Best Portable Generators for Quick Backup Power

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 2020 Reviewed


1. Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator with Remote Electric

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

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3. Webetop 155Wh 42000nAh Portable Generator Inverter Battery

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

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5. Generac 5735 GP17500E Portable Generator

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6. PRYMAX Portable Power Station, 300W Solar Generator

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7. Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Generator

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8. Honda 662250 EB2200i 2200-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

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9. Champion 3100-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator

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

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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.


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.

Written by Adrian Dimakis

Adrian Dimakis loves writing about everything tech, gadgets, travel and leisure as a full time editor at LearningRegistry. Adrian graduated from UCLA with a degree in journalism and marketing, and his work has appeared in publications including USAToday and The Boston Globe. When he's not testing gadgets and accessories, checking different online services, you can find him planning his next trip on a big paper world atlas with lots of pins. Adrian is also an avid consumer with an oddly deep love for finding amazing deals on amazing products.

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