Best Quiet Generators For Camping
The best quiet generators for camping are not the same for everyone. If you are tent camping, you may only need to produce a small amount of power and want the convenience of a small portable unit that can be carried like a piece of luggage. If you are RV camping, you will have greater power needs requiring a larger generator but you still want it to be quiet and efficient. Here are considerations to help you determine the generator that best fits your camping needs. Psst we’re compensated…see our disclosures.
Calculate Sizes For Camping Generators
The first consideration is the amount of “wattage” required for your electrical needs. Some motorized equipment requires more power to start than it does to run. Startup/surge wattage can be up to three times the running wattage and can last for a few seconds. You need to do some calculations to determine the size of generator you will need for your camping trips. Check your specific gear for exact wattage figures. Here are questions to ask yourself…
- How much power do I actually need?
- Will all the equipment be running simultaneously?
- Will startup/surge wattage be greater than running wattage?
- Is the generator going to be a primary or backup source of power?
Determine the startup wattage of the highest draw appliance + Total running wattage for all operating appliances = Total wattage required for your camping generator.
Clean Stable Power Output For Camping Generators
There are two types of generators: (1) conventional, (2) inverter. When a power demand is placed on a conventional generator, it runs at full RPM regardless of the electrical load; they tend to be less expensive (per watt) to purchase. In contrast, inverter generators only run at the RPM necessary to meet the demand of the equipment you have plugged into it making them quieter and more fuel efficient to operate. Only inverter generators provide “clean power output”, a smooth and stable flow of AC power without surges which is important to protect sensitive electronic equipment from power spike damage.
BESTEK 1000W Power Inverter Dual AC Outlets 12V DC To 110V AC Car Inverter
If you are operating a conventional generator and are concerned about power spikes to your sensitive electronics, you can plug them directly into this BESTEK 1000W Power Inverter. It provides up to 1000 watts of more stable power by converting 12-volt DC power into 110-volt AC power.
Typical Camping Power Need Ranges
Lower Consumption: 1500 Running/1800 Starting Watts
Middle Consumption: 2600 Running/3000 Starting Watts
Higher Consumption: 3800 Running/4750 Starting Watts
Extreme Consumption: 7000 Running/8500 Starting Watts
Lower Consumption. This WEN 56180 Conventional Generator is an economical option if your needs are in the lower power range. It’s also relatively lightweight at 50 pounds. You can expect around 7 hours of run time with a 50% load from its 1.45 gallon tank. It is also EPA and CARB compliant. 1500 Running Watts/1800 Starting Watts.
Middle Consumption. This Briggs & Stratton 30545 Inverter Generator is powerful enough to run a standard RV air conditioner. It has wheels, a luggage-style telescoping handle and only weighs 60 pounds … making it super easy to transport. It holds 1.5 gallons of fuel and can run up to 10 hours at 25% load. 2600 Running Watts/3000 Starting Watts.
Higher Consumption. This Champion Power Equipment 76533 Conventional Generator runs on GAS or PROPANE straight out of the box! It can run up to 9 hours on a full tank of gas and up to 10.5 hours on a 20-pound propane tank. It is “RV ready” meaning it has a 120-volt 30-amp RV style plug. This conventional generator is quiet for its size and power output; it only produces 68 decibels at 23 feet. To top it off, it has a push-button electric starter! 3800 Running Watts/4750 Starting Watts.
Extreme Consumption. This DuroMax XP8500E Conventional Generator can handle your really big power loads. It is heavy but can be easily moved around because it has a wheel kit and a flip-up handle that can be stowed when you are not using it. The 7 gallon gas tank provides approximately 8 hours of run time. It has a convenient electric starter. 7000 Running Watts/8500 Starting Watts.
Other Considerations Determining Generator Size Required
- Engine performance/generator output decreases at higher elevations and temperatures resulting in reduced total wattage available.
- Long and light gauge power cords may drop wattage. Maximize the efficiency of your generator and the components you are running with it by using proper sized cords.
- Select a generator with at least 10-20% more running wattage than your calculated needs.
- Some generators are capable of parallel operation (we call it piggybacking) to almost double its power output.
Parallel Operation For Camping Generators
For those times when you need more power than your generator is capable of producing, parallel operation might be a good option. Some manufacturers, especially with their smaller generators, offer parallel kits that allow you to connect two similar model generators together in order to increase power output. Paralleling cable kits are brand and model specific, so make sure you get the right kit.
Pros And Cons Of Parallel Camping Generator Operations
- Piggybacking allows you to double your output only when needed. In other words, you don’t have to run a large generator when your power needs are low.
- It’s easier to manage two smaller units than a larger one when it comes to transportation and storage. Small generators are typically quieter too.
- The drawback to piggybacking … it is more expensive to purchase two smaller generators than a larger one.
Small And Quiet Camping Generators
For most campers and RVers, the size of the generator and the amount of noise it produces are major considerations when purchasing the best generator for their camping needs. Some campgrounds and RV parks have noise restrictions for generator use. Here are questions to ask yourself…
- Does the campground have noise decibel limits for generators?
- Does the generator need to be stored in a specific size compartment when not in use?
- Does the generator need to be carried like luggage by one person? Or can it be rolled on its own wheels and lifted by two people?
- Should I have one large generator or two smaller generators?
The Honda EU2000I and the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 are considered to be the leaders when it comes to the best small quiet generators for camping. The WEN 56200i ranks close behind.
Honda EU2000I 2000 Watt Inverter Generator
This Honda EU2000I 2000 Watt Inverter Generator is a super quiet unit producing only 53-59 decibels of sound (depending on load) which is quieter than a regular conversation. It operates 4-9 hours on its .95 gallon capacity fuel tank. It measures 21″ x 12″ x 19″ and weighs 46 pounds. This unit is rated at 1600 Running Watts/2000 Starting Watts. This model can be operated in parallel with parallel cables which will result in approximately twice the power.
This Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Gas Powered Portable Inverter, CARB Compliant is a really quiet unit producing only 51.5-61 decibels of sound (depending on load) which is quieter than a regular conversation. It operates up to 10.5 hours on its 1.1 gallon capacity fuel tank. It measures 17.9″ x 11″ x 19.3″ and weighs 44.1 pounds. It has a 3 year limited warranty. This unit is rated at 1600 Running Watts/2000 Starting Watts. This model can be operated in parallel with parallel cables which will result in approximately twice the power.
This WEN 56200i Gas Powered Portable Inverter, CARB Compliant is an extremely quiet unit producing only 51 decibels of sound at 25% load which is quieter than a regular conversation. It operates over 6 hours at half-load on its 1 gallon capacity fuel tank. It measures 18″ x 11″ x 18″ and weighs 48 pounds. It has a 2 year limited warranty. This unit is rated at 1600 Running Watts/2000 Starting Watts. This model can be operated in parallel with this parallel connection kit which will result in approximately twice the power.
This WEN 56310i CARB Compliant Inverter Generator can produce more power but is still super quiet producing only 57 decibels at 25% load which is quieter than a regular conversation. It operates over 7.5 hours at half-load on its 1 gallon capacity fuel tank. It measures 19.5″ x 16.5″ x 23″ and weighs 81.4 pounds. It has a 2 year limited warranty. This unit is rated at 2800 Running Watts/3100 Starting Watts. This model can be operated in parallel with this parallel connection kit which will result in approximately twice the power.
This Goal Zero 23000 Yeti 400 Solar Generator is not really a generator but we are including it here because it is a small and noiseless AC power supply. In spite of its “solar generator” name, it’s actually a battery power pack with a built-in inverter that can be charged by solar panels, AC outlet or car 12 volt outlet. Because it has no engine, it produces 0 decibels and is safe to use indoors. It measures 8″ x 10.2″ x 8″ and weighs 29 pounds. This unit is rated at 300 watts pure sine AC power.
Make Loud Generators Seem More Quiet
If your generator is as quiet as a sewing machine … Great! If not, you can do a few things to minimize the noise. You can protect the noise-sensitive area by directing the exhaust away from it or shielding it behind a barrier like a parked car, folding table or piece of plywood. You can also relocate the generator farther away by using extension cords. Make sure you use heavy gauge cords so you don’t lose too much power in the process; also, use cords with appropriate receptacles and plugs.
US Wire 74050 12/3 50-Foot SJTW Yellow Heavy Duty Lighted Plug Extension CordConntek 14368 RV 30 Amp 25-Foot 10/3 Brilliant Yellow Extension Cord Straight BladeConntek 20572 Generator Extension Cord 50-Foot 10/3 30 Amp 3 Prong Extension CordConntek 20601 25-Foot 10/4 30 Amp 125/250 Volt 4 Prong L14-30 Transfer Switch Cord/Generator Extension Cord
- Regular Outlet Style Plug: US Wire 74050 12/3 50-Foot SJTW Yellow Heavy Duty Lighted Plug Extension Cord
- RV 30 Amp Style Plug: Conntek 14368 RV 30 Amp 25-Foot 10/3 Brilliant Yellow Extension Cord Straight Blade
- 3-Prong Style Plug: Conntek 20572 Generator Extension Cord 50-Foot 10/3 30 Amp 3 Prong Extension Cord
- 4-Prong Style Plug: Conntek 20601 25-Foot 10/4 30 Amp 125/250 Volt 4 Prong L14-30 Transfer Switch Cord/Generator Extension Cord
Miscellaneous Considerations For Camping Genarators
- Is a pull start ok? Is an electric starter necessary? Do I want remote starting capability?
- How much run time do I want from a single tank of gas?
- How important are generator warranties and availability of approved service facilities?
- How much emphasis should I put on price to purchase? Cost to operate?
- Do I want/need a CARB, California Air Resource Board compliant camping generator?
Safety Considerations For Camping Generators
Make sure your camping generator is properly grounded to avoid shock hazards. Also, use generators in properly ventilated outdoor areas to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Personal Experiences With Quiet Generators For Camping
Unlike being around a construction site, no one wants to be plagued with the sound of a roaring generator while in the tranquil outdoors. It is always a good idea to be a good camping neighbor and exercise proper camp etiquette. We have seen some pretty heated disputes break out among campers over the issue of noisy generators. Always remember, silence is golden, but if you need power that only a generator can provide, quiet is always better … keep the peace.
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