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Best Overall: Yamaha EF2400ISHC at Amazon "Delivers 2400 watts of portable power, with easy access to both DC and AC outlets."
Best Buy: Champion 3500-Watt Portable Generator at Amazon "Delivers some serious power at a price that hovers just less than $350."
Best for Gas-Free Power: Goal Zero Yeti 3000 Power Station at Amazon "It runs off a state-of-the-art lithium battery management system encased in a water-tight package."
Best for Serious Output: Smarter Tools 9500 Generator at Amazon "It’ll power your fridge, freezer, microwave, heater blower, and RV A/C with aplomb."
Best for Smaller Scenarios: Goal Zero Yeti Power Station at Amazon "Its replaceable lithium battery weighs only 17 pounds, and is fully charged via a wall socket in seven hours."
Best for Tail-Gating: Westinghouse iGen 2200 at Amazon "Delivers a steady stream of 1,800 watts to run whatever car-camping or game day essentials need juice."
Best for Easy-to-Read Digital Feedback: Generac iQ2000 at Amazon "Utilizes a host of easy-to-read digital read-outs to keep you informed."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Yamaha EF2400ISHC
The Yamaha EF2400ISHC delivers 2400 watts of portable power, with easy access to both DC and AC outlets, and though it’s a touch heavy at 75 pounds, twin handles make it easy to move. It runs for more than eight hours one tank of gas; an at-a-glance fuel gauge lets you know how much is left in the tank. An aluminum die-cast frame (combined with an aluminum TIC rotor) makes the device durable, and though it puts out some serious power, the engine speed at full load runs at only 34,000 revolutions per minute, so you won’t have to scream over the engine noise.
A Smart Throttle feature adjusts the engine speed to match the load so that you get optimal output depending on what you’re powering, which can anything from your smart devices to a car battery, ATV, or even a hairdryer; a 12-volt DC cable is included, as Yamaha Generator Oil, Fuel Protection, and a three-year warranty.
An integrated oil monitoring system will notify you when you need to add more, and the gas petcock lets you shut off the gas so that you can run the carburetor dry before you put into storage. It’s also received the longest emission durability ratings issued by the EPA and the California Air Resources Board and meets the emissions regulations for all 50 states.
The only thing it can’t do: power a dedicated air conditioner unit, but it can fuel most 13,500-BTU RV A/Cs, as well as microwaves and convection ovens.
Best Buy: Champion 3500-Watt Portable Generator
It looks like something out of some survivalist’s fever dream, but this bright yellow almost-retro generator delivers some serious power. It produces 3,500 watts via the Champion 196cc engine—powerful enough to fuel 15,000-BTU RV air conditioners, with 12 hours of juice at 50 percent load and a noise level of a relatively whispery 68 decibels, all from a 3.8-gallon gas tank.
Cold Start Technology assures that the generator will fire even on cold days, while internal computers monitor the voltage, frequency, and operating hours to help you track maintenance intervals. Outlets include three 120-volt options: a 30A locking option, a standard 30A RV outlet, and a 20A household outlet.
It’s both EPA-certified and CARB compliant and comes with a three-year limited warranty as well as tech support from Champion for the life of the generator. Oil capacity measures to 0.6 quarts, with an auto-shut sensor if it runs low, as well as convenient push-to-reset circuit breakers.
Best for Gas-Free Power: Goal Zero Yeti 3000 Lithium Portable Power Station
For those who want serious power support without the smell and pollution associated with a gas-powered generator, the Goal Zero Yeti 3000 knows no equals. It runs off a state-of-the-art lithium battery management system encased in a water-tight package—plug the two chargers into wall sockets, and it’ll be at full charge in 25 hours.
When camping, you can also re-charge the generator from your vehicle with the included 12-volt car charging cable, or with a few Goal Zero solar panels like the Boulder 200 Briefcase; on average it takes 18 to 36 hours. This smart generator can also be connected to a Wi-Fi network so that you can control the device remotely via the Yeti app, which lets you check the battery level, switch ports on and off, and receive regular updates to the device’s firmware.
The generator produces a steady flow of 1,500 watts, along with a 3,000-watt surge for running high-power devices. What does it power? Just about everything an intrepid camper might need, including smartphones, tablets, POV cameras, and laptops, as well as headlamps, a fridge, and even a 32-inch LCD TV for 30 hours—and it charges up to ten devices at the same time.
RV campers, however, will probably want something with more power as a back-up for their onboard air conditions and other electronics. Wheels and a telescoping handle are included and can be easily removed.
Best for Serious Output: Smarter Tools 9500 Watt Portable Generator
With a starting output of 9,500 watts and 7,500 continuous watts, this Smarter Tools generator is the biggest of the bunch—and thankfully it comes on a pair of ten-inch no-flat wheels to make it easy to move around. It’ll power your fridge, freezer, microwave, heater blower, and RV A/C with aplomb via the 420cc four-stroke cooled OHV motor, which runs for ten hours at 50 percent load on seven gallons of gas.
You get four standard outlets as well as a 120-volt 20AC, a 240/120-Volt 30A twist-lock, another dedicated 120-volt 30A twist lock, and one 120-volt 8A DC outlet. Yet despite all that power, it runs at a modest 73 decibels. An electronic start means you don’t have to wrestle with a pull cord to get it running, while a low-oil auto shut-off offers assurance and a digital hour/volt/Hz meter lets you keep track of run times and proper voltage transfer to your appliances.
As you’d expect from a high-end generator, the device is EPA- and CARB-approved for all 50 states. A two-year warranty is included as well.
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Best for Smaller Scenarios: Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Portable Power Station
When 9,500 watts—or even 1,000 watts—feels like overkill, opt for the eminently portable Goal Zero Yeti 400. Its replaceable lithium battery weighs only 17 pounds (and has an 18-month shelf life), and is fully charged via a wall socket in seven hours. Or you can plug it into a 12-volt outlet with the included car charging cable to get a full charge within four to seven hours. Upgrade to one of Goal Zero’s solar panels and the device can be charged in the field; their Boulder 100 Briefcase will replenish the generator in about eight to 16 hours. It comes with three USB ports, two AC outlets, and a 12-volt output, with a digital display to monitor run-time/recharge estimators as well as a battery level monitor and an input/output meter. Pull up to 40 charges out of the device for your cell phones, or for three hours of TV watching on a 30-inch LCD TV (if watching a movie plays into your outdoor exploits). Or, follow one loyal user, who plugged in an electric blanket to heat up their sleeping bag.
Best for Tail-Gating: Westinghouse iGen 2200
With a max run time of 12 hours on 1.2 gallons of gas, the iGen 2200 from Westinghouse delivers a steady stream of 1,800 watts (backed by 2,200 watts at its peak) to run whatever car-camping or game day essentials need juice. The inverter tech makes it compatible with smart electronics like laptops and tablets, and it only produces 52 decibels, lower than a normal conversation.
It includes two USB charging ports as well as two 120-volt standard plugs for things like slow cookers, microwaves, a coffee maker, fans, incandescent lights, and TVs. It weighs in at a feathery 46 pounds, and—should you have a travel companion with another Westinghouse generator—you pair the iGen with another inverter generator with the parallel cable (sold separately).
Lifetime tech support and a three-year warranty come with the device, which also has overload prevention and low-oil auto shut-off.
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Best for Easy-to-Read Digital Feedback: Generac iQ2000
Unlike some generators, which require a detailed review of the owner’s manual or Jedi-like instincts, the iQ2000 from Generac utilizes a host of easy-to-read digital read-outs to keep you informed. This includes a display of how much run time is left, a power indicator to show the total available watts, and status lights to let you know when you’re low on fuel or oil, as well as alerts for when you’re in danger of overloading or overheating.
A simple power dial makes it easy to shift from start to run to stop position, and a switch toggles between economy, standard, and turbo modes. Fuel capacity is just more than a gallon, contributing a 5.7 hours of use at 50 percent load, with an AC-rated output of 1,600 watts and a max/starting output of 2,000, funneled through two traditional 120-volt AC outlets. It isn’t burly enough to power air-conditioners for RVs but can handle space heaters, laptops, coffee makers, slow cookers, blenders, cell phones, an inflator pump for your travel mattress, and even flat-screen TVs and portable electric grills. A three-year warranty comes standard.
Our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular generators for camping on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 17 different generators overall, screened options from 15 different brands and manufacturers, read over 38 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 2 of the generators themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.