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 quietest portable generators for camping, whether in a campsite, cabin or RV.
Budget Camper Guide to Small Generators That Let You Sleep in the Wild in Near Silence
The model 56200i WEN generator provides 1600 running watts and 2000 starting watts.
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.
Soundless Solar Generator for Camping
Pulsar isn’t as famous as Honda or Yamaha, but it is a quality USA brand. The Pulsar G2319N generator is so efficient is can be sold in California.
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. It provides 1800 running watts, 2300 peak watts. You will find the noise level rating is at 59 dBa standing 10 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 holds just over a gallon. The manufacturer says that will run for six hours on a half 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 the Pulsar company, but this particular model is not available on the company website. So you might need to go to a power equipment repair service.
This is an affordable, compact generator. The Westinghouse iGen2200 inverter generator puts out 1800 watts continuously, 2200 watts when demand peaks. Enjoy quiet power at 52 decibels without creating any disturbances at the campsite.
One of the biggest benefits of the iGen2200 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. Since the company has 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.
This ultralight Champion generator is perfect for stowing away for use at a campsite or keeping in the garage for power outages. It is parallel ready so can you connect two of the same model generators with each other. It weighs less than 40 pounds, so most people can move it.
This 200951Champion generator 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.
Starting Wattage: 2500W
Running Wattage: 1850W
Engine: 4-stroke 79cc OHV
Fuel Tank: 1.1 Gallon
Run Time: Up To 11.5 Hours
Assembly Required: No
Product Dimensions: 17.3" x 12" x 17.7"
Included Items: USB Adapter, Engine Oil, Oil Funnel
It automatically shuts off when the oil is low. The unit uses a recoil start but is easy to pull.
Champion Ultra Quiet - 53 dBA
This Honda EU1000i 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 small 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 EF2000iSv2 generator 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.
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.
|Generator Model||Noise Level Ratings (dBA)||Watts||Weight||Fuel Capacity / Run Time|
|51 dBA||Running Watts 1600 |
Starting Watts 2000
|48 Lbs||1 Gallon|
6 Hrs (@ 1/2 Load)
|53 dBA||Running Watts 1700 |
Starting Watts 2000
|48.5 Lbs||1 Gallon|
9.5 Hrs(@ 1/4 Load)
|59 dBA||Running Watts 900 |
Starting Watts 1000
|29 Lbs||0.6 Gallons |
7.1 Hrs (@ 1/4 Load)
|51dBA||Running Watts 1600 |
Starting Watts 2000
|44.1 Lbs||1.1 Gallons |
10.5Hrs (@1/4 Load)
|59 dBA||Running Watts 1800 |
Starting Watts 2200
|43 Lbs||1.3 Gallons |
13 Hrs (@ 1/4 Load)
|59 dBA||Running Watts 1800|
Starting Watts 2300
|47 Lbs||1.18 Gallons |
6.0 Hrs(@ 1/2 Load)
|58 dBA||Running Watts 800 |
Starting Watts 700
|22.5 Lbs||0.55 Gallons |
6.3 Hrs (@ 1/2 Load)
Quiet Camping Generators – Buying Guide
The review of the best quiet camping generators has probably left you with a lot to think about. I’m now going to offer more information that should help you make the best decision.
While this review presented some of the best options with regards to quiet gas generators for camping, there is another option to ponder. A battery power station with solar panels can be considered a super quiet camping generator. While modern inverter generators are fuel efficient and quiet, they are never completely silent. The inverter used for solar generators, or battery power stations, is basically silent. The noise level is similar to a small, quiet refrigerator.
However, there are limitations to using battery power instead of gas. I’ll be pointing this out when looking at battery power stations vs quiet gas generators. So this generator buying guide is going cover three bases. A comparison between gas and solar generators and a buying guide for both solar and gas quiet camping generators.
Quiet Gas Generators vs Solar Battery Power Packs
As I mentioned before, battery power stations are the only camping power source that can be deemed super quiet, or truly silent. This may seem attractive as generator noise in campsites is a contentious issue. However, there are pros and cons to both types of generator, as you are about to see.
Quick Comparison: Gas Generator vs Solar Portable Power
Battery Power Stations
Quiet Gas Generator for Camping
As you would have noticed in the review, there are some pretty amazing options for RV owners and campers seeking a quiet generator that won’t cause a disturbance in a campsite.
What Can Be Considered a Quiet Camping Generator?
I’m going to discussing noise levels in the context of gas generators in a campsite. Essentially, noise isn’t a consideration with battery power stations as they virtually silent.
The average speaking voice is a round 60dBA to 65dBA. I use this as the benchmark for a quiet camping generator. If a generator isn’t much louder than two people having a normal conversation, there can be little complaint about noise. Less than 60dBA can be considered whisper quiet. We can call these super quiet gas generators.
What to Consider When Buying a Quiet Gas Generator for Camping
The best quiet generators for a campsite will be inverter generators that are enclosed to reduce noise levels. Apart from a sound-insulated housing, there are some other features that can be important, depending on your camping needs.
Size and Portability
If you have a large RV with an air conditioner and refrigerator, you will obviously need a larger generator with more power. Fortunately, a large motorhome will usually make provision for this. A high-end, large RV will have a compartment designed for the appropriate size generator. An additional benefit here, is that this will offer improved sound insulation, as the generator is placed within a purpose-built enclosure with additional sound insulating material. This helps mitigate the noise produced by a larger generator.
Larger, more powerful generators, usually have wheel kits with the appropriate handles for when you need to move it. They do, however, use more gas than a small generator. Making provision for enough gas, and transporting numerous gas cans, needs to be one of considerations.
A smaller trailer or tent won’t need as much power and space can be limited. Often the best generator for basic camping needs will be one that produces around 1000W - 2000W. If you’re not using high-watt appliances, like refrigerators, air conditioners, and microwaves, these generators will supply all the power you need when on a camping trip.
They are compact and delightfully lightweight, making these small generators the most practical for camping. They are also incredibly fuel efficient, so you don’t need to haul an endless supply of gas. Because small generators have the smallest engines, they are generally the quietest, seldom more than 60dBA. Provided you’re buying an enclosed quiet inverter generator.
While you may prefer a smaller, more portable generator, it will be of little value if your generator does not meet your power demand. Small inverter generators (1000W – 2000W) are great for TVs, laptops, stereos, a fan, and a few lights. They deliver clean, low HD power that won’t harm your TV or other electronic equipment and are wonderfully practical.
When dealing with refrigerators and air conditioners, in particular, you need to consider the extra running and startup wattage that your generator needs to supply. Running watts is the power that these appliances draw continuously while they’re running. Startup or surge power is the extra power required when starting. This inrush current is only needed for a short period and most generators make adequate provision for this. You’ll notice generator specs always include a peak, or starting watts rating and running, or continuous power rating. This is to allow this startup power requirements.
You will need to think about how many of these appliances you will be using simultaneously. If an air conditioner and refrigerator start at the same time, the starting wattage is going to be pretty high.
What size generator do you need for a refrigerator?
A small RV under counter refrigerator for a camper or RV should only draw around 150W running power and 300 – 450W startup current. A mid-sized refrigerator will require around 400W running power and 1,200W – 1,500W starting power. A large refrigerator can be up to 800W running power and up to 3,000W starting power.
What size generator do you need to run your air conditioner?
A trailer, or small RV, may only have a 5,000 BTU AC. This wont need much power, around 300W running power and 1,000W for startup. For a 10,000 BTU RV air conditioner, you need to allow for 1,200W running power with startup around 3,000 to 3,600W.
What size generator do you need for camping?
You’ll need to assess your needs and decide how much you’re willing to compromise. You may want to save some cash or would prefer a smaller generator for practical reasons. In the end, there is no one size fits all camping generator.
List all the appliances with their running and starting watts. Start off with your complete wish list, you can always remove a few items if it gets too much. You will usually find that your starting wattage requirement for all appliances combined is going to disproportionately high, especially if you’re using a large refrigerator, AC, and microwave. Before you despair, consider how often any of these appliance will be starting simultaneously. While a refrigerator and air conditioner cannot be controlled, they cycle automatically, it’s quite easy to switch off other appliances for short periods, if needs be.
Can you make your portable generator quieter?
There are several ways to reduce generator noise. You don’t need to spend a lot to do so. Here are some tips on how to make your portable generator quieter.
- 1With some simple DIY skills, you can build an enclosure using plywood or MDF. In doing so, you need to ensure ample ventilation for cooling, and make sure the exhaust gasses can escape. Ensure that you have ventilation holes in the appropriate positions. Also make sure that the enclosure is suitably large enough. No part of the generator should touch the walls of the enclosure. Leave at least 5”space around the top and sides of the generator.
- 2If woodwork is not your thing, you can buy a portable generator enclosure. These will have excellent sound insulation and provide the extra benefit of protection from rain and snow, as these are weatherproof. They are easy to assemble, disassemble, and transport.
- 3If you’re particularly industrious, you can fit a motorcycle or car muffler to your portable generator. This can reduce sound levels to more than half the normal noise.
Using a Generator in a Campsite
Let’s face it, camping is a time to appreciate quality time with your family and enjoy the serenity of nature. While a portable camping generator is great in affording you some creature comforts, they can be annoying to neighboring campers.
Campsites generally have their own rules regarding generators. Some may prohibit the use of generators entirely, while others may have designated generator sites. Familiarize yourself with the rules and abide by them.
Quiet times, when generators are not allowed, need to be adhered to. A portable battery power station can be a great comfort provider. You can charge the batteries when the generator is running and then have basic power during quiet times.
A good rule of thumb is to always follow the National Parks rules for camping generators. These rules stipulate that no motorized machinery (like generators) may exceed 60dBA from a distance of 50-feet.
In the end, it comes down to common decency. Good camping etiquette is about friendly neighborly respect. Avoid placing your generator too close to other RVs, tents, or trailers. Not only is the noise upsetting, but the exhaust gasses are dangerous and unpleasant.
Talk to your neighboring campers and ask them how they feel about your generator running in the campsite. If you can accommodate their concerns, it will make it easier on everyone. No one wants to be “that guy”. The one everyone is talking about because he makes it uncomfortable for the rest of us.
Portable Battery Power Stations
A battery power station consists of an inverter with a battery charger and, of course, a battery. These can range from ultra-portable units that can be carried in a backpack for hiking trips, up to battery packs large enough to run a small refrigerator and a few other appliances.
Small units, about the size and weight of a portable radio, are relatively inexpensive, and wonderfully portable. They seldom produce more than 300 – 400 watts, but this is enough for basic power for a few hours. You can use your laptop, charge portable devices, and use some LED lights.
Some portable battery power stations can provide up to 3000W peak power and can supply most camping and RV needs. These units are quite large, though usually smaller than a gas generator with a similar power output. The real issue comes to the batteries. Portable battery power stations have built-in batteries with fairly limited working time. Larger power stations, with more usable power, often have ports to connect additional batteries so that you can use them for longer periods between charge cycles. But additional batteries are bulky and can be quite heavy. This may not always be practical.
Most portable power stations can be charged from the mains (120 VAC), solar panels, or the 12V outlet on your car or RV. Many of the ultra-portable small power stations offer equally portable solar panel kits that can also fit into a backpack. Larger solar panel kits are available for more power. It can take a day to several days to charge your battery using solar panels. It depends on the weather.
Solar panels are great, providing the sun is shining. They are obviously of little use in cloudy weather. If you’re considering solar panels for camping, buy quality panels. Mono-crystalline solar panels are the most popular and the cheapest. Mid-priced monocrystalline panels are okay, but not the best. Because of their affordability, they are the most common.
More efficient poly-crystalline solar panels are the best. They are the most efficient, generating more watts per hour, and perform better in light to medium cloud cover. Poly-crystalline panels also last longer, sometimes 3 – 4 times longer than mono-crystalline panels.
The generators listed here are some of the quietest models available in the market. 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 Pulsar is small, compact and lightweight – You can 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.