Electric Car (EV) Owners Guide to Generators

Electric car charge

As electric cars become more and more popular, information on safe and smooth running is more vital than ever. while It might feel like a strange link to start with, generators can be an important helping hand for electric car users. How? Keep reading to find out…

Can you charge an electric car with a generator?

Yes! While it might seem strange or surprising, a generator can be used to power up your electric car with ease. If you’re heading out on a long road trip, or going far off the beaten track away from any charging points – a portable generator can be a handy helping hand to keep your car powered up and in motion when you might not be able to access traditional charging methods.

How many watts are needed to charge an electric car?

A general rule of thumb for backing up an electric vehicle charger is ensuring your generator produces a minimum of 10kW of backup power. This is especially the case for a level 2 ‘fast’ charge that will get you going in no time. Also depending on the power levels and requirements of your vehicle, the power level necessary may vary – so make sure to look into this before purchasing.

What to consider when choosing a suitable generator for your electric car or EV

When buying a generator to power an electric car, there’s a lot more to consider than when you’re buying a generator for DIY or simply powering electricals. You need to pay attention to the requirements of your car and safe usage to protect your vehicle. To find out the things to consider, keep reading…

Compatibility with your EV

A lot of electric vehicles are wired to be specific and loyal to their own charging method, so compatibility is vital. To charge up safely, it’s important to really know your vehicle. So get to know your car’s manual to find any specific requirements or precautions when it comes to charging compatibility and make sure they align with the generator you choose.


When you’ll be taking the generator on the road, it needs to be easily portable. A compact, easily transported generator will make your life a lot easier – with bonus features like wheels and handles helping make the whole process more painless.

The generator’s weight

Your car has a weight limit, so make sure you’re not overloading it or wasting loads of weight on a heavy generator. Something like the Mighty Atom is light and compact without compromising on weight, but make sure you know your car’s weight limit before purchasing.

Charging time

Even with a high-power generator, charging up your car like this will take longer than usual. However, you need to consider your own priorities here and the amount of time you have to charge up. The better the compatibility is, the quicker your charge-up will be – so making sure to consider all these facts will allow for a smoother process.

The fuel(s) used

Generators require fuel, meaning you’ll need to store and transport fuel along with you on your journey. With petrol and diesel being highly flammable, you need to ensure safe handling, whereas a cleaner fuel like LPG may be safer but is more specialist. Consider the fuel type you’d ideally like to use and which you can safely store and access.

EV Charging Methods

Electric vehicle charging is categorised into 3 different levels, relating to charging speed and power level. To understand each better and see if they’re compatible with generator charging, keep reading…

Level 1 Charging: 120 Volts

Level one charging is considered standard. When you purchase your electric vehicle, it’ll come with a level 1 charging cable that’s compatible with home outlets and is a vital bit of gear for your EV. Plugging into a standard 120-volt home outlet, this is the type of charging you’re most likely to do, charging at a speed of approx. 5 miles per hour for slow but steady charging.

Most generators will allow you to access this level of charging, but might take a while!

Level 2 Charging: 240 Volts

Level 2 charging is a faster approach, usually accessed at public charging stations or parking lots. It’s the ideal level to charge up for long commutes or for people who don’t have time to be waiting around for slow charging between journeys. Requiring a 240-volt outlet, usually used for larger appliances, it charges at a speed of around 25 miles per hour.

Depending on the power level of your generator, level 2 is the top end of charging you can expect from a portable generator.

Level 3 Charging: Fast Charging

Level 3 charging is the fastest level, usually found at charging points in cities or petrol stations for speedy charge-up. They use direct current for high power, high speed charging giving you around 100 to 200 miles in an hour!

Even with the biggest generator, it's unlikely you’ll manage this level of charging without using a traditional, public charging point.

Why sine wave is important when charging electric cars and EVs with generators

Sine wave is vital for charging an electric vehicle. In some cases, your car will detect if the current is not a clean input sine wave and simply not charge. But if not, any surges of power that can creep through in power flows that aren’t sine waves can be deeply damaging to your car, causing overloads or dangerous spikes in power.

Is it practical to have a generator as a backup for your EV?

If you’re off on a long, off-road journey where you won’t have access to a charging point for an extended period; a generator might be something you want for peace of mind and security. If your car has storage, and weight allowance, and is compatible, a generator can be a reassuring addition to the road trip. But it is by no means a necessity.