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A Beginner’s Guide to Camping Generators

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Having power when off-grid may be one of the biggest challenges camping enthusiasts must overcome. 

Because of that, companies have created many solutions throughout the years and one of the best ones is the camping generator. 

Of course, there are endless choices on the market, and this leads to questions. Some of the most common ones are: Portable generator for camping? How to make a generator quiet for camping? What size generator for camping?

With a list of questions as big as the one above, we can only assume that information on the basics of camping generators will be of help to many. Therefore, in this article, we will be going over everything a beginner needs to know about camping generators.

All Generators for Camping Should Have the Below Attributes

Quiet Operation 

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Sound intensity of all kinds is measured in decibels (dba). The loudness of camping generators varies a lot. 

Quiet generators such as the ALP 1000-Watt propane generator provide a great advantage when sitting around camp and enjoying the silence of nature. After all, you are out there to relax and not to get your ears blown by a loud generator.

However, how can one tell how loud a camping generator is? Well, it’s easy. Most units fall into the 55-75 dba noise level. This may not seem like a wide range, but you would be surprised by the difference between the lower end and upper end of the scale. 

The best way to ensure you are buying a quiet generator for camping is to look for a dba rating on the box, website specs, or internet. If you cannot find the rating do not buy the generator.

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A range of 53-60 dba at full throttle is a good range to stick with. Anything above that will be too loud for camping purposes. The ALP propane generator I referenced a moment ago runs at less than 52 dba.

Now, you might wonder how to make a generator quiet for camping. If your generator is on the noisy side, you can make a quiet box to enclose the generator (leaving a spot for it to expel exhaust, of course).

I built such a box for my big 3000-watt gas generator, and it definitely helped tamp down the noise. However, my ALP propane generator is so quiet and portable that it’s my go-to for my camping adventures anyway. It’s so quiet that I don’t need to mess around with building a quiet box!

Camping Generators Should Have a Good Quality of Electricity

orange generator

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How noisy a camping generator is will be a very important deciding factor. However, you also need to consider the quality of electricity the unit will produce. 

It is a common idea these days that generators are capable of powering sensitive electronics such as audio devices without issues. However, that is not the case yet with some camping generators.

The fact that the quality of electricity of normal camping generators might not be good enough yet is obvious when connecting audio devices. The humming sound you can hear is a result of less than pure power.

To overcome this, inverter generators were invented. These units will provide quality power similar to the one you find at home. Therefore, if you need your camping generator to power sensitive items this is the way to go.

person plugging a cord into a generator

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After you have established what items you will be powering you will also need to calculate how much power those items will draw. This, in turn, will tell you what size generator for camping that you need. To do that, you can add up the maximum wattage each item needs. 

However, for motorized equipment such as water pumps, you will also need to consider the item’s inductive load. This load is the peak voltage utilities such as motors draw for a few seconds when they startup. If your generator for camping cannot match the peak power draw of the item it will simply not be able to power it. 

This may be a confusing topic. Therefore, contacting the shop you are planning on purchasing the generator from and letting them know the items you will be using can help you make the correct choice.

Keep in mind that some camping generators can be paired to double their power output. This is a great solution if you end up needing more power or if one of the two breaks down as you will be able to use the second one until you get it fixed.

A Portable Generator for Camping are a Must

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Camping generators are intended to be moved around more than generators intended for house use. 

In most cases, the smaller the wattage output, the lighter the generator is. Keep in mind that some of the higher-quality units are designed to be lighter than expected in relation to their power output. 

Most units will be able to output around 1000-2000 watts while remaining portable. Fuel types can be propane, gasoline, diesel, or even solar power.

A great example of a lightweight, portable camping generator is once again the ALP 1000-Watt propane generator. At just 30lb, you will not have any issues with storing it inside your vehicle or carrying it around camp.

Power Variety

yellow generator

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In the case of house generators, the only type of current you need is 120v AC and possibly 240v. 

However, generators for camping need to be more versatile than that. Surely, you will use 120v when outdoors, but other options such as USB chargers for phones or other small devices can also be very useful when off-grid.

A 12V plugin for DC accessories or charging car batteries is also a great addition. Therefore, make sure that the camping generator you are buying includes such options if you want the most comfortable camping experience.

Reliability

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As we all know, heading out into remote areas may be one of the most rewarding elements of overlanding. In such places reliability is priceless. Therefore, a camping generator that provides peace of mind regardless of the place you happen to be in is crucial. 

Our experience with the ALP 1000-Watt propane generator has been great all around. However, one of the most important facts about this generator is that it never presented any issues. Therefore, you can be sure it will keep on powering all your amenities no matter where you happen to be. 

So, choosing a generator that has great reliability reviews will provide peace of mind in the long run.

Camping Generators are a Great Addition to Your Kit

Generator in the grass

photo by ivandan via iStock

If the camping generator you choose ticks the five boxes mentioned above, then you can be sure that the unit you are buying will do a great job of powering your camp. 

Have we covered all your questions? If not, feel free to ask anything you want on the forum section of our website! 

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