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Travel trailer camping is fun for the whole family but, without your own power source, you are restricted to campsites with electrical mains. Equipping your travel trailer with a generator will allow you to camp or tailgate in areas that do not have electricity and still enjoy the comforts of home. A good generator will also ensure that you have back up electricity for your home in times of power outages. Generators can be expensive, so it is essential that you choose the correct generator to suit your needs.
In this article, we hope to help you with this choice by discussing the essential attributes of a generator, and how to choose which is right for you. We’ll also review 5 of the best generators for travel trailers on the market.
How to Choose the Right Generator
Power Generation Capacity
The first and most important attribute to consider when choosing a generator is choosing the right capacity. If you purchase a generator with too little capacity, you will not be able to run all of your appliances. Purchase one that is too big, and you will be spending money on unnecessary generating capacity.
Choosing a generator starts with knowing what you want to power. Make a list of appliances and their running wattages, and then add them up. Add the start-up wattage of the appliance with the highest startup requirement to calculate the surge capacity required. Some appliances need three to four times as much electricity at startup as they do to run, so you must take this into account. Watts = Volts x Amps.
If you are installing the generator permanently, you should have a switch that allows you to switch the generator off when you are switched to the electrical grid.
One of three fuels sources power generators:
- Propane powered generators – are less expensive, burn cleaner and last longer, but they are not as powerful, producing about ten percent less power than the diesel or gasoline equivalent. Propane generators are not as portable because a gas tank must accompany them. However, propane is the cleanest fuel and burns with little odor. It is also the most environmentally friendly option.
- Gasoline powered generators – gas is readily available, relatively cheap, and these generators tend to be more powerful. A drawback is that they are not clean burning, and fuel left in the tank can clog the carb. Gasoline must be removed from the tank when the generator is not in regular use, or it will cause damage.
- Diesel powered generators – the most powerful generators are powered by diesel, which is safer than gasoline and is clean burning.
- Noise – generators can be noisy. A noisy generator can spoil the outdoor experience for you and others in the area.
- Portability – weight can be a vital consideration, even when the generator is equipped with wheels, as it will still be necessary to lift it in and out of the trailer.
- Features – can include remote switching, dual fuel ability, and safety features.
- Durability – generators tend to spend a fair amount of time in the elements. Make sure that the one you choose is made from durable, weather resistant materials.
Our Picks for the Top 5 Generators for Travel Trailers – Reviewed
1. WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, CARB Compliant
Inverter generators tend to be the best choice for camping as they are much quieter in operation. An inverter control keeps the electricity flowing at a regular rate so, it protects the equipment from damaging electrical spikes. The engine speed is also moderated when less electricity is drawn, so fuel efficiency is increased. Despite only generating 51 dB of sound (on 25% load) this quiet-generator can produce 2000 start-up watts and 1600 run watts. The four-stroke OHV engine runs cleanly and is EPA III and CARB compliant. It has a one-gallon fuel tank which when full can run for six hours on half load and more than four hours on full load. It has a light startup pull.
As a safety feature, this model has been designed using sine wave technology, which limits the total harmonic distortion to less than 0.3% when there is no load and 1.2% on full load. This means that the generator should not damage your sensitive electronic equipment. Plug in your laptop, tablets, and phone with confidence. When low on oil, the generator will automatically shut down, protecting it from the damage caused by running dry. Indicator lights draw attention to the situation. Low fuel shutdown ensures that your equipment is protected from voltage loss and the overload protection will help preserve your generator and your equipment.
The generator is equipped with an eco-mode throttle which, when engaged, will automatically adjust the engine for better fuel efficiency when there are fewer appliances drawing power. If you require additional power, you can purchase a parallel connection kit which will allow you to double up the power by plugging a second generator into the circuit. Each generator is equipped with two 120V 20A 3-prong receptacles for appliance connections, a 5V USB Port, and a 12V DC 8.3A port for charging batteries.
At just 48 pounds, this generator is very lightweight and compact. This, also with a large and comfortable handle make it one of the more portable options.
A two-year warranty covers the equipment, and WEN supports its product with a nationwide network of service technicians.
2. Champion 3100-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Wireless Remote Start
Start your generator from the comfort of your travel trailer. This generator is equipped with an electric starter and a remote key fob that allows you to start the engine from a distance of eighty meters. Quick Start Technology helps to start the generator in cold winter conditions. A touch panel gives you access to the controls you need and includes push-to-reset circuit breakers. The generator also includes a start-up battery.
The Champion 3100 can power 3100 watts of start-up load and 2800 watts of running load. This is impressive power for a quiet operator that runs at just 58 dB from twenty-three feet away. Also, boasting a 1.6-gallon gasoline tank, it will run for eight hours straight at 25% load. If that’s not enough, it includes an economy mode which, when engaged, will automatically adjust the engine for quieter operation, consumption efficiency, and extended engine life.
For safety, the Champion inverter limits Total Harmonic Distortion to three percent so you can use your sensitive electronic appliances. The generator has a low-oil shut-off sensor to protect it from the damage caused by running dry.
For additional portability, the model is equipped with two sturdy handles that fold away for easy storage, and it also comes with a wheel kit. What’s more, it weighs just forty-eight pounds and is protected by a sturdy steel frame.
The generator is EPA compliant and CARB efficient. It has two 120V 20A outlets for household plugs, two 120V 30A RV ports, a dual USB adaptor, and a 12V DC outlet.
It is covered by a three-year limited warranty and free lifetime technical support.
3. Westinghouse WGen3600 Portable Generator – 3600 Rated Watts & 4650 Peak Watts – RV Ready – Gas Powered – CARB Compliant
The Westinghouse generator is a powerhouse. It manages 4650 watts of starting power and 3600 running watts, emitting 69 dB of noise at fifty percent load. The generator has a large four-gallon gasoline tank with a fuel gauge that will allow it to run for twelve hours on 50% load. It is equipped with a control panel, which customers say is quite intuitive.
The generator is powered by a four-stroke OHV motor, covered in a durable cast iron sleeve. Conveniently, it can be powered by either gasoline or propane gas and has a low oil shutdown valve as protection against running dry.
The strong outer hardened-steel frame doubles as roll bars as protection for the fuel tank. The generator has a push button electric start and a remote key ring fob.
The generator is quite bulky, weighing 107 lbs, but the built-in handles and large solid wheels in the included wheel kit make it portable enough.
The oil, a funnel and a toolkit are included with the generator.
It is EPA, CSA, and CARB compliant. It has two 120V 20A household outlets, one 120V 30a RV outlet and one L5-30 120V 30A outlet. All have rubber covers for additional safety.
The WGen 3600 has a three-year warranty and technical support from the one thousand five hundred service centers around the United States for a lifetime of use.
4. Duromax XP4850EH 3850 Running Watts/4850 Starting Watts Dual Fuel Electric Start Portable Generator
The Duromax is equipped with an air-cooled OHV engine that is designed to burn both gasoline or propane gas. It is capable of 4850 watts of starting power and 3800 watts of running power. You can expect a ten percent reduction in capability when propane powers the generator, but using propane will save on engine wear and tear. Also extending the engine’s life are the corrosion protecting cast iron sleeves on the engine.
The heavy-duty frame has mounting points for the motor to reduce sound output. Additionally, the generator has a large muffler to dampen sound and runs at 69dB.
The four-gallon fuel tank will keep the generator running for eight hours on 50% load capacity. It can also be connected to propane gas source where it could run for longer periods, depending on the size of the gas installation.
The power panel has an oil warning light and a low oil sensor and voltmeter. The starter is electric and is triggered by a key. It also has a recoil motor in case of battery failure. A circuit breaker is included for safety.
For portability, the wheels have solid tires, and the machine has high profile front mounted handles that make it easier to move from place to place. Although relatively compact, this generator weighs a whopping one hundred and forty-two pounds.
The kit includes some of the tools that you will need for basic maintenance and a funnel with a clear tube.
It has a 12V DC port for charging batteries, one 120V 30A RV connection, and two 120V 20A outlets for household plugs.
The generator is EPA approved, but it is not CARB approved so it cannot be used in the state of California.
A three-year warranty covers this generator.
5. Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000 PowerSmart Series Portable 3000-Watt Inverter Generator with (4) 120-Volt AC Outlets and (1) 12-Volt DC Outlet
This portable generator can produce 2600 watts of running power and 3000 watts of starting power. This is typically sufficient power generation for the average trailer air conditioner. This quiet, clean-burning engine has been engineered for reduced noise, fuel efficiency, and reduced emissions.
This generator boasts patented Quiet Power Technology that allows the user to adjust the engine speed for quieter and more efficient fuel use. When the QPT is engaged, the generator runs at just 58dB.
The 1.5-gallon tank will run for ten hours with continuous use at twenty-five percent of capacity. A parallel port means that you can run two generators side by side for more power without using one of the four 120V 20A household ports. It is also equipped with a USB port and a 12V DC port.
The LCD screen allows you to check the running statistics and will supply reminders about maintenance requirements.
For improved portability, it is fitted with six-inch solid wheels, telescoping luggage handle, and twin lift handle so this ninety-four-pound generator should be able to be lifted by two people.
This model comes with a two-year limited warranty.
The right travel trailer generator is one that has enough power to cover the starting and running requirements of your appliances, is portable, quiet, and has the features that offer you the best value for money. Finally, the generators discussed in this article are also ideal generators for RVs and other motorhomes. Happy camping!