Small, Quiet Camping Generators – Which One is the Best?

Nobody wants to be THAT obnoxious camper family, the ones who disturbs a peaceful evening at the campground the moment they fire up a portable generator. While it’s conveniently able to power everything at their campsite, a noisy generator instantly ruins the relaxing ambiance for every living creature around with noise pollution and exhaust. The loud noise overwhelms conversations, drowns out the music and is overall counterproductive to enjoying time in the Great Out Doors.

There are more sophisticated generators available and it’s worth it to keep researching your options until you know that you’ve identified the quiet camping generator that matches your needs. We’re about to cover all the aspects of shopping for a portable generator that can efficiently power the devices, equipment, and appliances you need, with minimal noise.

We’ve reviewed most advice on the web dealing with small, quiet camping generators, and everyone agrees: it’s best to invest some time researching your options.  When you inform yourself about what you require from a generator, you’ll automatically be in a better place. An educated buying decision will save you money down the road.

Product NameImageNoise LevelOverall RatingDetails
Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt 120-Volt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator 48 - 58 dB 10 Check Price
WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator 53 - 58 dB 9 Check Price
Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator 58 dB 9 Check Price
Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Portable 2200-Watt Inverter Generator 59 dB 8 Check Price
Westinghouse iGen2200 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator - 1800 Rated Watts and 2200 Peak Watts 58 dB 8 Check Price
Yamaha EF2000iSv2, 1600 Running Watts/2000 Starting Watts 51.5 - 58 dB 8 Check Price
Atima AY2000i Portable Generator Inverter Generator 2000 Watt 52 - 58 dB 8 Check Price
Champion 2000-Watt Stackable Portable Inverter Generator 58 dB 7 Check Price
Pulsar PG2000iS 2000W Peak 1600W Rated Portable Gas-Powered Inverter Generator 58 dB 7 Check Price
Atima AY3000i 3000 Watt Small & Quiet Portable Inverter Generator 64 dB 7 Check Price

Honda EU2200 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

Anyone who camps regularly knows that having a reliable, solid portable generator is the key to enjoying the perfect trip out of the city. The rustic weekend away isn’t for everyone and having a reliable power supply means you can cook, camp and relax in comfort. Honda is known for providing reliable vehicles, but they also make a range of other equipment and appliances, and portable generators are one of their specialties. The new and improved Honda Super Quiet Portable Generator replaces and improves on a previous beloved model that many campers have relied on for years.

The Honda Super Quiet is a sturdy, reliable, and quality portable generator that has helped set the standards for other models. With an easy to read display, reliable startup, and simple instruction – any member of the family will be able to get power going. The Honda is simple to use, easy to refill, and has a user-friendly display that takes the stress out of hooking up power. It is also modelled to be easy to carry, and small – for easy storage, making it convenient when in use, and when you have to put it away. On top of all this, the Super Quiet Generator comes with an excellent warranty, which covers you for any problems. Going with well-known brand like Honda also ensures you will have access to great customer service, and easy access to parts that might be needed for future repair.

Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt 120-Volt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

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One thing is for sure – the Honda Super Quiet lives up to its name. If you’ve never had your own portable generator, you might not realize just how loud they can be. Some models create an incredible amount of noise, and nothing ruins a beautiful campout atmosphere quite like cranking up a generator that sounds like a lawnmower – upsetting your family and every camper in the vicinity. The Honda is a camping favorite given its very quiet operation, no louder than the sound of a normal conversation. This makes it the perfect generator for campers who enjoy late nights after the kids go to bed, or early mornings making an indulgent campout breakfast.

With all this reliability and feature enhancement comes a price. The Honda Super Quiet Generator is one of the more expensive portable generators you can buy, and the price has been a deterrent for many shoppers. There are many other models of portable generator that offer the same wattage, noise level, and features for significantly less value, though few have the reputation that Honda does as a brand.

When it comes to appliances, sometimes you get what you pay for. Anyone looking for reliable and regular portable generator that will serve them for years to come should truly consider spending the extra cash on a Honda. The Super Quiet series improves on a previous make of portable generators that campers have relied on – and raved about – for years. That said, if what you’re looking for is a small, quiet generator for occasional use, or for emergency backup, you might want to shop around for a less expensive option.

WEN Super Quiet Portable Generator

We all have different visions when it comes to the perfect camping trip. Some of us love to go totally off the grid, living off the land and bringing along no modern conveniences. Other campers are really more invested in “glamping” than a true camping trip, and want to have all modern conveniences at hand. No matter what style of camping you prefer, everyone can agree that having access to a reliable power source is essential when it comes to hosting a trip that works for everyone.

The WEN Super Quiet Portable Generator is a relatively new model of generator that has already gained a reputation for quality and reliability. WEN has come up with a truly quiet operating design, comparable to a friendly chat among your family. This makes it perfect for any type of use, and leaves you free to start up your power supply at any time of the day or night on your next trip. You may not have considered the importance of quiet operation, but trust us, it is essential when selecting your generator. Nothing shatters the tranquility of a beautiful camping weekend like the sound of a whining, chugging, barely functioning generator.

WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

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One of the best features of the WEN generator is the consistent, safe, and reliable power supply the unit provides. The WEN has been Upgraded and modelled for modern charging needs, providing specialty USB charging points, and surge protection that allows you to charge even your most sensitive and valuable smartphones and tablets. With the WEN, there is no need for a series of outlets and extension cords – you can plug your phone or GPS right into the unit to get charged up.

The WEN Super Quiet Portable Generator also includes 2 three-pronged, grounded outlets – meaning it is very easy to plug in any device you may need charged, and you can have multiple appliances operating (as long as you respect the wattage limits). The WEN also provides an environmentally friendly eco-mode, providing a lower power output when energy isn’t needed, and conserving fuel.

WEN generators have had some problems with generators shutting down when powering devices prone to surges, such as air conditioning units. This is something to consider when you’re planning the appliances you’ll be charging with your generator. But, with a two-year full warranty and excellent customer service from WEN, you’ll be able to rely on full support if you have any problems with your generator.

The WEN portable generator is a sturdy, convenient, and handy small generator option that any member of the family can use. With excellent customer service, a two-year warranty, and quality parts, the WEN mimics some of the more expensive models of portable generator on the market, with a much lower price tag.  If you’re looking for a generator you can use during camping trips, on family outings, or keep as backup in the event of the backup, WEN is one of the best and most affordable options you can buy!

Generac Portable Inverter Generator

When it comes to power supply, Generac is one of the best-known brands producing portable generators. The Generac specialty is creating generators for back-up home supply, and construction equipment, Generac has also created the Portable Invertor Generator – perfect for powering your next camping trip. The 2000-watt portable inverter generator provides a powerful and reliable power supply, with an excellent price to boot.

When it comes to Generac, affordable doesn’t mean cheap. The Generac Portable Invertor Generator offers great value in terms of parts, quality, warranty, and power. Many comparable models cost hundreds of dollars more, and may offer less in terms of warranty and power. The Generac brand also brings together experience in creating home generators, and professional grade power supplies, and all of this research and development helps them create better and more efficient portable generators that are perfect for campers.

Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator

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This model of Generac generator has been redesigned with modern use in mind. Designed to provide a consistent, reliable power supply free of surges – you can rely on the portable Generac to charge your most valuable electronics – even your smartphone or tablet. For camping trips away, this means easy access to music, information, and even movies – so you don’t have to forego any of the comforts of home. You’ll also be able to rely on the Generac to help at home in the event of a power-outage, giving you peace of mind.

Those looking for a bigger power supply, or who might expand their needs in the future will be happy to know that the Generac can easily be coupled with another unit for an easy boost of power. Generac has created a pairing kit (sold separately) to easily connect and allow you to operate two units in tandem. This is a relief for anyone who isn’t particularly handy, or who wants to add to their power supply in stages.

The Generac portable unit is overall a fairly reliable, fairly user-friendly generator. But, there is one thing to keep in mind. Though rated as a 2200-watt generator, the load the unit can handle seems to max out at about 1700 watts or below – an experience that many users have shared. If you’re looking for a portable generator that can handle a lot of output, or that can power a number of items at the same time, you may want to consider spending the extra cash for a higher wattage.

Having a generator you can rely on is a luxury you will be able to enjoy on every camping trip, and even for a day in the park or at a family picnic. If you’ve been thinking about getting a generator to help enhance your next camping trip, you’ll be impressed by the difference it makes in your enjoyment. Having the Generac generator on hand will also give you the peace of mind that you have a reliable power source in case of a blackout.

Briggs & Stratton PowerSmart Series Portable Generator

When it comes to selecting a portable generator, there are a lot of features to choose from, and there are a lot of considerations to make to get your perfect setup! Ease, fuel efficiency, price, and capability are all major concerns for anyone looking for a camping generator – and the type of camping you’ll be doing will help dictate what you need. For anyone who loves camping in style, or is really more interested in “glamping” than a rustic weekend away, the PowerSmart Series provides a lot of power.

Briggs & Stratton have created a generator that offers a bit more power than the average model does at this price point. With both 1700 watt and 2600 watt options, you can rest assured that your portable generator will provide a lot of power. What’s more, the PowerSmart units are able to run in parallel, meaning you can safely expand your setup and power even more. For RV campers, those who simply want to bring the luxuries of home along with them, and anyone looking for a safe and robust backup power-supply for their home, this extra power and expandable capability make the PowerSmart a great option.

Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Portable 2200-Watt Inverter Generator

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Early models of portable generators could be very complicated and difficult to operate, meaning one member of the family would really have to study up on the operation. Briggs & Stratton have created a generator that is easy to use, simple to understand, and can be operated by any member of the family.
The PowerSmart is definitely not the smallest portable camping generator on the market, but it is right about average. At 55 pounds, it can be a bit of a struggle for one person to easily carry the PowerSmart (or most portable camping generators) from place to place. The good news is, Briggs & Stratton have added an excellent design feature to the PowerSmart series – a double handle installed so two people can share the load of carrying the generator from place to place. This feature is wonderful for anyone who worries about transporting a 55 pound unit alone, or who faces mobility challenges or a disability, and may need a hand from time to time.

Though the PowerSmart offers safe, reliable and quality power, it does have one major drawback that you should keep in mind. The unit does not burn energy cleanly enough that it is legal for use in every part of the United States, and is very far behind a number of other brands in getting their products up to speed, environmentally. This is one of the main reasons that the Briggs & Stratton portable generators are not as popular among serious campers. Anyone who is passionate about the outdoors and the environment wants to do everything they can to make their camping practices more green. Unfortunately, this means looking to another brand for generator options.

The PowerSmart provides impressive power at an excellent price, and will definitely give you what you need in terms of power. The user-friendly design, double handle, and impressive power output are all majorly attractive. But, if you’re committed to making your camping practices and your purchases environmentally friendly, you should likely consider a different model of small generator for purchase, until Briggs & Stratton updates their emissions policies!

Westinghouse Super Quiet Portable Generator

A portable generator is not a common purchase for most people. For this reason, you’ll often hear of the same brand names repeated to you as recommendations. But, when it comes to portable power generation, technology and efficiency have advanced quite a bit in the past 10 years, and some new and impressive contenders have hit the market.

The Westinghouse Super Quiet Portable Generators is one of these contenders, and one of the best portable camping generators that you can buy. Well-rounded, built from quality parts, and with a wattage and fuel efficiency that compares to any of the leaders on the market, the Westinghouse is definitely a brand to consider if you’re in the market for a new portable camping generator.

Westinghouse iGen2200 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator – 1800 Rated Watts and 2200 Peak Watts

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With a running power of 1800 watts, the super quiet option has more than enough power to ensure small cooking implements, camping stoves, and to power your home electronics! Campers across the US praise the Westinghouse as one of the easiest portable generators to start up, meaning any member of the family can take the unit on their own trip, and use it with no problems. The Super Quiet Portable Generator is available in a number of versions and qualities, and it is very easy to choose a different model if you need a bit more wattage to power your load.

Even with all these features, Westinghouse has not skimped on focusing on the silent operation. You’ll be able to enjoy quiet mornings and late camping evenings with this generator, that lives up the title of “Super Quiet.”

One feature that really sets the Westinghouse apart is its weight. At 33 lbs, this generator is one of the lightest and most truly portable units you can buy. Even when fueled and ready for use, the Westinghouse weights an average of about 15 pounds less than any of the other comparable generators on the market. This is an invaluable feature for campers, hikers, and emergency preppers. If you have mobility issues or a bad back, the Westinghouse is hands-down the choice for you.

If you’re going to order a Westinghouse, take note. Some new customers have noted tiny imperfections in their delivery or manufacturing. These include small parts not included in the packaging, or incorrect calibration of the choke. While the majority of these issues have been resolved without any major problems, there are also a number of people who claim to have had a very hard time getting support from customer service, and do regret their Westinghouse purchase. Most Westinghouse purchasers love their new generator, so just keep this in mind when it comes time to place your order!

It can be very tempting to go with brand names when buying a new appliance. But, with the range of features and options available with the Westinghouse Super Quiet Portable Generator, it is clear that sometimes shopping around can pay off!

 Yamaha Gas Powered Portable Generator

There are now hundreds of models of portable generators available on the market, but this wasn’t always the case! Yamaha was one of the first providers of these leisure-based generators, and truly set the bar for portable camping generators. The Yamaha has long been a reliable staple for veteran campers, who continue to swear by the Yamaha brand, having used the earlier models for years of safe power generation. Now, with the release of the new 1600 watt inverted generator, Yamaha has improved on years of excellent design to provide one of the best, most efficient, and most trusted portable generators on the market.

Far and away, one of the best features the Yamaha has to offer is a fuel gauge, simply because this feature is missing from every other major portable generator supplier! This simple addition makes it easy for you to check your fuel supply, and know exactly what you’ll need – without having to carefully time and monitor your generator.

Yamaha EF2000iSv2, 1600 Running Watts/2000 Starting Watts

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The Yamaha provides a steady, reliable stream of power that is capable of charging all of your devices, and all with excellent fuel efficiency. The redesign makes it easy to connect and disconnect your electronics, and the unit even comes with a set of AC cables that will allow you to get started as soon as you get your new Yamaha.

All of the research, development, and years of learning that go into Yamaha vehicular motors also benefit the new line of portable generators – and the quality shows! Anyone who has owned an older or less reliable generator will be surprised at the quiet operation, that really lives up to the “Super Quiet” name .

Yamaha offers an excellent warranty on their products, but few need to make use of them. Anyone who does have any problems with their unit generally has some minor maintenance or parts replacements to do after several years. And, as a well-known brand, new buyers can rest assured that the parts and service that you may need in the future will definitely be available to you.

All of the quality, reliability, and trust that comes along with the Yamaha name also has a price tag attached. For sale at almost $1000, the Yamaha generator can cost you almost twice as much as some of the other comparable models on the market. For occasional campers or those looking simply to have a backup power supply, you may want to shop around for a different and more affordable brand.

If you’re serious about camping, RVing, or finding a reliable back-up power supply for your home, you really can’t beat Yamaha for quality. With the reliability, great design, and excellent performance you’ll experience with a Yamaha, you definitely won’t regret your investment.

Atima Portable Generator

Portable generators come in a range of qualities, power supplies, and configurations. The variety of options can make it difficult for you to select the generator that is perfect for you, but also gives you a real chance to consider your options, and create the perfect set up. Atima has identified a real niche in the portable generator market, and have created a new specialty unit designed specifically with the needs of RV campers in mind.

RV drivers are a type of camper all their own. With the full amenities of a house all around, and longer periods spent away from home, t is essential that campers find a reliable power supply that will allow them to take advantage of the amenities that RV camping provides, and the Atima model really delivers. With a very unique narrow design, the unit is very easy to carry and move from place to place. For anyone who spends a lot of time in their RV, or is very limited on space, this feature can be a lifesaver.

Atima AY2000i Portable Generator Inverter Generator 2000 Watt

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Anyone who has owned their own Recreational Vehicle knows that with RV camping comes a lot of learning about specialty equipment and operation. Adding connections, winterizing, summarizing, and basic maintenance can be a challenge all its own, never mind mastering a new generator and power supply. For this reason, RV campers will truly appreciate the simple and easy to use design of the updated Atima Portable Generator – even if they aren’t usually very handy. With clear labelling and user-friendly controls, you’ll be relieved that any member of your family can easily and safely operate the generator, without having to get out the instruction manual each time, or worry about unsafe supply.

Anyone who loves to spend the time in the great outdoors also wants to be a part of preserving it! The Atima Generator has implemented some improvements for environmental consideration, with an automatically adjusting throttle that allows for minimum fuel use every moment the generator is in use, so you don’t have to worry about any complicated settings, or taking special precautions to protect the environment. The unit passes all CARB emission standards, and is legal for use anywhere in the United States (which is not true of all portable generators).

No matter how high the quality, after a few years, your portable generator is likely going to need some maintenance to continue functioning well. Atima has been very forward thinking, and includes a specialty tool kit that will allow you to easily maintain and repair your own generator. This will give you the chance to save time and money down the road!

If you’ve invested in an RV, you want to be sure you can enjoy all of your amenities reliably. The Atima Portable Generator is a great option to ensure you can camp with all the comforts of home, without too much stress. With dependable quality, a variety of power options, and a unique design made specially for RV drivers, the Atima is definitely a unique and capable portable generator.

Champion Stackable Invertor Generator

When it comes to price, you can’t beat the Champion Stackable generator. One sale at around $400, this small, affordable little generator has been a big hit among campers from across the United States. Though Champion is not the most well-known brand in portable generators, the company does produce a number of electronics and appliances that are very highly rated, and all this comes at a price point that is much more affordable than many other generators.

As we get more familiar with camping, our trips often become more elaborate over time. This means that the portable generator that serves you well this year might not have enough wattage to continue powering all the new appliances you add to your camping supplies. This is something to keep in mind when you’re selecting your first generator. The ability to run two units in parallel is a huge bonus – you’ll be able to add a second generator to your setup in future to increase your power capabilities.

Champion 2000-Watt Stackable Portable Inverter Generator

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One of the most unique things about the Champion is that, when you have the generators set up in parallel, they are stackable! Of all the best portable camping generators on the market, the Champion is one of the few that actually allow safe and secure stacking, and depending on your setup and space – this can be a lifesaver! This makes it the perfect option for RV campers, or people who have limited storage space in their homes.

Champion is a very well-known, widely produced brand, which means parts and service will ever be too difficult to come by (a relief for DIYers. One drawback to keep in mind is that every once in a while, a customer seems to receive a generator that is missing a part, or has the calibration slightly off. This causes big problems for new owners, and has left a few shoppers frustrated. That said, anyone who has needed to exchange or repair their Champion for a functioning unit has had nothing but great things to say about their customer service.

One of the best things about the Champion brand is their dedication to excellent customer service. If you have any problems with your generator, you can call in to their local customer service representatives for help and support. Out of any brand of portable generator, Champion probably has the most helpful customer service. Many customers have had wonderful experience with Champion representatives, who are intimately familiar with their generators, and have helped resolve minor issues for free!

The price of the Champion portable generator is likely what will catch your eye, but the quality and power the generators provide really make them an excellent investment. If you’re looking for a small portable camping generator you can use for weekend trips away, or have on-hand during a blackout, you should absolutely consider the Champion Stacking Portable Generator. You’ll be able to get the power you need, at the price you want, and enhance all of your camping trips for years to come!

Pulsar Gas Powered Generator

When you’re shopping around for a new portable generator, you might find the price of many of the units shocking. First, there is a huge range of prices, and second, the upper-range of those prices can get HIGH. But when you think about it, this pricing only makes sense, considering the fact that a generator is really a tiny power plant that you can travel around with. Even if you’re totally aware of the convenience of a generator, chances are, you may be reluctant to spend the cash on some of the pricier models available. Shopping around is never a bad decision, and if you are really looking for a bargain buy on your portable generator, you should really consider the new model from Pulsar. With a price of $400, the Pulsar is one of the most affordable portable generators available on the market, and still provides many of the main features that other generator manufacturers offer.

Pulsar PG2000iS 2000W Peak 1600W Rated Portable Gas-Powered Inverter Generator

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One drawback to keep n mind when it comes to the Pulsar are a few of the issues tat customers have experienced. A few have been missing parts in their original delivery, and others have found small notes of damage to their units. Those who have encountered this issue have resolved it with Pulsar without a problem, but it is something to keep in mind if you’re hoping to dive right in to using your generator.

There have also been some reports of surging power supply if you are running a few different appliances at a higher load. These surges can cause major problems with many devices, and can easily damage sensitive electronics. Be sure to test your portable generator before plugging in your electronics, and ensure that you’re not overloading it when in use.

A few users have found that their unit has some small damage, or is missing a part upon delivery as well. If you decide to go with the Pulsar, be sure you ensure you receive all parts, and that everything is in working order before starting up your generator. There have also been some reports of surging power supply if you’re running a higher load. Excellent customer service does take the worry out of these issues, but they are something to keep in mind when you’re thinking about choosing your generator.

There is a whole range of quality, power, service, and price available to you if you’re shopping around for a new portable generator, and it can be very difficult to choose the right unit for you. The Pulsar is a really great option for familiar that camp occasionally, or shoppers who are looking for a small, safe power backup for their home. The perfect choice for people who love to camp in style, but don’t get to go as often as they’d like! For anyone looking for a portable generator that will be used frequently over many years, it is absolutely wise to invest in one of the more well-known, higher quality units!

Atima 3000 Watt Portable Generator

Portable generators are handy for a huge variety of uses, and RV campers have very specific needs when it comes to their power supply. With more appliances, longer trips, and a need for safe, reliable, and handy portable power, Atima has created a small portable generator specifically with RV campers in mind. This 3000 watt portable generator is powerful enough to keep all of your favorite appliances power, and let you camp out in style.

What is the point of going on an RV trip if you can’t enjoy all the comforts your RV offers? With 3000 watt power, the Atima is capable of powering small microwaves, fans, air conditioning units, and your entertainment system. For those who find they need even more power, the Atima can be operated in parallel with a second unit, to provide more wattage, and more capability for your trip. With all this power also comes fuel efficiency, so you don’t have to worry about damage to the environment.

Atima AY3000i 3000 Watt Small & Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

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One excellent feature for RV campers is the steady and reliable power supply the unit offers. You don’t have to worry about surges, or incorrect power flow damaging any of your sensitive electronics, like smartphones and tablets. In your RV, you’ll be able to use any and all of your amenities without worry! Users also love the fuel-efficiency mode, which helps them run at a better rate, and saves campers from creating needless waste, or having to consistently monitor their generator.

Another unique feature of the Atima is that it comes on wheels – a rare feature when it comes to portable generators! This makes the Atima very flexible and easy to use for different purposes, and in different parts of your RV, and anyone with back issues or problems with mobility will be thrilled to not have to lug the unit around.

With all of these features and the extra power does come some noise. The Atima is a fairly quiet model, and comparable to many of the other portable generators on the market. That said, if you’re looking for the quietest possible generator for your RV, there are other portable generators you might want to consider. The high wattage of the unit does make it an attractive generator to serve as a backup power supply for your home – since the extra wattage will allow you more comfort and more use during a blackout.

The Atima 3000-watt portable generator is one of the more expensive units you can buy, and the price point does make many campers hesitant to try the Atima for the first time. But, for anyone who loves to take the RV out on extended trips, or anyone looking for that extra boost of power, you will definitely find the extra investment worthwhile. The Atima portable generator offers some unique features that make it a perfect match for many RV campers, letting them hit the road and experience the joy of camping, without losing any of the comfort of home.

Perhaps you are accustomed to using an older-model camping generator. There are many – after all, generators have been around for about 100 years. Some people have learned to tolerate the noise and mild asphyxia that comes out of Grandpa’s generator. Modern camping generators, like all other appliances emerging on the market today, strive toward fuel economy, and eco-friendly systems. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised to experience just how fuel efficient and quiet a camping generator can be.

Know your Needs

The first step is to identify your needs. Ask yourself, what electronics will I be powering?

My aunt must always style her hair with a hair dryer. It’s a really power sucker – it generally pulls 1900 watts when it’s powered on, and runs on 1800 watts.

Gotta keep the smartphone charged – just in case work calls. That’s 4 watts. Since there will be ten of us, I’ll estimate 40 watts for the phones.

Appliance Running Wattage Starting Wattage 
Fridge/Freezer 4001280
 Water Pump 3001100
 TV 200 0
 Lights 60 0
 Laptop 120 0

If you are tent camping, you might include a small, quiet generator with your camping gear. It will produce a modest amount of power, but still will be enough to make your trip more comfortable, and can be less than the size of carry-on luggage!

Keep your cell phone, tablet, or computer recharged and ready to use. I would love to take my laptop with me to write my memoirs while I camp! I know, it may sound sacrilegious to use personal electronic devices while you’re on a getaway, but let’s face it – many of us need to remain available to our families and work by phone, no matter what. Being able to stay in touch at all times with a charged phone can make the difference between someone able to go camping, or not. Perhaps you already enjoy using electronic, LED, rechargeable lanterns or rechargeable batteries when you camp. Keep them charged up with a small, quiet, and efficient generator.

Power Requirements

In order to know how much power you’ll need, simply consider the appliances you’ll be camping with. What if you took a small refrigerator? Look at the back of the fridge, you’ll see its power requirements (see the energy star label), or the owner’s manual, if you have it.

Next, consider the time intervals that you’ll be drawing off of the generator.  Will there be multiple appliances drawing power off your ‘grid’ all at once?

Note the power requirements for each appliance, and add them together. If you’ll be using all of those at once time, you’ll need a generator that has the output capacity you’ll want to keep going without having to refuel too frequently.

After that, consider the wattage surge at start up. A good example of this, is the refrigerator. It has a startup cycle which surges, then a different power cycle for when it’s maintaining the cold. Think of all the other appliances which will be running, therefore requiring energy, at the same time. Overall, you’ll determine the amount of wattage you’ll need by adding the max. draw (surge) amount of your electronic appliance, plus the running total amount of other appliances.

If you plan to power a small kitchen or are catering an outdoor event that is pack-in and out-only to a remote location, consider running two camping generators in tandem. They may need to be the same model of generator and have the same output capacity (see owner’s manuals for specifics on that). Catering for a film crew in a remote location is now possible, thanks to modern generators. The possibilities are endless. Now, what will you be powering?

How to identify your power requirements

  1. Make a list of all powered devices, appliances, and equipment you will need to power with this generator.
  2. Refer to a table of wattage requirement data of common electronics. Write down the startup and running wattage next to the listed item. You can format it like this: 1600W/1010W for convenience.
  3. Find the total peak power you’ll need to start up your equipment .Identify the highest draw appliance, hint, it is probably the air conditioner, if you have one on you’re list! For example, Air Conditioner 1600 start up wattage..
  4. Calculate total running wattage for all of the items on your list. For example, 1000 watts.
  1. Add these two numbers together. 2600 W is the total power requirement for a camping generator.

Noise Emission

The generator being a internal-combustion motor in essence, it is orchestrating its own series of explosions in order to create kinesthetic energy. This is necessarily a pretty noisy process. It’s the aim of technology to overcome what life’s banality, and for this reason I’d encourage you to seriously take advantage of the best technology in generators currently available: the inverter generator.  Of course, only you can choose your best source of power because you best know your needs!

Speaking of needs, do you know how quiet your generator needs to be? Yes, of course it’s ideal to keep it a low volume in the interest of your own health, sanity, and conversations, and out of courtesy for your neighbors. But there are campsite-imposed noise limits too. Be sure to check what the decibel limit is for using a generator at the location where you plan to camp!

The noise output of a generator depends on several factors that will cause the generator to make more or less noise:

Type: Conventional generator (louder) versus Inverter generator (quieter)

Size: A large generator which rolls on wheels and takes two people to lift is louder versus a small generator which can be carried like a suitcase by one person (quieter).

Number: Using one large generator versus two smaller generators (double generators will double the noise output).

No matter what level of noise your generator creates, you can always take additional soundproofing measures. [link to “How to Reduce Noise from a Portable Generator”]

Camping Generator power output

Match your power requirements, as a total number of wattage, for startup and running your equipment, to the generator which also meets your requirement for quiet. Consider the types of generator: conventional or inverter.

The first type, a conventional generator, runs at one speed to produce a steady power supply, even if it’s not fully needed. Obviously this is less energy efficient overall, because it will require the same amount of fuel regardless of the electrical load being drawn off the generator. You may be tempted by their less expensive price/wattage, but just remember that the price of fuel may offset what looks like a lower price.

The technology of an inverter generator, on the other hand, uses gas in a smarter and more efficient manner, by adjusting the RPM to match the needed electrical load you’ve plugged into the generator. Being that they have the ability to moderate power output, inverter generators provide the most stable flow of electricity. A stabilized AC output is important especially when using sensitive instruments or equipment, to prevent ‘frying’ an device’s memory. It’s somewhat similar to building a surge-protector into your camp’s personal power grid.

Camping power need ranges

The Next differentiator: main or backup power source? Is this camping generator of yours going to be the primary source of power? Or is it mainly to support your appliances in case of power failure, as a back up?

Just bear in mind that to you can only run two identical generators. So if you are planning on having a larger generator and a smaller one, you can only run one.

Fuel efficiency

While it’s nice for your camping generator to be small in size, so you can easily take it on camping trips, be mindful that means smaller fuel capacity. Therefore, it’s all the more important that your generator be fuel efficient. Why is this important? For example, so you wouldn’t have to refill the fuel tank throughout the night. A generator with good fuel efficiency is one you can rely on to run throughout the night.

Of course, fuel economy will different from model to model of generator, especially depending on if you purchase an inverter generator, which is very fuel-efficient, rather than a conventional generator, which is not. As a general example, consider that a popular and fuel efficient inverter generator on the market today will run on a full load (1800 W) for about 3.4 hours, and in a fuel-saving mode, generating 25% power, will keep going for 8.1 hours.Just to break that number down for you, that means you would still have 450 watts to power your refrigerator, crock pot, and your fan throughout the night. I know some people who can’t sleep without a fan on them, who would certainly appreciate that!

At the beginning of the article, I encouraged you to Know Your Needs, that is, your expected power consumption when purchasing a camping generator. So far that’s included making a list of items you’ll power with your camping generator. Knowing how much fuel you will expect to use it very important. What good is a researching and purchasing the generator if you don’t factor in the cost and storage of fuel on your trip?

How to calculate your fuel requirements

  1. Identify the total power requirement for a camping generator [link to Power Requirements exercise above]. In our previous example, we determined it to be 2600W.
  2. Now, take the fuel efficiency specs for a given generator, perhaps the one you are most likely to purchase. In our above example, run on a full load (1800 W) for about 3.4 hours, and in a fuel-saving mode, generating 25% power, will keep going for 8.1 hours.
  3. Fuel tank size should be advertised online, or on the box, and definitely in the owner’s manual. It’s worth knowing the fuel tank capacity before buying because you’ll use it to figure your total fuel requirement. In our example, the generator has a .95 gallon capacity. Let’s round that to 1 gallon for ease of calculation.
  4. What equipment is running when? Refer back to your list of common appliance power requirements. Let’s say that of everything I am taking camping in my trailer, the air conditioner is a must and will run 24/7. It consumes 1600W upon start up and runs at 1010 W.

1010 divided by 1600W = about .60, or sixty percent load on the generator.

That would require over half of the generator’s output, and for simplicity’s sake, I’ll round it back to 50% load, so I would expect the generator to require the fuel tank to be refilled at twice the 25% output rate, making it about 6.8 hours passing before I’d need to refill the tank on this generator.

Use with sensitive equipment and voltage surges

If you don’t properly protect sensitive electronic equipment from voltage surges, it can be permanently damaged. It’s the true danger in taking your laptop camping. You might have visualized a dramatic lap-top-falling-off-a-cliff moment, but more realistically, a power surge is more likely to damage your electronic confidante. How else are you going to write that memoir about your life? Some forethought about surge protecting your expensive equipment will count for a lot!

Price

Expect to pay between $200-$900 USD for a small, quiet camping generator. Yes, that’s a vast price range! Generally speaking, gas powered, conventional generators are lower priced, and inverter generators are higher-priced.

How many decibels (dBA) does a quiet camping generator emit?

Generally, a quiet generator’s noise output is less than 75 decibels. That’s about the level of street noise: cars driving, idling, etc. Noisy Generator: A generators whose noise output measures 90 dB is loud, annoying, and even can damage your health. Persistent, loud noise has been shown to trigger heart issues. The quietest gas generators on the market only produce 47-58 dB of sound, which is about the volume of a normal conversation.  The noise of a generators ranges because, depending on the load put on the generator in a given moment, will cause the generator to ‘work’ harder and therefore put out more sound.  For example, given generator will sound at 51 dB when it’s operating at a 25% load. It therefore figures that, it  can be as quiet as 47 dB with less power being drawn off of it. What is the difference is sound between 51 and 47 decibels? Let’s look at how decibels work for a moment.

Just remember that the “dec” in decibel stands for the number 10. Decibels are a mathematical way of expressing a logarithmic scale, in which each number-step up or down is multiplied by ten. It’s a lot. So the difference between 51 and 47 decibels is a perceptible difference in volume to humans.

An added measure to mitigate noise is to put your generator into a special cabinet which allows the generator to ventilate properly while cutting the noise level. Generator cabinets and casings can be found where generators are sold.

What makes the noise?

Small camping generators across the market range from ultra-quiet to noisy. Any given generator will also be quieter or louder running depending on the conditions. So, even an ultra-quiet inverter generator, is going to make more noise as it generates more electricity. As mentioned earlier, it is the vibrating of the generator engine itself, converting fuel into kinesthetic energy, which creates noise, so there are some key ways to mitigate the amount of vibration and therefore noise.

How to reduce noise from a portable generator

Soundproofing measures can help reduce the noise from a generator by absorbing or dampening the vibrations generated along with your electricity! Rubber feet will dampen vibrations emanating into the ground, and the potential for the generator to sound on whatever surface it’s sitting on. It will sound different sitting on the bare ground, than it will sitting on the concrete, fired up and humming along.

A soundproofing casing reduces noise by absorbing sound as well. A specialized cabinet works the same way. Luckily, you can employ your common sense in taking measures to reduce sound from your generator. Since noise emanates from your generator, then if the generator is close to where you and your group are seated, then it will be louder, than if it were placed far away.

Use an inverter generator, rather than a conventional one. It produces more energy per engine rotation and is therefore more energy efficient while also being quiet. They are also more compact.

Overall, the main idea if you value quiet above all other features and factors, is to buy a quality inverter generators put out less than 75 dBA, and to be frugal and remain mindful with your consumption of electricity.

Additional noise considerations

To anyone considering having a camping wedding as did my friends a few years ago in southwestern Washington state on a peaceful lake, give consideration to the noise made by a generator, and take measures to soundproof it. If you are mapping out the wedding ceremony and reception, you’ll want to designate a place for your generator.

As a general rule, anywhere there are people, you’ll want to place the generator as far away as possible. If you can map it out in advance, you can be sure you have enough power and the cords necessary to reach all the gear you’re powering.

The benefits of a quieter generator

Many people appreciate and rely upon quiet generators. It feels worth its weight it gold, if you prefer not to draw too much attention to yourself. A small, quiet generator is obviously a necessity. If have sleeping kids, you do not want to wake them with generator noise. Clean-power a safer camping trip and place low wattage lights around the campsite to enable you to move around safely.

3 Comments

  1. Perry August 9, 2018
  2. Aaron August 11, 2018
  3. Lydia August 16, 2018

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