Generators are a handy piece of equipment to invest in. They provide backup power to keep your home a safe and secure place to ride out a storm or electrical outage, powering your fridge, furnace, and security system. Portable generators can provide power to your RV or electrical connections for a job site when you’re not close to an electrical hookup. Having a stand-alone power source is a luxury many homes, campers, and businesses could benefit from – but it doesn’t come cheap.
A generator is an appliance used to provide electricity in areas or times with no other electricity source. Using motors and cranks, they force electric charges into their internal components through external electric circuits. They don’t technically produce electricity but instead move electrical charges to output an electrical current. In theory, this is similar to how a water pump doesn’t create water but moves it from one place to another, creating a current. Purchasing a generator is an investment.
- It can be vital for those in stormy areas, who often experience blackouts, or business owners needing to run equipment on an unimproved job site.
- Whenever you’re spending a good deal of money on a piece of equipment, you want to make sure you’re getting the best one that’s perfectly suited to meet your needs.
- Buying the best generator for you can seem like a daunting task.
- We’ve used customer reviews, information from renowned brands, and current specification charts to compile a list of the ten best generators.
- It includes the best portable generators, the best standby generators, and the best inverter generators to cover various uses.
- Champion’s 100165 open-frame generator is a great combination of convenience and versatility, making it a top choice for the best portable generator.
- The 439cc 4-stroke engine starts either by recoil or electric start.
- It's assisted by Cold Start Technology to start faster in winter conditions.
- Right out of the box, this model has a run time of 8 hours on gasoline at a 50% load and 5.5 hours using propane.
Safety Features You Should Consider
The VoltGuardTM surge protection keeps the six 120/240V AC outlets from overloading so you can power your home or job site with little worry. The twist-lock L14-30R receptacle is transfer switch ready, so you can easily connect it to your home’s breaker box for backup power. With the ability to use either gasoline or propane, the Champion 100165 is a budget-friendly option. It's easy to use and delivers great power output. It's also easily portable and offers various outlet configurations.
It’s one of the best portable generators suitable for home and professional use. Push-button, electric start. Cold Start Technology for winter conditions. Built-in VoltGuardTM surge protection. Runs on propane or gasoline. Equipped with a spark arrestor. No fuel gauge on the gas tank. If you're in the market for a whole-home standby generator, look no further than the Generac 70432. Boasting a G-Force 1000 Series V-Twin overhead valve industrial engine and a 200-Amp, NEMA 3R, outdoor-rated automatic transfer switch, it's one of the best home standby generators on the market.
In the event of a power outage, natural gas or propane is used to generate 19.5 to 22 kilowatts (LP and NG, respectively) of utility-grade electrical current.
Coated in RhinoCoat powder-coating, the aluminum enclosure houses all of the home standby generator components, protecting them from wind and rain.
Trademarked Generac technology allows you to monitor the system from anywhere using your smartphone or tablet; a Quiet TestTM mode allows you to exercise the standby generator on a designated schedule, ensuring your system performs at its best.
The Generac 70432 generator takes all worries out of electrical outages and emergencies.
- Within seconds your entire home is powered with utility-grade power, offering the lowest-cost-per-kilowatt MSRP of any residential generator.
- Emergency backup within seconds of an outage.
- Provides utility-grade electricity.
Multilingual LCD. RhinoCoat powder coated finish. Built-in remote monitoring. WEN’s 56200i portable generator is affordable, lightweight, and quiet. Using inverter technology, it efficiently produces 1600 rated watts of clean current to power even your most sensitive microprocessor-based devices when the power goes out. Its 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine is EPA III and CARB compliant. As one of the quietest portable generators on this list, it operates at a mere 53 decibels when running at quarter load. The intuitive user panel includes two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle, and one 5V USB port to power a range of items.
The eco-mode adjusts gas consumption as cords are plugged and unplugged to improve fuel efficiency. The WEN 56200i produces a clean current at a noise level lower than average conservation. It’s a great source of portable power for charging devices when camping or at home during power outages. Eco-mode feature automatically adjusts gasoline consumption. Weighs only 48 pounds. Produces clean, reliable current.
Can link to another unit with a parallel connection kit.
Panel includes a 5V USB port. Doesn’t have wheels.
There’s no need to make all your neighbors mad at you when operating the Champion 3400-Watt portable inverter.
Whether camping or powering appliances at home, this 192cc generator will run on gasoline or propane, easily switching with a quick turn of the fuel selector knob.
A standard 30-Amp RV outlet is right on the well-designed user panel.
- At 25% load, it features 3,400 starting watts and 3,100 running watts.
- It has up to 7.5 hours of run time on gasoline.
- It also has 14.5 hours of 3060 starting watts and 2790 running watts when hooked to a 20-pound propane cylinder.
Generating 59 dBa at about 23 feet, it won’t bother neighbors when used at home during a power outage or disrupt the peacefulness of your surroundings when camping.
Right out of the box, the Champion 3400-Watt Portable Inverter is ready to go on your next RV’ing adventure. Equipped with a 30-Amp RV outlet, it is capable of running two 15,000 BTU air conditions. Economy mode improves fuel efficiency. Cold Start Technology for winter conditions. Clean current for sensitive electronics. Runs on gasoline or propane. Cannot use pull start if the electric start battery is dead. With Nature’s Generator portable generator, you can create free electrical current using either the sun or wind. An included 100-watt solar panel captures the sun’s energy, storing it in the battery until internal electrical components convert it to usable AC. For those in gusty climates, you can purchase a wind-turbine port.
A central LCD makes it easy to read all of the pertinent system information. The control panel features 3 120-V AC outlets to deliver up to 1800-watts of pure sine wave current, clean enough to provide backup power to even your most sensitive electronics. This Nature’s Generator also has a single 12-V DC outlet and two USB ports to charge various items. With their solar-powered, portable generator, Nature’s Generator allows you to provide AC power to devices and small appliances without any noise or any need for gasoline, making it one of the more environmentally sustainable generators on the market.
AC power without sound or fumes.
Charges three different ways. Integrated uninterrupted power supply (UPS) function.
Expansion port allows you to connect other pods.
Features two 3A USB ports. Battery unit is cumbersome to move.
Powered by an impressive 420cc Westinghouse 4-stroke OHV engine, the WGen7500 generator produces 9500 peak watts and 7500 rated watts.
- It's perfect for an emergency back-up for your home or a portable source of power.
- The L14-30R 120/240-Volt twist-lock receptacle is transfer switch ready, negating the need to purchase additional accessories to power your home.
Equipped with a push-button electric start and a wireless remote key fob, the WGen7500 starts effortlessly and operates for up to 11-hours. A durable cast-iron sleeve protects the engine from the elements, while the rubber outlet covers keep water and debris out of the plugs. The WGen7500 takes all of the frustrations out of starting your gas-powered generator by pairing a push-button electric start and wireless remote key fob. With a large fuel capacity, this transfer switch-ready workhorse will churn out many watts for long periods of time.
Transfer switch ready. Up to 11-hour run time. Built-in fuel gauge. Features a remote start. Rubber covers on all outlets. Limited to two household GFCI outlets. Featuring a 457cc 4-stroke OHV engine, the DuroMax XP12000EH cranks out a powerful 12,000 starting watts and 9500 rated watts when using gasoline. Without a doubt, this generator will power through any storm, handling your lighting circuits, appliances, and even your home’s A/C unit. You can expect to get almost 9 hours of use on gasoline and just over 7 hours with a 40-pound propane cylinder at half load. As the most powerful portable generator on the list, the full-featured power panel offers two household 20-amp GFCI outlets, a heavy-duty 50-amp outlet, one 20V 30A twist-lock outlet, and one 120/240V 30A outlet on the control panel.
Using patented MX2 power boost technology, you can operate the generator at 120V and 240V simultaneously or solely at 120V.
The DuroMax’s MX2 power boost technology lets your use both the 120V and 240V twist lock outlets simultaneously, or use both at 120V to draw full power.
A large gas tank also means it runs for long periods of time.
Runs on gasoline or propane. MX2 power boost technology.
All metal construction.
- EPA and CARB approved for emissions.
- Weighs 224 pounds.
- Create power using either gasoline or propane to drive the 457cc 4-stroke OHV engine on this WEN portable generator.
As one of the best high-capacity generators on this list, it produces 11,000 surge watts and 8,300 running watts with gasoline or 9500 surge and 7500 running watts with propane. The expansive panel features four 120V household GFCI outlets, a 120V 30A twist-lock outlet, a 120V/240V 50A outlet, and a 12Vt DC cigarette-lighter-style plug. This generator can handle your lights, TV, refrigerator, or power tools with ease.
A moderate price tag keeps this highly-rated dual fuel generator from breaking the bank. The WEN DF1100T is a fantastic combination of power and features at an affordable price. Easily power a range of home appliances or power towels at the job site with the transfer switch-ready generator.
Gasoline and propane powers. Transfer switch ready.
Large selection of outlets. 8.5-hour half-load runtime.
Electric start system. Isn't an inverter generator.
For great power at an economical price, you can’t go wrong with the Sportsman portable generator.
- The 212cc 4-stroke engine will run for up to 10 hours at a 50% load using fuel, and 12 hours using propane.
- Don’t let its simple appearance fool you.
- This generator offers all the safety features you need, including a spark arrestor, low oil shutoff, automatic voltage regulation, circuit breakers, and an engine shut-off switch.
The Sportsman portable generator produces 4000 peak watts and 3500 running watts on gasoline to power most of your household appliances or power tools. If you’re in the market for a simple generator that can power basic tools or household items without spending a lot, the Sportsman model is a great choice. It offers plenty of power and reliability while being economical.
Runs on either gasoline or propane. Panel has 4 120V household outlets. Low oil shutoff. Automatic voltage regulation (AVR). Features a spark arrestor. Doesn’t have wheels. Honda’s innovative inverter technology provides 2200 start-up watts of clean, fuel-efficient power to its two 120V AC outlets via a commercial series 121cc engine.
It operates at a mere 48 to 57 dBa, making it perfect for tailgating, camping, or supplementing your RV’s power.
CO-MINDERTM continuously monitors carbon monoxide levels around the unit, automatically shutting the generator down before reaching dangerously high values, keeping everyone safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.
When running at a 25% load, it will operate for up to 8 hours on less than a gallon of gasoline, making it perfect for overnight power.
Quiet, lightweight, and compact, the Honda EU2200i provides clean AC power to charge your smartphone or tablet and run small appliances like TVs, coffee pots, and satellite systems.
- Advanced inverter technology.
- Carbon monoxide detection system.
- Lightweight and compact.
Parallel capability. There are many factors to take into account when shopping for the best generator. Factors such as wattage, fuel type, and noise level can all affect your decision. These are just a few of the considerations you should keep in mind before making a purchase. This guide offers advice on how to find the right generator for you so that you can shop with confidence.
Generators are beneficial, powerful appliances that serve a multitude of purposes. They can be used as a backup power source to keep you safe, secure, and connected in your home during an emergency, natural disaster, or power cut. Portable generators can be used for RV vacations to keep your camper supplied with electricity when you’re staying in locations without hookups.
You can also use them on job sites to power air compressors, nail guns, and saws.
While generators offer much versatility and provide an invaluable service, these small devices often come with a hefty price tag.
This expense is justified, but this means it’s more essential that you look at all the different features on various generators to find the one best suited to your needs.
To help make the search for the best generator easier, we’ve compiled a list of features you should consider before purchasing.
Wattage will determine how powerful the generator is and, in turn, how many appliances or other tools and devices it can power.
- The higher the wattage, the more expensive the generator.
- 3000 to 4000-watt portable generators will power your RV, including the fridge, furnace, TV, and lighting circuits.
- 5000 to 7500-watt generators will power lights and keep things like a fridge, freezer, or well pump operating, but not at the same time.
7500-watt generators will keep the lights on and power most household appliances simultaneously, minus the furnace or air conditioner. 10,000-watt generators generally run all critical household items, including the furnace or air conditioner, at the same time. They also power most heavy-duty tools used on a construction site.
12,500-watt generators will power your entire house without missing a beat. When looking at a generator’s wattage, there are two numbers to keep in mind. One is the starting watts, and the other is the running watts or rated watts. Household appliances, furnaces, air conditioners, and construction tools need more watts starting up.
Once they’re running, the power usage drops or settles out slightly.
In turn, generators will have higher starting watts than running power.
Make sure the starting power is high enough for your equipment.
Home standby generators are meant to automatically provide power to your entire house within seconds of a power outage.
They are permanently installed and typically tap into an existing fuel source such as natural gas or propane.
- While very convenient and powerful, standby generators are costly.
- Portable generators don’t have as much power and don’t turn on automatically like standby generators.
- They may not power the entire home and cannot run for an extended period, but they are much less expensive and can be moved to different locations.
When looking at portable generators to power your entire home, make sure they are transfer switch-ready. The main technical difference between the two different types of generators is the type and amount of power each produces. Conventional generators only produce AC, or alternating current, power. Inverter generators produce power in three phases.
High-frequency AC is first produced. It is then converted to DC (direct current) and then transformed to a stable AC power. The stable sine wave produced is unique to inverter generators and considered a “clean” energy source, safe for electronics such as laptops, cell phones, and tablets. In regards to output, conventional generators can produce upwards of 10,000 watts.
Inverter generators have a much smaller output, producing 1000 to 4000 watts.
Inverter generators can also automatically adjust the engine speed to the load, making them more fuel-efficient.
The engine of a conventional generator runs at a constant speed.
When shopping for a generator to provide backup or alternative power, consider what you will power with it and how long you need these items to run.
- Smaller generators with shorter run times are sufficient to recharge electronic devices or charge the batteries in your RV.
- If you need something to power your important appliances, such as your fridge or furnace, during emergency power outages, or you’re using equipment on a construction site for eight to ten hours a day, then you should consider one with a long run-time.