Best Portable Generator

No camping trip is complete without a functioning television, hairdryer, and charging station for your phone, right? Well, most people wouldn’t think that would be possible on a camping trip, but it very much is possible when you own a portable generator. Finding the right portable generator entails asking yourself a lot of questions and learning all you can about these lightweight wonders. We’ll help you to take out some of the guesswork by having a look at the top rated models on the market.

Best Portable Generator
14 mins to read
20 products considered
12 products reviewed
5 days of reviewing

Top 10 Portable Generators

PicturePortable GeneratorsRated Watts
Fuel Capacity (gallons)
Run Time
Westinghouse2,2001.0010 hrs @ 25% load
Champion3,1000.607.5 hrs @ 50% load
SereneLife1200.405 hrs @ 50% load
DuroStar DS4000S3,3004.008 hrs @ 50% load
Yamaha EF2000iS1,6003.5010.5 hrs @ 50% load
DuroMax XP4400E3,5004.008 hrs @ 50% load
WEN 561801,5001.457.5 hrs @ 50% load
Champion Power Equipment 465393,5001.4512 hrs @ 50% load
Westinghouse WH7500E7,5006.6013 hrs @ 50% load
Generac 5943 GP7500E7,5001.7512.5 hrs @ 50% load

1. Westinghouse iPro2500

Best Overall Portable Generator

5/5 Product Rating
This amazing portable generator from Westinghouse is designed to be light and easy to carry, while still providing efficient, quiet, and clean power for all of your travel and recreational needs. It comes fully equipped with paralleling capability so that you get twice the power, and comes with a 120VAC outlet for a number of different uses. The color coded user touchpoints make this generator incredibly easy to use, even if you’ve never used a portable generator before. A great choice if you are someone who likes to camp, venture out into the woods, or if you simply want an emergency backup supply of energy should your primary energy source run out. Super easy to carry on the go, you’re going to be happy that you have this generator when you need it most.

Backed by a three year warranty, this Westinghouse generator is constructed from durable materials that will stand the test of time. You’re going to be amazed by all the devices that will function with this one portable appliance. In fact, you’re going to get so much power from this small device that it’s going to seem like magic. That’s why customers consistently rank this as one of the top portable generators on the market. Not only is it powerful, but it’s also designed to be quiet. No one likes to hear the roar of a generator in the background, and that’s why this small but powerful generator is designed to work with a low level of noise.

Experience what it’s like to enjoy a portable generator that runs efficiently and smoothly for hours on end. Camping and hunting trips no longer need to be free from your favorite convenience appliances such as microwaves, coffee makers, hair dryers, and television sets. It’s possible to have it all when you carry along this lightweight device that gives power to all the appliances that you need. Camping can no longer be called camping when you carry the Westinghouse along to give you all the power that you need for your modern day conveniences.

2. Champion

Best Overall Portable Generator – Runner Up

4.8/5 Product Rating
This quiet and lightweight companion isn’t called the Champion for nothing. When it comes to a portable generator, this is truly one of the best, providing portable, quiet power for campsites, RVs, cabins, and any other remote location that you might venture to. With the powerful 3,400 watt maximum output, the Champion can run lights, TV, and even a refrigerator all at the same time without fear of outages. You can even run 1-2 power tools should you need to fix or build things on your camping trip. The generator not only provides excellent performance, but also features a lightweight construction of only 96 pounds, and quiet operation coming in at 59 Dba.

You’re going to find that you get 7.5 hours of consistent operation when you have a full tank of gas at 50% load. The full, durable frame is constructed from only the hardiest materials that are intended to stand the test of time, and even take a few hard knocks, if they must. The overload protection, low oil sensor, and voltmeter clearly inform you about what’s going on with the generator at all times, so there are no unnecessary surprises. The entire device is backed by a 3 year limited warranty, and all Champion products are covered by a lifetime free technical support promise. That means that no matter what happens in the future, it’s guaranteed that you can call up the good people at Champion and they’ll help you with any problems or questions you might have about your portable generator.

Champion has constructed one of the top rated generators because it consistently meets customers expectations and helps them to power all their devices in an instant. It runs cleanly and smoothly, with limited noise disturbance and a long running time. Perfect for camping, or if you simply want a backup source of power should there be an outage where you live, this is a handy and remarkable tool that gives you all the power that you need, right when you need it most.

3. SereneLife

Best Budget Portable Generator

4.7/5 Product Rating
Finally, proof that good things do come in small packages. This amazing portable generator from SereneLife is a two stroke generator that delivers 180 watts of intense power and weighs a mere 4 pounds. The small and portable design makes this generator ideal for camping and tailgating, as well as being an amazing source of backup power for your home. This is a rugged machine that is both EPA and CARB compliant and perfectly safe to use in any national park thanks to the spark arrestor. The remarkable power panel also features a handy engine on/off switch, a 9~12.6V DC receptacle, and volt meter. The engine will provide you with all the power you need to run your appliances and modern devices simultaneously.

This generator is top rated for a number of reasons. The carrying handle and lightweight construction make it incredibly easy to take this device on the go, and the rubber support feet make the generator sturdy and easy to place wherever you need it. Compact, reliable, and portable, you’re going to find that this generator is your new best friend if you’re into hunting trips or outdoor excursions. Weighing a mere 4 pounds, the SereneLife gives you all the power you need without the hassle or noise.

Surpassing all industry standards, you can now easily power a sump pump, computer, portable heater, microwave, power tools, or television with ease and efficiency. Not only does this generator perform as well as the rest, it also comes with a price tag that is better than most. When you’re ready to invest in a portable generator to add ease, efficiency, and peace of mind to your life, then purchasing the SereneLife is an amazing choice. Even if you’ve never owned a portable generator before, you’re going to find that this one is incredibly easy to use and maintain.

Portable Generator Comparison


Westinghouse
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Champion
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SereneLife
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DuroStar DS4000S
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Yamaha EF2000iS
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DuroMax XP4400E
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WEN 56180
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Champion Power Equipment 46539
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Westinghouse WH7500E
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Generac 5943 GP7500E
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Rated Watts 2200 3100 120 3300 1600 3500 1500 3500 7500 7500
Starting Watts 2500 3400 180 4000 2000 4400 1800 4000 9000 8000
Engine Type –
Stroke

4 4 2 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Displacement
(cc)
98 80 63 208 96 186 98 196 420 420
Amperage
(amps)
15 / 18.3 20 15 20 13.3/16.7 20 12.5 12 12 12
Sound Output
(decibels)
52-59 65 60 69 51.5 69 65 60 65 69
Outlet
Quantity
2 2 2 4 2 4 4 4 4 4
Fuel Capacity
(gallons)
1.0 0.60 0.4 4.0 3.5 4.0 1.45 1.45 6.6 1.75
Run Time 10 hrs @ 25% load
/ 7 hrs @ 50% load
7.5 hrs @ 50% load 5 hrs @ 50% load 8 hrs @ 50% load 10.5 hrs @ 50% load 8 hrs @ 50% load 7.5 hrs @ 50% load 12 hrs @ 50% load 13 hrs @ 50% load 12.5 hrs @ 50% load
Engine
Horsepower
4.0 3.5 3.0 7.0 3.5 7.0 3.5 7.0 6.5 7.0
Warranty 3 Years 3 Years 1 Year 1 Year 2 Years 1 Year 1 Year 2 Years 3 Years 1 Year

 

Portable Generator Buying Guide

Portable Generator Reviews

What is a Portable Generator?

Portable Generator1Owning a portable generator allows you to power vital devices when facing a blackout, or when there is no power source, such as when you’re camping or out in the woods. When placed outside of your home, the generator can successfully power TVs, small appliances, lights, and power tools. When needing a generator at a construction site it’s best to use a medium to large generator to operate power tools like saws, drills, and paint sprayers. No matter which portable generator you buy, be sure to follow all the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance instructions for optimal performance and safety.

In this buyer’s guide we’ll take a look at the benefits and features of owning a portable generator, helping you to narrow down which model might be right for you. There are numerous generators out there to choose from, and above we highlighted the top rated generators that customers consistently praise for their efficiency and ease of use.

The Benefit of Backup Power

All portable generators operate on gasoline or liquid propane, and they’re designed to backup important devices and appliances such as lights and refrigerators in the case of an outage. When you add a manual transfer switch you can deliver the full output of your portable generator to the electrical system of your home, allowing you to backup hardwired appliances.

It’s important to regularly maintain and test your portable generator to ensure readiness. Find a safe outdoor location to place it, and always stay abreast of the information in the manufacturer’s operation guide. Once you learn the ropes and have the generator up and running you can enjoy the remarkable benefits of having backup power when you need it most. This adds peace of mind to your home and fun and freedom to your camping excursions.

Requirements of a Portable Generator

What items you can power with your portable generator will depend upon the wattage the generator produces. You need to first decide how much power you will need before selecting the appropriate generator for you. It’s possible to even find worksheets online that help you to calculate the exact requirements you’ll need for your home or outdoor excursions. Once you have your requirements worked out you’ll be able to select a generator that will meet these requirements perfectly.

Portable Generator Features

Portable generators come in a wide variety of sizes and all of them have different features that you may enjoy. Ask yourself which features are essential for you, and which are not at the top of your priority list. You may decide that you simply want a generator that supplies you the power that you need, or if you’re willing to spend a bit extra, it’s possible to get a portable generator that is packed with features and allows you to enjoy a wider range of benefits and uses.

Safety Considerations

One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re buying a portable generator is that safety concerns are key. No matter what model you buy it can be incredibly dangerous to operate a generator when you don’t know how to use it properly. Fully review these safety considerations, and be sure to review them from time to time, even when you think you’re a pro at operating a generator. You’re wasting your time purchasing any portable generator when you don’t know how to use it safely.

Carbon Monoxide and Ventilation

  • Did you know that portable generator exhaust contains carbon monoxide which is a deadly poisonous gas that cannot be seen or smelt? For this reason, it’s incredibly important that you never run a generator indoors or in any partially enclosed area such as in a garage.
  • When using the generator outdoors be sure to keep it far from windows, doors, vents, and crawl spaces. Do not think that you can operate the generator indoors if you use a fan or open doors and windows, as this will not provide sufficient ventilation.
  • If you use a generator for your home, be sure to install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms inside your home.

Gasoline, Fueling, and Preventing Burns
Portable Generator2

  • As you probably know, gasoline is extremely flammable and explosive, and for this reason it’s important to not overfill the fuel tank. You need to allow enough room for fuel expansion. When the fuel tank is overfilled the fuel can overflow onto a hot engine and cause a dangerous fire or explosion.
  • Do be sure to also never add fuel while the unit is in operation or when hot. Allow the generator to fully cool before adding new fuel.
  • Some other things to keep in mind: never store a generator with fuel in the tank where gasoline vapors might reach a spark, pilot light, or any open flame.
  • Lastly, never smoke near a generator or come too close to the generator when it is hot.

Electrocution and Electrical Shock Hazards

  • Never, never connect a portable generator directly to your household wiring as this can be deadly for you and those around you. When you directly connect your generator to your home’s wiring you risk back-feed onto the power lines connected to your home and you may injure your neighbors or utility workers in your area.
  • Only stop or start the generator when no electrical loads are connected. When you overload your generator you can potentially damage valuable appliances and electronics. For this reason you do not want to operate more appliances and equipment than the generator can handle. Check the output rating of your generator and know how much your appliances are using up.
  • It’s important to only use your portable generator when absolutely necessary and only to power what you consider to be essential equipment.
  • Only use the proper power cords for your generator, and plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor cords that have wire gauges adequate for the appliance load.
  • Never use your generator in wet conditions such as rain or snow, and keep the generator properly grounded to avoid the risk of electrocution. Be sure to review all your federal, state and local regulations as pertains to grounding.

Tips for Placement and Operation

Placing your portable generator properly and operating it per the instructions is key to keeping yourself safe and getting the most out of your portable generator. Take a look at these tips and guidelines for using your portable generator the right way.

  1. Always keep your generator away from children, pets, or anyone who can be harmed by it.
  2. Make sure to have at least 5 feet of clearance on all sides of the generator when it is in use.
  3. It’s possible to use the generator during a wide range of weather conditions and temperatures, but be sure to protect the generator from the elements when not in use, as this prevents shorting and rust.
  4. Never under any conditions run a generator indoors.
  5. Find a level surface to operate your generator, where it will not be exposed to excessive dirt, moisture, dust, or vapors.
  6. On a regular basis, be sure to inspect the generator and contact your local authorized dealer when the generator is in need of repairs or replacement of parts.
  7. Be sure to disconnect the spark plug wire and place the wire where it is no longer in contact with the spark plug. This prevents accidental starting of the generator.

Portable Generator Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a difference between rated watts and maximum (surge) watts?

Rated watts describe the continuous amount of power that the portable generator can produce. Maximum wattage, on the other hand, is the power that the generator can produce for a short amount of time. A good example of surge watts is the power that is required to start the motor up.

Is it a good idea to use a portable generator during a power outage?

You can easily plug household appliances and devices into the generator during an outage, but don’t plug them all in simultaneously. You should also never plug your generator into an outlet in your home or business. To connect it to your home wiring you need to hire a certified electrician to install an approved manual power transfer which is in compliance with all electrical codes.

What is a transfer switch?

The transfer switch allows you to connect your portable generator to your home wiring system, while simultaneously disconnecting you from the utility grid. This is the only way to prevent dangerous feedback.

What is a back-feed?

Back-feed occurs when the generator is connected to an electrical outlet, and subsequently feeds power back onto the utility lines. This is a life-threatening occurrence that could potentially be fatal for utility employees working to restore power lines in the case of an outage.

Do I need to ground my portable generator?

Yes, you do. For safety purposes it’s important to properly ground your generator. If the generator is not grounded then you risk electrocution. Remind yourself of all federal, state, and local regulations regarding grounding.

Portable Generator3 Is it possible to vent the exhaust out of an enclosed area?

No, and you should never run the generator inside a home or any enclosed area. All portable generators are designed to run outside where there is plenty of natural ventilation. The exhaust from a generator, like all gasoline engines, emits poisonous carbon monoxide.

Is it possible to use a generator during inclement weather?

It is possible to use the generator under a variety of weather conditions, but also take care to protect it from the elements when not in use.

Should I perform routine maintenance?

Read the manual that comes with your portable generator to learn about what maintenance schedule is advised.

Where can I purchase parts?

Any authorized dealer will be able to get you the parts that you need. Check your manufacturer’s website to find a local dealer near you.

Conclusion

Owning a portable generator adds convenience to camping trips and outdoors excursions and also provides peace of mind during power outages at home. We’ve explored the very top rated portable generators, and these are so popular due to their ease of use, dependability, and lightweight design that makes it easy to take them on the go. Like with anything, it can be daunting when looking for the right portable generator for you, as there are so many out there to choose from. Determine what size you would like, and also analyze the power output that you’ll need from the generator to narrow down your search.

It’s important to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before purchasing a portable generator, and that means knowing all about the safety considerations and usage tips that will allow you to get the most out of your generator without putting yourself or anyone else at risk. No matter which generator you choose, you’re going to be amazed at how handy these devices are, giving you the freedom to power your life, even when there’s no electrical power.

Resources

  1. Westinghouse: http://www.westpropower.com/
  2. Champion Power Equipment: http://www.championpowerequipment.com/
  3. PowerPro: http://www.farmandfleet.com/