If you head to the campgrounds often, one of the best investments you can make is a portable camping generator. You can enhance your camping experience by bringing some of those comforts of home with you. With the cleaner, quieter power now available with these inverter type generators, you can safely power all your electronic devices (laptops, phones and even flat screen TVs) plus less sensitive equipment like lights, portable heaters, coffee makers, etc…
We will highlight some popular camping generators listed below, their major features and offer some guidance toward purchasing the best one for your circumstances.
The Honda EU2000i is arguably the best portable generator in its class providing 2000 Watts maximum power and 1600 Watts running power. Of course, this quality and brand name come with a higher price tag.
The Yamaha EF2000iS meets the high standards we expect from the Yamaha brand. Like the Honda EU2000i, it is rated for a maximum output of 2000 watts and 1600 running watts. You will find this generator comparable to the Honda EU2000i in almost all its features, including cost. It is slightly lighter but a little louder.
The Generac 6866 iQ2000 is another 2000 Watt generator that is less expensive than the Honda EU2000i and Yamaha EF2000iSv2 but sharing most of their features. In noise level, it surpasses both of these generators and has a unique power dial that integrates start, run and stop functions in a single dial.
The Westinghouse WH2400i is a very popular portable generator with maximum power output of 2400 Watts and 2100 running Watts. It is light weight, compact and quiet. It’s an excellent choice, especially for the price.
Finally the WEN 56200i is another great selling portable generator. It actually uses the same 79cc engine as the Yamaha EF2000is. This portable inverter generator is the least expensive among the generators listed here but provides quiet and efficient performance. It is also rated for 2000 maximum Watts and 1600 running Watts.
- 1 What Features Should You Consider When Choosing A Camping Generator?
- 2 Honda EU Series
- 3 Yamaha EF Series
- 4 Generac iX Series
- 5 Westinghouse WH2400i
- 6 WEN 56200i
- 7 Which Is Best For You?
What Features Should You Consider When Choosing A Camping Generator?
With so many options, how do you go about choosing the best camping generator? Here are few features to consider…
How Will You Use The Generator?
All of these portable generators are also inverter generators, which means they all use a technology that provides clean power for charging sensitive electronics. Inverter generators are also compact and quiet – all important features for a camping generator!
The first thing to consider is how the generator will be used. This will determine how much power you will need. We have highlighted generators in the 2000 – 2400 Watt range. Is that sufficient power for your needs? In each family of generators, you will find a wide range of choices for power output. For example, Honda offers a smaller portable generator – the EU1000i offering 1000 Watts. They also offer the EU3000i, which may be too heavy to carry. This camping generator, however, comes with a wheel kit making it quite portable.
To determine the amount of power you need, take a look at the devices you wish to power at the same time. Here’s a list of some common devices and their power requirements:
- Window Air Conditioning Unit – 1200 Watts / 1800 Surge Watts
- Refrigerator – 800 Watts / 1200 Surge Watts
- Microwave – 800 Watts / 1000 Watts
- Computer – 800 Watts
- Stereo – 400 Watts
- DVD/VCR player – 100 Watts
- Light bulb – 75 Watts
You will notice that some of these devices require additional power on startup, which is called surge wattage. For example, when a window air conditioner is turned on, it will require additional power to start an electric motor (1800 surge watts for our example). Once it has started, however, it only needs a lower running or steady-state wattage (800 watts) to keep it going. In this case, if your generator were only powering this the window air conditioner, it would need a maximum or surge wattage of at least 1800 watts. If it will be powering multiple devices at the same time, you would want to add the required power requirements of each device to determine the size of your generator.
How Often Do You Expect To Use Your Generator?
Also, how often do you expect to use your generator? If you intend to get a lot of use out of it, it may be worth investing in a higher rated, more expensive brand. These also tend to come with longer warranties and have longer life expectancy. On the other hand, if you plan on using it only for the occasional camping trip or just to keep it handy for emergencies, a less expensive but dependable brand may be the way to go. Some other factors we’ll also consider, especially with regard to camping generators, are fuel efficiency and noise levels.
You definitely want something light that you can carry and pack in your car but that will also provide sufficient power for all your needs. Amazingly such generators exist and are perfect for camping. Among generator manufacturers, Generac, Yamaha, Honda and others have produced some very popular compact gas-powered generators that will meet your camping needs.
Honda EU Series
We’ll start with the high end generators. With the Honda EU Series, you will find generators as light as 29 pounds with noise levels as low as 53 dBA (this is quieter than conversation level)! Generators in this series use inverter technology to produce high quality stable power able to power sensitive electronic devices like computers. They also contain DC receptacles and with optional battery charging cables, you can jump start your car – a very handy and “peace of mind” feature when camping in remote locations!
The EU1000i, the smallest in the series, delivers output of up to 1,000 watts. It is perfect for operating many small appliances, TVs, lights and small power tools. On a full tank of 0.6 gal., it can run 8.3 hours at 1/4 load or up to 3.8 hours at the rated load of 900 Watts (this means it can run continuously with a load of 900 Watts). Such fuel efficiency and noise reduction is possible due to Honda’s Eco-Throttle technology, which allows the generator to automatically adjust its engine speed depending on the load.
The EU2000i has similar features but larger with greater power capacity. At 46 pounds, it is still very portable and compact. It is more durable than the EU1000i with an iron-sleeve and with its rated output of 1600 Watts, it can power larger appliances, including refrigerators and small AC units. It also has a slightly larger fuel tank of 0.95 gal. Depending on the load, it can run between 3.4 to 8.1 hours on a full tank.
With these models, it is also possible to double the power output by running two generators in parallel using accessory cables.
For even greater power needs, there’s also a 3000 (2800 rated) watt generator, the EU3000i, which can easily power a 13,500 BTU air conditioner. It is heavy, weighing 134 pounds, but with the purchase of a wheel kit, it is still quite portable. It offers some of the same benefits as the previous models, for example, it is also an inverter providing clean power and uses the same technology to control engine speed based on load making it very fuel efficient; on a full tank of 3.4 gallons, it can run up to 20 hours! It is easier to start with an electric starter and is super quiet.
You will find that these Honda generators are more expensive than other brands having comparable features. There is a premium for the dependability expected from the Honda brand. These are among the highest rated compact portable generators.
Yamaha EF Series
Among the most competitive generators to the Honda EU Series is the Yamaha EF Series.
The Yamaha EF1000iS uses inverter technology to provide clean stable power and has the same power ratings as the Honda EU1000i. It uses similar load sensing technology to control engine speed. Therefore, it provides fantastic fuel efficiency and provides up to 12 hours of power on a full tank at 1/4 rated load. It also runs quieter than other brands and weighs 27.9 pounds making it super easy to carry!
Likewise, the EF2000iSv2 is comparable to the Honda EU2000i providing similar power output. It has a slightly larger fuel tank of 1.1 gallons and offers up to 10.5 hours of continuous operation at 1/4 rated load. It also has a fuel gauge. Weighing 44.1 pounds, it is a few pounds lighter and very easy to transport, especially for its class! Due to its lighter weight, slightly more compact design and longer length of operation on a full tank, the Yamaha EF generators are at the top of their class of portable generators.
Rivaling the Honda EU3000i is the Yamaha EF3000iS, offering the same quality of power and fuel efficiency. The specs are very similar, and Yamaha offers a 3 year limited warranty. For a little more, Yamaha also offers the EF3000iSEB with greater starting power. The Boost Technology makes use of the generators internal 12-volt battery. As a result, it provides extra power for a 10 second boost when needed – up to 3500 Watts. Users rave about the reliability and quietness of these units. The only con to the larger 3000 Watt units is the weight, often requiring a couple people to lift.
Generac iX Series
Finally, we’ll take a quick look at Generac camping generators. Generac offers a wide range of compact inverter generator models for less cost. The series starts with the iX800 providing a rated output of 800 Watts (maximum 850 Watts). Other models in the series are the iX1600, iX1400 and iX2000.
The Generac iX Series offers great value for the price. They are all quiet, compact and lightweight ranging from 29 to 52 pounds. Like the Honda and Yamaha models, they use the same inverter technology to provide clean power for sensitive electronics and provide optimized engine speed for the load. They also come with a two year warranty.
Overall, they have favorable ratings and will save you several hundreds of dollars on the purchase. You will probably not get the same usage and reliability as the higher end generators described above. Depending on how you intend to use it, though, this may be the right and most cost-effective match for you.
This image features the IQ2000, a newer quieter model that’s extremely popular.
The Westinghouse WH2400i is a small, portable and compact inverter generator that provides a maximum or surge power of 2400 Watts and running power of 2100 Watts. That’s enough to operate several devices simultaneously at your campsite or while tailgating or at home during a power outage.
- 2200 peak watts, 1800 running watts
- Run-time of 13 hours at 25% load
- 1.3 gallon fuel tank
- Power indicator light with AC-overload reset
- Duplex, and a NEMA 5-15R 120V AC outlets
- High efficiency mode, capable of parallel operation
- Noice Level: 52-59 decibels
- Weighs 43 pounds
- Size: 20.25” x 12.5” x 15.25”
- Two units can run in parallel and double the output (cable required)
- 2-year limited warranty
This video demonstrates two Westinghouse WH2400i generators running in parallel and powering an RV 13500 BTU air conditioner!
Wen makes high quality generators. This particular model that operates at a running 1600 Watts has some great features, especially for the price. It has a surge power of 2000 watts and produces very clean power to safely power your electronics. Its major features include the following:
- Running Wattage : 1600 W
- Surge Wattage : 2000 W
- Run Time at Half Load : 6 Hours
- Fuel Tank Capacity : 1 Gallon
- Noise Level: 51 decibels
- Shipping Dimensions L x W x H (inches) : 22-1/4 x 12 x 19-1/4
- Weighs 48 pounds
- It includes 2 three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle and one 5V USB port.
- Fuel consumption adjusts depending on the load – very efficient
- EPA III and CARB Compliant
- 2 year warranty
Which Is Best For You?
The first question to always ask is, “What will you use the generator for?” Determine the amount of power needed to start the decision making process.
How portable do you need your generator to be? As you can see, there some amazing compact designs for 2000 Watt generators. These inverter generators are very quiet and ideal for camping or for any outdoor activity requiring power.
Once you have determined how much power you will need and what type of activities you will need the generator for, decide on what level of quality you need? Will you be running this thing all the time or only a few times a year, e.g. in case of an emergency or for the rare camping trip? Do you need the reliability of a Honda or Yamaha or will a less costly but highly respected model be sufficient for your needs. Best of luck in your decision making!
Above all, be safe and bring along with you the comforts of home as you venture off. It’s now more possible than ever!