It is often easy to know exactly what you should pack if you are an avid tailgater. Good food, a few drinks, and some little entertainment might be all it really takes to kick off a tailgating party for most people.
However, to really make the tailgating party stand out, you are probably going to need a decent power source that will keep the party going. A portable generator ought to do the trick, but simply picking any portable generator you come across won't quite cut it.
You would need to invest in a generator that is great for tailgating if you want a tailgating party that will be vibrant and memorable, and that's where we come in. This article reviews 10 of the best generators for tailgating so that you won't have to start your search from scratch.
- 1 How We Chose These 10 Best Generators for Tailgating
- 2 Top Picks
- 3 Reviews of the Top 10 Generators for Tailgating
- 4 Things to Consider When Choosing A Generator for Tailgating
- 5 Final Verdict
How We Chose These 10 Best Generators for Tailgating
For starters, reviews can be misleading in some cases. Just because a particular portable generator has thousands of reviews on Amazon does not necessarily mean it is the generator you should get. This is because different generators serve different needs and it would be pointless to spend lots of cash on a portable generator that is too overkill.
As such, we considered a few factors such as use cases, power, noise levels at different loads, and even runtime when selecting these 10 best generators for tailgating. In this way, you can filter out generators not solely on the number of reviews it has, but on how useful it will be to you and your tailgating needs.
Best Quiet Generator
Best Generator with Longest Runtime
Most Portable Generator for Tailgating
Reviews of the Top 10 Generators for Tailgating
Below are ten portable generators that you can buy today for your tailgating needs. Feel free to jump to any that fancies you.
The Honda EU2200i is probably the most all-round portable generator we've seen. It has all the right specifications that make it a well-balanced generator that would be perfect for any tailgating party. If the 120cc engine and the 1800W power rating took you by surprise, then you're in for a wild ride with the EU2200i.
Weighing in at a mere 47 pounds, this is one of the lightest portable generators you can find on the market. Not only does this mean you'll have an easy time moving it around, but it also means that it will leave you with enough room in the trunk of your vehicle to stock even more supplies for the tailgating party.
In addition, while the 120cc engine is powerful, it doesn't really sacrifice on noise levels. The Honda EU2200i has noise levels of around 48 dB which is great news for tailgaters who simply want to relax and enjoy the company of their friends.
As you may have already guessed, the EU2200i is an inverter type of generator, and this explains why it has very low noise levels. Apart from being quiet though, it also conserves fuel better than other generators in its category thanks to Honda's Eco Throttle system which can give you runtimes of between 3 to 8 hours
2. WEN 56200i
It's easy to compare the WEN 56200i to plenty of other portable generators on this list and conclude that it is simply a mid-range inverter generator. Well, that may be partly true since it has a much smaller engine size, but the entire narrative will change once you know how much it costs.
The WEN 56200i is a neat and impressive portable generator that many people may disregard because of its engine size or even rated power. True, a 79.7cc 4-stroke engine may struggle to power some power-intensive devices. However, if you need it for an average tailgating party, the 56200i can be the right generator for the task.
It has a 1-gallon fuel tank capacity which can give you about 6 hours of runtime when connected to a 50% load. Like the Honda EU2200i, it also has pretty low noise levels of between 50 to 55 dB at 25% to 50% load.
The WEN 56200i is also versatile since it is parallel capable. This means you can get even more power if you need it, but to do so, you will need a separate kit (WEN 56421) to make that happen. Either way, since the generator weighs a mere 48 pounds and comes with an ergonomic handle, there's no reason why you shouldn't get this affordable portable generator.
3. DuroStar DS4000s
Surprised to find a heavy-duty generator like the DuroStar DS4000s on the list? While it may look like a generator that would probably be best suited for a camping site rather than a tailgating party, it has some great features that make it ideal for a wide variety of uses.
For starters, the DuroStar DS 4000s is not what most people would call a lightweight portable generator. Weighing in at 94 pounds, this generator could be equated to two inverter generators stacked together. However, DuroStar was kind enough to include wheels on the unit for easier movement.
Other than its large and heavy-duty design, the DS 4000s is one of the most powerful generators you could get for a tailgating party. With a 3300W rating, this generator can power plenty of devices including some power-intensive ones like gaming laptops. All this is possible because the DuroStar DS 4000s uses a mechanical alternator and not a digital alternator like many inverter generators.
Sadly, since it has a mechanical alternator, it produces more noise than inverter generators. This would therefore mean that you have to place the generator some distance away from you. It is also possible to get a muffler to reduce the noise, but that will come at an extra cost.
4. Westinghouse iGen2500
With 2200W of rated power, the Westinghouse iGen2500 is an inverter generator unlike many others. It has a modest 98cc 4-stroke engine that can keep running for up to 10 hours at ¼ of the load, but there are more than plenty reasons why it can be the missing link for an amazing tailgating party.
The first thing we noticed about the iGen2500 was its relatively small engine capacity. Compared to a generator like the Honda EU2200i or even the DuroStar DS4000s, it is easy to conclude that the iGen2500 won't power as many devices. Nevertheless, since it has a small engine capacity and a higher power rating, you can expect the iGen2500 to last much longer.
You can get up to 10 hours of runtime at 25% load from this generator, and this can be more than enough time to further extend your tailgating party in case you all get carried away. The generator has a 1-gallon fuel tank which is satisfactory for most common use cases. However, if you plan to connect big loads to this generator, then it might be a good idea to carry some extra fuel.
The noise levels from the iGen2500 are also low since 52 dB will hardly interfere with any tailgating party.
If you are the kind of person that fancies cool tech, then maybe the Ryobi RYI2300BTA is the perfect pick for you. Why so? The RYI2300BTA incorporates Bluetooth technology which lets you control different aspects of the generator remotely. You can power off the generator or even monitor its fuel level from the comfort of your seat!
While incorporating Bluetooth technology makes it all modern, the RYI2300BTA does not fail when it comes to performance too. The generator has an 80cc engine that can deliver up to 1800W and 2300W at peak. It also has a slightly larger fuel tank capacity than a few other inverter generators we've looked at on the list like the Honda EU2200i.
That aside, it is also worth mentioning that the generator is generally quiet when connected to smaller loads. Noise levels may peak up to 67 dB when you hook up the generator to slightly bigger loads. Additionally, even though you can get up to 10 hours of runtime from the generator at 25% load, the figure will be smaller if your tailgating party is power intensive.
Regardless, Ryobi made sure to include a fuel efficiency system called "Idle-Down". It might save you a few bucks in the long run, but this will depend on how you use the RYI2300BTA.
6. Champion 3400W Dual Fuel
The Champion 3400W Dual Fuel Inverter is among the few generators on the list that can rival the DuroStar DS4000s. As a dual fuel inverter generator, it gives you the convenience that other kinds of generators cannot simply provide. What's more is that it has one of the best runtimes we've seen, but there's a catch.
With a power rating of over 3000W, you can tell that the Champion 3400W is a power house. Since it can take in either gasoline or natural gas, you also get to enjoy the convenience that few other generators offer. The great part about it all is that the generator also comes with a fairly large engine size – a 192cc 4-stroke air-cooled engine.
In terms of runtime, you can expect the Champion 3400W Dual Fuel Inverter to take you for about 7 hours while using gasoline and with a 25% load. However, if you'll be using natural gas, the generator can last for almost 14 hours when connected to ¼ load. That can be amazing especially if you wanted to host the tailgating party a little longer.
The only downside is that for you to get such a runtime, you would need a steady supply of LPG in the first place. If you're thinking about LPG cylinders, you should know that it's very easy to deplete a cylinder especially if your load is big.
If you liked the Ryobi RYI2300BTA but preferred an inverter generator that was more silent, then the Yamaha EF2200iS should suffice. This is because despite the many similarities these two types of generators share with one another such as the engine displacement capacity, the Yamaha EF2200iS boasts a lower noise level of 57dB.
Yamaha's EF2200iS is your ideal inverter generator if you were seeking a mid-range generator that is also easy on fuel. Its rated power of 2000W coupled with the 79cc engine may be just enough to meet your power needs for a tailgating party that is not too focused on power-intensive devices.
It comes with a 1.24-gallon fuel tank which may seem small at first, but since the generator can manage a runtime of up to 10.5 hours at ¼ load, there's nothing to really complain about. In addition, the generator comes with another great feature called the fuel shutoff which will help keep the carb much cleaner for longer.
The generator uses a recoil pull start method pretty much like many other inverter generators we've looked at, but that shouldn't be an issue if you're already used to gasoline generators. The Yamaha EF2200iS equally uses a smart throttle which is a fuel management system that will help you save on fuel costs.
8. Generac 6866 iQ2000
Our list would not be complete without at least one Generac inverter generator, and the Generac iQ2000 is the first that caught our eyes. Generac claims that the iQ2000 is smarter and quieter compared to the Honda EU2000i based on their independent lab tests. However, we were more amazed with the extra features that the iQ2000 came with.
We really liked how Generac was generous with status indicators on the iQ2000. Sure, other generators also have status indicators, but the one on the iQ2000 was neat and easily lets you check the load, oil, and whether the generator is overloaded. The generator alerts you in case your fuel or oil is low.
Additionally, the iQ2000 is also parallel ready, and this means that you can grab two generators and use them in parallel mode. Do note that you will need an additional parallel kit to make the necessary connection.
The generator is also among the lightest ones we've encountered. At just 46.2 pounds, the iQ2000 won't be a burden in case you wish to move it from one location. Its weight is partly because of the small 80cc engine, but since it can comfortably run for up to 7 hours at 50% load, you'll hardly be bothered.
9. Generac GP2200i
It is not "just another" Generac inverter generator if you look closely. The Generac GP2200i is far different from the iQ2000 even though they are both from Generac. Fitted with a 1.2-gallon fuel tank, the GP2200i has a runtime of up to 10 hours at 25% load which is more than what the iQ2000 had to offer.
In terms of engine size, both share the same 80cc engine. However, the GP2200i has the upper hand when it comes to the power rating as it boasts 1700W. The good part about this is that the extra engine power does not come with extra noise. That's right. You only get noise levels of about 58dB at ¼ load, and this makes it one of the quietest inverter generators from Generac too.
The generator also comes with some of the features we loved in the iQ2000 such as the fact that it is parallel ready. Additionally, we were also pleased that it had useful LED indicators for alerting you in case you run low on oil or if the generator is overloaded.
In any case you don’t attend to the generator while it is running low on oil, it will automatically shut down to protect the engine from further damage. Chances of this happening during a tailgating party may be low, but at least you know the generator won't let you down.
10. Yamaha EF2000iSv2
Confusing the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 with the Yamaha EF2000iS is easy since they practically share the same name. The differences between the two are also very minimal, but many people would prefer the EF2000iSv2 as it is a newer model and can thus offer better performance. For tailgaters though, there is no harm in picking either of them, but you can save a few bucks by choosing the EF2000iSv2.
You're probably going to like the EF2000iSv2 mostly because it also falls in the category of the lightest inverter generators on the market. Weighing in at 44 lbs., it'll be easy and painless to include this generator in your car's trunk for that tailgating party you've been hoping to make a reality.
Additionally, while it has a power rating of 1600W and an engine size of 79cc, it can still provide you with up to 10 hours of runtime at ¼ load. Even at half load, the generator is still quiet and will only average noise levels of about 51.5dB.
Things to Consider When Choosing A Generator for Tailgating
As we had explained at the beginning, picking any portable generator you come across is not a guarantee that it will be perfect for your tailgating needs. There are thousands of different kinds of portable generators available in the market today, and that is why it is important to know a few things to look out for when going to buy a generator for tailgating.
This information will allow you to reconsider some of the things that many people take for granted when selecting a portable generator that will meet their tailgating needs.
Generally, tailgating does not require generators with high wattage ratings. In fact, the kind of generator you require for your home is usually more powerful than what most people use for tailgating.
Tailgating parties hardly use a lot of power. As such, a generator that produces 2000W of power would be more than sufficient for most folks. Since people only hook up their laptops, smartphones, or even music systems to the portable generator, you can already see why even a 1000W generator can be ideal for tailgating.
However, this does not mean that getting a generator with a higher rating is wrong. If you will be hooking up power-hungry devices to the portable generator, then it definitely makes sense to get one with a slightly higher rating.
Your choice will depend on the kind of fuel that is readily available to you. Generators can use up to three types of fuels which are:
- Natural gas
- Diesel or Gasoline
The generators that use either propane or diesel are more ideal for tailgating than one that uses natural gas. However, most people prefer diesel generators as diesel is popular and easy to transport. Propane tanks can at times run out and can occupy large spaces in your vehicle's trunk.
It's easy to get carried away when a tailgating party is amazing, and that's why it is important to consider the run time of the generator. Since run time is usually estimated at either ¼ of the load or ½ of the load, it will be a good idea to know how much power you might need for your tailgating party.
If you come up with a figure like 1500W, you can consider picking a 2000W portable generator to serve your needs. In addition, it is also advisable to pick an inverter generator if you won't be hooking up power-hungry devices.
With more power comes more noise, and especially from diesel-powered generators. You may have noticed that the noise levels of many of the portable generators we included in our list hardly go beyond 70 dB. This is simply because generators with noise levels past 65 dB are loud and can be a nuisance. While you can always place the generator further away, it is much better to consider quieter portable generators.
You shouldn't sacrifice too much space in your car's trunk for the generator. If this is the case, then a smaller and more portable generator will be far better for your tailgating needs. It will allow you to fit in more tools and supplies so that you can have a richer experience.
One thing is clear after reviewing all the 10 portable generators. Portable generators serve different kinds of needs and knowing which generator can meet your specific needs is what counts the most. A portable generator like the WEN 56200i may have a lower power rating than another generator like the Champion 3400W. However, it is easy to pick the WEN 56200i if your power needs are not too demanding and leave behind the Champion 3400W for people who need the extra power.