Last Updated on August 30, 2020
Whether you’re tailgating before the big game, camping with your friends, or enjoying a long day at the beach, a portable generator is a must. It’ll power everything you need for entertainment: TV, music, and even a refrigerator to keep drinks and food cold.
There are so many options for portable generators on the market, though, that it can be hard to narrow down your choices.
So, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best generators for tailgating. We’ve also included a buying guide so you can find the best one for your needs.
|Best Overall||Briggs & Stratton||
|Best Value||Jackery Portable||
|Premium Choice||Ryobi Bluetooth RYI2300BTA||
Our best overall choice is the Briggs & Stratton Portable Inverter Generator because it’s quiet and efficient. The engine produces 2,200 starting watts and 1,700 running watts, so you’ll be able to run many things at once, up to eight hours at 25% load, which should be more than enough time for a tailgating party. The decibel level at 25% is only 59, which is about as loud as a conversation. It also has handles, making it easy to carry. We liked that it includes a variety of outlets: two 120V household outlets and one 12V DC outlet.
At nearly 55 pounds, though, this generator is heavy. That can make it difficult to transport, so it’s something to consider.
The Jackery Portable Power Station Generator is the best generator for tailgating for the money because it’s battery-powered and lightweight. It’s specifically designed for charging outdoor electronics like mini-coolers, drones, and even laptops. It also has a solar-ready recharging option, which is sold separately. We liked that it comes with a variety of outlets, including an AC outlet, two USB ports, and one DC car port. The battery pack is 240 watt-hours, so you’ll be able to keep several electronics charged.
It does have a slow charging rate, so that needs to be taken into account before you take it along for tailgating. It also cannot support devices over 200 watts.
Our premium choice is the Ryobi Bluetooth Gas Powered Generator because it’s powerful and extremely portable. It not only comes with a telescoping handle but also rear wheels, so you can easily tote it along behind you. It has 2,300 starting watts and 1,800 running watts, which can power nearly everything you can think of for a tailgating party. It also has an LCD screen that shows the fuel level, run-time remaining, and load level. For safety features, it has a reset overload button and is remote-reset capable. The generator’s functions can be controlled with your phone via an app.
Aside from being the most expensive option on the list, it also doesn’t have a DC power outlet, which might be problematic depending on what you need to run.
The SUAOKI Camping Generator has multi-charging ports, including four DC ports, two AC ports, and four USB ports. This ensures that whatever you need to connect is compatible with this generator. It also has three ways to recharge: a compatible solar panel, wall charger, or a car 12V adaptor. It’s extremely lightweight and portable at only 2.9 lbs.
This generator is only suitable for devices 100 watts or less, so things like your phone, laptop, lamps, or a mini-cooler. This also isn’t a very durable or long-lasting generator, as it tends to quit working after a time.
If you’re looking for a generator that’s extremely fuel-efficient, then you should consider the Westinghouse iGen2200 Portable Inverter Generator. It has a 12-hour run-time on a 1.2-gallon gas tank. This ensures that the generator will last the entire tailgating party without a problem. It’s also very quiet at only 52 decibels, so you won’t have to deal with a loud generator in the background. It comes with four different outlets: two 120V 20 AMP outlets and two USB outlets. It has a peak of 2,200 watts.
This is a heavy generator, though, at 46 lbs., so carrying it around is difficult. This is also one of the more expensive options. Because this generator is gas-powered, you’ll have to perform regular oil changes.
The Wen Portable Inverter Generator is unique in that it has an eco-mode. This enables the generator to use a smaller amount of fuel if you only need a smaller number of watts. It has overload protection, so it’ll shut itself off if you try to draw too much power at once. It has 2,000 watts and 1,800 running watts and comes with multiple ports: two 3-prong 120V outlets, one 12V DC outlet, and one 5V USB outlet.
This generator claims to be quiet, but it’s actually much noisier than others on our list. It can be distracting if running in the background. At 48 lbs., it’s also on the heavier side. With only one handle, it’s difficult to share the weight with someone else. Lastly, it’s one of the more expensive generators on our list.
The Generac Gas Powered Inverter Generator has running watts of 1,600, and at 50% load, it can run for five to seven hours. It has a fairly large fuel capacity at just over a gallon. We liked the PowerBar monitors that display the wattage used. It can run on economy, standard, and turbo modes to save fuel and reduce noise. This is an extremely quiet generator that comes with many extra features.
This generator isn’t as heavy as some of the others, but at 46 lbs., it’s still difficult to carry around. Not only does it struggle to power devices at altitude, but it also sometimes leaks gas. It seems underpowered for the cost.
The Rainier Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator has 1,800 rated watts and 2,200 peak watts. It can run up to 13 hours and has a 1.3-gallon fuel capacity, so it’s quite powerful. The control panel includes a low-oil alarm, an overload alarm, and an output indicator. It also has an eco-mode. Multiple ports include two 120V household outlets, one 12V DC outlet, and one neutral floating grounding port.
Despite being labeled as “super quiet,” we found this generator to be loud. If you tried to run it during a tailgating party, everyone would notice it humming noisily in the background. It also has a strong exhaust odor, which can be unpleasant to be around. It will shut off and reset at the slightest power surge, especially in eco-mode, which is frustrating.
The A-iPower Portable Inverter Generator is an inexpensive option. It has 2,000 peak watts and 1,600 running watts. It does run quietly at 58 decibels, which is less than the volume of a typical conversation. It has a 1.1-gallon fuel capacity
The quality of this generator seems poor, as many screws were found to be loose. Because of this, gas leaks. It’s also difficult to access the oil fill. It’s underpowered and struggles at high altitudes, so it’s not the best generator to take into the mountains.
The Firman Gas Portable Generator has 1,500 starting watts and 1,200 running watts, so it can easily power all your small devices. It has a 10-hour runtime with a 1.7-gallon fuel capacity, which keeps it running longer.
At 54 lbs., this is a heavy generator. You might have difficulty transporting it. It’s also one of the most underpowered ones on our list. It’s hard to access the spark plug and other parts needed for regular maintenance. The voltage tends to fluctuate, which can be frustrating. It’s also noisy, much more so than others on our list.
If you’re wondering what you should look for in a generator that can be used for tailgating, then this buyer’s guide can help. It includes the main features of portable generators to help you find the best one for your needs.
It’s important to know the power output of the portable generator because you need to know how many things you can run at once. The power produced by generators is measured in watts. The best way to find the perfect generator is to add up all the watts needed to run each of the electrical things you want while tailgating. You’ll also need to know how much each of these draws when you first turn it on. Sometimes this can be much more than the wattage needed to run. In general, a generator that puts out about 2,000 watts is good enough.
This is another important factor to consider when looking at generators. You don’t want to have to bring extra gas to your tailgating party and stop to refuel. Therefore, it’s best to find a generator that will run for at least eight hours without having to be refueled. For camping, this becomes even more important. You’ll want something that can last for a while, possibly even overnight. Of course, the runtime won’t only rely on the size of the fuel tank. It also depends on how much power is being drawn. Many of the generators on our list give figures for how long they’ll run at full-load and 25%. The longer it’ll run without having to refuel, the better.
An important aspect of having a generator for tailgating is that it’s portable. Generators can be incredibly heavy, so it’s important to find one that’s as lightweight as possible. Another feature that increases portability are handles. This seems like a small detail, but it can make your life much easier. Grabbing a generator by the handles is more efficient than trying to carry the whole thing in your arms. Also, they allow you to share the burden with someone else as you carry it.
Having a noisy, humming generator in the background can dampen the fun of a tailgating party. You want to be able to enjoy the game, talk, or listen to music without being drowned out by a loud motor. In general, inverter generators are quieter than conventional ones. They’re not much louder than a conversation, so you probably won’t even notice them running. Some of the generators on our list have the decibels noted, so you can make sure that it won’t detract from the tailgating fun.
No matter what model you’re looking at, make sure it comes loaded with safety features. Machines combined with fuel and oil can quickly become dangerous. That’s why it’s important to have features such as low-oil shutoff and overload prevention. If the oil falls below minimum levels, your generator should shut down to prevent engine damage. Overload prevention makes sure that you’re not overloading your generator. This can happen when you have too many appliances plugged into your generator that exceed the total running watts, and the system will overheat.
Our best overall pick is the Briggs & Stratton 30651 Portable Inverter Generator because it’s quiet and powerful. It can run for up to eight hours at 25% load, and it’s only 59 decibels. You’ll be able to run plenty of electronics while still being able to enjoy the game or maintain a conversation.
For our best value choice, we chose the Jackery Portable Power Station Generator. Because it’s battery-powered, it’s lightweight and eco-friendly. It’s also quiet and comes with a variety of outlets.
We hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you find the best portable generator for your needs.
Featured image credit: Tailgating, Flickr
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!