It’s football season. You’re planning to spend every weekend out in the parking lot of the football stadium with all of your friends, family members and acquaintances. There’s only one thing missing from your perfectly planned day – the best generator to power all of your plans.
Generators are incredibly useful for a variety of reasons, but you are a tailgater, you are going to have very specific needs.
Tailgating requires food and entertainment, so you will need to be able to power things like an electric grill, a flat screen television and a fan. When it gets later in the season, you’ll likely need a heater as well to make sure that you don’t freeze before you get into the stadium.
However, you don’t need a ton of power, since most of those devices don’t require more than 300 watts a piece. This will require some calculation but you should not need more than 2000 W to power all of your tailgating needs.
This guide will help you find the perfect generator for your needs, whatever those needs may be.
Terms to Watch For: A Buyer’s Guide
Inverter: Inverter generators are designed to be quieter and more energy-efficient than their regular engine counterparts. They usually offer a throttling option that allows your generator to use less fuel and to be quieter. They also offer more stable power, making it safer for you to run electronics off of your generator without worrying about power surges damaging the delicate electronics inside them.
dBA: noise is measured in decibels. Most generators range between 48 and 70 decibels. You want to pick a generator that is the lower end of that range, because otherwise all of your tailgating friends will hate you. You want to be able to have a conversation with your friends and family while your tailgating, so the lower the decibels, the better off you will be.
Running v. Starting Watts: You will see two numbers attached to your generator when it comes to wattage. The higher of the two numbers is called the starting wattage or peak wattage. The lower of the two is called the running wattage. You want to make sure that’s the wattage of everything that you want to plug into your generator is well below running wattage of your generator.
You can run your generator at the starting wattage for up to half an hour at a time, but any longer than that and you risk damaging the engine.
You can calculate the watts that you need using Honda’s simple calculator, or by looking at the labels for all of the devices that you want to plug in.
Emissions Certificates: there are three types of emissions certificates that you might see on the generator that you are looking at purchasing – EPA, CARB and CSA.
The EPA certificate is from the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States, and means that this generator is usable in 49 of the 50 states.
In order to be usable in California, or in the national parks across the United States, the generator will need to have a certificate from the California Air Resources Board as well as an EPA certificate. This is a more strict certificate match California’s stricter air pollution laws.
If you live in Canada, you will need to have a Canadian Standards Association certificate. A good sign is for a generator to have all three of these certificates, but having one or two is also useful.
Generator Qualities To Keep In Mind:
Size – Portability & Footprint:
You are going to be traveling this generator, and likely moving around quite a bit. With that in mind you want to make sure that it’s light enough for you to carry and has a small enough physical footprint that it isn’t going to take up your entire truck bed while your tailgating.
As mentioned above, you want to make sure that you are going to be a nuisance to the other tailgaters around you. Keep an eye on the decibel rating, and how far away that rating is measured from. DB are always measured at a distance, usually at 23 feet or 7 meters, and the distance between you and the generator will change that rating. The closer you are, the louder it will be.
As mentioned above, you want to make sure that can run everything you need to off of your generator at its normal running wattage. A lot of devices require more power when they start up, so it’s better to go a little bit higher in the wattage that your generator has been rated for, than to go low. You want to avoid maxing out your generator as much as possible.
Types of included outlets:
Estimated Run time:
The estimated run time is measured by the time that a generator can run on a full tank of gas. Every generator is to have a different sized tank of gas so you can divide the hours of run time per gallon to make an apples to apples comparison easily.
Generators can be incredibly pricey, so a good warranty is very important to making sure that you get your money’s worth. Typically, the larger, more well-known brands have the better warranties and repair networks.
Best Quiet Small Generator For Tailgating
This generator is only 48 pounds and offers enough power to run most devices with 1700 running watts and 2000 starting watts.
It’s a little loud at 53 dB at 25% load, but it has both the EPA and CARB certificates, which means that it’s very environmentally friendly.
It has a two-year warranty for residential use, and is very easy to use and carry it around. Some users did say that they had some issues with oil leaks, so keep an eye on your oil gauge.
Best Inverter Generator for Tailgating
If you know that you’re going to have a long day of tailgating ahead of you, this generator will be great for whatever you might need to use it for.
However, you should make sure that you are able to move this easily. It’s just over 110 pounds, and while it comes with a foldable handle and wheel set, it’s going to be difficult to lift. This may make it difficult for you to maneuver it around while you are tailgating. However, once you get it set up, it ought to run really well.
Best Portable Generator for Tailgating
It’s 45 pounds, can run for up to eight hours on a gallon of gas , and comes from one of the most trusted brands in cars and generators. It will also work really well as a backup for some of the devices in your home in case of a power outage.
It also offers the ability to parallel run, which means that you can buy to and run more than one to double the power output and make it even more powerful.