Best Portable Generators
Portable generators are the types of machines that, for the most part, you hope you never have to dig out of your closet. While they can be used as a power supply at any time and be of use to you, a majority of the time, you will allow Consumers to provide the electricity you need. After all, not only is there a base charge for a generator, you must supply the gas which is not free. But, in situations when an emergency strikes via a power outage, or you simply need power that is not accessible to you, a generator becomes a lifesaver. But, their portability is one of their strongest assets. Now, some are portable via their weight and others, that are actually quite heavy, are designed with wheels for easy movement. Sometimes, however, the trade-off of a more portable generator is their power. Nonetheless, ponder below and witness the best.
- Honda 2000
- Overloading protection
- Westinghouse WGEN7500
- Remote key fob
- 9500 watts peak power
- WEN 2000
- Safe power transfer
- 48 pounds
10 Best Portable Generators
While this standalone generator can deliver 2000 watts of power, you can double this output with another unit. To do so, you will need an optional cable.
There is no doubt about it, this has remained as popular as it is because of its portability. Not only is it only 46 pounds but it is very compact and integrates a handle on the top for easy carrying.
When the system detects that there is a low amount of oil, it detects it and the engine will automatically shut down. In addition, to prevent overloading, the circuits are protected.
There are indicator lights on the control panel for low oil, the output and if there is an overload. In terms of the outlets, there are two AC 120V outlets and a DC 12V port.
Runtime and Efficiency
On a single tank of gas, depending on if you have the Eco-Throttle System enabled (which is also on the control panel) and the load, you could get anywhere from 3.4 to 8.1 hours.
Are there portable generators out there that can dish out more raw power? Of course, there are but here is the thing, the portability of this generator is superb and it combines this with a highly-efficient engine.
- Honda’s precise technology ensures that the power produced is reliable
- Features circuit protection from overloading
- Has one of the largest engines of its class at 98.5cc
- There is no fuel indicator so you must check via a flashlight
This makes an ideal companion for a home transfer switch due to its peak power of 9500 watts. Now, its running wattage is 7500 so it is not as if that will be the output at all times.
Look, 200 pounds is nowhere near light. No one would try to dispute this but it is still labeled as a portable generator because of its implemented roll bars. As such, you will not need to lift it very often and the wheels will come in handy.
Each outlet has been covered with a rubber cover for additional protection, besides already being circuit protected. Also, the hardened-steel frame adds an additional amount of protection for the gas tank.
Due to the onboard battery charger, this can be started with the single push of a button. Also featured on the panel is a low-oil indicator and a digital hour meter. Finally, there are 5-20R 120V outlets.
Runtime and Efficiency
At a 50 percent load, this can dish out 10 hours of juice. Overall, the 6.6-gallon fuel tank is fuel efficient and when need be, the engine can easily be started in low temperatures.
Let’s be honest for a second, this bad boy is an absolute beast. If you are looking for pure power and a source for a multitude of your appliances and devices, this is clearly the generator you are looking for.
- It comes with a remote start key fob
- At its peak, it can output 9500 watts
- All of Westinghouse’s generators are backed by a three-year warranty
- Not the quietest machine out there
- At 200 pounds, this is definitely not light
With 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts, it may not be the most impressive but it should still suffice for emergency situations. Plus, with the parallel connection kit, you can link two generators together.
A convenient carrying handle allows you a great means of transporting this generator. Plus, at 48 pounds, while not easy to carry, it still is feasible for most.
Because this limits the amount of total harmonic distortion to under 0.3 percent, it only produces clean power to your devices; which can come in handy if you have sensitive electronics that you are concerned about.
Past the two, three-prong 120V receptacles, there is also a 5V USB port and a 12V DC receptacle. In addition to this, there are indicator lights for the output, if there is an overload, and if the oil is low.
Runtime and Efficiency
At half-load, you could run this for six hours which is fairly respectable. Thanks to the Eco-Mode, though, you can fully maximize the fuel economy.
Even though this ranks third on this guide, anyone could easily argue the fact that this is the best portable generator on the market. In pretty much every respect, this is either great or amazing.
- It limits the amount of total harmonic distortion for a safe power transfer
- The engine operates at around 50 decibels which is quiet for a generator
- Only weighs 48 pounds and has a carrying handle
- The oil container could have been designed more efficiently, some users have griped
What is unique about this design is the engine can run off gas and propane. On gas, the running watts is 7500 and the starting watts is 9375. Propane, on the other hand, is 6750 and 8400, respectively.
The manufacturer promises that the tires will never go flat, although take this with a grain of salt, and there is a folding handle. However, at around 200 pounds, it is a beast.
Volt Guard technology has been integrated into this machine. It basically acts as a surge protector so, in times where there is a voltage spike or surge, your devices and appliances will be safe.
What is nice is you can view the run-time hours, hertz, voltage and the power output at any time. Plus, with the push of a button, the engine can be started.
Runtime and Efficiency
A full tank of gas should provide you with eight full hours of power. However, this is a little less with a 20-pound propane tank at just 5.5 hours.
Besides the obvious advantage of possessing the ability to output massive amounts of power, the ability to run the engine via gasoline or a propane tank is a nice bonus.
- Is specifically optimized to start in cold weather
- Can be run via gasoline or propane
- Comes with an electric start option
- Various users have stated that this unit is extremely loud
- For whatever reason, the oil drain tube is ridiculously short
Briggs & Stratton Powersmart
This 111cc OHV engine is capable of outputting 1700 running watts. However, it can max at 2200 starting watts.
Due to the unique design of the carrying handle, it is very simple for two people to carry this generator. Given that it is 54 pounds, it may not be a bad idea to do so.
If you wanted to use your computers, video game consoles, televisions, or other entertainment devices in conjunction with this generator, you can take comfort in knowing it produces less than three percent total harmonic distortion.
The control panel is very basic and you will see two 120V outlets and one 12V-20A DC outlet. In addition, there is an integrated USB port for appropriate charging.
Runtime and Efficiency
One noteworthy design feature, that goes along with the control panel, is the quiet power technology which allows you to save fuel and allow it to run longer. At a 25 percent load, it could run for eight hours.
For what it is worth, this is a fairly impressive combination of power and portability. While the 12V outlet leaves a lot to be desired in terms of amps, everything else is stellar.
- Integrates a parallel connector port that allows two units to be connected
- Produces less than three percent total harmonic distortion
- Features a smart handle for transportation
- The 12V outlet only delivers five amps which is not amazing
Briggs & Stratton 7000
To ensure that you can power your home appliances, this generator produces 25 percent more surge wattage. As a whole, it has 7000 running watts and 8750 starting watts.
Notwithstanding the fact that this does clock in at around 200 pounds, the all-terrain 12-inch wheels that are nearly puncture-proof and the fold-up handle make the maneuverability as good as it can be.
To protect the outlets when they are not in use, there are rubber covers on each one of them. In addition, there is circuit breaker protection.
Directly on the control panel, there is both an electric start and a remote choke that make start-up an absolute breeze. As for the power, there are four 120 V household outlets and one 120/240V 30A outlet.
Runtime and Efficiency
The 420cc engine itself has excellent fuel efficiency and a high performance. In terms of the runtime, at a 50 percent load, it will run for nine hours on a full tank of gas.
It is beginning to become a cliché for high-wattage generators in that they tend to be much heavier than the others. Still, as is evident with this model, manufacturers find a way to make them portable.
- Produces 25-percent more surge wattage
- At a 50 percent load, this will run for nine hours
- Includes circuit breaker protection and rubber outlet covers
- Several users claim that the noise is completely obnoxious
If 1600 running watts and 2000 starting watts are not a sufficient amount for you, then you can invest in the optional parallel kit and connect two generators together.
With a carrying handle integrated into the top of the generator, an extremely compact design, and a weight at just around 50 pounds, someone in your household should be able to handle transporting this from place to place.
Thanks to the inverter technology that is present in this design, sensitive electronics are safe as it takes the raw power from the generator and passes it through a microprocessor to deliver clean power.
An intuitive control panel is definitely on display here. Included for your convenience is a fuel gauge to inform you of your current gasoline levels, the wattage that is being produced, and also modes for turbo, standard, and economy.
Runtime and Efficiency
Thanks to the different modes of turbo, standard, and economy, you can accommodate the amount of power you need based on the appliance or device that is plugged in.
In a perfect world, this would have come with an electric start but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. There is no doubt about it, though, this is an ideal selection for anyone.
- Noise levels are reduced thanks to the digital inverter module
- It is parallel capable; meaning two units can be connected
- Can run for 7.7 hours at a 25 percent load
- An automatic start would have been a nice addition
Due to the advanced programming in this particular Yamaha generator, 1600 watts to 2000 watts of power can be achieved. Once again, the option is there for you to double the power via the parallel function.
At only 2.2 cubic feet, it truly is hard to fathom that this is a generator. Even though it is still 45 pounds which is still a bit heavy, this is one of the most portable units out there.
Not only is there an electrical overload breaker to prevent damage caused by an overload, an oil watch warning system has also been integrated to inform you when the oil is low.
At a simple glance of the control panel, you can see the current fuel level of the generator. Additionally, there is an 8A 12V outlet for charging batteries and two 120V AC outlets.
Runtime and Efficiency
When running at a 25 percent load, you could feasibly get 10.5 hours on a single tank. For excellent fuel efficiency, there is a smart throttle function.
For its ridiculously small stature, this can still produce a stellar amount of power when it comes down to it. Some may feel the price tag needs to come down significantly but hey, portable generators are a hot commodity.
- Does feature parallel compatibility
- The auto-decompression system allows for an easier start-up
- Features smart throttle which improves the fuel economy
- Pretty basic control panel that could be improved
- Some users expressed their issues with this burning too much oil
Let’s just get this out of the way, the power leaves a lot to be desired. For its incredible portability, the 900 running watts and 1000 starting watts does not provide much power.
Even though in some way all portable generators are built to be that, this model takes the cake. At only 36 pounds and an integrated carrying handle on the top, this is feasible for virtually anybody to transport.
To give you peace of mind, this has surpassed both EPA and CARB standards. As a bonus, it includes a spark arrestor making it suitable for all forests and national parks.
The voltmeter constantly displays the current voltage of the generator. However, the power options are a bit limited with just one three-pronged AC outlet and one two-pronged 12V DC outlet.
Runtime and Efficiency
On a single tank of gas, at a 50 percent load, you can expect this to run for around five hours. Overall, the efficiency is very good.
If you can accept what this generator can perform, you will not be disappointed. However, do not go in expecting to run several appliances and devices simultaneously as that is just not going to happen.
- Weighs less than 36 pounds and features a carrying handle
- Very efficient tank
- It includes a spark arrestor to make it suitable for national parks
- Can be a nuisance to start it in the cold
- Only includes two outlets and only one three-pronged version
Whether it is for camping or as a backup power source, the 5500 running watts and 6875 staring watts this generator delivers are more than enough.
This resembles several other portable generators that provide immense power in that it is just under 200 pounds and features wheels for ease of maneuverability.
Both a low-oil shutdown feature to prevent damage to your engine and circuit breaker protection have been integrated.
While it is nothing fancy, the control panel provides you with an hour meter that has maintenance alerts, a 120/240 AVC outlet, and four 120V AC outlets.
Runtime and Efficiency
The fuel tank is 7.2 gallons and when it is filled to the brim, you can expect this generator to run for 10 hours at a 50 percent load.
It is worth noting that other generators that provide more power are nearly just as heavy as this model. This is not insinuating it is a non-worthy investment, more so just justifying its position.
- Built with a hardened steel tube cradle for durability
- Features circuit protection technology
- The engine will shut down when it detects low oil levels
- Nearly as heavy as other generators that can produce over 9000 watts of power
- It is a loud machine and ear protection may be needed
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
If anyone has ever watched Home Improvement, then you know what the main character’s (Tim Taylor) motto is: more power. You know something sometimes, he is spot on with that especially when it comes to generators. Even though this list is designed to rank the best portable models, power is still a vital component. For this, there are two specifications that you need to address. One is the running watts, or rated watts, and the other is the starting watts. Think of the starting watts as the power that is required to initially start-up a device or appliance. Once this is done, the running watts will kick in and run continually. Basically, the running wattage will be the output the majority of the time.
The reason this is important is some appliances need a lot of power to start, such as a refrigerator. This appliance can require up to 2200 watts to start but once it is running, may only require about 700 watts to continue. Another aspect to address, for the smaller units, is if you can link two of them together. With a parallel connection kit, this is feasible and can double your amount of power.
Now, this is what some people will be the most interested in. It is only common sense that a guide that is predicated on portable generators would focus a bit on their portability. However, typically, a generator is either going to be fairly light and somewhat powerful or extremely heavy and immensely powerful. Clearly, it is obvious to understand why the lighter models are portable, given their weight and their carrying handle. But, how can someone classify a 200-pound unit as being portable?
Yes, not everyone will be capable of simply picking up this beast and transporting it. However, that is never going to be the intention as wheels will be integrated for maneuverability. While it still is by no means going to be easy to roll, you will not be required to pick it up very often.
Integrated Safety Features
If you are not careful with generators that lack certain safety features, you can both compromise the generator itself and any devices and appliances you have connected to it. As such, there are a few major protection technologies that you need to look out for. Firstly, is a low-oil indicator or a low-oil shutdown feature. You can consider oil the lifeblood of an engine and if you run one with little to no oil, it can damage the integrity of the engine. It is essentially the lubricant that prevents the moving parts from grinding each other down and without it, the engine will not last long.
Another key protection is with the circuits. To prevent an overload from occurring, some will come with circuit breaker protection. This is essential as an overload can easily happen if the power needed is greater than the circuit can handle. In addition to this, surge protection is another technology that is ideal. In the case of a power surge, this protects your plugged-in equipment. Of course, a generator that produces clean power for your devices (via by going through a process of transmitting the power) is also ideal.
The Control Panel
Remember, virtually everything in this world is predicated on some sort of technology. As such, generators are not simply bulky pieces of machinery that have no indicators or controls of any kind. On the contrary, some have fairly intuitive control panels. But, what exactly should you look for in a control panel? Well, for starters, how about the outlets? Depending on how many 120V AC outlets or DC 12V outlets, or any others, you need should be an indicator of what you are looking for.
Now, there are also sometimes integrated indicators such as lights for low-oil, the current output, and if an overload occurs. But, there may also be meters for your current fuel levels, the voltage, and even the hertz. A fuel gauge, in specific, could be critical for you because without one, to view the current level, you must open the cap, stick a flashlight inside, and guestimate how much gasoline is inside. Yeah, that can be a major pain but a gauge makes life much easier.
The Efficiency and Runtime
When you are investing in a vehicle, there is a strong probability that the fuel economy will be one of the most important factors. Why should this be any different for a generator? If it has poor efficiency, then it is not going to run as long as you need it to. Then, you will be left constantly buying gasoline to fill up the tank. One mode that is convenient to have is an Eco-Throttle System. With this enabled, it allows the engine to automatically adjust itself to produce the power needed for the particular application.
Also, look out for the manufacturer’s rating of their generator as they will typically state (whether at a 25 percent load, 50 percent load, etc.) how long the engine will run with the gas tank full.
Q: Where Should You Place a Portable Generator?
It has not been addressed yet but if there is one thing to take away from this guide, it is to never utilize a generator indoors unless it is specifically designed to do so. The reason for this is the exhaust fumes and if you allow them to permeate throughout your house without ventilation, there can be serious consequences to your health. After all, people were not mean to be exposed to carbon monoxide gas. Bottom line, most generators will need to be used outdoors away from any doors or windows.
The best place to locate it, as generators also need to be protected from moisture, is in a dry environment with proper air circulation. If this does happen to be an issue for you, however, you need to look for indoor generators that are specifically designed to be installed in your home.
Q: Is an Electric Start Really a Necessity?
A few generators that were documented on this list feature an electric start. If you are unaware of what this is, it eliminates the need for you to pull a cord to start the engine. Instead, you simply push a button and the device will begin to run. Question is, is this that important and should you prioritize it? Well, this is really a matter of your preference. For some people, whether the elderly or those recovering from an injury, pulling a cord may put too much stress on their bodies. As such, simply pushing a button is a much easier solution and also can be more viable when you are trying to start the generator in cold weather.
Of course, with the modern technology, most generators are becoming easier and easier to start in cold weather no matter the method.
Q: Where Should You Store a Generator?
Even if you do not feel the need to run your generator, it is still recommended to run it regardless. As such, you should store your generator in a convenient place for you. But, it can’t just be anywhere. A common location will either be in your basement or your garage. Well, this is adequate, granted that your basement or garage meets certain standards. For example, they need to be well ventilated, not be overheated (which will not be an issue for basements) and be dry. In this case, basements can be questionable as when it rains, they will begin to develop standing water. However, a dehumidifier can assist with this but, it is not as if it will rid the water in a few seconds.
Probably your best option is to find a specific location, such as a well-ventilated small shed or concrete platform, to store it.
Q: Should You Drain the Fuel from the Generator?
Another common mistake that some people may make is after they use their generator, they will leave the remaining fuel in the tank not thinking it will cause any issues. The most obvious issue is that if a little spark goes off, with a little gasoline, you have a formula for a fire. But, even past it being a safety hazard, the simple fact is that engines that are met by EPA and CARB regulations will be less tolerant to stale fuel.
What you need to do is get in the habit of emptying your gas tank after each use. As such, if you have any doubts on how long you will need to run the generator, only put in as much gasoline as you deem necessary. After all, you do not want to waste the gasoline as it is not exactly a cheap liquid.
Q: How Much Gasoline Should You Keep Stocked?
This question does not pertain directly to generators themselves. Alas, though, it remains critical if your intentions are to invest in a portable generator for power outages and other emergency situations. Depending on the severity of the situation, gas stations may be closed around you and also the roads for you to travel on. In this case, you may be left with no feasible way of running your generator (rendering it useless). Thus, making it highly recommended to store enough gasoline that would allow the generator to run for 24 hours. Of course, if the generator also runs off propane, store as many bottles as you need.
Unfortunately, this is going to require some mathematics on your end. Thankfully, it is simple as all you need to do is calculate how much gas or propane you would need for a 24-hour period. This is where the runtime and efficiency will come in handy.
Q: Where Should You Run the Cable to Reach Your Appliances?
Alright, so if you are not supposed to use a generator indoors, how exactly are you going to accomplish delivering power to your indoor devices such as the appliances in your home? The easy answer is via an extension cord and yes, they should be long enough to reach. If there is not inclement weather outdoors, this can easily be accomplished by running the extension cord out a window or a door. But, chances are, if there is a power outage the weather outside is not exactly going to be nice.
Thus, you may typically be left to look for another option. A few others could be routing the cable through a cat door or a special door in your fireplace. Of course, again, this is not feasible for those who do not have a fireplace or feline. Although, with the right tools, you can route an extension cord through a wall if you are left with no other option.
Portable generators are not exactly on everyone’s Christmas list. Not because they are typically too expensive but because they are not intended for everyday use. However, if you truly want to be prepared for extensive power outages or simply need a way to power your equipment during a camping trip, you need to invest your hard-earned money into a portable generator.