When we leave the comfort of our home to go camping, we leave behind a lot of creature comforts. Electricity powers all sorts of things we take for granted, from lights to heaters. Often, while you can go camping, you use propane or batteries to power these things. Generators can also be a good source of electricity for your camping trips. In this article, we review the best generator for camping. Choosing a good generator will keep your campsite quiet and with plug in power at the ready.
A quiet camping generator can be a pleasant addition to your camping experience. Whether you are tent, RV, van, or car camping. Further, RVs and vans are designed to plug into electricity. You can plug an RV or travel trailer directly into a quiet camping generator and power appliances, TV, heater, air conditioners and more.
Generators are a good source of electricity for a camping trip. They can also serve as a backup in an emergency. You never know when there may be a loss of power temporarily or for longer power outages.
There are all types and sizes of generators designed to power various appliances and electric systems. A generator converts one kind of energy into another at the very basic level. For example, gasoline, diesel, propane, or natural gas. All of these fuels1 may be a fuel source to power an engine used with an alternator to create electricity. That is a generator in action.
You’ll see many numbers and terms used for generators that can be pretty confusing. So, we’ll try to break it down for you here.
1000 Watts (W) = 1 Kilowatt (kW)
A generator’s electrical output of power is measured in kilowatts. One kilowatt (kW) equals 1000 watts (W). One watt equals one joule per second. One joule equals one ampere passing through one OHM for one second. OHM is the field of resistance.
We know this is confusing, and it can be pretty overwhelming when trying to find the best generator for camping. So, we’ll break it down a little further.
Generators are sold by their power output or in watts. The amount of power they can deliver determines the number of appliances you can run at once. For example, a typical home will run on about a 5000-watt generator which would require a powerful generator.
As a general rule of thumb, most appliances that generate heat require more energy than other appliances. Appliances like coffee makers, microwaves, heaters, and hair dryers. Additionally, an appliance like the refrigerator will take more power when it cycles on.
As a result, you typically won’t be able to run the microwave and air conditioner simultaneously in an RV. That is unless you have a generator providing enough watts. Knowing how to choose the right size generator for your needs is critical. Additionally, choosing the wrong generator or not setting it up properly can be dangerous. Not knowing how to use it, can do a lot of damage to your electrical system and your appliances. For this reason, make sure you do some research and learn how these systems all work.
Types of Generators
There are four types of generators:
- Home Standby
- Portable Power Stations
Home Standby Generators
These will be the most expensive generators you can buy and typically need to be installed by a professional. These start automatically when your traditional power source goes out. The safest fuel type for these generators is propane or natural gas. These fuels can be stored more safely than gasoline or diesel. The wattage on these is higher than the others. Wattage from 5000 – 20,000, and thus the reason they can power an entire house without missing a beat.
These generators cost less than home standby generators and usually run on gasoline. They can be run anywhere on your property. Do not use in enclosed spaces due to the high potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. For this reason, they should be kept a minimum of 20-feet from the home when in use. It also doesn’t hurt to have a cover to protect it from the elements. The wattage of these is usually 3000-8500.
Inverter generators are quieter, making them more complex and therefore more expensive. Rather than a continuous output, these generators adjust according to the amount of electricity being used. Additionally, they have better exhaust systems that help keep the noise down. They also produce fewer emissions; however, the same safety precautions as the others should always be used. These generators are usually between 1,500 and 6,500 watts.
Portable Power Stations
These generators do not use the traditional types of fuel mentioned above. Instead, they are powered by a battery. The solar batteries are recharged by either plugging into a conventional generator, conventional electrical outlet, or a solar power panel. You might hear these called “solar generators.” These typically cost more than traditional generators but are silent and more eco-friendly. The downside to these is they can’t power as many appliances and must be recharged at some point. These are usually around 1,200-1,500 watts.
Generators for Camping
You will want to look at portable generators, inverter generators, or portable power stations. If you’re looking for the best camping generator.
There are several things to keep in mind when buying a generator for camping. These include fuel capacity, environmental compatibility, decibels, and, of course, wattage.
What Size Generator For 30 Amp RV
For RV’s or travel trailers, you’ll likely want something in the 2000 – 4000 watt range. The higher watt range will have the capability to power most appliances in your RV. The larger the fuel tank, the longer a generator can operate without refilling. What size generator for 30 amp RV? A 30 Amp RV, at a minimum, should be powered by a 3000 watt generator. The maximum watts for a 30 amp RV is 3600 watts (120v x 30 amp = 3600 watts)
What Size Generator For 50 amp RV
A 50 amp RV should run well with a 4000- 5000 watt generator at a minimum. 120V x 50amp = 6000 watts. Due to a 50 amp connection having two hot wires you can double this wattage to 12000. Therefore a 50 amp generator for RV will produce 12000 watts for your 50 amp RV.
It’s also an important thing to use quiet generators for camping since often you’ll be surrounded by other people. Further, many campgrounds and parks don’t allow loud generators, and some don’t allow them at all.
You’ll also want to make sure the generator you choose meets environmental standards. Check for the states you plan on traveling and camping in.
Best Solar Generator for Camping
Renogy PHOENIX 246.24Wh/150W Portable Solar Generator
If you’re looking for a silent generator for camping, a solar generator will be the quietest generators. As we stated before, these generators don’t have engines and operate off a charged battery instead. We find the Renogy PHOENIX 246.24Wh/150W Portable Generator one of the best options in this category.
This little solar generator is perfect for those looking to power your electronics while off-grid. You will not be able to power many appliances with this generator. You will be able to successfully charge your cell phones, laptops, and other electronics. This is perfect for a weekend away or those that work on the road and camp off-grid.
It comes with two 20-watt solar panels; however, you can add capacity by adding more 50 or 100-watt solar panels. It shows sun exposure levels which will help you position the panels to get the most power possible.
This solar generator is portable and packs up into a suitcase-size box. The case is sturdy enough to protect all the components.
- Multiple ports, including 4 USB ports
- 2 DC out ports,
- Cigarette lighter output
- AC output.
The other thing people like about this generator is it has a replaceable battery.
Jackery Solar Generator Explorer 1500, 1800W Generator, and SolarSaga 100W
A second solid Solar Generator option is the Jackery Solar Generator Explorer 1500 with the SolarSaga Solar Panels. This Generator has the ability to supply endless power provided the sun is shining for you. The Solar Saga Solar Panels absorb the sun’s energy and store it in the Jackery Explorer Solar Lithium Battery Pack. The Jackery Explorer 1500 then powers your appliances and lights.
The Jackery Explorer 1500 and SolarSaga 100 comes with the Portable Power Station. 4 100 Watt Solar Panels, AC and Car Charging Cables. 2 Solar Panel Parallel Adapter cable and a User Manual. The Explore 1500 has a 1534 Wh capacity and a 1800 high running wattage.
Best Quiet Generator for Camping
Honda EU2200 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
If you’re looking for a quiet, quality option, you can never go wrong with a Honda Generator. The Honda Generator EU2200i 2200W Watt Portable Inverter Generator in particular is extremely popular. Great for Campers, RVers, Beach Loungers, Backyarders, Tailgaters, and Ice Fishing Anglers. Honda also has lower and higher wattage generators. The Honda lineup includes the Honda Generator EU1000I 1000W Watt and the Honda Generator EU3000IS 3000W Watt generators. Match the generator to your specific recreational wattage needs. We would also recommend this generator as the best generator for tailgating.
Best 2000 Watt Inverter Generator
This Honda Generator EU2200i 2200 Watt Portable Camping Generator is small enough for easy portability. At 2200 watts of power, this RV generator can power most of your RV appliances. It is super quiet and operates at 48 to 57 decibels (dBA), quieter than a normal conversation. This makes it great for those places where you want peace and quiet and don’t want to disturb your neighbors.
The Honda EU2200 has a .95-gallon fuel tank. It can run for up to 4.0 to 9.6 hours of run time on a single tank, depending on the load. This is due to the inverter and eco-throttle feature that allows for better fuel consumption or fuel efficiency.
The biggest downside to this generator is it only has two appliance outlets and one for power tools.
Honda EU3000IS 3000W 120V Portable Home Gas Power Generator
The Honda EU3000IS 3000W 120V Portable Home Gas Power Generator has a 3.4 gallon tank capacity. This generator can run up to 7.2 to 20 hours of run time on a single tank, depending on the generator load. This makes this generator great for overnight power.
Best Generator For Pop Up Camper
The Honda EU1000 is perfect for a pop up camper. 1000W 120V. The Honda EU1000 packs a punch at 1000 watts (W) and 120 V. This generator can easily run lights, power your devices. The EU100 is portable and lightweight. Weighing only 29 pounds it operates between 42 to 50 dB(A) which is about the same noise level as a normal conversation. The gas tank is .55 Gallons.
Honda Generator Parallel Cables for EU1000, EU2200, and EU3000
You can also pair Honda Generators together when you need extra power. Honda offers a special cable that will allow you to link EU1000I, EU2200I, EU3000I generators together. This is called putting the generators in parallel and essentially doubles the output of the generator. Please note, you can only parallel two like generators (same model). Honda Power Equipment HPK123HI Parallel Cables for EU1000i, EU2200i, and EU3000i Generators.
Best Inverter Generator for Camping
As we mentioned before, inverter generators are some of the quietest units out there. They can also throttle according to how much power is needed and are therefore more efficient. Across the internet, the Champion 3400W Inverter Generator is one of the most popular inverter generators available.
At 3400 watts output, this generator will power almost anything you need. The noise level is 59 decibels at 23 feet. You can run it in economy mode, which is quieter. Regular mode will power things like air conditioners where you need more juice.
It also comes with wheels, so you don’t need to purchase them separately as you do with some units. This allows for easy mobility.
Champion also has unparalleled customer service, with many loyal customers. And many reviewers feel Champion rivals Honda in quality, but at better prices.
The downside to this generator is the smaller fuel tank. At 1.6 gallons, it runs out of fuel much faster than those with larger tanks. However, less fuel means less weight, making it easier to maneuver if full.
Best Portable Generators For Camping
Best Portable Generator For RV Camping
If you’re RV camping, you’ll likely want something that can power a lot, from the air conditioner to smaller appliances. You’ll also probably have a bit more room for packing something slightly bigger, which is good. Generally, the more watts a unit puts out, the bigger the generator is.
Best RV Generator 30 Amp
While it’s a bit heavier than some smaller generators, we love the Westinghouse Outdoor Power Equipment WGen3600v Portable Generator 3600. It’s a 3600-watt unit and can power plenty of your camping conveniences. While we can’t say this is the quietest 30 amp generator, it is right up there for its class and gets excellent reviews in this area.
This gas-powered generator is RV-ready, with a 4-gallon fuel tank that can run for up to 13.5 hours of run time. It’s easy to start, which can’t be said for some generators, and is a critical feature. It comes fully assembled, and all one needs to do is add gas and oil (it comes with the oil!).
At 100 pounds, you’ll want to add the wheel kit for ease of moving around. Given the generator’s price, you can easily add this luxury item. As far as outlets go, it has one 5-20R 120V household duplex receptacle. It also has an RV-ready TT-30R 30 amp receptacle, and an L5-30R 30 amp receptacle.
Best Small Generator for Camping
If you’re looking for a great small generator, we like the YAMAHA EF2200iS Inverter Generator. It’s hard to go wrong with a Yamaha generator since they make quality, long-lasting products. However, they tend to be on the more expensive end. You get what you pay for. Everything about this generator screams quality.
These generators come with a 3-year warranty, and replacement parts are readily available. Because it is an inverter model, it is also very quiet. This is perfect for camping where it’s essential to keep noise to a minimum. The best generators for camping are the quiet generators.
At 55 pounds and 2200 watts, you have plenty of capacity for running things in your RV or van. It can even serve as a home backup in a power outage. At that weight, it’s also easy to load and unload into a pickup or trailer. It’s got good carry handles that help with this endeavor.
This generator has a fuel gauge to see how much gas is left quickly. It is fuel-efficient, burning about 1 gallon per 10 hours of run time.
The only issue with this generator is it is too small to power an ac unit. For that, you’ll need to go with more wattage, like with our other models listed.
Do I Need To Ground My Generator When Camping
Yes, that is your safest option for your campsite. Grounding a generator will help protect you and your fellow campers from possible getting electrocuted. Grounding a generator while camping will also help protect your RV. It will also help protect the appliances or electronics that you have plugged into the outlets.
Check your generators user manual. Some generators are grounded to the generator frame. Grounding to the frame is common with newer, modern generators.
How To Ground A Generator When Camping
In order to ground a generator when camping you will need to connect a grounding rod and grounding wire to your generator.
First, take a hammer or mallet and pound your grounding rod into the ground about 3 or 4 feet deep. The grounding rod should be placed away from the generator, people and other objects by at least a few feet.
Second, connect your grounding cable to the grounding rod by wrapping the grounding wire around the grounding rod.
Third, with the generator no running and in the off position, connect your grounding cable to the grounding terminal or grounding post. Double check your connections.
Safety First! Review your generator user manual. Also, review the instructions for your grounding rod and grounding wire. The manual and instructions will have the recommended grounding requirements for your gear.
Best Generator For Camping Final Thoughts
There are many quality generators on the market coming in a wide range of sizes and prices. You’ll get more wattage and brand names that come with excellent customer service on the higher-end. But many great economic models can be found that will serve your power needs.
When looking for a generator, know approximately how much electricity the appliances and things you are powering need. This will help you determine the size generator to buy. You’ll also want to consider things like fuel tank capacity and how quiet the generators are. Also do the generators meet environmental standards.
You’ll also want to make sure you can easily maneuver your generator around once you get to your destination. Hopefully, that destination will be somewhere with great beach or mountain views and out in nature with any luck. If you still like to have your creature comforts and a warm shower, a quiet camping generator is the way to go!