By Lisa Kaplan Gordon
People go camping to hear birds chirp and leaves rustle, not to hear the roar and smell the fumes that a portable generator can spit out. However, portable generators often are the only way to power up RVs or the carful of camping equipment that can make your stay in the woods more comfortable.
Portable generators and communing with nature aren’t mutually exclusive. But here are ways that camping and portable generators often collide.
1. Too Much Noise
No one likes noisy neighbors, especially in the woods where Nature supplies its own soundtrack. To avoid drowning out the nightingale’s song, select a quiet, 1,000- to 3,000-watt inverter generator that can power camping lights, a TV and small appliances without making a racket. The decibel levels of smaller generators are roughly 53 to 59 dBs, which is comparable to office background noise.
Also, be considerate and don’t operate portable generators too late or too early. Sleep-deprived neighbors are not happy neighbors.
2. Too Much Power
Many campers overestimate the amount of power they need. But unless you’ve decided to live off the grid entirely, you won’t need gazillion watts to make your weekend camping trip enjoyable.
The biggest power user typically will be an electric, tabletop grill (1,650 watts); an electric heater (1,300 watts), and a hair dryer (1,600 watts), though you probably won’t use all those appliances at the same time. Smaller comforts are a fan (120 watts), coffee maker (600 watts), and a blender (850 watts).
3. Too Much Tonnage
Even though portable generators are meant to be hauled from place to place the bigger the machine, the bigger the muscles you’ll need to transport it.
For instance, a Honda EU2000 weighs 46 pounds empty and 53 pounds when its roughly 1-gallon fuel tank is filled to the brim; whereas a Champion, 5,500/6,800-watt, gas-powered generator weighs 180 pounds empty and 216 fully fueled.
Sure, you won’t notice the difference much when you’re rolling the generator around. But your back will hate you when you haul over 200-plus pounds of generator out of your truck or SUV.
4. Too Little Brain Power
Considerable thought and planning should go into where you place your camping generator. Carbon monoxide fumes from running a portable generator can poison you, wires can trip you, and incorrect grounding can electrocute you (generators soaked in rain can electrocute you even if they’re properly grounded).
Here are some top safety tips.
· Always place your portable generator as far away from people as possible. Position the generator so exhaust is aimed away from campers, tents and campsites. And never run a portable generator in a cabin or under a Lean-to.
· Route heavy cords away from high-traffic campsite areas to avoid tripping and falling into campfires.
· Never refuel a hot generator; let it cool before refilling. Also, never refuel near a blazing campfire.
· Always keep a fire extinguisher handy.
· Always use a generator tent to protect a portable generator during wet weather.
A little planning and the correct purchases will let you enjoy the wilderness without sacrificing all the comforts of home.