12 Best Portable Generators to Keep Things Lit No Matter What

best portable generator

It goes without saying, long-term power outages are a serious problem. The frustration of spending long hours in the darkness can turn life-threatening when temperatures head toward freezing.

The truth is, with the frequency of natural disasters rising, the chances of facing unplanned outages are higher than ever. 

Or, perhaps you’re planning to spend some time in the wilderness away from power grids.

To get your appliances up and running in such situations, you need a reliable power source. Thankfully, there are plenty of top-grade portable generators available on the market that you can choose from.

That said, choosing the best options from a crowded market isn’t an easy task. To help you out, we went through the necessary steps to shortlist the best portable generators.

These are the top options that will support you in an emergency or during an outdoor project.

The Best Portable Generator Choices

Best Overall

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Honda has some of the best technologies for portable inverter generators and the EU2200i is a premium-grade product in this category.

At the heart of the device lies the Honda 121 cc GXR120 engine which combines excellent durability and reliability. It delivers 2200 watts of maximum power and 1800 watts of rated power.

The EU2200i is not for running large power-hungry devices but good enough for smaller devices on a campsite or a bug out location. The inverter technology also makes it ideal for sensitive equipment like laptops and smartphones.

The EU2200i can run for 8.1 hrs. on 0.95 gallons of fuel at 25% capacity. With a weight of 54 pounds, the unit is easy to carry around. Besides, the unit is easy to maintain and a durable generator body ensures enhanced durability.

For safety, Honda has added a carbon monoxide detection system with an automatic shutoff mechanism. It also has a fuel sensor to detect low fuel levels.

With the “Honda reliability factor”, you get a generator that delivers years of service without missing a step. When your power demands are on the lower side, you can’t go wrong with the EU2200i.

Best Power Generator: Editor's Choice

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Over the years, DuroMax has built up a solid reputation in the market. The DS4400E is a workhorse that provides excellent reliability at an affordable price tag.

With a capacity of 4,400 starting watts and 3,500 running watts, it’s good enough for handling small to medium loads in your home.

The DuroStar 210cc OHV engine runs cooler and requires less maintenance. The fuel efficiency is good too. Teh fuel tank capacity is 3.96 gallons and the run-time at 25% load is 25 hours.

One of the best features of this generator is the well-designed power panel that has a variety of outlets. There’s also an MX2 Power Boost feature that delivers double 120V power for RVs and other appliances.

Durostar has added an electric start to the device. We wish all generators came with that.

Other than that, the noise output is around 70 dB. Considering the output, it’s within the acceptable range.

At 130 pounds, this isn’t a lightweight product. But there is a durable wheel kit that adds portability.

Admittedly, this is a generator that can deliver reliable performance for years. And at this price, it offers excellent value.

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The Jackery Explorer 1000 is one of the largest battery-powered generators that can power anything from a smartphone to a medium-sized refrigerator. Moreover, you can charge it up from the sun by adding solar panels.

It comes with a 1000 watt output and a 2000 watt surge power output. It’s powered by a 1002Wh lithium battery that can be charged from a wall outlet, a car outlet, or solar panels.

Since it has an MPPT charge controller, solar charging can be done more efficiently. Still, solar charging can take some time depending on the light conditions.

Jackery has also added plenty of connectivity options. The power station comes with four USB ports, including a Quick Charge port. In addition, there are three 100V AC outlets delivering pure sine wave outputs.

At 22 pounds it’s not exactly lightweight. But compared to gas-powered generators of the same capacity, it’s much lighter.

In addition, Jackery has added multiple safety features to ensure full operational safety. These include over-current, over-voltage, and thermal protection.

Note, the Jackery Explorer 1000 is expensive. Still, if you want a hassle-free power supply for off-grid trips or during an emergency, it offers solid value.

Best Large Portable Generator

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If your power requirements are more than the average, the Westinghouse WGen7500 is a great option. With outputs of 9500 peak watts and 7500 running watts, the generator delivers excellent dollar value.

The 6.6-gallon fuel tank can run for 11 hours at 50% capacity. Thanks to the four-stroke 420cc Westinghouse engine that delivers fuel-efficient performance.

One reason behind the popularity of the device is its range of great features.

It has a VFT display that provides all the essential information about running the unit. While the push-button electric start is a practical feature, Westinghouse has made it even more user-friendly by adding a remote start key fob

We also appreciate the overall quality and attention to detail. For example, all three AC outlets come with a cover for water and dust protection.

Beyond that, there are plenty of safety features including automatic low oil shutdown, and overload protection.

One downside with gasoline generators is portability goes down with higher capacity. The WGen7500 is super heavy at 192-pounds. On the plus side, it has durable wheels and a fold-down handle.

On the whole, the WGen7500 is a good choice as a backup for your home power supply.

Best Portable Gas Generator

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Wen has emerged as a reliable brand that delivers quality products at affordable prices. No wonder, some users mark the WEN 56200i as a cheaper alternative to the Honda EU2200i.

The 56200i generator offers an output of 1600 Running watts and 2000 surge watts. With a fuel tank capacity of 1 gallon, it will run for 6 hours at 50% load. By using the Eco-Mode throttle, you can optimize the gasoline consumption further.

At quarter load, it generates less than 60 dB of noise. That makes it one of the quietest generators in this range.

But for us, it’s the portability of the generator that makes it stand out from the competition. With a weight of 48 pounds, the device is perfect for car camping trips and RVs.

That said, it isn’t designed for use in wet conditions.

Connectivity is good with one 12V DC receptacle and two 120V AC receptacles. As an additional feature, it also has a 5V USB port.

The Wen 56200i is a well-rounded inverter generator at a fantastic price. Unless you’re seeking the best-performing engine, it’s a great alternative to the more expensive options.

Strongest Portable Generator

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The DuroMax XP12000EH is a beast that’s a great choice for handling heavy loads. Moreover, it’s also a dual-fuel generator and provides more operational flexibility.

In terms of power output, it delivers 12,000 surge watts and 9,500 running watts while running in gasoline. The outputs are slightly less when you use propane. However, this is true for all dual-fuel generators.

As expected, the 457cc four-stroke engine offers reliable performance. The 8.3-gallon tank can deliver power for 8 hours at 50% load. With propane, it’s around 7 hours.

The heavy-duty metal frame and 100% copper windings add to the overall durability. The noise level at the quarter load is around 74 dB. It’s not the quietest generator, but it’s not too loud either.

Coming to the outlets, Duramax has provided a transfer switch-ready 50A outlet for high current. Besides, it also has the MX2 power boost feature that doubles the 120V power output.

On the downside, the generator weighs a massive 238 pounds. Even with the provided wheel kit, it takes some effort to move it around.

Duromax doesn’t compromise with safety features either. It has added overload protection and a spark-arresting muffler.

To sum up, the DuroMax XP12000EH is the ideal generator to power up your entire house during a power outage.

Most Efficient Portable Generator

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The Champion 200986 inverter generator is an ultra-quiet model that provides a perfect solution for camping and tailgating trips. Additionally, this is also one of the best-looking generators in the market.

In terms of power output, you get 4500 starting watts and 3500 running watts. That’s good enough for powering up a wide range of appliances in your home or the RV.

To top it off, the fuel efficiency is top-notch. The 2.3-gallon fuel tank will power the device for around 14 hours at 25% load.

When you use the economy mode the fuel efficiency is further optimized. Even the noise levels drop when you use eco mode.

Champion has added a 120V 30A RV outlet and two 120V 20A outlets. A dual port USB adapter is supplied as well.

The unit weighs 95 pounds and feels robust. You can also use a parallel kit to connect two units for more power.

The Champion 200986 generator delivers impressive efficiency and a convenient solution for your home or RV power needs.

Best Budget Portable Generator

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The SUA2000iV from A-iPower is one of the cheapest inverter generators you can pick without compromising performance. It delivers a respectable 2000 watts of starting power and 1600 watts of running power.

Actually, this is a reliable product that punches well above its price tag.

The 1.1-gallon gasoline tank provides a running time of 10 hours at a quarter load. Beyond that, you can use the “Low idle” technology to extend the running time. Basically, the 80cc 4-cylinder engine delivers reliable performance.

Power delivery is clean and safe for electronic devices. Coming to the noise levels, this engine isn’t the quietest. When running at higher loads, the noise levels are above 65 dB.

Apart from the standard AC outlets, the device also has two USB outlets. Included safety features include a low oil alert light and automatic shutdown at low oil levels.

Moreover, it comes with a compact design that weighs just 48 pounds. It also comes with EPA and CARB certifications.

One thing is, since A-iPower is a relatively new brand, finding approved service agents can be difficult. Customer service can also be a hit or miss.

Other than that, it’s hard to find fault with the SUA2000iV. At this price, it’s an impressive performer that you can depend on.

Best Solar Portable Generator

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Admittedly, the AC200MAX is a pricey device. But Bluetti has used advanced battery technology and added some top-notch features to deliver a high-end solar power station.

To start with, the 2048h LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate) battery delivers excellent performance. Even after 3,500 cycles the battery will still retain 80% of its capacity.

The battery can be charged through 900 Watts of solar panels within 3 hours. By combining solar and wall charging you can get it charged within 2 hours.

The device has a full-color touch screen that provides detailed battery data. There are five AC outlets and five USB ports for connectivity. In addition, you can also control the device through the mobile app.

In terms of build quality, the AC200MAX feels robust. At 62 pounds it’s not lightweight by any means. But the carrying handles make the task easier.

What’s more, you can expand the total capacity by adding more battery modules. That way, the unit can work as a complete home backup system.

In short, the AC200MAX gets a thumbs up from us as one of the best solar-powered battery packs on the market.

Three More Portable Generators

The P2400 is an inverter generator that’s specially designed for campers. It delivers 1800 watts of running power along with good portability.

It has Quiet Power Technology that optimizes the performance of the 4-stroke OHV engine. At 25% load, the running time is eight hours.

Another great feature is a CO guard technology that shuts off the generator based on carbon monoxide levels.

Apart from a DC outlet and dual AC outlets, the generator also has two 5V USB ports. With a noise-reducing shell, the noise levels are well controlled too.

A weight of 50 pounds doesn’t make it lightweight. But the overall build quality is solid.

In addition, you get the reliability of a brand like Briggs & Stratton and great customer service.

If you’re looking for a compact and affordable generator for charging small devices, check out this 155Wh power station from Serenelife.

The battery can be charged from a solar panel, or by using a wall outlet. You can also charge it from a 12V car socket. However, the charging time is on the longer side.

Connectivity options include multiple DC and AC outlets, along with three USB ports. Safety features include short circuit protection and voltage control.

The best part is, it weighs only around 3.5 pounds. That and the compact shape make it an excellent option in terms of portability.

On top of that, the battery pack also comes with an affordable price tag. Overall, a great choice for campers and outdoor lovers for charging small appliances.

The Generac GP2200i has plenty of practical features that make it a solid choice for outdoor enthusiasts. It produces a running output of 1700 watts and allows you to connect two devices by using a parallel kit.

With a gas tank capacity of 12 gallons, the running time at quarter load is close to 10 hours. Besides, the generator also has an economy mode to reduce fuel consumption.

The fully enclosed design also keeps the noise levels within control. Generac has also added LED indicators for low light and overloading.

Considering the output, the weight of 46.6 pounds is within the acceptable range. Since the outlets are covered, using this unit outdoors isn’t a problem.

In terms of price, the Generac GP2200i isn’t a cheap option. Still, it’s a well-rounded product that deserves a closer look.

choosing the best portable generator

How to Choose the Best Portable Generator

While the generator is your first line of defense against outages, choosing the right one isn’t simple. 

For gas or propane generators, picking the smallest size that meets your requirements is a good idea. That way, you’ll need to store the least amount of fuel to get it running.

However, not all good portable generators are fuel-based. For battery-powered solar devices, choosing the right battery capacity is the most important factor. 

With solar generators, you don’t need to worry about issues like poisonous fumes, maintenance, and fuel efficiency. So, they are also ideal as apartment generators.

Before we talk about how to choose the right generator, here’s a quick word on wattage.

Devices like refrigerators, air conditioners, and sump pumps need more power during start-up. This is termed surge watts or starting watts. A generator can supply this amount of power for only a few seconds.

The running watts are the amount of power the appliance will need for running.

For example, a refrigerator can need 1600 watts as surge watts and 800 watts as running watts.

Obviously, for portable generators, weight and portability are important factors that you need to consider. But beyond that, there are a few other factors that you need to consider.

No matter which generator you pick, make sure to follow the necessary safety guidelines during use. Most importantly, always run generators in open spaces to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Determine the Generator Capacity

Basically, you need a generator that can supply enough juice to run all the appliances you need.

Recreational generators provide up to 2,000 watts of running power and are best if you rarely experience outages. They are also great for users on the go as they are the lightest options.

Beyond that, there are mid-sized and large generators that can deliver up to 9000 watts or more. They are good for running air conditioning units, pumps, and other appliances in an average household. However, they are larger and heavier in weight,

To find out the generator wattage you need, add up the running wattage of all the appliances you need. 

Note, the surge power delivery of the generator should be sufficient to deliver the higher surge power needed by the power-hungry appliances in your home. For that, you can multiply the final number by 1.5.

Ideally, the generator should be able to run all the appliances in your home, without exceeding 90% of its capacity.

Fuel Type

Portable generators can run on gasoline or propane. Propane generates less efficiency but since it burns clean, it’s more environmentally-friendly. They even burn cleaner than kerosene used in traditional heaters.

Gas can emit fumes that are not only unpleasant but can also cause fire hazards. On the other hand, propane tanks don’t emit fumes and are less hazardous

The choice of fuel will also depend on the availability in your area. In rural areas where gasoline isn’t readily available, using propane generators is a better option.

There are also dual fuel generators that allow you to use both options and provide more flexibility.

If you’re looking to be fuel-independent, a solar-powered battery pack is the best option. While they don’t deliver high outputs like fuel generators, they have a lower carbon footprint and noise free.

Fuel Efficiency

How long a generator will run on a full tank will determine the amount of fuel you will need to store. And when it comes to long-term urban survival, the amount of fuel you can store is limited.

It’s best to pick a generator that can run for 8 to 10 hours at half load. It will run through the night without needing refueling. 

The fuel efficiency of generators varies depending on the engine performance and optimization technologies. Make sure that you choose the right model that can run as per your requirements.

Noise

A noisy generator can not only bother your neighbors but can also land you in trouble in National Parks where noise restrictions are in place. However, the noise levels will rise with higher power output.

Inverter generators with an enclosed casing and noise mufflers are better at reducing noise output. Check the decibel rating of the generator before buying. Keep in mind, normal conversation has a noise level between 55 to 60 dB.

Price

For portable generators, prices go up with higher peak power output. If you want to cover all the appliances in your home, you’ll have to increase your budget.

To stay within budget, limit the number of large appliances that you will power during an outage.  

In addition, consider the maintenance expense if any. Choosing a high-quality product with a longer warranty will ensure that you won’t need to spend extra on repairs in the long run.

how to choose the best portable generator

Frequently Asked Questions

Who makes the best portable generators?

In terms of quality and reliability, Honda is one of the top manufacturers of portable generators. Beyond that, Champion, Westinghouse, and DuroMax. are some of the other top producers of the best portable gasoline generators

What portable generator is best for home use?

The best portable generator for your home is the one that meets your power needs and budget limits. In addition, it’s best to pick a portable generator that has the right safety features, including carbon monoxide detectors.

What is the average lifespan of a portable generator?

Based on the engine quality, the lifespan of a fuel generator can be anywhere between 2000 to 3,000 hours. In the case of battery-based generators, the number of lifecycles of the battery will determine the life span.

How much does a portable generator weigh?

The weight of the generator can vary depending on its capacity and build quality. Weight increases with higher power output. Gasoline generators can weigh anywhere between 45 pounds to 200 pounds or more. For battery-based generators, the weight depends on the size and the type of battery used.

Final Thoughts

That brings us to the end of this review of the best portable generators.

Choosing the right portable generator involves a significant investment. So, the right amount of research is essential before you pick.

We have marked the Honda EU2200i as the best product in this category. With superb performance and rock-solid reliability, the EU2200i is a portable generator that you can’t go wrong with.

Now that you know what are the best portable generators, it’s time to pick the right one.

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