Last Updated: February, 2024
In the event of a power outage, a solid portable generator can power essential home appliances and keep your household secure.
However, not all available portable generators can be equally trusted.
With so many generators to choose from, finding the right fit can be a daunting task.
Our mission is to help you find the best portable generator for your needs.
Whether you are looking for a home backup generator, a generator for an RV, or a heavy-duty unit for work – we are here to help you.
Read our portable generator reviews to find out more about each generator.
Our buying guide will also help you decide what kind of generator will serve you best.
Not sure how big of a generator you need? Check out our calculator to find out what size of generator you need.
Table of Contents
Top 10 Portable Generator Comparison Chart
|Wattage (Starting / Running)
|Noise Level @ 25% Load
| Westinghouse Wgen7500
Best for Home Backup
|9500 W / 7500 W
|Heavy Duty Portable
| WEN 56200i
Best Value for Money
|2000 W / 1600 W
| Champion 3400 Dual Fuel Inverter
Best for RV
|3400 W / 3100 W
|Dual Fuel Inverter
| Honda EU2200i
Quietest Inverter Generator
|2200 W / 2000 W
| Honda EU 3000iS
Quietest 3000W gen
|3000 W / 2800 W
| Champion 75537i
Best Gas Gen for RV
|3100 W / 2800 W
| Yamaha EF2000iSv2
Good Camping Gen
|2000 W / 1600 W
| DuroMax Hybrid Dual Fuel XP12000EH
Best for Home
|12000 W / 9500 W
|Heavy Duty Dual Fuel
|2000 W / 1800 W
|4850 W / 3850 W
|Portable Dual Fuel
Our Reviews of the Best Portable Generators
Westinghouse Wgen7500 – best home backup solution
Westinghouse WGen7500 has everything it takes to compete for the title of the best portable generator. Long runtime, sturdy design, relatively quiet OHV engine, and last but not least – convenient electric start – these are all the features that truly make it stand out.
Westinghouse is an American company with nearly a hundred years of history, renowned for producing high-quality electrical appliances. From our experience, this is particularly true for their generators. Wgen7500, as well as other generators made by Westinghouse, such as iGen1200 or the WH2000IXLT, are some of the best portable generators money can buy.
Wgen7500 features a powerful heavy-duty OHV engine running at 7500 watts. That makes it an ideal choice for those who need a robust portable generator that could serve its job both as an emergency power supply as well as a companion for a job site.
It can power most of the essential large appliances at home during a hurricane.
- 1/2 HP Sump Pump
- Air conditioner
- Refrigerator & Freezer
and many others.
It is also very fuel-efficient. It can run up to 10 hours on a full tank of gas, depending on the electrical load.
WGen7500 is fully EPA and CARB-compliant, meaning that residents of all US states, including Californians, can legally use it.
You can learn more about this generator from our detailed review of Westinghouse WGen7500.
Overall in our opinion, this is the best generator out there. You certainly won’t regret buying it.
If you are looking for the best portable inverter generator that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, WEN 56200i is for you.
While WEN is not one of the most famous generator brands, this machine is excellent. WEN did an outstanding job of making a portable generator that performs as good as its Japanese and American competitors at a fraction of the price.
It comes equipped with an original Yamaha engine, the same one as you can find in EF2000iSv2 inverter generators.
WEN 56200i is a very lightweight portable generator. Weighing only 48 pounds, it is a perfect choice for campers and requires little effort to move around.
It is also a silent machine – 51 dB at 25% load was quiet enough for this generator to make it to my Top 10 List of quiet portable generators.
On the other hand, plenty of people who bought it for hurricane Irma reported that if performed exceptionally well as an emergency portable generator power source too.
Remember that with 1600 rated watts, you won’t be able to power anything substantial. However, this is enough emergency power required to run the most important appliances.
Wen 56200i has got a variety of outlets, including a 5V USB port – perfect for charging smartphones or cameras when camping.
Its fuel consumption is comparatively low too. Despite its small 1.85 fuel tank capacity, you can still run your portable generator for nearly 6 hours at 50% load – an excellent result.
Overall if you are looking for a cheaper yet still highly reliable alternative to Honda or Yamaha, WEN56200i is one of the best generators in its price range and the one you should seriously consider.
If you want to learn more about this generator, check out this full review.
Champion 3400 Dual Fuel Inverter
Dual-fuel portable inverter generators are a true rarity.
The availability of the second fuel type to power the generator is brilliant.
Not having to continually worry about refueling the generator with gas give you more peace of mind. Dual fuel generators also have a longer total run time.
Champion Power Equipment 3400 fills the market gap between compact inverters and bulkier heavy-duty generators.
It has a dedicated RV outlet making it one of the best RV generators.
It is reasonably light and easy to move around. At the same time, it provides enough power to run large electrical equipment. These include a typical 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner.
A truly great thing about this inverter generator is how fuel-efficient it is.
Leaving the gasoline fuel tank aside, what amazed me the most was how long you could run it on a single typical propane bottle (like one of those you use for barbecues).
7,5 hours at 50 percent load – that’s enough to run an AC in your RV for the whole night purely on propane! Not bad at all.
Switching between fuels is also a no-brainer and happens at the push of a button.
To conclude this brief review, this is one of the most recommended generators currently being sold. Champion Power Equipment 3400 is one of the few available inverters running on gasoline or propane and, without doubt, the best one.
If you are looking for a very lightweight and reliable modern generator, you should check out this. Learn more in my full review of Champion 3400.
Honda was the first company to introduce a portable inverter generator to the market. Their flagship model – EU2000i gained massive popularity among consumers in the US and soon became one of the most popular units in the market.
EU2200i is the younger sibling of EU2000i. It has nearly the same design and safety features as its predecessor, with one significant difference – it provides 200 more watts.
The generator is very quiet. Depending on the load, it makes around 49 to 58 dB of operating noise. That makes it perfect for camping and RV, as most of the campsites are quite strict when it comes to noise regulations.
Honda EU2200i is parallel capable, which means it can be used with another similar inverter. This way, you can maximize the peak power output up to 4000 running watts.
The original Eco-Throttle system patented by Honda automatically adjusts the consumption to the actual needs, resulting in better fuel efficiency.
Starting this portable generator is straightforward, thanks to the manual coil recoil start.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an electric start – the only thing we miss is this portable generator.
Otherwise, it’s definitely one of the most solid generators out there. It’s become the customers’ favorite for good reasons. If you live in Florida or other parts of the US that are frequently struck by hurricanes and are looking for a generator for years to come, this is the one you should get.
Honda EU 3000iS
Honda is renowned for making top-quality generators. When asked what the best portable generator money is, many experts simply respond: “get a Honda.”
Since it was Honda, which brought the advanced inverter technology to the market, I naturally had high expectations from one of their most potent generators of this kind – EU3000iS.
I am glad to inform you that it does not disappoint.
I’ve even decided to list it on my list of best 3000 watt inverters.
The generator has an original Honda GX200 4-stroke OHV engine delivering 3000 starting watts and 2800 running watts.
EU3000iS features a large 3.4-gallon fuel tank.
It is remarkably quiet for an inverter of this size. Even at 100% load, it produces less than 60 dB of operating noise.
The generator cover is built from steel, which guarantees proper protection. On the other hand, this makes the generator quite bulky.
Unfortunately, the wheels and the dedicated metal frame are not in the default kit. That is a real bummer cause without these accessories, the portable generator is cumbersome to move around.
This Honda generator lives up to its manufacturer’s reputation. It is indeed one of the best generators I had the pleasure of reviewing. We could all wish that it was slightly cheaper, especially since the additional accessories mentioned above are not included in the kit.
Learn more about Honda EU3000is in my dedicated review post. I reveal more details there and answer many frequently asked questions about this portable generator.
Champion 75537i is one of my favorite generators for a variety of reasons.
First, it is more potent than most of inverters and has enough starting power – 3100 watts – to run the most critical electrical equipment in the RV. These include 13,500 BTU air conditioners, lights, a microwave, etc.
What I loved at first sight about the Champion generator is the remote start.
Just imagine turning your generator on and off without even getting close to it.
Are you lying in bed in your RV and want to switch off the power for the night? No problem at all! Just push the button at your remote control, and the generator will shut down immediately.
Even the universally acclaimed Honda EU2200i does not have such a feature, which I think is an incredibly handy addition to what is already an excellent portable generator.
Champion 75337i is very fuel-efficient, lightweight, and, finally – quiet. If you run it at a 50 percent load, you won’t hear any distinctive noise while enjoying your RV’s comforts. However, even at higher loads, the only thing you will hear is a sound similar to an engine of a parked car.
The generator features a few more interesting features (such as the low engine oil level shutdown), which I have described in detail in my review of Champion 75537i. Please read it to understand better why this is my preferred choice for the RV!
Like other generators Champion makes, this model comes with a 3-year warranty and free lifetime technical support (online registration required).
If you are looking for smaller generators for camping, tailgating, or certain kinds of jobs – inverter generators are the way to go. They are small and quiet, and provide the so-called “clean power“. This means you can safely use them to charge sensitive electronics such as laptops or tablets.
That is sadly not the case with most of the conventional portable models.
Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is undoubtedly one of the best inverters on the market.
Its beautiful modern design makes it very portable and easy to carry around.
What’s more important, though, is the engine – the original 79cc Yamaha 4-stroke OHV engine is an extremely reliable generator.
EF2000iSv2 can deliver up to 1800 running watts of total power output. That is quite a standard number for inverter generators. You certainly won’t be able to power a whole house with it. On the other hand, this is more than enough for camping or for operating most of the work tools such as drills or sanders.
Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is fully EPA and CARB-compliant and approved for use throughout the United States.
To sum it up briefly – it’s an excellent choice even if it comes at a higher price.
Read the full review of Yamaha EF2000iSv2 here.
You can also check out the newest Yamaha generator – Yamaha EF2200iS.
DuroMax Hybrid XP12000EH
This is a true beast among portable generators. At 12000 surge watts and 9500 rated watts, it is powerful enough to serve as a comprehensive home backup supply for power outages.
As long as you don’t try to turn on every single appliance at once, you can pretty much run the whole house on it.
It is a very versatile machine that can run on gasoline and natural gas.
That helps maximize its total run time (up to 15 hours, depending on the load).
That is undoubtedly good news for those who suspect they are soon going to need a generator running for long periods during extended power outages caused by hazardous weather conditions, hurricanes, or forest fires.
Being able to switch between gas and liquid propane easily gives you also a bit more flexibility than it is in the case of conventional gas-powered portable generators.
Welders could also consider Duromax XP12000EH. It has enough running power for eg. a MIG welder, which is one of the most power-consuming power tools out there.
As you would expect from a portable generator of this size, it is not necessarily a quiet machine. However, this is not a significant concern if you use it as mentioned above – as an emergency backup power supply or to run specific heavy-duty power tools.
If I had to choose a generator for a larger home and wouldn’t like to invest thousands of dollars in installing a standby generator – Duromax XP12000EH would be one of those generators I would be most likely to buy.
Generac is a well-known name in the market for portable generators. Famous for producing incredibly popular standby generators, the American manufacturer has also released dozens of portable generators.
IQ2000 is one of the newest additions to the palette of products Generac offers.
It is a very quiet inverter capable of delivering up to 2000 starting and 1600 running watts.
The generator is also straightforward to use, thanks to its intuitive color-coded control panel.
What I also really liked about IQ2000’s panel was the fuel consumption indicator. The digital display effortlessly shows you how much run time you have left on the current load based on the remaining fuel level.
You can regulate its total power output and fuel consumption by switching between three modes of operation: Economy, Standard, and Turbo.
Overall, it is an excellent machine, and while it’s probably not the best portable inverter generator on the market, it is still worth its price.
If you are curious to know more about it, read the full review of the Generac IQ2000 here.
Dual-fuel generators have been gaining popularity in recent years.
All for good reasons, since they offer more flexibility, are cheaper to use in the longer term, and are generally more environmentally friendly than a conventional gas-powered portable generator.
In this buyer’s guide, I have already introduced two dual-fuel generators – the heavy-duty Duromax XP12000EH 12000 watt generator and the lightweight, portable inverter generator Champion 3400.
Duromax XP4850EH falls somewhere in the middle between those two. With its 4850 watts of starting power (generator running on gas), it is generally suitable for moderate use.
It can perform pretty well at a job site and also be used efficiently as an emergency portable power supply.
XP4850EH features a hassle-free push-button electric start, which makes the task of starting this portable generator way less gruesome.
The control panel features several power outlets: 2 x 120V household GFCI outlets and 1 x 120V/240V 30 amp twist lock outlet.
A voltmeter is a convenient feature that helps visualize the total power consumption at any time.
It comes in a handy casing of strong, durable tubes for structural reinforcing and added protection from weather elements.
How to Choose the Best Portable Generator – the Buyer’s Guide
1. Power needs
The first and most important step is determining how much portable power you need. What kinds of appliances are you going to run? How many of them do you need to power at a time?
When choosing a generator, there are two metrics you should look at starting wattage (AKA surge watts) and running watts (AKA rated watts).
Surge watts refer to the amount of power the appliance consumes for the first few moments after you switch it on.
For example, an average 11,000 BTU RV air conditioner requires 1600 surge watts of electrical energy to start it.
Running watts refer to how much electrical energy the device consumes afterward when running continuously.
In such a case, an 11,000 BTU AC would need at least 1000 running watts to operate.
Click here to check our wattage calculator. It will help you quickly determine how big of a generator you need.
Usually, larger heavy-duty generators are the best choice as house generators.
On the other hand, if you plan to go camping, even the smallest portable generator can often be enough.
Nobody loves the sound of a generator engine. Running a loud generator is easy to annoy your neighbors, especially when you intend to use it for camping or RV.
Many campsites and RV parks only allow generators below a certain noise threshold. On top of that, most of the time, they can only be used at certain so-called “non-quiet hours.”
However, even when boondocking, you certainly want to use a generator that won’t disturb you at night.
The annoying sound of a loud portable generator can also ruin your tailgating party to a great extent. No matter how expensive your audio equipment is, the music will not be great if there is too much humming or buzzing sound coming from your raucous generator.
So before making a purchase, check out the noise level (measured in decibels) of the generator.
New generators feature built-in mufflers, and other design features, helping minimize their sound levels.
Important: generator manufacturers usually mention the noise at a 25% electrical load. Even though you may see that the advertised sound level is reasonably low, bear in mind that the generator is bound to become much louder if you run it at full capacity.
Check our guide to find out which one is the quietest generator on the market.
When it comes to buying such an indispensable machine as a generator, you definitely cannot be a Cheap Charlie. You need to get one that can provide a constant, reliable portable power supply and won’t fail to start after a few uses. Good quality generators are not cheap to manufacture, and hence they also cost more.
On the other hand, many people make the mistake of buying large, expensive generators, hoping they can help them power the whole house during power outages caused by natural disasters. They would use them 2-3 times a year when a hurricane strikes, and that’s about it. Ask yourself – in an emergency, do you need to run ALL of your household equipment? Or perhaps just a few major appliances like refrigerators, heaters, lights, and portable electronics?
There is no point in buying a generator for several grand if you can get away with a smaller and cheaper model, which will provide you with just enough power to meet your basic needs. For example, Firman generators are among the most affordable in the market.
4. Sturdy build
A portable generator is a tool you can trust even in the worst circumstances. It would be terrible to end up in the middle of a power outage caused by a hurricane with a generator that breaks down after a few hours.
Don’t skimp on the quality; choose a generator with a trusted quality OHV engine and a solid steel frame to protect it.
Yamaha, Honda, Westinghouse, and Champion generators are among the most trusted manufacturers of generator engines. It’s worth mentioning though, that some portable generators sold by other companies come equipped with original motors built by Yamaha or Honda while costing a fraction of the price. WEN 56200i is one such example.
5. Fuel efficiency
While at the surface, all portable generators might look the same and have similar engines, fuel consumption can vary greatly.
The continuous power you get from one full gasoline tank can vary greatly between different units.
For example, Honda has equipped its inverters with an “Eco-Throttle” technology. It automatically adjusts the fuel consumption to the current energy demand.
This technology gives you a longer run time on one full gas tank without impacting the generator’s performance.
The generator will detect whenever you plug or unplug a device and will either increase or decrease its gas consumption to keep it the minimum level, which is also just enough to run that device without interruption.
Even though they might cost more upfront, portable generators with such mechanisms are more fuel-efficient and can save you quite a lot of money on gas in the longer term.
6. Ease of setting up
When purchasing a whole house standby generator, you need to hire a professional to install it or let the manufacturer do it if they offer such a service.
On the contrary, it is a different story with portable generators. You don’t want to pay hundreds for a generator for camping that later proves to be too difficult to start.
Fortunately, the best portable generators these days can be run pretty much straight out of the box.
Before you purchase a generator, read the reviews left by the customers who’ve already bought it and see whether they mention any difficulties with setting it up.
However, even if you decide to buy a generator that is known for its easy operation, you should double-check if it comes with a detailed and understandable manual written in good English.
7. Ease of use and maintenance
New portable generators are generally much easier to use than old ones, which often require professional expertise. However, some generators have various additional features, making them easy to operate even for inexperienced users. Before purchasing a generator, check if it has at least some of these features:
- automatic low oil shutdown mechanism (compatible with good oils for generators)
- electric start (or even better – remote start)
- fuel gauge
- in the case of a hybrid generator – the option of switching fuels at the push of the button
Some of these are there mainly for added convenience. Others, like the low oil shutdown mechanism, are important safety features you should not neglect.
8. Small size and weight
Generators with higher total power output usually have larger engines, making them heavier and bulkier. However, this is not always the case. Especially if you compare inverter generators to conventional portable units, you will quickly discover that inverters are much lighter types while offering the same wattage.
If you need more power, it’s often better to parallel generators to double the total power output rather than purchasing one heavy generator. Moving a generator with a huge engine from one place to another can be a gruesome task you want to avoid, especially if you are planning to use it for camping or RV.
9. Power outlets
That is an often overlooked aspect many customers forget about when looking for portable generators. Don’t let the wattage be the sole criterium for determining how many and what kind of devices can you power. Make sure the generator has got the right power outlets first!
A typical portable inverter generator should have at least 2 x AC outlets and 1 x DC output.
They also typically develop a dedicated USB port for charging portable electronics.
Some portable generators, such as the Champion 3100 watt inverter are RV-ready, saving you the headache of purchasing additional converters and switches.
10. Environmental Regulations
Most generators operate on fossil fuels and release toxic fumes. The two most common types of fuel are gasoline and diesel. Even though most of the modern generators (especially the inverters) are much cleaner than the older ones, they are still not environmentally friendly.
Most of states impose strict regulations on what kinds of generators you can use there. Ensure you get the one that complies with national and state laws and has the necessary certifications, including the EPA.
All generators included in our top 10 list are EPA-compliant.
California residents must be particularly careful as the environmental regulations are even stricter there. You must buy a CARB compliant generator to use it in California legally.
Consider getting a hybrid generator to minimize your impact on the natural environment. A propane generator is a much cleaner type than a gas model. It’s also cheaper to run too.
If your power needs are much lower (e.g., you only need a tiny generator to power your camping stove, a phone, and the camping lights), you can also check out the portable solar generators.
Investing in a solar generator is definitely the most environmentally friendly choice.
11. Customer Support
You certainly don’t want to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a generator to find out that if it breaks down, there won’t be anybody to help you. Trusted manufacturers should always be ready to assist you when the generator fails to work for any reason.
That’s why you should only go with trusted brands and models. On the other hand, some known manufacturers have only recently entered the US market and are working hard to gain the credibility and trust of the customers. WEN is an excellent example of one such company. They are known for selling quality portable generators and are very responsive when there is a need for assistance.
On the other hand, some large brands attract criticism from time to time for failing to deliver excellent customer service.
Lastly, make sure that you purchase a generator with, ideally, at least a 3-year warranty. Ensure you also check the rules first to know what kind of repairs can be carried out by a manufacturer without additional costs. Professional servicing can be costly, so it’s better to save yourself the headache and a few dozen bucks and carefully read the manual first.
Best Portable Generator FAQ
Can I run a whole house on a portable generator?
Most portable generators do not have enough power output to run an entire house.
However, portable generators with a rated wattage of at least 7500 watts can run all essential household appliances (e.g., heaters, refrigerators, lights, garage door openers) in the event of an emergency.
Anything rated at 12,000 watts and more can power an entire small household.
A 15,000-watt portable generator can run an entire mid-sized household.
Read more about whole house generators in our guide.
How big of a portable generator do I need?
That all depends on your specific energy needs and which devices you need to power. If you need a generator to run an entire house, 10,000 watts would be the absolute minimum. Use our calculator to get a rough estimate of how much power you need and which generators can supply that.
What’s the best generator for camping?
I would recommend Yamaha EF2000isV2 as the best generator for camping with tents.
WEN56200i is an excellent low-cost alternative.
For RV camping, you need a bit more powerful generator. Champion 3100 is IMHO the best for RV.
If you need a highly portable generator to only power small devices at campsites – you might also want to have a look at the portable power stations operating on solar energy.
How to connect a generator to a house without a transfer switch?
Simple answer – DON’T!
Attempting to connect the generator to your house without a transfer switch can cause severe damage to the electricity grid.
It is also potentially hazardous for your health due to the risk of electrocution. In the worst case, it can be fatal.
A transfer switch is a critical piece of electrical equipment that allows you to connect the portable unit to the household circuit breaker.
Unless you are a DIY expert, when purchasing a generator transfer switch, make sure to hire a professional electrician to set it up. Trying to install it by yourself without prior experience can be dangerous and is NOT recommended.
How much can a 7500-watt generator run?
Quite a lot. That is enough to make it a viable backup power source for the home.
It can also power a sizeable electric appliance, including some of the most demanding ones, such as an electric water heater, a window air conditioner, an air compressor, or a table saw. The notable exception is a 200 amp welder. You would need at least a 9000-watt generator to run it.
What is the difference between a portable inverter generator and a regular generator?
Inverters produce the so-called clean power and have less Total Harmonic Distortion (THD), similar to the state grid. You can use them safely with sensitive electronic devices. These include cell phones, computers, home theater systems, etc.
Conventional portable generators, especially older ones, generate more THD. In other words, the electricity they produce is less “steady” than it is the case with the state grid or inverters. That may result in potential damage to sensitive electronic equipment.
This article discusses the differences between inverters and conventional portable generators.
How far should a generator be from the house?
Ideally, you should place the generator at least 20 feet from your house. That will help you avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Just ensure the exhaust is not pointing at your windows or doors!
Place the generator in a safe and dry place. I recommend placing it within either a generator shelter or a robust enclosure. Such type of enclosed space would also minimize the noise. There are excellent video tutorials on how to DIY.
Remember – NEVER operate a gas generator indoors!
Only specific types of generators are safe for indoor use.