Best Generators For Tailgating

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.

You’re halfway through the big game, the grill is running, the beers are cooling and — the power goes out. That budget generator you overloaded with equipment just couldn’t stand it, and now the tailgate is ruined. You might as well pack up and head home.

Best Generators For Tailgating

Adding a generator can take your tailgate party to the next level, but a bad generator is worse than no generator at all. Noisy, heavy, and unable to power a cooler for ten minutes, rather than sitting in the background, a bad generator becomes the center of attention. 

If your generator cuts out halfway through a crucial play, then you’ll find yourself wishing you’d done a little more research. Take a look at this guide to find the best generators for tailgating, and keep the power going until the party is over.

Best Generators For Tailgating

OUR TOP PICK

Compact, quiet, and high-performing, the Briggs & Stratton PowerSmart Inverter Generator is our top choice for tailgating.

Delivering 1700W of continuous running power, with a rating of 2200W, this generator has an excellent power output for such a small size.

As an inverter generator, the Briggs & Stratton offers smoother power that can be used to charge even sensitive devices such as laptops.

The parallel port allows you to connect two units, in case you need even more power, and a monitoring system alerts you when action is needed.

The generator comes with multiple outlets, and a USB port allows you to charge your phone with the sophisticated current.

At quarter load, the Briggs & Stratton has a volume level of 59dBA, which is quiet enough to be lost in conversation.

This is thanks to the noise-reducing shell, which reduces the overall volume while protecting the delicate components. Compact, the Briggs & Stratton generator comes with a twin handle for easy transport.

However, at 50lbs, it is slightly on the heavy side.

Pros

  • 8-hour runtime - A long runtime that should last throughout your event.
  • H-shaped handle - Easy to hold and carry.
  • 2200 starting watts and 1700 running watts - Good power for a compact generator.

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a fuel gauge.

Also available for purchase from Team Tractor and Mowers At Jacks.

EDITORS CHOICE

The Westinghouse iGen2200 Portable Inverter Generator is an excellent choice if you want an efficient unit with the power and portability for tailgating.

With a 2200 peak watt rating and 1800 rated watts, this generator has all the power you need.

On a 1.2 gallon gas tank, the Westinghouse iGen2200 has a 12-hour run time, with “economy mode” ensuring you get the most efficient performance from your generator.

The 80cc Westinghouse engine is durable as well as efficient, and has an automatic low oil shutdown to protect the engine.

Using stable power with less than 3% THD, this generator can be used to charge sensitive electronics as well as any coolers or refrigerators. It’s also pretty quiet, and can be operated as low as 52dBA.

The Westinghouse iGen2200 isn’t ideal if you want to run large appliances for a long length of time, but this doesn’t matter when it comes to tailgating.

If you do need extra power, this is a parallel capable generator, and can be used alongside other generators to increase the output.

Pros

  • 4-stroke OHV engine - Automatically adjusts speed for peak efficiency.
  • Built-in suitcase handle - Easily transportable.
  • Two 120V 20 amp outlets and two USB outlets - Power your way.

Cons

  • A little clunky to use, we recommend fully reading the manual before starting.

Also available for purchase from Power Equipment Direct and Acme Tools.

BEST VALUE

The WEN 56203i portable inverter generator is a quiet and compact choice that offers an adaptable performance for tailgating.

The eco-mode is a highlight of this generator, as it automatically adjusts the fuel consumption depending on the usage.

This ensures the generator runs efficiently for longer, and doesn’t waste power that isn’t needed. With a small build and an integrated carry handle, the WEN 56203I is easily portable.

It’s also surprisingly light, weighing just 39lbs. For tailgating, this means the generator can be quickly moved and transported. It can also be operated quietly, at just 51dBA at quarter load.

The WEN 56200i generator offers multiple power ports: two 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle, and two 5V USB ports.

This allows you to charge and power multiple ways, whatever devices you may be using.

Producing 2000 surge watts and 1700rated watts, it isn't the most powerful generator, but the clean power does allow for safe charging of electronics, and the fuel shutoff increases the overall lifespan.

Pros

  • 39lbs - A lightweight generator with excellent portability.
  • 51dBA at quarter load - Exceptionally quiet.
  • Parallel connection capability - Increase the power output with parallel connections.

Cons

  • Some users have found the WEN to be smoky.

Also available for purchase from WEN Products.

RUNNER UP

Honda generators are associated with quality, and we’ll be upfront: this is not a budget purchase.

However, the Honda EU2200i is a generator that really delivers a high quality performance, with commercial grade reliability.

The Honda EU2200i has a maximum AC output of 2200W, and can run for 8.1 hours at quarter load. It’s also surprisingly quiet, operating at 57dBA at rated load, and 48dBA at quarter load.

While the generator engine was originally designed for handling heavy duty construction equipment, this compact model can be used for tailgating thanks to the smaller package.

Weighing roughly 47lbs, it might not be the lightest generator on the market, but it’s still pretty exceptional, particularly for the power output.

The Honda Eu2200i also offers a hands-off approach. Connecting to the Honda My Generator App via the Bluetooth capability, you can monitor the operation of the generator remotely.

This feature allows you to actually enjoy tailgating rather than watching over the generator.

You can also relax knowing the CO-Minder automatically monitors carbon monoxide levels, and will shut the generator down before it becomes a risk.

Pros

  • 48 to 57dBA - A quiet performance, particularly at quarter load.
  • 8.1 hour runtime - Excellent fuel efficiency.
  • Smartphone enhanced - Monitor and control the generator remotely.

Cons

  • Price - An expensive generator, with a premium performance you might not need for tailgating.

Also available for purchase from Acme Tools and Camping World.

RUNNER UP

Quick starting, efficient, and easy to operate, the Champion Power Equipment Portable Inverter generator provides a solid performance for tailgating.

It’s a fantastic generator for those who want a high performance at minimum effort.

The Champion generator doesn’t have the highest power rating, with 2000 starting watts and 1600 running watts using gasoline, and 1800 starting watts and 1440 running watts using propane.

However, what it lacks in output it makes up for in other ways, particularly the easy starting. This generator can be operated straight out of the box, whether using gasoline or propane.

Although the power rating is reduced, it should still be more than enough for tailgating. And operated at a quarter load, the Champion generator can run for 11 hours.

With a noise level of 53dBA, the Champion generator is reasonably quiet, and should get lost in the general conversation.

The digital power panel is easy to read, and ensures even those with minimal generator experience can operate the model smoothly. Straight from the box, the Champion generator can power your parties.

Pros

  • EZ Start Dial - Works quickly and easily, straight from the box.
  • 11 hours at 25% load - Fuel efficient for a long runtime.
  • Low oil shut-off sensor - Extend the life of the generator with auto shut-off.

Cons

  • Price - A lower-power generator with a large price tag.

Also available for purchase from Walmart.

Best Generators For Tailgating Buying Guide

No one wants a tailgating party to end before it’s even started because of a bad generator. There are a few features that are vital when choosing a generator for tailgating, but less important if you’re considering a back-up power supply for the home.

From noise to portability, the right generator for tailgating might not be the most obvious choice. We’ve put together this buyer’s guide to help you find the right generator for tailgating.

Power

The power is typically the first thing we look at when considering a generator, and it is an important feature when you need a generator for tailgating. For tailgating, we recommend a power output of around 2000 watts. This should be enough to get everything started, and to keep it all running.

The best method for choosing a suitable power output is to consider exactly what you will need the generator to power. Add up the wattage of each item the generator will be charging, to find exactly what power output you need.

If you plan on running multiple items, such as cooking equipment and electronics, you may find a small and portable generator doesn’t do the job.

Runtime

No one wants a tailgating party to come to an early end because the generator gave up. The runtime refers to how long the generator can keep going, and it will often be calculated on a full load and a quarter load.

The longer the runtime, the better, but keep in mind that for a longer runtime you tend to need a bigger generator. For tailgating, consider how long your electronics will actually be drawing power: the refrigerator full of beer might not need to be plugged in the entire time.

On the other hand, if you’re powering a TV with the generator, you want to make sure it can run for the length of the game.

Weight

A generator for tailgating needs to be portable, as you have to carry it to wherever the party is happening. It should have a low weight and a compact build, so it can be transported with minimum effort.

Portable generators tend to be around 50lbs, with really lightweight options weighing under 40lbs. A low weight typically comes with a slight power trade-off, so you may prefer to keep the extra pounds for a better power output.

Handle And Portability

Low weight isn’t the only factor that makes a generator portable: the shape and handle play a large role. Portable generators typically come with built-in handles. If they don’t have a handle, then they aren’t very portable.

Even compact generators are bulky by nature, and getting a decent grip on the handle is necessary for easy movement.

Decibel Level

Imagine trying to hold a conversation and watch the match standing right next to a power drill: this is what it’s like trying to tailgate with a noisy generator.

Decibel level is an incredibly important factor, as a loud generator can ruin the party atmosphere. No one wants to miss a crucial play because the sound was drowned out by the humming of the generator.

A decent decibel level is around 55dBA. Reasonably quiet, you’ll know the generator is running, but it shouldn’t disturb conversation. Under 50dBA is exceptional, and the lower, the better.

Portable generators often offer a lower decibel level, as they’re designed for camping. However, for budget generators, a lower decibel level tends to mean a smaller power output.

The decibel level shouldn’t be your primary concern, or you might end up with a silent generator that can’t power anything.

Auto Shut-Off

No one wants to spend a party constantly checking on the fuel level of the generator. But if you let the generator burn through the fuel, it can damage the engine.

Auto shut-off ensures that when the fuel level gets low, the generator will automatically shut down. It prevents the engine from receiving any damage, which can also protect your devices.

Many generators use auto shut-off as a standard safety feature, and it provides peace of mind.

Durability And Casing

A portable generator needs to have a solid and durable casing that can protect the engine from knocks and bumps. Tailgating can be messy, particularly as the day goes on and people start to have fun.

Look for a generator with good, durable casing that can withstand the occasional knock or spill. Durable casing also adds to the portability, allowing you to get a good hold on the generator.

Smooth Power

Something to consider if you plan on hooking your generator up to a laptop or TV to watch the game is the quality of the power. Some generators aren’t safe to use with sensitive electronics, and can end up seriously damaging your expensive equipment.

If you plan on using your generator for both tailgating and camping, then the quality of the power is even more important.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency can lengthen the runtime and save you money, and it’s a feature to consider when buying any generator. For tailgating, it’s likely that you will be using the generator on and off for different things throughout the day.

Fuel efficiency ensures the generator is only using the exact amount of power it needs, and not wasting anything. It’s also important to consider the type of fuel the generator uses, but this is an essential consideration whatever you plan on using the generator for.

If you’re tailgating, you want to ensure the fuel is easy to find, so if you run out away from home, you can get the generator going again.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Power A Tailgate?

The best way to power a tailgate is using a portable generator. Portable generators, particularly inverter generators, are lightweight and easy to carry, provide several hours of runtime, and are quieter than the standard generator.

These can keep your tailgate going, and the easy to use portable generator ensures you won’t spend the entire party checking your power source.

What Size Generator Is Needed For Tailgating?

A 2000 watts generator is typically enough to power a tailgate, but it does depend on exactly what you need it to run. For a large tailgate with plenty of food options and entertainment, you may need a larger generator, over 5000 watts.

However, these are bulky, and can be tough to travel with. The best way to decide the necessary output is to calculate the wattage of everything the generator will be powering.

How Do You Choose A Generator For Tailgating?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a generator for tailgating, but the most important ones are portability, power output, and decibel level. A good generator for tailgating should be quiet, easy to move, and be able to power all your equipment for several hours.

Other features to consider include the quality of the power, the fuel used, and how efficient the generator is.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let a bad generator pull the plug on an epic tailgate. A quiet portable generator can keep the party going, with a longer runtime and a low decibel performance.

We love the Briggs & Stratton portable generator, but make sure to consider all the options on our list, and take a look at the buyer’s guide. We hope you can find the perfect generator for you.