Generators for Cabins and RVs

Generators for cabins and RVs vary hugely in noise level, peak and continuous output. Price and quality varies likewise. Here’s how and what to choose.

Generators for Cabins and RVs – their main need

The main need for generators for cabins and RVs is to power compressor fridges, water pump and LED lights. They may also charge computers and mobile phones. Some also backup solar – ideally via associated batteries. Do not even think of buying a $99 chain-store generator. They are horrendously noisy and polluting. They may wreck expensive electronics. Some equipment has protective systems that detect this. They will not accept ‘dirty’ power. Buy only inverter/generators from globally known makers. These include Honda, Robin, Westinghouse and Yamaha etc.

Inverter operation

Traditional portable generators for cabins and RVs ran at a constant 3000 or 3600 rpm. Doing so ensured the output was at the desired frequency. Inverter generators run at lower speed on light loads. They produce ultra-clean ac electricity for the specific load. This saves fuel. It also limits exhaust emissions.


Traditional generators are noisy. They can be heard a kilometre away on otherwise quiet nights. Most inverter generators are much quieter. The best have sound levels much as people talking. They are not silent. They may disturb neighbouring campers. Noise issues at night, however, can be largely overcome. Use the generator to charge the RV or cabin’s battery bank during the day. Do this via a 230 volt battery charger. Run it from the generator’s 230 volt output. See:

Generators for Cabins and RVs – actual continuous output

Electrical devices need more power to start than run. Most inverter-generators are designed accordingly. This can mislead. They are typically marketed quoting that short-term peak. Maximum continuous output is typically 20% less. In practice, optimum fuel efficiency is 50% to 60% of the claimed output. For a total coverage of this and associated issues, please buy our books. Solar That Really Works! is for boats, cabins and RVs. Solar Success is for homes and properties. Caravan & Motorhome Electrics covers every aspect of solar and electrics.