Generator in front of carpenter

From charging tools to creating portable power on a work site, a generator can serve the many needs of carpenters, electricians, plumbers and trades of all kinds. If you’re working alone or with a partner on mobile jobs where a van is your office and work-space, you’ll require power that is robust yet quiet. Here’s our guide to choosing the right generator for any ‘man with a van’.

Whether you're running building equipment such as bricks saws, drills or concrete mixers or charging your phone or laptop, your van is the storage centre and office of your business. Portability of your power source is vital for all tradies and there’s some great models on the market that won’t send you back a small fortune. Read on for our breakdown of what to look out for…


Your starting point is to identify how much power you need in terms of wattage. Take a look at your key pieces of equipment and use their instruction manual to work out the wattage required to start and run them. You can work out the total wattage using our Wattage Calculator and this will help you find a model that best suits your power requirements.

Weight & Storage

Of course, you’ll need to store your portable generator in your van with everything else so look at the space available before you start shopping. Will it need to be lifted on to a shelf or carried around a work site? If so, weight will also become a bigger consideration.

If you need a lot of power and run-time then your generator may be bigger and heavier to allow for a larger fuel tank. In this case, make sure it’s easy to manoeuvre with sturdy (but light) wheels and a strong handle. You may want to purchase our Generator Wheel & Handle Kit to allow for easy handling.

Power Outlets

Refer back to your list of key equipment and think about how many devices you are likely to need to run at the same time. Look for a model with enough power outlets to meet those needs and a run-time of your average working day.


Whilst you can find solar and battery-powered generators, most will run on petrol or diesel and are fairly cheap to buy and run. Champion also make a Dual Fuel Generator allowing you to run on petrol OR propane. (There are many benefits to running your generator on propane.) Depending on whether your transit van is diesel or petrol, you may want to choose a model that runs on the same fuel.

Storage and Safety

It’s extremely dangerous to run your generator within your van as it will emit carbon monoxide that can build up very quickly in small spaces. Place your generator at least 15 feet away.

Noise Levels

In built-up areas it may be important to keep noise levels down to avoid friction with neighbours and local businesses. If this is the case, search for a generator under 60dB (decibels) like our Champion 2200 Watt ‘Mighty Atom, which combines lightweight design with plenty of power at 58dB.

Explore our range of van generators:

For a selection of the best power generators for a ‘man with a van’, take a look through our range of generators for transit vans with low running costs and durable designs. Our top pick is the Champion 2200 Watt Inverter Petrol Generator.

Need some help choosing a generator? Find out all you need to know in our Generator Guides and Tips section.