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Best Portable Generators for Quick Backup Power

Think of it.

You are planning to go out for camping, maybe a boating expedition to replenish your soul. Of course, you can’t take your electricity outlet with you, so this means that you have to sacrifice and leave your gadgets back at home or use the last bit of juice posting your “get-away” memories on Instagram.

Here’s another scenario. A hurricane has been announced, and you know what this means — no electricity for a couple of days. All those nice modern society gadgets have to go off, including the internet. There won’t be any power to get them going.

We got a working solution for you — get a portable generator! This isn’t the large type that you see installed to provide back-up power at various facilities. It’s not the expensive type that goes for thousands of dollars. NO. It’s basically an easy-to-move device that allows you to keep your power going, whether you want to light up your tent during camping, using an RV, or planning for that hurricane. It comes with a built-in inverter, so all you need to do is add some fuel, power it on, and connect your cables. That simple!

Here are some of the best portable generators that will never disappoint (and a nice guide to help you make an informed decision).

Top 10 Portable Generators of 2019 Reviewed

1. Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator with Remote Electric

Best Heavy-Duty Portable Generator

Westinghouse has been in the business of producing portable generators and this is only the latest addition in their long line of products. The WGen7500 has a running power and a starting power of 7500 watts and 9000 watts respectively. That makes it a very powerful generator, incomparable with most of those on the list. It is a gas-powered generator that’s designed to be durable and highly functional.

To begin with, this generator is extremely easy to set up and start. In fact, it comes out of the box while it is ready to start working. So, you need very minimal assembly to work with this generator. The gas tank as a capacity of 6.6 gallons, which makes it a powerhouse. It will cover and even surpass the power needs of your home.

Some of the standout features of this generator include a fuel gauge to check the gas level, auto-shut-off at low oil, and overload protection. Westinghouse is one of the biggest names in the industry, it is guaranteed to serve you effectively over the year. The built quality is superb and approval by EPA, CARB, and CSA makes it a must-have generator.

Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator with Remote Electric Start

Pros:

  • A powerful and heavy-duty engine
  • Easy to start and operate the machine
  • A fuel-efficient generator

Cons:

  • It is heavy, at 200 pounds
  • It produces a sound of 64 decibels which is a bit loud
  • Comes with a backup battery that doesn’t last long

2. DuroStar DS4000S, 3300 Running Watts/4000 Starting Watts, Gas-Powered Portable Generator

Best Gas Powered Portable Generator

The DuroStar is a versatile power generator suitable for use in all kinds of situations. Whether you are dealing with a power outage or working in a remote location, this machine will meet all your electricity needs. It has a starting power of 4000 watts, which translates to 3300 watts once it starts running. Even though not the most powerful, it is still among the top ten machines in this category.

It features a heavy-duty, rattle-free steel frame, which remains quiet throughout its operation. In fact, this machine has a stated noise level of only 69dB. Thus, it will not interfere with the music at your Christmas party. With a 4-gallon gas tank, the generator will run for a continuous 8 hours at half-load. So as to avoid unnecessary surprises when the gas runs out, it comes with an easy-to-read gas gauge.

The control panel is one of the best components of this machine. It displays various stats through the voltmeter, circuit breaker, and warning lights. Here, you don’t need to engage in any form of guesswork. If you want to know the voltage at which it is operating, you will see it right there on the power panel. The recoil start is easy to use even for the uninitiated. When the oil gets to extremely low levels, the machine will automatically shut off to prevent damage to the 7 horsepower engine. It is hard to come across an affordable machine that works as hard as this one.

DuroStar DS4000S, 3300 Running Watts4000 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator

Pros:

  • A heavy-duty, durable steel frame
  • As easy to start and operate the engine
  • An affordable hardworking generator

Cons:

  • Not equipped for wheels for easy portability
  • High fuel consumption
  • May require frequent oil change than usual

3. Webetop 155Wh 42000nAh Portable Generator Inverter Battery

Best Portable Generator with Inverter Battery

If you are looking for a reliable solar portable generator, try out this particular machine. The Webetop Portable Generator is basically an inverter battery that stores power for use at your convenience. It can generate up to 42000mAh of power, making it a powerful, efficient, small-sized generator. On the overall, the unit weighs a paltry 3.5 pounds and measures 7.67 by 6.73 by 3.54. You wouldn’t find another generator that’s smaller than this one.

This generator is not just versatile but it is also convenient to carry with you wherever you go. Simply lift it in your hands, pack it in the car, and head out to an off-grid location. At home, this machine is great for providing backup power. It may not power a refrigerator but will come in handy when you want to charge various devices and appliances. The machine comes with several outlets including 12V DC, USB, and high-power AC. That makes it great for items such as Christmas lights, laptops, car vacuums, car chargers, mini-fridges, and air fans. USB ports are great for charging cameras, MP3 players, tablets, and phones.

Since it is a solar-powered generator, you don’t need gas to power this unit. Simply attach it to the solar panels and leave it in the sun. Within 5 to 8 hours, the unit will be fully charged. When there is no sun, you can charge this unit directly from a wall outlet. It comes with an LED flashlight which can last for a maximum of 125 hours when fully charged.

Webetop 155Wh 42000mAh Portable Generator

Pros:

  • Small, lightweight, and easy to carry
  • Chargeable from a wall outlet
  • Has a powerful LED flashlight

Cons:

  • May produce a buzzing sound
  • Does not include the solar panels
  • May fail to power heavy-duty equipment

4. Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Generator

Best Duel Guel RV Portable Generator

This Champion Portable Generator is an improved version of previous models from the same manufacturer. It has a starting power output of 4750 watts and a running power of up to 3800. This is much higher than previous models which had a starting power of only 4000 watts and a running power of 3500 watts. It has several types of outlets including 120V 30A, 120V 30A locking, and two 120V 20A outlets for household use. All of these outlets are safe for your appliances since they have Volt Guard.

Like other products from Champion, this is a gas-powered or propane-powered machine. On a full tank of gas, the generator can run continuously for up to 9 hours. A full tank of propane pushes the ante even further by providing up to 10.5 hours run time. That’s long enough to have performed your work or finished the Christmas party.

One of the best features of this machine is that it has an easy touch start. Simply, this machine does not require you to expend a lot of energy just to get it running. With a noise level of 68 dB, it is quieter than most of the other machines featured here. To enhance its portability, it comes with a folding handle and four never-flat tires. With that, you can push or pull it to the location you want to use it.

Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Generator

Pros:

  • Handle and never-flat tires for portability
  • An RV-ready outlet
  • Use both gas and propane

Cons:

  • The noise can be unbearable
  • Heavy when lifting into a vehicle
  • The push starter may fail to work

5. Generac 5735 GP17500E Portable Generator

Best High Power Portable Generator

The Generac 5735 GP17500E is a powerhouse with the ability to power a maximum of 16 circuits, an air conditioner, and a worksite. So far, it is the largest generator Generac has ever produced. If you want to know how versatile this generator is, connect it to the power supply in your house or commercial premises. The fuel tank is a 16-gallon affair with a run time of up to 10 hours. People like it for its ability to produce enough power for all of your home and business machines. With a staring power of 26,250 watts and a running power of 17500 watts, this generator is incomparable.

One of the most attractive features of this generator is the low oil auto shut-off feature which prevents damage to the engine. When using it in close proximity, you do not have to worry about the machine producing too much noise. It comes with a low-tone muffler so that your life is not interrupted by unnecessary noise.

With this machine, you get a number of other features that make it easy to use. Top on the list is the electric start, which only requires you to push a button. For easy portability, the generator comes with heavy-duty, never-flat wheels. The handles are full tubular and non-folding. In addition to the hour meter, the generator also has a fuel gauge to warn you when you are running low on gas.

Generac 5735 GP17500E 17500 Running Watts26250 Starting Watts Electric Start Gas Powered Portable Generator

Pros:

  • A powerful generator 
  • Comes with a low tone muffler
  • An auto low oil shut-off

Cons:

  • The gas system may malfunction
  • Has a poor fuel efficiency
  • May end up blowing fuses due to power surges

6. PRYMAX Portable Power Station, 300W Solar Generator

Best Solar Generator

Are you looking for a portable solar electric generator for use with the small appliance in your home? The PRYMAX Portable Power Station has a maximum capacity of 300W with a surge capacity of 600W. It is equipped with a lithium-ion cell with a 298Wh capacity. You can use it to charge your smartphones, laptops, and power a mini-refrigerator. You don’t have to stay in darkness when you have a dedicated power station. Simply connect your lights and you are good to go.

One of the most attractive features of this generator has to do with the number and types of outlets it has. For instance, it has 2 AC ports, 3 DC ports (12V and 24V as well as 19V input), 2 USB ports, 1 Type-C output port, and 1 cigarette lighter port. It is the perfect travel power station, given the way it will help you to quickly recharge your appliances safely.

Weighing only 6.5 pounds, the power station measures 8.5 by 7 by 5 inches, which is small enough for your on-the-go power needs. While in the outdoors, the included flashlight will come in handy. It has a fan that automatically turns on when it heats up. So, the fan doesn’t have to run constantly to keep the unit cool.

PRYMAX Portable Power Station, 300W Solar Generator

Pros:

  • A lightweight, portable power unit
  • Has several ports for charging various devices
  • LED flashlight for emergencies

Cons:

  • Powers only the light equipment
  • Reports of the device failing to meet expectations
  • Some outlet ports may fail to transmit power

7. Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Generator

Best Fuel Efficient Portable Generator

Are you looking for a reliable inverter generator for use with your TV, blender, and mobile devices? The Briggs & Stratton P2200 is safe and will not harm your devices in any way. It has a 3 percent overall harmonic distortion, which is safe for most devices. The generator has a 2200-watt surge output and a 1700-watt steady output. That’s powerful enough for this generator to work as a standby power source, just in case of an unexpected outage.

It comes with a 1-gallon gas tank. When full of gas, the generator can run for a maximum of 8 hours if the load is at 25 percent. This generator is very quiet compared with other machines in the same class. At a 25 percent load, the generator makes only 59 dB of noise.  In eco mode, the noise level is much lower at 57 dB.

The low-oil alert system protects the engine from damage. There is also an overload alert system that adjusts the engine speed automatically according to power consumption in order to save fuel, run quietly, and longer. When going out camping, this is perhaps the best generator for you. Using the H-handle, you can easily pick it up and load it in your car. It weighs only 54.6 pounds, which is lighter than most of the other generator models.

Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Portable 2200-Watt Inverter Generator

Pros:

  • An easy to use control panel
  • A fuel-efficient engine with auto idle control
  • A parallel port ensures more power output

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have an electric start button
  • The power produced may not operate heavy-duty equipment
  • Reports of an unexpected failure

8. Honda 662250 EB2200i 2200-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Best Portable Inverter Generator

Sometimes all you need is a quiet power generator, especially if you live in a neighborhood where others might get irked with it. The Honda 662250 EB2200i, produces a noise of between 48 and 57 dB, which is quieter than most other devices. But that has to relate to the amount of power it produces. With a maximum of 2200 watts of running power, this is definitely a powerhouse. On a full fuel tank, the generator will keep running for a continuous 10 hours.

Among the best features of this generator is the auto low-fuel shut-off valve to protect the engine from damage. Other safety features include the ability to shut-off the fuel valve when stale fuel is introduced in the device. In the interval of the shut-off, the generator will consume the fuel in the carburetor and completely shut-off later.

The Honda 662250 EB2200i weighs only 45.6 pounds, which is light enough to lift into your car. It measures 20.2 by 16.7 by 11.4 inches, which makes it a highly portable generator. You can use it for different recreational activities such as camping. At the same time, this generator is powerful enough for professional use. If you want a generator that can deliver both usability and power buy this device.

Honda 662250 EB2200i 2,200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Pros:

  • Quieter than most of the generators in this review
  • A fuel-efficient that runs for up to 10 hours
  • Fuel valve shut-off and other safety features

Cons:

  • An expensive generator
  • May not power heavy-duty equipment
  • No hour or voltage meters

9. Champion 3100-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator

Best Compact Portable Generator

If you are looking for a dedicated power generator to give you an extra-ordinary camping experience, buy the Champion 3100-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator. It comes in a compact body that measures only 22.4 by 17.3 by 18.3 inches and weighs 83.3 pounds. With its two handles, you can easily lift this generator and load it into your car. When moving on even terrain, push the generator on its wheels.

The generator comes with an easy-to-use recoil start. This is great for most users, given that you need only moderate strength to operate it. The outlet plugs are several and of different types. For example, you will get a 12V DC port, 12V DC automotive port, two 120/20A ports for household use, and one 120V/30A RV port.

It has a 1.6-gallon fuel tank and runs on a 171 cc 4-stroke gas engine. The starting power stands at 3100W while the running power is 2800W. With that kind of output, this generator is good enough for use with RV air-conditioners. Thanks to the inverter technology, the generator is highly efficient and has no power spikes or dips. With a low noise level of 58 dB, this device is quiet enough for use in any environment. With a break-in cycle of 1 hour at 25 percent, this generator is a must-have.

Champion 3100-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator

Pros:

  • A steady source of clean power
  • Comes with a touch control panel
  • Powerful 3100W starting power

Cons:

  • Break-in cycle not very clear
  • Louder than the advertised rating
  • Average quality for the pull-start rope

10. Anker Powerhouse Compact 400Wh/120000nAh Portable Outlet Generator

Best Lightweight Portable Generator

Need a portable solar generator for the outdoors? The Anker Powerhouse is a portable station that weighs only 11.45 pounds. It measures 7.9 by 6.5 by 5.7, which makes it compact enough to carry with you wherever you go. Once you reach the camping site, setting up this generator is simple and easy. It has a lithium-ion battery of 434Wh which enables you to charge your laptop and phones as well as power mini-coolers, small cooking stoves, and GoPro. With this generator, you won’t miss the conveniences you usually enjoy at home.

It comes with several outlets including one 12V car socket, one 110V AC outlet, and 4 USB outlets with PowerIQ capabilities for optimal charging of your electronic devices. This generator also has a BMS for temperature control, voltage regulation, and power surge protection.

In emergency situations, this generator can also serve as a source of power for CPAP machines and other medical devices. Thus, you don’t have to wait until you are in a hospital to attend to a patient. This beautifully-designed product is a must-have for anyone looking for a cost-effective way to back-up their power.

Anker Powerhouse, Compact 400Wh 120000mAh Portable Outlet, Generator

Pros:

  • Controls for voltage and temperature
  • Has several kinds of power outlets
  • Compact, lightweight, easy-to-carry generator

Cons:

  • Company has poor customer service
  • Defective display
  • A costly power generator

How to Choose the Best Portable Generator – The Ultimate Buying Guide

When the main power grid fails to supply you with electricity, a portable generator will provide you with the much-needed alternative. Such generators also come in handy when you are out camping in the outdoors. It will be easier for you to charge your smartphone and laptop. Yet, finding a reliable portable power generator isn’t that easy. In this buying guide, we show you some of the things you must consider before settling on a specific portable generator model.

What Type Of Portable Generator Is It?

On the question of how many types of generators there are, we can confidently say that we know of three. They are the gas, propane, and solar-powered generators. We look at each of these in greater detail below.

1. Gas-Powered Generators

As the name suggests, gas-powered generators rely on gas turning a mortar to produce electricity. Their power depends on the size of the fuel tank, engine capacity, and fuel efficiency. As such, there are generators with 2-gallon fuel tanks which run for up to 10 hours. Still, some generators with large fuel tanks may not have a run-time that’s longer than that.

2. Propane-Powered Generators

Propane-powered generators are not any different from the gas-powered ones since they rely on an engine turning a mortar to produce electricity. Compared to the gas-powered generators, they are more fuel-efficient and have longer run-times. To combine the advantages of gas and propane, some manufacturers have come up with dual-fuel models. With these, you have to select the fuel source to use from the display screen. The main advantage of the dual-fuel generators is that you get to choose the fuel to use.

3. Solar-Powered Generators

Solar-powered portable generators are just that – they have heavy-duty batteries, which are charged via solar panels. They work by storing power for use in an emergency situation or while out camping. Of all the portable generator models, these are usually the most compact and lightest. However, they do not provide enough power to operate heavy-duty equipment. What you get from this kind of generators is the ability to charge your mobile phone and laptop as well as power small appliances. They are the best when it comes to camping and outdoor activities.

What Are Your Power Requirements?

This is a question you cannot run away from if you hope to get a good generator. How and where do you intend to use the portable generator? The answer to this question will tell the kind of power rating you require. For instance, the power requirement on a camping site is different from that in a home. So, each one of these situations requires generators of different ratings. To know how much power you need, check the item(s) you are going to power.

Next, find out how much power it takes to start and run the appliance in question. The starting power, usually the highest, is the wattage it takes to start an appliance. It is usually given in a number of watts, which is the highest. The running power is the power you need to continuously run the appliance. Once you are sure about how much power you need, consider the different appliances you are going to be powering. Then, pick a generator with a slightly higher rating than your power needs.

How Noisy Is the Generator?

Gas-powered and propane-powered generators usually produce noise. If a generator is too loud, it may cause damage to the ears or even mess with your comfort. That’s why you need a quiet portable generator. If not, you will need long cables to set it a good distance away to avoid all the noise. For portable generators, anything below 60 dB is good enough. At that level, you will still be able to hold a conversation while avoiding disturbing your neighbors in camp, home or commercial premises.

Is The Generator Fuel-Efficient?

A good portable generator should also be fuel-efficient. Manufacturers understand that and it is the reason they have designed portable generators that adjust the fuel consumption in line with the current power load. Thus, the engine will only go full-throttle when the power load is close to the maximum rating. Some models of portable generators even have an eco-feature which drastically cuts down fuel consumption when the power load is very low. With a portable generator that consumes fuel more efficiently, you will be able to save money by spending less on fuel.

How Long Is The Fuel Tank Run-Time?

Generators may display their run-time as either 25 percent (quarter) or 50 percent (half) of the load. The run-time represents how long the generator is going to run on a full fuel tank at a percentage of its total power. However, in case of emergencies, the run-time might be unreliable when determining how long it will operate on a full fuel tank. In that case, it is better to pick one with the largest fuel tank.

Is The Generator Easy To Use?

Why should you pick a generator that’s too difficult to use? One with an electric switch is better than a generator that requires to be turned on manually. It should also have protective features to prevent damage to your generator. For example, check that the generator has a low-oil shutoff feature to turn the engine off at very low oil levels. Another important feature is a fuel gauge which warms you of the remaining time before the fuel tank is emptied. Now, let’s talk about the electric ignition. It is the easiest way to start a generator given that you only need to push a button.

How Portable is It?

A portable generator needs to be just that – portable. The determinants of the portability of a generator include the weight, handles, as well as the presence of wheels. A lightweight generator is easy to lift off the ground and put in a vehicle. If it is heavy, then it should have a handle and wheels to move it around. So don’t worry if you have a slightly heavy generator. The weight often means it has lots of components and light even has a large fuel tank.

How Many Outlets Does It Have?

The most desirable generator is one with a number of outlets. Using these ports, you will be able to spread the load and use the generator optimally. However, that doesn’t mean you should use all of the outlets at a go. In fact, the outlets are there to show you the different ways in which you can use the generator. Some may have 120V AC, 12V DC, and several USB outlets. If you have low-wattage appliances, don’t be afraid to pug into all of the outlets.

Does it release any emissions?

If a generator runs on fossil fuels, it will definitely produce emissions. It could be gasoline or diesel-powered. There is no way this kind of generator will fail to release emissions. However, you can choose to go “green” by investing in a solar-powered generator. If not, then choose one that uses propane instead of gas. Importantly, the generator should have certification from CARB, CSA, and EPA to show how safe they are.

What Is Your Budget?

When deciding the price of a generator, the manufacturers look as factors such as the noise rating, ease of use, power capacity, and so on. The brand also matters. That’s why brands from well-known brands like Yamaha and Honda will cost more. Since the manufacturers have been in business for a while, they are trusted to make the best engines. So, pick several generators based on your budget and compare them in terms of the other factors.

Conclusion

Have you identified a generator you would like to buy? If you haven’t, follow the buying guide to check elsewhere. You will definitely find a portable generator that serves your needs.

Adrian Dimakis

Written by Adrian Dimakis

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