Quietest RV Generator Yet – The Cummins Onan QG 2800i. We Test It!!


When Winnebago loaned us a Solis 59PX earlier this summer to test-camp, one of the things we liked about it was that it came with a new – far quieter – generator.  This is a new product from Cummins, the QG 2800i, and unlike some other quiet generators, this one is actually meant to be mounted into an RV.  How quiet is it?  Have a listen!

 

 

So, for those of you too busy to listen to the video, here are the results in tabular form.

 Standard RV GeneratorOnan QG 2800i
20 feet (no load)67 dB58 dB
20 feet (AC load)68 dB59 dB
50 feet (no load)61 dB52 dB
50 feet (AC load)61 dB53 dB

The big take-away from this table is that the new, quiet generator is on average 9 decibels quieter than a “standard” RV generator.  But 9 dB out of 60 is actually a lot more than you might think, because decibels are a logarithmic scale.  How much is 9 dB?  Well, according to this kind-of-silly dB chart I found, it’s like the difference between piano practice and a vacuum cleaner!  We didn’t have any vacuum cleaners or pianos with us out there in the parking lot, but I can tell you first hand, this generator was significantly quieter than other RV generators I’ve heard.

Another useful comparison would have been to compare it to the small Honda generator that everyone knows and loves.  I don’t have a Honda generator, so I couldn’t run that test.  But I have heard the Honda (and other quiet generators), and this one is playing at that same level.  The big advantage for the Onan QG 2800i is that this it’s designed to be mounted in an RV, hardwired into the automatic transfer switch, and to use fuel directly from the vehicle’s fuel tank.  Those are three things the Honda doesn’t have going for it.  Plus, this one is 2800 watts versus 2000 for the Honda.

We also got a look at the preliminary spec sheet.  From that, I remember that this generator weighs in at 113 pounds.  At full load, it uses just under a half a gallon of gasoline per hour.  And as far as starting the air conditioner –  as you can hear in the video, it pulled that off with no problem.

Of course, it’s still a generator.  And while this generator is remarkably quiet, we’re not about to rip out our own lithium battery setup in favor of a generator.  But – if you want to have a generator on your RV… THIS ONE is the one to have.

Comments?  Sound off below.

PS – We turned the Solis 59 PX back in to Winnebago, so I don’t have the generator any more.  I can’t take any more measurements.  Sorry!

 

 



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    33 thoughts on “Quietest RV Generator Yet – The Cummins Onan QG 2800i. We Test It!!

    1. Jay

      Based on your review I purchased a QG 2800i from a Colorado dealer and installed it in my Class C. In one word “awesome”, it is quieter than my Honda EU2200i by about 6db and has much less vibration than the previous generation Onan 2800 I had in my Ram van. If anyone could compare the old 2800 to the new 2800i side by side, the old 2800 would only find work as a boat anchor!

      Reply
    2. Will

      Did they talk to you at all about what actually makes it quieter? Is there a sound dampening material in it? I am curious to see if I can make any of those changes myself without having to buy a new generator.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We weren’t given any details about the construction. But… a conversion is not possible. It’s a different type of generator altogether.

        Look up “inverter generator”. That’s what this one is.

        Reply
    3. Gary Olson

      Worth noting that the test location is a “worst case” type of environment since it is measuring noise over a hard surface. In a typical park, with all the trees and grass around (hopefully you have a bit of those) you would have less noise.

      Also, this was briefly noted, but since noise is measured on a logrithmic scale, 67dBA is a LOT noisier than 58.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Good question, but I don’t really know!
        The model we had access to was an early unit, and they didn’t even have the model number printed on the outside of it. It was a blank green box.

        Reply
    4. Jim Heckard

      What does the new Cummins sound like inside the Winnebago with the AC running? Another interesting test with the new Mach NDQ vs old Mach with the new Onan.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, it’s a quieter generator. So rather obviously, it’s quieter. That’s the simple answer.

        The more complicated answer will depend on an extremely large number of variables, including but not limited to: Is the RV a Winnebago or some other brand; what is the model and floor plan, including location and construction of cabinets and windows; how much and what type of insulation does it have; how full are your cabinets and what are the sound absorbing properties of the materials within them; how full are your holding tanks; what other squeaks and rattles has your vehicle developed over the years; and so on and so on.

        In the end, you would have to take one RV, and try 4 combinations of 2 generators and 2 air conditioners. When you were done, you’d have results that were applicable to that one vehicle. Winnebago isn’t even offering the old, loud air conditioner these days anyway. I’d previously tested the new air conditioner versus the old one, and it’s quieter as well.

        Reply
    5. J David Morris

      I contacted Winnebago and received a reply today regarding retro fitting my 2020.5 Travato K with the 2800i generator. They said to contact WGO factory repair service to get a quote on retro fitting the generator. The number to call is 866-311-7133. If they are ready to do this, I think I’m gonna eve ahead and get this done.

      Reply
        1. David Morris

          Well, Not so good news, I contacted WGO, and talked to their factory service as directed. Thevfactorybtech I spoke with seemed to not be aware of the new 2800i unit and after a lot of pecking on a computer, he could not give me a solid yes reply to two questions I asked 1) are new Travatos being outfitted with the 2800i and 2) can I get my 2020.5 Travato K retrofitted with this generator. So, I assume that maybe factory service at WGO is not up to date on this new development? What gives?

        2. James - Post author

          Maybe try checking in the Travato Owners and Wannabes group on Facebook? I thought someone there had confirmed that the new generators were available on new Travato. Someone there probably has the scoop.

        3. David Morris

          Actually, I first saw the reference to your Fit RV post on the 2800i on the Travato Facebook group, and posts there credit you with being the source of inside WGO information that the new Travatos are being outfitted with the 2800i. Probably just a mix up on their part. Easy to get things confused. I did notice that one vendor listed the 2800 as discontinued. Anyway, thanks for the great write up and video on this. I’m going to talk to my dealer about the retrofit. Best.

        4. James - Post author

          Interesting.
          It’s Stef on Facebook. And I know she wouldn’t have posted it without verifying, so you can trust the info.
          Your dealer is probably the best place to start when looking for the retrofit. Either that or a Cummins/Onan dealer.
          Good luck!

    6. Craig Moen

      Now that is “news I can use”. Well done! Sad that decibel readings are not linear so a sound drop like that is very significant.

      Thanks for taking the time to make this comparison happen!

      Reply
    7. P.C.

      You might be interested to know that inquiries from multiple people to Cummins about a QG2800i has resulted in Cummins saying they have no idea what that is.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Not surprised. The unit we had here was an early model. Didn’t even have the branding painted on yet.

        We’ve verified that they are in production now.

        Reply
    8. Thomas Adamo

      Thanks James and Stef… If the new quiet generator works that well, it must make a significant difference inside the van as well. Keep up the great work.

      Reply
    9. Cameron Day

      James,
      Great vid. After your video, I went to Onan’s site tut get more information and they refer to it’s “inverter”.
      This is intriguing. Does the RV need another inverter to invert the 12V battery to 120V, or can the Onan’s inverter be used for this purpose?
      Does it appear that it’s footprint is the same as the previous 2800W generator?
      Thanks,
      Cameron
      https://www.cummins.com/generators/onan-qg-2800i

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, an “inverter generator” isn’t quite the same thing as the kind of inverter that we’re used to seeing in our RVs. It can’t be used to invert battery power to 120v, for example. It’s best to think of this as just a generator.

        But it did seem to be about the same size – or perhaps a bit smaller – than their previous generator that I’ve seen on other Winnebago coaches.

        Reply
        1. BobB

          Google is our friend – “inverter generator technology explained”

          A combination of info from different sites

          Conventional Generator:

          The generator’s motor runs at a constant speed (usually 3600 rpm) to produce the required electrical current (in the U.S., typically 120 Volts AC / 60 Hertz, and in most other countries, 240 volts AC / 60 Hz). The engine’s rpm should not fluctuate, otherwise it will alter the frequency (Hertz) of electrical output.

          Inverter Generator:

          The technology generally outputs AC current like most conventional generators, but the current is then converted to DC voltage, and then “inverted” back to clean AC voltage, thus how it gets its name. The advantage to this inversion, is that it maintains a constant flow of current to your appliance.

          Initial AC current in an inverter generator is at a high frequency which gives more electrical energy.

          The mechanics of an inverter generator has more control over the AC frequency which lets it provide a very stable sine wave.

          It can adjust its voltage to what is exactly needed by the connected load while still maintaining an rpm of 3600.

          The stable current is also one of the main reasons why inverter generators are quite silent compared to conventional portable generators.

    10. Kevin Clark

      Wow! That’s very impressive. I would have no problem with that new quiet generator. Thanks for the test that really put everything in perspective. On another note the Solis looked a lot more sleeker more sports car look than the Travato.

      Reply
    11. Charles Hanna

      The 2500LP and the 2800 gas (same unit, different fuels) makes a Poot-poot sound that is the annoying part of the exhaust noise. I have a 2008 Bigfoot trailer (bought it last November) with a 2500LP mounted underneath. I happened to have a new Cummins-Onan exhaust resonator, p/n 0155-2449, which I had bought for my former motor home and never installed. I did a simple test by shoving it in the tailpipe

      https://youtu.be/NQEtWhQr8ps

      and was surprised at the difference it made. I have since cut a section out of the tailpipe and had it welded in. There are a couple of other YT videos doing the same thing I did to 2800 models and they got the same result.

      https://youtu.be/TmHbnBq_Gb0

      https://youtu.be/gQboSPqKtfE

      Testing on 3600LP/4000 gas models do not get the same result. These are larger units and do not make the same poot-poot sound in the exhaust as the smaller models.

      https://youtu.be/2dxPwA_8lkc

      The generator is loudest when parked on concrete, just a little quieter on asphalt, even quieter on gravel and a little bit quieter on dirt (at least it seems that way).. Also, having the rigs parked up next to a curb like you did probably just focuses the sound toward you. I found that just standing flattened cardboard boxes up on either side of the trailer made a huge difference in the sound.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        The “loud” generator used in this comparison already had a resonator installed.
        None of that is necessary with the new QG 2800i.

        That’s the point here. There’s no need to park over certain surfaces or to bring along discarded boxes to stack around your rig. It’s quieter already, as is.

        Reply

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