The Best Generator: Honda, Yamaha, or Something Else?

December 3, 2008 by · 49 Comments  
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ROUGH CUT: The BEST Generator? from Sean Michael on Vimeo.

When we bought our RV, we quickly realized that electricity is quite useful. Unless you like ice-cold coffee, blank TV screens, and sweltering summer heat, you’ll want the ability to camp with substantial amounts of the stuff on hand. But since one can’t purchase extension cords in mile-long lengths, we need portable options…

What about solar? Note that I advocate “substantial” amounts of energy for RV camping. Sure, solar power may be useful for certain applications (like illuminating low-wattage light bulbs as a parlor trick) but I’m afraid it falls short of meeting our needs on a daily basis. With the flick of a switch, my wife’s jet engine of a hair dryer can completely destroy solar panels.

A good old-fashioned fossil fuel generator, however, kicks out copious amounts of politically incorrect current. So the next question becomes, “What type of generator to buy?”

There are plenty of cheap generators on the market. These are easily distinguished by the raucous clatter they emit, which sounds like a genetic cross between a defective lawnmower, a sick moose, and an enraged banshee.

Once we were camping in the Grand Teton National Park. One of our fellow campers (who was parked, oh, a half mile down the road) had one of those horrible spirit-killing generators. On the comprehensive List of the World’s Most Annoying Sounds, his generator ranks an impressive #7 (right behind Fran Drescher’s voice). Every morning at about 8AM, he would crank the thing and rattle us out of bed. It was like a county-wide alarm clock over which we had no control. I think tornado sirens are more subtle.

So we wanted a quiet generator, and this led us to “inverter” technology. There were a couple of inverter generators on the market that seemed appropriate for our needs.

One was made by Honda. The Honda was red in color. “Get the Honda,” I was told. “It’s quiet, it’s reliable, and if you ever need parts they are easy to find.”

But there was a competing generator made by Yamaha. The Yamaha was blue in color.

“Get the Yamaha,” I was told. “It’s just as quiet as the Honda, just as reliable as the Honda, and it includes a ‘boost’ technology that gives you a little extra power when you need it.”

In the final analysis, Yamaha won.

Why? I think it had something to do with the color. Blue matches our travel trailer.

So, did we make the right decision? After over 30,000 miles of travel and LOTS of boondocking along the way, I have no complaints about the Yamaha. It has been quiet and reliable so far.

But my friend owns a Honda, and he also reports many months of happy, quiet, and reliable usage.

So, what about you? What brand of generator do you like the best? Is there really a “best” generator for RV camping, or is there no such animal? Blue or red? PC or Mac? Beatles or Stones? Inquiring minds want to know…

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49 Responses to “The Best Generator: Honda, Yamaha, or Something Else?”

  1. Ron on December 3rd, 2008 3:04 pm

    Sorry to say but I think anything besides a Honda, & Yamaha should be forbidden for camping purposed. Others are just too loud & annoying.

  2. Don C on December 3rd, 2008 3:11 pm

    I purchase 2 2000I KIPOR generators and parallel kit to get 4KW for our Toy Hauler and have had NO problems with them and about 1/3 the price of the Honda. These are Honda look a likes! Parts are interchangeable also.

  3. mr_whit on December 3rd, 2008 3:43 pm

    we have 2- honda 2000 connected, #1 runs when needed, add #2 runs when it is to hot and need a/c. if people need to be waken up, we start the 5500 very LOUD iron horse in the back of the truck.

  4. Mark W. Ingalls on December 3rd, 2008 3:58 pm

    We have a yellow McCulloch. It’s probably not as quiet as Honda nor Yamaha.

    It works. :-|

    If made of more money, I’d go Yamaha, then Honda.

  5. g.m. on December 3rd, 2008 4:01 pm

    One was made by Honda. The Honda was red in color. “Get the Honda,” I was told. “It’s quiet, it’s reliable, and if you ever need parts they are easy to find.”


    That is provided that they still make the model you currently have.

    We have tried ‘em all. While the honda is no doubt the better built the good old american made onan from yester years seems to do the trick for us.

    Turning up over 3000 rpm is a given that wear and tear would be greater. Most of the new hondas have the Sygn sytem where the power demand controls the rpm of the engine… more power needed.. more rpm to get the engine into the power range. So in this case your gen set is going to vari in rpm by the demand for power. Not a bad idea for effecency.

    However, nothing is free. You have a lot more electrionics working under the second box. Matter of fact it is the place where the power is going from 24-48 volts DC to your 120 volts AC. Its called a switching inverter from days past. This then has solid state devices turning on and off at the 60 cyc frequency rate. This turning on and off then can cause spikes at the “off” side of the frequency wave. Some of these spikes can go as high as 200 volts that we have seen. They can cause some frequency sensitive devices.. such as TV and radios to have a speckled line and rasty sound added to them. Computers are another sensitive little critter that doesn’t like spikes… And the Honda EU series seems to have lots of heavy filtering to cut down on this problem.

    One other area which we found the “inverter stable power” did not work well with is the AC unit on the top of the trailer. It seems that the demand for power goes up before the engine can gain its powerband. Thus, it always seems to be struggling to get caught up when the load from the AC compressor starts. When it does we feel that the AC unit doesn’t seem to really put out the same as when it connected to commercial power. At this point the little gen set now is cranking up 3600 rpm… a lot more noise from the unit than when it was almost idleing along. Then when the AC compressor shuts off… we can detect a overshoot in the power voltage. It was then that the little honda took a dive and threw the rod right out the side of the case . We found that you could get a new one cheaper than having the old one fixed at that point. (parts for the thing were also orderable but, you have to wait for months according to the dealer we took it to.)

    So much for the honda… as we use the back up 4500 watt monster which ran at a whopping 3600 rpm but had a throttle down control when power was not needed. Yep it was one of there so called quiet ones…

    We wanted to have a much better one… so we next obtained a older onan air cooled 5kw unit. Little heavier than the honda but we had seen these used in the old military days from air compressors to light sets. Onan made millions of them.
    When we first fired up the genset… it was like most of the lawn mowers… somewhat quiet because it ran at 1800 rpm but not quiet enough. So we went to work to find out where the noise was coming from.

    First the exhaust… the standard stock muffler that they had was a joke. Ya it worked but it had way too much db noise. We changed that to a small automotive muffler. Big difference. Now the gen set was down to the same level as the honda EU series. But, we still had some mechanical noise rattleing around inside. Building a enclosure for the genset seemed to take care of that and now only the air noise for its cooling was the offending factor. The nosis level however went from what I would call.. you knew it was running to now you had to be almost within 6 feet to know it was. At 10 ft away you could hear a whish of the air only… big change in noise level… and the final grin came when we were at a camp ground and you could hear the neighbors honda gen set running in their motorhome but couldn’t ours… So the old onan genset seemed to be the keeper… (don’t know about the new ones because they now are back to running at 3600 rpm)

    However, we wanted more efficency… that air noise while not objectable was still their.. and we needed to get the gen set down to where it was REALLY QUIET.

    This happened when we aquired a expensive used motorhome cheap. Only problem was they stripped it down.. someone stole the genset out of it when it was in the storage yard (that is what they said) before we got it.

    so we needed a source of power again to run all the nice things in life… While solar did work to keep the battery’s up we demanded more power than they could provide in the cold gray winter months.

    Searching the used market for a good genset is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Then one day we saw a 7kw koler genset that was being sold surplus from the local boat yard. Hmmm looked interesting. We struck a deal and under canvas in the back of the pickup it made its way home quietly. Seems that they used it for some personal boat that fell into the money shortfall. They were stripping the boat and letting the bank have the hull back, I guess.

    What had my interest is that it was WATER COOLED, not air cooled. This worked out much better in the long run because we could join the CO-GENERATION group for the home power. It had the ability to run off of propane as well as gas.

    One little problem came up. The better half put her foot down and said no way she was going to be camping at home. The power company worked just fine and the way they built the house was the way it was going to be.

    So the genset found a new home in the motorhome. Again it worked out good because the unit could be tied into the engine cooling system AFTER we did some heat exchanging with the hot water heater and the space heating in the coach. The engine radiator already had a temp sensor on the water return side.. this then would turn on the elect fan (which by the way has yet to come on when running just the genset other than when it was 120 deg F outside in AZ.

    Talk about quiet… you can stand right next to the gen compartment and hardly know it running. It puts out 7.5 kw worth of power at 1800 rpm all day long…and is much more effecent at fuel useage than any honda or onan that is air cooled.

    The price we paid for it was about the same as a small honda EU2000. Not bad.

    But, to keep the genset quiet, we are seeing that honda also is playing with the water cooled units. Seems the water absorbs some of the mechanical sounds and along with a good exhaust system are as quiet as your going to get for the technology today.

    Inverters/batteries are nice but when you do the math they are just not practical for a RV. Prone to more failures as the temp goes up… we still have to find one that will pull a AC unit through several seasions when its up to 120f. outside.

    Indeed the slower turning 1800 rpm units are longer life quieter operating ones. Any of the 3600 rpm air cooled units are twice as noisy as the slower turning 1800 rpm units.

    I agree that the guy with the china made construction grade genset that is should be asked to leave the park. Between them and the people who let their dogs run around off leashes or bark all the time… they can make a nice visit a tedious endurance session.

    Of course the most effecent quiet power you can get is one where the RV plugs into commercial power.

  6. Larry J. Guthrie on December 3rd, 2008 4:05 pm

    “With the flick of a switch, my wife’s jet engine of a hair dryer can completely destroy solar panels.”


    You’re supposed to hook the solar cells up to batteries with an inverter. My solar cell-battery-inverter will run everything but the AC. That includes hair dryer and microwave/convection oven.

    You really shouldn’t make such didactic exclusionary statements. I calls the remainder of your story into question. If your wrong one place I don’t have a lot of confidence in the “rest of the story”


  7. g.m. on December 3rd, 2008 4:34 pm

    Larry J. Guthrie on December 3rd, 2008 4:05 pm

    “With the flick of a switch, my wife’s jet engine of a hair dryer can completely destroy solar panels.”

    depends Larry if his wifes jet engine of a hair dryer is in AB (after burners on) or not. Bet them solar cells don’t work too good at night . We tried the inverter solar battery trick… and after one seasion we needed ft knox to send all the gold to get more batteries.

    When you add up the cost of the inverter, battery’s, Solar cells, wireing and controllers and installation cost….(not to mention the leak factor it caused) you can run a genset much cheaper and get more power/hours.

    I am still looking for the payback that the vendor said we would get from ours.

  8. Bob on December 3rd, 2008 4:50 pm

    Surely an American company makes generators in the U.S.

  9. Larry Harmon on December 3rd, 2008 5:33 pm

    This short video is of the first full load test on our newly installed Yamaha 3000 Inverter Generator. We wanted a quiet generator, so we listened to many different generators run before buying the Yamaha. Here is what it sounds like while standing right beside it:

  10. jwohlfeil on December 3rd, 2008 5:43 pm

    I am about to make a decision and buy one of these generators. I have a 13,500 BTU air conditioner on my TT. I understand the battery usage and recharging strategy with the generator, what my question to this group is – have you gotten your 13,500 air conditioner to run off one Honda 2000?

    I know the specs say differently, and many people use two Honda 2000s paralleled together to power the air conditioner, but I also read that many people get their air conditioner to fire up from only one Honda 2000.

    I’ve used a friends Super Big and Loud 2000w generator while out at Joshua Tree and the air conditioner fired up and ran without a problem.

    On the same note, will one Yamaha 2400w power a 13,500 air conditioner?

    My plan at this point is to get two Honda 2000 (for easy portability), but of course I’d prefer to buy, maintain, haul, only one generator if I could (without it being the inconvenient size and 150 lbs. as the Honda 3000.)

    What do you think?

  11. JP on December 3rd, 2008 5:51 pm

    When comparing the Honda and Yamaha generators, I don’t believe there is a “Best.” I own both the Honda 2000 and Yamaha 2400 and use them regularly for boondocking. They each have their place. The Honda is about half the weight of the Yamaha and is more fuel efficient. If there is any difference in noise level it’s minimal. But if I want to run the A/C it takes the Yamaha with its surge funciton to get it started. And being about twice as heavy and considerably larger, it’s not as convenient to haul or move around. And it definitely uses more fuel when running a minimum load. I love them both.

  12. Wolf on December 3rd, 2008 9:43 pm

    “On the same note, will one Yamaha 2400w power a 13,500 air conditioner?”

    A 13,500 btu air conditioner can require around 1850 watts of power when you start it up. I know that a standard 2000w generator will put out a continuous power level of 1600 watts (well under what you will need).

    If I read the specs on the Yamaha 2400w it provides 2000 watts of continuous power, which is enough for just your airconditioner, for sure.

  13. JP on December 3rd, 2008 10:34 pm

    Yes, the Yamaha 2400 will start and run a 13.5 A/C. Or I should say MY Yamaha will start and run MY 13.5 A/C. It is 2000 continuous, 2400 peak, and 3000 surge. The 2400 can be maintained for either 20 or 30 minutes. It tells you which in the owner’s manual, but I don’t have mine handy. You will not be able to fire up the microwave while running the A/C. If you want to boondock with all the comforts of home, you should be looking at something bigger than 5000 watts. But now we’re getting way off the track of what this conversation is about.

  14. G.M. on December 4th, 2008 1:22 am

    Larry Harmon on December 3rd, 2008 5:33 pm

    This short video is of the first full load test on our newly installed Yamaha 3000 Inverter Generator. We wanted a quiet generator, so we listened to many different generators run before buying the Yamaha. Here is what it sounds like while standing right beside it:
    Larry this video shows almost nothing. After all he is inside the trailer… and if he can hear the genset speed up… wonder what it sounds like outside to the neighbors. Not that good a report. His video also makes you a little sick with the constant turning and out of focus.

    Ahhh best go check the data plate on the AC. Mine says that it takes 1820 running watts to cool. and with the heat strip its 1800 watts . Mine is the 13.500 AC.

    So now how much is left for the microwave and inverter. out of a possible 2000 watts contenous for the yamaha (honda 2000 is out of the question as it is 1650 watts contenious) we will only have 200 extra when the heat strip is on and a whopping 180 watts when the AC is running. But that doesn’t take into consideration the compressor starting. Normally they take 1.5 times the power (so we are told you need) to get them going. That be the case we can see that the extra power we thought we had suddenly is kept in reserve for the cycling of the compressor on the AC.

    When we viewed the video.. he turned on the microwave. and the AC.. hmmm that poor little gen set out their must have gotten a lot of extra umph going suddenly because by the numbers it was overloaded.

    Now when do you need the AC… when its hot… and guess who also is going to overheat setting out their beating its little heart out. I dare to say the yamaha is not going to last very long at that loading.

    I was looking for the electrical load from the RV. I know the manufacture put one in and said you need at least 2x the power demand for a genset to work correctly.

    this be the case the 5KW set we have is about right.

    Getting buy with a max rateing max loading genset is not what one wants to do from all the experts advise we have heard.

    Can the Yamaha 2 or 3KW genset work. Sure.. but for how long in what climate.

    I would think before I bought one I would want to try it out for at least running a full day like I normally would. Running for 20 to 30 min is not what I would call constant or contenious duty. Watching the video again it was interesting tha nothing was in the microwave. What about the coffee pot or the refrig running on the genset?
    go to this web site and scroll down to the RV section.. then add up the appliances and see how many watts you really need. Remember the manufactuer says that you should use the figure for the gen set of 90% of the rated power for contenious duty. thus after you add all the wattages up… you need to multply it by 1.2 for the size of the min genset with no ability for expansion or addtions.

    (so when your wife fires up the turbojet hair dryer.. poof goes the generator unless you shut the AC off and don’t use the microwave or coffee pot… ya that works .. then you get introduced to the gen set circuit breaker… which is outside on the genset :)

    While all this time your wife wants to know why her hair is not getting dry and the RV is heating up inside like an oven.. and the coffee is getting cold.. the suflay dinner took a dive after it quit cooking in the microwave… and you… you bought a genaratro that was too small :) ) man you will never hear the end of how you waisted the money on that little thing. (let alone have to look across the table at the wife who now has drip dry hair… while eating your cold dinner that she spent half the day on.. ya you better eat it and like it.. or else) When the generator quits making noise the whining starts too.

    We saw a honda EU3000 last summer become toast when the owner set it out to run their trailer AC . It was a Airstream.. you know they get hot setting in the sun with all that Aluminum at 110 deg F. . They cranked up the honda and left it out in the sun and went inside to stay cool and probably some entertainment. About 3 hours later we heard a bunch of yelling going on.. looked out and saw the honda smoking . A few pops some sparks and lots more smoke.. then some flames… and that was that. While the enigne was running the plastic melted and changed from red to black. Most of the other campers agreeded that the little genarator was overheated and burned up after they put the fire out. .

    My best advise it to do a load calc on your RV. (what you will need from a genset) Then take these numbers (remember if you cheat on the numbers low your on’ly kidding yourself it does no good to buy something and then find out it is too small) to the store and let the manufacture advise you as to how big a unit you will need. (you can get second guess’es here all day but in the end its your money and your genarator that you will need to reckon with.)
    The second best is to get on the internet and go to the manufactures sites or other research sites who have discussed this and have numbers and figures to back up how big a unit you wil need also. I think they call this load analysis.

    As to honda/yamaha I am impressed with their products. Expensive indeed when you can get others that may work as well and made in this country instead of spending your money supporting a communist one. If one thinks about it , there is a reasion that the onan gensets were the best in the US some years ago.
    the 5kw genset was the most popular and highest number of genset sold in the history of the RV’s. Second place was the 6.5kw (onan made 3 versions the 4,5 and 6.5… suppose the engineers knew something as to why those ratings?)

    Last you wouldn’t power your RV with a honda 50 cc motorbike… so why are you trying to get by with the same in a genset? How long would a 4 cyc engine last powering your 30 ft motorhome or a honda civic pulling your 30 ft trailer? Will it do it.. yes.. but for how long is also the question)

  15. g.m. on December 4th, 2008 1:01 pm

    If you make a box to put the gen set in … here is the material we used to provide the soundproofing. Just make sure it can get lots of air around it . While this stuff is used for Aircraft it still works wonders on sound proofing the genset inside the motorhome while keeping a light weight approch and is fairly cheap to buy from aircraft spruce

  16. Sid Burklund on December 4th, 2008 7:14 pm

    OK, hears my two cents worth. I have a Yamaha 2800i inverter and it is great for our needs. Its seems lighter than the Honda 2000 and if I don’t need AC (we live in the Northwest, ie Seattle) it can easily run for 12 hours (we have a 37′ fiver with all the bells and whistles). Regarding Power for AC, when its on line it starts without strain and doesn’t tax the Yamaha one bit although, I have never needed to run the microwave at the same time. I will try that for fun this summer.

    I originally expected to buy a Honda but my research took me to the Yamaha instead. Having said that, if I couldn’t buy Yamaha I would go with the Honda and not look back.

  17. g.m. on December 4th, 2008 9:50 pm

    Well I see the time I spent in writing about the load figures and how the honda and yamaha people want you to get the right one… along with the directives to go to their site and add up your appliances wattage … got CENSORED…


  18. g.m. on December 4th, 2008 11:07 pm

    did you know sean that airstream at one time had a gen set built into it… back around the early 70.. as I recall … the first one we had .. it was built by generac and ran on propane. Later We had a new Airstream that had a brand new Onan that also ran on propane… which put out the right amount of power for the AC and lights only. Guess it recharged the battery at the same time… Check out the old airstream service manuals.

    I see that yamaha now has a 4500 super quite multi fuel engine… Now your talking enough power to run most everything. and its blue …. with inverter technology.

    What was the killer using the small honda’s was when wifie would get out the vacuum cleaner… yikes talk about a power hungy little noise maker… back then we only had 1000 watts to play with… and it would give the honda a run for its money…
    Later we elected to put a system on the PU which ran off the engine… it however was again 4200 watts… but the truck ran real quiet idleing along .. back then we used gas engines that didn’t rattle like the diesels do today at idle… It was a simple genset that used the power of the truck… saving weight and room as well… only problem was when you went exploring and took the truck… so also went the power source. I think they still make the alternators for the ford pu’s today. We got ours out of a old ambulance… you can find them here …

    and ….

    However after seeing your blog on the Utube I am not so sure they are all that quiet. Just think how much more the neighbors will like it if you had it inside a sound box… cuts down the noise by at least 20 db… check it out…

    Remember its not what you hear inside the trailer or RV but what it sounds like outside that the rest who are into listening to the birds calls… have to put up with.

    Wait till someone starts counting the pennies that it cost to run these things… vs the commercial shore power. You don’t get something for nothing and even these small gensets cost to run. Check it out…

    As to which of the two to buy… both honda and yamaha are good… their are others like the kobota which is diesel (to match the truck) but out of all the ones we have seen the honda and yamaha for under 4000 watts are the best and least noisy

  19. Sean Michael on December 5th, 2008 9:56 am

    Wow – lots of great comments here. I’ll start at the top and work my way down.

    Ron, I agree with you about the noisy generators. I guess I am a “generator snob” but those really loud ones can suck the joy out of any campground.

    Don, interesting tip about the TIPOR. Are they quiet? I would have no problem buying a quality “clone” so long as it does the job quietly.

    Mr. Whit, I like the idea of connecting two Honda 2000’s. We chose to go with one 3000, but I could see several advantages to using two.

    Mark, I’ll check out the McCullough. I know what you mean about the $$$ situation. It’s tough to fork out extra cash for a Yamaha/Honda generator when you can find the equivalent power output for cheaper. I do think this is a case in which the quality of the overall experience is noticeably improved with the more expensive unit (mainly due to the noise factor).

    G.M., the need for boost when starting an A/C unit is covered by the Yamahas with SEB technology. It was designed to address the very problem you mention. I have noticed, however, that sometimes when our A/C kicks on, our TV will turn off! I think the 3000 Watt unit provides “just enough” power for our needs, but there are times when it’s not quite enough. We have to pick and choose when running appliances, etc.

    Also, the water cooled technology sounds fascinating! I love the idea, as I’m sure it would bring all sorts of noise reduction benefits to the table. (I have a water cooled PC and you wouldn’t believe how much quieter it runs than the air-cooled models.)

    Larry, I was joking about my wife’s “jet engine of a hair dryer destroying solar panels.” Really, her hair dryer can’t destroy anything, although you could use it to dry off a wet football field. (See? Another joke.) My comment was simply meant to convey doubt about the capacity of solar to fully meet our energy needs. I like the idea of solar…but I also like the idea of air-conditioning when faced with 100-degree heat.

    Bob, with regard to “an American company making generators in the US” — which one? If anyone knows of one, chime in. (I know that Honda makes cars here in the US, but that’s another issue.)

    Larry H, thanks for posting your video! We have the exact same generator. When we’re inside our camper, you care barely even hear it at all.

    Jwohlfeil, I haven’t tried linking two Honda 2000 units, but I think it’s a good idea and obviously many people have had success going this route. I doubt you’ll be able to power your A/C unit using just one of the pair, though. The process of starting an A/C unit is taxing on a generator.

    JP, thanks for your comment, as it sounds Jwohlfeil should consider a Yamaha 2400 is he wants to run his A/C from one unit. You may have the best of both worlds by choosing one Honda and one Yamaha!

    G.M., I love the idea of a soundproofing generator box. I will check out that webpage. I could (theoretically) forsee us (or someone) creating a fireproof noise reduction generator box for the bed of pickup trucks.

    Sid, I faced the same Honda/Yamaha decision and reached the same conclusion– they are both excellent units. Note that whenever we want to run the microwave with our Yamaha EF3000iSEB, we always turn off the A/C.

    G.M., I’m not sure about any censorship. I certainly haven’t censored anyone here. Maybe the browser ate your post (hey, it happens). We’re all adults, and hopefully we’re capable of discussing generators without need of supervision. ;-)

    Also G.M., that is really interesting about Airstream once building a gen set into the trailers! Sometimes I wonder why they don’t do so today. Everyone buying an Airstream at some point considers a generator. It would make a lot of sense for Airstream to have some sort of deal with a quality generator manufacturer like Honda or Yamaha.

    With regard to what our neighbors hear from our Yamaha, I feel quite comfortable with the noise levels it produces. Seriously, when you step 20 or 30 feet away, you can barely tell the thing is on. Of course, it makes different noises depending on whether it’s just powering a TV or it’s running an A/C/ unit. Again, I like the sound box idea. If we can create one that makes sense for our travel purposes, then I am all for it.

  20. g.m. on December 5th, 2008 3:57 pm

    G.M., I’m not sure about any censorship. I certainly haven’t censored anyone here. Maybe the browser ate your post (hey, it happens). We’re all adults, and hopefully we’re capable of discussing generators without need of supervision. ;-)

    Yes Sean.. I was refering to my web server… it didn’t like the referancing of all the info from the web pages. I got a note back saying that they were proprietary and that the email was not sent.

    Ya we can joke about the gals hair dryers… but them that depend on using them… don’t think it so funny… (wait till you find your shorts didn’t get through the rinse cycle on the washer …(thats gotta hurt) :) just to let you know how miffed they are when they can’t do the doo with the hair…

    Yes the gen box in the truck will do two things… first it locks the genset away from sticky eyes… and it provided a fixed place that keeps it out of the rain and snow… along with it being enclosed for better sound control… You mention 20 to 30 ft… we found it decreased it down to 10 ft… With the addtion of a fuel pump…you can also get fuel from the truck.. if its not diesel… for the gas genset… We have seen some fancy propane gensets and systems that also have the ability to hook up to the trailer and not have to run back to the station for filling the bottles on the trailer… during those realllllyyyy cold… stays…

    Besides it also can be used for all them tools you need while traveling… such as the snatch block, tow straps, gloves, shovels, hoses, levelers, jacks.. etc.. all under lock and key…

    One should also think past the RV and more about external uses for the genset… such as when disasters strike… for the home or emergency away. I know one that keeps his for when he goes 4×4 and needs the winch power.. Or that guy who has the dead battery.. most of these gensets have 12 volts also.

    This has come up before and some have written some very good articles about the selection, testing and real cost of a RV gen set.

    The best part I remember about it is the authors saying… One should consider what one can do without (saving energy and noise) … rather than requireing a bigger unit to supply all the toysfrom home. Remember were camping here… we have the lux of a trailer… some others are still in tents.. that don’t have the insulation . :)

    Film on… Mr spealberg… you get that camera trained on how to talk yet :) film at 11

  21. Larry Harmon on December 6th, 2008 9:14 am

    “Larry H, thanks for posting your video! We have the exact same generator. When we’re inside our camper, you care barely even hear it at all.”
    Sean, do you still carry and use yours in the pickup bed ? Colin Iwasa of Yamaha recently sent us a wireless remote start/stop for our genset. It installed at our local Yamaha dealership ( Tim’s Yamaha, Mena, Arkansas ) in a couple of hours. It is ever so nice to not have to go out in the cold after showering and getting ready for bed, to shut down the Yamaha. We used two sided tape to place the remote in an out of the way place on the smooth fiberglass walls of our Oliver trailer.
    You might have noticed that our Yamaha 3000 is mounted in an aluminum “mail box” on the tongue of our Oliver Travel Trailer. The top of the mail box comes off for operation, so getting plenty of air circulation isn’t a problem. The Yamaha is held in place with a couple of ratchet straps. Even though the genset is extended out on the tongue, noise and vibrarion isn’t a problem. We tried loosening the straps a bit to see of it made a difference, but the vibration is so little that we could tell no difference.
    Because we boondock a lot, much as you guys do, we leave our Yamaha on the tongue with two cable locks and two contractor grade locks securing the genset and the box it is in. We would just hate to come back from a supply run to town, to find our sweet source of power missing !

  22. Don McKenzie on December 6th, 2008 10:52 am

    I have 2 Honda 2000i’s. I have run my 13,500BTU A/C on 1 unit, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing it. The Honda had to really work and I was concerned about the affect on the A/C motor. Also running the microwave on one is a similar situation. I would only want to do it for very short reheat jobs. After I got the second unit I made up my own parallel connection box and now I can fire up one for normal use and fire up the second one when needed for the heavier loads. This gives me flexibility and more fuel economy than running a large unit. I also like the 46 lb weight; easier to handle than one 150lb or heavier unit. I also take mine along to building sites for tool power and take them home for emergency power over the winter. The only drawback to smaller generators is the lack of remote start/stop; you have to go outside to do this, not too pleasant in rain, cold or first thing in the morning or after your ready for bed!

  23. G.M. on December 6th, 2008 12:06 pm

    One other point if you use the remote start stop … make sure you check the oil in the unit… These little air cooled engines do use some it seems. I was over at the shop a couple of weeks ago and some guy came in with his… seems it was shot.. and while new.. the shop would not warrent it because he forgot to keep oil in it. After he got so upset… boasting he left. I asked how often does this happen. The sales person said it is quite common for the people that use them for camping to forget to check the oil in the engine and burn ‘em up. he suggested that one get a low oil shut off unit if they don’t feel like they want to check the oil each time they fill the tank… Seems some will use more oil than others but, I was surpised to hear that oil changes in these little units are mostly neglected and become a issue with the warrentee.

    yet the other sales person commented that .. you can’t imagine how these people bring ‘em back and want us to fix ‘em after they burn them up. He cited one that was set on fire when the owner tried to refuel it .. WHILE IT WAS RUNNING.

    It is interesting that they don’t consider them to be contenious duity gen sets… this being run more than 2 or 3 hours …

    The sales guy said its a gray area .. that most people have a idea of what its going to do.. and the manufacture doesn’t relate or specify. After all you bought it… they got their money.

    Having it serviced by the shop is a good idea once a year… as they do wear out… but the shops know what to look for that can become a problem.

    Might be soemthing to watch out for.

  24. Don C on December 6th, 2008 2:54 pm

    My KIPOR generators are Honda clones. Same parts and no noise. Same as Honda in DB’s. No problems. One will run my 13,500 AC but runs hard so don’t do that.

  25. Sean Michael on December 7th, 2008 10:30 am

    G.M. the generator box is a great idea. I’m surprised someone doesn’t sell them ready-made for each unit. As you mention, it would serve several purposes: noise reduction, fire proofing, and even protection of the generator from the elements.

    Also, I agree with you about camping with “just enough,” although we all have different opinions with regard to what is enough. A few years ago, Kristy and I were tent campers, shivering inside sleeping bags in Yellowstone National Park. We have come a long way from those days!

    With regard to my new camera, I am getting the hang of it! We are shooting all of our green screen footage with the new PMW, and look forward to taking it on our next camping trip.

    Larry, I’ve heard about the wireless remote, but we don’t have one. It sounds fantastic! I’m sure it’s a huge convenience to have a push button start from the comfort of the RV. Although we keep our Yamaha in our pickup truck, we have friends who also do the tongue mount of their Honda 3000. Yes, we keep it locked & chained always. It would probably be easier to steal the whole truck than just the generator, ha ha.

    Don, you make a good case for the smaller generator units (46 pounds being much easier to handle than 150). And I suppose you get more total power by going that route. With regard to the remote start, you and Larry now have me thinking about that option. Maybe installing a remote starter will be on our “to do” list next year.

    G.M., great point about oil. I must confess that I’ve been guilty of assuming our generator was okay on oil, and need to do a better job of checking it regularly. The Yamaha 3000 has a low oil regulator, so that the generator will not start if the oil falls below a critical level. This will probably save some folks from burning up their generators. I’m planning to service our generator with fresh oil, etc. in the next week or so.

    Don C, great tip about the KIPOR units. I did a little reading on KIPOR, and it appears they are exactly what you say — Honda clones with low noise output and good performance. They look like an attractive option for folks wanting a nice price on a QUIET generator. I’m glad to find choices beyond Honda and Yamaha.

  26. Tim Reynolds on December 7th, 2008 1:15 pm

    Nice post. Thank you for the info. Keep it up.

  27. G.M. on December 7th, 2008 4:42 pm

    A few years ago, Kristy and I were tent campers, shivering inside sleeping bags in Yellowstone National Park. We have come a long way from those days!

    Ahhh yes the good old days… :) well like you we too used to put up the canvas and take the gals camping. Although we never got to shivering inside the sleeping bags… (never thought of keeping warm)…that led to marrage too…;-) ;) wink. which then led to getting a camper… which then led to .. well you know the rest of the story… the more maintenance stuff they bring means ya got to get a bigger rig…. :)
    ouch that gona hurt…

    Always thought about going back to the canvas and sleeping bag… good old days.. but … ;) …. ya I know the ground is hard and cold .. honey… I just wrote that… :)

  28. G.M. on December 7th, 2008 4:51 pm

    Oh and ya I think they do make a utility box that goes across the back of the cab of the truck… gen set goes in one side… seems to me that I saw one (other than the one I had made ) that some guy makes over in AZ for the snowbirds . If I can find it I will pass it along.

    So AK this summer to burn in the new camera? 8)


  29. G.M. on December 7th, 2008 4:52 pm

    Someone suggest a group trip .. quick O)

  30. G.M. on December 7th, 2008 5:18 pm

    Sean found some of the picts for the utility pu box with genset…

    go here…

    Note the genset has sound and insulation around it too…

    We had ours made like that… was not that expensive… and you can paint it blue too if you want…

  31. G.M. on December 7th, 2008 5:35 pm


  32. G.M. on December 7th, 2008 5:37 pm

    0:) O:) 8)

  33. Sean Michael on December 8th, 2008 11:53 pm

    Thanks Tim, we will strive to keep the posts coming. I have a list of RV-focused discussion topics that we plan to address in the days ahead.

    G.M., the gen set box looks great. I wish I’d had one when we started our “Long, Long Honeymoon” adventures over a year ago. Our generator has seen its fair share of weather and exposure to the elements in the interim.

    I have some video footage from our first camping trip together. It was slightly a disaster (our air mattress deflated in the middle of the night) but we had a fantastic time anyway. Yes, we started out with a tent and a couple of sleeping bags, and things evolved.

    As for the trip to Alaska, sounds good to me! We are hoping to do some serious travel in the coming year. Really, my dream is to go RVing around the world (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.) so who knows… maybe we’ll find some way to make that happen!

  34. pete on December 9th, 2008 6:53 pm

    I’ve seen “Sportsman” brand gensets advertised for $300 or so. they claim to be campground-legal, as far as sound output. I assume they’re Chinese knock-offs. Anyone have any experience with them? Not so much opinion, I mean, actually experience with them.

  35. g.m. on December 11th, 2008 5:29 pm

    Checking this one out by onan… its a new one that claims quite operation .. made for camper trailers and PU’s Claims that it will pull the A/c as well as other power… and pretty economical also.

    Just saw one on a PU overhead camper… was pretty quiet too…
    Should be able to be built into the trailer or put into the back of the pu for shore power at the outback…

  36. G.M. on December 12th, 2008 12:33 pm

    While this is for the truck camper people… I can’t see why the trailer people are not also chim’in in… Yes this is a blog for the Gen Set.. but this has to do with self containment.. during a emergency… something that one should relate their RV too as it might just be your lifesaver… (by the way sub RV for (TRUCK CAMPER)

    Interesting article on how to use the camper for a EV…

    The Truck Camper as a Family Emergency Vehicle (FEV)

    by Gordon White (edited for space)

    imagine that scenario during a major snowstorm or after a natural disaster. With our four-wheel drive truck, we would be there no matter what.

    I’ve been thinking about how we, as an industry and community, can better communicate and make use of this unique capability of (truck campers). The purpose of this article is to bring to the forefront the concept of the (truck camper) as a Family Emergency Vehicle (FEV) and highlight the practical and potentially life-saving qualities the (truck camper) as a FEV offers.

    Who Needs a Family Emergency Vehicle?

    Turn on the nightly news and you’ll often see families who are faced with a sudden and unexpected emergency that requires their immediate evacuation. Forest fires spreading in Southern California. Hurricanes approaching the Florida Coast or the Gulf of Mexico. Floodwaters rising in the Mid West.

    Emergencies happen, and we can’t always stay at home and ride them out. Sometimes you and your family need to get out quickly. With a Family Emergency Vehicle, you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice with the food, water, and shelter your family requires.

    Sudden electrical and ice storms that take out the power at the peak heat of summer or the deep cold of winter.

    Family Emergency Vehicles give their owners a tangible peace of mind. Almost no matter what natural or man-made disaster is thrown at them, they can get their family out quickly with everything we need in their FEV.

    The FEV is the ultimate family survival and family support tool.

    When an family emergency situation occurs, there’s no guarantee about the road conditions or the availability of goods and services. As a result, a Family Emergency Vehicle has some basic requirements which are uniquely satisfied by a truck camper.

    First, four-wheel drive capability. If a levee breaks, a tree branch falls in the road, or there are blizzard conditions, you need the power, ground clearance, and go anywhere capability of a four-wheel drive truck. (a good winch might also be a option to add)

    Second, for each member of your family, you need storage for at least one week’s provisions including food, water, clothing, and other basic survival gear. (Truck campers) offer plenty of storage in a compact space.

    Third, self-contained living quarters for at least two adults and two children including beds, heat, a bathroom, and on-board, … power generation. Most (truck campers) produced today are self-contained and offe…. generators and solar panels.

    Fourth, a FEV should be no larger than a standard parking space. In an emergency situation, you may need to camp overnight on the side of the road, in a crowded parking lot, or in a friend’s small driveway. The standard parking space size of a truck camper also allows families to keep their FEV at their home where they can access the FEV quickly when a family emergency situation occurs.

    There are many other qualities that make a (truck camper) the ultimate FEV. Essentially, the very same qualities that make the truck camper the most versatile RV and the most capable off-the-grid RV also make the truck camper the ultimate Family Emergency Vehicle.

    You’re not going to get the above FEV features and capabilities….
    from the family car, SUV, or minivan. You’re also not going to get these FEV features and capabilities from a Class-A, Class-B, or towable RV product. (wonder why not? )

    If you need a Family Emergency Vehicle, you need a truck camper. (WELL .. not exactly true other RV’s would work even better I would think)

    A Family Emergency Vehicle is also the ultimate Family Entertainment Vehicle. Take your family camping, hunting, fishing, ATVing, boating, horseback riding, and exploring. Visit friends and family and experience our wonderful State and National Parks. You’ll do more and spend less with a Family Entertainment Vehicle.

    For the FEV owner, you can’t lose. You’ll be prepared for the worst, and ready for the best.

    I agree with some of his article.. but… I think the RV trailer and motorhome is also a good contender with a lot more room and utility. However, small camper is also a RV and what ever port in the storm …. so to speak is better than none.

    So why the article posting…

    Well while were on the subject of Gensets… one might want to see what applications that it might be called upon to preform under… I don’t think much has been posted or any real videos about how to escape in the RV. I have only seen several of the VACATION videos made which sho the fun one can have.. but what about the other side of ownership… the survival side.

    Here too I think Sean or someone else that is in the video part could actually make up a video showing how the RV can be pressed into service and how it could be used to support the family… I don’t think a lot of people really take that into account… such things as powering the house with the genset… how one needs to hook it up.. correctly…(ya sure we know how.. just plug it in right!!!) powering the RV for longer periods of time… what one will need and what one could use to conserve…so that extended useage of the RV could be achieved.

    It really could be a combined effort from all the witers to put togeather a video book of sorts… from the cooking/what to store dry foods… to the mechanical management and of course our friend the generation of power off the grid…

    I was asked by one EOO person how long it takes us to get ready to go from a moments notice… ahhh you would be suprised at exactly how long it takes to get saddled up and sitting in the vehicle ready to go… I suggest you try it… and time yourself… its somethiing we never think about I am sure…

    Also what would you do if you had to run the genset for a full week ? Do you have the supplies on board to maintain the set? What about the oil changes… at the specified times? 50 hours comes pretty quick when your running it all the time…
    and you won’t be going to the store to get supplies… its more whats on board.. that you will be depending on… so what is on board?

    Do you really want to try and get by with that “little genset” that is working 110% or should you consider a larger one that will serve both applicaitons? something to think about here folks… besides just fun time RV’n

    The Family Emergency Vehicle capabilities of a RV are significant and sustainable competitive advantages that our view of the RV useage has not capitalized on. It’s an opportunity to promote our useage.

  37. Sean on December 12th, 2008 1:48 pm

    G.M., I will look into the Onan gen sets. I’ve heard mixed reports about them, but the one you mention is specifically made for camping, so perhaps it’s up to the task!

    You make a great point about using the RV in an emergency. I have a buddy on the Gulf Coast who owns a travel trailer, and often refers to it as his “hurricane escape solution.” After Hurricane Katrina, pretty much every rental RV in the region was snapped up by evacuees. I agree that “RV as emergency shelter” is a topic that would merit its own video, etc.

    It all does sort of dovetail with the gen set discussion, since generators are another item that gets snatched up whenever there’s rumor of a hurricane! That’s another benefit to owning a generator — they can come in handy around the house.

  38. Dave on January 8th, 2009 10:59 am

    I have recently purchased a 37 foot 5th wheel and have ordered a Onan RV QG 4000 based on dealer recommendation, The 5th wheel we bought is gen prepped and has a generator compartment in the basement.

    Any comments? Good, bad or otherwise?


  39. Robert Rice on January 17th, 2009 1:08 pm

    Has anyone used or heard about the Magna 3300 watt generator?

  40. Richard in PA on January 23rd, 2009 9:50 am

    I have had many makes of protable generators in the past. The Yamaha is very good, but we prefer the Honda 2000 for boondocking. Very quiet.with power when you need it. It’s mostly just a matter of choice and color here! I’m over the blue thing!….I like red!

  41. Sean Michael on January 23rd, 2009 10:16 am

    Dave & Robert, unfortunately I don’t have any experience with the Onan & Magna generators. But perhaps someone else will chime in?

    LOL Richard… I like red too… I think if our RV had red trim then we would own a Honda generator. :D

  42. Joe the plumber on January 23rd, 2009 11:54 am

    We purchased the Yamaha EF2400is two years ago to run our air conditioner on our Chalet XL1930.
    We find that it runs the a/c at full blast, our flat screen tv and dvd player with no problem.
    We recomend it highly.

  43. mark on May 24th, 2010 2:06 pm

    i like both honda and yamaha and i was woundering if one could hook them together an yamahaEF2400is and a honda EU2000i with a parallel kit? like to hondas 2000.. just woundering.

  44. Joe V on September 18th, 2011 7:22 pm

    Most people who read this will agree that Yamaha make a good product. I have owned 3 Yamaha motorcycles and was very happy with them. That being said, I have only seen 1 or 2 Yamaha generators in all the festivals, fairs and carnivals I have attended throughout New Jersey For whatever reason, most vendors (including myself as a mobile DJ) have the Honda generators.

    Hondas seem to hold their value very well. Even the beat-up ones on Ebay have bids for 2/3 or their retail price. I can’t say that about the Yamahas.

  45. Harold Ochstein on March 9th, 2012 5:10 pm

    I bought a Honda 2000i Generator 11/7/2011 from River Marine Miami. I brought it back to River Marine not working 12/6/2011. As of 3/8/2012 I still do not have a working Generator. I have also contacted Honda Power equipment to no avail. I have called and talked to them over 10 times in the last 2 months. Owner and tech at River Marine have been pleasant but as yet have not repaired or replaced per warranty. They are an authorized service center for the product. Very poor customer service from River Marine and Honda

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  49. Craig on August 16th, 2012 9:34 pm

    Hmmm…. just spent the past hour reading from the top. I take deliver tomorrow of a 26′ Shadow Cruiser TT. I’m excited about it, mostly because we won’t have to sleep in the ten while up in the mountains dredging for gold.

    My brain feels like a soaked up sponge with all the information here. I will need (or so I think) ton’s of power; just not sure how much. After dredging all day, all I want to do is take a shower, eat dinner, and watch a movie.

    I’ll do some checking on youtube to compare the Yamaha’s and Honda’s. Think I’ll see if I can lug around a 4K watt… dunno yet

    Good read though