I often get asked, what’s the difference between a portable contractor generator and an inverter generator?
A contractor generator puts out raw power cheaply. They are cheap and very loud and designed for construction sites. Their power is also not very stable or “clean,” so they can damage sensitive electronics. While they are tempting because they are cheaper, you will often hear people saying you won’t have many RVing friends if you use one because they are so noisy.
An inverter generator has a built-in inverter, but also puts out AC current like a contractor generator (but many also can produce DC directly). Because it converts from AC to DC back to AC, the power is very “clean” which is good for keeping any electronics happy in your RV. But more importantly, they can increase and decrease the power it outputs on-demand which saves fuel, and they are MUCH more quiet than contractor generators. They also tend to have more noise-reducing housing, and are generally less smelly to run. This makes them very popular with RVers and most can be used during generator hours at campgrounds with no complaints from neighbors.
Inverter generators used to be quite a bit more expensive (and the top-rated Honda inverter generators still aren’t cheap), but in recent years many good quality inverter generators (like Champion, Predator, etc.) have come out that are quite affordable.