If you’re going to spend the money on a generator then it makes sense to invest in the best portable quiet generator you can get for your budget. Most people don’t think about the noise level when using a generator, and over time it can drive you a little crazy, including your neighbors. I genuinely feel that it’s worth spending the extra money to buy a portable quiet generator that you’ll be happy to use for decades to come.
In this article we review, discuss and recommend only the quietest generators that we feel are worth your hard-earned money. When the power goes out you’ll be happy you bought a silent generator that you barely hear as it keeps you powered through the night.
Intro | Best Portable Quiet Generator
Electricity is the driving force of the modern human civilization, without it we might as well be living in the medieval age. Computers, phones, air conditioners, refrigerators, power tools, lights, medical equipment, and all sorts of appliances need electric energy in order to function. When there is a power outage, you find yourself feeling uncomfortable and powerless. However, there are many ways to obtain backup power. The most convenient option is to purchase a portable generator. It can run on gasoline, propane, or natural gas depending on the type of portable generator that you purchase. The power output of a portable generator can range from as low as 1000 watts, all the way up to 8000 watts. In addition, you can choose between a conventional model, and an inverter generator.
But before you go ahead and make a purchase at your local home depot, it is important for you to understand the differences between various types of portable generators. As you may already know, not all portable generators are created equal. Some are more convenient to operate, while others require you to develop a certain tolerance for the dreadful racket they make every time you fire them up during an emergency. The focus of this article shall be on “quiet” portable generators, while also explaining the differences between a conventional generator and an inverter generator. Generally speaking, inverters are less noisy than their conventional counterparts, mainly because they use smaller engines and feature a closed box design which helps with sound deadening.
Honda EU3000iS | A Good Size Generator for Many People
Power outages can happen anywhere, anytime. They take you by surprise, which means that you must be ready to face one beforehand. Whether it is a drunk driver crashing into a pole, or a hurricane damaging the grid, the end result is going to be similar. A power outage could be as short as a couple minutes, or as long as a few days. Nevertheless, your portable generator should be capable of powering all the crucial appliances in your home for at least 10 hours, if you intend to use it like a home backup generator.
If your brand-new generator runs out of juice in the middle of the night and you have to wake up in order to refuel it, you made a mistake the very day you purchased this machine. As a customer, it is your duty to spend some time on performing the necessary research before you spend money on a new generator.
If the generator is too small to power the appliances that you need in the event of a blackout, you end up in a precarious situation. If it is oversized for the job, you are simply wasting money on fuel and making a giant racket which is very unpleasant for your family as well as neighbors. Sizing your generator isn’t a complicated process, as long as you know exactly which devices you want to power with your generator. This topic is covered in a later section of our article, so make sure to look it up. We also discuss the difference between running and starting watts, and why it is important to know this stuff beforehand.
WEN 56200i | How Portable do you Need it to Be?
Generator manufacturers will often make unrealistic claims in order to advertise their products, and to back up these claims they will provide you with all kinds of performance figures which look too good to be true. Only the most reputable manufacturers post standardized data on their websites and brochures, allowing you to make fair comparisons between models from different brands. One of the tricks used by manufacturers to lure you into purchasing a supposedly “silent” portable generator is to provide the decibel readings from an unspecified distance. For example, they will print “55 decibels” on the box, which is surprisingly quiet for a generator, even if it is an inverter model. But this information is meaningless, until they provide you with two other crucial components — what was the load on the generator at the time this sound reading was taken? How far from the generator was the reading taken?
Decibel readings can change significantly by moving a few meters closer or further from the source. And generators make more noise under higher loads. Worry not, we shall inform you how the decibel scale works and what truly defines a “quiet” generator. You must remember that there is no such thing as a truly “quiet” generator. Just as the sun rises in the east and the sky is blue, any generator that uses an internal combustion engine to power its alternator will make noise. Some are quieter than the others, and we will tell you how they do it. Inverters will almost always be less noisy than a conventional open frame generator of the same capacity.
Another very important aspect of generators that most people overlook, is the quality of power that it makes. You may not know it, but electricity can be graded to determine if it is of poor or high quality. On the most basic level, any stream of electricity that features a lot of voltage spikes is considered bad. It can be harmful to your appliances, and anyone who is using those appliances. A generator should be able to maintain a stable power output without any sudden spikes in voltage or current levels. To learn more about the “quality” of electricity check out our section on conventional generators vs inverter generators. Providing “clean power” is something that inverter generators do better than any other type of generator, hence they are the best choice when it comes to powering sensitive electronics such as computers.
Our goal with this article is to guide you in making the best purchase that you possibly can, by informing you on the various things that need to be considered. Generator sizing (wattage, not actual physical dimensions), loudness, portability (physical dimensions and weight), build quality, etc. are factors that we consider before deciding whether a particular model is good or not. Right now, let us take a look at some of the best silent portable generators available for purchase. We have featured both conventional as well as inverter generators in our list (check out the rest of the article for pros and cons of either type), spanning a wide range of brands with power outputs ranging from 2000 watts all the way up to 5000. Whether you want something for the jobsite, home backup, tailgating, camping, or powering appliances in your RV, we have you covered.
Reviews | Quiet Portable Generators
4000 starting watts / 3500 running watts. 50% quieter and 20% lighter than a traditional 3500W generator.
- Advanced Digital Hybrid Design
- 50% quieter and 20% lighter than a traditional Champion 3500-watt generator, plus our Economy Mode feature saves fuel and extends engine life
- Quiet Technology and Extended Run Time
- 64 dBA is great for RVs, tailgating, your next project or home backup, with 4000 starting watts and 3500 running watts for up to 17 hours run time on gasoline
- Clean electricity for sensitive electronics
- RV Ready with a 120V 30A RV, plus two 120V 20A household outlets with clean power (less than 3% THD) and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter
- Parallel Ready
- Increase your power output by connecting up to two 2800-watt or higher inverter or digital hybrid with the optional Parallel Kit
- Includes 3-year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support from dedicated experts
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Champion Power Equipment 100302
Overview | Champion Power Equipment 100302
Open-frame hybrid inverter generators are a recent development in the portable power generation market, and the Champion 100302 is a fine example of the breed. It carries the strengths of an inverter generator such as clean power and parallel operation, but doesn’t cost as much as a 3500-watt inverter generator. It combines the open-frame design of a conventional generator with the inverter technology of an inverter generator, and the result is a product that gives you amazing value for your money. You can use it to power your tools, or as a backup generator when the mains supply is down. Do you have any computers in the house? Don’t worry, the 100302 delivers clean power that is perfectly suitable for all kinds of microprocessor-based devices such as laptops, phones, TVs and microwaves.
One of the things that this generator lags behind in comparison to a true inverter model, is size and noise. The open frame allows Champion to put a bigger engine in this generator, but the trade-off is more noise. While the engine isn’t as big as it would be on a conventional offering, it is still bigger than what you find on most inverters. Thankfully, they also stuffed a huge 2.9-gallon gas tank in this thing, so you can run it for 17 hours on 25 percent load. Easily gets 10+ hours on half load, which should be more than enough to run a couple of power tools for the day without having to refuel. And it is definitely not going to need refueling if you use it to power your lights and air conditioner during the night, since the running wattage on this model is 3500. Most 12,500 or 13,500 BTU air conditioners require 1400-1600 running watts. You can start all kinds of sump pumps, up to 1 horsepower thanks to the 4000-watt surge power output on this beast of a generator.
It costs as much as a 2200-watt inverter model, yet the power rating is enormous for the price which is what makes the Champion 100302 so special in our opinion. And, you get clean power! This may be a little louder than a pure inverter model, but at 64dBA it is a far cry from the truly loud open-frame conventional models which easily hit 70+ decibels under load. And in case you forgot, the Champion 100302 can run in parallel with another Champion 100302, so you get 7000 running watts.
What would you do with 7000-watts of continuous power that is also clean and suitable for delicate electronics? You could power a home, or an entire construction crew with two of these. It takes 0.6 quarts of 10W-30 oil, and an automatic low-oil shutoff ensures that you don’t blow the engine by accident when it runs dry. EPA and CARB compliance means that you can operate this machine in any state without having to worry about emissions laws.
Outlets are as follows – 120V 30A (TT-30R), 120V 20A Duplex (5-20R), 12V DC Automotive. There is an eco switch which lowers noise and fuel consumption whenever you don’t have a whole lot of stuff to power. One of the few complaints we have with this generator is its lack of wheels or folding handles. And it weighs 81.6 pounds, so unless you are a relatively fit person, you might have trouble getting it on and off the bed of your truck every day.
60% quieter than a standard generator (66 dBA at 25% load. This is actually a conventional gas generator with advanced engineering applied to make it quieter than comparable models.
- 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
Compared to the Champion 100302 that we just reviewed, this thing is a monster. Just look at the power – 5000 running watts, and 6500 surge watts! And unlike the 100302, this is a true inverter generator. Which means it delivers even cleaner power, similar to a true sine wave that you get from your power company through the wall outlet in your home. And, it comes with wheels that greatly help with mobility.
VIDEO | Features Overview — Briggs & Stratton Q6500
The telescoping handle on the top is very useful for when you want to move this 128-pound generator from one place to another. The wheels are 8”, never-flat types so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruptured by sharp rocks or nails while working on the jobsite. And talking of jobsites, 5000 running watts should be more than enough to handle all kinds of tools. You can use the Q6500 to run everything from a 0.5hp air compressor, all the way up to a 10” table saw. With 6500 surge watts, you can even operate a 2 hp capacitor-start induction-run industrial motor, or a 3hp capacitor-start capacitor-run motor.
On the farm, you can use a Q6500 generator to power the electric fence, milk cooler, milking machine, or portable heater. And while you are powering all of your tools and home appliances, remember that you are getting pure sine wave AC power which is of the same quality as mains supply. It will not damage delicate electronics, and your power tools are going to love it. No more flickering lights when the load is changed, no more overheating of electronic equipment. And when you don’t want to power an entire array of tools, just switch over to quiet mode which lowers engine rpm, decreases noise, and increases runtime. It is designed with a special noise-reducing shell made from high performance resins. There is acoustic foam on the inside to dampen vibrations and resonance from the engine.
Talking of engines, this Briggs & Stratton inverter uses a compact 306cc OHV gasoline motor that is integrated with the 3-phase alternator to reduce overall footprint and vibration. Most open-frame conventional generators of this capacity would be at least 20 percent larger and heavier. The exterior is made from tough plastic, but the frame inside the shell is all steel. To know how much quieter and smaller this inverter is in comparison to a conventional open-frame model, let us take one of Briggs & Stratton’s own 5000-watt open frame generators – the 30607.
Both the Q6500 and the 30607 have similar wattage ratings (running and continuous). The 30607 weighs 50 pounds more than its inverter counterpart, and is physically larger which means you need more space to store it. The 30607 is also much louder, and doesn’t deliver clean power. At just 66 decibels, the Q6500 is one of the quietest 5000-watt generators you will find on the market. It can run for up to 14 hours on 25 percent load, which although not impressive for an inverter generator in general, is pretty amazing for a 5000-watt beast like this one, it even uses a 306cc engine. Outlets are as follows – four 120V-20A GFCI, one 120V/240V, a 30A locking, and dual USB charging ports. You can hook this up to the manual transfer switch in your home with ease thanks to the 240V locking outlet, and can route power safely through your home circuit.
Read our full review of the excellent Briggs & Stratton Q6500. A great compact generator that is quieter than comparable models.
NOTE: Never try to connect a generator with your home circuit box directly, you could backfeed the power lines and harm an electrician or even your neighbors. Always use a professionally installed transfer switch if you want to power your entire home with your generator.
Honda EU7000IS | Heavy-Duty Inverter Generator
If you need a lot of power then this is the model to get. Truly, the best powerful quiet portable generator you can buy. You get 7000 starting watts and 5500 running watts, and at full load the noise level is only 58dB, which is quieter than a normal conversation. This is a testament to Honda’s amazing technology. This generator is worth every penny. You’ll barely know it’s running.
- 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
Ah, the good old Honda EU series of inverter generators. Considered to be the holy grail of portable inverter generator technology. And the EU7000iS is the big daddy of them all – 7000 watts of surge power, and 5500 watts of rated (continuous) power. Now we don’t want to drool too much on how this inverter generator is the absolute best of them all, but it is our job to inform you about what you get when you spend nearly 5000 dollars on this insane inverter generator. On a normal inverter generator, you have an engine that is fed with a carburetor. Heck, all small engines found in lawnmowers, chainsaws, generators, fishing boats, etc. are carbureted. But Honda doesn’t just put obsolete technology like the carburetor in what they consider to be their flagship inverter. No, this generator comes with a fuel-injected 389cc OHV motor. That’s right, electronic fuel injection in a portable generator. Who would have thought?
VIDEO | See the Honda EU7000iS in Action
And since recoil starters are boring and tedious, you get an electric starter alongside the good old pull cord. Whenever one fails, you try out the other. This makes sure that you always get the EU7000iS running when you need emergency power. Whether you are caught in a storm in the middle of the ocean on a fishing boat, or stuck under a pile of rubble as a rescue worker, this generator will never fail you. It is going to start, no matter what. Sound insulation is built into the very structure of this machine, supported by a rigid all-steel black powder coated frame. There are wheels on the bottom for mobility, and you will find a drop down handle on the front.
But what truly shocks us is how quiet this thing is. We believe this has to be the quietest 5500-watt inverter generator on the market, since Honda says that noise level is just 58 decibels at its rated load, and 52 decibels at 25 percent load. Most manufacturers don’t even specify the noise level at their full rated load! They only give you the decibel numbers for ¼ load or in some cases, 50-percent load. And their generators are of much lower capacity with smaller engines! How Honda managed to silence a 389cc, 5500 rated watts generator is beyond us.
Choose between 120 & 240 Volts, or only 120 Volts
For your reference, this jobsite/ home backup generator is just as loud as a normal conversation when performing under rated load. And when it is idling or in eco-mode, the noise level is similar to that of a quiet office room. Runtime at rated load is 6.5 hours on a full tank of gas (5.1 gal), and at ¼ load the runtime is extended up to 18 hours. Dry weight is 261 pounds, and it comes with both a residential as well as commercial warranty (3 years each). Outlets are as follows – 20A 125V GFCI Duplex (2), 30A 125V Locking Plug, and 30A 125/250V Locking Plug. You can hook this up with a manual transfer switch using the 250V locking outlet, and that will allow you to power everything in your home directly through the circuit box of your house, as if it were mains power.
The innovative i-Monitor system tracks and displays vital information such as hours of operation, engine rpm, wattage, etc. on a LED screen. The generator will even run diagnostic tests on itself to check for abnormal behavior or conditions such as overloading/ overheating/ low oil, etc. If the generator detects low oil, overloading, etc. it will shut itself down. There are two GFCI protected 20A 120V duplex outlets, meeting both ETL and NEC standards. If you can afford it, go ahead and buy it right now.
There is simply no other 5500 running watts, 7000 surge watt generator on the market which is quieter, smaller, and cleaner. Power quality that is as good as mains supply, electric starter, self-diagnostic systems with digital readouts, eco mode, fuel-injected OHV engine, run flat wheels, sound attenuation, everything you could possibly desire from a premium inverter generator – the Honda EU7000iS has it all.
If you want to learn more, read our comprehensive review of the Honda EU7000iS.
Runs at a volume lower than any traditional open frame generators. Has low Total Harmonic Distortion (<3% THD) delivering clean power you can depend on. Best portable quiet generator. Very affordable.
- 3500 Rated Watts / 4200 Peak Watts (at Less Than 3% THD)
- Outlets : Six 120V 20 Amp GFCI Power Outlets, Two USB Outlets
- Engineered for Professional, Industrial Applications – Strong Enough to Run Power Tools and Job Site Essentials
- Tough Steel Fuel Tank and Rugged Steel Frame
- OHSA Compliant with Full Panel GFCI Protection –
- 212cc Westinghouse OHV Engine features Fuel-Saving “Efficiency Mode,” Overload Protection, and Automatic Low Oil
- Shutoff for Added Safety
- Extremely Quiet, Extremely Fuel Efficient: Low Noise Output
- 1000 Hour Warranty, Free Lifetime Technical Support – EPA, USFS, and CARB Compliant (Legal for Sale in California)
- EPA / CARB Compliant
- OSHA Compliant – Full Panel GFCI
- 22 hour run-time @ 25% Load / 16 hour run-time @ 50% Load
- 4.0 Gallon Gas Tank
- Very Quiet : As low as 62 dBA. Quieter than a Traditional Portable Generator
- Safe for Electronics. Clean power.
- Weight : 82 lbs
- 1-Year Commercial Warranty and Lifetime Technical Support
- Includes : Oil, Funnel, Tool Kit, Manual, and Quick Start Guide.
Ideal For : Power tools and equipment, lights, portable AC, microwave, laptop, and much more
Documents for the Westinghouse iPro4200 :
On first glance, there doesn’t seem to be anything special about this generator. It isn’t exceptional by any means, nor is it priced aggressively. There are no fancy features on this machine, yet it is somehow one of the most popular open-frame inverters out there. Yep, it is not a conventional generator, despite how it may look to you. This generator is loaded with inverter tech, which results in a THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) less than 3%. That means, you can use the iPro4200 to power all of your expensive electronics like a MacBook or iPhone. It even has dual USB charging ports so you can plug in your phone or portable power bank for charging.
All kinds of safety features are built into the iPro4200, such as overload protection, low oil shutoff, etc. And with a dry weight of just 82 pounds, it is extremely light for the amount of power that it dishes out – 3500 running watts, and 4200 surge watts. That is an extra 200 surge watts over the Champion 100302 for just 0.4 pounds of added weight.
Like the Champion 100302, this Westinghouse is a hybrid. Not one of those dual-fuel hybrids, rather a “hybrid inverter”. What that means is, you have an open-frame generator which incorporates a lot of the good stuff found in inverters. Which is the reason for a THD< 3%, and an operational volume of just 55 decibels. However, it is not capable of parallel power generation with a second iPro4200, a feature that is present in the Champion 100302. And the outlets aren’t covered, which is a bit of an annoyance if you work in a jobsite because they will get filled with dust and you will have to blow them clean several times a day. Covered outlets are also helpful when you are transporting the generator and it starts raining or snowing. You will have to clear the outlets of all moisture and let it dry before you can plug something in.
Well, at least it comes with OSHA approved GFCI outlets so you don’t have to worry about accidentally electrocuting yourself because of a faulty ground connection. The 4 gallon fuel tank packs enough juice to keep the iPro4200 running for up to 22 hours on ¼ load. To start the 5.9hp 212cc OHV 4-stroke engine, you have a recoil starter. No fancy electronic start for you, at least not at this price. The wheel kit is sold separately, and there is no folding handle. Residential warranty is 3 years, while commercial warranty is for one year. It is EPA and CARB compliant, but isn’t ready for Canada CSA emissions standards.
Honda EU2200i | Inverter Generator
**This generator has been recalled as of Mar 20, 2019. Read our dedicated article to the recall of the Honda EU2200i. For now, we recommend you stay away from buying this generator until the recall is over and the problem has been fixed. Consider the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 or the Yamaha EF2200iS (New for 2019), which are equally as good.
Read the official recall on the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) site.
Note : The links to this generator have been removed as it’s currently not for sale on the Amazon site. We’ll update the links when this problem has been rectified. Beware of buying old stock.
- 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
For a long time, the Honda EU2000i has been considered to be the most popular inverter generator on the market. Even if you owned a different model of inverter from another brand, you had heard of the legendary EU2000i. It was quite, efficient, and extremely portable for the amount of power that it generated. Honda used a lot of revolutionary technologies in the EU2000i to make it quieter, smaller, and more powerful than the competition. But now they went ahead and broke their own records.
VIDEO | Honda EU2000i
Honda, always trying to outdo themselves and pushing the limits of what is possible, have released the EU2200i. This is the successor to the famous EU2000i, and as you can tell from the name it is more powerful as well. How much more power? An extra 10 percent, from 2000 to 2200 surge watts. Running watts also went up, from 1600 to 1800. The EU2000i could put out 13.3 amps of current at its rated load, and up to 16.7 amps during surges. The EU2200i takes it one step further, with 15A rated current, and 18.3 max amps under surge.
Okay, we know that the EU2200i makes more power, but that is expected with a generational leap in technology. Is there anything else to it? Surely it must be bigger and heavier, as well as costlier. Well, we are glad to inform you that the EU2200i is not noticeably bigger or heavier than its predecessor. In fact, dry weight went up by only 0.9 pounds and overall physical dimensions are similar. In fact, the new model is 0.2” shorter in length than the EU2000i. And, it is quieter under load. How much quieter? Well, the old model put out 59 decibels at rated load, and 53 decibels at ¼ load. That is pretty amazing, 59 decibels is comparable to a normal conversation between two people. But the EU2200i is even quieter – 57 decibels under rated load, and just 48 decibels at ¼ load. So if the engine is running in eco mode, this generator is actually quieter than a fridge! You won’t even notice it running, until you look at the LED indicators which show you the load and fuel reserve in real time.
The engine is actually bigger, which means they improved their sound isolation within the body, and must have used a superior muffler. The older EU2000i featured a GX100 98.5cc OHV 4-stroke engine. The new EU2200i uses a 121cc GXR120 engine. Both the EU2000i and EU2200i run for 8.1 hours at ¼ load, and runtime at rated load is 3.2 and 3.4 hours respectively for the EU2200i and EU2000i. You can connect two EU2200i generators in parallel for up to 4400 surge watts and 3600 running watts. You can even connect the EU2200i in parallel with specific versions of the EU2000i. Companion EU2000i has to be a T1/K1 model, within a specific serial number range – EAAJ-2017305 through EAAJ-9999999, or EACT-1000001 through EACT-9999999.
Read our indepth review of the Honda EU2200i where you can also learn more about the recall.
This is a great compact inverter generator. Well-balanced, and one of the best quiet portable generators you can buy. Larger than most inverter generators and yet still very affordable for the quality of features and components you get. Highly recommended!
- 3800 Rated Watts and 4500 Peak Watts at <3% THD)
- Outlets : 2 USB Ports (5V DC), a 120 VAC 20A Household Duplex Outlet, and a 120V 30A TT-30R Recreational Vehicle (RV) Receptacle
- RV and Camper Ready with 120V 30A Outlet (TT-30R)
- Fuel efficient – Up to 18 Hour Run Time (3.4 gal)
- Remote Start and Push Button Start
- Mounted Wheels and Telescoping Handle
- LED Display cycles through Remaining Run Time, Power Output, Fuel Level, and Voltage. Other indicators include Fuel Level, Electric Output, Output Ready Indicator, Overload Indicator, and Low Oil Indicator.
- Circuit protected, Low-Oil Shutoff, and more
- Everything you need is in the box : Comes with Key Fob, Battery, Charger, Oil, Funnel, Tool Kit, Manual, and Quick Start Guide.
- 3-Year Limited Warranty and Lifetime Technical Support.
- Super Quiet – Less Noise than Normal Conversation Volume
- Safe for Electronics – Inverter Technology
- EPA and CARB Compliant
- Compact and Powerful Design: the iGen4500 is Much Lighter than Comparable Traditional Generators and Features Wheels for Easy Transportation
- Safely Powers Sensitive Electronics Such as Laptop Computers, Cell Phones, & More (3800
- Enhanced Fuel Efficiency – 30-50% More Fuel Efficient Than Comparable Traditional Generators!
- Quiet Operation: the iGen4500 Utilizes a Double-Insulated Acoustic Enclosure, Asymmetrical
- Cooling Fans, and Low Tone Mufflers to Reduce Operating Noise
We can describe the Westinghouse iGen4500 in just one word – “convenient”. Everything about this generator makes it super easy to operate and live with on a daily basis. Not only is it super quiet, but the lightweight design and compact size makes it very easy to carry around with you. This is the perfect low-profile inverter generator for camping, fishing, tailgating, and other recreational activities. With 4500 starting watts, and 3700 running watts, it packs more than enough juice to power a 15000 BTU RV air conditioner.
VIDEO | See All of its Features : Westinghouse iGen4500
Connecting this portable generator to an RV is super easy, thanks to the 120V-30 amp TT-30R RV outlet. There are no GFCI outlets on this model, so it isn’t the best choice for jobsites but that was never the purpose of the iGen4500. It is more of a recreational/ home backup generator, and the designers did an amazing job putting this thing together. It is started with the touch of a button, and if you are inside the house when the power goes down, you can simply pick up the remote starter key fob and activate your generator without stepping outside.
Thankfully, the outlets are covered so you don’t have to clean them every time you drive through the rain or snow with your generator in the bed of the truck. And it keeps the children safe as well, in case they try to poke some sharp object into the outlets. You can lift this 112.5-pound inverter with the top handles, if you ever have to cover some elevation in the ground. If you want to roll it around, there are 5.5 x 1.5 inch wheels built into the back, and a telescoping handle at the front which lets you tow the generator behind you as if it were a trolley bag.
There is a LCD readout on the front console with green backlighting that tells you the engine speed, voltage, watts, amount of fuel left in the tank, and how long the generator has been running. You can charge your phone directly from the generator with the dual USB outlets. And Westinghouse made sure that the generator runs as quiet as possible, by implementing a double insulated acoustic enclosure around the engine + alternator, along with low tone mufflers and asymmetrical cooling fans.
Yamaha EF2000iSv2 | 2000W Inverter Generator
Yamaha is one of the top manufacturers for generators. Yes, this is a little more expensive than other brands but you’re paying for the quality of the components used and the proprietary technology only Yamaha uses. It’s worth the price if you can afford it. Stay within your budget. It’s ultra-quiet : between 51.5 dB – 61 dB
- Completely new controller with advanced programming resulting in improved output characteristics between 1600w-2000w operation ranges. The addition of the new programming allows the EF2000iSv2 the ability to power a much wider range of applications than previous generation EF2000iS.
- Parallel function lets you connect two generators to deliver up to 30 amps.
- Powerful, portable and retro-modern and delivers maximum output with minimum effort. It weighs a mere 44 pounds, making it easy to transport. Super Light weight for 2000 watts.
- Yamaha’s most technologically sophisticated muffler. It’s So quiet that you can have a conversation near one and may not realize it is running. (51.5 dBA to 61 dBA – ¼ rated to rated load).
- Compact (2.2 cu.ft.) which makes it easy to store and transport.
- Long Run Time – The EF2000iSv2 features Smart Throttle, a load sensing rpm control that allows greater fuel efficiency and noise reduction by automatically adjusting engine speed to match the load. It will run up to 10.5 hours at ¼ rated load on a tank of gas.
- Gasoline petcock lets you shut off the gas to run the carb dry for storage and helps prevent stale gas problems.
- Fuel gauge allows fuel level to be seen at-a-glance.
- The Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Inverter generator supplies clean, high quality power. The EF2000iSV2 – with its inverter system – features Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) so voltage stability is within ± 1%, and frequency stability is ± 0.1 HZ. Its pure sine wave is as clean as or cleaner than public utilities power.
- Yamaha generators have the longest emission engine durability ratings issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.
- Light weight — Easy transport
- Compact — 2.2 cu.ft. size is easy to store and transport
- Twin Tech (Parallel generator operation) – The EF2000iSv2 can be operated in parallel to deliver up to 30 amps.
- Parallel generator operation – The EF2000iSv2 may be connected in parallel with an earlier model Yamaha EF2000iS.*
- New controller with advanced programming – The addition of the new programming allows the EF2000iSv2 the ability to power a much wider range of applications than previous generation EF2000iS.
- Smart Throttle varies engine speed based on load — Improves fuel economy and reduces noise. Runs up to 10.5 hours at ¼ rated load on a tank of gas.
- Gasoline petcock – lets you shut off the gas to run the carb dry for storage and helps prevent stale gas problems.
- Fuel gauge — See fuel gauge at-a-glance
- Inverter system with Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) control — Produces a pure sine wave to run products with built-in microcomputers or microcomputer-controlled electric tools
OHV engine with cast iron cylinder liner — Efficient, reliable, powerful providing long life and excellent heat dissipation
- OHV engine — Includes steel camshaft and valve train components
- EPA & CARB Emission Engine Durability Rating — Yamaha generators have the longest emission engine durability ratings issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board
- Oil Watch Warning system — Prevents engine damage caused by low oil, avoiding costly repairs and minimizing down time, adding customer confidence and peace of mind
- Auto-decompression system — Reduces compression for easier starting
- Comfortable grip handle — Easy portability and storage
- Electrical overload breaker — Prevents generator damage in case of overload
- Centralized controls — Easy access to controls
- DC Outlet — 8A 12V outlet for charging batteries (cables included)
- Rubber vibration isolation feet — Absorbing feet for smooth operation and noise reduction
✓ View or download the FEATURES/SPEC SHEET for the Yamaha EF2000iSv2.
The Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is an improved version of the EF2000iS portable inverter generator, which was designed to compete with the Honda EU2000i. Now, Honda has released a newer, more powerful successor to the EU2000i. Yamaha has no model that directly competes with the EU2200i in terms of power output, since there is nothing to bridge the gap between the 2000-watt EF2000iS and the 2400-watt EF2400iS. So instead of developing a whole new model from the ground up in the 2200 watt segment, Yamaha decided to update their trusted 2000 watt platform with the EF2000iSv2. They improved the microcontroller, allowing for a wider power band between the rated and maximum wattage.
VIDEO | Yamaha EF2000iSv2 | Learn All About It!
With its brand new electronics, the Yamaha EF2000ISv2 has superior output characteristics between 1600 to 2000 watts. This allows it to be used in wider range of applications, and there are less chances of overloading if you approach the maximum power rating of this generator. It is also fitted with a better muffler, so noise output at maximum rated load of 1600 watts is just 61 dBA. At ¼ load, the noise is just 51.5 dBA. Not as quiet as the Honda EU2200iS but this is basically an update for a model that has been around for a long time.
The EU2000i from Honda is a model that was built from the ground up. Nevertheless 51.5 decibels is extremely quiet and allows you to have a conversation standing next to the generator. Run-time is 10.5 hours at ¼ load on a full tank of gas, which is better than both the Honda EU2200i as well as the EU2000i. The compact size (2.2 cubic feet) means that this generator is very easy to store and transport, and dry weight is just 44 pounds making it 1.6 pounds lighter than its Honda competitor. Parallel connection allows you to hook up two of these beauties together, resulting in a total of 4000 surge watts and 3200 running watts.
WEN 56310i-RV — 3100 Watt
Whisper-Quiet (57dB) : As quiet as a window air conditioner or the average conversation. RV-Ready : Best Quiet Portable Inverter Generator — CARB Compliant
NOTE : Double your power by running 2 of these generators in parallel. Use the WEN 56421 Parallel Connection Kit (sold separately) to connect the two inverter generators.
- Inverter generator : Safe to run your sensitive electronics. Clean energy.
- Extremely quiet operation minimizes noise; EPA III and CARB Compliant
- 212 cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 3100 surge watts and 2800 rated watts
- Telescoping handle and large wheels make it easy to move around.
- Great for RVs, campgrounds, the country, tailgating and power outages
- Produces clean power to prevent damage to sensitive electronics such as smart phones, tablets and laptops
- Outlets : two three-prong 120V receptacles, one AC 120V 30A RV plug, one 12V DC receptacle, two 5V USB ports
- 2-year warranty
If you don’t have the money for a Honda or a Yamaha but still want a quality product that works when you need it the most, WEN has got your back. Their 56310i-RV portable inverter generator packs 3100 surge watts and 2800 running watts of power, perfect for camping and RV trips. It will power the RV air conditioner and fridge at the same time. Just make sure you don’t start the AC and fridge together or else you are going to set off the automatic overload protection. Since this is a generator geared towards campers and RV owners, it obviously comes with a 120V-30 amp TT-30R receptacle. You also get a 12V DC receptacle and two 5-volt USB ports for charging your phone.
Underneath the plastic shell lies an all-steel frame which supports the 212cc 4-stroke OHV engine. This engine is fed from a 1.45 gallon gas tank which is enough to keep this generator running for up to 7.5 hours on half load. Harmonic distortion is just 1.2%, which tells you a lot about the quality of power that you are getting from this small generator. It is EPA III and CARB compliant, so you know you are keeping the environment safe, and not breaking any emission laws.
Operating volume is just 57 decibels, so you should be safe in most state and federal campgrounds, at least during the daytime. There is a folding handle on the top, and two wheels at the back to help with mobility. Rubber coated stands on the bottom keep it vibration-free on most surfaces. Automatic load monitoring allows the generator to adjust engine rpm dynamically based on how much load you have connected at any given time, so it doesn’t waste any fuel.
How Loud is a Quiet Generator?
Its camping season, that one time of the year when you and your family can take a break from the hectic city life and escape into the wilderness to relax both mind and body. You pack up your camping gear into the RV, the whole family is excited, and you arrive at the camping ground, unpack everything and get ready to cook some food on the electric grill. But wait… what’s that awful noise you hear? This was supposed to be a camping ground, not a construction site? Oh, it’s just the group of campers next to you, running their noisy 5000-watt open-frame generator. It is cheap, it produces a lot of power for the money, and they simply don’t care or know enough about generators to purchase the right one for the task.
You see, a conventional gas generator makes noise — a lot of noise. When you use one in a public space, it is your duty to ensure that you are not creating an uncomfortable situation for others. Most residential areas have limits on how much noise you can produce, it is between 60-65 decibels during the day and somewhere between 50-55 decibels during the night. While you enjoy working on DIY stuff during the day, your neighbor next door may or may not be okay with the incessant racket produced by your generator. But it’s not just about respecting the noise pollution laws in your locality or state, constant exposure to loud sound can cause hearing loss. And, a loud generator can scare your own pets away, or even damage their hearing since the ears of a dog or cat are much sensitive than yours.
Various studies have concluded that if you are exposed to more than 85 decibels of noise for 8 hours a day, you will experience hearing loss. That is why, there are rules on jobsites regarding how loud a generator or any other power tool is allowed to be.
And if you are using your portable generator as a home backup unit in the event of a blackout during a storm, the last thing you want is being subjected to its loud noise while you are trying to get a good nights sleep. It doesn’t matter if your generator has a large enough fuel tank that you don’t have to refuel it in the middle of the night, if you can’t go to sleep in the first place. Most generators with a sound level above 55 decibels are an inconvenience to people who are trying to sleep. Another scenario in which you might want a quiet generator is if you are tailgating at a sports event. Instead of listening to the commentary and cheering for your favorite team, your ears will get pounded by the noise of a loud generator in the back of your truck.
One thing is clear by now – nobody likes a noisy generator. But here’s the problem – all generators must make noise. That is the consequence of running an internal combustion engine, especially a gasoline powered engine. There is no truly “silent” generator, and if there is one, it is probably one of those DIY contraptions created by enthusiasts on YouTube. You know, the generators that are driven off a bicycle, and can barely power a couple of lights. You don’t want one of those, especially since you will get tired after 20 minutes and all you will have done is light up a couple of bulbs. Anyways, back to the topic. What is a “quiet” portable generator?
Kohler enCUBE1.8 | A Different Kind of Generator | Runs Silent
Is there a subset of generators called quiet/ silent generators? Just like we have portable, standby, industrial, inverter, etc. there has to be a type of generator known as quiet generators right? Unfortunately, the answer is no. However, there are generators that are LESS noisy than usual, and are designed from the ground up to be relatively silent when compared to your typical open-frame conventional models. These are the generators we review in our article. They come with rubber stands underneath the frame, specially designed engine mounts to reduce the vibrations transferred from the motor to the frame, and acoustic foam padding to attenuate the sound level.
Silent generators also have larger, more advanced mufflers attached to their exhausts. Famous inverter generator brands such as Honda and Yamaha use high performance resins and modular construction to reduce vibration and noise, along with smart computer-aided design to create internal airflow paths that cool the engine efficiently while simultaneously lowering noise levels.
Noise itself is a relative term, with no absolute values. We know exactly what a meter is, it is a unit of length and has a well-defined dimension (100cm). But what is noise? It is subjective, and something that is considered extremely noisy by one person may be tolerable to another. For example, a teenager blasting rock music at full volume in his or her bedroom is probably enjoying the sound, and doesn’t consider it to be alarmingly loud. But the parents sitting downstairs watching news on the TV are probably not very happy with this, and think of it as noise.
Noise is simply defined as unwanted or unpleasant sound. So what is sound, and how do we perceive it? Sound is perceived by our ears, through changes in the pressure level of air next to the eardrums. Ever heard of decibels? Decibel is a unit of intensity, not loudness. It is not a fixed value, rather a ratio of intensities. Intensity is simply power divided by area, or the amount of energy passing through a perpendicular section of area per unit time. Zero decibels is considered to be the threshold of hearing, below which the human ear cannot detect any sound. After 150 decibels is when your eardrums rupture and you feel intense pain, along with immediate hearing loss. We consider 120 decibels to be the threshold of pain, and 0 decibels to be the threshold of hearing. But here is the fun part – did you know that 120 dB of sound is a HUNDRED BILLION times more “intense” (and 2048 times louder) than 0 dB?
You see, decibels are logarithmic instead of linear. The decibel scale takes an increase of 10 units as a 10-fold increase in intensity. And every 10-fold increase in sound intensity is considered to be twice as loud. So 0 is the threshold of hearing. Ten decibels is 10 times more intense than the threshold of hearing and twice as loud. Twenty decibels is 100 times more intense than the threshold and 4 times as loud. Thirty is a 1000 times more intense and 8 times as loud compared to the threshold of hearing.
Another interesting thing to know about noise is the fact that it drops off exponentially with respect to distance. Say you are standing X feet away from a source of sound. The sound level at X distance is 100 decibels, similar to the front row at a rock concert. But now you move away, such that the distance is now 2X (twice as much). The sound will drop drastically, down to 25 decibels (rustling leaves). That’s because intensity of sound is directly proportional to 1/(X) ², where X is our initial distance from the source. So if we move 3X away, the intensity of sound is attenuated by 9 times!
These calculations are approximations and are not applicable to every real life scenario since there are several types of sound sources, and they all radiate sound waves in different patterns and shapes. Learn more about why sound drops off with distance from this video. Sound is also attenuated as it travels through the medium, which in most cases is air. The attenuation happens as air molecules collide against each other while transmitting the sound wave, and this collision causes loss in energy from the wave, which is then stored as heat energy within the air molecules.
Remember that the industry standard for measuring generator sound level is at a distance of 7 meters, or 23 feet. And the test is always carried out with no ambient noises. If you measure the generator sound next to a highway or construction site, the sound-level meter will also pick up noises from the surroundings. It may read 3 or 5 decibels more than the actual sound level of the generator, and can be misleading. And remember that decibels don’t add up linearly.
For example, if you just measured the noise from the highway while the generator is off, and then subtracted this from the total noise created by the highway + the running generator, you will not get an accurate figure. The best way to do it is in an open area, with minimal ambient noise, at a distance of 23 feet. Manufacturers typically measure noise at ¼ load or half load, and the variation between a generators minimum noise level and maximum noise level at full load can be quite massive. For example, an inverter generator can be running at 55 decibels when you turn on the eco-mode or engine idle switch. The exact same generator can hit 65 decibels on full blast, which is twice as loud.
Conventional vs Inverter Generator
People often use the term generator and inverter interchangeably, but both are completely different devices. If you think about it, a generator is used to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. An inverter doesn’t convert energy of one type into another, instead it takes Direct Current (DC) and “inverts” that into Alternating Current, or AC. What is the difference between AC and DC? Well, let’s talk basics here – as you all know, in order for current to flow between two points there must be a path or circuit. A difference in electric potential between two points causes a voltage to develop, this voltage then causes a flow of electrons from the negative to the positive terminal which we call current.
Direct current only flows in one direction, since the positive and negative terminals are fixed. Alternating current reverses its direction periodically, since the negative and positive terminals keep switching positions. The current supplied to your home in North America is 120V, 60Hz AC current. The Hz tells you how many times current reverses its direction per second. So 60Hz means that the power you get from a wall socket changes its polarity 60 times per second.
If you were to inspect the waveform of the electric signal transmitted to your home through the supply lines from your power company, it would look like a sinusoidal wave. Plotted on a graph, the magnitude of the wave is represented by the Y-axis, and it is measured with respect to time which is plotted on the Y-axis. The following picture illustrates the difference between alternating and direct current.
By now you must be thinking “all of this is cool, but I came here to know which generator is the best, not to get a science lesson”. Relax, we are getting there; plus we’ve already reviewed a wide range of quiet portable generators for you choose from. Trust us when we say this – knowing the difference between DC and AC is crucial to understanding how an inverter differs from a generator. And the sine waveform we showed you is representative of the quality of electricity that you get from a commercial power supplier. The closer this waveform looks to a perfect sine wave, the cleaner the power. And clean power is what you need to power sensitive electronics such as computers, phones, TVs, or basically anything with a microprocessor in it.
VIDEO | Difference between AC and DC current?
Now conventional generators as well as inverter generators derive their power from gasoline/ propane/ natural gas, which they burn in internal combustion engines to rotate the shaft of an alternator. You know what an alternator is, every car has one. Just pop open the hood, it is right next to your engine and is probably driven off a pulley connected to the engine crankshaft.
This alternator consists of two main components – a stator and a rotor. The stator consists of several thousand windings of insulated copper wire, wound tightly around a metal core. The metal core isn’t made from a solid block of iron, rather it consists of several plates or lamina compressed against each other with insulating layers in between them. The rotor is connected to the engine crankshaft, and it too has several turns of copper wire wound around it. When a direct current is fed into this rotor, a magnetic field is generated around each individual loop of copper wire. Thus the rotor acts as an electromagnet.
Using the principle of electromagnetic induction founded by Michael Faraday in 1831, we know that an electromotive force or EMF is produced across a conductor when it is subjected to a changing magnetic field. Remember the stator windings? That is several hundred loops of highly conductive copper wire, sitting right next to an electromagnet, i.e. the rotor. Now, all we need to do is rotate the electromagnet, and boom – we get electricity! So we fire up the engine, it chugs gasoline from the fuel tank and spins the rotor to generate electricity.
A standard 2-pole rotor will produce single phase alternating current, and needs to spin at exactly 3600 rpm to maintain a steady 60Hz frequency. Why 3600 rpm? Because each revolution of the rotor generates one cycle or pulse of alternating current. To cycle 60 times every second (for 60Hz AC), the rotor needs to spin at 3600 revolutions per minute. Which means the engine has to constantly maintain a speed of 3600 rpm, irrespective of how much actual load is being put on the generator. You could be using it to power a couple of lights, or you could be using the generator to run your 12500 BTU RV air conditioner. Doesn’t matter, because the engine will keep spinning at exactly 3600 rpm all the time.
When the load increases, the engine needs to maintain its speed so a governor will increase/ decrease the throttle opening to regulate fuel intake. This is how things work in a conventional generator – no matter what you are doing with it, its engine has only two modes – full blast (3600 rpm) or off (0 rpm). As you can guess, conventional generators are extremely inefficient with fuel and are also very loud since the engine is always spinning at a steady 3600 rpm.
Enter the inverter generator – it uses advanced electronic circuitry and microprocessor technology to make sure that the engine speed varies based on the amount of load that is being put on the generator. But wait a second, doesn’t that mean we are going to mess up the frequency of the AC current? As we explained previously, in order to get a steady 60Hz current we must maintain an engine speed of exactly 3600 rpm.
There’s some pretty advanced stuff going on inside an inverter generator to make sure that you can vary the engine speed AND keep the frequency of the output current steady at the same time. While a conventional generator takes the raw AC from its alternator and supplies that to the socket, an inverter generator first converts this AC to DC with the help of a rectifier, and then uses an inverter module to change the DC back into AC. This process seems overly complicated at first, but it is crucial to removing all the imperfections from the raw AC sine wave signal, the result is a perfect sine wave alternating current that is safe for usage in delicate electronics.
Like a conventional generator, the inverter generator consists of an engine coupled to an alternator. But instead of using a 2-winding core, inverter generators use rotors with around 20 pole magnets and several windings that are connected to produce 3-phase AC current. Three-phase AC allows the alternator to pump out MORE power per revolution compared to the alternators used in conventional generators (those alternators produce single-phase AC). By overlapping hundreds of sine waves per revolution obtained from the several pole windings, an inverter generator doesn’t have to maintain a steady engine speed. And since we are extracting more power per revolution, the engine doesn’t need to be as big when compared to a conventional generator. But how is this three-phase, high frequency AC power converted into single phase 60Hz AC for our home appliances?
Well, that is where the fancy electronic equipment comes in. Remember when we talked about inverters, and how they convert DC into AC? Well, an inverter generator gets its name from the inverter module that is built into the machine. As the high-frequency 3-phase AC exits the alternator, it enters a rectifier module which converts this high frequency AC (up to 20 KHz) into low-voltage Direct Current. Then the abnormalities in the direct current are smoothed out with filtration circuits. This smooth low-voltage direct current is then injected into the inverter module which “inverts” it into 120V, 60Hz AC that you can use to power all of your tools, and home appliances.
There is a microprocessor inside the inverter module which constantly monitors various characteristics such as harmonic distortion, voltage spikes, and shifts in frequency, etc. to ensure that the resulting AC is extremely pure, as close to a true sine wave as it can get. By smoothing out all the little bumps and dips in the AC signal, the inverter provides you with rock steady 60Hz AC power that is perfect for sensitive electronics such as computers, communication systems, microwaves, etc. The THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) in the power generated from an inverter generator is usually under 3%, which is amazing when you consider that this AC is on par with the mains supply that you get from your big power company.
The power company uses gigantic alternators the size of a hallway to generate power of this quality, and you are able to get it from a 40-pound briefcase sized package that you can carry along with you to the camping site. The regulation specs for a typical inverter generator are as follows – 3% variation in voltage, 1% variation in frequency, and under 3% sine wave distortion (THD). Another really big benefit of inverter generators is the fact that their power quality doesn’t swing around with sudden changes in load. When you connect or disconnect an appliance from the circuit, a conventional generator will take a fraction of a second to adjust to the new load, since its throttle has to open or close in order to maintain the constant 3600 rpm. This mechanical delay results in little spikes that can mess with the frequency or voltage for a fraction of a second.
These tiny imperfections are not a big deal if you are operating the RV air conditioner or a table saw, but can harm your phone and computer. Thanks to the advanced microprocessor-based inverter systems in an inverter generator, the output remains steady all the time, even when you are adding/ removing loads from the circuit. Besides, all inverter generators use electric governors instead of mechanical or pneumatic governors, so the delay in adjusting engine power is minimized.
Whew, that’s a whole lot of stuff going on inside an inverter generator, no wonder these things cost so much compared to their open-frame conventional cousins. But wait – there is even more. Not only are inverter generators renowned for their clean power, but they are also smaller and lighter when compared to conventional generators of similar capacity. And they are quieter, by around 5-7 decibels on average (measured under similar loads at the same distance). But why? Well, the construction of a conventional generator is very simple.
There’s a tubular metal frame, with an engine and alternator coupled together, hanging at the bottom, and a fuel tank screwed onto the side. That’s it, and maybe you have a couple wheels and a folding handle for mobility. Not a whole lot of stuff in terms of sound deadening, and portability comes second on the list after raw power output. A conventional generator is built to be cheaper, simpler to operate and maintain when compared to inverters. The only sound-deadening you will find on an open-frame conventional generator is the muffler attached to the engine exhaust. Some people even build wooden boxes for their generators, and stuff acoustic foam on the inside of the walls to dampen the sound from the engine.
On the internet, you will find several cases of people chopping up motorcycle mufflers and sticking them onto the exhausts of their cheap open-frame generators. They say, when it comes to generators, you get what you pay for. Inverters cost more, but they come with all of this sound-deadening built into them, straight from the factory. Inverter generators feature a closed design, with internal chambers to separate the components. A modular structure helps insulate vibrations from various components, especially the engine. Instead of using steel panels on the outside, they use durable high-performance synthetic resins that don’t resonate (vibrate at the same frequency, resulting in more noise) with the rest of the internal components.
You may think “oh, but it’s just plastic and that means it is cheap”, but this isn’t just any plastic. It is the same kind of plastic you will find on car bumpers, and is designed to take a beating at jobsites. Plastics make the generator lighter, and quieter. Some manufacturers are really clever, and sandwich a layer of anti-vibration, sound deadening foam between two layers of resin. This special resin panel with sound deadening foam sandwiched in-between is used to construct the outer shell. Mufflers on inverter generators are of higher quality, so you don’t have to borrow a motorbike muffler from the local garage.
In addition to all of this, the engines are smaller on inverters when compared to conventional generators, so noise is greatly reduced. The alternators on most inverter generators are more compact when compared to the alternators found on conventional open-frame models, and in combination with the smaller engines you get a much more portable package that is easier to carry around.
But it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows with inverter generators. Every design has its flaws, and the inverter generator is no exception. Check out the following section to get an idea of the main differences between inverters and conventional generators-
Size and weight:
Inverters are physically smaller, lighter, and easier to carry around. Most of them come with built-in wheels for mobility, as well as carry handles. Some conventional generators come with wheels and handles standard from the factory, however we noticed that a lot of them require you to purchase a wheel kit separately.
This one is hard to decide. Inverters have smaller engines and more advanced alternators, allowing them to extract lots of power from each revolution. This means they don’t have to rev as high, and consume less fuel. In addition, they can vary engine speed depending on the load, so you are never consuming more fuel than you need to. However, inverters are also more size-conscious which leads to smaller fuel tanks. Conventional generators are more fuel-hungry, but also come with larger tanks.
For example, the Champion 100403 which is a 1200-watt conventional generator, sports a 1.7 gallon gas tank. The WEN 56200i inverter generator on the other hand, is a 1600-watt model but only comes with a 1-gallon tank. You can see that the conventional generator has 70-percent more fuel storage even though it is down 400-watts against the inverter. In general, the difference in runtimes should not be too much, with models from both sides capable of running for 10+ hours on half load and a full tank. But the conventional models do tend to provide that extra one or two hours of runtime despite being less efficient, since they make up for it with their much larger tanks.
Inverter generators take this one, hands down. Their closed frame design and modular internals allow for far superior sound-deadening possibilities. Silent models are available with layers of acoustic foam sandwiched between the resin panels of the outer shell, resulting in a generator that actually allows two people to stand nearby and have a conversation without having to raise their voices. This is something you cannot do with most open-frame models, since they have next to no sound dampening and rely on larger engines.
Once again, inverters take the win. No conventional generator even comes close to the fuel efficiency of an inverter model. This is mainly because inverter generators can vary their speed depending on the load, and come with an “engine idle” mode which you can turn on in case you don’t have any power hungry equipment to run in that moment. This mode will idle the engine and gently sip on gas, resulting in much longer runtimes.
Inverters deliver power that is as clean, and in some cases even cleaner than the mains energy that you get from your power company. A pure sinusoidal wave, free from spikes in frequency or voltage. Perfect for your electronic equipment that uses microprocessors.
Another feature found exclusively on inverter generators. Lets you hook up two inverter generators of the same model to get twice the power. You will need a specially designed cable to parallel connect two inverters of the same model, and this cable is usually sold separately.
Simplicity of Design and Maintenance:
Conventional generators are cheaper because they are simpler to design and make. You have an engine, a simple alternator with 2 windings that produces single phase AC, and then there is an AVR (automatic voltage regulator) which increases or decreases the magnetic field strength of the rotor windings to keep voltage steady. There is no rectifier, inverter, or microprocessor chip, nor are there any temperature and airflow sensors. All the components in a conventional generator are exposed, thanks to the open frame design, allowing for easy access if you ever need to do the occasional air filter change or rotor winding inspection. Chances are, if something breaks down in your conventional generator, parts will be much cheaper to replace. The same cannot be said for inverters.
This is a no-brainer, everybody knows that inverters cost significantly more than conventional models for the same amount of power. Even though you spend more money on gas in the long run, the upfront cost of owning a conventional generator is much lower.
Inverter generators are quiet, efficient, and provide clean power. They are portable and lightweight. But when it comes to raw power, nothing can match the good old open-frame conventional generator. The industrial models can put out up to 10000 watts of electricity. Even the most capable and expensive inverters top out at 4000 to 5000 watts. If you want to go above 5000 watts with an inverter generator, you will have to dish out an impractical sum of money, or buy two 5000-watt models to connect them in parallel. If raw power is all you need, and you don’t care too much about power quality, conventional generators provide the most bang for your buck.
So as you can see, both types of generators have their own pros and cons. Which is the better one? That is for you to decide, based on your needs and budget. When they finally figure out a way to make inverter generators much cheaper and deliver larger amounts of power, conventional generators will become a thing of the past. However, that is not going to happen too soon. Maybe another 10 to 20 years from now.
Westinghouse iPro2500 | Professional-Grade, Compact & Quiet
What Size Generator Do You Need?
When you look at the power rating for a generator, you are most probably looking at its “surge watts”. There are two types of wattage – “running” and “surge”. Surge wattage is important when you are trying to power anything with a motor or compressor in it, such as a sump pump, air conditioner, refrigerator, HVAC system, etc. Surge watts can be up to 3 times higher than the running wattage. The equipment asks for its surge watts right at the time of starting, and this lasts for a fraction of a second to a couple of seconds. In order to start such equipment, generators are designed to provide more than their regular amount of power for a short burst of time.
For example, if a generator is rated at 1800 watts continuous and 2200 watts surge, it means this generator can supply a steady 1800 watts of power on full load for as long as you want, but the 2200 watts will be drawn only for a short burst of time (fraction of a second or a couple of seconds). If you connect an air conditioning system to this generator which has a continuous power requirement of 1500 watts, but a starting power requirement of 3000 watts, the generator will be unable to start the AC.
Before you purchase your generator, you need to make sure that it can power all of your appliances and tools. Undersize it, and you will get flickering lights as well as malfunctioning power tools. Oversizing your generator will not harm anything, but it means you wasted money, storage space, and fuel. Generators with more power tend to be larger, heavier, and louder, so you don’t want to oversize it unless you aren’t too concerned with portability.
Although, I will say that it’s a smart decision to get a generator large than what you feel you need because you’ll be able to run the generator at a lower load; meaning you won’t be pushing your generator to it’s maximum power every time you use it. Generators are far quieter if you use them at lower loads. For example, by only running your generator at 25 to 50% of it’s maximum capacity, means that it will run quieter, and smoother and will run more efficiently. Not enough people take this into account when investing in a generator. More power is always better because let’s be honest, you will likely want to power more electrical devices rather than less, especially if you’re investing in an emergency generator.
There is a very simple way to determine your required generator size – make a list of all the appliances that you intend to run with your generator. How many of those do you intend to run at the same time? Add up the running wattage of all the appliances which you intend to power simultaneously. Then, search for the appliance with the highest starting watts. That gives you the starting watts requirement, and the sum of the running watts will give you the running watts requirement for your generator. Here is an example-
|Tool/ Appliance||Running Watts||Starting/ Surge Watts|
|13,500 BTU RV AC||1600||2300|
|42” LCD TV||300||0|
|1/3HP Sump Pump||800||1300|
|String Lights (50 LED string)||20||0|
|20” Box Fan||200||0|
|Cell Phone Charger||10||0|
So, we need a generator with 4355 running watts minimum, and the largest surge wattage we have is from the 13,500 BTU RV air conditioner, which is 2300 watts. Any generator with 4300 or more running watts will have a starting wattage of 4500 or 5000. Even if you turn on the RV air conditioner, sump pump, and inflator pump all at the same time, a 4500 watt generator can handle them with ease. However, if you have multiple appliances with surge watts that when added up are greater than the surge rating for your generator, you should only turn them one at a time. Else you will overload the generator and may trip its circuit breaker.
Features to look for in a Portable Generator
Fuel Petcock: Unless you live off-grid or work in a construction crew, your generator will most likely be used for a couple hundred hours every year. Depending on how storm-prone your area is, and frequently power outages take place, you might to make sure that you purchase a generator with a manual fuel shutoff, also known as a petcock. It will prevent fuel from leaking or evaporating within the carburetor and fuel lines. If you are storing your generator for long periods of time, this feature is a must-have, it will make sure that your generator starts up within the first couple of pulls the next time you take it out for business.
Overload Protection: When you connect or disconnect loads from the circuit, the generators AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulator) or Inverter Module (in case of an inverter generator) will have to adjust engine rpm and power output according to load. If you try to switch on a 15000 BTU air conditioner which is connected to a generator like the Honda EU2200i, the overload protection will kick in and prevent the generator from burning its alternator coils. A 15000 BTU RV AC has a starting watts requirement of around 3500, whereas your Honda inverter generator is only capable of handling 2200 max surge watts.
Low-Oil Automatic Shutdown: Your generator will damage itself if the engine runs dry, it needs to be properly lubricated before you turn it on or else you could end up spending hundreds on repair costs. Oil levels need to be checked before you turn on your generator set, and a model with auto low-oil shutdown will turn itself off whenever low oil levels are detected, preventing a potential accident.
Fuel Gauge: Helps you keep an eye on fuel levels without having to open the fuel cap and check it manually.
- GFCI Outlets: Before the adoption of GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets, 800 Americans died annually from electrocution related incidents, mostly caused by faulty ground connections or short circuits. A GFCI outlet can react within one-thirtieth of a second in the event of a short circuit, it constantly monitors current levels in the hot and neutral lines. As soon as there is a short circuit, the GFCI outlet will cut the power immediately and save your life, as well as the generator. You will notice a “test” and “reset” button built into the socket of a GFCI outlet.
Wheels and Handles: Standard stuff on most portable generators, an absolute necessity if you want to carry the generator around with you to jobsites or camping grounds.
Engine Idle/ Eco Mode: Found on all inverters, and in some conventional open frame generators. Allows the generator engine to throttle back and consume less fuel, while also making less noise. Whenever the load isn’t very much or around 25 percent of the generators maximum capacity, you can engage this mode. If you add extra load while the generator is in eco mode, it can sense the addition of load and will automatically throttle back up into normal operation without triggering overload protection.
Electric Starter or Remote Start: Electric start requires the addition of a battery, which may or may not come with the generator. It is much more convenient than yanking at a starter cord. Remote start is the most convenient option of them all, if you don’t want to walk all the way to the generator in order to start it.
Generator safety :
- Never ever operate your generator indoors, or even in a partially enclosed space such as an open garage. Carbon monoxide fumes emitted from the exhaust of a generator are deadly, and you can’t sense the presence of this gas because it is odorless as well as invisible. Inhaling carbon monoxide will cause headache, dizziness, vomiting, and nausea. Too much CO and you will faint or even die.There are several cases of campers who slept and never woke up, because their positioned the generator right next to the tent with the exhaust facing towards them. If you are powering your air conditioner and lights during the night, while sleeping, make sure to position the generator away from any open doors or windows, and at least 25-30 feet away from the home. Not only will it prevent CO poisoning, but also decrease noise so you can sleep peacefully. If you are a camper or use the portable generator for home backup, consider investing in a battery-powered CO detector such as the First Alert CO410. Most of these CO detectors cost between 20 to 30 bucks and will warn you when the CO levels get higher than normal.
- Don’t try to refuel a generator just after turning it off, since the engine is still very hot and spilled gas can result in a fire situation. This is especially true with open-frame models where the engine and alternator are both exposed.
- This should be common sense but – never operate the generator in rain, snow, or around water. Electricity and water is a bad combination. Don’t touch the outlets with wet hands either, unless you want to electrocute yourself. AC is much dangerous than DC, and the generators output 120V, 15A alternating current.
- Store your gasoline in containers that are specially designed for fuel storage, and if you are not going to use the fuel for several months, add some stabilizer to it. This will prevent the fuel from losing its chemical properties, and destabilized fuel will not burn properly after being stored for 6 months or more. It can clog the carburetor and fuel filter.
- Make sure that the generator is at least 23-25 feet away from you, to prevent hearing loss as you will otherwise be exposed to constantly high levels of noise.
- Check the muffler and spark arrestor before you turn on the generator, especially if you are operating in the wilderness. A damaged spark arrestor or muffler will send unburned fuel flying out of the exhaust in the form of sparks, and this could start a fire.