Top Best Portable Generators for Marine Use

Are you considering taking a portable generator on board on your next boating trip? A portable generator can be helpful support on your boat by charging your phone, recharging tablets and laptops, or powering lamps, fans, and other small useful devices.

With the latest portable generators offering a wide range of features and improved operation, the ability to use them on a boat has become an option more than ever. However, there’s a wide range of portable generators for marine use available, and finding the best product can keep you ashore longer than you like.

Best Portable Generators For Marine Purposes – Our Top Picks


Westinghouse iGen2200

Coming right up is the Westinghouse iGen2200 inverter generator. One of its best features is the fact that it has a running time of 12 hours on 1.2 gallons.

That’s four more than you’d get from the predecessor! Those 4 hours could make the difference between a hot and sultry boat ride or a ride with hot food, coffee, and simple courtesies.

This model is one of the best marine generators available on the market because not only does it have great running time, it’s also very quiet and portable. The portability is very great when it comes to items on a boat, as you will have to carry it up and down at some point. You want them to be small, easy to carry, and lightweight.

Because it generates clean electricity, you can safely power sensitive electronics like laptops, televisions, tablets, smartphones, and more. Thanks to the two USB charging ports, several devices can be charged at the same time.

If you accidentally fall asleep or are distracted, the low-oil shutdown function ensures the safety of you and your generator. The overload protection is also very useful – especially if you need to charge many items at once or large devices.

  • 1,800/2,200 nominal/peak wattage
  • 79cc Westinghouse OHV 4-stroke engine
  • 2 gal fuel tank capacity
  • 12 hours running time at 25% load
  • Duplex 120V 20A (5-20R), (2) 5V USB ports outlets
  • Recoil starting system
  • 52dB (A) noise level
  • 3-year limited (residential), 1-year limited (commercial) warranty

Pros

  • Running time of 12 hours
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Operates quietly
  • Very safe to use

Cons

  • Instructions contained could’ve been more detailed

WEN 56200i 2000-Watt

 

If you want to save some money and still take advantage of one of the best generators for boats available on the market today, then take a look at the WEN 56200i.

The lightweight construction makes it easy to take it with you to the boat, truck, campsite, etc. with the one-gallon tank you have more than 6 hours of running time with half load.

It’s not the longest, but it’s enough for day trips. If you try to extend the timeout a little, shoot straight into eco-Mode. This provides the opportunity for the engine of the generator to modify automatically its fuel consumption.

If you need more power, simply connect two identical generators through the parallel circuit set to split the wattage between the two units. The panel is equipped with three 120 sockets, a 12V DC socket, and a 5V USB connector.

So the number of applications you can use it with is infinite. It also features a low oil and fuel consumption shutdown with indicator lights and overload protection to ensure that your electronics and generator are always safe.

  • 1,600/2,000 nominal/peak wattage
  • 7cc 4-stroke OHV engine
  • 1-gallon fuel tank capacity
  • Running time of 6 hours at 50% load
  • (2) three-prong 120V, (1) 12V DC, (1) 5V USB port outlets
  • Recoil starting system
  • 50 to 55dB (A) noise level
  • 2-year limited warranty

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Very quiet
  • Clean energy generation
  • Relatively light construction and easy to transport
  • Can be used with various sensitive electronics
  • Eco mode maximizes fuel efficiency
  • 2-year warranty and excellent customer service

Cons

  • You have to remove the entire panel to check/change oil,
  • although the inverter energy generated is clean, it’s not technically a pure sine wave

A-iPower 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

 

The portable inverter generator A-iPower provides you with plenty of electricity while you’re on your boat. This 2,000-watt peak generator and 1,600 running watt use lo-idle technology for an amazing long nine-hour at 50% load and a four hour at 100% load with a full fuel tank of 1.1-gallon. This gas-powered generator runs quietly enough to make calls on deck.

You get safer and cleaner power with the inverter from the two 120V sockets and the 12V multifunctional connection. The generator is supplied with a DC adapter plug that is USB compatible. Also, the A-iPower is ready for parallel use and has a multi-switch for start, run, and stop, an in-built fuel gauge, and indicator lights for output, overload alarm, and a low-oil alarm.

At 50 pounds, this gas-powered portable generator will require maintenance. However, it has a portable build and has a built-in handle. A-iPower maintains a two-year warranty and offers technical support.

Pros

  • Impressive peak watts of 2,000
  • Extended duration
  • Quiet operation for gas-driven generator
  • Inverter for clean output
  • USB-compatible DC adapter
  • Parallel ready
  • Overload and low-oil warnings
  • Portable with in-built handle
  • Awards two-year warranty and technical support

Cons

  • Heavier at 50 pounds
  • Gas operated requires maintenance
  • Quality control problems in case of malfunctions

HONORABLE MENTIONS

 

Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Generator

You can easily grasp the included handle and carry the 5.5-pound Rockpals generator unit with you to efficiently run sine wave AC power on tablets, phones, laptops, fans, lights, and TVs.

The in-built 3.7V 60Ah battery has several charging options, which makes it very practical for use on a boat. You can charge it from a wall socket, in your vehicle using the supplied adapter on a standard car accessory cigarette lighter socket or outdoor by connecting it to a compatible solar panel.

With this portable generator, you can switch on and charge several items at the same time. It is equipped with four 12V DC connections with a 5.5mm DC jack, two AC outputs, and two 5V USB ports. The Rockpals also have overvoltage and short circuit protection, temperature control, and overcharge protection.

Remember that some Apple products may not work or at all. Also, you may not be able to operate devices at the same time that the generator battery is being charged.

Pros

  • Easily portable
  • Sine wave alternating current power
  • Several options for charging the built-in battery
  • Includes Car adapter
  • Diversity of sockets and connectors
  • Overvoltage and short circuit protection
  • Temperature control
  • Overcharging protection

Cons

  • Apple products may not charge properly
  • Cannot charge and produce output at the same time


Flashfish 200W Peak Power Station  

 

The Flashfish 200W Power Station delivers 150 running watts of pure sine wave power so you can charge your camera, phones, tablets, lamps, fans, and even a mini-fridge. With an in-built handle and compact case design, this 4½-pound generator can be stored easily on your boat to save space.

At a very affordable price, this product comes with three different types of outputs, including two 110V AC outlets, two 12V DC ports, and three USB connectors. Two of the USB ports are constructed for fast charging at double speed. When it’s time to charge this generator, you have three options: a wall socket (includes adapter), a car outlet (includes charger and adapter), or a solar panel (must be purchased separately).

The Flashfish has a helpful LED screen that shows the charging status of both your devices and their internal battery. It also has various short-circuit, voltage, and overheating protection and safety features.

Pros

  • Best value
  • Sine wave output
  • Easily portable
  • Multiple outputs and connections
  • Two fast recharging USB ports
  • Three options for charging the internal battery
  • Charging adapters included
  • LED display
  • Many safety precautions

Cons

  • Difficult to return if malfunctioning
  • Solar panel purchased separately

 


A generator for a boat: how should it be?

You’ll most likely need to prepare it for use on a boat, as most are not designed to withstand the salty air (when at sea) and other factors. The muffler can rust easily, among other things in these environments. Spray the muffler with high-temperature paint to protect it.

It’s a good idea to create a hood to protect the generator from moisture too. Also, spray the connections with waterproof paint

Three types of portable generators for boats

Portable generators are available in three versions: Conventional, inverted, and electric or solar. Here’s a breakdown of the individual variants:

Conventional generators — these portable generators run on fuel and are similar to an engine (and all the noise it makes). This type of boat generator provides a steady flow of electricity to any equipment you connect to it.

Inverted generators — this generator is more like a large battery that has an even charge at all times that you might not get with a more conventional generator.

Electric and solar generators — while these are an environmentally-friendly option, they don’t have the same power output as the types mentioned above. However, if you’re thinking about solar panels for your boat, this would be a good starting point for a test run. Although the power is lighter, they provide a quick charge for smaller items such as telephones and small electronic devices.


Important features to consider before buying a generator

Power output

The first thing you need to do is to find out what will drive you on your boat trips? If you want to power sensitive devices along with other small appliances, a small generator with a nominal output of 1600 to 1800 is sufficient, but to drive large devices you need at least 2200 watts rated output.

Also, if you want to power small and large items simultaneously, make a list of all these things and write their watts to calculate the total power required. This way you will find a perfect device for your boat.

Conventional vs. inverter generator

Conventional generators say everything in their name. They’re, well…conventional. They’ve been around for a while, and remain a constant source of energy such as diesel, propane, or petrol. It needs to be kept at a constant speed to provide the standard current that most households need.

Inverters are much more high technology, and usually 3-phase generators that, like most conventional models supply alternating current. However, this current is converted to direct current and then inverted again to purify alternating current. These are ideal for sensitive products such as smartphones and tablets.

Power sockets

Next up are the power outlets. Make sure that the generator you choose has the desired sockets. There must be two 120V AC sockets and one DC socket and a USB port. Also, try getting a generator with GFCI protected sockets.

Tank capacity and running time

Since you’re buying a portable generator for a boat so tank capacity and running time are very important to consider. For long boat trips, you must choose a generator with large fuel tanks; otherwise, a 1-gallon tank is sufficient for a 6 to 7-hour ride.

If your generator is not fuel-efficient, a large fuel tank like 2 gallons or more is not enough. Make sure your unit has an eco-mode. However, the running time also depends on the applied load.

Noise Level

It’s advisable to go for portable inverter generators for use on a boat as they generate less operating noise. Less than 65dB (A) operating noise is quite tolerable.

Parallel capability

A parallel-capable generator for boat trips is a must so that you can generate more electricity if necessary.

Security Features

Low oil alarm with shut down function and overload protection are the two security measures that must be part of your generator. Apart from this, it’s an advantage if an emergency stop switch is available.

Weight and Guarantee

Ensure your portable generator is lightweight. It must also, have an excellent grip to carry it easily to the boat. In addition to the weight, the warranty period must also be taken into account. At least your generator should have a period of a 2-year warranty.

How to marinate your generator

It’s very important to spray the relevant parts with a waterproof spray. It’s always a good idea to some kind of fairing to prevent the generator from getting wet and to use some kind of rubber bearing.

Frequently asked questions

Is it safe to use a bi-fuel generator or run a propane generator while on a boat?

It is safe to use a dual fuel generator on a boat, but running it on propane is not safe. In the event of a leak, the liquid propane will fill the bilge, and any spark can cause an ignition, thereby having a devastating effect on your life.

Do I have to ground a generator for use on a boat?

No, it’s not necessary to ground your generator to use it on a boat. Grounding is necessary if your generator is connected to the building wiring.

If the equipment and electronics are connected via sockets and the metal parts of the generator are connected to the frame of the generator, you don’t need to ground your generator.

What protective measures should I take when using a boat generator?

  • Refueling of your generator should not be done while you are on the boat
  • To avoid filling up your cabin with carbon monoxide, avoid operating your generator near doors and windows
  • Avoid starting your generator near to wet spot
  • Make sure that no fuel is leaking
  • Keep your generator on the boat high enough to protect it from waves

Conclusion

Installing a portable generator permanently on your boat is not advisable or making unauthorized modifications to the generator.

Nevertheless, it’s wise to build some kind of fairing to prevent the generator from getting wet during operation.

It’s obvious that getting wet on a boat is a very real possibility, so it’s imperative that you take measures to prevent this from happening, otherwise you risk serious damage and danger.

Although we were happy with every model in our guide, we have a few that caught our eye: The Westinghouse iGEN2200.

The Westinghouse had an incredible running time of 12 hours, is very safe to use, and also portable. Ultimately, however, it’s entirely up to you and your requirements. Which the top best portable generators for marine use will you be using?

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