Boondocking and camping at primitive campgrounds is a great way to enjoy the quietness great outdoors and get away from the noise of a typically crowded RV park.
Though the tradeoff here is that you seldom have access to electrical hookups, and the amount of power that even the most robust RV house battery can offer is finite at best.
A generator is an ideal solution for providing portable power to your RV when you are camping off the grid.
Though some can be annoyingly loud, especially if you need to run it all night long to power your RV’s rooftop air conditioner, that’s why some campgrounds do not allow generators. The National Park Service allows campers to use generators that don’t exceed the noise level of 60 decibels at 50 feet.
In times like this, a quiet running portable RV generator is the most effective ways to stay plugged in without the loud noise, as produce they produce 10 to 30 dB lower noise than their louder cousin.
Though it can be a crowded market, with a lot of manufacturers using colorful adjectives to make a noisy generator sound like it is whisper quiet.
So, we decided it was time to dig in on the nuts and bolts details of camping generators and what makes them tick.
The end result is a list of some of the best quiet generators for just about any RV or campsite setup.
Why Do You Need a Generator When Camping?
Primitive campsites and rustic campgrounds are more popular than ever, though very few offer reliable electric hookups.
Having a generator on-hand helps maintain the home-away-from-home experience that most RV travelers crave. This includes some of the following benefits.
Charging Your RV’s House Batteries
When hooked up correctly you can use the DC power created by a generator to help recharge your RV’s house batteries.
This is a great way to make sure your RV has the power it needs without having to hunt down a power post to connect your battery charger.
Charging Power Stations
Power stations are high-capacity battery banks that let you run lights, recharge devices, and even operate small appliances like a laptop DVD player with greater efficiency than a giant 12 Volt lead-acid battery bank.
Though their power supply is finite. Having a generator in your campsite lets you charge your power station to then take it anywhere you want to go.
Running Your Rooftop Air Conditioner
With most RVs the rooftop air conditioner is the biggest drain on the RV’s electrical system.
Being able to run it all night long on a generator keeps your interior cool, without draining your RV’s house batteries.
Though a quiet running generator is an added bonus when it comes to sleep quality.
Preserves Your RV’s Lead-Acid Batteries
Lead acid batteries can be damaged when drained below 50%. Being able to maintain or top up their charge via a quiet generator will go a long way toward helping you save on RV battery replacement costs.
Better Production Than Solar
While solar panels have evolved, they are still costly and require costly hardware as well as other components to run.
Whereas a quiet generator can deliver more power to your RV’s house battery bank in a short amount of time.
This can be a big deal in times when you need fully charged batteries in 1 hour instead of 10.
What Makes a RV Generator ‘Quiet?’
There are a few different engineering features that help make one RV generator quieter than another.
The more of these features that you find on a particular model, the lower the decibel level will generally be.
1. Inverter Technology
When it comes to generators, inverter technology monitors and regulates performance.
Inverter RV generators are designed to be comparatively quiet. Their quieter engines, totally enclosed body, special mufflers and sound-dampening technology help them operate at low noise levels between 49 and 60 dB, which is no louder than background music or normal speech.
Many quiet-running camping generators with an inverter will also have a special “Eco Mode” setting.
2. Four-Stroke Gasoline Engine
A four stroke gasoline engine is quieter than a two-stroke. This is very similar to the type of engine you find in a car, only smaller.
Four stroke engines are also less prone to backfire, and don’t produce the same level of annoying smoke that their two-stroke counterparts do.
3. Diesel Engine
Diesel engines are quieter and more fuel efficient than even four-stroke gasoline generators.
Though they are much larger and more expensive, which in the real world generally limits them to big rigs like Class A motorhomes, large toy haulers and luxury fifth-wheel trailers.
Just like a car engine, a muffler will baffle the noise produced by a generator’s exhaust system.
This will go a long way toward reducing the overall decibel level. Though you tend to see mufflers on open frame camping generators rather than on closed frame models.
5. Closed Frame
Closed frame generators are made from sound dampening materials and specially engineered for quiet running.
They also tend to have a built-in fan that helps cool the engine, and further reduce noise.
This is sometimes a clever engineering alternative to a traditional muffler like you might find on an open frame camping generator.
6 Quietest RV Generators On The Market
When reviewing the quietest generators for camping, we focused on components and engineering features that translated directly into silent running performance.
Along the way we also made sure to keep a keen eye out for the telltale signs of material build quality as well as manufacturer’s that had a reputation for producing quality camping generators.
These super quiet portable RV generators are the best choices to get electricity while camping unplugged or off-grid without worrying about scaring the wildlife or irritating fellow campers.
1: Honda EU3000IS 3000W 120V Quiet RV Generator
Honda has one of the most powerful reputations in the world when it comes to material build quality for everything they produce.
You see this shining through with confidence in the Honda Power Equipment EU3000IS.
It was designed using closed frame engineering principles with sophisticated inverter technology.
All this and the fact that it uses a state-of-the-art Honda four-stroke gasoline engine translates into superior fuel-efficiency and quiet running.
Depending on the demand placed on this Honda camping generator it is rated to produce no more than 49 to 58 decibels.
With a 6,000 Watt maximum output, it is also capable of running a 13,500 BTU per hour RV rooftop air conditioner.
This will go a long way toward reducing the strain on your RV’s house batteries during hot and humid conditions.
2: Briggs & Stratton P4500 30A RV Inverter Generator
Briggs & Stratton is another one of the most well-respected manufacturers of generators and power tools meant for professional grade applications.
This stands out boldly with the Briggs & Stratton 30795 P4500. This 30A RV inverter generator was built with closed frame engineering principles and a four-stroke engine that has a reputation for being very fuel-efficient and 60% quieter than a camping standard generator. The push button ignition system is also very convenient.
Though this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the convenient engineering of the Briggs & Stratton 30795.
It also has a built-in multi-functional display panel that monitors power usage, fuel level, and run time.
It also has four 120V, 20A outlets, (1) 120V, 30A RV outlet, and (2) USB ports to let you charge or run a wide range of devices directly off the generator.
3: Westinghouse 55191 Super Quiet Inverter Generator
Westinghouse is one of those long-standing manufacturers that has quietly made a name for themselves by creating camping generators that are designed to last.
To that point, the Westinghouse iGen4500 was designed using closed frame engineering principles with inverter technology and a digital control center that is easy to use.
This four-stroke camping generator was designed to be as quiet as possible.
This quiet RV generator is rated to produce up to 58 decibels, while running to produce up to 4,500 Watts. It also includes a 25-foot power cable, which isn’t a big deal, but is a nice bonus.
It is also CSA listed for safety, which can be a deciding factor for families who need a quiet camping generator.
4: Briggs & Stratton Q6500 QuietPower Inverter Generator
The Briggs & Stratton Q6500 is the next bold step up from the Briggs & Stratton 30795. The Q6500 is an excellent portable RV generator that combines the best of both worlds and is quiet at only 66 dBA at 25% load.
This excellent portable RV generator was built using closed frame engineering principles and a four-stroke engine for maximum sound dampening and is quiet at only 66 dB. The push button ignition system is also very convenient.
Though this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the convenient engineering of the Briggs & Stratton Q6500 It also has a built-in multi-functional display panel that monitors power usage, fuel level, and run time.
The built-in alternator also helps with fuel efficiency which gives you up to 14 hours of run time on a single tank of gas.
It’s also worth noting that the Briggs & Stratton Q6500 was designed with a bevy of different outlets and ports.
This includes 120V-20A outlets (4), USB outlets (2) and a 120V-240V locking outlet to let you charge your essential devices and power appliances directly off the generator should you need to.
5: A-iPower SUA2000iV Super Quiet Portable Gas Powered Generator
The A-iPower SUA2000iV was designed more for smaller campers and rustic campsites with modest power needs rather than powering the massive rooftop air conditioner on a big rig RV.
Though it’s 52 decibel rating, closed frame engineering and inverter technology make this a very lightweight, quiet generator for camping.
The A-iPower also has a “Low idle” mode that gives it an extended run time of up to 4 hours at 100% load and 7 hours at 50% load.
It was also equipped with a low oil alert light and low oil automatic shutdown for added safety.
Which is great if you need to step away from your campsite for a while, but you want to leave your generator running to recharge your RV’s house batteries.
6: Honda EU2200iTAG 2200 watts Quiet Portable Generator
The great state of California is known for having some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the United States.
So, Honda made it a point to design this version of the Honda EU2200ITAG generator to meet those standards while also being very quiet to run.
To that point, this whisper-quiet portable inverter generator is rated to run at 48 to 57 dB noise levels, which should be friendly to most campsites in California and beyond.
The Honda EU2200ITAG is designed with teardrop campers, popup campers and small travel trailers in mind.
With 2,200 Watts of maximum production, it won’t have the juice to run a 13,500 BTU RV rooftop air conditioner, but it will be able to recharge batteries, power devices and run a fair number of essential appliances when you camp off the grid.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Real-World Decibel Levels Compare To A Generator’s Noise?
When it comes to comparing decibel levels of an RV generator to real-world sounds, most of the quietest camping generators produce between 45 to 60 decibels.
This is similar to the noise level you would get from things like a refrigerator’s compressor, an electric toothbrush or a sewing machine.
How Many Watts Do I Need To Run An RV Rooftop Air Conditioner Off A Generator?
Quiet camping generators are the ideal option for running a rooftop RV air conditioner.
Though you need to make sure that the generator is rated to produce at least 3,000 Watts to properly power a 13,500-Watt RV air conditioner, without abusing the generator.
Generator technology continues to evolve, to the point where you can now find a lot of great quiet generators for camping.
The best models tend to use closed frame engineering principles, inverter technology and four-stroke engines to cut down on the noise they produce.
This helps you break down the best quiet generator for camping by your wattage demands.
If you need to power a 13,500 BTU RV rooftop air conditioner to let it run while you sleep, then the Honda Power Equipment EU3000IS might be the best quiet generator for your camping needs.
If you have a smaller RV with low wattage demands, then the A-iPower SUA2000iV or the Honda EU2200ITAG 2200-Watt “California Version” are two of the best quiet generators for camping.
Especially if you are camping in California and you are concerned about meeting the state’s rigorous eco regulations.