A portable generator is a useful addition to any home. Whether you just need something small and lightweight to make camping a bit more comfortable, or a generator that can keep the heat running through a brutal snow storm, there is a generator for every style of living.
What kind of generator you purchase depends entirely on what you want it for. A camping generator doesn’t need to be as powerful as one that powers your house, and a generator being used on a construction site doesn’t have to be as quiet as one in a residential neighborhood.
What to look for when deciding on a portable generator
Choosing a portable generator can be difficult. With so many options out there it may feel like you’ll never decide which one is best for you, and you may have trouble deciphering what the selling points on each generator even means. If you’re not sure, here are some great tips to help you understand generators a little better.
How quiet is it?
Generators typically mention whether they are quiet or not, often by describing in decibels how loud it can be. If you see a review stating that the generator was recorded at 58 dB for example, they are saying it is 58 decibels, or fairly quiet for a generator. If you’ve never owned a generator before, or aren’t sure why how quiet it is could be important—here are just a few reasons why you should take it into consideration.
- You may spend more money trying to quiet a noisy generator than to simply buy a quiet one
Many of the cheaper generators are cheap because they are extremely loud. Once you actually purchase it, start it up, and realize you’re going to need hearing protection just to have a cook out on your camping trip, you’ll probably want to quiet it right away. The mufflers available to help lower the sound on a noisy generator can end up making your generator more expensive than simply buying a quiet one!
- If you are going for camping, you’re probably going for the serenity.
A loud generator can sound like someone is using half a dozen band saws all at once. Even if you aren’t wanting the peace and quiet, if you’re using this during a tailgating party you’ll want to be able to hear other people talk, and if the lights go out your neighbors will definitely notice a super noisy generator.
How long will it run for?
Run time is an important consideration depending on what you want it for. If your portable generator is simply for a tail gate party, you don’t have to worry about how long the generator will last. If you want it for emergencies however, you don’t want to be constantly filling the gas tank up every couple of hours because the generator wasn’t designed to take that level of load.
How much of a load it can handle is also important. How big of a generator you need to get depends on how big of a load it will be taking. Do you just need it to run an air conditioner in your RV, or do you just need something to power an electric grill? Do you want to keep essential appliances running during an emergency, or do you just need one or two items running at a time?
Answering these questions helps decide how much of a load you need. An air conditioner typically needs more running power than anything else, at about 1500-2000 watts to run it, and as much as 3000 watts to start it. Other items take much less, such as a small RV fridge which only needs about 180 watts to run it, and 600 watts to start it. You’ll want to add all of the items together to see if your generator will be enough for what you want to run, or if you’ll need a more powerful generator.
Tank Size and Efficiency
Most generators run on gas to help them keep going. Typically speaking, the larger the gas tank on the generator, the longer it can run. This isn’t always the case however, as some are more efficient than others. Let’s go ahead and take a look at some sample generators now, and put this knowledge into practice.
Best Portable Generators for going Camping
If you’re looking for a good quality camping generator, look no farther than the Yamaha EF2000iSv2. While this tongue twister of a name may leave you blurry eyed, the facts about this amazing generator won’t. As one of the smallest and lightest generators out there, it makes packing it away and hauling it a dream. Don’t be fooled by its small size however, it can keep generating electricity long after other generators of the same size stop running. With just a gallon of gas needed to fill its tank, it can handles as much as 2,000 watts of peak power as well as 1,600 watts of continuous power. When under a light load, the generator can last as much as 8 hours on one tank of gas.
It’s favored among campers because it is an extremely quiet generator, as well as light. Customers have reported being unable to hear their own generator over the noise of others farther away. If noise level is important to you, this is the way to go.
Need something a bit more economical than the Yamaha? You can still get a great camping generator for less by going with a Champion 75531i. This generator is decent for both camping and tailgating, with a lightweight design and efficient engine. It has a slightly larger gas tank at 1.6 gallons, and can run for about 8 hours at 25% capacity. It’s not quite as quiet as the Yamaha, but with a much more efficient price tag it is well worth investing in.
Best Portable Generators for Emergency Power
If you are looking for a portable generator for use in case of emergency, the Honda EM6500S is the generator for you. With peak power as high as 10,000 watts, and continuous power starting at 4,000 watts, it can handle emergencies just fine. It’s also tough enough to handle daily use, such as use outside on a construction site. With an ample 6.2 gallon tank, it can keep going long enough to get you through most emergencies before needing a fill up.