Boat trips can be a lot of fun if you have the right generator to keep the boat and your favorite appliances running.
Portable generators can handle everything from a microwave to a speaker or a laptop. However, you can’t pick any portable generator for boats due to the risks involved.
It’s important to be careful and pick a generator that’s safe and certified for boat use. To help you in this regard, we have made a list of the eight best generators for boats.
Before we start with a detailed product review, we’ve compiled an overview table below to help you compare all the products. We reviewed the market and picked only the best models based on quality, features, durability, and price.
This table will give you a general sense and feel of the product. Moreover, for a complete understanding, we have also covered full product reviews later in this guide.
Now that we’ve given you a summary and comparison table on each of the eight best generators for boats, let’s go into a bit more detail in our product review section to know more about each generator and find the best generator for boat.
We have covered everything from fuel tank size, wattage, and runtime to safety. All the generators on this list are said to be suitable for boats but some have been specifically designed to be used on boats.
Let’s have a look at our top eight picks:
- A 121cc Honda GXR120 Engine
- Starting watts: 2200
- Running watts: 1800
- 0.95-gallon fuel tank
- A straight run of 8.1 hours at 25% of loud
- A single 20A 125V Duplex outlet and one 12V 100W DC outlet
- Recoil system
The EU2200i is part of Honda’s Super Quiet Series of generators and offers a lot of value to users, not to mention that it has inverter technology. It offers ten percent more power than the previous EU2000i model. At the heart of it there is Honda’s new GXR120 engine which makes it one of the most reliable options out there.
It is perfect for any boat because of its many features which make it user friendly. One of our favorites is the fuel shut off valve. Thanks to this feature, your unit will continue to operate even after you switch the fuel supply off. Additionally, I t has an oil drain gutter and a large spout that makes it easy to change engine oil and clean the unit.
The recoil system may not be everyone’s favorite but you will face no difficulty starting the unit. You will not have to pull the cord again and again for the engine to work. It will be rocking in no time. Plus, you will be able to use it for an extended period of time thanks to improved ventilation.
Better airflow means this model will not get warm after running for hours, hence you will not have to worry about giving it a break every few hours.
This model operates at 48 and 57 dBA, hence do not expect it to make your boat journey noisy. In fact, you will not feel irritated even if the boat is not running as this noise only equals to two people having a conversation at a distance of a few feet.
Plus, you can operate it on eco mode if you want complete silence. The EU2200i starts off at 1,800 running watts and goes to 2,200 running watts. Weighing in at 45 pounds it’s light enough for you to carry and comes with a contoured handle as well. Hence, do not worry about feeling tired having to pull this one.
On a single tank of gas, it’ll give you between 4 and 9.6 hours of straight run, depending on the percentage load you operate it on. This may not be the best option for some users since boat trips may drag on for days. Hence, we suggest this option if your journeys are typically short. Otherwise, you’ll have to stock up on fuel.
- Reliable Super Quite Technology
- Fuel efficient
- Relatively long run time
- Carb will run dry due to the fuel shut off option
- One pull start
- Comes with a 3-year residential and commercial warranty
- Offers less runtime as compared to the competition
- Does not come with a fuel gauge
- Runs for up to 15 hours at half loud
- Starting watts: 4000
- Running watts: 3500
- 63 dBA of noise
- Sine Wave technology
- Parallel compatibility
- Extendable handle
- Remote, electric and recoil start
The PG4000iSR from Pulsar is an inverter generator that’s known to be versatile and rugged. It comes from a company that produces high-quality products but this one takes the cake as it is said to be designed for outdoor use.
It offers 3,500 running and 4,000 peak watts. This is enough to run a large number of appliances; hence it is said to be suitable for big boats and most air conditioners. The generator also has a pretty big fuel tank – 3.4 gallons – that gives a straight run of up to 15 hours making it both a practical and powerful choice for your boat.
We fell in love with the remote start it comes with. When you’re on a boat, you want luxury. Nobody wants to get up and move to the generator to turn it on. Fortunately, with this beauty, you will not have to worry about such problems as the remote controller works from a distance of up to 80 feet. Other than this, it also comes with an electric push start, hence no worries if the remote controller is out of battery or if you cannot find it.
To the side, you’ll find multiple power outlets including a single 120V 30AMP RV outlet, one 12VDC 8AMP outlet, and an integrated USB outlet with parallel sockets. Hence, you can connect two generators together to double the power.
Plus, since it comes with Sine wave technology, there’s no risk of damage to your appliances. You can charge everything from laptops to mobile phones. You will never run out of juice with this beauty by your side.
This model offers great capabilities at a low price; we thought we’d also mention a few bonus points. Turn the battery switch on before you attempt a pull start, secondly to manually shut it down always use the auto stop and start button.
It comes with never flat wheels, this makes it easy to handle, transport, and store away. We must also mention that this generator creates a noise of 63 dB. It can get a little noisy if the boat is not operational.
- Powerful, but safe for appliances
- CARB compliant
- Low oil shutdown feature makes it easy to maintain
- Easy to start (3 options)
- Quite affordable
- Comes with a 1-year limited warranty
- A little heavy, hence can be difficult to move
- Take up more space than other boat generators
- An OHV air cooled 79CC four stroke engine
- Starting watts: 2000
- Running watts: 1600
- 1.1 gallons fuel tank
- A noise level of 51.5 to 61 dBA
- A runtime of 10.5 hours at 50% load
- Recoil start
The Yamaha EF2000iSV2 offers an AC output of 1,600 running watts. It goes up to 2,000 surge watts making it possible to run some heavy appliances as well.
On top, it has a fuel gauge along with a fuel shut off valve built in and a carb clear out feature; this will allow the tank to dry out before you decide to store it away. To its side, you will find a single 8A 12V DC outlet along with two 120V AC outlets.
This is a great feature because we don’t expect you to use the generator every day. You’ll be able to keep it safely during off seasons without worrying about fuel wastage. Yamaha has included a smart throttle engine that works based on the load to improve fuel economy; along with that you get an inverter generator for your boat that also offers pulse width modulation control.
Additionally, this particular model features a super quiet muffler which is USFS approved and a spark arrestor. Hence, expect your trips to be comfortable.
It has one DC outlet and two 120V AC outlets. Plus, you’ll also find an 8A 12V outlet designed to charge batteries (comes with cables).
Another feature that impressed us was the unit’s eco mode. It helps save fuel and ensures the unit runs for extended hours. The EF2000iSV2 prevents fuel spills via its closable vent, weighing in at just 44 pounds it is portable and compact. However, it may not be the most durable unit as it’s known to lose efficiency with time.
- High fuel efficiency along with a high emission durability rating
- Easy to start – in the first pull
- Has a fuel gauge on the cap
- CARB compliant
- 3-year limited warranty
- Not powerful to run some large appliances
- Replacement parts can be expensive
- A 98CC Westinghouse 4 stroke OHV engine
- Starting watts: 2500
- Running watts: 2200
- Recoil start
- 48 pounds only
- Eco mode for maximum fuel efficiency
- 1-gallon fuel tank
The iGen2500 is a quiet and lightweight option from Westinghouse. It can be a good option for users who want a generator that is easy to use.
On the side, it has an LED display which makes it easier to note remaining runtime, fuel levels, power output, and voltage. This model also keeps track of oil levels and will warn you if it’s about to overload. With these features, maintenance becomes a breeze as you will not have to worry about manually checking fuel level or remaining runtime.
The generator comes with two USB outlets and two 120V 20 AMP outlets. These are enough to run most appliances. Plus, the placement of the outlets is also quite good.
The iGen2500 offers higher wattage than most other models in the same price range. It starts off at 2,200 running watts and goes up to 2,500 surge watts. This is enough for a boat generator since we do not expect you to run heavy appliances when on a boat.
Overall, the generator is quite safe and easy to use. It features the low oil shut off feature, which helps keep your appliances and the generator safe and reduce sound pollution. The unit will shut down whenever the oil goes below the acceptable limit.
This model will give you a straight runtime of up to 10 hours at 25% load. Moreover, you can use it to charge small appliances as it offers less than 3% distortion. Hence, there is little to no risk.
But, that’s not all that we love about this beauty. It is one of the quietest models and operates at just 52 dB. However, from what we have heard, the unit can be unreliable in terms of run-time. However, this problem can be solved as the unit is parallel capable. You can connect two generators to double the power and run-time. Yet you should note that doing so might be a bit risky when you’re on a boat.
- Quite an affordable unit
- Offers an LED Data Center
- Compact and portable
- Safe for gadgets
- CARB compliant
- 3-year residential and a 1-year commercial limited warranty
- Not the most reliable unit out there
- Starting watts (Gas/LPG): 2200/200
- Running watts (Gas/LPG): 1800/1600
- A recoil start
- SINE Wave Technology
- Noise level of 60 dBA
- Multiple outlets
- 8 hours run-time on gasoline
The PG2200BiS from Pulsar runs on both gas and LPG. It will give you 1,800 running watts and will settle in at 2,200 surge watts on gasoline while on LPG it offers 1,600 starting and 2,000 surge watts. Weighing in at just 44 pounds, it is one of the lightest options out there.
With an 80CC three horsepower 4 stroke OHV air cooled engine, this model is able to generate enough power to run most appliances. Plus, since it uses inverter technology, you will not have to worry about the unit being noisy. It operates at 60 dBA, hence expect to enjoy your trips without any worries.
Other than this, the unit is parallel capable. This means you can connect two similar units to enjoy more run-time and power. But, this may not be necessary since this beauty offers an exceptional run-time of 8 hours on gas. However, LPG does not offer very good run-time. It will run for only about 75 minutes on a 1-pound tank.
The good thing however, is that Pulsar has built in SINE wave technology on this model, which makes it safe for all your smart devices. Its carry case design makes it portable and compact. You will have no difficulty in handling it. This is very important because moving a generator to and from a boat can be a difficult task if the unit is heavy. However, since this weighs only 44 pounds and comes with an ergonomic handle, you will face no such problems.
On the side of it, you will find a single 5V integrated USB outlet along with parallel sockets and two 120V 15A AC outlets. Hence, expect to be able to use all your appliances. However, remember that this may not go beyond its run-time even if you add fuel since the generator does not start when hot. You will have to wait for the engine to cool down before being able to use it again.
- Has low oil shut off capability
- Lightweight and very portable
- Produces safe and clean energy
- Is compact and fuel efficient
- Not CARB compliant, hence cannot be used in California
- The pull cord is delicate
- Has a 200A expansion port
- Includes an Internal AGM sealed lead acid battery
- Built in low battery protection
- Built-in charge controller
- Output voltage of 120V
- Output frequency of 60Hz
This may come as a surprise but a solar powered generator can be an excellent choice for boats. Think about it and you’ll understand why.
When you’re on a boat, you’re out in the open. The boat has full access to the sun and there’s enough space to place a generator with the panels. In addition to this, this model from Natures can also use the wind to generate power, making this a 2-in-1 device.
The good thing is that the company has included both – a solar panel and a wind turbine – with the package. However, you will have to assemble it before putting the unit to use. Also, do not let this fool you as the unit is quite portable despite all this.
It works with a maximum input of 200 watts (solar) and 300 watts (wind) and is able to offer an output of 1,800 watts. This is enough to run a number of appliances including laptops, fans, and even a small refrigerator to keep your drinks chilled for hours.
When it comes to wind or solar powered generators, there is always the question of hours. This unit charges up to 140 watts per hour and takes about 6 hours to fully recharge.
The generator offers endless runtime if sun and wind are at your disposal. The rotator blades of the wind turbine are 51 inches in diameter with cast aluminum powder coated body. It comes with built in speed protection which means it prevents possible damage during extremely high winds. The solar panel is a 100-watt panel with polycrystalline cell types; you will be able to use a daisy chain to connect it with another solar panel by using an MC4 branch connector to achieve more power.
The frame cart of the solar panel comes equipped with wheels, while the glass is a 3.2 mm and it is safe and anti-reflective. Moreover, there are multiple USB and AC out ports, hence you will have no difficulty in attaching your devices. You can even charge sensitive appliances like laptops and mobile phones without any risk. This is very important because most handheld devices are sensitive and may get damaged if the energy is not clean.
Both the solar panels and the wind turbine give you the option of storing power, which essentially means you will have your own solar and wind production plant.
Nature has built in a smart key dongle that allows you to sync the system via Bluetooth to its Pulse app in order to keep a track of battery and system usage. However, on the downside, you will have to assemble it before you can use it. This can be a bit tricky for some users.
- Is dual powered and can run on both solar and wind
- Allows you to store power
- Comes with pure SINE wave technology
- Can only charge small appliances
- Quite expensive
- Starting watts: 2000
- Running watts: 1600
- Electronic fuel gauge
- Status lights and power bar
- Digital inverter module
- Parallel ready
- 1.06 gallons tank
The iQ2000 from Generac boasts a smart panel, making it more helpful and user friendly than most competing generators. Let’s look a bit into the smart panel, it offers a PowerDial with start, run and stop functions all combined into 1 easy to use dial. The PowerBar on the other hand will monitor and display watt usage.
According to the company, this is quieter than most other brands, including Honda. In fact, a test proved that Generac makes some of the quietest generators out there.
It will give you a runtime of 5.7 hours at 50% load and 7.7 hours of run time at 25% loud. This model has a fuel capacity of 1.06 gallons. It offers 1600 running watts but may be able to handle some big items since it offers 2,000 surge watts. Generac has built an 80cc engine which they recommend you run on SAE 10W-30 oil type (link to the oil article). This is very important as the engine may sustain damage if you use poor quality oil.
You will find a toggle switch with three operating modes: economy, standard and turbo. If you want the unit to run for the highest number of hours then use the economy mode. Running it on turbo will offer more power but the generator will stop shortly. Plus, the noise level also depends on which mode you’re operating the unit on.
In addition to this, it comes with parallel capacity. Hence, you’ll be able to run 2 units alongside for twice the power. However, the cable has to be bought separately. What we liked the most about this unit is the fact that it comes with a unique cover but that has to be sold separately.
- The control panel makes it a user-friendly option
- Good value for money
- 3 modes for fuel economy
- Parallel ready
- Comes with a limited warranty
- Stable power but not pure SINE Wave
- Has some quality control issues including fuel leaks
- 60cc OHV engine
- Starting watts: 1250
- Running watts: 1000
- Parallel ready
- Low oil automatic shutdown
- CARB compliant
- Noise level of 51 dBA
- Runs 5 hours at 50% load
The WEN 56125i has been tested by the US Department of Health and Human Services and is said to be one of the safest generators for boats. It offers extremely quiet operations at 51 dBA which makes it one of the quietest generators on the list.
WEN has built in a 60cc OHV engine that gives you 1,000 rated and 1,250 surge watts of power. On the side, you will find two three-pronged 120V receptacles and two 5V USB Ports. This model produces clean power free of voltage spikes and drops, which makes it an ideal option to safely operate sensitive electronics on your boat which include phones, televisions, and laptops.
Weighing in at 31.6 pounds, its lightweight and compact design makes for easy portability. It comes with 0.7 gallons worth of fuel tank which gives you a run time of 5 hours straight at 50% of load. You can engage the eco mode throttle for maximum fuel efficiency.
This generator may be not powerful enough for some users, hence we think it can be useful only for people who want to spend a few hours on boat. Moreover, since It is both EPA III and CARB certified, you can use it without any worries. At less than 32 pounds, it is quite lightweight as well. However, some users may find it a little hard to maintain.
- 2-year limited warranty
- Portable and lightweight
- Comes with SINE Wave Technology
- Can be difficult to start at times
- You need to remove to replace oil
We’ve reviewed each of the eight best generators for boat in detail in the product review section above, hopefully this will help you in choosing the right one based on your requirements.
You will, of course, find a lot of other options on the market, but don’t get confused. In this buyer’s guide section, we’ll list important considerations you need to keep in mind when selecting the right generator for your boat.
This information will help you get the right product according to your needs. Let’s have a look:
Portability and Weight
You will use this generator outdoors on your boat, so whichever one you choose, you need to ensure that it’s both lightweight and portable. After all, you will need to carry it out and probably bring it back for safe storage. Plus, weight can be of huge concern since a boat can only handle a limited amount of weight. If a generator is too heavy, there may not be enough space for passengers.
Have a look at the Yamaha EF2000iSV2. It weighs 44 pounds and is very easy to carry. Other than this, its dimensions are pretty good as well. Hence, it will not cover a lot of space on your boat.
Noise and Sound Levels
Now, there are two schools of thought here. Some people believe that it’s okay to get a noisy unit for a boat since a boat is hardly silent. On the other hand, some believe that the generator’s noise coupled with the boat’s noise can be a lot of trouble, hence it is better to go for a silent unit and we couldn’t agree more.
The 56125i from WEN can be a good pick in this regard. It comes with inverter technology and operates at just 51 dBA. It can be a great pick for anyone looking for a silent unit.
Low Oil and Fuel Shut off
This is an important feature as it makes it easier to maintain the unit. Plus, it is also important for the safety of your generator and other appliances.
This feature ensures the generator automatically shuts down if the oil is below the acceptable point. This is important because running a generator in such conditions can harm the engine and also cause damage to other electronics running on it.
Most of the models we’ve reviewed here today have a low oil automatic shutdown feature but one of our favorites is the Pulsar PG4000iSR.
Emergency Stop Function
This feature might not be that common but is handy in situations where you want to halt all operations. If you choose one which doesn’t include this feature, you can always buy and install an emergency stop button kit yourself. The Generac 6866 iQ2000 offers this function and some other cool features.
Other than this, make sure the generator is safe for boats and is durable, affordable, and easy to use.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about boats to help you understand more about the best generator for boats.
Q: Do I need to get my generator boat-ready?
A: Yes, you will have to perform a few simple tasks to make a generator boat-ready.
Ensure that there are no exposed metal or metal parts; this is because they will rust when exposed to salt spray or humid conditions. It’s fairly easy to unscrew the outer layer of your generator and cover the inside with rust preventing spray paint.
Q: Do I need to ground my generator on my boat?
A: The short answer to that question is ‘no’.
Generators only need to be grounded when they are being hooked up to external wiring. Most portable generators do not need to be grounded as per the National Electrical Code 250.34.
Additionally, all modern inverters or generators have a GFCI safety feature which means they will trip if there’s fluctuation or a fault in the flow of power.
Q: What to power on a boat?
A: Well this depends on how big a generator is. In most cases, anything between 1500 to 2500 watts will be good. With such a big unit, you will be able to run a sound system, coffee maker, and even a small refrigerator.
However, be careful when picking a generator as not all units may be able to handle sensitive appliances like laptops and mobile phones.
Q: What is the difference between a conventional and an inverter generator?
Conventional generators are powered by an energy source such as fossil fuel; their motors are attached to an electricity producing alternator. Also, this means their motors need to run constantly to keep up correct current and frequency. A downside here is that if the engine changes speed, the frequency of the electricity will also fluctuate, that’ll affect its output.
On the other hand, an inverter will draw its power from a fixed DC source and will invert that power into usable AC current. These generators are a good option because they use advanced technology. They provide pure SINE Wave which doesn’t fluctuate or cause any problems. Other than this, inverter generators are also typically less noisy than conventional generators.
Q: Will a boat generator only work on a boat?
A: No, you may be able to use it indoors or outdoors to run household appliances.
Safety Tips and Tricks
Here are some useful rules you need to follow in order to reduce the risk of accident:
- Do not refuel your generator while it’s still on the boat as it can lead to accidents.
- Never run it near doors, vents, hatches or windows; this will prevent the cabin from filling with carbon mono-oxide.
- Always inspect your unit for fuel leakages before you turn power it up.
- Make sure you store your unit in a drained locker.
- Never permanently install a portable generator on your boat or make any unauthorized modifications to it.
These are just guidelines that apply to all models or makes, you can find detailed safety warnings in your generator’s manual as well. Read them carefully before installing it.
Safety should always be your first concern when using a generator!
Well, that’s it from us. We have covered everything that you need to know to get your hands on the best generator for boat.
If you ask us, the clear winner out of all the eight best generators for boats that we’ve reviewed today is the Honda EU2200i. Not only does it offer fuel efficiency, but it’s also quiet and runs at just 57 dBA. It offers 2,200 peak watts making it a powerful option. It weighs just 45 pounds, hence it’s compact and portable. You will not have to worry about moving it. Plus, it comes with a warranty which makes it highly reliable.