5 Best 30 Amp Generators for RV Camper Trailers
When you’re going camping, you can’t forget to pack the electricity.
Even if your taste runs toward the rustic, a 30 amp generator is an essential part of the RV experience. Camping isn’t much fun if you can’t make a good cup of coffee, not to mention running the AC or heater when you need it most.
When you’re without shore power, a portable 30 amp generator can literally be a life saver.
What Size Generator Do I Need for an RV Trailer?
This can get complicated real fast, so let’s try and keep it simple.
To arrive at the exact number of watts you’ll need, you should multiply the number of amps you’ll be using by the number of volts, which is 120. Of course, you’re not going to be using all of your electronic appliances and devices at once (or at least you shouldn’t!) so the number might be lower than you think.
Fortunately, this mathematical mountain has already been climbed many times, so it’s reasonable to believe that for most people a 3,000 watt generator is a sufficient starting point.
And speaking of which, you’ll quickly run into the terms “starting watts” and “running watts.”
The larger number reflects the surge of power that’s needed only briefly to get an electric motor running; it takes less juice afterward to keep it running.
For example, an RV AC soft start can help tame that initial burst of energy demand.
5 Best 30 Amp Generators
Briggs & Stratton P3000 RV-Ready Generator
Super portable with lots of power, the Briggs & Stratton P3000 offers 3,000 starting watts and 2600 running watts and hits the scales at 96 lbs. A gray plastic housing around the unit does a good job of reducing noise, and a luggage-style telescoping handle and wheels make it easy to move from one place to another.
Another handy feature is an easy-to-read LCD display panel that shows power output and reminds you when it’s time to replace oil, spark plugs or filters.
This unit is designed to give an impressive 10 hours of continuous operation at a 25 percent load on a full (1.5 gallon) fuel tank.
Champion 3400 Watt Dual Fuel RV-Ready Generator
Similar in design to its Briggs & Stratton counterpart, the Champion 3400 has the “dual” capability of running on either gasoline or propane. It also has an electric start feature with a three-position ignition switch and an Ultra-Quiet Operation mode that cuts down the volume. Expect 3,400 starting watts and 3,100 running watts with up to 7.5 hours of runtime on gas and 14.5 hours on propane.
The Champion 3400 also offers “clean power” for sensitive electronics as well as a 120V 30A RV connection plus two 120V 20A household outlets with clean electricity (less than 3% THD) and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter.
Generac GP3500iO RV-Ready Generator
With an output of 120V, the Generac GP3500iO provides a starting wattage of 3,500 and a running wattage of 3,000. Gas powered with a traditional pull-start, the 74-pound unit (dry weight) can operate for up to 11 hours on a full tank (2.37 gallons).
It is designed to power most RV air conditioners up to 15,000 BTU and also offers clean power for sensitive electronics.
Thanks to its TT-30R receptacle (TT stands for Travel Trailer), this Generac generator is RV Ready. It also has a built-in circuit breaker and an automatic shut-off when the oil level is low.
Duromax XP4850 Dual Fuel RV-Ready Generator
The Duromax XP4850 packs a powerful punch in a fairly small package. It’s rated for 4,850 watts at startup and 3,850 continuous watts, which should be plenty for all your needs. It’s a bit on the heavy side at 140 lbs, but it rolls smoothly and easily.
This model is a conventional generator rather than an inverter-style unit, so it might be a bit louder than others on the list. It also has the “dual” capabilities to burn either gas or propane, and you can expect eight hours of service from four gallons of gas.
The unit has an electric start feature with a conventional recoil backup.
Champion 4000 Watt RV-Ready Generator
Though it’s a gas burner only, this one is kind of a big brother to the other Champion model on our list. Step up to 4,000 starting watts and 3,500 running watts for up to 17 hours of run time. Other features include Quiet Technology, Extended Run Time, Economy Mode and Clean Power, plus you can easily increase your power with the optional Parallel Kit.
The Champion 4000 is RV Ready with a 120V 30A RV, plus two 120V 20A household outlets with clean power (less than 3% THD) and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter.
What to Consider When Purchasing a 30 Amp Generator
Wattage is just one of the factors to consider when choosing a 30 amp generator. Here are some others:
The generators on our list are manufactured by reputable companies that have a good track record in the RV community. Some may be better than others. Do your homework and look closely at ratings from customers and maybe check out the chatter on online forums to find out what others say from their own experience.
Silence is golden, but it’s just not possible with a generator. However, improvements in technology have definitely made newer generators a bit quieter than they used to be. An excessively noisy generator can literally lead to sleepless nights – and not just you, but your neighbors, too!
Pro Tip: The inverter generators (first two on the list) are much quieter than the others.
Type of Fuel
Is gasoline best for you, or propane? Both have their pros and cons. The “dual fuel” generators are versatile but tend to cost more up front. It’s up to you to decide whether the savings in fuel costs will offset the investment in the long run.
Keeping Things Running
A smooth and steady running generator is something you can easily take for granted – until you have to do without one, that it is.
Maybe you’re looking to upgrade your 30-amp generator, or maybe you need a trusty backup unit. We hope our list of 5 Best 30 Amp Generators will help give you some guidance in this essential aspect of RV life.
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I notice that Westinghouse didn’t make your list. Though it has been the best performer than two others we had before this one (I won’t even bother with naming the other two, which also weren’t on your list—they were that bad), it still has given us issues with the push button and fob start. Anyway, might you do an article on best ways to gas these up?
Putting fuel into a generator daily is a real hassle! (Especially for women and elder men!)
I sit corrected. Our current backup generator is a DuroMax (just not the one in your article). We use it only occasionally because the key switch start quit working in the first 3 or 4 months, and it’s loud. Ugh
I realize this is for 30amp generators. However, the only reason I would have gone for a larger generator is to run my AC unit.
Luckily, I came across a comment online that the eTrailer brand was able to handle the startup load of one of the smaller AC units, in this case the precise one in my 23ft class C. I took a chance and can confirm it is able to start the AC unit without a soft start device installed on the AC unit itself. Plus, it comes with the cable to connect to another generator in the event more power is required. It’s quiet and fuel efficient. Finally, the price is competitive.
Note that the product page clearly warns of attempting to run an AC unit so your mileage may vary: