While many of the products we review here are readily available to purchase and operate without a license, we always recommend hiring a qualified electrician to install and demonstrate their use.
In some cases, improper use and installation may result in a breach of insurance. Even worse, you could be putting yourself or your family at risk as an incorrectly installed electrical device could start a fire. So, don’t risk it - seek the services of a fully licensed electrician instead.
Adding a portable generator to a boat can really transform your sailing experience. Practical and powerful, a portable generator means you can have all your favorite conveniences when you’re traveling the waves. But how do you choose the right generator?
A generator for a boat is not always a simple purchase. A bad generator can leave you out to sea with nothing charged, turning your fun trip into a long day.
Worse, a bad generator can be dangerous on a boat, and can actually cause accidents. You don’t just want to grab that old generator hanging around in your shed!
But the right generator is an excellent addition to a boat. To help you find the best generator for a boat, we’ve put together this list of our favorites, plus a handy buyer’s guide. Read on to find the right generator for you.
The 5 Best Generators For Boats
OUR TOP PICK
The Honda EU2200i uses a Honda GXR120 engine, which was originally created to be used at commercial level.
That should give you some idea of just how good this generator is. The Honda EU2200i is a premium portable generator, and if you don’t mind the cost, you will love the performance.
Weighing slightly more than 47lbs, the Honda EU2200i is an inverter generator designed to be used on the go. Lightweight with a large handle and a durable case, it can be transported and stored easily.
With a 2200 watts rating, it can provide plenty of power to even large machinery. And as an inverter generator, the smooth current is suitable for delicate electronic equipment, such as smartphones.
Speaking of smartphones, the Honda EU2200i can actually be linked to yours.
Connecting to the Honda My Generator app via Bluetooth, you can remotely monitor the generator, and be informed when it needs a service.
As a premium model, the Honda EU2200i is an expensive generator. However, the compact, quiet, and powerful performance does justify the price.
- 48 to 57dBA - Quiet at full load and quarter load.
- CO-MINDER - Monitors carbon monoxide levels, and shuts down the generator before a problem can occur.
- 8.1 hours quarter load runtime - Runs for longer.
- Expensive - This is a premium model with a premium price tag.
Portable and affordable, the WEN 56200i is an inverter generator that gets the job done without a massive price tag.
Although it might be a budget pick, there are many great features to the WEN 56200i. Operating at 53dB, it’s reasonably quiet, and the sound can get lost in conversation.
The clean power can be used to safely charge smartphones, tablets, and computers, and there are multiple outlets for better charging.
Two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle, and one 5V USB port ensure the WEN 56200i can be used in many ways.
The WEN 56200i has a 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine, which produces 2000 start watts, and 1600 rated watts. It isn’t the most powerful generator out there, but it can be used to charge many devices.
Put it in eco-mode, and the WEN 56200i can run for a long time.
And if you do need any extra power, a WEN parallel kit can be used to link two WEN generators, and provide you with an increased total wattage.
- 12V DC receptacle, 5V USB Port, and two 120V receptacles - Multiple outlets for different devices.
- Built-in carry handle - Easy to transport.
- 48lbs - A lightweight generator.
- Tall, so it can be difficult to store.
The DuroMax DS4000S portable generator is a generator for those who need a lot of power at a lower price.
It isn’t an inverter generator, so the current isn’t smooth enough to be used for delicate equipment. However, if you need to charge up something big that takes a lot of power, this is an excellent option.
At its peak, the DuroMax DS4000S has a power output of 4000 watts, with 3300 running watts. This is a generator that can power multiple things at once, with the 208cc OHV engine able to handle many jobs.
Low oil shut-off protects the engine, by shutting down before the generator can run out of oil.
But thanks to the 4 gallon gas tank, it takes a while for the DuroMax DS4000S to burn through fuel — it has a runtime of up to 8 hours.
All copper wiring and an all metal construction make this a sturdy generator that won’t be damaged by the occasional knock or bump.
It is heavy - 94lbs, in fact - but that’s to be expected with this much power. The DuroMax is fantastic if you want a generator that can be used on the boat, and around the home.
- 4000 watts surge power, 3300 watts running power - Exceptionally powerful, can charge multiple items at once.
- 8 hour runtime - Keeps going for longer.
- Low oil shut-off - Protects the engine by switching off when the oil gets low.
- A heavy generator, it lacks the portability of inverter generators.
The Pulsar PG2200BiS is a dual fuel inverter generator with a portable design, a long runtime, and a high power output.
It can be a little noisy, but the overall performance of the Pulsar is excellent for use on a boat. Dual fuel generators can be used with two different fuel sources: gas, or LPG.
The major benefit to this is convenience. It allows you to use whatever fuel you have easy access to.
If you’re looking for a generator for a boat, dual fuel allows you to travel further, without worrying about finding fuel.
The impact-resistant casing also makes this an excellent generator for boat use, as it travels well. As well as dual fuel capabilities, the Pulsar PG2200BiS delivers a versatile performance.
With a maximum wattage of 2200 and a running wattage of 1800 (using gas), this is a compact generator with a powerful output.
As an inverter generator, the Pulsar PG2200BiS can be used with sensitive electronics. It’s a bit louder than some of our other top options at 60dB, but the operation is still reasonably quiet.
- Two 120V 15A AC outlets, and 1 5V USB outlet - Multiple outlets offer different ways to charge.
- Dual fuel - Choose a fuel source that works for you.
- 44lbs - Incredibly lightweight.
- 60dB - Louder than other inverter generators.
The portability of the Westinghouse iGen2200 portable inverter generator is excellent, which is why it’s one of our top choices for boat generators.
Lightweight with a durable build and an excellent runtime, this generator is perfect for those who like to get out on the water frequently.
At just 46lbs, the Westinghouse iGen2200 is easy to carry, particularly as it has a built-in suitcase-style handle. When not in use, the compact build can be packed into storage.
The 80cc engine is durable, with a strong outer casing that doesn’t damage easily. With a 2200 watts peak rating and a 1800 watts running rating, the Westinghouse iGen2200 has exceptional power output.
It can also run for longer — the 1.2 gallon gas tank has a potential runtime of 12 hours. As an inverter generator, the Westinghouse iGen2200 can be used to power sensitive electronics.
With two 120V 20A outlets and two USB outlets, you have plenty of options for charging. And running at just 52dBA, the noise output is minimal.
- Economy mode - Fuel efficient for a longer runtime.
- 46lbs - A lightweight generator in a compact and easy to transport build.
- Two 120V 20 amp outlets and two USB outlets - Power your way.
- It can be difficult to use, so it’s worth fully reading the manual before you get started.
Best Generators For Boat Buying Guide
Is there a worse place to find out you’ve bought a bad generator than in the middle of the sea? No one wants to be enjoying a day on the boat, only to find their generator is a clunker with a bad power output, short runtime, and a horrible noise level.
To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, we’ve put together this buyer’s guide. Read on to find the key features that separate a bad boat generator from a generator that will quickly become your first mate!
No matter how you intend to use your generator, one of the first things to consider is the power output. You don’t want to get out on the boat, only to discover that the generator can’t power your appliances.
A good power output for a boat generator is around 2000 watts. This should be enough to power your standard appliances, with something to spare.
However, the best way to choose the power output of your generator is to add up the wattage of your appliances. Calculate exactly what the generator will need to power, and then buy a model with the wattage to match.
Weight is an essential consideration when choosing a generator for a boat. It should be light enough to transport easily on and off the boat. Depending on the size of the boat, you also want to ensure the generator won’t weigh the whole thing down.
Although a low weight is better, avoid any generator that’s too light. This is more likely to get damaged. Or, worse, knocked overboard. Between 40 and 60lbs is considered reasonably portable.
Build And Portability
Weight isn’t the only factor affecting portability: the build and overall design of the generator need to be considered as well. A compact build is not only better for transport, but easier to store, and you’ll find it helps to securely situate the generator on your boat.
A handle is also incredibly useful. Generators can be bulky, but the handle will make it easier to carry.
The runtime is how long the generator can provide power for, and it’s typically calculated at a quarter load. This is determined by the fuel capacity, and the fuel efficiency.
A larger fuel capacity will result in a longer runtime, but these generators tend to be heavier and bulkier. Fuel efficient generators only use enough fuel to power the current load, and will automatically adapt to the load level.
Using all its power, the generator will have a lower runtime, and this can often be calculated by dividing the total runtime by four. A runtime of 8 hours is pretty decent, but upwards of 10 is excellent.
You never want to refuel on the boat, as this can lead to accidents and injuries. Instead, look for a generator with a runtime that will suit your needs.
An inverter generator is typically more efficient and more portable, making it an excellent choice for use on a boat.
But there’s another reason why we think the inverter generator is better for use on a boat: inverter generators produce a cleaner, smoother power, which can be used to charge delicate electrical devices.
While a standard generator might damage your phone or computer, an inverter generator can safely power sensitive equipment.
Depending on how you intend to use your generator, this might be a crucial element. Inverter generators are also versatile, and the smooth current is excellent for camping trips.
Durability And Casing
You don’t want to leave your generator on the boat all the time, which means it will need to be transported back and forth. Add on the general wear and tear from being used, and you need a generator with good durability.
Many portable generators come with strong outer casing that protects the delicate components inside.
Most of us choose a boat trip for a chance to relax to the sound of the sea, or, at least, to have a good conversation with friends. What you don’t want to hear is the relentless hum of a noisy generator.
The decibel level is the noise produced by the generator as it runs. Like runtime, decibel level tends to be calculated on a quarter load, but the total decibel level for a full load should only be slightly higher.
A decent decibel level is under 55, and an excellent decibel level is under 50. At 55dB, you can hear the generator, but it should blend into the background. Any louder than 60dB, and you might find the generator a disturbance.
The included outlets determine what you can use the generator for, so this isn’t a feature to overlook. The number of outlets is also important, as it determines how much you can charge in one go.
Most generators include at least one 120V 20A AC outlet, and many inverter generators have USB ports.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use A Portable Generator On A Boat?
Yes, portable generators can be used on boats, and they’re an excellent way to power up appliances and devices. However, you must use the generator correctly, or it could be dangerous.
Make sure to ground the generator before use, never refuel on the boat, and take care when transporting or storing.
How Do I Protect A Portable Generator From Water?
There are several methods you can use to protect your generator from water for use on a boat. First, you might want to invest in a cowling or cover, to act as a strong guard for your generator engine.
Second, a waterproof spray can be used to protect delicate parts from water and moisture. Finally, rubber feet can lift the generator off the floor, providing an excellent level of protection.
As well as these preventative methods, the best way to protect your generator is to be careful with it. Store it securely, don’t overload it, and check the fuel level when the generator is in use.
What Features Should I Look For In A Generator For A Boat?
The power output and runtime are essential considerations when choosing a generator for a boat. The power output ensures you can charge everything you want to use, while the runtime means the generator won’t shut off when you’re still out to sea.
Consider as well if you need the clean current of an inverter generator, for charging sensitive items. Portability is another key factor. You must be able to move the generator on and off the boat as needed, and store it securely. Weight plays a large part in this.
The noise level isn’t a crucial element, but a quieter generator is significantly more pleasant to use.
The Honda EU2200i is our top choice of generator for a boat, but this premium design is just one of the excellent models we’ve found. Consider the runtime, power output, and portability when making your choice. We hope this guide has helped you find the perfect generator for your boat.