The 10 Best Portable Generators

Updated April 21, 2018 by Sam Kraft

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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Not only will it supply power for your next camping trip or tailgating outing, but one of these portable generators will also ensure that you’re prepared for a potential outage in your neighborhood, as many of these units are capable of keeping your essential equipment up and running for many hours until service is restored. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best portable generator on Amazon.

10. DuroMax XP4400E

Even though it’s rather heavy, due to a sturdy steel frame, the DuroMax XP4400E comes with air-filled rubber tires that make it easy to move. With 4,400 watts of power, it serves as an adequate home backup unit in emergencies.
  • easy to read fuel gauge
  • low oil shutoff function
  • louder than most models
Brand DuroMax
Model XP4400E
Weight 120 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. DuroStar DS4000S

For such a powerful model, theDuroStar DS4000S offers an impressive run time of up to eight hours on only four gallons of gas. Thanks to a highly visible fuel gauge, you'll be aware if it's anywhere near running out of juice.
  • forced air cooling system
  • very easy to operate
  • requires frequent oil changes
Brand DuroStar
Model DS4000S
Weight 92.4 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. Westinghouse WH2200i

Because it produces clean energy with low total harmonic distortion, the Westinghouse WH2200i is ideal for powering mobile devices and similar electronics. Its color-coded touch points make it easy to operate, even for somebody who has never used a generator.
  • includes helpful instruction manual
  • easy to access the oil reservoir
  • not ideal for large appliances
Brand Westinghouse
Model WH2000iXLT
Weight 49 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Yamaha EF1000iS

It probably won’t power your whole home, but if you’re looking for a quiet and efficient unit, the Yamaha EF1000iS should be able to handle modest requirements. It can run all night long on a single tank of gas, and it offers a 1,000-watt maximum output.
  • 2-year warranty
  • muffler keeps noise level down
  • does not include a user manual
Brand Yamaha
Model EF1000iSC
Weight 32.2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Anker PowerHouse

If you’re on a camping trip or simply need power for a handful of small appliances, check out the Anker PowerHouse. It’s compact enough to carry with one hand, and it features four USB ports for charging all of your accessories at the same time.
  • sturdy aluminum shell
  • noiseless while in operation
  • difficult to replace the battery
Brand Anker
Model AK-A1701011
Weight 11.5 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

5. Wen 56200i

The Wen 56200i is a relatively quiet model that creates very clean power, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your devices. It's highly portable thanks to its light weight and handle, and it’s capable of being linked together with another generator.
  • equipped with a usb port
  • weighs less than 50 pounds
  • eco-mode minimizes fuel consumption
Brand WEN
Model 56200i
Weight 54.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Briggs and Stratton 30651

Available in a 2,000 or 3,000-watt model, the Briggs and Stratton 30651 has two 120-volt household outlets and a parallel port for connecting two generators together. This versatile unit comes with a two-year limited warranty.
  • nice mix of value and quality
  • produces 59 decibels of noise
  • twin handles for painless carrying
Brand Briggs & Stratton
Model 30651
Weight 59.8 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

3. Generac 7117

Suitable for powering sensitive electronics, the Generac 7117 is a fuel-efficient option with a tank that will hold more than a gallon of gas. The choke, run and stop functions are all integrated into one dial, which makes it simple for anyone to use.
  • easy-to-pull starter cord
  • overload alert light
  • highly visible orange color
Brand Generac
Model 7117
Weight 53 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Honda EU2000

If noise is a concern, the quiet and efficient Honda EU2000 will ease some of your worries. It’s capable of providing power to several appliances at once, and its comfortable handle makes it simple to carry from place to place.
  • runs for 9 hours on 1 gallon
  • requires very little maintenance
  • withstands heavy daily use
Brand Honda
Model EU2000i
Weight 50.6 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Champion RV Ready

With a surge protector built right into the front panel, the Champion RV Ready will protect your devices and appliances from a sudden spike in voltage. Its large tank holds more than three gallons, and its heavy-duty tires are extremely durable.
  • runs on gas or propane
  • push-button touch start
  • includes a folding handle
Brand Champion Power Equipmen
Model 76533
Weight 132.1 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

The Many Uses Of A Portable Generator

Anyone who thinks they will never have a need for a portable generator likely has a few misconceptions about generators, as well as about the unpredictable nature of life. The fact is that a portable generator may someday make the difference in your family's safety and security, or at least in a night spent in comfort.

Indeed, the primary reason many people choose to buy a generator is to mitigate the effects of a power outage. With a decent generator, you can keep your fridge running, a lamp lit, and even an air conditioning unit or heater running all at the same time. You can also use the generator to keep phones and computers charged, or even to keep sensitive medical equipment operational during a power outage. Opting for a portable generator means you can always get power where you need it during that blackout. Just make sure you also have a few gallons of gas on hand.

A portable generator is a regular fixture at worksites around the world, and using a generator instead of the power supply at an unfinished home or building (or one undergoing heavy renovations) can help workers avoid the dangers of exposed and/or potentially compromised wiring. Many portable generators put out as many as 3,000 watts of power at their higher settings, and that's enough power to run full-sized power tools such as a table saw or planer.

While you must be sure to first check the local laws and ordinances surrounding their use in the field, bringing a portable generator along when you go camping can lead to a truly luxurious outdoor experience, complete with the comforts of light, small appliances, and media devices even as you enjoy nature and fresh air. Just make sure to factor in the noise levels of the unit you're considering, as some portable generators are so loud they can damage the allure of a trip out into the woods or mountains.

Choosing The Right Portable Generator

Portable generators are not cheap. Even the lower priced models cost several hundred dollars, and many higher end units cost upwards of $1,000 or more. Monetary expectations aside, the two main factors to consider when choosing the right unit are size and power output.

Size is arguably the more important of the two factors when it comes to choosing a portable generator: if you buy a unit that's too large for you to easily move to wherever it needs to be (from the basement to the patio during a power outage or from the truck to the tent when you're camping, to name two examples), then your generator is not exactly portable, as far as you are concerned. Make sure to choose a unit you can actually move with relative ease. Many weigh little more than fifty pounds, so this should not be too hard to accomplish.

Once you know how large a generator you can comfortably move around, then look to the watts it produces. Many units can run for hours on end at their lower settings, which tend to put out around 1,000 watts of continuous power. These generators are ideal for use as backup power during an outage, when it's uncertain for how long you'll need to run an appliance or climate control device.

If you work with larger power tools, or if you anticipate the need to keep multiple devices running at the same time, then you will need to select a more powerful unit and accept the size and price tag that comes with it.

Also, do think about the volume associated with the generator you're considering. Some units create only about fifty decibels, allowing you to chat even while standing beside them. Others are so loud you will not be able to hear yourself think even when a dozen feet away.

Portable Generator Use And Safety

Always keep children and pets away from a working generator. That holds true even when the unit is not in operation, as it is likely to be filled with combustible gasoline. Used properly, a portable generator is a safe and reliable tool. Remember, generators involve both gasoline engines and large amounts of electricity, both of which can be extremely hazardous around youngsters or animals.

Make sure to keep the kids supervised and the pets sequestered whenever a generator is in use, and make sure to store your portable generator in a safe, secure spot when it is idle. (Thankfully most portable units are small enough to tuck away in almost any garage, shed, basement, or even a closet, but be mindful of potential fumes prior to indoor storage.)

Make sure to carefully review your generator's manual prior to use, noting the necessity for any special types of fuel and for how much and how often it requires oil, if need be. It's also important to pay close attention to your portable generator's maximum load capacity and never try to pull more power than that for which it is rated. Overtaxing your generator will likely cause it to shut down, cutting the electricity to everything to which it is supplying power. At worst, an overtaxed generator may burn itself out, leaving you with one very expensive, oversized paperweight.

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Last updated on April 21, 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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