Best Portable Generators 2018

Find the Best Portable Generator for You: Things You Need To Know

Most people think of a heavy, bulky and noisy machine when they hear the word “generator”. However, this is actually expected of a machine that converts motive power or mechanical energy to electrical power.

This electrical power is then used to provide energy for your household during a brownout or for your car engine when its battery is drained. Sounds very useful, right? It is true that having a generator with you can literally save you.

It can save you a lot of time, energy, effort, and money. This is most especially true during emergencies. A top-rated portable generator is a good investment for future emergencies.

Hence, today we will be talking about the best portable generator for 2018. We’ve also included an extensive buying guide as well as best portable generator reviews to help you start your hunt.

A portable generator is just among the many types, sizes, and styles of generators. So you must always take note of your generator type before using it for a specific purpose. Here are a few things we think you need to know beforehand!

What You Need to Know About Generators

When you search for good portable generators, you’re most likely to see it lumped together with inverters, jump starters and the like. This is because a portable generator (or engine generator) is simply a combination of an engine and an electrical generator.

These two are then mounted together to form a single machine or equipment. Thus, the term “gen-set” or engine-generator set. This is also why most, if not all, portable generators are gas-powered.
However, there are two types of portable generators: the inverter alternator generator and the conventional alternator generator.

Inverter Alternator Generator

The inverter alternator generator, like the conventional generator, also makes use of fossil fuels to run its internal combustion engine. However, compared to the conventional, the inverter type is lighter, quieter and more compact.

Moreover, the inverter type produces an ultra-clean power that is usable even by sensitive electronic devices or equipment. With the engine speed dependent on the electrical demand, this type is very efficient in general.

This goes for both in energy and fuel consumption. But do note that inverter generators are usually quite pricey. In fact, some are even more expensive than your conventional generators. This is the price to pay for the inverter generator’s somewhat complex design and advanced technology.

Conventional Alternator Generator

On the other hand, we have the conventional alternator generator. In contrast to the inverter type, conventional generators are louder, heavier and cheaper. When talking about the price to power ratio, the conventional generator is bound to win.

This is because, for a cheaper price, you get more power output, compared to inverters. While inverters use a magnet to generate the charge flow, conventional generators use copper winding.

Despite the noise, conventional alternator generators are significantly more powerful compared to inverters.

A Generator and Its Uses

As already mentioned, generators are available on the market in different types, sizes, and styles. Each type is meant for specific purposes. Hence, it is important to know the purpose for which you want to use it for.
Just like any other devices, a certain type of generator has its own strengths and limitations. For the inverter type, here are some of its most common uses:

  • Backup power for small homes, apartments or condominium units
  • Camping purposes such as hunting, boating, 4×4 driving and the like
  • Tailgating or car towing
  • RV power

As for the conventional generator, you get a wider range of functions due to its size and power. Here are some of them:

  • Industrial/professional purposes at job sites
  • Home use in general such as powering up a lawn mower and the like
  • A power source for cabins and holiday houses
  • Emergency backup power at home in case or brownouts or blackouts, etc.
  • Rental purposes

But before you go splurging on portable generators, there are still several factors you need to consider.

What to Look for When Buying a Portable Generator

We’ve rounded up some of the most important factors to consider when buying a portable generator. This will help give you a clear picture of what to get when buying the best portable generator for you.

Price

First off, would be the price. We will always tell you not to compromise quality for the price. However, if you really want to follow a specific budget, don’t fret. There are a lot of competitive brands out there that won’t break the bank.

A good way to check if a portable generator is reasonably priced is by comparing the power to price ratio. The features only come in second. It isn’t very practical to buy a very expensive and advanced model with limited power output.

This is most true if your purpose is just to power up something at home or when outdoors.

Durability and Run Time

Durability and runtime are among the most important factors to consider. How are you supposed to rely on a portable generator if it dies on you in an emergency? A sturdy portable generator should be able to withstand transportation as well as extreme weather and work environments.

As for the runtime, despite being quieter and smaller, the runtime should never be compromised. Portable inverter generators usually have more or less than 10 hours of runtime.

If you can’t find a portable generator that has a longer run time, just make sure you find one that can maximize the use of its runtime.

Noise

Portable generators, especially inverter types, are known for being able to function quietly. Some can even throttle back with lighter loads. Thus, significantly reducing the noise produced.

Check if you’re satisfied with your portable generator’s noise reduction.

Size and Portability

Different models and brands come with different storage and portability features. If you know that you will be traveling with it a lot, choose a portable generator that is compact. Does it come with a wheel apparatus, a generator cover, or a pulley and handle?

Functionality and Features

This is where most brands and models compete. The functionality and simplicity of a portable generator’s design are what make it stand out from the rest. There are a lot of brands out there who claim to have a lot of unique features.

This gives them the “pass” to tag a higher price. But do you really need all these extra features? Some important features to have in a portable generator would be control panels and LED display.

Having LEDs and display would allow you to monitor frequency, voltage output and the hours of operation. Monitoring these can help you avoid overloading conditions, overheating and damage-causing breakdowns.

Parallel operation is also another good additional feature. There are some brands and models that allow you to link them to other identical units. This can increase power capacity. However, do note that this is only applicable to some inverter types.

But for conventional types, this is absolutely out of the topic. Lastly, a good feature to have in a portable generator would be a mode switch. Generators that can switch from an auto power saving mode to a power boost mode would be ideal.

Maximum Power Output

This is a very important factor if you prefer more powerful generators o even if you’re planning to use your generator for industrial purposes.

Ranging from around 500 to 500,000 watts, the maximum power output of conventional generators is much higher than that of an inverter’s. Compared to this, the usual and standard range of power output for inverter types is only between 1000 to 4000 watts.

Fuel Type Requirements

Generators can be classified based on the fuel it uses. Based on the fuel type, generators are mainly classified into:

  1. Natural gas generator
  2. Propane powered generator
  3. Diesel generators and
  4. Gasoline generator

It is crucial to select generators that match the fuel that you are planning to use, to avoid engine damage.

BEST PORTABLE GENERATORS REVIEWS

Now let’s jump into the most important part of this article, for which you are eager too. For your convenience, I have classified the following section into three namely, best portable generators for outdoor and camping reviews, best portable generator for home use reviews and best conventional portable generators reviews. Read on to find what fills your needs.

ImageNameSuitable for 
Honda Inverter Generator Honda Inverter eneratorOutdoors and CampingCheck Price
Yamaha 2000 Watt Inverter GeneratorYamaha 2000 Watt Inverter GeneratorOutdoors and Camping
Champion Power Equipment 2000 Watt Inverter GeneratorChampion 2000 Watt Inverter GeneratorOutdoors and Camping
Briggs & Stratton Portable Inverter GeneratorBriggs & Stratton Portable Inverter GeneratorGeneral Home Use

Top 3 Portable Generators for Outdoors and Camping

1.  Honda EU1000i Inverter Generator Super Quiet 1000 Watts

Honda Inverter Generator

Honda proved itself to be a company of versatility. Not only do they ace the automotive industry, they are now producing generators as well.  The Honda EU1000i Inverter Generator might be the name that one come across most frequently while skimming the best portable camping generator reviews. It has become popular among outdoor enthusiasts and campers for its generous power output yet minimal noise. Only producing 53 to 59 decibels while operating, you are ensured of a quiet operation.

And as expected of an inverter generator, Honda EU1000i produces ultra-clean power that’s as reliable as the one you get at home through outlets.

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Pros

  • Size: True to its word, Honda EU1000i is indeed, highly portable due to its lightweight and compact size. Weighing only 29 lbs, you are sure to have a smooth time bringing this inverter generator along with you as well as storing it away.
  • Features: One of the strongest features of Honda 1000i would be its eco-throttle. Thanks to its eco-throttle technology, for making it fuel efficient. It can run for up to 8.3 hours on just a single tank. However, this can vary depending on the load. Nevertheless, it is still highly ideal for overnight power.
  • Safety: Last but not the least; safety is also never compromised with Honda’s EU1000i Inverter Generator. With the oil alert feature, your generator is protected as the engine automatically shuts down when low oil pressure is detected.

Cons

  • However, it does not come with any sort of warranty or guarantee. The return policy is also not as satisfactory.

2. Yamaha Model EF2000iSv2 2000 Watt Inverter Generator

Yamaha 2000 Watt Inverter GeneratorWith Yamaha, not only you get a quiet and highly portable inverter generator, you also a very powerful device. With a 1600 running watt and 2000 starting watt, Yamaha’s EF2000iSv2 gives you maximum power output.

 

It comes in two different colors: blue and a camouflage print. 45 pounds and 2.2 cubic feet of aesthetic technology make this model highly versatile yet retro-cool.

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Pros

  • Engine: One of the strongest features of Yamaha EF2000iSv2is its engine. The OHV engine is what makes this generator sturdy and somewhat heat resistant. It includes a steel camshaft, valve train components, and a cast iron cylinder liner. It also features an auto-decompression system and auto warm-up for an easier start during the cold.
  • Safety: Equipped with the Oil Watching Warning System, you can now avoid engine damages caused by low oil. The Electrical Overload Breaker is also another safety feature that helps prevent or keep generator damage to a minimum in case of an overload. Lastly are the Fuel Gauge and Gasoline Petcock. These allow for dry carb storage while preventing stale gas problems.
  • Features: Incorporated with a new controller of advanced programming, you now have easy access to controls and the fuel gauge at one glance. This model is also capable of a Twin Tech Parallel Operation for a maximized extra power.
  • Clean Emission: Your safety isn’t the only thing ensured by Yamaha. This model is also eco-friendly as it has the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and CARB (California Air Resources Board) Emission Engine Durability Rating.
  • Quiet/Efficient Operation: Similar to Honda, Yamaha comes with a Smart Throttle feature helps reduce noise and fuel consumption. This enables the EF2000iSv2 to run up to 10.5 hours at ¼ rated load on a single tank of gas. Its Pulse Width Modulation feature also helps it produce pure sine wave and cleaner power.

Cons

  • Beware though as this model can consume quite the amount of oil. Despite its fuel efficiency, the EF2000iSv2 can be quite bothersome when it comes to oil consumption and gas tank drainage system.
  • Draining the gas tank is a significant process in proper care and maintenance of your generator. If possible, it is best to talk to the seller about this first before buying the product.

3. Champion Power Equipment Model 73536i 2000 Watt Inverter Generator

Champion Power Equipment 2000 Watt Inverter GeneratorLast in this category would be Champion Power Equipment’s 73536i 2000 watt model. What you can note about this ideal inverter generator is its design. It comes in a patented, space-saving, stackable design.

 

This makes it highly ideal for parallel operations as you can easily connect it to another 2000 watt inverter. The black casing also makes it easier for you to carry it around. Generally, this generator has 1700 running watts and a 2000 starting watt.

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Pros

  • Size/Portability: Compared to the first two inverted generators, Champion Power’s is a bit heavier and bulkier. Weighing a total of 49 lbs, it is significantly heavier. However, its design and built-in handle still make it highly portable.
  • Operation: When it comes to operation, Champion Power’s Smart Economy Mode helps reduce electrical load and noise. Producing only 53 decibels while in operation, you get an ultra-quiet device. You also get extended engine life and run time up to 9.5 hours, better fuel economy and a True Sine Wave inverter technology.
  • Safety: Unlike the first two, Champion Power’s Inverter Generator comes with a limited three-year warranty and a free lifetime technical support. This guarantees you of your money’s worth. As for safety features, you also have an overload protection, USDA approved spark arrester and a low oil shut-off sensor.

Cons

  • But like any other types of equipment, Champion Power’s 73536i also has its limitations and weaknesses. When not idle or at full throttle, it isn’t as quiet anymore. Moreover, you might encounter some issues with fuel consumption and exhaust.
  • The exhaust can get pretty dirty and you’d have to de-clog the exhaust duct every now and then.

Top 3 Portable Generators for General Home Use

1. Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Portable Inverter Generator

Briggs & Stratton Portable Inverter GeneratorWhen it comes to general home use, Briggs & Stratton’s 30651 P2200 proves to be a competitive inverter generator. This model comes in a 2200 watt and 3000-watt variant as well as a powerpack (both variants) plus a connector.

The brand prides itself as an efficient inverter generator for camping, tailgating, and DIY projects. With an 8 hour run time at 25% load, this model from the PowerSmart series will surely be your friend while outdoors.

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Pros

  • Warranty: For such a competitive inverter generator, you also get a 12-Month Commercial/24-Month limited consumer warranty. This is a good bargain that will definitely satisfy you as a customer, even after purchase.
  • Features: There are a lot of features which you will definitely love from Briggs & Stratton. First off would be the Quiet Power Technology that allows the device to work at 25% load, producing only 59 decibels. You also get a variety of outlets from household outlets and a DC outlet with an included USB adapter. Its parallel capability and 3% total harmonic distortion also make it competitive as a generator.
  • Design and Portability: Weighing a total of 54.6 lbs, this model can get quite heavy. However, its design and H style handle makes it very sturdy for transportable as well as wear and tear.

Cons

  • Unfortunately, this model is not very ideal for camping or RV. It might not be as quiet as other brands or models. Also, you might encounter some issues when starting the engine after quite some time. This includes running it on 30 amp circuits or higher.

2.  Westinghouse WH7500E Gas Powered Portable Generator with Electric Start

Westinghouse Portable Generator with Electric StartNext, we have Westinghouse’s WH7500E Gas Powered Portable Generator with Electric Start among the best portable generators for home use. The brand is already known to have been producing quality household appliances for more than 60 years already.

This gas-powered portable generator is among those. With its 2000 rated watt and 2500 peak watts, this model is sure to supply electricity to any of your electric appliances. The brand boasts of the WH7500E’s ability to generate power in remote areas or serve as an emergency backup during power outages.

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Pros

  • Warranty: Aside from the sheer power of this generator, you also get a three-year warranty and a lifetime technical support.
  • Safety: Similar to Yamaha’s, Westinghouse is EPA, CARB, and CSA compliant. For added safety on the device itself, you have the Twist Lock Receptacle and rubber covers for all outlets. A cast iron sleeve and an automatic low oil shutdown are also among its safety features.
  • Features: The whole package includes the oil, an oil funnel, toolkit and a user’s manual to make assembly more convenient for you. The 12 hour run time at 50% load as well as its camper and RV ready outlets make this model good for both the outdoors and general home use.

Cons

  • Generally, this generator is good at what it’s for. However, you might have some issues with the quality control as well as the shipping if bought online. In addition, the tools included in the kit are not as high quality.
  • So, you might want to invest in your personal tools to ensure that you have a trouble-free assembly.

3. PowerPro 56101, 1000/900 Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator

PowerPro Watts, Gas Powered Portable GeneratorLast in this category would be PowerPro’s 56101. This gas powered portable generator is a product from Wen Company. A 1000 watt portable generator that has a 2-HP single cylinder two-stroke engine, this equipment proves to be one of the best rated portable generators for home use.
Unlike other brands, Wen actually provides you with a detailed table of the appliances or devices that you can power up with this generator. You will also see the estimated common wattage of these devices.
Everything you need to know about this model’s specifications is also listed down in table format. So, no need to worry about what you don’t know!

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Pros

  • Engine: Since this model is a two-stroke generator, it actually uses an oil-gasoline mix fuel. Thus, this eliminates the need for oil changes. Its quiet exhaust system and spark arrestor are also EPA and CARB compliant, making it usable in all US National Parks and states.
  • Warranty: Aside from the quality and the solid footing on any surface, Wen’s PowerPro 56101 also has a one-year limited manufacturer warranty. So, if you encounter any issues, as long as it’s within the warranty, Wen’s get you covered.
  • Operation: This small yet terrible generator delivers up to 900 watts of running and 1000 watts of starting power. Its one-gallon fuel tank also gives it five hours of run time at half load. The power panel also features functional switches and controls to make it easier for you to work with this device while in operation.
  • Portability: Although this model may seem to look a little bulky, it is actually pretty light at only 39 lbs. It also comes with a quality built-in handle. But most importantly, the four rubber pads on its frame increases stability, even when transported or stored away.

Cons

  • But beware of the oil-gasoline mixture for this type of generator. Quality of gasoline, oil to gas ratio and storage conditions can greatly affect the engine. Engine deposits and plugging might also become a problem due to the mixture if not regularly cleaned.

Top 3 Conventional Portable Generators

1.  DuroStar DS4000S, 3300 Gas Portable Generator

DuroStar Gas Portable GeneratorFirst in this category is the DuroStar DS4000S, 3300 Gas Portable Generator. With DuroStar, you get a good conventional generator that makes use of unleaded gas. It has a 4-gallon fuel tank capacity.
This is quite big, especially if you will only be using your generator as backup. With its fuel tank capacity, it can deliver you a total of 8 hours run time at 50% load. Moreover, it can also deliver 4000 surge watts and 3300 running watts.

Do note though, that since this is a conventional type, it is a manual pull start generator.

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Pros

  • Features: DuroStar markets its generator as a rugged workhorse. This said you are ensured that the equipment is very sturdy. But as for the features, it has an air cooled OHV engine with low oil shut off. It also comes with an oil warning light, voltmeter, circuit breaker and power outlets, all in the full power panel. These features will help you monitor your generator’s condition and keep it from overheating or overloading.
  • Portability: For a conventional generator, DuroStar proves to be pretty light as it only weighs 90 lbs. It also features a heavy-duty steel frame with four point fully isolated mounts and an optional wheel kit. This makes it a bit more portable despite being a conventional type.
  • Noise Levels: Naturally, conventional types are louder than inverter generators. However, the DuroStar DS4000S features a muffler system that can reduce the noise up to 69 decibels. This is relatively quiet for a conventional generator.

Cons

  • However, you might encounter several issues with this, such as its lack of fuel gauge. The fuel gauge is a very important must have for generator owners. In time, you might also encounter some leaks.
  • But lastly, it’s not as quiet as advertised. If you will be using it for camping, it would be best to camp somewhere a bit isolated to neutralize the noise.

2. WEN 56180, 1500 Watt Gas Powered Portable Generator

WEN Watt Gas Powered Portable GeneratorThe next product we have would be Wen’s 56180 model, 1500 Watt Gas Powered Portable Generator. For a quick rundown on this model, you get a best conventional generator with a 1.45-gallon fuel tank capacity.

It is also quite a powerful machine as it operates at 98cc. But the best part is you get all of these features that are EPAIII and CARB compliant. This model is allowed for operation in all 50 states of America.

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Pros

  • Features: Its features won’t disappoint as well as it does not skip out on safety features and functionality. It has an Internal Air-Cooling System for the OHV engine to avoid overheating. It also features a low oil automatic shutdown and a spark arrestor to protect the 4 stroke engine.
  • Power: As mentioned earlier, despite being lightweight and compact, Wen 56180 does not compromise on power as a conventional generator type. With an engine displacement of 98cc, 1800 surge watts, 1500 running watts and 7.5 hours of half load run time, this model is pretty powerful.
  • Portability: For a conventional generator type, Wen 56180 is a pretty lightweight and compact machine as it only weighs 50 lbs. And like all Wen generators, this model has a compact design and a durable yellow encasing that also serves as the handle. This makes it ideal for transportation as well as daily wear and tear.
  • Warranty: Not only do you get a sturdy generator, with Wen, you also get a warranty. However, it is a limited warranty.

Cons

  • However, we also think it’s best to get acquainted with some of the minor issues you might encounter with this product. First would be issues with the spark plug. Another would be its fuel requirement.
  • If you like stocking up gas, we suggest that you use new gas for this model and never old ones. You will have an easier time starting this machine if the gas is new.

3. Cat RP7500E Gas Powered Portable Generator with Electric Start

Cat Portable Generator with Electric StartAmong the many products we’ve listed above, Cat’s RP7500E Gas Powered Portable Generator is actually electric start instead of the manual pull start. Generally, it is quite a powerful generator as it has a power output of 7500 running watts and 9375 starting watts.

The best part here is that Cat’s RP7500E is also EPA compliant. It also has another variant that is California CARB compliant, in case that is what you need.

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Pros

  • Size and Portability: Like any other conventional generator, this model is also quite bulky. It is also quite heavy at 192.5 lbs. However, this is the price to pay for a high wattage generator. But for portability, its built-in wheels make up for the bulk and weight of this product.
  • Features: Buying this model would include the engine oil, a funnel and an assembly kit to make it easier for you to set this up. It features twist lock receptacles, a LED-lit Control Panel, padded double hinged handle and solid rubber wheels. However, these are just among the many unique features you’re about to discover once you get this model.
  • Warranty: When it comes to warranty, this CAT generator comes with a 3-year warranty with registration. The company also has a 24/7 multilingual call center support as well as authorize sale and service support centers.

Cons

  • Experiences may vary since sometimes the quality of the product is affected by shipment or storage while in the warehouse. For Cat’s RP7500E, you might find that its lack of auto-idle mode can be quite bothersome.

To Sum Things Up

At the end of the day, the best portable generator for you will be one that meets your needs and your budget. Therefore, we always emphasize how important it is for you to know what you want from your generator.

For camping, Honda’s might be a good option for an inverter portable generator. It has minimal issues in the long run. However, again, it does not come with a warranty and its return policy is quite tedious.

For general home use, PowerPro is a good choice. It uses cheaper fuel as it runs on oil-gas fuel mixture. But then, you have to make sure to get the ratio right and to clean it every now and then. This is to avoid clogging and residue caused problems.

Finally, for the portable conventional type generator, DuroStar’s makes for a good option. Except for its lack of fuel gauge and noise, it can give you a pretty smooth operation. Wen’s would also be a good choice.

However, some might find it expensive to keep on buying new gas for the fuel tank just for it to start easily. Anyhow, we wish you luck in your hunt for the best portable generator.

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