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What are portable generators?

Portable generators are small, lightweight generators that are designed to be easily transported and used in a variety of locations. They are typically powered by gasoline, diesel, or propane and can be used to provide power for a variety of applications including camping, tailgating, and emergency power.

What are the benefits of using a portable generator?

The main benefit of using a portable generator for camping is being able to power your trailer while off-grid. Nor do you have to be reliant on the RV park for power. Portable generators are small and lightweight so you can store them anywhere, and they are easy to set up when you need them.

What types of portable generators are available?

There are two main types of portable generators, inverter generators and traditional generators. The main difference between an inverter generator and a traditional generator is engine speed. The engine speed of an inverter adjusts for the load whereas the engine speed of a traditional generator does not adjust and runs at a constant speed. The benefits of adjustable speed are greater fuel efficiency, quieter operation, more compact design, and less maintenance. The disadvantages of inverters are that they are more expensive than traditional generators and they aren't offered in as high capacities. Many inverters can be bridged together to reduce the power discrepancy. In most cases, you'll want an inverter generator when camping due to its smaller size, better fuel efficiency, and reduced noise output.

How do I choose the right portable generator for my needs?

In order to choose the correct size generator, you'll need to determine how much power you need. You can do this by adding up the power needs of all your essential appliances. The key word is essential; you shouldn't be running everything in your camper while hooked up to a generator. Air conditioners and refrigerators are the most common essential appliances you'll want to account for when sizing a generator. Please note: Generators and appliances are rated for both running and surge/starting, and both will need to be considered.

What size generator do I need for tent camping?

The size of the generator you need for tent camping depends on the electrical devices you plan to power. Consider the total wattage of all the appliances and devices you intend to use simultaneously and choose a generator with a capacity that meets or exceeds that total wattage. Generally, for tent camping, a smaller generator in the range of 1,000 to 2,000 watts should suffice for basic needs like charging devices, running small appliances, or powering lights.

Where do you put a generator when camping?

When camping, it's important to place the generator in a well-ventilated area away from the campsite to minimize noise and exhaust fumes. Consider the following guidelines:

  • Keep the generator at least 20 feet away from your tent or campsite to avoid exposure to noise and exhaust.
  • Place the generator on a stable, level surface to ensure safe operation.
  • Position the generator away from any flammable materials, such as dry grass or leaves, to reduce fire hazards.
  • Protect the generator from direct exposure to rain or moisture by placing it under a canopy.

How many hours of power does a camping generator provide?

The length of time you can run a generator is based on how much power you're using. In most cases, the manufacturer of the generator will provide runtime figures based on a given load capacity such as 25%, 50%, etc. The fuel tank size and fuel efficiency also play a big role in runtime.

Can I run my RV air conditioning unit on generator power?

In most cases, yes, you can run your RV air conditioning unit on generator power. However, there are a lot of variables to consider. The most important thing is to determine how much power your air conditioning unit uses. You'll also need to understand the difference between surge/starting watts and running watts. Surge watts is how much power the air conditioner requires on start up and running watts is how much power the air conditioner requires to run. The surge/starting watt requirements are generally much higher than the running watts (unless the AC is equipped with soft start). The generator needs to be rated for both the surge/starting watts and the running watts of the air conditioner. It's best to run the numbers yourself with specifics on both the air conditioner and generator. As a general rule, for a 13,500 BTU air conditioner you'll need a minimum of 3,000 watts and for a 15,000 BTU air conditioner you'll need a minimum of 3,500 watts.

What type of fuel does a generator use?

The three common fuel sources for an RV generator are gasoline, diesel, and propane. They each have their own advantages, but diesel generators aren't typically portable and are used more for larger motorhomes. Therefore, for most applications you should consider gasoline or propane. Propane may sound attractive since you likely already have propane on board, but propane-powered generators don't produce as much power as gasoline or diesel. They are also the least fuel-efficient of the three. The most popular fuel source for a portable RV generator is gasoline since it's easily attainable. Some generators have dual fuel technology which allows you to operate the generator on both gasoline and propane. For most campers, we recommend either gasoline or gasoline and propane.