When hurricane season rolls around, we always get a ton of questions about the best generator for a lot of different needs and prices. Even as hurricane season begins to wind down, winter storm season warms up and the reality is every season is generator season.
Thomas’ Top Picks for the Best inverter generator 2021
To determine the best portable generator for home use, we wanted a model that has a balance of everything: power, quality, portability, price, and with the understanding that it’s going to be used on an occasional basis. There was one feature we required for the list: carbon monoxide detection.
Generac’s GP6500 is an all-around great generator. Its 6500 running watts and 8125 starting watts are more than you get from the small 5000-watt class.
It provides plenty of power and enough outlets to run just about anything on 120V. Plus, it has a 120V/240V plug if you need it.
While the total harmonic distortion is too great for sensitive electronics, it has the carbon monoxide sensor we’re looking for and wraps it up for less than $800.
- Ryobi 6500/8125-watt generator with CODetect (RY906500S): pretty much the same as the Generac GP6500 with a slightly larger engine and slightly smaller gas tank.
- Buy it for $799 at Home Depot.
- Craftsman 5000/6250-watt generator with CO detection (CMXGGAS030731): Lower on watts but still highly effective and $150 less.
Best Portable Generator for Home Use
Buy it for $649 at Lowe’s. The best generator for camping and tailgating has to be one that’s small enough to easily transport and quiet enough not to disrupt the party. Everything else—like USB ports and GFCI outlets—is a bonus. We like the Westinghouse iPro2500 thanks to its combination of a very manageable 48-pound dry weight and whisper-quiet 52-decibel operation on the low end.
Kicking it over the top even more, it has a THD under 3% so your electronics won’t have any issues. Honda 2500/2800-watt portable inverter generator (EG2800i): a bit less refined, but with more power and longer runtime—plus a Honda engine.
Buy it for $1149 at Acme Tools. Champion 1850/2500-watt generator (100889): 39-pound dry weight and still under 60 decibels with less than 3% THD for electronics.
Buy it for $449 at Lowe’s.
- When you’re looking for the best whole generator—also known as a standby generator—it’s a different device altogether.
- These turn on automatically when the power goes out, and they’re not at all portable.
- Some people (my neighbor included) bury an LP tank to keep it out of the landscape view when they don’t have a natural gas line already in place.
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As you shop for these systems, keep in mind that you need to add the cost of a transfer switch and professional installation to the price.
The Generac Guardian series ranges from 10kW (10000 watts) to 24kW (24000 watts) and comes with a pretty reasonable price tag. Generac’s Mobile Link also lets you monitor the status of your system from anywhere in the world using cell data or WiFi.
Price: $2,759 – $5,609. Kohler Natural/LP Gas Home Generators: $2,964 to $5,377 (6kW – 20kW) at Home Depot. Briggs and Stratton Natural/LP Gas Generators: $2,599 to $10,499 (10kW – 25kW) at Acme Tools.
One thing to keep in mind as we start considering watt-specific generators: manufacturers often use the peak, or surge, wattage rather than the running watts to classify them.
- As a result, 10000-watt generators may only have 8000 running watts.
- When you get to 10,000 watts, you’re pretty much at the top of what portable generators offer while still being readily available.
- The best 10,000-watt generator in our book needs to have a powerful engine and a top-tier feature set to make using such a beast easier.
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The Honda EB10000AG is a true commercial-grade generator. The Honda GX630 powerplant includes 688cc of displacement. Newly updated for 2020, this model now has CO-Minder carbon monoxide detection to go along with an electric start and low noise/high efficiency for its muscular class. DuroMax 9500/12000-watt electric start portable generator (XP12000EH): true 9,500 running watts with 120V (20A), 120V (30A) twist lock, 120V/240V (30A) twist lock, and 120/240 (50A) heavy-duty outlets and an electric start.
Buy it at Home Depot for $1499. Firman 8000/10000-watt electric start portable generator (P08003): Solid value with dual-fuel capability, remote electric start, and 12 hours of runtime on its 8-gallon tank.
Buy it for $1,068.37 on Amazon.
- 5000-watt portable generators sit in the sweet spot between power, portability, runtime, and price.
- You can still find a nice feature set, and it’s a versatile power level that is relevant just about anywhere except camping and tailgating.
- No one puts together a better package than Honda does here.
It starts with a commercial-grade Honda iGX390 engine with electric start and CO-Minder carbon monoxide detection.
- Wrapping up the major highlights, it’s also compatible with Honda’s My Generator app where you can monitor or turn on/off the generator remotely.
Other Best Options
Overall, it’s the most complete package we’ve seen. Cat 5500/6875-watt portable generator (RP5500): a bit more power with 15-hour runtime on a 7.9-gallon gas tank. Buy it on Amazon for $924.99. Craftsman 5000/6350-watt portable generator with CO Detection (CMXGGAS030731): Excellent value choice with Briggs and Stratton 306cc engine and carbon monoxide sensor. Buy it at Lowe’s for $649.
We see 3000-watt generators primarily around RVs and with smaller crews on residential jobsites.
- With plenty of quiet models in this range, they also crossover into camping and tailgating.
- If you’re looking for a life of portable generator luxury, Honda’s EU3000S1AG is the best 3000-watt generator.
- Powered by Honda’s GX200 commercial engine, it’s one of few in this class to offer an electric start.
Running 50–57 decibels depending on the load, it’s super-quiet.
- It runs more than 13 hours at 50% load on a full 3.4-gallon tank and has CO-Minder to monitor carbon monoxide levels.
3. Best Inverter Generator Dual Fuel—Champion
It’s also parallel capable if you want to connect 2 together. Ryobi 3400/4000-watt portable inverter generator (RYi4022X): Excellent high-value choice with 3400 running watts and 12-hour runtime. Buy it at Home Depot for $549. Briggs and Stratton 3500/4375-watt portable generator (30712): higher power and monster 14-hour runtime at 50% with a lower price for users that don’t need a quieter inverter.
Buy it for $499 at Home Depot. The best small generator is typically in the 2000-watt class. These are highly portable and our picks all include an inverter to give you “clean power” that’s appropriate for sensitive electronics.
As the smallest in power, they also tend to be the most affordable inverter generators.
- Great for camping and tailgating, the Westinghouse iPro2500 is also our top pick for the best 2000-watt generator.
- Reasonably priced in this group of inverter generators, it has 2200 running watts, super-low noise level (52 decibels), is less than 50 pounds, and gets 6 hours of 50% load runtime on a gallon of gas.
- Honda 1800/2200-watt portable inverter generator (EB2200i): powered by a Honda engine with low noise and weight, but it costs over $1,000.
Buy it for $1059 at Acme Tools.
- Champion 1850/2500-watt portable inverter generator (100889): Good sub-$500 budget pick with low noise and just 39 pounds dry weight.
2. Best Inverter Generator Amazon—WEN
Buy it at Lowe’s for $479. In determining the best gas generator, we pulled cost out of the equation. We tasked our team to tell us about the generator they think is the best based on their experience and why it outshines others.
Two brands really set themselves apart for our team: CAT and Honda. After a few tense words and a damaged ego or two, Honda came out on top thanks to its use of a seemingly bullet-proof GX engine and some extra features.
Of the choices available, the Honda EU7000iS puts together the best package with a GX390 EFI engine at its heart.
With 5500 running watts, it’s impressively powerful for a generator that includes an inverter to deal with electronics and maintain and quieter noise level.
- How else do we love thee? Let us count the ways!
- Push-button electric start.
- GFCI outlets and electric circuit breakers.
- Electronic fuel injection (EFI).
Best Dual Fuel Generator
CO-Minder version coming soon! CAT 7500/9375-watt electric start portable generator (RP7500E): Higher available power with lithium-ion electric start and 11 hours of 50% load runtime on its 7.9-gallon fuel tank. Buy it for $1,297.69 on Amazon. Dual fuel generators can use either gasoline or propane to run the engine. After a storm, it may still be possible to find propane even after fuel stations run out of gas. They also tend to run cleaner on propane.
The trade-off is the power level typically drops slightly but it has excellent runtime compared to a tank of gas.
The best dual fuel generator our team selected is the DuroMax XP10000EH.
- Coming in just under $1,100, this is a power play on our part—an 8000-watt power play.
- You can actually go with a bit more with the DuroMax XP12000EH, but we like that you get nearly 2 hours more runtime with the same 8.3-gallon fuel tank.
- Firman 3000/3300-watt portable hybrid inverter generator (WH03041): Inverter generator with decent power, low noise, and safe for electronics.
Buy it at Lowe’s for $849.
- DuroMax 3500/4400 portable electric start generator (XP4400EH): Solid value pick with electric start.
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Buy it at Home Depot for $649. One feature that drastically changes your generator experience is electric start. There’s no hassle of pulling a cord—as long as you remember to charge the battery.
These come with both lead-acid and lithium-ion power sources and we prefer lithium-ion. The nice thing is you can find them across a pretty wide range of power levels. Cat has several electric start models that feature a lithium-ion battery instead of lead-acid.There are 120 V DC plugs that are designed to look like the cigarette lighter; then there is oil and a set of wheels, foldable handles, and a 47 inches LPG house in the box with the manual.
There’s less natural energy drain, making it ideal for occasional use.
- At the same time, the generator charges the pack, so daily use is just fine, too.
- Of the Cat models that come with this feature, we like the 6500-watt model as a good balance for both jobsite and emergency power use.
- Generators are definitely not quiet by nature but they can improve greatly with smaller engines (and power) and full enclosures.
Most models are in the 2000–3000-watt range, though you can find a handful that reach a little higher.
- Honda’s EU3000S1AG takes home another accolade from our team, this time as the best quiet generator.
4. Best Inverter Generator with Electric Start—WEN
Powered by Honda’s GX200 commercial engine, it’s one of few in this class to offer an electric start. We like it’s super-quiet 50 – 57-decibel noise level, making it one of the quietest available.
Other highlights include 13-hour runtime at 50% load on a full 3.4-gallon tank and CO-Minder to monitor carbon monoxide levels. It’s also parallel capable if you want to connect 2 together. Briggs and Stratton 5000/6500-Watt QuietPower Inverter Generator (Q6500): Big power for an inverter generator.
Buy it at Home Depot for $1175. Champion 1850/2500-watt portable inverter generator (100889): excellent budget pick under $500 with < 60-decibel operation and 39-pound dry weight.
Buy it at Lowe’s for $479.
- Not everyone needs a solar recharging option for their battery-powered inverter.
- With the average power outage lasting just 3 hours, most folks don’t need a full off-the-grid solution.
- If that sounds like you, go for the EGO Nexus Power Station.
It’s capable of running 2000 continuous watts with 3000 surge watts, giving you more flexibility than the Goal Zero Yeti.
- Also helping its flexibility, the unit runs on up to four EGO 56V batteries that attach on the outside.
Best Generator for Camping and Tailgating
Best Budget Camping Generator
- In the event that you do run through the power you have on board, there’s always the possibility of keeping an extra set of batteries on hand. Plus, they run EGO’s exceptional line of lawn care equipment, making them more valuable than just as a backup power supply.
- Now that solar charging is an option, this is the most versatile option available.
- Price: $799 bare or $1,299 with four 56v, 5.0Ah batteries. Okay, so if you really want a quiet generator, nothing beats a battery inverter.
- Noise level is only part of the equation, though. Because there are no emissions, this is the only way to have a generator for indoor use. There are a couple of trade-offs, though. You need to have enough batteries to cover the length of time you’re going to be without power (solar charging can help with that).
6. Best Inverter Generator 2000 Watt—Westinghouse
You also won’t get near the power you can from a gas, propane, or diesel generator. They’re also more expensive on a watt-to-watt basis. This was another really tough choice with 3 quality competitors that have major plusses but also a caveat or two. Goal Zero’s Yeti 3000 ended up with the most votes by our Pro team thanks to its massive 3075Wh capacity and available solar panels. It’s expensive and we didn’t get as much startup wattage in our testing as our other recommendations.
Price: $3,199 bare, $3,499 with 200-watt solar panels. Milwaukee MX Fuel Carry-On Power Supply: 1800 continuous and monster 3600 surge watts run 15-amp tools with ease. $2199 with two extended capacity batteries. DeWalt 1800/3600-Watt Portable Power Station and Charger: Best surge wattage available that’s great for jobsite use.
Limited total capacity to just 864Wh at a time and there’s no app control. Buy it for $499 bare at Acme Tools. When we sat down to discuss the best generator brand, we thought through a lot of different characteristics. In the end, we all agreed that the number 1 consideration is that it has to work reliably. It can have all the features and power in the world, but that doesn’t mean anything if it won’t start when you need it to.
But, hey, we still want those features. Given those parameters, we feel the best generator brand is Honda. Their engines are incredibly long-lasting and start reliably for both consumer and commercial uses. They have available features that compete against what anyone else has to offer. Plus, they are committing to adding carbon monoxide detectors on their entire line of generators.
You’re going to have to pay premium prices, though. Honda generators tend to run hundreds of dollars more than others. We put together a comprehensive buying guide that you can read here for full details.
If you just want the summary of what to look for, here you go:. How much power do you need? 120V, 240V, USB? What outlets do you need to run your equipment or home?
1. Best-Rated Inverter Generator—Champion
Running electronics? Check for total harmonic distortion (THD) under 6%).
Powering a jobsite every day or emergency power a few times a year? Gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, or solar fuel sources? How long do you need to run on a tank of fuel? Recoil or electric start? Is noise a factor? What about electronic fuel injection for better fuel efficiency and fewer maintenance issues?
Carbon monoxide detection: the up and coming must-have feature. Need a set of wheels? Not every generator comes with them. Lift hook bars are helpful. Connecting directly to your house? It’s not a DIY job! Join our newsletter and get the latest tool reviews every week! And..we'll even send you our "Best Tools for Your Hard-earned Dollars" white paper!
Best Solar Camping Generator
6. Atima Quiet Portable Gas Power Camping Generator
Welcome to the Thomas guide to the best inverter generator 2021.
- Thomas has been connecting North American industrial buyers and suppliers for more than 120 years.
- When you purchase products through our independent recommendations, we may earn an affiliate commission.
- Inverter generators are known for being slightly pricier than conventional generators, but this is not unwarranted; these machines are notoriously quieter, more efficient, and longer-lasting than non-inverter models.
- Whether you're looking for a good generator to provide power for RV and road trips, or as a backup for home power outage emergencies, an inverter generator will cover your needs and then some.
10. Honda EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator
- We've found some of the best inverter generators available to buy but before we delve into our top 10 list, let's briefly cover exactly what an inverter generator is and what sets these machines apart from the herd.
- In order to understand what an inverter generator is, we have to briefly cover what a regular generator is and how it works.
- In addition to the actual electric generator, conventional generators also house an internal fuel-driven combustion engine which is why they are understandably on the huge side.
- While these generators do a good job of producing high-quality electrical output, they do struggle somewhat when powering appliances with different watts, many appliances at once, or when switching from one to another.
Inverter Generator vs Generator (Conventional)
- During this "transitional" period, the electricity produced isn't as high-quality as it could be, and many have reported blown appliances and devices (and wished for super-human strength so they can throw their generator into a river).
- What's more, since these generators run at the same speed all the time—this is, in fact, the most fuel-efficient way to run a generator—they are rather on the noisier side.
- An inverter generator doesn't have a separate engine and generator; it combines these two parts into one machine, making it much lighter and compact. Inverters work by taking AC power, breaking it down to DC power, and then building it back up to controlled, stable, and high-quality AC power again.
- These generators have lower speeds, are less noisy, and pretty much burn the same amount whether running on high or low. Put in the simplest terms possible, an inverter is like a regular generator but with intuitive functionality that gives the exact amount of power that you require from it at any given moment instead of running at full throttle all the time.
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However, if budget is your only concern when it comes to selecting a generator, according to Jesse Gorter of Solar Solutions, a renewable energy engineer, and previously the Energy Officer for the United Nations, your inverter generator could end up burning the same amount of fuel as a conventional generator depending on how you use it.
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"The inverter generator will give you a great advantage over the conventional generator when you're looking at the fuel costs under varying loads," he explained. "If you're using your inverter generator under full load, and you're comparing it to your conventional generator under full load, then they produce kind of the same amount of noise and consume the same amount of fuel; it's just that the inverter generator can possibly produce a little bit of a higher quality electrical output."
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In addition, he added that turning off the inverter generator's eco-throttle mode is akin to reducing it to a conventional generator, as you have lost all the advantages the inverter offers, so, in this instance, it might not be worth your while to splash out on an inverter when a regular generator will do.
8. WEN DF1100T Dual Fuel Portable Generator
- That being said, we have found 10 of the best inverter generators with a bunch of handy features like electric start, remote start, and super-quiet functioning, starting from as low as US$399.
- Our top picks for the best inverter generator available to buy now on Amazon are:. Scroll down to read more about these top inverter generators and see what thousands of happy buyers are saying about them.
- *Prices listed in this article were as shown on Amazon.com (USA) as of April 2021 .
- The highly-rated Champion power equipment open-frame inverter generator is 30% quieter and 25% lighter than other inverter generators of this caliber.
- It's a cost-effective power solution that ensures a quick start in harsh weather thanks to its cold-start technology.
- Its 420cc engine produces 8750 starting watts and runs for an impressive 10.5 hours at 25% load.
- Producing only clean power, this machine comes with many outlets including a DC automotive-style outlet, and a dual USB adapter, as well as battery-charging cables.
- It has convenient wheels and a fold-away handle so it's easy to transport and store.
Generac Guardian Series Natural/LP Gas Whole House Generators
"Awesome inverter generator," raved one of the many satisfied customers.
- "Clean power and runs a 3-ton heat pump.
- Best value for the money by far."
- Amazon's choice for the best inverter generator, and weighing in at just 39 pounds, is the WEN 2350-watt portable inverter generator that is, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, comparable in noise level to that of a normal conversation.
- This unit produces 2350 surge watts and 1900 rated watts of clean power for charging computers, phones, TVs, and all your other necessary daily devices.
- The tank will hold a gallon of fuel and the engine will run for approximately 10.5 hours on a quarter load.
- It features a fuel shutoff system that uses the remaining fuel in the carburetor before shutting down.
- One happy buyer who experiences many unexpected power shutoffs in their hometown in Northern California, wrote, “I have run it during two power outage events now for about 6-8 hours each time, and I was nowhere near going through the one gallon of gas.
- The generator runs smoothly and quietly, humming along.” They also added that the unit is super light, and suggested that buyers “Follow the instructions.
BUY NOW: US$1,199, Amazon
Use stabilizer in your fuel, and use the fuel shutoff feature, and this generator should last a decade with no problem.”. Able to run on either gasoline (7.5 running hours) or propane (up to 14.5 running hours), the Champion portable dual fuel inverter generator has an electric start of 3400 watts and a running wattage of 3100 watts.
2. Westinghouse iGen 2200 Watt Quiet Inverter Generator
It is powered by a 192cc, 4-stroke engine and a fuel tank that holds 1.6 gallons.
- Other features include an electric start, quick-touch panel, low noise level, and Champion's excellent customer service support (for life!) and 3-year limited warranty.
- Explaining why they chose a duel fuel inverter generator, one satisfied customer wrote, "It can be days before your gas stations are up and running again following a storm.
- Propane gives you a backup and it runs longer (perfect for nighttime when you don't want to get up in the middle of the night to refill gas)."
- Further adding why they chose this particular Amazon's choice product, they wrote, "[Its] variable output means the generator only supplies the electrical draw your appliance needs.
Best 3000-Watt Generator
Are generators safe?
Not only is this a more fuel-efficient way to go, but it also has less chance of shorting out or damaging your electronics/appliances. It's smaller, doesn't need a lot of space to store, and is easy to pair up with another unit for more power as needed." No complex settings or pulling and yanking are required to get the WEN 56380i portable inverter generator up and running; all you have to do to get this machine going and purring like a kitten is turn the knob and press the ignition switch.
Honda 2800/3000-Watt Electric Start Inverter Generator (EU3000S1AG)
Its 212cc 4-stroke engine produces 3800 surge watts and 3400 rated watts, giving a running time of up to 8.5 hours on half load. It facilitates two three-pronged 120V receptacles, one AC 120V NEMA TT-30R RV receptacle, one 12V DC receptacle, and one 5V USB port, and also has a handy digital load and fuel display. One pleased buyer described, “All the gauges and electric start work flawlessly and it is very nice to see how much of a load it is running when you have your stuff plugged in.
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Even in the higher revs, it is pretty quiet." Some brand names just carry weight when it comes to certain products, like "Honda" and "generators". Yes, it's on the pricier side, but there's a reason people keep turning to Honda's trusty generators again and again. The company's EU2200iTAG 2200-watt 120V super-quiet portable inverter generator gives enough juice to power a variety of appliances in a lightweight and compact package, making it perfect for portable use, whether at home, on camping trips, or on a job site.
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Equipped with the useful "Co-Minder" system that continuously monitors carbon monoxide levels and can shut down if levels exceed the danger zone, this 121cc engine generator delivers smooth, quiet performance with superior fuel efficiency. While other generators of this size might not be able to handle air conditioning units, this one runs them effortlessly. One satisfied customer confirmed, "[It] starts easy, does the job it's intended to do.
Buying the Best Generator in 2021
It runs my portable A/C unit and ran the fridge, toaster, and coffee maker in a power outage," and another added that it's "quiet and runs the A/C on eco-mode just fine..
It may resemble a humble gasoline can but the small and light Westinghouse iGen2200 portable inverter generator will surprise you with its power and abilities—and impressively low price too.
With 1800 rated watts and 2200 peak watts, this gas-powered unit boasts the power to run all of your home essentials in an emergency situation via its two standard 120V 20A household outlets and two 5V USB ports.
"The great thing about inverter generators," wrote a representative for the seller, "is that they are perfect for powering sensitive electronics like your laptop and cellphone so there is no need to buy additional cabling..
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If you wish to connect more items than the number of receptacles allow, then we recommend buying an additional power strip." This generator will run for 12 hours on a 1.2-gallon full tank, and one content shopper commented, "This is the most reliable and easy-to-start brand we’ve had," and another explained, "The generator spooled up just enough to power the start-up sequence of the stove.
9. Best Inverter Generator with Remote Start—Pulsar
Once it was lit, the RPMs spooled back down to provide the power necessary to run the fans of the stove. This is great peace of mind for when bad weather hits." Specifically designed for easy portability, the Generac 7127 iQ3500-3500-watt portable inverter generator has 3500 starting watts and 3000 running watts of power, and integrates the start, run, and stop functions into one simple dial.
Featuring an electric start and the convenience of two-engine running speeds which helps to save fuel and noise, this generator is an ideal model for anyone specifically looking for a 3000-watter. One superfan explained, "This unit is rated at 2300 continuous watts, but has a 'startup' feature allowing it to put out a burst of 3000 watts. It had no trouble starting and running my RV air conditioner.
And, it is super quiet." Another happy customer added, "I have had the generator almost two years now and have had no issues. I mainly use it to run my teardrop trailer when boondocking but also use it during power outages."
When you just need more oomph, the Briggs & Stratton Q6500 quiet power series inverter generator can spurt out 6500 watts of startup power and run continuously for up to 14 hours with its highly efficient 306cc engine.
- It's surprisingly small for all the power and features that it offers, which includes carbon monoxide shutdown safety technology that can literally be a life-saver.
- With four 120V-20A outlets, two USB outlets, and a 20V-240V locking outlet, one customer, a mechanic who has owned and used this powerful unit for over three years, wrote, "I still can't believe it; I ran my A/C all night long last night—it ran for 10.45 hours," and described it as "the best small generator in the market."
- It is equipped with a 3.4-gallon tank and a 224cc engine.