11 Best Van Generators

While many things in a converted van can be powered by solar and battery power, some appliances (like air conditioning) require so much electricity that a van generator may be useful.

If you’re considering adding a generator to your van build there are a few things to consider, like size, efficiency, fuel type, etc.

Below are the 11 best van generators on the market, as well as everything you should consider when picking the best van generator for your needs.

Van GeneratorFuelRated WattsPeak WattsWeightDecibel RatingEfficiencyCARB CompliantParallel CapableCost
Honda EU2200iTAGGasoline1800220046.5 Pounds48-578.1 hrs. on 0.95 galsnoyes$$$
Westinghouse iGen2200Gasoline1800220047.4 lbs52-12 Hour Run Time on a 1. 2 Gallon Gasyesyes$
Briggs & Stratton P2400Gasoline1800240050.4 lbs598 hours on 5gyesyes$$
Champion Power Equipment 100692Gasoline1700200039 lbs5311.5 hours run time on 1.1gyesyes$$
DuroMax XP2300iHGasoline or propane1800230053 lbs52?yesyes$$
Ford FG2300iS 2300W Silent SeriesGasoline2000230046.3 lbs596 Hours of Operation at Half Load on 1.18 Gallonsyesyes$
Pulsar 2,200W Portable Dual Fuel Quiet Inverter GeneratorGasoline or LPG1800/gas1600/lpg2200/gas2000/lpg44 lbs608 hour run-time on single tank of gas/ 75 minute run-time on 1 pound LPG tank @ 1/2 loadyesyes$$
Craftsman C0010250Gasoline2200250055.1 lbsunlisted?yesyes$$
Goal Zero Yeti Lithium 1000XSolar, wall plug, vehicle1500300032 lbsyesno$$$$
EcoFlow DELTA 2Solar, wall plug, vehicle1800270027 lbsyesno$$$
Jackery Explorer 1500 Portable Power StationSolar, wall plug, vehicle1800360035 lbsyesno$$$$
Best Van Generator Comparison Chart

Best Overall Inverter Generator For Van Life

The best overall van generator is the Craftsman C0010250. This van generator provides the best value for your investment. It’s reasonably priced compared to other generators on the market (check current price here) and provides more power than many other options.

van generator

The Craftsman gasoline fueled van generator is rated for 2200 running watts, and up to 2500 peak (or starting) watts. It’s slightly heavier than others, at 55 lbs. Craftsman does not provide decibel or efficiency rating, but user reviews for each feature ranks as highly satisfied.

The Craftsman C0010250 van generator is California CARB compliant and can be used in parallel with another Craftsman generator.

Fuel: Gasoline
Running Watts: 2200W
Peak Watts: 2500W
Weight: 55 lbs
Decibel Rating: –
Efficiency Rating: –
CARB Compliant (California residents): yes
Parallel Capable: yes

Best Dual Fuel Van Generator

Dual fuel generators are a great option for van life because they give you two options depending on your needs. The Pulsar 2,200W Portable Dual Fuel Quiet Inverter Generator is the best choice if you’re looking for a van generator that can run on both gasoline or LPG. The wattage ratings and efficiency rating vary slightly depending on which fuel type you’re using. Best of all, the price point is similar to single-fuel van generators (check the price here).

van generator

The Pulsar 2200W Portable van generator weighs 44 lbs with a noise rating of 60 dB. It is both CARB compliant (for California residents) and can be used in parallel to increase its power. This is a great option for a dual fuel van generator in the mid-range for price, weight and noise rating.

Fuel: Gasoline or LPG
Running Watts: 1800W (gasoline), 1600W (LPG)
Peak Watts: 2200 (gasoline), 2000 (LPG)
Weight: 44 lbs
Decibel Rating: 60 dB
Efficiency Rating: 8 hour run-time on single tank of gas/ 75 minute run-time on 1 pound LPG tank @ 1/2 load
CARB Compliant (California residents): yes
Parallel Capable: yes

Best Budget Van Generator

If you’re on a tight budget for a van generator, consider the Ford FG2300iS 2300W Silent Series. The Ford van generator is almost half the cost of other brands (check price here).

van generator

Even though it’s less of an investment, the Ford van generator still holds its own against some of the more well-known brands. Gasoline powered, this generator has a running rating of 2000W and a peak rating of 2300W. Additionally, it only weighs 46 lbs.

Similar to most van generators, the noise rating for this Ford generator is 59 dB. It’s CARB compliant and can be used in parallel with other Ford generators for increased power.

Fuel: Gasoline
Running Watts: 2000
Peak Watts: 2300
Weight: 46 lbs
Decibel Rating: 59
Efficiency Rating: 6 Hours of Operation at Half Load on 1.18 Gallons
CARB Compliant (California residents): Yes
Parallel Capable: Yes

Best Solar Power Station

Not exactly a van generator, but it serves the same purpose, the EcoFlow DELTA 2 is the best option for solar powered energy.

van generator

This sudo van generator can be charged from solar, a wall plug or when the vehicle is running.

The running rating is 1800W and the peak rating is an impressive 2700W. Even more impressive, it only weighs 27 lbs.

The EcoFlow is CARB compliant. Unfortunately, it cannot be run in parallel.

Fuel: Solar, wall plug, vehicle
Running Watts: 1800W
Peak Watts: 2700W
Weight: 27 lbs
Decibel Rating: –
Efficiency Rating: –
CARB Compliant (California residents): Yes
Parallel Capable: No

Additional Van Generators to Consider

Honda EU2200iTAG

A popular option for van generators is the Honda EU2200iTAG. This gasoline powered generator has an 1800W running rating, and a 2200W peak rating. It’s one of the lightest van generators, weighing only 46 lbs. Additionally, it’s one of the quietest van generators with a noise rating of 48-57 dB.

van generator

Unfortunately, the Honda van generator is not CARB compliant. However, it is parallel capable, so you can connect several of them together to increase your overall running watts rating.

There’s a few additional features in the Honda that are worth noting. First, Co-Minder is a carbon monoxide detection system which continuously monitors the CO levels and automatically shuts down the van generator before levels get dangerously high. 

Additionally, their smartphone app allows you to operate and monitor your van generator remotely. And there’s even wireless start and stop capabilities. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if this generator could also fly to the moon.

Fuel: Gasoline
Running Watts: 1800W
Peak Watts: 2200W
Weight: 46 lbs
Decibel Rating: 48-57
Efficiency Rating: 8.1 hrs. on 0.95 gals
CARB Compliant (California residents): No
Parallel Capable: Yes

Westinghouse IGen2200

Westinghouse iGen2200 van generator is a good option if you prefer a generator with high fuel efficiency. This van generator can run for 12 hours on 1.2 gallons of gasoline.

van generator

It’s a powerful van generator with 1800W running and 2200W peak. It’s also one of the lighter generators at 47 lbs. You won’t disturb your neighbors while this is running either, its noise rating is just 52 dB.

Additionally, it’s CARB compliant and parallel capable.

Fuel: Gasoline
Running Watts: 1800W
Peak Watts: 2200W
Weight: 47 lbs
Decibel Rating: 52
Efficiency Rating: 12 hours on 1.2 gallons of gasoline
CARB Compliant (California residents): Yes
Parallel Capable: Yes

Briggs & Stratton P2400

The Briggs & Stratton P2400 van generator is also a decent option. It has slightly more peak power, but it is slightly louder, heavier and less efficient than other van generators.

van generator

The Briggs & Stratton is gasoline powered with a running rating of 1800W and a peak rating of 2400W. It weighs in at 50 lbs and 59 dB (noise rating). 

The manufacturer states it can run for 8 hours on 5 gallons of gasoline. However, they do not specify the load %, which makes it difficult to compare this to other van generators which seemingly are more efficient, but potentially are just running a lower load.

This van generator is CARB compliant in California, and it can be run in parallel to increase its power.

Fuel: Gasoline
Running Watts: 1800W
Peak Watts: 2400W
Weight: 50 lbs
Decibel Rating: 59 dB
Efficiency Rating: 8 Hours on 5 Gallons of Gasoline
CARB Compliant (California residents): Yes
Parallel Capable: Yes

Champion Power Equipment 100692

If you’re looking for a lightweight van generator the Champion Power Equipment 100692 is a great option. It weighs only 39 lbs!

van generator

Champion’s van generator is powered by gasoline with a running rating of 1700W and a peak rating of 2000W. It’s also one of the quieter van generators with a noise rating of 53 dB.

This is also one of the most fuel efficient van generators with an ability to run for 11.5 hours on only 1.1 gallons of gasoline.

To top it off, it’s CARB compliant and it can be run in parallel.

Fuel: Gasoline
Running Watts: 1700W
Peak Watts: 2000W
Weight: 39 lbs
Decibel Rating: 53 dB
Efficiency Rating: 11.5 Hours on 1.1 Gallons of Gasoline
CARB Compliant (California residents): Yes
Parallel Capable: Yes

Buy Champion Power Equipment 100692 Van Generator

DuroMax XP2300iH

The DuroMax XP2300iH is a dual fuel van generator, which means it can be powered by both gasoline and propane. Dual fuel generators have several benefits, including flexibility to use the cheaper, more efficient or more available fuel.

van generator

Additionally, DuroMax provides good power, with a running rating of 1800W and a peak rating of 2300W. It’s only 53 lbs, which places it in the same weight range as most other van generators of its size.

You’ll have no trouble sleeping with a noise rating of only 52 dB. 

The manufacturer does not specify the efficiency rating of this van generator – likely because it varies depending on your fuel source. However, user reviews agree that it’s an efficient van generator.

Lastly, this generator is CARB compliant in California and it’s parallel capable for times when you need a bit more power.

Fuel: Gasoline or Propane
Running Watts: 1800W
Peak Watts: 2300W
Weight: 53 lbs
Decibel Rating: 52 dB
Efficiency Rating: –
CARB Compliant (California residents): Yes
Parallel Capable: Yes

Buy DuroMax XP2300iH Van Generator

Goal Zero Yeti Lithium 1000X

Again, the Goal Zero Yeti Lithium 1000X is not technically a van generator, but it is a great option to power your ancillary devices. The unit can be charged by solar, a wall plug or by your running vehicle. Energy is stored and then used later as needed, which lends a lot of flexibility – especially if you’re looking to power things at night when neighboring campers are asleep or noise from a generator would be inconsiderate.

van generator

The inverter is rated for 1,500W with a surge rating of 3,000W. It includes an integrated MPPT – if you’re not sure what that is, that’s ok! It’s basically one of two popular solar charging formats, and it’s considered the better, more stable technology. MPPT = good.

The battery capacity is just shy of 100 Ah, which should be more than enough to run laptops, charge your phone, run your refrigerator or TV, etc. Additionally, it’s a lithium ion battery which is widely regarded as the better battery technology. When charging from a wall plug the unit takes less than 6 hours to fully charge.

Fuel: Solar, Wall Plug, Vehicle
Running Watts: 1500W
Peak Watts: 3000W
Weight: 32 lbs
Decibel Rating: –
Efficiency Rating: –
CARB Compliant (California residents): Yes
Parallel Capable: No

Buy Goal Zero Yeti Lithium 1000X Van Generator

Jackery Explorer 1500 Portable Power Station

The Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 1500 is perfect for flexible ancillary power needs. It can be charged with solar, a wall plug, or by your running vehicle. A full charge takes less than 5 hours.

van generator

The Jackery Explorer has an MPPT charge controller – which is the best charge controller technology and has the most efficient charging capabilities. And speaking of top of the line equipment, the Jackery also has a pure sine wave inverter. Pure sine inverters are the better technology and also provide the most efficient conversion and use of electricity.

With so much flexibility, ease of use, and quality materials it’s easy to see why Jackery is widely used throughout the overlanding community.

Fuel: Solar, Wall Plug, Vehicle
Running Watts: 1800W
Peak Watts: 3600W
Weight: 35 lbs
Decibel Rating: – 
Efficiency Rating: –
CARB Compliant (California residents): n/a
Parallel Capable: no

Buy Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 1500

Types of Van Generators 

There are several different types of van generators on the market. The most popular is a gas generator. However, solar and propane generators are gaining popularity.

Diesel Van Generators

Diesel generators tend to last longer, and diesel is more efficient than gas. However, it’s also more expensive. If you have a diesel van, or a diesel heater, then a diesel van generator might make the most sense as you can integrate it into your existing diesel tank. Requiring only one type of fuel streamlines your van build. Additionally, diesel is non-flammable, so it’s a preferred fuel source in vans.

van generator

Unlike gas or propane options, diesel van generators can be noisier and heavier.


✅ More efficient than gas 
✅ Longer lasting
✅ Non-flammable


❌ More expensive than gas
❌ Louder
❌ Heavier

Propane Van Generators

Propane fuel is one of the most earth friendly fuel types, which makes it a popular choice for eco-minded van dwellers. It is also quieter than gasoline or diesel. However, propane van generators are less efficient, so you’ll find yourself refueling more often.

If you already have propane in your build (for your oven, or water heater) then adding a propane van generator is a great option.


✅ Quiet 
✅ Earth friendly


❌ Less efficient than gas or diesel

Solar Van Generators

Solar generators are different from your typical fuel-powered van generator. They don’t require fuel, instead they’re charged by the sun, a wall plug (connected to the power grid), or your vehicle when it’s running.

van generator

Solar van generators have an inverter and a battery. The battery holds a charge so you can use the generator anytime you’d like and the inverter is what converts the power to a usable voltage (110v – what most household appliances use, like a refrigerator, TV or air conditioner). The best type of battery is a lithium ion battery, and the best type of inverter is a pure sine wave inverter. 

Because they receive solar charge, they require a solar charge controller. There are a few types of technology for this, but look for MPPT as it’s the best and most efficient.


✅ Earth friendly
✅ Quiet
✅ No fuel cost


❌ Fewer watts
❌ More expensive for comparable wattage rating fuel-powered van generator

Gasoline Van Generators

Gasoline van generators are the most common type. This is because gas generators are efficient, easy to find fuel for, and easy to maintain. While gasoline is less efficient than diesel, it tends to be cheaper to purchase. If you have a gasoline van then you can easily tap into your gas tank for fuel, which eliminates the need for a secondary fuel tank and makes your build more simple.


✅ Easy to find fuel
✅ Gas is less expensive than diesel
✅ Easy to maintain


❌ Less efficient than diesel
❌ Not earth friendly

van generator

What To Look For in a Camper Van Generator

There are several things to look for in a camper van generator. The best option will depend on how you plan to use your van generator, so I’ve explained the considerations below.

Fuel and Efficiency

How is your van generator powered? If you want to utilize the existing fuel tank on your van then gasoline or diesel (depending on your vehicle fuel type) will be the easiest option, requiring no additional fuel tanks to fill.

Efficiency of standard generators is based on how many gallons per hour they consume. It’s important to pay attention to the load rating when comparing efficiency. Most manufacturers provide the efficiency at 25% load (meaning the van generator is operating at 25% of its potential capacity). 

Efficiency will also vary depending on the fuel type, so if you’re considering a dual fuel van generator each fuel type will have a different efficiency rating.

Size and Weight

It’s no surprise that a van build mimics a game of tetris. Space is at a minimum, and sometimes a 1 inch difference in your dimensions can eliminate an option entirely.

Consider how much weight you can add to your build. Not just total weight, but have you load balanced your rig? If you’re already too heavy on the drivers side, and you want to add your inverter to that side as well, consider going with a lighter weight option, or installing your van generator on the passenger side.

Noise Levels

If you plan to use your van generator at night, or in campgrounds, then how much noise it produces will be an important consideration.

Standard van generators typically have a decibel (dB) rating. Some manufacturers choose not to publish a noise rating, stating that there’s no industry standard for measuring noise. In this case, I rely heavily on user reviews to gauge whether noise will be an issue.

However, if you’ve opted to use an inverter van generator then noise is much less of a concern. These van generators typically make no more noise than a computer fan. Your neighbors will never even know you’re running an inverter!

Altitude Kits

If you plan to spend summers in the mountains, escaping the heat, or winters at altitude chasing powder then you want to consider manufacturers specs for performance at altitude.

In general, things above 5,000 feet of elevation tend to perform differently. Fuel burns differently at altitude, so this is an important consideration for standard van generators. However, if you have an inverter van generator this is a non-issue.

CARB Compliance

CARB stands for California Air Resource Board, a branch of the California Environmental Protection Agency. The board is charged with protecting the public from harmful effects of air pollution.

In order for a van generator to be sold in California it must meet CARB rules. CARB is pushing for small engines to meet zero-emission standards by 2028.

If you live in, or plan to travel to California, it’s important to have a van generator which is CARB compliant.

Note: Standard van generators that use fuel produce harmful emissions, so it’s important to check the manufacturer specs on these. Inverter chargers do not use fuel, and therefore do not produce harmful emissions that are regulated under CARB legislation.

Portable vs Built-In Van Generators

Built-in van generators are great for ease of use and win in the convenience category, but they’re less common and more difficult to install in your van build. A built-in van generator is one that is permanently installed onto your rig – this makes it more difficult to steal, easier to use, and more convenient all around. 

Realistically, a portable van generator is most common in van builds. This is because van builds are different from RV builds – they have limited space, limited exterior (ventilated) storage. In short, there are limited options when it comes to a permanent built-in generator in your van. While portable van generators are less convenient for daily use, they are the easiest installation option.

Lastly, built-in van generators tend to be much larger with power outputs you would hardly ever need in a van. That makes the generator and the install more expensive for no incremental benefit.

Standard vs Inverter Van Generators

The primary difference between a standard vs inverter van generator is its efficiency. A standard van generator constantly runs at the same speed (~3600 RPM) regardless of usage. Whereas, an inverter generator adjusts its power based on the desired electricity needed.

A standard generator produces electricity by mechanically powering an engine, fueled by gasoline/propane/diesel. The engine turns an alternator, which produces alternating current (AC).

An inverter generator pulls DC power from a battery (stored there from solar, shore power, etc) and then uses electronics to convert (“invert”) the DC power into AC power.

Additionally, a standard vs. inverter van generator varies by how “clean” the electrical output is. This matters the most for sensitive electronics (like your laptop). If you’ve heard of pure sine waves before, this is where it comes into play. How “natural” the electronic wave output is matters for sensitive electronics so they are not damaged by improper charging (note: this is a very abbreviated explanation).

A standard van generator, under a high load, can have Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) of up to 25%. THD is bad, and you want this number to be as close to 0% as possible. An inverter van generator typically has Total Harmonic Distortion of less than 3%.

Depending on how you plan to use your van generator, THD may or  may not be a factor to consider in your decision between a standard vs inverter van generator.

What Size Van Generator Do I Need?

What size van generator you need depends on how you plan to use it. To determine the best size for you requires some simple math.

First, make a list of all the AC appliances you want to operate. Next, determine what the wattage rating for each is (usually on the cord tag, or the manufacturers website). If possible, find the surge (also called starting or peak) and the rated (also called running or continuous) watts. For example, a typical hair dryer may use 2000W when starting, and 1800W when running.

Finally, you want to determine the total surge and rated watts for all of the items you might want to use simultaneously. For example, if you plan to run your water kettle and air conditioner at the same time, then you’ll want to consider the total surge and rated watts for those when picking a van generator size.

Now that you have the total size requirements for your van generator, be sure to size up. In general, a 20% margin of error is recommended. Take the wattage you’ve determined you need and multiple my 1.2 to get your van generator size.

In general, most van lifers find a 2,000 watt van generator is enough.

Using a Van Generator to Power an AC Unit

While you are able to use a van generator to power an AC unit, you’ll need a fairly large generator. Typically a 3,000 watt generator is required, but check the manufacturers ratings for your AC unit.

I have an RV AC on my van and power it with a 3,000 watt inverter.

Does a camper van have a generator?

Whether a camper van has a generator is based on personal preference. Most camper vans are built to be fully off-grid, so they use solar power and a battery bank for their electrical needs instead of a generator. 

However, camper vans in hot climates who rely on AC can carry a van generator in order to operate their AC, or other power hungry appliances.

In general, a van generator is not the primary power source for most overlanding vans.

Can a generator be used inside a van?

No! Van generators use gasoline or propane as fuel, which produces carbon monoxide. CO poisoning can kill you in minutes. Only use van generators in fully ventilated areas, and never indoors.

A simple CO detector is important for safety in a van, and could save your life.

Benefits Of Traveling Alone

Written by Claire Fleming

I’m a travel enthusiast who spends half the year in my self-built camper van with my dog, Oscar, and the other half at my home in Raleigh, North Carolina or on international adventures.

Follow me on Instagram.

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