We’ll say it outright- power outages suck. That is especially true if you live in a place that experiences frequent power outages. Most of the appliances we base our daily activities on are powered by electricity, and a lot can go wrong if they don’t get powered for some time. However, all modern problems have modern solutions, and the best way to get back up power is with a generator. For most people, portable generators are the best because they are easy to lug around. If you’re looking for one, your best bet is to go for the best portable generator possible, so here is a list of the top seven (7) portable generator reviews on the market right now.
Best Portable Generator Comparsion Table
7 Best Portable Generator Reviews To Buy In 2020
There are a ton of reviews about portable generators out there, but very few give accurate information about what to look out for when procuring one of these backup machines. Read on to find out manufacturers’ secrets and top things to note when getting a portable generator. But first, let’s dig into our top picks.
1. Best Portable: Briggs & Stratton P2200 Inverter Generator
The Briggs & Stratton P2200 made this list because it does two basic things well- it is super portable so that makes it handy camping equipment, tailgating tool, and DIY buddy. It is capable of running for up to 8 hours on a full one-gallon tank, provided it’s not powering any equipment that requires more than 2200 watts. To conserve fuel and prolong runtime, it features an overload alert system that changes the engine speed automatically, which in turn helps it run as quietly as possible.
The Briggs and Stratton P2200 is designed like a hefty fuel can, so it is lightweight enough to be carried by one person. If you want to share the load, the H-handle design makes it easy for two people to grab one handle each and you’ll be good to go. These features are bare minimum but we respect that the Briggs and Stratton do what it says on the pack. In this age of aggressive marketing, it is not uncommon to find products that do nothing close to what they claim to be capable of doing on the pack.
Now, to the perks.
The Briggs and Stratton features two (2) 120V-20A household and one (1) 12V-20A DC outlet, plus USB a port that allows you to charge mobile devices easily, so you don’t have to worry about packing adapters or extension boxes. The machine produces less than 3 percent harmonic distortion, which is relatively low compared to other generators, so it is safe for use with TVs or game consoles.
Also, with the 59-decibel performance volume, this generator operates quietly than most. It also features a parallel connector port so you can share power with another 120V outlet, so you can say yes if Brad from the other tent asks you to share some power. However, this generator does not have a push-to-start button. Instead, it features a recoil cable that you may have to pull twice before you get a response but hey, that’s good exercise, no? It is comforting to know that Briggs and Stratton added a 2-year warranty, but we have to say that it is one year lesser than what most of the other brands offer.
2. Duromax XP4400E Gas Powered Portable Generator
The DuroMax XP44400E is not the most portable generator of all, but its output matches up to its size so we’ll let that slide. Besides, it is designed with two collapsible handles and heavy-duty dual 180-degree tires so that moving the generator is not too difficult. With a powerful 7HP engine, this generator is capable of powering heavy home appliances without flinching. Got a refrigerator? An air conditioner? A water heater? This bad boy can power all so you don’t have to be without the appliances that give you comfort. Its 4400 starting wattage ensures that, but keep in mind that it levels to a steady 3500 watts when it’s on continuous run. Like the Briggs and Stratton that we reviewed earlier, this generator can power 2 120V outlets, and a voltage regulator that lets you select between a one-way 240V mode and a 120V split-mode.
You can operate this generator on a single full tank of four gallons for up to 8 hours, provided that it’s only powering 50 percent load. It has a sturdy steel frame built around the engine, so that eliminates the rattling noise that most generators with this design emit.
However, it is still not the quietest machine of all, with a noise output of about 69 dB even when it is powering only a quarter if its load capacity. To facilitate ease of use for everyone, the Duro Max XP44400E comes with both a regular recoil start and a simple electric key start alternative. It also has secured overload outlets to recharge your batteries and electronics safely, and that comes in handy when you’re using the generator in the great outdoors. A surge arrest feature protects your generator unit from damage by power surges.
DuroMax added a 3-year warranty that they deliver on, so that’s a safety net, seeing as you’d be spending about $650 and a lack of insurance would be disheartening.
3. Best Quiet: WEN 56380i Portable-Inverter Generator
Looking for a quiet, portable generator for your camping or RV trips? You may have just found one. The WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator is one of the quietest inverter generators on the market. It is listed as one of the top picks for best RV generators, and we’re talking about real-life customer reviews. To boot, the price of the WEN 56380i is a lot lesser than competitor models like the Honda EU3000is, and that’s a real bonus. Let’s talk about the specs of this machine so you can understand why it’s getting so much praise.
Let’s start with wattage since generators are only as good as the output they can offer. The WEN 56380i offers a reasonable 3800W on surge and 3400W on continuous operation. Running on half-load at the stated output, this generator can last for 8.5 hours, if you’re running on a full fuel tank. A full tank would hold 2.2 gallons of fuel, which is not a bad capacity for a generator of the WEN 56380i’s size. This saves you the hassle of refilling as frequently as is usual with small generators. The WEN 56380i’s engine is 212 CCs, and as the company puts it, “water-cooled by 4-stroke air-cooled OHV”, so it is protected from any combustions that overheating may cause.
On noise output, this generator is a winner. Its selling point is the fact that it is super quiet because it operates on inverter technology. When running a quarter load the noise is only at 57 dBA, much lower than the average generator of this scale. This means it’s easy to ignore, allowing you to have a conversation with someone else or sleep peacefully in your room, as long as you’re at least 22 feet away from the machine. This quiet attribute also makes it great for small parties or picnics, since no noise can interfere with chatter or music.
Why choose this product?
The generator is fitted with a variety of outlets, which could be a source of concern seeing as the output may be too high for some devices. However, the WEN 56380i has a low harmonic disruption rate; as low as 0.3 percent when the generator is not powering any load at all, and 1.2 percent at full load. This means that small appliances or devices are safe to plug directly into this generator.
To boot, the machine is smart and auto-shuts off when it knows that it is too low on fuel. This prevents the build-up of grease in the carburetor, something that causes a lot of problems in most generators. With the WEN 56380i’s smart shut-off feature, you could save a lot of bucks that you would otherwise have to spend on maintenance and repairs. Plus, with the two-year warranty that the manufacturers added, this is a favorite pick, and it’s not hard to see why.
4. Champion 100554 Wireless Remote Start Portable Generator
Everyone loves products that deliver value for money spent on them, and the Champion 3500w RV Ready Generator is one of those products. Costing about $500, which is a significantly lesser price than most of the other products in this review, this generator manages to pack as much as 4375 starting watts and 3500 running watts. That’s enough power to start and operate a 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner, but that’s not all there is to it. The Champion’s many outlets ensure that your basic appliances stay powered when you have an outage. With a 120V 30A (TT-30R) RV outlet, a 120V 30A locking outlet (L5-30R) as well as two 120V 20A household outlets (5-20R), this generator will ensure that you never run out of juice. For your safety, all these outlets have locks so you can keep them away from prying hands (which is good news for people that have kids). To keep your devices safe and protected from damage by voltage surges, the Champion generator features a built-in surge protector called Volt Guard™.
Will this be a good option?
The Champion generator is not the smallest we’ve seen, so you may be worried about convenience and ease of use. They got that covered too. The unit comes with a wireless remote fob so you can start your generator from as far as 80 feet away. Just push the start button and your engine will be ready to rev. To boot, it is designed with a fold-away handle and wheels that make moving your unit a breeze. Another favorite addition is the Cold Start System that guarantees a quick start even in frosty weather.
With its 4.7-gallon tank, you don’t have to worry about frequent refills, so you can stay powered up for longer. If the generator is only carrying a 50% load, it can run for as long as 12 hours. What makes it better is that the generator is relatively quiet, with its loudest noise level being about 68dB. While that’s not particularly quiet, it is bearable, and you’ll mostly get a hum similar to that of a vacuum cleaner. The unit auto-shuts off when it runs low on fuel, and that’s good because it prevents oil buildup that could damage some parts. Champion added a 3-year warranty and a lifetime tech support for this product, so you’d be doing yourself a lot of good if you choose this product.
5. Honda EU2200i Inverter Generator
A lot of reviews swear that the Honda EU2200i is the best portable generator there is. We do not agree, because of some of the other products in this review rank well on all aspects too, but we have to say that in terms of being both portable and functional, the Honda EU2200i does pretty great.
First off, it is an upgrade on the popular EU2000i model, but it delivers 200W more than the outgoing model, but for the same price. That’s a sure eye-catcher because it means you get a lot more value for your money. This generator is a lot more expensive than the rest, and while it packs a lot of great perks, its price tag is twice that of most of the other generators on this list.
The first important spec of this generator is not spectacular. Its 2200-wattage is the same power output that most inverter generators offer. Where it starts to get interesting is, well, everything else. The generator is designed with an insulated outer casing that keeps the noise down by preventing the rattling of the components. The voltage output is steady, thanks to its inverter technology, so you don’t have to worry about spikes or surges that may damage the unit or the appliances that it powers.
As for its size, as far as portable generators go, the Honda EU2200i is a dream. It weighs only 40lbs, the same weight of a duffle bag you’d pack if you were going on a short trip. It’s 0.95 the gallon fuel tank may seem like it’s too small, but with the patented Honda EcoThrottle feature, the generator maximizes every drop of fuel you use. The EcoThrottle regulates the engine so it only runs as fast as is needed. That way, a lot of fuel is conserved and the .95 gallon can keep you powered for up to eight hours. Now, that’s some really impressive stuff.
What else to expect?
To boot, the Honda EU2200i also features an auto-shutoff feature when the fuel runs low, so that preserves its lifespan by eliminating performance issues that stem from the buildup of stale oil. Another user-friendly feature is the included large spout and oil drain gutter, which both help to make oil changes less messy.
The generator sports an easy-to-start recoil plug and a panel that’s easy to access as all the necessary ports are packed together and labeled accordingly. However, we don’t understand Honda’s oversight in leaving out the fuel gauge on the panel. This generator does not have a fuel gauge meter, so it’s hard to know how much fuel is left in the unit.
What we liked most about the Honda EU2200i is that you can increase its output by connecting it with a compatible Honda model to produce as much as 3200W. That’s useful for people that would rather buy the Honda but need it for heavy-duty work.
Overall, we think the Honda is a good buy. It’s too steeply-priced, but Honda has a name and a brand reputation that they’re known to keep, so if you can afford it, we don’t think you’ll have any regrets.
6. WEN 56500 Portable Generator
If you’re working with a budget, this portable generator may be the perfect pick for you. It does commendably well in terms of capacity and performance yet it does not cost an arm and a leg. With a large tank capacity of about 3.5 gallons, your basic appliances can stay powered for up to 7.5 hours, provided that the total power consumed is not more than 2250W, which is half load.
This bad boy machine can generate up to 5000 starting watts and 4500 on a steady run, and that’s enough power to use electric stoves, pumps, air conditioners, and some other heavy appliances. With two household outlets, one 120V RV and one 30A prong plug, it’s easy to use with a variety of devices; you can power your tools and even mobile devices.
Weighing 121 pounds, the WEN 56500 is not the most compact unit of all, but the accompanying collapsible handles and wheels help with making its movement easier. Also, we have to give it extra points for being relatively quiet. Its steel frame keeps its components together, so they don’t rattle and produce any jangling noise. User reviews reveal that it’s not conversation-quiet, but it’s not loud enough to be a bother.
Can I choose this generator?
For convenience, the WEN 56500 sports a lot of user-friendly features. Like most of the other products we’ve reviewed, it features an auto-shutoff so its longevity is maximized. Also, a digital display panel shows current stats that let you know the levels of oil or fuel and when they need to be changed.
Also, there is an automatic voltage regulator that ensures that the unit is not dispensing more power than your appliances need, thereby conserving fuel. On the flip side, there’s also an inbuilt overload protection system that ensures that the system does not take on more than it can handle. When the load gets more than the generator’s capacity, it would auto-shutoff.
We like that the WEN 56500 delivers a lot of value for a fair price, so we can’t complain that it only comes with a two-year warranty and not three. For a budget pick, it packs a lot of perks, so we’ll say this is a great buy if you decide that it’s what works for you.
7. Generac 5939 Gas Powered Generator
The Generac 5939 is another budget pick that has great performance. It is a great alternative to a stationary home backup generator since its 5500 watts of running power and nearly 6900 watts of starting power are enough to operate most household appliances. Plus, it’s not the most lightweight there is, so the less movement needed, the better. However, fold-down handles and rugged rubber wheels help, so if you really have to move the unit around, it shouldn’t be that difficult.
This generator is very similar to the WEN 56500 in specs, starting with fuel tank size. Its 7.2-gallon fuel tank can provide up to 10 hours of run time on 50% load, and a lot more on quarter load. To boot, it comes with a petrol-powered 389cc OHV engine and a heavy-duty steel frame. Generac is a trusted brand so the engine quality is top-notch and it lives up to its rating.
What’s in the making?
As for power, the Generac 5939 does not do badly. It does not feature as many outlets as the more expensive models do, but it has everything the average person needs. You get four common household outlets (120 volts, 20 amp) and a single industrial locking outlet (120 volts, 30 amp) for appliances and all the outlets are covered for safety purposes. Plus, a circuit breaker prevents any damage due to electrical surges.
In addition to those outlets, the panel sports an hour meter that lets you know when your unit is due for a check-up, and a fuel gauge so you know how much juice you have left. Just the basics, really. The generator also auto-shuts off when fuel is low, but with all the generators on this review having the same feature, that’s not spectacular.
In the noise department, the Generac 5939 does not do too well. At about 71dB, it’s pretty loud. If you keep it far enough from your space, it wouldn’t be too much of a bother, but then it would not be the best generator to take on a camping trip because the first rule is to keep everything close.
Generac threw in a 2-year warranty for this product, but a lot of customers attest that it’s really just one, and Generac does not have the best of records with customer service and warranty follow-up so don’t count on it.
If you’re looking for a reliable, sturdy generator that doesn’t cost too much, then yes, this is a good pick.
How To Find the Best Home Portable Generators
Finding the best portable generator is subjective. The best one for you is whatever suits your needs, but generally speaking, here are a few target points to look out for when shopping for a portable generator.
First, you want to consider its power output capacity, and judge its relevance by the appliances that you need it to power. If you’re going camping, for example, you can make do with a generator with 2000 watts, but that would probably not be the case if you need it to power an RV.
Next, you want to check its fuel efficiency. Inverter generators do well in that aspect. Generators that have automatic voltage regulation also tend to consume less fuel, else you’ll be spending a lot of bucks to keep the power going. This means that generators with large tank sizes are better options since you don’t have to refill as frequently as you would with a small tank generator.
Another important factor is noise levels. We want to stay connected to power and all, but we don’t want to sacrifice our eardrums to do it. So look out for rate noise levels (measured in decibels or dB) on generators. More times than not, the ratings are inaccurate, so the best way to gauge the noise output for a generator is to check if it has automatic regulation. If it does, then you’d have less noise, since the engine will only operate at a speed it deems necessary.
You have to consider those portable generators are meant to be just that portable. Only standby generators should be heavy, and that’s why they are standby. Most generators that may require effort to move around come with convenient fixtures like collapsible handles and wheels, to make transportation easier.
Also, consider the number of outlets that your generator has, especially if you’re going to be using your unit on the go. Some of the models that we reviewed have DC plugs that are safe to plug your mobile devices directly into.
Healthwise, you may want to go for a generator that does not produce emissions that are harmful to your health. Carbon monoxide is a killer and is super dangerous to inhalable air. Look out for eco-generators that are safe for you and the environment. Next up, price. Good generators do not have to cost a cut-throat price, and if you read our review, we’re convinced that you would have found a product that matches your budget and suits your needs.
Finally, get guaranteed products. Warranty is helpful for when you run into a hitch or two- it’s always nice to know that the manufacturers can help with product setup, maintenance or repair issues if you have any.
This section of our best generator portable discussion promises to answer some question raised by the people wanting a generator and how to ensure they get the best one and also, maintenance.
Is A Whole House Generator Worth It?
To answer that question, we have stats. 3.5 million Americans are left without electricity in any given week. Most households suffer up to five power outages per year. Think about all the food in your fridge and all the shows you’ll miss out on and just how much havoc a 5-day power outage can wreak. (It probably won’t be that bad but let’s do worst-case scenarios).
Whole house generators are long-term lifesavers because you don’t need fuel refills and you don’t need to lug them around. They’re standby and will tap gas from your house’s general source, so you can rest easy knowing that power outages have nothing on you. However, if you live in an area with a relatively stable power supply, a portable generator may be all you need for backup when the outages happen once or twice.
Which Brands Make The Best Portable Generators?
This whole review is the answer to that question. The brands we have reviewed have stood out from the pack with performance, durability, and reliability. So if you’re looking for brands that make the best portable generators, consider Honda, even if their prices are cut-throat.
For more affordable brands, look to Briggs and Stratton, Generac, Cat, Westinghouse, and Champion. They all build gas and diesel generators, and they all have impressive ranges of products to choose from. You’ll find something that works for you.
What Is An Inverter Generator And What Is Its Advantage?
Inverter generators are improvements on regular generators. Inverter generators can adjust their engine speeds automatically to meet the needs of the appliances that they are powering. What does this mean? A lot more fuel efficiency, since there’s no wasted energy. Also, inverter generators are generally more portable than their non-inverter counterparts, so if you’re looking for a portable unit, there goes your answer.
To boot, inverter generators have parallel capabilities so you can link two units together and have them both power your space. Plus, the best part, inverter generators are a lot quieter than the regular ones. If you’d rather not have jarring noise accompanying your backup power, an inverter is a way to go.
What Is The Cost Of Running A Portable Generator In A House?
It is difficult to peg an actual number as the cost of running a portable generator because variables like fuel and maintenance depend on duration and frequency of use. The cost of running a generator, using a 24-hr duration a context, ranges anywhere between $300-$6,000.
If you opt for a portable generator, expect to spend more especially if you have appliances that consume more power. Other factors to consider include the launch type, fuel type and monitoring systems such as a fuel gauge or a maintenance alert.
How To Wire A Home Generator?
If you’re looking to wire your generator with the existing wirework of your home, we advise that you employ the services of a professional. If you’re the DIY type and you’d rather do it yourself, then a generator transfer switch is the safe and appropriate way to power your home with a backup generator.
There are three main types of transfer switches: automatic, manual sub-panel switch, and interlock breaker. Each of them has varying degrees of sophistication, benefits, and price. Best to find out the requirements for each and how they fit into your specific needs.
How Many Watts In Generator Do You Need?
That depends on the nature of the appliances you’ll need the generator to power. You can power the most important household appliances with a generator rated between 5000 and 7500 watts. We’re talking stuff like an air conditioner, sump pumps, refrigerator all at once. For an RV, a 3000 to 4000W is good enough. If you’re going camping or tailgating, a 2200 or 2000W will do, but make sure that it’s an inverter generator so that if extra power needs come up, you can link two units parallel and generate more power.
Read Also: The Best Window Air Conditioner by Consumer Reports 2021
Wrapping It Up
This review is designed to point you in the direction of the best portable generators. All of them are available for order on Amazon so you have most of the help that you need. You’re welcome and we hope you’ll able to choose the rightful choice in our top picks in this best portable generator reviews and the comparison table is a way to figure from the competition.
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