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Do you enjoy spending time outdoors but find it hard to find a reliable source of electricity? Living the vanlife allows you to live anywhere you want throughout the year. With the right van, you can enjoy the nomadic lifestyle, which includes working while on the road to sustain your lifestyle.
To be able to enjoy this lifestyle, you will soon learn that a portable generator is an important machine to have. A portable generator will give you a sense of modern power supply regardless of where you are. It is especially ideal in situations where there is no direct power supply for miles.
What is a portable generator?
This is simply a generator that you use in your Van to power your appliances and charges your devices. When living on the road, it can become increasingly challenging to find recreational parks that offer utility hookups. This is why you need a portable generator, this equipment will ensure that you have a reliable power source regardless of where you are.
How portable generators work
Portable generators work with the help of fuel, they can either be fueled by gasoline, propane, or diesel. These engines have motors that can be either simple or complex as the complex types come with two cylinders. Just like a car engine, the fuel is ignited and cycles through the cylinder chambers and that physical energy is then converted into electrical energy for you to use however you like!
Types of portable generators
For a Vanlifer, it is always ideal to understand the different types of generators in the market. This presents you with the ability to choose the best one based on your type of van and the power output you need for your vanlife home.
You can choose to get a generator as the primary source of power in your van home or use it as a powerful supplement for the main source. Having a power supplement option is economical and increases efficiency in your van home.
Diesel fuel portable generators
This is the most ideal generator for vanlife homes that run on diesel fuel. This is because you will use one fuel source to power your van and also your generator. Compared to other fuels, diesel produces more power and has a cleaner-burning ability. Diesel-powered generators are also non-explosive, which makes storing them safer and easier.
The major drawback of diesel-powered portable generators is the fact that they produce more noise compared to other types of generators. The parts and components are also heavy, which makes these types of generators less portable and can increase the weight of your Van home.
Propane fuel portable generators
If you are in the market for an economical, portable generator, a propane-powered portable generator may be your best bet. These types of generators use propane gas as their primary source of fuel, which is converted to electricity for use around your van home.
Propane gas is more environmentally friendly since it emits clean gases to the surrounding atmosphere. Propane-powered generators also last longer, which makes them an economical choice. What’s more, it is a quiet type of generator. This way, you can enjoy some peace and quiet in your van home even as the generator runs.
Propane gas is not ideal for vanlifers who spend extended time on the road as propane has a run time, which is determined by the size of your van’s propane tank due to propane not having as much energy p/si it will need refueling more often than the other types of generators.
Gas fuel portable generators
This is the easiest form of fuel for most portable generators. This makes gas generators convenient and readily available. You can find a gas refill station in almost every fuel station, which makes a gas generator a smart choice. Of course, if you ever run out of fuel for your van it’s dual purpose!
Gas is a budget-friendly type of fuel, and this makes your generator affordable to maintain. You can reserve gas for your generator for off-grid field trips too. When compared to other generators, gas-operated generators are more powerful and can thus generate more electricity.
With so many options in the market, it is almost impossible for most people to choose the best one for their needs. With this guide, you will be able to get the best fifteen portable generators in 2020. From this list, you can be sure to find one to meet your budget, lighting needs, and lifestyle.
This is a power generator made with a powerful 357 cc OHV 4-stroke engine. This is a single-cylinder engine that comes with air cooling features and runs at a speed of 2600 rpm. This makes it a low fuel consumption generator with a noise rate of 58 – 60 dBA. There is reduced vibration with the use of this generator, which protects the engine from wear and tear.
This unit comes with a brush inverter. This inverter has a pulse width modulation that produces sine wave voltage. This makes this generator safe for all appliances and devices. The Genset is also CARB and EPA compliant.
The EF4500iSE is one of the best portable generators to have thanks to its efficiency and quiet function. You can rely on it to run a 1000-watt microwave, a 1500BTU RV ac, and any other vanlife appliances at the same time. The pure sine wave produced by the inverter system is cleaner than that provided by household electricity systems. This makes this generator ideal for powering TVs, computers, satellite TV systems, and other sensitive electronics you use while on the road.
You can expect to get 4500 watts at maximum output and 4000 watts on running power. The unit comes with a 4.5-gallon tank and weighs 295 pounds. You can enjoy continuous electricity use for up to 15 hours on a quarter load.
Other features include a low oil indicator for engine protection, easy start-up features, and automatic choke feature to ensure the generator can work even in very bad weather conditions. It comes with a twin bar for holding and lifting that also serves as an anti-theft security feature. The unit also comes with four wheels and a parking brake. The easy to read indicators will tell you how much more time you have left to run the generator, the amount of gas available, and the amount of power being generated.
The 3100-watt portable inverter generator is a perfect blend of versatility and convenience. It is the ideal companion for any camping trip, tailgating experience of the full vanlife lifestyle. When used in a household setup, it can supply enough power for essential use during a power outage. It is made with a 171cc engine that runs at 58 dBA. It can power your van for up to 8 hours at 25% load. Its single-cylinder engine can produce a 3100 watts surge power and 2800 watts of running power.
Designed as a lightweight, quiet, and highly portable generator that gives you 3100-watts of Van power at just a push of a button. It uses recoil start-up to power up and comes fitted with a cold start technology for easy start-up in cold weather. It comes with a touch control panel that gives you access to all the generator controls, including a push-to-reset circuit breaker.
The generator comes with four outlet panels that include a single 120V 30A RV outlet, two 120C 20A household outlets, and a single 12V DC outlet. All these outlets give you access to clean electricity with less than 3% THD. What’s more, it also comes with a dual USB adapter that has 12V DC battery cables.
This 3100-watts generator is also made with inverter technology and an economy mode to reduce electric load. This ensures it delivers quiet operations, extended engine life, and better fuel consumption. Moving this generator is easy, thanks to the fact that it comes fully assembled. The U-shape handles and tires also make transportation easy.
This generator is also CARB and EPA compliant.
This is a gas-powered generator made with 196cc, 6.5 HP overhead-valve, and a 49-58 dBA quiet 4-stroke engine. It is made with a single-cylinder design that comes with air cooling features for efficient operation. This generator can keep your van powered for more than 20 hours thanks to its 3.4-gallon gasoline tank. This makes it one of the most energy-efficient generators available in the market. If you have power sensitive equipment fitted in your vanlife home, this generator is made with inverter technology to protect your equipment while powering them.
This generator weighs 131 pounds, which will require two people to carry around. It does not come with inbuilt wheels or a moving kit. Therefore, it is advisable to find a standard location in your RV for this generator to avoid the need to move it around often. The panel on this generator is made with a great design that features the parallel operator outlet to the top left side. Below the outlet, you will find the indicator, an oil alert indicator, and an overload alarm.
It comes with two 120V 20 Amp AC outlets for your appliances and also features a 23-amp twist-lock outlet for all your power tools. It has a capacity of 3000 watts at peak power and 2800 watts of running power. You can use this generator to power fans, TVs, fridges, freezers, furnaces, microwaves, power tools, and lighting gadgets. This makes the EU3000is an ideal generator for vanlife, lawn parties, and tailgating.
Like other generators by Champion, the 73536i is one of the best portable generators for the avid camper thanks to its stackable design and inverter technology. This generator is not only made with an easy to store design, but it also allows parallel connections in your van which can double your power supply.
This generator is liked because it is economical and highly functional. It comes with an 80cc quiet engine with noise reduction at 53 dBA. It uses a recoil start to power up and is fitted with a cold start technology for winter seasons. Like all other champion generators, the 73536i is parallel ready and can be connected to other champion generators at 30 amps of power. It comes with an optional kit that can be used to integrate between two stacked inverters with a 30A RV outlet. This generator comes with two 120v 20A household outlets and a single 12V DC outlet.
The inverter technology comes with an economy mode option for reduced electric loads. This ensures fuel economy, silent generator operation, and extended engine life. The inverter technology ensures that the generator produces pure sine waves, which makes it safe for all your Vanlife appliances and devices.
The Genset of this generator has a 0.4 oil capacity with 10W-30 engine oil. It comes as a ready to use unit straight from the box. It has carrying handles for easy movement, and it is EPA and CARB compliant. This generator weighs 48 pounds and can be used for camping and tailgating as it can power most of your devices and equipment.
It comes with a capacity of 2000-watt peak power and a running power of 1700 watts. You can enjoy a continuous power supply of up to 9 hours at a 25% load and a full gallon tank.
the Generac 6866 is an 80 cc OHV powered generator that comes splash lubricated and air-cooled. It runs at different speeds and comes fitted with a recoil start. With this generator, you can expect to enjoy up to 7 hours of power supply at 25% load. You can choose between economy, standard or turbo modes for energy efficiency and noise-reduced operation.
It comes with a digital inverter with the ability to turn raw DC power into a single wave of pure sin AC power. It has a power dial that integrates the starting, running, and stopping functions int a single dial. It also has a power bar that indicates the amount of power being produced. The generator has an LED display that shows the remaining run time, generator status, and fuel level. You can use two parallel units to double your power output.
This generator weighs 46 pounds, making it highly portable. It can easily fit in your ATV, RV, truck, or boat. It is perfect for home DIY projects, ice fishing, vanlife living, and contractor jobs. It offers 2000-watt surge power and 1600 watts of running power.
Other features include status lights that indicate the operating status of the generator. These lights blink when there is overheating or overloading. The parallel operation allows you to plug in the generator to another iQ2000 for extra power needs. You can choose between economy mode, turbo mode, and standard mode.
The Briggs & Stratton 30545 inverter is a powerful and highly portable generator made with a 171cc engine. It is made with QTP (Quiet Power Technology) that can be turned on with a flip of a switch. This technology can automatically adjust the speed of this generator’s engine to save fuel and reduce noise. You can expect up to 10 hours of power supply.
It is made in a luggage-like design that makes it easy to move around and thus perfect for outdoor activities. It comes with six-inch never-flat tires and an H-handle with the ability to retract for easy transportation and storage. It also has an LCD that shows the status of the generator, including the amount of power produced and the total number of hours the generator has been in use.
This generator is created with the ability to send maintenance reminders to the user, like a reminder to change the air filter and spark plugs. It also comes with parallel capabilities with dedicated connector ports. This way, you can connect a second P3000 generator to the main one to supplement your power supply.
The P3000 comes with four household outlets, a single 12V 30-amp locking outlet as well as a USB port. This is a highly versatile unit with the ability to power any van appliance and device. It also delivers 3000-watts peak power and 2600 running power.
A 5-gallon fuel tank supports it. This is a lightweight generator with a 60 pounds weight when not filled with fuel.
This is a world-class power generator powered by the AY series Yamaha engine. The AY2000i inverter generator is made with an impeccable design in a single cylinder, 4-stroke engine that runs on gasoline. It comes with a recoil start and can supply continuous power for up to 8 hours at a fourth load and up to 3 hours at rated load.
This is a generator that offers a high start and a continuous power supply. This inverter generator can run up to 2.5 times its operating output. This way, it can power a wide range of electronic devices in a constant sine wave AC that ensures the safety of your devices.
It comes with a noise reduction capability of 58 dBA at seven meters and a fourth of the load. All outlets can be used for parallel connections with any other Atima generator if you need a supplemented power supply.
The Atima generator is ergonomically designed with a body made of aluminum alloy material. It also has an LED display as well as multiple outlets. For easy transportation, the generator comes fitted with highly durable wheels and handles for pulling and dragging. This equipment is CARB and EPA compliant.
You can use it to power air conditioning systems and even furnaces. It also efficiently runs vanlife appliances such as coffee makers, computer DVDs, blenders, electric grills, slow cookers, and microwaves. This makes it perfect for home and outdoor use.
Additional features include a 12V battery charging cable, a maintenance toolkit, spark plug, a 19-ounce engine oil bottle, and a sleeve.
This is a generator powered by an air-cooled 210 cc, 7HP 4-stroke engine made with cast iron sleeves. It is easy to start the generator thanks to the electric start key firing feature and the pull start feature. It has a tolerable noise capacity of 69 dBA. How loud the generator operated is dependent on the load.
This generator can run on propane or gasoline, which makes it perfect for vanlife living. These are readily available gas types, and they are known to burn completely, which makes them environmentally friendly.
The generator is made with a panel that features a low oil shutoff lamp, a start switch key, a voltmeter, three power outlets, and a circuit breaker. It also features two household plugs and a single 120v/240v 30A twist lock.
This is a small footprint generator that measures 23.2 inches long, 17 inches high and 17 inches wide when without the wheel kit. It weighs 140 pounds, which requires at least two people to move it around. However, the wheel kit makes it easy to transport.
This generator has the ability to produce enough power to run large appliances. This makes it not only ideal for vanlife living but also home use in the event of a power outage. The portability feature and dual-fuel capability make this generator ideal for off-grid recreational activities like tailgating, camping, and field excursions.
This generator can produce 4850 watts of surge power and 3850 watts of rates power. It can run for up to 20 hours on propane gas and 8 hours on a 4-gallon gasoline tank. This makes this generator one of the most economical portable generators in 2020.
This is a propane-powered generator that comes with a 7HP,4-stroke OHV engine powered by propane gas. It works in a recoil rope start-up mechanism. Proper start-up and shut down of this equipment can prolong the life of the engine and the generator in general. The fact that it is propane powered makes it ideal for vanlife living and camping needs.
This generator is compact and can fit in small spaces, including pickup trucks, RVs, and camping vans. It comes with a control panel that features an AC reset button. It also has two 120V AC receptacles, and an extra AC reset button right next to a DC reset. This proximity makes this generator easy to use. The 12V 10-amp DC receptacle is reserved for battery charging only.
It also comes with two 5.20R outlets that can give up to 20 amps at 120V while the DC output offers up to 10amps of power. A mobility kit is not included in the initial cost, but it can be purchased separately.
This is an ideal power generator when used as an emergency power source for tailgating and camping. Since it is EPA and CARB compliant, it is accepted for use in camping grounds and wildlife sanctuaries.
You can expect to get 3250 watts continuous power or 4000 watts of surge power with at least 20 hours of constant power output. The engine comes with the AVR voltage regulator. The recoil start-up mechanism means that this generator does not need a battery to start. It is made with safety features like engine switch off in case of an overload.
This is a lightweight inverter generator powered by a 79.7 cc, 2.8 HP engine. It comes with an electronic shuttle control and recoil start-up that allows for low fuel consumption and reduced noise with the ability to produce as little as 61 dBA of noise.
This generator comes with a low oil level indicator that works to protect the engine in case oil is running low. It also has electronic overload protection that completely shuts off the generator in case of an overload. This way, your electronics are protected from power fluctuations, which in turn safeguards the circuits.
At the front of the generator, you will find a control panel. From here, you can access the engine switch, ESC throttle, and the outlets. It has three outlets in total, two 120VAC outlets, and a single DC 12V two-pin outlet.
This generator is made from a high-impact casing that fully encloses the engine for noise reductions and longevity. It also has an inbuilt handle that gives it a luggage-style design for easy portability. It supports a parallel function to allow you to double your power capacity if you need to power more devices.
This generator cannot be used to power big machines at the same time. However, it is perfect for vanlife living and camping since it can power up dishwashers, electric kettles, a microwave, and LED lights. You can expect continuous running power for up to 6.5 hours.
This is a remote powered generator that comes with a 171 cc, 5.5HP 4-cycle engine. It is a highly reliable, fuel-efficient, and durable generator that comes with an inverter. This inverter makes it possible for the generator to consume less fuel when producing less power.
It also comes with an electric starter and remote starter feature that allows you to operate the generator from as far as 55 yards from the generator. It comes with a battery for the electric start function. In case your battery is low, there is also a recoil start option. This makes this generator highly reliable and functional.
It features up to five appliance pug-in locations that include a single 8.3 amp 1-12 VDC, two NEMA no.5 20R 20-amp GFCI 120 VAC, a USB compatible outlet, and one 120V 30-amp RV receptacle. This generator also has an indicator that shuts it down in case there is low oil pressure, or the oil starts to heat up. It also comes with a user-friendly control panel, featuring a digital display. From this display, you can monitor voltage, frequency, and operating hours.
The electronic components on this generator are made with circuit breaker protection. This ensures that your devices and appliances are protected from sudden power surges and power fluctuations. Without fuel, this unit weighs 95 pounds and comes with flat-free rubber wheels for easy transportation.
This generator is an excellent power source for vanlife homes, camping, and other outdoor activities that require a power source. You can enjoy up to 14 hours of power supply at 50% load. It also offers 3300 watts of starting power and 3000 watts of running power. If you need an additional power supply, you can make use of the parallel feature that allows you to plug in additional units to this generator. You will get 12V battery cables, a maintenance toolkit, and engine oil with the purchase of this generator.
This is an 80cc engine-powered generator with a noise reduction rate of 50 dBA and meets the guidelines for national parks and reserves as well as camping grounds. This generator is lightweight and comes in a fully enclosed cover for easy transportation and noise reduction.
This generator comes with an in-built automatic shut off capability and an LED indicator that prevents damage to the engine when engine oil is running low. The engine is made with a smart control feature for fuel economy. This feature allows the generator to switch between different engine speeds to suit the needs of each load. In case of an overload, the inverter will switch to a neutral position while at the same time ensuring the engine continues to run.
The generator weighs 55 pounds, which makes it highly portable and compact enough to fit in small storage spaces. It is made with a 1.2 gallons fuel capacity and can supply up to 8 hours of power on a 4th gasoline load.
It comes with up to four receptacles that include two 120V 20A and a single 120V 30A parallel and locking outlets. The generator can be fuelled efficiently from the side. The Powerhorse generator is CSA, CETL, EPA, and CARB certified and meets all the air quality standards.
The Powerhorse generator inverter technology ensures that the generator delivers clean power, which works to protect your appliances. You can use this generator to power your TV, gaming consoles, and other appliances. It is made with an inbuilt handle for easy portability. This is an ideal generator for vanlife homes and other outdoor activities like camping and outdoor parties.
The parallel operating outlets make it possible for you to plug in an extra Powerhorse generator if you need more power supply. The equipment comes with an advanced cooling system to prevent overheating of appliances.
This is a compact generator that measures 7.6 x 3.54 x 6.73 inches and weighs only 3.38 pounds. Its lightweight design makes it ideal for backpackers, hikers, and mountain climbers as it can easily fit in a backpack.
This mini-generator comes packed with quality lithium-ion batteries with a charge of 15V or 2A DC. They take up to 8 hours to be fully charged to provide a whole day’s power supply. You use the included DC15V/2A recharging adapter, or you can also use the MPPT 13 to 24 V solar panels with a 2.1 maximum input. However, the solar panels are not included with the purchase of this generator and thus need to be bought separately.
The Webetop generator comes fitted with short-circuit protection, overheating protection, and low voltage protection. It has three USB output ports with 5V/2.1A and a maximum of 5V at 6A. additionally, it comes with three DC outputs offering from 9 to 12.6V/15A. It also has 100 watts at 50 -60 hertz AC continuous output. The frequency and voltage of AC used depend on the country it is used in, and the unit offers up to 110V or active current.
This unit comes with LED indicators and a 500 times life cycle. Its ability to be powered by solar panels and its compact size makes it an ideal power source for avid campers. The 110V AC, 100-Watts output gives it the ability to power laptops, DVD players, hairdryers, fairy lights, TVs, lamps, and fans. The 12V DC outlet can power devices like car vacuums, chargers, refrigerators, and large fans too. It also has three 5V USB ports for phones, GPS, iPads, remote-controlled drones or helicopters, and cameras.
Even in its compact size, this generator has a power capacity of 42000mAh at 3.7V or 155Wh.
This is one of the most convenient and easy to use generators thanks to its electric push button function and the remote start feature. Its major selling point is the run time. This generator can offer up to 126 hours of continuous power supply on a 25% load and a 6.6 gallon of fuel. And up to 14 hours on a 50% load. With this generator, you can power all your vanlife appliances for hours.
As a CARB, EPA and CS certified equipment, the WGen7500 runs on a 420 cc OHV engine that comes equipped with low oil-automatic detection and shutdown capabilities as well as a digital hour meter. It also features two Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) 5-20R 120V household duplex receptacles and a single L14-30R 120/240V twist-lock receptacle. All outlets are fitted with rubber covers for extra safety.
This generator comes with a remote start key for easy plug and play capabilities. It also has a 12V battery charger, oil and oil funnel, tool kit, and a user manual as part of the purchase package. It is loved for its fuel efficiency, power, and great value for money. While it is a relatively heavy generator, it comes fitted with wheels and a foam grip handle for easy transportation.
The Pulsar PG1202S generator is an ideal combination of low power usage and high portability. This makes it perfect for vanlife living, camping, and outdoor activities that need a power source. Even though it runs on just 900 watts of power, it comes equipped with dual 120V outlets and one 12V DC output that have the ability to power various devices, appliances, and tools. You can expect it to run continuously for up to 8 hours on half load and 1.1 gallons of fuel.
The power panel on this generator features a circuit breaker, an AC reset button, as well as a DC reset button. It is also made with a fitted, durable handle for easy transportation even though it weighs just 35 pounds. It is a single pull recoil activated, which is easy to use. Once it is up and running, the noise capacity is only at 65 dBA, which is on the lower side.
Caring for your portable generator
To ensure you get the most from your portable generator, it is ideal to learn a few maintenance tips. They include:
Use your generator frequently – to ensure that your generator is always at its best performance, you need to ensure you run it often. Avoid leaving it off for a long time. This causes the engine to stall, which will cause performance issues the next time you need to use it. Even a few weeks of inactivity is enough to spoil your generator. Even if you do not need to use it every day, always start it once a week to ensure it is in good working condition.
Storing your generator – it is essential to find the best place for your generator in your van. The best position for a generator should be stable enough to mount it without the possibility of falling. Consider investing in a generator tray if your unit does not come fitted with one.
Filling up your generator – it is crucial to ensure that your generator always has the right amount of fuel. Also, check that the oil levels are required. This is the best way to ensure that your generator is ready to work whenever you need it. It is advisable always to fill up your generator after you use it. This prepares it for the next time you need to use it.
Servicing your generator – just like any other mechanical equipment, your generator also needs regular servicing. Modern designs are made to function for longer without the need for servicing. However, regular maintenance and servicing are vital if you want to prolong the life of your machine — schedule routine maintenance with a service provider. If you are on the road for prolonged periods, you can follow the maintenance toolkit manual to learn how to service the machine by yourself.
Now that you have all the information you need when it comes to the best portable generators for vanlife, you are better placed to make the right decision when purchasing one. Regardless of your choice, make sure you consider the type of van you have, the fuel options you prefer, and that there is enough space in your van home for the unit you desire.
The generators listed above are the best in the market in 2020. With any of these, you will enjoy convenience, portability, and longevity of power while on the go in your vanlife journeys.
We hope you enjoyed this list and that it’s helped you make the decision on which generator you want for your adventures, if we missed a generator you believe should be on the list drop a comment and we’ll be sure to review it and add it to one of our future articles or even update this list!