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What Size Generator Do I Need for Camping?

Are you planning a camping trip and wondering what size generator you’ll need to power your devices and appliances? The right size generator for your camping needs is essential to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable outdoor experience. Generally, the size that is most suitable for camping purposes is from 2000 to 4000 Watts but it solely depends on the requirement. Let’s go over the factors that determine the size of the generator required for camping and provide you with useful insights to make an informed decision.

Understanding Power Requirements

Assessing Your Power Needs

Before determining the generator size, you must assess your power needs. Make a list of all the devices and appliances you plan to use during your camping trip. Consider the wattage or power requirements for each item to get an accurate estimate of your overall power needs.

Calculating Wattage

The total wattage is calculated by dividing the wattage of each device by the daily usage hours. Add up all the values to get the total wattage requirement. This calculation will help you determine the minimum generator size you need.

Types of Generators

There are two main types of generators commonly used for camping: inverter generators and conventional generators.

  • Inverter Generators

Inverter generators are known for their quiet operation, fuel efficiency, and clean power output. They are suitable for powering sensitive electronics and are generally more expensive than conventional generators.

inverter generator - what size generator for camping
  • Conventional Generators

Conventional generators are typically more affordable but tend to be louder and less fuel-efficient compared to inverter generators. They are suitable for powering larger appliances and devices that are not sensitive to voltage fluctuations.

conventional generator - what size generator for camping

What Generator Size Is Suitable For Camping?

Total Wattage Calculation

To determine the generator size, you need to calculate the total wattage required. Consider both the starting and running wattage of your devices. Starting wattage refers to the power needed to start an appliance, which is often higher than its running wattage.

Starting vs. Running Wattage

Make sure to account for the highest starting wattage among your devices. This ensures that the generator can handle the initial surge of power required when appliances are turned on.

Consideration of Power Surge

Some devices, such as coolers and air conditioners, require additional power during startup due to power surges. It is essential to factor in this surge wattage to prevent overloading the generator.

Matching Generator Capacity

Once you have determined the total wattage required, choose a generator with a capacity slightly higher than your calculated value. This provides a buffer and ensures that the generator can handle any unexpected power spikes.

Best Generator Sizes for Camping

The generator size you need depends on your power requirements. Here are some general guidelines based on different usage scenarios:

Light Usage (1,000 to 2,000 Watts)

For campers who primarily need to power lights, small fans, and charge electronic devices, a generator with a capacity of 1,000 to 2,000 watts is generally sufficient.

Medium Usage (2,000 to 4,000 Watts)

If you plan to use additional appliances like a microwave, coffee maker, or portable electric grill, a generator with a capacity of 2,000 to 4,000 watts should meet your needs.

Heavy Usage (4,000 to 7,000 Watts)

Campers who require power for larger appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators, or power tools should consider a generator with a capacity of 4,000 to 7,000 watts.

Choosing the Right Generator for Your Needs

When selecting a camping generator, consider the following factors:

Noise Level

If noise is a concern, opt for an inverter generator as it tends to operate quietly, allowing you to enjoy the tranquility of nature.

Fuel Efficiency

Look for generators that offer good fuel efficiency, allowing you to make the most of your fuel during extended camping trips.

Youtube Channel Name: JOHNNY’S WEEKENDS

Portability and Weight

Consider the weight and portability of the generator, especially if you plan on carrying it to different camping locations.

Additional Features

Some generators offer features like electric start, USB ports for charging devices, and parallel capabilities for increased power output. Assess these additional features based on your specific needs.

Recommended Read: What are some of the best generators for pop up campers

How To Calculate What Size Generator You Need?

Calculate Your Power Requirements

The formula used to determine a generator’s power requirement depends on a number of variables, including the load that has to be powered and the generator’s efficiency. The formula is typically represented as:

Generator Power Requirement = Load Power / Generator Efficiency

To calculate the generator power requirement, you divide the load power by the generator efficiency. For example, if the load power is 100 kW and the generator efficiency is 90%, the formula would be:

Generator Power Requirement = 100 kW / 0.90 (90% expressed as 0.90) = 111.11 kW

A more clear representation has been shown in the following video:

Youtube Channel Name: Mowgli Adventures

Power Breakdown According To Electric Equipment

Here’s a list of essential electric equipment that almost everyone needs while camping

  • Air mattress pump/inflation machine: 50W
  • Heater: 1500W
  • Cooling fan: 50W
  • Phone charger: 10W
  • Coffee pot: 1000W

It is always wise to add 20% extra power as a contingency in case of unforeseen usage needs.

Maintenance and Safety Tips

To ensure the longevity and safe operation of your camping generator, follow these maintenance and safety tips:

Regular Maintenance

Perform regular maintenance tasks such as oil changes, air filter cleaning, and spark plug checks as recommended by the manufacturer.

Safety Precautions

Always run the generator far from flammable materials and in a well-ventilated location. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding grounding, fuel storage, and usage.


Choosing the right size generator for camping is crucial to meet your power needs and enhance your outdoor experience. Assess your power requirements, consider the types of generators available, calculate the total wattage, and choose a generator size that provides sufficient power without overloading the system. Additionally, prioritize factors such as noise level, fuel efficiency, and portability to select the best generator for your specific camping needs.

Also Read: Are Yeti Coolers Worth it?


Can I run my RV air conditioner on a camping generator?

Running an RV air conditioner on a camping generator may require a larger generator with a higher capacity. Check the power requirements of your specific air conditioner and choose a generator accordingly.

Can I charge my electronic devices directly from the generator?

Yes, most generators come equipped with outlets that allow you to charge your electronic devices directly. However, ensure that the generator provides clean power to avoid any damage to your devices.

Is it safe to use a generator inside a tent?

No, it is not safe to use a generator inside a tent. Generators emit toxic carbon monoxide gas, which can be lethal when confined spaces like tents. Always operate the generator outdoors in a well-ventilated area.

Can I use a camping generator to power my refrigerator?

Yes, you can use a camping generator to power your refrigerator. Make sure to consider the starting wattage of the refrigerator and choose a generator with sufficient capacity to handle the initial power surge.

How can I reduce the noise level of my camping generator?

To reduce the noise level of your camping generator, consider placing it farther away from your camping area, using a generator enclosure, or investing in an inverter generator known for its quieter operation.

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