The Best Camping Generators For Your Next Outdoor Adventure

Fun Camping

Camping generators have a time and a place for every camper.

When I’m car camping with the family or have our camping trailer out for a trip, having a reliable power source is a huge convenience. That’s where a camping generator can come in handy.

I’ve stated here on Beyond The Tent many times that I am a fan of all types of camping. I love going into the backcountry with minimal gear, car camping with my family, driving our hybrid camper to a state park, or jumping in the canoe for a canoe camping adventure.

On some of my trips I don’t want an electronic device in my vacinity, yet on others, I will plop down with my kids and watch a movie (and turn on the AC!). Camping is all about doing what you love and enjoying getting away from the stresses of life.

Whatever your reason, sometimes when we’re out camping there’s not always a reliable power source, that’s when you need a camping generator.

Index

How Generators Work (in a nutshell)

Generators work by taking one form of energy (mechanical) and transforming it into electrical electrical energy.

The mechanical energy is used to turn a crank inside the generator that is attached to a magnet. This magnet then passes near wires to create a flow of electrons (power outputted from the generator).

The types of generators we will mainly be referring to in this post operate a gas engine for their mechanical energy. Basically transforming the gas power into electrical energy.

Other generators operate on the same principal only use a different source for their mechanical energy.

Wind and water (and hand crank) turbines use wind and water to turn a turbine which is attached to the magnet that creates the flow of electrons.

Check out the Water Lilly water and wind turbine, it’s pretty cool!

If you want to learn more about how generators work, check out these sources: https://science.howstuffworks.com/electricity3.htm and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_generator.

What Size Camping Generator Do You Need?

RV Camping

To determine the size of the generator you will need, you need to first think about how many Watts of power you will be using at the same time. It’s best to estimate your Max useage.

Starting watts is how many watts or power a device uses right when it starts up. Many devices, such as an AC unity require a large surge of power right when then start up, then require fewer watts once they are running.

Any time you are running devices on a generator, always start the largest devices first, such as the AC unit. This allows them to draw their large starting wattage without any other devices interfering. Once they are running at their lower running wattage, you can turn on other devices.

Once you have figured out how many watts you think you would be consuming at one time, match that up with how many watts the generator can produce and that is the size of generator you will need.

NOTE: As a useful side note, generators tend to lose 3.5% of their power efficiency for every 1,000 feet above sea level they are operated at. I’m looking at you Colorado Campers!

Use the table below for basic reference:

Camping Gear Wattage Consumption Table

ITEMSTARTING WATTSRUNNING WATTS
13,500 BTU AC2800-3000W1500-2000W
10,000 BTU AC2000W700W
7,000 BTU AC1,700W600W
Small Fridge600W180W
Coffee Maker600W180W
Keurig200-400W
Microwave1000W1000W
Electric SkilletUp To 1500W
LED TV 24″ – 50″40-100W
Hot Plate750-1500W
Macbook Pro87W
Fan 50-120W
Phone / Tablet10W
Radio50-200W
Video Game Console40-140W
Space Heater750-1500W
LED String Lights5W
LED Light Bulb4-10W

How Loud Of A Generator Should You Use

The noise level of a generator is very important to consider since you will be running an engine outdoors where other people are trying to enjoy nature.

To measure the amount of sound an item makes, it is measured in dBA or A-weighted decibles. A-weighted decibels is a rating of the loudness of sounds through air as heard by average the human ear.

You can find the noise level produced by each camping generated listed in dBA in the description of each generator below.

For reference, you can use the chart here for how much noise each camping generator will make.

Don’t Contribute To Noise Pollution: I have had camping experiences where someone is running an incredibly loud generator all evening and all night. It ruins the camping experience for everyone else. Don’t be inconsiderate.

Typical Sound dBA Levels

ACTIVITYNOISE LEVEL
Whispering30dBA
Refrigerator50dBA
Air Conditioner / Normal Speech60dBA
Shower70dBA
Alarm Clock80dBA
Motorcycle100dBA

Generators For RV Camping vs Tent Camping

Car Camping

RV camping usually requires more power than other types of camping. RV’s can be simple or they can be luxurious homes on wheels. RVs have lights, refrigerators, AC units, microwaves, TVs, furnaces and more to power, so they require a generator that can output a lot of amps.

Tent camping typically requires significantly less power than does RV camping. A tent camper may want power for charging devices, running a small tv, fans, and lights. This doesn’t require near the amps that an RV does.

The Best Camping Generators

Honda EU1000i

Honda Camping Generator

Honda EU1000i Specs:

  • Watts: 1000
  • dBA: 53-59
  • Weight: 29 lbs.
  • Run Time: 8.3 Hours
  • Cost: $$$$

The Honda EU1000i is one of the most reliable and long lasting small camping generators on the market.

Honda engines have a reputation for high quality, meaning they break down far less often and they last a long time.

At 1000 watts, this generator is perfect for tent camping or for running the basics in your RV.

You can easily operate a small refigerator, charge phones and computers, watch a flat screen TV and even run fans and lights.

Weighing in at just 29lbs, this generator is easy to pack into any car and carry to just about any campsite and with only 53-59 dBA of noise produced, you won’t be upsetting your neighbors.

You can buy the Honda EU1000i here.


Westinghouse iGen 1200

Westinghouse iGen1200

Westinghouse iGen1200 Specs:

  • Watts: 2500 peak, 2200 running
  • dBA: 52
  • Weight: 48 lbs.
  • Run Time: 10 Hours
  • Cost: $$

The Westinghouse iGen1200 is a great small camping generator that can run your essentials all while not breaking the bank. This generator is less than half the price of the similar Honda EU1000i.

At 35lbs, this is a light weight generator that is easily packed for any type of camping and the 52 dBA makes it one of the quietest generators on our list.

At 1,000 rated watts, you can easily run most of your essentials such as a small fridge, lights, computers, phones, radios and TVs. Not quite enough watts to run an AC unit.

You can buy the Westinghouse iGen1200 here.


Honda EU2200i

Honda EU2200i Camping Generator

Honda EU2200i Specs

  • Watts: 2500 peak, 2200 running
  • dBA: 52
  • Weight: 48 lbs.
  • Run Time: 10 Hours
  • Cost: $$

Slightly bigger and more wattage than the Honda EU1000i, the EU2200i is the perfect mid-level camping generator.

At 2200 watts, it allows you to run a small AC unit, fridge, coffee maker, charge computers and cells phones, lights and TV all the same time. You can operate skillets and hot plates one at a time and even run a space heater to heat up your tent or RV.

One of the best features of this generator is that it is one of the quietest camping generators you can buy, operating at only 47 dBA when running on low. That’s quieter than most conversations.

You can buy the Honda EU2200i Here.


Westinghouse iGen2500

Westinghouse iGen2500 Camping Generator

Westinghouse iGen2500 Specs:

  • Watts: 2500 peak, 2200 running
  • dBA: 52
  • Weight: 48 lbs.
  • Run Time: 10 Hours
  • Cost: $$

The Westinghouse iGen2500 is a comparable camping generator to the Honda EU2200i in just about every way, though it is quite a bit cheaper.

The 2500 peak watts and 2200 running watts are enough to operate an AC unit up to 10,000 BTUs. It can easily run your refrigerator, microwave, electronics, lights and other necessities.

This generator is perfect for small RVs such as pop up campers and hybrid travel trailers.

You can buy the Westinghouse iGen2500 generator here.


Honda EU3000is

Honda EU3000is

Honda EU3000is Specs:

  • Watts: 2500 peak, 2200 running
  • dBA: 52
  • Weight: 48 lbs.
  • Run Time: 10 Hours
  • Cost: $$

The Honda EU3000is is a great RV camping generator. You get the reliable Honda name (which you will pay for) and durability that you can count on while camping.

The EU3000 has enough wattage to run up to a 13,500 btu AC unit and run most all of your RV appliances and electronics.

This camping generator has a 30 amp lock plug for RVs, and a low oil alert that will shut off the generator when the oil is low.

You can buy the Honda EU3000is here.


Westinghouse iGen4500

Westinghouse iGen4500 Camping Generator

Westinghouse iGen4500 Specs:

  • Watts: 2500 peak, 2200 running
  • dBA: 52
  • Weight: 48 lbs.
  • Run Time: 10 Hours
  • Cost: $$

If you’re looking for an affordable generator that is large enough to run your entire RV, than the Westinghouse iGen4500 is perfect for you.

With an amazing 3,700 rated watts, you can easily run most RV AC units, your fridge, microwave, and any other devices and electronics you desire.

It also comes loaded with bells and whistles such as an LED display center for fuel levels, oil levels, power modes and more. It features an electric push button start, a 30 amp plug, multiple 120V outlets, USB ports and more.

All of these features while still operating at a quiet 53dBA, this is a generator made specifically for RV camping.


Having a camping generator is about convenience. Yes we could all survive without power for a week, but that’s not always what we want to do.

If this post helped you, please share it! That would really help us!

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