There are few better ways to kick back and relax with some friends and family than tailgating. But, whether you’re at the game or the beach, the best way to make your tailgating experience go well is with power.
Since a power source is one of the most important components to proper tailgating, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best tailgate generator for the job. You want one that is the ideal combination of long-lasting, portable, and inexpensive.
Finding The Best Tailgate Generator
Though not exhaustive, this list should give you a good idea of what type of generator you should look for in regard to all of these categories. We’ve tried to compile a somewhat well-rounded list that should encompass many types of uses and perks (including our top picks).
Looking for some additional resources for portable generators? Check out these curated articles for more information:
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See the chart below for our recommendations, then below for our individual generator reviews and buyer’s guide for tailgate generator options. At the end of each review is a link leading to a more complete breakdown of that particular tailgate generator.
Note: The Energizer EZV2000P is currently unavailable as of mid-April 2020, and as such will not appear on this table.
At the top of the list, we have the beautiful Westinghouse IGen 2200. While not the absolute biggest powerhouse at 1800 running watts and 2200 starting watts, it gets the job done the best out of any of the tailgate generator choices on this list. One of the most convenient features is its weight: the Westinghouse weighs in at an impressively light 46 pounds.
Another amazing perk is how quiet it is. It averages at around 52 decibels, which is much quieter than most generators, even some of the portable ones in this list. It also has a sleek, inconspicuous design. It’s a very efficient generator, it has a 1.2 gallon fuel tank, but can run for 12 hours at 50% load; the generator also comes with an efficiency mode, which will keep it running even longer.
Most generators report their runtime with a 20% to 25% load, but this Westinghouse can go for the long haul. Along with 2 standard style covered outlets, it very conveniently comes with 2 USB outlets, for charging phones or similar devices.
These generators are very reliable, but if something were to happen to it, Westinghouse offers a 3 year warranty on the machine (1 year for replacement and 2 for parts). Overall, not the best warranty available when compared to some of the Hondas or Yamahas, but still a decent warranty for an extremely good quality generator.
Briggs and Stratton’s P2200 is an extremely capable tailgate generator for all of your tailgating needs. It’s quiet, efficient, and mobile. From about 20 feet away, the P2200 will put out about 59 decibels, which is more than low enough to hear the TV and hold conversation.
If loudness is a considering factor for your needs, however, consider looking at other much quieter generators in this list. The P2200 has about 2200 starting watts and 1700 running watts. At 54 pounds, it’s fairly lightweight and portable. The 1 gallon tank allows for 8 hours at a quarter load.
The gray color of the generator blends easily into the scene. One very special thing about this generator is that, along with the standard plugs (1 cigarette lighter and 2 household style plugs), this generator allows for a parallel P2200, so if you need additional power for your party, you can easily plug another P2200 into each other.
Briggs and Stratton also offers peace of mind in the form of a 2 year residential warranty!
You don’t have to break the bank when you show for a suitable tailgate generator. The little 46 pound Energizer EZV2000P is one of the highest quality and easy to use generators you can get for such a low price. It packs a punch too: 2000 running watts or 1600 running watts with an 11.5 hour runtime off of a one gallon tank (at 25% load). This generator also offers the best variety of plugs: it has 2 standard household type outlets, 2 USB plugs, and a cigarette lighter plug.
At 50 decibels on the lower wattage, it’s the most quiet generator on this list by far. Another perk for this generator is the 3 year warranty. Some reviewers noted some reliability issues, so it may be more likely for you to purchase a lemon, so to speak. Of course, the chances of this seem to be quite low, and that’s why there’s a warranty anyways; just make sure that you keep the receipt (as you should with any large purchases).
Energizer also goes the extra mile in that they have a team on standby to provide technical advice for their products over the phone should anybody need it. This generator is a fantastic option for those who want a reliable, well-rounded generator and are on a budget. This generator can definitely be picked up for well under 500 dollars.
This tailgate generator comes from a lesser known company, but the perks and features it offers make it competitive with some of the biggest names. For one, it’s backed by an efficient and reliable Yamaha engine that puts out a modest 2000 start up watts and 1600 running watts. It should certainly put out enough power to power TVs and small scale cooking equipment: just plug it into one of two standard household outlets or cigarette lighter.
This tailgate generator is extremely portable; it has a built in handle and only weighs 47 pounds. For such a small generator, it can sustain power for a very long time: 10 hours. One of the more neat things about this generator is its sleek looks. It is a pale cream color with a silver ATIMA logo embossed on the side, harking back to the appliances of many years ago. Unlike the appliances of yesteryear, this generator is one of the most quiet on our list, at only 52 decibels from 20 feet away.
Sometimes when tailgating you need to power something with a little more “oomph”. Normal televisions and crock pots don’t need a whole lot of power, but when you add a few appliances and air conditioning, you’re going to have to start looking for larger generators that are up for the task. This generator provides 2400 starting watts and 2000 running watts.
The tailgate generator boasts a hefty 1.6 gallon tank to provide all that power for a lengthy 11 hour run time. It comes with two 120V-20A GCFI outlets, and a 12V battery charging outlet. Due to the increased power of this generator, it runs a little loud, at around 55 to 60 decibels. This isn’t too much louder than the other generators reviewed, so to counter this, simply try to put the generator slightly farther away from your tailgate set-up.
The oomph does come at a price, however. The generator weighs 75 pounds even without any fuel in it, so if it is full, carrying it around is almost definitely a two person job. It is also one of the more expensive generators on this list, due to its size and power capabilities (not to mention the Yamaha name).
So, if you’re looking for low key tailgating with not a lot of power demand, we’d say don’t spend the money on this one. If your party requires appliances or other power-demanding devices, this is definitely a high quality portable generator to heavily consider.
If you’re throwing an absolute banger of a tailgating event and the Yamaha still doesn’t meet your power requirements, this generator is the big guns you’re looking for. This monster puts out 3400 starting watts and 3100 running watts. The super cool thing about this generator though, is that it can be powered from gas and propane and lengthen the run time!
On gas, this generator can run for 7 and a half hours, and on a 20 pound tank of propane it can run for an impressive 14 and a half hours. It also has a 240V outlet in addition to the standard 2 120V outlets and 1 cigarette lighter. For having such a high power output, this generator is a actually not very loud, at 59 decibels; just a little bit louder than some of the 1000-1500 watt generators listed above.
This generator not only comes with a 3 year warranty, but also a lifetime guarantee of full, expert technical support. For a big tailgating event, this generator is for sure the best way to ensure you have a lot of power for a long time!
Last but not least, we have the Yamaha EF2000iSv2. With 1600 running watts and 2000 starting watts, this little generator is more than capable of fueling your next tailgate party. One of the best things about this generator is its extremely low weight; it only weighs 44 pounds! For a portable generator at all that’s an exceptional weight, but especially one of this power output.
Another great thing about this generator is its relative quietness. Typically, this generator will only be 51 decibels from 20 feet away, which makes it perfect for things like backyard barbecues or neighborhood get togethers in which some generators would be too loud.
This Yamaha can also run for 10 hours, which is a very impressive runtime for its class of generators. Like Honda, Yamaha offers an exceptional warranty. For this generator, you’ll get full protection for 3 years! This generator is an excellent and well-rounded option.
You can always count on Honda to go above and beyond when making consistently reliable portable generators. The EU2200i is certainly no exception: it’s by far one of the most popular portable generators reviewed on Amazon. Reviewers like the features: it has a .95 gallon tank that lasts for more than 8 hours at a 25% load. The available plugs are two household style 120V plugs and one cigarette lighter; not entirely outstanding, but standard.
It’s fairly loud for its size at 57 decibels while putting out 1800 running watts and 2200 starting watts. It’s also fairly light, weighing just 46 pounds. Where this generator really stands out is its warranty and reliability. Honda is well known for its stellar engine reliability, but should something go wrong, Honda has a three year commercial and residential warranty. This generator is on the higher end of the price spectrum as far as portable generators go, but it’s a small price to pay for Honda reliability.
Notes on Generators for Tailgating
There are a few metrics to consider before we wrap up. Before buying a generator, you should ask yourself what aspect is most important to you. If you’re looking for lots of power for a huge, long-lasting event, I would recommend going with the Champion 3400 Watt Duel Fuel. Assuming you have the fuel to keep it going, this generator will be able to aptly supply lots of power for a long time to keep the party going.
If you’re looking for something quiet, we recommend the Energizer EZV2000P. It’s only 50 decibels, so it shouldn’t bother your neighbors in the slightest (unless, of course, you live really close together). For the very low level noise, the Energizer certainly packs a punch though, it can put out 1600 running watts, which is more than enough to power your tailgating party for over 11 hours!
If you’re looking for a very lightweight, easily transportable generator, we recommend the YamahaEF2000iSv2. It only weighs 44 pounds, which makes it one of the lightest portable generators on the market, and it comes equipped with an ergonomic handle to make transportation a quick, light, and easy affair.
If you only foresee yourself throwing one tailgating party, we don’t even recommend buying one! Many large home-improvement type stores should carry generators to rent, but just to make sure, do a quick online search to see what you can find in your area. You should also look at the prices; if a store rental is not much less expensive than just buying it, then in a sense it’s cheaper to just buy the generator!
Considerations on Safety
Lastly, one of the most important things – if not the most important – to consider during a tailgating party is the safety of those in attendance. The burning of fuel produces deadly carbon monoxide gas, so it should go without saying to NEVER run a generator indoors. Even when outdoors, there are some precautions that one should take to ensure the safety and well-being of their guests.
Always make sure to set up the tailgate generator as far from the crowd as possible (you’ll want to do this anyways, because generators are loud, and the whole point of tailgating is to have fun talking with each other or watching the game). When outdoors, carbon monoxide is a lot less worrisome, but if there’s a large crowd congregating near the generator, it’s entirely possible for people to feel faint or ill.
You also do not want to overwork the tailgate generator. While this is less of a safety concern, overworking your generator could cause it to fail, and you might kill the party!
Wrapping Things Up
To wrap things up, any one of these tailgate generator choices would be a safe bet to buy. Just keep in mind the wattage that you need, the proximity of your neighbors, ease of transport, and any other factors or perks that you may need for your tailgating. Another thing to consider is that you may need a generator for more than tailgating!
Weigh whether you’ll be using it mostly for tailgating or mostly for something else when you consider which to purchase. Lastly, do your own research as well, firms constantly make better and better engines and generators, so for an expensive purchase such as this, you’ll want to make sure you try to get the best your money can buy.
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