Camping trip out in the woods in the middle of nowhere on an electric Ford F-150 Lightning. Nothing can be better, unless the truck is low on power. Not many options for charging it up in the woods unless there is a generator available. This is where it gets interesting.
The Ford F-150 Lightning can be charged with a mid- to high-end portable generator that is at least 1500 Watts and has a clean sine wave. It can take up to 24 hours to fully charge the truck this way.
Charging up an electric truck with a generator sounds easy and it can be if you have the right generator and a bunch of time. There are so many options to choose from, a wide range of prices and many brands of portable generators. Planning ahead and getting the right generator for charging an electric truck is very important so let’s take a look at some details that need to be considered.
The Right Generator For Charging a Ford F-150 Lightning
Most generators that are on the cheap side will not work even if they manage to squeeze out enough power because they provide a modified sine wave which is considered dirty power. So here are the 2 most important things to keep in mind when picking out a generator for your truck charging needs.
- Most importantly, to successfully charge an electric truck with a generator, the generator has to be powerful enough to even provide enough power to push electricity into the giant batteries. The minimum should be 1500 Watts but ideally you need 300 Watts for it to be dependable.
- It should be an inverter generator that can produce a clean sine wave effect which is considered clean output. To us, a plug is a plug but an electric truck can tell if you’re giving it junk power or a healthy clean sine wave. In most cases the truck will detect it and wont even accept anything less than clean power.
Can You Charge A Ford F-150 Lightning With A Generator While Driving?
That is a NO, you can’t charge your Lightning truck with a generator while driving. Simply because the Ford F-150 Lightning does not let you drive while the charging cable is plugged in. It won’t let you put it into gear if it detects that the charger cable is still plugged in.
Someone said, that means it requires an aftermarket part to be able to do that. Well… I assume someone will come up with something to go around this, a hack or an external module of some sort to make the truck think that the charger cable is not plugged in.
Top 6 Generators For Charging Electric Vehicles
Here are top 6 generators that have the power required as well as produce a clean sine wave that the electric truck demands. Two brands come up as the most dependable and most available for this purpose, Honda and Champion.
Honda boasts it’s clean sine wave and claim that they produce ‘grid-quality’ electricity. I must say that Honda has a good reputation and I believe them. Their generators cost quite a bit more than Champion but for peace of mind, you can’t go wrong.
Champion has its own benefit – price. It’s not as known as Honda but for generators, but when it comes to clean electricity, they know their stuff.
Clean Sine Wave Generators
|2200 watt 120V
|3000 watt 120V
|7000 watt 120/240V
|3500 watt 120V
|5000 watt 120/240V
|7000 watt 120/240V
Honda EU2200i Clean Power Generator
The 2200 watt model of the Honda generator is the minimum that you should consider for charging your electric truck. If possible, it is recommended to use a 3000 watt generator for best results. But if you have no other choice this one will do the job. It may take a lot longer but it will work.
This lightweight generator only weighs 47lb, so it is easy to take with you anywhere you go and not sacrifice space. Letting it run all night is not a big deal because it doesn’t make much noise running at 48 to 57 dBA, which is quieter than a normal conversation.
You may need to get up in the middle of the night to refill the gas tank to keep it running as the tiny .9 gal tank of gas will last about 5 to 6 hours depending on the load.
Honda EU3000iS Clean Power Generator
The Honda EU3000iS generator is the sweet spot for charging an electric truck. It’s not too heavy so you can still move it around by your self at 147lb dry weight but also powerful enough to provide enough electricity to charge at a good rate. 3000 watts is ideal to have an efficient portable charging solution.
Known for Honda’s clean power, this generator provides pure sine wave electricity that is ‘grid-quality’, just like at home, so your truck will love it.
Honda EU7000iS Clean Power Generator
If you demand the best and are willing to pay the higher cost, the Honda EU7000iS generator is the one for you. It is heavier than the previous ones, coming in at 263lb, and will require 2 people to wrangle it out of the truck, but then it can be rolled into place.
You can be sure it will provide the power needed to charge up the electric truck without any problems. Your F-150 will also love the pure electricity it provides, with it’s stable and clean power provided by its Advanced Inverter Technology.
It will run all night and should charge your truck by morning so you can continue exploring without delay.
Champion 4250W Clean Power Generator
The Champion Power Equipment 4250-Watt generator provides 3000 watts of running power. Yes, even though it is called 4250 watt, that is only available in starting watts. This helps for things that have to start up a motor or appliance of some sort. An electric vehicle needs running watts of constant power and 3000 of those in this generator is a great start.
Champion is known to care a lot about clean electricity, so this is a great brand of generator to get for charging a Ford F-150 Lightning or any kind of electric vehicle. They went as far as writing a white paper on clean sine wave power (linked at top of this article).
Weighing in at 75lb, this one is easy to move around and get it positioned. Running at 64 dBA, it is pretty quiet, right about the same as a regular conversation.
Champion 6250W Clean Power Generator
Here is a 5000 watt inverted generator, the Champion 6250W is a bargain on the 5000 watt level not only on the price tag but also on weight and the noise it makes. This generator is 50% lighter than it’s competitors in the same wattage, coming in a 121lb compared to others that are in the 260-280lb range. It is also pretty quiet at 69 dBA, which is like a normal conversation.
Providing clean electricity for your electric truck, Champion generator can get you back on the road (or trails) with ease. With a price tag of under $1000, I would pick this one out of the batch. Plenty of power and light enough to wrangle it around by myself. I don’t mind hum while I sleep so having it run all night would not bother me a bit or disturb anyone else.
Champion 8750W Clean Power Generator
And the power monster from Champion, the 8750W model which generates 7000 watts will be more that you need to charge your truck. You can probably also run a refrigerator at the same time off of it. Still fairly light, at 155lb, it can be moved around by one person. It’s a little louder than the 6250W model, at 72 dBA, but at this point, who’s counting? If you need a monster like this then you don’t mind the extra 5 dBA.
The Champion 8750W generator is perfect for camping and other recreational purposes, where you can charge your truck as well as be able to use other luxuries of modern life in the middle of nowhere.
But also, if you are spending $1200 to $1500 on a generator, maybe the better way to go will be to add a little more money for a little less watts and get a Honda EU7000iS? Just saying.. it is an option to consider.
How To Property Ground A Portable Generator For Charging An Electric Truck
Most electric vehicles will want you to have a solid ground for the charge to even initiate. Some generators are able to provide that but others do not. There is always a solution though, you can ground it your self.
Find an existing grounding bolt or a connection on the body of the generator and firmly attach a copper wire to it. Even using a regular a ground wire from household Romex wiring will be perfect. Then you want to use a metal rod and hammer it into the ground a foot or two deep and firmly attach the copper wire to it.
Double check your connections between the generator’s body and the copper wire as well as copper wire to the metal rod and make sure they have a solid connection.
Valik loves tinkering in the garage and is currently restoring a 2000 GMC Sierra 1500 truck. He also writes about the progress on this blog. When not in the garage, Valik is also a web developer and a blogger. I know, strange, a hand in two completely different worlds. And that is the way he likes to keep it.