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Best Portable Generator Reviews & Buyers Guide 2021

Portable generators are excellent sources of electricity when the main grid power goes down in your home, or when you are outdoor camping, or even moving around in your RV. The best portable generator allows you to power your appliances and charge your devices in all situations. However, without enough information, finding a suitable one can be a challenge. To help in your search, we prepared this comprehensive guide. We keep it up to date according to what’s new on the market.

Our team evaluated a wide range of generators according to stringent criteria and only included the top-rated ones. With our detailed comparison chart and unbiased reviews, you’ll learn everything about portable generators, how they work, and how to pick the most suitable generator for your needs.

Best Portable Generators Comparison Chart

Westinghouse WGen7500

Westinghouse WGen7500

Starting 9000W
Running 7500W

Fuel Type: Gas

Capacity: 6.6 gal

Run Time @ 25% Load:
16 hrs

Noise Level @ 25% Load:
64 dBA

Weight: 200 lbs

Warranty: 3-Year

Honda EU2200i

Honda EU2200i

Starting 2200W
Running 1800W

Fuel Type: Gas

Capacity: 0.95 gal

Run Time @ 25% Load:
8.1 hrs

Noise Level @ 25% Load:
48 dBA

Weight: 47 lbs

Warranty: 3-Year

Champion 76533

Champion 76533

Starting 4750W
Running 3800W

Fuel Type: Gas+Propane

Capacity: 3.4 gal

Run Time @ 25% Load:
13.5 hrs

Noise Level @ 25% Load:
68 dBA

Weight: 119 lbs

Warranty: 3-Year

WEN GN6000

WEN GN6000

Starting 6000W
Running 5000W

Fuel Type: Gas

Capacity: 3.4 gal

Run Time @ 25% Load:
11 hrs

Noise Level @ 25% Load:
68 dBA

Weight: 119 lbs

Warranty: 2-Year

Generac GP8000E

Generac GP8000E

Starting 10000W
Running 8000W

Fuel Type: Gas

Capacity: 7.9 gal

Run Time @ 25% Load:
15 hrs

Noise Level @ 25% Load:
N/A

Weight: 200 lbs

Warranty: 3-Year

Champion 100302

Champion 100302

Starting 4000W
Running 3500W

Fuel Type: Gas

Capacity: 2.9 gal

Run Time @ 25% Load:
17 hrs

Noise Level @ 25% Load:
64 dBA

Weight: 81 lbs

Warranty: 3-Year

Scroll down to see our exclusive comparisons of the top 10 best generators.

Best Portable Generators – Top 10

1. Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator

Westinghouse WGen7500 the best generator with remote electric start

The Westinghouse WGen7500 is the best portable generator and among the most powerful on our list. At a starting output of 9500 watts and a running output of 7500 watts, it proves more than capable of covering your power needs to get you through a storm.

The generator has a 420cc four-stroke OHV engine, designed with reliability and functionality in mind. It’s equipped with some user-friendly features. It includes a built-in fuel gauge to quickly check the gas level, low oil automatic shutoff, automatic voltage regulator, and overload protected outlets.

The control panel has two 120V household duplex outlets and one 120/240V twist-lock outlet that is transfer switch ready. It’s an excellent choice for running multiple heavy-duty appliances at the same time. Additionally, it is EPA, CSA, and CARB compliant. It comes with a three-year warranty and support from one of the best generator brands around with nationwide customer service.

Read the full review of Westinghouse WGen7500

Pros:

  • A heavy-duty engine with a cast iron steel frame provides additional protection for the whole unit.
  • Fuel-efficient with extended run time. The fuel tank holds 6.6 gallons and will run for 11 hours at half load.
  • A data center display to monitor the voltage, frequency, and running hours.
  • Various connection options, including 120 and 240 volts outlet.
  • Starting and running is easy with a wireless remote start. There is also a push-button electric start and a manual recoil.

Cons:

  • It’s heavy, weighs almost 200 pounds. As such, it’s not easy to store and transport.
  • The noise level is 72 decibels. However, due to the generator’s high wattage rating, there is nothing out of the ordinary.

2. Honda EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator

Honda EU2200i the best portable generator with fuel shutoff

Famous for its reliability and exceptional performance is the Honda EU2200i to continue the massive success of the EU2000i. It’s designed to handle your portable power needs comfortably while maintaining quality industry standards.

It produces 2200 starting watts and 1800 running watts. Equipped with advanced inverter technology, suitable for powering sensitive electronic devices that require a clean power source. It’s also parallel capable. Simply connect it with a second unit to double the power output to accommodate larger loads.

This gas generator has a capacity of just under one gallon and will run for 8 hours at quarter load and 3 hours at full capacity. It’s CARB compliant with low emissions, meaning it’s approved for sale in all 50 states. It’s perfect for a variety of professional and recreational activities. Moreover, it’s backed by a 3-year warranty that covers the generator from top to bottom.

Read the full review of Honda EU2200i

Pros:

  • A reliable engine that delivers power and usability. The Eco-Throttle switch allows the motor to run at optimum speeds to match the electrical load to save fuel and reduce noise.
  • Part of the super quiet generator series. It produces only 48 decibels at quarter load and 57 decibels at full load.
  • Co-Minder safety feature that shuts the generator off if high levels of carbon monoxide are detected.
  • It has a fuel shutoff feature, which allows the generator to run dry before storage.
  • It’s super lightweight, at only 46.5 pounds.

Cons:

  • The generator has to be absolutely level to avoid spilling when changing the engine oil.
  • The control panel has three light indicators. Given the already high cost of this inverter generator, it should have a digital display and a fuel gauge.

3. Champion Power Equipment 76533 Dual Fuel Portable Generator

Champion 76533 portable generator with dual fuel feature

Champion Power Equipment 76533 is a best-in-its-class generator. It’s a dual-fuel generator, runs on both gasoline and propane for uninterrupted power. It will make sure that you never run out of power, even if one fuel type becomes temporarily unavailable.

The dual-fuel generator supplies 4750 starting watts and 3800 continuous watts and runs for 9 hours at half load on the 3.4-gallon gas tank.

Once empty, there’s a safety fuel selector switch for switching back and forth between different fuel types. Propane provides 4275 starting watts and 3420 continuous watts and runs for 10.5 hours on a 20-lb tank.

It has a handle that you can fold away when not in use and never go flat wheels that allow for easy transportation. Moreover, there is a cast iron sleeve on the engine for added durability. The generator is also travel and RV ready, with a host of suitable receptacles.

Pros:

  • Dual-fuel capability. Gas burns quicker but provides more energy, while propane burns cleaner with less energy output.
  • It works with an electric start and has cold start technology to improve its ability to power up when the temperature drops.
  • An IntelliGauge LED screen, showing hours, hertz, and volts in use.
  • VoltGuard for monitoring the voltage output. It protects your connected appliances from power surges with a 20-second power delay. It also cuts off the power a few seconds before the engine stops.

Cons:

  • The oil cap location is a bit tricky. After filling the oil, the cap is difficult to screw back on because of its position.
  • It runs a little louder than expected but reasonable for the size and power. It measures 68 dBA, and while on LPG, it is 74 dBA.

4. WEN GN6000 Gas Portable Generator

WEN GN6000 gas generator

WEN is the absolute winner when it comes to powerful yet affordable generators. The WEN GN6000 boasts numerous standard features delivered at a reasonable price. It runs on a potent 272cc four-stroke engine capable of putting out 6000 peak watts and 4000 running watts.

With a fuel tank capacity of 3.4 gallons, it will provide up to 7.5 hours of sustained power at fifty percent load. That is more than enough to cover your electrical necessities during a blackout, such as a refrigerator, freezer, and sump pump.

It’s easy to use with a myriad of devices; able to run your tools and appliances. It weighs 120 lbs. But the sturdy handles and wheels allow for easy movement.

Safety features include low-oil shutdown, automatic voltage regulator, and overload protection, which adds up to the engine’s longevity. This portable generator also has multiple outlets for home use during a power outage and for the RV.

Pros:

  • Armed with a steel frame enclosure and an internal cooling air system to keep the engine from getting warm, maximizing engine longevity and durability.
  • Digital readout to help monitor maintenance intervals and schedule oil changes.
  • A straightforward voltage selector to switch between 120V and 240V.
  • A large fuel tank with a considerably long runtime makes it suitable for power outages and emergency backup.

Cons:

  • The noise level is 68 dBA at quarter load. It sounds like a vacuum cleaner when placed nearby.
  • The oil change intervals are every 25 hours. For the average user, this is not a problem. But for frequent use, it is somewhat limiting.

5. Generac 7676 GP8000E Portable Generator

Generac GP8000E portable generator for home emergency power

The Generac GP8000E is a large portable generator that runs high-power appliances and is ready for rugged working conditions. It delivers a surge wattage of 10000W and a running wattage of 8000W, able to power your TV, freezer, heater, and window air conditioner.

The 420cc OHV engine uses splash lubrication to aid in the entire generator’s prolonged life. There’s also a steel tube cradle, and the fuel tank is likewise made of steel for added durability.

For functionality, it features an electric start. In addition, it has a foldable handle and heavy-duty wheels, which is an essential feature for a portable electric generator that weighs 200 pounds.

Generac places a significant emphasis on the environment. It is one of the most efficient generator options due to the CO-sense technology available on some units. It monitors and shuts the generator down in case of high carbon monoxide presence.

You may also be interested in checking the Generac GP5500 review

Pros:

  • PowerRush technology supplies more starting capacity, making it ideal for electric motors in a remote job site and emergency backup use.
  • A 7.9-gallon fuel tank boasts the capacity to power your devices for over 10 hours at 50% load and 15 hours at 25% load.
  • An hour-meter that keeps track of maintenance intervals and provides information on the overall upkeep schedule.
  • Various power outlets and multi voltages accommodate 120V and 240V.

Cons:

  • If you buy the portable generator with the CO-sensor option, note that it can be troublesome. The sensor is too sensitive and can easily trip off even in outdoor areas with the exhaust pointed toward open space.
  • It is big and heavy. Also, installing and using the handle is somewhat problematic.

6. Champion Power Equipment 100302 Digital Hybrid Generator

Champion generator 100302

With a starting wattage of 4000W and a running wattage of 3500W, the Champion Power Equipment 100302 is one of the best portable generators for the money. It’s a digital hybrid portable inverter generator with an open-frame design that can safely power sensitive electronics. This inverter generator produces clean power with less than 3% total harmonic distortion (THD).

It promises better fuel efficiency and a lower noise level. From 23 feet away, it measures 64 decibels; it’s quiet enough for camping, tailgating, and home backup to get you through a blizzard.

It’s also RV-ready and has enough power output to run a 15,000 BTU air conditioner. Easy to control with an intuitive, quick one-touch panel. It features multiple power outlets for the household and camper, including battery charging cables and a USB adapter. Effortless set-up, and it’ll pretty much start working straight out the box, requiring minimal assembly. There is also a three-year warranty and free lifetime technical support.

Read the full review of Champion 100302

Pros:

  • It has a smart eco-mode that provides better fuel consumption, extended motor life, and quieter performance.
  • It can sustain up to 17 hours of runtime at a quarter load on 2.9 gallons of fuel.
  • Parallel-capable. You can pair it with another identical unit or other Champion 2800W+ inverter generators. The parallel kit grants an extra 50 amp outlet.
  • It has cold start technology for easy starting during cold weather.

Cons:

  • It lacks an hour-meter display to monitor the power usage.
  • Adding fuel might be a challenge. It’s easy to accidentally splash out gasoline unless you go slow and careful.

7. Westinghouse iGen1200 Portable Inverter Generator

Westinghouse iGen1200 portable generator with clean power capability

The Westinghouse iGen1200 is a small portable generator that provides a variety of premium features at a great value. It puts out 1200 starting watts and 1000 running watts. It’s an excellent option for camping, tailgating parties, and small projects around the house.

Ready for business, it employs asymmetrical cooling fans, low tone mufflers, and a double-insulated acoustic enclosure to reduce the operating noise. The electricity this inverter generator produces is a pure sine wave that is safe for sensitive electronics. As a result, it supplies high-quality electricity for sensitive electronics such as computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

As for the plug selection, it has two USB ports and a 120V standard duplex outlet. In addition, it has an easy-to-use control panel with warning lights.

There is also an eco-mode switch to adjust the power needed for the task at hand. It is overload protected and equipped with a low-oil shutdown sensor that protects the engine if the inverter generator runs low on oil.

Pros:

  • Features enhanced fuel efficiency, with a tank capacity of less than one gallon of gas, it runs up to 9 hours at 25% load.
  • It’s relatively quiet. Only 52 decibels when running at a 25% load.
  • Ultra-portable with a weight of only 33 pounds and has a built-in carrying handle for easy transportation.
  • Parallel capable, meaning that you can plug it and connect it through a parallel cord to numerous Westinghouse iGen series inverter generators to increase the power output.

Cons:

  • Not suitable for heavy-duty power equipment.
  • It lacks an electric start option, fuel gauge, as well as a digital hour meter.

8. Briggs & Stratton P2400 PowerSmart Series Generator

Briggs & Stratton P2400 portable generator with carbon monoxide detection

Briggs & Stratton P2400 is the newest in our best portable generators’ top selection. It produces a steady output of 1800 watts, with a surge output of 2400 watts. It’s user-friendly with a convenient control panel for easy operation and has multiple outlets, including USB ports.

This portable inverter generator provides sine wave power, suitable for powering various essential electronics with low THD levels. It’s also very power-efficient. It runs for 8 hours at 25% load with a fuel tank of just one gallon of gas. It features an auto-idle control system to adjust the engine speed according to the power being used. Thus, better fuel management, extended runtime, and quiet power generation.

For portability, it has a built-in H-handle that makes it easy even for one person to carry. It makes an ideal generator for camping, RV, and tailgating weekends, lightweight yet powerful enough to run multiple appliances simultaneously.

You may also be interested in checking the Briggs & Stratton P2200 review

Pros:

  • With the economy mode, this portable inverter generator is fuel-efficient and quiet. The operating volume is only 58 dBA.
  • It comes with a dedicated parallel port that lets you connect two units together for more power output.
  • It’s also compact and highly portable, weighs only 50 pounds.
  • CO guard technology safety feature shuts the generator down when high carbon monoxide levels are detected.

Cons:

  • While lacking an electric start, running it may require more than just three pulls.
  • The fuel gauge is also missing, making it difficult to guess how much fuel remains inside the tank.

9. DuroStar DS4000S Portable Generator

DuroStar DS4000S for construction sites

The Durostar DS4000S is a budget-friendly powerhouse. Sporting 4000 starting watts and 3300 running watts. This size is ideal for various uses, from running your power tools to getting you through a power outage.

The heavy-duty steel frame protects the engine and fuel tank while also eliminating rattle during operation. It weighs 95 pounds and doesn’t have wheels. However, there is an optional wheel kit that you can purchase separately.

The 4-gallon fuel tank capacity provides a run time of 8 hours at half load. It also has a fuel gauge that is easy to read. It’s equipped with a full power panel. It has an easy-to-use recoil start, complete with warning light indicators, circuit breaker, voltmeter, and low oil alert system. There is also a good selection of outlets, including two GFCI 20-amp outlets and one twist-lock 30-amp outlet. In addition, it’s EPA and CARB approved. It also has a three-year limited warranty.

Read the full review of DuroStar DS4000S

Pros:

  • It has an all-metal construction and heavy-duty steel frame to protect the seven-horsepower engine.
  • It has an analog voltmeter for measuring voltage output.
  • The visible fuel gauge is highly welcome. It allows you to monitor the fuel level.

Cons:

  • The engine requires frequent oil changes. You will need to stop and change the oil every 20 hours.
  • The operating volume is 69 decibels at quarter load, almost similar to the level of highway traffic noise.

10. DuroMax XP4400E Portable Generator

DuroMax XP4400E portable generator with electric start

Powered by a 7-horsepower engine, the DuroMax XP4400E has a starting power of 4400 watts and a continuous power of 3500 watts. This portable generator is a good option for powering your home, RV, and outdoor equipment at a low price point.

At 50% load, it provides up to 8 hours of runtime on a single full tank of 4 gallons. It has a robust steel frame and some useful safety features. It includes a low-oil sensor system and surge arrester.

Although the AC’s quality is not particularly great and has mild performance issues when the load increases past 3000 watts. However, the analog voltmeter helps to keep everything under control.

At 122 pounds, the generator is big and large, but it has wheels and a collapsible handle for easy transportation. It doesn’t cheap out on outlet selection either. It sports multiple outlets, including a twist-lock RV outlet and for tools requiring a high-powered outlet.

Read the full review of DuroMax XP4400E

Pros:

  • It is sturdy with an all-steel design and powerful enough to run most heavy-duty power tools like drills or saws.
  • Able to run at both 120V and 240V options. It has a voltage selector switch that allows you to switch between different power modes.
  • It has an electric start, and there is also the standard pull recoil.

Cons:

  • At 69 decibels, it comes across as a little loud. Nothing alarming for a machine of this wattage range; there are quieter ones available but at an extra cost.
  • It requires you to change the oil every 20 hours. And draining the oil is not a smooth job with this unit.

Best Portable Generator Comparison Chart

Product/FeatureWattageEngine (cc)Fuel GaugeHour MeterEmission Standards
Westinghouse WGen75009000W/7500W420cc OHVAvailableAvailableEPA + CARB + CSA
Honda EU2200i2200W/1800W121cc OHCAvailableN/AEPA + CARB + CSA
Champion 765334750W/3800W224cc OHVN/AAvailableEPA + CARB
WEN GN60006000W/5000W272cc OHVAvailableAvailableEPA + CARB
Generac GP8000E10000W/8000W420cc OHVAvailableAvailableEPA + CARB + CSA
Champion 1003024000W/3500W224cc OHVN/AN/AEPA + CARB
Westinghouse iGen12001200W/1000W54cc OHVN/AN/AEPA + CARB + CSA
Briggs & Stratton P24002400W/1800W79cc OHVN/AN/AEPA + CARB
DuroStar DS4000S4000W/3300W208cc OHVAvailableAvailableEPA + CARB
DuroMax XP4400E4400W/3500W212cc OHVAvailableAvailableEPA + CARB

Vital Guide to Find the Best Portable Generator in 10 Steps

Most portable generators can serve as an emergency power option in homes, or as a primary source of electricity off-grid, such as on a job site, on a camping trip, or in your RV. The Generators’ history goes a long way. Today, with such a wide range of options when it comes to these portable engines, finding the perfect generator for your specific needs and budget is not an easy task. Below, we have outlined the things that will help you choose a portable generator for your home emergency backup power or off-the-grid power requirements. They include:

  1. Power Requirements

portable generator for home use

How and where you intend to use your portable generator determines the generator’s power rating that you should get. The power requirements in a home are different from the power requirements on a camping day or a construction site. For each of these situations, you will need portable generators of various ratings. The amount of backup power supply you need is influenced primarily by the items you intend to power up.

Appliances are usually rated in their starting and running wattage. Starting watts are the power required to start up an appliance, and power consumption is usually highest at this point. The running watts are the power needed to run the appliance continuously. The starting wattage rating is several times larger than the running wattage, and this may mislead you on the amount of power you require from your portable generator.

As you estimate the amount of power that you will need, factor in all the applications you intend to power up and pick a portable generator rated slightly higher than that figure. The extra allowance caters to additional power needs that may arise in the future.

  1. Quiet Operation

Portable generators that run too loudly can cause hearing damage and act as a nuisance to your neighbors. Therefore, you should buy a portable generator that runs as quietly as possible. To reduce noise you can purchase long cables to set your generator a few meters away. Usually, inverter generators produce less noise during operation.

The acceptable noise level for generators is 60 decibels and less. At this level, you can comfortably hold a conversation and act less as a disturbance to your neighbors at home, on your business premises, or at the campsite. Some examples of noise operation measured in decibels:

  • Whisper talking – 30 dB.
  • Operating refrigerator – 50 dB.
  • Vacuum cleaner – 70 dB.
  • Blender – 80 dB.

Professional portable generators for factories are a little bit louder because of their high power rating. Professionals using these machines are advised to wear the proper protective gear to safeguard their health and well-being. 

  1. Fuel Economy

Efficient fuel consumption is a feature of a good portable generator. Such generators adjust the rate at which they consume fuel with the applied load. With this setting, the engine runs in full-throttle only when the applied load equals the generator’s maximum rating. Such as Honda generators using the Eco-Throttle feature, which ensures that the engine consumes enough fuel in line with the applied load. Efficient fuel consumption helps you to save money on fuel expenditure.

  1. Run-Time of a Fuel Tank

Most portable generators indicate their run time at either quarter (25%) or half (50%) of the load. This represents how long it will run on a full tank of fuel at the set percentage of its total power. If you intend to use the generator for emergencies and power outages, and you cannot estimate how long the main power will be out. Then you should get a portable generator with a large fuel tank that will provide you with enough hours of runtime.

  1. Ease of Use

The best-rated portable generator that you can pick is easy to use and features automatic control options that protect the generator from damage. Low-oil shutdown feature, which turns the engine off when the level of oil gets too low. A fuel gauge to quickly check the remaining run time. An electric start is another feature; you simply push a button to start the engine with electric ignition. The pull cord method of starting portable generators is outdated and tiring. However, a good reliable generator has a pull cord as a backup starting option.

Read our guide to learn more about how to use a generator safely.

  1. Ease of Movement

The weight of a generator is not necessarily tied to how much power it generates, but high power generators are usually a bit heavier. The presence of wheels and handles makes it easy to move these engines around. Professional generators are a bit heavier since they pack up more components and a larger fuel tank to generate all that power that you need for your various power tools and equipment. However, if your appliances don’t require a large power output, going for a compact portable generator will better serve you.

  1. Number of Outlets

A generator with several power outlets allows you to use your generator by spreading its load optimally. However, using all the outlets on your generator is not advisable as it strains the generator, putting its longevity in jeopardy. Therefore, we recommend using all the outlets only in emergency backup power situations or when the appliances you utilize are low wattage.

  1. Emissions

Generators that run on fossil fuels are the biggest culprits when it comes to emissions. This includes diesel and gasoline generators. If you are looking for a ‘green’ generator, then a solar generator or a portable power station may be ideal for you. Also, look for the exhaust certificates that the generator could obtain, such as EPA, CSA, or CARB.

  1. Budget

The price of a portable generator is influenced by:

  • The amount of power it generates.
  • The ease of use features it has.
  • Its noise rating.
  • The brand manufacturer.

Portable generators from established brands such as Honda and Yamaha are somehow pricey, but for a good reason. These manufacturers are experienced in making these engines, and you can be sure that their generators are reliable enough to serve you for a very long time.

  1. Warranty and Customer Service

Generators are expensive machines that could set you back a couple of thousands of dollars if they get damaged. For this reason, you should only buy a generator backed by a long-term warranty from the manufacturer. This way, you can have your generator repaired or replaced in the event of a failure. An extended warranty also shows the manufacturer’s trust in their product. A good warranty is two or three years long. Read the warranty information carefully to know what is covered and what isn’t. And, keep in mind to never accept damaged goods.

Check out our article on the most useful portable generator accessories.

How Much Power Do I Need?

Portable generators are convenient power sources that are used as primary and backup power options in various situations. You can use a portable generator as:

  1. An emergency source of power for your home or business establishment.
  2. For recreational activities as a primary source of energy for tailgating, camping, and RVing.
  3. To power up tools in a job, farm, or food truck.

The amount of power that you need in each of these situations depends on various factors. Such as the equipment, tools, and appliances that you intend to power up with the portable generator.

This article will help you decide on the amount of power required in each of these situations.

  • Home Power Requirements

testing electric power generators

The amount of power you need in your home depends on the electric appliances and systems you have installed. It would be best if you also decided which appliances will be running simultaneously in a power outage. This will help you determine the size of the best portable generator for home use that you should get for your home emergency needs.

If you are using a pump to draw water from a well for home use, and you’d still want to operate it when the main grid power fails, then you will require a powerful generator capable of running the pump and other appliances. For example, a sump pump may need more than 3800W of power for successful operation. Therefore, you will need a generator rated 5000W and above to be able to use the pump and power other appliances in your home.

Other household appliances that require significant amounts of power to operate include:

  • A small furnace needs about 3000W of power.
  • A pressure washing machine rated at 3600W.
  • Electric heaters rated at 4500W and above.
  • An electric clothes dryer rated at 5400W.

Portable emergency generators come in different power ratings, with the most common in the range of 3000 – 5000 watts. With this power capacity, you can simultaneously run several appliances such as the AC, TV, and kitchen appliances. Note that using a transfer switch is essential for a seamless power transfer between your home and the generator.

  • Recreational Power Requirements

Thanks to portable generators, campers and RVers alike enjoy similar power benefits to those connected to the grid, such as using their mobile devices to remain in touch with friends and family. In addition, they can use various kitchen appliances to prepare meals and cool down the place with an air conditioner.

  1. Camping Power Requirements

Items most campers take with them to camp include a digital camera, coffee pot, and a set of lights. They will also need to power small devices such as phones or laptops. For a small camping trip, you will probably need to power the lights and charge your phone and laptop. In this case, a small generator rated 1000W or less will do. Heavy campers with a lot of equipment that require a heavier power supply would need a generator with a higher power rating in the region of 1000W – 2000W.

Here is how much power some of these items consume in operation:

  • Coffee maker – 600W.
  • A Blender – 300W.
  • Laptop charger – 200W.
  • Light bulbs – 100W.

Therefore, when camping, you will require power in the range of 1000 – 2000 watts.

  1. RV Power Requirements

A portable generator also comes in handy for powering up different appliances in your motor home. The applications you have in your RV consume more power than those you will find with an average camper. This is due to the presence of heavy-duty appliances such as an air conditioner, a fridge, and other kitchen appliances such as a microwave and an electric kettle. The AC, which ranks as the highest power-consuming appliance in most RVs, can run on 2000W of power but requires about 3000W to start up. To power up all these appliances, you will need a portable generator rated at 3500 watts and above.

If you have a larger AC, the best option would be to connect two smaller portable generators than using one large generator. This is because it’s easier to move two small ones than moving a large one.

  • Job Site Power Requirements

Construction and other power tools require a lot of power to be able to function properly. For example, a typical 10-inch saw requires 4500W starting power and eventually stabilizes at 1800W running power. However, the running power increases as you increase the load (cutting through thick timber). Therefore, you need a powerful generator to keep the saw running as well as other power tools such as drills and grinders.

To effectively meet the power requirements at a job site, you will need a generator rated at 7500 watts and above.

How to Determine the Power Requirements of a Specific Appliance?

Typical locations where you can find the power rating of an appliance include:

  • The product stamp at the bottom of the appliance.
  • Its name tag.
  • The data tag found on motors.

Most appliances indicate their power requirements in amps. Determining the appliance’s power requirement in watts can be challenging if you are not familiar with how to perform the conversions. Here is how to convert the power ratings from amps to watts:

  • Watts = Volts x Amps

Most appliances run on 120 volts. However, some run on 240 volts, and those that can run on either of these voltages. This simple multiplication will help you figure out the power rating in watts of an appliance.

Still, have some questions? Read some of the frequently asked questions here.

Types of Generators and their Properties

There are different portable generators to choose from for your power needs. Each of the different types is unique in its mode of operation, built, and the fuel it requires for operation. Understanding portable generators and how they function will help you in your quest to find the best portable generators on the market for your specific power needs. Here are some of the pros and cons of the most popular portable generator categories;

gas portable generators
  • Gas-Powered Generators

Gas-powered portable generators are the most common type of portable generators around. They run on gasoline, which is relatively cheaper than other types of fuel. Gasoline is readily available as well; this makes owning a gas-powered portable generator very convenient. They are safe to use, and they come in smaller sizes, and models making them very portable.

Gas generators are, however, not environmentally friendly as they usually produce high emissions during operation. In addition, gasoline has a shorter lifespan of less than a year and, therefore, storage becomes a challenge. Moreover, gas-powered generators are not ideal for colder environments as they do not start well in such weather.

You can learn more about carbon monoxide poisoning and how to avoid it here.

diesel portable generators
  • Diesel-Powered Generators

Of all the fuels that can be used on a generator, diesel is the least flammable. Diesel is just as available as gasoline, and this makes for added convenience. These electric generators are among the most fuel-efficient generators around. They are powerful machines that last longer under rigorous use, provided they are properly maintained. They generate a lot of power, and if you have some heavy-duty tools to power up, then you are better off with a diesel generator. Diesel has a shelf life of about 24 months, much more than that of gasoline.

They are easy to maintain, but they are slightly more expensive than gas-powered generators when it comes to pricing. In addition, the emissions of such engines are also prohibitively high, and it is advisable to limit the amount of time you run these generators in a day for environmental protection.

propane portable generators
  • Propane-Powered Generators

Propane generators are clean-running engines that run a bit quieter than other types of generators. They are fuel-efficient machines that ensure economy in fuel consumption. Liquid propane is readily available, and it boasts a better shelf life than diesel or gasoline fuels. They are more affordable when compared to diesel and gas generators. They are durable machines as well that can serve you for a long time.

Propane generators are ideal for small appliances or as a backup power option in a power outage. They are not ideal for large power operations as the logistics required to install and store them are quite prohibitive. Liquid propane is highly flammable and potentially explosive since it is usually kept under high pressure. The fuel systems of these generators are very complex and, therefore, they are subject to frequent failures. Dual fuel generators are also available, where the engine can burn more than one fuel type.

battery-powered generators
  • Solar-Powered Generators

Solar generators trap the sun’s energy using solar panels, convert it into electrical energy, and store it in a battery bank for later use. They produce clean, free energy, and the fact that solar power is a renewable resource means that you will hardly run out of ‘juice’ for your generator. Solar generators have no moving parts, and this makes maintaining them very easy. They can be used outdoor as well as indoor areas since they have no fumes or emissions.

When comparing solar to other fuel types, the total power produced by solar battery-powered generators is relatively low compared to other generators. Therefore, they are not ideal for powering up heavy-duty or large appliances; unless you have a big enough solar set-up.

  • Inverter Generators

Conventional generators are usually characterized by power surges that are particularly harmful to sensitive electronics. On the other hand, portable generators with built-in inverters convert the direct current into a smooth sine wave power. As a result, portable inverter generators produce more stable and clean AC power. Compared to a standard generator, an inverter generator will have lower total harmonic distortion levels. This makes a portable inverter generator safe to use with delicate appliances and electronics.

Read our in-depth article about conventional vs. inverter type generators.

Portable Generators are Essential

The best portable generators produce a steady supply of electricity to power your basic needs at home, specific appliances, or tools. It comes in handy in various situations such as:

fuel efficiency features
  • Backup Power for Households

When the main power goes off, a lot can go wrong. Your house may heat up beyond habitable levels, fresh supplies in your freezer may go bad, and you are left disconnected from the world when your smartphone goes off as a result of no charge. With a whole house generator, you will be able to power up your entire house and your critical appliances using natural gas as the primary fuel source. A whole-house standby generator will allow you to use the AC, refrigerator, lights, and charge your mobile devices. Suppose you intend to use a portable generator as permanent home backup power for an entire house. In that case, we advise having a transfer switch installed by the electrical panel for an effective changeover in the event of a power outage and upon resumption of the main supply.

Check our dedicated article that explains the key differences between portable vs. standby units.

  • Backup Power for Businesses

Businesses that might be harmed when there is no power for a couple of hours would greatly benefit from having a portable generator for their businesses. Such companies include those that offer internet-based services to their clients. Or those that require their workforce to file their task reports online, such as insurance firms and banks. In addition, small businesses such as restaurants, markets, farms, and butcher shops that rely on a refrigerator to keep their stock fresh would benefit from a portable generator to power up the freezer when there is a power outage. In addition, to food trucks or mobile shops that would require a portable outdoor power source.

  • Power Supply in Severe Weather Conditions

Those who live in severe climates can benefit significantly from such powerful portable generators. Power failures in extremely cold areas can be fatal. But with a portable generator, you will be able to power your space heater or keep the electric furnace running. If you live in the coastal areas where tornadoes and hurricanes are a common occurrence. Power outages resulting from damaged power lines can put you in the dark for a very long time. Owning an outdoor generator allows you to power up your home and live as comfortably as you would with the mains supply.

Learn more about power outage preparedness here.

  • Power for Recreational Activities

A portable generator provides power as you camp or in your motor home. You are, therefore, able to enjoy the convenience of your home at your campsite or in your RV. You will be able to make coffee, cool the place down with an AC, and charge your electronic gadgets.

  • Power Supply at the Construction Site

Builders at a construction site often require electricity to power up construction tools and equipment, such as drills and power saws. These tools make work at the construction site easier, and the builders can cover a lot in a short period of time. A portable generator allows the professionals to power their tools as well as light up the place, and this way, they can work through the night. However, remember that just like some electric power tools, sometimes grounding a generator is required.

Bottom Line

Overall, portable generators are helpful in different circumstances to ensure adequate power supply in your home, outdoor activities, or business premises. With our comprehensive guide and analysis, finding the right portable generator for home use, RV, camping, or even the job site should be an easy task. Our portable generator reviews feature only the top-selling and highly rated ones from the best brands. We’ve analyzed the features and benefits of each of these units. We have explained in detail what you should look for when choosing the best portable generators. By now, you should be well equipped with all the information that you require to pick the best generator that is perfect for your specific needs.