Whether they’re caused by hurricanes, snowstorms, summer showers, or just a lack of power generation, power cuts are a menace. Though candlelight dinners have their own romantic appeal and star-gazing can be magical, let’s be practical! Given the pace of work and importance of electricity in almost every aspect of life, electricity is a necessity. While the occasional break to do the aforementioned tasks may be great and much-needed once in a while, frequent power cuts can be a real pain in the neck due to the disruption they cause in the functioning of everyday life. Think about it. No electricity to charge your smartphone or laptop can cause a mini panic-attack in most of us!
Thankfully, mankind was smart enough to invent wonder devices to be the savior in just these kinds of situations – the humble portable generator. Bless the soul that realized how much we take electricity for granted and came up with this device! Portable generators are the perfect solution, albeit short-term, when your local power grid goes down. These electromechanical devices create electrical energy from mechanical energy, resulting in power for your various appliances. Your average portable generator can provide up to 1 kW of energy. Therefore, some of the things you need to know before purchasing a portable generator are:
- Starting Power: Also called the “surge”, this is the power that generators can provide for short periods of time at a go, like starting up a microwave, as opposed to running it continuously.
- Running Power: Also called “continuous” power, running power is the opposite of starting power, as it is the amount of power the generator can continuously provide. Generally, running power is the number mentioned in the specifications or description of the generator, whereas starting power is usually the number advertised in the title of the generator.
Why is it important to know this? Well, each appliance has a separate starting requirement and separate running requirement in terms of watts. Thus, it is important to know how many watts your generator can supply to your appliance either for starting or running.
Reviews of the Best Portable Generators
WEN 56200i: The Best Clean Energy Generator
A highly reputed brand, Wen products have always managed to impress in all the right ways. The 56200i is yet another successful offering from this powerhouse company! Perfect for those who are budget-conscious, this generator offers a peak of 2000 watts, a running wattage of 1600 watts, and clean energy (the Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) is under 0.3% at idle and under 1.2% with load), which simply means that the energy is almost the same as the one you get from your mains or regular power supply.
Weighing 54 pounds, the 56200i offers a standard runtime of 6 hours at 25% load and a 1-gallon fuel tank. Additionally, many features are incorporated into the product, such as automatic low-oil/low-fuel shutdown, overload circuit protection and visible indicators for the fuel level, oil level and load status. Wen also uses its signature thick gauge aluminum and securely mounted steel sheets for the internal components, which means that this generator is one of the most durable you can find in the market.
Features of the WEN 56200i
- The generator offers a running wattage of 1600 watts and 2000 peak watts.
- 79.7-cc single-cylinder OHV 4-stroke gasoline engine with forced air cooling system.
- This generator is both EPA and CARB-compliant.
- Extremely clean energy with a THD of less than 0.3% and 1.2% while idling and under load, respectively.
- 6 hours runtime at 25% load.
- Fuel-tank capacity of 1 gallon.
- Diverse features such as low-oil and low-fuel automatic shutdown, LED indicators and overload protection.
- Supports parallel operation.
- Built-in “Eco” mode for fuel-consumption adjustment based on the load.
- Shipping weight of 54.4 pounds.
- 2-year limited warranty.
Yamaha EF2000iSV2: The Best Silent Generator
That Yamaha is a diverse organization that has its fingers in many, many best-selling pies is a well-known fact, and the great news is that they didn’t leave inverter generators behind! With a dry weight of 44 pounds, a peak power of 2000 watts and running power of 1600 watts, the Yamaha EF2000iSV2 gives you 10.5 hours of runtime with a 25% load due to the presence of a 79-cc single cylinder engine. This tool has a fuel-tank capacity of only 1.1 gallons; however, it’s extremely quiet, emitting only 51.5 decibels at 25% load (though the maximum noise emission is 61 decibels).
If you’re into camping and the great outdoors, this generator is definitely an option to consider! Built with the highest quality components, reasonable pricing, professional-grade performance, the efficiency and portability of this generator, it’s no wonder it’s a market hit!
Features of the Yamaha EF2000iSV2
- Extremely lightweight and highly compact at 44 pounds, making it easy to carry, transport, and store.
- Supports parallel operation.
- A wider range of appliances can be powered due to new and advanced programming.
- “Smart Throttle” feature to increase fuel efficiency by controlling engine speed automatically based on the connected load.
- Runtime of 10.5 hours at 25% load.
- Includes a gasoline petcock, fuel gauge, low-oil indicator, auto-decompression system and inverter system with “Pulse Width Modulation” (PWM).
- OHV engine with a cast-iron cylinder liner that helps with heat control and increases durability.
- EPA and CARB-compliant.
- Rubber vibration isolation feet for reduced noise emissions, comfortable grip handles and centralized, easy-to-access controls.
- 3-year limited warranty.
Honda EU2000i: The Best Quality Generator
Chances are that the Honda EU2000i is a generator you’ve probably already heard of, if you’ve ever looked up generators before. Honda has a reputation for being the market leader in many different industries and their generators are no exception. Powered by the Honda GX100 4-stroke gasoline OHV-motor engine that gives the maximum power without compromising on fuel efficiency, the EU2000i has a running wattage of 1600 watts and a peak power of 2000 watts, powered by the. Despite a fuel-tank capacity of only 0.95 gallons, the EU2000i belts out an impressive runtime of 8.1 hours at 25% load, making it one of the best portable inverter generator options out there.
Without compromises on quality, Honda uses USDA-certified spark arrestors and mufflers in the EU2000i. Additionally, the generator is quite quiet, only emitting 53 decibels at 25% load with an Eco mode to boost fuel efficiency. Additionally, there are standard features such as overload protection, automatic low-oil shutdown, and an intelligent throttling system. To make things better, the product comes one of the best warranties offered: a 3-year limited warranty, which is a year longer than the industry average.
Features of the Honda EU2000i
- 2000 peak watts and running wattage of 1600 watts.
- Honda GX100 single-cylinder OHV 4-stroke gasoline engine.
- 0.95-gallon fuel tank.
- Runtime of 8.1 hours at 25% load.
- Depending on the load, noise emissions are between 53-59 decibels.
- USDA-certified components used in the generator.
- Features such as low-oil level indicator, Eco mode, intelligent throttling, and automatic low-oil/low-fuel shutdown.
- Supports parallel operation.
- Weighs 45.6 pounds.
- 3-year commercial and residential warranty.
Briggs and Stratton P2200: The Best Compact Generator
With great features such as noise insulation, portability, and versatility of uses, the P2200 can sufficiently power all your appliances. The generator comes with the standard Briggs and Stratton’s product features, such as a visible fuel gauge and automatic idle control. However, despite a 110-cc engine and 1-gallon fuel tank, the P2200 only provides 8 hours of runtime at 25% load. Where it does score above other generators though, is its weight. Weighing only 54 pounds, this generator is a wonder when it comes to transportation and carrying.
Features of the Briggs and Stratton P2200
- 1700 running watts and 2200 peak watts.
- Signature 110-cc OHV single-cylinder 4-stroke air-cooled gasoline engine.
- Fuel-tank capacity of 1 gallon.
- 8 hours of runtime at 25% load.
- “Super Low-Tone” noise reduction mufflers.
- H-handles for easy transportation.
- 59 decibels operating volume.
- Supports parallel operation.
- The “Power-Smart” inverter technology automatically adjusts the speed of the engine to protect sensitive appliances.
- Standard Briggs and Stratton features such as the fuel gauge and automatic idle control.
- Weighs 54 pounds.
- 2-year limited warranty.
Champion Power Equipment 46539: The Best Power Generator
Champion is literally a powerhouse brand, known for its innovative design and quality. The company boasts a great reputation, customer service and quality products, which is why the 46539 is a great portable generator option! Equipped with a beast of an engine that can give you 3500 watts of continuous power and 4000 watts of starting power, this generator is a powerhouse, maxing out 12 hours of runtime and boasting a fuel capacity of 3.8 gallons.
Additionally, despite its weight of almost 140 pounds, this generator comes equipped with features that enable easy transportation, such as handles and wheels. It also comes equipped with highly innovative features such as a wireless remote, “Cold Start” and “IntelliGauge”. Having said that, one of the biggest cons is that the generator is extremely noisy, emitting up to 68 decibels; far higher than other generators in the market.
Features of the Champion Power Equipment 46539
- 3500 watts of continuous power and 4000 watts starting power.
- 4-stroke OHV single-cylinder 6.5-HP engine that can run at 3600 RPM.
- A wireless remote control that can control the generator from a distance of 80 feet, as well as an electric start button.
- Runtime of 12 hours at 50% load.
- Fuel-tank capacity of 3.8 gallons and a visible fuel gauge to monitor fuel levels.
- The generator comes equipped with the “IntelliGauge” system that tracks three different modes, hours of use, volts, and hertz in use.
- Highly powerful.
- To protect against overload, all outlets are equipped with push-to-reset circuit breakers.
- Equipped with “Volt Guard” security to protect appliances from fluctuations and spikes in voltage.
- Extremely user-friendly and easy-to-use with many features such as automatic voltage regulator and automatic low-oil shutdown sensor.
- Features a “Cold Start” feature for easy starting even in cold weather.
- Noise emission of 68 decibels.
- Weighs 139 pounds but equipped with features for easy transportation such as a folding handle and puncture-proof wheels .
- USDA-approved components and CARB-compliant.
- A steel frame and cast iron sleeve on the engine ensure durability.
- 3-year warranty and lifetime support.
WEN 56180: The Best Budget Generator
If you’re looking for a generator that is basic and available on a limited budget, the WEN 56180 is your best bet. With a surge wattage of 1800 watts, continuous wattage of 1500 watts, and a fuel-tank capacity of 1.45 gallons, this generator can give you a runtime of 7.5 hours at 50% load, ensuring that you have enough power for emergencies as well as recreational activities.
One of the best features of the 56180 isn’t that it is extremely lightweight and not a hassle when it comes to portability. Given the weight of the product, you won’t even need extra accessories such as a wheel kit or wheels, though these are available separately in the market. The generator uses a 4-stroke OHV engine for fuel-efficiency and also comes equipped with safety features such as low-oil shutdown.
Features of the WEN 56180
- 1500 watts of continuous power and 1800 watts of surge power.
- 4-stroke OHV single-cylinder engine that uses a forced air-cooling system to prevent overheating.
- Reliable and fuel-efficient.
- Lightweight, compact and portable.
- To ensure stability and minimal vibration, the engine is firmly secured on motor mounts.
- Equipped with noise mufflers for quiet operation.
- Runtime of 7.5 hours at 50% load.
- Fuel-tank capacity of 1.45 gallons.
- Low-oil automatic shutdown feature for when oil levels are low.
- Affordable, convenient, user-friendly and durable.
- EPA and CARB-approved.
- 2-year limited warranty.
Suaoki 22WH/20,000mAh: The Best Low-Power Generator
When you’re only looking for a basic generator to power appliances that make life functional, the Suaoki 220Wh/20,000mAh portable generator is the ideal choice. With two AC outlets (one designed for international use and one for use in the United States), the generator has two 12-volt outlets and two 5-volt USB outlets. Though it may seem highly basic, a fully charged Suaoki generator can power your TV, mini-refrigerator and your smartphone (20 times over, did we mention?).
The generator’s high-density lithium-ion battery makes it easy to recharge, either through plugging into your regular power supply, or by using a compatible solar panel for some energy from the sun! With an astounding weight of around 12 pounds, this generator is sleeker than most Victoria’s Secret models and can be easily transported due to the built-in handle. Another innovative addition is a switch that helps you identify if the unit is on or off to prevent accidental power drainage.
Features of the Suaoki 22WH/20,000mAh
- Can be charged in three different ways (DC power, AC power from your regular power supply, or with a solar panel).
- Continuous running wattage of 300 watts and peak power of 600 watts.
- Clean energy with minimal THD.
- Many output ports for different devices.
- LCD screen with light indicators to monitor battery consumption, charging status and discharging status.
- Highly durable and reliable.
- Battery-Management System (BMS) to prevent over-current, over-voltage and over-temperature to completely protect your devices.
- Aluminum alloy shell, built-in input/output ports and high-quality plastic components.
- Great for both indoor and outdoor use.
- 18-month warranty.
- Weighs 12 pounds.
Generac 6866 iQ2000: The Best Silent Generator
A highly underrated generator, the Generac 6866 iQ2000 can, in fact, provide some stiff competition with its neat features and specifications. Highly similar to the EU2000i in terms of power, the iQ2000 can give you a peak wattage of 2000 watts and running wattage of 1600 watts. The generator manages a runtime of 7.7 hours at 25% load, backed by a fuel-tank capacity of 1.06 gallons and an 80-cc 4-stroke OHV gasoline engine. The generator is also equipped with many LED-displays that indicate low fuel or oil levels, making it a highly convenient option.
One of the best parts, though, is how quiet this generator really is! It merely emits 49 decibels of noise at 50% load which is quieter than the sound of normal conversation in a library! With its smart and innovative features, this generator is definitely worth a look.
Features of the Generac 6866 iQ2000
- 2000 peak watts and 1600 running watts.
- 80-cc OHV single-cylinder 4-stroke air-cooled gasoline engine.
- Runtime of 7.7 hours at 25% load.
- The “PowerDial” feature integrates many functions into a simple dial.
- LED displays such as “PowerBar” for wattage use, electronic fuel gauge, runtime display, overload and overheat alerts.
- Fuel-efficient due to the presence of many operating modes (such as “Turbo”, “Standard”, and “Economy”).
- Low-oil level automatic shutdown.
- Lightweight and compact (46.2 pounds), making it easily portable.
- Supports parallel operation.
- 3-year residential warranty.
Westinghouse WH2400i: The Best Durable Generator
Westinghouse is a power-tool manufacturer that stands in its own league with a history of highly successful products since 1886. If an inverter generator that is highly portable and ideal for camping trips and the great outdoors is what you’re looking for, the Westinghouse WH2400i is one of your best bets. This generator can supply enough power for your outdoor lights, fan, laptop, electric grill, radio and laptop all at the same time, with a peak power of 2400 watts and running wattage of 2100 watts! The generator also supports parallel operation and has an “Eco” mode that automatically controls engine speed depending on the load that your generator is handling. The generator is also quite silent, not emitting noise beyond 59 decibels even at maximum load.
It is also an extremely safe option due to its advanced technology that reduces spikes in electricity and subsequent damage to tools and appliances.
Features of the Westinghouse WH2400i
- Runtime of 11 hours at 25% load.
- Extremely low noise emissions (59 decibels under maximum load) enabled by a dual muffler design, an internally-padded acoustic hood (double-hooded) and asymmetrical fans.
- Gas tank with a capacity of 1.3 gallons.
- 2400 peak watts, with a continuous power of 2100 running watts.
- In-house 79-cc single cylinder engine, 4-stroke gas engine, and direct overhead valve.
- Automatic low-oil shutdown.
- Supports parallel operation.
- Weighs 43 pounds and is extremely lightweight.
- 2-year limited warranty.
- AC overload reset.
Champion Power Equipment 42436: The Best Multi-Purpose Generator
If you’re looking for another generator that powers your appliances enough to make life functional, the 42436 is an excellent choice! This generator is the perfect companion for your camping, boating, hunting or weekend family trips, as well as small jobs around the house. With a starting wattage of 1500 watts and running power of 1200 watts, the 42436 is a great option if you’re only looking to power your essential items such as lights, fan, phone or charger.
The generator is on the slightly noisy side, emitting around 65 decibels of noise, though it can give you a runtime of 10 hours at 50% load. It also features Volt Guard security to protect your devices against any voltage fluctuations, as well as Cold Start technology for easy starting even in cold weather.
Features of the Champion Power Equipment 42436
- Running wattage of 1200 watts and peak power of 1500 watts
- Emits 65 decibels of noise
- 10 hours of runtime at 50% load
- Innovative features such as “Cold Start” technology and “Volt Guard” security
- Equipped with an 80-cc single-cylinder OHV engine
- Fuel-tank capacity of 1.5 gallons
- 3-year limited warranty and lifetime support
Now, let’s take a look at what features you need to keep in mind while buying a portable generator.
Features of a Top-Rated Portable Generator
Buying the right kind of generator means that you need to be aware of the features that go into making the best portable generator for home use as well as commercial use:
- Type of Fuel: Generators can run on diesel, propane, petrol, or natural gas. Each source of power comes with its own pros and cons. Gasoline, or petrol, for example, is the most readily available source of fuel but it is also highly flammable and has a short shelf life. Propane burns cleanly and has a limitless shelf life but it also has a higher rate of fuel consumption and a short life expectancy.
- Conventional or Inverter: The latter type of generators are quieter, more powerful, smaller in size and have greater fuel efficiency when compared to conventional generators. However, all these features make them more expensive than their conventional counterparts. Additionally, they are also a cleaner and smoother source of electricity (because of the presence of the inverter) and are, therefore, ideal as a power source for even sensitive electronics.
- Electric Start vs Manual Start: While an electric start with a backup is more convenient in a portable generator, they can be problematic to start, particularly when it’s time to recharge the battery.
- Manual Fuel-Shutoff Switch: When fuel needs to be stored, the manual fuel-shutoff switch prevents any leakage or trapping of fuel in the system.
- Additional Features: The weight, runtime and lifespan of the generator are also important to make a note of, and features such as a fuel gauge with a low-oil shutoff with indicator add to the convenience and user-friendly nature of the generator.
- Portability: Considering that we’re reviewing portable generators, it is imperative that the generator is actually portable! This is not merely a question of weight, as even heavier generators can be easily moved if they are equipped with wheels or carry handles. Therefore, look for features that make transporting the generator simple and convenient, irrespective of its weight.
Ideally, the best portable generator will give you maximum efficiency and runtime on a single tank of fuel and automatically idle when no longer in use. Additionally, standard safety features are a necessity, such as a ground-fault circuit interrupter to prevent unpleasant shocks, a low-oil shutdown to stop excessive heating and any subsequent damage, automatic voltage regulators and circuit breakers, in case of an overload.
Conventional Generators vs Inverter Generators
Portable generators can be conventional or inverter generators. While inverter generators are generally considered to be conventional generators with rectifiers and inverter circuits added into their systems, there are other differences among them:
A conventional generator can give you power between 3000-20,000 watts (of course, depending on the model and price as well). Inverter generators, on the other hand, can give you power between 4000-5000 watts. If you think that’s insufficient power, rest assured, because with 5000 watts, you can microwave your pizza, stream Netflix on your laptop, watch the game on television, and run 4 fans just for the heck of it! An inverter generator satisfies all the basic needs of any homeowner, and then some.
Inverter generators are smaller and less heavy than conventional generators and a major reason for this is that their fuel tanks are compact and much smaller than conventional generators. Most inverter generators can hold between 0.8-2 gallons of fuel. However, despite their relatively small fuel capacity, inverter generators give you more power per gallon of fuel, as they’re more fuel-efficient than conventional generators. 2 gallons of fuel can go a long way during a power cut!
Performance over size, right? While inverter generators are equipped with lesser fuel capacity, they are optimized for fuel efficiency with microprocessor-assisted 4-stroke engines. This allows better utilization of fuel, and more power per gallon of fuel, especially in comparison to the conventional generators that are equipped with 2-stroke engines, on average. Also, a conventional generator will give you the same power irrespective of the appliance that is being powered. For example, if your generator can give you 4000 watts of power, it will do so whether you connect a gadget that requires 3600 watts or a light bulb that only needs 40 watts. The conventional generator will give 4000 watts regardless of the load, which would unnecessarily exhaust the fuel supply. The microprocessor in inverter generators are designed to solve this shortcoming and can increase or decrease the output based on the load, which maximizes fuel efficiency and increases the lifespan of one tank of fuel.
Inverter generators are generally smaller, quieter, more fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly due to a reduced carbon footprint, when compared to conventional generators. Most importantly, they get the job done, and done well! Is there anything more you could want?
As earlier mentioned, inverter generators have better portability than a conventional generator on account of their smaller size, as the latter is rather unwieldy due to a larger tank size and engine design. This makes inverter generators the perfect choice for camping trips or outdoor events, with the average weight not exceeding 50 pounds. They come equipped with handles for easy transportability, as well.
Of course, the price is a factor! The concise nature of the inverter generator comes at a much higher price than its conventional counterpart and is the only major advantage of the latter. The reduction in weight, noise and carbon footprint, and increase in fuel efficiency of the inverter generator are all wrapped up neatly in a higher price tag.
Different Types of Portable Generators
There are many different types of portable generators available, such as:
- Mini Generators: There may be certain situations that call for even less power than that generated by small or mid-sized generators. In such cases, mini generators are perfect, with a smaller, lighter frame and a lower fuel requirement. However, that’s also a disadvantage, as they are less powerful and last for a shorter duration.
- Tri-Fuel Generators: Most generators run on a single type of fuel, most commonly diesel, propane or gasoline. However, with the advent of technology, some generators allow you to use the fuel at hand making the generator highly flexible, particularly in situations when your preferred fuel is unavailable or inaccessible.
- Diesel Generators: One of the most common fuels for generators, diesel generators are more fuel-efficient, quieter and much easier to maintain when compared to gasoline or propane fuelled generators – and the advantages come with a heftier price tag!
- Camping Generators: Yes, this is a category! The widespread use of generators in camping has led many manufacturers today to make portable generators that are specifically suited to camping. These generators are light (generally under 45 pounds) yet powerful enough to power multiple gadgets and appliances.
Solar Generators: Going eco-friendly has become the need of the hour, which is why we’re super excited about solar generators! These portable generators come equipped with solar panels to power them by storing sunlight in a battery for use when required. However, you’ll need to ensure the battery is fully charged as these devices don’t recharge when disconnected from the solar panels.
Although the range of portable generators is tempting in its array, the important thing is to remember to pick one that suits your needs. The portable generator should power your devices and appliances when needed, be light and easy to transport, emit minimal noise and be fuel-efficient. The presence of multiple different types of ports also scores brownie points because in that way, the generator can accommodate more types of devices.
Now that you know all the basic features and necessities in portable generators, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of the best portable generators that are available in the market today.
Though we’ve reviewed some pretty great portable generators, remember that the one for you is the one that best suits your needs! Just because a generator gives you low runtime and power, it doesn’t mean that it’s an option you shouldn’t consider. If your needs are met by this generator, it’s the ideal choice for you! You can easily figure this out by making a list of all the equipment you need to run or power through your portable generator, calculate the individual and total wattage, and then see if the best portable generator for home use or outdoor use that you’re looking to buy can meet these needs. Especially with outdoor trips and camping, you’ll need a generator that is portable and easy to carry around but still has a considerably good runtime.
Also, remember to consider whether spare parts are easily available and place importance on the brand or manufacturer. There are many available options with each one claiming to be the best. Therefore, invest in some research before you make a purchase. Additionally, consider other features such as the fuel-tank capacity, ports or outlets, as well as noise emissions.
So if you’ve decided to buy a generator after reading these portable generator reviews, good going! Though we’ve pretty much stated everything there is to know about each top rated portable generator that we’ve reviewed, put in some additional research and work in terms of calculating your needs and matching them to the options we’ve presented to you. Also, don’t undermine the importance of customer reviews and testimonials! Go through customer reviews online, as these help you estimate the quality and efficiency each portable generator, in terms of durability, convenience, price and user-convenience. Going through these reviews will also bring to light many cons that many professional reviews may not want to mention!