The Best RV Generators [and How to Power Them]
If you’re out boondocking in your RV, there is no better solution to keeping your creature comforts in order than a great generator. RV generators can help power lights, kitchen appliances, entertainment devices, and more whenever there is nowhere to plug in your shore cord. In this article, we will take a full look into the top generator technologies of today before recommending our best RV generators.
Why use a generator for your RV?
Anyone that has spent time in an RV is well aware that generators provide the most reliable electricity possible. While campsites across the country do offer RV hookups, these stations can be unavailable, overpriced, and more typically out of order. With a generator in tow, it is possible to power your life anywhere the road takes you.
Most commonly, generators can help power:
- Lights (interior and exterior of an RV)
- Rechargeable lanterns
- Cellphones, laptops, tablets, cameras, etc.
- CPAP machines and other medical devices
- Televisions and gaming equipment
- Electric stoves
- Coffee makers
- Electric blankets
- And more
Generators for Recreational Vehicles (RVs)
Today, two main types of fuels are used in generators for recreational vehicles: gas and solar. While traditional RV gas generators run on diesel or gas fuel, many people struggle to accept the definition of a solar generator, which is a fully electric battery charged via solar panels.
Traditional Gas-Powered RV Generators
The most popular type of generators for RV owners today are called “inverter generators,” which run on gas, diesel, or propane. Gas-powered generators are the most affordable kind of RV generators and decades of technological advancement have made them very efficient for low-fuel, high-power output. Inverter generators are very durable and designed to be used throughout long product lifespans.
Portable Batteries and Solar Generators
Solar powered generators, also known as portable power stations, are fully electric generators that can be charged with solar panels. These devices are gaining significant traction in the RV community and are even more popular with DIY builds for van life, campers, trailers, and more. Most solar generators can be charged with solar power as well as traditional AC or DC electricity. For more information, feel free to read our complete solar generator guide.
Should you buy a solar or a gas generator for your RV?
Okay, we’re going to get right to the point here and just say it: you should buy a solar generator. Although gas generators can indeed produce higher electrical outputs at lower investment costs, solar generators are simply an all-around better alternative for RVs in today's world.
Despite costing a bit more upfront, here are the main reasons why a solar generator is almost always better than a gas generator for use in an RV:
- Solar generators can be used indoors and outdoors
- They do not emit harmful fumes or excessive noise when in use
- Can be recharged with free, sustainable solar energy
- Solar generators are typically more compact and lighter
- No more costs and storage of gas/fuel
- And they can still be just as powerful gas generators
Although it is true that sunlight is not always available, today’s solar generators can be recharged in a variety of ways. Many of today’s devices can also swap out spent batteries for continuous access to renewable electricity.
What Size Generator is Best for an RV?
As an RV is essentially a small home, you will want to make sure that your generator will have enough continuous and surge wattage capacity to cover all of your appliances. While minimalist set-ups may see this as overkill, we recommend around 2000W of continuous inverter power for a generator to handle typical RV electrical loads (see solar inverters).
What to Look For in an RV Generator
Besides just its output capacity, there are many important things to consider when shopping for the perfect RV generator. While traditional gas generators require ongoing maintenance and fueling, solar generators are only as good as the quality of their battery for long and efficient lifecycles.
Power is great, but fuel is more important for an RV generator. The battery storage of an RV generator will determine how long you will be able to run your devices and appliances on generator power alone (read more how to store solar energy diy). To calculate this, simply add up the wattages and approximate runtimes of your electronics with our solar load calculator.
Battery Life Cycles (Longevity)
After a solar generator discharges its entire battery capacity, it can be recharged for its next lifecycle. Batteries are rated at a guaranteed number of life cycles in order to give consumers a better idea of how long the battery will last.
If you are considering an RV generator with a battery lifecycle count of 500 or fewer, this device would only be guaranteed to last for less than two years of daily full-battery use. While capacity is important, life cycles are even more so for understanding the return on investment of a solar generator.
Size & Weight
Most RV generators are built to be light, compact, and portable, but some of the higher capacity models can be bulky and difficult to move. If you’ve sunk your retirement into your RV, then it is likely that you will not want to lug around a 100+ pound generator just to keep the lights on. Before purchasing your RV generator - solar kits for RV, make sure that you have the adequate storage and strength to make the most out of your device.
More than anything, we love solar-powered generators because they can supply massive amounts of electricity without the loud operating noises of gas combustion. Low operating noise helps solar generators be useful for overnight demand from air conditioners and CPAP machines, and will not lead to any noise-complaint neighbors knocking on your door.
Power Input Options
Traditional RV generators are typically limited to one lone fuel source, whereas portable power stations are becoming more flexible every year. Today, it is possible to charge a “solar” generator with so much more than sunlight, including DC energy from your car’s cigarette lighter. In some instances, it is even possible to charge a solar generator with a traditional gas generator.
Bonus Power Output Options
Finally, most portable solar generators come with a variety of power output options to be used independently of your RV’s electrical motherboard. For quick charges of cell phones, cameras, tablets, laptops, and more, RV solar generators typically come with a variety of AC, DC, and USB outlets to always provide the most efficient power possible. If you are unsure about size and capacities of generator, see our blog How Much Solar Power Do I Need for My RV?
Top 5 RV Generators
Alright, enough with the nitty-gritty. Through years of rigorous testing and full industry analysis, here are what we believe to be the best RV generators.
The EcoFlow Delta is a revolutionary solar generator that is perfect for both weekenders and full-time RV dwellers. The lightweight and compact design will fit nicely in nearly any storage space with indoor and outdoor use rated for easy power anywhere it needs to be. At an affordable price, the EcoFlow Delta and 400W of solar included in our Quad Kit may be all you will ever need for ongoing solar power.
EcoFlow Delta Specs:
[Battery Capacity]: 1260Wh (350Ah,3.7V)
[Compact Design] Dimensions: 15.7 x 8.3 x 10.6in (40 x 21 x 27cm)
[TONS Of Power]: 6 x AC Plug, Pure Sine Wave Inverter, 1800 Watts continuous (Surge of 3,300 Watts), 120V 60Hz.
[Light Weight]: 30.9 lbs (14kg)
[Works in all Weather] Charge Temperature: 32-113℉ (0-45℃)
[Discharge In Freezing Temperatures]: -4 -113℉ (-20-45℃)
[Testing and Certifications]: UL, CE, FCC, RoHS, PSE
[Cell Chemistry]: Lithium-ion
[Shelf Life]: 1 Year (after fully charged)
Pros of the EcoFlow Delta
The best thing about the EcoFlow Delta is its wicked-fast 2 hour AC charge time. If you’re packing up the RV and about to hit the road, simply plug in your Delta to the wall and it will be fully charged by the time the family is ready to go.
It is also only 30 pounds, so just about anyone can grab it on their way out the door. Plus, the charge lasts for one full year, so the power will always be there when you need it.
Cons of the EcoFlow Delta
If you’re looking for a long-term boondocking solution, the EcoFlow Delta may be limited by its battery and inverter capacity. At 1800W of continuous power, you can run just about anything, but its 1260Wh of battery life will lower the possible runtimes. For RV dwellers with minimum power demands, the Delta is great for reliable power between developed campsites.
What can the EcoFlow Delta 1800 Actually Power?
- Large Fridge 15-18+ Hours
- Lights (10W) 36+ Hours
- Coffee Maker 50+ Cups
- Circular Saw 1+ Hours
- Laptop 27+ Recharges
- Electric Vehicle 3-5 miles (5-8 km)
- CPAP Machine 20+ Hours
- Air Conditioning 0.8+ Hours
- Electric Blanket 25+ Hours
Built for the great outdoors, the Lion Safari ME is the perfect solar generator to complement your personal RV safari. With our Gold Kit, this generator and 400W of solar input can quickly charge up its batteries for use anywhere in the world. Utilizing a completely modular design, you can bring along as many (or as few) backup batteries as necessary to power your adventures.
Lion Safari ME Specs:
- Output - AC [Standard Wall Plugs]: 2 (Easily split these with a surge protector or extension cable)
- Output - USB: 2 USB-A & 2 USB-C
- Rated Battery Capacity: 922wH + 2,048wH = 2,970 watt hours
- Battery Type: Lithium
- Inverter: 2000 Watt Continuous / 4000 Watt Surge - Pure Sine
- Fastest Solar Recharge Time: Under 2 hours
- Lifecycles: 2,000
Pros of the Lion Safari ME
Each Lion Safari ME battery is rated at 2,000 lifecycles, with over 2,000Wh of electricity storage. In simple terms, that’s a lot of power! Even more conveniently, if you are only looking to charge a few small electronics in your RV, you can use the base unit alone for 922Wh of storage with minimal spatial occupancy.
Cons of the Lion Safari ME
There are very few drawbacks to this 2000W generator with highly efficient solar charging. However, we do wish that the device had a special 30-amp RV plug. With only two AC outlets as well, options are somewhat limited as to how many devices can be plugged in at once.
What Can The Lion Safari ME Solar Generator Gold Kit Actually Power?
- Full Size Fridge (120W) - 25+ Hours
- Phone Charging (5W) - Charge up to 200+ times
- Laptop Charging (56W) - Charge up to 50+ times
- 55" LCD T.V (75W) - 38+ Hours
- LED Reading Lamp (4W) - 720+ Hours
- Hot Plate (500W) - 5.8+ Hours
- Air Conditioner (500W) - 5.8+ Hours
- House Fan - (50W) - 60+ Hours
- Microwave - (1k) - 3+ Hours
- Electric Blanket (50W) - 60+ Hours
- CPAP Machine (90W) - 28+ Hours
The Bluetti AC200P is another great 2000W generator designed for RV use. With its designated 25A RV outlet, the Bluetti is perfect as an electrical backup for remote, off-grid power. The AC200P takes advantage of some of the newest technology available to create a one-of-a-kind product sure to be the talk around the campground.
Bluetti AC200P Specs:
- 2,000wh High Capacity Lithium Battery (LiFePO4)
- 2000W Inverter for Continuous AC Power
- 6 x AC (Wall) Outlets
- 1 x 60W PD 2.0 USB-C
- 4 x 5V/3A USB-A
- 1 x PV 35-150V/12A
- 1 x 12V/25A Output
- LG premium electric-vehicle battery cell
- 3500+ Charge Cycles
- MPPT Charge Controller
- 2*15W Wireless charging pads
- Intelligent temperature-controlled cooling fan
- Smart touchable LCD control panel
- 24 Month Warranty
Pros of the Bluetti AC200P
You can charge just about anything with the Bluetti AC200P, with AC, DC, USB, and even wireless charging capabilities. The premium features and LCD control panel make it one of the most user-friendly generators on the market today, and many people feel like they are using a smart fridge, rather than a generator.
With 2000W of power output capacity and 2,000Wh of storage, the Bluetti AC200P is great for a few nights of responsible boondocking or continuous solar charging.
Cons of the Bluetti AC200P
Other than a steep investment cost, there are not many drawbacks to the Bluetti AC200P for RV use. The unit does weigh over 55 pounds, but can generally remain in one place for the duration of its use both indoors and outdoors.
What Can the Bluetti AC200P Actually Power?
- Cellphone (6 W): 250+ Hours
- Light (10 W): 150+ Hours
- GoPro (18 W): 90+ Hours
- Camera (25 W): 60+ Hours
- Laptop (50 W): 30+ Hours
- CPAP Machine (60 W): 25+ Hours
- Flat Screen TV (110 W): 13+ Hours
- Large Fridge (150 W): 10+ Hours
- Coffee Maker (600 W): 2+ Hours
- Electric Grill (1650 W): About 1 Hour
- Electric Vehicle (1800 W): 3-5 Miles
- And more
From the same manufacturer of the AC200P, the MaxOak Bluetti EB240 solar generator is a great option for those without incredibly high power demands. Limited by its 1000W of continuous power, the EB240 still packs a punch with 2400Wh of storage. Here, long-term boondocking is readily possible, with low-demand appliances available for long run times.
MaxOak Bluetti EB240 Specs:
- Battery Capacity: 2400Wh (Watt Hours)
- Battery Chemistry: LG Li-ion battery cells (Lithium)
- AC Input: 7.9 x 0.9mm DC, 42V/160W (Wall Charger)
- Open Circuit Voltage: 16V~60V /Max. 10A (For Solar Panel Charging)
- AC Output: 110V, Max. 1000 Watts (Pure Sine Inverter)
- CarPort (Cigarette Lighter): DC 12V/9A
- USB Ports: 1 x 45W USB-C (5-20V) & 4 x 5V, 3A USB-A
- Solar Charge Input/Mode: MPPT Charge Controller
- Efficiency: 99.5%
- Exact Size of Generator (Dimensions): 19.4 x 6.5 x 14.4 inches
- Weight: 48.5lb
- Warranty: 2-Years
What Can the Bluetti EB240 Solar Generator Actually Power?
- Fridge/Freezer (100 watts): 24+ hours
- 50" TV (65 watts) : 37 hours
- LED Lights (6 watts): 400 hours
- House Fan (50 watts): 48 hours
- Smartphones (5-7 watts): 400+ hours
- Tablets (25-40 watts): 80+ hours
- Laptops (50 watts): 48+ hours
- Electric Blanket (Queen Size, 75 watts): 32 hours
- CPAP Machine (30 watts): 80+ hours
For those with no room for error (but a little bit of extra room for a large device), the Titan solar generator is a great high-powered option for seamless RV integration. The Titan has a built-in 30amp plug, recreating the comforts of a developed campsite anywhere you park. Although it may be more expensive than most gas generators, the Titan can supply an equal amount of power, all with free, renewable solar energy.
The Titan Specs:
- Battery: 2000wH Lithium-Ion
- Inverter: 3000W / 7700W Surge
- 2 MPPT Charge Controllers
- Charging Options: Solar panels, AC, & DC
- Outputs: 6 AC wall outlets, 4 DC (12V) ports, 1 RV Plug (30amp), and 8 total USB ports
- Shelf Life: 3-6 Months
- 2-Year Warranty
- Weight: ~35 lbs. (plus batteries)
Pros of the Titan Solar Generator
Perhaps the best thing about the Titan solar generator is its 1000W of solar input capacity paired with its two internal MPPT controllers. For those that are new to solar generators, this essentially means that the Titan can be efficiently charged with massive amounts of solar energy, using foldable solar suitcase or permanently installed panels.
Beyond this, the easy modular battery capacity makes storage essentially unlimited, with 3000W of output power to charge and run all RV appliances and electronics. This thing is a beast, trust us.
Cons of the Titan Solar Generator
Of course, the main downside of the Titan solar generator is its upfront asking price. This device can power a small home or a very large RV, so those with minimalist set-ups may be overpaying when purchasing this behemoth.
What Can the Titan Solar Generator Actually Power?
- Smartphones (5-7 watts): 330+ hours
- Tablets (25-40 watts): 66+ hours
- Laptops (50 watts): 40+ hours
- Electric Blanket (Queen Size, 75 watts): 26+ hours
- 50" LED LCD TV* (65 watts) : 30 hours
- Refrigerator (55 watts): 36+ hours
- Chainable USB LED Lights (6 watts): 330+ hours
- CPAP Machine (30 watts): 66+ hours
Thanks for taking the time to read our article, now go out there and enjoy the open road! We hope that this comprehensive list of the best RV generators has helped inspire your vehicle to become (or remain) solar-powered.
Looking for more information? Feel free to check out all of our solar generator resources, to learn more about the future of portable power. For consultations and help with your specific setup, we’d love to chat. Give Shop Solar Kits a call anytime, at 1-877-242-2792.
Do you consider setting up off-grid solar power system? then you might be interested in our answer to the question: "How much solar power do i need to run a refrigerator?"