RV Inverter Generators – The Pros & Cons Explained

Good Sam ESP

So what are RV inverter generators anyway?

One thing they are not is the loud and obnoxious construction type of generator. Those may be fine where heavy construction is going on, but don’t bring them to a campsite.

If you do, you will be sure to make enemies quickly. The noise and fumes from those generators will annoy everyone around you. And you won’t like it either!

RV inverter generators are much smaller in size. And although they do make some noise, it’s very low in comparison.

And they are very fuel efficient too. They can usually run several hours non-stop on just a gallon of gas.

So these kind of generators are well-suited for use with RVs, especially while boondocking. But they may not be the best choice for RV power for everyone.

So let’s discuss the pros and cons and see who benefits most from the use of an inverter generator.

RV inverter generators - are they better than solar power?
Watch my video on RV inverter generators by clicking the image above

Disclosure: Please note this post may contain affiliate links. This means – at no additional cost to you – I earn a commission if you make a purchase using our affiliate links. I only link to products and companies I use and feel comfortable recommending. The income goes toward supporting the free content on this website

The Pros Of RV Inverter Generators

  • When compared to the cost of RV solar power, it is much less. A solar system that can run most appliances in the RV other than ACs can cost $5000 or more. An inverter generator that will run everything in the RV including an AC unit is under $1000.
  • Inverter generators can easily run high wattage devices like microwaves, hair dryers, and yes, even air conditioners.
  • They are so simple – all you have to do is plug in the RV power cord and fire up the generator. It really is that simple. The generator will adjust to whatever load is placed upon it up to its power limit.
  • They work in any kind of weather. It doesn’t matter whether it’s sunny or rainy, foggy or clear, night or day. An inverter generator will keep chugging along as long as you provide the fuel for it.
  • Inverter generators produce clean and safe power for all of your sensitive electronic devices.

But What Are The Cons?

  • Noise – yes, the noise level is much reduced when using an RV inverter generator. In fact, if you get more than 15 feet away, you may not even hear it at all. But some noise is produced. And it’s constantly there. This can be unacceptable to some RVers.
  • Weight – Especially if you choose an inverter generator that is big enough to run all your RV appliances and an AC unit. In that case, the generator will probably weigh about 100 lbs. And that kind of weight is not easily moved around. Smaller ones that will only charge up your RV batteries after a day’s use will weigh about 50 lbs.
  • Storage – you have to find somewhere to store the generator when it’s not in use. Many people use the bed of their pickup. Others use a storage compartment in the RV. But these units both take up space and add weight. So you have to plan for that.
  • Requires fuel – inverter generators usually run on gasoline. This means that you will have to bring along a supply of gas and make sure that it is stored safely. Of course, some generators can also run on propane and they are called dual fuel generators. This can be very convenient for RVers since they already carry a supply of propane with them.
  • Needs regular maintenance – all motors and engines will require some kind of maintenance and care. And that is true of these generators too. But the good news is that the needed maintenance is fairly easy to do. In fact, almost anyone can do it.

Who Should Use An Inverter Generator?

RV inverter generators are really nifty devices that bring AC power wherever you need it.

So if you like to go off-grid a lot, or boondock, an inverter generator can be a great purchase. They work particularly well for travel trailers and fifth wheels.

Good Sam Club

Many motorhomes have a generator already permanently installed. So an additional inverter generator may not be needed.

But towable RVs often do not come with an installed generator. So a portable generator can be a great addition in these cases.

However, if you spend all your time in campgrounds plugged into shore power, a generator may not even be necessary.

Another point, some RVers just cannot stand the background noise that a generator produces constantly. Even a relatively quiet one. So it may not fit their RV powers needs at all.

Others have a substantial solar power system installed in their RV. And if so, they may not feel the need to have an inverter generator as well. Although having one as a backup may not be a bad idea.

If you have an RV inverter generator,
please answer this anonymous poll:

Is your inverter generator a Honda or Yamaha?
Is the noise level from your inverter generator bothersome?
Do you use a combination of solar and generator power?

Which Brand Should You Buy?

For many years, the best inverter generators have been made by Honda and Yamaha. And they continue to be excellent products even now.

But times have changed and other manufacturers have entered the inverter generator market. And many of their products are much less expensive.

Of course, that does not mean that any old inverter generator is a good buy. But it also doesn’t mean that Honda and Yamaha are the only prudent choices anymore.

Don’t get me wrong here. Honda and Yamaha inverter generators are still excellent choices. But don’t rule out others that cost as much as 50% less, just because they are a different brand.

In fact, some of the newer products in the field have Amazon user ratings that rival Honda and Yamaha. So compare wisely and choose the brand that fits your budget and needs.

Good Sam Roadside Assistance

What Size RV Inverter Generator?

The size of generator needed depends on your power needs. And power needs can run the full gamut between individual RVers.

But generally speaking, if all you need to do is charge your batteries at the end of a day’s usage, a 2000 watt unit will do fine. And they are lighter in weight too.

But if you need enough power to easily run all of your RV appliances and maybe an AC unit as well, more is needed. Probably 3000+ watts will be required in this case. And that means a heavier unit.

But there is another interesting choice though. This is because two inverter generators can often be hooked together to run simultaneously.

This means that their ouput is almost doubled. So you could have two 2000 watt inverters on hand.

You only use one of them when your power needs are low. But if your power requirements grow, you can run them both together through the use of a parallel cable.

Again, this is an individual choice. You may feel that having only one inverter generator that meets your normal RV power needs is appropriate. But there is always the option to add another one and nearly double your power output.

Click here for a Honda 1000 watt inverter generator

Check out a Yamaha 2200 Watt inverter generator here

Compare a Wen 2000 watt inverter generator here

View a Champion 3400 watt dual fuel inverter generator here

Click here for the Wen parallel cable that runs two inverter generators

(These are affiliate links for the product on Amazon. It does not cost you any extra to buy the product using my affiliate link if you choose to do so)

Combine Solar And Inverter Generators?

For many RVers, the perfect boondocking, or unplugged power source is not either solar or RV inverter generators. It is a combination of the two instead.

If your power needs are fairly high, you can always supplement an installed solar system with an inverter generator. This can be especially beneficial if you are camping where the sun doesn’t always shine a lot.

On the days when the sun is out in full force, the solar system can quietly handle the power needs alone. But sometimes on cloudy or rainy days, solar power is not able to keep up with power demands.

In that case, having a good old fossil-fueled inverter generator may be just what you need.

Other RVers with smaller power needs may still get the benefit of a combination of solar power and generator power too.

In this case, many RVers may choose to use portable solar panels instead of the permanently installed panels.

In the morning, they run the RV inverter generator enough to recharge the batteries up to about 80% of capacity. From there, they shut off the generator and deploy the portable solar panels.

Portable solar panel setup
Example of a portable solar panel setup

Through the day, the solar system tops off and maintains the batteries at full charge. Then battery power can be used for power needs overnight starting with a full charge at evening time. The next day, the process is repeated.

There are other ways to use solar and generator power together for handling RV power needs. You can design a system that works best for you, your rig, and the way you like to camp.

Click here for the Renogy 200 watt portable solar panel unit

(These are affiliate links for the product on Amazon. It does not cost you any extra to buy the product using my affiliate link if you choose to do so)

Conclusion

RV inverter generators are a great source of AC power when you are off-grid or boondocking.

They allow you to run all of the modern conveniences built into RVs at a very low cost. And almost anywhere. Plus, they can even be quiet enough to meet the needs of most RV owners.

So they have a lot of distinct advantages for RV use. But they are not for everyone.

So weigh the advantages and disadvantages of these generators carefully. Then choose from my recommendations above or find a well-reviewed model that works best for you.

With careful advance thought and planning you will make a good choice for your RV power needs.

Have safe and happy travels my friends!

Leave a Reply

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