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Best Generator for 30 amp RV (Full Size or Parallel?)

DISCLAIMER: AS AN AMAZON ASSOCIATE I EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES. THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS THAT WILL REWARD ME MONETARILY OR OTHERWISE WHEN YOU USE THEM TO MAKE QUALIFYING PURCHASES. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE READ MY EARNINGS DISCLAIMER.

The best generator for 30-amp RV service will have a dedicated 120V/240V 30-amp outlet, low noise levels, and sufficient runtime to suit your needs. To get the best generator technology and still use it with larger appliances, you may want to get 2 inverter generators and parallel them.

Why use a dedicated (RV Ready) outlet? In theory, power generators with 120V 30A NEMA L14-30R ports can be used to power 30-amp RV services using various L14-30P to TT-30R adapters, but such combinations must be used with extreme caution because different generators offer different modes of operation for their 120V NEMA 30A L14-30R ports.

There is a chance that each mode may require a different adapter – if the wrong adapter is used, it can (in the best-case scenario), cause generator failure. You will commonly find NEMA-rated receptacles for generators. What does this mean?

NEMA (The National Electrical Manufacturers Association) or is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing technical standards for electrical and medical imaging equipment manufacturers. Enclosures by NEMA-set standards are commonly identified with safety and high technical performance.

30-amp, RV-ready generators could have any of the following types of receptacles:

  • 30A NEMA TT-30R. This is a three-prong receptacle with one hot wire that can provide 30 amps and has a maximum power of 3600w (which is 120 volts x 30 amps).

In a nutshell, a 30 Amps power generator is RV-ready if it has a 120V 30A NEMA TT-30R outlet (ideally) or at least a 120V NEMA 30A L5-30R receptacle (which requires L5-30P to TT-30R adapter).

  • 120/240V NEMA L5-30R receptacle.

If the generator provides you with this type of receptacle instead of the one you need, there are numerous heavy-duty adapters that you can use to change it into a TT-30R receptacle (paid link):

Most 3K-K watt power generators include few 120V 20A NEMA 5-20R outlets, as well as one 120V 30A NEMA L5-30R or 120V 30A NEMA TT-30R receptacle. In most cases, a 5-20P to TT-30R adapter can handle loads up to 2600 watts, but for many campers, it is not a reliable solution.

The L5-30P to TT-30R adapter, on the other hand, can be utilized for loads up to 3600w. It will allow to connect and power the 30 Amp RV with a generator that does not have a TT-30R port but does have an L5-30R port.

  • 120/240V 50A NEMA 14-50R receptacle. Your generator may also include a 50-amp receptacle, which could also be used with a proper adaptor (paid link):

Just make sure that your adaptors are heavy-duty and will be able to sustain the heat coming from power conversion. This is a four-prong receptacle with two hot wires, each capable of 50 Amps, with a maximum power rating of 12000 Watts (120V x 100 Amps).

This is how the receptacle set on the generator looks like:

Fuel type

Diesel generators tend to be too heavy for camping needs, gasoline-only generators are restricted by this type of fuel and it is capable of clogging the carburetor.

But, there is such a thing as DUAL generators! Dual-fuel power generators can run on both gasoline and propane (which is rather convenient):

Propane reduces a generator’s output power, but it is a lot cleaner fuel than gasoline. It is also less expensive and you can store it for a long time in propane bottles (unlike gasoline that you cannot store for over a month).

LP fuel will also not gum up your carburetor. It is always useful in case of emergency to have a choice of fuel to use. All you have to do is turn the switch to the appropriate setting and you are good to go:

Technology

If you are planning to get an inverter generator, you need to know that the inverter output type varies greatly and that determines its price. You can basically divide the inverter technology into three categories:

  1. Pure Sine Wave with Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) with less than 3%
  2. Clean Sine Wave with Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) with less than 5%
  3. Modified Sine Wave with Total Harmonic Distortion more than 5% but less than Square Wave

Pure Sine Wave (PWS) looks like this:

Modified Sine Wave (MWS) looks like this:

An this is a Square Wave:

As you see, there is a big difference in the output and if you are planning to run sensitive electronic equipment on your generator, you will want to get one with LEAST THD (Total Harmonic Distortion)! Here are some generators that were carefully selected with:

  • Lowest harmonic distortion – Pure Sine Wave (or less than 3% THD)
  • Second to lowest harmonic distortion – Clean Sine Wave (or less than 5% THD)

Here is another reason why it makes sense to get as close to a pure sine wave as possible. It is because Modified Sine Wave makes noise when appliances are used and it wears them out!

Pure Sine Inverter vs. Modified Sine - Microwave Oven Test

Unfortunately, these types of inverter-generators are smaller in size and don’t come with RV-ready receptacles. This means in order to make them useful for larger loads, you will need to invest in parallel cables and proper adaptors.

Generator runtime

Under normal conditions, generators should be able to run for about 7-8 hours when under 50% load, and about 12-15 hours while under 25% load.  Two to three refuelings a day should be sufficient for most generators under moderate load.

Larger fuel tanks offer longer runtime. If you don’t want to spend more money on the larger generator or prefer to have it reasonably mobile and light, you have an option of fuel tank extension (paid link):

This handy device can be easily connected to your generator to extend its run time (only make sure that it works with your generator model).

Levels of noise

Open frame power generators are lighter and less expensive than power generators with full enclosure, however, they produce a LOT more noise. When boondocking, noise levels of less than 70 dBA should be fine, since there are no people around, but if you like to park at campsites (without access to mains electricity) or parking lots, noise levels of less than 53-55 dBA (decibels) are significantly preferable.

Even though Honda generators are more pricy, their noise level is on the low side. For example, this top-rated, 5-star 2200-watt Honda model (paid link) generates a noise level of about 48 to 57 dBA:

If 2200-watt seems too small for you, but you want to keep it light and portable, just parallel it! Two inverter-generators can indeed be paralleled for larger power output (in case you want to run a power-hungry air conditioner).

Besides getting two generators (which is very handy when you need less power at different locations), you will need a device like this to link them together. This paralleling cable from Hutch Mountain (paid link) comes with a 30-amp receptacle, which will make your Honda EU2200i RV-ready!

Engine starter

If you like the idea of the electric starter, which can either be a key or a button, it’s always a good idea to have a manual recoil option for bigger generators. And why not use a remote start if it’s available?

All you have to do is press a button on the generator’s remote fob and wait for it to warm up!

Digital multimeter or voltmeter?

When you run your generator, it sure is important to know much fuel is left in the tank and when to schedule a refueling. Some generators have a multimeter gauge with information like your power output, frequency, runtime, and maintenance schedule:

Screen sizes vary and some are easier to read than others:

Some generators use voltmeters:

High-end systems frequently have maintenance reminders, similar to those found in cars. It will alert you when it’s time to change the spark plug, oil, or check the air filter.

Warranty options

Warranty lengths are specified in years or months, and sometimes – run hours. The longer, the better, and make sure that you carefully read the terms.

If a manufacturer doesn’t believe in the quality of its own product, then who should?

A good warranty sometimes can justify the higher price. You don’t want to buy junk, do you?

The best generator for 30-amp RV

So, what is the best generator for this type of RV service? I think, if you have money to do it, going for two 2200-watt inverter generators with paralleling cable is the best solution due to its flexibility.

This model (XP2200EH) from DuroMax (paid link)  has a lot of mentioned above features, except for a 30-amp receptacle:

You can overcome this obstacle by paralleling two of these generators together with their own specially designed kit, that has (1) 30A NEMA TT-30R outlet on one end and 30A NEMA L5-30R on the other:

This generator provides “Clean Sine Wave”, which is less than 5% of Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) and is still suitable for electronics. They also have the following certification:

And a 3-year warranty:

Did I mention that their owner’s manual is the best user-friendly format I have ever seen! Check it out for yourself.


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