Hey there, campers, and welcome to my post covering my three best portable generators for camping this year. Even though many of us like to talk about how ‘roughing it’ is the way to go when we camp, we also know that electricity forms a significant part of our daily lives – after all, those coffee machines are not going to power themselves!!
Camping generators can power all of our camping and RV excursions and allow us to work in areas where electricity is inaccessible. However, shopping for a camping generator, regardless of how you want to use it can be overwhelming. Features like voltage and power types can be confusing, even for the most seasoned campers.
So to save you time and energy, I went through the process of identifying the top camping generators available – let’s check them out below…
My three recommended camping generators
I will review these in more detail below, but if you just want to get moving without all the carry-on, my three are listed here for your convenience:
|Portable Generator||Price||Get it|
|Generac 1200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator||$||CURRENT PRICE|
|WEN Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator||$$||CURRENT PRICE|
|Champion Power Equipment 4000-Watt Inverter Generator||$$$||CURRENT PRICE|
What are camping generators?
Camping generators are specially made to provide power to RVs, caravans and of course, on our camping trips. They are mainly used for keeping the lights on and the fridge running however watching a movie in the wilderness (to help settle the kids of course) also becomes doable whenever we have portable generators packed.
So how does a camping generator work? There is a lot to this however in short, an electric generator uses mechanical energy to generate electrical charges, which are then transferred as electric currents to run our appliances and lights as required. The main components include:
Camping generators are available in different engine sizes, and this determines how much electricity the device can produce. Diesel, gasoline, natural gas, gaseous propane, or liquid propane can all be used to power a generator engine.
The alternator is the component that generates electricity. This process is accomplished by transforming rotational mechanical energy into Alternating Current (AC) electricity. Alternators are of two types: conventional and inverter. Inverter generators integrate the alternator and engine into a single, lightweight device. The electronic inverter circuitry enables the engine to throttle up and down to the load applied automatically.
The generator fuel system consists of a conduit connecting the engine to the fuel tank. The system includes a ventilation line, fuel pump, overflow connection, fuel injector, and fuel filter. Camping generators are made up of small fuel tanks either on the top or on the bottom of the unit.
The generator control panel is in charge of monitoring the entire operation and turning it on and off. It also comprises electric stop and start procedures and some generators have an automated mechanism to govern their process. The control panel also displays such features as battery voltage, coolant temperature and oil pressure.
What should you be looking for?
Below are some of the main factors you should take into account as you shop for portable camping generators
- Fuel availability
- What other features it has
As with all things to do with camping, the less room that a piece of equipment takes up, the better. A portable generator will obviously then need to fit into the back of your truck or into your van. A decent portable generator with a compact and lightweight design is also more likely to be fuel-efficient and run silently – both of which are excellent for camping. While most larger portable generators include wheel kits and handles to improve maneuverability, a good camping portable generator weighs 50 to 70 pounds (23 – 32 kilograms).
No one wants to be disrupted as they enjoy sleeping in the wild – and many camp grounds regulate the types of generators that can be used for this reason. This is why we have to consider the camping generator’s quietness capability. Depending on your budget, always try and get the quietest option you can.
Another critical factor to consider is the availability of fuel at your campsite or along the route. Because gasoline/petrol is readily available, most individuals prefer to utilize a gasoline-powered generator.
A decent camping generator should be able to power up and run appliances such as an air conditioner, refrigerator, microwave oven or charge laptops and cellphones etc. In this scenario, a portable generator with a power output of 3000-watts or higher should be adequate. However, if you are not running as much, a smaller 2,000-watt portable generator should be enough. Keep in mind that as a generator’s power rating increases, so does its size and noise level.
Some generators allow for parallel connection meaning that if you need to run large appliance such as a commercial fridge or air conditioner for example, then you can connect two generators together to increase the wattage output.
Other potential additions include:
- Wheels – Portable generators weighing around 100 pounds might have wheels with them for easy equipment transport.
- Solar panels – Some generators are equipped with solar panels, which help to improve the electricity they provide.
- Outlet ports – Since we bring a range of appliances and gadgets with us, camping generators have various outlet ports such as traditional power and USB ports. These are useful in charging our smartphones, laptops, tablets, GPS, drones and even pumping up air mattresses etc.
- LED indicators – To determine the generator’s voltage output, remaining time, power output, or gas level in the tank, some products have LED indicators that display levels etc.
- CARB compliance – CARB compliance simply implies that your equipment meets CARB’s current emission regulations. CARB-compliant equipment emits fewer harmful pollutants, poisons, and particles, resulting in cleaner, safer air quality.
- Warranty – Depending on the brand that appeals to you, camping generators vary on the warranty. Some have a 3-year warranty while others provide two years.
Beefore we look into our recommended options below – it is critical that you keep in mind that power output, voltage and connection points differ from country to country. Always make sure your power plugs match connections on the generator. I.e. A generator manufactured for use within the USA (120V) will not be compatible with Australian appliances which are wired for 240 – and the plugs are different too.
My three recommendations broken down
So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:
1. Generac 1200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
I have chosen this first option for those who want something to power the basics without being too being costly. It will provide you with power wherever you go, owing to its compact and lightweight design. It is quiet and provides stable power for most appliances, tools and electronics. See its specifications below:
- Brand: Generac
- Wattage: 1200 (options up to 3500 watts available)
- Item Dimensions (LxWxH): 18.5 x 10.2 x 15.7 inches
- Item weight: 36.3 pounds
- Fuel: Gas
- LED Indicators for low on oil, overloaded, or ready-to-use
- Covered outlets for added protection
- Fully enclosed design to dramatically reduces noise levels
- USB ports included
Why have I chosen it?
This is a decent camping generator because of its quietness, portability, low volume, and clean and stable power output. The LED indicators help inform you where the system is at and of course it has USB ports – a must for camping. And finally, its “economy mode” will automatically adjust engine speeds to save fuel and reduce sound emissions.
2. WEN Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
This next generator is great for those longer trips with an efficient running time of up to 10.8 hours. It is portable and lightweight and parallel capable meaning it can be linked to a comparable or compatible unit for increased power.
See its specifications below:
- Brand: WEN
- Wattage: 2000 or 2350 watts
- Item Dimensions (LxWxH): 17.3 x 11.5 x 17.7 inches
- Item weight: 39 pounds
- Fuel: Gas
- Extremely quiet operation
- Clean power for safe charging of sensitive electronics
- Includes two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle (cigarette lighter connection), two 5V USB ports
Why have I chosen it?
What I love about this camping generator is its super quiet feature with a noise rating of 51 dBA (softer than a normal conversation). The control panel also has a receptacle for charging 12v batteries and two 5V USB connections for charging electronics such as mobile phones and tablets. In terms of security, the generator is outfitted with an automatic low oil shut-off, overload protection (circuit breaker), and a low fuel automatic shutdown, providing you with peace of mind when in operation.
3. Champion Power Equipment 4000-Watt Open Frame Inverter
Considered one of the best camping generators in the market, this final unit is perfect for your RV excursions and camping trips alike with an exclusive digital hybrid design that makes the generator 50% quieter and 20% lighter compared to its counterparts. The Quick Touch Panel provides quick access to controls, while Economy Mode continuously analyzes power use to reduce electrical load.
See its specifications below:
- Brand: Champion
- Wattage: 4000 watts (up to 8750 watts options available)
- Item Dimensions (LxWxH): 20.5 x 17.9 x 17.7 inches
- Item weight: 81.6 pounds
- Fuel: Gas
- 120V 30A RV, plus two 120V 20A household outlets and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter
- Parallel ready (ParaLINK Parallel Kit needed)
- Includes Oil Funnel, Battery Charging Cables, USB Adapter
- Up to 17 hours run time on gasoline
- Electric and remote start option available
Why have I chosen it?
This is the perfect option for those who camp as well as RV with multiple outlets and at full tank, provides power up to 17 hours at 25% load. Champion is well-known for producing high-end generators since 2003 with a 3-year warranty that testifies to the durability of their products. All in all, for high end, light weight use at a great price, you could do a lot worse than this one.
There you have it, my three best portable generators for camping this year. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual, let me know of your experiences with them.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time