There are many different portable generator models available on the market. What’s interesting is that sales of portable generators tend to spike soon after a natural disaster strikes. This suggests that people who have recently been through the difficulty of living for days or weeks without power go out to buy a generator after realizing the importance of having a backup or replacement power source in the event of an unexpected power outage. To help you choose, we found the Top 10 Best Portable Generator 2018.
However, although portable generators are often thought of as being only of use for emergencies, this is not entirely true. They can actually be used very easily in a variety of settings. For everything from running appliances while camping or powering tools at a construction site to pumping water at far-flung or hard-to-reach rural areas, portable generators are the perfect backup power solution for both small-scale as well as unexpected power needs.
Some models are very high-end and have a long list of features, while other models are for the more conservative consumer. And although competition is usually a good thing because it drives prices down, it can actually be a double-edged benefit – with so many options form which to choose, it can become quite difficult deciding on which portable generator model is best for you. Which model provides the most power? What fuel performance and run-times should I look for? Are portable generators really portable? How easily can I move them around and have them installed?
With these questions in mind, we have reviewed the top 10 portable generator models for you. Read on to learn more and to get a clearer picture of which model is best for you.
Why go portable?
Unless you are faced with regular power outages, there is almost no reason to even consider a stationary generator. The list below should help you decide whether or not going for a portable option is the right thing to do.
When there are plenty of stationary options from which to choose, consider the following:
- Ranging from as little as a couple hundred dollar range, portable generators are not too expensive, especially if you consider the cost and inconvenience of not having power when you need it
- They can be used almost anywhere, as long as safe usage guidelines are followed. They should be placed at least 15 feet away from your house, and in an open area.
- Many models can be turned on with the push of a button
- They provide enough power to run a range of appliances
- They mostly do not require professional installation, nor special permits
Things to consider before purchasing a portable generator
Before you take the plunge and buy a portable generator, you really need to consider the following:
- Power delivery and quality
This means looking at:
- How much wattage does the generator provide?
- How well does it handle power surges or changes in demand over different loads?
- How well does it deliver power smoothly, that too with consistent voltage?
Portable generators are not designed to be long-term solutions for running the entire home, but they are the best option when you have to run a few specific appliances. While camping or boating, the power rating of most portable generators is sufficient for those kinds of activities. What you need to consider is what you want to power, and when. Add up the require wattage of your appliances and that will help you establish a power baseline on which to base your purchase decision.
- Ease of use and portability
Is your portable generator really portable? How easy is it to install and hook up to your home or run at your favorite campsite? Is it easy to run and maintain, or do you need to call a pro every time you run into trouble? Are additional helpful features included, such as a fuel shut-off button or valve?
- Efficiency and run-time
The model you select should be able to provide the power you need for the amount of time you expect to need it (usually measured as running time on a full tank of gasoline, diesel, or a 20lb propane tank). Also, it shouldn’t just provide the power you need with no consideration of fuel costs! Purchasing a generator that is more expensive but is also more efficient will save you more in the long run than a cheaper model that consumes more fuel, or that runs for less time between refills.
It is often the case that cheaper models don’t make it to the final list of the best of anything. However, because having options that fit within your budget is a genuine limitation, we’ve made sure to include a range of models for you from which to consider. While high-end and low-end models are included in this review, we’ve made sure to include only the models with the best overall reviews and scores in each of the factors that count.
Table of Contents
- Champion Power Equipment 3500 Watt RV Ready Portable Generator
- Champion Power Equipment 3400 Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Electric Start
- PowerPro 2-Stroke 1000-Watt Generator
- All Power America 8000 Running Watts/10000 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator
- Champion Power Equipment 5500 Watt Portable Generator with Wheel Kit
- DuroMax 4,400 Watt 7.0 HP OHV 4-Cycle Gas Powered Portable Generator With Wheel Kit And Electric Start
- Westinghouse Portable Generator with Running 7500W and CARB Compliant
- Champion Power Equipment 7500 Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator with Electric Start
- Portable Generator Gas Powered 1200 Watt
- DuroStar 3300 Running Watts/4000 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator
This low priced Champion portable generator provides a reasonable 3,500w, and at 97 lbs it is one of the lighter generators we’ve reviewed. It has a run-time of 12 hours which is above average for models of this price, and its 4.6 rating is higher than that of many of its competitors. It can run a standard 15,000 BTU AC, or a 12,000 BTU AC along with lights, fans, and other low-power appliances. It comes with surge protection, and customers have said that it is not particularly loud. And this model is has a particularly easy pull-start. Check if a wheel kit is available, although you could probably do without one.
Price Range: Low
Champion Power Equipment 3400 Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Electric Start
This dual-fuel portable generator is pricey, but at 96 lbs it is very light. However, the trade off is that it has a low run-time (less than 4 hours on gas, and less than 8 on propane) because it allows for connections to both fuel types, and produces 3,100w, which is a little on the lower side of things (even though it can run an entire RV). However, a reliable, CARB-compliant engine, multiple household outlets, a convenient electric switch button, and a fantastic 5/5 customer rating make this a great buy.
Price Range: High
The lightest portable generator on our list, this 36 lbs machine is certified for use in any national park or forest, is modestly priced, and is extremely portable. It can easily power sump pumps, heaters, computers and microwaves with its 900w output that provides about 5 hours of run-time. It also has convenient dual outlets, an easy-to-grip handle, and a voltmeter to keep an eye on power generation. Great for limited or small-scale power needs.
Price Range: Low
This portable generator is medium priced, and with an output of 8,000 Watts and a run-time of 11 hours on a huge 8-gallon tank, this 232 lbs powerhouse can handle your most demanding energy requirements. Multiple outlets, a convenient wheel kit and push-start ignition button make use a cinch.
Price Range: Medium
Even though this unit weighs 182 lbs, it provides 5,500w of power and can run for 10 hours on a single tank. It is average-priced and has a reasonable 4.2 rating, an optimized cold-start engine, folding wheels, a transportation handle, a durable steel frame, and enough power output to power everything you would need to run during an emergency. In terms of power per dollar, this model is a steal. Ideal for cold-weather and most North American markets.
Price Range: Medium
DuroMax 4,400 Watt 7.0 HP OHV 4-Cycle Gas Powered Portable Generator With Wheel Kit And Electric Start
This DuroMax gas powered portable generator is average-priced and provides 3,300w of power, and at less than 120 lbs is quite light for a unit that provides power for 8 hours at a stretch. The electric start switch is great, of course, and the unit is EPA-approved and boasts a super-quiet muffler. Surge and oil burnout protection are added safety features.
Price Range: Medium
This Westinghouse Portable Generator is higher priced. But, it’s a high-power generator. It is well rated by its users with a high-4 star review (4.6/5 to be exact). It has an electric start engine designed for power, durability and quiet operation. It comes with an over-sized muffler and catalyst, features EZ start technology, color-coded starting controls, and quick and easy assembly to go along with never-flat tires, high-leverage handles, tool kit, a one liter bottle of oil, and a funnel to get you started right out of the box. A huge 6.6 gallon tank allows for up to 13 hours of operation, and with 7,500w of output, this is really the V8 engines of generators. Customers love it, the company has solid customer service and brand quality, and customer reviews rave about its long-term smooth running and efficiency. Truly top of the line.
Price Range: High
This Champion dual-fuel portable generator is on the heavier side (almost 230 lbs) but it produces 7,500w. It has a sturdy steel frame, comes with a convenient push-start button, is optimized for use in cold climates, includes oil and a propane hose, features never-flat tires, and features volt guards and a USDA-approved arrestor. Its 4.6/5 review is certainly well-earned, and to quote the experience of one customer, he used it for over 30 hours and the consistency of the generator and the price make all the other brands look like useless hunks of metal. Definitely consider this dual-fuel option if you can afford something a little high-end.
Price Range: High
This is a very modestly priced, lightweight, and easy-to-use generator that can generate power of 1,200w for 10 hours straight. It features Volt Guard, a built-in surge protector which protects your appliances from any spikes in voltage above a safe threshold, as well as Cold Start technology which optimizes the generator to start easily in cold weather. The generator is portable and comes with a durable steel frame. Loved by contractors and campers, this model will run anything you need to, just not at the same time, so go for it if you have limited power needs.
This modestly-priced 93-pound DuroStar gas powered portable generator provides 3,300w for 8 hours on a single tank and has a very good 4.4/5 rating. It has a full power panel with an oil warning light and a voltmeter, as well as a circuit breaker and power outlets. It is super quiet with a built-in spark arrestor for added safety, and has an easy-to-pull cord, but cannot be sold in California as it is not CARB-compliant. In terms of run-time, cost, and power production, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Price Range: Low
In the list above, you will find the best portable generators with a wide range of
- Power (900w to 8,000w)
- Weight (36lbs to 232lbs)
- Run-time (3.25 hours to 13 hours)
- Capacity (1gal to 8gal)
When it comes to choosing the best portable generator for you, there are plenty of options. And when it comes to reviewsh.com, you can be sure that any product you choose will not only work well, but will also boast a high level of quality and performance. However, at the end of the day, you really need to narrow things down for yourself, so your best bet is to calculate your power needs (in watts), and select a price point.
In the list above, for medium power needs (in the 3,000 watt range), the best portable generator is probably the DuroStarDS 4000S, given its price, and above-average review rating of 4.4.
For lower power needs (under 2,000w), Champion’s 42436 1200 watt model is a steal and a 4.3 rating.
If you want to go big or go home (over 5,000w, and more expensive), we’d recommend Champion’s 7500 watt portable genertor that also comes with dual fuel options and an amazing 4.6 rating.
We hope these reviews help. Happy shopping!