The 10 Best Home Generators

Updated April 24, 2018 by Sam Kraft

10 Best Home Generators
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We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Designed to provide you with reliable power on a job site, at a campground, or during a blackout, these home generators will ensure that you won't get stuck in the dark. We've included portable, inexpensive models that are ideal for keeping essential equipment in operation and some units that are powerful enough to run your whole house. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best home generator on Amazon.

10. Sportsman GEN4000LP

The Sportsman GEN4000LP is fueled by propane, which burns a bit more efficiently than gas and, thus, gives this model a slightly longer run time than many. It includes a fuel hose and regulator, so all you need is a standard propane tank to get it up and running.
  • overload protection on outlets
  • auto-shutoff safety valve
  • no wheels make it difficult to move
Brand Sportsman Series
Model GEN4000LP
Weight 93.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Webetop Camping

If you happen to have a solar panel, you can use it to charge the energy-efficient Webetop Camping, but it can also be plugged into an AC outlet. It’s a quiet, lightweight model that’s suitable for powering lights, mobile devices and other household items.
  • built-in usb port
  • bright led light
  • takes a long time to charge
Brand Webetop
Model Web3089
Weight 4.7 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

8. DuroMax XP4400E

The DuroMax XP4400E cranks out 3,500 watts of continuous running power and includes a low oil auto-shutoff feature that protects the engine. Thanks to its quiet muffler, you won't bother your neighbors too much if you're using it in your backyard on a Saturday morning.
  • fuel-efficient motor
  • comes with a spark plug wrench
  • can start to drip oil over time
Brand DuroMax
Model XP4400E
Weight 120 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. DuroStar DS4400

While it won't power your whole house, the affordability of the DuroStar DS4400 makes it an attractive option to keep around for running your most important appliances in a jam. It has two standard 120-volt outlets and a dependable air-cooled engine.
  • spark arrestor for safety
  • easy-to-read volt meter
  • a bit loud while in operation
Brand DuroStar
Model DS4400
Weight 114.7 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Chafon Backup

At less than eight pounds, the Chafon Backup is one of the most portable models out there, which is useful if you’re an avid camper or need something to juice up your devices on an expedition. It also serves as an emergency car jump starter.
  • powerful lithium-ion battery
  • includes an 18-month warranty
  • comfortable carrying handle
Model CF-UPS018
Weight 9.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Sportsman GEN7500

The control panel of the Sportsman GEN7500 incorporates a variety of different amperage and voltage outlets, giving you the freedom to safely power just about any kind of device. It offers an impressive nine-hour run time and comes with a five-foot fuel hose.
  • approved by the epa
  • built-in fuel gauge
  • recoil and electric start options
Brand Sportsman Series
Model GEN7500DF
Weight 184.1 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Rockpals Digital

If you plan on using your unit for an extended period of time, you may worry about the engine overheating — but that shouldn’t be an issue with the Rockpals Digital. It’s designed with an efficient cooling system to ensure it churns out safe, clean power.
  • economy mode helps save energy
  • can power large appliances easily
  • shock absorber minimizes vibrations
Brand Rockpals
Model R2000i
Weight 52.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Champion Power Dual

In an emergency, the more options the better, and few models embody this more than the Champion Power Dual, which can run on liquid propane or unleaded gas. It can be used to power lights, a TV, a refrigerator, a sump pump, and a furnace fan simultaneously.
  • oil is included
  • extremely durable protective frame
  • integrated surge protector
Brand Champion Power Equipmen
Model 100165
Weight 216 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Honda EU2200i

A bit of a hybrid between a powerful, heavy-duty model and a compact, portable option, the Honda EU2200i has you covered in pretty much any situation, from a home improvement project to a camping excursion. It’s simple to start and transport.
  • super quiet while in use
  • easy to change the oil
  • plenty of ventilation for airflow
Brand Honda
Model EU2200I
Weight 50.6 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Powermate PM0601258

The formidable Powermate PM0601258 can pump out a whopping 12,500 watts from its powerful gas engine, which is easy to start with the simple pull of a cord. Even if you have a home of considerable size, you'll be well-prepared in case an extended power outage occurs.
  • large 8-gallon gas tank
  • six power outlets
  • also available in 7000-watt model
Brand Powermate PM0601258
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

A Brief History Of The Electric Generator

Most generators today use the power of electromagnetism to generate a current. However, the relationship between magnets and electricity was not discovered until 1831, by British scientist Michael Faraday. Nearly two centuries earlier, the first primitive generator was developed by German inventor Otto von Guericke.

Von Guericke's initial means of generating electricity relied on the use of friction. In fact, electrostatic generators were originally called "friction machines." For the most part, these could only produce sparks of electricity, rather than a steady current. Early models worked much like the Van de Graaff generators seen in science museums and classrooms around the world. Typically, a mechanically moving belt rubs against a conductor attached to a hollow metal globe, which stores the charge generated from the friction that ensues. A conducting body that comes in close contact with the sphere can generate a spark as electrons move to neutralize the charge generated in the sphere. Often, a metal wand is used for demonstration purposes. Another popular demonstration technique is to link a group of people to the machine and watch as the static electricity causes their hair to stand on end.

While friction-based generators based on designs from the 17th and 18th centuries are still used in educational settings, they can't actually power anything. Faraday's discovery of electromagnetism made the consistent generation of a current possible. He built a machine called a disk generator which capitalized on the electric potential of magnets. It used a rotating copper disc placed between the poles of a horseshoe-style magnet, and could produce a somewhat steady, if weak, direct current voltage.

There were a variety of issues with Faraday's initial design that made it inefficient, but rapid development of the design resulted in improvements that made way for contemporary solutions. These advancements included the use of additional magnets as well as using coiled copper wires to collect the charge, which produced a much higher voltage.

The resulting generators used coils of wire rotating within a magnetic field, which produce an alternating current similar to the ones we use in our homes. In general, this type of generator is called a dynamo. These were developed throughout the 1830s and first entered industrial use in 1844.

Today's alternating current generators were built on the concepts used in the dynamo, which was increasingly streamlined over the latter half of the 19th century.

Key Features Of Modern Day Generators

Today's home generators have many convenient advantages over their predecessors. For one thing, they're highly portable. Many are built on wheels and can easily fit in the average car's trunk, making them ideal for camping. Most also feature standard electrical outlets, so you can attach your appliances and devices directly. Many even have built-in batteries that charge while the generator is running and reserve power you can use once it's switched off.

A variety of fuel types can power home generators, depending on your preference. Propane is popular, as tanks are easy to purchase and exchange at many national hardware and grocery store chains. Standard gasoline and diesel are also options, though they require you fill the tank yourself. Still, gas is available just about everywhere, so you can travel with your empty generator and buy fuel locally once you've reached your destination. Natural gas-powered generators are also available.

Home generators are increasingly fuel efficient, and many let you know how just much power they have left on a given tank. This allows you to better prepare for refuels and avoid leaving yourself without power in an emergency.

A Personal Story About the Value of Electricity

When I first graduated college, I spent a month working on a farm in the south of France. The family I lived with built their house themselves with the intention of being fully "off the grid." The property was gorgeous. The house sat on stilts midway up a large hill below a small farm-town road, with fields and livestock at the bottom. The house had no electricity; a wood burning stove provided both heat and a means of cooking, and the only light sources were candles.

When I made the arrangements, I assumed the people I was going to stay with were locals to the area, and that it was a family farm some number of decades old. Upon arrival, I learned that this was not the case. My hosts were a British couple who had moved to France a few years earlier to escape the crowds and stresses of city life. Their crops and animals produced most of the food they consumed, but they didn't profit off of them. Instead, they were dog breeders. They were also metalheads, with countless facial piercings and tattoos all over their bodies, as well as posters of Slayer, Megadeth, and various metal bands I'd never heard of covering the walls of their home.

When I say that the house had no electricity, what I really mean is that it wasn't wired. In truth, they had a gasoline-powered generator outside, lovingly referred to as Jenny, which provided them with various means of 21st century entertainment via a long extension cord. For a few hours each day, a stereo blared the sounds of Marilyn Manson and the Oslo-based symphonic black metal band Dimmu Borgir. A Bart Simpson-shaped television glowed with scenes from old concerts and horror films on DVD. They even had a Nintendo Wii with a few games. They also had a wireless hotspot and an old laptop, which were the means they'd used to communicate with me before my arrival. They'd charge both devices while the generator was running for later use.

They could only afford to power the generator for short periods of time, so it wasn't useful for utilitarian purposes. Living there taught me that electricity is a luxury that's not actually very hard to live without. In fact, about 16 percent of the world's population lives without it entirely. For those who do have it, we should relish in the joys it can bring, and never take it for granted.

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Last updated on April 24, 2018 by Sam Kraft

Sam is a marketing/communications professional and freelance writer who resides in Chicago, IL and is perpetually celebrating the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory.

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