Gear Guide: Portable Generators That You Can Take to National and State Parks

Take the Power With You

Image Caption: A portable generator can give you all the power you need while camping. (Image from Getty)

There are few places in America that are so quintessentially perfect for RV travel as our national parks and state parks. Camping here puts you right in the thick of some of the country’s most rugged, raw, and natural beauty. You’ve got access to hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and in some cases hunting and fishing right outside your RV’s door.

Of course, when you’re camping in an RV it’s nice to take full advantage of it—especially its power. If you wanted to camp more ruggedly, you’d be in a tent, right? A portable generator can take your camping experience to a new level and make sure you’re as comfortable as you want to be in your rig. We’ve put together a list of some generators that are perfectly portable that fit right in government-run parks.

Why Get a Portable Generator for Your RV?

The thing about national parks is that only a select few offer electric hookups. Those that do are highly sought after and book up quickly. So unless you’re quick on the draw or lucky, there’s a decent chance you’re camping at a spot without power.

A portable generator puts all the power back in your RV. Using a generator in a national park can be tricky, though. It’s all dependent on what park you stay in. Each one has its own rules for using generators. Many national parks have certain hours generators can be used. In most state parks, you’ll need to make sure to obtain a permit in order to use a generator. Regardless, a portable generator can make life a lot easier when camping.

This isn’t to say we don’t endorse getting outside your RV and enjoying a campfire, telling stories, cooking over an open flame, and looking up at the stars. But to sleep really comfortably, have a refrigerator in which to keep your food, and maybe even have the TV and Wi-Fi for some rainy days, you’re going to want power.

Best Portable Generators

Cummins Onan P4500i Inverter Portable Generator

Key Takeaways

  • Tank size: 3.4 gallons
  • Weight: 98 pounds
  • Price Range: ($$$)
  • 3-year warranty

Cummins is well-known for their powerful diesel engines but turns out they make an incredible generator too. The Onan is actually a standard in the RV industry, coming included with many luxury motor coach style RVs. It’s for good reason, too, because it checks a lot of boxes.

It’s a fuel-efficient generator, with a 7.3 horsepower engine that can run up to 18 hours at 25% load. It starts with a push of a button or a remote, though comes with a pull-cord backup. It also comes in an insulated case for quieter operation—something both you and your neighbors will be thankful for.

It’s not the lightest generator but does come with a telescoping handle and wheels for easy maneuverability. There’s also an easy-to-read LED screen that gives you exact readings, so you know exactly how much power your generator is putting out.

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Honda EU2200i Inverter Generator

Key Takeaways

  • Tank size: 0.95 gallons
  • Weight: 47.4 pounds
  • Price Range: ($$$)
  • 3-year warranty

If you’ve got a smaller rig and just need enough power to get you through an evening on a light load, then the Honda EU2200i Inverter Generator is just the trick for you. It’s not big enough to handle a full load for a full-size motorcoach, but for supplemental power or even just running overnight to keep you comfortable, this little guy can do it.

It’s super quiet, rated at “lower than a normal conversation,” so you and your fellow campers don’t have to worry about it keeping you up at night. And while the tank isn’t large at less than a gallon, you know all about Honda’s fantastic fuel efficiency from their cars: it can run for over eight hours depending on load.

As an added bonus, the generator connects with Honda’s My Generator app to allow you to monitor its power output and more data using Bluetooth capability. You can even start and stop the generator remotely, right from your phone.

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Champion 2500-Watt Portable Dual Fuel Inverter Generator

Key Takeaways

  • Tank size: 1.05 gallons
  • Weight: 39 pounds
  • Price Range: ($)
  • 3-year warranty

Another small-but-mighty generator option, the Champion 2500-watt generator is not only one of the lightest in its class, but also offers a lot of other niceties that you don’t find in other generators.

One of the big perks of the Champion is that it runs on either gasoline or propane. With a fairly small gas tank at just over one gallon, the Champion can still run for almost 11.5 hours. On a 20-pound propane tank, on the other hand, it can run for up to 34 hours.

This little guy is perfect for small electronics and getting an extra boost for your appliances inside your RV. It may not power your rig, but it will definitely give you the power you need to stay comfortable.

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Westinghouse iGen4500DF

Westinghouse iGen4500DF portable generator

Image from Westinghouse

Key Takeaways

  • Tank size: 3.4 gallons
  • Weight: 98 pounds
  • Price Range: ($$)
  • 3-year warranty

Getting back into the big generators that can power your rig fully, the Westinghouse iGen4500DF is ready to do that for you. Operating on either gasoline or propane, it doesn’t require an additional adaptor to power your RV. So you can sleep soundly knowing that your generator will keep you comfortable at night.

More than that, the Westinghouse has plenty of built-in safety features so you don’t have to babysit it. It shuts down when it sensors low oil to prevent engine damage. In efficiency-mode, it reduces fuel use by adjusting its RPMs based on the load you’re running it at. And an automatic voltage regulator helps protect your appliances from voltage swings.

A double-insulated acoustic enclosure keeps things on the quieter side for quiet nights at the campsite. And it runs for 15 hours at a 50 percent load, and 18 hours for a 25 percent load. And you don’t even need to worry about your back when you start it, thanks to a push-button start and remote.

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Predator 3500 Super Quiet Inverter Generator

Predator 3500 inverter portable generator

Image from Harbor Freight

Key Takeaways

  • Tank size: 2.6 gallons
  • Weight: 99.2 pounds
  • Price Range: ($$)
  • 2-year warranty

It’s called Predator for a reason: this generator is quiet. And can still manage to power your entire RV. It also has an 11 hour run time at 25 percent load. Because it’s so quiet, it’s perfect for camping sites and is sure to keep your neighbors—and the park rangers—happy.

While it ranks on the heavier side of our generators listed here, it also features four solid casters for easy rolling. A digital LCD screen gives you indicators like low oil and overload, plus gives you plenty of info about the output numbers.

Like other powerful generators, it also has plenty of built-in safety, like overload protection and automatic low oil shutdown. Its high impact enclosure (which helps keep it quiet) is also high impact. So should something land on it or knock against it, you’re unlikely to damage any of the inner workings—which can be handy when you’re camping in the middle of the woods.

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