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Power-packed camping 2

Power-packed camping 1

I took a pair of Honda portables to bird hunting camp last fall. We used the EX350 model, which has a two-stroke engine requiring a 50:1 gas/oil mixture, to keep lights running in a pop-up camper where some of my friends slept. The fuel tank on this tiny, 19-pound model held less than a quart of gas, but ran for more than two hours between fill-ups. I was surprised at how quietly the generator purred. We used the EX1000 model, which comes with a low-oil alert light and has a handy built-in tool kit, in our cooking tent. Because it was a bit louder, we placed the unit below our hilltop campsite and then ran a 100-foot extension cord to the tent.

Following are the companies that make portable generators and a brief look at their respective product lines.

Coleman Powermate makes three portable models that are ideal for campers. Each weighs 68 pounds and is powered by a 3 hp engine. The Pulse Plus 1750 features a Kawasaki engine, and the Pulse 1000 and Pulse 1750 models are driven by Briggs & Stratton engines. Prices range from $625 to $850. For more information, contact Coleman Powermate, Inc., 125 Airport Rd., Kearney, NE 68848 (308-237-2181).

Generac Corporation manufacturers three models of G Series portable generators ranging in size from 750 to 2,400 watts. The G1000, which retails for about $700, has a 1.6 hp Kawasaki engine, weighs 49 pounds and will run up to seven hours on 0.8 gallon of gas. The G1600 and G2600 models feature 2.3-gallon fuel tanks and 3 hp and 5 hp engines, respectively. Consequently, these latter two generators weigh more at 84 and 96 pounds, respectively. The top of the line G2600 sells for $1,262; the G1600 goes for $976. For more information, contact Generac Corp., Box 8, Waukesha, WI 53187 (414-544-4811).

Kawasaki makes 10 models of portable generators from 550 to 4,500 watts weighing from about 40 to 164 pounds. Bigger models feature wheeled frames. The Ninja 700 has a one-touch electric-start engine that runs very quietly and weighs about 52 pounds. It sells for $639. Retail prices on the others range from $439 for the GA 550 to $1,899 for the GA 4500. For more information, contact Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (800-661-RIDE).

Five models in Onan Corporation‘s Standard Series weigh from 70 to 170 pounds each and deliver 1,400 to 5,000 watts of portable power. The generators come with wrap-around frames of steel tubing and feature fuel tank capacities from just less than a gallon to 2.1 gallons. Prices range from $800 to $1,820. The company’s Pro Series models are more powerful, run longer and have options like electric start. For more information, contact Onan Corp., 1400 73rd Ave. N.E., Minneapolis, MN 55432 (612-574-5000).

Honda makes 11 portables weighing from a scant 19 pounds to 97 pounds, with running times from two to 12 hours. The Model EX350 that I tested costs $399; the EX 1000 runs $699. The company’s top of the line model is the EM 2200X, which has a 5 hp engine and sells for $1,209. Honda makes another 11 heavy-duty, wheeled models to 6,500 watts designed for construction work and backup power sources. Engine options are 8 to 13 hp. For more information, contact Honda Power Equipment at 800-35-HONDA.

Most of the Kohler Company‘s generators are geared toward the industrial market; however, four models in the Powerpros line are ideal for campers. The entry level Model 2.25 MBM 25 delivers 2,250 watts of power, has a three-quart fuel tank and sells for about $890. It weighs 72 pounds. Top of the line is the 5 CMB model, which delivers 5,000 watts of power, weighs 154 pounds, has a two-gallon fuel tank, and sells for $1,570 with electric start. Campers wanting bigger and more rugged generators should look at Heavy Duty Powerpros. For more information, contact the Kohler Company at 800-544-2444.

Seven portables from Yamaha will power anything from a 25-watt bulb to a full-size refrigerator. The smallest model is the EF600 ($629), which holds a half-gallon of gas and weighs 46 pounds. The 1,000 and 1,600-watt models can still be managed by one person, and are priced at less than $900. A bigger unit, which can double as a backup power source at home, is the EF3800 with electric start for $1,749. A 5,000-watt model is also available. For more information, contact Yamaha Motor Corporation at 800-447-4700.

Portable generators are not for every camping situation. Because of their bulk, weight and fuel demands, they are impractical for canoe camping or backpacking. Some campers bristle at generators’ intrusions into rustic, wilderness settings where any mechanical gadget that makes noise is not welcome.

Yet these units serve a wonderful purpose for campers who like to smooth their outdoor experience. Toast, anyone?

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