When it comes to adding a dash of civilisation to the outdoors when we’re camping, there’s little that can beat a reliable, powerful camping generator.
Whether you’re looking to power lights, a mini fridge, charge your smart devices or do just about anything else, a compact 240V AC generator is the way to go. These generators are often designed for camping, which means you can rely on them to be near-silent when operating, lightweight and come with a carry handle or another easy means of transporting them.
There’s a pretty good chance if you ask any of your avid, routine camping friends of yours what their must-have camping item is, they’ll tell you its either their camping gazebo or their trusty camping generator.
Of course, you’ll likely have a tonne to choose from if you look online for the best camping generators in 2021, though we will have you well-informed by our list below.
We’ll take a look at the best camping generators for routine campers, or for those who need something for an on-again off-again camping style.
Whether you need something powerful, something quiet, fuel efficient or anything else, we’ll have you covered with our list of the best camping generators below.
Before we get into choosing a generator, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind when running your machine.
To start, you will be restricted on where you’re able to use your generator. A lot of campsites do allow you to have a generator, though you’ll always have to double-check first.
Sometimes you’re not able to run a generator in close proximity to other campers, or RVs, for example, and this means you’ll need to make sure you’re choosing the right campsite for your generator.
On top of this, some locations might require you to meet a sound limit and only have a generator of a specific size. That in mind, you might be better off investing in some quiet-operation generators so you can take your machine anywhere you’re going.
All that said, let’s have a look below at some of the things to look for in a great generator and our list of the best generators for camping this year.
Choosing Your Own Camping Generator and Our Favourites
For our readers who would just like some quick tidbits on how to choose a generator, we have some things for you to consider below.
These are the kilowatt outputs and the type of generator we would suggest. In most cases, it’s good to choose a generator that’s between the 2kVA and 3kVA range as these are going to offer enough power to run just about anything you’ll need.
Of course, if you want to run things like a fridge or freezer for example, you’ll need to choose a model that’s been designed to use off-grid. These appliances will only require a little bit of power, which is ideal for your portable camping generators.
On top of this, you should always choose something that’s low-noise and lightweight too given that you’ll be carrying it around the campsite, and you’ll also want to be able to keep the power running through the night. There’s nothing worse than dealing with a loud rumbling from a generator, though a light hum through the night is just fine.
That said, our favourite two generators for camping in Australia this year are typically from Honda or Yamaha, though these models are often very expensive and might not be for everyone, so we’ve moved these options lower down our list.
In all, the ‘best’ generator should be something that you can get your hands on for an affordable price, run with little fuel consumption and rely on to be quiet and long-lasting.
On to the top generators on our list, we’ve selected models from Cromtech and Gentrax given that both of these brands offer excellent products that don’t come at an overly high price.
Both of these models meet the wattage outputs we mentioned above, and they’re both relatively quiet too, which means running them through the night won’t be an issue.
Let’s take a more in-depth look.
The Gentrax 3.5KVa Generator
At the top of our list for the perfect blend of power, low-noise and fuel efficiency is the Gentrax camping generator.
It’s one of the most affordable out there and comes with a power output of 3.5KVa which is certainly powerful enough for everything you’ll want to do when out camping. It’ll run anything from fridges, lighting, smart device chargers and more.
That in mind, the Gentrax is only 28kg to boot, which means it’s one of the lighter models out there for the power output. You can also rely on the two 240V outlets here as well, which means you can have one main connection to a high-powered device like a fridge and use the other for everything else — like your lighting, chargers and displays, etc.
If you take a look online or in retail stores you’ll notice that the Gentrax remains a bestseller for most brands and this means you’re in good hands with a reliable and popular camping generator.
One final thing to note is that its sound output is only 58db which is excellent for just about all campsites and is low enough for just about every camping grounds to give you the go-ahead to use it all night.
To end, the Gentrax website will routinely have sales on these camping generators, so getting yourself a deal won’t be too hard at all.
The Cromtech 2.4KVa Generator
To our second option now, the Cromtech model is a little less powerful than the Gentrax, though still offering a 2.4KVa set up, it’s still powerful enough for most campground appliances and activities.
You’re going to find that the generator is lightweight enough, at 20kg, to carry around without issue and you’re certainly going to be in good hands when it comes to noise output during the night. Given that the motor is a little smaller, it’s even quieter than the Gentrax model and you’re not going to be bothered at all with this model.
There’s a 1-year warranter here too.
Add in the fact that this generator comes with a super easy one-pull start mechanism and you’re going to find it effortless to get power to your site.
Metrics related to the noise output place the generator at a 52db which means it’s one of the more quiet models out there — however, there are some generators on the market designed explicitly to be quiet, and these will beat the Cromtech model.
In all, you can run everything you’ll need with this generator and that includes everything from AC units, fridges and more without issue here.
With those two top-choice generators out of the way, let’s get into our review of the best camping generators out there and what to look for in these models.
Why You Should Consider a Camping Generator
For those that are on the fence about investing in a camping generator, we have some pointers and tips for you. Of course, there isn’t too much convincing needed, though if you think that camping generators are a little excessive, let us give you some extra information.
A Happier Campsite
As you’ll agree, taking a little bit of home out with you when camping is always a plus, and when you have a generator you’ll have just a tad bit of luxury and comfort. No one wants to be dealing with sweltering heat, flat smartphones, no music and hot or melted foods.
That in mind, a generator with a 240V outlet is going to bring just some of those tad essentials with you. A full charge, cold drinks and safely chilled perishable foods for example.
On top of this, you’re also able to ensure you have a full battery in the car given that a lot of campers forget that they’re relying on their car’s deep-cycle battery to power their campsite and wake up to find the battery dead.
To end, going camping without the luxuries of our everyday technology can just add stress and make your time in the outdoors a lot less fun.
A Steady Supply of AC Power
One of the top reasons to consider a generator is the supply of AC power that you’ll need to power some of the essentials we mentioned above.
A camping generator is the best way to get this source of power and they’re a whole lot more reliable and powerful than relying on a pair of deep cycle batteries that you might have considered taking with you.
Of course, there is the trade off of needing to deal with the slight hum of a generator and also bringing some petrol, though as we’re sure you’ll agree, there’s nothing better than a reliable power source when you’re out in the wilderness.
A second thing to keep in mind is that if you do need to work or power a laptop for workplace communication and internet, a generator is a far more stable power source than a battery which could damage routers and internal laptop batteries.
An Easily Portable Power Source
Going back to the deep-cycle batteries and the car battery — sometimes campsite are a long way from where you’ve parked your car.
That in mind, there’s a good chance you can carry a camping generator a lot further into the woods than you can carry your car.. and so we’re standing by a camping generator as being a far better option for electricity at camp.
On top of this, your generator can work solo and there aren’t any tradeoffs. With a vehicle, you’ll need to start it up occasionally to keep the battery charged.
You Can Switch it Off
Of course, you don’t need to plan on keeping your camping generator running at all times.
If you’re heading out camping with the kids as part of a detox from the modern world, then you can simply use your generator when you need to use it, and turn it off when you don’t — forcing everyone to absorb themselves into the wilderness.
Again, it’s always there when you need it, but slowly fades into the background when you don’t.
Quieter Than a Typical Generator
To end our list of why you should consider a camping generator at all, we’re happy to say that they’re a whole lot quieter than typical models.
If you already have a worksite generator you might be tempted to take this model along with you, however, good luck sleeping! A camping generator is almost entirely silent and going to keep your night out at camp nice and peaceful.
There’s no roar here and that’s one of the biggest pros of why you should consider a camping generator above another model.
Our Top Considerations
This is the section of our article for the readers who aren’t too confident in buying the best generator for camping out there.
We know that there’s a tonne that you need to consider, and so we’ve outlined some of the most essential pieces of information that you’ll need to know to get you the best experience with your camping generator.
If you’re not too sure about how much ‘power’ you’ll need or whether a specific model might be too heavy or too loud, you can rest assured we have you covered below.
To end, we’ll also help you decipher some of the complicated terms you’ll find advertised on the best camping generators in 2021 such as the odd kVA and ‘Real Power’ measurements.
Let’s take a look at our considerations below.
Understanding the Power Output and Load Capability
At the absolute top of your list when choosing a generator should be the load capability and power output details. You’re not going to want to buy into a camping generator only to find that it’s far too underpowered to run any of the appliances you’re interested in.
In most cases, and in most stores online, you’ll find that generator power is quoted in a kVA number or a ‘real power’ output metric.
This is generally calculated by the voltage of the AC power multiplied by the amps divided by 1,000. However, you don’t really need to know too much about this unless you’re looking to invest in an oddly-specific generator power output.
To keep things as simple for you as possible, we would suggest choosing a camping generator that has at least 2kVA on offer, or somewhere around this output. With a 2kVA generator you’re getting the sweet spot for lighting, some fridges and device charging capabilities.
Just be sure not to buy into something with an ultra-high kVA output as you might be seeing something that’s far too heavy, loud and costly for what you need it for.
Understanding the Maximum Output and Continuous Output
To dig a little deeper into the power output of a camping generator, it’s good to note that the kVA rating on all these models is the ‘maximum’ output that these generators can put out for your campsite.
That said — this maximum is not sustainable over a long period of time. You’ll either see the generator overheat and throttle or shut off entirely.
With this in mind, take a quick look at the continuous output rating and factor this into what you want to buy.
If you’re looking to run a fridge all night, for example, you’re going to want to choose a generator that has a continuous power output rating that’s high enough to satisfy the requirements of the fridge.
One other thing to note is that if your generator does throttle at an output that is lower than what is required for an appliance such as a fridge — you can damage the fridge.
You won’t need to worry about this metric for devices like smartphones and tablets or laptops, however for fridges, freezers, AC units and some fans, you will need to triple check that your generator is powerful enough on a continuous basis for these appliances.
Understanding the Inrush Current
For those times when you plug in a larger appliance, such as an AC and find that your generator cuts out — even though it’s powerful enough to run this appliance — this is showing us that the surge of power required to ‘kickstart’ the appliance is too high for the generator to put out.
To simplify, an AC unit may only require 800W to sustain its operation, though it may draw 2800W when you first plug it in to get the motor inside the AC to start operating. If your generator doesn’t have this power output capability, you’re not going to be able to power this appliance.
That in mind, you should keep the inrush current in mind when investing in a generator and camping appliances. Be sure that all of these appliances match up with the power output of your generator and you’ll be good to go.
One thing to keep in mind is that there aren’t too many issues like this when it comes to camping appliances as they’re generally all quite low-watt, though there is still a possibility that these issues could occur.
Dual Generator Capability
If you often go camping with friends, it’s good to note that two generators can sometimes be daisy-chained and work together to increase their output.
This is an ideal solution when two camping groups want to power a single large appliance like a fridge, for example.
That in mind, if this sounds like an important feature for you, take a look at the inverter generators that support this and invest in these models together with a friend. Something we do need to mention though is that this dual compatibility is typically only supported by models which are the same make and model.
All that factored in though, yourself and a few friends could connect both generators together and get twice the power from your generators.
Quality Output of Electricity
One final thing we have to mention when it comes to choosing the best camping generators in 2021 is the type and quality of energy that’s being produced by the generators you’re working with.
Models that aren’t too reliable or have rather whacky onboard CPU and power management chips can be producing rather ‘off’ power that could be unstable and damaging to your appliances.
For example, the power in your home is a stable and reliable single wattage which doesn’t fluctuate often, if ever.
In a camping generator, this should also be the case, though sometimes cheaper models do output some rather sporadic power, which can be dangerous and also runs the risk of ruining things like fridges and smartphone chargers.
That said, either take a look at reviews online mentioning the clean power output of a camping generator or work on finding out some information on the THD metrics, which should always be a maximum of 5 per cent.
Other Essential Factors
With all of the key considerations out of the way, we have some other things to keep in mind when investing in a camping generator.
These won’t typically affect the operation, though they are some things to consider which might make life a little easier for you when you’re out camping with friends and family.
The Fuel Burn and Tank Capacity
As you’ll agree, the run-time of a generator is a big consideration.
If you have a generator that has a tiny fuel tank, or burns way too much fuel, you’ll have to take multiple tanks of petrol with you and continue filling up the generator throughout the night — which is a major annoyance.
It is good to know that most new 2020 and 2021 camping generators have excellent fuel economy so running them all night won’t be an issue. However, you should still always check tank capacities and the running times outlined by manufacturers online.
Total Weight and Portability Features
Another key factor to consider are things like the weight and whether a generator has handles.
You’re going to want to be sure that your generator is actually light enough to carry to your campsite, and with as little work as possible. Most generators in the camping class will weight around the 20kg mark, so keeping an eye out for models in this weight range will be a good place to start.
Heavier models than this are often poorly designed, or are offering power outputs that are a bit higher than what you’ll likely ever need. If you’re investing in a generator for an RV or caravan though, the weight won’t be too much of an issue considering it’ll be built into the vehicle.
In the end, it’s always good to choose something that’s as light as possible and easy to carry around just to make your life a little bit easier.
As we’re sure you’ll agree, there’s nothing worse than trying to get some shut-eye when there’s a loud grumbling right by your tent or RV — and that’s where operational noise comes into play.
It’s good to know that almost all manufacturers have information online about how loud their generators are, so you can quickly compare operational noise.
We would suggest only considering generators within the 50db to 60db range as these are going to be ideal for camping in near-silence. These generators will offer just a light hum and be tolerable when it comes time for bed.
Ideal Safety Features
To end our list of all the things to consider, we’ll take a look at some safety features that we would suggest you look for before pulling the trigger on a generator.
Don’t forget that you’re not only going to be dealing with electricity here, but you’re also going to be working with fuel and an engine too, and so safety is paramount — especially if you have kids at the campsite.
Off the top, you shouldn’t operate your generator in the rain or highly moist spaces, though if you do, it gives peace of mind to know that there are safety features designed for this. Some models offer waterproof covers, etc, so consider these.
Again, most models will have this feature, though it’s good to double check. When there are issues with an appliance or the generator itself, it’s good to have the peace of mind to know that the machine will turn itself off to prevent further issue or safety problems.
One final thing to always keep in mind when it comes to safety is to never operate your generator in an enclosed space. Regardless of where you are camping, your generator must always be outdoors and in an area where there is enough ventilation to blow away the exhaust fumes.
Our List of the Best Camping Generators for Australia in 2021
With all of our considerations out of the way, let’s get into all the top generators that passed our checklist with flying colours.
All of our readers and Aussie camping enthusiasts will be in good hands with any of these models and be on track to keeping cool, having your drinks kept chilled and all your smart devices fully charged this season.
The Outback Inverter Generator by Cromtech
As we mentioned at the start of our article, the Cromtech camping generator is on one of our favourites this year down to the fact it’s so quiet, easy to get started and weighs next to nothing.
If you’re hiking to a campsite, looking to burn as little fuel as possible and wanting to charge your devices through built-in USB outlets, then the Outback has you covered.
This is also our top model if you’re looking for a generator that has plenty of portability features and is going to be near effortless to pick up and move around the campsite during the day or night.
Our Favourite Features
Maximum Output — 2.4kVA
Continuous Output — 2.1kVA
Weight — 20kg
Noise — from 52dBA to 59dBA
5 Litre Tank Capacity
The EF2400iS Generator by Yahama
Another one of our favourite camping generators this year comes from the experts at Yahama, and although we did mention that these models can be a little pricey, they are winners in our book.
You’re certainly getting what you pay for here and that means a one-pull starting mechanism along with a 2.4kVA power output as well as with a well-developed power-management computer built into the generator.
Whatever you’re using this generator for, you’ll be able to rely on its self-governing internal processors to ensure you’re not going to damage anything during continuous or peak loading.
Along with these added perks, the computer inside the generator does assist with fuel burn and keeping the system operating efficiently.
There is also an excellent dual mode here too which allows you connect two of these generators together when camping with friends or family to double your output to upwards of 3.8kVA.
One thing we will say that drags down this camping generator a little is the rather heavy weight at 32kgs and the premium price tag that does come with most Yamaha generators.
Our Favourite Features
Maximum Output — 2.4kVA
Continuous Output — 2.0kVA
Weight — 32kg
Noise — from 54dBA to 59dBA
6 Litre Tank Capacity
The P2200i by Briggs & Stratton
A third camping generator that should certainly land on your radar is the affordable and powerful P2200i by the Briggs and Stratton team.
It doesn’t offer as much of a kick that some of the other models on our list do, however, it is still a dependable little generator that will get the job done.
One perk that is something coming from the smaller 1.7kVA sustained load here, is the fact that operation is ultra-quiet, which means you’re meeting the noise requirements as outlined by the Australian National Parks — so you can camp with this model just about anywhere.
You can also daisy-chain these generators together to nearly double your power output, which is good news considering sustained loads here are a little bit low.
That said, with the right camping appliances, you’ll have no issue with the P2200i this year.
Our Favourite Features
Maximum Output — 2.2kVA
Continuous Output — 1.7kVA
Weight — 24kg
Noise — up to 58dBA
3.7 Litre Tank Capacity
The EU22i by Honda
Our second generator from an ultra-reputable brand, the EU22i is our final top choice for you and your generator-buying activities this year.
You’re going to find a motor here that delivers an incredible start-up output of 4.2kVA which makes this generator one of the most powerful on the market. Of course, sustained loads are far lower than this, though you’re certainly going to be able to rely on the Honda EU22i to be able to start up large AC units and other power-hungry appliances when out at a campsite.
Add to this that the generator outputs just 53dBA when operating at low lands and you’re also meeting the Australian National Parks sound output requirement.
Noise can increase to 59dBA, which still isn’t too loud.
In all, we’re standing by the Honda brand here to offer an incredible engine and a product that’s going to last for years to come, and you’re also getting a fantastic guarantee as well, which includes support for running AC units — or you get your money back!
Our Favourite Features
Maximum Output — 2.2kVA
Continuous Output — 1.8kVA
Weight — 21kg
Noise — from 53dBA to 59dBA
3.6 Litre Tank Capacity
After having a read through our article above, it should be clear to see that camping generators today offer a tonne more features than models did in the past.
You’re getting a lot of power in such a small package and that means a quieter operation, reduced fuel consumption and of course, the ability to use all of your home’s modern luxuries out when camping.
When going out and investing in the best camping generator in 2021 we suggest always considering your load requirements, the ideal weight of your generator and whether you intend to run it all night. On top of this, if you’ll be camping in Aussie national parks, be sure to choose a generator that ensures quiet operation and meets local noise requirements.
In all, choosing the best camping generators in 2021 won’t be an issue so long as you follow our guide and list of considerations above.