8 Best Camping Generator [With Video Reviews] On The Market Today

Best Camping GeneratorIf you’re on the hunt for a camping generator, you’ve come to the right place.

Nearly everyone who begins camping on a semi-regular basis quickly realizes how much better an extended stay can be with a few luxuries.

But there’s a delicate balance between size, weight, loudness, and price…

And with any piece of gear, there are ALWAYS tradeoffs!

That’s why today, I’m going to help you figure out the best camping generator for YOU.

I’ll do this by covering the following camping generator topics:

**Note: If you just want our top recommendations, feel free to SKIP AHEAD HERE.

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WHY YOU SHOULD INVEST IN A CAMPING GENERATOR


We go camping to escape the noise and technology of our daily lives.

But while we’re away – there are a few luxuries we don’t think we can live without.

For example, most of us use our phones for photos, maps for navigation, and coffee makers for a morning brew!

At night, we depend on lights to make camp chores easier and prepare for bed, plus a bit of winddown reading.

And for some of us, critical medical devices (like CPAP machines) require power no matter where we are.

And there are always those times when the power goes out at home. That’s when these portable “camping” generators can quickly become a survival hero.

It can function as a small backup generator for your home.

Sure, it won’t power your entire house, but it will run a few appliances – which is better than nothing!

I work from home, so I know every small interruption in our power. So I have to think about how I’m going to get my job done daily.

Not to mention the stress of keeping the food in the fridge and freezer from spoiling in an emergency. The right “camping” generator can be a good option for both of these scenarios.

These generators fill the gap between battery banks and massive stationary generators.

A camping generator is portable, compact, and easy to use. Plus, most come with convenient connectors and user-friendly controls.

Many are incredibly fuel-efficient and quiet enough to use in a crowded campground. So you can use the generator without making the neighbors angry, whether at a campground or home.

This quiet feature becomes a significant benefit in a long term survival scenario. It’s a way to keep your power capabilities to yourself!

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Small Generator For Camping

KEY FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN A QUALITY CAMPING GENERATOR


There are several factors to selecting the right generator for YOUR specific needs.

So it’s best to start working through these factors by honestly evaluating your needs. This process will help narrow down your generator options.

This analysis will ensure you get a generator that fits your needs. But without paying extra for features you’ll never use.

Power Output

Watts is the way generators measure power output, just like light bulbs.

An incandescent lightbulb usually consumes between 50-100 watts of power. In contrast, newer LED bulbs consume about 90% less for the same light level.

Using watts makes it easy to compare how powerful each model is.

There a wide range of power level on the market:

From 400-watt solar power systems which could only power a few incandescent lights. To 10,000 watt gasoline-powered generators which could light up a whole field.

Understanding your power needs comes down to knowing what appliances you need to run. AND how power-hungry each device is over time.

Quiet Operation

A noisy generator is one of the most universally hated sounds in camp.

This is even more true if you plan to camp near others or need to keep the generator on into the evening.

Decibel (dB) is the measurement for Sound level.

A typical conversation comes in around 60dB, while a vacuum cleaner at roughly 70dB.

Prolonged exposure to anything higher than 80dB is considered hazardous. And high levels of sound exposure can cause permanent hearing loss.

So, obviously, a quieter generator is preferable. But there are also ways to muffle a noisier one with baffles and enclosures.

We’ll cover a few tricks and DIY options to lower any generator’s noise later in this article.

Portability

A combination of size and weight, portability is vital with a camp generator.

My truck is ALWAYS full when I leave for a camping trip with lots of camping essentials. So a big generator that takes up half of the back doesn’t make sense.

Many of the larger models are portable with wheels and handles. But they’re still difficult to pick up and put in the bed of a truck or trailer when it’s time to pack up.

If your power needs are smaller, it’s much easier to work with a smaller generator. One most people carry around – this is usually something smaller than 60lbs.

Fuel Options

In the world of portable generators, there are two main fuel options: gasoline and propane.

Gasoline is readily available in most places. And you may already be carrying it for some of the other toys you take camping.

Most smaller camping generators use gasoline. But it’s not the most efficient fuel available.

Make sure to check the run times for a single tank. Why? Because many gas-powered generators need 5-10 gallons of fuel per 24 hours operation.

The other option, propane, can be a little harder to find. But most outdoor stores and home centers have a BBQ canister exchange or filling station.

Propane is much more efficient and clean-burning. So a dual fuel generator is a nice compromise. But this second option is unusually only available on larger units.

One thing to consider when you evaluate fuel options and efficiency:

Manufacturer’s list most generator’s fuel efficiency and run times at 25-50% power capacity.

But as the engine ramps up to full capacity, it’s fuel intake will increase dramatically.

Keep this in mind when sizing your generator, as you don’t want to be operating at full capacity all the time.

Traditional Inverter vs. Solar Generators

Most of the generators we’ll cover in this article are “inverter” generators. These provide clean, stable A.C. power as their primary output.

A.C. generators are more fuel-efficient. That’s why they’re able to manage the engine throttle and can provide the power needed at any given time.

You can also run a solar generator can in parallel to provide more power on the same circuit. This advantage is thanks to advanced power management circuitry.

They’re an excellent choice for situations where you need power for extended periods.

Nowadays, the newest trend for camping is portable solar “generators.” These are really just large battery banks with advanced electronics. These electronics help manage the charging and distribution of power. And they also include a regulated D.C. or A.C. power on demand from stored energy.

Their silent operation and smaller footprint make them an attractive option for many.

But they have a smaller capacity and often take long periods of direct sun to charge fully via solar panels.

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Quiet Generator For Camping

HOW TO CHOOSE/SIZE A GENERATOR FOR YOUR NEEDS


The RIGHT size generator for YOU depends upon your power needs:

For example, do you plan to charge a few phones and your laptop, OR do you need to run an entire Class A motor home?

The difference in size is massive, depending on these needs.

Think about the situations in which you might want to use your generator. Then sum up all the devices you would need to run or charge simultaneously.

Here are some examples of the power needs for some common types of devices people run via generators:

  • Smartphone (charging): 6 watts
  • Laptop (charging): 30 watts
  • LCD TV (operating): 50-100 watts
  • Portable A.C. Unit (starting): 1700 watts
  • Portable A.C. Unit (operating): 600 watts
  • Mini fridge (starting): 2200 watts
  • Mini fridge (running): 700 watts

These are just average ranges. You can see that larger appliances take much more power to run.

A.C. and refrigeration units need even more power on startup when the compressor kicks on. These power spikes can cause peak loads of 2-3 times the normal operating range.

As stated earlier, it’s best not to run a generator at 100% capacity all the time.

You’ll want to avoid hitting full capacity at all times. For example, during peak times (like the compressor loads) or steady loads.

A margin of safety will help prevent premature wear and tear on the engine.

So you’ll want to add a safety factor of at least 30% to your total.

With this total in mind as a guideline, you can start to weed out generators. Those that are either too small or way too large for your needs.

As a very rough guideline:

Generators under 3000 watts are suitable for smaller camps. But these will not consistently and efficiently run the larger appliances in an R.V.


As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our Ultimate Camping Essentials Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

8 BEST CAMPING GENERATORS ON THE MARKET TODAY


Camping generators break down into a few major categories. These categories are determined mainly by the intended level of power needed.

Lightweight Small Generators For Camping

Lightweight camping generators can supply most smaller camper setups.

You’ll often found them pair with teardrops, truck bed campers, popups, bug-out trailers, etc.

High-Powered Portable Generators For Camping

However, larger campers and motor homes need more power to maintain.

Why? Because they often have extensive lighting, advanced climate controls, entertainment, and kitchen appliances (food dehydrators, vacuum sealers, etc).

Solar Powered Generators For Camping

And there’s also a newer segment of the generator market is solar “generator” systems.

These combine large photovoltaic cell arrays with self-contained battery banks.

Newer solar generators have electronic current management hardware.

This advanced hardware gives users on-demand energy harvested and stored from the sun.

LIGHTWEIGHT SMALL GENERATORS FOR CAMPING

1 – Honda 663520 EU2200i

Honda 663520 EU2200i

  • Weight: 46.5lbs
  • Decibels: 57dB
  • Wattage: 2200 watts
  • Engine Type: 4-stroke gasoline
  • Run Time: 8 hours at 25% load
  • Tank Volume: 0.95 gallon
  • Plugs/Connections: 120V Outlets (2), 12V “cigarette lighter” Outlet (1)

Long the gold standard in generators, the Honda EU2200i is quiet and fuel-efficient. It can usually provide enough power to:

  • Run a couple of laptops
  • Charge some battery banks
  • And keep a small coffee maker running

I should know since it’s an updated model of the same generator my local search and rescue group uses. It helps to power our mobile command center for long days in the field.

The EU2200i is reliable and easy to store and use, even with infrequent use.

The carbon monoxide detector is a great safety addition.

With the new version, you can remotely operate and monitor it via a smartphone app!


PROS

  • Lightweight and quiet
  • Fuel efficient and reliable
  • Plus, it can run in parallel with other Honda generators with an accessory cord

CONS

  • Expensive for the rated power
  • No dedicated USB outlets


2 – Briggs & Stratton P2200 Power Smart

Briggs & Stratton P2200 Power Smart

  • Weight: 55lbs
  • Decibels: 59dB
  • Wattage: 2200 watts
  • Engine Type: 4-stroke gasoline
  • Run Time: 6-8 hours at 25% load
  • Tank Volume: 1 gallon
  • Plugs/Connections: 120V Outlets (2), 12v “cigarette lighter” outlet (1)

The B&S P2200 is the smallest in the Power Smart series of inverter generators.

It weighs just 55lbs! So it’s portable and makes for a great camp generator for moderate uses.

It’s quiet and compact as well, also excellent selling points for this camp generator.

The feature set and specifications are similar to more expensive models. Yet, the Briggs & Stratton P2200 remains affordable and reliable.

Even better, the small 110cc engine is easy to tune/service if you have experience with small engines.


PROS

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Quiet
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Some users have had issues with spark plug fouling after extended use
  • Manufacturer spare parts are easy to buy, but service is reportedly not the best


3 – Westinghouse iGen 1200

  • Weight: 33lbs
  • Decibels: 52dB
  • Wattage: 1200 Watts
  • Engine Type: 4-stroke gasoline
  • Run Time: 9 hrs
  • Tank Volume: 0.8 gallon
  • Plugs/Connections: 120V Outlets (2), 5V USB Outlets (2)

The Westinghouse iGen is an excellent choice for an emergency backup or a camp generator.

It’s small and lightweight enough to fit nearly anywhere, even in the trunk of a compact car.

The 1200W peak output is strong enough to run most essentials. But it’s also quiet enough to do so even without waking up the neighbors.

It’s highly rated and receives high marks for both affordability and value.

Note, there’s been an alarming number of reported counterfeit units of this model. So be sure to buy from a reputable seller.


PROS

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Can run in parallel with other Westinghouse generators (extra cable needed)

CONS

  • Counterfeits are of lower quality, especially in markets outside the U.S.


HIGH-POWERED PORTABLE GENERATORS FOR CAMPING

4 – Westinghouse WGen6000

Westinghouse WGen6000

  • Weight: 174 lbs
  • Decibels: 64dB
  • Wattage: 6000 Watts
  • Engine Type: 4-stroke gasoline
  • Run Time: 13 hours
  • Tank Volume: 6.6 gallons
  • Plugs & Connectors: 120V Outlets (4), 120/240V TwistLock Outlet (1)

The Westinghouse WGen6000 is an excellent option for portable power.

The transfer switch ready outlet allows you to connect to a 30A inlet box at home. And the 120V outlets can handle R.V.s and other in-camp or on the job power needs.

The controls are easy to use, and the rubber outlet covers are welcome in case of bad weather.

With a large 6.6 gallon tank, the WGen6000 can help keep things powered up to 13 hours, depending on the load.

It has an electric starter, which isn’t available on the smaller models in the WGen lineup.


PROS

  • Solid run time on one tank of fuel
  • Lots of plugs!

CONS

  • Noisier than smaller options


5 – DuroMax XP4850EH Dual Fuel Generator

DuroMax XP4850EH Dual Fuel Generator

  • Weight: 130lbs
  • Decibels: 69dB
  • Wattage: 4850 Watts
  • Engine Type: 4-stroke dual fuel (gasoline OR propane)
  • Run Time: 6-8 hrs
  • Tank Volume: 3.96 gallons (gasoline) or 20 gallons (propane)
  • Plugs/Connections: 120V Outlets (2), 120/240 TwistLock Outlet (1)

The DuroMax Dual Fuel generator is an excellent entry to the larger generator segment of the market.

It’s relatively inexpensive to purchase. And the dual fuel option allows you to use cleaner-burning and less expensive propane as a primary fuel.

This setup allows you to use regular gasoline as a reliable backup.

The 4050W power rating means enough juice to run your motor home or even a small house in an emergency.

It comes in at just under 70dB. So it’s not particularly quiet, but it’s manageable for this size generator at this price point!


PROS

  • Inexpensive
  • Can run most systems in a motor home or small house
  • Dual Fuel option provides versatility

CONS

  • Not as well-built as other, higher-priced models


6 – Champion Power Equipment 76533 4750W Dual Fuel

Champion Power Equipment 76533 4750W Dual Fuel

  • Decibels: 68dB
  • Wattage: 4750 Watts
  • Engine Type: 4-stroke dual fuel (gasoline OR propane)
  • Run Time: 9 hrs
  • Tank Volume: 3.4 gallons (gasoline) or 20 gallons (propane)
  • Plugs/Connectors: 120V Outlets (2), 120V TwistLock Outlet (1), 120V RV Outlet (1)

This Champion generator is a relatively affordable high-powered generator. It’s an excellent option for both motor homes and emergency use.

It’s well-built and provides a wide range of plugs. These plug options allow you to connect everything from extension cords to R.V. pins.

The dual-fuel design gives you versatility and allows you to take advantage of inexpensive propane. That way can use BBQ canisters (suggested 20-gallon size) when they’re available.

Yet, you can still be ready to use regular unleaded gasoline if needed.

Finally, it has easy to use controls, and simple fuel crossover valves make it user friendly. Plus, it includes the addition of an electronic starter.


PROS

  • Dual Fuel design gives you options
  • Electronic starter saves you from pulling a starter cord

CON

  • Somewhat loud but manageable
  • Not as fuel-efficient as other models


SOLAR POWERED GENERATORS FOR CAMPING

7 – Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station Kit

Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station Kit

  • Weight: 29 lbs
  • Decibels: 0dB
  • Wattage: 600 Watts
  • Charging Type: Solar photovoltaic cells, wall A.C. outlet, or vehicle D.C. outlet
  • Capacity: 33Ah
  • Plugs/Connectors: 120V Outlets (2), 5V USB Outlets (2), 12V “cigarette lighter” Outlet (1), 12V Accessory Outlets (2)

In recent years, solar charging systems have made an enormous impact.

They’ve shown up for small direct changing panels to large battery banks. And Goal Zero may be the most recognized brand out there.

The Yeti 400 is a mid-range battery bank at 33Ah. This power capacity is large enough to keep small electronics running (up to laptops). And even run larger appliances for a few hours.

Sure, this seems like a small amount of power compared with traditional generators. And you’d be right, but it also comes with ZERO noise and can be charged via solar panels.

When quiet is at a premium, solar and battery bank systems like the Yeti 400 make an attractive option.


PROS

  • Silent
  • Charges from solar panels
  • Compact
  • Lots of plug options

CONS

  • Can’t run large appliances or vehicles/home
  • Expensive


8 – Jackery Explorer 500

Jackery Explorer 500

  • Weight: 13.3 lbs
  • Decibels: 0dB
  • Wattage: 500 Watts
  • Charging Type: Solar photovoltaic cells, wall A.C. outlet, or vehicle
  • DC outlet Capacity: 24Ah
  • Plugs/Connectors: 120V Outlets (2), 5V USB Outlets (3), 12V “cigarette lighter” Outlet (1), 12V Accessory Outlets (2)

Jackery has put its primary focus on developing excellent solar-powered generators. The Explorer 500 is compact and includes well-designed components at an affordable price.

This unit is lighter and more portable than comparable capacity systems. It has just as many (if not more) outlet options to keep you powered up.

Like most solar systems, the battery bank and solar cells are sold separately. So this adds to the overall cost but allows you to tailor the system to your needs.

For example, you can chain together several solar cells to charge much more quickly!


PROS

  • LCD power management display
  • Great capacity
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Slow to charge, like all solar systems


As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our #78 Item Complete Prepper Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

HOW TO MAKE A GENERATOR QUIET FOR CAMPING


It’s always best to start with a generator that’s not extremely loud in the first place. But sometimes, you need to muffle the noise from even a quiet generator.

There are lots of ways to minimize the sound from your generator.

Solutions range from:

  • Better positioning
  • Adding noise baffles
  • Or installing larger, higher noise-reduction mufflers

Check out these options for some inspiration.

You can also make a small noise muffling enclosure, which serves double duty as a rain shelter.

Keep in mind that any engine needs adequate fresh air intake and cooling.

So any enclosure needs ventilation, or you risk tripping the carbon monoxide sensors. Or overheating the engine and reducing the lifespan of your generator.


As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our Ultimate Camping Essentials Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

WHERE TO RUN YOUR GENERATOR


One of the most common questions with camping generators is, “Where do I put it while it’s running?”

It’s a question with a lot of considerations.

When finding a spot for your generator, look for a clean, dry surface with no flammable leaves or grass.

This is very important as the exhaust gasses and muffler are very hot. They could start dry vegetation on fire if they come in contact with the muffler.

You also need protection from the rain/snow.

Always keep your generator dry and protected from moisture. This helps to extend its life by keeps it from harmful corrosion.

Keep it under an awning, under the tailgate, under a rear bumper, or R.V. stairs. They are all decent storage/run location options.

You can also reduce generator camp noise by putting it on the other side of your vehicle. This setup is a simple solution unless you have close neighbors in camp on that side of your vehicle.

FINAL THOUGHTS


A small, portable generator is an excellent addition to your camping and survival gear.

It gives you the option to charge devices and run some essential appliances. However, be sure to evaluate your needs realistically!

This is because generators go up in price fast as you get to larger power ratings.

Even if you’re far from home, you don’t have to give up all the comforts of modern life.

On a particularly cold or rainy day in camp, you’ll appreciate the conveniences.

Jason K.

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