How to Pick the Perfect Compact Inverter Generator

First off, Don't get yourself caught up in all of the numbers.

Portable generators come in a wide variety of different watts and prices. 

If you take a moment to select the right style first, you will find that it's a whole lot easier to find the right generator to serve your specific needs.

Portable generators basically come in four different styles: Recreational, Emergency, Semi-Pro & Professional.
We are going to talk about Recreational only.

Recreational Inverter Generators

New inverter generators are basically the broadband replacement to old conventional camping generators, which are now as unpopular as dial-up internet service.

The state-of-the-art technology was very expensive several years ago.

However, prices and noise levels have dropped significantly recently. Recreational generators are finally appreciated by RV enthusiasts and tailgaters.

Compact Inverter Genrator Buyer's Guide
How To Pick the Perfect Compact Inverter Generator

If you're going on a weekend camping trip, why should you leave all the comforts of home behind?

Compact inverter generators allow to go into the wild without roughing it too much.

Just make sure you bring gasoline and extension cords with you and you'll be cooking in no time.

And with inverter technology, you can rest assured the generator won't wake up the whole camp-site.

Packed with modern conveniences, small inverter generators are easy to carry, easy to set up, and easy to start. 

They come with features like digital gauges, remote start, eco-modes, and parallel kits.

Fuel Gauge

Fuel gauges have come a long way. While you can look up specs on a particular model to "guesstimate" how much fuel you have left, there are much more effective methods available on models these days.

Some models have analog gauges, some have digital gauges, and then some have multiple gauges. Those with multiple gauges can even be capable of telling you how many hours of use you have left.

They determine the time left by measuring current watts being used on one gauge and fuel consumption on another gauge, then using those readings to auto-calculate the amount of time to be displayed on yet another gauge.

Paralleling Two Inverter Generators

Paralleling two portable inverter generators offers you the ability to double your power while staying true to the clean, quiet power of a portable inverter generator.

If you're worried that you may need to step up to a larger emergency-style generator to get the power you need, rest assured; you can simply invest in another inverter generator and connect them together for twice the power.

Remote Start

Several new models of inverter generators are now available with electric start. This is a great feature to have when you're camping, because it allows you to provide power to all of your conveniences in the morning with the push of a button.

However, it can also be a great safety feature. On some models, the remote start will shut down the generator if the oil level reaches an unsafe operating level.

Some generators will allow you to start your generator from up to 300 feet away with a wireless remote.

Eco Mode

Another nice feature found on some of these small inverter generators is the eco mode function.

Certain makes/models have this feature for reducing the fuel consumption by reducing the RPMs as much as possible.

They make this a mode that can be selected or deselected so that you can opt to turn off the eco mode if you wish to have more power for an appliance that requires higher starting watts.

When you're not in need of the extra power, you can put it in eco mode and save fuel. In addition, because the RPMs are lower, the motor is quieter.

Know Your Power Priorities

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.

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

Some common essentials are the refrigerator (about 600 watts), portable heaters (1,500 watts),air conditioner (1,000 + watts), lights (60 to 600 watts), and computers (60 to 300 watts).


Map the outlets and switches in your house to know which circuit on the service panel powers what.

The easiest way: two people with cell phones flipping switches. An electrician can do this for a fee.

Or you can purchase a inexpensive watt usage monitor like one I found at Amazon for $19.09 called:

  • P3 P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor
  • Large Lcd Counts Consumption By The Kilowatt Hour
  • Connects To Household Appliance & Assesses Its Efficiency
  • Calculates Electrical Expenses By The Day, Week, Month Or Year
  • Checks The Quality Of Power By Monitoring Voltage, Line Frequency & Power Factor
  • Dim: 5.13"h X 2.38"w X 1.63"d
  • Electricity usage monitor connects to appliances and assesses efficiency
  • Large LCD display counts consumption by the kilowatt-hour

Three Step-Inverter Generator
1.  Power Chart Calculator

u have an RV, and you are shopping for a portable generator to power your air conditioner and appliances. The obvious question is:

How big of a generator do I need for my RV?

The answer to that question is very much determined by another:

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 need to know that it takes more power to start the air conditioner than it does to keep it running.

The minimum wattage of the generator you need is equal to the starting wattage of your air conditioner.

Size of Air Conditioner Approximate Starting Watts Approximate Running Watts

So a 3000W generator can start your 13,500 btu air conditioner.  Once the air conditioner is running you could also run other select items.  

How much power might those other items take? The following chart will give you approximate power usage, but the best thing to do is check the tags or stickers on your electronic items:


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.

You might watch TV with your satelite receiver, or start your slow cooker while listening to the radio.

You might watch TV with your satelite receiver, or start your slow cooker while listening to the radio. 

If you are going to use your RV fridge after starting your AC, you have only about 400W to use for other items: 

3000 Max Watts: 600W Fridge Startup + 2000W AC Running + 400W Other

2600 Running Watts: 180W Fridge Running + 2000W AC Running + 420W Othe

Needless to say, if you plan to use much more than your AC, fridge, and lights, you probably want a larger generator.

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 (at 21 ft at econ mode)  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 you see 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

Yamaha-EF3000iSEB-2800-Watt-Electric-Start-Inverter-Generator-w-Boost-Technolog ywith wheelsYamaha-EF3000iSEB-2800-Watt-Electric-Start-Inverter-Generator-w-Boost-Technolog ywith wheels

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.

Please Note: Our choices for this wiki may have changed since we published this review video. Our most recent set of reviews in this category is exclusively available on Ezvid Wiki. 

Portable generators included in this wiki include the duromax xp4400e, durostar ds4000s, wen 56200i, ford fg9250e, yamaha ef1000is, champion power 75531i, anker powerhouse, westinghouse wh2000ixlt, briggs and stratton p2200, and honda eu2000i.

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