Who doesn’t love to unwind in the wilderness and go camping with friends and family? At the same time, cutting off completely from modern conveniences is not a great idea. This is why avid campers take along power backups to manage their electronic devices that run through the power supply. However, it is essentially important to understand what kind of backup would meet the needs. Small size, handy power backups are great in powering up mobile devices but what if you want to run a variety of devices together like your CPAP machines, drones, mini-fridge, emergency lights, and laptops, etc.? That’s when you look for generators that are heavy-duty, portable, energy-efficient, and offer great value for money. Here’s a list of all the portable inverter generators that I’ve used during my road trips, especially camping.
Top 7 Small Generator for Camping Comparison
1. WEN 56200i 2000-Watt Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator
When it comes to buying mechanical and electrical gear, I try to be very observant about every little detail. The WEN 56200i proved to be one of the choicest generators you would come across at this price and value. As compared to others, it is 51 decibels operation which keeps it at a lower end amongst all other noisy generators. It has a 1-gallon fuel capacity and runs for around 6 hours at half load.
With 48 lbs. and 18″ x 11″ x 18″ compact built along with a cool top handle, it is easily portable to any site. Most importantly, its eco-mode feature allows the motor to alter its fuel consumption automatically, and prevent the usage of unnecessary gasoline. I was initially concerned about the safety of my devices but it didn’t take long to test and understand that it surely provides the cleanest alternative energy with 1.2% THD, very safe for direct connection to any device via USB port.
It has three different outlet types – 2 x three-prong 120V receptacles, 1 x 5-volt USB port, and 1 x 12-volt DC outlet making it extraordinarily sufficient and compliant with all other devices and uses. But what makes it even more appealing are the safety features like low oil shutdown, a circuit breaker, and fuel blockage shutdown. These features keep sensitive machines like microwaves, laptops, toasters, and mini-fridge from blowing up and also keep the generator from overheating or exhaustion. Many a time, manufacturers often let go of these important features to leverage on price adjustments.
Last but not least, this beast is EPA III and CARB compliant which means it is eco-friendly and has no health hazards or emissions during combustion. Having a 4-stroke 79.7 cc OHV engine, it produces 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts, making it a perfect heavy-duty inverter generator for camping. Also, if you want to extend its power, you can easily double it by linking it to another WEN inverter generator with the help of a WEN parallel kit to pull out extended total wattage. You can also use the individual outlets on any of the linked generators.
- Weight: 48 Pounds
- Dimensions: 18 x 11 x 18 inches
- Wattage: 1600 Watts
- Engine Displacement: 79.7 Cubic Centimeters
- 2-years warranty.
- Lightweight, easily portable, and very less noisy.
- EPA III and CARB compliant.
- Parallel ready.
- 1.2% Total Harmonic Distortion.
- Strong, compact body.
- The fuel cap is too small, hinders fuel refilling.
- Cleaning a fuel tank is a challenge.
2. Westinghouse iGen2200 Portable Inverter Generator
Westinghouse iGen2200 appeals to you with its compact and L19.8 x W11.4 x H17.9 inches bold body – there’s no running away from it. This small powerful inverter generator is aesthetically designed with a gasoline-fueled 79 cc (3 hp) Westinghouse OHV 4-stroke engine, offers a great look and feel to match your taste and need. With a fuel capacity of 1.2 gallons, it produces 2200 surge watts with 1800 running watts and can easily equip a couple of appliances like a fridge, microwave, a window unit, etc. together for up to 12 hours like none other. And the best part is, you can use it without being guilty of disturbing others as it gives out very low noise as compared to other inverter generators.
For me on camping or any outdoor expedition, safety comes first and iGen2200 offers clean sine waves and stable power at less than 3% total harmonic disruption (THD). Moreover, if the need arises for any extended power, it is pairable with another Westinghouse Generator with the help of a parallel cord. You have to buy it separately but it’s worth it. For further safety and precaution, there are light indicators that remind of the readiness, oil levels, and overload along with a built-in shutdown mechanism on low fuel or overload so that no device is harmed by uneven voltage or power blow out.
On our three-day trip, it worked effortlessly without any headache. It is super easy to understand, operate, and transport it to other places without any hassle. In case of any fault, it carries a 3-year limited warranty for labor and parts coverage with lifetime technical support. So even if there’s any confusion or fault, your money is in safe hands. However, if you are looking forward to running a full-scale event or whole house power on this, you should either couple up with another Westinghouse or go for the bigger wattage capacity.
- Weight: 46 Pounds
- Dimensions: 19.8 x 11.4 x 17.9 inches
- Wattage: 2200 Watts
- Engine Displacement: 80 Cubic Centimeters
- 3-years warranty.
- Aesthetically designed, lightweight, and easily portable to any site.
- Comes with a user manual.
- Features three easy settings.
- Fuel efficient.
- Quietest in the similar range.
- Not Ideal for soft surfaces like dirt or grass.
- No Fuel Gauge.
3. A-iPower SUA2000iV 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
The A-iPower SUA2000iV may put you in doubt and I tell you why. Overall, the A-iPower SUA2000iV seems like any modern inverter generator. It is quiet, has a nicely moulded strong plastic body with solid sound insulation. Most importantly, it is very budget-friendly. Now, you keep thinking why is this beast so cheap? And the only reason I could think of is that this is a new entrant in the market and to get the pricing edge, it is cheaper and better than many others and the performance is mind-blowing.
Here are the details, powered by a 79cc senci engine, it offers the surge power of 2000 watts and 1600 running watts making it perfect for camping, tailgating, and numerous other events. With only 46 lbs. and 58 dB, you get super handy and ultra-quiet operation. That’s not all, it has a sine wave power inverter technology which makes it even safer for electronics such as the CPAP machine, televisions, tablets, laptops, and other sensitive devices. And if in case, you want to extend the power capacity, it is easily pairable with another A-iPower SUA2000iV by its parallel capability. With parallel cables, you can combine two generators that double the power without you needing any pricey parallel kit.
There’s a built-in fuel gauge that allows you to refuel it whenever it’s low on fuel. The overall control panel is quite simple with usual light signals for low oil, run, and overload. It also has a single 50-20R 20A 120V household outlet, an L5-30R 30A 120V outlet with an RV plug adapter, and a 12VDC outlet with a USB adapter. Although the engine is imported, it is CARB certified which means that it is centrally developed for the western market and matches all the electrical requisites like parallel connection ports, an economy throttle that reduced RPM on low energy demand, and a low HD inverter power. The company does offer parts and the customer services are great too but for any general repairs, there’s no official outlet present in the US. If I have to conclude whether it is a durable generator, then that can only be advised after the use for a couple of years. Since it is of no formal brand but very much close to all other reputable generators, any formal repair shop would be able to repair it if required.
As far as the starting mechanism is concerned, the a-iPower SUA2000iV has a simple starting procedure. It has a dial on the front that turns from stop to run, further to choke. Like many other generators of this size and capacity, this too has no electric push button. Some newbies may find it hard in adjusting the dial, but all you need to do is to take the dial halfway between the normal run and the choke point. Once done, enjoy the party!
- Weight: 50 Pounds
- Dimensions: 22 x 13 x 20 inches
- Wattage: 2000 Watts
- Engine Displacement: 79 Cubic Centimeters
- 2-years warranty.
- Parallel ready.
- Solid and bold body yet very lightweight.
- EPA-approved and CARB-compliant.
- Low idle technology for an extended run time.
- No electric push-start button.
4. Briggs & Stratton P2200 Power Smart Series Inverter Generator
The North American 100-year-old brand, Briggs & Stratton is popular for its top of the line power equipment and when it comes to its smart inverter series, P2200 has proved to be an ideal portable generator for camping, fishing, tailgating, and small-scale residential power backup needs. It offers 2200W starting wattage and delivers 1700W of rated power on a continuous run. With its fuel-efficient latest technology of producing clean and stable energy, it runs uninterrupted for 8 hours on a full tank at a quarter of the rated load with less than 3% of the total harmonic distortion.
It weighs just 55 pounds and for better portability, it features a convenient handle at the top of the machine. The best part is the control panel with three outlets – two 120V household outlets, and one 12V DC outlet equipped with reliable circuit breakers protection. Although, it also has a USB adapter feature that most of the other generators lack, there is no USB port given which I feel is a downside of this generator.
Like the other three inverter generators mentioned above, it is also one of the quietest generators with 59dB at quarter load and 57dB when running on eco-mode, which allows you to comfortably talk to the people around you without being deafened by the generator noise. Although the noise is controlled by a built-in muffler and Super Lo-Tone technology Briggs & Stratton further bring a Quiet Power Technology which enables it to have reduced noise, fuel consumption, and gas emissions.
It comes as a delight to know that the brand has over 30,000 service stations worldwide so if anything goes wrong, you know where to head for its repairs and maintenance. Out of many great features, it has a low oil shutdown, while ensuring that the engine turns down and remains protected when the level of oil gets too low. The only downside that you may find a bit annoying is that it can’t run heavy machines together. However, if you want to amplify your power need, you can easily pair it up with another generator irrespective of the power difference.
- Weight: 55 Pounds
- Dimensions: 22.4 x 14.4 x 19.9 inches
- Wattage: 2200 Watts
- Engine Displacement: 111 Cubic Centimeters
- 2-years warranty.
- Lightweight, easily portable.
- Comes with a user manual.
- Auto shutdown on low fuel, overload, and blockage.
- Carb compliant.
- Quiet Power Technology.
- Does not have a USB port.
5. WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
Whether you love tailgating, camping, or partying in the outdoors, there’s nothing more suitable than the WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator for all your power needs. It is not just super quiet but is EPA III and CARB certified. This confirms that you don’t have to worry about any pollution or negative effects on the surroundings. At around 22 feet away from the generator, the noise gets almost non-existent. This means that you and your family can easily converse while having the best power backup running in the background. With its 3800-surge watt power and 3400 running watts power, it gives a great run time of 8.5 hours. With the clean and straightforward mechanism, it comes equipped with two three-prong 120V receptacles, one AC 120V NEMA TT-30R RV receptacle, one 12V DC receptacle, and one 5V USB port. In short, all your sensitive devices get clean and stable energy and would be safe from any damage.
With its easy-to-read meter, you can easily monitor the most important aspects like the voltage, wattage, frequency, run time, and fuel supply.
With the engine of 212 CCs, the surge power of 3800 watts stabilizes at 3400 watts on a regular supply. According to its fuel capacity of 2.2 gallons, the generator offers uninterrupted power for 8.5 hours on a half load energy consumption. On a full load, it will run for around 4.5 hours until the tank drains out. Its 4-stroke air-cooled OHV keeps the machine from overheating or giving out much noise. At around 22 feet away from the generator, the noise gets almost non-existent. This means that you and your family can easily converse while having the best power backup running in the background. With a variety of outlets, the THD is less than 3% which makes it safer for small devices.
Like many other reputed generator brands, WEN 56380i also has an automatic fuel shut-off on low fuel or if there is any fuel buildup or blockages inside the carburetor. And it cuts off the fuel flow into the carburetor until the existing fuel is used, preventing it from any blow off. Here, I would advise keeping a regular check on the stagnant fuel sitting in the carburetor while you’re not using it, or else, it will become tough and may get sticky and cause engine issues and failures. So, before it causes you much repair cost, it’s easy to keep checking before and after using the generator.
So, I would call less is more – in WEN 56380i, it has a simple electrical start just like any push-start car button. You no longer have to pull the long string and make it work. Alongside this, it has a manual shut-off system with immediate effect, a grounding nut, and circuit breakers for any emergency.
- Weight: 110.8 Pounds
- Dimensions: 23.2 x 18 x 20.1 inches
- Wattage: 3800 Watts
- Engine Displacement: 212 Cubic Centimeters
- 3-years warranty.
- Clean and stable energy.
- Super quiet.
- Digital Meter Display.
- Comes with a grounding nut and circuit breakers.
- Parallel and RV Ready.
- Wheels for better portability.
- Average build spark plug top.
6. Generac 7117 Gp2200I W 50St Inverter
I won’t say Generac GP2200i (7117) is a topper but I admit that it is one of the most reasonable inverter generators amongst many of the same kind. For small gatherings, camping trips, fishing, or tailgating experiences, this won’t let you down. Powered by an 80 cc Generac OHV 4-stroke engine, it offers 120V with a peak wattage of 2200W and the running wattage of 1700W. With this you can easily power three to four devices together, however, the stretch would be a little tight depending on the gasoline tank space and power load. The fuel capacity is 1.2 gallons and can run up to 11 hours if the consumption remains around 0.11GPH. However, if you want to double up your power supply, this compact generator can easily be paired with another unit through its parallel capability and kit – not included in the package yet available separately. Unlike big generators, this has a singular pull start mechanism.
One thing that may capture your heart is its aesthetically designed compact body. It features two DC outlets along with a 12V 8A receptacle and a 5V USB port, allowing you to have freedom with your sensitive devices and charge your batteries, mobile phones, and laptops as per your needs.
If I talk about its portability, I found it a bit more convenient. Unlike open frame generators which are high-power generators, GP2200i just weighs 46.6 lbs. with dimensions like L19.7 x W11.4 x H17.9 inches; a handle at the top allows you to carry it anywhere effortlessly.
Although this compact generator is CARB compliant and is covered under a 2 years warranty, there’s one more benefit that comes in its availability in all of the 50 states so if there is any performance issue, you can always refer to one of these for the best diagnoses or understanding. Having an array of light indicators, the display shows the oil levels, the readiness of the generator, or if the generator is overloaded with the maximum output capacity. If in case, the oil drains down to zero, it has an automatic turnoff system to save the entire setup from overheating or any other damage. The Generac GP2200i’s package also includes a manual, and accessories like oil and funnel.
- Weight: 46 Pounds
- Dimensions: 19 x 11 x 17 inches
- Wattage: 1700 Watts
- 2-years warranty.
- Lightweight, easily portable.
- Comes with a user manual, oil, and funnel.
- Simple and straightforward control panel.
- Light indicators.
- Parallel Ready.
- Not suitable for large or very heavy devices
7. Champion Power Equipment 100573 4000-Watt DH Series
Powered by a 224 cc, 4-stroke engine, Champion 4000-Watt offers an advanced open frame inverter design; purposefully built to offer clean sine wave with less than 3% THD and economical power to all your sensitive devices. With three different ignition options like Wireless, Electric, Recoil, you have the freedom to operate it at your convenience. It is 50% quieter and 20% lighter than other traditional generators, however, with 64 dba, I won’t call it very quiet but with 4000 Watts power, it is easily justifiable. With a clean display, it comes equipped with 1 DC outlet for a 12V 8A receptacle and a TT-30R receptacle. So, whether you take it on tailgating or camping, this beast will offer uninterrupted power for 17 hours at 3500 running watts on gasoline of 2.9 gallons. It surprises you with its RV-ready facility to help you camp or go outdoors in summers too. The best part is, it has a wireless remote ignition which allows you to operate it from 80 feet away.
In my case, I never required more than 3500 watts on a camping trip however you want to enjoy extended power, it can be paired with two other higher power inverters or with the hybrid ones. The parallel kit is optional so if you need it, you have to buy it separately as it doesn’t come along with the initial package. Also, if you feel any functional deficiency, you can always claim it under the company’s 3-years warranty with the lifetime free technical support plan. Don’t forget that the warranty doesn’t cover all the parts but can ease up the stress of diagnosing the problem and fixing it on the go.
The Champion 100573 weighs 96.8 lbs. with dimensions – L23.5 x W24.8 x H20.5 inches is easily portable to any place or site by its wheel kit and ergonomically designed foldable handle. To keep it safe from the bottom in a rough environment, it can easily be raised above ground level.
Since it is EPA and CARB compliant, you don’t have to worry about the air you’re inhaling around it. Also, it has a spark arrestor so can easily enjoy camping in the forested areas as well. The following accessories like a funnel, key fob, and dual port USB adapter are included in the package. The best part is, no matter what you’re busy at, you have the peace of mind with its auto-shutdown feature at low oil level, and the indicators highlight if the machine is overloaded with the power devices.
- Weight: 96.8 Pounds
- Dimensions: 23.5 x 24.8 x 20.5 inches
- Wattage: 4000 Watts
- Engine Displacement: 224 Cubic Centimeters
- 3-years warranty.
- EPA and CARB compliant.
- Comes with a touch start.
- Equipped with a wireless start system.
- Has 3 different start options.
- Offers power for straight 17 hours.
- Best for heavy-duty use.
- RV and Parallel Ready.
- Slightly old fashioned.
Things To Consider Before Buying Generator for Camping
Unlike any non-mechanical camping gear, buying an inverter generator for camping is a serious business. A small ignorance or overlooking of the facts and figures can cost big especially if it fails to deliver when you’re away from all the conveniences and on-call service access. Here are some of the common factors that you must pay attention to while deciding over a generator.
- Wattage: It tells you the power capacity of any generator and that’s what you check as per your needs. The more the wattage, the better it is for multipurpose use.
- Fuel: It is important to check if the generator runs on more than one type of fuel. If it runs on gas, it should essentially run on liquid fuel like diesel or petrol. Or else, you would be stuck because there are no gas supplies on the camping sites. Also, make sure it has adequate capacity to hold the fuel because you can’t always be hung up with refueling the generator at short intervals.
- Noise/Vibration: The decibel rating is always mentioned on the generator, however, it is important to understand what exactly it says. The maximum permissible limit is 75 dBA however, it is better to go with the least possible decibel for reduced noise pollution.
- Weight and Body: These are two important factors that you must pay close attention to. For camping or outdoor expeditions, it is better to have something strong yet handy, compact, and liftable. Many a time, generators have a big metal body with a heavy iron tank which hinders portability and handling conveniences.
- Price: Pricing is an important aspect especially when the available options are in great variety. You don’t necessarily have to spend loads for any particular brand until you are sure about its performance and output efficiency. Here, my advice is to check a few more in detail before you settle for any expensive one.
Frequently Asked Questions
Generators have become indispensable in our regular lives. Whether for home, offices or any outdoor expeditions, inverter generators are great alternatives for power backup. The FAQs below will help you understand the areas that you might have skipped during your hunt.
The surge power refers to the maximum amount of power the motor produces when starting up or may give for a short period. Whereas, rated watts are the amount of power the portable generator produces and stabilizes on continuous use.
Definitely. You can always plug your household appliances and devices into a portable generator and use it as you like but make sure you don’t use everything together. Also, if you want to keep it as a permanent power backup at your home or office, you must ask a certified electrician to install it into the wiring system with a transfer switch to make it easier for you to use it anytime.
Generators are designed to be used in a variety of weather and temperatures, but it should be protected from direct sun or rain to prevent shorting and rusting. Also, make sure you always run in the open space and not indoors because like any other gasoline engines, it also contains carbon monoxide which is hazardous for health.
You should always focus on grounding the generator. There is a risk of electrocution if the generator is not grounded properly according to your local, state or federal grounding regulations. To ensure safety, the generator must be properly grounded.
Back-feed is a life-threatening hazard, occurs when a generator is plugged into an electrical outlet while feeding power back onto the utility lines. There’s hardly any chance of back feed during the camping trip because it runs on independent fuel.
I would advise you to go for routine maintenance because that’s how you can freely carry it anywhere without any doubt. All you need is to check with the authorized dealer or service center for the scheduled maintenance and see if all parts are in perfect order.
A transfer switch allows you to connect a portable generator to your home's electrical system, while safely disconnecting you from the utility grid. This will eliminate any chance of a dangerous back-feed.
My ultimate pick from all the best seven that I’ve outlined above is WEN 56380i 3800 Watt for more than one reason. Firstly, it suits multiple kinds of events like camping, hunting, or tailgating. Even if the number of devices or people increases, I don’t have to look for other options as it can cover most of the events. If I judge it by price, it’s a bit on the expensive side but it’s a deal that’s serving me for over two a year now so the return on investment is not bad. It looks smart, quite handy, and is very easy at portability and fixtures. I never had any downtime with this beast machine. However, I’m not advocating against any of the chosen ones because I’ve been using most of them during different times and I feel all of them were great in their designed capacities.
Initially, when I got the chance to test A-iPower SUA2000iV 2000-Watt, I was a bit shaky about it. I wasn’t very comfortable with it but as soon as it started, it didn’t let me down. The event and the charging went well throughout. In the truest sense, it earned my trust in it. If I ever have to recommend any of my followers with one best choice for a big partying gang and that too very frequently, I would name the Champion 100573 4000 Watt. Its body look is a bit outdated yet its performance is seamless and effortless like none other.