Portable generators can be used for anything, from charging your laptop to running your RV's air conditioner to powering tools on a job site. So not surprisingly, there are dozens of different models and prices that range anywhere from a couple hundred bucks to several thousand.
It's a market that's changed quite a lot over the last few years, with inverters becoming the dominant technology. However, they are noticeably more expensive -- so are they worth the extra money? That, plus a whole host of other important questions, is what we're here to answer with our updated buyer's guide.
1.Briggs & Stratton's P3000 Portable Inverter Generator: This is a newcomer to our list for good reason: Take one of the best small-motor manufacturers in the world, add inverter technology with flexible connectivity, and you have best-in-class performance.
Champion's 1200-Watt Portable Generator: If you're looking for great value, you'll struggle to find better than this tough, reliable, easy-to-use model, which is a new entry on our list. 3.Yamaha's EF2000iS Portable Inverter Generator: We've featured this model since it came on the market.
With its compact size, light weight, and competitive output, it's still a favorite. Jump to the bottom of the article for additional comments on each one. A big part of your decision is going to be output, or wattage, to be precise. It's not the only thing, but it is the headline number.Expert Tip
The Whole House Generator Installation Procedure & Guide
How Much Power Do You Need?
Every electrical device requires a certain number of watts to run -- anything from 15 watts for a low-consumption light bulb to 1,000 watts for a high-end coffee machine or a refrigerator.
The Best Whole House Generator Comparison
Types of Generator and Fuel Source
Useful Generator Accessories
To determine how big a portable generator you need, just look at all your gadgets and add up the watts, right? Well, not quite. You'll soon find the number runs into many thousands. But what are the chances you'll want them all turned on at once? So better to take an average of three or four to get a more accurate figure. At the end of the day, it's your choice. You can buy the biggest portable generator you can find, but more watts means more money, so most people make compromises.
A quick note about portable generator numbers. You'll usually get two wattage figures. That's because most devices surge a little at start, then settle at a lower figure. The higher number tells you the generator's maximum output, the lower is the normal level. So you've got a figure for watts, now you need to check how long the generator will actually run.
1. Champion Power Equipment 100294 Home Standby Generator
- You'll frequently see two similar models that both claim to run for 10 hours on a tank of gas -- but when you check the small print, one says "at 25% output, while another says "at 50% output."
- Big difference. It may seem a little deceptive of makers to describe their portable generators that way, and maybe it is -- but they all do it.
- You need to check.
- Very few say how long their generator will run at 100% output.
- Noise is another issue. Inverter generators tend to run more quietly than traditional models.
7. Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 Inverter Generator
- They don't surge, so the volume is also more consistent.
|Noise Rating||74 dB(A)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||6 Gal|
7 Best Whole House Generator Reviews for Homes
5. Generac 7682 GP6500E – 6500 Watt Portable Generator
You still need to check decibels -- and the distance away from the unit the reading is taken. So that question about portable inverter generators and whether they're worth it? They're almost invariably smaller, lighter and quieter, making them ideal for camping and RVs. However, watt for watt, they are considerably more expensive. As a result, commercial users will often choose traditional models.
Anything else you should look for? The type and number of outlets may be an issue. You'll get one or more standard household outlets, maybe USB ports, and perhaps DC charging capability. A fuel gauge is definitely useful, and you'll want to be able to check oil level easily.
4. Generac 7175 Guardian 13kW Home Backup Generator
- Safety features may include an oil-level sensor or overload cutout.
- It's a portable generator, so the type of wheel, position of handles, and total weight are also worth checking.
- If you want power indoors temporarily, you need to site your generator outdoors, then run a gen-cord through a window or door.
- In fact, it's a good idea to buy a gen-cord anyway, because they're purpose-designed to work with generators, where standard extension cables are often too thin.
- If you want to wire a generator as a permanent emergency backup, you'll need to contact your supplier.
3. Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 Air-Cooled Standby Generator
- It's often illegal to do it yourself. Is it safe to use portable generators with sensitive devices like tablets and laptops?
|Noise Rating||72 dB(A)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||8.3 Gal|
How to Pick the Best Whole House Generator for Your House
6. DuroMax XP12000EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator
Inverters are definitely better than traditional generators, because the power supply is unlikely to spike -- which is what causes the damage. If you want to be doubly sure, put a surge protector between the generator and your device. Single outlet models cost less than $10. Best of the best:Briggs & Stratton P3000 Portable Inverter Generator. What we like: Terrific versatility with 2,600 watts to four standard outlets, DC and USB ports. Can be run in parallel (link two together to double output).
Clear LCD gives power use and maintenance reminders. Nice wheels and drag handle. What we dislike: More fault reports than we expect from this brand. Not as quiet as some models. Best bang for your buck:Champion 1200-Watt Portable Generator.
2. Westinghouse WPro8500 Super Duty Industrial Portable Generator
- What we like: Traditional simplicity giving 1,200 watts of power at an absolute bargain price.
- Better run time than many competitors.
- Built-in surge protection. Low-oil-pressure shutoff prevents motor damage.
- What we dislike: Motor can cut out unexpectedly and be difficult to restart.
- Owners are critical of Champion support. Choice 3:Yamaha EF2000iS Portable Inverter Generator.
How To Determine The Power Requirements Of A Particular Generator?
- What we like: Compact and super portable, yet still puts out 1,600 watts.
|Noise Rating||69 dB(A)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||3.6 Gal|
Whole House Generator Cost
Wrapping It Up
Self-adjusting throttle responds to load, making for low fuel consumption and reduced noise. Also CARB compliant for low emissions. What we dislike: Very expensive. Relatively high oil consumption. Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews.
4. Westinghouse 7500 Gas Powered Portable Generator
2. Diesel-powered generators:
BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds. BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. HomeEnergy & PowerThe Best Whole House Generator by Consumer Reports: Top 7. Blackouts can occur for several reasons and may leave you without power for days.
1. Gas Powered Generators:
- When such happens, the next best alternative to keep on getting a constant power supply is a generator set.
- The best whole house generator can be helpful, especially if you live in areas where tropical storms happen frequently.
- To choose the best generator for a home, these are factors to consider.
- We have reviewed 7 of the best whole house generators you can purchase for home use in 2020.
- This article also contains a whole-house generator sizing guide, which will help you choose the ideal product for your needs.
5. Inverter generator:
- To continue with this discussion is the comparison table of the various generator for unbiased selection.
|Noise Rating||72 dB(A)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||6.6 Gal|
5. Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Inverter
3. Propane-powered generators:
Running watt: 14kw. Runtime: 24/7hrs . Castors wheels: No. Tank size: Not specified . Dimension: 50 x 30.1 x 40.2inches. Running watt: 8,500. Runtime: 17.5hrs . Castors wheels: Yes. Tank size: 6.6 gallons . Dimension: 50 x 30.1 x 40.2inches.
Running watt: 20,000. Runtime: 24/7hrs . Castors wheels: No. Tank size: Not specified . Dimension: 48 x 26.2 x 29 inches. Running watt: 13kW. Runtime: 24/7hrs . Castors wheels: No. Tank size: Not specified .
4. Solar generators:
- Â• Dimension: 48 x 25 x 29 inches. Running watt: 6,500.
- Runtime: 10.5hrs. Castors wheels: Yes. Tank size: Not specified .
- Dimension: Not specified. Running watt: 9,500.
- Runtime: 10.5hrs. Castors wheels: Yes. Tank size: Not specified.
- Dimension: 40 x 29 x 27.5 inches. Running watt: 6,500.
- Runtime: 14hrs. Castors wheels: Yes. Tank size: 5 gallons.
|Noise Rating||59 dB(A)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||1.6 Gal|
6. WEN DF1100T Dual Fuel Portable Power Generator
Dual Fuel and Multiple Outlets
Dimension:25.5 x 21.1 x 21.4 inches. The Champion Power Equipment 100294 home standby generator comes with 14-kilowatt power to provide 14,000 watts of electricity on propane and 12,500 watts on natural gas. It also has a 24-volt starting system that is capable of operating in extreme or sub-zero heat even without a warming kit.
Besides, this unit performs self-diagnostic tests. As a result, you can ascertain for sure when there is something wrong with the unit in advance before a breakdown. There is a low-tune muffler that dampens the sound of the generator for quiet performance. This way, you can enjoy an uninterrupted power supply at 63 dba noise level.
- Since it is a standby generator, it does not require manual operations and extension cord.
- Our plus for this. 10-year limited warranty . Weekly self-diagnostic tests .
- Low-tone muffler . Our minus for this. Costly plumbing and electrical contracting.
- Unlike many large generators, the Westinghouse WPro8500 Super Duty Industrial Portable Generator comes in a small size.
- Despite its size, the machine is designed for industrial-grade use with 8500 running watts and 11500 peak watts.
- This plus an automatic low oil shutdown, a full panel GFCI, and overload protection are some of the most impressive features of this powerful whole house generator.
|Noise Rating||72 dB(A)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||6.6 Gal|
7. Westinghouse WGEN6000 Portable Gas Generator
Back Up Your Home Power
An electric start feature permits effortless starting as the key fob allows you to start it from a distance. The engine runs for about 17.5 hours on a large 6.6-gallon gas tank. Smart idle control and a built-in fuel gauge help oil measurement. For easy mobility, the generator comes built-in foam grip handle and heavy-duty wheels. There is also a lift bracket for better handling.
Our plus for this. Electric start . Full panel GFCI. Smart idle controls . Our minus for this. Loud and heavy. The Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 Air-Cooled Standby Generator stands out with a sleek appearance that could easily be mistaken for an air conditioner. Like an AC unit, the generator is installed outside the home and is wired into the fuel system and electrical panel.
- This way, it is automatically engaged after an outage. With a response time of about 10 seconds, the generator offers premium power quality with less than 5% harmonic distortion.
- This protects your electronics from damage from power fluctuations.
- Measuring 48 by 26.2 by 29-inches, the machine comes with a 100% corrosion-proof enclosure that protects it from harsh climatic conditions.
- It also features a 100 amp 16-circuit automatic transfer switch for 20000 Watt.
- This plus 5-years warranty coverage make the product one of the best whole house generator.
- Our plus for this. 100% corrosion-resistant enclosure . 10 seconds response time .
|Noise Rating||72 dB(A)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||6.6 Gal|
8. Honda EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator
The Best for Lightweight Mobility
5-years warranty coverage . Designed by Generac, the 7175 Guardian 13kW Home Backup Generator enough power for the entire household with its 200 amp and NEMA 3R aluminum outdoor enclosure smart switch. Engineered with true power technology, the unit delivers premium power quality with less than 5% harmonic distortion.
This promotes the smooth and clean operation of appliances and electronics. Plus, the machine is engineered and built in the USA with foreign and domestic machine parts. There is also a pressure-lubricated G-Force engine that aids heavy unit operations.
- This cuts down on maintenance time for reliable performance.
- The automatic generator comes with a 5-year limited warranty, a removable door panel, and a base pad that minimizes ground preparation.
- Our plus for this. 5-year limited warranty . G-Force engine .
- Our minus for this. No wheels or carrying handle . Another product from Generac, the Generac 7682 GP6500E – 6500 Watt Portable Generator like its counterpart delivers smooth and easy operation with its OHV engine.
- The durable engine comes with a lubrication feature to prolong the engine’s life.
- It also comes with a large-capacity steel fuel tank that is incorporated with a fuel gauge for stable and reliable performance.
|Noise Rating||57 dB(A)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||1 Gal|
9. Generac 7676 GP8000E Portable Generator
Best for Construction Sites and Home Power
At full capacity, the generator can run for up to 10.5 hours at 50% load. For smooth operation, the unit comes with an electric start feature and a battery. This reduces the strain and pressure needed to activate the machine. With Generac’s PowerRush advanced technology, the product delivers up to 40% more starting capacity.
Two heavy-duty wheels and handles also aid movement. Our plus for this. Large-capacity fuel tank. Electric start and battery . Our minus for this. No warranty information. Propane, Gas, and electric start features among others make the DuroMax XP12000EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator one of the best whole house generators.
- Designed by DuroMax, the XP12000EH unit runs on a DuroMax 18HP, 457cc OHV engine.
- It also features a dual-fuel technology that allows it to run on either gasoline or propane.
- This way, with enough flexibility, you can determine your fuel choice.
- Propane for one has a longer shelf life and supports cleaner burning that won’t harm the engine internals.
- It is also less expensive and makes a good source of power.
- The generator offers 9500 running watts and 12000 starting watts.
|Fuel Tank Capacity||7.9 Gal|
10. Ryobi RY906500S Gasoline Powered Portable Generator
Best Generator for CO Safety
Hence it can handle heavy loads and high amperage tools. As a plus, the machine is CARB and EPA certified for use in all the states of America. Our plus for this. EPA and CARB approved . Dual fuel technology . Powerful engine . Our minus fir this.
The wheels are plastic. The Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 Inverter Generator combines stylish design and functionality into a quiet backup power for homes. Rated 60% quieter than standard generators, the unit features an efficient integrated engine and alternator that provides up to 14hrs runtime at a 25% load.
What We Like
- The machine is also 30% more fuel-efficient at 25% load. Its design is also 30% lighter than standard generators and 45% more compact.
- There is also a telescoping luggage-style handle feature paired with 8-inches solid wheels.
- This makes it easy to move around your home.
- Besides quiet performance features, the inverter features a steel-frame enclosure shell that protects internal components and minimizes noise.
- Our plus for this. Compact design.
|Noise Rating||72.3 dB(A)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||6 Gal|
11. WEN 56200i Portable Inverter Generator
Best for Power on the Go
Our minus for this. The access panel doesn’t fit well. Since natural gas is a common and abundant fuel, gas generators are fairly common. They are considered cleaner (with minimal emissions) and possibly cheaper alternative to traditional fueling options like gasoline or diesel.
Natural gas-powered generators are also not susceptible to cold. Usually, they are installed directly into gas lines. This means fuel is readily available with no need to be re-filled. The downside of this, however, is that such a generator is not portable.
- The generator is more affordable as well but the cost of installation can be quite high since expert services are required to connect to gas lines.
- They are also high maintenance (a gas leak can be very dangerous) and they are less durable.
- Diesel generators are quite common and the durability of diesel engines is well known.
- Hence, they are suitable for longer and heavier use compared to most of the other types of generators with less maintenance required.
- Diesel is considered the least flammable of all fuel sources.
- However, it has high emission rates. Because of this, some areas place a limit on the number of house diesel generators can be run per day.
|Noise Rating||53 dB(A)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||1 Gal|
12. Durostar DS4000S Portable Generator
Best Balance of Power and Portability
Diesel fuel doesn’t store well too. Large quantities cannot be stored for more than 24 months. Diesel generators are generally affected by to wet stacking (I.e. moisture ruins the fuel). Hence they are least suited for a wet environment. A close alternative that is resistant to wet stacking is emulsified diesel.
Emulsified diesel has lower emissions and offers almost the same shelf-life as regular diesel. This can be in the form of propane liquid or vapor. Propane overs several advantages over diesel or gasoline fuel. It is a much cleaner alternative with very low emissions.
- It also has a longer shelf life compared to gasoline and diesel.
- It works well and powers up faster even in cold weather. Generators powered with propane are generally considered to be more affordable and last longer.
- But while the generator is cheaper and durable, the fuel isn’t.
- it burns 3 times faster than diesel.
- Propane is a complex fuel that requires a complex system to use.
- Hence, the cost of installation of a propane generator is typically higher since it must be installed into gas lines.
|Noise Rating||69 dB(A)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||3.96 Gal|
Think About Fuel Storage
Also, the fact that propane is kept under pressure means they are highly flammable and can cause a highly explosive fire if an accident occurs. Solar generators are powered by solar energy. The make use of solar panels, lithium batteries, and inverters to harness and store solar energy.
Best Portable Generators Buying Guide
Ultimately, solar generators are greener and safer for the environment than conventional generators with no emissions. Most units are portable and more suited for outdoor camping trips or use in RVs. However, if you are looking for solar generators to power an entire house, then the larger units with a wattage of between 1000 to 10,000 watts will be recommended.
How Do Portable Generators Work?
Such units will be able to power the larger appliances in a home for a longer period. You should find many commercial and residential options in this range.
Inverter generators convert and stores high voltage AC power as DC voltage then coverts it back to clean AC power when needed.
- While they generally are more complex and more expensive, inverter generators are becoming quite popular these days for several reasons.
- They are quieter than conventional options thanks to their complex exhaust system that helps to keep the noise level down.
- Inverter generators are also more affordable to run.
- The generator does not run at full power at all times as it regulates itself to match power needs.
- This improves the efficiency of the generator and helps to keep emissions low.
However, inverter generators are quite expensive. Different types of generators have varying power output (measured in watts).
This refers to the amount of power the generator can deliver. The power rating of a generator determines the number and types of appliances it can run at the same time as well as the quality and consistency of the power generated.
The Fuel Source
Thus, you must determine how much power you need before you set out to buy a generator. Home power requirement: A whole house generator with a power rating of about 25 to 20 kilowatts should be enough to power a 3000 sq. However, you may need more or less depending on the size of your home and the number and types of appliances you have.
For instance, refrigerators use up to 600 watts while AC units require 1000 watts or more. Some portable heaters and sump pumps can use up to 1500 watts of electricity each. You will need to consider all of these before you decide on which unit to buy.
Job site power requirement: When considering the power requirement for a generator to be used at a job site, you will need to calculate the power requirement for each tool you will be using at the site.
You can begin by listing all the tools you will be making use of such as electrical saws, welding equipment and so on. Check the tag on each equipment to find out how much power is required to run it. Some tools will have ratings in amperes and voltage. You will need to do the maths to get the accurate wattage.
Add them together and get a generator that supplies at least 20% more power for greater efficiency. Recreational and camping power requirement: Buying a generator for tailgating, camping, and other outdoor recreational activities is easier.
Typically, you don’t need a lot of power since only basic appliances will be in use. For instance, an inverter generator with 1000 to 2000 watts of output should be good enough for basic outdoor use.
What’s the Difference Between Standard Portable Generators and Inverter Generators?
However, if you intend to bring heavier appliances like air conditioners or microwaves with you then you should go for a unit with a higher power. RV power requirement: Again, the power requirement for running a generator in your RV depends largely on the appliances you will be making use of.
In most cases, the air conditioning unit requires the most power to run in an RV. If you have one, then you have to put its starting wattage into consideration. For instance, a 13,500 BTU AC unit will need a 3000W generator to start. Hence, if you have an AC in your RV, this is the lowest wattage you can buy.
Check for the other appliances you wish to run together with the AC in your RV home to find the correct power requirement. While purchasing any generator, you should check the manufacturer’s information about the unit’s starting amperage and voltage.
What’s the difference between a Portable Generator and a Portable Power Station?
You can then use this information to calculate the expected wattage you will get from the unit using the formula . Starting Amps x Volts = Watts (divide the answer by 1000 to get the kilowatts rating). You can then compare this figure to the expected wattage of your home based on your appliances.
After purchasing your generator, some important accessories go with your generator that you need t install as well. Some of them are so important that without them the generator may not work as well as it should. Others are less vital but still it easier for you to use a generator.
How to Choose the Correct Size of Generator
Here are some of the most useful generator accessories to get. Transfer Switch: A transfer switch helps to switch the load from the main power supply to the generator and vice-versa. A transfer switch is typically installed on the electrical panel of your home.
What to Consider for a Home Backup System
When an outage occurs, the switch helps to transfer the load to the generator. Similarly, when the main power is restored, the load is transferred back to the mains.
There are two types of transfer switches. They can be manual or automatic. Manual transfer switch: As the name implies, a manual transfer switch requires you to manually flip the switch when the mains line fails to transfer the load to the generator and switch it back when mains power is restored.
Automatic transfer Switch: This type of switch automatically flips the load to the generator or mains power supply when needed. It has been programmed to carry a specific load based on your power need and the size of your generator. Extension cords: Extension cords are required for the delivery of electricity to your house from the generator.
Typically, you need heavy-duty power chords to power the appliances that will be connected to your generator.
Some of the factors to consider when buying extension cords include their power rating which should be the same as the amp specification of your generator. The length of the cord is an important consideration as well. Muffler: Generally, generators don’t have a reputation for being quiet. Even the best of them still make a lot of noise (except inverter generators and other types that are less loud).
If noise reduction is a priority for you then you should install mufflers.
A quiet muffler can be installed on your generator to reduce the noise output. Automatic voltage regulator: You need an AVR if you intend to use your generator to power appliances that are susceptible to fluctuating power supply.
What to Consider for a Portable Generator for Traveling
An Automatic Voltage Regulator will help keep the voltage of the generator stable so that such sensitive appliances are not affected by fluctuation and power surges. A Remote control: If you want the extra convenience of being able to start your generator without having to walk to its location physically, then buying a remote start makes perfect sense.
A remote control makes it possible to start your generator with the push of a button. They are of two types: wireless remote control or wired controls connected to the generator with a cable. Fuel stabilizer: A fuel stabilizer helps to keep the fuel fresh. It also prevents the build-up of gum in your generator.
This is particularly important if you intend to keep your generator in storage for a long time with fuel in it. Protective Weather Cover Kit: A weather kit is particularly important if you live in an area where the weather gets really cold.
Safety Features You Should Consider
Essentially the kit includes a battery warmer which helps to heat up the battery when the temperature is low and an oil heater that keeps the oil from freezing up in the cold.
- Wheel Kit: If you own a generator that does not have wheels, installing a wheel kit will help increase the mobility of your generator.
- We recommend a non-flat wheel as they are easier to maintain compared to other types of generator wheels.
- The cost of purchasing a whole house generator varies widely depending on the wattage, type of generator, fuel source and additional features of the unit.
Other Things to Consider
Various brands also offer generators at different price ranges. Hence, it is almost impossible to state an exact figure.
They may cost as high as $15,000 depending on what you are looking for. A small portable generator with a wattage of 3250 watts may cost between $300 to $400.
But this might not be sufficient if you have a lot of heavy appliances to power. More sophisticated 10000-watt models may cost as much as $1200. This is just good enough for most homes.
However, if you have a larger house with high power needs, then a 20000 watts model that may cost as much as $5000 or more will be an ideal choice.
Choosing a fuel source. This is an essential step in choosing the best whole house generator for your home. In almost all cases, the fueling source you choose depends on where you live. Choosing a fuel that is abundant and readily available where you live is important.
Similarly, some fuel types will not work great in some climates. For instance, wet stacking will affect diesel generators if you live close to rivers, lakes or any other marshy area. Gasoline and diesel generators also don’t perform very well when the weather is too cold. In such cases, propane or natural gas options will be best.
Whole House Generator Sizing. Choosing the right size of the generator is perhaps the most crucial step of all. This requires detailed and complete knowledge of the load requirements of the electrical appliances you have in your home.
Choose a generator with an output rating that is about 20 to 25% higher than the peak load you are expecting in your home. For instance, if the expected load is 22 kilowatts, then a generator with a power rating of at least 27 kW is recommended.
Additional factors to consider: . Noise level: choose a quiet generator or opt for an inverter generator if noise is a concern. Warranty: manufacturer warranty levels vary from one manufacturer to the other.