A small portable generator is extremely beneficial for all campers; experienced, amateur, long-term campers, and one-night campers. They are easy to pack, store, and transport due to their small size and lightweight. These are the features that every camper values most in his/her camping gear. With portable generators, you can power up your RV or light up your camping site and get the freedom from using torch lights and lamps that offer little illumination that is not enough to counter the darkness you experience in the wilderness. Buying a portable generator suitable for your needs requires a lot of consideration, such as wattage, noise, and fuel consumption. Small portable generators are useful to run small appliances and keep your phones and other gadgets going in the middle of nowhere. If you are looking for generators to take on camping, you need something that is small, portable, safe to use, makes less noise, gives suitable wattage, and consumes less gas. Below, we have narrowed down the list to some of the best small generators for camping you will find in the market, along with a buyer guide about what to look for in a generator to make the right pick.
Factors to Consider While Buying a Generator for Camping
There are certain things that you need to keep in your mind when looking for a perfect generator for camping or any other outdoor activity. Some of these factors are; Wattage, noise level, portability, and fuel consumption. Also, you have to consider whether you need a conventional inverter or a solar generator.
A good generator that is ideal for camping should provide enough power to run a 13,500 BTU air conditioner, microwave oven, refrigerator, charge your cell phones and laptops. If you want to run appliances like these, then look for the unit to give you a power output of 3000 watts or more. However, if you have to run your AC unit, you can pick one with a smaller wattage. You also have to consider that the greater the wattage, the more noise it will make and the heavier and bigger it will be.
Silence makes wilderness so pleasing, and you don’t want to disturb it with a noisy generator. The portable generator that is best for camping should not make noise more than 50dB to 60dB. For reference, a vacuum cleaner makes a noise of about 70bB, and a normal human conversation is at 60dB. The noise produced by the generator depends on the size of the unit and the load on it. Some generators have built-in noise-reducing features such as noise-reducing casing and exhaust mufflers. Also, You can place the generator away from where you are sitting or sleeping to be less bothered about the noise.
Portability: Size and Weight
Your generator should be light enough to be carried around easily. It should be compact enough to be able to fit in minimum storage space. Most of the generators for camping are small enough and light enough that you can carry it single-handedly. The generator that is small and lightweight is usually light on the fuel and makes less noise as well. Though most of the generators come with a wheel kit to handle and move it without carrying it, an ideal camping generator should not weigh more than 70lbs so that you can easily move it inside or outside your truck.
The fuel efficiency of the generator is one of the biggest concerns of the campers. A generator that consumes more gas will not only increase the fuel cost but also take up more space to store more fuel. The generators that run on gasoline are usually more efficient, but they are not that efficient. For example, a 5000 wattage generator will drink about 18 gallons of gasoline if you run it all day. A generator that runs on diesel is much more efficient though it is hard to find in a smaller size. A regular 20kW diesel generator consumes about 1.6 gallons of diesel in one hour on full load.
Another right choice for camping is a propane generator as it provides clean power and is more portable. A 2kW propane generator will use 1.18 gallons of fuel in 6 hours on half load. Keep in mind that some brands do not mention the fuel consumption on full load. Mostly, fuel consumption levels are listed at 50% or just 25% load. Also, fuel consumption doesn’t increase at the same rate when there is more load on the generator.
Conventional, Inverter or a Solar Generator; which one is the best option for camping?
If you have been thinking about switching to an inverter generator, you have never been so right because they are much more efficient, lightweight, and less noisy than conventional generators. They are also more environmentally friendly, which makes it ideal for nature-loving campers. If you want more power, you can get a “parallel compatible” model and connect two units to double the capacity. However, one unit is enough for the needs of most of the campers. You can connect only selected appliances at a particular time in order not to exceed the rated output.
Solar generators are another great option for camping. A solar generator charges the battery using solar panels or the household power outlet. One of the major downsides of these generators is that they do not provide enough power to run more power-consuming appliances. However, they are best to be used as add-ons. Solar generators are extremely portable, quiet, and environmentally friendly.