What do campers need when they can’t stand totally roughing it? Affordability is a must, especially if you want the option of taking two or more portable generators to run an AC on an RV and charge your cell phone. Campers also need small portable generators that are easy to pack and transport. The best camping generators are the most quiet, since you may not have the cables or patience to set up and refill a generator fifty feet away. Here are some of the best portable generators for camping, whether in a campsite, cabin or RV.
Budget Camper Guide to Generators That Let You Sleep in the Wild in Near Silence
|Generator Model||Noise Level Ratings (dBA)||Starting Watts||Weight||Fuel Capacity / Run Time|
|WEN 56200i||51 dBA||2000 Watts||48 Lbs||1 Gallon
6 Hrs (@ 1/2 Load)
|Champion 73536i||53 dBA||2000 Watts||48.5 Lbs||1 Gallon
9.5 Hrs(@ 1/4 Load)
|Honda EU1000i||59 dBA||1000 Watts||29 Lbs||0.6 Gallons
7.1 Hrs (@ 1/4 Load)
|Yamaha EF2000iSv2||51dBA||2000 Watts||44.1 Lbs||1.1 Gallons
10.5Hrs (@1/4 Load)
|Westinghouse WH2200iXLT||59 dBA||2200 Watts||43 Lbs||1.3 Gallons
13 Hrs (@ 1/4 Load)
|Atima SD1000i||54 dBA||1000 Watts||33 Lbs||0.69 Gallons
6.5 Hrs(@ 1/4 Load)
|Homegear 950i||58 dBA||800 Watts||22.5 Lbs||0.55 Gallons
6.3 Hrs (@ 1/2 Load)
This affordable unit can be found for around five hundred dollars. The model 56200i WEN generator provides 1600 running watts and 2000 starting watts. It is a deal compared to the $650 3100 Watt generator by the same company you can connect it with to generate power for your campsite.
It produces “clean” power with less than 3% distortion, so it is safe to use to recharge your cellphone or laptop. It won’t short out sensitive electronics.
The downside of this unit is how difficult it is to add oil and the occasional units that start leaking gas; buying a long neck funnel makes adding oil easier and less messy. The same effort of disassembling a side panel is required to check the oil level.
Conversely, WEN is one of the few generator brands to offer high altitude conversion kits for anyone who wants them at a reasonable price. They also offer an abundance of replacement parts off the shelf. One of the quietest generators on the list with a noise level rating of 51 dba which is quieted than a window air conditioner.
This stackable generator is perfect for stowing away on an RV for use at a campsite or keeping in the garage for power outages. It is designed to let you stack two of the same model generators on top of each other. It weighs less than fifty pounds, so most people can move it.
This portable camping generator costs around six hundred dollars at full price but is often found on sale for less than five hundred. If you buy the “power kit” of the connecting hardware compatible with this generator along with a generator, you’ll pay about $50 more than a generator by itself. If you buy the connection kit separately, that costs around $60. The model specific covers cost around $20 each.
This unit is one of the quietest available, putting out 53 decibels of noise if you put it 20 feet away.
Champion has very good customer support and two year limited warranty for these generators through some retailers, a three year warranty if you buy it directly from them.
The challenge can be getting a replacement generator if the new unit won’t start or starts but never puts out the full level it is supposed to be able to produce. This is an issue with economy mode, where it sometimes shifts to that level and never comes back up.
It automatically shuts off when the oil is low. The unit uses a recoil start but is easy to pull.
The Honda model EU1000i inverter generator costs around eight hundred dollars.
This Honda generator is quiet even for an inverter generator. At high power, it generates less than 60 decibels and in economy mode may be closer to 50 decibels making it an ideal choice for your power needs during camping
It puts out a thousand watts, sufficient for lights and a few small items when camping. The lower power output is offset by its light weight – it is only thirty pounds.
Honda generators in general have a reputation for reliability. Because there are so many Honda generators and other types of heavy equipment out there, finding someone to service it outside of the warranty isn’t difficult.
Changing the oil isn’t easy, but narrow funnels for this purpose cost around $20. If you want DC charging from this generator, Honda sells the cables for an additional ten to fifteen dollars. Honda’s so common you can also find generic components that advertise their compatibility with Honda generators.
This generator has a continuous load of 1600 watts and puts out 2000 watts when it starts up.
The Yamaha model EF2000iSv2 is so eco-friendly is can be sold in California. The unit is available in brown camo and blue.
The unit is relatively quiet, and when on a quarter load, its 51 decibel noise level makes it one of the quietest generators on the market and an excellent choice when you are on the look out for a camping generator.
One of the downsides of this unit is that after using it for a few hundred hours, its oil consumption rate goes up and stays up. When this happens, you have to add oil to it when you refill the gas tank. Arranging service can be difficult, since there aren’t many authorized repair centers that accept the warranty. But it is Yamaha, so there are many shops that can fix it if you don’t care about getting it done under warranty. If you live in Canada, no one honors the warranty.
This is an affordable, compact generator. The model WH2200iXLT inverter generator puts out 1800 watts continuously, 2200 watts when demand peaks. Enjoy quiet power at 59 decibels without creating any disturbances at the campsite.
One of the biggest benefits of the WH2200iXLT is its low price. It costs less than six hundred dollars new. It can also be connected with any other WH2200iXLT or WH series Westinghouse generator to produce power, as long as you use the company’s connecting cables. If you own any of their larger generators, they sell the cables to connect them together.
Westinghouse has been in business for more than a century, which has been a major selling point for customers today. Westinghouse service for its generators has declined to the point it can be hard to reach customer service, and you may be asked to send the generator to one of the few repair centers under warranty. The Westinghouse bankruptcy in 2017 may or may not affect service for these generators. Conversely, since they’ve been in business so long and sell everything from generators for emergency use by home owners when storms hit to industrial power generators, it is easy to find repair people who can fix these generators and there is an excellent supplier network for every type of part they need, new or used.
Some units experience carburetor problems after the first few uses. You can reduce the odds of it failing by completely draining it with gas before storing or only using gas with stabilizer in it.
The unit is compact and lightweight; the generator weighs 33 pounds. This can be perfect for your camping needs and is easy to stow in the trunk of your car or the storage compartment in your RV. The unit costs $500 at full price but can be found for less than four hundred dollars on sale. It provides 900 running watts, 1000 peak watts. You will find the noise level rating is at 54 dBa standing 7 meters away from the generator when is working at 1/4 load. An acceptable noise level allowed any most campsites.
The price you pay for the small size and light weight comes if you’re going to use it for any heavy loads or extended periods of time. The fuel tank only holds seven tenths of a gallon. The manufacturer says that will run for six hours on a quarter load. At full load, it is enough to run your AC or heater for two hours. It comes with two AC plugs and one 12 volt DC socket, enough to plug the minimum number of items in.
Buy this for, short term power disruptions, camping in your RV and tailgate parties.
One of the challenges people face is finding service for it. The manuals for them say contact service but often doesn’t include a phone number. You may be able to find service with a power equipment repair service, but unlike Westinghouse, Yamaha and Honda, there isn’t a service network for this brand of generators.
It puts out 700 watts continuously. It has a maximum output of 800 watts but cannot sustain this. It is strong enough to power a small heater or power tools, but it won’t run most air conditioners. It does have a DC outlet plug. It is good enough to recharge cell phones and laptop computers.
It comes with basic low oil, overload and pilot lights. It automatically shuts down when the oil is too low.
You pull the cord to start it, but that doesn’t take much effort. The 58 decibel noise level (at 20 feet) is rather common for portable generators).
If you need a basic small generator that runs a few lights or small appliances while camping, the low price and 20 pound weight makes it ideal for camp-outs.
The unit runs for six hours at half power, less if you’re using all 700 watts. The manufacturer recommends only using 93 octane gas (or better). Conversely, you can use almost any type of oil.
While it is an inverter generator, the manufacturer doesn’t seem to offer cables to connect more than one of these cheap little generators together to power a heater or AC for your camper.
The WEN portable generator is the best choice for those who live in Colorado or another high altitude location or want to be able to maintain it as necessary without relying on service centers. The Champion generator is ideal for stacking two or more in one corner to scale up the power for your campsite or cabin. The Honda generator is efficient and lightweight and easily serviced by almost anyone. The Yamaha generator is eco-friendly and quiet, but don’t buy it if you want to get it serviced under the warranty.
Westinghouse has a reputation for quality, but the service has deteriorated over time. Conversely, the WH2200iXLT Westinghouse generator is an excellent choice for compatibility with almost every other Westinghouse generator. The Altima is small, compact and lightweight – just don’t plan on using it for more than short periods. The Homegear generator’s biggest attraction is price; it is good enough to run some lights, a radio and other small items when camping without the noise the big boys put out whether or not they are powering an AC.