feet away. That’s roughly what you’d hear in a normal office environment.
- Easy starting
- Automatically shuts off if oil level gets low
- Simultaneous power for many travel trailer accessories
- Needs clearer warning about need for protection from rain
- May be a bit loud for some users
- Should include wheels for full portability
Best Quiet Generator
If you’re outdoors, one of the things you want to enjoy is the sounds of nature, from birds chirping to creeks flowing. The Westinghouse Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator is a great choice for unobtrusive operation, with noise levels routinely in the 52 decibel range.
As a recommended best generator for travel trailer use, this Westinghouse model will routinely operate at about the same noise level as normal conversation. That’s something that not only you can appreciate but that will also be appreciated by others who may be camping nearby.
In addition to a regular RV outlet, this Westinghouse generator includes two USB outlets. With them, it’s easy to keep your cell phone and other digital equipment ready for use.
- Easy set-up
- Long running time
- Runs on gasoline or propane
- Remote start option may not always be reliable
- “Efficiency mode” may interrupt power to some items
- May not perform optimally in colder weather
Best Portable Generator
For most camping enthusiasts, convenience is key. And convenience is what the WEN 56203i generator offers as one of our best generator for travel trailer choices. Weighing in at just 39 pounds, the WEN generator offers easy portability to, from, and around your campsite.
Capable of producing 1,700 watts of power, this WEN generator includes two USB ports for keeping your cell phone and other electronic equipment charged. It also includes two 3-prong, 120-volt DC receptacles, and a 12-volt DC receptacle.
In addition to its portability, the WEN generator also operates quietly, producing noise roughly equivalent to normal conversation.
- Economical price point
- Very efficient operation
- Tools for servicing included with generator
- May provide lower wattage than advertised
- May sometimes hesitate during operation
- Needs frequent oil changes
Best Generator for Travel Trailers Buyer’s Guide
As you’ve likely concluded from reviewing our best generator for travel trailer options, choosing a generator can be confusing. Read on for some guidance on factors to consider when purchasing a generator for your travel trailer.
Generators for travel trailers will routinely be powered by liquid propane gas or by regular or unleaded gasoline. There are some diesel-powered generators, but they may be impractical unless the tow vehicle for the travel trailer also uses diesel fuel.
In comparing gasoline and propane generators, you’ll find that propane generators burn cleaner and have fewer emissions, but are less powerful than gasoline-powered generators. Additionally, propane generators run more quietly, but it is more difficult to find propane than to find gasoline.
Finally, propane won’t expire like gasoline will, but the initial investment in a propane generator will be higher than for a gasoline generator.
There are any number of power-level choices among best generator for travel trailer options, running from 3,000 watts to 40,000 watts. A major determining factor for needed wattage is whether or not your trailer has air conditioning.
A travel trailer air conditioner will usually require around 3,000 watts, with other appliances and charging devices needing 600 to 1,000 watts. A good number for which to shoot is around 4,000 watts.
Anything less than 3,000 watts, and you’re talking about a generator that could run a few small appliances and charge a couple of electronic devices.
Many of the best generators for travel trailer options will come equipped with wheels for easy portability. Alternatively, some generators will have options that will allow you to add wheels. As yet another alternative, you can buy a transport cart. Some carts are designed for a specific generator, while others can be used to carry various generators.
Before you get too excited about incorporating a full-featured generator into your travel trailer, you should check with your travel trailer manufacturer.
Just because your travel trailer was marketed as “generator-ready” doesn’t mean any generator will work with it. Before investing in a generator, check with the travel trailer manufacturer to ensure it is compatible with your trailer.
Taking that step will ensure that you have, in fact, made your best generator for travel trailer choice.
While it’s still all about exploring the outdoors, camping has not escaped the digital revolution. Most campers today are carrying smartphones, and some may even be carrying personal computers or televisions into the backcountry.
Inverter generators produce power with less “total harmonic distortion” than other generators. Broadly speaking, that means the power they produce is better suited for sensitive electronic devices while also powering other gear.
Best Generator for Travel Trailers Frequently Asked Questions
Because a generator is a highly technical piece of outdoor gear, you may still have questions even after reviewing our purchase recommendations and buyer’s guide. Read on for answers to some frequently asked questions about the best generator for travel trailer use.
How should a generator be stored?
Once you’ve invested in your own best generator for travel trailer use, you’ll certainly want to store it so that it will last. Many travel trailers come equipped with a generator storage mount and cover, and mounts and covers are also available for separate purchase.
If you decide to mount and cover your generator on your travel trailer, the best place is at the front. A front-mounted generator will keep your travel trailer stable on the road and will also be more secure.
If you have a portable generator, you should drain its fuel before storing it in a cool and dry place. Some generators have features that will allow for fuel to be completely consumed prior to storage. It’s also a good idea to ensure that your generator is adequately oiled before being stored.
How should a travel trailer generator be maintained?
In terms of maintaining your travel trailer generator, you should plan to run it once or twice monthly, even when you’re not camping. As you run it, be sure to check the oil level and replenish the oil as needed. The manufacturer of your generator will have recommendations on oil change intervals.
Similarly, check your owner’s manual for a recommended schedule for replacing oil filters, air filters, and fuel filters, and keep to that schedule. As a final note, be mindful of the need to replace spark plugs periodically.
Is the higher cost of an inverter generator worth the investment?
While prices of inverter generators are coming down, they still represent a significant investment when compared with regular portable generators. However, inverter generators, which run at a speed matching demand rather than a constant speed, do operate more efficiently.
Over time, that increased efficiency could save significant money, as an inverter generator will use less fuel than other portable generators. Deciding whether an inverter generator is worth it for your needs will require assessing whether you’ll use it frequently enough to realize significant cost savings.
After studying this post, you should be more than ready to choose your best generator for travel trailer life. Just to remind you, our recommendation as best overall choice among generators for travel trailers is the Champion Power Equipment 4500-Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator.
If you’d like to learn more about having power while camping, there is plenty of great information elsewhere at Beyond The Tent. Check out the posts on choosing portable solar panels, battery-powered heating blankets, and tent air conditioners.
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Jim Thompson grew up tent camping with his family, and was introduced to backpacking with the Boy Scouts. He attended a military college, where he was introduced to rappelling, an outdoor activity which he has not pursued.
Jim holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Georgia, and spent 35 years as a newspaper writer and editor before become a writer for Apple Pie Media.
Jim can be reached at email@example.com