Best Tailgating Generators

Roses are red, mud is brown, ‘round here we party with the radio up and the tailgate down - Earl Dibbles Jnr. 

We all like to have a good time, we like to enjoy ourselves, let our hair down, and party whenever we can.

While some of us like to have too much of a good time, the rest of us are just happy to spend whatever downtime we can with our friends at the game, the racetrack, or if a band we like is rolling through town, at a concert.

And showing up early and hanging out after the game has finished and the show is over is almost as much fun as the event itself. 

The number of lifelong friends we’ve made while grilling and chatting and socializing around the tailgate of our truck is almost beyond measure. 

Being avid tailgaters, we know what the party needs to start swinging and that no-one ever really gets into their stride if the music isn’t turned all the way up to ten, the cooler isn’t doing its job properly and the grill isn’t working overtime.

But for all those things to be in perfect alignment, you need power and if you want to make the most out of every tailgating get together, you’re going to need more than enough power to keep your party pumping.

That’s why we, as experienced tailgaters, have come up with a list of the best tailgating generators that no serious tailgater should ever leave home without.

It’s time to up your tailgating game and put the power into your party…

OUR TOP PICK

Champion has decades of power generating experience and their American made generators have been helping to fuel homes, campsites, and RV’s for years.

A generating giant in the field of electricity, Champion makes the sort of products that’ll fire your tailgating shindig up and keep it going long after the sun has put on his nightcap on and made a beeline for the land of nod. 

Their three thousand four hundred watt inverter generator is a ninety-nine-pound workhouse that’s powered by a one hundred and ninety-two cubic centimeter engine that’ll run on either gasoline or propane.

If you’re using gas, it’ll give you seven and half hours worth of stable., clean power and if you’re going to run it on propane, it’ll nearly double the amount of electricity it’ll make and will supply you with fourteen and half hours of power from a twenty-pound propane cylinder.  

And it’s quiet too, making just fifty-nine decibels of noise when it’s operating at peak efficiency. That’s quieter than the average conversation, and even if it is a little too loud, you can just turn the stereo up with the power that it makes and let the Champion’s noise just fade into the background chatter.

Uncomplicated and undemanding, the Champion is easy to set-up and simple to operate thanks to its straightforward control panel and if you lock it into economy mode, then it will just keep on ticking until you’re ready to head home or it runs out of gas.

It’s an American made generator that’s been made to power an American party. 

Pros

  • The Champion doesn’t mind if you want it to run on gasoline or propane, it’s fine with either. While it’s got a soft spot for the latter, it’s just as happy to run on a diet of the former.
  • With enough outlets and built-in safety measures and features to power, maintain and keep a watchful eye on the busiest tailgate party, the Champion is a universal generator that’s worth its weight in tailgating gold.
  • Versatile and adaptable, it’ll serve you well throughout the working week on the job site, provide a dependable back-up for your home supply if the grid goes down and when the weekend arrives, it’ll help you to be the life and soul of the tailgating party scene. 
  • It’s also tough, durable, and strong and comes with a limited three-year warranty and a lifetime of technical expertise courtesy of Champion’s dedicated team of professionals who are only a phone call away.

Cons

  • At ninety-nine pounds, the Champion is heavy and while it won’t take up too much room in your truck bed, it will limit what you can take with you as it’ll cut a large swathe through the weight limit that your truck, and more importantly it’s axles, can happily cope with. 
  • It isn’t cheap either and will leave a pretty considerable dent in your pocketbook. That said, you’re paying for the peace of mind that comes with the Champion brand name, and that kind of reassurance, when all you want to do is kick back and relax and have a good time, is priceless.  

EDITORS CHOICE

Wen has been helping to keep the lights on since nineteen fifty-one.

Whether you’re preparing for natural disasters, want a simple home-back up, or want to fuel your camping and tailgating extravaganzas, Wen makes a legion of generators that’ll provide all of the power you’ll need.

And the 56200i, which is a bit of a mouthful, is one of their hidden tailgating friendly gems. 

From a single tank of gasoline the 56200i can provide up to nine and a half hours worth of stable, clean electricity that won’t damage or incapacitate your more sensitive juice-hungry equipment, so the party will never come to an unexpected stop when the Wen is in charge.

At its peak, it’ll supply two thousand watts and in typical running mode will have one thousand three hundred watts on hand at any given moment, which provides more than enough power to make sure that your tailgating soiree goes off without a bang. 

Weighing in at just fifty pounds, and churning out just fifty-two decibels of volume when it’s pushed to maximum capacity, the 56200i could have been purpose made for tailgating, and we’re convinced that it had at least one tailgater on its design team.

Light and small enough to find a comfortable corner in any truck bed, the 56200i is the heartbeat that’ll keep any tailgating party’s blood flowing. 

Pros

  • Efficiency is at the core of everything that Wen does and the 56200i has an eco-mode that automatically adjusts the amount of power that its eighty cubic centimeter engine makes depending on how much electricity you’re using. It’ll keep your tailgating lights on no matter what happens or how rowdy things get. 
  • It’s quiet too, and only makes fifty-two decibels of noise when it’s cranking out power at its absolute peak. With everything else that’ll doubtless be going on around you, you probably won’t even notice that the Wen is there doing what it does best; making electricity.
  • Wen has a motto that has served them in good stead - “Work smarter, not harder”. It’s a philosophy that the 56200i rigidly adheres to so that you can tailgate harder and party smarter.

Cons

  • There have been some less than happy reports from disgruntled Wenn customers who claim that the 56200i isn’t up to performing the job that Wen claims it can, and will. While these unhappy complaints are few in number, they’re worth bearing in mind if you’re considering making the Wen your tailgating partner in crime. 

BEST VALUE

We’re motor fanatics, so whenever we see the name Briggs & Stratton we’re drawn to it like bees to a honeypot.

The foremost manufacturer of small air-cooled engines in America, Briggs & Stratton are pioneers in the field of power production and have probably forgotten more about making generators than most companies will learn in a lifetime of manufacturing. 

The one hundred and eleven cubic centimeter engine that lies at the core of this super quiet inverter generator produces two thousand two hundred watts of power at peak and has one thousand seven hundred on hand at any, providing that its motor is on, given time. 

It’ll furnish you with eight hours worth of stable, clean electricity, that you can use to power everything from your tablet (it even has a USB outlet that you can connect your smartphone to) to your grill, from a single, one gallon, tank of gas. 

Made to be mobile, this fifty two-pound generator has an easy carry system that simplifies its portability and makes it easy to throw it in the back of your truck and hit the open road with.

And when it does kick in to save the day and power your party, it’ll never exceed fifty-nine decibels, so it’ll just become another one of the many voices having a good time. 

Pros

  • Eight hours of power from one gallon of gasoline? Those are the sort of figures that we like and that’s a more than solid return on any tailgating investment. 
  • Given the amount of technology, innovation, and resourcefulness that Briggs & Stratton have crammed into this generator, it’s surprisingly affordable. It won’t leave a Krakatoa sized hole in your bank account and for the amount of pleasure it’ll provide, it’s an electrifying bargain that you can’t afford to miss. 
  • Its easy-carry design makes it completely portable and road-tripping and tailgating friendly. It’s just the right size to fit unnoticed in the bed of your truck and will turn out all the power you need whenever you need it.

Cons

  • The operating manual is a little vague and doesn’t tell you everything that you’ll need to know about getting the most out of your generator. Our advice? Go online, you’ll find out more about how to make this Briggs & Stratton generator operate smoothly and efficiently from user forums and social media groups than you will from reading the user manual a dozen times over. 

RUNNER UP

Since they were founded in nineteen fifty-nine, Generac has only had one thing on their mind; power.

They were the first company to engineer and develop affordable home generators and they’ve been tweaking and honing their designs ever since to bring you the power you need to make your life better.

Built, in Generac’s own words, to provide outdoor enthusiasts with a portable power solution, this lightweight generator uses its eighty cubic centimeter engine to create two thousand two hundred watts at peak operation and one thousand seven hundred watts when it’s in standard running mode. 

Able to produce ten and a half hours of electricity from one, full tank of gasoline, the Truepower technology that it uses supplies all of the stable, clean power that you’ll require to power the greatest tailgating get-togethers that you’ve ever thrown. 

Weighing in at just forty-six pounds, the 2200i is devastatingly simple to operate and can be switched on and off with a twist of a dial and slipped into eco-mode, for maximum fuel and power efficiency, at the touch of a button.

It’s been made to let you make the most of the outdoor life and puts power right at the front of tailgating fun. 

Pros

  • It’s light and efficient and engineered to fit in with your outdoor lifestyle. And it makes more than enough electricity to keep your cooler cold, your grill on, and your stereo at full volume.  The Generac 2200i is tailgating party central.
  • And, thanks to its inbuilt handle, it’s also remarkably easy to carry from your truck to your garage and back again.
  • As soon as Generac mentioned simplicity and economy, they had our full attention. We’ve used the 2200i a couple of times, and are happy to confirm that Generac is right. You will get around ten and a half hours worth of juice out of a single tank of gasoline and it’s probably the most straightforward generator we’ve ever used. Efficiency and simplicity are the key ingredients to a great tailgating time. 

Cons

  • Much as we love the 2200i, we have to admit that it is a little louder than we’d like it to be. It’s around sixty-two or three decibels when running at peak, which is like having a constantly moaning teenager standing right behind you. After a while, it gets a little annoying. 
  • The other thing that we discovered about Generac is that their customer service and complaints department isn’t as efficient as their generator is. A couple of our tailgating buddies had a run-in with them and they didn’t have anything nice to say about them afterward. And they’re not alone, as other generator fans have had a similar experience when dealing with Generac. Again, it’s something that’s worth bearing in mind before you part with your hard-earned dollars.

RUNNER UP

No, you’re not alone, we hadn’t heard of Ryobi either.

But just because you don’t know anything about a brand, it doesn’t mean that they’re not incredibly good at what they do, and with a bit of due diligence and after a little digging we discover that Ryobi is every bit as well regarded and respected in their home country of Japan, as Champion and Briggs & Stratton are here. 

Using an eighty cubic centimeter engine to generate two thousand three hundred watts at its peak and one thousand eight hundred when running normally, the Ryobi will produce just under ten and half hours worth of power on a single tank of gasoline.

Engineered with an “Idle-Down” feature that’s Ryobi’s version of eco-mode, when engaged, it’ll automatically make sure that efficiency and electricity take center stage and the generator will make the most out of every drop of fuel and supply you with all of the power that you’ll need at the same time.

Bluetooth enabled, you’ll be able to control and monitor the Ryobi from your smartphone and increase and decrease the power it supplies as well as being able to switch it on and off and switch it into ‘Idle-Down’.

The future of power generation just came calling, it’s probably wise to invite it to your tailgating party. 

Pros

  • As it weighs just fifty-six pounds (which admittedly is still kind of heavy in the real world, but feather-light in the generator universe) it’s light enough for you to sling in the back of your truck and not have to worry that it might be taking up too much weight or room. 
  • As it’s Bluetooth enabled, it adds an extra degree of simplicity to its operation and frees up more of your time so you can just enjoy having a good time.

Cons

  • It isn’t all good news about the Ryobi though. While it’s simple to operate, has a great fuel to power ratio, and delivers said power efficiently and smoothly, it is incredibly loud. It operates at around sixty-eight decibels, which isn’t deafening and won’t shake your truck apart but is loud enough to throw a generator sized wrench in the works of your tailgating shindigs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Tailgating?

An American phenomenon, tailgate parties, or tailgating, are social gatherings that happen around the open tailgate of a truck or SUV. They usually involve music, good conversation, barbecued and grilled food, and more than a few beers.

Most tailgate parties happen before and after football, ice hockey and baseball games, NASCAR races, and concerts and are held in the parking lots of the venues that these events are held in.  The people who attend, hold and have popularised these events are known as ‘tailgaters. 

What Is A Portable Generator?

A portable generator, or engine generator, is a machine that uses an internal engine to generate power and electricity. It does this by transferring the energy that the engine makes to an alternator, which then spins and converts that energy into electricity.

Often used as back-up generators for houses, primary generators for construction sites, and as a way to generate electricity on camping trips and during tailgating parties, portable generators can be powered by either gasoline or propane.

Smaller, more compact portable generators are also called inverter generators, which, like their larger counterparts, use an engine to create electricity.

However, unlike larger generators, inverter generators convert the energy their engines make into electricity through a two-process that involves transforming AC (alternating current) power into DC (direct current) power before converting it back into AC electricity.

Best Tailgating Generators Buyers Guide 

Which Tailgating Generator Is The Right One For Me?

The primary things you need to consider when thinking about buying a tailgating friendly generator are the weight of the generator and can your truck cope with (and can you physically move said generator into your truck) said weight, the amount of electricity it will generate versus the amount of power that you’ll need and the budget that you have to spend on your generator.

Once you have definitive answers to those questions, you’ll be in a much more advantageous position to make your decision. That said, if you wanted our opinion, we’d always suggest that you invest your time and money in the same generator that we use when we go tailgating, the Generac 2200i.

We know that they have a customer service issue, but you shouldn’t let that distract you from the fact that the 2200i is a lightweight, packed with technology generator that loves being the center of attention while outdoors and is an efficient way to generate all the power that your tailgating parties will ever need.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll see you after a game one day and if we do, we’ll happily have a burger and beer with you.

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    I'm an environment and energy blogger who teaches outdoor and energy enthusiasts how to be better informed when it comes to purchasing or maintaining a generator, solar panel system, or anything else related to your energy needs.