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Features to Look for in the Best Small Generators for Camping

If you want to take your camping to another level, you should probably get a generator. Getting one may sound contrary to the values of camping, like staying away from modern conveniences. Some old-fashioned camping enthusiasts don’t like generators because camping is supposed to be ‘one with nature.’ 

However, it is not a bad idea if you want to have beautiful fairy lights in the campsite at night, have a fridge filled with cold drinks and desserts at your disposal, or be able to power some speakers to listen to relaxing music under the stars. Plus, these days, there are a number of small generators for camping that are portable, quiet and easy to handle. 

Just imagine the added conveniences of having electricity in your camp. Getting dark? Just switch on the lights. Bugs and mosquitoes? Plug in the fan and the bug zapper and sleep peacefully. Raining? Get bundled up in your tent or RV and watch a movie. Want a festive atmosphere? Do that with a speaker that connects to your phone to play your favorite music. 

A ready power source is a great thing to have in emergencies. You can charge your phones, cameras, and GPS trackers. Lastly, a generator is handy especially when camping with the family or a group. Those are a few good reasons why small camping generators are such a great idea. 

We will discuss everything you need to know about small generators for camping, the types out there, and the costs.

What To Consider When Looking for a Small Generator for Camping

Any good glamping (glamorous camping) experience needs a decent power supply. Now that you want a generator, the next question is how will you bring it to the campsite? To achieve your dream of having a truly glamorous camping experience, getting a portable generator is one way to get there. Many generators are heavy, requiring at least two persons to lift and bring somewhere.  

Aside from the weight, another issue is the size. Generators are bulky, requiring a lot of space in the trunk of your vehicle. And don’t forget the gas containers too. With those things in mind, you should choose a particularly lightweight and compact generator for camping. However, you should get a model with adequate wattage to power your devices.

Types of Portable Generators

Standard gas generators (also called a genset) combine an engine and an alternator so that the engine causes the alternator to create an alternating current (AC) to power devices and appliances. Most portable generators run on unleaded gasoline, while others can run on gasoline or propane (cooking gas). There are also portable diesel generators, but most are too heavy to be brought to distant places.

Another type is the inverter generator, which has an integrated inverter. The inverter transforms the alternating current from the generator into a direct current, then converts it back to AC to power your devices. Their advantage is that they run quieter than traditional generators, and it scales back the engine noise further when plugged into devices that don’t need much power, such as TVs or LED lights. 

The last type is the battery generator or a power station. These are actually not generators because they don’t have an engine. Think of them as the large version of the power bank you use to recharge a smartphone. These come with battery packs to store electric current; you can charge them by plugging them into a wall outlet. Some models can be charged with solar panels for reliable, off-grid power. The advantage of portable power stations is that they are more compact and lighter than generators, and using them does not make any noise at all.

How Much Power Do You Need?

Another aspect to remember is to get a generator with the capacity to power your devices. That begs the question, how much power do you need?  Well, that depends on the things you will bring to the campsite. Things that don’t consume much power, such as laptops, phones, chargers, LED lights, and fans, can be powered by small 700-watt generators. 

If you have power-hungry appliances in the camp, such as slow cookers, widescreen TVs, fridges, electric grills, large speakers, or desktop PCs, you will need a larger generator with at least 1,500 watts or more. The problem is that some powerful gas generators are too heavy for camping.

If you make extended trips for weeks or move from one campsite to another, you must consider getting a lightweight gas generator – something that can be lifted or has wheels yet has the wattage to power your devices. Also, consider the logistics of keeping your generator supplied with fuel. That necessitates bringing gas containers and making trips to the gas station to get fuel. Dual fuel generators (like the one pictured above) can be a good idea, as you can power them with the same propane tank used for cooking. Another alternative is getting a solar generator with solar panels (like the EcoFlow Delta 2 pictured below), which you can charge during the daytime. 

Getting a gas generator also means you must do maintenance periodically because it is a combustion engine, like a car. That is needed even if you do not use it regularly. You have to plan the changing the oil, fuel filter, air filters, spark plugs, and clean the carburetor to keep it running perfectly and in good condition. 

The Noise Output

All generators, even the small ones, are incredibly noisy, which is a factor you must consider when camping. A running generator is an undesirable racket in quiet parks, beaches, and trails. A generator may even attract bears in natural parks. Therefore, some campsites forbid the use of gas generators for those reasons.

Many reviews state which gas generators have a low noise level. That cannot be trusted because noise perception is highly subjective. What might sound to you as a quiet-running generator may sound disturbing to others. 

Inverter generators, in general, run quieter than traditional generators. They can make the running engine achieve higher or lower RPMs depending on the load or wattage. The Pulsar Dual Fuel Portable Inverter Generator is pictured below. 

Costs of Owning a Generator

The prices of generators vary depending on the brand and the wattage. More expensive generators typically handle more watts. Features like carbon monoxide alarm, a push-button starter, and Bluetooth connectivity may add to the cost. At the same time, inverter generators tend to have a higher cost due to additional electronics. 

Another thing to consider about generators is the cost of periodic maintenance. There is always a generator that fits your existing budget, so explore them. 

Make the Right Choice

Camping is a relaxing and enjoyable activity; you can even improve it by bringing a small generator. Now you have read everything about small generators, you have an easier time comparing models and making a purchase. 

Visit our Solar Paradise store and purchase your small generator now. Explore our extensive selection of portable generators, including dual-fuel generators, inverter generators, and power stations with solar panels. Contact our helpful customer service team to answer your questions and check specifications and payment options. We are more than happy to answer and help you with your purchase. 


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