Everyone loves a great tailgate. But having a good experience requires some effort though. A stacked grill, a well-stocked cooler with an assortment of beer doesn’t always cut it.
Tailgating without entertainment is like playing football without touchdowns – you can win, yes but, it doesn’t feel as fulfilling. The air needs to be filled with more than smoke from the BBQ grill. That’s why you need the best generator for tailgating to keep the music system, TV and whatever else you need to be powered.
Generators are a big purchase. With so many options available, you don’t want to make a completely uneducated risk purchasing one. Don’t despair; we’ve done all the work for you. We’ve spent hours and hours researching; we sifted through dozens of models comparing functionality, reliability, and examined countless customer reviews.
We’ve rounded up our top eight best options, highlighted in the table below – followed by a detailed review. Our buying guide will also help you navigate the confusion between the different models, power outputs, tech specs, and more. We’ll show you exactly what to look for in a tailgating generator.
Let’s begin with brief overviews of all models:
- 2200 starting watts
- 1800 running watts
- 120-volt operation
- Run time up to 8.1 hours
- 0.95-gal tank size
- Noise level of 48 to 57 dBA
- Inverter alternator
- 3-year residential & commercial warranty
Honda is not a new name to the game. It has been around for decades and hugely popular across the world. It’s well known for its well-built, reliable cars & equipment – and the Honda EU2200i is no different.
The Honda EU2200i inverter uses a gas-powered GXR120 engine that was built to perform. It displays consistent and reliable power over long periods courtesy of commercial-grade materials and the inverter technology.
With 2200 surge watts and 1800 rated watts, it offers just the right amount of power you need for your tailgate party. And in case you need more, you can connect two identical models with a cable for a combined 4400 watts of power. Not that you would need such power to keep your tailgating party going but, the feature might come in handy in certain situations.
The portability aspect of this machine makes things considerably easier. It weighs less than 47 pounds and has a convenient handle that lets you take it anywhere be it at your backyard or pro football stadium. Besides, the compact design allows you to store it effortlessly in your trunk or garage.
As far as noise levels go, the EU2200i is remarkably quiet. It only produces 57 decibels when running at its full capacity, which is 100 percent load. This, in fact, is quieter than an average-volume conversation. So, you don’t have to worry about the noise causing disturbance to your fellow tailgaters.
This generator offers excellent fuel efficiency thanks to its Eco-Throttle System. It runs up to 8 hours on a single tank that holds less than a gallon of gas.
The starting operation is quick and easy using the automatic decompressor system and color-coded contact points. It also has a safety feature that shuts your machine off when low oil is detected, protecting you and your investment.
While undoubtedly convenient and reliable, the EU2200i a little bit expensive.
- High quality
- Quiet operation
- Reliable and low maintenance engine
- Easy to operate
- 3-year limited warranty
- A bit expensive
- Only two outlets
- 3100 starting watts
- 2800 running watts
- 1.6-gal fuel tank
- Noise level of 58 dBA
- 120-volt DC outlets and charging cables
- Wireless remote start
- Up to 8 hours run time at 25% load
- 3-year limited warranty with free lifetime technical support
The Champion 75537i is not your typical tailgating generator. Beyond the versatility and convenience, it’s packed with powerful and ease of use features to make your party as seamless as possible. It boasts 3100 watts of peak power and 2800 watts of continuous power. This is more than enough power to keep the party going until the final touchdown.
When it comes to noise levels, it’s rated at 58 decibels which is quiet enough to carry on a normal conversation. It’s pretty much the same or a bit louder as the Honda EU2200i which is rated at 57 dB.
At 25 percent load, the machine can give you 8 hours of continuous usage on a 1.6-gal full tank. This is quite impressive considering its wattage. Besides, it features an economy control switch which reduces fuel consumption while making it even quieter than it already is. The economy mode allows the engine to reduce speed when no electrical load is connected.
There are three ways to start this machine; pressing a button with an on/off switch, pulling the cord and using the remote control. This is convenient in case something goes wrong. The wireless remote control is quite a standout feature as most inverter generators don’t have it.
Designed for safety, the engine automatically shuts off if the oil level in the tank is too low. What’s more, it produces clean power with less than 3 percent total harmonic distortion. This makes it perfectly safe to charge your phone and other sensitive electronics without worrying about damage.
At 96.6 pounds, this generator is quite heavy. Almost twice as heavy as the Honda. But, considering the size, it’s average. Besides, it comes with wheels and built-in handles so you can take your heavy generator to any place effortlessly.
The fact that you don’t have to leave your chair to start it up makes the Champion 75537i an option worth considering for your tailgating party.
- Wireless remote control
- Low oil shutoff sensor
- Fuel efficient
- Reliable power
- 3-year limited warranty
- Lacks fuel gauge
- Parallel capabilities
- 1000 running watts
- 1200 starting watts
- Noise rating of 52 dBA
- Up to 9 hours run time at 50% load
- 2 USB ports
- Holds 0.8-gallon fuel tank
- 2-year limited warranty
Not the most powerful machine on our list but, the Westinghouse iGen1200 is more than capable of powering your outdoor TV equipment. Besides, it’s parallel capable if you need more power. The ability to combine 2 units for double the power makes it an excellent choice for tailgating parties.
With a noise level of 52 decibels at a half load, this machine is super quiet. While the noise level ramps up with a heavier load, the iGen1200 remains quieter than other inverter models on the market.
Weighing just 33 pounds, it’s the lightest generator we’ve reviewed. This lightweight design plus the convenient built-in suitcase-style handle makes it easier to carry around and fit easily into your car.
This model is also reasonably fuel-efficient since it features an efficiency mode that adjusts the engine speed according to the load requirements. With a full tank of fuel, it provides up to 9 hours of run time at 50 percent load. Additionally, it includes two 5V USB ports and a standard household 120V outlet to keep your phone and tablet charged while you continue to party. This model offers a clean, stable power, which is important for running such sensitive electronic devices like mobile phones and laptops.
Westinghouse back this machine with a 2-year limited warranty. Not the best warranty compared to other generators here but, still decent for its price.
If you’re looking for a cheap, lightweight, reliable generator for your tailgating party, this Westinghouse unit is among the best options out there.
- Lightweight and compact
- Parallel ready
- Useful USB ports
- Extremely quiet and fuel-efficient
- Not powerful
- 4750 starting watts/3800 running watts (Gas)
- 4275 starting watts/3420 running watts (LPG)
- Push-button electric start
- Four 120 Volts outlets
- Intelligauge digital display
- Circuit breaker protection
Just like its 75537i brother, the Champion 76533 is a versatile and convenient generator. Producing 3800 running watts and 4750 starting watts on gas, the unit will provide the adequate power you need for powering your large TV, music system, electric smoker, and other appliances.
Its equipped with a 3.4-gallon fuel tank and can run for up to 9 hours at 50 percent load on gas. You can as well opt to use propane, though you’ll get slightly less power – 3420 running wats and 4275 starting watts. When using a 20-pound propane tank, the run time stretches to 10.5 hours.
Another perk of the 76533 is the electric start and cold start technology. This will make your life a whole lot easier, especially if you’re tailgating in cold weather. It also comes with an easy-pull recoil starter as a backup option.
It comes with two 120V 20A household outlets, a 30A locking outlet and a 120V 30A RV power outlet for your convenience. And all the outlets have a circuit breaker protection. It also features a digital display that monitors the voltage, frequency, and running hours.
Given its power capability and size, this generator is not very loud at 68 dB –just a bit louder compared to other models here. The other downside to this machine is that it weighs 119 pounds. While it comes with a handy wheel kit to maneuver the bulky machine, loading it to your trunk is definitely a two-person job.
The low-oil shutoff function provides added protection to extend the life of the generator. Champion Power Equipment stands behind the quality of this generator with an excellent 3-year warranty, plus, free lifetime technical support.
- Dual-fuel option
- Reasonably priced
- Incredibly powerful
- Display for easy monitoring
- Many outlets
- Excellent warranty and support
- A bit loud
- 4400 starting watts/3500 running watts (Gas)
- 4180 starting watts/3325 running watts (LPG)
- Powerful 7 HP engine
- Low oil shutoff function
- MX2 technology
- Two 120V household outlets and a 120/240V 30A lock outlet
- EPA certified, CARB compliant
- 3-year warranty
The DuroMax Hybrid XP4400EH is powered with a 7HP 208 cc dual-fuel engine which produces a staggering 4400 starting watts and 3500 running watts on gas. This is by far the largest generator for tailgating we’ve reviewed. Besides, it uses both gas and propane, making it a great option for environmentally conscious individuals.
If you are using the more efficient propane, you’ll get 4180 peak watts and 3325 running watts. Not quite as powerful but, still sufficient for your tailgating power needs. The generator also has a dual voltage that can provide an output of both 120 Volts and 240 Volts. With its 4-gallon fuel capacity, the XP4400EH can run up to 8 hours on one tank of gas at 50 percent load. On a standard 20-pound tank of propane at the same load capacity, it can run up to 20 hours.
Due to its power output, this generator runs a little loud, at 69 decibels. This is equal to community noise ordinances. On the brighter side, the noise level is similar to other bigger models. The best thing you can do is to set up the generator slightly farther from your tailgate area.
The keyed electric start feature makes it very easy to use while the recoil cord adds another level of backup. The idle control incorporated in the machine lowers the RPMs when not in use, saving fuel and reducing noise
Like most generators on the list, it features a low oil shutoff function that protects your investment from damage. At 132 pounds, the DuroMax XP4400EH is not a lightweight generator. But it’s in the normal range considering the size of the machine. Furthermore, the solid wheel kit makes it easier to move around.
An all-metal construction plus a large, powerful engine, makes this unit one of the best generators for tailgating.
- Covered by a 3-year warranty
- Powerful dual-fuel engine
- Dual voltage
- Impressive runtime, especially on propane
- Sturdy and well made
- It’s still heavy for its output size
- A bit noisy
- Muffler with USFS-approved spark arrestor
- 1600 running watts
- 2000 starting watts
- 1.1-gal fuel tank
- 10.5 hours runtime at 50 percent load
- Two 120V outlets
- Noise level of 51.5 to 61 dBA
- Weights 44.1 pounds
This vintage-inspired generator offers more than just cool looks. The Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is light (weighs less than 45 pounds) but, very powerful. This little monster puts out a maximum of 2000 continuous running watts. Considering its small size, this is quite commendable.
It also incorporates the Smart Throttle Technology that adjusts engine speed based on load. This, in turn, improves fuel economy while reducing noise. Speaking of, this Yamaha is among the quietest generators for tailgating courtesy of the muffler spark arrestor. These suitcase-style generators tend to be quieter than their open-frame counterparts.
It boasts a 1.1-gallon tank that surprisingly runs up to almost 11 hours. The decompressor system makes starting this generator very easy. It reduces the force required to turn on the engine; making it a great addition to your party. The warm auto feature also comes in handy when tailgating in the cold.
When you’re low on oil, the Oil Watch Warning system will let you know, so you can take action to prevent engine damage. We all know how expensive repairs can get. The electrical overload breaker, on the other hand, ensures no damage will take place due to overload. The fuel gauge is also a nice addition.
For convenience, it comes with two 120v AC outlets and a 12V outlet to charge your batteries. With a 3-year warranty, you can depend on this high-efficiency generator.
- Quiet and smooth operation
- Highly portable
- Excellent warranty
- Great design
- Oil Watch Warning system
- Price is on the higher side
- True Power Technology
- 1700 running watts
- 2200 starting watts
- Economy mode
- 1.2-gallon fuel tank
- Parallel capability
- LED status lights
- Off/Run/Choke knob
At first glance, the Generac 7117 GP2200i looks like a big bleach bottle than a portable inverter generator. In addition to its compact and lightweight design, it features a 1.2-gallon gas tank that can run for 7 hours at 50 percent load.
It’s powered by an 80cc OHV engine which amazingly produces 1700 watts of running power and a 2200 starting wattage. This will keep your TV, mini-fridge, radio and other appliances powered until the final whistle. The machine is also parallel ready; hence, you can connect another inverter to double the power.
The parallel kit is sold separately, so if you need one buy Generac 7118 kit, which is specially designed to work with this generator.
With the economy mode feature, you’ll enjoy reduced noise and lower fuel consumption. It also helps in extending your generator’s life. Like most Generac generators, it features the True Power technology which provides clean, stable power for sensitive electronics. So, there’s no need to worry that the generator will damage your expensive smartphone.
Weighing less than 47 pounds, this is among the lighter options here. But the tradeoff for these lightweight generators is power. Along with the unique design, the built-in handle makes it easy to transport and store the machine.
Another great feature is the ease of use. While it does not have an electric start, the starter cord is easy to pull. It usually starts on the first or second pull. Moreover, the off/run/choke knob makes the whole operation considerably easier. The LED status indicators also go a long way in protecting your investment. It alerts you on low-oil, power, and overload.
The machine has two outlets; a 12V DC outlet and a USB outlet to power your batteries and other small electronic devices. The outlets are enclosed to prevent dirt and debris from getting in when not in use.
Despite its clever design and power, Generac only offers a 2-year limited residential warranty for this product. It’s a bit disappointing as most generators in the same range as the Yamaha have better warranties.
- Easy to use and store
- Clean power for sensitive electronics
- Hassle-free transportation
- Long run time
- 2 years limited warranty for residential use
- 2000 starting watts
- 1700 running watts
- Noise rating of 51 dBA
- 1-gallon fuel tank capacity
- 1.2 percent total harmonic distortion
- Up to 7 hours runtime at half load
- Economy mode switch
- Parallel capability
- 78cc 4-stroke OHV engine
The WEN 56202i sums up our list of the best generators for tailgating. While it’s not the biggest powerhouse at 1700 running watts and 2000 starting watts, you’ll be impressed by its performance. Perhaps the biggest selling point of this unit is the super-quiet operation.
The 78cc OHV engine, although a bit smaller compared to other units here, operates extremely quiet. At only 51 decibels at half load, it will not interfere with your neighbors’ gameday festivities. Its fuel tank has a 1-gallon capacity that runs up to 7 hours at 50 percent power load. This should be enough power to get you through a few hours of tailgating activities. With a total harmonic distortion of less than 1.2 percent at full load, it’s safe to run your laptop, TV and other sensitive appliances.
The real standout feature of this machine is the number of outlets it offers. It has two 120V duplex outlets (three-prong), a 12V DC outlet and two 5V USB ports. Another impressive perk is its weight. It only weighs 38 pounds, which makes it easy to carry. It doesn’t have wheels which shouldn’t be a problem as it’s still manageable to transport from one place to the next.
Starting and stopping the generator is very easy thanks to its 3-in-1 power dial engine switch – off, on and choke. The eco-mode is also an excellent addition. It modifies the speed of the engine according to the power of the load. This maximizes fuel economy while reducing operational noise. It’s also parallel, ready and backed by a 2-year limited warranty.
WEN 56202i is the second least expensive unit on the list, but it offers more in comparison to other higher-priced options. It fits the bill for those looking a generator capable of powering their tailgating equipment at a pocket-friendly price tag.
- Reasonably priced
- Extremely quiet
- Easy to operate and carry
- Economy mode
- Several AC and USB outlets
- Not so powerful
When investing in a new generator for your tailgating or camping needs, there’s a lot more at play than how much power it produces. You’ll have to consider the portability aspect of it for easier transportation.
Noise levels, of course, is another concern as you don’t want to distract your fellow tailgaters. Budget is another aspect that comes to play. Do you intend to use the generator for other activities? And which other features might be super helpful to you?
Before taking the plunge to consider:
It’s highly likely you’re going to be around people when tailgating. Even if you find space in a remote area, chances are, you won’t be alone. And the last thing you want is to disrupt other tailgaters or your guests’ enjoyment of the game with an irritating whirring generator noise. That’s why the noise factor can be a big problem
Fortunately, technologies have advanced, and more generators like the WEN 56202i and the Honda EU2200i are designed to operate more quietly. Furthermore, most units on our list throw off only 50-60 decibels of noise, which is equivalent to an average conversation.
Tip: Opt for inverter over traditional generators as they tend to operate more quietly.
When we talk of size, we don’t mean the dimensions of the generator but rather the amount of power it produces. It’s usually measured in watts. The power output determines the number of appliances and tools that can run simultaneously. In short, the generator’s wattage should comfortably handle the total wattage requirements of the devices and appliances you need powering up. Luckily, an average tailgating party doesn’t require too much power.
A generator that produces 2000 watts can be enough to power your big screen TV, stereo system with speakers, electric grill, floodlights, and other small appliances. But if you need more power, some generators like the Westinghouse iGen1200 and the Generac 7117 GP2200i can be combined with their respective identical models to generate twice the power without sacrificing portability.
However, if you also intend to use the generator to run your household appliances in case of a power outage, you need to consider a unit with a higher capacity. If you only have a few appliances like the refrigerator, gas furnace, lighting, and TV, the DuroMax Hybrid XP4400EH is more than capable of handling your power needs.
If you are planning to use your generator for only a few hours, this shouldn’t be much of concern. But who are we kidding? The chants and the party continue after the game most of the time. So, the size of the tank along with its run time needs to be taken into account lest you want to refuel every other hour.
Generators usually indicate their run time at 25 percent or 50 percent load. An average generator for tailgating can run more than 6 hours at 50 percent load. Majority of our favorite options have more. And there are delightful exceptions like the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 that run for an impressive 11 hours of continuous operation at 50 percent load.
Regardless of the run time, having a spare gallon of gas is highly recommended in case an emergency arises.
Since you’ll be transporting your generator to and from your tailgate area, portability is crucial. While most inverter generators are designed with portability in mind, they vary in dimensions and weight. The Westinghouse iGen1200, for example, is the lightest generator on our list and the DuroMax Hybrid the heaviest. This hybrid model, however, has a wheel kit making maneuverability a breeze.
In most cases, the higher the output, the heavier the generator becomes. If your generator is bulky then it must have wheels for easier transportation to your tailgate. Generators, heavy and lightweight alike, should also come with convenient carry handles. This will make it easier to load and offload the machine from your car.
Just like any other investment, it’s crucial to know the budget you have to work with. Your tailgating generator should fit both your power needs and budget. Prices of inverter generators can vary drastically. But don’t get caught up in the numbers – just go for the one that aligns with your power requirements.
Further, affordability doesn’t necessarily mean a sacrifice of performance, but you’ll likely get a less powerful generator. Don’t be swayed by popular brands though. There are lesser-known models like the WEN 56202i that don’t cost as much but offer more in terms of features, performance, and reliability.
Safety and Special Features
Whether you want the smallest or the largest generator, you want it to come with features to make use safer and easier. Low oil shut off is an important safety feature that you need to consider. It prevents engine damage by shutting off if oil falls below a certain level.
Keeping your guests and your phones charged up the entire tailgate is important. However, these devices are sensitive and can easily be damaged with an irregular flow of voltage. That’s why you need a generator that provides clean power to charge your devices safely. Luckily, inverter generators are designed to produce the cleanest power possible. Most options on our list are inverters.
Some generators also come with user-friendly features such as fuel-level indicators and remote controls. The wireless remote start like the one on the Champion 75537i is the most impressive and our favorite. It takes the hassle out of pull-starting the engine.
We hope you can now easily navigate the sea of power outputs, noise levels, and run times!
Q: How Many Watts Does a TV Use?
A: Televisions range from 20 to 400 watts, depending on the size, technology, and manufacturer. Modern big-screen televisions consume less than 250 watts. But obviously the larger the TV, the higher the power usage.
To find your TV’s wattage, check the label on the back or bottom. If it’s not listed, you can either use the electricity usage monitor or get an estimate from television energy calculators.
Q: How Many Watts Do I Need for Tailgating?
A: It depends on your tailgating game but, mostly you will only need around 1000-2200 watts. This should power your TV set, audio system, electric cooler, your guests’ phones, and a few basic gadgets. But if you’re planning to kick things up a notch with coffee makers, powerful fans, ice makers, electric grills and other extravagant items, you will need 3000-5000 watts there about.
Keep in mind: you can always parallel two smaller generators for double the power. This can be a convenient option instead of purchasing a heavier, larger generator.
Q: How Can I Reduce the Noise on my Tailgating Generator?
A: The exhaust system and vibrations in the engine housing are the main culprits of noise from generators. To minimize the noise, you can add a muffler to the exhaust pipe, place the unit on a sound absorbing pad, and build an enclosure around the generator.
It also helps moving it further away from your party set up (get an extension cord to accommodate this).
There you have it – our complete guide on the best generator for tailgating. We want you to have the best tailgating experience possible and our overall favorite, the Honda EU2200i can help you get ready for your next tailgate. We love its lightweight and compact design as well as the safety features. We also liked the Champion 75537i despite the weight. Its incredible performance and advanced features overshadow the weight factor.
We are always on the look-out for newer models with strong performance and ready update this guide accordingly!