Skoolie Build

Top 7 Best Skoolie Generator Options

By February 7, 2020 February 10th, 2020 No Comments

The best skoolie generator depends on how you plan on using the generator.

Emergency backup power?

Secondary power source?

Going off grid in a skoolie with a generator as main power?

We will review the best generators for a skoolie in each of these scenarios.

Best Skoolie Generators

Skoolie Livin BusWe compiled a list of the best 7 generators for school bus conversions. Before we dive into these, we have some tips on how to select the right generator from this list for your skoolie.

When looking to find the best generator for a skoolie, you have to first decide on how you plan to use the generator – with a focus on how often it will be used. The three typical scenarios are:

  1. Skoolie generator for emergency backup power
  2. Generator as a secondary power source
  3. Going off grid with a skoolie on generator power

You also need to know the different options and potential risks associated with each generator type.

It’s a skoolie. There are risks in everything we do in our skoolie lifestyle. Please pay close attention to the risks section. Those tips could help prevent tragic events from occurring!

Special Note: This article does have affiliate links. If you click a link and happen to make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support – this commission helps us to continue educating the skoolie community!

Skoolie Generator Options & Risks

Gasoline vs Dual Fuel (Gas + Propane) vs Diesel Generator

Standard generators tend to come in either gasoline only options, or a dual fuel option – which means it can run off gasoline or liquid propane. You also have the option of getting a diesel generator for a skoolie.

Gasoline generators tend to be lower cost and a little less weight. These are the most common generators out there.

Dual fuel generators have the option of using either gasoline or propane, so with the added flexibility comes a little higher cost.

Finally, diesel generators tend to take a little more work to hook up and can be a little troublesome, but they are nice since you can hook them up right to your skoolie’s diesel fuel tank, which will give you plenty of fuel source.

What generator is best for a skoolie?

Skoolie GeneratorFor Backup Emergency Power: Gasoline or Dual Fuel

Unless you plan on running off 100% electricity with your skoolie range and water heater, you most likely will have some propane on hand to run your stove or hot water heater. If this is the case, the best option would be to go with a dual fuel generator in a skoolie. It is generally more safe to transport a closed propane tank than it is a plastic gasoline tank and you can get a longer running time off of a 20 lb propane tank than you can off of filling the gasoline tank on the generators.

For Secondary Power Source: Duel Fuel or Diesel

If you plan on using a generator as a secondary power source for going off grid, you will want to go with either a dual fuel generator or even go with the diesel generator if you plan on running the generator regularly.

For Going Off-Grid with Skoolie Generator: Diesel + Dual Fuel Backup

If you plan on going off-grid with a generator as your only power, I would highly recommend having a diesel generator as your main source of power, then having a smaller dual-fuel generator as a backup. This way you run off diesel fuel for a majority of the time, since your diesel tank is the largest fuel storage you will have on the skoolie. Then, you can have the option for running off gasoline stored in the generator, followed by liquid propane if you get really low for some reason. You can never be too safe when going off-grid.

Risks of Gasoline & Dual Fuel Generators

There are some risks and problems that can arise when you have a gasoline generator onboard a school bus conversion. Below are a few things that could happen if you go with a skoolie gas or dual fuel generator.

These are not to make you worried or to make you not buy a gas or dual fuel generator, as diesel generators have their own risks and problems we will go over next. These are just some things that can and have happened to other people.

  1. Noise: Air cooled gasoline generators tend to be noisy. If you are running your generator consistently around other people, RVs or campers, near by – you may get some complaints. It also may be annoying for you, since it ruins the ambiance of being off grid if you need to use it.
  2. Gasoline Flooding: This tends to happen if you decide to mount your generator onto the frame of your skoolie, but it can also happen if you put it in your skoolie garage storage until it is needed. As you are cruising down the road, the bus is obviously bouncing around. This could cause the generator to flood with gasoline, giving you a rough time to start the generator.
  3. Fire: A generator engine can malfunction and catch fire for many different reasons. For this reason, it is best to have a fire extinguisher (or two) onboard the skoolie in-case this occurs for you, but it is rare if you properly install and care for the generator. This is also less likely to occur with generators that are properly protected from the elements or smaller generators stored inside the skoolie.

Risks of Diesel Generators

There are some risks and problems that can arise when you have a diesel generator onboard a school bus conversion. Below are a few skoolie diesel generator problems that could happen.

Again, these are not to make you worried or to make you not buy a diesel generator. These are just some things that can and have happened to other people to make you aware of the risks.

  1. Noise: Although maybe not as noisy as gasoline generators, diesel generators can be a little noisy. Mounting the deisile generator on a skoolie away from the bedroom area can help keep it from being too annoying if you are running it while you are sleeping.
  2. Not Starting: Just like skoolie diesel engines can have their issues during cold, winter weather – so can diesel generators. If you know you will be in colder climates, you might want to get a generator with an engine warmer built in or attach a diesel engine warmer to the generator to ensure it doesn’t have a rough start or maybe not be able to start at all if the temperature drops.
  3. Fire: As mentioned for the gasoline generators, a diesel generator engine can also malfunction and catch fire for many different reasons. Again, this is less likely to occur with generators that are properly protected from the elements, but you will still want some fire extinguishers onboard.

What are the best skoolie generators?

Let’s dive into the best 7 skoolie generator options.

Best Low-Cost Skoolie Generator

A-iPower 2000 Watt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

Features:

  • 2000 W peak
  • 1600 W running
  • 8 hours run time @ 50% load
  • 4 hours run time @ 100% load
  • 58 dBA noise level

The A-iPower SUA2000iV is our budget skoolie generator option. Being low cost doesn’t always mean they sacrifice quality.

This generator has the same power range as the other portable generators on the list. One reason it costs less is because of the fuel efficiency. First, the A-iPower generator only uses gasoline and holds 1.1 gallons of fuel, allowing it to run for 9 hours at 50% load or 4 hours at max 100% load using the products “low idle” technology.

If you are looking for a backup generator to supplement your skoolie’s power on those extra cloudy days or parked under some trees and not generating enough power from your solar panel system or maybe just for recharging batteries on a long drive from one RV park to the next, this is a solid generator backup power option. Especially since you can use your same RV shore power cord with the 30 amp RV outlet that’s build into this generator.

One of the major problems with this is that it only really good in a skoolie as an emergency backup power source. The only way to get more hours out of this unit is to have an extra tank of gas your the skoolie, which isn’t ideal. We personally would not want a spare tank of gas shaking around in our skoolie. With this in mind, we would only recommend this generator only if you were to keep the tank of gas full and for occasional use as emergency backup power. For that purpose, this low cost generator is a solid buy.

Pros

  • Smallest Size & Easy to store
  • 120v standard outlet
  • 30 amp RV ready
  • Engine Fuel Control Switch
  • 2 Year Warranty

Power Options

  • 1x 30 amp RV receptacle
  • 1x standard 110v AC receptacle
  • 1x 12v DC
  • 1x 12v multi function port

Cons

  • Gasoline Only
  • May not provide enough power for larger skoolies looking to power many electronics at once.
  • Warranty may come in handy as some people have reported issues upon arrival. Ensure to test before going off-grid!

Measurements

  • Length: 22 in
  • Width: 13 in
  • Height: 20 in
  • Weight: 46 lbs

Best Quiet Skoolie Generator

WEN 56200i 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Features:

  • 2000 W peak
  • 1600 W running
  • 4 hours run time @ 50% load
  • 2 hours run time @ 100% load
  • 51 dBA noise level (lowest)

If you are searching for the quietest backup generator for your skoolie, the WEN 56200i 2000 Watt is the way to go.

Coming in a just slightly more expensive than the A-iPower generator, the WEN runs 7 decibles quieter at just 51 decibles. Although it has a slightly smaller gas tank at 1 gallon, it can still run for 6 hours at 50% load on the gallon.

The WEN 56200i does not come with a 30 am RV shore power outlet like the A-iPower, but it does have a 12v DC receptacle. This means you could hook the generator up right to your 12v battery if your skoolie battery bank is set up as 12v.

This unit is a good option for anyone looking for a emergency backup power. We would not recommend it if you plan on using it as a secondary power source often, like when boondocking.

Pros

  • Extremely Quiet
  • Affordable price
  • Portable size
  • “Eco” mode fuel savings
  • 1 year limited warranty

Power Options

  • 2x standard 110v AC receptacles
  • 1x 12v DC
  • 1x 5v USB port

Cons

  • As with other generators, some have reported issues after a few months. Keep warranty handy!
  • Ideal for low load, backup power – cannot power an entire skoolie.

Measurements

  • Length: 18 in
  • Width: 11 in
  • Height: 18 in
  • Weight: 48 lbs

Best USA Made Skoolie Generator

Generac GP2200i 2200 Watt Inverter Generator

Features:

  • 2200 W peak
  • 1700 W running
  • 10.75 hours run time @ 25% load
  • 4.75 hours run time @ 75% load
  • 64 dBA noise level

The Generac 7117 GP2200i portable generator made the list for a few reasons:

  1. It’s one of the most well-known brands in power generation equipment.
  2. The unit has a higher power that the others in the portable generator category @ 2,200-watt starting and 1,700-watt running.
  3. 2 year warranty, making it one of the best warranty coverages.
  4. It’s the one we found made in USA.
  5. It’s actually manufactured right here in Wisconsin, within an hour from where we converted our skoolie.

It also has many of the same features as the previous models, but those are the specific features that put the Generac on the list!

Like the previous two mentioned, we would not recommend this for regular use or if you are trying to run your entire skoolie off of it for a few days. Although the gas tank is the biggest of the models reviewed so far at 1.2 gallons, it still is not enough to make it more than 6-11 hours on a full tank of gas depending on the load.

It is a great, reliable option if you are looking for a portable backup power generator for the skoolie that is also covered by a good warranty in-case something were to happen. Generators are all fairly expensive and a good warranty by itself can be worth extra money.

Pros

  • Made in USA
  • Reliable power
  • Economy mode to conserve fuel
  • Parallel ready to combine power of multiple units
  • Power, low oil, and overload alerts
  • 2 year warranty

Power Options

  • 2x standard 110v AC receptacle
  • 1x USB port
  • 1x 12v multi function port

Cons

  • Can be too noisy for some people who are looking for a quiet skoolie generator.

Measurements

  • Length: 19 in
  • Width: 11 in
  • Height: 17 in
  • Weight: 46 lbs

Best Portable Dual Fuel Skoolie Generator

Editor's Choice for Backup Power

Champion Power Equipment 2000-Watt Dual Fuel

Features:

  • Gasoline Power: 2000 W peak / 1800 W running
  • Gasoline Run Time: 11 hours @ 25% load
  • Propane Power: 1800 W peak / 1440 W running
  • Propane Run Time: 24 hours @ 25% load / 20 hours @ 50% load
  • 53 dBA noise level

The last and best portable generator on the list the Champion Power Equipment 100402 portable 2000-Watt inverter generator that can run on either gasoline or propane. The fuel can be switched with a turn of a dial on the side. There is even a built in LED to light up the gasoline cap for easy refuiling in the dark.

The unit has one of the quieter decibel ratings at only 53 dBa, which is about the sound of washing machine running. As you can see from the power and run times listed above, using liquid propane does reduce the amount of power output; however, you can run up to 20-24 hours on one 20lb tank of liquid propane under constant use, depending on the load.

The size of the unit is about the same size as the others, as you can see from the dimensions below.

This unit really hits all the areas. The cost is actually less than a few other models on the list. It has the dual fuel capability, which allows it to run up to 34 hours straight on one full tank of gasoline and a full 20lb LP gas tank, making it a great short-term power option. Finally, the product is backed by a 3 year warranty and life-time support, so you can rest easy that you won’t be sold a lemon and get stuck with a new boat anchor.

On a personal note, after doing all of this research on these generators, I have actually been shopping for one ourselves. This Champion is the model we will be buying for our skoolie!

Pros

  • Dual Fuel Option!
  • Protable & Light Weight
  • Run time up to 24 hrs with LP gas!
  • LP gas hose & regulator included
  • Low oil sensor shut off
  • Comparable cost to previous models, with more options
  • 3 Year Warranty + Lifetime Support

Power Options

  • 2x standard 110v AC receptacles
  • 1x 12v multi function port
  • 1x Dual USB adapter included

Cons

  • Newer product to market. Need more testing time to validate reliability.

Measurements

  • Length: 20.5 in
  • Width: 12.6 in
  • Height: 16.9 in
  • Weight: 47.6 lbs

Best Low-Cost Mountable Skoolie Generator

Champion Power Equipment 4375-Watt Mountable Generator

Features:

  • Peak Power: 4375 Watts
  • Running Power: 3500 Watts
  • Run Time 25% Load: 16-18 hours
  • Run Time 50% Load: 10-12 hours
  • Noise Level: 68 dBA

This Champion 4375 Watt mountable skoolie generator is the first of 3 mountable RV gasoline generators we’ll review, but not the best one.

If low cost, having an 30 amp RV hookup, reliability, and enough power to run an AC in the skoolie on very hot days – this is the best option.

First, it costs less than most of the portable generators we mentioned above. Most of us building skoolies on a budget might cringe at those numbers to have a lower powered, backup generator for the skoolie. Then we start looking at mountable generators and find some of them can come in at lower costs, like this one – which is much better on the wallet.

The increase in power over portable options is also nice, especially since these can power the entire skoolie while running – even that air conditioner.

The downsides is the noise level this operates at. While running it is roughly 20% louder than the other portable models above. If you are looking for a quiet generator, this would not be ideal.

Other than the noise, this is a durable mountable generator for short-term backup power in a skoolie!

Pros

  • Low Cost
  • Able to power the entire skoolie
  • Longer runtimes than portable options
  • Digital gage for voltage, frequency, and operation hours
  • 4.7 gallon gas tank
  • 3 Year Warranty + Lifetime Support

Power Options

  • 2x standard 110v AC receptacles
  • 1x 30 amp RV locking outlet
  • 1x 30 amp RV standard outlet

Cons

  • Size – it would need a larger underbody area for mounting
  • Heavy weight – needs strong welded mounting
  • Noise level – it is not ideal for those looking to have peace while running it

Measurements

  • Length: 24 in
  • Width: 18.5 in
  • Height: 18.9 in
  • Weight: 103.4 lbs

Best Mountable Skoolie Generator with Electric Start

WEN 4750-Watt Mountable Dual Fuel Generator + Electric Start

Features:

  • Gasoline Power: 4750 W peak / 3800 W running
  • Propane Power: 4350 W peak / 3500 W running
  • Gasoline Run Time: 11 hours @ 50% load
  • Propane Run Time: 7 hours @ 50% load
  • Noise Level: Unknown

This WEN steps up on the Champion 4375-Watt generator with more power and the dual fuel option.

The WEN 4750-Watt generator is the #1 choice if you will ever need 240V power, as the generator can be switched to output 120V or 240V. By being able to switch to 240V, you could actually use this generator once a week to run the wash machine and dryer! Sarah and I originally wanted to potentially put a clothes washing and drying machine into our skoolie. One of the things holding us back was the poor choices for 120V washing and drying machines for a skoolie and not wanting to run special equipment for 240V power units. We also didn’t know if we would have enough power storage or solar power generating from the solar panels to support the machines. Had we known this was an issue back before we built our skoolie, we probably would have a clothes washer and dryer today.

The downside of this unit is the cost. Out of all the gasoline and dual fuel generators on the list, it is the most expensive option.

Pros

  • Dual Fuel – Gas or Propane
  • Elecric Start
  • Can output 12V, 120V or 240V
  • Able to power the entire skoolie
  • 4 gallon gas tank
  • 2 Year Warranty

Power Options

  • 2x standard 110v AC receptacles
  • 1x 30 amp RV locking outlet
  • 1x 12V DC multiuse port

Cons

  • Size – it would need a larger underbody area for mounting
  • Heavy weight – needs strong welded mounting
  • Noise level – it is not ideal for those looking to have peace while running it

Measurements

  • Length: 23.2 in
  • Width: 17.5 in
  • Height: 18.5 in
  • Weight: 105.8 lbs

Best Mountable Skoolie Generator Overall

Editor's Choice for Secondary Power

Champion 4750-Watt Mountable Dual Fuel Generator + Electric Start

Features:

  • Power: 4750 W peak / 3800 W running
  • Gasoline Run Time: 9 hours @ 50% load
  • Propane Run Time: 10.5 hours @ 50% load
  • Noise Level: 68 dBA

We are now onto one of the best skoolie generators on the list, especially if you are looking at mountable options.

The Champion 4750-Watt generator comes with all the bells and whitsles as the previous model we reviewed, including the digital meter to monitor voltage, frequency, and hour usage, and the dual 30 amp RV outlets to use both a plug in or twist lock RV power cord. However, this model has a few upgrades.

First, a larger engine producing another 400-Watts of additional power starting, 300-Watts additional power running.

Second, is the dual fuel, gasoline or liquid propane, option. Although this model has a slightly smaller gas tank and shorter gasolie running times, it has the capability to run on propane. I am all about the dual fuel, gasoline or propane option as we will always have propane in the skoolie for the RV range, RV furnace, and on-demand water heater. We will pretty much always have two 20lb tanks of liquid propane on us. With a 10.5 hour run time on propane, even using one of them gets us through a day of running power off this skoolie generator while feeding power through our skoolie power converter to charge the battery bank.

This is definitely a step up from the previous model, with a healthy balance of high power with a dual fuel option and comparable cost to some of the first four portable generators on the list. The only really downside is noise, size, and weight if you are trying to watch how much weight you add to your skoolie.

Pros

  • Dual Fuel – Gas or Propane
  • Elecric Start
  • Able to power the entire skoolie
  • More power, yet similar run times to the 4350 Watt above
  • 3.5 gallon gas tank
  • 3 Year Warranty + Lifetime Support

Power Options

  • 2x standard 110v AC receptacles
  • 1x 30 amp RV locking outlet
  • 1x 30 amp RV standard outlet

Cons

  • Size – it would need a larger underbody area for mounting
  • Heavy weight – needs strong welded mounting
  • Noise level – it is not ideal for those looking to have peace while running it

Measurements

  • Length: 23.3 in
  • Width: 15.5 in
  • Height: 21.3 in
  • Weight: 119 lbs

*This article may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something we have recommended. Please check our full disclosure policy for more details. Thanks for checking out our website and for your support!

Leave a Reply