Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
• Horses: 0
There are two very distinct kinds of generators - synchronous, and inverter.
Synchronous inverters always run "wide open" even if there is no draw. They tend to be cheaper, louder, and are often of the "open frame' design. They are also the most common offenders for pissing off anyone nearby when you're running a huge generator (which is screaming wide open all the time) to power something that is consuming but a few watts.
Inverter generators only run at the RPM needed to generate the required load. Running a few lights which draw only a few watts? It'll barely come off the low hum of idle. Turn on a heater or your AC? It'll rev up and run at whatever RPM it decides it needs to meet the demand. When in "eco" mode they will speed up and slow down automatically. As a result they are almost always drastically quieter, and in low demand scenarios they are hands-down (ZERO debate) whisper quiet compared to a synchronous generator. Downside - cost. You can buy a 3000 watt synchronous generator for $300 at Costco - a quality 2000 Watt inverter generator (Honda or Yamaha) will cost you over $1000.
Ask yourself what matters most ultimately. If YOU don't mind listening to a loud generator and spend time where nobody else is going to be bothered either, a low cost synchronous generator will serve you well. We owned a Champion 3000/3500 watt unit for several years and it traveled with us coast to coast and served us superbly but I NEVER used it in a campground as it was too noisy and I didn't want to be "that guy". However, eventually we started camping in places where noise mattered more I sold it and bought a Honda eu2000i inverter.
The Honda is an investment but they hold their value extremely well (always in demand used if you decided to sell) and you'll be very pleased. Ours will start our 13,500 BTU roof mount air condition as well, so there was no need for a second piggyback unit.
For heat, I would recommend installing a propane furnace and a battery bank to run it - propane is much more efficient versus using a generator to run a resistance electric heater - it's a very lossy endeavour and the generator will be consuming a lot of gas for the heat you get out of it.
Really, the decision is based on a lot of the above in the end, as well as your wattage requirements.