Here are five good options for having a great portable generator on your campsite.
Sure, we all think of a camping trip as "getting away from it all" and that's really the point. But the honest truth is that many of us don't want to leave the entire world behind us, and when you have children to care for you will need the comfort and safety of a good portable generator to rely on.
While your camping trip shouldn't necessarily be planned on as a journey of survival, the fact remains that a simple portable power source can make a good camping excursion into a great one, and without a lot of effort.
Shoring up all of your electrical needs while you are away from home can be a great way to have your s'mores and eat them too. All kidding aside, there's more variety in the market today than ever before. And it's not just noisy, gasoline-powered options anymore either. There are models that can use your car or truck's battery, models that create their own energy, and those that use the sun.
Let's take a quick look at sizes, (wattage output) portability, loudness, camping application, and costs. The honest truth is that some campgrounds may allow for a portable generator, and some may not, but not all campgrounds have electrical hookups so you may have other homework to do.
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What To Look For in a Camping Generator
Basically speaking, the aforementioned list will give you a good idea where to start your search. Generally, 2,000 watts is more than enough for any camping trip, but you may not need that much. My generator is a smaller 1,300 watts and can run multiple lights, a camp-sized refrigerator, easily charge smartphones, but it is an older model and a bit heavy.
Remember, we're talking about a generator that will be useful for camping, not one that will run a camper. Usually, the more the wattage, the more the cost. If you're looking for something that's RV ready, be prepared to shell out more money. Because you're going to need a significantly larger power output, especially hen running things like air conditioners or heaters.
A good generator needs to be fairly easy to move, many times by one person. This does not mean that a 'two-person' generator is not applicable for your camping needs, just that some models aren't as easy to get over and around camping obstacles such as picnic tables or fire rings.
The larger models also come with wheels, so you will want to know if those wheels will be a benefit or a detriment to your camping trip since you my have to navigate rough or soft terrain. Portable generators can be a little as $200 and well over $1,000, but as stated, the smaller models come with a lot less available power.
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer
This is a 518Wh outdoor solar generator mobile lithium battery pack which is to say that it is a big, mobile battery. As with most similar units, it can be recharged by a wall outlet, car outlet, or by a solar panel. Any of these methods allows for "pass through" charging, meaning that you can charge or operate other items while recharging the generator itself. The big benefit to this model is that it's a quiet generator, which means you can use it in campground with noise level restrictions. If you're a tent camper, you can save a little money now by staying in non-electrical sites because you have your own power supply.
Honda Portable 2200-Watt Portable Inverter generator
This super quiet portable power source might be a bit much to handle for some at 54 pounds, but it will more than make up for it with it quiet power generation. This generator has a nice safety feature in a carbon monoxide detection system that automatically shuts it don if CO levels become too high. It also links up to your smartphone via a Bluetooth connection so you can monitor and even operate it remotely.
Westinghouse iGen 2200
This model comes in a little lighter at 46 pounds. These systems can be just as good for emergency home use as they are in the field. This model is said to be super quiet, but you will need to bring along the gas can. This one outputs about 1,800 watts and can be linked in with other generators to increase the power output.
Flash Fish 300W Solar Generator
Before we get bigger and louder, let's remember the car camping folks with a tent that just want some extra power onsite to take the pressure off of the car battery. This 300 watt solar generator can charge and operate a wide variety of common items including your tablet, laptop, TV, car vacuum, small fridge, and for folks that need it, a CPAP machine.
WEN 2000 Watt Gas Powered
Another great option with a mid-range price point that runs on gas, but isn't terribly difficult to get around your campsite. It outputs about 1,600 watts of power and is campground quiet. That makes it ideal to use in socially cramped areas. Now you don't have to worry about exceeding noise decibel levels without having to give up power and portability.
Goal Zero Yeti 500x
This 500-watt power station is built to be charged via a solar panel and includes ports to power multiple types of devices. It has to USB-A ports, a USB-C PD port, and a USB-C port. It also features two 120-volt AC inverters. There's even a six-millimeter and a 12-volt port. If you have a lot of cameras and other small electronic gadgets, this power station should do the job.
Other Lightweight Camping Generator Options
We'll discuss RV and camper specific options another time, but for now let's stick to some of the basic things that make a camping trip special. Car camping is a tried and true way to get away from it all, especially with children, and keeping them occupied at the site - usually post dinner - can mean creative ways to get their attention while their technology is recharging from the long day.
Other great source names include Briggs and Stratton, Yamaha, Duromax, and Generac just to name a few. With considerations for family or group size, campground or offsite camping, you will need to decide which size generator will satisfy your own personal level of creature comforts that you want to enjoy for your trip.
After that, price point may be the least of your concerns since many of these great options and others can be used at home as well.
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