Going camping? RV’ing? Tailgating?
What about charging electronics? Or perhaps powering your entire home after a storm?
A quiet generator is what you want . . . but we know, shopping for one is confusing.
To help, we checked out lab tests of generators, looking at decibel levels at 20 and 50 feet. We measured the sound at full throttle . . . and at quarter power (or eco-mode, as some generators call it).
For camping, we’d recommend a quiet inverter generator.
A quiet inverter generator provides power for a few key appliances: a mini fridge, computers, cell phones, etc. In a blackout, a good inverter generator can keep your A/C or freezer humming.
The key question: how much power do you need?
For most camping needs (say a mini fridge), a generator that puts out 600 to 2000 watts is the goal. (Later, we’ll talk about generators for backup power for a home, where a window A/C unit can pull about 1000 watts. Portable heater? 1500 watts.)
Before we get to the picks, let’s go over a few key things no one tells you about buying a generator.
- Pay attention to the break-in process. Yes, each generator has its own peculiarities . . . be sure to follow the break-in instructions to the letter!
- Storage is important! Follow the maker’s recommendations for storage. If you are buying an inverter generator for emergencies, you want to make sure it fires up when needed!
- Being handy is helpful. You may have to replace a pull cord or troubleshoot the unit, for example.
For the best generator for camping, we decided WEN’s 53203i is the best bet for most folks. The key feature here: it’s QUIET. When you’re camping, generator volume can be an issue . . . especially if you are in a campground with other campers nearby.
Even if you are alone, a quieter generator makes the world of difference in camping, in our opinion. Here’s more on why this model is a good choice:
What We Liked
• Eco mode is especially quiet. The lab tests we researched say this generator is about 50 decibels at 30 feet. That’s about the sound of a normal conversation . . . or the background noise of a quiet suburb.
• 2000 watt rating (2000 is start-up; 1700 running) is good enough for most camping needs.
• Lightweight at 39 lbs. It’s relatively easy to move this generator around (even though it doesn’t have wheels).
• Run time of roughly 10 hours with quarter load.
• Auto-shut off when low on oil or fuel.
• 1 gallon tank.
• May require an altitude kit over 2000 feet. Why? The higher up you are, the thinner the air—and that affects the efficiency and running temperature of the generator. To solve this issue, WEN has two different altitude kits (one for 3000-6000 feet and another for 6000-8000 feet). These are separate purchases, however.
What Needs Work
• No fuel gauge.
• Must be grounded. And unfortunately, grounding wire/rod isn’t included.