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Best Portable Generator

There are a lot of different brands, designs, and power outputs when it comes to portable generators. Therefore it would be difficult to simply provide only one option as the "best portable generator".

Instead, we think it’s smart to award the top generators in each class. We’ve decided to separate generators based on their price as this is the most important factor. However the top generator in each class will be decided by multitude of characteristics such as price, kW output, noise level, durability, fuel efficiency, RPM and other more discrete factors.

Compare generators directly, check out this comparison chart!

average watt appliances

Portable Generator Less than $500

Under $500 you have a lot of choices. While these generators may not be enough to power your entire home, the majority will be adequate enough to power your most important appliances likes your heater, your refrigerator, and maybe a few lights. The majority of the generators you will find will be under 5,000 watts. While this amount isn’t a lot, it can be enough in an emergency.

For reference, use the chart to the right to determine the amount of power you will need to run the desired appliances.

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Champion 4,000 Watt Generator

We chose the Champion 4,000 watt generator because it truly is the best in its class. The Champion 46539 is a relatively cheap generator but it will get the job done in an emergency. It has got a maximum output of 4,000 watts and 3500 watts rated or loaded. “Rated" means that for power surges and emergencies the generator can handle up to 4,000 watts, however the generator works better at around 85% maximum capacity or around 3,500 watts. You will find the rated and surge levels stated for each generator as it is the most important characteristic.

champion 4000 watt

Specifications:

  • 3500 watts Rated, 4000 watts Maximum Output. Outlets: 1- 120V DUPLEX Outlet (5-20R), 1 - 120V Twistlock (L5-30R), 1 - RV Receptacle (TT-30R)
  • Electric Remote Control Start (battery included)
  • Champion 196cc OHV Engine with Cast Iron Sleeve. (CARB - California approved)
  • 3.8 gal (14.4 L)
  • RPM: 3600
  • Single Phase
  • Runs for 12 hours on full tank of gas at 50% load. Engine oil included.
  • Weighs 140-pounds Dimension: 28.5-inch (L) x 21.1-inch (W) x 20.7-inch (H)
  • CARB Compliant

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Remote Control Start and Auto Choke

This generator has some great amenities that make the whole process significantly easier. First, it comes with a remote control so you can start and stop or regulate the generator from up to 80-feet away. This is especially useful if you are riding-out a storm indoors. No more trudging out into the storm to pull on some chord with all your might, the auto choke and electric automatic start makes everything a breeze.

Large Tank – 12 Hours of Power!

I think everyone can agree that the worst part about maintaining a generator is pouring gasoline, it’s simply a rough liquid to deal with and pouring gas in a storm isn’t fun. Well, you’re in luck, this generator has one of the largest tanks available for generators under 5,000 watts. At 50% power capacity, it can run up to 12-hours! That is plenty of time to ride out the majority of weather anomalies.

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California Approved

If you live in California, you’re in luck as well. You have special requirements for your generators, the carburetors have to be specifically made in-case of forest fires. This generator fulfills that requirement as well.

Quiet and Portable

A lot of people are use to generators sounding like a 747 is taking-off. Well, as many others have noted in other reviews, this generator is surprisingly quiet with a recorded DBA level of 68 at 23-feet. Let’s not kid ourselves, you’re going to hear it if you’re standing next to it, but definitely has some nice muffling capabilities.

The whole point of this generator is that it is portable, you want to be able to carry it. Well, at 106 pounds with 8" wheels, transporting this baby is a walk in the park and even manageable for younger individuals in case of emergency.

Conclusion:

This is a great emergency generator. While there are definitely larger generators for a few hundred dollars more, this generator will definitely get the job done. While this generator is great for powering the emergency appliances, we do not recommend using this generator for delicate electronics as they could be damaged. You need an Inverter generator that transfers the electricity from DC to AC and then back to DC in a controlled state. This generator runs at a constant 3500 rpm, too much for a lot delicate electronics.

duramax 10000e generator

Portable Generator Less than $1000

Generators under $1,000 will show an increase in wattage compared to generators under $500. The max wattage you will find is around 10,000 watts and the majority these generators come with 120/240V outlets.

10,000 watts is enough to power quite a few appliances. You will have no problem running the majority of your appliances at the same time. However, some appliances like your stove still require a hefty amount of juice so best keep that off unless you absolutely need to use it. You can refer to this chart for standard wattage requirements for various household appliances. It is important to remember that while generators may advertise max wattage amounts of 10,000, this is only important for the larger 240v appliances to have excessive start requirements, otherwise the standing or running amount is generally 1,000 watts lower or so.

Duramax XP10000e

The Duramax XP10000e is a great portable generator for under $1000. With 8,000 running watts, it has more than enough power for the majority of your emergency concerns. While this generator may not be able to power your entire home, you can be confident that your family will stay warm and comfortable. Check the surge chart to be positive. It comes with an 8.3L tank which enables you to run the generator for around 10 hours at 50% max power. You shouldn’t run your generator at max power anyway, it’s not good for the generator.

generator control panel buy duromax xp10000e

Specifications:

  • 8000 watts /10000 surge
  • 16.0-horsepower air-cooled OHV engine
  • 8.3 Gallon Gas Tank
  • 3600 RPM
  • EPA Approved
  • Automatic Low Oil Shut Off
  • Carb and non-carb versions
  • dual 33-amp circuit breaker
  • Electric/Manual Start
  • 10 ½” all-terrain tires
  • Air cooled
  • 10 hours of run time
  • 72 decibel rating

Very Quiet Generator

It’s difficult to keep the larger portable generators quiet as they churn out electricity. Even so, this generator is pretty quiet. Its got a super-quiet muffler that tends to make this generator run quieter than normal. Questionable Customer Service

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Perhaps it is because they sell so many at certain points of the year, it’s difficult for them to respond to customer complaints, even so it should be noted that customers have complained that Duramax was rather unresponsive to their problems. However generators are a somewhat complicated item therefore it’s not surprising that some people experience a little difficulty.

Portable Handle and Large Wheels

This generator also has large 10 ½” wheels for portability, but what this also has is a flip-up, stow-away handle for the mobility you always desired.

Conclusion:

The next step up in luxury, this generator can handle just about anything you throw at it, except your stove. With a surge max of 10,000 watts, you can be sure the Duramax XP10000e generator can handle any appliance with ease. The 50W socket allows the use of the majority of construction tools and you can choose between 120v or 240v. This generator has everything you need keep your fridge on, your heater running and your family comfortable. In case you’re worried about damaging the generator, don’t be, it comes with a 1-year warranty.

honda eu2000i

Portable Generator Less than $1500

Less than $1500 is a weird price-point. The generators available are not much better and the majority seem worse than the best generators available in the under $1,000 dollar section. The wattage stays around 10,000 surge and 8,000 loaded or running.

Therefore I think this would be a good section to introduce one of the best portable inverter generators, the Honda EU 2000i.

Honda EU 2000i

While the Honda EU 2000i doesn’t produce nearly as much power as the other regular portable generators, it’s significantly quieter, is more efficient and is significantly safer for your electronics.

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Inverter Technology

Because the Honda EU 2000i is built with inverter technology, sensitive electronics can be used without the worry of a random surge causing damage. This technology works by taking the DC current normal generators produce and then transferring it into AC current, afterwards the inverter calms the current and transforms it back into a regulated and useable DC current.

Specifications:

  • Power for microwave, refrigerators, hair dryer, small AC units, and much more
  • Fuel efficient - runs up to 9.6 hrs on 1.1 gal. of fuel Thanks to our exclusive Eco-Throttle System, the EU2000i offers great fuel efficiency. Runs 4.0 to 9.6 hours on a single tank, depending on the load. This makes it great for overnight power.
  • Super quiet - less noise than normal conversation
  • Advanced inverter technology - reliable power for computers and other sensitive equipment
  • Lightweight and compact Weighing less than 47 pounds, the EU2000 is incredibly lightweight and portable, thanks to Honda's inverter technology.

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Very Efficient – Very Lightweight

While regular portable generators use around 8-gallons to run the generator for 5 or 6 hours, the Honda EU 2000i takes only 1 gallon and supplies power for around 9 – hours.

While portable generators usually weigh over 100lbs, this inverter generator only weights 46 lbs, easily carried by most individuals.

RV Generator

RV generators need to be light-weight and easily portable, simple to work with and they need to be able to charge the bare essentials like phones and radios etc. That’s exactly what inverter generators were designed for. Simple to use, efficient but relatively low power, light-weight, perfect for RV’s on the go.

Conclusion:

Portable generators under $1,500 aren’t too distinguished from portable generators around the $1,000 price point. At this point you can pretty much power a single room completely and you won’t have to worry about power too much. Then again at this point there are also some great portable inverter generators that are perfect for camping or for mobile RV’s that need a little juice. While they can’t supply a lot of power, they’re extremely efficient and quiet, safe for electronics and they practically fit into your pocket (not really).

13000 watt generator

Portable Generator Less than $2000

Portable generators in this realm are getting closer to standby units, or units that are permanently fixed to the ground. That is to say these generators are very powerful and will have no problem powering your home and almost all the appliances you can think of.

There is only one generator that stands out in this price range, the WEN 561k 13,000 watt portable standby generator.

WEN 13,000-Watt 5613k Portable Generator

The WEN 13,000 is the generator you should buy if you want one of the largest portable generators you will probably find. Any larger, and we would generally be in the realm of standby units that rely on a fixed source of propane or natural gas. This generator has plenty of 120v/240v outlets and can provide power for 7.5 hours. Not only that, this generator comes with a 2-year warranty so it is ready to get dirty.

wen 13000 full

Specifications:

  • EPA III 4-stroke OHV twin-cylinder engine produces 13000 surge watts and 11000 rated watts, more than enough for a reliable source of standby power
  • Includes four 120V 20A outlets, one 120V 30A RV outlet, one 120/240V 30A twist lock, one 240V outlet, and one 12V DC car-charger-style outlet
  • Perfect for construction sites, natural disasters, and power outages
  • 8-gallon fuel tank provides 7.5 hour run time at half load
  • Added wheel kit and handle kit allows for easy transportation and storage
WEN 5613k portable generator

Best Small Generator For The Money

Many believe this is one of the best portable generators for the money. While there aren’t many other options on the market at this price point, I can tell you this generator will definitely impress you with its ease of use and reliability. You should buy this generator if you want the best portable generator on the market, hands-down.

Portable Generator Greater Than $2000

The most powerful portable generator on the market, the Generac GP17500e has enough power for your entire house. Seriously this thing is a small standby unit, I’m surprised we are still calling it a portable generator.

Generac GP17500e

Specifications:

  • Generac OHVI engine incorporates full pressure lubrication with automotive style spin on oil filter for longer life engine
  • 17,500 Running Watts, 26,250 Starting Watts
  • Electric start - battery included
  • Low-oil pressure shutdown automatically safeguards engine from damage
  • Hour meter with maintenance alerts and idle control to increase fuel efficiency
  • Hardened steel-tube cradle for added durability and strength
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Reliable Reputation

Generac is known as one of the most reliable and celebrated generater manufacturers in the world. Since 1959, Generac has been designing, inventing, and raising the expectations for power sources around the world.

generac gp17500e

Long Run-Time But Heavy

The Generac GP17500e can run for over 9 hours, that is plenty of time for the majority of disasters to pass-over almost like nothing happened at all. This generator is great to power almost anything, but it’s pushing the bounds of a “portable” generator. At 390 lbs, it’s going to take a few strong individuals to move this thing, even with the wheels. It may be difficult to reign this generator as the best portable generator, but it is a strong contender.

Conclusion:

It can be difficult deciding to purchase such an expensive generator. However Generac is such a reputable brand, you really don’t have to worry about any difficulties that may arrive. With a 2-year warranty, you can be confident that should you experience any trouble, a replacement can be arranged without charge.