5 Best Tailgate Generator Options for 2020

Time to Read: 8 minutes

Not every tailgate needs a generator, but if you intend to bring a TV, some loud music, or even a mini-fridge or mini kegerator, a tailgate generator is going to be a necessity. After plenty of research, trial and error, and talking to tailgate buddies, we’ve come up with a list of our top 5 tailgate generators, and we’ll cover them below. 

If you need a tailgate generator, you’ll find one that suits you here.

Our Best Tailgate Generators for 2020

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

*** OUR TOP PICK *** Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt 120-Volt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

Honda sets the standard for generators. This is the leader of the pack, but you’ll pay for it in price.

The Honda EU2200i provides portable power and is designed to be quieter than comparable models. It runs between 48 to 57 dBA, which is quieter than an average conversation. It also delivers 10% more power than the previous model, EU2000i, and can be hooked up in parallel with a Honda EU2200i Companion generator to double the overall power output.

Specs

  • Size: 16x20x11 inches, 40 pounds
  • Power: 2200w surge / 1800w running
  • Loudness: 48 to 58 dBA
  • Outlets: 2x 120V AC, 1x 12V DC
  • Fuel Efficiency: Up to 8.1 hours on 0.95 gallon of gas
  • Warranty: 3 years

Pros

  • Quiet operation
  • 10% more power (+200 watts) than the previous EU2000i model
  • Two of these generators can be hooked up to create 4400 watts of power
  • The Eco-Throttle system encourages fuel efficiency, and the generator can run from 4 to almost 10 hours on a single tank.
  • Fuel shut off valve that lets you run the carburetor dry.
  • Efficient ventilation to allow safer cooling off.

Cons

  • No fuel gauge may make it hard to see when you need to top it up.
  • Oil changes are messy. 
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WEN 56200i 2000 Watt Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator

This 2000 watt portable inverter generator has a running wattage of 1600. It includes an eco-mode to save on gas and can be connected in parallel to another WEN generator to increase power output. It’s a pretty noisy generator compared to its peers, but the price cannot be beat. It is less than half the price of the Honda EU2200i with a similar power output.

Specs 

  • Size: 18x18x11 inches, 48 pounds
  • Power: 2000w surge / 1600w running
  • Loudness: 53 dB
  • Outlets: 2x 120V ac, 1x 12V DC, 1x 5V USB
  • Fuel Efficiency: 9.4 hours on 1 gallon of gas
  • Warranty: 2 years

Pros

  • Very low price 
  • Easy to hook up two generators with a WEN parallel kit 
  • Easy to transport with compact design and carrier handle
  • Eco-mode conserves gas
  • Pretty quiet, but not as quiet as the Honda

Cons

  • The instruction manual is a little difficult to understand
  • Oil needs to be changed very frequently
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Champion Power Equipment 100692 2000-Watt Ultralight Portable Inverter Generator

This is a sharp-looking generator from a respected manufacturer in the small engine business. The Champion Power Equipment 100692 offers 2000 surge watts and 1700 running watts at a noise level that is slightly noisier than the Honda EU2200i with a price point similar to the WEN 56200i. If that’s not good enough, it is the lightest of our 2000-watt generators, weighing in at just under 40 pounds.

Specs

  • Size: 17.3 x 11.5 x 17.7 inches, 39.5 pounds
  • Power: 2000 watts 1700 running watts
  • Loudness: 58 dBA
  • Outlets 2x 120V AC, 1x 12V DC
  • Fuel Efficiency: 11.5 hours on 1 gallon of gas
  • Warranty: 3 years

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Quiet
  • Ready to hook up two a second generator with a separate parallel kit 
  • Long runtime
  • Includes extras that others do not: engine oil, funnel, USB adaptor, and battery charging cables

Cons

  • Loud
  • Problems with leaking gas
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Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator – Parallel Ready

Here’s a solid entry in the 2000-watt generators from another good name on the market. The Generac 7117 offers 2200 surge watts and 1700 running watts at an attractive price point. It’s capable of running in parallel with another generator to increase power. It features some really nice status lights on the operating panel to communicate how well things are running. It is a bit larger and louder than some of the other models, but it’s a solid and reliable machine.

Specs

  • Size: 19 x 11 x 17 inches, 46 pounds
  • Power: 2200w max / 1700w running
  • Loudness: 48 to 58 dBA
  • Outlets: 1x 120V AC, 1x 12V DC, 1x 5V DC
  • Fuel Efficiency: 10.75 hours on 1.2 gallon of gas
  • Warranty: 2 years

Pros

  • Convenient and easy to read status lights and low oil alerts
  • Fuel efficient, 10.75 run time with 25% load
  • USB port for device charging
  • Oil and funnel included with purchase

Cons

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Westinghouse iGen1200 Portable Inverter Generator 1000 Rated 1200 Peak Watts, Gas Powered, CARB Compliant

Our other inverter generator recommendations are all in the 2000-watt class, but if you don’t need that much power and can move down to 1000 watts, the Westinghouse iGen1200 is hard to beat. This generator offers so much for such a low price. It has 1200 surge watts and 1000 running watts with an incredible runtime of 10 hours on just 0.8 gallons of gas. The noise level is on par with the Honda EU2200i, which is really great considering the small size. Typically, when it comes to inverter generators, the smaller the size of the generator, the louder it gets.

Specs

  • Size: 18.5×11.2×15.75 and 33 pounds
  • Power: 1200w surge / 1000w running
  • Loudness: 52 dBA
  • Outlets: 2x 120V, 2x 5V USB
  • Fuel Efficiency: 10 hours on 0.8 gallons of gas
  • Warranty: 3 years

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Purchase includes a funnel, spark plug wrench, and oil
  • Easy start-up
  • Fuel efficient
  • Ready to connect to another generator with a parallel kit purchased separately
  • 3-year warranty

Cons

  • Less Powerful
  • No 12V DC port
  • Engine can rattle and can be loud
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What to Look for in a Tailgate Generator

Power Output

Power needs at a tailgate are generally very low, and any generator on this list (including the Westinghouse at 1000 running watts) will be more than enough to power your tailgate. You’re likely running a speaker, or speakers, a TV, and maybe charging a few phones. This will draw a couple hundred watts of power. The only reason that 1000 watts out of the Westinghouse might not be enough would be if you’re hauling a mini-fridge or mini kegerator. Those typically don’t draw that much power, but some models could.

Now, odds are, you’ll use this generator elsewhere other than your tailgate. It might be emergency backup power at home or it could serve to power an RV or a camping trip where maybe you have a small air conditioning unit to run. If you intend to use the generator elsewhere, then consider those power needs as well.

Size and Weight

You may want a lighter weight device, especially if you are traveling around. The lightest weight in the group is Westinghouse at 33 pounds, although it has a lower wattage. The heaviest is Generac at 46 pounds, but it also has a higher wattage level at 2200. The Honda inverter generator has the best balance of wattage versus weight, at 2200 watts, but it weighs just 40 pounds. All generators can be carried in one hand by a relatively strong person. That said, if you are worried about straining yourself or want to reduce weight, focus on the lighter generators. Some of the heavier ones can be cumbersome, and 10 pounds makes a big difference.

Noise

Despite the marketing, inverter generators can be noisy, and if you are using it close to others, noise can be an issue. The Honda and Westinghouse are the quietest in our list. Even so, you don’t really want to hold a conversation within 5-10 feet of the generator. It is doable, but the generator is pretty disruptive, even the quietest ones. This can be remedied by getting a long extension cord and placing the generator far away from your tailgate, but you need that space and to be considerate of others around you.

Extra Features

All of the generators in our list offer the ability to connect a second generator in parallel to significantly increase power output, which is a great option to have. Not all generators do offer this, but the ones that we have selected do. 

Consider ports and outlets. Some offer USB or 12-volt ports, while others do not. Most offer two 120-volt outlets, but some may only offer one. Take a look at the control panel and various features such as indicator lights, safety shutoffs, and ease of maintenance (oil and air filter changes).

Some generators come with accessories/supplies that others do not, such as oil, a funnel, spark plugs, wrenches or tools, etc. 

Best Tailgate Generator

It’s difficult to specify the best tailgate generator, but if we had to, it would be the Honda EU2200i. It is, undoubtedly, a leader in performance and reliability, but it does come at a higher price. If you’re looking to save some money, you will sacrifice very little by going with one of the other generators in our list. Consider your needs: budget, power, size, loudness, and you should be able to find a generator from the list above that’s perfect for you.