10 Best Camping Generators:
Definitive Review (Buyer’s Guide) 2020

These Portable Generators are Great for Lighting, Cooking Or Charging Your Electricals, All While Camping!

Yamaha EF2400iSHC Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator
topnotchoutdoor award

Champion Generator (3800W)
topnotchoutdoor award

Honda EU3000iS
26

Models Reviewed

180

Hours Of
Research

130

Field Test
Hours

68

Users
Surveyed

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This is your Ultimate Review & Buyers Guide to help you find the Best Camping Generator in 2020.

In this comprehensive guide we’ll cover:

  • The three very best generators for camping
  • A review of the top ten generators in the market
  • How the new generation differs from the noisy, heavy models pull start models of a couple of years ago
  • Tips and guides to help you choose
  • …Lots more

So if you’re wanting a TopNotch Generator, you’re going to love this guide!

Let’s get right to it.

Who doesn’t love a camping trip? You know we do!

Camping trips are a great way to get out into nature, re-energize, and recharge your batteries.

But what if you have actual batteries to recharge too?

And what do you do when you want to experience the great outdoors, but you like a few of your home comforts along the way?

Well, all you need is a trusty camping generator!

It’s the perfect addition to any camper’s arsenal – letting you charge phones, laptops, and flashlights, you name it.

Whether you need a generator for your RV or for car camping, you’ll want (or even ‘need’ – some campsites do have regulations on noise) it to be quiet, lightweight, durable, and powerful.

But before deciding which to buy, you’ll need to do some research. And we’re here to help with exactly that.

We’ve sifted through hundreds of reviews and put the top performers to the test – all to help you find the best camping generator for you.

Best Generator For RV Air Conditioning

1 – Yamaha EF2400iSHC Gas Powered Portable Inverter

Editors Choice Award Winner
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Noise Output
9
Power Output
8
Ease of use
8
Durability
8
Weight & Portability
7
Accessories
6
Overall Score
77
  • Manufacturer: Yamaha
  • Type: Portable Generator
  • Power Output: 2000W
  • Outlets: 2x AC ports, 1x DC port 12 volt DC cable provided
  • Fuel Type & Capacity: Gasoline (1.6 Gallon)

Bottom Line : Heavy duty but quiet with a long run time, making it a great option for trailers

Pros


  • Nearly silent operation
  • Safe for sensitive devices
  • Large capacity & long run time
  • Very easy to use
  • Smart throttle feature

Cons


  • High price point
  • No 220V outlet
  • Fuel lever could have been better build

Battery-powered generators are great for occasional camping trips, but what if you need something more powerful and heavy-hitting for your trailer?

Drumroll please.

This is where the Yamaha EF2400iSHC steps up.

With the peak power delivery at 2400W and running at 2000W, this is one high performing generator.

We were working with a heavy air conditioner on the (very hot) night that we tried this out, and we were very happy with its performance.

Overall…

…this guy was very easy to use – with an on/off dial, choke and recoil start cord, located in the startup panel.

The LED panel will keep you aware of any potential issues – great for troubleshooting.

The Pulse Width Modulation technology means all your electronics will be safe.

On top of that, the Smart Throttle adjusts the engine speed depending on the load, meaning you can sit back while your generator does all the work.

And the fact is, if aesthetics matter to you, you’ll love this design from Yamaha.

This is not to mention that it comes with a decent-sized tank – 1.6 gallons.  This will give you an excellent run time of 8 hours at 25% capacity, more than twice as long as some generators on our list.

And there’s more…

For a powerful machine such as this, it’s actually pretty quiet, measuring just 53-60 dBA. You’ll easily be able to hear your companions over it running in the background at a tailgating party.

Our Opinion?

This is a heavy-duty but quiet generator that offers a long running time. While it doesn’t have parallel connections, it should give more than enough power in most cases, and still makes a great option for trailers or during home outages.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is our TopNotch Editor’s Choice!

Read Full Review: Yamaha EF2400iSHC Generator Review

Best Propane Generator For RV

2 – Champion Generator (3800W)

Best Value Award Winner
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Noise Output
5
Power Output
10
Ease of use
8
Durability
9
Weight & Portability
5
Accessories
8
Overall Score
75
  • Manufacturer: Champion
  • Type: Portable Generator
  • Power Output: 3400W
  • Outlets: 20V 30A RV, 120V 30A locking, two 120V 20A
  • Fuel Type & Capacity:  Propane/ Gasoline (3.4 Gallon)

Bottom Line : Our TopNotch Best Value choice – and with superb power delivery to boot

Pros


  • Dual fuel capabilities
  • Delivers a high output
  • Reliable performance
  • Both EPA and CARB certified
  • Electric push starter button
  • A 3-year warranty

Cons


  • The weight is on the heavier side
  • Not as quiet as the top models

If you’re looking for a heavy-duty propane generator for your RV, you’re in the right place.

The Champion 3800 is a real heavyweight when it comes to providing power for your RV.

And we do mean heavyweight – this thing weighs a whopping 122 pounds!

But whatever you do – don’t discount it based on weight – let’s look at its features.

The four-stroke 224cc engine provides plenty of power from the get-go, and keeps it coming. Expect enough power to run a decent AC unit, in addition to charging your tech and keeping the lights on.

Dual fuel means it can run off either gasoline or propane and has an in-built propane inlet which is already set up and ready to go.

In addition, there’s the Volt Guard technology, to protect from power surges.

Yes, it’s a two-man lift, but with wheels, it’s still portable (kind of).

That’s not to mention that the solid steel frame will absorb a few knocks without any serious issues. In other words, this generator is beefy in every sense of the word. Heavy, but with great power and the durability to handle anything camping can throw its way.

Moreover, the ‘Cold Start’ technology makes it easy to start, even in low temperatures

The truth is, apart from the weight factor, we loved using it for our works RV.

To sum it up, the impressive power delivery at a reasonable price swung it for us. This model is our TopNotch Best Value Choice.

Read Full Review: Champion Generator 3800W Review

Best Camping Generator/ Best 50 V Generator For 50 Amp RV

3 – Honda EU3000iS

Top Pick Award Winner
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Noise Output
9
Power Output
9
Ease of use
9
Durability
9
Weight & Portability
5
Accessories
6
Overall Score
78
  • Manufacturer: Honda
  • Type: Portable Generator
  • Power Output: 2800W
  • Outlets: AC: 120V 3000W max.(25A) 2800W rated (23.3A) DC Output-12V – 12.0A. Receptacles-20A 125V Duplex, 30A 125V Locking Plug
  • Fuel Type & Capacity: Gasoline (3.4 Gallon)

Bottom Line: A big and powerful gasoline generator that happens to be surprisingly quiet

Pros


  • Very durable
  • Quiet performance
  • Excellent reliability
  • 3 Year Warranty
  • Fuel efficient

Cons


  • On the heavier side
  • Accessories need to be bought separately

Looking for a super-powerful generator?

The Honda EU3000iS may be just what you’re looking for.

Or to give it its full title, it’s the Honda EU3000iS 2800 Running Watts/ 3000 Starting Watts, Gas Powered, Portable Inverter (quite the mouthful, that).

But, really, it lives up to its lofty name!

Boasting 2800 running Watts, this is one of the more powerful generators on our list and it’ll easily handle your appliances, including an AC unit.

With a huge 3.4-gallon gasoline tank, this is also one of the largest capacity generators we’ve reviewed.

It’ll give a running time of 20 hours at 25% capacity and 7 hours at full load.

And it’s still quiet – even at 100% capacity, this generator never exceeds 58 decibels.

Unfortunately, with such a powerful machine, portability isn’t anything to write home about.

Weighing in at 130lbs and measuring 24 x 13.25 x 21 inches, you won’t be carrying it far.

Still, its electric start push button makes it super easy to use. Honda has also added a manual recoil cord should the starter button fail.

What else do we like?

The Honda EU3000iS can also be paired with another generator using a parallel kit to provide double the power.

Though on its own it provides plenty of juice, the dual-generator rig is great for group-camping and more extravagant setups.

With a sturdy steel frame, this is one durable beast.

We also love the reliability and the fuel efficiency of Honda generators – so this is our top recommendation if you’re looking for a high end, high amp model.

The great marks in durability and ease of use make this model our TopNotch Top Pick.

Read Full Review: Honda EU3000iS Generator Review

Best Rechargeable Generator

4 – Westinghouse Generator WH2200iXLT

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Noise Output
8
Power Output
8
Ease of use
7
Durability
8
Weight & Portability
7
Accessories
7
Overall Score
75
  • Manufacturer: Westinghouse
  • Type: Portable Camping Generator
  • Power Output: 2200W
  • Outlets: 1 Duplex 120V 20A (5-20R)
  • Fuel Type & Capacity: Gasoline/ 1.3 gallon

Bottom Line : A generator which combines superb use of technology and innovative design to deliver great performance

Pros


  • Very fuel efficient
  • Very low distortion
  • A CARB compliant design
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Extremely quiet performance
  • Equipped with low oil shutoff

Cons


  • Possible durability issues
  • Higher maintenance than some models

The Westinghouse WH2200iXLT impressed us during testing with its overall efficiency and quiet performance.

It may seem that a 13-gallon fuel tank is on the smaller side but this generator’s fuel efficiency more than makes up for its lower capacity.

How so?

The engine is equipped with sensors that will drop the RPM levels at no-load conditions. Meaning your generator only works as hard as it needs, also meaning you burn less gas in the process.

Moreover, the inverter technology also ensures great performance, regardless of the conditions, and keeps the noise levels controlled.

We also found the low-oil shutoff a really convenient feature, especially for those hoping to get a longer life out of their generator.

On top of that, Westinghouse put an emphasis on making it safe for electronic devices. So don’t worry about ruining your phone’s battery when it’s plugged into this bad boy.

Did I miss something?

Oh yes!

You can couple two units together with the Westinghouse Parallel Cord in case you need more power. While this feature is pretty common in modern generators, the “daisy-chain” method means you can provide power to multiple sites if you and your friends get together for a big powwow.

However, the noise levels aren’t the lowest when compared with the others we tested.

Read Full Review: Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Generator Review 

Best Generator For Tailgating

5 – Generac GP2200i

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Noise Output
6
Power Output
8
Ease of use
8
Durability
7
Weight & Portability
7
Accessories
7
Overall Score
72
  • Manufacturer: Generac
  • Type: Portable Camping Generator
  • Power Output: 2200W
  • Outlets: 12V DC Outlet, USB port
  • Fuel Type & Capacity: Gasoline/ 1.2 gallon

Bottom Line : The generator offers some handy features along with good portability making it a great choice for short camping trips

Pros


  • Easy to start
  • Comes with an economy mode
  • Clean, efficient power
  • Multiple LED indicators
  • Has a USB outlet
  • Both CARB and EPA compliant

Cons


  • Noise levels are higher at full load
  • Plastic frame means less durability

Right off the bat, the steady power delivery and the compact form make the Generac 7117 GP2200i a great choice for camping or tailgating.

The TruePower technology also means the power delivery is suitable for sensitive electronics.

In addition, there’s the economy mode to optimize power consumption.

Guess what?

Generac doesn’t mention the noise ratings in their sales spec – though they mention that the enclosure ‘reduces sound levels’.

But…

…in our tests, we found the noise levels to be less than 60 decibels at 50% of the load. Which is within an acceptable range, but is still a little louder than many of the other models we reviewed.

The 1.2-liter gas tank lasted for slightly over 6 hours at 50% of the load.

Like the sound levels, this is fine but is certainly nothing to write home about.

So, if you’re heading for a multi-day camping trip, make sure you carry extra fuel.

Two more things we loved…

…The outlets have durable plastic covers that make them weather resistant. Given how often you get caught in rainstorms, this is incredibly helpful.

On top of that, to make the operation safe, the LED status indicators will detect low-oil, overload, and power output.

Our team gave a collective thumbs-up to the starter coil that was easy to pull and adds to the overall convenience. During our tests, it never took more than two pulls to start.

Overall, this model is a great combination of smart features and reliable power delivery.

Read Full Review: Generac GP2200i Generator Review

Best Portable Quiet Generator For RV

6 – Champion Generator (3400W)

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Noise Output
8
Power Output
7
Ease of use
8
Durability
7
Weight & Portability
5
Accessories
8
Overall Score
72
  • Manufacturer: Champion
  • Type: Portable Generator
  • Power Output: 3400W
  • Outlets: One 120V 30A RV, two 120V 20A household outlets and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter
  • Fuel Type & Capacity: Propane/ Gasoline (1.6 Gallon)

Bottom Line : An affordable and quiet generator – ideal for RVs

Pros


  • Quiet performance
  • Comes with inverter technology
  • Operates on dual fuel
  • Both recoil and electric start
  • Easy to set up
  • EPA and CARB compliant

Cons


  • The weight is on the higher side
  • The gas tank could have been larger

The Champion 3400-Watt is one of the best RV generators on the market.

Why?

Well, for starters, it comes with its own built-in RV outlet.

It just couldn’t be more convenient to use.

The starter button means it’s a breeze to get going, and it’s also parallel ready, meaning you can couple it with another similar size generator to add a whopping 50A for your RV.

This is also a super quiet generator, the noise output measuring a whisper-like 59 dBa.

That’s actually quieter than a laugh, so you’ll be able to hear each other talking while it’s running. Anyone who’s had to shout over their neighbor’s generator will know how important this can be.

While the Champion 3400 Portable Generator isn’t that light, it is extremely portable. A set of wheels and a handle makes it easy to transport.

And what about running time?

This dual fuel generator has a 1.6-gallon tank which is definitely on the smaller side, and a bit of a disappointment considering the weight of the generator is heavier than most.

In our tests, it ran for around 4 hours at around 50% load when filled with gasoline. This is not great, and will mean even more weight, as you’ll have to bring plenty of extra fuel.

However, there is a propane hose to connect it with an external propane tank. Which means you can customize your area and make better use of your space.

The Bottom Line?

Undoubtedly, this is a powerful generator and a great choice for your RV.

Read Full Review: Champion Generator 3400-Watt Review

Best 12v Generator

7 – Pulsar Generator PG1202S

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Noise Output
6
Power Output
6
Ease of use
7
Durability
7
Weight & Portability
8
Accessories
6
Overall Score
67
  • Manufacturer: Pulsar
  • Type: Portable Generator
  • Power Output: 1200W
  • Outlets: 2x 120V and 1x 12V outlet
  • Fuel Type & Capacity: Non-leaded gasoline and oil mixture (1.1 Gallon)

Bottom Line : A lightweight 12V generator ideal for camping, fishing or hunting trips

Pros


  • Fuel efficient
  • Compact design
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Affordable price point

Cons


  • Not suitable for larger equipment
  • Getting the fuel mix right takes time

The Pulsar PG1202S portable gas-powered generator is a nifty and convenient little guy.

To start with, the weight of just 35 pounds makes it super easy to carry from your car to the campsite.

A great touch, especially after we’d lugged around some of the huge generators earlier on this list.

The comfy handle is another feature we really appreciated in our testing.

It has an air-cooled 2-stroke engine that runs on a mix of standard unleaded gasoline and oil.

The instructions on getting the mix right were a little confusing, especially for beginners.

Once you’ve got the hang of the fuel mix

…this camping generator will be up and running in no time.  It has a recoil starter, but it’s worth noting that the two 120V AC outlets provide about 840W and the 12V DC output provides 100W.

What does that mean?

While it’s versatile, the power output might limit your options. With an output of around 900 Watts, it’ll easily power a few lights, a music system, and a fan, but not much more than that.

We also liked how fuel-efficient it is – it ran for 7 hours on 1.1 gallons of fuel at 50% capacity.

This longevity is great, especially with a tank this small.

What’s more

…it features an effective muffler that keeps the noise level within 65 dBA.

And finally,  there’s also a handy overload protection feature.

Read Full Review: Pulsar Generator PG1202S Review

Best Trailer Generator

8 – Honda Generator EU2200i

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Noise Output
9
Power Output
7
Ease of use
8
Durability
8
Weight & Portability
7
Accessories
7
Overall Score
76
  • Manufacturer: Honda
  • Type: Portable Generator
  • Power Output: 2200W
  • Outlets: AC: 120V 2200W max. (18.3A), 1800W rated (15A), DC: 12V, 100W (8.3A) + 20A 125V Duplex
  • Fuel Type & Capacity: Gasoline (0.95 Gallon)

Bottom Line : A compact, quiet and reliable gasoline generator which is easy to use – ideal for any trailer.

Pros


  • Consistent power delivery
  • Highly fuel-efficient
  • Excellent portability
  • Low noise levels
  • Extremely versatile
  • Comes with a 3 year warranty

Cons


  • Maintenance can be difficult
  • No fuel gauge

Want to know the reason we like the Honda EU2200i 2200W?

It’s quiet. It’s powerful. And it’s easy to use.

What more can you ask for?

We reckon when you’re looking for a generator for your trailer, those are the key features you need to be looking for.

The noise of the EU2200i measures between 48 and 57 dBa, depending on its load. Quiet enough for using it inside National parks.

It has one control dial and a recoil cord to get going.

And you know what?

The automatic mechanical decompressor in the recoil start makes it easier to pull.

If you need more power

…simply pair it with another generator using the in-built connectors. Again, nothing revolutionary, but always a great feature to look out for.

The capacity is a bit on the small side, with a fuel tank just under 1 gallon, but it still gives a lot of bang for its buck. In our tests, it ran for 8 hours with less than 1 gallon of gas at 25% load.

Bottom Line?

We think the compact and quiet Honda EU2200i makes a great choice for your trailer.

Read Full Review: Honda EU2200i Generator Review

 Best Small Portable Camping Generator

9 – Briggs & Stratton Generator 30545 P3000

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Noise Output
7
Power Output
8
Ease of use
8
Durability
7
Weight & Portability
7
Accessories
6
Overall Score
72
  • Manufacturer: Briggs and Stratton Power
  • Type: Portable Generator
  • Power Output: 3000 kW
  • Outlets:  4 x 120V AC , 1 x 12V-5A DC, 1 x USB port, 1 x parallel port
  • Fuel Type & Capacity: Gasoline (1.5 gallons)

Bottom Line : With good features and a noiseless performance this product is a great choice as a backup power source

Pros


  • Effective inverter technology
  • Optimized fuel consumption
  • Powersmart mode
  • Very low noise level
  • Very easy to start
  • Included LCD display

Cons


  • Some issues with the durability of the wheels
  • Not CARB compliant
  • Drain plug on the oil tank isn’t great.

The fact is, we loved the overall design of the Briggs & Stratton P3000 Generator.

Let’s start with the best features.

The first thing that we liked is the control panel layout that comes with a Statstation LCD display that offers a range of useful information like fuel level and helpful maintenance tips.

Apart from that, the features like a fuel gauge and an ‘hour meter’ are welcome additions.

Secondly, the use of Quiet Power Technology not only reduces noise and emissions, but also optimizes fuel consumption.

Coming to the noise levels…

 …This is not an ultra-quiet model but in our tests, it didn’t cross 60 decibels at 25% load.

What about the capacity?

We found it delivers 9 hours of power at 25% load with a full tank.

At 84 pounds it is not a light device but the generator comes with a telescopic handle and twin wheels that makes pulling it a breeze.

On the whole, the Briggs & Stratton P3000 does offer great bang for your buck as a high capacity camping generator. We just wish it was as quiet as the Hondas.

Read Full Review: Briggs & Stratton Generator 30545 P3000 Review

Best Inverter Generator For Camping & Emergency Survival

10 – WEN Generator 56125i – 1250 Watts

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Noise Output
9
Power Output
6
Ease of use
8
Durability
6
Weight & Portability
9
Accessories
9
Overall Score
78
  • Manufacturer: WEN
  • Type: Portable Generator
  • Power Output: 1250W
  • Outlets: 2x 3-prong 120V receptacles, 2x 5V USB ports
  • Fuel Type & Capacity: Gasoline (0.7 Gallon)

Bottom Line : A Super quiet and fuel-efficient gasoline generator which is the perfect choice for emergency survival

Pros


  • Super quiet performance
  • Comes with an eco-mode
  • Very good portability
  • Parallel ready
  • Dependable customer support
  • EPA III and CARB compliant

Cons


  • Not designed for powering larger appliances
  • Adding oil can be difficult

The WEN 5612i Super Quiet 1250-Watt portable inverter generator is gasoline-powered – and we think everyone should have one as an emergency back up.

Why?

For starters, it’s extremely quiet. At 51 dBA, it’s not going to bother you or anyone nearby – it’s no louder than normal indoor conversation.

It’s also really lightweight, weighing in at just 31 pounds.

The ergonomic handle makes it easy to transport.

We also like the eco mode, making it even more fuel-efficient.

Plus the inverter helps smooth out power spikes, which makes it ideal for charging up sensitive electronics (very important in emergency situations).

At 1250 Watts, it’s not the most powerful generator on our list, but it’s parallel-ready meaning it’s easy to double the power output by connecting two together.

On the other hand, if you are just powering the basic essentials this could be the perfect output all on its lonesome.

Bottom Line?

Lightweight, quiet, and fuel-efficient – a great choice for an emergency backup generator or something to keep you powered up during solo camping trips.

Why Trust Us?

As a team of outdoor enthusiasts with decades of experience, we’re always happy to put all our products through their paces.

But it’s not only field testing – we also sift through hundreds of critiques and customer reviews to bring you the very best product recommendations, and our findings are thoroughly double-checked by our office-based team to make sure the information we publish is relevant, valid and up-to-date.

We had a crazy time testing these generators – our team took them on a week-long trip to Yellowstone with an RV – an all-around awesome experience, with plenty of memories along the way!

This review is written by Sam Benedict. He knows how important having reliable power can be on a camping trip – let’s face it, we’ve all been there in the dark without a flashlight or with ‘next to no’ battery left on our cell. 

TopNotch Review: Lake In Gorge

With years of experience under his belt, he knew how to choose the perfect metrics for comparing these products.

Sam has a keen eye for what makes the ideal camping generator, and you can be confident you’re choosing the right generator if you take his advice on board when you’re making your choice. 

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Buyers Guide:

How To Choose The Best Camping Generator

Different Types Of Generators

There are three main types of generator:

  • Portable / recreational generators
  • Stand by or emergency backup generators
  • Industrial stationary generators

In this review, we focus on portable models that can be used for a range of recreational activities such as camping, fishing, road trips, and even for trips in your RV.

Portable generators are usually inverter generators, which convert the DC power back into 120Volt, 60Hz AC power. They also keep the Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) levels to less than 6%. That makes them perfectly safe for electronic devices with sensitive microprocessors.

Portable generators should have carry handles and wheels to make them easier to transport and move. They may also have an extension cord.

RVs and caravans may also be set up with onboard generators meaning you can switch to it when you’re not connected to mains.

Generators can also be solar-powered or battery powered.

Features To Look Out For

Input and Output Ports

Most smaller generators will have two 120V AC outlets, and might also have DC ports and USB charging ports. On larger generators (over 4000 watts) you’ll find 240V plugs. The number of ports and the type will determine how you can charge your devices and what you can charge.

Fuel Supply

You need to decide if you’re looking for a small solar-powered battery to charge your phones, a diesel generator, a regular gasoline generator, or a high-end propane option. Diesel fuel tends to be more expensive than gasoline but will deliver more power per gallon.  Propane is cleaner and more efficient.

On the other hand, gasoline is a more environment-friendly option.

Fuel Tank Size

The size of the fuel tank will determine how long you can go between refueling.

Most compact generators give a run time of around 6 to 8 hours at 50% load.

Depending on what you’re running, this may last longer.

Do keep in mind that a larger fuel tank will also add to the overall weight and dimensions.

Starter

Don’t fancy a recoil pull cord to get your generator going?

Worry not.

Electric starts can improve the overall convenience of using a camping generator and many of the top brands are offering the feature. Keep an eye out for this feature over the pull rope to save your arms the trouble.

Portability

Given that generators – even portable generators – can be pretty heavy, look for a lift bar to make carrying it easier. Most heavier models come with a wheel or two for easy movement.

Wheel kits might be an optional extra, but if this is a concern for you, look for a generator with built-in wheels to make it easier to move around.

These Are Things To Consider

What Size Do I Need?

This all comes down to power consumption.

What are you using your generator for? 

Do you just need to charge your phone, or are you powering lights?

What kitchen devices are you bringing?

Having a good idea of what you are going to be powering will help you decide which generator will suit you the best. For example:

  • Portable TV: 60 watts
  • Laptop: 60 watts
  • Fan: 75 watts
  • Fridge: 100-250 watts
  • Microwave: 800 watts
  • Kettle: 1200 watts

Knowing what you’ll be using the generator for will help determine which size you need.

Noise

Consider the dBA (decibel) rating. Some run much louder than others, while some, such as the ones with solar chargers, are silent. Generators that come within the 50 to 60-decibel range are good for camping. They can even be used in National Parks.

Durability

Having your generator break down can cause a major headache when you’re out and about. Look for higher-end models that won’t disrupt power supply and will last a long time.

At the same time, a camping generator should be robust enough to withstand a few knocks. Metal frames and high-quality plastics are materials that make a model durable.

Size

Keep in mind the size and weight too. If you’re going to be moving it around a lot, you’ll want a very portable one.

If you’ve got an army of people helping you, size and weight might be less of a factor. In case you’re planning to use it in an RV, check the overall dimensions to make sure space won’t be an issue.

Accessories

Bear in mind that not all camping generators come complete with accessories.

Optional extras might include automatic voltage regulators or circuit breakers, which could be important if you have devices that are sensitive to power surges, such as laptops.

Price

Lastly, the cost is obviously a significant factor when choosing your generator. They come in at a wide range of prices, from under $200, to over $1500.

This is why it’s crucial to know exactly what specifications you’re looking for and what you’ll use it for so that you don’t end up disappointed, or overspending.

Guarantee/ Warranty

Like any piece of equipment you’ve invested in, you want to make sure you’re covered in terms of a warranty. This will vary according to the manufacturer and the model, but generally, the premium brands will provide up to five years warranty, whereas cheaper brands might only provide a 12-month warranty.

Look for warranties that cover failures resulting from defects or faults in the unit. The warranty will not cover accidental damage or negligence, which can include inferior repairs or using non-approved replacement parts.  

Jargon Buster

Here are a few terms that you need to learn about while picking a generator:

Harmonic distortions

The harmonics are higher frequency waveforms that can distort the fundamental wave frequency of a circuit. These waveforms have an adverse effect on sensitive electronic circuits, including phones and laptops that you might be charging.

Ideally, any generator should produce a current with low harmonic distortions as that means more power factor, lower peak currents, and better efficiency.

Kilowatt (kW) and Kilowatt-hour (kWh)

A kilowatt is a measure of the power of 1,000 watts. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a measure of energy.

A kW is the rate of electricity usage, whereas kWh reflects the total amount of electricity used.

dBA

Decibels, or dBA, are a measurement of noise in terms of the relative loudness as perceived by the human ear. In this scale, the lowest audible sound is 0 decibel. A sound ten times louder is 10 decibels and another 100 times louder is 20 decibels. Sounds that cross 85 decibels can lead to hearing loss.

TopNotch Top Tips

So you’re now equipped with all the basic guidelines for buying the perfect camping generator.

Next, it is time for some effective tips for buying your camping generators.

  • A generator can run on diesel, petrol or gas and there are some that can run on dual fuel. So the choice of fuel depends on the dual factors of cost and availability. Keep in mind any local rules and guidelines that might impact your fuel choice.
  • Make sure you determine how much power you need from the generator. To start with, you can sum up all the running wattage of all the appliances you use. Then, you can add the start-up wattage of the largest motor you have. If this seems complicated, you can talk to a dealer or an experienced user.
  • Obviously, the key to making any generator work efficiently is correct maintenance. It’s important to learn about the maintenance and the service issues. A brand that offers an annual service maintenance contract is definitely a good choice. If you lack time, a hardy device that needs the least maintenance is the best option.
Lastly, it’s important to test run the machine to check how it performs. For a camping generator, you can place it on an outdoor location and load it with the necessary appliances to make sure everything is working as intended.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is the best generator to buy for camping?

A: In our opinion, the best generator to buy for camping is the quietest so that you aren’t annoying your fellow campers (or yourself). It’s also going to be lightweight and portable and with a long enough extension cord so you can camp happily a distance away from it.

Q: What is the quietest generator for camping?

A: There are some seriously quiet generators available, but we think the Champion 3400 and the Honda EU2200i really stand out.

Q: Can you run a generator overnight?

A: Yes, many campers run theirs overnight. However, given that most generators last about 6 to 8 hours at intermediate loads, running it overnight will mean you will most likely run out of fuel by morning.

Q: What is the difference between a generator and an inverter generator?

A: The difference is the type of electricity generated. Conventional versions generate AC electricity whereas inverter generators produce electricity in 3 phases (high-frequency AC to DC back to a stable AC current).

Q: How can I make my camping generator quieter?

A: There are a few DIY ways to make a generator quieter, and you can also purchase a muffler. However, if you’re sensitive to noise or you’re looking for a quieter generator, our top tip is to invest in a quieter generator right from the start.

Q: Is it cheaper to run a generator on propane or gas?

A: Propane generators are less efficient than gas versions, producing less power per gallon of fuel. However, propane is a cleaner fuel, making it the preferred choice for many.

Q: What size generator do I need to run my AC?

A: The size of the generator you need will depend on the size of your AC unit. A good rule of thumb is that a 5500 Watt generator provides around 45 amps and can run a small AC unit.

A 13,500 BTU AC unit will need 2800 to 3000 starting watts and 1500 to 2000 running watts.

A 15,000 BTU AC unit will require 3300 to 3500 starting watts and 1300 to 1800 running watts.

There you have it.

You now have all the knowledge you need to buy that all-important camping generator with confidence.

We want you to know you’re buying the right camping generator for your needs.

To help you out, we’ve reviewed our Top 10 choices to satisfy you. We’ve included links to the Top 3 at the beginning and the end of this review.

We’ve done the research – now we’re passing the baton to you to choose which suits you best!

Our Analysis, Comparisons & Test Results

Noise Output

Nobody wants noise pollution from a generator humming away in the background and drowning out conversation. That’s why we’ve specifically looked at noise levels to rate ours.

Those we’ve reviewed ranged between 48 and 68 dBa.

Honda EU3000

Noise Output Rating: Best Camping Generators

Honda EU2200i
9
WEN Generator
9
Yamaha Generator
8
Honda EU3000iS
8
Westinghouse Generator
8
Briggs & Stratton Genera
7
Champion 3400 Generator
7
Pulsar PG1202S
6
Generac 7117 GP2200i
6
Champion 3800 Generator
5

As a rule of thumb, consider this:

  • a vacuum cleaner produces 70 dB,
  • office noise or background music produces 60 dB,
  • An indoor conversation at home registers at 50 dB, and
  • Lowest levels of urban ambient sound, e.g. a library, produce 40 dB

Obviously, all the lithium battery generators and power banks produce no noise whatsoever – they’re silent. If noise is a deal-breaker for you, the Honda EU2200i or the WEN should be the best choice.

If you need more power from a gas-powered generator, the quietest on our list is the Honda EU3000iS. The Briggs & Stratton or the Champion 3400  can be good options for camping, as long as they don’t run above 50% of the rated load.

But you’ll want to stay away from the Champion 3800 as it can get up to 68 dB.

Power Output

Another important element when rating our generators was power output. This ultimately dictates what they can be used to charge or power – whether it’s your AC units and large appliances, or you just need to charge your cell phone once or twice.

The generators on our list rated from 1200W to 3800W – which is quite the range.

Yamaha EF2400

Power Output Rating: Best Camping Generators

Champion 3800 Generator
10
Champion 3400 Generator
9
Honda EU3000iS
9
Honda EU2200i
8
Generac Generator
8
Westinghouse Generator
8
Briggs & Stratton Generator
8
Yamaha Generator
8
Pulsar Generator
7
WEN Generator
6

But we didn’t just give top marks for the highest power output, instead, we looked at power output for the type of unit we were reviewing.

Let’s see how they ranked on power output.

We were extremely impressed by both the Champion 3800- and 3400-Watt dual fuel generators. With running wattages of 3800 and 3400 respectively, that’s enough to power your AC units and a whole lot more.

With its impressive reliability, the Honda EU3000iS also stood at the top of the chart.

Champion 3800

The Honda EU2200i, the Generac, and the Westinghouse went neck to neck due to their impressive power output in spite of being lightweight and compact devices. The  Westinghouse also stood out with its steady output.

After analyzing the performance of the rest of the models, we decided they were equally-matched, with only slight variations in their output.

Ease Of Use

Ease of use is an important metric to think about – because a generator’s power output and noise levels only matter if you can get them started in the first place!

We looked at features like information displays, starter mechanisms, and fuel gauges to rate our generators.

Let’s see how each model fared on ease of use.

Generator

Ease Of Use Rating: Best Camping Generators

Champion 3400 Generator
9
Honda EU3000iS
9
Briggs & Stratton Generator
8
Generac Generator
8
WEN Generator
8
Champion 3800 Generator
8
Honda EU2200i
8
Yamaha Generator
7
Westinghouse Generator
7
Pulsar Generator
7

The top-performing generator for this category was the Champion 3400. We liked its electric starter button with the backup of the pull cord – a nice feature to improve usability.

Sharing the top spot was the Honda EU3000iS. It proved itself versatile enough to power up a laptop, along with larger items like an RV air conditioner as well.

The control panel layout and the LCD display of the Briggs & Stratton made it our next favorite choice.

The Honda EU2200i, the Generac, and the WEN scored equally well in this metric.

While the Pulsar and the Westinghouse can easily be moved by one person, we noticed the recoil mechanism needed a little more effort. Hence they both lose some points on usability.   

Durability

When you’re investing time and money in your camping generator, you want to know it’s going to last. That’s why we also rated these units on durability.

For this, we considered not only the construction materials (including the accessories) but also the reliability of the power supply. 

Here’s how our generators scored:

Yamaha EF2400

Durability Rating: Best Camping Generators

Honda EU3000iS
9
Champion 3800 Generator
9
Honda EU2200i
8
Westinghouse Generator
8
Yamaha Generator
8
Champion 3400 Generator
7
Briggs & Stratton Generator
7
Generac Generator
7
Pulsar Generator
7
WEN Generator
6

The top marks went to the  Honda EU3000iS and the Champion 3800 for their excellent durability. Both the devices are rugged, hard-working generators contained in a robust casing, and will certainly stand the test of time and a few bumps.

The Westinghouse and the Honda EU3000iS and the Champion 3400 also scored highly in this metric due to their robust features.

The WEN came in last for durability as some users have reported issues with the recoil breaking.

Weight & Portability

When reviewing the generators on our list, weight and portability was certainly an important metric. They ranged from 1 pound to 130 pounds, so there’s definitely something for everyone on our list.

Generally, the more powerful the generator, the heavier and less portable it’s going to be. So it’s a balance between the weight and power output.

For you to be able to strike that balance exactly right, you need to know what you’ll be using the generator for.

Let’s see how each ranked:

Honda Generator

Weight & Portability Rating: Best Camping Generators

WEN Generator
9
Pulsar Generator
8
Generac Generator
7
Westinghouse Generator
7
Briggs & Stratton Generator
7
Honda EU2200i
7
Yamaha Generator
7
Champion 3400 Generator
5
Champion 3800 Generator
5
Honda EU3000iS
5

The WEN is the lightest among all the camping generators we tested.

With a weight of just 32 pounds, portability is its biggest advantage.

At 37.5 pounds, the Pulsar comes next and we found it very easy to handle during our tests.

The  Honda EU2200i, the Westinghouse, and the Briggs & Stratton models all stand pretty close to one another in terms of weight.

Still fairly portable, but starting to verge on heavy.

The Champion 3800 is one of the heaviest models we tested with 119 pounds under its belt.

At the other end..

…the Honda EU3000iS stood at the lowest spot not just on account of its weight – a whopping 130 pounds – but also because the wheel kit must be bought separately.

Accessories

Our final metric to judge was accessories.

Accessories that come with your generator can make your purchase a great deal, but if you have to buy them separately, it can get pretty expensive.

We looked at whether or not the generators on our list come with helpful accessories like wheel kits, extension cords, connectors, solar panels or chargers, parallel connection kits, and other service kits.

Here’s how they rated:

Yamaha EF2400

Accessories Rating: Best Camping Generators

WEN Generator
9
Champion 3800 Generator
8
Champion 3400 Generator
8
Westinghouse Generator
7
Honda EU2200i
7
Yamaha Generator
6
Generac Generator
6
Briggs & Stratton Generator
6
Pulsar Generator
6
Honda EU3000iS
5

A clear winner on this metric was the WEN – it works from the get-go, is easy to set up and comes with everything you need.

Parallel connection kits are available if you want to double up on your power output.

The Champion 3400 and the Champion 3800 also impressed us. We found the inclusion of the propane hose to be good support for those who need a little more fuel.

The rest of the models do not offer much beyond fairly basic amenities like funnels and the tool kit.

Not particularly impressive was the Honda EU3000iS which didn’t even come with a wheel kit, making it too cumbersome to move easily hence we’ve scored it the lowest for this rating.

Our Final Verdict: Best Camping Generators

So there you have it!

Some are heroes, some didn’t do so well. 

Don’t forget to look out for our TopNotch awards…

Honda EU3000iS
78%
WEN Generator
78%
Yamaha Generator
77%
Honda EU2200i
76%
Westinghouse Generator
75%
Champion 3800 Generator
75%
Champion 3400 Generator
72%
Briggs & Stratton Generator
72%
Generac Generator
72%
Pulsar Generator
67%

Conclusio: Best Camping Generators

Like any other piece of camping gear, when you’re looking to invest in a camping generator, you need to do the research in order to know which product is going to be best suited to your needs

There’s a wide range on the market which suit all kinds of budgets and camping styles.

Whether you’re just looking for a lightweight power bank to charge a few small electronic devices, or you need a heavy-duty gas generator to power your RV’s AC unit, there’s a lot to consider.

But what do you look for?

Here, we’ve narrowed it down to ten great generators, and we’ve thoroughly tested and reviewed them against our ratings to come up with our recommendations to help you pick the best one for you.

We want you to be confident you’re buying a generator that will not just satisfy your needs, but also last you for many happy camping trips.

Want to know our favorite?

The Honda EU3000iS.

In terms of features, performance, and reliability it really outperformed the others to stand at the top.

The Yamaha EF2400iSHC occupied the second spot as the TopNotch Editor’s Choice.

Lastly, the Champion Generator (3800W) emerged as the Best Value product.

So, these are our winners in this TopNotch review session.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our round-up and that you’re ready to make your choice!

topnotchoutdoor award

Yamaha EF2400iSHC Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator
topnotchoutdoor award

Champion Generator (3800W)
topnotchoutdoor award

Honda EU3000iS