Powering an air conditioner is one of the most common reasons that RV owners want to have a generator. Despite this popularity, air conditioners are one of the most energy-intensive items in any given camper.
Because of the significant amount of energy required to power even a reasonably small air conditioner, RV owners must choose a generator that is right for the job. A good RV generator should be quiet, portable, fuel-efficient, and powerful enough to run an air conditioner through the heat of summer.
We’ve looked through the market and picked out five of the best generator for RV air conditioner models.
What You Will Learn
- 1 Products Reviewed in This Article
- 2 Our Top 3 Best Generator for RV Air Conditioner Compared
- 3 Best Generator for RV Air Conditioner Reviews
- 4 Our Top Pick WEN GN6000 6000-Watt RV-Ready Portable Generator
- 5 Champion 3500-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Generator
- 6 Generac GP3000i Super Quiet Inverter Generator
- 7 DuroMax XP10000E Gas Powered Portable Generator
- 8 XtremepowerUS 4000-Watt Gasoline Generator
- 9 How to Find The Best Generator to Run RV Air Conditioner
- 10 Conclusion
Products Reviewed in This Article
Last update on 2022-03-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Our Top 3 Best Generator for RV Air Conditioner Compared
Last update on 2022-04-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best Generator for RV Air Conditioner Reviews
WEN is a fairly new name in the portable generator world. However, I’ve now reviewed quite a few of their models and have been universally impressed. Each generator they produce seems to offer a fantastic combination of value, features, and performance. The WEN GN6000 proved to be no exception. For larger RVs that have a higher-capacity AC system, or for models that have multiple AC units, a 3,500-watt will likely be insufficient. However, generators with higher outputs were traditionally extremely lout and bulky units. For this roundup, we tried to find the most efficient, quiet, and lightweight 6,000-watt generator on the market. No matter how much we looked, we always came back to the WEN.
With 6,000-watts of peak output, this generator should have no issues with powering two air conditioners with additional output to spare. Despite this impressive capacity, this model constitutes somewhat of a packaging marvel. Looking at this unit’s open frame, you will immediately be able to tell how densely packed this generator is. WEN worked hard to make this model as compact as possible, and they succeeded handily. It’s light, too. At under 130-pounds, this is the lightest 6kW model on the market. You’ll still likely need a helper to load it into your truck, but it is still impressively svelte.
In terms of features, WEN did not skimp. It has a complete set of outlets, including 30-amp plugs in traditional RV and twist-lock configurations. Further, it has two standard 15-amp outlets and a 12VDC output for charging batteries or smaller devices. They even included a wheel-kit, which is an add-on I normally assume I will have to purchase separately. This feature set is doubly impressive when you consider the extremely competitive price of this model.
The only oversight I would note is the lack of an electric start. However, the unit never failed to start immediately with one tug of the cord. Anyone needed a generator with a little more grunt, but without the weight and cost penalties, should give the WEN a serious look.
- Light for its capacity
- Wheel kit included
- No electric start
|Start Type: Recoil||Engine Size (cc): 272|
|Output: 6,000-Watts||Fuel Type: Gasoline|
|Voltage (V): 120 or 240 (Switchable)||Gasoline Capacity (gal.): 3.4|
Just like the RVs that they keep cool, air conditioning units come in all shapes and sizes. Some larger campers have multiple AC units that can be up to 15,000BTUs each. However, most shoppers will have more meager demands. For anyone needing to run a single roof-top or window AC system, a 3,500-watt generator is an excellent size. A generator of this capacity will have plenty of power to run a small air conditioner and the other accessories in a typical camper. This constitutes somewhat of a sweet spot for RV generators, where the units are powerful enough to fulfill demand but are still reasonably compact and lightweight. Among this sweet spot, Champion has become a consistent favorite. Although they make a plethora of excellent models, this dual-fuel model is a particular highlight.
For a 3.5kW generator, this Champion manages to retain a compact footprint and a surprisingly low weight. At just over 100 lbs, this generator is still easy to load into the back of a truck or tote around a campsite. You will be hard-pressed to find a more portable generator with these specs. It’s efficient too. Running on gasoline, it will run for over 9 hours if you top up its 3.5-gallon tank.
The claim to fame of the Champion 3500 is versatility. Champion managed to incorporate flexibility into seemingly every aspect. This commitment is highlighted in the large array of outlets offered on the front panel. In addition to the standard 120VAC outlets and tri-blade RV outlets, this model also has a 30-amp twist-lock outlet. Thus, you can use this generator for running welders or other equipment. It’s a great asset whether working through the week or relaxing on the weekends.
Of course, the primary draw to this model is its dual-fuel capability. The vast majority of generators limit you to running gasoline. Although gasoline is readily available, it can be difficult to transport, and it is poorly suited for long-term storage. In contrast, propane is extremely stable during storage, has higher energy density, and is commonly plumbed into an RV already. Thus, the ability to run this unit off either fuel hugely improves the usability in numerous environments.
- Both styles of 30-Amp outlet
- Only 2 standard outlets
- No electric start
|Start Type: Recoil||Engine Size (cc): 224|
|Output: 3,500-Watts||Fuel Type: Gasoline, Propane|
|Voltage (V): 120||Gasoline Capacity (gal.): 3.8|
Smaller “suitcase” inverter generators are among the most popular generator models these days, and it is easy to see why. They are beloved for their tiny size, quiet operation, and clean power. However, these models were typically limited to 2kW or less of output, making them poorly suited for powering anything but the smallest air conditioners. In short, you had to choose between power and convenience. Thankfully, Generac stepped up and filled a much-needed gap in the market. The Generac GP3000i constitutes the best of both worlds by providing all of the perks of an inverter suitcase generator but with the capacity to run an air conditioner.
Admittedly, this is still a fairly small RV AC generator. However, at 3,000-watts, it will still easily power a single air conditioner to keep your camper cool. But raw power isn’t the goal of this generator. Rather, the name tells the entire story. This generator is incredibly quiet. Although Generac does not release the official noise levels, our testing revealed that this model produces only 68 decibels at full load. Even when running at full capacity, you can hardly hear that it is running even when you’re only a few feet away. This would be impressive for any generator, but it is doubly so for a 3kW model.
Although the lack of noise is the Generac’s claim to fame, the size is impressive as well. The GP3000i is slightly larger than a standard inverter generator, but only barely. More importantly, it’s extremely light. At only 59 lbs, this generator is half the weight of many of its competitors. Quite simply, you will not find a lighter generator that has the oomph to power an air conditioner. I’m not entirely sure how Generac managed to make this unit so portable, but I’m impressed.
With so much emphasis placed on the noise and size, you might think that this unit would be devoid of needed features. Not so. The front panel features a standard 30-amp RV plug, USB ports, an hour meter, and two 15-amp plugs. There is even a parallel port, allowing you to combine two of these generators for double the capacity. Very little was overlooked. It lacks electric start, but on a unit this small the pull-start is more than sufficient.
If I had any complaints about the GP3000i, it would be that the fuel tank is surprisingly small. At only 1.1 gallons, this tank is among the smaller end of the spectrum for 3kW models, and it is a notable concession to the small size of the overall unit. Luckily, the Generac compensates by being very efficient. It burns only 0.25 gallons/hour at maximum load, so it will run for over 4 hours even with the small tank.
This is likely the lightest and quietest RV generator to run AC available, and it truly highlights the advances in technology in the market. A few years ago, it would be unheard of to have this much power in such a small package. Anyone who wants a generator to run their AC but does not want to sacrifice size or noise should put the Generac GP3000i at the top of their list.
- Very light
- Incredibly quiet
- Very efficient
- Parallel capable
- Small fuel tank
|Start Type: Recoil||Engine Size (cc): 80|
|Output: 3,000-Watts||Fuel Type: Gasoline|
|Voltage (V): 120||Gasoline Capacity (gal.): 1.1|
Not every RV can be kept cool with a single air conditioner. Many larger trailers and coaches have multiple roof-top units to keep the space chilled and require a correspondingly large generator to power these systems. Many toy haulers even have a third AC unit to keep the rear section cool. Very few portable generators can supply such a setup. Yet, thankfully, there are still a few options for shoppers needing to run a large RV. Duromax is a perennial favorite for larger generators. They provide high-capacity generators with great features at agreeable prices. The XP10000E is a goliath by any measure, and it’s our favorite pick for a large RV generator to run AC.
With 10,000-watts of peak power, this is one of the few portable generators with enough capacity to run three AC units. Its official rating is 8,000-watts of continuous output, but our testing showed it was capable of maintaining around 8,500-watts without complaint. Traditionally, a generator of this output would be a commercial unit. Commercial units are tough, but they were also generally bare-bones models that lacked refinement. The XP10000E is an impressively equipped unit. In addition to the standard array of dual 30-amp and single 15-amp outlets, it also has a 50-amp outlet. Most RVs that are large enough to need this much capacity will already have a 50-amp plug, so this was a very nice inclusion to see.
It is also quieter than you would expect. To be fair, no 10kW generator will ever be whisper quiet. But many of them are downright deafening. You will notice the XP10000E running, but your neighbors won’t hate you for it. At a moderate load, it produces about 76 decibels, which is extremely tolerable given the output of this generator. In terms of weight, the heft of this generator can’t be denied. At 218 lbs, some concerted effort will be needed before moving this beast too far. However, it does include a very nice wheel kit and numerous convenient lifting points. It should not pose a problem if you have a toy-hauler with a ramp door or some ramps to guide this into your pickup.
The most impressive aspect of this model is its price. It isn’t uncommon for a 10kW generator to cost multiple thousands. In contrast, the Duromax is not markedly more expensive than its much smaller competition. You would be hard-pressed to find more power for less money. If you need a seriously powerful RV generator for AC, this is your best bet.
- Extremely powerful
- 50-Amp outlet
- Fairly quiet
- Wheel kit included
- Great value
|Start Type: Recoil||Engine Size (cc): 440|
|Output: 10,000-Watts||Fuel Type: Gasoline|
|Voltage (V): 120||Gasoline Capacity (gal.): 8.3|
Looking at the market, it’s easy to get the impression that getting a generator for travel trailer AC or any camper AC has to cost a huge amount. For some shoppers, minimizing the cost is more important than making sure that your generator has every conceivable feature or option. Some people simply want a basic, reliable, and functional generator at a great price. The XtremepowerUS 4000 fulfills that goal beautifully. It is basic by design but represents an almost unbelievable value.
Simplicity was the name of the game when looking at the front panel of this generator. It has a 30-amp RV outlet, a 15-amp outlet, a circuit breaker, and an analog voltage gauge. Everything you need is present, but nothing more. In some contexts, I put a lot of emphasis on features. However, I can still respect the efficiency of this model. As a return to basics, it does an excellent job.
Simplicity does not equate to being underpowered, however. At 4,000-watts, this generator has more than enough power to run even a fairly large air conditioner. For a small travel trailer or motorhome, this generator is all you need. It is powered by a 212cc single-cylinder engine, so they did not skimp on the engine. It seemed rock-solid while running a full load, with no signs of strain or stress from the engine.
One of the most common complaints with less expensive generators is that they tend to be significantly louder than their higher-priced competition. In truth, the XtremepowerUS 4000 is slightly louder than other models we have tested, but the delta was less than you might expect. We measured the noise output at 73 decibels while running a full load. It isn’t whisper-quiet, but it is very tolerable.
Even though I appreciate it when a generator has all of the bells and whistles, I am still glad that more basic models are still available. Having more options is always a benefit, especially when quality remains high. For a 4,000-watt generator, this unit is almost unbelievably affordable. If you need a cost-effective way to power your RV’s AC and aren’t concerned by feature lists, give the XtremepowerUS 4000 a look.
- Very affordable
- Surprisingly quiet
- Powerful engine
- Bare-bones front panel
|Start Type: Recoil||Engine Size (cc): 212|
|Output: 4,000-Watts||Fuel Type: Gasoline|
|Voltage (V): 120||Gasoline Capacity (gal.): 5|
How to Find The Best Generator to Run RV Air Conditioner
Shopping for an RV AC generator can quickly become an overwhelming task. It is easy to become confused over what features are necessary, how large a generator you need, and what specifications matter. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s what you need to know.
How Many Watts Does an AC Use?
If you’re shopping for a generator to power your RV’s air conditioner, the first question you likely have is “what size generator do I need?” The answer is straightforward but requires a small amount of explanation.
Generators have two power ratings, “peak” and “continuous.” As the names would suggest, the peak output is the amount of energy a generator can produce for a brief period, whereas the continuous output is how much power the generator can generate continuously. This is important because air conditioners demand a surge of power when they first turn on.
13,000 BTU’s is a fairly standard size for an RV air conditioner. Generally, such a unit will require about 2,000-watts to run, but up to 3,000-watts to get started. Thus, when shopping for a generator, the generator should have at least 3,000-watts of surge power for every air conditioner you intend to run, and 2,000-watts of continuous power. Of course, there is no harm in buying a slightly larger model so you have additional capacity to run additional appliances.
Don’t Overlook Noise
When looking for the right generator for your RV, it is all too common to see shoppers focus on the power output but pay no attention to the noise rating. Although it is important to make sure your generator has enough power, a deafeningly loud generator can be almost unusable. The range of noise outputs can vary hugely from model to model.
Noise is measured in decibels, which is a somewhat unintuitive measurement. The scale is logarithmic, not linear. Without giving you flashbacks to math class, this means that every increase of 10 decibels represents a noise that is twice as loud. So while 80db might seem only a little louder than 60db, it is actually 100 times louder. Any generator that produces much more than 75db will likely be too loud to use in any campground and will be fairly disruptive to your camping enjoyment. If you value peace and quiet, look for a generator that makes less than 70db at a moderate load.
Fuel Consumption Can Make a Difference
Fuel consumption is another important consideration when looking for a generator, especially one that will be used to power an air conditioner.
If you camp during the summer, you will likely want to be able to run the AC overnight without having to get up to refill a fuel tank. Thus, it is worth looking for a generator model that can run at least 10 hours between refills.
Some models allow the use of auxiliary tanks for this purpose. Propane models are excellent in this regard as well.
Having a reliable source of power can be the difference between an enjoyable camping trip and a miserably sweaty weekend. Just because you want to have the comfort of air conditioning shouldn’t mean that you are tethered to an outlet or a campground. Generators have become significantly more advanced, powerful, and affordable in recent years. You can now enjoy the freedom of boondocking while still staying cool.
We looked at a lot of options in this roundup, trying to focus on generators than fit a wide variety of different needs. The best generator for RV AC will depend a fair amount on your budget as well as the demands of your specific AC. Despite this, certain models still stood out as particularly impressive.
With all factors considered, we found the best generator for RV air conditioner use to be the WEN GN6000. With its impressive list of features, quiet and efficient operation, and affordable price tag, it was a truly impressive package.
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- Generate up to 6000 starting watts and 5000 running watts
- 3.4 gallon fuel tank provides up to 7.5 hours of half-load runtime
- Compact design combined with wheel and handle kit maximize portability
- Item Package Dimensions: 28.5" L x 20.5" W x 20.5" H
Last update on 2022-04-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API