Hunting Down the Best Boat Generator: Our Expert’s Top 10

Whether you spend hours or days at a time on a boat, a portable generator can be an extremely convenient—if not downright essential—resource to take on board. A small generator can provide sufficient power to run small appliances, air conditioners and lighting, adding comfort and utility to your outings. Generators also provide assurance that in case of an emergency, you’ll be able to charge your battery, call for help and conduct other critical tasks.

Finding the Best Boat Generator

Buying a generator for use on a boat requires an entirely different set of considerations than purchasing a generator for your home, workshop or other locations. Weight, fueling and safety factors unique to marine vessels must be considered when selecting the best model for nautical use. Below, we’ll review the 10 best portable boat generators to help you decide which one is right for your needs.

Champion 75531i 3100-Watt Inverter

This compact, affordable generator balances versatility and power for a broad range of uses. Its impressively low THD (less than 3 percent) ensures clean power to protect delicate appliances and electronics like smartphones and tablets.

Champion’s Economy Mode minimizes electrical load for reduced noise, improved fuel economy and longer engine life. The unit comes fully assembled and is simple to set up, while a folding U-shaped handle and durable wheel kit make it easy to transport and store.

Specifications and Features:

  • Engine: 177cc OHV
  • Starting watts: 3,100
  • Running watts: 2,800
  • Weight: 84 pounds
  • Fuel tank capacity: 1.6 gallons
  • Runtime: 8 hours at 25 percent load
  • Outlets: One 120V 30A, one 120V 20A duplex, one 12V DC
  • Noise level: 58 decibels
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • EPA certified and CARB compliant
  • Low-oil shut-off

Pros:

  • Free lifetime technical support
  • Clean power with automatic voltage regulation
  • Convenient Quick Touch control panel
  • Quiet operation
  • Good value

Cons:

  • Recoil start
  • Small fuel tank

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DuroStar DS4000S

When you need a solid kick of power while out on the water, the DuroStar DS4000S has you covered. With 4,000 starting watts and 3,300 running watts, its hardworking 7HP engine keeps going for eight hours at 50 percent load. This robust unit is well-suited for running an air conditioner, high-voltage appliances and even heavy-duty power tools.

Specifications and Features:

  • Engine: 208cc OHV
  • Starting watts: 4,000
  • Running watts: 3,300
  • Weight: 94 pounds
  • Fuel tank capacity: 3.9 gallons
  • Runtime: 8 hours at 50 percent load
  • Outlets: One 120V 30A, one 120V 20A duplex
  • Noise level: 69 decibels
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • EPA certified and CARB compliant
  • Low-oil shut-off

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Very powerful
  • Durable all-metal construction with all-copper windings
  • Surge Arrest technology protects sensitive electronics

Cons:

  • Relatively loud operation
  • Wheel kit is optional but not included

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Generac iQ2000

This compact generator by Generac is a solid choice for many outdoor activities, including boating. Its low THD of less than 3 percent protects sensitive devices from power surges, and it’s one of the quietest models on the market. A sleek LED display shows remaining runtime and wattage and also delivers alerts for low oil, low fuel, overheating and overload.

The intuitive Power Dial allows users to quickly switch between Turbo, Standard and Economy modes for the most efficient operation. The parallel-ready iQ2000 can also be quickly connected to an identical unit for twice the power capacity.

Specifications and Features:

  • Engine: 79cc OHV
  • Starting watts: 2,000
  • Running watts: 1,600
  • Weight: 46 pounds
  • Fuel tank capacity: 1.06 gallons
  • Runtime: 7.7 hours at 25 percent load
  • Outlets: One 120V 20A duplex
  • Noise level: 53 decibels
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • CARB compliant

Pros:

  • Lightweight and convenient to transport
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy-to-read LED control panel
  • Clean power with very low harmonic distortion is ideal for operating sensitive electronics and appliances

Cons:

  • Modest power output may require coupling it with a second unit
  • Only has one duplex outlet
  • Some users have reported quality issues, including fuel leaks and rough operation

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Honda EU2200i

The Honda EU2200i Inverter Generator provides quiet, reliable power for boating as well as camping and other recreational activities. It’s brawny enough to operate microwaves, refrigerators and even small air conditioners while remaining compact and lightweight for easy transport and storage.

Its advanced inverter technology produces electricity that’s as clean as your household outlets, so you can operate delicate devices without worrying about damage from power fluctuations. Its proprietary Eco-Throttle system adjusts the engine speed to precisely meet demand, which holds noise to shockingly quiet levels.

Specifications and Features:

  • Engine: 121cc OHC
  • Starting watts: 2,200
  • Running watts: 1,800
  • Weight: 47 pounds
  • Fuel tank capacity: .95 gallons
  • Runtime: 8.1 hours at 25 percent load
  • Outlets: One 120V 20A duplex
  • Noise level: 48 decibels
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • CARB compliant
  • Equipped with circuit breakers, USDA-qualified spark arrestor mufflers and automatic voltage regulators

Pros:

  • Low-maintenance
  • Extremely quiet operation
  • Clean, safe power
  • Very fuel-efficient

Cons:

  • Small fuel tank
  • Lacks fuel gauge and hour meter

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Honda Power Equipment EB3000C

The Honda EB3000C packs a big punch, with 3,000 starting watts and 2,600 running watts of clean, reliable power. Though designed for light industrial use, it’s an excellent choice for boats, given its compact, relatively lightweight design, smooth-rolling wheel kit and folding handle. For its engine size, its operation is fairly quiet, and most importantly, it can support large appliances like air conditioners, lights and other devices with ease.

Specifications and Features:

  • Engine: Honda GX200 OHV
  • Starting watts: 3,000
  • Running watts: 2,600
  • Weight: 71 pounds
  • Fuel tank capacity: 2.6 gallons
  • Runtime: 9.4 hours at 50 percent load
  • Outlets: One 20A GFCI 125V duplex, one 125V 30A twist-lock outlet
  • Noise level: 68 decibels
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • CARB compliant

Pros:

  • Very powerful
  • Integrated safety features
  • Good fuel efficiency
  • Compact, lightweight design

Cons:

  • Expensive

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Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station

While not as powerful as the other generators on this list, the Jackery Explorer 500 offers capabilities the others can’t match, including the ability to recharge the power station without gas or other fuels. Optional solar panels mean you can continue to recharge the power station when you don’t have access to a car or wall outlet, providing a clean source of power with virtually no noise or environmental impact.

You won’t be able to run an air conditioner or large appliances with this humble power station, but it’s perfect for charging your phone, laptop and other electronic devices or operating fans and other low-demand items.

Specifications and Features:

  • Battery: 518Wh/3.6V lithium-ion NMC
  • Starting watts: 1,000
  • Running watts: 500
  • Weight: 13 pounds
  • Outlets: Three USB ports, one AC outlet, one 12V car output
  • Warranty: 2 years

Pros:

  • Can be recharged with solar panels or plugging into car or wall outlet
  • Eco-friendly source of clean power
  • Very lightweight
  • Lifetime technical support

Cons:

  • Can’t support devices requiring more than 500 watts, such as microwaves, power tools and other appliances
  • Solar panel must be purchased separately
  • High price relative to power produced

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Pulsar PG2000iSN

The Pulsar PG2000iSN is a reliable, easy-to-operate source of power that’s well-suited to boat life. Featuring stable sine wave technology, it’s safe to use for charging laptops, smartphones and other sensitive electronics, yet it’s powerful enough to operate power tools and appliances.

Its compact, lightweight design and suitcase-style handle make it easy to take with you on the boat, to the campsite or anyplace else you need portable backup power.

Specifications and Features:

  • Engine: 80cc OHV
  • Starting watts: 2,000
  • Running watts: 1,600
  • Weight: 47 pounds
  • Fuel tank capacity: 1.18 gallons
  • Runtime: 8 hours at 50 percent load
  • Outlets: Two 120V 13A AC outlets, one 12V 8A DC outlet, one 5V DC USB outlet
  • Noise level: 59 decibels
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • CARB compliant
  • Low-oil shutoff
  • Automatic voltage regulator

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Parallel-ready for increased power output

Cons:

  • Short warranty
  • Recoil start only

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WEN 56200i

This ultra-portable WEN generator delivers solid power levels with minimal noise, with sound levels lower than the average window air conditioner. It includes an Eco Mode feature to conserve fuel and maximize runtime, and it’s parallel-ready for connection to a second generator if you need additional power. With an incredibly low THD of just 1.2%, the WEN 56200i provides absolute peace of mind when you plug in your smartphone, laptop or other sensitive electronics.

Specifications and Features:

  • Engine: 79.7cc OHV
  • Starting watts: 2,000
  • Running watts: 1,600
  • Weight: 48 pounds
  • Fuel tank capacity: 1 gallon
  • Runtime: 6 hours at 50 percent load
  • Outlets: Two three-prong 120V outlets, one 12V DC outlet, one 5V USB port
  • Noise level: 51 decibels
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • EPA certified and CARB compliant
  • Low-oil shutoff

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Quiet operation
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Incredibly clean power mirrors a pure sine wave
  • Good customer service
  • Fuel-efficient

Cons:

  • Requires second unit with parallel connection for large power needs.

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Westinghouse WGen7500DF Dual-Fuel Portable Generator

If you’re looking for a powerful, versatile generator with all the bells and whistles, this is your unit. The WGen7500DF allows you to switch from gas to propane with the flip of a switch, even while the generator is operating. Dual fuel sources also provide an extended combined runtime of around 24 hours, so you won’t need to carry fuel onboard for shorter trips.

The unit comes ready to run right out of the box, with a convenient push-button electric start and remote fob. A spark arrestor and covered outlets are included among its safety features.

Specifications and Features:

  • Engine: 420cc OHV
  • Starting watts: 9,500 (gas), 8,550 (propane)
  • Running watts: 7,500 (gas), 6,750 (propane)
  • Weight: 192 pounds
  • Fuel tank capacity: 6.6 gallons (gas)
  • Runtime: 16 hours at 25 percent load (gas)
  • Outlets: Two GFCI 120V 20A duplex outlets, 120/240V 30A twist-lock outlet
  • Noise level: 74 decibels
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • EPA certified and CARB compliant
  • Low-oil shutoff

Pros:

  • Dual-fuel design is versatile and efficient
  • Convenient push-button electric start with remote key fob
  • Rugged steel construction for longevity
  • Powerful enough to run large appliances and tools
  • Foam-padded handle and never-flat wheels aid in mobility

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Loud operation
  • Expensive

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Yamaha EF2000iS V2

Powering your boat in style just got simpler with the retro design of the Yamaha EF2000iS V2 inverter generator. With its glossy royal blue exterior and bubbly build, the Yamaha looks more like a sleek boombox than a run-of-the-mill generator. It’s also compact and easy to carry and store.

Though it only produces a modest amount of wattage on its own, TwinTech capability lets you connect two of the units for almost double the power. The Smart Throttle feature adjusts the engine speed based on current loads to reduce noise and maximize fuel efficiency. The Pulse Width Modulation control feature minimizes power surges to protect sensitive de

Specifications and Features:

  • Engine: 79cc OHV
  • Starting watts: 2,000
  • Running watts: 1,600
  • Weight: 44 pounds
  • Fuel tank capacity: 1.1 gallons
  • Runtime: 10.5 hours at 25 percent load
  • Outlets: Two 120V 20A outlets, 12V DC outlet
  • Noise level: 51.5 decibels
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • EPA certified and CARB compliant
  • Low-oil shutoff, electrical overload breaker

Pros:

  • Sleek, compact design
  • Very portable
  • Loaded with features

Cons:

  • Expensive relative to power produced
  • Small gas tank
  • Recoil start only

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Tips and Tricks for Boat Generator Usage

Once you’ve made your selection, be sure to follow these safety guidelines and operating tips to get the most out of your new boat generator.

  • Marinize the unit by disassembling it and coating electrical connections, screws and other hardware with an anti-corrosion treatment like Rustoleum or Boeshield T-9.
  • Don’t leave the generator on your boat permanently. Store it in a dry locker when it’s not being used.
  • Install a bracket and rubber mounts in front of the cockpit to help secure the unit.
  • Building a cowling can help keep the generator dry and extend its life.
  • Make sure you run the generator in a well-ventilated area to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Always refuel the generator on land; filling the tank while the unit is on the boat increases the risk of accidental ignition.
  • If your generator doesn’t include a ground fault circuit interrupter circuit breaker, consider buying and installing one for safety.

Final Thoughts on Boat Generator Options

While not essential, a generator for your boat can make your excursions safer and more enjoyable, enabling you to operate comfort items like microwaves, mini fridges and air conditioners as well as utilities like lights, tools and smartphones.

The options on this list of the best boat generator include models with a variety of power outputs, price points and features, so you’re sure to find one that meets your maritime needs.

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