7 Best generators for your RV air conditioner (Full reviews)

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I’m sitting here in an RV park in Tucson, Arizona feeling very hot and thinking what is the best generator for an RV air conditioner?

One of the most nerve-wracking things when traveling in an RV is worrying if your air conditioner will stop when you need it most. So I asked around the RV park and did a little research to find the most suitable generators to power not only your air conditioner but the other appliances in your RV, too. Let’s look at the best choices available.

My choice for the best overall generator for air conditioners in RVs is the Champion 3400. If you have a limited budget, I recommend the WEN 56475. For those that have a large budget, I recommend the Honda EU3000IS.

Let’s start by looking look at the things you need to consider before purchasing an RV generator.

Things to consider when buying a generator for your RV air conditioner.

  1. Choosing between a conventional or an inverter generator
  2. Power output
  3. Portable vs. Permanent
  4. Noise levels
  5. Fuel consumption
  6. Price

Conventional vs. Inverter Generator

Generators can power all sorts of appliances and devices in RVs when grid electricity isn’t available.

My RV fanatic friend John has been through a few generators in his travels so he says that choosing the right one is key to trouble-free RV traveling.

The two main generator options are inverter and standard models.

More recently, inverter generators have become more popular. Let’s have a quick look at the differences.

Inverter generators are usually smaller, lighter, and much quieter than conventional generators. An inverter generator is quite simply a generator with a built-in inverter.

They’re able to convert DC power into AC power with high frequency. This process prevents power fluctuations making them better than standard generators.

Both types of generators come in lots of configurations with different power outputs and fuel sources.

The main difference between them is efficiency. Conventional generators work at a constant speed. This makes them reliable but unfortunately non-adjustable. This means that they make more noise and consume more fuel.

Inverter generators allow you to adjust their speeds depending on how much power you need. This means that they are quieter, more fuel-efficient, and have a smaller carbon footprint.

Power Output

One of your main considerations should be the amount of power your generator needs to produce.

For example, to power a 15,000-BTU air conditioner, you must be sure that your generator can produce enough power.

Devices like microwave ovens and AC units demand a lot of power. If you want to run them regularly, check that the generator has a sufficient wattage output.

Portable vs. Permanent Generators

All of the generators reviewed in this article are portable. Portable generators are the best choice for camping, tailgating, or general use in your RV.

If after research you’d prefer a permanent generator, my choice is the Generac 70432 Home Generator.

A permanent generator is installed directly onto an RV. It is connected to an onboard fuel source or backup battery. These devices must be fitted by professionals and are more expensive.


If noise is one of your primary considerations when choosing a generator, you’ll be pleased that this was one of our main factors in this article.

Many RV parks have regulations regarding the amount of noise that is tolerated. Not to mention that most RV owners prefer not to have their peace disturbed by a roaring generator.

All the generators here take noise regulations into account and are quiet enough for any RV park. RV park noise regulations are based on decibel levels at a set distance.

Fuel Consumption

Another major consideration when choosing the perfect generator is the amount of fuel that you will need to run it.

Obviously, the fuel consumption will depend on the load you place on the device. If you are running a heap of devices, you will deplete the fuel faster.


Value for money is another of my considerations in compiling this list of generators. If you’re in a hurry, the cheapest generator to power your air conditioner is the WEN 56475. Of course, cheaper is not always better so I have not included some of the low-quality Chinese models that can be found on the market today.

Driving RV with Air Conditioning

What size generator is needed to run an RV air conditioner?

If you regularly boondock, choosing the correctly sized generator is key. 

Size is dependent on the devices you wish to run on your generator. It is also dependent on the maximum wattage that each appliance will need to run. 

Large appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators require more wattage. If you run many appliances at the same time, you will require more power. 

You should take note of the BTU of your RV air conditioner. This will determine how many watts will be required to keep your RV cool and comfortable.

For example, if you have a 15,000 BTU A/C unit, you should choose a generator that can produce more than 3,000 watts. If you have a smaller A/C unit rated between 5,000 BTU to 8,000 BTU, you will need a generator that can produce at least 2,000 watts. With that being said, you’re better to stick to models with 3,000 watts to avoid any issues with running multiple appliances. 

Take some time to add up the wattage that each of your appliances needs and choose a generator that can easily cope with the demand.

What power output is required to run an RV air conditioner?

After asking multiple RV owners, the general consensus is that a generator needs to have 2000 to 4000-watt capacity.

As I have mentioned, there are a few factors involved in choosing the right size of generator.

In most cases, when using an air conditioner in your RV, a 2000-watt generator will be sufficient. If you want to be on the safe side, or you will be running lots of appliances at the same time, a 3000-watt generator is a better choice.

For every 1,000 BTU of cooling output, the air conditioner in an RV will need approx.100 watts of power input. This is based on most RV air conditioning units having a 10 EER rating. 

If you have a 13,000 BTU AC unit with a 10 EER rating, your generator must produce about 1,300 watts.

What type of generator is best for an RV air conditioner?

You might be asking yourself if you can just forget about power requirements and just grab the largest-sized portable generator that you can afford.

Technically, you could but it would not be a smart move. Conventional open-framed generators are known for being extremely loud. They are fine for construction sites but definitely too loud for RV parks or campsites.

Therefore, take your time and choose the quietest generator that can power your RV appliances. A good guide is that any generator that produces more than 60dB (sixty decibels) is too loud for RV parks and camping trips.

This means that most conventional portable generators are too noisy and that is why I only recommend a portable inverter generator.

Sorry to repeat myself but get one with at least 3000 watts just to be on the safe side. The Champion 3400 is an excellent choice when taking all considerations into account.

I’ve already mentioned how inverter generators differ from conventional generators earlier in this article. The main reason is that they are a lot smaller and lighter than those ordinary open-framed generators.

Best generators for RV air conditioners

Make & ModelWattage (Start/Running)Weight (lbs.)Volume (dB)Price
Champion 34003400, 31009659$$
Honda EU3000IS3000, 280013458$$$
WEN 564754750, 375011267$
Champion 40004000, 35008264$
DuroMax XP4400EH4400, 350012869$
Westinghouse WGen60007500, 600018372$
WEN 56380i3800, 34009957$

Best overall generator- Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel

This Champion model is my pick for the best generator for RV air conditioners. It can run on both propane gas and electricity. With just a flick of a switch, you can change the fuel source.

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Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Electric Start

Last update was on: March 24, 2023 5:11 pm

Propane generators are less expensive to operate than their electric counterparts. Although this generator is not cheap, you’ll spend less on fuel which will result in a faster return on your investment.

When using gasoline, you’ll get a little more power. When switched over to propane mode, the running time is increased to around 15 hours.

I love the wireless remote ignition feature on this model. The generator may be turned on and off from up to 80 feet away using the key fob.

The Champion 3400 comes with a number of receptacles so that you can connect it to your RV without needing any further adapters.

Another benefit is that it doesn’t generate too much noise. Noise levels are around 59 dB at a distance of 23 feet so you won’t annoy your neighbors in national campgrounds.

There’s plenty of power available with this generator that can produce up to 3,100 running watts and 3,400 watts for starting. This is ample to run most heavy-duty travel trailers that use a refrigerator, lights, and an air conditioner. 

Because it’s an inverter generator, the Champion 3400 produces clean electricity that will not harm sensitive devices such as laptops, tablets, and televisions.

Champion’s range of generators is among the most popular in the RV world. They are very good value for money and have solid reviews from thousands of happy owners.

At the time of writing, Champion provides a limited 3-year warranty on all of their products making them a very sensible choice.

Best high-end generator – Honda EU3000IS

If you’ve been looking online before finding my review, this high-end entry will come as no surprise.

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Honda Power Equipment EU3000IS 3000W 120V Portable Home Gas Power Generator

Last update was on: March 24, 2023 5:11 pm

Honda has a wonderful reputation for building some of the best generators in the world. Their units are among the quietest on the market and they are known for their easy operation and excellent reliability.

This generator is the most expensive on my list and remains the go-to choice if the price tag isn’t an issue. The reason for the cost is that Honda is the biggest and most reliable company when it comes to generators and the EU3000IS is a good example of this.

This machine can easily power a 13,500 BTU air conditioner with plenty of power left to charge your batteries.

2800 watts of power output are regulated by an internal microprocessor. This ensures that your sensitive electronics are always safe and there is zero chance of blowing out mobile phones, microwaves, tablets, etc.

Noise output is very good with a range of 49 to 58 decibels. This is thanks to an onboard muffler which allows little more than a quiet hum while in use.

Another strength of the Honda EU3000SI is fuel efficiency. It will keep you powered for up to 20 hours. It has a 3.4-gallon tank which is more than enough for most RV owners.

Your RV air conditioner is in safe hands with this generator with its clean and consistent electricity. I also like that when the generator detects low oil, it will automatically shut down to avoid any issues.

Best budget generator – WEN 56475

If you’re on the hunt for a reliable generator to power your air conditioner (and all of your other devices) but you’re on a tight budget, I highly recommend the WEN 56475.

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WEN 56475 4750-Watt Portable Generator with Electric Start and Wheel Kit

& Free shipping
Last update was on: March 24, 2023 5:11 pm

This popular model is the most budget-friendly option on our list but still provides plenty of power to run your AC unit when you camp. It has an electrical start but runs on gasoline.

It has an impressive 4750 watts for start-up and a running rate of 3750 watts. That is ample for the majority of your RV needs and you’ll also have cash left over to buy some other RV accessories.

This particular WEN model features an electric starter, sturdy wheels, and a collapsible handle for easy transportation.

It’s a very fuel-efficient unit that can run for up to ten hours on a single tank of gas. The tank is very large at a whopping 4 gallons.

It may not have as many plug-in options as the Champion 3400, but it will also protect your devices thanks to its spark arrestor and voltage regulator.

Safety is assured with a low-oil shutdown and voltage/overload protection. It also features a very cool spark arrestor which prevents the potential ignition of any nearby flammable debris. 

Thousands of happy customers mention the quietness of this generator, the easy-to-use controls, and its reliability.

With its solid warranty, you get support for 2 years from technicians in approx. 1,000 locations spread across the United States.

Best fuel economy generator – Champion 100302 4000

The Champion 4000 generator is a worthy contender for the best generator for RV air conditioners. With more power than the Champion 3400, it is also more fuel-efficient.

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Champion Power Equipment 100302 4000-Watt RV Ready Open Frame Inverter, Yellow

Last update was on: March 24, 2023 5:11 pm
$963.04 $1,091.00

This generator provides 4000 watts on start up and when running, it can produce 3500 watts to keep your electrical devices running safely. This means that even more powerful air conditioners will have enough juice with plenty left over for all of the other gadgets in your recreational vehicle.

Champion claims up to 17 hours of use on one tank of fuel (at a 25% capacity) which will allow you and your family worry-free camping trips no matter what your plans are.

In addition to improved fuel efficiency and a larger capacity, this generator has more features than its younger brother, the Champion 3400. These include a useful USB adapter, quieter operation levels, and an impressive eco mode which improves the fuel economy. Taking all this into consideration, it’s arguably the most technologically advanced generator on my list.

Fans of this model argue that all of the average RV’s power needs are met for a very modest purchase price.

One negative (which actually keeps the price down) is that the Champion 4000 has a manual pull-start instead of a flashy push-button starter. Don’t let this put you off though as it’s still easy to get it going with a simple pull of the cord.

Another reason for the low price is that the wheels are sold separately. You can get some if you need them but many owners prefer to save a few bucks by not buying them.

This one produces a maximum of 64dB, which is about the same volume as people speaking at a distance of 23 feet.

Overall, the Champion 4000 generator is difficult to beat for fuel economy and has over four thousand reviews on Amazon with a 4.6-star rating (at the time of writing).

Best dual fuel generator – DuroMax XP4400EH

For RV owners that are only interested in dual-fuel generators, the DuroMax XP4400EH could be the one for you due to its ability to run on both propane and gasoline.

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DuroMax XP4400EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator-4400 Watt Gas or Propane Powered Electric...

& Free shipping
Last update was on: March 24, 2023 5:11 pm
$430.15 $749.99

This generator is priced very competitively considering that it comes with an electric starter and wheels for easy transportation.

DuroMax claims that in gas mode, users can enjoy approx. 9 hours of runtime and in propane mode, it will go even longer.

Start-up power is rated at 4400 watts and then it reduces to 3500 running watts. This means that it is more than adequate for running RV AC systems in addition to all of your other electrical appliances.

Another large benefit of DuroMax is the option to attach up to 20 gallons of propane. This fuel source is cheaper and more convenient and in my opinion, is the future of RV generators.

Noise levels are reasonable but maybe a little too loud for some RV owners. It has been described as having the same volume as a modern lawn mower. If noise is your primary concern, you should consider the WEN 56380i which is featured later in this article.

Best high-wattage generator – Westinghouse WGen6000

Are you sure that you’ll have enough power to run your AC unit with the aforementioned generators? Would you also like the option of using your generator to power your home in the event of a blackout or power outage?

If capacity is a concern to you, you should consider the Westinghouse WGen6000. This impressive generator has the highest wattage of all the machines on my list.

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Westinghouse WGen6000 Portable Generator 6000 Rated & 7500 Peak Watts, Gas Powered,...

& Free shipping
Last update was on: March 24, 2023 5:11 pm
$701.45 $772.61

There will be no doubt that your AC unit will run without issue alongside all of your other electrical gadgetry with this powerful generator. This particular model has a start-up wattage of 7500 watts and it runs at 6000 watts under normal use.

Considering it is a gasoline generator, the powerful 420cc 4-Stroke engine has a decent running time of approx. 13 hours on a single 25-liter tank of fuel.

Fans of the Westinghouse like the smooth electric startup and the rugged wheels which work well on just about any surface.

On a negative note, this baby isn’t the quietest generator on my list but considering the power that it produces, it is a small price to pay for such a powerful machine.

Despite its wattage, the Westinghouse generator is still very portable and doesn’t take up much space. It is however quite heavy at 174 pounds.

At the time of writing, Westinghouse generators come with a 3-Year limited service, labor, and parts coverage with lifetime technical support from their nationwide customer service and support network.

Best quiet generator – WEN 56380i

WEN has a great reputation among RV owners and makes some of the most budget-friendly generators on the market. They have a ton of amazing reviews from happy customers that show that you don’t need to spend $3K to power your RV gadgets.

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WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt RV-Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Fuel Shut-Off...

& Free shipping
Last update was on: March 24, 2023 5:11 pm

The power output of the WEN 56380i is very respectable at 3800 peak watts/ 3400 rated watts. This is definitely adequate to power your RV appliances including a 13,500 BTU air con unit. The WEN 56380i is also cheap to run with around 8.5 hours of electricity at half load.

I am a big fan of the fuel shutoff feature that maximizes the generator’s lifespan by using up the remaining fuel in the carburetor before shutting down.

Specially designed for RV’ers, it has a dedicated output so that you can plug it straight into your travel trailer. Like all of the “gennies” on this list, it’s an inverter model so can be trusted to charge sensitive electronic devices.

Peace lovers will gravitate to the WEN as it is very quiet. At just 57dB, you’ll be able to camp without annoying your nature-loving neighbors. If you didn’t know, the US national park/campsite noise regulation is 65 dB.

The unit comes with two three-prong 120V receptacles, one AC 120V NEMA TT-30R RV receptacle, one 12V DC receptacle, one 5V USB port, and a digital load/fuel display.


What type of fuel Is best for recreational vehicle generators?

There are three fuels used to power generators for recreational vehicles. They are gas, diesel, and propane.

Diesel is the most efficient fuel for generators. Diesel provides approx. 138,700 BTUs per gallon. It is also the cleanest burning of the three kinds of fossil fuels.

Gas-powered RV generators are the most widely used because of their availability. Most gas-powered generators can use your RV’s fuel tank. Gasoline has a short shelf-life of about 3 months so please keep this in mind.

Propane generators are usually the least efficient and most expensive. They burn through fuel faster than gas or diesel. Propane/LP gas is fast becoming the most popular choice for RV generators because it’s easy to find, store, and move around.

Many of today’s rig appliances use propane so you probably have tanks on board your RV. Propane has a longer shelf-life than gas and diesel because it’s stored in sealed tanks. It is also the lightest fuel of the three if you are keen to keep the weight down.

Each of these types of fuels has its own advantages and disadvantages. You should base your choice of fuel on cost, and most importantly, how easy the fuel is to get and store.

How do I connect a portable generator to my RV?

In most cases, the answer is simple. Just plug your RV power cord into it! But it’s not always that straightforward because some generators don’t have power outlets that will fit.

In these cases, you’ll need to get a “dogbone” adapter to connect the RV plug to the generator outlet.

When you’re ready to connect, turn on your generator, let it run for a few minutes and then plug in the RV power cord.

A step-by-step guide to connecting portable generators to recreational vehicles.

  • Step 1 – Place the grounding rod into the ground in the spot where you will place the generator.
  • Step 2 – Connect the copper wire from the grounding rod to your generator.
  • Step 3 – Make sure to route your generator’s exhaust away from the vehicle.
  • Step 4 – Plug the RV’s connector cable into the generator.
  • Step 5 – Turn the portable generator and you’re good to use it.

How do I take care of an RV Generator?

Modern generators (like the ones on this list) don’t require much maintenance if you take care of them.

The most important thing is to keep your generator somewhere stable so it doesn’t tip over during travel. If it falls over, the gas and oil in the unit may spill out. Not only will this make a mess, but it could also hinder the functioning of the unit.

My RV-loving friend has actually built a sturdy box to keep his generator so that it can’t fall over. He learned the hard way after so please learn from his mistake.

Another good tip is to keep gas from sitting in the lines by purchasing a generator that allows you to shut off the flow of gas before it turns off. A good example of this is the WEN 56380i. This safety feature causes the generator to shut off on its own as soon as the gas has left the lines. Leaving gas in fuel lines/tanks can destroy the engine.

And don’t forget to change the oil. You can check with the manufacturer for the frequency as this varies from model to model.

Here is a quick list of things to keep your eye on.

  • Check oil levels regularly
  • Change the oil regularly
  • Replace and clean air filters
  • Replace spark plugs when necessary
  • Replace fuel filters

How long will my generator last?

The lifespan of a portable generator will obviously depend on the type that you buy. If I had to give a number, the average lifespan will be between 10,000 to 30,000 hours. This number will depend on the quality of the unit, the frequency of use, and how well it is maintained

If longevity is your main concern, stick to brands like Honda or Champion.

What outlets are required for RV generators?

There are a number of outlet configuration styles on generators so it’s best to consult the manual or contact the manufacturer.

The main thing is to know the NEMA configurations of both the RV plug and the generator outlet. In many cases, the NEMA configuration will be stated on the generator’s outlet.

Below is a list of the most common NEMA configurations.

  • NEMA 5-15/20
  • NEMA L5-20
  • NEMA L5-30
  • NEMA TT-30
  • NEMA L14-20
  • NEMA L14-30
  • NEMA 14-50

I hope that I have answered all of your questions concerning choosing the right generator to power your RV air conditioners. If you have any further questions, just send me an email at matt@everydayape.com.

If you liked this article, you might also like my article What to take on holiday for a week.

Everyday Ape