Best Quiet Portable Generators (Great for Camping and RVs)
If you’re going camping, it’s always a good idea to have an extra power supply instead of having to rely on the battery inside of your car or RV. That’s why today, we’re going to talk about the best quiet portable generators for camping.
As a kid, I remember having mixed feelings about family camping trips, to say the least. Yes, nature was beautiful, and I suppose the bonding time was great as well. But kids are easily bored and, these days, adults are too. Fortunately, we now have all sorts of gadgets to keep us entertained.
However, these gadgets require power to run, which is exactly what a camping generator would provide. As always, before I share some of my quiet generator recommendations, I’m going to present a quick shopping guide. But first, let’s talk about why bringing an extra power supply when camping is a good idea.
There are plenty of reasons why having a portable generator at hand would be a good idea when you’re out camping. However, before I say anything else, I should caution you to always check the rules of the campsite you’re heading to.
There are some places that don’t allow campers to bring a portable generator. So if you’re dead-set on going to one of those, leave the generator at home. That’s alright, you can just bring it on your next camping trip. But believe me, after your first experience camping with a portable generator, you’ll never want to go without it.
Why You Should Bring a Portable Generator on Your Camping Trip
Taking a portable generator when you’re camping can ensure that the trip goes without a hitch. You can use it to:
- Illuminate the campsite. You can set up some lights to help you see the general layout of the grounds after dark. It will make it easier for everyone to get around — trust me. But if you’re one of those people who likes to escape light pollution, this may be the exact opposite of what you’re looking for.
- Entertain yourself and the other campers. Portable generators have outlets you can plug a radio or a CD player in. That’s some real vintage entertainment for you.
- Charge your devices. This is really a big one. After all, smartphones have so many apps that can not only distract antsy kids but also help when you’re camping. No more waiting for your dad to figure out a map!
- Plug in some appliances. If you have certain gadgets you wouldn’t want to give up for the duration of the camping trip, a generator would allow you to use them. For example, if you can’t imagine having to manually make your coffee, you could simply pack your coffee maker. I’m sure no one would judge — in fact, it may even make you some new friends.
- Jump start your RV or car battery if it fails without waiting for someone else to assist you.
Naturally, the reason why a quiet generator would be preferable to a loud one is pretty simple. Both your camping group and the campers in the surrounding area would be able to enjoy the great outdoors. You wouldn’t have the whirring sound of a generator to disturb you from the sound of nature. On top of that, you’d also lower the chance of attracting wildlife.
FEATURES TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN SHOPPING FOR QUIET GENERATORS
Generators are a subject many people aren’t as familiar with as some of the other quiet products I’ve reviewed. So I’ve made sure to do my research and present it in a way that should be easy for everyone to understand. Some of the features I’ve made sure to mention are the standard ones, but some are specific to generators.
This feature is one of those generic ones I use when reviewing any product. So what does the noise level depend on when you’re shopping for a quiet portable generator?
Well, the noise level mostly depends on the wattage of the product. Since the smaller devices we’re going to be looking through mostly have lower wattage, you can be sure that they’ll also be very quiet. In general, the volume of noise you can expect to hear from these generators is about 50–60 decibels. That’s about the same volume as a quiet conversation or the background noises you hear around the office.
However, devices that are over 4,000 watts are probably going to be a bit louder, depending on other factors.
Obviously, you’re going to have an easier time taking a smaller generator camping. Luckily, they’re also much quieter. However, the size of a generator doesn’t only affect its portability and the volume of the noise it makes. It also often signifies how much wattage it has.
Usually, generators can hold anywhere between 1,000 to upwards of 20,000 watts. However, the lower wattage devices are quieter, so my search extends to 4,000-watt generators. In fact, I’ve even listed my reviews in an ascending order according to wattage.
If you’re taking portability into account, it’s also important to consider whether the generator you’re looking at has wheels. Many of the heavier ones do, and the smaller ones have handles. Some even have a hook on top you can use to lift the generator and hang it somewhere out of the way.
And if you really like the idea of a generator with wheels, you can also buy a wheel kit separately.
While there are several types of generators depending on the fuel they use, the overwhelming majority of products on the market use gasoline. Aside from gas-powered generators, there are also diesel and even battery-powered ones that charge with solar panels.
The latter, while the most environmentally-friendly of the bunch, are by far the slowest to charge. However, they’re also the quietest, followed by gas and propane generators. Diesel generators are definitely the loudest, although they are more fuel-efficient than gas generators overall.
Finally, you should also pay attention to the number, type, and the voltage of the outlets. Some cheap generators can even have only one outlet. If the type of the outlet isn’t the type you need, you can simply fix the problem by getting an adapter plug.
Most generators do have 120V AC outlets, although some more powerful devices do have 240V outlets as well. Even better, some of the generators also have DC power USB ports, which can come in handy for charging devices.
Many outdoor generators have GFCI, or ground fault circuit interrupter, protection. This feature automatically shuts off power when it detects an anomaly in the currents.
You’ll also see that the generators on my list are inverter generators. That simply means that the generator has a rectifier that converts the AC electricity the engine produces into DC power. Inverter generators are often very quiet, small, and have an increased fuel-efficiency, as well as a great power output.
BEST QUIET PORTABLE GENERATORS (FOR CAMPING AND RVS)
As I’ve mentioned, the devices I’ve reviewed will be listed by their wattage in an ascending order. I’ve selected several representative devices to show you, although some brands had generators of different capacities, so I’ve included the links to those as well. For camping, any of these devices would be fine — so let’s see them.
1. HOMEGEAR 950i DIGITAL 950 WATTS PORTABLE INVERTER GENERATOR
This little 950-watt inverter generator is perfectly adequate if you’re someone who just wants to have an emergency power supply while you’re camping. The device looks like a 15-inch tall canister with four feet on the bottom and a carrying handle and a fuel cap on top. And at only 22.5 pounds, you should be able to carry this one without an issue.
The unit is gas-powered, so you’ll need about 0.55 gallons of unleaded gasoline to keep it going. It’ll give you enough energy for just over 4 hours of use at full power.
All of the settings are at the front of the generator. There are two switches, one for the economy mode and one for the engine, separated by a 5V DC USB outlet in the top row. The lower right area is covered by a 3-prong 120V AC outlet with a flip cap protection.
There are three light indicators to its left, for the output, overload, and low oil alert. Moreover, the generator does come with a DC outlet option, as well as a DC cable. And there are even two charging stations for 12V batteries.
The generator is, of course, CARB compliant and EPA approved, making it completely safe for both the environment and your health. It even has built-in circuit breakers and low-oil shutdown protection. Also, according to the manufacturer, it makes only 58 decibels of noise.
2. ATIMA SD1000i 1,000-WATT PORTABLE INVERTER GENERATOR
The next most powerful generator is this 1000-watt inverter generator from Atima. It’s slightly larger all around, and it’s even heavier than the previous product, at 33 pounds. That is, of course, due to the fact that the generator can store 0.69 gallons of unleaded gasoline. That tank should last through about 6 or 7 hours of moderate use.
Like the previous generator, this one has four static legs at the bottom, a handle and a fuel cap on top, and a control panel at the front. There are 3 light indicators in the top left of the panel, an output indicator, and overload and oil alerts.
However, if you flip the smart throttle switch on, you might never see the oil indicator light up. Essentially, that feature will automatically adjust the engine speed to match the generator load, thereby increasing fuel-efficiency.
There are two 120V AC outlets taking up the right side of the panel. To the left, there’s a 12V DC outlet as well. Like the previous device, this one is CARB compliant, and it even has a circuit breaker. So you won’t have to worry about safety at all.
Even these 1,000-watt generators and under can actually be very useful for camping. They could easily power a blender or a coffee maker, and even a microwave oven. Still, if you expect to spend a while camping, you may be looking for something more substantial. So let’s up that wattage!
3. YAMAHA EF2000iSv2 2,000-WATT PORTABLE INVERTER GENERATOR
Yamaha is an extremely reliable brand when it comes to portable generators, especially quiet ones. Their 2,000-watt inverter generator is nice and compact, although it does weigh in at 44 pounds with the 1.1-gallon gas tank. The device is attractive in both the classic Yamaha blue and black colors, as well as the camouflage color it comes in.
Overall, the generator looks slightly different than the other ones we’ve seen. While it does have the 4 feet at the bottom and the handle and the fuel cap on top, all of the outlets are on the side rather than the front. This product has two 120V AC outlets and a DC port for charging batteries. In addition, it has a low oil indicator, a visible fuel gauge, as well as a gasoline petcock that essentially prevents having stale gas issues.
Naturally, the generator is EPA and CARB compliant, so it does come with some environmental protection. That is actually par for the course for Yamaha. In fact, they have a whole range of clean gas generators, even if you need something only a bit more powerful, at 2,400 starting watts.
All of these generators are incredibly quiet, especially because of the rubber vibration isolation around the engine. This one, in particular, only makes 51–61 A-rated decibels, which is no louder than background noise.
4. POWERHORSE 2,000-WATT PORTABLE INVERTER GENERATOR
The 2000-watt Powerhorse generator takes us back into the more familiar outlet panel design. The machine stands on 4 stable feet, and it has a handle and a fuel cap on top. However, not everyone will be able to lift the 53-pound generator with ease. The fuel tank can fit over a gallon of gasoline, so that’s part of the reason why this generator weighs so much.
The outlet panel in the front contains all of the things you’re used to having. There are two 120V standard 20A AC outlets and one 30A outlet. The generator also allows for the parallel use of two of these units, which gives you their combined power.
There’s a switch above the parallel operation outlets that reads “ESC throttle”. The Engine Smart Control is similar to some of the features we’ve seen on other units, in that it automatically adjusts the fuel consumption to the users’ needs. Above it, there are the usual 3 LED indicators, including low oil, overload, and output lights.
Naturally, the generator is both CARB and EPA compliant, so it’s safe to use in nature. Inside the unit, there are copper-wound heads that prevent overheating and keep the machine running smoothly. The inner mechanism also keeps the volume of noise at about 52 decibels.
5. WEN 56200i 2,000-WATT PORTABLE INVERTER GENERATOR
WEN is another big name in the world of portable generators, known for their orange-black color scheme. This 2,000-watt inverter generator looks fairly standard, between the stable stands and the handle and the fuel cap on top. However, once again, I imagine the 48-pound unit would be pretty hard to carry for many people. The outlet panel is at the front of the unit, and it contains all of the normal outlets you’d expect to see.
There are two 3-prong 120V outlets to the right, and to the left, there’s a 12V DC outlet and even a 5V USB port. Between these outlets, there are two ports that allow for the parallel use of two of these units, which combines their power.
As is usually the case, the top row of the control panel is taken up by the power dial, the LED indicators, and the Eco Mode switch. This feature ensures the proper usage of the fuel according to the current output. On top of that, there are also built-in overload protection, as well as low-oil and low-fuel shutdown features.
When it’s operating at half-load, you’ll be able to squeeze out 6 hours of use out of this generator. It will keep quiet, around the 51-decibel mark or slightly louder, which is still mostly imperceptible. And if you find that you need a bit more or less than the 2,000 surge watts this unit gives you, WEN also makes 1,250-watt and 3,100-watt generators. They’re all part of the same Amazon listing I linked below.
6. HONDA EU2200I 2,200-WATT PORTABLE INVERTER GENERATOR
Honda is also a well-known player in the world of portable generators. In fact, they have so many quiet generators in their selection, I found it hard to decide which one I should feature. In the end, I’ve decided to only link to 2,000, 3,000, and 7,000-watt units, and focus on the 2,200-watt inverter generator.
This generator has four stable stands at the bottom and a handle and a fuel cap on top. The power dial is on the side and the outlet panel is n the front, as usual. Inside, the generator can hold just under a gallon of fuel. However, even that can last for between 4 and 10 hours of use, depending on the settings and the amount of load you have.
There are two 120V 15A AC outlets and a single 12V DC outlet for charging batteries. On the left side of the panel, there are the 3 LED indicators for low-oil, overload, and output. Above those, you can see the ECO Throttle switch for automatic fuel consumption adjustments and parallel operation outlets.
In fact, you can get this generator with its companion generator and the parallel connection cables. Or, you can simply get the companion generator on its own. Either way, using two generators will actually give you 4,400-watts of power at about the same volume of noise.
And this unit is exceedingly quiet even though it already has more power than some of the others. The unit only makes 48-57 A-weighted decibels of sound.
7. BRIGGS & STRATTON 30651 P2200 POWERSMART SERIES 2,200-WATT INVERTER GENERATOR
The Briggs & Stratton PowerSmart series of portable generators is full of real gems, but the 2,200-watt inverter generator would do wonders for any camping trip.
Like many of the other generators on this list, it has four stands at the bottom and a handle and fuel cap on top. The H-handle on this unit seems more secure than what you get on some of the other ones, though. Because of the unique shape of the handle, you’ll be able to carry the 54.6-pound generator with a friend.
The power dial is off to the side and the outlets are all on the panel in the front. The outlet panel has two 120V 20A AC outlets and one 12V 20A DC outlet. If you need to charge your electronics, you’ll be pleased to know that the DC outlet has a USB adapter.
However, centered in the middle of the panel, there’s a parallel connector with a flip protector. In fact, if you check out the link I’ve provided, you’ll see that you can also buy the 2,200W and 3,000W units together, with a connector cable included with the purchase. The 3,000 and 6,500-watt units are also available for purchase separately.
This generator operates at only 59 decibels of volume, which is louder than some of the other products I’ve reviewed. Still, it’ll probably be unnoticeable on a camping trip.
8. CHAMPION 3,100-WATT PORTABLE INVERTER GENERATOR
Champion generators were also the ones I had a hard time picking through. However, I ended up choosing to feature their 3,100-watt inverter generator, although the 3,400 and 4,000-watt ones were also in the running.
This generator is special in several ways, but let’s start with its general design. The unit has wheels on one side at the bottom and stands on the other. On the top side, the fuel cap is at the center, while the handles are on both of the shorter sides of the device. One of the handles can actually flip up to allow you to roll the generator across the ground, which is a great idea because hardly anyone would be willing to lift 83.8 pounds.
The side of the generator is yellow and black, to match the rest of the Champion brand. There, you’ll find a 120V 30A RV outlet, two 120V 20A 3-prong outlets, and even a 12V outlet that comes with a dual USB adapter. The control panel also has an economy switch, which can extend the runtime to up to 8 hours at 25% load.
The generator produces about 58 dBA of noise from 23 feet away. Now, I should say that many of these noise level measurements are taken from the same distance. Best of all, this generator comes with a key fob you can use to turn the generator on and off from up to 80 feet away.
SUMMARY: QUIET GENERATORS FOR CAMPING
Fortunately, shopping for quiet portable generators for camping trips or RVs isn’t as hard as finding quiet vacuum cleaners, for example. Most of these manufacturers include the decibel measurements of the volume of noise you should expect to hear. Moreover, the kind of wattage you want from a small generator is typically not too taxing on the engine, so it shouldn’t be too noisy anyway.
And if push comes to shove, you can always implement some sneaky soundproofing methods to make any generator a bit quieter.