Best Quiet RV Generators of 2018 – Decibel & Noise Test

RV generators are a great thing to have to power your RV, especially when you’re out there roughing it! You’ll get great power to run all your appliances and recharge the deep cycle battery bank when needed! But a very large downside to RV generators is the incredible amount of noise they produce, which has led to restrictions for generator use at many campgrounds. Noise level might not be top of the list when you purchase an RV generator, but it is a hugely important factor if you want to enjoy some peace and quiet in the great outdoors. If you compromise on it, you could end up with a generator that is more of a hassle than a help.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find out the best quiet RV generator that fits your needs. Manufacturers use a variety of terms when describing features about their generators: Power Output, Run Time, USB Ports, Advanced Features, etc. But most of them never provide the actual Noise Levels, or Decibel Ratings, of their models. This is all we need to determine how quiet an RV generator is. You can go to a dealer who is willing to actually demonstrate the generator for you, but this may make you feel uncomfortable. And the fact is most dealers won’t do this before you make a purchase.

Luckily, we’ve actually conducted a noise test on some of the quietest RV generators on the market today, including generators from Honda, Yamaha, Champion Power Equipment, Briggs & Stratton, and Wen. We’ve written down the actual decibel ratings of each model and show you in a table below. And it turned out that the noise levels of an RV generator depend significantly on whether it is operating under ECO mode or under a load (1,500W heat gun). And surprisingly enough, one of the largest RV generators in our test was the quietest RV generator under a load, and its price was very affordable.

Best Quiet RV Generators (Scroll down to see reviews)

Image Best Quiet RV Generators Noise Levels (Eco Mode 20') Noise Levels (1500W 20') Running/Starting Watts Running AC Unit?
Champion 3400W Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator 62 dBA 65 dBA 3100W/3400W
Honda EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator 57 dBA 67.4 dBA 1800W/2200W
Honda EU3000iS Gasoline Portable Inverter Generator 60.5 dBA 70 dBA 2800W/3000W
Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Gas Portable Inverter Generator 57.5 dBA 68 dBA 1600W/2000W
Briggs & Stratton P3000 PowerSmart Series 61 dBA 74 dBA 2600W/3000W
WEN 56310i CARB Compliant Inverter Generator 63 dBA 71.7 dBA 2800W/3100W

Our Recommendation For You

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Much to our surprise the largest inverter generator that we tested was the QUIETEST RV GENERATOR UNDER A LOAD. The Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator really impressed us! Not only was it the quietest generator under a load, it was relatively quiet in eco mode.

What makes this generator more enticing than the super quiet operating levels is the fact that this generator is RV ready. It runs off Gasoline or Propane straight out of the box and comes with a battery for easy electric start. Additionally, it can be paralleled (connecting two generators together to provide double the power), although this unit is supposed to provide enough power for an RV Air Conditioner, 13.5k or 15k BTU.

Many people opt 2000W generators for their RVs, such as the Honda EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator. These generators would be enough for most of your power needs, but one of the major disadvantages of them is that they can’t handle your RV’s air conditioner, as most RV air conditioners will need somewhere between 2800 – 3500 watts to start. This is a very important factor when selecting the best quiet generator for your RV as summer is coming soon and your RV can get uncomfortably hot without air conditioning. That’s why we think 3000W to 3400W (starting watts) units are more suitable.

However, if you’re using a window air conditioner unit (10,000 BTU or less) in your RV, a 2000W portable generator would work without any issue. A 10,000 BTU window AC unit has surge wattage of 1800 watts and a running wattage of 1200 watts.

Video: Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator Reviews

Understanding Noise/Decibel Levels

Have you ever heard of decibels? Do you ever wonder what they are and why they are used to determine which is the quietest RV generator in our test?

The decibel (abbreviated dB) is the unit used to measure the intensity of a sound. The decibel scale is a little odd because the human ear is incredibly sensitive. Your ears can hear everything from your fingertip brushing lightly over your skin to a loud jet engine. In terms of power, the sound of the jet engine is about 1,000,000,000,000 times more powerful than the smallest audible sound. That’s a big difference!

On the decibel scale, the smallest audible sound is 0 dB. And 0 dB is also the quietest sound audible to a healthy human ear. The relative loudness that we perceive is a subjective psychological phenomenon, not something that can be objectively measured. Most of us perceive one sound to be twice as loud as another one when they are about 10 dB apart; for instance, a 70-dB RV generator will sound twice as loud as a 60-dB generator. Yet that 10-dB difference represents a tenfold increase in intensity. An 80-dB RV generator will sound about four times as loud as a 60-dB RV generator, but in terms of acoustic intensity, the sound it makes is 100 times as powerful.

Here are some common sounds and their decibel ratings. These ratings are taken while standing near the sound

Any sound above 85 dB can cause hearing loss, and the loss is related both to the power of the sound as well as the length of exposure. You know that you are listening to an 85-dB sound if you have to raise your voice to be heard by somebody else. Eight hours of 90-dB sound can cause damage to your ears; any exposure to 140-dB sound causes immediate damage (and causes actual pain). So protecting ears is another reason why you should buy a quiet RV generator.

Inverter vs. Conventional Generators – Which is Quieter?

Inverter generators differ widely from conventional generators when it comes to noise. Inverter generators are designed to be comparatively quiet. Quieter engines, special mufflers, and sound-dampening technology are used to reduce noise to amazingly low levels.

Conventional generators are the most widely used today, also because they have been around the longest. They run on diesel, gasoline or propane, which in simple terms, powers a motor attached to an alternator that produces electricity. The motor of conventional generators run at a constant speed (typically 3600 rpm) in order to produce a stable flow of electricity.

Inverters, on the other hand, are a recent technology, which adjusts the electrical characteristics of the power produced using microprocessors and special electronics. Unlike conventional generators, inverter generators can control generator motor speed accordingly. This means that the engine can adjust according to the power load needed, saving fuel and substantially reducing noise. To give an idea, an inverter generator running low, could be the equivalent of people conversing (50-65 dB). Instead, many conventional generators can have the same noise range as a lawn mower.

Designed to mirror a pure sine wave, inverter generators are also safer to run laptops, cell phones, monitors, tablets and other vulnerable electronics in your RV. So if you want a quiet generator for your RV and camping trips – inverter generators are the best choice.

Video: What are the differences between inverter generators and conventional generators?

The Best Quiet RV Generators You Can Buy

Now we’re ready to look at some of the best quiet RV generators available to you, and they come from a big selection of various brands. Some are from brands you would consider the industry leaders, such as Honda or Yamaha. We know you would like the quietest generator possible, but at the same time there are a lot of other things you’ll need to take into consideration before you find the right one for you. Therefore, besides looking at exactly how loud each RV generator is, we’ll look at the other benefits of each model.

#1. Champion 3400-Watt Dual-Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator – Best Quiet RV Generator For The Money

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The Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator gets our first spot not only as it was the quietest RV generator under a load in our test, a 3400W output makes it a perfect solution for powering RV’s air conditioning unit, up to 15,000 BTU. More importantly, even though this Champion inverter generator produces a whopping power output of 3,400 watts, it’s still very affordable. At roughly the same price as the Honda or Yamaha, yet 1500 Watts larger, dual fuel and electric start, this quiet RV generator is easily one of the best for the money.

When it comes to generators, more power will always equal more decibels. The Champion 3400-Watt inverter generator, however, produced less noise than most 2000W generators on the market. Under 1500W load, it operated at only 65 dB from 20-feet away, which was quieter than all RV generators in the test. You can stand next to it while carrying on a comfortable conversation. With Eco mode turned on and with no load, it was louder than the Honda eu2200is but still sound pretty quiet. We’d characterize the sound level as similar to that of a car at idle. With such a quiet operation, this generator is suitable for use at virtually all campgrounds in American where generators are allowed.

Not only is this one of the quietest RV generators on the market, it comes with many great features that the best RV generators should have. The convenient electric start includes a battery, plus Cold Start Technology ensures a quick start in cold weather. This is an RV ready generator, it operates off gasoline or propane. On gasoline, the generator will produce 3400 starting Watt and 3100 running Watt, and will run for 7.5 hours at 25% load. It produces 3060 starting Watt and 2790 running Watt, and will run for 14.5 hours at 25% load when using a 20-pound propane tank.

It’s also unlikely you would ever need this considering the large power output, but as with any decent RV generator you’ll be able to hook it up to another Champion inverter generator for double the power, although we’re not sure you would need the parallel port unless you live in a mansion.

If you’re looking for a smaller unit with a lower price, consider the Champion 3100-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator. This quiet RV generator has almost the same noise level as the 3,400W unit, it was even quieter in Eco mode. And it comes with a convenient Wireless Remote Start, which allows you to start and stop your generator from up to 80 feet away.

#2. Honda EU2200i Gas-Powered Portable Inverter Generator – Most Reliable Quiet RV Generator

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In our opinion you can’t go wrong with Honda generators, they are the NUMBER #1 when it comes to reliability and quality. And this Honda EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator  is one of the best quiet RV generators offered by Honda. This is also one of the best-selling portable generators of all time.

Sound is one of the major advantages of Honda portable inverter generators. In Eco mode with no load, the Honda EU2200i was extremely quiet. It generated only 57 dB from 20 feet, which was quieter than most, or maybe all, RV generators we’ve ever seen. To put that into perspective, the noise will be somewhere between listening to a normal conversation and sitting in a private office. Under 1500W with Eco mode off, the generator generated about 67.4 dB at 20 feet, which was a bit louder than the Champion 3,400W inverter generator. You can barely hear the noise when sitting in your RV though.

What makes this popular portable generator one of the quietest RV generators in the industry?

The EU2200i is powered by the Honda GXR120 engine – which is a legendary engine. This four-stroke engine was originally developed to power 110-lb. to 175-lb. rammers—heavy duty construction equipment used to compact soil or other granular material—at multiple elevations with ease. It includes a special cast-iron cylinder sleeve and a high carbon-steel, dual-ball bearing crankshaft that provide improved engine strength and lasting durability. A very compact muffler, combined with the OHC engine layout, reduces operation noise by one decibel (dB) compared with the current Honda GX100 engine that powers the outgoing EU2000i generator. A simple but innovative lubrication system with a dual-breather chamber optimizes engine lubricating performance. In addition, an automatic decompression system allows for easy engine starting, while an Oil Alert feature prevents the engine from operating if the oil level is too low.

The Honda EU2200i inverter generator is packing 2,200 starting watts, and the running watts is 1,800, which is enough for powering most appliances in your RV. If you want to use it with the ải conditioning unit, you can add a second EU2200i to double your power, up to 4,400 watts max.

With less than 47 lbs in weight and a built-in handle, the EU2200i is very easy to transport and store. It is also designed for quick and easy starting. Honda’s automatic mechanical decompressor system significantly reduces the amount of force needed to start the engine. This was the only model that started on the first pull every time—even after we drained the fuel tank dry.

#3. Honda EU3000iS Gasoline Portable Inverter Generator

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Yes! You can wire two of the Honda EU2200i inverter generator in parallel for additional power. But you don’t have to. This Honda EU3000iS Gasoline Portable Inverter Generator is enough for virtually everything you need. It provides up to 3,000 watts of power which can start up and run a wide variety of appliances in your RV, including a furnace, refrigerator, microwave, water heater, and most 13,500 BTU RV AC units. Even if you need more power than that, two models can be paralleled with a cable to produce up to 6000 watts.

Along with the EU2200i, the EU3000iS is one of the quietest RV generators offered by Honda. With a noise rating of only 60.5 dB in Eco mode and 70 dB under a 1500W load, it was only as loud as most 2,000W inverter generators on the market.

The Honda EU3000iS Generator is by far one of the simplest generators to operate due to its excellent panel design. Starting on the top left there is a parallel operation outlet that doubles its power with another unit. Below it there is an output indicator, overload alarm, and oil alert. It provides two 20-Amp 120v AC outlets to accommodate regular appliances and a 23-Amp twist lock outlet for power tools.

This quiet RV generator is said to be a fuel efficient if it uses less fuel while it runs for a longer period of time. Thanks to the exclusive eco-throttle, it runs 7.2 to 20 hours on just a single tank, depending on the load – ideal for maintaining overnight power. Eco-Throttle also allows the generator’s engine to automatically adjust the engine speed to produce only the power needed for the application in use and helps to reduce exhaust emissions. This CARB-compliant model also features a U.S. Forestry-approved spark arrestor for safe use in parks and forests.

#4. Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Gas-Powered Portable Inverter Generator

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Not only is this one of the best quiet RV generators you can buy but it’s easily one of the most versatile, if not “the most versatile” inverter generators. In at just 44.1 pounds with the ability to power a wide range of applications for an extended time, the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator is a perfect choice not only for most RVers but also for anybody who requires power on the go or wants to be prepared in case of an emergency or disaster.

The Yamaha EF2000iSv2 competes directly with the Honda EU2200i in price and features, but it delivers 10 percent less power (200W) and has a slightly smaller engine. Even though the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 has a smaller engine, it’s slightly louder than the Honda EU2000i – 57.5 dB in Eco mode with no load and 68 dB under a 1,500W load. This is a very small difference and both are two of the quietest RV generators you can buy. But we think that if you’re shopping for top class of RV generator, the Honda EU2200i is really the better choice.

The Yamaha EF2000iSv2 produces 1600 watts of running power and 2000 starting watts. This is not the one for running multiple devices in your RV at the same time. And also not enough power to start up a 13,500 BTU air conditioner. However, if you use a small window air conditioner in your RV, this portable generator would work without any issues. Additional features include an Oil Watch Warning System to prevent engine damage, a 12-volt DC outlet and included cables to charge any 12-volt battery. Easy-to-read fuel gauge. The parallel function lets you connect an additional generator for extra amperage. Gasoline petcock allows you to shut the gas off and run the carburetor dry for storage.

Overall, like with the Honda EU2200is, you can’t go wrong with this Yamaha EF2000iSv2. It’s not a cheap generator but it’s easily one of the best quiet RV generators that you can buy. It’s well engineered and designed for portability and maximum power. It’s very easy to carry around and transport while providing excellent smart features that protect your investment while providing power wherever you need it.

#5. Briggs & Stratton P3000 PowerSmart Series Gas-Powered Portable Inverter Generator

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The Briggs & Stratton P3000 PowerSmart Series is one of the best RV generators for dry camping and boondocking. With a 3,000 starting watts/2,600 running watts output, this is a monster that produces enough power for all important electronics in your RV, including a 13,500 BTU RV air conditioner. If you don’t think that’s enough power, it also has parallel capability so you can connect two units together for more power. Additionally, it’s equipped with (4) household outlets, (1) 12V 30-amp locking outlet with RV adaptor DC charging outlet and a USB port. Hence if you’re looking for a single generator that can power everything you need on a camping trip, and has the ability to extend its capacity when needed, this is a great choice.

Even though is this one of the best quiet RV generators on the market, it’s the loudest generator under a load we’re reviewing today. At 20 feet in Eco mode with no load, the Briggs & Stratton P3000 produced a noise level of about 61 dB. Under 1,500W load, it jumped to 74 dB, which was a bit louder than the Honda EU3000iS and much louder than two of our top picks. However, this is completely acceptable for an RV generator with such a robust engine.

The Briggs & Stratton P3000 PowerSmart Series is larger than the briefcase-style generators, although Briggs & Stratton have made it as portable as possible for you. The design of the handle and the wheels make it feel like you’re wheeling a suitcase around the airport. The weight is roughly 30 pounds heavier than some of the 2,000-watt models, which isn’t too much of a difference.

#6. WEN 56310i CARB Compliant Inverter Generator 3100W – Best Cheap Quiet RV Generator

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The WEN 56310i CARB Compliant Inverter Generator is a great choice for anybody who does not have much money to spend. You couldn’t buy any other quiet RV generators with such a low price. In terms of quality, there is no way this cheap RV generator can be better than the Champion, Honda, Yamaha, or Briggs & Stratton units. But as you can see it’s 2x to 3.5x less expensive. You could buy 2 WEN units and have one laying around for spare parts and still be a thousand bucks ahead compared to buying a Honda or Yamaha.

One of the really impressive things is the fact that even though this WEN inverter generator was not optimized for silence, it still manages to output just 63 decibels of noise from 20 feet under Eco mode with no load. Under a 1,500W load, it produced only 71.7 dB at 20 feet, which was still quieter than the Briggs & Stratton P3000 PowerSmart Series.

This RV generator generates 3100 surge watts and 2800 rated watts of power. It packs a larger engine, a 212cc 4-stroke OHV that combines with the 1.85-gallon fuel tank to deliver over 7.5 hours of run-time under 50% load. The front panel is loaded with two 3-prong 120V receptacles, a single 120V 30A AC NEMA twist lock receptacle, one 12V DC receptacle, and dual 5V USB ports for charging your cell phone or external battery bank.

Overall, the WEN 56310i is a good quiet RV generator for you if you’re on the budget. For the price that you have to pay for the Champion 3,400W dual-fuel, you could get 2 of WEN inverter generators and connect them in parallel to have up to 6,200W, which is enough power for everything you have in your RV.

Other Things to Consider When Buying A Quiet RV Generator

You now know which are the best quiet RV generators on the market that you should consider. But there are some final problems that you need to overcome before you lock in on the perfect model. You need to ask yourself the following questions :

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

The answer to this 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.

So an RV with a 13,500 BTU AC will probably need a 3000W generator, and an RV with a 15,000 BTU AC will need at least a 3300W generator. That is of course, if you don’t turn on any appliance simultaneously with the AC. 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 2800W. So after your 3000W generator starts your 13,500 BTU air conditioner which might run at 2000W, you have around 800W to use on other items.

Without an RV air conditioner, the models under 2,500 watts would be enough to run most of devices and appliances in your RV, including microwaves or refrigerators.

Which fuel will my RV generator use?

The second important thing to consider when shopping for a quiet RV generator is what type of fuel they would like to burn. RV generators can be powered by gasoline or propane (LP). Gasoline is more popular thanks to its cheap price, fast burning nature, and the fact that it can be easily stored in containers, so you can carry more gasoline with you than you can carry propane. Gasoline is also a more efficient fuel than propane, most of the best quiet RV generators currently available are gas-powered.

Some generators allow you to switch between gasoline and propane. They are called dual-fuel or hybrid generators. The Champion 3,400W RV Ready Inverter Generator is the only model in our rating that is dual-fuel.

Dual-fuel generators provide solutions to fuel availability issues that invariably arise in times of crisis when you need a temporary emergency backup power source typically configured with the LP tank fueled generator. Dual fuel generators also give users options when the fuel storage or clean-burning benefits of propane are preferred, while having the ability to utilize a more mobile free-standing generator for more routine applications with gasoline. This additional level of versatility has been very popular with RV owners, affording them a valuable alternative with the flexibility to switch between propane and gasoline fuel sources and reasonably valued below the alternative of owning and operating both a gas and a propane generator of equivalent size.



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