10 Best Portable Generators | March 2017

We spent 30 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Be prepared for the next power outage in your neighborhood with a portable generator that can keep your essential equipment going until service is restored. Our selection is ranked by fuel efficiency, power output, and how quietly they operate. Skip to the best portable generator on Amazon.
10 Best Portable Generators | March 2017


Overall Rank: 1
Best Mid-Range
★★★★★
Overall Rank: 2
Best High-End
★★★★★
Overall Rank: 8
Best Inexpensive
★★★
10
The DuroMax XP4400E is heavy, but it has large, air-filled, rubber rear wheels that integrate into the steel frame, making it easy to move. With 4,400 watts of power, it makes for a good home backup unit in emergencies, or a good option for a RV.
9
The WEN 56200i is relatively quiet at low load settings and creates very clean power, so you do not have to worry about your devices. It's highly portable thanks to its light weight and handle, and the 2000W surge rating will work with most appliances.
8
The DuroStar DS4000S offers an excellent run time for a 4,000 watt surge generator, lasting up to 8 hours on only 4 gallons of gas. Further, it is compact for the amount of power it creates, is as quiet as a lawnmower, and is inexpensive to buy.
7
The Westinghouse WH2000iXLT has a digital inverter with less than 3% THD, making it great for use with sensitive electronics. Its color-coded user touch points make operation easy even for somebody who has never used a generator.
  • ac overload safety reset
  • low oil auto shut-off
  • not for large appliances
Brand Westinghouse
Model WH2000iXLT
Weight 49 pounds
6
The Champion Power 75531i is the ideal choice for most RVs as it runs quietly and weighs less than 100 pounds while providing many types of power outlets. For high-altitude campers, there is an optional jet kit, and it is easy to move around thanks to a collapsible handle.
  • automatic idle saves fuel
  • low oil sensor to protect engine
  • up to 8 hours of continuous power
Brand Champion Power Equipmen
Model 75531i
Weight 88 pounds
5
If you have minimal power demands and just want something efficient, quiet, and with a long run time, the Yamaha EF1000iS fits the bill. It can run all night on a single tank of gas, and pushes a steady 1,000 watts of clean power.
  • excellent sound isolation
  • overhead valve engine
  • ideal for camping
Brand Yamaha
Model EF1000iSC
Weight 32.2 pounds
4
For huge power requirements, check out the Ford FG9250E, which uses a 420cc Pulsar engine to generate up to 7,400 run watts, which is enough to power most homes for 9 hours. It's more affordable than others in its class, and comes with weather covers.
  • keyless engine start
  • 9250 peak watts for appliances
  • no-flat compression tires
Brand Ford
Model FG9250E
Weight 233.7 pounds
3
For camping, or any time you just need power for a handful of smaller appliances, check out the silent Anker PowerHouse, which can be carried in one hand and optionally charged by solar panels without ever needing an oil change or a new tank of gas.
  • safe to use inside
  • alternative to small gas generators
  • guaranteed clean power
Brand Anker
Model AK-A1701011
Weight 11.5 pounds
2
If noise is a concern, the Honda EU2000i is probably the quietest 2000W generator on the market. It operates at as low as 53dB, so you can have a normal conversation standing right next to it. The long-lasting and reliable Honda engine is an outstanding investment.
  • runs over 9 hours on 1 gallon
  • requires very little maintenance
  • weighs just 46 pounds
Brand Honda Power Equipment
Model EU2000IT1A3
Weight 50 pounds
1
The Briggs and Stratton P2200 offers similar features and power output as offerings from Honda and Yamaha, but at a fraction of the price. It's available in a 2,000 or 3,000-watt model, and can be paired for long-term demand.
  • not as quiet as higher priced models
  • works with sensitive electronics
  • twin handles for easier carrying
Brand Briggs & Stratton
Model 30553
Weight 61.2 pounds

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 between your family's safety and security, or at least between 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 3000 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 closer to one thousand dollars 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 factor 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 1000 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 it is supplying power to. At worst, an overtaxed generator may burn itself out, leaving you with one very expensive, oversized paperweight.



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Last updated: 03/25/2017 | Authorship Information

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