Get ready to push buttons, pull cords, and rumble into the heated built-in versus portable generator debate. This time the hard side campers join the power struggle.
The response to the built-in versus portable generator Question of the Week was so extensive we split it into two; responses from pop-up owners, and responses from hard side owners. We published the generator poll and the pop-up responses last week.
Here are the hard side camper responses to the question, “Is a generator a truck camping necessity?” Buckle up reader friends. This one’s a doozy!
“Being the belt and suspenders kind of guy, Jon has equipped our rig with the built-in Onan 2500 generator, a Honda 2000 generator, and 220-watts of solar. We camp comfortably anywhere, anytime. Jon says that’s what I get buying the biggest truck camper on the market. But nobody else needs to do that, right?” – Kathy and Jon Dresbach, 2015 Ram 3500, 2016 Eagle Cap 1165
“On short weekend trips, we use our Goal Zero Yeti 1000 and charge it with the Nomad 100-solar panels. On longer trips we take the Honda EU2000i as well. We like the portability of the units. They can be used for both camping and anything else we desire.” – Scott Gettman, 1997 Ford F350, 2016 Adventurer 89RB
“I have both a Honda EU3000 and a built-in generator. When I don’t want to use propane, I use the Honda for extended periods while dry camping.” – Jesse Black, 2015 Chevy 3500, 2010 Lance 1055
“We have a portable Honda EU2000i companion generator. It can easily be removed for other tasks, serviced, or replaced. We live in hurricane country, and electrical power service was out for two weeks once, and several other times for days. Kira wants to be able to run a sewing machine and an Instant Pot, no matter the location.
To avoid running a battery system down below a certain voltage, consider using a 12 volt, adjustable, automatic, low voltage disconnect battery saver. These come in many different configurable models, from simple to complex.
Also, obtain a charge percentage to voltage relationship spreadsheet for your battery type, and keep it handy for reference. When the system voltage gets near the lower/minimum threshold, stop using the batteries. See spreadsheet/chart for AGM 12-volt battery.” – Bill and Kira Jones, 2017 Ford F-350, 2018 Northern Lite 9-6Q SE
“I don’t use my generator but, since my camper had the generator prep built in, I modified the generator compartment to hold a small WEN outboard generator. In addition, I have two Group 31 deep cycle batteries and two solar panels on the roof which meet our needs.
The generator is in case the sun doesn’t shine. I don’t like the weight, noise and propane consumption associated with the onboard generator. Our solar unit powers our 24-inch television, DVD player, dish satellite tuner with antenna, lights, vent fans and occasional laptop use.
A tip to minimize battery consumption is to use a high quality inverter that only runs its cooling fan when needed and has low consumption when there is no draw on the power.” – Tobin Koch, 2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD, 2007 Lance 845
“I elected to get a Honda EU2000i generator versus the manufacturer installed built-in propane generator for initial cost, service network, location, noise, and vibration under the dinette booth.
I previously carried our portable generator in the designed location, outside and beneath the dinette. While the generator is not massively heavy, it was necessary to tilt the unit and extend it into the storage box. That was not a pleasant experience. Also, securing the generator to prevent theft while running required more time.
We use the generator frequently, so it was wise to install a run clock to help keep track of oil changes. As the generator can run eight hours on low speed, or four hours on high (using air conditioning), I added an extended run 2.5-gallon fuel tank and modified gas cap so I can sleep through a hot night without refilling the generator.
I diligently searched online and selected Generator Boxes, Inc. The company owner was very helpful. I included an option of a heavy steel gauge mounting plate which attaches to the bumper of an Arctic Fox 1140. The generator box is then locked to the mounting plate.
The locking plate and storage box have performed admirably on all types of roads, the worst being Top of the World Highway in Alaska and Yukon.
Installation necessitated replacing the left rear deep set light of the camper. I found a surface light unit by the same manufacturer used by Arctic Fox, so left and right are similar. I purchased four anti-vibration pads which are placed beneath generator. The pads work extremely well. There is zero vibration from the generator into the camper.
The generator runs in the locked box and the covers are removed for ventilation. Then, a power cable plugs into the camper. With an extended run gas cap and compatible fuel tank I’m in hog heaven.” – Tony Coyne, 2015 Silverado, 2015 Arctic Fox
“Admittedly, we camp with shore power at least half the time. When we’re dry camping, we stay within the capacity of our Group 31 AGM battery. We don’t have a generator because we wouldn’t use it enough. If we were full-time, we would consider a battery upgrade. It will be interesting to see the results of this poll to see if that sways us.
Gordon and Angela, can you do a piece on your growing list of 12-volt and battery-powered items? While we don’t want to carry a bunch of stuff, we cannot find a good 12-volt or battery-powered fan. We do not have fantastic fan. Nighttime sleeping is the worst without a good fan.” – Linda Becker, 1999 Ford F250, 1992 Lance 880
Editor’s Note: A lot of truck campers love the Fantastic Vent Endless Breeze fan. It’s 12-volt and based on the same system as a roof installed Fantastic Vent.
“We have both types of generators. I prefer a built-in. We also own a 40-foot Monaco diesel-pusher and a Keystone fifth wheel. My wife says the truck camper would be the last to go!” – Howard Fulton, 2000 Dodge 3500, 2004 Alpenlite 1150
“We installed two Zamp solar panels on our camper and a second storage battery. This has proven more than adequate for all of our power needs. I need to note that we don’t have a television, air conditioner, or other power sinks. We use a couple of DC to AC power inverters to power computers and other miscellaneous devices (fans, etc.). It’s non-polluting and it is very, very quiet. Shhhhh.” – Jon and Audrey Hunstock, 2008 Ford F250, 2014 Northstar Arrow U
“We have the built-in Onan generator in both our Wolf Creek truck camper and our Arctic Fox travel trailer. We use them mostly to power a hair dryer and curling iron every morning. Occasionally we will run the air conditioner or microwave when we stop for lunch.” – Bill Gage, 2015 Ram 3500, 2017 Wolf Creek 840
“We had our Pastime truck camper built specifically for backcountry camping. We have a hand water pump, no bathroom, no water heater, and no appliances that don’t run on propane. The only appliances that require DC power are our Fantastic roof vent and the fan for the furnace.
Normally, we cook outside on a Coleman or charcoal grill and we use our interior lights sparingly. Two battery powered lanterns augment the camper’s lights. One battery for the camper is all we have and we have never (so far) run out of power in 13 years and 160,000 miles.” – John Markwell, 2005 Chevy 2500, 2005 Pastime 850
“I have a built-in Onan 2500 propane generator. I prefer the built-in. When I wake up, it is easy to turn on the generator and power the microwave to heat water for coffee. Also, it is good when I’m parked at Walmart, Bass Pro, or a rest stop overnight. I do not have to go outside when it is raining or in the snow.
I additionally have a wind generator and two 100-watt solar panels to keep my batteries charged. I guess I’m power hungry. I still have the external 3,000-watt generator I used for my previous truck camper. It is in the garage to support the freezer and refrigerator when the power is lost at my house.” – Clifford Cizan, 2010 Ram 3500, 2013 Arctic Fox 1150
“I have a Honda portable generator. It’s quiet. The 2,800-watts can run the air conditioner and microwave. It’s basically a convenience.” – Jimmy Eye, 2017 Ford F350, 2017 Lance 850
“I have a Yamaha 2,000-watt inverter with a snorkel to run on propane, natural gas, or gasoline.” – Paul Durivage, 2008 Chevy 2500HD, 2008 Lance 835
“Our Lance came with a built-in generator, but we rarely use it. We have installed 375-watts of solar and golf cart batteries. We use inverters for 110 power. We also have a high amperage charge line (two gauge) from the truck when needed. We boondock exclusively for long periods of time. When we full-timed (in different rigs) we went years without using shore power or a generator.
Tips: Have plenty of solar, good batteries, park in the sun, and be conservative when needed. The benefit of doing these things will be a nice quiet relaxing trip. That is if you don’t park by generator users. Have fun.” – John Bell, 2007 Dodge Ram 3500, 2001 Lance 1130
“I have a Honda EU2000i generator that I carry in a custom made lock box on my front hitch. I have never used it. Our air conditioner will run with the Honda so I carry it for that reason only.
I have two 180-watt solar panels, and two Trojan 12-volt batteries that will provide 300 amp hours. I run one 600-watt inverter with a dedicated plug. I also have the truck camper wired directly to my truck’s battery allowing my batteries charge while driving.
Built-in generators that run on propane burn half a gallon an hour. If you run your air conditioner all day you would use up all of your propane.
I think a portable generator is better because you can easily bring extra fuel. Plus, not having the onboard generator opens up extra storage space.” – Jason Brazeal, 2014 Ram 3500, 2001 Lance 1140
“We purchased our camper with solar panels. To date we’ve only had to use our Honda EU2000i portable generator one time due to depleted power.
On long trips where we find ourselves boondocking quite often, we’ll take the generator along. Most of the time it stays at home. The two solar panels have been ideal for our travels.” – Jud Recknell, 2017 Ford F350, 2011 Northern Lite 10.2 CDSE
“I truck camp to get away from technology, noise, bad odors, and other campers. I never run out of energy, but worry about running out of gas.” – Mario P.
“With 320-watts of solar, we only use the generator minimally for battery charging. It has to be started up when using the air conditioner or microwave. We have a Honda 2000 portable.” – Kevin Angell, 2013 Chevy Silverado, 2017 Northstar Arrow U
“My Honda EU2000i portable fits in the rear storage area. I also utilize a portable solar panel to keep the batteries charged. When we’re in a muggy and hot campsite, it’s always good to be able to run the air conditioner to cool things down.” – David Anderson, 2015 Ford F250, Northern Lite 8-11 Sportsman
“I have two main reasons for a portable generator. First, is to keep the weight down of the camper. I put the generator in the boat that I’m always towing. The second is, well, because it’s portable.
I live in British Columbia and we just can’t rely on having enough sunny days during the spring and fall months to fully rely on the solar power to keep the batteries charged up.
Whenever I am dry camping I bring my generator. It’s like having a four-wheel drive vehicle; you don’t always use it, but you’re sure happy to have it when you need it.” – Rick Bridarolli, 2006 Ford F350, 2001 Adventurer 90RDS
“I have two AGM, 100-amp hour, 12-volt deep cycle batteries. I went with two 12-volts as opposed to two 6-volts because if one of the 12-vots died, I would be able to disconnect the dead unit and still be running.
When it gets hot here in South Carolina in May or June, we head to Canada or the Michigan Upper Peninsula for three months. Although we have an air conditioner, the noise is almost as obnoxious as a generator.” – Tom Scholtenns, 2010 Chevy 2500HD, 2013 Bigfoot 25c10.4
“We have a Honda EU2000i that we use to run our power hungry items as required. Tailgating at UW football games is where we use it most.” – Jerry Tysdal, 2008 Dodge Ram 2500, 2007 Northern Lite 10-2
“I prefer the Honda EU2000i because it’s versatile, light weight and, most of all, it’s quiet. I actually removed the onboard Onan because it was heavy and too loud. I put a floor in the compartment where the Onan was and my Honda fits in the space perfectly. When we’re going somewhere and we don’t need the generator, the generator compartment serves as storage space.” – Charlie Walker, 2015 Lance 855S
“We travel all over The West and stay in a lot of national parks that usually don’t have hookups. We keep our batteries charged and sometimes use a small, portable solar panel that I paid $100 for.
We changed out our light bulbs to LED and we keep our electrical use to a minimum. About the only thing I can’t do is run a hair dryer. I just do without or go to the campground’s bathroom, which nearly always has electrical outlets.
We don’t have a microwave and we use the outer generator compartment for much needed storage. I detest generator noise and quiet ones are expensive, so I doubt we will ever have one. We don’t miss it.” – Connie Westbrook, 2002 Chevy, 1997 Lance Squire 5000
“I have both a portable and built-in generator. I also have solar panels and an inverter. I typically run off the solar/inverter but there have been times when I needed a generator for air conditioning. I am in the “better to have it and not need it then not have it and wish I did” category when I go camping. That’s why I bring the extra generator. There have been times when I let other people borrow my generator because theirs had failed.” – Kevin Harris, 2014 Ram 3500, 2007 Lance 1191
“I think generators are fine when you are camping alone somewhere, but they should have very restricted hours in a campground. Portable generators seem to be quieter than built-ins so I’d go that way if it was really necessary.
We just have a single battery which is mainly for lighting, the fan vent, and USB device charging. We have a 300-watt sine wave inverter for electronics or electric fans when needed. We just use ice for refrigeration. We can easily go a whole weekend without 110-volt power.
In cold weather, when heat is needed, we make sure to get a site with power. We have a Mr. Buddy heater that we can use when there is no power but we never let it run overnight. It’s only for evening and morning.
We are considering a small solar panel to keep the battery topped off. Our camper battery does not charge from the engine while driving.” – Vince Kurpan, Dodge Promaster
“We don’t dry to camp long enough in one spot to run them down. At worst we can run the truck and plug into 110 to charge a phone or laptop.” – Orian Hartviksen, 2011 Ford F-350, Northern Lite Q 8-11
“Yes, I have an Onan 2500-watt propane generator that came built into our 2012 Chalet truck camper. We do approximately 80-percent of our camping off-grid and rely primarily on our 300-watts of solar power and three Group 27 AGM batteries to handle all of our power needs.
We also have a built in 3000-watt inverter which allows us to use any electric device just as if we were plugged-in. However, if we are without sun for multiple days straight, or are caught building a deck for our son and need to run my circular saws all day, then the Onan generator gets-a-humming!
One of the nice things about our generator is that it is propane powered so we don’t need to carry any extra fuel.” – Charles Coushaine, 2001 Ford F350, 2012 Chalet DS116RB
“We have a built-in Onan 2.5KW powered with the camper’s propane. Beyond the convenience of having the controls at our fingertips, there’s having no requirement to carry gas for a portable generator.
We don’t like the extra weight of the built-in, but our heavily modified truck suspension and rear axles will carry the weight. Over the many years we’ve owned campers, I can think of a handful of situations where we thanked ourselves for having a generator; dead truck batteries that couldn’t be started with a portable power pack leading the reasons.” – Ralph Penton, 2007 Ford F350, 2017 Host Mammoth
“We have a built-in generator. It came with the camper. It is nice to have in case of an emergency.” – Roger Wareing, 2013 Chevy Silverado 3500, 2016 Arctic Fox 990
“We have had a built-in generator since 1975. It has always been some model of Onan. The convenience of having it is great. We may need it for that pot of coffee in the morning or when my wife blowdries her hair. Spoiled? Maybe! But we still love camping! We have been camping since 1971!” – Denver Woods, 1997 Ford F350, 2001 Lance 1121
“I have a Honda EU2000i. There is no room for a built-in. It’s very convenient when boondocking.” – T.L., 2013 Northern Lite 8.5
“Our camper is great because we do a lot outdoors, we enjoy life, and we’re not at home!
What we find difficult sometimes is to live with heat, so we try to stay in cool places. We drove all the way from Cedar Falls, Iowa through the USA, Mexico and Central America to reach home in Costa Rica. For three months we used our air conditioner just a couple of times.
Mostly we were above 3,000 feet where temperature is cooler. The rest, like Las Vegas, we managed to find a place to plug in. Our rig has 160-watts of solar and two Group 31 AGM batteries. We were able to use laptops and all the rest of 12-volt appliances with no trouble at all.
I think it would be nice to have a solar suit case to be able to park in the shade! Have a nice adventure.” – Alex Salas, Northstar, 2017 Northstar 600 ATV
“I have dual Honda EU2000i generators. I usually just take one with me. I like them because they are cheaper overall and easy to maintain. I like the option to leave them at home and I’m able to use the extra space for something else. I also save some weight. I also like using gasoline instead of my propane for long trips. Gas is easy to find and I’d rather save the propane for the heat, refrigerator, and cooking.” – Shawn Smith, 2015 Ram 3500, 2017 Arctic Fox 1140
“We have a Honda EU2000i. I went with the Honda for its proven dependability. If I need the generator to recharge the batteries, I am really going to need it or to run the furnace if batteries are low. We have two Group 27 Optimas and one 95-watt solar panel.
If it is hot and Mama wants air, I break out the EU2000i. I have not run into the low battery situation yet in cold weather as we tend to use the camper from April to October here in Ohio.” – Ed Kuivinen, 2009 Ford F250, 2016 Lance 850
“I have a Champion Dual Fuel 3100-watt inverter carried on my front hitch carryall. I am very satisfied with its performance and ability to run all power options including my roof air conditioner.” – Doug Z., 1998 Chevy K3500, 1999 Shadow Cruiser 9.6
“We have a Yamaha EF2000IS. It has come in handy a few times. I just added 200-watts of solar, but we are still bringing generator just in case we run into cloudy weather or we have to camp under trees.” – Gary Goyette, 2016 GMC 3500HD, 2012 Northern Lite 8-11 Queen SE
“I have a Yamaha EF2600 portable generator. In my opinion, a generator is necessary. I’ve been camping for some time now and I’ve never used hook-ups. When camping off-grid you have to be prepared for anything.
If your rig breaks down and you’re alone or with your wife and kids, you need to get fixed and rolling again. Believe me, cell phone coverage isn’t what it’s supposed to be. I carry spare engine parts, tools, and everything necessary to get going again. I’ve done all out repairs in deep wooded areas and was very thankful I had a generator for lights, tools, and stuff.
The only down side is fuel. I carry two five gallon jerry cans and two propane tanks. I carry jerry cans on the front hitch rack along with the generator. The fuel weighs in at about six pounds a gallon, plus the weight of the generator adds a lot of additional weight to your rig. My camper is one of those all aluminum jobs so I have a little weight savings. Distributing your load is important.
If you chose one, don’t go for the big daddy version. Be conservative and consider how much the generator weighs, along with additional fuel. As far as my battery goes, I have one single 12-volt deep cycle and no solar. I have never gone dead. Overtime you learn to conserve and know your limits. My camper has full amenities and yes, I use them all.” – Jacques Bonaparte, 2000 GMC K3500, 2018 CampLite 8.6
“Currently we have a built-in and a portable generator. I definitely prefer the convenience of a built-in, so I rarely bring the portable. The issue that concerns me is the dimensional changes that occur over time with built-in generator manufacturers like Onan. If mine fails, I will have to seek out a used one if mine can’t be repaired. New ones won’t fit. Because we both use CPAP machines at night, I currently believe a generator is a necessity for our truck camper.
I also like the built-in propane storage (a two-way emergency backup) and single fuel requirement with the built-in, though I realize that could be achieved with a portable.” – Lou and Mary Pomerville, 2008 Silverado 3500, 2008 Snowriver 102RK
“I have a Champion Model 75537i. It’s portable and is big enough to run my air conditioner. That keeps my wife happy when we’re boondocking in the summer. I can leave it home on the cooler months when it’s not needed.” – Clifford Craft, 2017 Chevy 2500HD, 2006 Lance 815
“I have a Honda EU2000i that I use for camping, hunting, and working on my property. It’s very versatile for me.” – Ben Boulet, 2006 Ram 2500, 2012 Lance 855S
“I have a portable Honda EU2000i. I can leave it home if it’s not needed or bring it if I’m boondocking for more than a few days.” – John Rand, 1999 Ford F-250, 2016 Northern Lite 9.6 Q SE
“I had a Generac generator that came with the camper. It failed a couple of times and I had it fixed. The third time it failed the mechanic tried to order the part but could not because Generac stopped making these generators and the parts were not available. I am currently looking for one that is compatible with my camper. I am also thinking of getting a portable generator.” – Roger Couturier, 2012 Ford F-250, 2000 Lance 1030
“We have a portable 1,000-watt Yamaha Inverter unit. It’s small, light, quiet, and will charge the batteries directly as it has DC output. It will run our microwave on medium power and run our coffee maker.
We felt that we needed the security of being able to charge the batteries, maybe even for starting the truck. We don’t use it much since we have solar, but we don’t regret being prepared.
We like the portable so we can put it away from the camper when in use. It stored in its own compartment outside the camper. One gallon of fuel will last for hours and hours.” – Wes Hargreaves, 2016 Ford F-450, 2006 Snowbird 108DS
“I installed a 200-watt solar system on my camper a few years ago. It keeps my batteries fully charged. I designed the system so that if we are camped in a shady area, the panels are easily removed from the roof and can be repositioned on the ground in the sun.
No noise, no smell, not much extra weight, minimal (read that as no) maintenance over the past two years and no storage space lost as would be the case with a portable generator. We run out of food and water before we run out of electricity. The solar system was competitive with a generator price wise as well.
Two 100-watt monocrystalline solar panels, a MPPT controller, the panel mounting brackets and all the cabling cost a little over $600. I love how effortlessly I can charge my batteries, the system’s efficiency, and its simplicity.” – Arn Chamberlain, 2000 Ford F-250, 2004 Palomino Maverick 8801
“I have a Yamaha 2000is. Generators are definitely not a requirement when dry camping for under a week in mild conditions. Nights here in Wyoming are cool.
I will sometimes use a Coleman catalytic heater to minimize run time for the heater blower and conserve power. With two Group 30 batteries and no solar we are easily good for four to five days without charging.
Over the last four years the generator has been used exclusively to power my wife’s hair dryer. On second thought, maybe it is a necessity.” – Robert Benesh, 2015 GMC K3500, 2002 Alpenlite 850
“We have a Honda EU2000i that we use on rare occasions with our truck camper. Beyond that we take it with our gooseneck horse trailer and also use it around the farm. You just can’t beat it for portability and quietness!” – Pete Clark, 2017 Ram 5500, 2017 Northern Lite 10-2
“I have a single 45-watt solar panel and a single gel cell battery that keeps me going great for two weeks of dry camping.” – Neal Williams, 2016 F250, 2000 Bigfoot 2500 10.6
“For years we didn’t have a generator until our 2015 summer journey. That’s when I decided upon having a portable generator. It had to be a portable generator since the Lance 815 doesn’t have onboard space for a generator.
The reason for going with a generator after all those years without one was because we would be as far north as Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. This was in case the temperatures dropped where we would have to run our heater for any length of time,
We can also run a small window air conditioner unit in our camper with the generator, We don’t have a roof top air conditioner unit. We were also dry camping in a hot and humid weather during our 2015 summer journey.” – Alex Blasingame, 2007 Ford 250, 2002 Lance 815
“I have a portable Honda EU3000is gas generator hauled on our front receiver hitch. It’s a Harbor Freight aluminum carrier. We can’t hear it running while we are in the camper.” – Jackson Sheesley, 2008 Ram 3500, 1993 Lance LC980
“I have a Tailgater portable generator from Harbor Freight. It’s small at 4.3 pounds and is excellent for blowing up my tires when I’m coming off the beach. It helps to charge the battery as well. I also have a 100-watts of solar.” – Denis Heil, Chevy 3500 Silverado, Sunline camper 30 years old
“We have a built in Generac, but rarely use it. We might use it once in awhile for air conditioning when we’re off-grid or to recharge the batteries.” – Stan Carman, 2002 Chevy Silverado, 2002 Lance 1030
“I have a portable Yamaha EF2000, which is 2,000-watts. We have more options with the portable.” – George Cagney, 2005 Ford F-250, 2005 Lance 845
“I have a built-in because it eliminates storage problems. There is also remote start and stop from inside the camper.” – Glenn Yauney, 2013 Ford F350, 2000 Arctic Fox 1150
“Mine is built-in, but I was thinking about a portable due to noise. I don’t use mine much but, when we need power we just need power. Boondock camping is where I tend to use it more.” – Kimberly Zimmer, 2017 GMC 3500HD, 2016 Lance 1050S
“I have a Honda EU2000i and a 140-watt portable solar panel. I only use the generator when it’s cold to run my 1,500-watt heater and occasionally charge my batteries when the sun forgets to come out.” – Ramon Milam, 2016 Ram 3500, 2015 Arctic Fox 811
“I have a Honda EU2000i inverter generator. I prefer a portable generator. It can also be used for home emergencies, at work, etc.” – Timothy O’Sullivan, 2017 Chevy Silverado 3500, 2008 Snowriver 9-6
“My wife has to have her morning coffee. When dry camping we need a coffee pot.” – Stuart Johnson, 1999 Dodge 3500, no camper as of now
“We have a Honda EU2000i. We like the portable because of the weight. It is only 46 pounds. A built-in is 120 pounds. We also have 100-watt solar panel on the roof. We camp a lot in winter, so there is not much sun for solar.” – Kim and Lori Oliver, 2015 GMC 3500, 2013 Adventure 86 SBS
“We use a EU1000i as backup support to one Group 31 battery and 100-watts of solar. Here in southern California the generator seems unnecessary and is often left at home. However, when we venture to where the sun is less reliable, the generator goes with us. On long trips it accompanies us in case of a potential solar charging malfunction.
In the 14 years we’ve been using this arrangement, we’ve needed the generator four or five times due to weather issues, so it will continue to travel with us as backup. Oh, we almost always camp off-grid.” – Bruce Colby, 2004 Dodge 2500, 2004 Lance 835
“I have not found the need for a generator. I basically live in my camper from June through October. I have a dual battery system with a solar panel for recharging. I spend summers in Alaska. If I was to spend more time in the Lower 48, my choice would be a portable because of the weight savings over a built-in.” – George Bennett, 2006 Chevy 2500HD, 2015 Wolf Creek
“Our camper does not have a built-in generator and, for the last three years, we have gotten by without one. We have planned our camping according to the time of year. Most of our local boondock camping is done during fall, winter, and spring. Our summer camping involves trips in high elevation to Colorado, Utah, and Lake Tahoe. But there have been times we have borrowed a generator to camp in the Texas summer heat.
We plan to purchase a new Lance 1172 from Princess Craft RV soon. That will include the built-in generator and give us the freedom to camp locally without regard to season.” – John O’Shaughnessy, 2007 Ford F550, 2012 Wolf Creek 816
“For me, a major part of camping is peace and quiet. After staying near users of generators, I vowed never to be that guy.
There are a few conveniences that pretty much require a generator, like air conditioning and microwave ovens. Since I’m not out for weeks/months at a time, my coach batteries can handle my minimal demand for electricity. If I my usage or need grows, I’m more likely to add a small, well-balanced solar charging system, and upgrade my batteries to AGM.” – Keith Schofield, 2002 Dodge Ram 2500, 1994 Shadow Cruiser 950
“We ordered the Bigfoot with a 2500-watt LPG generator. Our previous Bigfoot 9-foot model didn’t have one even as an option. Since the new one was so much better equipped with so many more things to power, the generator just seemed to be a good backup idea.
It still is, but it has almost never been used. One warm day out dry camping I turned it on to run the air conditioner, but it was so loud that it soon got shut down. If I were to re-order today I would not include the air conditioner or generator. The generator compartment is a perfect place to store a gas BBQ.” – Joe Sesto, 2015 Silverado 3500, 2015 Bigfoot 2500 10.6e
“I got a Honda EU2000i for a Baja trip. I used it to run an air compressor so I could air the tires up and down. Boy, does that make a difference!
I have used it to run the microwave briefly at times. It stays in the back seat of the truck. I open doors or windows and plug it into the truck. I did the same for the compressor. I’d take it on a road trip, but probably not for a short one.” – Brad Stellrecht, GMC 2500, Elkhorn, old but nice
“I have a portable EU2000i Honda. It’s quiet and charges two Group 31 batteries quickly and quietly. It also runs my 9,000 BTU air conditioner and the microwave.” – Tom Evans, 2004 GMC 3500, 2005 Lance 920
“My Yamaha 1,000-watt inverter generator gets used lots during late season hunting with the furnace blower running quite a bit. It will also get used during longer camps in the summer where we are staying put for multiple days. I never leave home without it as it’s never a burden to toss in the truck.
A built-in would be handy, but takes up the camper’s cargo space, while the little Yamaha can be squirreled away just about anywhere. It’s a good, small, quiet, and light weight power source to keep the batteries topped off.
I always keep the refrigerator on gas when plugged in to keep the fuel consumption down as the refrigerator is a pretty big draw.” – Cameron Bench, 2007 Dodge 3500, 2016 Travelaire 95SL
“I live in my rig so a generator is pretty much a necessity. The Honda EU1000i can be plugged right into my camper being that I have no air conditioner and no microwave. The generator runs everything in the camper. I do have one 150-watt solar panel to charge two marine deep cycle batteries.
I dry camp 100-percent of the time because I’m living on a limited income. I mounted the generator on the camper’s bumper supported by an angle aluminum rack that I fabricated to clear the license plate. It’s locked and strapped in.
Everyone has different needs being full or part-time, staying in parks or in the wild. Personally I like the portable version. The built-in is more difficult to service and to keep cool when running. Plus, it is more expensive to replace. It all depends on your wants, needs and convenience.” – Mike Hennon, 1972 Ford F-250, 1991 Caribou 9 1/2’
“We have a built-in Onan that came with our rig. I am not a big fan of generators because even the quieter ones are too noisy for me, plus the smell and fuel consumption. Instead we prefer solar, but I am glad we do have a generator for those poor solar days. It charges the batteries and allows us to stay out in the boonies longer. We can also run the air conditioner for our two dogs if we get higher temps.” – Bruce Bowens, 2015 Ram 3500, 2017 Eagle Cap 1165
“I have a generator because it came with the camper. I have four solar panels, four batteries, and an 1,800-watt power inverter. I haven’t needed the generator much.” – Bruce Moses, 2006 Chevy 3500, 2009 Lance 1191
“We use a Honda EU2000i to run the satellite dish, the coffee maker, and to keep batteries charged when we’re camping in cold weather.” – Charles Diemer, 2015 Ford F350, 2017 Arctic Fox 1140
“I have two generators and one works. The Onan 2500-watt generator I ordered with my camper only worked properly the summer before the warranty expired. My local Onan/Cummins shop has one labor rate (diesel repair rate) so repairing my 100-pound generator was going to cost $700 labor plus $240 for a regulator the manufacturer charges that are $60 on Amazon.
I bought a Champion 3,500 watt gasoline generator for $300. After removing half of the rear seat (a 20-minute task), it resides on the rear floor of my pickup truck. My rig can carry 40 pounds of propane, and 34 gallons of gas.” – Philip Tron, 2009 Chevy 3500, 2012 Lance 1050
“I have a Honda EU2000i, which I rarely use. My house battery is iffy, so I sometimes use the Honda to keep it powered up, particularly when I’m cold camping and using the heater as its blower motor is quite a power hog. I generally keep the generator’s fuel tank and carburetor drained, only fueling up when I intend to use it. I’ll drain it again after the trip. Modern gasoline left to evaporate clogs the carburetor otherwise.
The EU2000 no longer seems to run the microwave nor the air conditioner, but that may be the result of a degradation of the converter system.” – Mark Obert, 1999 Ford F250SD, 1999 Lance 920
“Turn off the lights!” – Robert Doyle, 2006 Ford F350, 2011 Lance 850
“My generator is a cheap one from Harbor Freight.” – Richard Bowman, 2012 Ford, Just a shell for now
“We have a Honda EU2000i which we occasionally carry in the generator compartment. The Honda is quiet and can be used at home when needed.
We specifically skipped the air conditioner and microwave when we had our truck camper built. The combination of truck power and solar, along with a pair of AGMs, provides sufficient juice for everything but charging my MacBook Pro (which I tend to use to manage my photography). The generator, air conditioner, and microwave all add significant weight we can do without.” – Brett Binns, 2014 Ford F350, 2014 Arctic Fox 1150
“I have a 3600-watt Onan propane generator. I wanted diesel but it was discontinued. I had two Honda EU2000i generators with my fifth wheel. What a pain because we move every day when we are auto racing.
I have been RVing since 1981 and have always had generators for air conditioning. We’ve had sufficient battery power to get by for 24 hours for the fans or furnace. Although a propane generator isn’t ideal, there is no safe place (in my mind) to carry gasoline in a truck camper. I have carried gas in the truck bed before, but there’s no place now.” – Richard LeGrow, 2003 F550, 2017 Edgewood 1200DS (Custom)
“We will buy a Honda EU2000i this spring for more boondocking.” – Real Charbonneau, 2008 Silverado, 2017 Travel Lite 800X
“We have an Onan generator that came with the camper. We use it only when we are staying in one spot longer than three days to charge the batteries. Other than that, the truck will keep the camper batteries charged when driving from spot to spot.
It is definitely comforting to know that it’s there for an emergency situation. However, it is also kind of fun to see how little power we can be with while we are out and about. We will add solar this year.” – Paul Braun, 2011 GMC 2500, 2009 Lance 861
“I tried dry camping without a generator, but that didn’t work out to well. I need a generator with 3,000 watts to handle the air conditioner and my CPAP machine. If my camper has an inverter, I haven’t found it in three years of ownership.
I would have loved to have a built-in. It would have saved me about $575 to have a special heavy duty Reese hitch rack built. I tried one of the cheap ones from the store and it bent because of the weight and constant bouncing of the generator.
I had a local welding shop fabricate a rack that has a solid 2-inch square support. It has worked out well.” – RJ Bickford, 2007 Dodge 2500, 2003 Palomino Maverick 1000
“We have a built-in Onan propane generator. I wouldn’t say it is a necessity, but it sure is nice when we are off-grid for several days. I have had battery issues with both the camper and my truck, so I haven’t been comfortable being too far from an outlet.
Now that I’ve got them both fixed, I’m anxious to see what kind of use I can get out of my camper batteries. While I like that it is propane and I don’t have to carry different types of fuel, I’m not crazy about the fact that if my truck camper batteries are low, I can’t crank the generator to get them recharged. In that respect it may be beneficial to have a portable generator instead.” – Craig Brueckman, 2015 Ford F-350, 2014 Lance 1191
“We own a Honda EU2000i portable and hardly ever carry it. We usually move every day and driving keeps the batteries charged. We have two blue top Optima Group 31 batteries in the camper and two stock batteries in the truck along, with the 95-watt solar panel that came with the camper. If we are parking somewhere for more than an overnight stay, we are usually plugged in.
The Honda generator has only been used a couple of times to charge my trolling motor batteries on the fishing boat. The Honda is capable of running the air conditioner unit or anything else that we might need. I will probably carry it with us when we head for Alaska!” – Charlie Wade, 2016 Dodge 3500, 2016 Northern Lite 10-2CDEXSE
“Portable all the way. If you ever have any generator problems you can just bring it to someone to fix or buy a new one. With a built-in generator, you need to bring the whole camper to get it repaired or even replaced. Also, there are the fumes when the wind is blowing just right. With a portable you can put it away from your camper and not worry.” – Paul Olmstead, 2010 Dodge 3500, 2014 Arctic Fox 811
“I have a portable Honda EU2000i that I use for running my air conditioner and for charging the batteries in a shaded area. Otherwise my solar keeps the batteries charged. I didn’t want the built-in generator because of the noise and vibration. I store the Honda in the generator compartment along with my barbecue grill.” – George Visconti, 2015 GMC 3500HD, 2016 Arctic Fox
“We have a Briggs and Stratton 3,000-watt portable generator. The only reason we got one was the option of running the air conditioning in the summer.” – Larry Power, 2014 Ford F350, 2009 Northland Polar 860
“We carry a Honda EU2000i. We also have 230-watts of solar panels and two AGM batteries. We only use the generator for air conditioning in summer. We never have had a problem with battery being run down. We also have a 2,000-watt inverter if we need it for the microwave and a few other items.” – Gary Gadwa, 2012 Ford F350, 2010 Eagle Cap 950
“We have a 2600 Yamaha portable generator. I don’t use it very much. I am in the process of installing two 100-watt solar panels and Go Power controller. AGM batteries are next on the list. I hope to be able to leave our generator at home for our three month trip to Newfoundland this summer. Weight and space is always an issue.” – Bill Londry, 2011 Silverado 2500HD, 2016 Adventurer 86FB
“I switched to all LED lighting. I always have enough power for most things with two 6-volt batteries, except when it is very cold. After a day or two running the furnace constantly there is not enough power to trip the sail switch. That’s when we go to a campground with electric hookups and get recharged.” – Doug Baker, 2006 Toyota Tundra, 2006 Six Pac D650
“We have a Champion 4000/3500 on the front 2-inch receiver using the Torklift Lock and Load. I had built in Onan 5000 removed from the camper prior to purchase. Here’s why; noise, vibration, and $6,000 versus $375.
With a generator out in front of the truck there is very little noticeable vibration. You can hear it in the overcab area, but it’s not overbearing. If the Champion dies, I go to any dealer nationwide and drop a new one and not miss a watt.
We use our generator mostly tailgating during the NFL season and on the road as needed.” – Keith Lincoln, 2017 GMC 3500, 2015 Host Mammoth
“I prefer a built-in gas generator, but unfortunately truck camper generator sets are propane, which isn’t easy to get sometimes. I like the built-in because you can pull in, jump in the camper, and start the generator (and air conditioner) easily and quickly, even for just a nap. I do not have a built-in. I use a Honda EU2000i.” – Ron Polson, 2014 Ram 2500, 2014 Lance 850
“I just bought a Honda EU2000i. I do not have solar. The camper battery does not fully charge when the refrigerator is on and I’m running around town getting supplies and forget to switch back to gas. I was tired of using the truck to charge the camper battery. It’s also nice when I want to use microwave.” – Saki Villalobos, 2015 Silvarado 2500, 2015 Lance 825
“There are pros and cons to everything. The biggest pro of the built-in is when you have 48 hours of tropical storms and driving rain you can’t use a portable generator unless you have a shelter for it. Water intrusion causes connecting rods to punch holes in the block.
The biggest con is the noise. Solar is a great addition but probably can’t fully replace 2000-watts of power on demand. Put me down for the built-in generator.” – Gary Usher, 2017 F350 Lariat, 2015 Lance 1172
“I have an Onan 2500 LP built-in as well as a Honda EU2000i gas generator. Both are very good. The Onan is nice when it’s snowing, or at 5:00am, or during any inclement weather. We need our coffee.” – Bill Sargent, 2012 Ram 3500, 2009 Lance 971
“We had a built-in Onan. It was convenient. However, we now have a EU2000i Honda since the Onan broke and would have been costly to fix.
The Honda is definitely quieter. The portable is convenient because you can change its position in the campsite. When dry camping we often use flashlights and lanterns when we read. Story/tale time is fun in the evening and then bed time!” – Helen Scurzi, 1991 Chevrolet Silverado, 2008 Lance 9’11”
“The camper has a 2,500-watt Onan propane generator. The only saving grace with this generator is that it runs on propane. It does an adequate job, but it is noisy.
If I am camping among other people I shut it down by dark, earlier if there are children around. We mainly use it to make toast in the morning or popcorn in the evening, and I did use it to charge the batteries once. If I had to do it over, I would get something quieter and convert it to propane.” – Terry Davis, 2012 Dodge, 2015 Arctic Fox 990
“I have a built-in generator which I prefer. I had a portable which was heavy. There was no place to store it. I also had to lock it up with a chain, and carry extra fuel in a can.” – Tom Andersen, 2006 Dodge 3500, 2003 Lance 1121
“Our Lance 921 has a built in 3,600-watt Onan generator. We also have a Honda EU2000i converted to propane.
We don’t use the generators very often. The built-in unit only has twenty hours on it in sixteen years. We have a 45-watt solar panel to help keep the batteries charged. I have both generators set up so that we can use them to power the house in an emergency.” – Erwin Greven, 2002 Chevrolet Sliverado 2500HD, 2002 Lance 921
“I have an Onan 2500 built-in propane generator to occasionally run the air conditioning, the heat, and to power the batteries. I have a 120-watt Zamp solar panel and I am looking into getting a portable 160-watt Zamp plug-in.” – Tim Cervelli, 2006 Chevy 3500, 2018 Arctic Fox 992
“Even though it is never used other than monthly operational checks, I prefer the on-board for convenience of single fuel (propane) for the camper and generator. There is no secondary storage problem, I have security from theft, and adequate power for the air conditioner if needed.
As for dry camping, which is our standard practice, we run 160-watts of solar, twin 12-volt batteries, and have all-LED lighting. The furnace is the biggest electrical load here in the mountains so we keep the camper at very low or no temperature settings at night.” – Peder Kruger, 2017 Ram 3500, 2017 Lance 1062
“I have a Honda EU2000i, but will probably go with a built-in when we go back to a truck camper.” – Paul Neumann, 2013 Ram 3500, 2006 Holiday Rambler Presidential
“We have a built-in generator. I have wanted to attend several ATV events that are very hard to get full hook-up campsites. Now that we have a generator, we can go. They always have dry camping spots in late September and early October in Gilbert, West Virginia. If the weather gets warm we can still cool the camper until evening time. Hopefully it cools down and we can sleep more comfortable.” – Steve Wingo, 2017 Dodge Ram 3500, 2018 Lance 975
“I had a Yamaha 3000 inverter/generator, but it broke after many years and wasn’t worth fixing. I just bought a Predator 3500 inverter/generator from Harbor Freight Tools and love it. It’s very quiet! We’ll just have to wait and see if it stands the test of time.” – Ron Williams, 1997 Ford F250, 2003 Lance 1010
“We like the convenience of a built-in because we always have it with us without having to carry and store a separate piece of equipment and fuel containers. We use the generator only for short times for the microwave and to charge batteries. We do not have a television or other equipment that run for long periods if time.” – Terry Dwyed, 2018 Arctic Fox 990
“I go to Antique Tractor shows that may or may not have hookups, so it is nice to have a generator. I have a Honda EU2000i because my camper is only 8.5-feet long. There is no room for a built-in.” – Bill Fred, 2011 Ford F-250, 2013 Waterfall 865
“We have an Onan 2500 built-in generator. It’s a little noisy but starts every time. We need it to run the air conditioner because it gets pretty warm in Texas.” – James Tom, 2009 Ford F-350, 2015 Lance 1052
“I have a built-in Onan propane generator. In the cargo trailer, along with the car and motorcycle, we have a Yamaha 2000 for when we want power, but not the noise. We have solar for most stuff. There is not much chance of our batteries going down as we are fairly nomadic. We’ll stay four days one spot, and then we are generally ready to move on.
Is the generator necessary? No. But, it sure is handy when she wants to dry hair or an have an emergency meal to heat up for me or the puppy. We like to camp with options.
If we were to change our RV today, it will have a built-in generator. Push the button. We are lazy in our mature years. We are always considerate of neighbors. There is a quiet time for a reason.” – Bob Nelson, 2015 GMC Sierra 3500, 2013 Arctic Fox 1140
“I have a portable generator just for convenience. I was always getting by without a generator but we lost power at our cabin for nine days as a result of a storm. I purchased a portable generator to power the refrigerator and some lights.
On our next three week RV trip we took the generator along just in case (we ended up in Quartzsite, Arizona). The generator was used at that time, which was a fantastic convenience. I still use it on occasion.” – Rag Rag, 2017 Ford F150, 2007 Lance 815
“I have a Honda EU2000i I portable. Having a portable makes it easier to have power for my furnace and freezer during power outages. I only need power when camping for the microwave and air conditioner.” – David Thompson, 2017 Ford 350 dually, 2014 Host 11.5 Mammoth
“We have a built-in generator. We don’t use it much, but we still need it. We have Group 31 AGM batteries and three solar panels that handle most needs. One very hot humid night makes the generator very important!” – Robert Mayton, 2014 Ford F450, 2015 Lance 1172
“I have a portable 3500-watt Predator inverter generator that I can take if I think I need it for dry camping. I have dry camped for a week on one battery without needing the generator, but it’s nice to have at home or anywhere else if needed.” – Jeff Buckley, Ford F250, 2017 Travel Lite 620
“I have an Onan 2.5 KW propane and a Yamaha 1000-watt portable. The small Yamaha is for charging batteries. It’s nice and quiet. I also have some portable solar panels.” – Bernard Woessner, 2015 F350, 2011 Lance 1181
“I prefer a built-in propane generator. With propane you do not have fuel stability problems. They are very dependable. I do not worry about someone stealing it. I can use it anywhere. I do not have to carry it or move it. Why a Honda? Yamaha motors are better.” – Gary Burgess, 2005 Dodge 3500, 1998 Kodiak 9.5
“I have a Hyundai HY2000si portable generator. It’s cheap, portable, and brings flexibility. I also have a small solar panel.” – Richard Desruisseaux, 2015 Ram 3500, 2018 Adventurer 80RB
“We have a Honda EU2000i and you can count on one hand how times we’ve needed it. Our set up is solar and dual batteries. Mind you, we don’t charge laptops or watch television. And the-invention of LED lights has allowed us to comfortably not require the Honda.
That said, here in Canada, we can get 16 hours of sunlight in the height of summer. I prefer the Honda because it’s lightweight and far quieter than any built-in I’ve ever heard. It can also run my camper with idle control off, barely sipping gas! We bring it along for plan B in case of crummy weather.” – Brian Plourde, 2007 Sierra 2500, 2015 Adventurer 80 RB
“I prefer the cost, flexibility, ease of maintenance, and quietness of a portable generator. I’m using an inexpensive Costco Power Sine 2000-watt peak portable generator which has a Yamaha engine. It is probably not as powerful as a Honda EU2000i, but at one-third the price, it works for me to recharge our batteries or run small appliances.” – Allen Jedlicki, 2012 GMC 2500HD, 2014 Wolf Creek 850SB
“We have 200-watts of solar and two Group 27 batteries. That seems to be more than adequate as long as there is sun. We also carry a small battery lantern if we feel we need stretch out battery usage.” – Matt Wiegand, 2014 Ford F150, 2017 Adventurer 80RB
“We’ve successfully dry camped for ten days with our tiny tanks. We have to dump and refill water every three to four days. There is no oven, no microwave, no boob tube, and no need. Generally we’re traveling every couple days, so batteries, phones and tablets recharge.
We’re weekend campers for the most part. I hate the *&^% generator noise at National Forest campgrounds. What do these trailering people do all day and into the night that these wretched things have to run hours at a time?
If we get a bigger unit, we’ll probably get one. Retirement in a few years equals longer trips. But, it will just be to accomplish the necessary, not to make it like we never left the television room at home. Quiet will be one of the key considerations when we shop.” – Marilee Talley, 2003 Ram 2500, 2003 Lance 815
“I have a built-in generator. I had a portable Honda EU2000i generator and preferred the portable. The built-in uses too much propane and is not as reliable as the portable one.” – Dena Goss, 1995 Chevy 2500, 1999 S&S
“I have the built-in Onan 2500 propane generator that came with my Lance. It’s very, very loud and I only use it for short term or when I’m boondocking way away from anyone, or possibly in a truck stop. It really is too noisy and is for very occasional use.
I also have a Honda EU2000i. I usually carry it on a platform installed in the front hitch receiver. I usually run it in place on the platform. The camper cord easily reaches the front of the truck. The generator can also be moved somewhere else to get it away from neighbors if necessary. It’s so quiet if you move it just a little further away; the decibel scale is inversely proportional to the distance.
I’ve never understood why truck camper manufacturers don’t install the EU2000i. It can be converted to propane. My guess is they feel they don’t produce enough power when running on propane to start and run the air conditioner. I think that could be solved.” – David MacArthur, 2008 Ford F350, 2011 Lance 992
“We have a Hyundai 2000 portable and only take it for extended trips, or during inclement weather when there is not enough sun for the solar panel. It is bigger than a Honda and heavier, but a lot cheaper.
It has always been reliable and, when we take it without the cargo trailer, it fits in the back seat. If we are camping in the backcountry, fishing, hunting, or quad-riding, we always take our cargo trailer and the generator is always in it. I have just been out running it under load for half hour.” – Rick Jones, 2005 Chevrolet 2500HD, 2013 Wolf Creek 850 SB
“We have two Honda EU2000i generators. For years we only had one. It works for 99-percent of our power needs. It’s the couple times a year when we are camped in 105-degree weather and have no hookups that you need that second generator.
We finally broke down, and bought thte second generator. We love having it. We should have bought it years ago. We store one in the generator compartment and the second inside the camper. We only take the second when we know we will be in warm weather without hookups.
For my next camper, I’m thinking to have the built-in and a EU2000i. I would like to have that convenience of a push button and not having to deal with taking another thing out of the camper. I would also like to be able to run the air conditioner in the camper while driving.” – Elquin Daza, Ford f350, 2000 Lance 820
“We own a Yamaha EF2000 that works out great when we are dry camping. Our camper does not have air conditioning so it meets our energy needs.
As far as a built-in or not, we have never owned a camper with a built-in so I couldn’t say, but I think it would be nice. To save our battery, we switched to LED lights inside and out. Also, do not forget and leave the ignition switch on for an hour or it will drain your main battery in a hurry (not that I would do a thing like that).” – Mike Pohl, 2015 F250 Super Crew 6.75 box 6.2 gas, 1985 American Pilgrim 8.5
“We have an Onan 2500 LP built-in, but are seriously thinking about switching to a 2000-watt Honda or Generac portable generator. It’s much less noise, less weight, and much more convenient. We’re all about reducing the weight, and not being one of those noisy camping neighbors.” – Tom Miner, 2004 Dodge Ram 3500 SLT DRW, 2005 Host Yukon 11.5 SS
“I prefer built-in. Although noisy, it has enough power to run all appliances. It runs on propane so I don’t have to worry about hauling gasoline.
My camper has two batteries and solar panels. With common sense electrical conservation, we generally don’t have to worry about battery depletion. In fact our generator only has 15 hours on it and those hours are generally to exercise it once in awhile.” – Jim Hignite, 2016 Dodge Ram 3500, 2007 Lance 1055
“Our Lance 1172 has a built-in generator. I’m not a big generator fan because of too much noise, but some of the portable ones are very quiet.
We only use the generator to run a blow dryer and the microwave. I don’t have an inverter big enough to run those. I have two 12-volt AGM batteries and 190-watts of solar. My wife uses her sewing machine on the inverter while we dry camp and we don’t have any power problems. We have to stay out of the shade.” – Kevin Hasch, 2013 Ram 5500, 2013 Lance 1172
“We use our built-in generator on a regular basis when we travel between California and Texas during the summer. It powers our air conditioner and we always make sure we park away in secluded areas so we don’t bother anyone.
The built-in propane generator is nice; a simple push of a button and you have power verses having to setup or start a portable one. I also like the fact that I don’t have to worry about my built-in generator disappearing.” – H.Y., 2006 Ford F-350, 2012 Arctic Fox 990
“I have a Honda 2000 portable generator.” – Mike Mlikan, 2015 Chevy 2500, 2010 Travel Lite 800
“Portable.” – A.E. Patten, 2001 Chevy 2500, 1985 Skamper 1000
“We have a propane built-in, but it’s not very reliable at this time. I am trying to fix it. We also have two Yamaha 2000 generators that can be hooked in parallel if we need the air conditioner. We recently had a Zamp 160-watt solar panel installed, but it’s back in the shop because it was installed wrong.
The propane generator seems to be noisier than the Yamaha. If we get the propane generator running again I may leave one of the Yamahas at home while I’m on the road. It will depend on the noise the propane generator makes, where we are headed, and the possibility of needing the air conditioner.” – Mark Daigle, 2016 GMC 3500, 2013 Lance 1172
“I have the Honda EU2000i. I like the versatility to take it anywhere camping, on the job site, and during power outages. The unit is easy to maintain and, if you need service, you can take it to the dealer. You do not need to take the whole camper.” – Glen Dougherty, 2015 Ford F350, 2016 Northern Lite 10.2XL
“I have a portable 2000-watt Honda. I usually never use it, but always take it. I switched everything to LED lamps and pulled the bulb from the basement.” – Andrew Czerwinski, 2011 F-350, 2010 Northern lite 10-2
“We have a built-in generator. It was a non-negotiable item for my wife. She will take the camper and use it for a home base for conferences and get-togethers where she will use it for preparing lite meals for her and her girlfriends.
There is rarely (never) shore power available and many of these events take place in the summer where the AC is necessary. She was not going to drag a portable generator out of a compartment and mess around with cords and fue when all she has to do is push a button.
I use it when dry camping to run the microwave for a quick warm up or to make coffee in the instant hot pot. Great convenience for a small weight penalty and, if you don’t have it, what will you do if you absolutely need it?” – Scott Randolph, 2017 Dodge Ram 3500 / 2000 GMC 2500, 2017 Wolf Creek 850
“Our generator is built-in and came with the camper. It’s nice to just push the button and nuke some potatoes or thaw out some frozen food, but its not necessary. In three months out, we only put on just over three hours on it. It’s nice to have, but it’s loud.” – Frank and Lynn Niehus, 2007 Ford F-350, 2007 Arctic Fox 1150
“I am in the market for my first truck camper. I have a question regarding your story. When your batteries died in the Everglades, were you not able to charge them buy running your truck? If I understand correctly most systems are wired to charge off the truck as well as solar or generator? Did you just choose to charge off the generator for better efficiency?” – Wayne Petrie, 2003 Dodge Ram 1500, Not Yet
Editor’s Note: Technically, we could have run the truck to charge the batteries, or gone for a drive to charge the batteries. That said, Mike Tassinari was just across the way with his Onan 2500-watt generator. That was a more efficient solution, and Mikeee was too excited to see us finally need to plug in. Had he not been there, we would have gone for a drive, and parked in the sun.
“Never camped in one spot long enough to need one.” – Patrick Hayes, 2005 F250, 2015 Arctic Fox 865
“A Yamaha EF2000iS portable generator came with our camper when we bought it new in 2013, but I’ve never taken it out of the box it came in! My wife and I don’t dry camp, so we’ve never needed it. I suppose if we were to go on a very long trip it might come along with us. Who knows.” – John Schlobohm, 2013 Ford F150, 2013 Lance 825
“We have a portable 2000-watt generator which we sometimes bring with us. We currently don’t have solar, although it’s on the top of our hit list. I check the batteries at least once daily, so as not to run them too low. Unfortunately, we have to store the generator behind my seat in our truck, but it’s the only place. Solar sure sounds like the way to go, along with large quality batteries.” – Thomas Slack, 2011 Ford F350, 2008 Okanagan 85SL
“My camper came with a built-in and I have a portable that was used when we camped with the travel trailer. The convenience of the built-in is great, their noise level not so much. I will ditch the built-in when it dies and use the portable. When dry camping and the sun is accessible I use the solar system which does a fantastic job.
In my situation we mostly dry camp. Being in the south there are a lot of trees and clouds and solar is not always available. The generator is mainly used for battery charging and occasional AC power for air conditioning and a hair dryer.” – Bill Taylor, 2007.5 Chevy 2500hd, 2012 Lance 855S
“We were camping ten miles in on a rough road. We shut down for the night and in the morning, the truck wouldn’t start. Our battery voltage was too low to crank. I hooked up the generator’s 12-volt charge cable to the battery and five minutes later it started. I had to do this until I was back into town to get a new battery. It’s more of a safety tool to me!” – Bernie H., 1999 Ford F350, custom camper
“I do not carry a generator primarily because of the inconvenience of carrying it. I would appreciate seeing how others have found ways of carrying their generators when their camper was not originally designed to carry a generator.” – Tom Burns, 2015 Ford F350, 2006 Northern Lite 9.6 SE
“We have a portable Westinghouse WH2000iXLT. Bought it mainly for the microwave and a small electric heater. We have only used it once. The TV is 12-volt and the lights are LED. Even using the Fantastic Fan we have no problem with battery power. WE usually only stay one night and the truck charges the battery.” – Howard Bisco, 2015 Ford F-250, 2014 Palomino HS6601
“I just bought two portable Hondas; a EU2000i and a EU2000i companion.” – Clifford Bowling, 2015 Ford F-250, 2018 Palomino 2902 Max
“I have a long-bed truck, so portable was our only option. I do like having it portable so that we can leave it home if we’re going where there is electric. At home, it’s a bare-bones back-up if we lose electricity. If we have any trouble with it, I’ll be glad to drive it for service as opposed to the entire rig. I can carry it to other campers or a tent, if needed.” – Ken Mercurio, 2017 Ford F-350, 2016 Arctic Fox 811
“I have a Honda 3000, but try to get by with solar.” – Jock Weir, 2008 Ford F350, 2014 Northern Lite 10.2
“I live in sunny Florida and, most of the time, I get plenty of use from the solar. I like to use the solar and I have a few cheating tricks when not using electricity, like the little battery lights from Walmart that you can just stick in places that are really in need of light. I stick them above the counter top, where I might be cooking, above the table where eating, and places like the bathroom and above the bed.
The little LEDS do a good job and are inexpensive and work well in the dark. They can save the 12-volt for times if you really need it. With me and two dogs, reading isn’t much problem. I am going to upgrade to more battery(s) and a second solar soon.” – David Wilson, 2016 Ford F150, 2018 Lance 825
“We have a Honda EU2000i but have actually never needed it for camping. Our camper has a 100-watt solar panel. We have the generator just in case we need it. It will power our air conditioner if needed. We could have gotten a built in generator but decided against it due to the noise and vibration complaints we have heard from others.” – Michael Shippy, 2016 Ram 3500 Dually, 2017 Adventurer 89RBS
“No Genny. Spent that money on 400-watts of solar. No noise, no gas, no space used, and batteries are always recharged by noon. With 400-watts of panel and a top shelf MPPT charge controller, we don’t worry about power usage, even in winter.” – Kevin B., 2016 Lance 995
“I have a built-in Onan. I like the convenience but hate how loud it is. I use it as little as possible and recently switched to Blue Top AGMs that can be fully discharged. I also have a portable 100-watt solar panel that works great when sunny.
However, we love the heavily wooded sights in Northern, Minnesota and sometimes I need the generator. Onan please make a quite propane version. I’ll be first in line.” – Mike Hoppe, 2014 Chevy 2500HD, 2009 Lance 845
“I have a propane 3.6KW built-in generator. I see it as a necessary evil.” – Phil Rich, 1990 Ram D350, 2002 Lance 1161
“We go camping to get away. As such we don’t have need for a whole lot of electronic devices. We can charge our phones from the USB charging stations included in Northwood products, but overall we don’t go through much electricity.
What we do use is easily recharged with the 160-watt solar panel on the roof. Now, if we were going somewhere that AC was a necessity, then a generator could come in handy, and I would probably prefer an onboard model.” – Ben Hutchings, 1998 Chevy K2500, 2017 Wolf Creek 850
“I stayed away from the built-in because it used propane and, to my understanding, quite a bit of it. It was also very expensive by sine wave generator standards.
The problem with a portable is where to carry it and the fuel, particularly if it’s gasoline. I carry my portable and it’s fuel under the portion of the camper that extends beyond the truck bed. To explain how that can be accomplished and still have convenient access to the generator to move it a distance from the camper when in use would require more space than allotted here. Perhaps a major mod article is in the future.” – Donald Mellon, 2001 Ford F-350, 2017 Lance 1062
“If a built-in generator would have been available, I would want it. It is only needed to run the AC and microwave. I have one 160-watt solar panel and two Group 31 AGM batteries. So far that takes care of everything but those two items. I will take my Honda EU2000i in the summer.” – Dirk Keeler, 2017 Ford F350, 2018 Cirrus 820
“While we do have a built-in generator, it is loud and the exhaust is by the back door. When we order a new camper in the coming years we will go without a built-in and go with the Honda since it is quieter. We can put it anywhere.” – James Orrok, 2004 Dodge 3500, 2006 Lance 1165
“I carry a Champion 2000-watt generator. It cost half of a Honda and has given me great service. I don’t use it much because I have solar power. But, I have had to use it for running the heater, and one time to charge my battery.” – Charlie Young, 2013 Chevy 2500, 2002 Lance 815
“The first mod I did on my Lance camper was to get rid of the built-in Onan generator that came with it and install a solar panel. Generators are the worst noise pollution! Camping near generator users is miserable.
I go camping to get away from the noise and pollution of development to enjoy the sounds and environment of natural places. Generators ruin this experience for all those who are unfortunate enough to be anywhere near them. I wish campgrounds would have a generator free loop instead of a tent loop so we don’t have to suffer.
In four years of camping 100 days per year, I have only been so shaded, clouded, and stationary to the point that my batteries could not charge only twice. Both times prompted me to drive to an unplanned trail head in order to charge my battery and I was rewarded with a bonus experience.
I prefer to be unplugged while camping. With two teens and their devices and all their movies being played on laptops, we do need to charge things. We plan and time charging multiple devices on my one portable inverter using only solar or travel time.
It is no sacrifice to be without a generator. I wish more folks would be willing to give it a try. And I have delicious fresh coffee! No machines required.” – Darcy Hubbard, 2014 Ram 3500, 1998 Lance Legend
“It’s really convenient to have the built-in when stealth camping or at a quick stop where you want to use the microwave. Nothing says, “I’m camping” like a portable generator sitting on the ground chained to the truck.
However, my built in Onan 2500LT propane generator has disappointed me in the reliability and service department. The generator is bulky. It doesn’t like to start when my propane tanks aren’t at least one-third full and it doesn’t like extremes of weather.
I live in a big city and I can’t even get a appointment for service within a few weeks. On the road? Forget it.
The generator is not easily removed from the camper. They want to keep my truck and camper for a few days until they can get around to looking at it. Then service doesn’t fix it properly and I have to take it back again. What a bother. It seems to me that it would be a lot better if they designed the 2500LT to be easily removed from the camper.
I have a Honda EU2000i which is a bit small for my air conditioner. I may upgrade to a bigger one in the future.
In places where I can’t run the generator, I try not to spend much time in the camper. That way I don’t run the batteries down at all. I make a mental note not to return to that place in the future.” – Rex N, 2015 Ram 5500, 2000 Alpenlite 11.5
“I previously owned a Travel Lite camper with neither a generator or solar. I used it more than 100 nights per year, but never during the dead of winter. I live and work in New England.
With judicious planning for electrical load and 2 Group 27 batteries, I was able to get by. Frequent travel resulted in battery charging by the truck, so that helped a lot. So did switching lights to all LED’s.
The biggest electrical draw came from the furnace fan, which seemed to draw about 7 amps. That’s twice what a Fantastic Fan draws, and seems excessive, but two batteries could keep it 72 degrees Fahrenheit inside the lightly insulated Travel Lite for a full night down to about +20 degrees outside, and for two full nights at outside temps in the 40’s. Any colder, and I had to find an AC power source somewhere.
Wanting true 4-season capability, I just traded up to an Arctic Fox 865 that came with both a 160-watt solar panel and an Onan 2500-watt built-in generator. How’s that for belt and suspenders?
I’ve only had it for a week, during which I crossed 2,200 miles of the US in various weather ranging from -24 degree nights in Montana, to heavy snow in Minnesota, and nice sunshine in Massachusetts.
Being able to hit that generator button inside when it’s twenty below outside to top off the batteries before bedding down brought a lot of relief from electrical worries! The Onan seems to be really too loud for a quiet campground, but it was fine at truck stops where the neighbors were all idling their diesels. BTW, the generator actually did start okay at -24!” – Reed Prior, 2007 GMC 2500HD Sierra, 2017 Arctic Fox 865
“My camper is equipped with a Cummins Onan 2500, which I thought would come in handy to recharge batteries when dry-camping; especially during the cold months.
Before I even took my camper out on its maiden voyage, I installed a solar system with 280-watts of solar panels, two 6-volt golf-cart type batteries, and a 2000-watt whole-house inverter. The inverter is able to run the microwave for short durations.
As a result of these upgrades, I have never used the on-board generator. The solar system is generally able to charge the batteries to 100-percent, even in late December. In the summer months, the batteries are fully charged long before noon.
That being said, all of my camping to date has either been at altitude in the mountains of Colorado or off-season in South Dakota or Utah. I have not had a need to run the air conditioner. I may have a chance to test this out this summer if we take a trip back east.
We mostly dry camp in National Forest campgrounds or boondock on BLM land or in National Forests. I prefer peace and quiet. The last thing I want to hear is an internal combustion engine running in-place for an extended period of time, so I do what I can to return the favor by being quiet.
I have 2.4 hours on my built-in generator; enough time to run it through the break-in period and warm the oil for oil changes. I have only run the generator while my camper is parked in my driveway. In my humble opinion, it’s too loud even then. Frankly, I can’t imagine firing this thing up in the places I typically camp.
I’d like to see the camper manufacturers get more serious about solar.” – Kevin Taberski, 2014 RAM 3500 CC DRW 4×4, 2015 Arctic Fox 990
“I bought my used truck camper twelve years ago and it came with a 2,000-watt Honda generator. I took it with me for the next summer’s travels, but hardly used it. It was also hard to find a space for it and a hassle to take a small gas can. So, I haven’t taken it with me for my last 11 years of summer travel.
I don’t miss it at all. I usually drive 100 miles or so everyday to a new campground, which provides significant charging to my two Group 27 batteries. A 125-watt solar panel adds enough to usually get me back to 100-percent before I leave the next morning.
I don’t have an air conditioner or a microwave, so power usage is low. My laptop computer and lights (which are primarily LED) use the most power.
Even if I stay at a music festival for three or four nights, I never draw my batteries down to the recommended 50-percent limit, provided I get a few hours of sun a day.
I rarely stay at commercial campgrounds with hookups. Even when I do, I don’t use the 110-volt outlet.” – Ralph Goff (aka Ramblin’ Ralph), 2006 GMC 2500HD, 2001 Lance 845
“I have had a pickup camper of one form or another for fifteen years and have never owned a generator. Last year was the first time I had any kind of problems. I have two 27 series AGMs and, until then, that was all I needed.
I prefer to boondock and, now that I’m retired, I can stay till I want a different view out my window. Last fall I had put my camper on the ground and ended up staying for six nights. I would occasionally park the truck close enough to plug back in and idle the truck for awhile.
This had been all I needed until the six nights with colder weather and I needed to run the furnace. Toward the end of my six nights I was having problems getting the battery monitor up to three lights.
I was planning to drive the rig to a destination about four hours away figuring the drive would charge the batteries back up. It worked, but the batteries were down to one light the next morning. I finally bit the bullet and stayed at a commercial campground to plug into shore power. That got me over the hump and charged the batteries for the rest of that trip. I didn’t stay at any one spot more than two nights.
I am now thinking of adding a solar panel or a generator. I would prefer the solar as I have a deep hatred for generators. Most of my worst camping memories were parked next to a noisy generator. I realize the portable 2000-watt Hondas are fairly quiet but that constant buzz raises my blood pressure and there is always that guy who ignores the posted hours.
With the refrigerator on gas, LED lights, the only other drain I have is the furnace and it is my hope that a solar panel will be enough to keep things charged enough to not need a generator.” – Terry Gfeller, 2015 Ram 2500, 2013 Lance 865
“My wife and I have both types of generators, Our Lance 1052 has the Onan 2500-watt propane unit which we love. Our last Lance 915 came with the 2800-watt Generac which was hard to start at times and louder than the Onan.
We tend to dry camp mostly and use the generator for running the air conditioner. If my wife is not comfortable nobody will be comfortable. We can get by without running the microwave.
When temperatures are modest we can easily camp over a weekend running on the factory dual batteries. We take along a portable Honda 2800i generator only when there is a specific need. For example, when we go to NASCAR events and the RV parking is very tight. Although we have the Gen-Turi exhaust system for the camper generator the noise is still to great for the tight space.
The portable Honda is very quiet, can be setup away from the sitting area, and can run the air conditioner in the camper if needed. The portable is also handy around the house as we store our camper indoors off-site.
My only tip for how to avoid running down the camper batteries is to send your kids to college. Since our kids left the house and seldom camp with us anymore our camper batteries always stay charged much longer.” – Mike Paulucci, 2013 GMC Sierra, 2016 Lance 1052
“We carry a Yamaha 2000 suitcase generator, but rarely use it. My wife and I use the propane stove top for toast instead of a 120-volt toaster. We also have a french press type coffee maker which takes boiling water from the stove top.
We use candles for light at night, or the internal lights (replaced with soft LED lights) for short periods. We have not had to start the generator manually or truck engine remotely to recharge our batteries (two in the truck and two in the camper).
When sky conditions are clear during the day for solar charging and when outside temperatures are warm enough, our furnace was not required. The generator gives you a sense of security and will power the air conditioner on the hottest days of summer.
She still uses her straightening hair iron and hair dryer. For these I need to either be plugged into 120-volt service or have the generator running. The Yamaha 2000 is very quiet, especially when you move it away from your rig. We also use a cable and a lock in case someone takes a liking to it.
My next project is to install a 1000-watt Truesine inverter which will hopefully allow short dryer and iron usages negating the need to run the generator.” – Dale Hicks, 2008 GMC 2500, Northern Lite Q-11
“Built-in is my choice. I have a 2500 Onan propane generator. I would not have a truck camper without it. That said, I have never used it. The times I could have used it, it was cool enough that I did not need air conditioning. But you can run air conditioner off a 2500-watt unit, if you can get air conditioner started. That is one of the reasons I never used it in the summer unless I was on shore power.
Yes, I know you can buy the air conditioner hard start kits. I tried every brand available, and none of them would start it. I am an engineer and I can assure you that this drove me nuts.
Then one morning around 3:00am I was laying there in bed after a day of installing different hard start kits with none of them working and I had and idea. I ran out to the barn (at 3:00am) and turned the battery switch to batteries only. Then, I hit the air conditioner switch. The air conditioner was forced to run off battery power. It fired up instantly.
When the compressor kicked in, I fired up my Onan 2500 and turned off batter power. The air conditioner ran fine till the sun rose. That is how it was done.” – Don Pryor, 2017 F350, 2008 Arctic Fox 1150
“We had a built-in generator, but removed it. Now I have a Honda EU1000i just in case, but I haven’t used it in the last year. We have 300-watts of solar and the camper has LED lights throughout. The camper just doesn’t take much power.
This week we have been camping in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and we have never been low on power. One key item is to know how much power is being used and how much is left in the batteries. We have a Trace battery monitor that displays the current amp usage, voltage and the total amp hours used. We use the amp meter to check power usage in the camper. At night with everything turned off it better read zero or .5 amps from the refrigerator, but if it reads more, something was left on and I remedy the problem. Our batteries have a 200 amp hour capacity and we try to limit our usage to less than 50%. We usually limit our television usage to four hours a night and then my CPAP runs all night. By morning the total usage is about 25 to 30AH.
We camped in our previous RV for 12 years full-time and only had the EU1000i for the last two years. Very seldom were we low on power.” – Russell and Gretchen Berquam, 2014 Ford F-350, 2015 Arctic Fox 1140
“We have a built-in generator compartment in which we carry a Honda 1000. That said, in all our years of truck camping (dating back to 1962 with my Dad and 1972 with my wife), the number of times we’ve ever actually used a generator can be counted on one hand.
In our current camper we carry the Honda. We have all LED lighting and one Group 27 battery. Our built-in lights are offset with LED puck lights powered by AAA batteries and propane lanterns for outside cooking and time around the campfire.
Our truck has two batteries and does not draw from the camper or vice-versa. We have air conditioning, but it’s only used when we’re plugged into shore power. If we were to travel during really hot times, I’d have to step up to a Honda 2000. Then I’d have to change to a more efficient air conditioner as well. I would put in a Group 31 battery but it won’t fit without remodeling the battery compartment.
We have computers and cell phones, but no television. The computers and phones can be charged with plugs in the truck while traveling or in the camper while camped. In place of a television we have movies downloaded on our computer or via a plug-in disk player. We also enjoy audio books. Those are for night-time. Most of our time is outside, sometimes with a Kindle. Being outside is what camping is all about.” – David P., 2015 GMC Sierra K3500, 1987 Lance LC900
“We actually have both a built-in propane powered 2500-watt unit and a portable Ryobi 2200 that we bought with our last camper. We don’t use a generator often since we have a solar panel on the roof, but both generators have their good points and bad points.
The built-in is convenient. With a push of a button you have power, but it’s noisy and causes vibration inside the camper which is not pleasant. The portable unit is quiet and can be placed away from the camper, so it doesn’t cause vibrations. The downside is that you have to carry and store it somewhere as well as the fuel. You have to pull start the portable unit and, if you’e like I am, you have to concern yourself with how you will secure it so it doesn’t wander off with someone else.
My tip is use your power conservatively. Use LED lights. Turn things off when they are not being used. I enjoy the challenge of making it through my trip on battery and solar power alone.” – Jeff Dieter, 2016 Chevy Silverado 3500HD, 2018 Lance 1172
“I bought a Yamaha 2400-watt inverter many years ago envisioning remote camping and all the power I needed. However, the reality is when I did go camping it was either at a state park with shore power or primitive weekend camping with just battery power.
When I did take the inverter I found it difficult to find a secure place to store my inverter and gas while traveling. I eventually bought and used a Harbor Freight hitch carrier, but was always nervous about a $70 (20% off) carrier for an $1100 generator.
In addition, though I cable locked the generator and gas can, a lock only keeps honest people honest. Plus, on hot days the gas can will burp. I ultimately used my inverter for projects around my property where power wasn’t easily available, and home backup power. Something to note, today’s appliances are very sensitive and all the electricians I’ve talked to highly recommend an inverter over a generator for RVs or home backup power.
I have a travel trailer now and the inverter is too small to run the air conditioner. It seems like you either buy a small inverter to run a blender or big inverter to run your house. All and all, it’s nice to have a generator, but not necessary for me.” – Chuck T., 2008 Ram 2500, 1994 Outdoors RV Creekside (travel trailer)
“I had a built-in Onan 2500-watt. I removed it and now use a portable.
Reason 1: The propane generator was unreliable. Unless you run them every month or so, the carburetor gets screwed up, it’s hard to start, or won’t keep running at high altitude.
Reason 2: Very little flexibility on where exhaust points. In some sites the exhaust is pointed right into the next campsite.
Reason 3: I use a DC CPAP machine. Using a 2500-watt generator to recharge batteries every day was overkill and expensive.
Reason 4: The portable can be pointed in any direction to minimize noise.
Reason 5: The portable is easy to start and has never failed.
The drawback to a portable is storage during travel and you have to carry a supply of gas. I have overcome this with no problem.” – Gordon Stoutt, 1997 Ford F250HD, 1997 Bigfoot 10.5
“A built-in Generac LP generator came with my used camper. It is easy for me to say that they are a good thing to have since I did not pay retail price for one. I do consider them to be like a four-wheel drive truck in that you do not need one until you need one. If I had to buy one now I might be tempted to buy a portable generator since they are cheaper.
When I am boondocking with no shore power, I run mine about thirty minutes a day during meals to power the microwave and charge the camper’s battery. But since it is on, I make sure my iPhone and accessory charger, laptop, emergency radio, rechargeable flashlight/stun gun, and battery powered electric shaver are plugged in (I made up that last one). Anything that can be charged is plugged in when I run my generator.
My muffler fell off a couple of years ago. While I might get it welded back on some day, I am respectful when I’m around other campers to run it a very short time and during appropriate hours. However, when I am boondocking at Pilot Truck Stops, I can hold my own making noise with the 18-wheelers parked near me and I don’t have a 30-minute per day limit.” – Fred Patterson, 2013 F350, 2002 Lance 1161
“I have two generators. I have the OEM Onan 2500 LP and the portable Honda EU2000i.
I like the Honda the best and use it all the time, even with the solar. I am trying to wean myself off the generators, but I’m not there yet. The Honda is easy to use, portable and fairly quiet. I use it two times almost every day; two hours in the morning, and two hours in the evening. I use a motorcycle chain that just barely fits through the metal plated handle to keep it from wandering off.
The Onan is a nice back up and I have needed to use it but, after 2.5 years, it only has about 25-hours of running time. It’s loud and vibrates, but it gets the job done. The only real drawback is, if I let batteries draw down too low, the Onan won’t start. Then, I have to start truck to kick it over. If I were to get another camper, I probably would still get it. I don’t like it sucking propane and the noise, which keeps it in the non-use mode.
I run television, laptop and minor other stuff so apparently I’m a power user. I am building up to a solar independent state. Until then, the generator and Honda will keep my batteries topped off. So, yep, a generator is needed in my case.” – Frank Poole, Ram 5500 HD, Arctic Fox 990
“We have a built-in and two portable generators. The built-in came with the fully equipped showroom camper. I have two portable Hondas; one EU2000i and one EU1000. I came from owning a 2000 Lance 1010 with no generator. The 2000 ran the microwave which was all we needed when we are not hooked to shore power. Of course it would charge the batteries when running.
My wife loves the new camper with the slide for more room and the built-in generator which she has never asked me to go start. I love the old 1000 and 2000. The 1000 is light and has no problem charging the batteries in the camper and doing double duty charging the batteries in the bass boat.
The great thing about the Honda is with an extension cord you never hear them run. With the built-in as quick as you are done, it is shut down. I hate the noise, but my wife likes the convenience. The built-in also takes up space, is expensive to run, and is heavy.
The portable needs gas to run which could be a problem with storage if you don’t have a place to store the generator and gas outside of the truck and camper. This is never a problem for us because, if we need the portables, we are always pulling a trailer of some kind, which is biggest reason for us having a truck camper.
In the end could I be without the built-in? Yes. I had the old Lance for 16 years with no problems. Could I ever be with out the security of a portable? Sometimes. Could my wife ever be without the built-in now that she has had one? Never.” – Ken Snider, 2016 Ram 3500, 2016 Lance 995
“We don’t have a generator and frankly no desire to get one. We have just one standard RV battery for the camper, which we connect to a portable solar panel (40-watts, I think). We also have little solar-charged battery banks to charge phones if needed. We exclusively run our refrigerator on propane and the camper has no air conditioner.
We do have two computer fans wired in (one on the roof vent blowing out, one on the window by the truck cab blowing in) which help to keep the camper comfortable. We’re really only in it to sleep most of the time.
Our truck has vampire problems so we installed a kill switch to completely disconnect the battery, and another to separate it from the camper’s battery. We use a small dashboard solar panel that’s about 12-watts to keep the truck’s battery charged. It isn’t enough to overcome the vampire draw so we just kill the battery altogether (added bonus of it being much harder to hot wire the truck to steal our rig, as the switch is under the hood).
If the camper battery gets too low (not enough sun, charged too many devices), we just run the truck for a little while to charge it up. It seems the simplest solution rather than hauling along a bulky, noisy generator that we almost never use. All this being said, we camp almost entirely in Canada, so we don’t need air conditioner, even when we leave the cat and dog in the camper alone (which we don’t like to do for more than a couple hours).
We also don’t use many devices when we’re camping. Our phones are either off or in airplane mode, action cameras have spare batteries and/or don’t use a lot of power to charge, our daughter’s tablet has great battery life and is only used for watching movies while driving, and we never take a laptop.
Because Alberta has very few places to boondock, we’re mostly in campgrounds and much prefer the ones where power is available (for those who pay, not us) and/or generator hours are restricted. We were at a campground a few years ago where a huge fifth wheel pulled in beside us and their generator ran from about 9:00am until 6:00pm non-stop. At places like that, getting out of the city means dealing with more noise than we hear in our backyard inside a city of 1.3 million people!” – Melissa Malejko, 2002 Chevy Silverado, 1981 Okanagan
“I have used a portable Honda EU2000i in the past and in fact I still own it. However, with our current camper, since we rarely run the generator for more than fifteen minutes at a time. We exclusively prefer and use the built-in propane generator. The convenience is certainly the number one factor, with the lack of need for toting and storing gasoline, and the ability to start the generator rain or shine without exiting the camper.
We primarily use the generator to warm food in the microwave at mealtimes, to use a toaster at breakfast time, or to use a hair dryer. Even for a quick roadside stop for lunch, with the onboard generator, we can heat up leftovers or soup with the microwave when we probably wouldn’t think of deploying a portable generator, especially since it probably would also need to cool down before re-storing it for travel.
Occasionally we use the generator to give the batteries a kick when we’ve had a couple overcast days in a row, but usually the three Group 31 Lifeline AGM batteries coupled with a 145-watt Zamp solar panel allow us to keep up quite well with the charge state of the camper.
The biggest nuisance of the onboard generator is, without a doubt, the noise. Compared to a similar 2500-watt Honda or Yamaha portable, the built-in Cummins/Onans are loud! I’ve yet to hear a convincing explanation as to why they can’t be muffled as effectively as the portables.” – John and Marylou Wells, 2011 Chevy 3500, 2012 Chalet Ascent S100F
“No generator. I have two GoPower 120-watt portable solar panels. One panel is plugged into the camper’s batteries (two 6-volt, 225 AH Interstate) and the other plugged into the four truck batteries. That’s not a misprint, yes four.
I use two of the four as backup. They are charged by the truck’s alternator while going down the road. If I need them, I separate them with an Anderson quick connect connector. I have plans to add solar to the roof as the Arctic Fox is pre-wired for solar.
I didn’t need or want a generator during my seven month trip across the southern half of the United States. I had a 27 Desert Fox toy hauler for nine years. It had a 4K Onan generator installed. I only put 125 hours on it. Why? I used solar also. I have primarily boondocked this entire seven months. I like not having a generator!” – Kenneth Dunn, 1998 Dodge, 2010 Arctic Fox 811S
“I have a portable Honda EU2000i generator and I love it! My 2015 Northstar 12STC has a rear outside compartment specifically built for this model or similar size. I use this generator extensively since I camp off the grid very often when fishing, hunting, or traveling the country in general.
Many of my trips are unplanned, so I hardly ever plan on using an actual campground or location with access to electricity. Most places I go are very remote. Since I own and operate a golf course, much of my camping is late fall and winter. I need to heat the camper and use other items needing power. Portable power is a must for me.
In addition to providing the camper power, I carry the Honda EU2000i for my boat’s charge starter and trolling batteries. I use it to power a small electric air compressor, electric and air power tools, charge phones, tablets, laptops, etc.
When I’m not camping I use the generator for tons of uses around my home, golf course, farm, and woods here in northeast Iowa. So, this semi built-in portable generator is the only way to go.” – Dan Niebuhr, 2014 Ford F350, 2015 Northstar 12STC
“I dry camp 90-percent of the time. My first truck camper did not have a built-in generator. But way back then there was not a lot of use for electricity.
If it was cold out, the furnace fan would run down the battery and I would have no good way to recharge it. That was a bad situation, so I got a portable generator to use as needed.
My next camper had a built-in generator, and I learned how wonderfully convenient it was to press a button on the wall on a cold morning and be assured there would be plenty of electricity to run the furnace fan, use the microwave, charge the cell phone and computer batteries, or even run the air conditioning. I am not a frequent air conditioner user. I mostly just like open windows and some ventilation.
I also found at that time that by stuffing some jute insulation around the generator box exterior, it was a lot quieter inside the camper when the generator was running. But I had not yet learned the importance of a sufficient charge wire from the truck’s electrical system. Therefore the generator was really the only source of recharging the batteries, and I had to run it more hours than I really cared to.
My current camper has a built-in generator. I would not have it any other way because of the convenience. But I also have a pair of golf cart batteries, 10-gauge charge wires and 10-gauge ground wires from the truck’s electrical system to the camper’s batteries. Plus, I have 200-watts of solar on the camper’s roof and a small inverter for charging my phone and computer batteries.
The only time I need to run the generator is when I want to run the microwave, the air conditioner, or if I am not traveling anywhere in the truck to charge the batteries for a few days. Or if the sun is not shining on my solar panels to keep the batteries up.
So at this point I only have 70 hours on my generator. But I still would never want to be without it. I’m still working for a living, so my time off is precious. I don’t want to waste it fretting about batteries. I don’t want to mess around with a portable generator, stringing cords, going outside on a snowy or rainy morning to start it, protecting it from theft, toting gas cans, etc. For me the built-in generator is the only way to go.” – Joel Nystrom, 1993 Dodge d350, 2006 Arctic Fox 1150
“The current camper has a built-in generator. With other campers I’ve used a portable generator. So I have experience with both. That said, I definitely like the convenience of the built-in generator, especially in inclement weather.
One interesting aspect that we’ve noticed is that having our camper set up so that we don’t need a generator of any kind. Our current generator has .4 hours of run time since in the nearly two years we’ve owned it. With LED lights, a large solar array, and the high capacity deep cycle batteries, the generator gets turned on to run the microwave or other 110-volt item, and then gets turned off.
In our previous camper we changed out the incandescent lights and replaced them with LEDs. That was probably the single most useful item for keeping batteries charged up and made a huge difference in power draw on the battery.” – Dave Riddle, 2015 Chevrolet 3500, 2017 Host Mammoth
“I love the convenience of our built-in generator. I press a button and I have electricity to power my air conditioner, microwave, and charge my batteries when my solar power is limited. I bought a deluxe camper to live how I want to live. I’m getting too old to rough it. Hell, my wife won’t go if I don’t give her the queen treatment! And that’s coming from the king.
Yes, when we were young we had a truck camper that lacked all the amenities; heat, air conditioning, a bathroom, running water and grey tank (we hand pumped and the water ended up in a Jerry can). We had an ice box which required us to purchase a block of ice every few days. But we drove it all over the country twice, putting 150,000 miles on a four-cylinder Ford Courier pickup. We couldn’t afford any better, but we still loved the heck out of it!
You do what you can, when you want to, and when you can afford it. Different strokes for different folks.” – Rainer Mueller, 2015 Ford F-350, 2017 Host Mammoth
“Onan 3200.” – Steven Smith, 2017 Ford F-150, want one
“I have a built-in Onan in my 32-foot Southwind Class A. I have a Honda EU2000i portable for all other camping scenarios. The 2000 will start a well worn in 8,500-10,000 BTU roof air conditioner, but not a new one that has not been run to be worn in and loosen the tolerances and drag.
The EU2000i will even run my 12,000 BTU window air conditioner in my home office, and the computers and printer at the same time! The dealer did not believe it, so I videoed the setup running and emailed it to him. I couldn’t believe it myself. Then, that window air conditioner died, and it won’t run the new one. Just my luck. I will try again when it has some wear on it to free it up.
The 3,000-watt Honda is a better choice if you can afford it. Between a built-in 5,000-watt Onan and a 2,000-watt Honda portable, I like the Honda better. Why? No vibrations conducted through the chassis to my pillow inside, and it’s quieter.” – Ray Olivier, 1997 Chevy C1500, 1983 Tejas cabover