How Much is a Generator for an RV? Hidden Costs to Consider

Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by kiezelamquiz

An RV generator inside the compartment of a parked RV.

Owning an RV can open up a world of travel and adventure, but one key component to consider is the generator. This essential device powers your RV’s many conveniences, yet, its cost can often be a point of confusion for many. Exactly how much is a generator for an RV?

The cost of a generator for an RV varies greatly, typically ranging from $500 to over $3000. This cost is influenced by factors like the generator’s type, fuel efficiency, noise reduction features, power output, and brand reputation.

In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to navigate your way through the maze of RV generator costs.

The Different Types of RV Generators

There are primarily two types of RV-ready generators: portable and built-in, also known as onboard generators.

When determining which is best for your needs, an essential consideration is the power requirement of your RV. For this, understanding what generator size you need for your RV is crucial.

Portable generators are versatile and can be used for various needs, but require manual setup each time.

On the other hand, built-in generators, as the name suggests, are integrated into your RV’s system. They are convenient, usually offering more power and seamless operation, but come with a higher price tag. This

Your choice between a portable or built-in generator depends on your RV lifestyle.

Portable generators are ideal for occasional campers due to their lower cost and versatility. They can be used for other purposes, like backyard parties or power outages at home.

In contrast, if you’re a full-time RVer or often camp off-grid, a built-in generator might be more suitable. Despite the higher upfront cost, the convenience and power output can be worth the investment.

The Cost of RV Generators

Having laid the groundwork for RV generators’ importance and types, we now shift our focus to the heart of the matter: cost. This section will offer a comprehensive view of RV generator pricing and its influencing factors.

Price Range of RV Generators: From Low to High

The cost of RV generators can widely vary, ranging from around $500 for a basic portable unit to over $3000 for a high-end built-in model. This broad price range reflects the diverse needs and budgets of RV owners.

Keep in mind, the initial purchase price isn’t the only cost to consider. Installation, maintenance, and how often you run the RV generator all play a role in the total cost of owning one.

Factors Affecting the Cost of RV Generators

Several factors affect the price of RV generators. The generator type, power output capacity, brand, and additional features such as noise reduction or inverter technology all contribute to the cost.

For instance, a basic portable generator from a lesser-known brand will be significantly cheaper than a high-capacity built-in model from a reputed manufacturer. The latter may offer more power and longevity, but it also comes with a heftier price tag.

The Difference in Cost Between Portable and Built-In Generators

Generally speaking, built-in generators are more expensive than their portable counterparts. This price difference is due to the larger power capacities, convenience, and often higher build quality of built-in units.

However, you’ll need to consider how these costs align with your RV needs. A high-quality portable generator might suffice for weekend trips, whereas frequent travelers or full-time RVers may find more value in a pricier built-in generator.

The Impact of Generator Types on Cost

The type of generator you choose will significantly impact the cost. In this section, we’ll delve deeper into how different generator types, fuel sources, and features can influence the price.

Gas vs. Diesel vs. Propane: How Fuel Type Influences Price

The type of fuel and how much gas an RV generator uses can affect both its initial and operational costs. Gas generators are generally cheaper and use easily accessible fuel, but they aren’t as efficient or durable as diesel generators.

Propane generators are a middle ground option, offering clean energy and good efficiency. However, storing and managing propane can be a challenge for some RVers, particularly on long trips.

Standard vs. Inverter Generators: Cost and Efficiency Considerations

Standard generators provide a steady flow of power, making them suitable for large appliances. They’re generally more affordable but produce more noise and aren’t as fuel-efficient. If you’re wondering how long to charge an RV battery with a generator, this can influence your decision.

A side-by-side comparison of a standard generator and an inverter generator.

Inverter generators, though more expensive, offer several advantages. They’re quieter, more fuel-efficient, and provide cleaner power suitable for sensitive electronics. For many RVers, these benefits justify the higher cost.

On the other hand, noise reduction is a significant concern for many RVers. The best quiet RV generators with noise reduction features, such as soundproof casings or low-noise exhaust systems, are more expensive.

While these features do increase the initial cost, they also provide a more peaceful camping environment. This can be especially valuable in campgrounds with strict noise regulations.

Hidden Costs: Beyond the Initial Purchase

Buying the generator is just the beginning. In the following sections, we’ll explore the ongoing costs associated with owning an RV generator.

Installation and Set-Up Costs

Depending on your choice of generator, you may incur additional installation costs. Built-in generators require professional installation, which can add to the initial cost.

Even portable generators may require some setup. For instance, you may need to buy extension cords, grounding rods, or weather-resistant covers.

Fuel, Maintenance, and Repair Costs

Owning a generator also involves fuel, maintenance, and potentially repair costs. These expenses can vary depending on the type of generator, frequency of use, and fuel prices.

Regular maintenance, including oil changes and filter replacements, keeps your generator in good shape. Neglecting these tasks could lead to costly repairs down the line.

The Cost Implications of Generator Lifespan

A generator’s lifespan can significantly impact its overall cost. While a cheaper generator may seem appealing initially, it may not last as long as a more expensive, higher-quality unit.

A durable, reliable generator might cost more upfront but could save you money in the long run. Considering the lifespan and reliability of a generator is a crucial part of smart shopping.

You might be interested in learning how to watch TV in an RV without a generator.

Smart Shopping: How to Find a Generator that Fits Your Budget

With a solid understanding of RV generator costs, let’s explore how to find a generator that fits your budget and needs. This section provides practical tips on smart shopping for RV generators.

Considering Used Generators: Pros and Cons

Buying a used generator can save you a significant amount of money upfront. However, it comes with risks. The generator may have hidden problems, and warranty coverage could be limited or non-existent.

When buying used, it’s crucial to thoroughly check the generator’s condition. Consider bringing along a knowledgeable friend or hiring a professional to inspect it.

Where to Shop for RV Generators: Best Places for Bargains

Many places sell RV generators, including RV supply stores, home improvement stores, and online retailers. Each has its benefits. Physical stores allow you to see and hear the generator in person, while online shopping offers convenience and potentially lower prices.

Don’t forget to check customer reviews and compare prices before making your decision.

While cost is a significant factor, it’s essential to consider the value you’re getting for your money. Some cheap RV generators may end up costing more in fuel, maintenance, and potential early replacement.

When evaluating generators, consider their power output, fuel efficiency, noise level, and reliability alongside the price.

If you’re looking for an RV generator that offers great value for your money, take a look at this list of the top 10 best RV ready generators.

Make Informed Decision on Your RV Generator Purchases

Finding the balance between cost and quality is crucial. While a cheap generator might seem like a bargain, it could be noisy, fuel-inefficient, or unreliable.

On the other hand, an expensive generator may offer more power and features than you need. Assess your power needs, budget, and desired features to find a generator that offers the best value for your money.

Remember, an RV generator is a long-term investment. While the initial purchase cost is essential, you should also consider ongoing costs like fuel, maintenance, and potential repairs.

By factoring in these costs, you can better estimate the true cost of owning an RV generator and make an informed purchase decision. is an independent review business. I am not affiliated with any manufacturers and do not accept paid reviews. When you buy through my links, I may earn a commission which helps me purchase more generators for testing. - Scott Krager

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