Travel Trailers with Generators: Who Makes the Best?

We were shopping for travel trailers the other day when it suddenly dawned on us. None of them had a  generator.

Well, this will never do, we thought. What if we decide some day to go  off into the back of beyond and camp for a week with no power at all?

I mean, our family is big on roughing it, but there’s such a thing as doing without to the point of insanity.

And we felt that going a whole week without a shower — much less any other amenities like computers or even the microwave — was asking too much.

There would be a general revolt. So…

What’s the right generator for a travel trailer?

 

If you own a travel trailer of any size, you have probably gone beyond the power needs of tailgaters and tent campers, who rely on their 2000 watt or 2200 watt inverter generators to supply power on a very short term basis.

What’s the difference?

Well, here’s the thing. You could get by with any of the three top 2200 watt inverter generators that are out there. You’ve seen them on other review sites. They’re cute and small and relatively quiet. And, as other sites point out, you cam easily hook two of them together to double your power output.

It’s totally up to you.

However, we feel we need to mention the downsides, because there are a few with this approach.

  1. When you run two of those generators together, you double the number of decibels you’re putting out. It makes for noise. A lot of it.
  2. And remember — if you just use one unit all the time, you’ll constantly be counting watts and amps, and playing power roulette. You’ll be forever stopping one appliance or device before starting another.

That gets old. Fast.

So if you want a generator that has enough power to start and run your gadgets and appliances without having to constantly count watts and amps, awaiting certain overload.

AND, one that will remain as quiet as any of the 2200 watt generators, here it is:

It’s the Champion 3100-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Wireless Remote Start.

No, it’s not compact, sleek or even very cute. but click on the photo and check out that 4.3 star rating over more than 350 tough Amazon reviews.

There are other features you may find extremely useful, such as a remote start and long run time (8 hours) on a single tank of gas.

And it’s quiet — a normal  conversation would be its equivalent most of the time at 58 dB. About the same as the Honda 2200, and a whooole lot cheaper, plus more powerful.

Finally, it has more than 250 five star reviews and an unheard-of 86% approval rating overall. If you’re looking for your first — and only — travel trailer generator, this could be it.

Here are a few more of its many features:

  • Wireless Remote Start – Included key fob allows you to start and stop your generator from up to 80 feet away
  • Convenient electric start with 3-position ignition switch
  • Battery included, plus quick touch panel allows you to access all your controls in one spot
  • Frequency: 60 Hz. clean power for sensitive electronics 
  • RV ready with a 120V 30A RV, plus two 120V 20A household outlets with clean electricity (less than 3% THD) and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter
  • Ultra-Quiet Operation – 58 dBA is just right for travel trailers and RVs, especially in campgrounds where being a quiet neighbor is important.

Is it perfect? Almost

Will it run absolutely everything in your travel trailer all at once? Almost. Some appliances would need to be turned off before starting another.

But for the money and the ROI, we think it’s worth looking into as a primary power source when you’re off the grid.

The only downside.

It’s not what anyone could call “portable”. At a hefty 96 pounds, it may require two people to lift. But its rear wheels and sturdy handle do make it transportable when you get it onto the ground.

Many travel trailer owners solve the weight issue simply by locking it in place in the bed of their pickup — or on a  cargo carrier that mounts to the rear chassis of the trailer. (Click here to see photos). Just be sure to secure the generator safely for transport with rubber straps, and heavy duty bike lock chains to prevent theft.

Take a look at it on Amazon here.

 A few more recommendations

Take a look at the Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Electric Start.

At 3400 starting watts, and 3100 running watts, it will keep you cool by starting and running your 13,500 BTU rooftop air conditioner — or even your top of the line 15,000 BTU AC — and still supply enough power for just about everything else.

It also has dual fuel capacity — gasoline or propane — extending the running life on any day or night.

Plenty of other features, but we’ll just mention a few:

  • Has a low oil shut-off sensor
  • Electric start with 3-position ignition switch
  • Noise level :59 dBA at 23 feet. 
  • Up to 7.5 hours run time on gasoline
  • RV Ready with a 120V 30A RV port, plus two 120V 20A household outlets and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter

Find it on Amazon here.

For those with plenty of disposable income…

The decision on which 3000 watt generator to recommend  for well-heeled campers is easy. If you have plenty of money left over after buying your travel trailer, by all means get a Honda Power Equipment EU3000IH1A (why do they have all those numbers and letters in the name?)

They’re only a couple of thousand dollars. But even we have to admit they’re probably worth it. Among other things, they are very quiet. No less than 57 dB (about as noisy as a conversation) and no more than 65 dB (approaching the level of street noise or perhaps a radio).

And they can run, uninterrupted, for 7.5 hours straight without a refill on a single tank. Just about enough to last all night.

And how much do they weigh?

Oops, you’ve got us there. It’s a hefty 88 pounds. But it does come with wheels. Little tiny ones. See them in the picture?

But we said we weren’t going to try to sell you anything. So…

Here’s the short list of other features:

  • Starts up recreational vehicle air conditioning units up to 13,500 BTUs
  • Exceptionally portable, sporting 2 handles and wheels, the EU3000i Handi can be rolled to your destination, plus loaded and unloaded very easily by 1 or 2 people

See this generator on Amazon here.

6500 Watt Generators: Our kick-ass recommendation

The Briggs & Stratton 30675A Q6500 Inverter Generator – 6500 Starting Watts QuietPower Series Portable Generator. 

This big boy is probably overkill for a camping trailer, but will certainly provide an abundance of power at a reasonable cost.

Primarily designed for use as a backup home generator, it can also run almost 14 hours on a single tank of gas and, even though powerful enough to run everything in your home during a power outage, is nevertheless quite safe for sensitive electronics as well.

Is it quiet? Well, at 66 dB at 1/4 load, that equates it with, according to the chart below, a bit more than a casual conversation and more towards the sound of a vacuum cleaner. So, is it quiet? We’d have to say no. Will it power everything you could possibly turn on and leave running? Oh, yeah.

Just don’t fire it up in a campground.

Find it here.

Wait. We’re not done.

We know we said the 2200 watt inverter generators don’t pack enough juice for serious travel trailer consideration, but…

If you hook two of em together, you get a whopping 4400 watts of clean, usable power — for everything from your 15,000 BTU air conditioner to your microwave to your DirectV receiver, All at the same time.

Are they powerful? Yep. Are they quiet? Not when they’re run in tandem, which is what we are suggesting. But if you’re way off grid, in the back of beyond, who cares? Fire them both up, have a chilled glass of wine under the stars and relax, knowing you’ll be able to sleep in fully air conditioned comfort all night.

A final word about power requirements

Even at 3000 – 3400 watts, it would still be a good idea to know how many watts — generally — each of the most common electrical items in a travel trailer consumes. Here y’go!

Use this chart as a general rule of thumb.

And,here’s an informative chart about noise

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Let’s see. What other questions?

Ah. How best to hook your generator(s) up to your camping trailer or travel trailer.

Your trailer, if new, should have come with a thick power cord, probably about 20 feet long, with 30 amp connectors on each end (one male, the other female). If you don’t have one, here’s an inexpensive one on Amazon.

Simply position your generator(s) at least 15 feet away (the full 20 feet is better), or leave them mounted in the basket or in your pickup bed. On the Champion, there is a built-in receptacle for a 30 amp cord. On the 2200s, which just have 110 AC plugs, you’ll need this “dogbone” adapter. And if you don’t know what a “dogbone” is in RV parlance, watch this homemade video. It explains stepdowns and stepups pretty well — situations you may encounter in RV parks or elsewhere.

 

Still wondering what an inverter is? Watch this video.

A final note

There are other portable generators out there which we looked at carefully, but elected not to recommend due to:

    • High price relative to power output
    • High noise levels
    • Mid to low Amazon ratings and complaints

Power output chart for travel trailers

Appliance Running Watts Amps @ 115V
Air Conditioner – Roof Top
–7,000 BTU 600 8
–10,000 BTU 700 10
–13,500 BTU 1250 14
–15,000 BTU 1500 14.5
Blender 300 2.6
Blow Dryer (Hair) 900-1500 7.8-13
Cell Phones 2-6 0.1
Can Opener 120-300 1.0-2.6
CD/DVD Player 35-100 0.3-0.9
Clock Radio 50 0.4
Coffee Maker (4 cup – 10 cup) 650-1200 5.7-10.4
Corn Popper 275-600 2.4-5.2
Computer/Monitor 100-400 0.9-3.5
Laptop 50-75 0.4-0.7
Tablet 2-6 0.1
Printer 60-240 0.5-2.1
Crockpot 250 2.2
Curling Iron 300-800 2.6-7.0
DVD Player 40-60 0.3-0.5
Electric Blanket 500 4.3
Electric Fry Pan 1200 10.4
ElectricWaterHeater (6 gallon) 1440 12.5
Fan 40-300 0.4-2.6
Furnace Fan (1/3 HP) 1200 10.4
Heating Pad 250 2.2
Hot Plate 1200 10.4
Iron 1000-1500 8.7-13.0
Microwave (600 to 1000W) 1100-2000 9.6-17.4
Power Converter 575-800 5.0-7.0
Refrigerator/Freezer 400-1200 3.5-10.4
Satellite Dish & Receiver 200-250 1.7-2.2
Shaver 35 0.3
Space Heater 1000-1500 8.7-13.0
Stereo 30-100 0.3-0.9
Toaster 800-1500 7.0-13.0
Toaster Oven 1200 10.4
TV – 25″ Color 300 2.6
TV – 19″ Color 160 1.4
Vacuum 200-1100 1.7-9.6
VCR 40-60 0.3-0.5
Waffle Iron 1200 10.4
Washer/Dryer 600-1900 5.2-16.5

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Click here to return midway.

What if power goes out in my house? Can I use these generators there?

travel trailer with generator

Yes, all these units will work. Either by pairing or, in the case of the Champion generator, all by itself.

Again, check the wattage requirement chart below to see (a) how many watts/amps it takes to start an item and (b) how many it takes to keep it running.

By doing the math, you’ll quickly see that if you want to power your whole house during an outage, you’ll need one of the bigger (and probably less portable) travel trailers generators. Or a pairing of two smaller units.

Finally, a how-to guide to tying into your breaker box

Just in case you need the knowledge…

Watch this video and prep for a power outage before it happens.

rv wifi booster

Need a WiFi connection while camping?

Speaking of laptops and tablets — and cell phones — how can you get a WiFi signal while camping? Take a look at this post on the three top solutions.

Subscribe to receive other pertinent — and unique — reviews. You should see a signup form in the right hand column, or perhaps at the bottom of this post.

Last thing:

We appreciate you stopping by and hope our insights have proven helpful. If the information has been at all helpful, and you decide to buy, we’d appreciate your using one of our links. We’re members of Amazon Associates and receive a small commission for every sale. And, ff you have had a good experience with one of these units — or another generator — feel free to leave a comment below.

Thanks so much!

FINAL NOTE: We make no guarantees about your personal experience with any of these generators. We’ve offered pros and cons on each one. Read those and consider carefully before buying.

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