Are Generators Allowed On Campgrounds?

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A couple of RVs lined up in front of mountains

A generator can be a handy resource while camping because it allows you to enjoy some of the comforts of home while you are away. It also makes it possible for many people to go camping who may not be able to otherwise, such as those with medical conditions that may require electric equipment for various reasons, but are generators allowed on campgrounds?

Some campgrounds do not allow generators simply because of the noise.

You can expect most frontcountry campgrounds will not allow you to bring a generator, since the campsites are closer together and because these locations typically provide electrical outlets so there is no need to bring one.

Campgrounds that do allow you to have a generator may have designated areas for you to use them or specific times during the day when you can use one. While the National Park Service will allow some of their visitors to use generators, they do not exceed a noise level of more than 60 decibels at 50 feet.

Am I Allowed to Take My Generator to the Campground I’m Visiting?

If you own a generator and are considering taking it along on your next camping trip, we have put together some tips and advice for taking along this type of device. If you are uncertain about the rules and regulations for the campground you plan to stay at, be sure to contact the owner or a local park ranger to find out more before you head out to your destination.

All campgrounds have their own rules and policies when it comes to allowing generators onsite. Some generator-free areas at campgrounds allow those who want to be away from all the noise to be secluded and enjoy their stay in peace and quiet.

The typical rules you can expect at most campgrounds include the following.

Quiet Hours

These are hours set aside when loud conversations, music, and generators are not allowed. They are usually between the hours of 9 pm, and 8 am at most locations. Upon arrival at your campsite, you should find out when the quiet hours are. That is true even if you are not planning to bring a generator along.

Under 60 Decibels

Most campgrounds will require you to keep noise under 60 decibels. That is true whether you are using a generator, a radio, or causing any type of noise at all. This rule is in place to help ensure all campers enjoy their stay and are not disturbed by loud noises.

Generator-only Hours

There are some campgrounds and RV parks that have hours set aside for campers to use a generator. These are different from quiet hours, and the generator you use still needs to follow all other guidelines such as decibel level.

This time will usually be in the morning, afternoon, or evening from 8-10 am 12-2 pm or 5-7 pm.

Generator-specific Campsites

Campers who bring along a generator will often have an RV or camper van, which means they will be on a larger campsite.

Many campgrounds will usually keep generators away from campsites designated for tents since those campers tend to be much quieter.

Reasons Why You Might Need a Generator at a Campsite

There are several reasons why you may need to take a generator along with you while camping. The main reason why many campers own them is that they do not have electricity hook-up access to their camper or RV. Those who camp in tents typically will not need a generator unless they use an electric stove, a furnace, or another device such as a phone charger.

Some individuals may want to use a generator to listen to music or watch TV. But if you plan to camp with the bare minimum necessities, there isn’t any need to bring along a generator.

Still, some campers prefer to bring one along in case they need it for backup.

For instance, while you are camping, you end up in bad weather and cannot have a campfire to prepare food; a portable generator would be helpful. That may not be necessary for all campers, as most people will bring snacks that do not require heat or any type of preparation.

But it is still good to have that option available if needed.

Portable generators are also reasonably affordable, so if you choose to bring along a small one, you can do so without breaking the bank. And for many, that added convenience is often worth the additional cost.

If you plan to bring along a generator, keep in mind that these devices give off carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous if the levels are too high in enclosed areas. For that reason, most generators are equipped with a built-in sensor that will shut the machine down if the levels get too high.

Do I Need to Shut Down My Generator at Night?

In many public campgrounds, shutting off your generator at night is more of an act of kindness than a rule you must follow. Some jurisdictions, such as dispersed camping areas, do not have quiet hours enforced, so you must use your own judgment.

BLM or Bureau of Land Management open lands, also known as dispersed camping areas, do not state that campers must shut off generators at night. They only state that visitors do not make any unreasonable noise. That is also true for BLM-developed campgrounds and long-term visitor areas, the National Park Service, and dispersed campsites within the US Forest Service.

For these areas, it is plausible that a generator could operate quietly enough to not be a nuisance to other campers nearby. However, it is still possible that you may have a camper complain at times. In these cases, judgment would be left up to a local park ranger or law enforcement who would determine if your generator was making too much noise or not.

Rules for Quiet Hours in BLM Open Land Campsites

For BLM open land areas, there are no strict regulations for quiet hours. However, there are general rules that all campers should go by if they want to have a pleasant stay. These rules state:

No person shall cause a public disturbance or create a risk to other persons on public lands by engaging in activities that include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) Making unreasonable noise.

(2) Creating a hazard or nuisance

Those who have experienced camping in BLM areas in the past have mentioned that campers usually run generators during the night in these areas. However, this is usually not a problem, since most campers stay a good distance away from everyone else. Also, many of them use what is known as inverter generators instead of the much louder contractor generators.

BLM officials typically do not patrol open lands during the day, and it is even rarer for them to patrol these areas at night. It is not typical for a BLM official to come out to a campsite and enforce the rules for using a loud generator, even if a complaint is made.

Alternatives to Using Generators

Suppose there are restrictions on using a generator, or you simply do not want to create a lot of unnecessary noise in a peaceful environment. In that case, there are a few alternatives to generators for you to consider.

Solar Panels

You can purchase a portable solar panel charger that works with most solar generators and enjoy peace of mind without disturbing the peace. These panel chargers are water-resistant, which makes them ideal for camping trips. You can find foldable models, making them easy to store and transport.

Portable Power Stations

Portable power stations are the ideal device to take along with you while camping if you don’t want to bring along a generator and if you are only staying a few days. These devices do not require fuel and can be recharged from a solar panel or an electric outlet. They include a 240-watt hour lithium-ion battery pack as well as a pure sine wave inverter. They are easy to carry and make it possible to recharge items such as your phone or laptop even if you stay in an area with no access to electricity.

 

Avid campers often enjoy being in the great outdoors because it allows them to escape from the loud distractions of everyday life. Going camping where people are using loud generators can take away from that serene experience. Therefore, most campgrounds will have restrictions on when or if you can use a generator.

While most of the appeal of camping is the silence of the outdoors, sometimes we need electricity while we are out enjoying nature. If you are planning to purchase a generator to take camping, look for one that is low in decibels. And if you must have electricity while you are camping, you can also consider some of the great frontcountry campgrounds that offer access to electricity at every campsite.

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