If you are searching for a heavy-duty portable generator, or a normal one just in case, then you should know a few things about what makes or breaks one, and thus you will be able to choose the best portable generators on the market.
First and foremost, know that the wrong type of portable generator or the misuse of one can damage your equipment or appliances, and you might even get carbon monoxide poisoning, risk starting off a fire, or get electrocuted.
The best portable generator should be able to power up your equipment for long periods of time, have plenty of starting watts, is easy to carry around (some bigger ones have wheels or other methods of transportation), is silent, may use different types of fuel, has safety measures, durable, and fits your needs and wants, like for example, you can use it indoors as well as outdoors.
Portable Generator Buying Guide
Before you decide on buying a portable generator, consider the fact that prices have gone down in recent years, and you can find the best portable generator for your needs without spending too much by taking into consideration certain aspects. Whatever you want to use on your job site, camping, or in-home emergencies, and if you are sick of power outages, and want backup power, here is what you need to know about portable generators.
Size, Power & Outlets
The first thing to consider is what you will use your portable generator for, and thus the amount of power needed. Take into consideration its running watts and its starting watts. The running watts may be, for example, 700 to run a small refrigerator; however, that device may require a startup power of 2100 watts.
Another aspect of conversion is the types of outlets. Small inverter generators often have 120V AC outlets and some USB ports, which you can use to charge your phone, for example. When you reach bigger generators, with 4000 watts, 240V plugs and 120V outlets are the norms. To wire a generator to a panel, a 240V plug will do the trick under the supervision of a qualified electrician. Outdoor generators that have GFCI protected outlets are a must. Let’s see what generators can be used for at different watt levels.
- Under 2,000 Watts
Size usually equals the amount of power when it comes to portable generators. Under 2,000 watts, portable generators may be used for camping; however, in case of emergencies, the lower output wattage may only bring your lights on, fans, or a small refrigerator. They typically run on gas or batteries through solar panels.
- 2,000 Watts
When it comes to 2 000 watts portable generators, you can use them for a brief period of time on your job site to power your tools, such as small jigsaws, sanders, grinders, and such. These generators are often very versatile and portable, great for camping and emergencies.
- 5,000 Watts
5000-watt size portable generators can run multiple tools on your job site, even 15-amp miter or table saws, and in case of emergencies, you can run your lights, fans, window AC units, water pumps, but only with a 240V plug.
- 7,500 Watts
Big portable generators such as those with 7,500 watts do come with their cons. Heavy-duty also means a decrease in portability when it comes to generators. However, you can get up to 8,750 starting watts. With this much power, you can run multiple power tools and lights simultaneously, and these types of generators also come with a 240V plug. Then, after extreme weather that leads to a power outage, you can power up your home easily.
- 10,000 Watts
The 10 000 watts portable generators have a lot of power and often require a qualified electrician to do the cable work. Also, these monsters are quite difficult to move, but they can power up your entire house, a larger residential job site, and they last for several hours, making them ideal as an emergency power backup. Regardless of how powerful you want your generator to be, always check the circuit breaker. It is a device that protects your electronics in case the capacity of the outlet is exceeded.
Though portable generators are easy to use, you have to take into consideration the waveform if you want to use them to power up your laptop or other similar items. The rule of thumb is that a total harmonic distortion of less than 6% will keep your electrical circuits safe.
This type of harmonic distortion is known as clean power, and another term for them is a pure sine wave. These clean power or sine wave generators are more expensive and are available on lower-watt units. However, not all battery inverters are low THD models, so it is best to check out the specifications if you need clean power.
Frequent Usage or Occasional Usage
Another important aspect before buying a portable generator is to ask yourself how frequently will you use it. The majority of portable generators come with a warranty for a couple of months, so check a good brand if you will use it for emergency power or recreational use. Some good portable generator brands include Generac, Briggs Stratton, Honda, or Energizer among others.
If you use a portable generator daily, like, for example, your working crew, you should look for a commercially legitimate engine. These are more expensive; however, they are meant for daily use, and they also come with warranties that last for several years.
Type of Fuel
Portable generators use different fuels, such as gas, diesel, or are battery-powered. Portable generators that run on gasoline are the most common type of generators, and fuel is easy to procure, but not so much when it comes to a big storm.
Always use a stabilizer to combat the effects of ethanol if you are storing fuel in containers or the fuel tank. When it comes to diesel generators, they are much more fuel-efficient but a bit more expensive. However, these are among the best type of generators for home, to power up your whole house.
If you want a portable generator for camping or tailgating, then the best type is the battery-powered generator. This type of generator can recharge through its solar panels, and their noise level is very low, having no emissions. However, they are a bit pricey, have a slow recharge, and most of these generators, well, their power goes no further than about 1800 watts, but regardless, they are still great as a backup power on trips.
Refueling can be tiring, so the bigger the fuel tank, the longer you can go between refuels. The majority of portable generators run at 7 hours, 8 hours, or 9 hours at a 50% capacity. Some are lower, at 5 hours. By using a lower percentage of the available power, you will run a generator longer and shorter if you use more power.
Fuel tanks come in small and bigger shapes, and the larger ones are usually preferred. However, they may lessen portability. There are also two types of fuel tanks, namely plastic fuel tanks and there are also steel fuel tanks.
Plastic Fuel Tanks
When it comes to plastic fuel tanks, they are mostly made out of high-quality and heavy-duty polyethylene material. As a result, they are lighter than steel fuel tanks, cheaper to install, and easier to carry. However, they come in various shapes, have a maximum capacity of around 6,500 liters / 1,700 gallons, are more vulnerable for outdoor use, especially due to sunlight, and are prone to theft.
Steel Fuel Tanks
Steel fuel tanks are heavier, more durable, and more expensive than their plastic counterparts. Unlike plastic, it won’t absorb the fuel or other chemical components, easing the recycling process. They have a greater capacity of around 115,000 liters / 30,000 gallons and are not affected by direct sunlight. On the other hand, they are difficult to transport, and if not properly maintained, they are prone to corrosion.
Electric start engines are great to have if you are willing to invest a bit. Plenty of generators uses lead-acid batteries, just like an automobile. Some contain lithium-ion. Always charge your batteries before use, and keep in mind that most portable generators can be left with the charger plugged in to maintain their charges between uses.
Portable generators can be quite noisy, so this is an important factor to look for, especially for camping. Gas fuel-type portable generators are usually quieter than their diesel counterparts. Generally, the smaller the generator, the less noise it will make; however, noise levels are typically unavoidably high if you go above 4000-watt generators.
Inverter Generator vs Regular Generator
When buying a generator, it is important to note the differences between a regular one and an inverter generator. For example, a portable inverter generator is a bit more silent than a normal portable generator, and it is also more fuel-efficient.
Another major difference is when it comes to power. The best generators have clean power, which is of higher quality, especially when it comes to the safety of your gear, such as computers and other electronics. An inverter generator running on clean power, such as having a sine wave output, is the best portable generator you can go for. The run time between a regular one and an inverter, their fuel tank capacity, is quite similar, with the only difference is how their power goes through the circuits. Inverter generators are thus much safer to use for your electronics.
Other Features & Advice
Some other important features to consider when purchasing a portable generator are their safety features, electronic fuel injection, run time, or wheel kits, and lift hook bar, among others. Here is what you need to know!
Electronic Fuel Injection
If you want your portable generator to run at its best even in cold conditions, then an electronic fuel injection is a must feature. Apart from this, it takes a bit of the burden of maintenance, as it eliminates the need for a carburetor. Thus, you won’t get 100% away from maintenance tasks. However, dealing with a clogged carburetor won’t be on your list of issues anymore with this feature, and thus no more running about to get it fixed.
Emergy power is what most people look for when it comes to a generator, and a home standby generator that switches on or off automatically when needed is the best. However, they are a bit more pricey, and you need to install a transfer switch, which only a qualified electrician can do. If you choose a portable generator, make sure it has a long enough cable to reach the transfer switch and that its power is enough for your house, which usually is at around 4000 watts.
Carbon Monoxide Detection
Few portable generators had carbon monoxide detectors in the past, and some people experienced illness or even died from it. Nowadays, most portable generators have this feature, and this is a critical safety measure to look for. Any generator without this kind of safety is potentially dangerous.
This feature monitors the level of carbon monoxide at the engine and shuts it down if safety levels are passed. As a result, they work faster than other safety measures that can be installed in your home. However, make sure to always place the generator exhaust downwind from the sensor and avoid placing it near a corner. This can influence the detectors negatively.
Most heavy-duty portable generators often come with a wheel kit, but this isn’t always the case. Some generators require you to purchase the wheel kit separately, so it is always a good choice to buy a generator that comes with this accessory included. These kits are easy to install and will make your generator more portable.
Lift Hook Bar
If you want to purchase a portable generator for industrial or commercial work, you will often find yourself in a situation where you need to lift it to a higher floor. A generator with a lift hook bar will save you a lot of time and trouble. Some portable generators come with a lift hook bar, and others don’t, so always check or ask customer service beforehand.
For added safety, always check your portable generator’s electrical ground, as it is the path where the current flows back to a source when a short circuit occurs. A ground route ensures that the electricity will go in the ground, and won’t harm anyone or anything. Most of these devices are bonded to a frame and the outlet ground terminals, and the electricity can flow back to the generator when needed. Always read the generator’s manual to see if you need to remove the bond to connect it to your house.
Another essential safety comes in weather protection features that a generator should have, especially if you plan to use it outdoors. Some generators might handle rain or snow, but they often lack a certain feature that puts them on a risky page. In this case, you can protect your generator with a weather barrier, such as open frame clamps. However, you need to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with the exhaust pipe and that accessibility to the fuel tank or the oil fill tube, isn’t hindered.
A final piece of advice to keep your generator healthy before we present to you some of the top portable generators on the market is to ensure regular maintenance. With proper regular maintenance, you may earn a couple of years in durability for your generator. For example, you should change the oil of your generator after the first 20 hours or so, and every 100 hours of run time. Filter changes are also a must, but to get the best maintenance, always check your generator’s manual. There, all the procedures and schedules are usually highlighted.
Top 5 Best Portable Generators 2022
Now that you know what to look for in a generator, and how to care for one, it is time to present to you the top 5 best portable generators on the market for 2021. Here are our top picks whether you want a home standby generator, a fuel-efficient generator, or a power generator with a great starting power, let’s begin!
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 – Best Portable Generator Overall
One of the best portable generators is Jackery Explorer 240, which is a great combo between utility and mobility. In just 6.6 lbs, this portable generator can power up different appliances like smartphones and laptops, medical devices, speakers, camp tents, even mini-fridges for over 5 hours run time in certain conditions.
Its design is simple, all the features are clearly shown, which is great, especially for less experienced users. The LED display shows what you need to know while using it: charge level and the in-use inputs and outputs.
The battery life of an Explorer 240 can last up to 6 months, depending on how you are using it and the electronics you power. The batteries are lithium-ion-based, which are very stable, but their main advantage is that they can get recharged hundreds of times.
This generator can also easily get charged back with solar panels or a 12V car outlet. It features a capacity of 240Wh (67ah at 14.4V) and a variety of charging ports like 2 USBs, a car outlet, and the usual AC outlet (110V/200W).
Another great feature of this portable generator is that it can be used indoors in safe conditions. You also get a 2-year warranty, but if you are using it properly and make some maintenance every now and then, you will be able to enjoy it for years. Also, there is a user manual in the box that comes in handy, but you can also find it online if necessary. All of these features make the Jackery Explorer 240 among the best portable generators one could wish for.
- Great portability, very lightweight
- Easy compliance with most home use electronics
- Various power options & 2-year warranty
- Light-blue LCD screen
- All ports can be used at once
- 3 recharging options
- Power can last up to 6 months
- The solar panel is sold separately
- Slower charging on solar panel use
- Not waterproof
- It can’t be taken on an airplane
WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
In case of power shortages or any kind of outdoor activity that implies camping, the WEN 56203i portable generator may meet your requests. WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000 weighs about 40 lbs, which is not what we really want, but it’s still portable, and it is among the best inverter generators out there.
One of its best features is fuel efficiency. This generator can self-adjust its fuel consumption with its fuel gauge system, low-oil + low-fuel automatic shutdown, extending the run time, reducing the costs of fuel while expanding its lifetime. Also, another important feature is that this 1700 running watts generator can handle even the most sensitive electronics, which may save the day in some cases, having 2000 starting watts.
This portable inverter generator can power simultaneously up to two small to medium appliances or one large enough to use the entire power by itself. In both cases, this portable generator cat operates for at least 5 hours run time with half load only, which is worth checking out. The fuel tank supports 1 gallon of fuel; however, the fuel capacity can be extended with a different can.
- Safe operator for sensitive electronics charging
- It operates quietly & fuel gauge
- Accessories are included
- Inverter feature
- Quiet regarding its power (51 dBA)
- Fuel efficiency & low oil
- The control panel isn’t user-friendly
- Manual trigger start
Durostar DS4850EH Dual Fuel 4850 Watt Electric Start Portable Generator
Durostar DS4850EH Dual Fuel 4850 Watt Electric Start Portable Generator, along with its main utility, meets the environmental responsibility by bringing the dual-fuel feature to rationalize both the consumption and power efficiency too.
This means that you can fuel up this generator with gasoline as a standard model or with a much cleaner option like the liquid propane, which also doubles the running time.
This portable generator is mostly useful in outdoor conditions like camping, outdoor events, yet can backup homes that are running for the essential power needs and even small companies that need to work when the power is out. Thus it is useful for small power tools.
The provided output meets the 120/240V requirements, while the running wattage varies by the fuel you are using. The generated noise merely reaches 69 dBA. The starting triggers are the usual pulling one, and the other one is electric, battery-based, which are included too.
With 4 gallons of fuel, the running time could reach its maximum of 10 hours run time on gasoline and 9 hours run time for propane fueling. The Durostar DS4850EH can also handle more than well every sensitive electronic device. For example, its default AC outlets meet the most common needs while camping or during a power outage.
This generator is clearly proposed by design for outdoor use and, despite its weight of over 120 lbs, is still portable. The control panel shows voltage and power output, and fuel level. The pack includes the generator itself, the manual, one propane hose, funnel, tool kit, and battery charging cables.
- Fairly priced
- Accessories included
- Electric start
- Dual Fuel
- Powerful 4,850 starting watts & 3,850 running watts
- 69 dBA noise
- Runtime is relatively low
- Fuel gauge might be inaccurate
Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Generator Rechargeable Lithium Battery Pack Solar Generator with 110V AC Outlet
The Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Generator might be the best portable generator one could hope for when going out camping, and it can be used during emergencies as well. Coming in with 250 running watts and 300 starting watts, this generator can charge up your tablets, smartphones, laptops, TV, lights, and more, which is perfect for home use as well, even during power outages.
This generator operates with lithium batteries, and it can be charged in three ways: solar energy; however, you will need a 60W or 100W solar panel, which is sold separately. You can power your batteries back up in 8 hours through an outlet, or the portable power station can be plugged and charged to your car by using a 12V socket, which is included in the package.
It may not be a powerful generator. However, it has a pure sine wave inverter, which is slightly better than a traditional portable inverter. It can run your tools in silence, and it is also gas-free – no exhaust fumes are ejected. It comes with an AC adapter, car charger, user guide, and cigar lighter plug.
This generator comes with 2x USB charging ports and two ground AC outlets, while the four DC ports 12V feature a 5.5 mm DC jack. It is lightweight and easy to handle, with a great user guide. Overall, this portable generator is great backup power for any adventurer who likes camping and going outdoors.
- Pure sine wave inverter
- Great backup power
- Various recharging methods
- Fairly priced
- Includes many accessories
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Solar panels sold separately
- Power output might be faulty
WEN 56475 4750-Watt Portable Generator with Electric Start and Wheel Kit
The WEN 56475 is one powerful generator that may earn the title of the best portable generator due to its air-cooling system, which takes care of its engine. It ensures longevity and durability, and fuel efficiency.
This portable generator has a run time of 11 hours when it’s only half loaded. Its fuel tank can cope up with 4 gallons of gasoline. The fuel capacity complements its power, as this portable generator has watts starting at 4750 and its running watts at 3750. It has two 120V domestic outlets, a 120V/30A prong outlet, and a 120V RV outlet, which enables it for multiple purposes.
It is a heavy portable generator; however, it has handles and rolling wheels, and thus it is easy to transport. One big pro is that it has plenty of safety features, such as an electric start switch, low-oil shutdown, hour meter, overload protection, automatic voltage regulator, and it is also CARB compliant.
The generator also comes with a user manual, 12V DC electric battery charging cables, a tool kit for assembly and even maintenance, and an oil funnel. This generator is great as backup power for your home to keep the lights running, furnace, and it doesn’t take too much storage space. If you don’t want to use it in your home, you can take it camping. Its noise rating at 22 feet away is at 67 dB, so it is as noisy as a pesky air conditioner. This generator also comes with a two-year warranty and customer support.
- It is very safe
- Fairly priced
- Air-cooling system for longevity
- Plenty of accessories included
- It can run 11 hours at 50%
- Digital maintenance and oil changes monitorization
- Quite heavy
- Noisy as a big air conditioner
What is the best portable generator to buy?
The best portable generator you can buy is the one that fits your needs. If you are looking for a home generator, it has to be powerful enough to power up your house (output of around 4,000 watts), fuel-efficient, or perhaps dual, and it should run for at least 8 hours at half capacity or 5 hours in the worst case for camping.
Regardless, if you want a generator for your home, work, or camping, make sure you will have enough power to use it on your respective devices, run time, its fuel tank capacity. It is easy to use. It includes plenty of safety measures, such as carbon monoxide detection, low-oil shutdown, sine wave flow power, and as such. On our list, the best portable generator that fits most of these features is the Jackery Explorer 240.
What is the most reliable generator?
Some of the most reliable generators came from Honda throughout the years, such as the Honda eu2200i. The Honda eu2200i is among the best portable inverter generators, being very silent, and runs for 9.6 hours on a single tank. In addition, it is easy to use, and when it comes to power, it has 2200 watts.
What are the top 10 portable generators?
The top 10 best portable generators are Jackery Explorer 240, WEN 56203i, Durostar DS4850EH, Rockpals 250, WEN 56475, Honda eu2200i, Champion Power 4000, DuroMax XP5500EH, Champion Power 100555, Westinghouse WGen 9500DF, and an honorable mention would be the Briggs Stratton P2200. All of these generators are the top in their class, regardless if you need them for your home, outdoors, or at work. This is true, especially when it comes to Champion Power. Champion Power generators are conquering the market lately.
The best portable generator is the one that you can take home, camping, or on your worksite, with ease, and the assurance that it will do the job for exactly what you need, as long as needed, and that it won’t fry up your items, using sine wave power. Of course, a warranty and good customer service are also important in the long run; however, the generators included in our list have all these benefits included.
We hope that you have found a generator powerful enough for your needs, and if you wish to search for other types of products, check out the links on our site!