The 10 Best Home Generators

Updated December 04, 2017 by Chase Brush

10 Best Home Generators
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Ideal for providing you with power on any job site, when camping or RV-ing, or to ensure you stay comfortable during a power blackout, these home generators won't leave you in the dark. We've included small and inexpensive models good for maintaining essential equipment right up to those 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. It comes with a fuel hose and regulator, so all you need is a standard LPG tank to get it up and running.
  • compact size and shape
  • auto fuel shutoff safety valve
  • no wheels and difficult to move
Brand Sportsman Series
Model GEN4000LP
Weight 93.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. DuroMax XP4400E

The DuroMax XP4400E cranks out 3,500 watts of continuous running power, and has an exclusive RV switch so you can operate it at either 120 volts or at 120 and 240 volts simultaneously. It features a battery charge indicator light, too.
  • fuel-efficient motor
  • four-point isolated motor mounts
  • bogs down over 3000 watts
Brand DuroMax
Model XP4400E
Weight 120 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Generac 5734

At 15,000 running watts, the Generac 5734 is powerful enough to keep every appliance going in the average home, so you don't have to go without creature comforts during blackouts. It's available in smaller and larger sizes, too, so you can choose the model you need.
  • hour meter with maintenance alerts
  • idle enhances fuel efficiency
  • extremely high price
Brand Generac
Model 5734
Weight 426 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. Westinghouse WH7500E

The Westinghouse WH7500E has electric and manual start options, giving you a backup ignition route when one or the other fails and making it a good choice for emergencies. Plus, it features an oversized muffler that lets it run quieter.
  • easy to read lcd hour meter
  • fully enclosed electrical connection
  • no ground clearance for oil changes
Brand Westinghouse
Model WH7500E
Weight 211 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. DuroMax XP10000EH Duel Fuel

The highly versatile DuroMax XP10000EH Duel Fuel boasts an 18 HP engine with hardy steel bearings to maximize its lifespan, and is surprisingly quiet for such a large machine. Best of all, though, it's capable of running on either gasoline or liquid propane.
  • keyed start switch
  • integrated circuit breaker
  • low oil protection
Brand DuroMax
Model XP10000EH
Weight 270 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 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 power just about any kind of device safely. It offers an impressive nine hour run time on a 50 percent load.
  • epa-approved engine
  • 12 volt dc terminal
  • recoil and electric start options
Brand Sportsman Series
Model GEN10K
Weight 270 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Champion Power Equipment 100165

The more options the better in an emergency, and few models understand this better than the Champion Power Equipment 100165, which can run off liquid propane or unleaded gas. It can operate lights, a TV, a refrigerator, a sump pump, a furnace fan and more simultaneously.
  • operating info in volts and hertz
  • extremely durable protective frame
  • drain hole for oil changes
Brand Champion Power Equipmen
Model 100165
Weight 218 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Briggs & Stratton 30664

With a large 420cc engine and a 7.5-gallon tank, the Briggs & Stratton 30664 is a highly reliable machine that will be ready anytime you have a power interruption. It weighs a hefty 250 pounds, but because of the large rubber wheels, it can still be moved by one person.
  • produces a high surge wattage
  • hour meter for monitoring gas levels
  • rubber outlet safety covers
Brand Briggs & Stratton
Model 30664
Weight 260 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. DuroStar DS4400

While it won't power your whole house, the affordable price point of the DuroStar DS4400 makes it an attractive option to keep around for running your most important appliances. It has two standard 120 volt outlets plus a 240 volt, 30 amp twist-lock one.
  • durable 7 hp air-cooled engine
  • quiet exhaust rated at 69 dba
  • spark arrestor for safety
Brand DuroStar
Model DS4400
Weight 114.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Powermate PM0601258

The powerful Powermate PM0601258 can pump out a whopping 12,500 watts from its Subaru V-twin, OHV gas engine, which boasts 22 horsepower and a push-button electric start. It's ideal for the whole home or office and can backup pretty much anything you connect to it.
  • automatic low-oil shutdown
  • large 8 gallon gas tank
  • control panel with 6 power outlets
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 December 04, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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