Should You Use A Generator While Camping?
Yes it is a good idea to use a generator while camping, as long as you do not disturb your camping neighbours, wildlife, cause pollution or create safety hazards.
Terms to Watch For:
Decibels, notated as dB or dBA, measure the noise level of the generator that you will be running while you’re camping. Most generators stay within 45 to 70 dB, and this generally correlates the number of watts that they generate. The higher wattage they produce, the louder they’re going to be.
Running v. Starting Watts:
Wattage can be a little bit confusing when you’re looking at a generator. There will be two numbers on each generator. The larger of the two is the number of watts that as for a limited amount of time, called the starting or peak wattage. The smaller number is the number that actually relevant for you as a user. The smaller number is called the running wattage, and as you might expect from the name, that is the number of watts that you can use while you are running your generator.
Standby vs. Portable:
There are two major types of generator – standby and portable. Standby generators are usually built into a home by companies like Generac or Honda. For camping, because you will not be at home, you want a portable generator.
Conventional vs. Inverter:
The engine inside your generator will fall into two different categories – either a conventional or an inverter generator. A conventional generator is usually a simple combustion engine like the one in your car. There’s nothing wrong with these. However, they tend to be louder, less efficient, and less environmentally friendly than their inverter counterparts.
Inverter generators create power through an inversion process where they take AC power, invert it into DC power, and then invert it back into AC power. This might seem ridiculous, but it makes the power that it generates much safer for everything that is plugged into it. These generators also tend to have the most user-friendly features.
Because of the efficiency and quietness of inverter generators, you are likely going to want to buy one of those for your camping experience.
What to Look For in a Generator for Camping?
Estimated Run Time:
The estimated run time is calculated by how much fuel is burned at a certain percentage of the load and how long the generator can run on one tank of gasoline, propane or diesel fuel. This is how you measure the efficiency of your generator. Make sure that when you are comparing generator models that you take into account how large their fuel tanks are when you’re looking at the number of hours that they run.
Reliability & Durability:
Check the reviews for each generator that you are thinking about purchasing to make sure that it isn’t going to crap out on you at 30 hours, or the instant that the warranty wears off. Is the handle useful? Is the generator difficult to start? Is there one particular part in the generator that tends to break often? These are all things that you should know before you make your purchase to help you pick the best generator.
Most warranties for generators last for between two and three years. The longer a warranty lasts, the better, because it’s more likely that you will be able to get your generator repaired if there is an issue later on. You are more likely to get a better warranty out of some of the bigger name brands like Honda and Yamaha, but they are not the only ones with good warranties.
Something else to keep in mind when you’re looking at warranty use is where the nearest generator repairer is to where you live. Most warranties require you to go to the company’s certified maintenance people, so if you live near a certified workshop you will have better luck getting your generator repaired quickly than if you have to mail your generator to the workshop or the company.
There are three different types of fuel for generators: gasoline, propane or natural gas, and diesel. Typically, the quietest generators run on propane or natural gas, with gasoline generators coming in second quietest. You should absolutely never bring a diesel generator camping. Because of the immense power that is generated with diesel fuel and the heavy-duty engines, they are loud and extremely heavy in comparison to the other types of generators.
Gasoline generators are the most common. Propane fueled generators are also common, and are more environmentally friendly than the gasoline generators. However, they are not as efficient at producing power. You will not get the same amount of power out of a tank of propane as you would from a tankful of gasoline. However, the stability of propane tanks on your shelf is a big draw for these generators. You can leave a sealed propane tank in storage for years without having any issue with its functionality when you need it, unlike gasoline which will go stale, evaporate and possibly damage the inside of your tank if you leave it sitting in there for longer than a few weeks.
You want a generator that is as quiet as possible, no question about it. You went camping to spend time in the great outdoors, and neither you nor the other people at your campsite want to spend the whole time listening to your generator run. With that in mind, you want to pick a generator that will disrupt your vacation as little as possible. If you can stay below 50 dB, your companions will definitely thank you.
When you are camping, you don’t want to have to worry about whether or not you’ll be able to move your generator easily. Most of the smaller generators come with a built in handle, but the larger your generator gets, the more help you are going to need to move it. Some of the larger generators get up to 300 pounds, which means that it will be difficult for most people to move without help.
If you go with a heavier generator, make sure that it has sturdy wheels and a durable handle to help you move it once you get to your destination. Make sure that the wheels are not ones that you need to keep air in, so that detritus on the forest floor will not damage them or pop them and leave you stranded with a generator that you cannot lift.
If you are going to be lifting it on a truck, you might want to see if it has a lifting eye. You can also modify the generator once you get to add caster wheels or a sturdier handle if you need to, though you should make sure that these modifications will not void the warranty.
User Friendly Features:
You want your generator to be as easy-to-use as possible. Some features that might be useful for you including our meter to see how long you have been running your generator, and electric start to make it easier to run, fuel and oil gauges, and whatever your generator might need to make it more portable.
Take a look at the different features that are offered on various generators to see which ones are the most convenient for you.
There are three different types of emission certificates that apply to generators. One is given by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is required for any generator to be sold in the United States. If you live in California, or go to national parks to have an emissions certificate from the California Air Resources Board, which is slightly stricter than the EPA’s certificate. If you live in Canada, you need to have a certificate from the Canadian Standards Association.
Since you will be camping, it would be best to find a generator that has both the EPA and CARB certificates, just to be safe. However, there are generators that do not have the CARB certificates that are suitable for camping.
How to Prepare & Maintain Your Generator for Camping
Find the Best Location When You’re Camping
If you know you’re going to be using your generator while you camp, you will want to make sure that you pick a location where you can run it without catching anything on fire. This is uncommon, but you want to make sure that the area around your generator is cleared out.
It is best to find a spot that’s about 25 feet away from where you’ll be spending your time to get the best ratio of low noise to usability.
Store it Properly
In order to protect your generator from the elements, you should buy or make a tent for the outside of your generator that will keep the rain and wind away from the delicate parts of your generator’s engine.You Should be able to use the tent when you are using the generator and when you are not. However, you should make sure that there is enough room around your generator to avoid overheating it while it’s in use.
Empty Fuel Tank When Done
Get it Serviced
Clean & Charge the Battery
Every time you need to recharge the battery of your generator, you should take it out and clean any residue that is on the battery to make sure that you are getting the full use of the battery.
Tricks to Make Your Camping Generator Run More Quietly
Tweak the Direction of the Exhaust Pipe
Build a portable soundproof tent
Place it further away from the campsite
Best Quiet Generator For Camping:
It’s biggest dettractors are the price – starting at 1149.95 by MSRP – and the tiny fuel tank that holds less than a gallon of gas. However, will run for approximately eight hours on a tank of gas, so it’s very efficient with the small amount of gas that it does hold.
Best Portable Generator for Camping:
Best Small Generator for Camping:
Yamaha offers a great warranty, but for this little power it may be too expensive for its own good.
Best 2000 watt Generator for Camping:
Best 3000 watt Generator for Camping:
It can run for up to 10 hours at a 25 percent load, making it perfect for any overnight needs like a CPAP machine.