Many people don’t realize how valuable a portable generator is until they need one. Typically, it’s an emergency that makes people wish they had spent the money on a generator for peace of mind. In this comprehensive buying guide we help you choose the best portable generator for your specific needs — and budget.
Humans have come to rely on electric power so much so that we don’t even think about it anymore. We just expect it to be there; which is why it’s so disruptive to our psyche when there’s a power outage and all of our electric devices are basically useless. It’s an experience that we’ve all had. Emergency power is just one of the many benefits that a portable generator can give us. We cover a lot of ground in this guide, doing out best to empower you with knowledge so you can make an informed decision.
Let’s start with the reason you came here for — What are the best portable generators on the market?
Introduction | Best Portable Generator
Since the beginning of time, food, shelter, and clothing were known to be the basic necessities for human survival. But things have changed over the past couple centuries, humanity has advanced, and now we can add another entity to that list- electricity. Just look around you, how many things do you see that run on electric power? Everything from the lights to your phone and computer is powered by this wonderful form of energy. Imagine the suffering that you will have to endure in the event of a blackout. Nobody knows how long it will last, could be anywhere between a couple minutes to a few days without electricity. No fridge, TV, computer, phone, or radio. And if it is winter, you will be shivering from head to toe after sunset since the HVAC system in your home will be down without power.
Firman makes very affordable generators | Firman P08003
You never know what may cause a power outage. Could be an accident, or the result of a natural calamity such as a hurricane or earthquake that knocks out significant portions of the electricity grid surrounding your locality. But it is never too early to start investing in a backup power source. And the most versatile source of backup power that we have today is the good old portable generator. These machines consume gasoline or propane, and pump out electricity that we can use to power all sorts of appliances and tools. But before you go and purchase one, think carefully about what you need it for. Portable generators come in all sorts of sizes, and are designed to fulfil specific roles.
The portable generator used by a farmer will vary significantly in terms of design and capacity, compared to one that is used by a camper. Both the farmer and camper use portable generators, but have very different needs. The farmer wants raw power at a cheap price, to run his milk cooler, water pump, and electric fences. But the camper wants a generator that is extremely quiet, relatively compact, and slightly more feature-rich compared to a farm machine. Similarly, the generator that you use for home backup will differ from a jobsite model. Using a loud commercial/ jobsite model to power your lights and air conditioner at night is very counter productive. Imagine trying to sleep with a construction crew working right next door. Yeah, you should have invested in a quieter portable generator.
How to Choose the Right Size Generator | Practical Advice by Honda
Another thing you must factor in before purchasing a generator, is its fuel tank capacity. While power cuts can be very annoying, imagine being forced to wake up at 3 am because you purchased the wrong generator and it ran out of fuel. Or you’re halfway through cutting a tree when your electric chainsaw suddenly stops working. Generally speaking, conventional open frame generators have larger fuel tanks as opposed to inverters, but they are also much less efficient so the larger tanks are a requirement instead of a design choice. Inverters are also quieter compared to their cheaper and larger conventional counterparts, because of the closed frame design and superior built-in noise dampening.
Our goal with this comprehensive buying guide is to provide you with all the knowledge that you need in order to make the correct purchase. We cover everything related to portable generators, including how they work, the various types of portable generators, and the aspects in which they differ from one another. What makes inverters more expensive, and less noisy? We provide the answer to that in our article. You will also get an insight into “hybrid” portable generators which are a somewhat recent development in the generator market.
Hybrids combine the best aspects of both inverter and conventional generators, resulting in a nice sweet spot in terms of price and performance. All that and much more will be discussed in this article, so feel free to go ahead and bookmark this page for future reference. To start things off, let us take a look at some of the most popular portable generators that you can currently purchase.
Westinghouse WGen7500 | Portable Generator
7500 Rated Watts / 9500 Starting Watts
- Push Button Start
- Starting the WGen7500 couldn’t be easier with our Westinghouse Push-Button Start.
- 420cc, OHV Engine with Cast Iron Sleeve
- The WGen7500 portable generator produces enough power to keep you up and running when you need it.
- Long Run Time – runs up to 10 hrs on a single tank
- Westinghouse’s open frame generators won’t need to be constantly refilled.
- Dual 120V Duplex Receptacles and One L14-30 Receptacle
- Two 5-20R 120V GFCI Duplex Receptacles and One L14-30R Receptacle give you multiple outlets to power your items.
- Circuit protected, Low-Oil Shutoff, and more
- The WGen7500 portable generator comes with features for your safety – including overload prevention, and low-oil shutoff.
- Remote start key fob to start your generator conveniently and easily
- The WGen7500 also comes with Oil, Funnel, Tool Kit, Manual, and Quick Start Guide.
- Plug-and-Play: Comes with a Remote Start Key Fob, 12V Battery Charger, Oil, an Oil Funnel, a Tool Kit, and a User’s Manual to Get You Started Right Out of the Box (Minimal Assembly Required)
- 3-Year Warranty
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Westinghouse WGen7500.
If we are talking about portable generators that provide lots of power at a relatively affordable price, the Westinghouse WGen7500 is hard to beat. Not only does it boast some impressive wattage figures, but the tubular steel frame and 420cc OHV 4-stroke engine make this an extremely reliable backup power source during emergency situations. It comes with an electric starter that is powered by a 12V, 9Ah rechargeable battery.
The battery is included along with the generator, and if it ever runs out of charge you can rely on the old school recoil starter system to get your WGen7500 up and running. One really neat feature of this generator that isn’t found on cheaply designed models from other companies, is the 12V battery charger. The WGen7500 comes with a self-charging system that uses the generators own output to recharge the battery whenever you don’t have any load connected.
What most people don’t realize is that the charger which is included within the package is not needed to charge the battery if you use the generator somewhat regularly (even once or twice a month is enough). The alternator feeds current back to the battery through the very cords that connect it to the ignition system. But in case the generator has not been used since a long time, your battery will probably be out of charge. That is when you hook up the 12V charging adapter to the port on the console, and leave your generator running overnight to fully charge up the battery. First you have to plug the charger cable into a little charging port on the console, it is located right below the battery disconnect/ engine shutoff switch. Then, plug the charger itself into a 110/ 120V AC outlet and ensure that your generator is on standby mode, with no loads connected to it.
The WGen7500 comes with a wheel kit and mounting stands, you barely need 10 minutes to unpack the generator and install the wheels + stands. Trust us, you are going to need those wheels because this big hunk of metal and plastic weighs nearly 200 pounds with all fluids. Fortunately, there is a folding handle on the front that is rubber-coated. You can conveniently tow this generator around on the jobsite with the help of this handle. And in case your WGen7500 ever tips over by accident, you don’t have to worry about a broken fuel tank or bent engine mounts because there are steel roll bars on the top for protection.
VIDEO | Watch this and learn more about the Westinghouse WGen7500
Moving on to the console, it contains the engine start/ stop switch along with a battery disconnect that comes in handy during emergencies when you need to shut down the generator quickly. There is a main breaker, along with individual breaker switches for the 20 and 30 amp outlets. We believe this is more of a jobsite/ home backup generator as opposed to an RV generator, because it doesn’t come with the TT-30 RV outlet. Instead, you get a 120V/240V L14-30R 30 amp outlet which supports twist lock.
This is the outlet that you can use to connect the WGen7500 with your home circuit through a transfer switch. And next to the 30amp outlet are two duplex 120V 20 amp outlets with built-in GFCI protection. If you want to power your RV with this generator, you will have to purchase a L14-30p to TT-30R adapter, such as this : RV 30 AMP, 4-Prong Generator Adapter (30M30F)
If you ever want to monitor the voltage, frequency, or runtime of the engine, just take a look at the Data Center display in the middle of the console which shows you all of these numbers. Monitoring fuel levels should be very easy thanks to the fuel gauge at the top of the gas tank. And this is a really large gas tank, at 6.6 gallons. That is enough fuel to run the WGen7500 for more than 10 hours at 50 percent load, making it a perfect choice for jobsites and home backup during storms or hurricanes.
With a rated wattage of 7500, it can power a bunch of tools such as sanders, table saws, grinders, air compressors, etc. You can even turn on the fridge and air conditioner at the same time, thanks to the 9500 watt surge power. This generator comes with automatic voltage regulation and overload protection, but we don’t suggest using it for delicate electronics. This is not a computer friendly machine, because the THD is <23%, compared to under 3 percent harmonic distortion that is found on most inverters. Use it to run lights, fans, ACs, heaters, tools, etc. but not your smart TV or computer.
We line in a time when companies come and go overnight, it seems. Westinghouse was founded in 1886 by George Westinghouse and the company has been innovating ever since. That’s over 125 years of manufacturing and engineering experience. You better believe Westinghouse portable generators are a reflection of their legacy, experience and expertise. Westinghouse Electric Company, as it was called in the beginning, was the main rival to Thomas Edison’s electric company. The roots of Westinghouse run deep and we can’t recommend their generators enough.
Briggs & Stratton Q6500 — 30675A
Best Quiet Gas Portable Generator
- More than 60% quieter than standard generators
- Briggs & Stratton 306cc engine with integrated alternator
- 14 hours of run time at 25% load
- All-steel frame enclosed in a protective shell, noise is reduced greatly and internal components are protected from the elements.
- A suitcase-style telescoping handle makes it easy to move the generator anywhere you need to go.
- QuietPower Series inverter technology and a noise-reducing shell give you power that’s more than 60% quieter than standard generators (66 dBA at 25% load)
- Design is 45% more compact & 30% lighter (128 lbs) than standard portable generators
- Power a wide variety of electronics & devices at the same time with (4) 120V-20A outlets, (2) USB outlets & (1) 120V-240V locking outlet. Use of an RV adapter in the twist lock outlet, provides 120V / 20.8A (half) of the total available power
Perfect for camping, tailgating, and powering delicate electronics such as computers, smart TVs, microwaves, etc. This is one of the largest inverter generators you can find on the market today, and no- we are not talking about its physical size. The Briggs & Stratton Q6500 pumps out 6500 surge watts, and is rated at 5000 watts maximum for continuous operation. This much power is what you would expect from a starter level jobsite generator, not a compact inverter model such as this one.
VIDEO | See it in Action…
The pricing isn’t too bad either, if you don’t have the money to spend on a large Honda or Yamaha inverter unit, this is the one generator you can get. It has a closed frame design like all inverters, with a plastic shroud over a metal frame. The plastic shroud improves protection from water and dust, while significantly lowering noise levels because of the sound attenuating nature of the foam that is packed underneath certain areas of the plastic shell.
Now, Briggs & Stratton make some interesting claims about the Q6500. They say it is 45% more compact and 30% lighter than a standard open frame generator of equivalent capacity. They also claim that the Q6500 is up to 60 percent quieter than a conventional generator. So we decided to run some numbers and compared this inverter to the open-frame conventional model that we just reviewed — the Westinghouse WGen7500.
The WGen7500 takes up nearly 10.84 cubic feet of space when fully assembled, while the Q6500 only occupies 6.68 cubic feet of space which is 38 percent less than the WGen7500. But it also makes 33 percent less power, so the overall space savings per watt isn’t that drastic. But it is there, and can make a difference if you store your generator in a crowded garage or basement. The weight difference is also significant, 128 pounds for the Q6500 compared to 187 for the Westinghouse model. So it is 35 percent lighter, but again- the Q6500 makes less power.
But the real game changer is in the noise. This inverter generator makes 66 dB(A) of noise, compared to the loud 73 dB(A) of the Westinghouse WGen7500. The decibel scale is logarithmic instead of linear, so a 7 decibel difference is massive. An increase in 10 decibels equals twice the loudness, so you can say that the Q6500 is much quieter than the WGen7500. And this extra silent operation is achieved thanks to the inverter technology within the Q6500. It comes with a special “Quiet Power” function that is operated via a switch on the main console.
When you turn this switch on, the generator will actively monitor load and adjust the engine rpm to keep noise levels as low as possible. The run-time for this generator is 14 hours under 25 percent load, which means it can pump out 1250 watts for 14 hours with a full tank of 5 gallons. On half load, the runtime is 9.6 hours.
Outlets : (4x) 120V-20A GFCI / (1x) 120V/240V / (1x) 30A Locking / (2x) USB
Portability is not an issue with the Q6500, since it comes with a built-in telescoping handle and preinstalled mobility wheels. You don’t have to mount any stands, since the plastic feet at the front are also preinstalled from the factory. The reason we recommend this generator for campers and tailgaters is because of the clean power and low noise. It is an inverter generator, so THD is under 3 percent. And the console contains dual 5V USB ports to charge your cellphone or power bank. This feature is not found on conventional open-frame models.
We have a couple of complaints though; firstly, the lack of an electric starter on this inverter generator. Most modern inverters come with electric start, and this is not a cheap model either. Secondly, it lacks a TT-30R RV receptacle, which means you end up purchasing an adapter cord if you wish to power your RV from the 120V/240V L14-30R outlet. Connecting it to your home via a transfer switch should be easy, and all four 120V 20amp outlets are GFCI protected.
Excellent Cheap (inexpensive) Gas Generator. One of the best affordable portable generator for medium-duty power needs.
- Wireless Remote Start – Start and stop with ease from up to 80 feet away with the included wireless remote key fob – push-button power and convenience like never before
- Electric Start – Trust the reliable 208cc Champion engine with its battery-included electric start featuring a 3-way ignition switch, plus built-in Cold Start Technology for easy starts in cold weather
- Reliable and Powerful – At 4375 starting watts and 3500 running watts, enjoy up to XX hours of run time on a full tank of gasoline with a noise level of 68 dBA from 23 feet
- Covered outlets – 120V 30A locking, 120V 30A RV and two 120V 20A outlets and Volt Guard built-in surge protector prevents overloads and keeps your appliances and equipment safe
- Champion Support – includes 3-year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support from dedicated experts
Don’t have a ton of stuff to power, and need a portable generator that is both cheap AND reliable? Champion has you covered with their 3500-watt offering. The 100554 is a very sturdy machine and is one of the most popular open frame 3500-watt generators on the market. It has a very high surge rating at 4375 watts, which makes this generator perfect for running small to medium size air compressors, water pumps, and RV air conditioners (up to 15000 BTU). You will be hard pressed to find an electrical appliance in your home that this generator cannot start, except perhaps the central air conditioning system in a large house. It can run space heaters, light up 4 to 5 rooms, and handle several tools such as electric chainsaws, miter saws, lathes, etc.
We were pleasantly surprised to find a 30-amp RV receptacle (TT-30R) on this cheap (inexpensive) generator. If you remember, the previous two generators that we reviewed did not have a RV connector which meant that you would need to invest 30 bucks in a L14-30p to TT-30R adapter. And why they didn’t include a simple 30 amp RV outlet on 5000+ watt generators is honestly beyond us, when this Champion model does it and costs a fraction compared to either of those two. Even more interesting is the fact that this Champion 3500-watt generator has remote start — this is a feature you find in high end inverters or 6000 watt+ heavy duty models such as the Westinghouse WGen7500.
The remote start is extremely useful when your generator is parked outside the home in the driveway, and you don’t want to walk out to turn it on. Or maybe you are working with some tool on the jobsite, and you don’t want to leave your tool unattended while you walk back to the generator in order to switch it on/ off.
You can also use the starter button or recoil system to start this generator if you are standing next to it. On its main console, you will find the usual stuff- engine START/ STOP, a battery disconnect switch, breakers for the outlets, and rubber covers for each outlet to prevent dust and rain from getting in. There is no L14-30R 120/240 volt twist locking receptacle, so this generator is not designed to be connected to your home circuit through a transfer switch. You shouldn’t use it as a home backup generator either, since the power rating is simply not enough to run a large number of appliances for long periods of time in the event of a blackout.
This is more of a camping/ tailgating machine because of its modest 3500-watt rated power output, and relatively low noise levels (68 dBA). It is an open-frame design, but is still surprisingly quiet for a conventional generator. Voltage, frequency, and operating hours are easy to monitor thanks to a digital readout. The Champion 100554 comes with built-in surge protection and low oil shutoff.
This is a fantastic industrial-grade portable generator that’s built to withstand tough environmental conditions. Best jobsite generator to keep you working.
- Electric Start w/ Recoil Backup (Battery Included)
- 7.9 Gallon Treated Steel Fuel Tank w/ Gauge
- 420cc OHV Engine with Cast Iron Sleeve
- Convenient, Easy-To-Use LED Lit Control Panel
- 6 Outlets, Including 120V and 240V 30A Twist-Lock
- Manual and Electric Start with Integrated Charging
- Weight Balanced, Easy To Move Design
- Padded Double Hinged Handle You Can Pull With One Hand
- Solid Steel, Low Vibration Frame
- Automatic Low Oil Shut Down and AVR
- Manual Fuel Shut Off and Auto Tip-Over Fuel Shut Off Protection
- Easy-Access, Low- Maintenance Design
- Lithium-Ion battery automatically charges when generator is running
- Fuel-efficient, durable design, with heavy-duty liners for extended life
- Manual fuel shut-off helps prevent carb problems
- Automatic Low-Oil Shutdown Protection
- Helps prevent damage to the engine in a low-oil event
- Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR) : Controls output to prevent damaging voltage spikes
- Provides up to 11 hours of run time @ 50% load
- Anti-corrosion-treated design helps prevent rust
- 30-Amp 120/240V (14-30R) & 120V (L5-30) Twistlock Outlets
- Allows for connection to a manual transfer switch (MTS)
- Lighted Control Panel & 4-In-1 Digital Display
- Displays voltage, frequency, running hours, & total hours
- Snap-Fit Rubber Outlet Covers : Keeps dirt and debris out of outlets when not in-use
- All-Steel Construction
- Heavy-duty roll cage with steel side panels for added protection
- Never-Flat Wheels & Foldable, Padded Handle
- Makes this generator easy to move over uneven terrain
- Premium Muffler & USDA Approved Spark Arrestor
- Reduces noise levels & provide safer operation in dry conditions
- Includes Tool Kit & Engine Oil
- Provides everything you need to get up and running
- 3-Year Limited Warranty (Must Register within 30 Days)
- Standard 2-Year Limited Warranty if not registered within 30 days
- Battery Type: Self-Charging Lithium Ion
- Fuel Gauge: Dial Gauge
- Fuel Tank Nominal Capacity: 30 L, 7.9 gal
- Run Time at 50%: 11 hrs
- Handle Style: Double Folding
- Wheel Type: Never-Flat
There are quiet a few things that make this Caterpillar generator unique compared to other entry-level industrial generators that are sold in the consumer market. For instance, it is designed to be as compact and silent as possible. The frame is extremely sturdy, made from thick gauge steel tubing that allows the generator to sustain heavy physical shocks on the sides and top without damaging internal components.
The motor used in this generator is manufactured in China, but design and testing is done on US soil, to make sure that it satisfies all necessary parameters. There are sound attenuating materials padded in between the engine and frame to reduce noise levels, and the vibration-resistant engine mounts prevent the frame from shaking along with the engine while the generator is running (further reducing noise).
Perhaps the best part about this generator is its lithium ion battery, this is faster at charging compared to standard lead acid batteries and also stores much more energy compared to the batteries you will find on most generators. It is also smaller in size and lighter compared to lead acid batteries, so the overall size and weight of the generator is reduced. Now this CAT generator is not small by any means, as it is designed for light industrial use and packs a 420cc OHV engine to supply those 7500 running watts and 9375 starting watts. And because this is meant to be a generator for jobsite crews and DIY enthusiasts, the controls are extremely intuitive while also being easy to access.
Everything is located on one panel, the panel itself is made from steel for durability and has a LED light on the side for illumination in low light conditions. It may seem like a small thing, but this LED lamp comes in handy after sunset when you are trying to plug equipment into your CAT generator. There are 2 NEMA 5-20R 20amp duplex outlets for running your tools and home appliances, along with a NEMA L14-30R 30amp twist lock outlet for connecting this generator with your home circuit via a transfer switch. One extra outlet that you won’t find on most other generators is the NEMA L5-30R 30amp. This is a 120V outlet, but it allows you to pull 30 amps of current compared to the 20amp 120V outlets that are standard on most generators.
In terms of portability, the CAT RP7500E scores pretty high on our list thanks to its double folding rubber-padded handle and never flat wheels. These wheels mount to the frame with a solid rear axle, whereas on most other open-frame models you simply bolt the wheels onto each side of the frame. The solid rear axle makes this generator much sturdier, and allows you to roll it over uneven terrain with ease. And you also get the usual goodies such as automatic voltage regulation, overload protection, and low-oil shutoff.
The CAT RP7500E is just one generator in a series of various sized generators for you choose from. These are built to industrial-grade generator standards as they need to endure more punishment than a a standard home generator.
One of the best RV Portable Generators.
- Digital Hybrid is 50% quieter and 20% lighter than a traditional 3500-watt portable generator.
- Recoil start features Cold Start Technology, plus the reliable 224cc Champion engine produces 4000 starting watts and 3500 running watts.
- Runs for 17 hours at 25% load when the 2.9-gallon fuel tank is full.
- .6-quart oil capacity (recommended 10W-30) and a low oil shut-off sensor
- Operates at 64 dBA from 23 feet (a little louder than normal speech)
- Connect your sensitive electronics since our hybrid produces only Clean Power (less than 3% THD).
- Quick Touch Panel offers fast access to controls, while Economy Mode monitors power consumption in real time to reduce electrical load.
- As the electrical load is reduced, the engine idles lower, providing quieter operation, extended engine life and higher fuel economy.
- The outlets in this RV Ready inverter include a 120V 30A RV (TT-30R), two 120V 20A household outlets (5-20R) and a 12V DC automotive-style outlet with a dual USB adapter and battery-charging cables.
- Optional Parallel Kit, with included standard 50-amp RV outlet, provides a clip-on connection which allows you to increase output by connecting up to two 2800-watt or higher inverters or digital hybrids.
- Fully assembled CARB compliant inverter with confidence – Champion Support and our nationwide network of service centers will back up your purchase with a 3-year limited warranty and FREE lifetime technical support.
The highlight of this generator is its digital hybrid technology which allows it to pump out cleaner AC power as opposed to conventional open-frame models. This is a hybrid generator, which means it incorporates inverter technology in an open-frame design. The result is a generator that costs much less than a pure inverter model of similar capacity, but performs just as well. And to make things even better, the Champion 100302 supports parallel connectivity so you can hook up two of these awesome machines together and generate a whopping 7000 watts of continuous power. That is enough to run a dryer, washing machine, sump pump, and air conditioner at the same time.
The surge wattage for a single Champion 100302 is 4000 watts. Not spectacular when compared to its running wattage, and certainly lacking when you compare this generator to Champions own 100554 that is also a 3500-watt model, but packs an extra 375 surge watts. The surge wattage of a generator really helps with operating any capacitive loads, or motors/ compressors.
The motors used in air conditioners and tools require a lot of power while starting up, compared to the amount of watts they consume while running. Which is why we don’t really recommend this Champion model as a jobsite generator. But is a great addition to your RV or home workshop, since the 4000 surge watts is plenty to run all types of tools that a DIY enthusiast uses such as drills, circular saws, band saws, etc.
Another reason why we recommend this generator for your RV is the TT-30R 30-amp receptacle, also known as the RV receptacle in North America. This is a must-have on any RV generator, unless you plan on spending an extra 30 bucks for an adapter cord because the generator you purchased doesn’t have an RV outlet. Runtime on 25 percent load is impressive at 17 hours, although the gas tank is somewhat small at 2.9 gallons.
This small gas tank means that you don’t want this generator powering the lights and air conditioner in your home overnight, because if you happen to exceed that 50 percent load rating(3500/2 = 1750 watts), it guzzles fuel pretty fast and will not last more than 10 hours. The Westinghouse WGen7500 and CAT RP7500E do a much better job at powering your home during storms, thanks to their large fuel tanks.
Best Compact Professional-Grade Inverter Generator.
- EU2200i delivers 10% more power than the EU2000i – enabling you to power more of what you need, in the same lightweight, compact package. Whether it’s an extra refrigerator at home, a larger saw on your construction site, a larger TV at your tailgate party, the EU2200i gives you the power to get more done.
- The EU2200i can operate a wide variety of appliances, such as : Microwave, refrigerators, hair dryer, small AC units, and much more. Designed for portable use at home, camping, on the jobsite, or much more.
- Honda EU2200i operates at 48 to 57 dBA : Less noise than a normal conversation. Great for camping (won’t disturb your neighbors), supplemental RV power and any other activity that requires quiet operation.
- Powered by the Honda GXR120 Commercial Series engine. Exceptionally quiet, smooth, fuel-efficient performance in a small, lightweight package. At 121cc, the GXR120 is at the top of its class. Originally developed for heavy duty construction equipment. Durable and reliable.
- Double your power by running two in parallel : Connect it to the Honda EU2000ic Companion generator for additional power. Optional cable sold separately. Get up to 4400 watts of power.
- Note : The companion generator has a 30A outlet, making it the perfect setup for your travel trailer or RV. The companion generator model is : Honda EU2200ic (“c” for companion).
- Eco-Throttle System : Runs 3.2 to 8.1 hours on a single tank, depending on the load. This makes it the ideal choice for overnight power, or long-time applications.
- Inverter technology : Stable, clean power. Produces power that is as reliable (and cleaner) as the power you get from your outlets at home.
- Automatic mechanical decompressor system significantly reduces the amount of force needed to start the engine.
- Less than 47 pounds.
- Large oil filler opening, longer spout, and larger oil drain gutter make for easier and cleaner oil changes.
- 12v – 8.3A unregulated DC output : Use when charging 12-volt automotive type batteries. (Requires an optional charging cord.)
- Oil Alert : Protects the generator by shutting the engine off when low oil is detected.
- 3 year residential and commercial warranty
If at any point in your life you considered purchasing a generator and went on some online forums to get recommendations for a good camping/ RV generator, you must have heard about the legendary Honda EU2000i. This is the generator that made inverters cool in the eyes of customers, because it offered performance that was previously unheard of in an extremely small package. And to top it off, the EU2000i was very quiet even under load, and boasted the famed Honda reliability. Recently, Honda released its successor- the EU2200i. This generator follows on the footsteps of the EU2000i, and kicks everything up a notch.
It is rated at 1800 watts, compared to the 1600 of the EU2000i. That is an increase of 12.5 percent in running watts, and the surge wattage also went up from 2000 to 2200 which is a 10 percent boost. But that’s not all- the EU2200i is also smaller, quieter, and easier to operate. It only weighs 0.9 pounds more compared to its older cousin, and the actual dry weight of this generator is just 46.5 pounds. You can carry it around with one hand like a briefcase, and there are shock absorbent rubber feet on the bottom which means it will not vibrate or create noise when you place it on a slightly uneven surface. The controls are easy to recognize, and if you have ever used a EU2000i, you will immediately feel at home with this one.
Changing oil is much easier thanks to the larger filler cap, extended spout, and bigger drain gutter. Ventilation has been improved with larger and smarter air opening design, so internal components last longer. A stamped metal recoil rope insert prevents damage to the generator body, and the fuel control valve is located in a spot that is easy to access. All that stuff is nice, but the best part about this Honda generator is its quiet operation. When we say quiet, we mean it- just 57 dB(A) at rated load! That is insane, there is no other generator on the market that goes under 60 decibels even when operating at half load, and this Honda manages to do it at maximum load of 1800 watts. For reference, 57 decibels is as loud as a normal conversation in a busy room. And if the load is under 25%, this generator runs virtually silent at just 48 dB(A). That is quieter than a refrigerator!
To learn even more, read our comprehensive review of the EU2200i.
If money is tight but you still need an inverter generator then you’ll love the WEN 56200i. It has proven itself to be an excellent little generator for the money. Just ask Amazon customers. I doubt you’ll find better value for your hard-earned money. It’s not cheap, it’s inexpensive. There’s a difference.
- Extremely quiet operation : 51 decibels at 25% load — is comparable to the sound of a normal conversation according to the US Department of Health and Human Services
- EPA III and CARB Compliant 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts
- Great for campgrounds, construction sites, tailgates and power outages
- Produces clean power to safely operate and prevent damage to sensitive electronics such as smart phones, tablets, televisions, and laptops.
- Outlets :
- Two three-prong 120V receptacles
- One 12V DC Receptacle
- One 5V USB Port
- Parallel Connection Ports
- Carrying Handle
- Pull Cord
- Low-Oil Shutdown
- Overload Protection
- Low-Fuel Automatic Shutdown
- Two-Year Warranty
When you want some clean power for your computers and phones on a camping trip, but don’t want to spend over 1200 bucks on a Honda or Yamaha, this inverter from WEN is perfect for you. It comes with all the little bells and whistles that you expect to find on much more expensive inverters, at the cost of being slightly louder and having a smaller warranty (2 years vs 3 years on the Honda EU2200i). The build quality isn’t as nice as a Honda, but is still really good for what you are paying. Underneath the plastic shroud is a steel subframe, with noise dampening foam and smart cooling to reduce noise levels. It can run in parallel with a second 56200i, delivering up to 4000 surge watts, and 3200 running watts.
The really amazing thing about this generator is its true sine wave power, and WEN states that the total harmonic distortion is under 1.3 percent for this model. That means you will not get any noticeable fluctuations in signal quality, and a stable voltage as well as frequency. This is extremely important if you want to power computers, especially modern PCs that feature Active PFC power supplies. You can also use it to run lights and fans, but we wouldn’t recommend this generator for powering heaters and driers. It can run a portable air conditioning unit up to 10,000 watts but if you go any higher the 2000 watt surge power isn’t sufficient to start bigger ACs.
In case you overload the generator by accident, its automatic surge protection system will kick in and shut down the motor immediately. And resetting any tripped breakers should be easy, since the breaker rest is located on the main console along with all the outlets. The tiny 4-stroke 79.7cc engine purrs along at low rpms when you don’t have too much load connected, and if you just plan to power a laptop along with a couple of lights, select the eco-mode. This will reduce noise levels significantly, as low as 51 decibels which is comparable to a regular conversation between two people. The ultra quiet operation also makes it a brilliant choice for hunters and fishermen. Its compliance with CARB and EPA III air pollution standards means that you can travel with it to just about any RV park or state camping ground without breaking the local emission laws.
Generac 7127 — iQ3500
Whisper-Quiet inverter Generator. Best portable generator if you need a quiet generator
- ULTRA QUIET- 40% Quieter than Honda : Advanced inverter technology and enclosure design provide optimal quiet performance * Over 5 dB quieter than the EU3000is, based on independent third-party testing.
- LCD Display Data Monitoring : Digital wattage meter, run time remaining display, generator status, hour meter and fuel level
- MORE POWER 16% More Power than Honda : Featuring POWERRUSH ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY – over 50% more starting capacity allowing you to do more with less. 500 more starting watts than the Honda eu3000is(based on manufacturer’s specifications) Increases electrical current upon demand; above rated output when starting electric motors.
- ELECTRIC START* WITH POWERDIAL. Start. Run. Stop. Three operation settings integrated into one simple-to-use dial.
- Parallel Ready: With the optional parallel lkit you can connect two iQ3500 inverter generators together for double your power.
- Tough steel enclosure, clean inverter power and easy to move around. Ideal generator for jobsites or recreational activities.
A couple years ago, Generac released their iQ series of inverter generators, and heavily marketed them as the quietest inverters ever. For instance, they compared their iQ2000 with the Honda EU2000i saying that it is quieter and smarter. Interestingly enough, the sound levels for their iQ lineup of generators isn’t specified in numbers on the official site of Generac, but they did provide a link to test results from an independent third party organization.
You can see the results of the comparison here, in which 3 Generac iQ2000 units were tested versus 3 identical Honda EU2000i units. Tests were done at varying distances and under different artificial loads. The Generac iQ2000 was on average exactly 1 decibel quieter than the Honda, with both running at 50 percent load. This is a marginal decrease in noise levels, but makes up for some nice marketing material nonetheless. And when you factor in the lower cost of the Generac inverters, it looks even better. But if you look at the results of the test, you can notice that the Generac produces slightly less voltage at its output under load when compared to the Honda, and many individuals on online forums have claimed that the Honda performs more reliably when you get closer to its peak rated wattage.
It is a well known fact that Honda uses the best quality components and has a superior service network across the country when compared to Generac, but this is still a great step forward for Generac. They are giving more features compared to the Honda EU series of inverters, things like the digital fuel level display and load meter which tells you how much wattage your Generac unit is pumping out. The LCD display also shows the amount of time you have left before the generator runs out of fuel. All these neat little additions are absent from the Honda EU3000is, which is the main competition for the Generac iQ3500.
VIDEO | See the Generac iQ3500 Generator in Action…
Generac has Honda beat in the power department, with 3500 surge and 3000 rated watts as opposed to the 3000 surge and 2800 rated watts of the EU3000iS. What Generac lacks in terms of stability at high loads, it makes up for with a much lower price and intuitive controls. If you want to check fuel levels or runtime on the Honda, you have to pop open the gas tank fuel cap and do a manual inspection. With the Generac, you just take a look at the digital readout. And while both the Honda and Generac have eco modes, the iQ3500 runs nearly 5 decibels quieter than the Honda EU3000iS in eco mode. And the Generac is lighter by nearly 22 pounds (109 lbs vs 131 lbs).
Honda EU7000iS | Powerful Inverter Generator
Yes, its true. If you have the money and can afford it, this truly is the Best Heavy-Duty Inverter Generator.
- Starting Watts : 7000W / Running Watts : 5500W (120/240V)
- Engine : Honda GX390 EFI
- Perfect for home back up power, RVs, outdoor events, and more
- Super quiet : Operates at 52 to 60 dBA
- Fuel efficient – Runs up to 18 hours on 5.1 gal of fuel
- Convenient electric start
- Inverter – stable power for computers and more
- Fuel injected – better fuel efficiency and lower maintenance
- Advanced inverter technology – reliable power for computers and other sensitive equipment
- handles that can be raised for transport and lowered for more compact storage.
- i-Monitor provides information on hours of operation, wattage and engine speed, as well as diagnostics for convenient dealer servicing.
- Outlets : Two GFCI 20 amp, 120 V duplex outlets
- Meets ETL and NEC standards.
- 3 year residential and commercial warranty
- Choose between using both 120 and 240 Volts, or 120 Volts only.
- Electronic circuit breakers
If money isn’t a concern and you simply want the best inverter generator on the market, the Honda EU7000iS is for you. This beast combines the durability and raw power output of industrial generators, with the clean nature of inverter tech to give you 5500 watts of pure sine wave AC current that is virtually indistinguishable from the power an electricity company supplies to your home. And if you are on a jobsite with a couple of power-hungry tools nearby such as a ½” drill, circular saw, or miter saw, the EU7000iS is capable of starting them all at the same time with ease thanks to its 7000 watts of surge power.
A 7.25” circular saw needs 2300 watts while starting, a ½” hand drill takes up 900 watts to start, and a miter saw needs 3000 watts to get itself running. With all of that added up, you are at 6200 starting watts with plenty of headroom left in the EU7000iS for starting other appliances.
Honda claims that the EU7000iS can run up to 18 hours on a single tank of gas, which is true at 25 percent load. Which means you can power a computer, a couple of lights, and a small to medium size fridge for up to 18 hours without refueling. And on the jobsite where you are powering tools this generator will easily more than 10 hours with 50 percent load. Runtime at 100 percent load (5500 watts) is 6.5 hours, pretty impressive stuff considering the fact that this Honda generator has a 5.1 gallon tank which puts it at a disadvantage against the Westinghouse and Briggs + Stratton model that we reviewed earlier. Both of those were open-frame generators with much larger tanks, but post similar runtimes under load. This extra run-time on the Honda is because of its inverter technology which smartly regulates engine speed based on the load that is connected.
The best part about the Honda EU7000iS is of course its low noise operation – just 58 decibels at rated load, and 52 decibels at 25 percent load. Try to find any other 5500-watt generator on the market that runs this quiet. You simply can’t, Honda has somehow created an industrial grade heavy duty 5500-watt generator that runs quieter than small 3500-watt conventional generators from other companies.
All the outlets you need are located in convenient spots on the control panel, along with their respective circuit breakers for overload protection. You can start this generator with the push of a button, and the battery will get charged whenever there is no load connected. Electronic fuel injection guarantees superior efficiency and lower maintenance, so no more cleaning dirty carburetors. The duplex 20amp 120V outlets are GFCI protected, and you also have a 30 amp twist lock 120/ 240V receptacle which is transfer switch ready.
Briggs & Stratton P3000 — 30545 : Inverter Generator
Excellent Medium-Duty inverter Generator. Fills that void in the market between a little too big and not enough power. For many, 3000 watts might be “just right.”
- Inverter Generator Quiet Power Technology
- 10-Hour Run Time at 25% Load
- LCD Screen Displays Important Performance Stats & Maintenance Reminders
- OUTLETS :
- (4) 120V Household Outlets
- (1) 12V-5A, DC Outlet
- (1) USB Port
- (1) Parallel Port
- 24-Months Limited Consumer Warranty
- Quiet Power Technology will automatically adjust engine speed to reduce noise, save fuel and run longer. At just 58 decibels at 25% load, it’s quieter than a typical conversation.
- Easily move the P3000 around. Luggage-style telescoping handle and durable 6″ solid wheels makes it effortless to transport wherever you need it.
- LCD Statstation Display : The easy-to-read LCD screen shows the amount of power being used, total unit hours and maintenance reminders including oil. air filter and spark plug changes.
- A dedicated parallel connector port allows you to connect two (2) PowerSmart Series inverter generators together to pull more power without sacrificing a household outlet.
- Use : Parallel Cable : Briggs & Stratton 6278 parallel kit
The P3000 is part of the PowerSmart series of inverter generators from Briggs & Stratton. It is designed with camping and tailgating in mind, and you can use it to power up the 13,500 BTU air conditioner in your RV. In case you need more power, the Briggs & Stratton P3000 supports parallel operation which lets you hook up two of these inverters together for a combined 4200 running watts and 6000 surge watts. The parallel connection kit is sold separately, and comes with a TT-30R 30amp RV receptacle for powering all the electrical equipment in your RV such as the central AC, microwave, fridge, electric range, etc.
It is completely safe for sensitive electronics, thanks to the inverter technology which not only produces pure sine wave AC power, but also regulates the engine speed dynamically based on the amount of load on the generator. This real-time monitoring of load allows the P3000 to consume less fuel on average, and also lowers the noise levels which is a bug bonus if you are on a campground. Most campgrounds and RV parks have rules on noise emissions, and the best way to stay within these rules is by purchasing an inverter generator. Of course you don’t need something as big as the Honda EU7000iS or Briggs & Stratton Q6500 if you just want to power a couple laptops and some smartphones. And you don’t have to worry about disturbing your fellow campers either, because the P3000 produces only 58 decibels of noise.
The P3000 is compact, lightweight at just 84 pounds, and can be easily towed with the help of the luggage-style telescoping handle. There are dual lift handles on the top with ergonomic grips so you and your buddy can conveniently lift one of these into the back of your trailer. The never go flat wheels will keep rolling smoothly on all kinds of terrain, and you don’t have to worry about one of them rupturing or cracking on sharp stones.
An intuitive statistics display called the StatsStation will show you important data such as voltage, frequency, running hours, etc. in real time. You may be thinking “well, the VFT meter is pretty much available on every modern generator, what is so unique about this one?” Well, it does more than just displaying the voltage, frequency, and time. The StatsStation will also schedule oil changes, spark plug replacement, and air filter cleaning. Not only is this super convenient for the average user who doesn’t have much prior experience with small engines, but it also guarantees that your generator will last longer simply because you are being reminded to carry out timely maintenance.
12000-Watt 18 HP Portable dual fuel gas Propane Generator.
- Dual Fuel Generator : Propane or Gas.
- Heavy duty frame has four point fully isolated motor mounts. Low vibration. Quiet.
- Full Control panel with oil warning light, volt meter, circuit breaker and power outlets.
- Run-Time : Gasoline — 8 hrs @ 50% Maximum Output
- Run-Time : Propane — 8 hrs@ 50% Maximum Output (40 lb. tank)
- Low oil shut-off protects engine.
- Quiet Muffler reduces engine noise.
- Cannot ship to California – Non-CARB unit.
- Max AC Output (Watts) : 12000
- Rated AC Output (Watts) : 9500
- Fuel Tank Capacity (Gallons) : 8.3
- 18Hp DuroMax Air Cooled OHV Engine
- Low Oil lamp/Shutoff
- Electric/Recoil start
- Spark Arrestor. EPA approved. Can be safely used in US national parks.
- DuroMax XP12000EH Dual Fuel Electric Start Generator.
- 12V Generator Battery.
- Generator Wheel Kit.
- Generator Tool Kit.
- DuroMax Operating Manual.
With increasing gas prices and growing concerns regarding the safety of our environment and Earths ozone layer, this is the best time to invest in a dual-fuel portable generator. Not only does propane cost less than gasoline, but it also burns cleaner and releases less CO2. So, is the DuroMax XP1200EH worth your money? To begin with, it is insanely powerful. This monster can supply 12000 surge watts and 9800 running watts, which is plenty to deal with just about anything you throw at it. One could argue that this much power is simply overkill if you are looking to power a couple of tools in your garage, or do some light DIY work. With two DuroMax XP12000EH generators, you could power an entire home. We don’t suggest that you purchase two of these, unless you really need all that power. Besides, they are incapable of parallel operation since these are conventional generators and not inverters.
But if you look at things from a purely value-based standpoint and consider how many watts you are getting per dollar, it is hard to beat the XP1200EH. This generator costs as much as a Honda EU2200i and produces 5.4 times as much power. Now, you don’t have to be a mathematician to realize that you are getting way more in terms of raw power with the DuroMax XP1200EH compared to a Honda inverter generator. And if raw power is what you need, this is the way to go. Don’t think that it is all about power though, the XP1200EH is after all, a dual-fuel model. So you also get tons of versatility when it comes to fuel options.
The DuroMax XP1200EH will run up to 8 hours at ½ load on a 40-pound tank of propane. It boasts similar runtimes with gasoline, and switching between fuel sources is very easy. This generator may look old-school, but it packs some really modern safety and convenience features. Things like low-oil automatic shutoff, overload protection, and GFCI protected 120V 20amp outlets are all present on the XP1200EH. It comes with a wheel kit included in the box, and the front part of the frame has a folding handle fitted onto it for easy towing.
There are steel roll bars on top of the 8.3 gallon gas tank, which is also made from steel. DuroMax didn’t cheap out one bit while making this machine, and they rightfully nicknamed it the “BEAST”. And if you were wondering whether this generator is allowed in US National parks, the answer is yes. It complies with EPA III and CARB emission standards across all 50 states, and comes with a giant muffler that has a built-in spark arrestor. Noise levels are very low when you consider the size of this machine (it is a 9800 watt generator), and 72 dB(A) is far quieter than most of the competition.
3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Electric Star.
- Dual Fuel Champion inverter generator
- Low oil shut-off sensor
- Electric Start with 3-Position Ignition Switch. Cold Start Technology ensures a quick start in cold weather.
- Battery included
- Quick Touch Panel allows you to access all your controls in one spot
- Perfect for RVs, camping, tailgating, your next project or backup power for your home,
- Clean Power for Sensitive Electronics (˂ 3% THD).
- Easily switch fuels with a quick turn of the fuel selector dial.
- Gas : 192cc Champion engine produces 3400 starting watts and 3100 running watts,
- Will run for 7.5 hours at 25% load.
- Propane : 3060 starting watts and 2790 running watts
- Will run for 14.5 hours at 25% load (20-pound propane tank)
- Smart Economy Mode, which can reduce the electrical load, providing quieter operation, extended engine life and better fuel economy.
- Outlets : 120V 30A RV (TT-30R), two 120V 20A household outlets (5-20R), a 12V DC automotive-style outlet with dual USB adapter, plus a propane hose with a built-in regulator.
- Operates at 59 dBA from 23 feet – about the same noise level as normal conversation.
- Optional Champion Parallel Kit provides a quick clip-on connection which allows you to increase output by connecting up to two 2800-watt or higher inverters. Also included is a standard 50-amp RV outlet with power to start and run two 15,000 BTU RV air conditioners.
- Fully assembled with foldaway handle for easy storage and built-in handles and never-flat tires for easy transport.
- EPA certified and CARB compliant Champion dual-fuel inverter generator
- 3-year limited warranty and FREE lifetime technical support.
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Champion dual fuel inverter generator (model: 100263).
NOTE : Use only standard 20 or 30 pound capacity LP tanks with Type 1, right hand Acme threads.
What do you get when you combine Champion inverter technology with dual-fuel hybrid operating capabilities? You get the 100263, which despite its uninspiring name is one of the most revolutionary pieces of power generation hardware currently on sale. Not only is this portable generator capable of delivering pure sine wave AC power for all your sensitive electronic equipment, but it can run on two different fuel sources allowing for much higher versatility in emergency backup situations. Going tailgating on weekends with your friends, you might be carrying tanks of propane to power the stove and barbeque grill. Well guess what, you can use those propane tanks to power your generator as well! Your extremely quiet 3100-watt Champion inverter generator can supply sufficient power to run the RV air conditioner while you cook some delicious food on the propane grill.
And if you decide one day that just powering the AC isn’t enough, you can purchase a second Champion 100263 and connect it to the first one with a proprietary Champion parallel connection kit (sold separately). Once you have hooked up two of these incredible generators together, you have enough power to run the fridge, AC, computer, and water heater at the same time. Thankfully, the Champion 100263 comes with a 30amp 120V TT-30R RV outlet preinstalled, so you don’t have to purchase one of those RV adapter cords. Unlike other dual-fuel generators which boast similar runtimes on both gasoline and propane, the Champion 100263 runs significantly longer at 25 percent load on propane alone. The gas runtime at 25% load is 7.5 hours, while the 25% load runtime with propane is 14.5 hours.
Although, it must be noted that current draw is slightly lower with propane- 28.3A (gas) vs 25.8A (propane) for starting, and 25.5A (gas) vs 23.3A (propane) while running. It weighs just under 96 pounds dry, and can be easily towed around thanks to the never flat wheels and folding handle. Noise levels are fairly low at 59 dB, which is comparable to the sound made by a fridge.
7500W dual-fuel generator that can run off of gas or propane, giving you more options during an emergency. This is one the best portable generators you can buy.
- Dual Fuel – gasoline or propane
- Gasoline: 9,500 peak watts and 7,500 running watts
- Propane: 8,550 peak watts and 6,750 running watts
- Push Button and Remote Start
- Up to 10 Hours of Run Time at 50% Load
- 420cc, OHV Engine with Cast Iron Sleeve
- 3-Year Warranty and Lifetime Technical Support
- EPA, CSA, CARB Compliant
- 6.6 Gallon Gas Fuel Tank w/ Gauge (Propane Tank NOT Included); Electric Push Button Start with Remote Key Fob
- Intuitive Control Panel Features Two GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) 5-20R 120V Household
- Duplex Outlets and One L14-30 120/240V 30A Twist-Lock Outlet (Common for Transfer Switch Hookup)
- Plug-and-Play! Includes Remote Start Key Fob, 12V Battery Charger, Oil, Funnel, Tool Kit, and User’s
- Manual – Everything You Need to Get Started Right Out of the Box
- 420cc Westinghouse 4-Stroke OHV Engine Featuring Automatic Low Oil Shutdown and Digital Hour Meter
- EPA, CARB, and CSA Compliant; Backed By a 3-Year Warranty
Documents for for the Westinghouse WGen7500DF.
- ✓ View or download the MANUAL
- ✓ View or download the SPEC SHEET
- ✓ View or download the QUICK START GUIDE
The WGen7500DF is built on the exact same platform as the WGen7500, think of it as a regular WGen7500 generator with a propane conversion kit slapped on top. This generator is incredibly well-built and packs some neat safety features such as GFCI outlets, snap locking rubber covers on all receptacles, overload protection, auto low-oil shutoff, etc. Just like the base model, the DF version features 3 different starting mechanisms- recoil, push button, and remote. The key fob that comes with this generator allows you to start or stop the engine from up to 109 yards away, a features that is very useful for jobsite workers and farm owners.
Everything about the WGen7500 and WGen7500DF is similar, from the fuel tank size to the engine. The DF version costs an extra 100 bucks, and allows the generator to run on propane. The only real difference between the two in terms of performance is the power output- the WGen7500 generates 7500 running watts and 9500 peak watts. The WGen7500DF also promises the exact same figures, but only in gasoline mode. In propane mode, the WGen7500DF puts out 6750 running watts and 8550 peak watts. This is a slight difference, but it shouldn’t matter unless you are doing heavy duty operations at the jobsite and absolutely need the generator to be running at loads greater than 75% most of the time.
Just like the base version, the DF model comes with a digital display that shows Voltage, Frequency, and Time. Unfortunately, Westinghouse still haven’t added a TT-30R outlet for RVs, which means you have to spend an extra 30 or 40 bucks on a L14-30P to TT-30R adapter. Other than that, everything about this generator is brilliant. It is built well, can be towed by one person thanks to the folding handles and wheels, and there are plenty of safety features built into the system. It weighs 2 pounds more than the base model, but that is really nothing when you consider that the base model weighs 192 pounds to begin with.
Different Types of Portable Generators
When you are looking to buy a new portable generator, the first thing to educate yourself on is the different types of generators. All portable generators can be broadly divided into four categories- conventional, inverter, hybrid, and dual-fuel. Each one of these designs has its own merits and demerits, and depending on what kind of user you are, you will want to go for one type of generator over the other. However, keep in mind that generator technology is advancing every year and the lines between these categories are getting more and more blurred with time.
There are now inverter generators which are also dual-fuel, and hybrids are a relatively new concept which did not exist until a couple years ago. Manufacturers are coming up with new ways to make their generators more appealing to the younger consumers, they are adding convenience features such as digital data readouts and LCD fuel gauges, remote start, etc. to get with the times. Some inverter generators such as this Ryobi RYI2300BTA (2300W Inverter) model even feature Bluetooth sync so you can monitor crucial data such as power output, fuel consumption, etc. on your Apple or Android smartphone.
The cheapest and most simplistic design out there. The very first portable generators were conventional, they had no fancy digital readouts or electronic start. All you had was an open frame made from steel tubing, with a small single-cylinder engine and alternator strapped together underneath a fuel tank. The output frequency would vary depending on the load, since a conventional generator must maintain 3600 engine rpm at all times for a steady 60Hz AC current. When you connect and disconnect loads from an old conventional generator, the mechanical parts in the engine will need a fraction of a second to adjust. There are no advanced electronic circuits, which is what makes them so cheap.
Modern conventional generators are slightly more advanced with features such as Automatic Voltage Regulation, digital data centers, and self-diagnostic systems which check for issues like low oil, overloading, etc. But at their core, they are not much different from before. Yeah, voltage doesn’t fluctuate as much thanks to AVR, but it can still vary quite a bit depending on the amount of load that you add to the circuit. And that is the reason conventional generators aren’t recommended for running delicate electronics such as computers and smart TVs. A typical conventional generator such as the Westinghouse WGen7500 has a THD of around 23% which means that voltage and frequency can vary a lot more compared to the power that you get from your utility company.
So who are these generators for? Conventional generators are mainly used for home backup, running farm equipment, and tools on jobsites. These machines are cheap, and pump out a lot of watts for the money that you spend on them. Take for instance the Champion 100554 that we reviewed earlier- it is a 3500-watt portable generator with surge power up to 4375 watts. This is a simple conventional generator that does exactly what it was intended to do, which is provide lots of reliable power at a cheap price. And then you look for an inverter generator which puts out 3500 running watts, only to discover that even the cheapest 3500-watt inverters will cost nearly twice as much as this Champion.
While conventional generators are not as advanced or quiet as inverters, they are much easier to maintain. Think about it- if a part breaks down in your inverter, chances are it could cost several hundred dollars to replace. Even day to day maintenance on an inverter can be tedious because everything is locked up underneath a plastic shroud. You have to unscrew the panels in order to access basic stuff such as the air filter, carburetor, and spark plug. And if something happens to the extremely complicated inverter circuitry, there is no way you can repair that by yourself that without lots of money at a dealership or service center.
Inverters started to gain mainstream popularity with the release of models such as the Honda EU2000i and Yamaha EF2000iS. These portable generators weigh under 50 pounds with all fluids added, and pump out 1600+ watts of running power, and 2000 watts of starting power. Now we have inverters that are capable of hitting much higher power figures, and there have been several advancements in alternator technology that allows modern inverters to be the quietest and most compact portable generators on the market.
If you are looking for a generator that you can carry along with you in the back of your truck during tailgating parties, inverters are highly recommended. They are much easier to lift and tow compared to conventional models. Most inverters come with pre-installed wheels and telescoping handles from the factory, so you don’t have to install a separate wheel kit or handles.
The real reason why inverters are so light and compact is their combined engine+ alternator module. In a conventional generator, the alternator is a separate unit. The engine is connected to the alternator with bolts and seals. In an inverter, the engine and alternator are one single unit. This design choice reduces two things- size and weight of the generator. Another crucial piece of advancement in inverter generators is the alternator design. Alternators on inverters produce 3-phase AC current at extremely high frequencies (up to 20 KHz). This extremely high frequency 3-phase AC current is fed into a rectifier, which converts AC into low voltage DC current that is extremely clean. This DC current is then fed into an inverter module which converts it back into alternating current, this time it is 120V, 60Hz power just like what you get from the outlets in your home. The quality of this electricity is indistinguishable from the electricity that is supplied to your home by power corporations.
Because the resulting current is so clean, you can use it to power sensitive electronics without having to worry about equipment failure. No more flickering lights, no loud noises- inverters run quiet and clean. They don’t have to operate their engines at a constant 3600 rpm, thanks to the modern alternator design. A single rotation in an inverter generator pumps out more power than multiple rotations in the alternator of a conventional generator. This, combined with the inverter circuitry allows these generators to run much quieter and consume less fuel since the engines are smaller, and run slower. However, all this comes at a cost — quite literally. Inverters can cost twice as much or even more depending on the brand, compared to a conventional generator of similar capacity.
They are also not the easiest generators to fix when something breaks down. And finally, inverters can never match the raw power of a conventional generator. At least not the inverters which are sold in the consumer market. Even the most capable inverters like the Honda EU7000iS top out at 5500 running watts and 7000 starting watts. You can easily find conventional or dual-fuel models that output 9000+ watts of power, and at a much cheaper price compared to the inverters.
Hybrids are a very recent development in the portable generator industry, they were originally created to fill up the gap between inverters and conventional generators. A hybrid combines inverter technology with the open-frame design of a conventional generator. Its alternator isn’t as advanced as that of an inverter, but the quality of AC current from a hybrid generator is much better than what you will get from even the most expensive conventional generators on the market. Hybrids are also quieter than conventional models, and are marketed towards the modern consumer which is why you will notice that they come equipped with convenience features such as electric start, remote operation, digital data centers, and a host of built-in safety systems such as GFCI outlets, low-oil shutoff, warning lights, etc.
Hybrids serve ass a nice middle ground between the complex nature of inverters, and the old-school nature of conventional generators. They run quieter, consume less fuel, and don’t cost nearly as much as a pure inverter generator. The fact that they don’t focus too much on being compact allows them to make more power compared to a similarly priced inverter model. Take for instance, the Champion 100302 portable generator which we reviewed earlier. It costs nearly 40% less than a Honda EU2200i or Yamaha EF2000iSV2, but generates nearly 95% more running power compared to the Honda (3500 watts vs 1800 watts).
Of course, it isn’t as quiet as the Honda at 64 decibels, but we believe there are several people out there who will happily take the extra noise for nearly twice the power and 40 percent less cost. And it isn’t that loud by generator standards, 64 decibels is still much lower than the 75+ decibels that is typical of an open-frame conventional model. And to top it off, the Champion 100302 even supports parallel operation, a feature previously seen only on inverters. And you get a 12V DC outlet, something that you will rarely find on a conventional generator because they usually don’t make DC to begin with.
There are some conventional generators out there which do provide 12V DC outlets such as this WEN 56180 (1800-watt), but don’t think it is a hybrid because there is no inverter tech in this generator. It just features a rectifier module to convert AC into DC for that 12V outlet. Remember — a hybrid must have inverter technology otherwise it is no different from a conventional model. Inverter modules convert DC into AC, while rectifiers convert AC into DC. Pure inverter generators have both rectifier as well as inverter circuits.
Champion 100302 | 4000W Digital Hybrid Generator
Any generator that can run on gasoline as well as propane is classified as a dual fuel generator. Who would need one of these? Well, there are two very compelling reasons why you should buy a dual-fuel model over a regular gasoline-only generator. First of all, propane is cheaper than gasoline in most parts of North America and is also much easier to store. You don’t have to purchase special gas cans and add fuel stabilizers. With propane, you just purchase some propane tanks and store them in your basement or garage. Propane does not degrade over time, and is very easy to connect with your generator if you have one of those quick-connect hoses.
Secondly, propane is a much more reliable fuel source when the storm hits. You can walk up to the store and buy some propane tanks, but you can’t just go to the gas station and purchase gas for your generator because the gas station is probably dead since the storm killed the electric grid in your area. Even if the gas station is servicing people, there will be a really, really long waiting line in front of you. And you may say “well, what if I already had a bunch of gasoline stored up in my house?” Fair enough, you can operate your generator as a home backup machine when the storm hits since you had the presence of mind to store gasoline preemptively.
But like we already mentioned, propane is much easier to store and doesn’t require any stabilizers like gas. Even if you had a bunch of jerry cans lying around with gas in them, that gas is probably several months old since storms aren’t a daily occurrence and you don’t use your generator more than two or three times a year. So unless you did the research and also added fuel stabilizer to that gas, it won’t be of any use during the storm.
With old gas it is much harder to start the generator, and the carburetor gums up really fast. None of that with propane- just buy a few tanks and keep them with you until needed. If you already own a portable generator and don’t want to buy a new one just for the dual-fuel capability, you can purchase a propane conversion kit for your generator such as the Champion 41537 propane conversion kit for an older 7500-watt Champion model.
There are some Tri-Fuel models out there as well, along with Tri-Fuel conversion kits. Tri-Fuel simply means gasoline + propane + natural gas. If you want a home backup generator that runs on an infinite fuel source and never needs refueling, get a Tri-Fuel model which is capable of running on natural gas. You can connect it to the natural gas line from your utility company, and voila- reliable power for the entire home whenever you need it, however long you need it for. As an added bonus, both propane and natural gas (LNG) burn cleaner than petrol/ gasoline. So lower greenhouse emissions, and a cleaner, greener Earth for everyone. LNG and propane engines also last longer because there is less residue stuck inside the engine from unburnt fuel, and the carburetor/ fuel lines don’t gum up.
What are Quiet Generators?
There is no specific category of generators called “quiet generators”. Just like a fast car is basically a car that is faster than the rest, a quiet generator is simply any generator that performs at a much lower noise level compared to the traditional generator. When we say a generator is quiet, we are comparing with a typical open-frame conventional model, since those are the most common and loudest of all generators on average.
In order to make a generator quieter, manufacturers do a bunch of stuff that is related to decreasing the overall amount of vibration and noise generation within the frame. They use noise-dampening foam around the engine in inverter models, and cover the metal frame with a plastic shroud that prevents noise from flying out freely. The sound waves bounce around inside specially designed compartments within the generator, till they lose most of their energy. Inverters are the quietest generators on the market, since all inverters are designed from the ground up to be quieter. They come with mufflers that have integrated spark arrestors.
Many DIY people will often construct a wooden sound enclosure for their noisy open-frame generators, and pad the inside of this wooden box with acoustic foam. They even weld old motorbike mufflers to the exhaust pipe of the generator in order to reduce noise levels. But most people aren’t willing to jump through all these hoops to get a quieter generator, and simply purchase one from the factory that is designed to be quiet.
Hybrids are quieter than conventional models despite featuring open frames. That is because hybrids have smaller engines and vibration-isolating engine mounts to prevent the frame from resonating along with the engine under load. Be prepared to spend more if you want a quieter generator, because convenience comes at a price. A good example of a quiet generator is the Honda EU2200i, or the Generac iQ3500. They incorporate smart inverter tech to vary engine rpm depending on the load, so your generator is only as loud as it needs to be. Engine and alternator are integrated into one single unit to reduce mechanical vibration, and smart airflow paths allow manufacturers to reduce fan sizes (less noise) for the same amount of cooling performance.
How to Size your Generator?
Generator size refers to the amount of power that it can supply, not the actual physical footprint of the machine. While sizing a generator, you need to understand that there are two different power figures used by manufacturers- one is the starting watts, and the other is called running watts. Starting watts is always going to be higher than running watts, and it refers to the amount of power that a portable generator can put out for a very short amount of time, typically a few second. This is the duration that it takes to get a motor or compressor started, since any inductive or capacitive load will require a high amount of current while starting, and then as it is running the power requirement will drop down significantly.
Manufacturers will always use the starting or “surge” wattage to advertise their products. It is an important number to know, but can be misleading to people who don’t do their research. For instance, if you are a member of a construction crew or work with any sort of power tool, you will need a generator with lots of surge power. Air compressors, table saws, chainsaws, drills, etc. draw lots of current while starting. Anyone who owns a RV should know that the RV air conditioner will pull nearly twice as much power as it normally uses while running, for a couple of seconds when you turn it on. Anytime the compressor kicks in within a fridge or AC, its power draw will skyrocket momentarily.
Before choosing a generator, you need to calculate your power consumption. What are you purchasing the generator for? Do you want home backup during emergencies such as storms, or do you simply want a compact generator for running a couple appliances? Are you a camper or RV owner? Or do you work on a jobsite with power tools? Think about the appliances and tools that will be powered simultaneously by your generator. Add up the running watts for each one of them, and then look for that one appliance which has the highest starting watts in the list.
You don’t have to switch on all the loads at the same time, you can start them one by one. If you were to switch on the AC, fridge, sump pump, and air compressor simultaneously you will probably overload even the most heavy duty portable generator out there. If you are going to run both the AC and fridge with one generator, you need to consider the possibility that both machines can activate their compressors together since the compressor in an AC or fridge will kick in depending on the data that it receives from the temperature sensors. If that happens, your generator must be able to support the surge in load from both machines, so you need to add up both of their starting watts before selecting the right generator.
|Appliance||Surge Watts||Running Watts|
|Refrigerator (Energy Star)||1200||200|
|Light Bulb (Incandescent)||60 to 100||60 to 100|
|46” LCD TV||200||200|
|4 cup coffee maker||600||600|
|Cool Dry Dishwasher||540||216|
|Electric Fry Pan||1500||1500|
|Electric Range (8” element)||2100||2100|
|15000 BTU RV AC||3300||2000|
|Hair Dryer (1600W)||1900||1800|
|1/2hp air compressor||1600||975|
|1hp air compressor||4500||1600|
|8” Bench Grinder||2500||1400|
|½ inch drill (5.4 amps)||900||600|
|14” electric chainsaw (2hp)||1100||1100|
You can see in the above chart that some appliances draw a lot more power while starting up. Notice how the 1000-watt microwave actually draws 1500 watts from its input (your generator). That is because manufacturers advertise this as a 1000-watt device because it produces 1000 watts of cooking power. But any electrical circuit cannot be 100 percent efficient, a lot of power is lost in between.
Your microwave actually draws 1500 watts from the wall, which can be less or more depending on how energy efficient the microwave is. Same is true of the power supply in a desktop PC. Just because it is rated at 500 watts doesn’t mean it draws 500 watts from the wall, instead it is the number supplied to the computer parts. If the power supply unit is 80 percent efficient, it is actually drawing 625 watts from the wall at full load.
Choosing the Right Generator for your Needs :
Any generator purchased for an RV must have the 30amp TT-30R receptacle present on it from the factory. Or else you will have to purchase a 30-amp RV adapter cord which costs an extra 30 to 40 bucks. RV generators must have enough power to run the air conditioner (10k, 12k, 13.5k, and 15k BTU). And if you want your generator to be allowed in a RV park, it must be quiet enough to stay within the legal noise limits. Your best bet is to purchase a 3500-watt inverter generator like the Generac iQ3500. It packs 3500 surge watts which will start a 15000 BTU RV air conditioner. But if you also want to use other appliances in your RV while the AC is running, you will need to buy a bigger generator.
Going bigger with inverters is not cheap, and the most affordable large inverter you can get for RVs is the Briggs & Stratton Q6500. Unfortunately it doesn’t have the TT-30R receptacle, but an adapter cord purchase should take care of that problem. Or if you are willing to make slightly more noise, get the Champion 100302. It is quieter than a conventional model, but slightly louder than a pure inverter like the iQ3500 from Generac. Most importantly, it is a lot cheaper than either the Q6500 or iQ3500 and still delivers clean power for delicate electronics. If you want to power other stuff in your RV alongside the AC, just hook up two Champion 100302 generators with a parallel running kit (purchased separately).
Camping/ Tailgating Generators
Camping or tailgating generators don’t need to be as powerful as RV generators, but must be quiet. You aren’t running any air conditioners or refrigerators but you might be using a portable chiller for your beverages. In such a scenario, you will want to ensure that your generator has a 12V DC charging outlet. Campers and adventurists will also benefit from the ability to jumpstart their vehicles with the 12V DC outlet, it can even be used it to charge the car battery.
Another nice thing to have on a camping-oriented generator is USB ports for charging phones and portable power banks. Anything between 1600 to 3000 watts will do the job for camping and tailgating. You can run an electric grill, operate a couple of portable fans and lights, hook up your laptop and TV, and still have power left over for a radio. The Honda EU3000iS is a great generator for campers, or you could also go for something like a Yamaha EF2000iSV2 on the smaller end. This Champion 100263 (3400W) inverter with wireless start is also perfect for camping, it has a 12V DC outlet and dual USB ports.
Home Backup Generators
For home backup during emergencies, you want a generator that is reliable and produces tons of power. It must also be capable of running for at least 10 hours on 50-percent load before needing a refuel. Typical home backup generators should have 5000+ rated watts and 6500+ surge watts. That 6500 surge watt figure is pretty essential if you want to use your clothes dryer. Dryers can eat up anywhere between 1800 to 5000 watts while running, depending on their size. And they require 6500-7000 watts for starting up. But if you only want to power the bare necessities such as lights, a fridge, TV, fans, etc. a 3500-watt generator will suffice.
Remember that Dual-Fuel generators are an excellent choice for emergency home backup power, because you don’t have to worry about gas stations being closed when the storm hits. A must-have on any serious home backup generator is the NEMA L14-30R twist lock receptacle. This receptacle supports 120/ 240V AC output at 60Hz and lets you safely connect the generator with a transfer switch to power your entire home. Also make sure that the 120V Duplex outlets are GFCI protected. Most home backup generators can also be used as jobsite generators, and vice-versa. Unless you are using a lot of delicate electronics and powering multiple computers, you don’t have to bother too much with pure sine wave power with emergency home backup generators. Raw power and runtime are much more important.