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Generators come in a variety of types, which you may or may not be aware of. Everyone has different needs when it comes to choosing the best camping generator. Do you need portable power for traditional tent camping or for your RV? What are your camping needs? This will determine how much power you need. Also, what’s your budget? Are you looking for an inverter generator or a battery-powered generator (IE. portable power station)? My goal is to help you choose the best camping generator for you, which is why I review a variety of models. The choice is ultimately yours.
If you want the honest truth, battery generator with a solar kit is your ideal source of power for tent camping but power stations cost more than gas-powered inverter generators. If you need the best generator for RV camping then you likely need an inverter generator, although the ECOFLOW Delta Pro is great option because it’s expandable.
Let me give you a quick breakdown on the differences between these two types of camping generators.
Table of Contents...
- 1 Best Camping Generators / Quiet Power for 2023
- 2 Intro | Best Camping Generator
- 2.1 Best Quiet Camping Generator / Battery : ECOFLOW River Pro
- 2.2 Jackery Explorer 1000 / Best Portable Camping Power
- 2.3 Camping Inverter Generator / Westinghouse iGen4500 / 4500W
- 2.4 WEN 56200i | Best Cheap Camping Generator
- 2.5 Three Major Features for Camping Generators
- 2.6 Choosing the Best Camping Generator For You
Best Camping Generators / Quiet Power for 2023
Overview : Inverter Generator vs Portable Power Station
Inverter generators are powered by gas, which means they produce fumes, require maintenance and are heavier than power stations. They are relatively quiet, usually under about 60dB, depending on the model and how much load you put on it. If you’re running an inverter at full capacity, it will be louder than running it 50% of it’s maximum power output. If you’re on a budget, inverter generators are cheaper, which means you’ll get more power for your money.
Compare : Inverter Generator vs Power Station
Champion 200961 / Dual-Fuel Inverter
- 53 dBA / 39 lbs.
- Gas : 2500W start / 1850W run
- Propane : 2500W start / 1665W run
- Gas : Runs up 11.5 hours
- Propane : 34 hours with a 20-lb tank
- Parallel Ready
Battery generators are the ultimate in portable backup power because they are ultra-lightweight, are basically silent, can be used indoors (inside your tent) safely, no fumes, can be charged by the sun with a solar kit, making them the best camping generators on the market. There’s only one drawback; they’re more expensive than inverter generators. Also, power stations come in a wide range of sizes, and many brands have models with expandable batteries, like the EcoFlow series of power stations, which I’ll show you in this article. If cost isn’t an issue then I highly recommend a battery generator, but if you’re on a budget then get an inverter generator. I don’t know your specific needs so you’ll have to decide what makes the most sense for you.
Champion Inverter / Best Camping and RV Generator / 200986
Champion makes excellent generators and this model is no different. It’s a gas only model, packed with features but it also comes in a dual-fuel version. I think a dual-fuel inverter generator is my recommendation if you’re looking for the most practical inverter generator for camping. Propane can be easily stored indefinitely, whereas gas is trickier to move around and store. For me, the best camping generator makes your life easier, not more complicated.
Dual-Fuel Model : Champion 200988 (runs on propane or gas)
Here you can compare prices between battery power and gas inverter generators :
Intro | Best Camping Generator
Do you remember the good old days when your family would take you camping at the weekend? Everyone would jump into the car on a Friday afternoon and you’d make your way to your favorite spot. When you look back on your childhood those weekends might be some of your favorite memories.
One of those memories would have been cooking a tasty meal over an open fire, but those days are long gone. Technology has caught up with campers and now you’ll be able to take a portable generator into the woods with you to cook your food on grills.
Briggs & Stratton P2400 / CO Monitoring / Inverter Generator for Camping
This 2400W inverter generator is one of the best camping generators because it has built-in carbon monoxide monitoring. If CO levels get dangerously high, it will automatically shut off. Highly recommended.
If you’re in the market for an inverter style, you should this Briggs & Stratton P2400 at the top of your list. Not only is it quiet, but it has carbon monoxide monitoring making it safe to run while enjoying camping in the great outdoors. Never run a gas generator close to your tent. The main advantages of this model are that it’s relatively quiet (only 58dB) and won’t bother other campers and it will keep you safe if CO levels get too high in the area.
This is a gas only model.
- CO Guard Carbon Monoxide Shutdown : This patent-pending technology shuts down your generator when harmful levels of carbon monoxide accumulate in the generator’s operating area.
- Power : 2400W start / 1800W running
- Safe for Sensitive Electronics : safely recharge and power your sensitive electronics such as laptops, smartphones and gaming systems.
- Designed for Camping : The lightweight design and quiet generator operation makes this one of the best generators for camping and outdoor recreation.
- Quiet : Automatically adjusts engine speed based on the power load.
- Quiet Power Technology further reduces noise, fuel consumption and emissions.
- 58dB operating volume, this portable generator is quieter than a normal conversation. You’ll barely notice it’s running.
- OUTLETS : 2X 230V household sockets, one 12V DC charging outlet, and 2X 5V USB port offer enough flexibility to power an extensive combination of lights, laptops, blenders, personal electronics and more.
- Easy to Carry : H-handle design lets one person easily carry the light generator. Easy for two people to share the carry load.
- Parallel Connector Port A dedicated parallel outlet lets you connect two units together for even more power – perfect for RVs with air conditioning units. Parallel connector kit is sold separately.
It Should Be As Quiet As Possible
When you’re in the middle of nature you finally have a chance to relax, so the last thing you need is a camping generator loud enough to spoil everything. If someone pitched their tent nearby and woke you up every day you wouldn’t be happy.
Ideally you’ll want an inverter camping generator because they’re so quiet you almost can’t hear anything. All of the generators we’re going to look at later on are still quiet even when they’re running at full load.
Please Note: Most inverter generators sit around the 60dB level mark, which is the same as a normal conversion. dB (or decibels) is the unit we use to measure noise levels.
Best Quiet Camping Generator / Battery : ECOFLOW River Pro
SAFE TO USE INDOORS. There are so many reasons why portable power stations are the ideal option for camping, but the one feature that should have you salivating is that you can use this inside your tent or RV, anywhere you need power, and you never have to worry about fumes or noise.
At only 15.9 lbs. this is definitely one of the best camping generators on the market. It has enough power for anything you’d need while camping, unless you need enough power to run your RV. We’ll give you options for that later. This ECOFLOW can be charged to 80% capacity in an hour and it takes about 4.5 hours to be charged when using two 110W solar panels. If you want to charge it with your car outlet, well, that will take 3 hours to charge. Either way, you have a variety of options to keep it charged.
Also, like all ECOFLOW power stations, you can buy an extra battery and expand your power from 720Wh to 1440Wh. The reason why I love ECOFLOW is because you won’t find a faster charging camping generator and most other brands don’t have the option to add an extra battery. I value these features as these provide you with more options. It makes more sense to expand your camping generator than to buy more than one model. I appreciate clever design.
- 3 x 600W AC OUTLETS AND 720Wh CAPACITY The RIVER Pro can power up to 10 devices simultaneously with multiple outlet options, including 3 pure sine wave AC outlets. It offers up to 720Wh power and it weighs just 15.9lbs, which makes it a portable power source for adventure on the go.
- RECHARGE FROM 0-80% WITHIN 1 HOUR The patented EcoFlow X-Stream technology enables you to charge the RIVER Pro from 0%-80% within one hour and offers a full charge in just 1.6 hours.
- DOUBLE CAPACITY FROM 720Wh to 1440Wh Add a RIVER Pro Extra Battery to double the capacity from 720Wh to 1440Wh. This is ideal for situations like traveling, camping, or group outdoor activities where you need more power for more devices.
- POWER A WIDE RANGE OF APPLIANCES The RIVER Pro can power some devices up to 1800W with the X-Boost mode on, which lets you power about 80% of essential devices like kitchen appliances and DIY tools. Use devices below 1200W for the best product use.
It Needs To Be Powerful Enough
This is one area where traditional generators will always beat inverter generators, but it’s not a big deal when you’re going camping. The unit won’t be required to power every appliance in your house like you might need in an emergency situation.
You still want your generator to have some juice under the hood. This is especially important for those who like to take lots of things with them. We’ll look at the specific Starting watts and Running watts for individual generators later, but this is how many watts some things need:
- Electric Grill = SW 1,800 / RW 1,800
- Coffee Machine = SW 600 / RW 600
- Laptop Computer = SW 220 / RW 220
Jackery Explorer 1000 / Best Portable Camping Power
- Larger Capacity and Higher Wattages: It features a 1002Wh(46.4Ah) lithium battery capacity, 1000W continuous and 2000W surge power.
- Multiple Output Ports: Ideal for camping and off-grid life. Power your cameras, computers, communication devices, CPAP, and electric grill.
- can be quickly fully recharged within 8 hours by connecting two SolarSaga 100W solar panels
- Clean Outdoor Backup Power : Efficient solar charging with a built-in MPPT charge controller. Turn it into a Solar Generator 1000 system by connecting two SolarSaga 100W solar panels (sold separately) allows fast, eco-friendly charging. Completely charge the battery with full sun in just 8 hours.
- Portable and Compact: It weighs only 22lbs and has a solid handle for easy carrying.
- Safe and Easy To Use: Features an LCD screen with charge/discharge data and battery life status for safety and ease of use.
- OUTLETS :
- 3x standard PURE SINE WAVE AC outlets
- 2x USB-C and / 1xQuick Charge 3.0 port
Note: The Starting watts is sometimes higher than the Running watts because certain appliances need a kick to get started, but it’s usually only bigger power tools. To find out if your generator can handle all of your appliances they shouldn’t be higher than the total wattage rating when added together.
It Shouldn’t Be Too Heavy To Carry
This one isn’t a big problem if you can dead-lift 315 pounds in the gym, but a lighter generator is always better than a heavier one. An emergency generator you store at home might not move a lot, but when you’re camping you want to be more flexible.
If you have a heavy generator it could easily require the strength of two people to lift in and out of your car. A heavier one means it’s going to be bigger too, so if you don’t have a truck it could eat up a lot of space you’ll want for things like inflatable canoes and fishing equipment.
Please Note: It’s also worth remembering a gallon of gasoline weighs around 6 pounds and a big generator will have a larger tank. You’ll also have to stock up on a certain amount of gasoline depending on the number of days you’re camping, which won’t be light if you are going on a long trip.
Best powerful camping generator. Great for your RV or long-term camping trips.
Camping Inverter Generator / Westinghouse iGen4500 / 4500W
This excellent inverter generator from Westinghouse gives you plenty of power for all of your camping/RV needs. It also comes in other model types :
- Westinghouse iGen4500DF / Dual-Fuel / NO CO Monitoring
- Westinghouse iGen4500DFc / Dual-Fuel with CO Monitoring
- Westinghouse iGen4500c / Gas only with CO Monitoring
I have no idea what your definition of “camping” is. There’s a diverse range of requirements that people have. If you own an RV then this 4500W inverter generator is a great option to power your appliances and air conditioner. Make sure you calculate your power needs to make sure you have enough power for your devices. There are wattage calculators online that you’ll find helpful.
- Bring power to your home during a power outage or recreational activities
- 4500 peak watts, 3700 running watts and runs for up to 18 hours on a 3.4 gal. gas tank
- Enhanced fuel efficiency – variable engine speeds allow 30% to 50% higher fuel efficiency than a traditional generator
- Compact and powerful design – features telescoping handle and never-flat wheels for easy portability at 104.7 lb.
- Remote start (key fob) and push button start make this generator convenient to operate
- Super quiet – as low as 52 dBA with double-insulated acoustic enclosure, asymmetrical cooling fans, and low tone mufflers to reduce operating noise
- Safely powers sensitive electronics such as laptop computers, cell phones and more
- Real-time LED display with runtime, remaining fuel, load/output, volts and lifetime hours data
- RV Ready TT-30R outlet keeps this compact generator versatile for campgrounds, tailgates, and other outdoor festivities
- All Westinghouse portable generators are functionally tested in the factory and may contain minimum residual oil and/or fuel odor
We’ve covered this generator extensively on this site : Read our full review of the Westinghouse iGen4500
It Needs To Have A Good Run Time
A camping generator should be able to run for a long time. Even though an inverter generator will have a smaller tank, you don’t want it to run out too fast before it needs topped up. This is because you’ll want it to last throughout the night.
There are a few appliances you could be running while you’re sleeping depending on things like whether it’s hot or cold. A longer run time also helps with the gas problem we talked about earlier on, because you won’t need to take as much with you for the weekend.
It Should Protect Your Appliances
We’ve talked about inverter generators a lot because campers seem to love them and this is a huge reason. They’re capable of producing ‘clean power’ that doesn’t jump around a lot compared to older generators.
You don’t want to charge delicate laptops and smartphones on a generator where the output voltage jumps up and down continuously. It’s fine for power tools, but could easily fry the circuitry on fine electrical appliances.
WEN 56200i | Best Cheap Camping Generator
▶ Excellent value for the money. Top seller consistently, and for good reasons.
This is one of the best budget camping generators. In fact, you find much cheaper than this WEN model. If you just want a basic generator and don’t care about any special features then this is a good choice. There’s nothing unique about it other than it’s cheap.
- Dimensions: 18″ x 11″ x 18″
- Weight: 48 lbs
- Noise Level: 53 dB
- EPA III and CARB Compliant / 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine
- Power : 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts
- Great for campgrounds, construction sites, tailgates and power outages
- Produces clean power to safely operate and prevent damage to sensitive electronics such as phones, tablets, televisions and computers
- Includes 2x three-prong 120V receptacles, 1x 12V DC receptacle and 1x 5V USB port
A Reliable And Small Engine – The WEN 56200i might be the smallest engine we’ve looked at today, but it’s definitely well-built and will last you a long time. Upon delivery you’ll get a 79.7cc 4-stroke engine with good enough power for a simple camping trip.
The Running watts sits at 1,600 and Starting watts sits at 2,000. It does have the all important spark arrestor so you can use it camping in national parks, plus the generator is EPA and CARB compliant too.
Quietest Generator You’ll Find – When the WEN 56200i is running at quarter load it will only reach 51dB, which is the same noise level as sitting in a quiet office. In other words, you would hear faint conversations but you wouldn’t be able to make out what they’re saying.
This isn’t just because the engine will be running at a low speed. Even if it’s sitting at a higher load the decibel level will be brought down. The WEN Eco-Mode allows the motor to adjust the fuel load, which will always bring the noise down.
Important Safety Features – When you’re dealing with a camping generator that only has 2,000 Starting watts, it’s easy to load too many appliances into it accidentally. Instead of ruining the machine the Overload Protection feature will stop anything from frying.
Along with the low oil shutdown we’ve looked at earlier on, the 56200i comes with low fuel automatic shutdown. The low total harmonic disruption level will also allow you to charge lots of sensitive electronic equipment in your tent.
A Good Enough Run Time – Once you see the run time of the 56200i is only 6 hours it might put you off, but don’t forget this is when it’s running at half load. At least they’ve not copied other companies by trying to look good giving you run times at quarter load.
If you’re only running a couple of things at night it will last until you wake up, plus we’ve already said it will shut off automatically instead of when the fuel disappears to help prolong its life. You can add two machines in parallel if you do need the extra run time.
Enough Outlets For Everything – It seems even the least powerful camping generator of the bunch still has enough outlets to plug everything in. On smaller inverter generators there isn’t as many outlets, but you won’t need to plug in all your appliances at the same time anyway.
The WEN 57200i has enough space for all sorts of appliances. You will get a couple of three-prong 120V outlets, a 10V DC outlet, and a USB port. They’re right next to each other on the easy-to-use control panel.
Three Major Features for Camping Generators
Those features boil down to personal choice, so you don’t need to opt for them if you don’t want to. You could use a massive gas-powered camping generator so loud it hurts your ears. Unfortunately, in some instances you don’t have any choices and you’ll have to follow rules. They can be broken down into a few different parts, so let’s quickly look at each one before moving onto the generators:
- Your Generator Should Have A Spark Arrestor
- Every Individual Campsite Will Be Different. Read their noise level requirements.
- You Might Need A CARB Compliant Generator
Your Generator Should Have A Spark Arrestor
If you plan on spending time in any national parks throughout the US it’s vital your camping generator has a spark arrestor. It’s essentially a device added to your machine to prevent flammable debris from floating out of it when it’s running.
Without one there is a chance your generator could be responsible for starting a huge forest fire that destroys everything in its path. If you’re in any national parks and get caught using a camping generator without a spark arrestor you’ll end up in big trouble.
Every Individual Campsite Will Be Different
Bare in mind, you will need to do a little research before you go camping anywhere. Every individual campsite and other places you can pitch your tent will have their own rules you’ll have to follow.
Maybe they’ll require your generator to have a spark arrestor too. It might have to be under a certain decibel level. There will likely be certain times of the day when you can’t switch it on if you’re surrounded by other people.
You Might Need A CARB Compliant Generator
This one is rather easy to explain and luckily it only applies to those living in California. There is a reason why it’s the most eco-friendly state in the US. You’ll only be allowed to use a camping generator if it’s CARB compliant. If it’s not, companies like Amazon won’t ship it to California.
Choosing the Best Camping Generator For You
We’ve covered quite a few camping generators today, so you’re probably wondering which one is the right choice for you? As long as you choose an inverter generator it doesn’t really matter. The ideal one is the generator satisfied your criteria, power demands and budget. It’s always better to have more power than you think you need because I’m certain you’ll always wish you had more power, but never less.
Research is an integral part of the process when it comes to deciding on the right camping/RV generator for your needs. It’s important to know what your options are and to understand the differences between the type of generators. Campgrounds have maximum noise level requirements so it’s important to know the laws of your destination. All of the generators in this buying guide are quiet and won’t annoy your neighbors if you happen to be close to other campers.
I’ll say it again, a battery generator is the ultimate source of power for camping, with the only drawback being the extra cost. The second best option for camping is an inverter generator because they’re quiet, lightweight, can run in parallel and are cheaper than a battery backup. The choice is yours.
Clean Energy | Inverter Generator vs Traditional Generator