Quiet portable generators are marvels of modern engineering
If you’re reading this, you’ve already contemplated the advantages of compact, portable quiet generators for campers
But it’s easy to miss just how amazing these little machines have truly become. Portable generators have enjoyed a huge leap forward in recent years and improvements in efficiency, weight, size and noise output have skyrocketed.
We’re excited to bring you this brief guide and list of the best quiet generators.
Table of Contents
We’ve provided reviews and links to pricing for Quiet generators for campers with power output between 1250 Watts for low power needs, and 2000 Watts for more on-board juice.
In our experience, this generator size range will produce enough power for the vast majority of conversion van travelers. We’ll likely review larger generators in the future.
Why are these generators so quiet?
The short answer is, instead of heavy copper coils, they use magnets to create electricity. They’re also highly engineered in many other ways to reduce and eliminate exhaust sound, vibration, and other mechanical noises that machines tend to produce.
The result is that these generators operate at sound levels of around 50 decibels, which is quieter than average human conversation!
What makes the best quiet generators so efficient?
This is a bit complicated, but it largely comes down to the fact that they incorporate microprocessor controlled power inverters to process and clean power.
The best quiet generators create multi-phase AC power that is converted to DC power and then back to grid quality AC power. This process allows engineers to minimize power wasting in a number of ways.
For example, the microprocessor controlled inverter varies motor speed according to demand keeping the power output at a surge free, consistent 60 hertz.
Back to magnets vs copper coils: Traditional generator motors using copper windings require a lot of energy to get up to and then maintain consistent, high rpms. Magnet based motors need very little power to spin up, saving much energy.
Furthermore, microprocessor controlled inverters combined with magnet driven motors allow for greatly reduced fuel consumption in other ways.
Another advantage of the built in inverter is that you don’t have to run your generated power through an external inverter, leaving that equipment free to process battery and solar power.
These combined features result in the most efficient generators to date.
What size generator do I need for my camper?
You can solve most of your daily and emergency power needs by carrying quiet generators for campers with power output between 2000 and 4000 watts.
If you’re wanting to run a campervan air conditioner, you’ll need the higher power output plus spare fuel, depending on how many BTU’s your AC unit produces and how hot the climate your traveling in.
But most campers will find that a quiet camper generator in the range of 2500 watts will be plenty for normal, daily use such as cooking, heating water, running led lights and other basic power needs.
What about my electronics and sensitive devices?
The inverter changes DC energy into grid quality AC electricity (like what’s in your home) with very little distortion.
It also produces clean DC energy, available from USB outlets on the generator for charging phones and other sensitive battery powered devices.
The long and short of it is, with these awesome, new inverters, you don’t have to worry about power supply quality for your sensitive devices.
Note: Please consult manufacturers to insure compatibility with medical devices and other sensitive equipment.
The Campervan Podcast Episode #068: Alternative Power for AC & More: Quiet Portable Generators for Campers
The Campervan Podcast is an audio program featuring ideas for design and building, cooking, organization, gear and more for a better overall Vanlife experience.
Podcast Episode Transcript: Quiet generators for campers reviewed & compared
We published an article a couple years ago about quiet portable generators for campers. And I'll put the link in the show notes. Right down below, in your podcast player app, you'll see the link to an article that we're calling right now. Quiet generators for campers. And, you know, talked about how awesome the technology is and how far the technology for these quiet portable generators for campers have come along.
We write about how sometimes they're quiet sometimes not, fuel consumption, et cetera. It's a great article and there are some wonderful products recommended in there. At some point, I got a comment. In that post, and basically, the commenter said, , geez, these things use a lot of gas and they're not very efficient compared to solar and things like that.
And okay. That's great, but good luck running your air conditioner all night in the desert on solar power, on house batteries… I know some of us can do that, but for most of us, that's not possible. So I still believe that a quiet portable generator for a camper van is a great solution to staying cool and, or warm and running a lot of other stuff that requires power.
There are many wonderful improvements to the technology in the last few years. One of those improvements is that they've gotten a lot smaller, so they're easier to pack around, take up less space. They do use substantially less fuel. And there’s a protocol called carb compliance, which again, you'll find details about in the article linked below.
Quiet portable generators for campers are a viable solution to staying cool. If you are traveling in very hot regions and time of year.
Most of the advantages to quiet portable generators for campers are pretty obvious: They're quiet, you can crank out a bunch of power. They. Small and easy to carry, they're super reliable. Now, super easy to start. The prices have come way down. You can get 2000 Watts for under $500 from highly respected and consistent brands and companies. So those are the obvious advantages of quiet portable generators for campers.
Some of the disadvantages would be the cost of fuel and the fact that you have to carry Gasoline containers on board if you’re going to rely on quiet portable generators for campers for a lot of power production.
I'm looking into attaching the vans fuel tank directly to the generator. I, I don't have any knowledge of that at the moment, but I'll get back to you on that. Maybe if you know about that, you can send me a comment to contact at vansage.com or on that article in comments. Leave a comment and let me know what you think if you feel like it.
Carrying fuel is a negative, potentially the smell of gasoline in the van… You're gonna need to either carry this thing outside on a trailer hitch cargo carrier or on your rooftop or something like that, or seal it up in a couple of plastic bags so that it doesn't stink up your van.
The noise of quiet portable generators for campers can be an issue because actually, they're not 100% silent. I think they're similar in noise to the diesel or other fuel powered heating systems, Wabasto, et cetera. Maybe that's not a big deal, but it's definitely something to keep in mind.
When, when camping, you don't want to make a lot of noise for other people to deal with. Again, quiet but not perfect.
And then of course, there’s safety and health. You need to keep quiet portable generators for campers a bit away from your living area. Wherever you spend time, whether that's under an awning or outside in a tent, or you wouldn't want quiet portable generators for campers close to your door where fumes can get in and you certainly would never run the thing inside.
And not on your van, even on a rack… I don't think that's a good idea just because it's a machine and machines fail and if you had a fuel leak, well, you can imagine how bad that could and how quickly that could get bad should there be a problem.
Another negative might be the fact that you have to kind of babysit it, cuz they're valuable.
So, you know, you park up somewhere and set up with your quiet portable camper generator a few feet from your camper and started up and go to sleep. And then at some point you realize, uh oh, we have no power because the thing got stolen. So that's another concern, man. I hate to carry around a bunch of cables and locks, but in this case for a $600, $800, $1,500… quiet generator, I might cable that up to the rim or something like that so that it can't walk away.
Something I've said several times, valuable things represent money to people in need.
Moving on… one of the big issues with air conditioners is that they use a big burst of power, you know, maybe 4,000 Watts in order to start.
And even a 15,000 BTU or less, uh, air conditioner requires this big boost of energy to start. And then they mellow out and use less. Maybe they'll get down to 2000 Watts to run at a normal pace, but for a long time, that was a problem, and it made them very difficult to run off of generators.
People had to hook up to AC shore power, or carry very large generators. Well, now there's some really cool gadgets called soft start or easy start switches. They work nicely between quiet portable generators for campers and your air conditioning unit. This opens up a world of possibility for us. Uh, especially if you'd rather run a smaller generator. In that article that I've linked to at vansage.com about quiet portable generators for campers, you'll find a variety of sizes from 1500 Watts all the way up to 3,500 Watts.
Now, if you don't want to deal with the soft start buffer between your generator and your air conditioning unit, you can just get a very powerful 3,500 watt generator, but they're more expensive, more loud and of course use more fuel, et cetera. But you will be able to use more electrical stuff with that. So, it's something to think about.
Personally, I like to keep things minimal. I've linked to an article here called ”how to run your RV air conditioner on 2200 Watts” and it's interesting. It's somewhat apocryphal. That is to say, one man's story, one man's experience, so you'll want to do more research on this for yourself.
There's another one from RV Chronicle called “Can a 2000 watt generator run an air conditioning unit?”. Go head and educate yourself on these subjects before you go crazy and start buying a bunch of stuff.
That's the email address or follow the link in our article, quiet generators for campers and leave a comment, go ahead and share whatever information you have. We’d love to hear about that. And maybe you're an AC or electrical expert and would like to be interviewed on the show. We may be interested in talking to you so, or any expert on for that matter, including, uh, general van lifers, always looking to interview people.
So drop us line and that's it. We'll talk soon. And, uh, again, we'll get back to you with more information about quiet portable generators for campers.
What is a good quiet generator for a Campervan?
We’ve found the top rated models in the field manufactured by the most trusted, long standing brands.
Four of the five quiet portable generators we recommend are CARB compliant, and that means cleaner exhaust for you, your family and the environment.
When we see over 500 reviews and a 4.5+ star rating, we sit up and take notice! And the price on this little machine is great, too.
We love the Wen 562001 for its extremely quiet operation, EPA III and CARB Compliance, 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts, light weight build and energy efficient “Eco Mode” feature.
The Yamaha Inverter Generators hit all the important marks for features plus carry a highly rated name in power generation.
The super quiet Westinghouse iGen2200 provides energy when you need it.
If you need more power for a campervan, boat, an RV…
For everyday recreational activity or household use, in a power outage, Depend on the Westinghouse iGen2200.
Maybe you have have lower power needs, or just want an emergency power source for the most basic necessities.
This is a great option for anyone running lower power devices or in need of a dedicated power supply for a CPAP or other medical gear.
The Generac will cover those needs while saving you money, space and weight.
If you’re in need of a bit more power, Champion makes some of the bet quiet generators at great prices. And we love the remote start feature so you can control it from up to 80 feet away.
What are your power needs while on the road? How do you meet them?
Please leave comments and questions below.
Thanks for reading.