If you show up with a tailgate generator, prepare to be the life of the party. Tailgate generators are a great way to power TVs, speakers, phones, and more before and after sports games, concerts, and gatherings of all sizes.
Shop Solar Kits provides in-depth guides and resources about the latest trends in portable power. In this article, we explore what to look for in your next purchase before detailing our top 5 tailgate generators.
A Brief History of Tailgating
For those who are confused at the moment, a “tailgate generator” has nothing to do with following someone too closely in a vehicle. Instead, we are referring to tailgating (also known as “tailgate parties”) which are popular events throughout North America. The term “tailgating” is derived from the tailgate of a vehicle, which often serves as a make-shift table.
Tailgating parties are typically hosted in parking lots before sporting events and concerts. More than anything, tailgating is popular for professional and collegiate American football games. In some of the most popular tailgating towns like Pittsburgh, Chicago, Buffalo, and Kansas City, it is really part of the culture.
A typical tailgating party includes:
- Music or live coverage of pre-game telecasts
- BBQ grills, propane stoves, and cookout food
- Large coolers full of drinks (mainly alcoholic beverages)
- Games like cornhole, horseshoes, and other sports
- Fanfare, comradery and general good times
Why use a tailgate generator?
At a tailgating party, a generator can provide useful electricity to power many luxuries and essentials. Most commonly, generators are used to power:
- Speakers and radios
- Televisions and projectors
- Electric cooking equipment
- Blenders (margaritas, anyone?)
- Electric spot heaters
- Fridges and electric coolers
- Cell phones and more
With a high-powered tailgating generator, the possibilities are endless with a large supply of electricity. As the party continues, it is likely that many attendees (both from your group and passing by) would love the opportunity to recharge their batteries for cell phones, personal speakers, cameras, and more.
How to Choose the Best Tailgate Generator
Investing in a high-quality tailgating generator is simply an investment in long-term fun. There are a lot of options on the market today, so we will break down the attributes of tailgating generators to help you distinguish between possible buying options.
Operating Noise Level
Often overlooked, operating noise level is one of the most important factors when considering the actual use of your generator. Loud mechanical systems and fans can really put a damper on the party, no matter how high you crank up the volume of your pump-up music. Traditional gas generators can also annoy neighbors if left running too long.
Here, portable power stations (aka solar generators) are the best choice for tailgate parties thanks to their near-silent operation. Plus, purely electric generators also do not emit any harmful fumes, so they can be used anywhere for any amount of time.
Charging Options (Power Input)
Second, it is very important to consider your charging options when evaluating the perfect tailgate generator. Obviously, gas generators require a supply of fuel onsite, whereas electric generators are charged in a few different ways.
For tailgating, it is best to have a portable power station that can be charged at home and out in the lot. To achieve this, many of today’s best products come with DC car charging capabilities as well as the option to harness solar energy. With a solar powered generator, it becomes possible to continuously charge your device during multi-day festivals or events.
Outlet Variety (Power Output)
Of course, in order to use the electricity stored inside your tailgate generator, you must plug your devices directly into the system. Outlet variety is critical to supplying power for appliances and electronics of all types. The best tailgate generators typically have fast charging ports and a variety of USB and AC outlets to accommodate the electricity demands of a large group.
Battery Storage and Lifecycle Count
Battery storage and life cycle count are the best way to directly compare the daily and lifetime power potential of a tailgate generator. If you plan on powering a TV, speakers, and other electronic devices for multiple hours, then it is necessary to acquire a battery with enough storage capacity to do so (read more here solar battery bank).
In a similar vein, today’s best tailgate generators are not only able to deliver long running times (12+ hours with a full charge), but also long lifetimes. Lithium ion based systems can last for over 2,000 charges, so you are guaranteed to have power every season.
Next, high demand users must pay attention to inverter rating prior to their next tailgate party. While a few phones and speakers are unlikely to trip most power inverters, high wattage devices such as electric coolers (or fridges), cooking equipment, or large speakers may necessitate an inverter where a high continuous wattage rating (1000W and more is recommended).
Size & Weight
Finally, a tailgate generator's size and weight should be scrutinized before ordering a product online. Even if you have the biggest truck on the lot, carloads full of friends, food, drinks, and equipment quickly make the packing room scarce for many tailgaters.
We recommend using a generator that is designed to be portable, preferably with a handle or two for easy carrying. If you are planning to be a nomadic tailgater heading from party to party, we recommend considering a small, portable generator.
Top 5 Tailgate Generators
In a lot of people’s minds, a tailgate party is the main event at a sports game or concert. In order to help you and your gang have the most fun possible, we have put together this list of the top 5 tailgate generators for long-term, portable electricity.
EcoFlow Delta Specs:
- [Battery Capacity]: 1260Wh (350Ah,3.7V)
- [Compact Design] Dimensions: 15.7 x 8.3 x 10.6in (40 x 21 x 27cm)
- [Light Weight]: 30.9lbs (14kg)
- [Works in all Weather] Charge Temperature: 32-113℉ (0-45℃)
- [Discharge In Freezing Temperatures]: -4 -113℉ (-20-45℃)
- [Testing and Certifications]: UL, CE, FCC, RoHS, PSE
- [Cell Chemistry]: Lithium-ion
- [Shelf Life]: 1 Year (after fully charged)
EcoFlow Delta 1300wH / 1800W Power Inputs:
- [FAST AC Charge Time]: 90 minutes from 0-100% Charge, X-STREAM Charges @ 1200W max
- [400 Watt of Solar Input] Charge Input: 400W 10-65V 10A max
- [Car Charger Included] Charges: 12V/24V 10A max
EcoFlow Delta 1800W / 1300wH Plugs/Outputs:
- [TONS Of Power]: 6 x AC Plug, Pure Sine Wave Inverter, 1800 Watts continuous (Surge of 3,300 Watts), 120V 60Hz.
- [2 x USB-A Ports]: 12W per port, 5V 2.4A max
- [2 x USB-A Fast Charge Ports]: 28W per port, 12V 2.4A max
- [2 x USB-C Ports]: 60W per port, 20V 3A max
- [1 x 12V (Car Cigarette Type) Ports]: 108.8W, 13.6V 8A max
Pros of the EcoFlow Delta
In many ways, the EcoFlow Delta is the best tailgate generator that money can buy. The system is loaded with a variety of plugins with the battery and inverter capacity to back it up. Plus, it is only 30 pounds, which makes it easy to pack into your car and bring out on gameday.
Most importantly, however, the Delta has a <2 hour AC charge time. Essentially, what this means is that you can plug in this device at home in the morning and it will be ready for a full day of tailgating in the time it takes for us to buy some beers and put on your face paint.
Cons of the EcoFlow Delta
To be completely honest, the only real downside to the Delta is its low lifecycle count, around 800 full charges. As it turns out, rapid charging lowers the life expectancy of this device, but 800 cycles can still be used over the course of decades of tailgating. If you would like to extend the Delta's lifetime, you can by opting for DC charging from vehicles or solar panels.
What can the EcoFlow Delta 1800 Actually Power?
- Large Fridge 15-18+ Hours
- Lights (10W) 36+ Hours
- Coffee Maker 50+ Cups
- Laptop 27+ Recharges
- Electric Vehicle 3-5 miles (5-8 km)
- CPAP Machine 20+ Hours
- Air Conditioning 0.8+ Hours
- Electric Blanket 25+ Hours
Next, the brand new Bluetii AC200P is one of the best tailgate generators for the 2021 concert and football season. If this is the year you decide to buy a generator for your tailgate parties, you may never have to buy one again when choosing the Bluetti AC200P. This device could power a small home or be a great, long-term solution for festival goers and sports fans alike.
Bluetti AC200P Specs:
- 2,000wh High Capacity Lithium Battery (LiFePO4)
- 2000W Inverter for Continuous AC Power
- 6 x AC (Wall) Outlets
- 1 x 60W PD 2.0 USB-C
- 4 x 5V/3A USB-A
- 1 x PV 35-150V/12A
- 1 x 12V/25A Output
- LG premium electric-vehicle battery cell
- 3500+ Charge Cycles
- MPPT Charge Controller
- 2*15W Wireless charging pads
- Intelligent temperature-controlled cooling fan
- Smart touchable LCD control panel
- 24 Month Warranty
Bluetti AC200P Inputs
- DC Solar Charging- 700W/35-150V DC Maximum Solar Input (7 x 100 watt solar panels would be the max)
- DC Car Charging 12V-30V, Minimum 120W
- AC Charging Adapter: 58.2V/500W Limit (Charging from the wall in your home)
Bluetti AC200P Charging Speeds
- Solar Charging - Fully Charged in 3.5 hours with 700W of Solar Input
- DC Power - Car Charging - 15 hours+ driving
- AC (Wall Outlet) Charging - About 4 Hours
- Gasoline Generator with Power Adapter
- Lead-Acid Battery Recharging using Clamp Adapter
Pros of the Bluetti AC200P
Above all, the Bluetti AC200P’s 3,500+ charge cycle count is the biggest benefit of the system. With the ability to store 2,000Wh of electricity on thousands of separate occasions, you can use this generator for a whole lot more than just tailgating.
Additionally, the Bluetti AC 200P is built to withstand outdoor conditions and is optimized for solar charging. With up to 700W of solar input capacity, you will have many people stopping by your tailgate to gawk at your impressive renewable energy system.
Cons of the Bluetti AC200P
Unfortunately, the power capacity of the AC200P physically weighs down the unit to a slightly heavy 55 lbs. While you likely won't be removing it from the trunk of your vehicle, 55 lbs is still enough to make this system much less portable than other great options.
While it is truly an investment in long-term power, some may also not be willing to shell out the capital needed to acquire the Bluetti AC200P strictly for tailgating purposes.
What Can the Bluetti AC200P Actually Power?
- A cell phone (6 W): 250+ Hours
- Light (10 W): 150+ Hours
- GoPro (18 W): 90+ Hours
- Camera (25 W): 60+ Hours
- Laptop (50 W): 30+ Hours
- Flat Screen TV (110 W): 13+ Hours
- Large Fridge (150 W): 10+ Hours
- Coffee Maker (600 W): 2+ Hours
- Electric Grill (1650 W): About 1 Hour
- Electric Vehicle (1800 W): 3-5 Miles
- And more
As another new model from 2020, the Lion Safari ME is one of the best tailgate generators. The Safrai ME is extremely versatile, with many uses for tailgates and other remote electricity applications. And thankfully, you don’t have to root for Detroit to stand behind this Lion.
Lion Safari ME Specs:
- Output - AC [Standard Wall Plugs]: 2 (Easily split these with surge protector or solar panel extension cable)
- Output - USB: 2 USB-A & 2 USB-C
- Rated Battery Capacity: 922wH + 2,048wH = 2,970 watt hours
- Battery Type: Lithium
- Inverter: 2000 Watt Continuous / 4000 Watt Surge - Pure Sine
- Fastest Solar Recharge Time: Under 2 hours
- Lifecycles: 2,000
Pros of the Lion Safari ME
The Lion Safrai ME is modular, in that battery packs can be easily charged and swapped for an endless amount of storage. If you’re just heading to the concert a few hours early for a couple drinks, then it is possible to just bring the Safari ME’s main unit for more than enough power to keep phones, speakers, and light systems charged. When headed out for the whole day it is also easy to pack away an extra fully-charged battery.
Cons of the Lion Safari ME
Compared to some other great generators for tailgating, the ME lacks the power outlet variety to cater to large crowds. With only 2 AC outlets, people may find it challenging to run TVs, cooking equipment, and other small devices simultaneously.
Although the unit itself is only 40 lbs, all additional battery packs weigh roughly about the same, which can quickly add a lot of weight to the bed of a truck.
What Can The Lion Safari ME Solar Generator Gold Kit Actually Power?
- Full Size Fridge (120W) - 25+ Hours
- Phone Charging (5W) - Charge up to 200+ times
- Laptop Charging (56W) - Charge up to 50+ times
- 55" LCD T.V (75W) - 38+ Hours
- LED Reading Lamp (4W) - 720+ Hours
- Hot Plate (500W) - 5.8+ Hours
- Air Conditioner (500W) - 5.8+ Hours
- Microwave - (1k) - 3+ Hours
- Electric Blanket (50W) - 60+ Hours
If you’re not ready to try a new product and want one that is tried and tested the MaxOak Blueti EB240 is the long-term solution. This HUGE capacity device has been one of the best selling solar generators thanks to its affordable price and simple functionality.
MaxOak Bluetti EB240 Specs:
- Battery Capacity: 2400Wh (Watt Hours)
- Battery Chemistry: LG Li-ion battery cells (Lithium)
- AC Input: 7.9 x 0.9mm DC, 42V/160W (Wall Charger)
- Open Circuit Voltage: 16V~60V /Max. 10A (For Solar Panel Charging)
- AC Output: 110V, Max. 1000 Watts (Pure Sine Inverter)
- CarPort (Cigarette Lighter): DC 12V/9A
- USB Ports: 1 x 45W USB-C (5-20V) & 4 x 5V, 3A USB-A
- Solar Charge Input/Mode: MPPT Charge Controller
- Efficiency: 99.5%
- Exact Size of Generator (Dimensions): 19.4 x 6.5 x 14.4 inches
- Weight: 48.5lb
- Warranty: 2-Years
Pros of the MaxOak Bluetti EB240
For tailgating parties, the Bluetti EB240’s 2400Wh battery bank is sure to last both pre- and post-game. Although a bit limited to its 1000W of power output (which is still a lot of AC electricity), the EB240 is perfect for powering devices like lights, speakers, and TVs for long periods of time. Plus, compared to other top options, the Bluetti EB240 is very affordable.
Cons of the MaxOak Bluetti EB240
Aside from its mid-range inverter, slow charging is perhaps the only other immediate disadvantage of the Bluetti EB240. Although the charge times are considerably longer than some of the alternatives, you can still easily achieve a full battery by plugging the Bluetti EB240 into your wall overnight before game day.
What Can the Bluetti EB240 Solar Generator Actually Power?
- Fridge/Freezer (100 watts): 24+ hours
- 50" TV (65 watts) : 37 hours
- LED Lights (6 watts): 400 hours
- Smartphones (5-7 watts): 400+ hours
- Tablets (25-40 watts): 80+ hours
- Laptops (50 watts): 48+ hours
- Electric Blanket (Queen Size, 75 watts): 32 hours
Finally, the Titan Solar Generator from Point Zero is one of the best generators on the market with the ability to transform any ordinary tailgate. If you want to be known as “that fan” with the TVs, video games, speakers, and grills, the Titan allows for infinite power on any lot (and not just in Tennessee).
The Titan Specs:
- Battery: 2000wH Lithium-Ion
- Inverter: 3000W / 7700W Surge
- 2 MPPT Charge Controllers
- Charging Options: Solar panels, AC, & DC
- Outputs: 6 AC wall outlets, 4 DC (12V) ports, 1 RV Plug (30amp), and 8 total USB ports
- Shelf Life: 3-6 Months
- 2-Year Warranty
- Weight: ~35 lbs. (plus batteries)
Pros of the Titan Solar Generator
On paper, and in reality, there are few better solar generators than the Titan. With 3000W of power disputed among 6 AC outlets, 4 DC ports, 8 USB outlets, and an RV plug, there is nothing that this device cannot handle.
If you want to create an unforgettable tailgating experience, the Titan can help you do so. Plus, the system has high solar input capacity and stackable batteries, so you will never run out of power to keep the party going.
Cons of the Titan Solar Generator
Of course, the Titan’s power is matched by its weight and expense. If you have the funds, the Titan is worth every penny, but tailgaters who have spent a fortune on season tickets may not be able to afford it. With a battery attached, the Titan is also over 70 pounds, which may make it a better option for your home than your next tailgate party.
What Can the Titan Solar Generator Actually Power? (Per battery pack)
- Smartphones (5-7 watts): 330+ hours
- Tablets (25-40 watts): 66+ hours
- Laptops (50 watts): 40+ hours
- Electric Blanket (Queen Size, 75 watts): 26+ hours
- 50" LED LCD TV* (65 watts) : 30 hours
- Refrigerator (55 watts): 36+ hours
- Chainable USB LED Lights (6 watts): 330+ hours
Did you find our tailgate generators guide helpful and planning to get one? then we think you should check the next blog - How to connect portable generator to electrical panel.