The advances in camping generators have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. Gone are the days of monstrous diesel machines spewing out fumes and noise.
Modern generators sip fuel and only murmur in the background. Before we get to the best ones, lets have a look at some important factors to consider.
There are 2 types of portable generators: conventional and inverter.
This is older technology and consists of a motor and alternator (similar to a car setup). The motor has to run at a constant speed (normally around 3600RPM), regardless of the load on it, to produce a current. This causes this type to be fairly noisy and uneconomical. The voltage it produces is also not as clean as the power you get at home.
This new style of generator combines the engine, alternator and an electronic circuit board in one unit. The circuit board allows the generator to adjust its speed to compensate for the load. This makes it more fuel efficient, especially if there is only a light load on it. This type of generator also produces “clean power” which makes it ideal for running sensitive electronic equipment like laptops or TV’s. Inverter types are small and lightweight and also produce a DC current, which makes it ideal as a camping generator.
Noice is probably one of the biggest factors to consider. Nothing like spoiling the tranquility of a campsite like a roaring generator. It will not only spoil your trip, but also your fellow campers, and will make you the least popular person around.
Most modern inverter type generators produce between 53db-59db, which is similar to office background noise.
Noise level doubles with every 10db, so these numbers are important. When you purchase a generator, see if it is possible to start it before hand. Manufacturers are sneaky and give you the dB output for a low load and it can be significantly more as the load increases.
The power output is measured in Watts. There is normally a maximum rating, which can be sustained for around 30 mins, and a rated power, which is maximum continuous power (around 90%). For camping generators, the sweet spot is the 1000-2000 watt range.
To pick the best generator suited for you, add the watts each appliance will be using and add it together. Pick a generator with an output more than your needs to avoid overloading problems. If you are going to run an air conditioner or a tent heater pick a more powerfull generator.
Here is a rough list of Wattage used by appliances (the first number is the startup power drawn and the 2de the sustained power need):
• Blender 850w, 400w
• Electric Grill 1650w, 1650w
• Hair Dryer (1600 watts) 1900w, 1800w
• Coffee Maker 600w, 600w
• Electric Heater 1300w, 1300w
• Laptop computer 225w, 225w
• Flat-screen TV 120w, 120w
• Fan (portable) 120w, 40w
• DVD Player 350w, 350w
Size and Fuel Efficiency:
Like all other camping equipment, you want your portable generator to be small and lightweight. Have a look at its fuel usage to determine how much fuel you must take with you. Some inverter types can be converted to use propane or natural gas. If you are already taking propane gas with you, it might be worth your while getting a tri-fuel conversion kit for your unit.
Recommended camping generators:
The Yamaha EF2000iS is my choice when it comes to camping generators. The 2000 Watts unit is the best bang for your money. You might save $200 by buying the smaller unit, but might run into some load problems later.
The unit has a compact, appealing design with a sound-dampening casing. It will run for 10.5 hrs under a normal load and weighs 44 pounds. The casing dampens noise to 51dB under a ¼ load, which makes it to a light murmur in the background. All Yamaha generators come’s with a 2 year warranty.
The Yamaha EF2000iS is a great budget generator. Everything about this unit is small and lightweight. It weighs in at a featherweight 21 pounds and will run 14 hrs/gallon under a light load. The only downfall is the 800 watts it generates. If you need lots of power you might have to pass this neat little generator. It also has features like low oil light and an overloading warning light.