Best Portable Generator Reviews 2019

 

We’ve done research on the features of generators according to their performance, sturdiness, security, size, and price, and we have applied the results to the top ten portable models existing today. So no matter whether you are in search of an extra power supply as a backup for your home or a unit for the upcoming camping trip because one of these units will definitely suit you perfectly.

Best in General: WEN 56200i

This model weighs only 48 pounds and is a splendid option among portable generators. It operates not very loudly (at a rate of only 51 decibels) and has a much softer volume capacity than other models. It is equal to two people having a conversation indoors. The WEN provides the surge wattage of 2,000 watts and the operating wattage of 1,600 watts to supply your appliances with power. With two 3-pronged 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle and one USB port worth 5V, there will be enough plugs to keep your equipment running and charged.

In general, the one-gallon tank can ensure six hours of electricity supply for your gadgets and equipment at a 50% load. Besides, this generator provides both low-fuel and low-oil shut off feature that helps protect the unit and digital devices from possible harm while charging. To improve the generator’s performance, you can switch to the Eco-Regime that will allow the unit’s motor to control fuel consumption on its own accord. This will extend the life expectancy of the unit and improve the fuel capacity while still being able to charge an appliance attached to it.

Best Option for Home Emergency Support: Generac 5735 GP17500E

If you want to get a powerful and dependable unit to charge all your equipment at home in the event of a storm, this model is the best-matching choice. You may forget about small units that are only able to keep your refrigerator cold because this professional 16-circuit unit can supply many 120V devices with power including heaters, refrigerators, and lighting system, as well as ACs, TV sets, laptops, sump pumps and much more. This 17500-watt machine has a 16-gallon tank which translates into 10 hours of running at a 50% load or even less if you decide to run it at its fullest power capacity worth 26250 watts. Obviously, it will not be a cheap option but if you live in a district where power is shut off very often, the Generac model will guarantee the peace of mind in terms of its durability and performance. This version has an OHVI® engine that has a replaceable oil filter having an automotive design and being able to last for many years. One aspect that you need to remember is that although this model belongs to the category of portable versions, it’s a real monster. The machine has a weight of 390 pounds and its measurements are equal to 48.5 x 31 x 39.5 inches. It is designed to have a durable steel-made frame with grip handles, oil supply, and a 12VDC 356-CCA accumulator. It is also added with a wheelbase and maintenance set to keep it in good order in the event of transportation.

The unit comes with a not too big warranty but it seems like the majority of customers never have an occasion to use this option. One consumer who lived through the Hurricane Sandy claimed that they were capable of using this generator for 11 days in a row to power their entire house and they have been using it for another six years with no trouble.

Best and Lightest Unit: Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart

Briggs & Stratton offer a powerful and universal 55-pound unit as part of their PowerSmart collection. It is a splendid and easily transportable unit. The H-handle style allows carrying it around by just one person, while two people can move it steadily to another place.

It’s packed with a 111cc motor and offers starting wattage of 2,200 watts and operation wattage of 1,700 watts which translates into eight hours of continuous use on just one gallon of gas fuel at a 25% load. It is able to power the majority of 120V home devices and it is based on the inverter technology to support many devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers. Its loudness is only 59 decibels which makes it as noisy as an ordinary conversation between a couple of people. This means that you should not worry about bothering someone around when running the generator in the background.

In addition, the control panel includes three receptacles in total (one DC outlet and two receptacles for household use). It is also added with a USB port. To get even more electricity, the Briggs & Stratton model can be plugged into another machine to provide for even better power supply and keep the illumination running. It’s equipped with a PowerSmart regime that can regulate the speed of power conversion. All this makes it an efficient and not too heavy option.

Best Budget-Friendly Unit: WEN 56180

If you are low on a budget or just wish to get something not very elaborate, the WEN 56180 movable generator unit will be perfect. It will ensure that the food products inside your refrigerator are not spoilt or that you have enough light on your camping night trip. It has a 1.45-gallon tank for gas fuel so that it can keep supplying you with power for around 7.5 hours at a 50% load. It offers surge wattage of 1,800 watts and running wattage of 1,500 watts. This is fairly enough for the cases of emergency and just for recreational use. There are a total of three receptacles (two 3-pronged 120V versions and a single 12V receptacle).

Regrettably, no wheelbase is provided but you can get it separately. The best thing is that despite its weight of 50 pounds, this model is relatively light and transportable.

In addition, low power capacity makes it not very loud (only 63 decibels). What’s more, the low oil shut off option indicates that the preventive measures are also present in this unit to protect the machine from damage.

Best and Quietest Unit: Westinghouse iGen 2500

Westinghouse iGen2500 runs quietly and productively so it should not be ignored when choosing a generator. It has a noise rating of just 52 decibels so this unit operates less loudly than many others. Luckily, less quiet does not mean less efficient. It has an output of 2,200 watts, and the peak wattage amounts to 2,500 watts which is sufficient to power all your essential things. No matter what the purpose of its use is, be it hunting, camping or living through a storm, this unit proves capable of powering all the necessary items. Digital devices like phones or tablets coupled with microwaves, TV sets and fridges are also included in this range. It has a total of five DC USBs and two 120V AC USBs which are sufficient for plugging many devices at a time.

The unit weighs 48 pounds. This makes it the lightest unit among many others, while the built-in grip handle adds portability to this model. When you fill the one-gallon tank to the fullest, it will get a bit heavier but it can still be moved in vehicles of all sizes. After you turn it on, it will work for 10 hours at a quarter load. If you use a 50% load, the battery life will decrease a little but it will still work very noiselessly. The nationwide customer support and a 3-year long warranty are also some of the best guarantees in this segment.

Yamaha EF2000iSv2

When you consider buying a generator, the style is perhaps the least important issue to consider. Nevertheless, the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is a fairly beautiful model. The retro-styled look of it and the use of royal blue color in its design also make it attractive. This movable version is a real bestseller offered by a very dependable trademark. It runs at a wattage rating of 1600 watts and is surprisingly noiseless (check out the least loud models here) due to its spark arresting and muffling features.

This version is very light and has a small size which makes it excellent for camping. It is compliant with CARB and can be used in parallel with other units. It is based on inverter innovation so that even the most delicate devices will be secure. At a 500W load, this generator will last not less than 8 hours.

Champion 4000-Watt Generator for Your RV

This Champion unit has the state-of-the-art open frame inverter-based design and is 50% less loud and 20% lighter than a standard 3500-watt unit. In addition, it has an Economy Regime feature that allows saving fuel and improving the lifespan of the engine.

The Champion generator is backed up by a long-term three-year warranty with absolutely free lifelong technical assistance from professionals.

It produces incredible 4000 wind-up watts and 3500 operation watts so this model can power a multitude of big-sized devices like an air conditioner, fridge and any other appliance of your choice.

Power Characteristics

When taking a look at the wind-up wattage, both models seem to produce almost equal results of 4000 watts at a maximum.

The Champion unit has a bit greater capacity over the Durostar unit in terms of its running wattage which amounts to 3800 watts while the DS4000S provides just 3300 watts.

Loudness

Due to the Quiet Technology in the Champion unit, it produces only 64 decibels while the Durostar is a bit louder being rated at 69 decibels.

Duromax XP12000E

You should be prepared for anything when using DuroMax XP12000EH. It is a 12,000-watt generator added with a dual fuel feature and often called the “BEAST”. This generator offers the same power rate as the one produced by home-oriented yet portable units. It is incredibly powerful and universal so that XP12000EH is ideal for supplying all your items and even the A/C in the event of power shutdown, storm or other calamities. This model features an easy-to-use electric wind-up mechanism and a recoil start available on demand.

What’s the Price of a Good Portable Generator?

Portable generators are pretty expensive. The least expensive version we’ve covered in our reviews costs $136 but you should expect the price to differ from case to case within the limit of $130-2,500. The standard price will be around $1,000 which still makes it a pricey purchase.

How We Looked for the Best Ones

We investigated the key features, advantages, and drawbacks of over a dozen units having evaluated their key characteristics, operation time, type of fuel and the available receptacles. We took into account the demands of all kinds of users. For instance, durable commercial-grade generators with big-sized fuel tanks and greater fuel efficiency are the most suitable options for day-to-day use on construction sites. Smaller and lighter options are more suitable for irregular use. Models having a myriad of receptacles can be used for powering all sorts of devices, digital appliances and much more. They offer great extra power supply for home use in cases of emergency. We've considered these issues when choosing the best models.

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Can You Use Portable Generators when It Rains?

If your generator gets wet, you run a risk of spoiling it or even worse: causing an injury to someone. Some generators are added with a GFCI receptacle that can automatically shut off the appliance whenever it becomes wet. If you need to work in damp settings, we advise you to get a unit with a GFCI receptacle.

Although it is best to avoid using the device in bad weather conditions, sometimes you just cannot avoid it. If you wish to use it on a stormy day, you should keep it dry by moving it to a dry location and covering it. Some firms even offer special tents such as the Champion Storm Shield. You just need to get the most suitable one for your unit. Many of such tents are connected to the generator in a way that they can live through severe storms so they are very good for all weather conditions.

What Features to Search for in a Generator

Power and Fuel Capacity

Every unit has two power rates: running and surge wattage. The running wattage represents the amount of power that the unit can handle on a regular basis, while the surge output is the amount that it can manage occasionally for around 10 seconds. The latter is responsible for the surge generated when the devices with electric motors are wound up – their wind-up power can be 2-4 times greater than the amount of running power.

Most units are added with gas engines even though some run on propane and others run on both of these types. Propane-based units have numerous merits making them better than gas-powered ones: propane is a lot cheaper, not so toxic and is cleaner when burning. It is also more easily accessible. Besides, you can store it for an indefinite period as it does not get spoilt like gas.

Fuel-saving capacity is essential, particularly if fuel is hard to get during a natural calamity. The best units require not more than half a gallon of fuel per hour and have an operation time of over 10 hours at a 50% load.

Security Features

These include circuit breaking feature, grounding options, tires that never go flat and spark arresting mechanisms. The most essential one is the ground-fault circuit breaker which is a sensor that estimates the alternating current which circulates in the machine. If the returning current reaches its minimum, it can imply that the electric one has found an alternative way to the ground. The GFCI protection allows shutting off the power if such a situation takes place which protects you from the risk of electrocution.

It is also necessary to consider how loudly it operates. Gas-powered units are combustion mechanisms like the one that you have in your car so they produce noise. A noisy unit may interfere with your neighbors or make it hard to talk with other people while using it.

Control Display Features

Most units have four household plugs and one twist-locking AC 120/240V receptacle for big-sized appliances. The most popular models have an electric wind-up feature that only needs flipping the switch or pressing the button to wind it up. Nonetheless, you need to be certain that you can use a recoil starter to start it if your battery dies.

The most popular units also have a voltage selector feature that lets you separate the voltage from anything you are currently using. They are also added with special readouts that gauge when your device requires maintenance.

Customer Support

The most outstanding models have a 3-year warranty. Although most producers do not sell their products directly to customers, they should still provide good support. This refers to proper contact details and a good customer service that will let you have your unit serviced or repaired. You also need to search for videos and instructions on maintenance as well as FAQ sections.

Generac GP2200I – Small-Sized and User-Friendly

Generac provides one more model that runs very quietly.

The economy regime allows achieving the lowest level of noise while also improving the runtime and fuel-saving capacity.

You will also find it fairly user-friendly.

There is no fuel valve but there is the indicator lighting feature to let you find out when there is not too much oil or when the unit gets overloaded. This generator is incredibly small and light.

It is also added with a handy grip handle for more convenient transportation. This makes it ideal for camping.

It has a power rating of 1,600 watts, and it also produces enough power to support your appliances if there is no electricity. The inverter innovation implies that your digital appliances will be protected and supplied with pure power.

The receptacles are all covered which is great because it protects your unit from any damage when you do not use it.