In order to camp remotely, taking in the best of the great outdoors, you need to be able to power your lights, fridge and other essential equipment. This involves being able to generate your own power supply. There are several options available to campers, including a solar set up and portable generator, with each involving the use of batteries to store power.
Here, we look at the convenience of a portable generator. Portable generators produce 240v power supply by connecting an alternator to a petrol or diesel engine. The best choice for recreational applications like camping are Inverter Generators. Sine Wave Inverters regulate the output so as to produce power that is identical to mains power in voltage and frequency. This means that a Sine Wave Inverter Generator can not only power your deep-cycle battery, but can also be used to provide power to 240V domestic appliances, including sensitive equipment such as laptops and mobile phones.
The Inverter control system maintains an extremely high accuracy level of voltage and frequency fluctuations with very low wave distortion. This system also allows for the engine speed to be automatically adjusted in direct proportion to the load applied maximizing fuel efficiency, while maintaining 240V supply. Inverter Generators are ideally intended for small Domestic appliances and Recreational use.
Not having enough power is a common mistake people make when Selecting a Generator. To avoid this you need to determine the amount of power required to not only run the appliances you wish to use, but also the power required to start them. For many appliances, the starting output requirement can be up to three to four times (or more) greater than the continuous running power needed.
It's important you know the wattage requirements of the appliances you intend to run off the Portable Generator.
What you need to do is,
Make a list of all the appliances you intend to run off the generator at any one time.
Determine how much power is required to start each appliance. It's the starting power that's important, not the running power (you can usually find this in the product manual or on the product data plate).
Decide which appliances you will be running at the same time. Add up all the 'Running Watts' amounts for these. Once you've got an amount, determine which one of your appliances has the highest 'Starting Power'. Add that amount to the total.
If you don't have a Generator with the right amount of power, you won't be able to start or run those appliances when you need them most. If you need more help determining how much power you need, check out our simple step by step guide here: My Generator Buyers Guide.
Take some time and do the calculations so you know what Power Generator you need. If you can't find the user manual for you appliance, you should be able to find out the information online.
In our experience, for general camper trailer use an Inverter Generator of 1000w to 2000w output seems to be a good fit. Especially when its primary use is for charging your battery packs, in which case the most popular unit by far is the Yamaha EF1000iS Generator - lightest, quietest and most fuel efficient 1000w generator on the market.
For caravan air conditioning units and to run other larger appliances like microwaves etc., you will likely need between 2000w - 3000w. In this case, our most popular generators for camper trailer touring and caravans are:
- Yamaha EF2000iS Generator: loved for its lightweight design, this model is quieter, lighter and more fuel efficient than it's Honda counterpart (the Honda EU20i). Our best selling camping generator. Yamaha Twin Tech capability allows two of these models to be connected and almost double the power output. Popular for battery charging also, whilst giving you some more power for other appliances/equipment if needed such as fridges etc. Also check out its larger brother released in 2019, the Yamaha EF2200iS - with 200 watts more power and a booster feature to run larger appliances when starting up.
- Yamaha EF2400iS Generator: very popular for running Caravan Air-Con units. Rated the best portable generator by Caravan & Motorhome on Tour Magazine! Not surprising given its fuel efficiency and quiet operation. Often used for other portable power needs such as home backup during blackouts, this model also allows parallel connection capability.
- Briggs & Stratton P3400: It is hard not to give the Briggs & Stratton P3400 a second look when searching for a powerful and affordable inverter generator. With 3400w under the hood, it is more than powerful enough to run all your caravan equipment. Popular for larger RV rigs and for those who might want to use their genset for home use as well their camping trips.
Covered by a 3 year manufacturers warranty and a network of national service centres, you can rest easy knowing that should something go wrong, Briggs & Stratton have got you covered.
- Cromtech Outback 2400: for those needing power for less budget, this model produces an imposing 2400watts at peak and is super quiet. A good value for money option for those who only need a generator for occasional use. Not designed for intensive use but, while it doesn't come with a long warranty, it still has the national Service Support network that the premium brands have - this a great feature that many budget brands don't offer. Crommelins Machinery backs this generator with its national service support network.
Campers should be made aware that there are some camping locations where generators are not permitted. Historically this was in part due to the noise level. Thankfully, in recent years improvements in technology have led to improvements in acoustic design meaning lower noise levels. There have also been significant improvements to fuel efficiency along with lighter more compact designs. With the relatively high Australian Dollar has meant that it's never been a better time to purchase a Portable Generator.
As a final note, you might also find the following video below helpful when searching for a camping generator; here we look at the main differences between premium and cheap inverter generators.
For more insightful information, we recommend you check out My Generator Australia's most comprehensive online generator retailer!
DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.