Of course, you go camping to get away from it all, right? But that doesn’t mean you have to go without a few important things: Lights, charger for your phone, a fridge and other appliances that makes camping even more enjoyable.
Which means you need a power source. Shopping for one can be overwhelming because there are so many choices these days. A popular option is investing in a portable generator. But how will you know which one will enhance camp life the most? That’s what this article is for, so browse through and make an informed decision for your next break away.
What do You Need in Your Generator for Camping?
Quiet Generator for Camping
Your first priority should be to consider the noise that your generator makes. You don’t want to spoil the serenity of nature for you or other campers around you. This is especially relevant if you run yours at night when you sleep. Few generators are absolutely quiet, but there are those with lower noise levels, not much louder than a refrigerator.
How Quiet Should My Camping Generator Be?
Ideally, a camping generator shouldn’t bother campers more than an average conversation does. Aim for one with noise levels of +50dB to +60dB. Many top brands succeeded in getting this right.
Other Important Features
You also have to think practically during camping. So find one that’s compact. That will make it portable, so you can easily transport it, but it also uses little of your valuable floor space around the camp.
Camping should be a time of relaxation; you don’t want to fill up a fuel generator multiple times a day. Especially if you know you’ll be using it a lot, look for one that can run +/- 10 hours before a refuel or recharge.
What Should You Look for When Buying a Camping Generator?
When you’re shopping for yours you’ll have to compare differences to make sure you get the best value for money. Here’s how you gauge which option to trust.
Don’t think the high price is necessarily the best option. Depending on your requirements, you may find a cheaper model with everything you need. Prices range from $400 to $1500, depending on which features you want to include.
Reliability and Durability
A portable generator for camping will undergo some heavy handling, so it must be rugged and durable. Don’t try out flimsy, cheap options, as you’ll soon have to replace them. That means you pay more in the long run.
An excellent measurement of value is the warranty. A brand that knows they’re selling top quality components will offer a long warranty period. On average you can expect a one year warranty, although commercial generators often can cover for two years.
Also, make sure what is covered by the warranty. Usually, it will only be for problems resulting from the brand’s materials & workmanship. If you’re negligent or have an accident with it, chances are you’ll have to repair or replace it by yourself.
Inverter Generators – The Best Choice for Camping
A popular choice for campers is getting an inverter generator. Why is this such a winning choice?
What Does An Inverter Generator Do?
A normal generator will provide you with electrical energy by converting mechanical energy. However, your inverter generator is a new invention that can produce more energy from each engine rotation. The design also means your generator can be more compact, but still, provide a lot of power. It does have an interesting process, as it turns raw electricity into DC power first, then inverts it to AC power again (usually 120V, 60Hz) which is necessary to power most appliances.
What Makes a Quality Portable Generator?
The best inverter generators will have these features:
– Light and compact
– Low in noise
– A wheel feature if it’s a larger generator, so you can pull it to where you need it
– Cord included (such as battery charger)
– A cover for protection
Small Portable Generator Safety
To make sure you use yours without putting it or people at risk, consider these guidelines:
– Always read labels carefully
– Only use proper cords of high quality
– Don’t place a generator near RV doors or windows, because fumes can affect people inside
– Ground your generator
– Store fuel outside a building or RV, and make sure it’s properly labelled
– Don’t overload your unit by using too many appliances in relation to its capacity
Want to know which ones to pick? We researched a few.
Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 Inverter Generator
This one is a smart investment as it’s super quiet and has multiple outlets. These also differ in types so you can power different types of appliances at the same time.
This one has a 14 hour run time, better than the most you’ll find in the market.
– Wheel feature to move it around the campsite easily
– Long, two years warranty
– Plastic components may break easily
This generator has a unique feature that is it can easily be linked to other similar units. You can match your generator to your power usage and easily level up if you realize you need more.
It’s compact and runs silently (even as low as 48dB) so perfect for camping.
– A quality throttle system provides good fuel efficiency
– Oil changes are easy. Thanks to a smart oil drain gutter design
– Customer service from this brand isn’t ideal
This generator is super compact but still gives you over 10 hours of run time. The design is appropriate for camping as it’s easy to carry around with the built in hand. It even has an economy mode that gives you better fuel economy and it will run super quietly.
– You can join more than one unit together if you need more power
– USB and 12V DC outlets available
– The build quality can be better
Solar Batteries – The Quietest Way
Over the past few years the market has been flooded with a very practical solution to powering up your camping experience: Solar batteries. For this you need solar panels, a battery to store it and an inverter to ensure the use of the power.
Best Value in Portable Solar Panels
You’ll know you have a winning option if your solar panels are camp friendly. That means you should be able to move them around the camp and position them in the sun for optimum sun exposure. Luckily new technology means sun panels can now be flexible and light enough so that you can easily manage them.
Also look at aspects such as charging speed and general durability so they won’t get damaged if left in the wind and rain.
Solar Battery Maintainers
Part of your solar power system is your battery, to which all your solar power will flow. One risk you face is that your battery will self-discharge or overcharge. Counter this with an unique device: A solar battery maintainer that will continuously direct small amounts of electricity, protecting your battery.
Solar Panel Extension Cables
Solar panels have an unique way of transforming the energy in sunlight into electric energy. To connect panels you need unique Photovoltaic Wire (PV wire).
Easy Portable Solar Panel Hold Down
Of course, you must ensure optimal sun exposure of your solar panels. To hold them in place you can use portable stands. With this, you can move them all over the camp site, wherever the best sun spots are.
Types of Solar Panels – Poly vs. Mono
Solar panels have been developed over the years, so today you can pick from:
– Panels with Monocrystalline cells which contain one single crystal
– Panels with Polycrystalline cells, each having multiple small crystals
– Higher efficiency
– Space efficient
– A lot of waste in manufacturing
– Performance drops when temperature drops
– Less waste in manufacturing
– Less efficient
– Lower silicone purity
– Need larger area to produce same power as monocrystalline cells
Patriot Power Generator
A favorite option on the market is to pick a generator from Patriot Power. This brand sells durable unit with quality solar panels. A huge draw card is the short charging time: Only three and a half hour. It has multiple USB outlets, so you can charge all your camp devices in one go. With its sturdy handle you can carry it to wherever you need it.
Portable Solar Generator with Solar Panel
This is ideal for camping as it provides you with enough power to charge the essentials: phones, lights and even a fan. It has multiple outports, so you can charge a few items at the same time.
Everything you need is there, as it contains solar panels, but also an inverter. The unit contains a LED lamp, making it easy to work at night around the camp site.
– All in one kit so you get everything in one purchase
– LED lights show charging progress
– Light weight
– Not powerful enough to charge a laptop.
POWERADD 100W Solar Charger
This is how far technology came: You can fold this highly sufficient solar panel into a small unit which make it easy to transport to your next camping site. It’s quite light so you can carry it to where the most sunlight is.
– It’s waterproof so rain won’t damage it
– Extras such as alligator clips included in purchase
– Charges very slow, when you charge a device while it powers up
SUAOKI 60W Solar Charger
This solar charger has a conversion efficiency of 22% which is a high rating in the industry. The design is so smart as it’s portable and powerful. It can fold up small enough to carry but when it’s opened it can generate enough solar power to charge a car battery. That’s enough to use at your campsite any day.
– Stable and safe output
– Waterproof so you can use it in rainy weather
– No storage battery included
Wind Generators – The Less Popular Option
The Appearance of the First Wind Generators
You would think wind generators are new in the society, as they’ve become popular recently. However, the system was invented as far back in 1888. Even in 200BC, the concept was used for other applications (not electricity) in China.
Types of Devices
Today these generators are widely used and you’ll find different types:
– Horizontal axis type
– Vertical axis type
– Unconventional ones constructed over highways
– Wind turbines without blades that use the energy of vorticity
Although not very common, yet the same concept is applied in camping, by placing small wind turbines high in the air. This is especially used with RVs and caravans as they can serve as foundations for these devices.
But how do they work?
Principle of Operation
The wind’s kinetic energy is transformed into electric energy. The wind forces the propellers or rotor blades to turn when they catch the wind’s kinetic energy. When they start spinning a central shaft inside the turbine is forced to move. This shaft is connected to a generator that creates electricity.
Portable Wind Generators
– Environment-friendly system
– Low noise option
– Use as many as you need (not limited to roof space as with solar panels)
– Easy installation
– Must have wind for optimum efficiency
– Can get damaged in bad weather
– Birds can get hurt when flying into them
Are Wind Generators a Valuable Option?
Although not a perfect solution, wind power is a great alternative. For many campers, it’s ideal to use sustainable energy, rather than using a generator that uses fuel and expels fumes. Depending on the size you pick, you may find this more affordable and therefore valuable option.
Vevor Wind Turbine
This vertical wind turbine generator is made of an aluminum alloy which makes is quite durable. It has an output voltage of 12V, perfect for camping appliances.
The best thing about this item is that you don’t have to worry about pointing it the wind. It will work in many different conditions.
– Easy to install
– Easy maintenance because gearbox can be near the ground
– Higher wind resistance than some other generators
MAKEMU Energy Mini
This design looks quite stylish so your campsite will look quite modern. It can handle up to 200km/h which should be enough in most circumstances.
The design captures wind energy no matter which direction it blows, making this a user-friendly option: You don’t have to re-position it during the day. Just set up and let it do its job.
– Lighter than some other wind generators
– You can set it up anywhere
– Not the most powerful model on the market
MAKEMU Energy Domestic Mini Micro
Many people find this unique design aesthetically pleasing, as it doesn’t look as clinical as some other wind turbines. This one is ideal for camping as it’s even appropriate for home use—more than enough power.
You can position it anywhere since the design catches the wind no matter which direction it blows from.
– Runs quiet
– Catches wind from all directions
– Many components included in the purchase, such as alternator
– Battery for energy storage is not included
Fire Generator—The Most Unusual Solution
All You Need to Know About Fire Generators
There are many ways of generating electricity and a fire generator uses excess heat. You can make a fire and a thermoelectric generator which transforms heat into electricity. This, in turn, will power up a fan and when it turns the power is sent to a battery. An excellent example of this is BioLite’s devices that are charged by fire. We’ll review one below.
BioLite CampStove 2This device is compact enough so you can take it anywhere and quite durable thanks to a sturdy design. It’s an upgrade from their previous model so you’ll get 50% better performance.
It’s not only great for electricity, as it can even boil water in 5 minutes. Thanks to great internal air circulation and combustion.
– Portability makes it ideal for camping and even hiking
– Durable design for heavy-duty use
– Boils water quick thanks to optimizing burn
– Slow charging
– Often loses charge
That’s a long list of options, but that’s good: When you have options you can find the one most appropriate for your camping style. Do you want a reliable fuel generator, or do you prefer an environmentally friendly option that uses the sun or wind?
You know your options now. Find the one for you and camp in a modern way from now on.