Inverter generators
quiet portable generators

Know Your Power Priorities

BEFORE you go boondocking or dry camping and your furnace won’t run at 4 AM when its 24 degrees outside because you underestimated how many amps the furnace blower takes (or, like us, didn’t even realize the propane furnace needs electricity for the blower to function).

Before you can start to plan, you need an idea of how many amp hours of electricity you use each day.

Unfortunately there’s no shortcut easy way to calculate this information — I can’t tell you because it’s vastly different for everyone.  

There’s no one size fits all equation.

Champion-3100-watt Inverter GeneratorThe Champion Power Equipment 75531i 3100 Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator is a quiet and lightweight addition to your RV, your next camping trip, a weekend of tailgating or as source of backup ...

Generators are typically sold by wattage. How much they put out determines not only how many lights and appliances you can run at once, but also how well.

Our wattage calculator provides an average wattage rating for most appliances and devices to help you to assess your needs,

How big of a generator do I need to run my RV air conditioner? Your air conditioner will likely take the most wattage by far, so you need to start here. You also ...

Buying a Portable RV Generator - How Big of a Generator Do I Need ...

Determining RV amp usage can be very frustrating when your goal is to live by the ... you're going to have to be a bit of a sleuth – you need to find the watts and ...

How To Calculate Amp Usage in a RV - Trailer Traveler 

The first step is to calculate how many amps you use daily.  

To do this, you must go through meticulously and calculate amp usage by hours used.  

If you don’t know how to calculate amp usage for each individual thing that uses electricity, you need to find the watts and voltage for each light bulb, each appliance and so on.

Most packaging will contain the information you need, or often you can look it up online.  

Three Step-Inverter Generator
1.  Power Chart Calculator 

Keurig Amps Panel. You can see that it uses 1425 watts and it’s 120 volts.  WATTS divided by VOLTAGE = AMPS is the formulaKeurig Amps Panel. You can see that it uses 1425 watts and it’s 120 volts. WATTS divided by VOLTAGE = AMPS is the formula.

So 1425 divided by 120 = approximately 12 amp hours PER HOUR.  

But an individual cup of Keurig coffee doesn’t take an hour, so you have to determine how long each cup takes (approx 3 minutes) and do the math.  

We each have 2 cups a morning, so 4 cups of coffee times 3 minutes per cup = 12 minutes of Keurig Coffee Maker use daily.  

Let’s round it up to be safe and assume we use about a quarter of an hour of coffee amps per day or 3 amps.

THE INVERTER FACTOR

HOWEVER,  it’s not this simple — of course not!  Not 3 amps but SIX amps/day if we used an inverter.

All inverters are different, but ALL inverters waste power.  

To simplify a really complicated equation of how much power is wasted converting DC to AC, I just use a “wasted” ratio of 2-1 — i.e. it takes twice as many DC amps to power AC through the inverter.  

I automatically double the amps used for anything that requires an inverter.

In the travel trailer, we simply don’t use the Keurig when we’re dry camping or boondocking.  A teapot and French Press, plus a good insulated carafe replace it and require zero amps.

However, the coffeemaker isn’t the only thing in the trailer that uses AMPS and some of them require A/C 120v current.

We try to use 12V converters as much as possible – I use one to charge my Laptop.  Why spend the money for 12V converters when you could just use an inverter and plug in as usual?  

I guess it just depends on how much stuff you need to power with 120 AC and how much you can innovate around needing it.  

Whatever you do, keep in mind, if you’re trying to power a 1425 watt Keurig coffee maker, you’ll need a really big inverter!  

Ours is 1700 watts and will grudgingly make us coffee in the mornings, but we have 200+ amps in our battery bank for the trailer.

At this point you also need to know that most generators have a max wattage rating and a running wattage rating.  

So a 3000W generator might give you up to 3000W to start that air conditioner, but for long term use might only be rated 2600W.  

So after your 3000W generator starts your 13,500 btu air conditioner which might run at 2000W, you have around 600W to use on other items.

2.  Another important factor in buying a portable RV generator is noise level.

You don't want your generator keeping you awake at night or disturbing any neighbors near by.

Portable inverter generators are known for their quiet operation - around 50-65 dBA.  Another chart might help:

Activity Noise Level

Normal Speech / Air Conditioner  60 dBA

Vacuum Cleaner  70 dBA

Hair Dryer 80 dBA

Every 10dBA increase is twice as loud as the earlier noise. 

So in the chart above, a vacuum cleaner is twice as loud as normal speech. A hair dryer is four times as loud as normal speech.  So a little change in dBA makes a big difference.


3.  One final factor in buying a portable RV generator is weight. The larger you go, the more it weighs.

Portable generators are not cheap. Even the lower priced models cost several hundred dollars, and many higher end units cost upwards of $1,000 or more. Monetary expectations aside, the two main factors to consider when choosing the right unit are size and power output.

If you have solar panels and a 200 -400 watt battery bank you probably can get away with a 1,000 watt inverter generator instead.  

If so ( Hybrid Solar System) , focus on weight and noise levels.  A Honda EU1000i is light weight and lowest noise level of all inverter generators.

I recommend the leader in both areas a Honda EU1000i. Use it to refresh your battery pack on cloudy days and to provide extra powered when required (Warning -  This will not power a AC unit or other large wattage appliances).


 Honda EU1000i Inverter Generator, Super Quiet, Eco-Throttle

The Honda EU1000i super quiet inverter generator offers 1000 watts of powerThe Honda EU1000i super quiet inverter generator offers 1000 watts of power to run a wide ... It runs 3.2 to 7.1 hours on a single tank, depending on the load.

1000-Watt Super Quiet Gasoline Powered Portable Inverter Generator with Eco-Throttle and Oil Alert

Inverter technology: super quiet, fuel efficient, clean power

Ultra portable 1000 watt generator, weighs less than 30 lbs!

Eco-Throttle option, for run times up to 8.3 hrs on a single tank

More Power Less Quiet and Heavier

While most 3000-6500W generators include a wheel kit as a standard or optional feature, getting the generator in and out of your RV or truck is an important factor to consider.

For a lighter option, consider buying two 2000W generators that can be linked in parallel to offer up to 3600W together.  

At less than 50 lbs each, this option is easily movable, and when you don't need to run your AC, you may be able to use only one.