The 10 BEST Propane Generators – Ultimate RV Guide [2021]

If you’ve been searching for the best propane generators for your RV, campervan or off-grid living you’ve come to the right place! We tested the top 10 products on the market to finally determine once and for all what is the best option out there. Let’s dive into our ultimate buyers guide…

A great battery bank may keep the lights and fans on for a few days, but if you’re looking to make margaritas or spend some serious time away from the nearest plug-in, a propane generator will help you get out there. 

Solar power has come a long way towards providing a boondocking power source, but it still can’t quite be counted on to power up the air conditioning, power tools, or heavy kitchen equipment.

And while we are huge proponents of being self-contained when it comes to energy by having an awesome RV battery setup, having a generator is a great compliment to ensure you are never without power.

To satisfy the heavy hitters on your power supply, you’ll still have to look towards a high-quality generator, and one powered by propane has greater staying power.

EDITOR’S CHOICE:

DuroMax 4850

Just want to know our expert recommendation straight off the bat? After personally testing all the options our top choice is the DuroMax 4850

We love the big 212CC engine that powers this dual fuel generator for years with minimal maintenance. The DuroMax is the safest choice for getting the job done.

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Propane is one of the most affordable fuel sources out there, can be more efficient than gasoline, and will keep in good condition longer. 

The best propane generators on the market can power up the microwave, A/C, TV, and an RV fridge without hitting peak capacity. 

It’s tough to know exactly what you need out of your generator before spending a few weekends without power.

A piece of equipment this impactful and expensive is a tough choice to make, so you want to make sure you know what you’re looking for. 

This buying guide will break down the best propane generators on the market, as well as walk through some fundamental characteristics that make up propane generators so you can have all the information you need to choose the best power source for your next trip.

PRODUCT

WHAT WE LIKE

THINGS TO CONSIDER

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DuroMax 4850

EDITOR'S CHOICE

  • Optional 4-year protection

  • Very easy to maintain

  • 50-state approved

  • Less than 4 gallon tank

  • Less powerful on propane than gas

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Champion 76533

  • Built for RVs

  • Trusted brand

  • Intelligauge keeps stats close by

  • Short run time

  • Higher cost, lower run time than Duromax

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Firman H08051

  • Starting wattage can power a house

  • Modern user interface

  • Comes with accessories

  • Loses loads of run time on propane

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Westinghouse WGEN3600DF

  • Best electric start in the business

  • High tech and affordable

  • Automatic low oil shut down

  • Low fuel efficiency

  • Doesn't keep track of statistics

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Sportsman 4000

  • Most affordable option on our list

  • High rate wattage compared to the price

  • Lightweight

  • Propoane only

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DuroMax XP2200

  • Can carry one-handed

  • Long power duration

  • Easily paralleled

  • Won't start 15k BTU air-con

  • Loud for its size

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Durostar DS4850

  • Best price to power ratio

  • Electric start

  • Low run time

  • Brand reputability

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Champion 200961

  • Affordable

  • Quiet

  • Lightweight

  • Low peak power

  • No data center

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Pulsar G12KBN

  • Most powerful generator on the list

  • Electric start.

  • Affordable for the power

  • Low run time

  • Loud noise level

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WEN DF475T

  • Automatic transfer

  • Lightweight for its class

  • Plug and play

  • Less reliable brand

Off Grid Motorhome Norway
Having a propane generator in your RV or motorhome lets you park up in epic places like this for as long as your like while still being able to power your van and accessories.

The Best Propane Generators for RVs and Van Life

We unplugged our shore power, cut the engine off, and fired up generators of all shapes and sizes to see what they were made of.

To be good enough to qualify for our list of the best portable propane generators in the world, we looked at the noise level, weight, power output, versatility, and price of generators from top to bottom.

By the end of this article you’ll be informed enough to finally make the right purchase for your style and budget. Let’s get into it.

Best on Market – DuroMax 4850

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DuroMax has several top-of-the-line portable propane generators built for a life in an RV, and this 4850-watt generator leads the way, thanks to its fuel efficiency and longevity. That’s why it sits firmly at the top of our list of recommended products!

The inner workings of this machine feature all-metal construction, which makes servicing this DuroMax a breeze.

Simply checking and replacing the oil every now and then will provide portable power for years to come.

PROS

  • Optional 4-year protection
  • Very easy to maintain
  • 50-state approved

CONS

  • Less than 4 gallon tank
  • Less powerful on propane than gas

It has the 120v 30a twist lock outlet any generator needs to ensure compatibility with an RV and will offer more than enough power to keep the air conditioning on at half load.

Easily control everything from the mainframe of this high-powered generator, whose control panel keeps all your plug-ins handy and provides oil and voltage meters.

And of course, the dual fuel technology gives you hours of power per propane tank or full fuel tank.

This dual fuel portable propane generator keeps things simple and promises to churn out continuous power with minimal maintenance, all at an affordable price. What more could you ask for out of your RV generator?

Power Output (starting\running watts)4850/3850
Run time on 10-pound LPG (hours)9.6
Weight (lbs)122
Noise Level (dbs)69

Champion 76533

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Champion Power Equipment is the other heavy hitter in the portable generator market.

With powerful propane generator options of all sizes, many of the best propane generators come in Champions signature yellow hew.

This particular portable propane generator was designed with RVs in mind, resulting in great dual-fuel power output with an electric start.

PROS

  • Built for RVs
  • Trusted brand
  • Intelligauge keeps stats close by

CONS

  • Short run time
  • Higher cost, lower run time than Duromax

Champion’s collaborations and years of experience built an adventure-ready propane generator from a company that has proven they know a thing or two about the genre. 

You can choose between wattages anywhere from 3500-7500 depending on your power needs, all with lifetime technical support and wheels for easy transport.

This powerful generator ships ready to roll, so pick your fuel supply and enjoy more power for your high voltage appliances on day one.

Power Output (starting\running watts)4750/3800
Run time on 10-pound LPG (hours)5
Weight (lbs)119
Noise Level (dbs)68

Firman H08051

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Boondockers who don’t plan on heading into town any time soon can stay out an extra night with this dual fuel generator built to stay on all night long.

Firman threw wheels on some heavy-duty generators to establish a new class of portable generators on the market.

The capabilities of this unit make it perfect for large RVs, tour buses, and even extended power outages.

PROS

  • Starting wattage can power a house
  • Modern user interface
  • Comes with accessories

CONS

  • Loses loads of run time on propane

Unfortunately, it is far from the most portable generator on our list.

This loud generator weighs 225 pounds, but reinforced wheels make transport easy enough – once or twice a year.

I’d highly recommend carving out a space for this generator in an easy-to-access part of your RV and not expecting on moving it any time soon. 

If you demand heavy power output for an extended period of time, it’s worth lugging around the extra girth on these carb compliant propane generators to keep the lights on.

Power Output (starting\running watts)10000/8000
Run time on 10-pound LPG (hours)2.5
Weight (lbs)212
Noise Level (dbs)74

Westinghouse WGEN3600DF

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Kiss the hand crank good by and rely on your carb compliant propane generator to start and finish the work.

The easy electric start features remote start capabilities that will get your clean-burning fuel warmed up before you are.

The best portable propane generator will make it easy to generate electricity, and this plug-and-play model exemplifies user-friendly continuous power. 

PROS

  • Best electric start in the business
  • High tech and affordable
  • Automatic low oil shut down

CONS

  • Low fuel efficiency
  • Doesn’t keep track of statistics

While it features a lower power output than the highest strength generators on our list, Westinghouse promises to make the most out of your propane fuel.

A 4-gallon tank of propane burns for nearly 11 hours of continuous use at a half load.

A front and center fuel gauge (so you always know how much fuel and how much propane you have) and low oil indicator make maintenance easy, and the 120v 30a twist lock outlets work with all classes of RVs.

This is a perfect propane generator for budget shoppers who don’t mind a generator with lower running watts if it means saving a few bucks.

Power Output (starting\running watts)4650/3600
Run time on 10-pound LPG (hours)5.5
Weight (lbs)109
Noise Level (dbs)69

Sportsman 4000

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Besides having the best name in the business, this is also one of the only generators on the market that runs solely on propane fuel. 

Dual fuel generators may have different capabilities depending on which fuel sources are used, but with this option, you can be sure you’ll be getting peak power and maximum efficiency out of your propane tank.

The other most significant benefit of running off of propane fuel only is the reduced price.

PROS

  • Most affordable option on our list
  • High rate wattage compared to the price
  • Lightweight

CONS

  • Propane only

This is one of the most affordable portable generators on the market, and if you don’t plan on using anything but propane for your power output, there’s no need to buy a dual fuel generator.

While it doesn’t quite pack a punch to get a house through an extended power outage, it provides more than enough power for a weekend camping trip without having to lug multiple propane tanks. 

Power Output (starting\running watts)4000/3500
Run time on 10-pound LPG (hours)5
Weight (lbs)91
Noise Level (dbs)69

DuroMax XP2200

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Here we have an inverter generator with low surge power but also one of the lowest weights in the industry.

You can carry it in one hand and still rely on it to fire up a lesser window air conditioner with ease.

A built-in eco-mode lets you make the most out of dual-fuel technology by keeping the RPMs down on smaller jobs.

PROS

  • Can carry one-handed
  • Long power duration
  • Easily paralleled

CONS

  • Won’t start 15k BTU air-con
  • Loud for its size

This sleek machine is easy enough to keep close until it’s time to fire it up, fitting in any cabinet or storage container.  

Propane generators have added wheels and handles to qualify as portable even though they weigh hundreds of pounds and take up large chunks of space.

But not this lightweight kit. 

This machine is the true definition of portable generators, allowing RVs who like to set up in a new place every sunset a power source that works with their transient lifestyle. 

Power Output (starting\running watts)2200/1800
Run time on 10-pound LPG (hours)8
Weight (lbs)46
Noise Level (dbs)69

Durostar DS4850

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This machine offers up a best-in-class combination of wattage and price. You get an outstanding 8 watts per dollar on this affordable and powerful propane generator. 

Durostar has somehow packed enough power to keep a fairground running for ten hours into a portable generator that is hardly louder than the merry-go-round.

PROS

  • Best price to power ratio
  • Electric start

CONS

  • Low run time
  • Brand reputability

This is a riskier pick, as Durostar is a new company on the market and their name is a bit close to the industry-leading DuroMax for me to take them too seriously.

It is what it is, a copycat of the industry leaders that can provide the surge power comparable to those other generators at a fraction of the cost, possibly by cutting some corners.

Case in point is the high THD, which means I wouldn’t trust it with any sensitive electronics.

If you’ve got high energy needs and lack a large budget, the potential ceiling on these dual-fuel generators is worth taking a flyer.

Power Output (starting\running watts)4850/3850
Run time on 10-pound LPG (hours)4.5
Weight (lbs)122
Noise Level (dbs)69

Best Portable Generator – Champion 200961

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There are portable propane generators, and then there is this Champion. An inverter generator that fits in the palms of your hands and still keeps the fridge and A/C running through hot afternoons.

At 39 pounds, it might be a bit too heavy to lift with your fingertips, but you’ll have no problem lugging this power source from the RV to your campsite and an afternoon at the fishing hole.  

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Quiet
  • Lightweight

CONS

  • Low peak power
  • No data center

​​

Propane produces a particularly excellent performance from this dual fuel generator.

At a half-load, the Champion has a marathon running power. You can power up your boondocking for 34 hours.

Both gas and propane will hold on for the night and keep the noise down enough for you to get some shut-eye.

This portable generator can always follow your lead and light up RVers who plan to spend as much time outside of their mobile home as in it, and is one of our favorite inverter generators.

Power Output (starting\running watts)1850/2500
Run time on 10-pound LPG (hours)17
Weight (lbs)38
Noise Level (dbs)53

Pulsar G12KBN

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Here’s another upstart brand making some big promises. At 209 pounds, some folks would have a tough time calling this portable but heck – it’s got wheels.

Rated for 9500 running watts, we’re willing to overlook the heavyweight and focus on the high performance of this electric start generator.

PROS

  • Most powerful generator on the list
  • Electric start
  • Affordable for the power

CONS

  • Low run time
  • Loud noise level

Invented for a power outage, you can count on this dual fuel generator to power an entire house, which means it’s got more than enough running watts to power entire Class C RVs and more oversized.

An electric starter and low oil shutdown alert highlight the control panel, while four plugs of 120v 30a capability assist the main breaker in powering any high-demand power tools and appliances.

While it’s a certified beast with a loud decibel level, Pulsar installed a spark arrestor to make sure it’s safe to use in forest areas.

It may be heavy, but it’s leagues lighter than many other propane generators in its power class.

Power Output (starting\running watts)9500/12000
Run time on 10-pound LPG (hours)2.5
Weight (lbs)209
Noise Level (dbs)74

WEN DF475T

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Using an incredibly low price point to secure its place on our list of the best propane generators for RV, this affordable option doesn’t skimp on the features.

An electric start transfer switch allows you to seamlessly avoid power outages when your propane tank hits empty.

PROS

  • Automatic transfer
  • Lightweight for its class
  • Plug and play

CONS

  • Less reliable brand

For the price of a handheld propane generator, you can wield a 224cc engine that is scarcely louder than a vacuum cleaner.

Unfortunately, this affordability does come with a small price. 

This propane guzzler won’t stretch out your fuel. At a half load, it will drain a full propane tank dry in seven hours.

If you’re not afraid of a few extra trips to gas stations, this portable generator will allow you to access the luxury of high power across the country.

Power Output (starting\running watts)3800/4750
Run time on 10-pound LPG (hours)2.5
Weight (lbs)105
Noise Level (dbs)69

Choosing the Best Propane Generator

The only thing the generators on our list have in common is that they all bring something else. We’ve laid out the best-in-class propane generators of all sorts of niches and sizes.

Now we’ll continue our industry exploration by breaking down different factors that make up a great generator.

To choose the best propane generator for your trips, put yourself into each one of these categories and see where you stand.

There’s bound to be a generator on the market that best reflects your unique camping style, and that’s the machine you should welcome into your life.

Hand Crank Generators
Hand-cranked generators are the most common type, but you can also get electric start models – for a higher price of course.

Power Output

This is why you brought me here. There are loads of numbers that make up a generator spec sheet, but the most important on that list is their power output, which measures how much running watts it can produce. 

Lightweight generators on our list provide 1800 running watts, while the most heavy-duty models provide upwards of 10,000.  There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for power output:

Dual-fuel generators will often have different wattage ratings when on gas power than they will on propane power, so be sure to look for the output rating of your preferred power source.

Also, remember that each generator has two different wattage ratings: starting and running. Starting wattage represents peak surge power and allows your generator to jump-start powerful equipment by supplying an unsustainable amount of watts in a short burst. 

Your running wattage will give you a better idea of the generator’s long-term performance capabilities.

READ MORE: Also check out our expert guide to RV solar panels to complement your power set up.

How Do I know how much power I need?

As the core of your search, it is essential to know what wattage to aim for.

There’s no such thing as too much power. However, absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely, so don’t go overboard with your generator needs. You can get a general idea of your power needs by taking a look at your RV appliances. 

Your generator should be rated for at least twice the combined running wattage of every electronic device you plan on using.

This will ensure smooth and efficient power from your generator no matter what you’re running. 

This is the running wattage required to power some typical RV appliances:

Laptop & Lights 350 
Microwave625
Electric Water Heater1200
Space Heater1500
15,000 BTU A/C1500
Typical household 5000

Do the math to make sure your generator is more than capable of starting up everything on your wish list, not just what is currently in your camper.

It is easy to pick the lowest-rated generator possible only to have your RV quickly outgrow your generator’s power capabilities as you upgrade your interior.

RV Generator
A good generator will keep your RV powered up for years to come, no matter how remote you go.

Portability

The X-factor in every aspect of van life is space. We don’t have the luxury of attics or crawl spaces when storing everything we need in our RV, and your generator is worthless if it’s too heavy to haul out to the campsite. 

Typically, portability moves in the opposite direction as power. Generators require larger engines and fuel tanks to reach higher surge powers, which don’t come without a few extra pounds.

It’s hard to find any generators that rank highly in both portability and power output, and those that do aren’t cheap.  

It all depends on what is most important to you. The lightest portable propane generator on our list is less than 40 pounds, while the heaviest is over 220.

Every generator you’ve read about today has taken portability seriously. 

Consider storage space as well as your desire to haul around a hefty product when factoring in your portability needs.

Make sure the compartment you plan on storing your generator can in is big enough before your gear shows up on the doorstep.

Portability Generator Plugged In
Portability is key when choosing a generator.

Features

Companies throw in extra innovations that give their generators more value. At the end of the day, any generator that can power up your devices is good. But these bonus features can sometimes sweeten the spot. 

Nothing ever comes free, so you may have to pay a few extra bucks or sacrifice a bit of power output for these conveniences, but they can be well worth it, depending on your specific needs. 

Dual-Fuel

The way we see it is, having more fuel source options can’t really be a bad thing. This concept is reflected in the fact most of the top propane generators on the market are dual-fuel capable. 

Dual fuel means your generator can run on both conventional gas and propane power, so you’re not stuck with gasoline only generators.

Most high-quality generators are already dual-fuel capable, so even if you couldn’t care less about the feature, there’s a high chance your generator will have this trick up its sleeve. 

Electric Start

While certainly more of a convenience than a necessity, it is undoubtedly nice to fire up your generator at a click of a button rather than an unreliable crank.

Electric starters don’t require separate power supplies and are becoming more and more common on portable propane generators. 

However, most affordable generators still haven’t gone out of their way to add the features, and you’ll have to decide if it’s worth a few extra bucks. 

Some options have taken things a step further by offering a remote start function that lets you fire up your generator from across the park.  

Off Grid Van Life Generators
Nothing beats of-grid van life.

Longevity

With price tags as hefty as most of these portable propane generators, we should expect them to fuel our adventures for years to come.

Best-in-class generators promise to power things for more than a decade, but any generator you choose should have things running for more than five years. 

To stretch out the lifespan of your generator, make sure to comprehend your individual models’ maintenance requirements fully, and if you’re like me and can’t be trusted to perform proper maintenance, look for all metal and copper products to be less maintenance-heavy. 

In Conclusion

We’ve covered all there is to cover about the best propane generators for RVs on the market.

No matter your power needs, these fuel-efficient generators will make life on the road a bit easier. 

Our final tip is to make sure you are comfortable starting your generator and have properly tested, oiled, and assembled your generator before heading out into the woods.

There’s nothing more stressful than trying to figure out how the dang thing works for the first time when you need it the most.

If you stick to our top recommended products on this list you don’t have to worry about things like whether they are carb compliant, have low oil shutoff, low carbon monoxide output, can avoid a power outage, how much fuel you’ll need, etc.

For a generator you can expect to fire up whenever you need it hassle-free, our editor’s choice DuroMax 4850 is the engine that could. 

This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase a product we recommend using the links in this article, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. We promise to use this pocket money to buy lots of coffee and fuel for the campervan to keep us enjoying #VanLife for just a little longer. We appreciate your support, and only recommend products we know and trust. Thank you friends!

About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd - Van Life Theory

Hi! We're Alesha and Jarryd, the founders of Van Life Theory! We're currently travelling around Australia in our 2008 Mercedes Sprinter campervan and sharing our best experiences, stories, reviews and adventures as we go along. Make sure you follow along on our Instagram and YouTube!

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