The best portable generator for camping

Gear

Some generators can run on propane or gasoline. A 20-pound tank of propane will often last longer than a full tank of gas.

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Portable generators for camping

Portable generators allow you the freedom to use your RV in places that lack power or take electronics with you on your tent camping trip. A movie night in the woods is a pretty attractive idea, and thanks to generators, it’s entirely possible.

portable generator

Choosing the right generator can be a daunting task, especially once you begin looking at their price tags. Price is important, but there are several other factors you’ll need to consider as well. Choosing a portable generator for camping is a lot less stressful once you’ve taken the time to understand what you’ll need and compared models within your budget.

What to consider before you buy a generator for camping

How quiet do you want it to be?

Some generators can be quite loud, and depending on where you’re camping, that sound can travel pretty far. A sound’s volume is commonly measured using adjusted decibels (or dBA). The volume of an average conversation between two people is about 60 dBA. Believe it or not, many portable generators have an adjusted decibel rating of 60dBA or less from 20 feet away. Some generators are solar-powered or charged using other methods; these models can run silently in many cases.

How much power do you need?

tiny generator

If you’re tent camping, you can get away with using a tiny generator; but if you’re camping in an RV, you may need a 2500-watt generator or larger to power your appliances. 

If you plan to use your portable generator, you’ll need to learn the starting wattage and running wattage of your most commonly used appliances. 

The most power-hungry appliance in an RV is typically the central air conditioner. A 7,000 BTU air conditioner can take around 1700-1800 watts to start and 600-650 watts to run. If your RV has a 15,000 BTU air conditioner, its AC may require up to 3500 watts to start.

How heavy is too heavy?

3000 starting watts heavy generator

Generators are often pretty heavy. Some generators can weigh as little as 40 pounds, but if you need 3000 starting watts or more, you may end up with a generator that is 100 pounds or heavier. If weight is an issue, you may have to plan to use fewer appliances or only one appliance at a time so that you can opt for a smaller machine.

How much does a portable generator cost?

If you only need a generator with 1200-2400 starting watts, you can expect to spend between $350-$600. Generators with 3000-3500 starting watts can cost $800 or more. 

What is the best portable generator for camping?

Westinghouse iGen 2200 Super Quiet Portable Generator

Westinghouse iGen 2200 Super Quiet Portable Generator

This quiet generator can last up to 12 hours on a full tank of gas. The iGen 2200 has no problem powering many of the essential appliances in your RV simultaneously and has 2200 starting watts of power. At just 52 dBA, this is an exceptionally quiet generator.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Champion 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Champion 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

This lightweight generator weighs only 39 pounds but delivers up to 2000 watts of starting power. This model is relatively quiet as well, at just 58 dBA from 23 feet.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

At nearly 100 pounds, this isn’t the lightest generator out there. Still, this RV-ready model’s 3800 watts of starting power ensures you won’t have any trouble running your air conditioner or other power-heavy devices. At just 57 dBA, this option is also surprisingly quiet.

Sold by Amazon

Briggs & Stratton P2400 PowerSmart Series Inverter Generator

Briggs & Stratton P2400 PowerSmart Series Inverter Generator

Although this isn’t the quietest generator available, it is surprisingly quiet for its size. The easy-to-understand LEDs tell you when the machine is running low on oil. This machine can produce up to 2400 starting watts of power, but it weighs nearly 60 pounds.

Sold by Home Depot and Amazon

Generac GP1200i 1200-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Generac GP1200i 1200-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Generac’s ultralight GP1200i only weighs 36 pounds. This compact option has convenient LEDs that let you know when it’s ready to use, overloaded or low on oil. The only notable drawback to this 1200-starting-watt machine is that it can be challenging to change the oil.

Sold by Amazon

A-iPower SUA2000iV 2000 Watt Portable Inverter Generator

A-iPower SUA2000iV 2000 Watt Portable Inverter Generator

At 2000 starting watts and 1,600 running watts, you won’t have trouble running a few appliances and electronics with this generator. However, you may not be able to run your RV’s AC unit. This incredibly quiet machine is engineered to last.

Sold by Amazon

Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Inverter Generator

Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Inverter Generator

Champion’s versatile generator can be fueled with either propane or gasoline and has an electric start. You’ll have no trouble starting your RV appliances, including your air conditioner, thanks to its 3400 starting watt power. This model is surprisingly quiet at just 59 bBA. If you’re camping in a 30-amp RV, you won’t have to worry about buying any extra equipment for this unit, as it’s equipped with a 30-amp outlet.

Sold by Home Depot and Amazon

 

WEN 56203i 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

WEN 56203i 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

This lightweight option weighs only 39 pounds. The fuel shutoff feature maximizes the generator’s life using the remaining fuel in its carburetor before turning it off.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Goal Zero Yeti 500X Battery-Powered 505-watt Portable Generator

Goal Zero Yeti 500X Battery-Powered 505-watt Portable Generator

At $700 for 505 starting watts, this is not the generator to buy if you need to use high-power appliances. Still, this generator charges using a solar panel or your car’s battery and runs completely silent, making it perfect for tent camping.

Sold by Amazon

 

Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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