Can You Run A Generator Tent Camping?


As Winter turns to Spring, everyone will start dusting off their tents that have been stored for the winter, and get them ready for camping season. As I am sure we have all felt it, the weather is starting to get warmer and warmer each year which can really hurt tent camping. Nothing is worse than coming back from a day at the lake fishing, or swimming, only to sit around or take a nap with 100 degree heat beating down on you. So what can you do? Campers and RVs have generators and AC, so can a ten do the same? Let’s find out.

Can you run a generator while tent camping? Yes, you can absolutely run a generator while tent camping for things like portable AC, lights, and anything else that might require electricity while you are out camping. Tent camping with generators is extremely safe, and very popular now, but you will need to be careful of the noise. Since tents are not insulated, you will hear all of the noise that your generator puts out, so you buying a whisper quiet generator will be key to your camping success.

Can You Run A Generator In Your Tent

Generators run off of fuel, and as its burned, your generator will emit carbon monoxide, just like a car would, which can be very hazardous to your health, and even cause death if exposed for long periods of time. It is extremely dangerous to run a generator in your tent you are sleeping in for a few reasons, they are:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Fire or burn damage
  • Hearing damage from the noise
  • Fuel leaks
  • Electrical Shock

It is important to put safety first when running a generator, and to keep it out of the way of children, animals, and anything that could catch fire. Generators also need plenty of ventilation.

How Loud Are Generators

Portable generators that run off gasoline, diesel, or other fuels are noisy, plain and simple, and their noise is measured in dB, or decibal levels. As you might expect, the lower the wattage, or power output, the lower the noise. Your average portable generator runs at around 65dB which around the same noise level as heavy street traffic. Keep in mind that noise levels are not measured in how “loud” they are but the intensity of their noise. Another reason for generators being loud is because of the casing, and mufflers that are put on them. A Honda generator, which is usually the most quiet generator on the market, is incased in plastic and has a heavy duty muffler on it, while a generator you might buy at Home Depot, or Harbor Freight which has a steel frame, and no muffler, will be twice as loud, or more. If you are looking for a quiet generator, stick with a honda, and read reviews. You might not think generators are noisy, but when you have one running all day, you will find yourself talking a lot louder to have a conversation.

Are Portable AC Units Safe In A Tent

Yes, portable AC units are perfectly safe to run inside a tent, as long as you have a drip pan underneath it. Condensation will collect and leak out of the AC unit into the drip pan, or the floor of your tent and ruin your sleeping bags and clothing. Since portable AC units do not emit any sort of pollution, you should have no issues with running them all night long in your tent. They do however, draw a lot of power, so always check your fuel levels in your generator to make sure it doesn’t die on you.

Do I Need A Special Extension Cord For My Generator

You do not need to buy a special extension cord for your generator, but it is a good idea to buy one that is more heavy duty than a regular house cord. Cars, RVs and other vehicles might be driving over it, and there might be weather and dirt, so having a more heavy duty cord on you will help keep your electrical appliance safe. Since you cannot just always plug your devices into a generator, it is highly suggested that you have at least one extension cord with you. They also make extension cords that have a single plug into the generator, and up to four or more plugs for your devices.

How Far Can You Run An Extension Cord From Your Generator

How long your extension cord has to be, will mostly be determined on two things. First, is what your a plugging in and how watts, and amps it needs. The second is how heavy the gauge wire your extension cord is. A 16 gauge extension cord might only go to a maximum of 50 feet, while a 10 gauge wire extension cord might go all the way up to 200+ feet. Never put too much distance between your cord and your generator without going up to a thicker gauge wire. If you use to small of gauge wire, you could run the risk of melting your cord, starting a fire, or blowing up your electric device.

Obey The Campground Rules

Almost every campground that I have gone to, especially ones that do not have full hookups will have rules about generators. It is highly unlikely that they will allow you to run your generator all night, and most campgrounds will have a “quiet time” that will start around 9-10pm and go all the way to 9-10am. This is so that people that are camping in tents do not hear your generator all night long. If you do get caught running your generator past the posted time, you will get told to turn it off, and possibly get asked to leave if you do not comply. Always follow the rules of the campground and think of other tent, or RV campers around you. Being polite and courteous will earn you lots of points at a campground. If you do not know if there is a “quiet time”, there should always be a camp host that you can walk up to and ask. They take care of the campground, and keep an eye on things.

Final Thoughts

I hate sleeping in the heat, it just plain sucks. Having a generator, even in a tent is a wonderful idea, and really can keep your tent cool on hot days. Never put your generator in your tent, it’s just a bad idea and can really cause damage or hurt someone. Be smart and buy a quiet generator if you can afford it, Honda generators are the best in my opinion. If you do not have the money, you can spend under $200 dollars, and build a nice little shelter for your generator that will keep the noise levels down a lot. Always try and keep your generator as far away from people as possible, so you can enjoy the company, and not cursing out your loud generator.

Related Topics

Can You Run A Generator In The Rain?

Can you run a generator in the rain? Yes, absolutely you can run a generator when it is raining. Most generators are sealed to where they can keep the rain out, and the heat from running it will keep them fairly dry. The most important thing to remember is to keep the gas lid on tight since they are normally on the top of the generator.

Can I Put A Tarp Over My Generator?

Can I put a tarp over my generator? It is never a good idea to put anything over your generator, especially something that can melt or catch fire. Since generators are a small engine run on fuel, there is a lot of heat produced, as well as spark and fire danger. The only time it is safe to cover your generator is when it is off, and has had time to cool down.

Terry Minton

I am the owner of Fast Cast Rods. I live in the mountains of Northern California where I love to be outdoors hunting, fishing, camping and hiking with my wife and three awesome kids.

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