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Updated November 2018

Best Portable Generators

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We analyze consumer reviews to find the best products on the web. We buy products with our own money and test them in our lab. We also interview experts and conduct independent research to pick the winners. We have affiliate partnerships so we may get a share of revenue from purchases. It’s how we fund our Research Lab and bring you better reviews and comparisons. Read more.

Best Portable Generators Updated November 2018

Conclusion

Pros

Cons

Westinghouse WGEN7500

Portable Generator
Check Price at: 1 store
It’s heavy but powerful. If you’re looking for peace of mind, this one’s worth the investment.
We loved the convenience of its remote start. The 3-year warranty and lifetime support are also nice to have.
It’s 200 pounds, so you’ll likely need help moving, unboxing, and setting it up.

Generac 6,500 Watt

Portable Generator
Check Price at: 1 store
Despite the less-than-amazing packaging, you can rest assured that it will save the day come storm season.
Easy to use and assemble. It includes everything but gas.
Customers reported damaged products due to poor packaging and freight shipping.

Champion Power Equipment

3,500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator
Check Price at: 1 store
If you don’t mind the noise, it checks off 3 major marks: remote start, 3-year warranty, and a decent price tag.
A convenient remote start and generous warranty.
Although described as RV-ready, many campers reported it’s louder than expected.

DuroStar DS4000S

Portable Generator
Check Price at: 1 store
This long-lasting generator won’t break your budget, although, the wheels might be worth the extra cash.
Best price for the power. Its high-quality manufacturing never goes unnoticed by customers.
Adding wheels costs extra, which makes it less portable than the rest.

Yamaha EF2000iSv2

Portable Inverter
Check Price at: 1 store
This small but mighty inverter will come in handy around and away from the house.
A quiet generator that you can lug around on your own.
1,600 running watts will power projects, but not an entire house.

Our Process

2,782
Customer Reviews
10
Products
26
Hours

Purchasing a portable generator comes with a big price tag and it can be difficult to know which ones are really worth the investment. After all, the future is hazy and we can’t always anticipate when we’ll need a plan B for electricity. Merely guessing which one is right for your needs won’t cut it. That’s why our team of research specialists bought and evaluated a range of portable generators. We want to help you make the right choice so you get the most from your money.

Portable generator reviews guide

The definition of “portable” varies. We learned this the hard way. We bought five top-rated generators for sale on Amazon but when they were delivered in our lobby, we were left scratching our heads. Our lab is on the third floor. Even maneuvering it outside required some creativity and serious manpower. We quickly realized how someone could get stuck with a large, immovable object that has a frustrating product description of “portable.”

All but one of the products we ordered weighed more than 100 pounds. Some do have wheels, which makes them more “portable”, but you should consider these only if you’ll be leaving it in one place for a long time or have help to move it about.

If you need to get it in the back of a vehicle, especially alone, these heavy-duty models are probably not for you. You may want to look at something half as heavy, like the Yamaha we reviewed. The Yamaha we bought was small, quite mobile, and easy for everyone in the office to handle. The price of this portability was limited power—half or a third of the wattage of the bigger generators.

We did find a sweet spot between portability and power though. That’s what we’ll discuss below.

Best generator for emergency preparedness WESTINGHOUSE WGEN7500 PORTABLE GENERATOR

One of the more expensive generators on our list, we thought, lived up to the price tag. The Westinghouse WGEN7500 Portable Generator is very powerful and can run at 50% load for up to 16 hours. The push button electric start is as easy as it gets compared to a pull cord and the 6.6-gallon fuel capacity was large compared to the others we reviewed. At 7,500 watts with 9,500-watt capacity at peak power, this generator leads the way.

The Westinghouse can also be started remotely, allowing you to operate it from inside your home. This is especially convenient during inclement weather if your generator is stored in a garage or shed. Most customers reportedly purchased the Westinghouse WGEN7500 Portable Generator in preparation for a hurricane or storm season.

Generators can be real lifesavers. They’ll keep the heat on during a snowstorm and provide power to health and medical devices during power outages.”

Our take on portable generators

A power generator is essential for emergency preparedness and those living in areas with frequent power outages. It’s also nice to have when camping or to run equipment for home improvement projects. We understand that this is a large investment. We recommend exploring all your options, reading portable generator reviews online, and consulting our resource guide below to make an informed purchase that is right for your specific use case. It’s often hard to predict when you’ll need the extra power. In any case, you want a reliable product.

Best generator for general use Champion Power Equipment 46539 Portable Generator

We picked the Champion Power Equipment 46539 Portable Generator as the top generator for home use. Customers reported purchasing this Champion generator in a variety of ways: backup for solar panels, power outages, and camping. This generator is on the lighter side (62 pounds) with an average price point, making it all the more versatile.

Power down all devices before connecting them to a portable generator. Test appliances individually after the generator starts running. Note: Some generators may not support all household items simultaneously.”

Storage tips

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to storing your generator:

  • Keep it in a covered place or purchase a cover
  • Do not leave gasoline in a generator for too long
  • Occasionally start the generator up and run it, quarterly maybe
Best generator for long-term reliability DuroStar DS4000S Portable Generator

The DuroStar DS4000S Portable Generator can stand the test of time. Not to mention, it’s a great price for the amount of power you get. Loyal customers reported being able to count on this generator time and time again, sometimes over the course of three or more years. At House Method, we know the importance of calling out feedback from your neighbors, people who have tried and tested these products.

The US Department of Energy reminds homeowners to determine the amount of power they’ll need by checking power requirements and labels on appliances and light fixtures. You can also consult an electrician. A generator will need to meet this minimum (running watts) in addition to the initial surge (starting watts) when electricity is turned on.”

Best generator for camping and home improvement Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Portable Inverter

The Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Portable Inverter is a lightweight generator with optimum portability. If you’re undertaking a home improvement project and need to operate equipment outside or away from a power source, you can tote this small generator around fairly easily.

In addition to being a nice addition to your toolkit, the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Portable Inverter is also great for camping and tailgating. Nearby campers will thank you for choosing this quiet generator over other models. This latest model can support more RV appliances, like air conditioners, coffee makers, microwaves and boat batteries.

How does a generator work?

How does a generator work?

Generators provide electricity to your house when the power goes out at home, to tools and appliances, and to enhance your camping experience with freshly brewed coffee in the wilderness. Portable generators are less expensive and easier to maneuver than permanent pieces, but as we mentioned before, the term “portable” is not without its limitations.

How much is a portable generator?

Most portable generators for sale range from $300 to over $1,000. Three of the five generators we considered are around $800. It’s difficult to find a cheap generator without compromising quality or reliability. Although it’s certainly an investment, a portable generator still costs less than a permanent one, which starts at $4,000.

What kind of oil do you use in a portable generator?

All of the products above conveniently include a free bottle of oil to get your electric generator up and running as soon as you receive it. However, like a car, low oil levels can cause serious damage to the engine. All five of the products above have a low oil warning indicator or automatic shut-off to protect the product.

Manufacturers should provide recommendations for the type of oil you should use in your particular model. Several of the gas generators we reviewed recommend 10W-30, but this differs product to product.

How many watts does a generator need to power a house?

5,000 to 7,000 watts are required to power most average-sized homes and household items, according to SF Gate. Manufacturers list starting and running watts in the product description. The total number of starting watts will differ from the number of running watts because it accounts for the initial power surge. Note the item with the highest starting watt (usually a refrigerator or sump pump) to make sure your power generator can support the transfer switch.

Our first and second choices, the Westinghouse WGEN7500 and the Generac portable generator, have enough wattage to power a house during outages. The last three on our list can still accommodate many appliances and small spaces, but might be less reliable than the heavy-duty top two.

What is the best home generator to buy?

The best generator to buy depends on the buyer’s specific needs and concerns. First, ask yourself —what size generator do I need? If you need one that supports the whole house, we recommend the Westinghouse WGEN7500 or the Generac portable generator. If you want to back up solar panels or a barn, try the Champion generator or DuroStar DS4000S Portable Generator. Campers, tailgaters, and do-it-yourselfers can rely on the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Portable Inverter.

The team that worked on this review

Marc Lewis
Writer
Kelsey Roadruck
Editor
Jessica Allen
Photographer
Kortney Sweeney
Designer
Anna Cantrell
Developer

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