Cat Generators Reviewed – Are They Any Good?

Caterpillar is the brand which does not need a long introduction. If you’ve ever visited any construction site in the US you’ve probably noticed that most of the heavy-duty machinery used there is all manufactured by Cat.

This Fortune 100 company has been present on the market for nearly 100 years and became one of the most recognized brands in the construction industry. They produce all kinds of construction machines and vehicles including off-highway trucks, excavators, tractors and motor graders as well as all types of engines and construction equipment imaginable. Cat has got even their own successful clothing brand.

What few people know though is that Caterpillar also makes portable generators. In the following article, we’re gonna have a look at some of the Cat generators and see whether they really live up to the reputation of the brand and how do they perform against other generator brands.

Most Popular Cat Generators For Sale

Generator Wattage (Starting / Running) Weight Price
Cat RP7500E Cat RP7500E 9375 W / 7500 W 192 lbs Check Price
Cat RP3600 Cat RP3600 4500 W / 3600 W 112.2 lbs Check Price
Cat INV2000 Cat INV2000 2200 W / 1850 W 49 lbs Check Price
Cat RP1200E Cat RP12000E 15,000 W / 12,000 W 348 lbs Check Price

Caterpillar Generators Reviewed

Cat RP7500E

Cat RP7500E - one of the best Cat GeneratorsCat RP7500 is one of the strongest generators Caterpillar has currently on offer.

It delivers up to 7500 running watts of power, making it an excellent choice both for demanding construction jobs as well as for those who need a sturdy generator as an emergency home backup supply.

It can easily run most of the key appliances at home simultaneously. It’s also capable of powering some of the more energy-hungry construction tools such as air compressors, bench grinders, table saws, breaker hammers, hand drills, and many others.

The generator has got several main features which makes us like it a lot.

  • Long run time – it is a very fuel-efficient generator capable of running up to 11 hours on a single tank. This means you could use it for the entire long day at a construction site without having to refuel. The same applies to home backup solutions. As long as you don’t try to run all major electrical equipment at once, you can expect this generator to run for the entire night without interruptions.
  • Strong engine – we all know that Cat does not go on compromises when manufacturing the machinery. The engine installed in the RP7500 is no exception. It is a very solid build 420cc OHV engine protected with cast iron sleeve. It’s one of those generators engines which you can fully rely on knowing that they will run flawlessly and serve you whenever you need.
  • Huge choice of outlets – the generator was made to be as versatile as possible and this is clearly reflected in the number of various outputs available. You’re offered the choice of 6 outlets in total. These include standard 120V and 240V 30 amp twist-lock outputs suitable for the vast majority of electric tools and equipment.
  • Solid frame – we would expect the generator designed by a company specialized in heavy-duty construction equipment to be fully prepared even for the toughest working conditions. Cat RP7500 does not disappoint. The frame is made of nothing but steel, providing the necessary level of protection for the motor. The generator overall looks and feels very strong. Obviously, this makes it a bit heavy to move around. However, that’s the price you pay for having a very durable heavy-duty generator at your disposal.

Pros

  • Strong original Cat engine

  • Durable steel frame

  • Large choice of outlets

  • Long run time

Cons

  • Non-CARB compliant

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Cat RP3600

Cat RP3600Cat RP3600 is another very popular Caterpillar portable generator.

This model produces 4500 starting watts and 3600 running watts of power.

This is an ideal amount for those who need a well-balanced medium-sized portable generator to run a few minor electric appliances or one or two large tools at a time.

To give you a better idea of what you can run with this generator, these are some of the tools you can use along with this generator:

  • 10″ Table Saw
  • 1HP Air Compressor
  • 8″ Bench Grinder
  • Heavy-duty Circular Saw
  • Breaker Hammer
  • Rotary Hammer
  • 2HP Chainsaw

You could also use this generator to power the most needed appliances at your home during a blackout. While you certainly can’t expect to run the whole home on it, Cat RP3600 would produce enough power to run things like a refrigerator, AC, set of lights, TV and some kitchen equipment.

Features of Cat RP3600

  • Durable motor – the generator comes with an original Cat engine. It is a 212 cc OHV motor delivering the steady supply of 3600 rated watts. The engine is very durable and runs slightly more quietly than a lot of other portable generators. While it’s not one of the quietest gens out there, it is not very loud at all.
  • Sturdy build – just like any other machinery they make, Caterpillar generators are built to cater for demanding construction sites. This means that even if you need a generator only for simple jobs, you can expect it to run pretty much without a flaw even in rough conditions. The all-steel frame does a great job in protecting the engine and it’s certainly not just a marketing cliche.
  • Easy Operation – this generator is a no brainer to start and maintain. It features both the manual and electric start making it very easy to set up even for less experienced users.
  • Fuel efficiency – this is one of the things we like about Cat generators in general and we’re glad to see that RP3600 also performs very well on this matter. You could expect it to run for up to 12-13 hours depending on the load. This makes it a good choice for those who don’t want to refuel the gen frequently and need a generator to run for even a few days in the row in case of the persistent power blackout.

Pros

  • High-quality engine

  • Steel frame

  • Long run time

  • Good quality to price ratio

Cons

  • A bit heavy

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Cat INV2000

Cat INV2000If you are looking for a quiet and small portable generator to run portable electronic equipment then the inverter generators are the only way to go. Thanks to the inverter technology they produce clean sine-wave and operate well beyond the 3% Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) threshold. This makes them safe to use with contemporary sensitive electronics like notebooks or tablets.

Cat INV2000 is currently the only inverter generator Caterpillar has got on offer.

It produces 2250 surge watts and 1800 running watts which makes it a bit more powerful than most of the inverters out there.

You could use it, for example, to power an 11,000 RV AC alongside with a few small electronics.

It is a very good choice for campers or those who need a lightweight generator for other outdoor use such as trade fairs or tailgating parties.

Cat INV2000 – features

  • Very quiet – inverter generators are in general much quieter than the conventional open-frame units. However, not all inverters operate with the same noise level. Some are clearly louder than others which does not necessarily make them the most reliable choices for the situations when silence is key such as camping. Fortunately, we’ve found Cat INV2000 to be on the quieter side. Making only between 52 to 60 dB of noise (depending on the load and distance you measure it from) it can certainly rival most of the other quiet generators (click here to see them).
  • Good run time – while you certainly can’t rely on the generator such small to run for an entire night on 100% load, it still performs pretty well when compared to many of its competitors. You could count on it to run for around 5-6 hours at half load which is a very decent result. It comes equipped with an Engine Smart control mechanism which helps a lot in optimizing the fuel consumption.
  • Suitable for portable electronics – as we’ve mentioned before, you can use this kind of a generator to charge portable electronic equipment without worries. INV2000 makes it even easier since it comes with dedicated USB outlets. Surprisingly, not all the inverters have these on board (even the popular Honda Eu2200i lacks these). It’s definitely a good thing that Caterpillar made this generator with different users in mind and included this nice handy addition.
  • Compact size – the generator has got the dimensions of 19.6 x 12.5 x 18.1 inches and weighs a little bit less than 49 lbs. While perhaps not the lightest inverter out there, it is definitely among the most compact models available. You won’t find it difficult at all to carry it with one hand.
  • Parallel capability – this is one of our favorite features the best inverter generators usually offer. It allows you to connect two identical inverters together to double the total power you get. Fortunately, Cat INV2000 also offers this option thanks to the parallel kit which you can buy separately if you need more power. If you already have a 2200 watt inverter generator from another brand, you should be also able to use it along with Cat INV2000.

Pros

  • Very Quiet

  • Fuel efficient

  • Parallel capable

  • Performs well at higher altitude

Cons

  • No electric start

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Cat RP12000E

Cat RP12000EIf you need an ultra-duty portable generator to satisfy even the highest energy needs than Cat RP12000E is the one you should consider. It is indeed a heavy beast offering the astounding 15,000 starting watts and 12,000 running watts of power. It is currently the strongest Cat generator on offer.

If you are looking for a Cat generator to power nearly the whole mid-sized household – that’s the one which is gonna do the job for you. It can also run every electrical tool imaginable including some of the most demanding ones such as a 200 amp MIG welder.

This huge portable generator has got a large number of outlets ready to plug in several tools and appliances simultaneously.

Features of Cat RP12000E

  • Massive power – there aren’t many portable generators which can deliver so much power as Cat RP12000E. We often see people looking for the whole house portable backup power solution and what we have to tell to most of them is that they in most of the cases they simply cannot expect a portable generator to run everything in their homes. This is different in case of RP12000E and other gens of this size. You can use it along with a generator transfer switch to run pretty much everything in your household. It is also a good choice for jobsites requiring the simultaneous use of several large electric tools such as air compressors, chainsaws, welders, drills etc.
  • Fuel efficient – the generator has got a 670cc OHV engine which is not only powerful but reasonably efficient when it comes to its fuel consumption. At 50% load, you could expect around 11 hours of continuous run time from this generator. In other words, you wouldn’t have any problems running this generator for the whole night without interruptions.
  • Low THD – while this is not an inverter generator and you can’t expect it to run at minimal Total Harmonic Distortion, it still outperforms most of the conventional open frame generators. Its THD stays below the 5% threshold which albeit is not 100% safe for portable electronics, is still a very reasonable figure.
  • 3-year warranty – you would expect such a reputable company as Caterpillar to have trust in the products they make. Cat is known for its good customer service and covers their generators by a 3-year warranty which also includes servicing and replacement parts. This is an often overlooked aspect and something which definitely gives us more peace of mind.

Pros

  • High wattage

  • Fuel efficiency

  • Good source of backup power

  • 3-year warranty

Cons

  • Non-CARB compliant

  • A bit on the louder side

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My name's Craig, I am a general contractor currently living in Dallas, TX. I've worked with different kinds of electric tools throughout my career, including the portable generators. In my spare time, I love going camping and tailgating with my family and friends. I've created this site to provide honest advice for people looking for the right portable generator and other related equipment for work and leisure.

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