Every inverter generator is engineered to solve a specific problem centered around the need for power. The mistake that many people make when choosing an inverter generator is in failing to understand their power requirements and as a result, they choose an inverter with inadequate power, and/or they don’t get the features they need. Choosing the best inverter generator is a question that only you can answer. What’s right for you is not what’s right for your friend or neighbor. You need to work backwards and start with being honest about your power needs and specifically: How do you intend to use this Inverter generator?
I’m here to help you choose the right generator. I’ve done most of the work for you.
For example, the Westinghouse iGen4500 series, shown at the beginning of this article, is a fantastic inverter generator and should be at the top of your list, especially if you have a small to mid-sized RV. The iGen4500DFc (dual-fuel) feels right at home on a campsite, capable of powering your RV AC and more. It has a dedicated RV 30A outlet which would be your first clue as to who the Westinghouse design team was targeting when creating this particular model. I discuss this series later in the article, so for now let’s take a look at the inverter generator market and see what’s worth buying and why.
Editor’s Take: Inverter vs Traditional Generator
Why are inverter generators superior to conventional gas generators? Are they worth paying up to 3x as much money for? There’s been a noticeable shift in the generator market which began about a year ago. Inverter generators have increased in popularity as prices have come down and as leading brands started releasing more powerful models, like this Champion.
Inverter: Champion 100719
New Generation Inverters are as Powerful as Gas.
Traditional: DuroMax XP8500E
3x Cheaper than equivalent inverter model.
Should you Buy A Honda Inverter?
OK, let’s get this out of the way, there’s no doubt that Honda makes incredible inverter generators. In fact, they make the quietest inverter generators, but they also make the most expensive generators and I think that most people are looking to spend less money on an inverter in 2022. My goal is to give you recommendations for the best value for your money. It’s easy to buy the most expensive inverter generator. Anybody with money can do that, but it’s a little more difficult to choose lesser known brands that also make excellent inverter generators you can rely on.
Definitely, this 2200W Honda is a classic —- just wait until you see the new 3200W (EU3200i) inverter from Honda in the next section. I will say this though, you can spend less money and get a generator just as reliable — Not as quiet, but pretty darn close, and with more features. More on this Honda later as well.
Honda EU2200i – 2200W / 1800W Run
Best Quiet Inverter Generator — A Great Choice if You Have Too Much Money & Want to Spend it
In many ways, this inverter is fairly basic, especially the control panel. And for the price, I’m disappointed that it doesn’t come with a dedicated 30A outlet. You’ll see many inverter generators in this article at half the price with a 30A and other great features, like a push button electric start. I like the addition of Bluetooth, allowing you to monitor and control it from your smartphone. That’s very handy.
Overall, you’re paying for the Honda engine and quality, as well as the brand. Don’t get me wrong, I love Honda. I drive a 2019 CRV Touring and I bought it because of its reputation for reliability and resale value. But, I don’t have the same criteria when buying a generator because they’re not as complicated as a car. Either way, I feel there are many better options for you , and you’ll save money. Keep reading and you’ll see.
If you purchase the COMPANION Model (EU2200iTAN1) and connect it to the EU2200i you get a 30A RV-Ready outlet and almost double the power. This configuration gives you a lot more flexibility with how you can use your power, but it’s expensive and in all honesty, you’re probably better off getting the Honda EU3200i.
Notable Features (Honda EU2200i) —
- 2200 watts (18.3 A) / 1800W Running
- Honda GXR120 Engine / 121cc
- 57 dB at rated load / 48 dB at 25% load
- Weighs 47.4 lbs. / Not the lightest 2200W inverter
- Bluetooth: Connect to your Smartphone / operation monitoring, and service reminders
- Running Times: 3.2hr at 100% load / 8.1 hrs at 25% load
- CO-MINDER – Carbon Monoxide monitoring system, with automatic shutdown if CO levels get too high
- Pure Sine Wave power. Steady clean power at any load. Won’t drop as you add more devices to run.
- 3 Year Warranty (Residential & Commercial)
A Changing Market
Inverter generators come in various shapes and sizes for a reason. Every model fits into a category determined by its features. Each category of inverter generators fulfills a need, but not all categories are intended to solve every problem. In other words, choose the best inverter generator in the category engineered to meet your power requirements.
Inverter generator prices have been coming down over the past few years due to the increased competition from the big brands but I’ve also noticed the overall quality and features included has gone up considerably over the past year. For example, carbon monoxide monitoring is becoming a standard feature on new inverter generators, but it’s only the beginning of safety features you’ll see over the next couple years.
I’ve hand-picked the best inverter generators from a wide range of brands, in a broad range of categories. I’m confident you’ll find what you need in this buying guide. Let’s take a look at the top rated and best quality inverter generators for 2022.
Best Ultra-Lightweight Inverter Generators
Many inverter generators are marketed as portable but in truth, a 50 lb. generator is quite heavy for most people, unless it has wheels. The sweet spot for portability is under 40 lbs. — if it’s meant to be carried with one hand. Personally, I think all generators should have wheels to make them easier to move for the elderly, or people who might be ill, or for those who have general weakness for any reason. Backup power is needed by everyone, not just the young and strong.
Champion / 39 lbs.
Gas or Dual-Fuel — 2500W / 1850W
Another Smart Design from Champion. You’ll barely hear the 200951. It registers 53 dB at 23 feet, which means you’ll barely hear it when it’s idling. As you plug in electrical equipment it’ll gradually get louder but it will never be annoyingly loud like gas generators. That’s the beauty of Champion and other well-made inverter generators.
In addition, its lightweight design (39 lbs) makes this ideal for camping, tailgating, your boat, or as a small home backup inverter to run essentials like your fridge in case of power outage. Or use it as an ancillary generator for your RV, using it to run your sensitive power equipment.
WEN 56235i / 39 lbs.
Power Output = 2350W / 1900W
The WEN 56235i is similar the Champion 200951 in many ways — in fact it’s a little quieter by a few decibels (51dB with 25% load) with minimal loads. It’s equally light at 39 lbs and I found it to be just as reliable and as easy to start.
You can buy it with or without the CO Monitoring at about the same price, so do yourself a favor and get carbon monoxide monitoring. This feature can save your life and doesn’t cost much more. How much is your life worth?
For sensitive devices you won’t find a cleaner source of power. You get THD under 1.2% when other brands give you under 3%.
Is Genmax A Better Buy than Honda? Which Inverter is a better Value?
New Genmax GM3200i vs New Honda EU3200i Inverter
Here we are — Two newly released 3200W RV-Ready (30A-120V) inverter generators.You’ll be surprised at what you discover.
Power: 3200W / 2800W (Steady)
Other than the warranty there’s nothing to complain about with this 3200W Genmax. The price is phenomenal and the quality of the generator is excellent. It provides consistent power no matter what you throw at it.
Why This is A Great Buy
What can be improved?
The factory that makes Genmax has been making generators for top brands since 2010. Now they’re selling their own brand. Rumor has it they make Duromax & Harbor Freight generators but I have not confirmed this yet. Either way, they are a premium factory in Chonqing, China, the center for global generator manufacturing.
Long-term reliability is promising but it’s too early to know for certain.
Power: 3200W / 2600W (Steady)
This 3200W Honda is now available and shipping. This is replacing the EU3000iS. This EU3200i is considerably lighter, smaller, quieter, more efficient and all-around better in every department.
For this Honda, you will pay $1.15 per Running Watt of Power, compared to $0.21 per/Watt for the Genmax 3200i
Why This is A Great Buy
What can be improved?
There’s no question that Honda has created another timeless inverter generator, but for many people, it’s price-point puts it out of reach.
You have a lot of choices in 2022. It’s funny, because a year ago the generator market was less complicated and there were far fewer choices.
VIDEO | Genmax Factory Making the GM9000iED
Let’s take a look at the top rated and best quality inverter generators for 2022.
Best RV Inverter Generator / 30A
Westinghouse iGen4500DFc : 4500W / 3700W Run
The cost per running watt with this Westinghouse is $0.32, which is excellent for a highly reputable brand. I know everyone talks about Honda engines and the quality of their technology but I never hear the same praise for Westinghouse, which I find strange. Westinghouse makes their own engines as well as industrial engines up to 100,000 hp. Did you know that Westinghouse is a massive company and a master in manufacturing industrial equipment, like their advanced nuclear fuel systems (EnCore) and portable nuclear reactors (eVinci).
So, I find it comical when I hear the unanimous echo of praise for Honda, when Westinghouse makes equally as good generators at ⅓ of the price. For my money, Westinghouse gives you the most for you money, and you know they’ll be around in 3 years if you need service or parts. They’ve been in business since 1886 so I’m confident they’ll be around in 2026. I recommend you do you own research rather than take my word for it. You have a lot of options but all brands are not equal.
Back to the 4500W Westinghouse — VIDEO Showing how it responds under load
The Westinghouse iGen4500DFc (above) is arguably one of the best inverter generators for a wide range of applications. It sits in the middle as far as power output with 4500W for starting, and 3700W of running power. The latest model has a CO sensor, which has become normal for new inverters. We should all applaud this but the fact is that manufacturers have been fighting legislation that would mandate adding features that would reduce CO emissions. Soon that will change. Truth is, CO sensors are the cheapest proactive mechanism but they don’t prevent all deaths, and this needs to change to save lives.
Either way, for this Westinghouse inverter, it’s designed to shut-off If carbon monoxide levels get too high. It’s better than nothing but all generators should produce very low CO emissions to solve the problem for good. The technology is available, but it will add about $100 to the cost of the generator. Electronic Fuel injection (EFI) is one solution that achieves much lower CO emissions but very few generators have this feature. Honda is one brand that uses EFI on their generators.
If you need a medium-duty inverter this should be at the top of your list; perfect for your RV, with its dedicated 30A RV outlet but also practical for camping or home back-up. It’s available as a gas only model (iGen4500c) or a dual-fuel (with or without CO monitoring). We have a complete guide on this 4500W series. More on this generator later in the article.
It has enough power to run 2x RV air conditioners plus other smaller devices (IE. TV), but it won’t run 2x AC’s + your microwave.
What Will You Be Using the Inverter Generator For?
Most common uses of Inverter Generators are the following :
- Camping / Traditional Tent Camping
- Home Backup Power / IE. To keep the fridge running & lights during a power outage
- RV : Inverters are ideal to power your RV. Make sure the generator is “RV Ready”
- Tailgating / General Outdoor Leisure Activities
- Food Trucks / All Food Trucks need a quiet inverter generator
Every Inverter Generator in this article is highly regarded, with a history of high customer satisfaction. I won’t recommend any generator that I wouldn’t personally buy.
Best Inverter Generators for 2022
There’s never been a better time to buy an inverter generator as big brands have been competing to come up with the best value generator that customers can rely on. All of the big brands have come out with new models over the past 8 months, and carbon monoxide sensor integration is one of the best safety features you’ll see on newer inverter generators. There’s something here for any budget but the one thing they have in common is they’re well-made, reliable, and high-quality — relative to their price. I only recommend inverter generators I’d buy myself.
Excellent Value Inverter Generators
The Westinghouse WH3700iXLTc was released in 2022 and it’s packed with advanced features for little money, and the PowerSmart PS5025 is a newer brand that makes affordable products for consumers. It’s a great cheap inverter generator that won’t disappoint you. The Westinghouse is a step up in terms of power (3000W Run) and overall quality.
Westinghouse continues to make the best value generators for homeowners. This 2022 model (WH3700iXLTc) has a lot of power, and all the features you’d want, and yet it’s a bargain at the price it’s being sold for. Highly recommended for camping, RV, or home backup power.
This is a good buy if you’re looking for a basic inverter generator without the bells and whistles. It’s not fancy, does not have a 30A outlet or CO monitoring, but it’s inexpensive. You have to make some tradeoffs when buying a cheaper generator. This is a newer brand so it’s hard to know how this model will endure over time.
I’m just getting started for my recommendations so keep scrolling because, as I promised, there’s an inverter generator here for everyone. I love showing readers what their options are. We spend countless hours on research to save you time and money. Ultimately the choice is yours.
Best Home Backup Inverter Generator
We are lucky because we live at a time when inverter generators are large enough to power your entire home. The past year has been a boom year for powerful inverter generators. The DuroMax XP9000iH is an excellent dual-fuel inverter generator, and the new GenMax GM9000iED (Gas & Dual Fuel) has entered the market with a bang as it has both a 50A and 30A 120/240V outlet, making it able to run your 240V appliances and central AC. Let’s compare them:
The XP9000iH is an excellent choice for your home. It has a 30A 120/240V outlet and an ATS port giving you options to connect to your home or RV. Unfortunately it does not have a 50A outlet like the Genmax 9000W generator. Provides pure sine wave power to safely run any sensitive devices. Superior to traditional gas generators.
One of the best inverter generators if you need a lot of clean power.
Power: Gas = 9000W / 7600W Run — Propane: 8550W / 7200W Run
Why You Should Buy
What bothers me
GENMAX GM9000iED /NEW
This Genmax is the new kid on the block and even though this is a newer brand they seem to be doing almost everything right. If you want value, this is an full-featured inverter generator that includes a 50A 120/240V outlet, capable of powering your most demanding devices, including 240V appliances and your central air conditioning.
Dollar for watt, this is the best home backup inverter generator, capable of safely running your sensitive electronics. The build quality is solid. The only complaint I have is they only offer a one year warranty. This is a mistake on their part as the warranty is a signal to consumers that the company believes in the durability of the product — or not. Get the extended warranty and it’s the perfect generator.
Power: Gas = 9000W / 7600W Run — Propane: 8550W / 7200W Run
Why You Should Buy
What you need to know
Best Compact 2000W+Inverter Generators
WEN is another reputable consumer brand, they make great value power equipment for homeowners and the WEN 56203i is a great example of a great value inverter generator. I would recommend WEN over PowerSmart because of their longer history. And this P2400 from Briggs & Stratton was one of the first inverter generators to include CO monitoring. It’s an underrated model that I highly recommend. Take a closer look.
Either of these two inverter generators will serve you well if you have light-duty power needs. A few years ago it was impossible to find an affordable inverter generator, and forget about finding one that generated more than 3000W of power. All of that has changed in 2022, giving you a plethora of options to choose from.
Most Promising New Inverter Generator
Designed for your RV (30A 120/240V), Camping or for Power Outages / Release Date: Aug 2022
Scheduled Release date is late August 2022. Available for purchase on Amazon. Will ship when in stock.
Editors’ Thoughts / 100719
The 100719 from Champion has all of the ingredients for an award winning inverter generator — or a nice souffle, but I digress. Seriously, the specs are excellent and it will be competing in a very small category of inverter generators with 7000W of run power, or more. Only a handful of models fit that description. The Honda EU7000iS has been regarded as, not only the best inverter generator ever made, but the best generator period. But the problem with the EU7000iS was (and still is) that it’s too expensive for the majority.
Times have changed and several brands have been targeting the coveted top spot in the inverter category. It’s not enough to produce great light-duty inverter generators because anybody can seemingly do that. The real test has been to scale their technology and maintain the same level of quiet, while providing pure sine wave power, effectively and for a lot less money than the Honda EU7000is. It appears that Champion has achieved this prestigious honor but you won’t be getting electronic fuel injection.
With the 100719 you get 8500W to start devices and 7000W of steady power. This is excellent and more than enough for most people. It’s not quite the most powerful inverter but it’s close to the Duromax XP9000iH and Genmax GM9000iED, which provide up to 7600W of power and 9000W to start.
The 100719 is true pure sine wave inverter, providing less than 3% of total harmonic distortion. There’s nothing it won’t be able to run safely which broadens the audience considerably. You get a lot of the standard Champion features that you find on their other inverter generators, such as: Intelligauge, Cold Start Technology, CO Shield, EZ Start Dial and their 3-year warranty. In addition, you get a new Quiet Design System, which I’m certain was necessary to dampen the sound of the 420cc engine. That’s the biggest engineering challenge as brands attempt to scale up their inverter sizes.
The target audience for the 100719 appears to be the RV and camping crowd, with the dedicated 120/240V 30A locking outlet. But, this can be used anywhere you need quiet and clean power. Nowadays there’s a cable to convert any generator outlet to wherever you want to plug it in.
I’m excited to get my hands on this and see what it can do. It’s well priced and represents a shift in priorities with big brands to provide more powerful inverter generators to consumers because there’s a growing demand from consumers how want them.
I love Champion for their quality. I have no doubt this new inverter will live up to its promise. The generator market is changing fast, and a recession is looming large. There will be a need for many people to cut costs wherever they can but I think there are plenty of homeowners and RV owners who will be untouched by the recession and will have no problem spending their money to get high quality backup power. Time will tell how the market will respond but my guess is this will be another best seller from Champion.
Best Cheap Clean Inverter Power
WEN GN400iX / 3500W Running
The GN400iX is a good option if you need cheap clean power and you don’t care about the noise level. It’s louder than enclosed inverter generators and quieter than traditional gas generators. It’s certainly not quiet, which is one of the main reasons people want an inverter generator. On the other hand it’s an excellent option if you don’t want to spend a lot of money but need a generator to power your RV. It has a dedicated RV 30A outlet making this ideal for anyone needing a cheap RV inverter.
You’ll have enough power to run your RV Air Conditioner with its 4000W of start power and 3500W of steady power. This is enough power for most small to medium sized RV’s but if you need additional power you can easily connect a second model to almost double your power. You get the best of both worlds with this model and you won’t have to break the bank.
Reasons to Buy
Reasons Why You Should Not Buy
Buying Essentials & Inverter Reviews
I’m a big advocate for inverter generators over traditional gas models because they have many practical advantages over traditional gas models, unless you need to power your entire house, in that case you might need a powerful 12,000W generator, but inverter generators are getting more powerful ever year, like the DuroMax XP9000iH (9000W).
Fast Fact : How Does an Inverter Generator Work?
Visual Representation : Inverter Power vs Traditional Gas Generator
Buy Reputable Inverter Generator Brands
Technology keeps moving forward, and ultimately you, the consumer, benefits by getting more for your money. I have one important point I want to make before you spend your hard-earned money on an inverter generator — don’t buy a no-name brand model. No-name brands are great for a lot of products like toilet paper, USB cables, towels, etc., but I don’t recommend a generic brand inverter generator. You’ll probably find a lot of cheap inverters from brands you’ve never heard of, but I’d advise you stay away from them for several key reasons.
Why You Should Never Buy A Cheap Generic Brand Inverter Generator :
- Lack of support. These brands don’t have the infrastructure to support their products like the reputable brands.
- Parts are impossible to find. Also, they don’t have service repair centers if your generator breaks down and you need it serviced.
- Low quality control standards. Reliability is always lower than established brands.
- Will the company be around in three years? Unlikely.
Champion 200986 / Best RV Camping Inverter Generator
Here’s one of the best inverter generators from Champion for 2022. They are a highly reputable generator brand. It has plenty of power at 4500W starting and 3500W running.
This is one of large inverter generators you can buy and can be used for anywhere you need portable power. If the power goes out at 2am you’ll be happy you have this inverter at your home to keep the fridge running, the lights on and being able to power all of your gadget. Customer satisfaction is very high. A full tank of gas will get you through the night and it’s quiet at only 61 decibels. See more of the features below.
- Quiet at only 61 dBA. Ideal for your RV, tailgating, or camping
- Power : 4500 starting watts and 3500 running watts
- up to 14 hours run time on only 2.3 gallons of gasoline
- Parallel Ready / Double your Power : optional parallel kit (sold separately)
- Intelligauge with Power Meter : Monitor voltage, frequency and operating hours with ease, plus the EZ Start Dial simplifies startup while Economy Mode monitors power consumption in real time
- Clean Power for Sensitive Electronics
- Outlets : 120V 30A RV, plus two 120V 20A household outlets with clean power (less than 3% THD) and a 12V automotive-style outlet, plus a handy dual port USB adapter
- EPA and CARB certified
Why Inverter Generators are Better than Traditional Generators?
Inverter generators are superior to traditional generators for a myriad of reasons, including :
- They provide clean “sine wave” power to safely run the most sensitive electronics,
- Ultra-Quiet : Quality models are quieter than the sound of a normal conversation (under 60dB)
- Run efficiently, saving money on gas. Engine automatically adjusts to your power load
- Lightweight and easy to move around. Many are hand-held.
- Can be run in parallel allowing you to scale your power quickly and efficiently.
Needless to say, I’m a big advocate for these type of generators because of their advantages. For 2022, here are two more of my favorite portable inverter generators worth your hard-earned money.
I’m starting off with the battle of the cube inverters. I love these little modular designs. There’s something adorable about them, if that makes any sense. I mean, can inverter generators be cute? I don’t know about you but I always appreciate when a company makes their products look visually appealing, even if it’s a generator. But I digress. Champion and Generac are highly reputable brands in the world of generators. They’re quite similar in many ways. The Champion 200986 has more starting power (500W more) as well as cold start technology to give you a little extra peace of mind in freezing temperatures. The Generac is much quieter, comparable to Honda — specifically the Honda EU3000is, which is no small feat. People pay a lot more money for the quietness of Honda.
What’s most important to you? Either way, you can’t go wrong with either of these two excellent inverter generators :
Best 3000W – 4000W Inverter Generators
Champion 200986 / 3500W
- 212cc OHV : 4500W start / 3500W run
- Cold Start Technology
- Monitors : Voltage, frequency and operating hours
- Economy Mode = Save on Gas
- Connect two in parallel (double your power)
- Outlets : (RV Ready) 120V 30A RV, 2x 120V 20A household, 12V DC outlet, 2x USB ports
- Clean power (less than 3% THD)
- Run Time: Up to 14 hrs. (25% load)
- Size : 23.2″ x 17.7″ x 20.1″
- 3 year warranty
- Monitors : Voltage, frequency and operating hours
- Quick Touch Panel : Easy to use
Generac iQ3500 / 3000W
- 212cc, OHV : 3500W start / 3000W run
- 40% Quieter than Honda* : Advanced technology & enclosure design
- PowerRush : 16% more power than Honda** and delivers 50% more starting capacity.
- 24/7/365 Customer Support
- Outlets : 2x 120V 20A 5-20R Duplex, 1x 120V 30A L5-30R Twist Lock, 2x USB ports
- Run Time (Eco Mode) : 14.1 hrs. at 25% Load / 8.9 hrs. at 50% Load
- Parallel Ready / 3 year warranty
- Clean Power : Less than 3% THD
- *Over 5dB quieter than the EU3000is, based on independent third-party testing.
// **500 more starting watts than eu3000is
Best Value Dual-Fuel Inverter Generators
Here are two more excellent inverter generators from brands you can trust — Westinghouse and Champion. These companies know how to build power equipment you can depend on when you need it most. the Westinghouse iGen4500DFc is an updated model of their iGen4500DF, which was already an excellent generator but now they’ve added CO monitoring to the new model. Just look for the “C” at the end of the Westinghouse model name to know if it’s the newer model. And the Champion 200961 is a great option if you need a lightweight dual-fuel inverter generator.
Westinghouse iGen4500DFc / 4500W
- Dual fuel : gasoline or propane (LPG)
- 4500W Peak, / 3700W Run : up to 18 hours on a 3.4 gal. gas tank
- Variable engine speeds : 30% to 50% higher fuel efficiency
- Telescoping handle / never-flat wheels / 105.8 lb.
- Remote start (key fob) and push button start
- Quiet : as low as 52 dBA / double-insulated acoustic enclosure, asymmetrical cooling fans, and low tone mufflers to reduce operating noise
- LED display : Runtime, remaining fuel, load/output, volts and lifetime hours data
- RV Ready TT-30R outlet
- Automatic Low Oil and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Shutdown
- All Westinghouse portable generators are functionally tested in the factory
Champion 200961 / 2500W
- Dual fuel : gasoline or propane (LPG)
- 53 dBA from 23 feet
- Gas : 2500W / 1850W : Runs up to 11.5 hours
- Propane : 2000W / 1665W : up to 34 hours with a 20-lb propane tank
- Lightweight at only 39 lbs.
- Outlets : 120V 20A household (5-20R) / 12V automotive-style / 2x USB
- Cold Start Technology = Fast start in cold weather.
- Parallel Ready : optional kit (sold separately) allows you to double your power AND the kit has a 30A RV outlet and a 120V 30A locking outlet making it RV Ready.
- Economy Mode
- CARB / EPA
- less than 3% THD
Should you Buy A China Based Generator Brand?
The Genmax model (2800iAE) you see here represents a shift in the generator market as China-based companies spread their wings and offer cheaper generators with more features. Genmax is a promising brand but it’s still too early to tell how their inverter generators will hold up over the long-term. There’s a lot to like about their full line of generators, but you need to also be cautious before you buy and here’s why.
Support is an important piece of the puzzle when you buy a portable generator and not all companies offer US support. In addition, parts may not be readily available in the US or Canada, which means you have to order direct from China, and that’s a slow process. In the case of Genmax, they are a factory based company operating out of China, which means if your generator requires a part replacement you may be screwed. Where are you going to get the part?
I bring this up because I want people to consider the full picture before they buy. Companies like Champion and Westinghouse are based in the US, and you’re guaranteed to get excellent support. Do the math and consider all angles before choosing your inverter generator. You might pay less up front but if something goes wrong you might end up paying a lot more.
I recommend getting the extended warranty option available on Amazon if you decide to buy a Chinese brand that only gives you a one year warranty. This way, if you end up with a defective unit, you know it will either be fixed or replaced. For the money you save, you can get an extra 3 years of warranty and still end up paying less.
Carbon Monoxide Kills
Most new generators released over the past six months have carbon monoxide monitoring integrated into the generator. Finally, this feature is becoming common. It should be mandated by law to be incorporated into every generator as far too many people die every year when they use their gas generator in an enclosed space, or near an open window. CO is odorless so you won’t know CO levels are high unless you have a carbon monoxide alarm at home. Luckily, big brands have finally caught on to this need, making these generators much safer to use
We tried to make it fairly comprehensive without being overwhelming. Our goal here is to educate our readers alongside providing smart buying choices. Let’s be honest, spending countless hours on research gets boring fast. Personally, I genuinely enjoy it but I know that it’s not for everybody. I think the internet has turned everybody into a researcher — for better or worse. Luckily, we do all of the work for you.
Best Tailgating 3000W Inverter Generator
Excellent Buy : Craftsman 3000i / Ultra-Quiet
FEATURES (Craftsman 3000i) :
- Power boost: Provides 50% more starting capacity so you can do more with a smaller product
- Power : 3000W start / 2400W run
- Whisper quiet design: unit is barely audible when in use, yet does not compromise on performance
- Built-in-handle allows you to carry with one-hand for easy mobility
- Clean power: Safe, clean power for your sensitive tools and electronics
- Easy start: a start / stop / choke dial makes starting quick and easy
- Parallel ready: this unit allows you to connect two inverters together for twice the power (Craftsman (C0010040) parallel kit sold separately)
- Eco mode: uses less fuel and produces less sound
- USB charging: charges smart phones, tablets and other electronics
The Craftsman 3000i is a solid choice if you want a durable, well-made inverter generator. This is one of the most underrated inverter generators on the market. It’s ultra-quiet making it very comfortable to be around when it’s running. The build quality is excellent and it has enough power for most electrical devices, but not enough to run you RV air conditioner, unless you have a soft starter or a small AC.
It starts every time. Overall Craftsman has created an excellent model that consumers are genuinely happy with. Who knew that Craftsman would still be thriving in 2022, after all of the troubles SEARS had. Luckily the Craftsman brand was bought by Stanley Black+Decker in 2017 for $900 million. They redesigned all of their key product lines and voila, here we have one of next generation inverter generators. It’s not fancy, but it’s 30A outlet makes it more practical than many other models. This is CARB compliant.
It’s distinguishing feature is called “Power Boost” but in all honesty it’s just a marketing term. It claims to give you more starting power but in comparison to other generators, it doesn’t give you much more. In this case you get 600W more power on top of your running watts of 2400W. It’s not much more compared to other brands. I just ignore marketing language, it’s meant to convince you that a common feature is unique to the brand. Despite that, this is still a good compact generator.
You might be interested to know that in 2017 Sears was purchased by Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million.
We wrote this guide to give you a wide range of options to consider before you decide on the right inverter generator to buy in 2022. The options are primarily from top brands and a couple cheaper models are from newer brands (PowerSmart, A-iPower). Truth is, we all have a budget to work within and especially in a challenging economy we’re all facing in 2022, money is more precious than before the pandemic. As you’ve already seen thus far, the variety of inverter generators has never been better. The applications are varied, such as : small quiet inverter generators for your home, camping – RV and food trucks, right up to the 7,000 watt Honda EU7000iS.
We’ve also included dual fuel inverter generators as they’ve become more common than in 2021. This guide covers a wide variety of inverter generators to provide the right model for your specific application. It continues to evolve and change to keep up with the newest models and ever-changing market. As stated earlier, CO monitoring is the newest feature you’ll notice on 2022 models — and, without a doubt, the best thing to happen to generators since portable generators were sold to homeowners.
Buying an inverter generator can be an expensive undertaking. When you’re looking at top brands, like Honda, Generac and Yamaha, you can expect to pay a hefty sum of cash. Although, nowadays many brands have a consumer series of generators and heavy-duty, more advanced generators; such as the DuroMax HX series. There’s a certain peace of mind that one gains, when dealing with brand of great stature, but is worth it? For many, a cheaper option would be more appealing, making Westinghouse inverter generators a very attractive option, or WEN.
Top Rated Inverter Generators
This is our original list when we first wrote this article a few years ago and almost all of these are great options today.
We have reviews for all of these in the next section :
- Westinghouse iGen4500: Arguably, the best value for money inverter generator. With 4,500 peak watts this is an ideal RV and home backup generator with high-end features and great quality at a very reasonable price.
- Honda EU2200i: Despite being the most expensive 2,200W inverter generator, it is one of the most popular. Best in terms of quality, and the quietest, this inverter generator is popular with homeowners, camping and tailgating enthusiasts, and food truck owners.
- Champion 100263: The best dual fuel inverter generator with 3,400 peak watts. Affordable and reliable, good value.
- Yamaha EF2200iS: With many believing this generator takes second place to the Honda equivalent, it is probably the most underrated portable inverter generator.
- Honda EU7000iS: One of the most powerful inverter generators on the market, it is also the best heavy-duty inverter generator, and the most expensive.
- A-iPower SUA2000iV: With a spec level that comes close to that of the high-end machines, this is the best cheap inverter generator.
Buying Guide / Recommended Inverter Generators
This review comprises some of the very best, top-rated inverter generators and the best value, cheaper options. There are three small, very portable generators with an output of around 2,000W which is a very popular size. Two mid-sized (3,500W – 4,500W) inverter generators which are great choices for RVs, camping and home use. At the top of power ratings, the Honda 7,000W heavy-duty generator is in a class of its own.
REVIEW : Westinghouse iGen4500 / iGen4500c
Best Inverter Generator for the Money / No CO Sensor
Note : The latest model is the iGen4500c, which now has carbon monoxide monitoring. All other features are the same.
Features : (iGen4500)
- Bring power to your home during a power outage or recreational activities
- 4500 peak watts, 3700 running watts and runs for up to 18 hours on a 3.4 gal. gas tank
- Enhanced fuel efficiency – variable engine speeds allow 30% to 50% higher fuel efficiency than a traditional generator
- Compact and powerful design – features telescoping handle and never-flat wheels for easy portability at 104.7 lb.
- Remote start (key fob) and push button start make this generator convenient to operate
- Super quiet – as low as 52 dBA with double-insulated acoustic enclosure, asymmetrical cooling fans, and low tone mufflers to reduce operating noise
- Safely powers sensitive electronics such as laptop computers, cell phones and more
- Real-time LED display with runtime, remaining fuel, load/output, volts and lifetime hours data
- RV Ready TT-30R outlet keeps this compact generator versatile for campgrounds, tailgates, and other outdoor festivities
- All Westinghouse portable generators are functionally tested in the factory and may contain minimum residual oil and/or fuel odor
This would be my number one choice for the best RV inverter generator. The Westinghouse iGen4500 has the perfect power output for camping and is equally suited for power outages at home or for a small business. The Westinghouse brand has an earned an outstanding reputation for quality and service. Able to compete with the established big brands, Westinghouse generators are not at all expensive when compared to the top names in the business.
With 4,500 peak watts and 3,700 running watts, delivered by a digital inverter with less than 3% THD, the Westinghouse iGen4500 is an ideal portable generator for any application. The EPA, CSA, and CARB certified 224cc Westinghouse engine is modern, quiet, and exceptionally fuel efficient. Runtime from the 3.4-gallon gas tank ranks amongst the best in this class – 18-hours at 25% load. With acoustic sound insulation, and a high-end Pulse-Flo muffler, noise levels are also very reasonable, as low as 52dBA.
Updated Model : with CO Monitoring — Westinghouse iGen4500DFc
This updated model has all of the same features as the original but Westinghouse has added carbon monoxide monitoring, and I highly recommend this safety feature. It automatically shuts off if the CO levels reach dangerous levels. This may save your life.
iGen4500 review continued…
The Westinghouse iGen4500 has an advanced digital display for fuel level (in liters as well as a quick view digital fuel gauge), percentage output, remaining runtime, watts output, voltage, and lifetime running hours. This is the most user-friendly data center I’ve seen on a portable generator. Another great feature is the wireless remote control, and automatic choke which is necessary for hands-off remote starting.
An RV ready TT-30 (120V, 30A) outlet is fitted to the control panel, as well as the standard duplex 5-20R (20A, 120V) outlet, and 2 X USB ports. The receptacles have plastic protection covers, improving reliability, safety, and durability by keeping dust and moisture out. All AC outlets have the usual circuit breakers, with no GFCI protection.
The Westinghouse iGen4500 is an enclosed, modern compact unit, weighing 98-pounds. In keeping with the need for portability, it has a wheel kit, comprising 5.5” diameter wheels (1.5” thick), and a telescopic handle. This is a versatile, high-quality inverter generator with a 3-year (or 1,000 Hour) warranty.
Read our detailed review of the Westinghouse iGen4500, my favorite inverter generator.
Honda EU2200i with CO Monitoring — 2200W / 1800W
Newest Model : Best Quality Inverter Generator, and quietest inverter generator.
- Lightweight and compact: weighing less than 47 lbs.
- Operates at 48 to 57 dBA, which is less noise than a normal conversation.
- Fuel efficient – runs up to 8.1-hours on less than a gallon of fuel,
- Super quiet & lightweight
- Inverter – stable power
- Honda My Generator app + Bluetooth capability
- Parallel Ready : Add a second EU2200i for additional power. Two identical models can be paralleled with an optional cable for up to 4400 watts of power.
- CO-MINDER: advanced carbon monoxide detection system : Monitors carbon monoxide (CO) levels. Automatically shuts down the generator before CO levels become dangerous.
- Powered by the Honda GXR120 Commercial Series engine : Delivers exceptionally quiet, smooth, fuel-efficient performance
- “Fuel Off” position enables the engine to continue to run until most of the fuel in the carburetor is consumed
- USDA-qualified spark arrestor/muffler
- 3 year warranty
Probably the most reviewed, and revered inverter generator, the Honda EU2200i is an obvious contender for the best inverter generator in 2022. Probably the most respected generator brand, Honda is known for quality products that endure for years. For this reason, people are prepared to pay a premium for this top-quality generator.
Powered by the legendary Honda GXR120 (121cc) engine, this is generally considered the most reliable and fuel efficient generator on the market. The 0.95 gallon gas tank may be small, but it will keep the ultra-efficient Honda EU2200i running for 8.1 hours at 25% rated load, 3.2 hours at full load. It delivers 2,200 watts of peak (surge) power and 1,800 watts rated load.
Ultimately portable, the EU2200i weighs only 46.5 pounds, making it possible to carry with one hand using the molded handle. The sleek exterior serves to enclose the generator, providing excellent noise reduction, as low as 48dBA at 25% load, reaching a mere 57dBA at 100% rated load. It is the quietest gas generator ever made.
Outlets are limited to a 20A 120V duplex receptacle, providing 2 X standard household outlets. A parallel kit is available for this model, which allows you to link two EU2200i generators. This kit includes a 30A outlet that can be used for a transfer switch or RV. User functions are basic, with a recoil starter and no output display.
For reliability, portability, and quiet efficiency, the Honda EU2200i tops the list. It is ideal for camping and tailgating with extra power, in the form a parallel connection kit, if needed. The generator is backed by the Honda 3-year warranty.
Read our full review of the Honda EU2200i TAG/TAN. This is the latest model in 2022 and their first inverter generator with carbon monoxide monitoring, which they have implemented in all of their inverter generators.
Champion 100402 : Excellent Camping Dual-Fuel
This is one of the smaller inverter generators on my list, but it is a dual-fuel model which means it can run on either gas or propane. If you’re looking for a compact model then you should consider 100402 from Champion. But, for about the same amount of money you can get a lot more power with the Westinghouse iGen4500, which also comes in a dual-fuel version.
- Dual Fuel – Runs on GAS or PROPANE straight out of the box
- Quiet, Lightweight and Portable – Operates at 53 dBA and weighs less than 50 lb., great for RVs, campsites, cabins and more
- EZ Start Dial – takes the confusion out of starting an engine
- Parallel Ready – Connect with another Champion inverter for increased power
- Clean Power (<3% THD) – Clean electricity for powering sensitive electronics
- Runs up to 11 hrs. on a full tank of gas or 24 hrs. on a 20 lb. propane tank
- Economy Mode – Quieter operation, more fuel savings, longer engine life
- Propane hose included
Review : Yamaha EF2200iS
- High output Yamaha MZ80 engine.
- Equipped with the fitted Yamaha Quiet Technology. It’s quiet operation allows you to have a conversation near one and may not even realize it’s running. (57-65dBA)
- High power, sophisticated quiet technology, rich features and a rugged design. It weighs a mere 55 lbs., and with the tri-handle design is easy to transport.
- Twin Tech parallel function allowing you to connect two units together to provide 30 AMPs of rated power.
- Specifically built with the RV Camper in mind, incorporating a standard RV outlet as a standard plug meaning no more searching for the right adapter to power your RV.
- Tri-handle design – designed for two people to easily move the unit.
- Starting and stopping the unit is simple now with a Yamaha Smart Dial.
- Smart Throttle, a load sensing rpm control that allows greater fuel efficiency and noise reduction by automatically adjusting engine speeds to match the load. It will run up to 10.5 hours at 1/4 rated load on a tank of gas.
- LED Illuminated Control Panel makes it easy to check the status of your generator both day and night. The control panel features a multi-function display as well as an illumination light that cascades over the entire control face of the unit for easier low light operation.
- Integrated into the control panel is a regulated DC socket outlet allowing more devices to easily connect to the generator.
- Overload Power Reset enabling the device to restore power without shutting the unit down.
- Easy Carburetor Drain that allows you to empty the fuel from the carburetor to help prevent stale fuel problems and prepare the unit for long term storage.
- Tool-free maintenance panel allows you to access critical engine components for easy service of your unit.
- Fuel Gauge – allows fuel level to be seen at-a-glance.
The Yamaha EF2200iS is the closest competitor to the ever-popular Honda EU2200i. These are both high-end inverter generators from reputable Japanese manufacturers. Yet the Honda generator seems to be the one getting all the accolades. Comparing these two generators, Honda may have the historical advantage, in terms of brand recognition, but the Yamaha offers quite a few features that Honda does not.
The Yamaha EF2200iS is fantastic when looking at portability. It weighs only 55.2 LBS, with the best handle design for a generator of the size. With 3 handles, it’s a breeze to carry the Yamaha with one or two hands. If needed, two people can comfortably share the load. Power output is exactly the same as the Honda competitor – 1,800 watts running power, with a peak output of 2,200W. Power is supplied from a highly advanced inverter with all the advantages associated with this technology.
Even though I rate the Honda GX engine range as the best for power equipment, the Yamaha MZ80 engine is fine work of modern engineering. Quiet, efficient, and blissfully lightweight, this engine is a close match to any made by Honda. The Yamaha generator is excellent in terms of fuel economy, second only to Honda. Though, because the Yamaha EF2200iS has a larger 1.24 gallon gas tank, you have the convenience of longer runtimes for every tank of gas. It also has a fuel gauge, something the small Honda model does not. At 25% rated load, the Yamaha EF2200iS will provide a mighty impressive 10.5 hours runtime. Noise levels are also close to the best; 57 – 65dBA. Again, only Honda is able to beat the Yamaha as being the quietest inverter generator, and not by much.
VIDEO | A Closer Look at the Yamaha EF2200iS
The general design of the Yamaha EF2200iS offers a lot more user functions than most in this class. Additional outlets and gauges, is certainly where the Yamaha trumps the Honda equivalent. You have the expected duplex 20A 120V outlets, as well as a handy 30A 120V outlet, making it an easy and convenient RV generator, even without the optional parallel kit. More bonus feature come in the form of 12VDC battery charging outlet and a digital power output display. The Yamaha generator also has a drain valve for the carburetor, simplifying things when it comes generator storage.
I will always rate Honda as the number one generator brand. Perhaps this is just a personal thing, but I know many agree with this. With that said, Yamaha cannot be overlooked as one of the top brands. Making the Yamaha EF2200iS a much underrated inverter generator, always seen as a second choice when compared to the Honda EU2200i. In the end, you’re getting quite a bit more, in the form of additional user functions and easier portability, with the Yamaha generator. Yamaha build quality and dealership service can easily match that of Honda. The Yamaha generator has a similar 3-year warranty.
Read our review of this Yamaha inverter generator.
Honda Eu7000is Review /
Best Premium Inverter Generator / Most Advanced Technology
- Perfect for home back up power, RVs, outdoor events, and more
- Super quiet & fuel efficient
- Electric start
- Honda My Generator app + Bluetooth® capability
- CO-MINDER: advanced carbon monoxide detection system
- Electronic Fuel Injection offers better fuel efficiency and lower maintenance
- Quiet : EU7000iS operates at 52 to 58 dB(A),
- i-Monitor system tracks hours, RPM, battery volts, and wattage
- 120/240V Selector switch – More usable power, more flexibility
- 3 year residential and commercial warranty
- GFCI Outlets
Honda updated this 7000W generator in 2021 and added carbon monoxide monitoring as well as Bluetooth integration so you can use the Honda app to connect with the generator. For all of the latest updates to the Eu7000is (TAG) read our full review.
There can be no denying it; the Honda EU7000iS is the ultimate inverter generator. This is a truly heavy-duty inverter generator, with seriously tough metal panels which protect the generator from harm and provide excellent sound insulation. With a whopping 7,000 peak watts and 5,500 running watts, this is also the most powerful inverter generator. Expensive as it is, there can be no better generator for a jobsite, or backup power during an outage for home or business.
The Honda EU7000iS looks the part as an industrial grade inverter generator. The chunky metal frame is supplemented with ultra-durable metal panels, sturdy dual fold down handles, and a go anywhere wheel kit. This generator can certainly be lugged across the harshest of environments and take the knocks. This makes the rather hefty 261-pound weight understandable. All that heavy-duty metal is obviously going to add weight.
The Honda GX390 EFI is the most advanced engine used to power a generator. This mighty 389cc powerplant has electronic fuel injection with computerized diagnostics and all mod cons that one can think of. It is by far the most economical when considering fuel consumption. The large metal gas tank holds 5.1 gallons, enough fuel to keep the generator running for 6.5 hours at 100% rated load (5,5 KW), or an incredible 28-hours at 25% rated load. I reckon, on an average jobsite, the Honda EU7000iS will run continuously for eight 8-hours, probably much longer, without the need to fill the gas tank. A large fuel gauge on the tank helps keep track of fuel consumption.
Built to handle tough conditions, the control panel is recessed and almost impossible to break. It contains 4 X 125V 20A outlets, grouped in the duplex format with independent circuit breakers for the two 20A circuits. As the number one jobsite inverter generator, the 20A outlets are equipped with OSHA compliant GFCI. It also has a 125V 30A outlet, and 125V/250V 30A outlet, each with a desiccated 30A push to reset circuit breaker. The control panel also has an easy start setup with a dial for fuel and ignition, and push-button electric starter grouped together. As a backup, you also have a recoil starter. The i-Monitor digital data center provides much more than simple operating information. It does the obvious, displaying runtime hours; wattage and engine speed, then it also provides diagnostic information for dealership service.
I’m more than impressed with noise levels – 52dBA at 25% load and 58dBA at full rated load. This is much quieter than generators half the size. If 7,000 watts peak power isn’t enough for you, there is an optional parallel kit to double your power output. Though buying two Honda EU7000iS generators and a parallel kit is going to cost close to $10,000. A single generator isn’t much short of 5 grand. I suppose if you want the very best, you’ll have to pay for it.
Even if the Honda EU7000iS is bit out of your price range, you have to marvel at this magnificent machine. If you require a heavy-duty inverter generator, with more power than any other, there can be no other option. This is a Honda generator, and certainly the best the brand has to offer. So you may be digging deep into your pocket to buy the EU7000iS, but you’ll, most likely, never have to buy another generator in your lifetime. It really is something incredible with the superb 3-year Honda warranty for both residential and commercial use.
Review : A-iPower SUA2000iV
Best cheap inverter generator. Perfect if you want to save money.
- 2,000 Starting Watts/1,600 Running Watts
- Warranty: 2-Year Residential
- 79cc Senci Engine
- 58 dBA – Quiet Operation
- 30 Amp RV Adapter
- Safe Power for Sensitive Electronics
- CARB Compliant
- 58 dBA at 50% Load – 21’ / 7m
Buying a cheap inverter generator can be fraught with uncertainty. These are sophisticated machines, more than an average gas generator. So you want to know that the generator you’re buying is going to stand the test of time and, possibly more importantly, that you’re going to receive the kind of service you need for the lifetime of the generator. While I would, by no means, call A-iPower the best brand in the inverter generator business, they do offer a very good product at an incredibly low price. With 4.4-stars from around 180+ customer reviews on Amazon, it is one of the few cheap inverter generators that is worth considering.
Taking int account that the A-iPower costs under $400, it performs very well when compared to more established, high-end equivalents. Yes, it’s not the quietest, or the most fuel efficient. But, for it’s price, it really isn’t far behind the major players.
The 79cc, Chinese made, Senci engine is up to scratch when compared to any modern engine. Emissions meet EPA and CARB standards, so it is not an old-fashioned clunker, like so many cheap offerings to come from Asia. It slightly under-delivers in terms of power. Though this is still quite reasonable, with a peak output of 2,000W, and 1,600W running power. Fuel consumption is also reasonable. You can expect 7-hours from the 1.1-gallon gas tank at 50% rated load. Okay, not up there with Honda or Yamaha, even Westinghouse, but still not a gas guzzler by any means. It has a fuel gauge on the gas tank, something not all small generators include.
Like it’s fuel consumption, noise levels for the little A-iPower SUA2000iV are not hugely impressive, but still very reasonable; 58dBA at 50% rated load. This is an easily portable generator with a single molded handle at the top, weighing 46-pounds. It has a wonderfully comprehensive control panel with a 120V 20A outlet, a 30A 120V outlet, and a 12V DC charging port. There are also ports for a parallel connection kit.
It’s quite easy to see why many rate the A-iPower SUA2000iV as the best cheap inverter generator. It looks and functions very much like the expensive machines, without a huge price tag. Performance is not tops, but it has a high spec level in terms of the array of outlets and user functions. While A-iPower is a US company, importing their products from China, they have yet to establish a decent dealership network. This might be my only concern with the brand. They have a head office in California, which deals with all customer inquiries. The 2-year warranty is better than expected for such a cheap inverter generator.
Learn more by reading our indepth review of the A-iPower SUA2000iV.
Inverter generators have been around for quite some time and I guess most people are familiar with the advantages associated with this technology. For those who still have questions, I’ll be covering the pros and cons of inverter vs traditional gas generators.
It’s easy to point out the downside to buying an inverter generator, the price. Inverter generators cost more than conventional gas generators. The reason should be quite obvious, the additional inverter is a sophisticated component and costs a bit. After you’ve come to terms with the higher price, it’s all pros when comparing inverter to non-inverter generators.
Since you’re paying more for an inverter generator, it’s good to know what this extra money is buying you. The need for inverter generators came about through our increased dependency on electronic equipment. Whether it’s a phone, laptop, microwave, or washing machine, just about every electric appliance used today is computerized.
Traditionally, generators have relied on a constant RPM to maintain a stable voltage and frequency. Fluctuations in the RPM, and the resultant current from the generator, cause an unstable (distorted) AC sine wave. This is known as Harmonic Distortion (HD). Total Harmonic Distortion (THD), the percentage of distortion measured over a series of sine waves, is a common specification mentioned when referring to inverter generators. Because the RPM of an engine can’t adjust that quickly, there is always a moment of distortion when load is increased or decreased. While the best engines run quite smoothly, even these have moments when the spark or fuel supply is not perfect. The combination of all these factors cause an increase in THD.
High-end alternators (usually multi-pole alternators) help, to some degree, in keeping THD levels within reasonable limits ±5%. Though traditional generators with lower THD are rare and expensive. Often costing the same, possibly more than an inverter generator of the same size. Most conventional generators, without an inverter, will have THD approaching 25% at higher loads. The ideal THD for electronic equipment is less than 3%. This is the industry standard for modern inverters. Anything less than 5% THD is safe for modern appliances.
While clean power is essential for electronic appliances, as repeated high levels of THD will cause irreparable harm, it affects all electric equipment. Electric motors generate excessive heat, and are not as efficient, when THD is high. Even resistance heaters and lights are not as efficient at high THD. So, the most important reason for using an inverter generator is to protect electronic equipment and make more efficient use of the available power. This means lower gas consumption and a longer lifespan for your appliances.
Inverters have overcome the problem of fluctuating engine power using transistors and capacitors to create a pure sine wave. The power output is constantly monitored by a Central Processing Unit (CPU) and fine adjustments are made within milliseconds. This maintains a sine wave that is free from distortion. The power delivered by an inverter generator is usually cleaner (with lower THD) than the electricity supplied by your power utility.
The computer that controls the inverter offers several additional advantages. Most inverter generators have an economy switch. This uses a computerized management system to control the engine RPM, when the generator is switched to economy. Some manufacturers call this silent mode, or Eco mode – they all do the same thing. When power demand is low, below 25% of the rated output, the generator will run at a lower RPM. This reduces fuel consumption, as well as engine wear. It also allows the generator to run quieter. The benefits of using the economy mode are, therefore, threefold: lower fuel consumption, increased engine life, and quieter operation.
I’ve read many customer reviews expressing a dislike for the economy mode on several inverter generator models. This is due, in part, to a lack of understanding by the user. Though, some inverter generators are better than others when handling load changes. This is a critical issue that needs to be understood when using an inverter generator with an economy mode. When you switch the generator to a lower RPM, it is essential that the load remains below 25%, at least most of the time. When the load exceeds 25%, the generator has to increase the RPM, and this is not instant. This can cause a momentary spike in THD. A slight, or gradual increase in power demand, won’t cause any harm. The inverter is able to compensate for this.
If you’re using a refrigerator or air conditioner, or similar appliances that cycle on and off, I would not recommend using the economy switch on your inverter generator. You may be running a pretty low load until one of these appliances switch on. The startup, or inrush current, will cause a brief surge in power demand. The low engine speed will not be able meet this demand and the lag, before the engine reaches full RPM, will result in an unstable current. This will usually last for less than a second, but still not an ideal situation.
Another benefit to using an inverter generator is their ability to synchronize the sine wave of more than one generator. This allows two generators to be connected in parallel, essentially functioning as one generator. Using two generators connected in parallel will double your peak and running watts. This requires a parallel kit that is sold separately, and these kits usually include additional outlets, like a 30A RV outlet.
How important is the Brand when buying an inverter generator?
Generally speaking, I rank brand as one of the top decisions when buying any type of power equipment. The top brands are more expensive because they invest in research and development to ensure that their products are the best. This means a more durable generator with better technology. Because of this large investment, these brands have more to lose, and will usually be concerned with maintaining a good reputation. Generally, this results in improved customer relations.
To my mind, the most important reason for buying from a reputable brand is after sales service. A generator should last at least 10-years. If you only use it occasionally, a good quality, well maintained, generator could last a lifetime. Over the years, a generator needs routine maintenance and, even the best machines, will need repairs at some point. Generator brands, that invest heavily in their products, also invest in service and distribution centers. This means you will always receive the dealership service you need, as well replacement parts. Many lesser know brands do not have service centers in the USA. These products are imported and distributed with no backup from the brand.
When inverter generators first appeared on the market, they were only available from top-rated, expensive brands. These were the guys that invested in R & D and were, therefore, the first to use the new technology. As with all things, it didn’t too long before other manufacturers caught onto the idea. Basically, copying the technology from the big players. This meant that many cheap options became available. For the consumer, this is often good news. Prices come down and that is never a bad thing.
Though, even when buying a cheap inverter generator, it’s a good idea to be aware of the brand behind the product. Because these are more complex machines than conventional generators, build quality and after sales service becomes more important. A cheap inverter generator can often be the best option, especially if you don’t use it all that often. While you can’t expect the cheapest products to be heavy-duty machines, they can be an ideal, more affordable solution for occasional outages and camping trips.
A logical move, when buying a cheap inverter generator, is to look for less expensive brands with an established reputation. Champion Power Equipment and WEN are good examples of affordable generator brands. Westinghouse often offers the best value for money, relatively cheap with a high quality standard. Briggs & Stratton is another more affordable brand with a longstanding reputation. Buying from any of these established brands, offers peace of mind. You know that they will still be around in the years to come. Some of the new brands, like A-iPower have done a great job at quickly establishing themselves as reputable brand. It’s great to know they are represented in the US and you have some recourse if things go wrong. Totally unheard of brands should be avoided. You have no idea who imports these products and you can be sure that you won’t get much support when you need service or spare parts.
Part 2 : Generator Buying Guide / Technical Details
This section is a collection of our thoughts and reviews from years past. Many of them are unavailable and a few can still be bought. It’s always interesting to see how design changes and how competition forces down the prices of products, which is precisely what has happened to the inverter generator market. Some models stick around for 5 years, while others only last one year. Ultimately it comes down to how reliable the original design was. Poor products don’t last very long in this day and age.
Here at Chainsaw Journal, we’re keeping older reviews for the sake of history and reference. In twenty years it will be fascinating to see the progress of these products of any type. Imagine if the internet was around in the 1940s and you could peruse the internet and see all of the products released every year for the past 100 years. I don’t know about you but I would think that was pretty cool. It would be like having all o the Sears catalogs online. Personally I find retail history fascinating, which is why I made the decision to keep our past online as markers for where we’ve been. Who knows what the value might be one day.
A Sprinkle of Knowledge
Inverter generators are more expensive than a traditional gas generator but they superior is every way, and thus the higher price tag. They are quiet (as quiet as a conversation), they produce clean power so you can run your sensitive electronics, you can run them in parallel to double your power on demand and they are more fuel efficient. The only drawback is they cost more. In my opinion they are worth the money.
✓ Note: If you’re looking for a generator for demanding electronic devices, tools, power equipment or powering your entire home when the power goes out, then you’ll need a powerful gas generator. If that’s the case then please read these articles to get you on the right track.
Now, let’s begin our generator buying guide and help you find the best inverter generator for your specific needs.
Note : Portable generators are often hard to find when you need them the most, as in the case of when a hurricane hits. Try finding generator in the aftermath of a hurricane. I’m being complete honest here. This has nothing to do with sales. If you live in an area where hurricanes or tornadoes — or other disastrous event are likely or common, then buying a generator is more akin to an investment.
My point is; the time to buy a generator is before you actually need it because when you need it, in the case of a disaster, you won’t find it. So, take the time to think about your future needs, not just the generator you need for your camping trip you have planned for next weekend.
Introduction to Generators | What you Need to Know
Electricity is a truly wonderful thing. It is a form of energy that is clean, silent, and invisible, and yet so very powerful. This fundamental force is the lifeline of any modern home appliance, power tool, electronic gadget, or recreational device. The electricity that we use in our homes, i.e. the 120V/240V AC power which is supplied by commercial power companies, can be created from running water (hydroelectric), sun rays (solar power plants), burning coal (thermal power plants), wind (windmills), and nuclear reactions (nuclear power plants).
Electricity is used to power everything from your smartphone and coffee maker, to log splitters, trains, small aircraft, and even gigantic construction equipment. Electric power can be supplied simultaneously to millions of people, stored for many years, and you can even transport it up to several thousand miles away from the source.
Can you imagine a life without electricity? A life without computers, phones, lights, fans, electric grills, heaters, AC, TV, transportation, in short — a total blackout. You get the idea, right? Well that is exactly what is going to happen when the next storm or natural calamity strikes. Floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and the like result in broken power station equipment, torn power lines, damaged transformer arrays, stuff that requires days, if not weeks to fix.
And during that period, you take a trip back to the 19th century, unless you have an electric generator in the house to power all of the essential equipment such as lights, fans, heaters, phones, etc. You see, disaster never sends you a warning signal before it strikes. And the best way to deal with it is to stay prepared beforehand. You can stock all the food and tools that you need to survive for months, but you won’t be able to survive more than a couple of days without power.
The worst thing you could do is go shopping for a new generator a few days before the storm hits. Because every other person in your locality will also be present at the nearest store, searching for the first generator they can lay their hands on. And generators are not stocked in the thousands like cans of tuna, nor are they designed to serve the same purpose. So instead of frantically searching for a new generator (which may or may not be right for your needs) with the help of a flashlight, inside a dark department store after the storm has hit, why not do some research and get the perfect model for yourself when you still have some time in your hands?
Remember, a generator has many more uses than just being a backup power source for your home appliances when the lights go out. If you’ve ever thought about tailgating, camping, RV trips, or fishing on your own boat, can you imagine how useful a generator would be in those scenarios? You could power the rooftop AC of your RV with it, while watching the latest shows on TV and cooking some bagels in the microwave. While camping, you can use a small portable generator to power your camping equipment such as electric grills, heater, or even your laptop/smartphone.
Most portable generators these days are designed to run virtually silent, and come with USB charging ports for smartphone, as well as 12V sockets on the front panel so you can easily plug your electronic equipment straight into the generator. Portable medium-sized generators are also a great way to power that electric log splitter, leaf blower, chainsaw, snow blower, or power drill.
No longer do you have to be limited by the 25-foot range of an electric power tool, since you can literally throw that 50 pound generator on the back of your truck and drive it straight to the work site. Wheels and handles mean that you can comfortably move the generator around and take it with you wherever you need.
If you’ve decided to buy a new generator after reading all of this, then you made a great decision! However, buying a generator, and choosing the right generator for your needs, are two completely different things. The latter requires a significant amount of research as well as some basic insight into how generators work. Don’t worry if this is your first time, or if you didn’t pay attention in science class — we are here to help you out.
In this article, we shall first explain the basic concept behind the working of a simple generator. It is actually an electric motor working in reverse if you think about it. Then, we shall discuss about wattage ratings- how many do your really need? We shall also cover the concept of starting power and running power for various appliances that you use in your home. Then, we will talk about the various differences between a conventional generator and an inverter generator.
After that, we shall tell you how to make the right choice while shopping for a new inverter generator. Really though, if you’re a home user and want to power your electronic appliances during a picnic, fishing trip, or RV ride, what you really need is an inverter generator instead of a conventional portable generator. We’ll explain why, and finally we cover some of the best inverter generator models currently available on the market, along with their features as well as pros/cons. So strap in and sit tight, because this incredibly interesting ride has just begun (and… it is going to be really freaking long).
How Does a Generator Work?
Any modern electrical generator works on the same basic principle- electrical induction. This phenomenon was discovered by the English scientist, Michael Faraday, during 1831-1832. He noticed that when an electrical conductor (wire, metal plate, etc.) is moved around inside a magnetic field, electrical pressure is created across the two ends of the conductor, and when you connect an ammeter to the conductor, you can notice a current flowing through the piece of metal.
The generator can either be an AC or a DC type, AC stands for alternating current and DC stands for Direct Current. More on these two soon, but for now you need to understand exactly how the whole induction thing works inside a generator. Magnets are of two types- permanent and temporary. Temporary magnets mainly refer to electromagnets which are basically wires wrapped around a metal core.
When you pass an electric current through the coils of wire, a magnetic field is generated around the metal core. It is strongest near the core, and decreases in strength as you move away from the magnet. For reference, the Earth has a pretty strong magnetic field as well but you cannot notice it in day to day life because it is too weak on the surface. However, as you go thousands of miles deep towards the molten metal core though, you begin to feel its effects strengthen (that rotating magnetic field is what gives our planets molten metal core its shape).
So, if you were to take a pretty large piece of copper winding and move it fast enough, you can actually induce a current of a few mA (milliampere) in it, just with the help of the earth’s magnetic field. Rare earth magnets consist of metallic alloys with elements such as iron, neodymium, boron, etc. as the major ingredients. Electric magnets need a current supply to generate a magnetic-field, while permanent magnets (rare earth types, ceramic magnets) are always magnetized.
Video | See How Does A Generator Work?
Back to our induction principle — we know that if you move a metal wire inside a magnetic field, you can cause electrical pressure (voltage) to appear across the two terminals of the wire. But don’t expect to power your microwave or electric drill by moving a wire nearby a horseshoe magnet.
The amount of voltage or current produced inside a magnetic field is directly proportional to the number of conductor elements (wires), and the speed at which they are moving (rotating). You need to wind millions of turns of ultra-thin copper wire around a laminated metal core to generate the amount of current that is need to feed the appliances in your home. Then, you need something to spin it. In the case of a generator, that spinning power is provided by an internal combustion engine.
In your average portable generator, this engine is usually a direct overhead valve (OHV) single-cylinder gasoline engine- quiet similar to that of a small motorcycle engine. The larger the engine, the more watts your generator will be able to produce, since only larger engines have the power that is needed to spin bigger rotors with more coil windings and metal cores (those densely wound coils and metal cores can get surprisingly heavy).
The part of a generator that contains all of these magnet poles, coil windings, etc. is known as the alternator — quite literally the same thing that your car also has under the hood. The alternator consists of two parts — a stator (static part) and a rotor (moving, or rotating part). The stator supplies the magnetic field, while the rotor spins in this field, because of which current is generated across its terminals.
Video | How Does an Alternator Work? Electromagnetic Energy.
So, we have three basic components in a generator — an engine, an alternator, and a fuel tank. Bigger engines = more power potential, with the need for bigger tanks in order to produce adequate running times.
Let’s recap what we’ve learned so far :
- A generator is a means to convert conventional fuel (gasoline) into electric power (energy cannot be created, it can only be modified).
- It consists of an engine, alternator, and fuel tank.
- Larger engines are needed to produce more power, and they result in greater emissions, noise output, and weight (not very desirable qualities).
Okay, those are the basics behind the working of a very simple conventional generator. An inverter generator consists of some extra parts, we shall discuss about those in the section that differentiates between conventional generators and inverter generators. But now we need to clear up some things regarding AC and DC current. Here’s the deal- the 120V outlet in your wall supplies AC power, although many appliances in your home run on DC. But wait… isn’t that a little counter-intuitive?
Can’t we just generate and supply DC power to the homes? That’s a problem scientists have been dealing with since the invention of the modern large scale power generation systems, and there is a reason you get AC power to your homes instead of DC. But first, you need to understand what AC and DC are. DC stands for direct current, or stable current. If you drew it on a graph, with voltage on the Y-axis and time on the X-axis, you would end up with a straight line.
Basically in a 120 V DC supply, the voltage would stay constant at 120V at any given point in time- no spikes or dips. DC current is the type of current that is observed naturally, and this is what we get from batteries. DC is natural, while AC is artificially generated. AC is alternating current, where the most ideal or “pure” form can be represented by a sine wave pattern in a voltage versus time graph.
As you move the conductor INTO a magnetic field, the current on the voltmeter starts RISING above zero and goes on increasing, displaying a POSITIVE value as you bring the wire closer and closer to the point where the magnetic field is strongest. But when you begin to pull AWAY the conductive element from the strongest part of the magnetic field, the needle gradually shows an increasingly NEGATIVE value.
Generating large amounts of AC power at high voltages is much easier than generating large amounts of DC power at high voltages, due to the inherent differences between the designs of DC and AC generators.
Three Main Types of Generators
On top of that, the biggest challenge is usually the part where you have to transfer the generated electric power from the hydroelectric/thermal power station to the house of a paying consumer, often thousands of miles away. That is where a STEP-UP transformer comes in. The power loss due to transportation (due to electrical resistance in wires) over several hundred miles of wire has to be compensated by stepping up the voltage of generated electricity to the order of 20-30,000 volts.
And here is the important part — it is MUCH easier to step-up AC voltage compared to DC voltage, making AC power much easier to transport which is why all power generation companies supply AC to your homes. You, the end customer, receive single phase 120V AC. But, not all components of your home use AC. For example, all components with batteries in them such as cordless power tools, computers, phones, etc. use DC.
These components are also rechargeable, which is why they come with a rectifier inside that converts AC to “rectified DC”. This is not true DC though, and it basically involves chopping away the negative humps on a sinusoidal single-phase AC signal.
Conventional Generator vs Inverter Generator
The average consumer does not carry a degree in electrical engineering, which is why we are going to present the answer to the above question in a very simplified manner. Don’t worry, because you’ll still get to know about a lot of stuff, such as clean AC power and the importance of stable voltage when it comes to powering delicate electronics. In the previous section, we talked about how generators work, as well as AC and DC. The goal of any generator, large or small, is to act as a portable power outlet.
VIDEO | Comparing Conventional Gas to Inverter Generators
For those of you who live in the Unites States and certain Asian countries, this means 120V AC. For people from Europe as well as other parts of Asia, it means 240V AC. Remember that power (voltage x current) is still the same, since a higher voltage means that current is less, while a smaller voltage will mean that the socket pushes out more current. So a 1200 watt oven will still consume 1200 watts, no matter whether you run it off a 120V supply, or a 240V supply.
How does an inverter generator work?
It takes DC power, and converts it into AC power. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, there are actually many types of inverters out there, some output AC current in the form of square or block waves, while the others output modified sine wave signals. The inverters that you should be concerned with, are the ones that output pure sine wave AC power. But here is the tricky part — inverters don’t just modify the type of signal, they also have the capability to make it cleaner.
What does “clean” current mean? The power that is supplied by the power company to your home is in the form of pure sinusoidal AC signals. If you know what a sine wave looks like, then you should know that it sports a curved outline with gradually rising and falling amplitude (voltage in this case) values on a time axis.
Square wave AC consists of abrupt “square” shaped signals that rise and fall instantly, giving sensitive electronics little time to react and could potentially damage circuitry by causing it to run hotter than its specified operating range. Inverters use inductors and capacitors to “invert” the input signal, and overlap the inverted signal on the original DC input, by adding in a phase shift. If this is all too technical for you, don’t worry.
Basically an inverter is a means to convert low voltage DC into high voltage pure AC which your appliances can actually use. Battery inverters store DC power in a battery and discharge it by first converting that power into AC, and then stepping up the voltage to desired levels (120V or 240V).
We are concerned with inverter generators, and how they differ from regular AC generators. An inverter generator is actually a simple AC generator coupled with a rectifier + inverter circuit. The alternator in a conventional generator outputs 3 phase AC that the rectifier converts into DC. This DC power is then fed into the inverter which first cleans it up and then converts it into single phase AC at the specified output voltage. The result is a stable, pure sinusoidal AC current that can be used to power your laptop, smartphone, smart TV, washing machine, etc.
Basically, any modern electronic appliance that has been designed to operate on sinusoidal AC will perform at its peak only when it is fed with stable, clean 60 Hz AC power. The electricity from any inverter generator will be near identical to the main power that you get from your wall socket. On the other hand, a conventional AC generator will output choppy, low quality AC current, which consists of blocky square wave signals, is unsuitable for powering delicate electronics.
This will heat up your phone, laptop, stereo receiver, home theater system, etc. and cause any microprocessor based low-voltage system to get damaged if used for long periods of time. Just try feeding your home theater with power from a conventional AC generator, and you’ll be able to notice the increased distortion in sound quality. It might be slight, but it will be there- —also the receiver unit will run hotter than before, and can actually cause damage or shorten its lifespan.
Differences between the two types of generators, divided into various categories:
When it comes to power output, things tend to vary quite a bit depending on the specific model and pricing. However, conventional generators are capable of delivering anywhere between 3000 to 20,000 watts of power, while your average inverter generator will be restricted to a maximum power output of somewhere between 4000 to 5000 watts. But hey, don’t jump ship just yet. With 4000 watts of power, you will be able to run the rooftop AC in your RV, while roasting a chicken in the microwave and watching TV. You don’t need more than 4000W unless you plan on running some of local power delivery service from the backyard for your neighbors.
Think about it, even if you don’t own a RV and plan to use the inverter generator at home in case of a power grid failure or some sort natural calamity, 3000-4000 watts should be all you need. You can power nearly 4 fans, 8-10 LED/CFL lights, a TV, a microwave, a water heater, and a laptop with all that power. And you’ll still have some headroom for additional appliances such as a blender, toaster, etc.
Gas generators are built for power | DuroMax XP13000HX
So even though conventional generators are capable of generating more maximum power per dollar (judging from price of the actual generator itself, not efficiency or running costs), you don’t need any more power than the high end inverter generators have to offer.
If you have researched portable generators online, then you have probably noticed that the inverter generators are smaller and lighter than their conventional counterparts. However, this extra portability comes at a cost. Due to their petite size, inverter generators are outfitted with smaller fuel tanks, whose capacity typically ranges between 0.8 to 2 gallons. But do we care about who boasts a larger belly? No, we care about how much electricity we can get out of that fuel. And that is where the fight equalizes between the two, with a slight advantage for the inverter generator.
It is true that inverter generators pack slightly smaller fuel tanks. However, all of them come with extremely efficient microprocessor-assisted 4-stroke engines. These engines have been loaded with all sorts of efficiency optimizations from the spark plug to the exhaust. Which is why, they deliver more power per drop of fuel in comparison to the older 2-stroke engines used in conventional generators.
Conventional generators are incapable of decreasing their engine speed based on the load at the other end. A 4000 watt conventional generator will run its engine at the rated maximum of 3600 rpm regardless of what appliance is connected on the receiving end. It doesn’t care if you connect a power drill + microwave combo, or a 40 watt bulb — the engine will keep drinking fuel at the same rate.
If the speed of a conventional generator fluctuates, so will the frequency of the output AC power. So with a conventional generator, you’re quite literally throwing away precious fuel whenever you are not using at least 70% of the power that it is rated at.
Well then, what about the inverter generator? It features an intelligent load monitoring system that constantly keeps checking the load being put on the output, so the microprocessor can instruct the engine to increase or decrease its speed in order to conserve fuel, just like your smartphone or laptop goes into power saving mode whenever it is not being used to do heavy tasks.
Thanks to the advanced power manipulation circuitry inside an inverter generator, this decrease in engine rpm levels does not translate to a fall in frequency of the output AC power. So, basically what this does is increase the amount of power that you get per unit of fuel. Meaning that, even with a smaller tank, an inverter generator can match the total running time of a much larger conventional generator.
— Noise and Efficiency
Remember the whole smart speed control thing that we talked about? Well if you think about it, the benefits are far more than just decreased fuel consumption. What it also means is that your generator will become much quieter when you are using it to power something that is not very power hungry, such as a laptop, miniature toaster, or even a compact microwave oven (600 W).
In terms of efficiency, an inverter generator is the clear winner among the two because of its superior engine design, intelligent load monitoring, and microprocessor assisted operation. Not to mention the lower emissions, they greatly reduce the environmental footprint of an inverter generator in comparison to a conventional generator. Simply put, inverter generators are designed from the ground up to be much more efficient and silent in comparison to their larger, older counterparts.
Conventional gas generators are inherently noisy. That’s just the way it is, but inverter generators are truly quiet, and one of the main reasons why they are worth the money. If you’ve ever sat close to a generator for any length of time, you’ll know that the noise can becoming annoying quickly. And, your neighbors might also get annoyed if you need to run your generator early in the morning or late at night. Thankfully, inverters generators are the quietest generators you can buy.
Size, aanother clear win for inverter generators. Even small sized conventional generators are bound to be larger than inverter generators due to their clunky engine designs and large fuel tanks. If you tend to travel a lot, or if you need a generator for camping and picnics, then an inverter generator is definitely the way to go. Most of them weigh around the 50-pound mark (dry weight), and are smaller than a 20” square box. They also include ergonomic carry handles on the top, so you can pick them up and move them around, just like a suitcase.
Can you lift the inverter generator? If not, get wheels.
This is the only area in which the conventional generator scores a clear victory over its newer, quieter, and more efficient counterpart. No matter how hard you try, you’ll not be able to find an inverter generator that is priced equal to, or less than a conventional generator of similar power rating. It requires research and custom built parts to reduce size, noise, emissions, etc. while still maintaining performance. If you don’t need clean AC power and your appliance is capable of running off a square/block wave AC current, then a conventional generator will do just fine. Here are some other scenarios where you might want to get a conventional generator instead of an inverter generator-
- You have an appliance that is not very sensitive to current quality, and needs to run continuously for like at least 15-16 hours a day.
- You don’t really care about heat output, noise, etc. because the generator is going to be located at a large distance from your home or room.
- You’re on a budget and need something cheap for your lights, fans, heaters, etc. (All of these are not very sensitive to current quality).
We have discussed the major differences between an inverter generator and a conventional generator now. But there was one little detail that we did not mention in the above section, and that was parallel operation. Most inverter generators are capable of being tethered to another generator of similar make or model via a special tethering cable that allows them to sync up their power output.
So, if you take your 2000W inverter generator to the party, and find out that your friends also brought the exact same model — you can hook up both of your 2000W generators to output 2000 + 2000 = 4000W of power.
The same principle applies to expandability and future upgrade scenarios. If you find out that your 3-year old inverter generator is simply not cutting it because you have installed some new equipment over the years that draws extra power, or if you need to do some upgrades to your house/RV, you can simply buy a second generator of the exact same model instead of scrapping the previous generator completely.
In the end it is all up to you, do you want one single unit that generates all of the requisite power, or do you like to have the capability of splitting up your generator space into two separate, independent, portable units, with each one generating a portion of the maximum power. Keep in mind the fact that two generators working together to generate “X” amount of power will usually consume more fuel than a single generator that has been designed to output the same “X” amount of power. Also, your noise output and emission signature is bound to go up.
Some cities have strict rules regarding noise and pollution levels, so you might want to look those up unless you want to be visited by a bunch of angry neighbors who are not particularly fond of the little engine concert in your backyard.
Westinghouse iGen2200 | Weighs 46 lbs | 2200W = starting power
Example : The Westinghouse iGen2200 is engineered to be as quiet as 52dB, depending on load. It’s easy to move around in the spirit of all inverter generators. It’s not fancy but balances quality and price making it a great choice for homeowners needing light-duty power in a small package.
Choosing the Best Inverter Generator (for you)
We’ve covered the inner working of a generator in great detail, perhaps too much, as well as the various differences between an inverter generator and a regular generator. Now, let’s look at some top models we feel are worth spending money on. Note that even though we say inverter generators, most of the points that we are about to mention below will also apply to conventional generators. There are many models out there to choose from and the more know, the better your ability to choose wisely.
There’s a lot of ‘marketing talk’ when it comes to generators. Knowing the facts will ensure you don’t sucked into something you don’t need. For example, company “X” may call their automatic engine speed regulation “Eco Smart”, while company “Y” will choose to call the same “7th Sense”.Just make sure that the unit you’re purchasing is built solidly (most Yamaha, Honda, Champion, and WEN units are), with easily available spare parts and a good in-class warranty.
Check out the features, and always get a generator that is easy to maintain and run. Fuel efficiency and noise levels matter as well, so check out the quality of the engine installed in your generator. Honda and Yamaha engines are extremely trustworthy, and other reputed generator manufactures even source their engines from these two manufacturers.
Key features that your new inverter generator MUST have :
Manual Fuel Shutoff switch
Well, let’s face the truth — unless you live off the grid or in the middle of nowhere, most of your generators lifespan will be spent in storage. You will only take it out when you plan to go tailgating, fishing, on a RV trip, picnic, or when the power supply is out. And that amounts to a few hundred hours a YEAR. So, what happened when the generator sits under a weatherproof sheet inside your barn or garage? Fuel may leak and evaporate, clogging the fuel system.
To deal with this, you normally drain out all the fuel and run the engine till you’re confident that not a single a drop is left in the tank, before you proceed to store the generator for a long period. However, good generator models will include a switch which turns off the fuel system automatically when you shut down the engine, preventing fuel leakage or loss.
Low-oil automatic shutoff with indicator light
Often times you will notice (or not for that matter), that when the generator has been running for quite a long time, it begins to rattle or emit weird sounds all of a sudden. If that is your oil supply going down, it means that the engine is not being lubricated properly and you might end up with an engine seizure. Repairing your totaled engine will either cost you half the amount you initially paid for the generator. Make sure that your portable generator comes with some sort of visual engine oil level indicator- this could be an oil gauge or LED display.
A fuel gauge
Having a fuel gauge does not spare you from the pain of having to refuel the generator, but at least you’ll be able to know when you can take a break and go watch your favorite TV show, or have a snack while the generator is running.
Suitcase or H-style handles for models between 30 to 150 pounds, and dual rail handles along with wheels for anything heavier than that. Even 50-100 pound models come with wheels these days so you can literally take the generator along with you wherever you go (don’t try rolling it on snow or sand- that will not work). Some models have luggage-trolley style telescopic handles on the front, along with rear radial wheels to make the transportation process super easy, even for a 100+ pound hunk of metal, plastic, and rubber.
So you now know what features to expect from a decent inverter generator. But how many watts does your generator produce? Isn’t that stuff super important? Well actually that is the first thing you need to look up before buying a generator — know if it supplies enough wattage to fulfill your needs. But there is a little caveat here. Thanks to modern marketing tactics, the large wattage rating that is flashed on the front of the generator box is rarely what the generator ACTUALLY supplies.
More often than not, it is the PEAK power output or starting power output — something the generator produce for the first few seconds after starting up. This number can be anywhere from 20%, to as much as 100% more than the actual continuous power supply rating of the generator, i.e. the amount of power it will actually supply consistently while running.
For example, if a generator is rated at 4000W, then its continuous power supply capability is probably between 3000-3500 watts. But why do the manufacturers give us this number instead of the actual continuous power rating? Does it matter? Well we are glad you asked, because it actually matters quite a lot.
Carbon Monoxide Sensor built-in :
This has become a common feature with new generators, which is great, but there are still a lot of older models without this feature. I feel that the safety benefit, compared to the extra cost, is well worth the price, but if you know all about generators and know how to use them then maybe you don’t need this feature. You can get a great deal on older generator series that have been recently updated with CO sensors and are selling off their old stock of models.
Personally, I recommend buying a generator with a CO sensor. It’s the smarter way to go.
Common Wattage Demands of Everyday Devices
Any appliance in your home that uses some type of motor has a “starting power” requirement, as well as a “running power” requirement, with the former being up to three times as high as the latter. This is not true for all appliances though, and mostly applies to stuff like fridges, AC’s, furnace fans, pump motors, etc. Notice that appliances which use motors are the only ones that are affected by this phenomenon. This is because you need a high amount of initial current to get the motor out of its idle state.
Notice what happens when you open the door of a fridge? You hear a sudden whirring sound, right? That is the compressor of the fridge spooling up in order to increase the “coolness”, since you just let a large amount of hot air in from the surrounding while opening the fridge doors to take out your frozen pizza, which you’re about to put in the microwave. The same happens when you first start a fridge — the motor inside your compressor (a compressor is a type of pump) has to boot up, and it takes that little bit of extra juice for just a few seconds, in order for the motor to get out of bed and onto its feet.
The same principles apply to AC’s, sump pumps, power tools… you get the idea. So if you intend to run any of that stuff off your brand new generator, you better take a good look at the specs for your various appliances and prepare a nice little sheet. We’ll give you an example to make things clearer-
- You must ONLY select the items which you expect to power at the same time with your generator. Make this list with the highest-load case scenario in mind. Be practical, and don’t expect to power the house with a thousand-dollar generator because that just isn’t going to happen. Make three columns, with one row per appliance. The three columns will represent- appliance name, running watts, and additional starting watts.
- Add up all of the “running watts” of the appliances in the first column of the list to get part A of the total. Keep this number aside for now.
- Scan the third column for the highest “starting wattage” you can find.
Now add the value that you found in step 3, to the result that you got at the end of step 2. This is the final wattage number that you should aim for, and add in an extra 10-20% for future proofing.
✓ Note : Even if you are going to power all of the appliances simultaneously, DO NOT turn them all on at the same time, as doing so may overload the generator. That is the reason we did not add up ALL of the starting wattages to the total, instead we only took the highest starting wattage in the pool into consideration.
To help you select the right generator, we have provided some average consumption figures for commonly used electric appliances below:
- Emergency & Backup : Refrigerator (700W), Sump pump (2200W), Well pump (2000W), Furnace (875W).
- Home Use : Microwave oven (1000W), Space heater (1800W), Table lamp (100W), 27” TV (350-400W), Laptop (400-500W), Desktop PC (800W), Coffee machine (1500W).
- Recreation : Radio (100W), Slow cooker (250W), Ceiling fan (200W), Compact television (150W), Blender (300W).
- Outdoor & Construction : Electric lawnmower (1200W), Hand drill (600W), Air compressor (1600W), Circular saw (1200W), 12” Electric chainsaw (100W), Edger (960W), Paint sprayer (600W), Hand sander (1200W).
Now, we are going to help you get a rough idea of how many watts you truly need for some hypothetical used cases:
- Recreational purposes : Electric grill (1600W) + AM/FM radio (100W) + Fan (200W) + Laptop(300W) + Cellphone (25W) + Outdoor lighting (250W) + Inflator pump for tents, rafts, etc. (50W + 150W starting)= 2500 watts.
- Powering your home during an emergency : 60 watt bulb (60W) + Light bulb (75-100W), Refrigerator (700W + 2000W starting), Sump Pump (800-1100W + 1300-2200W starting), Electric furnace (1000W), Electric water heater (2000-4000W)= 10,000 watts to 12,000 watts. (Might need to get a large one, or pair up two 5000 watt units).
- Jobsite : Halogen work light (300W-1000W) + Electric drill (440-600W + 600-900W starting) + Hammer Drill (1000W + 3000W starting) + Air compressor (1000-1600W + 1600-4500W starting) + Belt Sander (1200W + 2400W starting) = 15000-20,000W (you’ll need to pair together a bunch of inverter generators for this one).
Apart from wattage, you also need to consider the other factors such as runtime and weight. Here is some food for thought- if a 1000W generator runs on “X” amount of fuel for 8 hours, then will a 2000W unit run for 4 hours on the same amount of fuel? Well, the answer is — it depends. If you connect the same 60W light bulb to each of these two units, you will surprised to see that the 2000W unit will consume nearly the same amount of fuel as the 1000W unit, per second.
This is because inverter generators actually reduce engine rpm to increase efficiency and decrease noise levels, depending on the amount of load connected. So even though the larger 2000W unit has a more powerful gasoline engine installed inside (say 250CC versus 125CC for the 1000W unit), it will actually spin at the same rpm as the smaller engine when connected to similar loads. Yes, it will consume a TINY bit extra fuel because of the heavier piston, crankshaft and rod, but the heavier flywheel will also give it more momentum so it will actually consumer nearly the same amount of fuel as its smaller cousin at the exact same rpm.
However, if you run both the models at maximum load then the one with twice the capacity will probably consume much more fuel per second, meaning that you need a larger fuel tank. Take note of the following two parameters- run-time at 25% load, and run-time at 100% load. Also note the minimum as well as maximum noise levels. For maximum efficiency, we recommend that you use at least 25% of the generators maximum continuous power output while it is running.
Alright, that’s enough talk regarding inverter generators and how you can choose the right one. Now let’s take a look at the cream of the crop when it comes to inverter generators- the following models rank among the best in the market and are definitely worth looking up if you’re in need of a new inverter generator. We have also listed the main features and specifications of each unit, along with its pros and cons to make the selection process easier for you.
WEN 56200i Review | Best Cheap Inverter Generator
- 2000 peak watts, 1600 running watts.
- 79.7 cc single cylinder OHV 4-stroke gasoline engine, EPA III as well as CARB compliant.
- Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) under 0.3% while idling, and less than 1.2% while under full load.
- Dual three-prong 120V AC outlets, one 5V USB port, one 12V DC outlet
- Run-time of 6 hours under half load, 1-gallon fuel tank.
- 13.3A rated amperage.
- Low-oil and low-fuel automatic shutdown, with indicator LED’s, and overload protection.
- Supports parallel pairing via special tethering ports.
- Measures 22.25” x 12” x 19.25”, and weighs 54.4 pounds.
- EPA III and CARB Compliant.
- 2-year limited warranty.
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the WEN 56200i.
Overview | WEN 56200i
WEN is one of the most reputed generator manufacturers, and their build quality never fails to impress. Even on a budget mid-tier model such as this 1600W unit, they managed to cram in a lot of amazing features. The 56200i has a starting power of 2000 watts, along with a running power of 1600 watts. THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) is under 0.3% at idle, and less than 1.2% at load — this is an indicator of how clean the output sine wave is.
It is almost as good as the mains supply which you get in your homes, if not better. There are 3 dual-prong 120V AC outlets on the front panel, along with a single 5V USB port and a 12V DC outlet. Run-time is an impressive 6 hours under half load, thanks to the 1-gallon fuel tank (pretty standard for 1600W generators).
There is plenty of protection features on this little 54-pounder, such as overload circuit protection, both low-oil and low-fuel auto-shutdown, along with indicator LED’s to show the status of load, oil levels, etc.
We would definitely put this one on the heavier side, as there are plenty of Yamaha and Honda models out there that generate the exact same amount of power but weigh anywhere between 10-12 pounds less. But hey, it must be the superior build quality of WEN generators, because these guys only use thick gauge aluminum and steel sheets with plenty of secure mounting for the internal parts.
Easy to Carry Arround | WEN 56421
WEN is a company that provides exceptional value for your money. The WEN 56200i is no different, and deserves your consideration as one of the best inverter generators available today.
Specs (WEN 56200i):
- Engine : 4-stroke OHV single cylinder with forced air cooling system
- Displacement : 79.7 cc
- Rated Amperage : 13.3 A
- Run Time at Half Load : 6 Hours
- Running Wattage : 1600 W
- Surge Wattage : 2000 W
- Fuel Tank Capacity : 1 Gallon
- Includes : Spark Plug Wrench, Flathead Screwdriver, Instruction Manual
- Shipping Dimensions L x W x H (inches) : 22-1/4 x 12 x 19-1/4
- Shipping Weight (lbs) : 54.4
✓ For more information read our in-depth article on the WEN 56200i.
Video | Have A Look Inside A Honda Factory in North Carolina
Westinghouse WH2000iXLT | 2200W Inverter Generator
Read dedicated review. An older model. Not the best value for the money considering all of the newer inverter generators on the market but customers still love this particular model.
- 2200 peak watts, 1800 running watts
- Westinghouse 79 cc, single cylinder, direct overhead 4-stroke gasoline engine
- Run-time at 25% load is 13 hours, 1.3 gallon fuel tank
- Dual muffler design with asymmetric fans and dual insulated acoustic hood for quiet operation
- Power indicator light with AC-overload reset
- Outlets consist of a Duplex, and a NEMA 5-15R 120V AC
- High efficiency mode, capable of parallel operation
- Sound output : 52-59 dB
- Weighs : 43 pounds. Size: 20.25” x 12.5” x 15.25”
- Parallel Capable unit Using the Westinghouse Cable : 260041
- 2-year limited warranty
Overview | Westinghouse WH2000iXLT
If the WH2400i looked good to you, then you’ll surely love this one. It is a specialized version of the 2400i, with some modifications. The running wattage has been reduced to 1800W, and the starting wattage is now 2200. However, you’ll find that this is still enough to power your home water heater or microwave, while running a couple of low power light bulbs at the same time. Or, you could use it to power an electric chainsaw and power drill simultaneously.
Do the wattage calculations and decide if this little 43-pounder can power the equipment that you plan to use most frequently with a portable generator. You should know however, that the runtime on this model is 13 hours, compared to the 11 hours on the 2400i. That is probably because of the more advanced micro-controller design, or maybe Westinghouse just refined that 79cc single cylinder 4-stroke engine to become even more efficient than it already was, since both the 2400i as well as the 2400iXLT use similar engines.
Fuel tank capacity is 1.3 gallons on both of these generators, and the 2400iXLT carries the exact same sound signature as its less fuel-efficient sibling, with noise levels ranging between 52-59 decibels for minimum and maximum load respectively. Warranty is the exact same 2-year limited cover, so all that differs between these two is the outlet port type, with the 2400iXLT using a NEMA 5-15R instead of the Duplex 5-20R for 120V AC output, and the 2400iXLT runs about 15-20% longer while generating slightly less (about 10%) peak and running power.
Documents for the Westinghouse WH2000iXLT:
Generator Safety Tips | Please Read
WATCH this video to learn about Generator Safety
Always keep the generator at least 15 feet away from any open windows, vents, hatches, tunnels, or doors. NEVER EVER run a generator inside a closed space such as a room as it could cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that is potentially fatal if inhaled in large amounts, and since it is slightly lighter than air, it will float upwards into your nose.
We recommend using the generator about 23-28 feet away from the camp site, home, or work-site. This will help reduce noise levels, and protect you from inhaling any toxic fumes.
- Don’t leave tools on or nearby the generator, since this could harm both you and your machine. Wear protective equipment while working around the generator (goggles, earplugs, boots, etc.), and read the owners-manual before turning on the machine.
- NEVER use the inverter generator in a location that is wet or damp, and don’t expose it to snow, rain, sleet, or water sprays when it is in use (unless you want to risk possible electrocution, and a fire).
- Don’t touch an inverter generator with wet hands, and have a licensed electrician connect the inverter to a utility circuit. Also, don’t use the inverter around highly conductive surfaces such as metal decks, sheets, steel works, etc.
- Never overfill the fuel tank as that could lead to overflow, and the gasoline could come in contact with hot surfaces such as the engine, cooling system, etc. resulting in a potential fire hazard. Wear eye protection while refueling and check both the fuel tank as well as engine oil compartment for any leaks before you turn on the generator (very important).
- Always refuel the generator outdoors, in a well-lit and well-ventilated area. Never remove the fuel cap while the engine is running. Refer to the engine oil compartment capacity before you proceed to replace the engine oil.
- Open up the side panels and clean the air filter every once in a while, probably every six months if you use the generator regularly, and every one year if you use it sparingly. Also check the spark plug and get it replaced every one year or so. Never operate on any of this while the generator is running (that is like the 100th time we have said that…).
- Check on the muffler and spark arrestor every once in a while, and make sure that you open the fuel cap as well as vent BEFORE you turn on the engine of your generator.
- If the load exceeds your generators maximum load capacity, its reset breaker will trip and shut down the engine. Unplug all devices, reduce the load, and push/raise the reset breaker switch to reset it.
- Always make sure that the choke knob is in the ON position before starting the engine, and turn it off once the engine starts.
Summary | What’s the Best Inverter Generator?
Always remember this- the best generator for YOU is the one that suits YOUR needs. Something that is great for the guy next to you might be totally worthless to you. Of course, power ratings play a major role in determining whether or not you should purchase a certain generator, so make a sheet of all the equipment that you expect to run at the same time, and add the total wattage to the largest starting wattage on the list.
Get a model whose spare parts will be available easily- trusted manufacturers such as Briggs and Stratton, Honda, Champion Power Equipment, Westinghouse, WEN, etc. offer great warranties and have service centers in almost every urban location. Also take note of the types of ports, and make sure that there are sufficient ports for all your devices. Fuel efficiency and noise levels might play a big role if you’re living in a society that stresses on low noise and emission levels. Get what you NEED, nothing more.