If you’re looking for a generator for your camping or outdoor trips or for backup power at home and at the same time you do not want to end up spending a fortune on buying a generator, then you can opt for cheap portable generators that are available for around $500 or less.
At one time, buying a cheap generator meant that you could not expect it to be reliable or last for a long time. However, with advancements in generator technology, today, you can find cheap generators that are durable, reliable and give you excellent long-term service.
In this article we will be evaluating some of the best generators in the $500 price range and less, and here is a guide to help you to decide on the best cheap portable generator for you.
Portable generators can be categorized according to the fuel they run on – gas generators, diesel generators, propane generators and natural gas generators. They can also be classified on the basis of where they are used i.e. residential, professional or RV.
Review of the 10 Best Generators in the $500 Range
|Image||Generator Reviews||Max Continuous Running Watts||Max Starting Watts|
Best Cheap Gasoline Option
Great Value for Money
|Generac 5982 GP3250|
|WEN 56180||1500||1800||Check Price|
Dual Fuel Versatility
Affordable Inverter Generator
|Champion 46597||3500||4000||Check Price|
3500-watt Dual Fuel Unit
|Westinghouse WGen2000||2000||2500||Check Price|
The Cheapest Lightweight Generator
DuroStar DS4000S Generator: Best Cheap Gas Powered Portable Generator
If you’re looking for an affordable generator that is reliable too, then you can consider the DuroStar DS4000S Generator, which is among the best generators for less than $500. The wheel-less, portable generator can handle your various power requirements and can also be used on worksites.
The 7 HP engine produces sufficient power to operate small appliances and tools. The generator can produce up to 8 hours at 50% capacity. The generator is mounted on a sturdy, durable steel frame with isolated mounts that makes the machine more stable and safer to use. The generator features an EZ Pull recoil start that makes the starting of the generator very easy.
The DuroStar DS4000S Generator is quiet when running and is therefore suitable for use in populated areas as it won’t disturb your neighbors. This gas-powered generator has a twist lock to provide connectivity and 2 regular 3-prong outlets. This compact generator is a great buy for worksites or to power small appliances at home.
Features of the DuroStar DS4000S Generator
- 4000-watt surge power and 3300-watt continuous power.
- 8 hours runtime at 50% load capacity.
- Equipped with a 7.0 HP, OHV air-cooled engine.
- Equipped with a heavy-duty steel frame and 4-point isolated motor mounts.
- Low oil shutoff.
- EZ Pull recoil start.
- Power panel with voltmeter, coil warning indicator light, power outlets and circuit breaker.
- EPA approved.
WEN 56475 Generator: Best Portable Generator for the Price
The WEN 56475 Generator is a fantastic “all round” generator to have around your home or ideal for use on a construction site. The wheeled generator is equipped with a 223cc engine that supplies 4750 watts surge capacity and 3300 watts of continuous power.
The generator provides a runtime of around 8 hours at 50% load. The generator features an LCD hour meter to track the maintenance of the generator and it also helps in indicating when the oil needs to be changed. The WEN 6475 Generator has a regular twist lock, an RV twist lock suitable for RV connections and dual-standard 3-prong outlets.
The generator is equipped with a low-oil indicator and an electric start, which makes the starting of the machine very easy. It is also equipped with a voltage regulator and an overload protection that helps to enhance the safety. The WEN 6475 Generator is equipped with a foldable handle and a wheel kit that makes transportation of the unit very easy and convenient.
The WEN 6475 Generator is completely EPA III and CARB compliant, which makes it ideal for use outdoors and in national parks.
Features of the WEN 56475 Generator
- 4750-watt surge power and 3750-watt continuous power.
- 223cc engine.
- LCD meter helps in maintenance schedules and to manage oil change.
- Electric start.
- Automatic low-oil shutdown.
- Automatic voltage regulation and protection from overloading.
- Foldable handle and wheel kit.
- CARB and EPA III compliant.
Generac 5982 GP3250 Generator: Solid Option
The feature-packed Generac 5982 GP3250 Generator delivers an impressive performance and at the same time, it is very affordable too. You can trust this generator for your power requirements to run your appliances at home or when you’re camping outdoors and run your power tools on your worksite.
The Generac 5982 GP3250 Generator has a 208cc engine with a splash lubrication system that enhances the life of the engine and it delivers 3250 running wattage and provides an impressive runtime of around 10 hours at 50% load capacity. The low-oil shutdown ensures that there is no damage to the engine in case the oil level depletes completely. The generator has a 120/240-volt, 20A twist lock outlet, and 2 120-volt, 20A outlets.
The generator is lightweight, compact, portable, is convenient to carry around and can be used for outdoor camping trips. The never-flat wheels of the unit make the generator very portable. The generator is not very noisy when in operation thanks to the low-tone muffler. The generator features a recoil start.
The Generac 5982 GP3250 Generator is a great generator that offers plenty of power to run all your home appliances like a home security system, small refrigerator, power tools and it can power up your lights, entertainment equipment, and power grill while you’re out camping.
Features of the Generac 5982 GP3250 Generator
- 208cc, 6.5 HP OHV engine with splash lubrication.
- 3.5-gallon tank that provides around 10 hours of runtime at 50% load capacity.
- On/Off switch.
- 8-inch never-flat heavy-duty wheels.
- Low oil level shutdown.
- Sturdy steel tube cradle.
- Comes with a 2-year limited warranty.
WEN 56180 Generator – Most Portable Cheap Generator
The WEN 56180 Generator is an excellent portable generator under $500, which is very lightweight and convenient to carry around wherever you go. This generator delivers sufficient power to run your computer, fridge, microwave, television, etc.
The gas-powered generator is equipped with 800-watt, 98cc engine that delivers stable and reliable power. The generator has a 1.45-gallon fuel tank that provides a runtime of at least 7.5 hours at 50% load capacity. The generator has a low-oil shutdown, which helps to prevent any damage to the generator.
The WEN 56180 Generator comes along with 2 120 volts 3-prong wall outlet and a 12-volt cigarette-style DC outlet. The generator is EPA III and CARB approved and is equipped with a spark arrestor, which makes it suitable for use in national parks.
So, if you’re looking for an affordable, yet reliable generator for all your recreation as well as emergency power needs, then the WEN 56180 Generator is definitely a good buy.
Features of the WEN 56180 Generator
- 1800-watt surge power and 1500-watt continuous power.
- 4-stroke OHV engine.
- Runtime of around 7.5 hours in 1.1-gallons of gas at 50% load capacity.
- Low-oil shutdown.
- Spark arrestor equipped.
- 1 cigarette-lighter style 12 volts DC outlet and 2 120 volts 3-prong wall outlets.
- CARB and EPA III approved.
Duromax XP4850EH Generator – Best Affordable Dual Fuel Generator
If you’re looking for a dual fuel generator that is affordable too, then the Duromax XP4850EH Generator is a value-for-money buy. This compact, well-built generator delivers sufficient power to run your lights and appliances during an emergency.
The dual fuel generator allows you to make use of gasoline or propane and gives you a runtime of 20 hours on 4 gallons of propane at 50% load and 8 hours on gasoline at 50% capacity. The generator comes with a 12-volt DC output and 3 power outlets. The generator features an electric start, which makes starting of the unit very easy and it also has a backup pull-start option.
The Duromax XP4850EH Generator is a well-built generator but is compact enough to move around, thanks to the wheel kit that comes along with the generator. The unit also occupies very little space. The generator is EPA and CARB compliant, which makes the generator safe for use in national parks. Overall, this is a fantastic and powerful portable generator at a real budget price.
Features of the Duromax XP4850EH Generator
- 4850-watt surge power and 3850-watt continuous power.
- 7 HP air-cooled, OHV engine.
- Heavy-duty frame mounted on 4-point isolated motor mounts.
- Complete power panel with voltmeter, low-oil warning indicator, key start switch, power outlets and circuit breaker.
- Low-oil indicator and low-oil shutoff.
- EPA and CARB approved.
WEN 56200i Generator – Best Cheap Inverter Generator
Need a generator for all your outdoor activities, camping, tailgating, picnics, etc. which does not make any noise? The WEN 56200i super-quiet generator is surely the right one for you. The 2000-watt generator from WEN delivers safe and clean power that is free of any surges, thus preventing any damage to your delicate appliances and devices.
The generator replicates a pure sine wave and reduces harmonic distortion to less than 0.3% at zero load and 1.2% at full load capacity, which enables you to run your delicate appliances such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets, etc. The operation of the WEN 56200i Generator is so silent that it is quieter than the working of an air conditioner or according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, it is equivalent to a normal human conversation.
The lightweight WEN 56200i Generator has a 5-volt USB port, 2 3-prong 120-volt outlets, and 1 12-volt DC outlet. And the best part is that the WEN 56200i Generator allows you to link it to another generator parallelly for more power if required.
Features of the WEN 56200i Generator
- 2000-watt surge power and 1600-watt continuous power.
- Equipped with a 79.7cc OHV 4-stroke engine.
- Produces 51 decibels sound at ¼ load capacity.
- EPA III and CARB approved.
Champion 46597 3500-Watt Generator – Most Cost-Effective Generator
A perfect blend of performance and price, the Champion 46597 3500-Watt Generator is a well-balanced unit that is also affordable. This gas-powered RV-ready generator has a 196cc engine that produces 3500 watts of power and is equipped with Cold Start technology that allows you to start the generator easily, even in extremely cold weather.
The 3.8-gallon tank of the generator enables it a runtime of around 12 hours at 50% load. The generator is fairly quiet in operation as it produces only 68 decibels of sound. The generator is equipped with a Volt Guard and an inbuilt surge protector that protect all your appliances from any voltage spike above the safe levels. The generator comes with 3 outlets that allow you to connect your household appliances.
The generator is extremely portable, thanks to the sturdy steel frame that is equipped with a folding handle, the never-flat wheels and the wheel kit that come along with the generator, all of which allow for convenient transportation and maneuvering of the generator.
The Champion 46597 3500-Watt Generator is indeed a convenient and a cost-effective solution for your power needs in case of a power outage.
Features of the Champion 46597 3500-Watt Generator
- 4000-watt surge power and 3500-watt continuous power.
- Equipped with a 196cc single-cylinder OHV 4-stroke engine.
- Provides 12 hours of runtime at 50% load.
- Regulator to regulate voltage automatically with a voltmeter.
- Automatic low-oil shut-off indicator.
- EPA compliant.
- Comes with a 3-year limited warranty and lifetime free technical support.
Sportsman GEN4000DF Dual Fuel Generator – Best Cheap Home Generator
The Sportsman GEN4000DF Generator is an extremely versatile generator that is suitable to power a small home and also ideal to take along with you on camping trips or for tailgating. The dual fuel generator works on both gasoline as well as propane.
The Sportsman GEN4000DF Generator has 1 120-volt RV outlet, 1 12-volt DC outlet, and 4 120-volt outlets to connect all your appliances. The portable dual fuel generator has a runtime of around 10 hours on 3.6 gallons of propane and gas at 50% load. The generator is EPA approved, it is very quiet when running and is snow and rain proof, which makes it suitable for use outdoors.
The Sportsman GEN4000DF Generator provides long-lasting reliability and it can power up all your appliances, making it a versatile and affordable option to buy.
Features of the Sportsman GEN4000DF Generator
- 4000-watt surge power and 3500-watt continuous power.
- 212cc, 7 HP OHV engine that runs on both gas and propane.
- Provides a runtime of 10 hours on 3.6 gallons of gas and propane running at 50% load capacity.
- Noise level is less than 69 decibels.
- Low-oil shutoff.
- Comes with a standard (5-feet) hose kit.
- Comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
Westinghouse WGen2000 Portable Generator – Most Efficient Generator
If you’re looking for a generator that offers power-efficiency and dependability and at the same time is inexpensive, then the Westinghouse WGen2000 Generator is the one to go in for. This feature-packed, innovative generator comes at a “hard to beat” price.
This lightweight generator is very easy to start and the 212cc 4-stroke engine can produce power that can run your essential home appliances such as lights, a small refrigerator, and television when you don’t have power. A single tank (4 gallons) of fuel gives a runtime of around 20 hours at 50% load capacity. The generator comes with an easy to operate panel with two 120-volt outlets for your appliances.
The durable cast iron sleeve construction of the generator along with the roll bar steel frame located on the top of the unit, provides protection to the unit and also the gas tank and ensures that the generator is long-lasting. The Westinghouse WGen2000 Generator is compact and highly portable, which makes it convenient to carry it everywhere you go.
The generator has many safety features to keep you and your appliances safe. It has an overload protector, a low-oil shutdown indicator and a rubber cover that prevents any electrical shocks and corrosion. The Westinghouse WGen2000 Generator is EPA and CARB approved, which makes it suitable for use outdoors and in national parks.
The Westinghouse WGen2000 Generator provides fantastic performance, excellent fuel-efficiency, and suitability for use as an emergency backup at home or for tailgating, camping trips, or working on small projects at the worksite, among other things.
Features of the Westinghouse WGen2000 Generator
- 2500-watt surge power and 2000-watt continuous power.
- 212cc OHV 4-stroke engine.
- 4 gallons of gas provides a runtime of 20 hours at 50% load capacity.
- Weight: 90 lbs.
- Durable cast iron sleeve.
- Control panel has overload protection, circuit breaker, low-oil shutdown.
- EPA and CARB compliant.
- Comes with a toolkit, oil and user’s manual.
- 3-years warranty and lifetime free customer service.
PowerProModel 56101 Generator: Best Rated Portable Gas Generator
The PowerProModel 56101 Generator is a great generator if you’re going camping, tailgating or for use at home. The generator produces 1000 watts of maximum capacity and 900 watts of continuous running capacity. The generator is equipped with a 2-stroke engine, which eliminates the need for separate oil or fuel.
The PowerProModel 56101 Generator features a 1-gallon tank that produces a runtime of around 5 hours on 50% load capacity. The generator is quite lightweight and is very easy to use and store. The convenient carry handle allows you to carry the generator around wherever you go. The generator has a 12V outlet for charging, a standard outlet and it has a recoil starting mechanism. The base of the generator features rubber pads, which improves the stability of the machine and also makes it very easy to use.
The generator’s exhaust is very quiet, it has an inbuilt spark arrestor and is also CARB and EPA compliant, which makes the PowerProModel 56101 Generator suitable for outdoor use and use in national parks. Overall, this “all-purpose” generator is the perfect one for wherever you require power.
Features of the PowerProModel 56101 Generator
- 1000-watt surge power and 900-watt continuous power.
- 2-HP, 2-stroke, single cylinder engine.
- 1-gallon fuel produces 5 hours runtime at 50% load.
- Runs on gas and oil mix (does not require oil changes).
- Features spark arrestor, quiet exhaust.
- Convenient carrying handle.
- 4 rubber pads on base for greater stability.
- CARB and EPA compliant.
- Comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
As we already mentioned earlier, there are plenty of generator models and brands available in the market for you to choose from. However, it is a good idea not to settle for the cheapest generator very quickly. You should compare the prices vis-à-vis the features, quality, reliability and your requirements before you settle on a specific portable generator for your home or outdoor needs.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Portable Generator in the $500 Range
There are a plethora of brands and models of generators around the $500 or less range and choosing between them can be a rather difficult task. Here are a few tips that can help you choose the best generator which is affordable and is the best-suited for your workplace or home.
- Before making a decision about the generator you are going to buy, you must ascertain the total power requirement and the appliances you plan to operate using the generator. The generator should be able to handle the load, as a load higher than the capacity of the generator will cause it to get overloaded and trip. Also, if you plan to use the generator for prolonged periods of time, you should buy one with a tank size that is large and which can accommodate sufficient fuel for a long period of use.
- Another important aspect to consider when buying a generator is the type of fuel you want to use to power your generator. You should evaluate the various fuel options available and their benefits in terms of the price, availability, and storage of the fuel.
- You must consider the factor of fuel-efficiency of the generator before buying a model priced less than $500. Make inquiries and check around for the brands and the models that offer energy efficiency in the long term. Check the other factors such as the size of the gas tank, running cycle, etc.
- Select a generator that offers ease of operation. The generator should be easy to assemble, install, operate and also refuel. Look for added features such as safety switches that trip the generator in the case of an overload, low-oil indicator, and shutoff, etc.