Today you can buy portable generators with built in inverters and plugs with American outlets, European outlets even generic USB charging docks.
It’s never been easier to get outside and have reliable power for just about any accessory or appliance you can think of. We’re going to talk about the differences between some of these common electronic power banks and power inverters so you know what you’re buying.
I’m also going to help you navigate a few top rated inverter generators. Attention: The internal data of table “633” is corrupted! For more of my camping recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links: Family Camping Tents, Truck Bed Tents, Pop Up Canopies.
Our reviews of the top inverter generators along with our comparison table and buyers guide will help you choose the right one for you.
Champion 100573 (Affordable Alternative with High Power Output)
Champion 3400-watt (Best Dual-Fuel Inverter Generator)
WEN 56202i (Most lightweight, Portable & Compact)
Champion 100519 (Highest Power Output Inverter Generator)
Westinghouse iGen4500 (Another Great Inverter Generator)
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7. Best Inverter Generator 3000 Watt—Generac
Other: EPA III and CARB Compliant. A couple of our larger inverters are so big they actually are easier to roll than carry. This is one of them and it’s a beast ready to light up your RV, house, or camping trip.
I was going to give this inverter the top pick for RV use but I love the dual fuel capability of the Champion. I will say, however, that the WEN gives it a run for the money. The WEN pulls slightly ahead in some aspects however, because the slightly higher output and the inclusion of little details like 2 USB ports right on the unit make a difference.
If you don’t think you care about USB plugs on the inverter (after all you can just plug them in inside the RV, right?) then go with the Champion model for ease of use.
Best For: Those who want to piggyback two units for max power in a camping setting. Now let’s go over what you need to know about portable inverter generators, that way you’ll be able to spend more time camping and RVing and less time searching around the internet for the info you need.
“Big” in terms of inverters and generators really refers to power output measured in watts. In confusing physics terms, (W = AV) or watts equals amps times volts. Therefore, to truly understand how big of a generator you need all you need to know is the draw and voltage of every device that will be feeding off the inverter.
So, let’s say you have a device that pulls 1.2 amps at 5 volts (common for USB chargers). That device will consume 6 amps of power from your generator. If you wanted to run 100 of those at the same time you’d need at least a 600W inverter.
This number begins to skyrocket as soon as you use larger items.
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Charcoal starter – 600W. Single Burner Electric Range – 800W. String of Lights (Edison Style LED) – 30W. Those are just a few small examples of power draw from some common camping items you might hook up to a generator inverter.
Running those at the same time will take 1430W of power output from your inverter. Fortunately, most modern inverter generators range from about 1,400W to 4,000W of output. If you go through the process of adding up the devices power consumption that you want to use be sure to add about an extra 25% to the final number.
This will account for additional items and parasitic consumption caused by extension cords, etc. If you’re running your RV off the inverter generator then make sure it has enough juice to power hungry items like the air conditioner.
These devices are super power hungry so you may have to only run them occasionally. Generator inverters get their power from spinning magnets inside of copper wire coils. It’s basically magic, but it works. At the end of the day what this means to you is that the gas engine being used to power most generators is always noisy to some degree.
The last thing we want (and the people around you want) on a nice quiet camping evening is a loud generator buzzing away. Noise level is measured in dB or decibels. Decibel levels under 75 dB are usually safe for long exposures and, while annoying, won’t hurt anyone.
Noise levels above 85 dB are unsafe and can cause long term hearing damage (source). Most quiet portable generators will run from about 45 (very quiet) to 65 (quite loud).
6. Best Inverter Generator 2000 Watt—Westinghouse
Anything at or under 50 is pretty darn quiet for a gas motor. Anything at or above 60 will probably start to earn you enemies among nearby campers.
Many inverter generators use adaptive output which means the engine runs harder when you’re drawing more power and it quiets down when less power is being used. An inverter with this feature will help appease the neighbors and prevent their dogs from barking at your inverter constantly.
Tip: Hide your inverter on the side of your tent/RV/car that is facing away from your campsite and other people. This will help deflect direct noise from the inverter and lower the overall sound signature.
I have no idea what you’ll be using that inverter for when you go out with it. I’m assuming you may want to use it for outdoor living or camping, right? Well, you’ll have to do a little thought experiment with me. Go back to the last time you went out on a similar camping trip.
How many electronics do you use? How often were you using them? How many did you use at the same time? Most inverters will have a couple of outlets of various types. If you’re only using one or two types of plugs, there’s no sense in going for an inverter with a huge smorgasboard of outlet types.
Plugging devices right into the inverter is by far the most effective way to do it. Using a power strip or extension cord can be done, but every time you piggyback something off electronic devices they lose power. Each additional length of cord or outlet plug adds resistance to the circuit which will draw power off the inverter.
When you’ve got a limited amount of power output, like an inverter, you want to be as efficient as possible so always try to plug devices directly into the inverter.
Thomas’ Top Picks for the Best inverter generator 2021
Be careful with some of this language when shopping. Manufacturers will try to fool you by playing with words when they label these devices.
So, how do you navigate around these tricky labels? Peak watts will often be cited as the main “number” when you’re buying.
If an inverter generator says 3,000 Watts make sure to find out if that’s peak or running watts. If there’s no clear difference look in the specifications.
Peak watts is a label that refers to the maximum possible output of the generator. Generators cannot put out this amount of power all the time, it’s just the maximum theoretical output if everything goes right all at once.
Running watts is a term for the normal sustained output of a generator inverter. That’s the number you really want to be paying attention to. Make sure you don’t get fooled by looking at peak watts when you think you’re reading running watts.
I promise to make sure that each of the inverter generators on our list has the running watts listed clearly.
Sometimes you can use the magic that is electrical engineering to make cool stuff happen. Let’s say you and a friend are going out with your families.
You both have a generator that can run parallel.
Running Inverter Generators in Parallel
In that case, you can plug those two together and they will boost each other’s output! Why is this better than just running them separate?
It just depends on where your devices are, how high of a load you have, and what you’re using them for. You can piggyback two of them and then plug the RV right into that for a combined max output.
RVs always have those funky plugs that are the size of a small teacup. Fact is, you gotta have an outlet that can accommodate it if you want to power up that RV.
Most inverter generators are made with these outlets, but some are either too small or just don’t have it. If your generator doesn’t have an RV plug, do not use an adapter unless recommended by the manufacturer.
RV plugs should only be plugged into appropriate outlets with safe fuses and circuit or you can damage the inverter, cable, or the RV itself.
That’s an expensive problem! A: Inverter generators often have some kind of efficiency mode. Usually this is a simple switch that you can turn on to increase efficiency and decrease noise. Essentially most of these are just bottle necking the output of the generator to reduce fuel consumption and force it to run lower.
Sometimes, however, there is much more sophisticated tech behind them. No matter how these modes function though, they all serve the same purpose.
Their job is to either automatically, or manually, detect when lower power needs are present and slow down the inverter to save gas and extend run time. A: No, not “overlord” protection – that’s a totally different thing.
Overload protection is a smart circuitry feature which knows when the generator is being overdrawn and responds by either shutting things down, blowing a fuse, or otherwise interrupting the circuit from making problems.
This is different from surge protection which essentially works in the reverse direction by protecting things “downstream” from huge jumps in voltage.
FAQs For Inverter Generators
A: If you’ve blown a fuse on the generator that means something went wrong in the circuit. Do not reset the fuse and just turn it back on. Fuses blow when there’s a problem. Identify the problem, solve it, then turn it back on.
Check for loose connections, frayed wires, or water getting into the cords if it’s outside. These can cause shorts which will blow fuses and if they’re not solved will just blow the fuse again.
Normally this isn’t a problem but you’d be silly to just keep resetting it and hoping something gets fixed. Go solve the issue, you silly billy!
A: An inverter generator is designed to provide “cleaner” power ie: less noise, voltage fluctuations by running at a a constant 3600 RPMs at 60Hz this is how it provides cleaner power so your electronics run better while being more efficient, and making your gas last longer..
Power inverter generators are essentially smart circuits built into traditional generators. They’re pretty rad and super helpful! We’ve talked mostly about gas inverters in this article but other types of inverters include solar inverters, hydro inverters, and other tools to change DC current into controlled AC output.
It’s basically magic but not really. If you’re unsure of your needs, try talking to the local RV or camping dealer. They should be able to help you better determine what you can use with your equipment and what to avoid.
Usually campers, pop-ups, 5th wheels, and RVs all are very compatible with inverter generators and you’ll love having portable power around!
9. Best Inverter Generator with Remote Start—Pulsar
To come up with the top inverter generators, we researched a variety of sources for reviews such as Camping World, Lazy Days, Real Truck and Walmart along with our own personal experience.
We also consulted online magazines for product research and reviews to get as much unbiased information as we could. To help weed out fake reviews we usedFakespot.com to make sure we only looked at genuine reviews. With so much quality gear available, we had to narrow it down based on what we felt were the best options for the price.
The staff authors have a wide and varied background in RV camping, automotive repairs and backpacking. The authors have decades of experience and are eager to share their knowledge with readers.
To help narrow down the selection we used personal experiences along with recommendations from mechanics and retailers. After extensive research, we came up with our list to help you choose the right one for you.
OutsidePursuits.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program.
OutsidePursuits.com earns fees from products sold through qualifying purchases by linking to Amazon.com. Amazon offers a commission on products sold through their affiliate links. A technological revolution has quietly been taking place in the world of portable generators. A new class of generators, known as inverter generators, convert the AC power produced by the engine to DC power, then back to AC power.
The result is clean, low-distortion power that can be used for charging sensitive electronics, as well as excellent fuel efficiency, low engine noise levels, and less maintenance compared to traditional generators. In order to help you find the best inverter generator, we considered a number of features of these machines.
How Big of a Inverter Generator Do I Need?
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First, we looked at the continuous and surge power ratings of different inverter generators, since just as for traditional generators this determines what you can power. We also looked at whether different generators run on gasoline, propane, or either, and how long generators can run on a single tank of gas or propane. Finally, we considered how loud different inverter generators are, since low noise is a major selling point of this class of generators.
The Best Inverter Generator—Summary
We spent tens of hours researching inverter generators, poring over customer reviews and technical specifications. The result is our list of the ten best inverter generators, highlighted in the table below.
Continue reading for detailed reviews of each generator, complete with pros and cons. Our buying guide covers everything you need to know in order to choose the right inverter generator for your needs.
Best Inverter Generator with Remote Start:Pulsar Products G450RN 4500W Remote Start Inverter Generator
Finally, we sum up our three overall favorite inverter generators on the market today. 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.
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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.
Best Inverter Generator Portable:Honda EU2200iTAG 2200-Watt Super Quiet 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.
4. Best Inverter Generator with Electric Start—WEN
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. 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.
Portable Power Inverter Comparison Table
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.
Best Inverter Generator with Electric Start:WEN 56380i 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator Electric Start
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."
#5 WEN CARB Compliant Inverter Generator
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. 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.
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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.
Best Inverter Generator Quietest:A-iPower SUA2000iV 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
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.
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It has convenient wheels and a fold-away handle so it's easy to transport and store. "Awesome inverter generator," raved one of the many satisfied customers. "Clean power and runs a 3-ton heat pump.
Inverter Generator—Buying Guide
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. Use stabilizer in your fuel, and use the fuel shutoff feature, and this generator should last a decade with no problem.”.
1. Best-Rated Inverter Generator—Champion
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. 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.
Peak Watts vs Running Watts
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.
2. Best Inverter Generator Amazon—WEN
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.
Inverter Generator Reviews
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".
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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. 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.
#3 Yamaha EF2400iSHC Gas Powered Portable Inverter
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. 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..
8. Best Inverter Generator 6000 Watt—Briggs & Stratton
Number of Outlets on the Inverter Generator
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.. 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.
3. Best Inverter Generator Dual Fuel—Champion
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.
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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."
Giving you the capability to remotely start your generator from up to 80 feet away, buying the Pulsar Products G450RN, 4500-watt inverter generator will mean that, in the event of a blackout, you won't have to go out in the storm to start up your generator—with just a click of the remote, you'll have your emergency lights on and all your appliances up and running.
This machine will run for up to 15 hours at half load and has a running wattage of 3700 watts, with 4500 peak watts.
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It is equipped with a 3.4-gallon tank and a 224cc engine. One of many happy customers who used this model for 60 hours with no issues wrote, "[The] electric remote start is amazing, [and] works perfectly from 50 feet away. Power is enough for my entire 35-foot trailer, A/C, microwave, etc.. It’s also easy to move and not as hard to store in the trailer as expected."