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Published Apr. 27, 2020

In today’s electronically and digitally-charged environment, the need for a versatile generator is all the more important. Portable generators, specifically, are a great way to ensure that your camper, RV, mobile home, or anything else has the power they need to function correctly. And of course, a generator also serves as a great backup option if your primary source of power fails.

Regardless, having a portable generator can undoubtedly be a game-changer, emergency, or not. So for those looking for an easily accessible and reliable form of sustainable power, there are plenty of great options available that won’t force you to break the bank—both figuratively and literally. We’ll take a look at some of the best options we managed to find, and hopefully, save you some time in the process.

The Best Portable Generators

Overall, you can’t go wrong with this generator that’s both portable and ultra-powerful. It’s super versatile, as it can use both standard gasoline and propane to deliver sustainable power and electricity on-the-go. The travel-friendly generator utilizes a 420 cc Westinghouse 4-stroke OHV engine to power your devices. With gasoline, this generator can provide you with 7500 rated watts and 9000 peak watts, and with propane, 6750 rated watts and 8550 peak watts.

The Westinghouse also features an intuitive control panel complete with two GFCI 5-20R 120V household Duplex outlets, one L14-30 120/240V 30A twist-lock outlet, and an electric push-button start and remote key fob. The whole setup also comes with a 2V Battery charger, oil, an oil funnel, a tool kit, and a comprehensive user guide. Plus, it’s backed with three-year limited service, labor, and parts coverage, so if you’re having any technical problems from the outset, they can be solved without worry.

Key Features
  • Gasoline gets 7500 rated watts & 9500 peak watts
  • Propane gets 6750 rated watts & 8550 peak watts
  • 6.6 Gallon fuel tank
  • Electric push start
Specification
  • Brand Westinghouse
  • Model WGen7500DF
  • Weight 194 pounds
PROS

Remote key fob

Intuitive control panel

Plug and play

CONS

Wheels aren’t as durable

Gaskets can leak

May need spark plug replacement

From a sheer value standpoint, you can’t go wrong with this generator, which is a powerful yet budget-friendly portable option. Despite its relatively low price tag, this portable generator provides you with efficient, long-lasting energy. It produces 4,400 starting watts and 3,500 running watts. You can use it virtually anywhere and for almost anything, as it’s highly versatile, at least from a power perspective.

Thanks to built-in DuroMax MX2 technology, you can maximize the power from each of the device’s dual 120 Volt receptacles; you can opt for using the 120V and 240V simultaneously, or at 120 only with full power. This gas-powered generator is meant for heavy-duty stuff like powering your home air conditioning or refrigerator, but the options are endless.

Key Features
  • Seven horsepower
  • 4400 starting watts and 3500 running watts
  • 3.96 fuel tank capacity 
  • Gasoline and propane
Specification
  • Brand DuroMax
  • Model XP4400E
  • Weight 100 pounds
PROS

Noise level: 69 dB

Operate at both 120V and 240V simultaneously

Electric push start

CONS

Power fluctuates 

Poorly placed oil drain plug

Slow start when switching from gas to propane

It’s no secret that generators—especially older models—can be a bit noisy. To mitigate this, you should opt for the Wen Super Quiet 2000 Watt Portable Inverter Generator, a device that’s the closest thing you’ll find to “noise-free.” Of course, it won’t be totally silent—according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it’s as loud as a regular conversation, but relatively speaking, it’s the most silent option you’ll find out there. 

Thanks to its EPA III and CARB compliant 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine, this device can generate a respectable 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts of power in a pinch. It produces clean power and is perfect for more sensitive devices like televisions, laptops, etc. The Wen comes equipped with two three-prong 120V receptacles, a 12V DC receptacle, and one 5V USB port for various electronic uses.

Key Features
  • Noise Level: 53 dB operation
  • 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts
  • One Gallon fuel tank
  • Includes two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle, and one 5V USB port
Specification
  • Brand Wen
  • Model 56200i
  • Weight 48 pounds
PROS

EPA III and CARB Compliant

Runtime: 9.4 hours quarter-load

Product Dimensions: 18" x 11" x 18"

CONS

Engine runs rough 

Hard starting 

Faulty status lights

Sometimes, you don’t need a high-voltage generator to power your “bare-necessities.” Of course, the essentials are a bit different today than they were a few years ago, but they usually only require a simple portable power supply like the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240.

This device is a bit less powerful than your standard generator. It features a 240 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack that’s more suited for powering laptops, tablets, mini-fridges, or other outdoor electronics. And unlike your prototypical portable generator, it doesn’t require fuel or gasoline. Instead, it provides clean, efficient energy; it can even be used in conjunction with the Jackery Solar Saga 60W/100W (sold separately), thanks to a built-in solar panel.

Key Features
  • Lithium-ion battery pack
  • 240-watts (16.8Ah, 14.4V)
  • 12V carport and two USB ports
  • Pure Sine Wave AC outlet
Specification
  • Brand Jackery
  • Model B07D29QNMJ
  • Weight 6.6 pounds
PROS

No fuel or gasoline needed

No fumes

Pairs with Jackery solar panels

CONS

Five hour recharge time

Cannot support devices over 200W

Short run time

If you plan to use your generator at home or in a campground, you’ll want a quiet one like the Honda Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator. This small generator produces 2200 watts of power and produces a noise level of 48 to 57 dBAl. There are two 120V and two USB plugs. You can achieve four to just over nine hours of run time at half capacity on a single tank of fuel. What’s nice about this generator is that you can hook it up to a second one for a combined power of 4400 watts.  

You may find that it struggles to start after sitting unused for long periods. You can combat this with proper storage and maintenance.

Key Features
  • 2200 Watts of power
  • 120-Volt
  • Inverter generator
  • Expandable to combine to for 4400 watts of power
Specification
  • Brand Honda
  • Model B079YF1HF6
  • Weight 40 pounds
PROS

Operates at 48 to 57 dBA

Eco-Throttle System

Four to 9.6 hours on a single tank

CONS

Struggles to start after long periods of not being used

Not the most durable housing

Not as powerful as claimed

If you don’t want to carry fuel with you, then this generator is a great option with its solar charging ability. It produces 200 watts of power and has AC, DC, and USB outputs. It’s safe for use with your more sensitive electronics. The multifunctional LCD screen lets you know the exact status of your generator. You can buy a separate solar panel to charge it, plug it into a wall socket, or connect it to your car battery. 

One downside is that you cannot charge the generator and use it at the same time. The solar panel is not included, so you’ll need to buy that separately if you plan to use solar to recharge it.

Key Features
  • 200 watts
  • Solar/ wall socket, and car battery charged
  • Included advanced safety features
  • AC/ DC/ USB outputs
Specification
  • Brand FF FlashFish
  • Model B07T48L6CF
  • Weight 5.51 pounds
PROS

Multifunction LCD display

Charged by the 15-24 volt solar panel 

Safe for sensitive electronics

CONS

Cannot be used while charging

Solar charging panel not included

Not very powerful

This powerful generator can produce 3800 watts of power from its 224cc engine. You can use either gasoline or propane with it. It also holds plenty of oil with a .6 quart tank. There’s a low oil indicator light and auto-shutoff to protect it. Many plugs are available, such as one 120V 30A RV outlet, one 120V 30A locking outlet, and two 120V 20A household outlets.

One drawback is that it’s a bit louder than claimed. This may not be an issue, though, depending on where you plan to use your generator. The pistons can get stuck if it sits for too long without use or proper maintenance.

Key Features
  • 3800-watt
  • 224cc engine
  • Gasoline or propane-powered
  • Many outlets available
Specification
  • Brand Champion Power Equipment
  • Model B08GKYYSN2
  • Weight 119.0
PROS

Low oil shut-off sensor

Electric start

Intelligent operating monitoring

CONS

Pistons can get stuck

Louder than claimed

Faulty lights

If you want flexibility in how you power your generator, then you’ll like the DuroMax Dual Fuel Portable Generator. You can fill the internal 3.96-gallon tank with gasoline or hook up a 20-gallon propane tank. This makes continuous operation easier and more efficient. It can produce 4850 watts of power and has an easy-to-use electric start. It can handle heavy loads while not drowning you out in noise with an operating level of 69 dB. 

One downside is that it’s quite heavy at 130 pounds. But it’s still maneuverable with a convenient folding pull handle and two large tires. You’ll also want to practice diligent maintenance, or it could become hard to start after storage.

Key Features
  • 4850 watts
  • Dual fuel hybrid generator
  • 3.96 gasoline tank capacity 
  • Compatible with a 20-gallon propane tank
Specification
  • Brand DuroMax
  • Model XP4850EH
  • Weight 130 pounds
PROS

Electric Start

Noise level: 69 dB

Can handle heavy loads

CONS

Very heavy

Limited plugs

Hard starting after storage

If you have some serious power needs, then this generator is up to the task. The 18 horsepower 440cc engine is capable of producing 10000 peak watts and 8000 running watts. The fuel capacity is huge at 8.3 gallons, which means less refilling and longer run times. You can also use either gasoline or propane with it, which gives you even more flexibility in how you use it. 

Its downside is that it’s cumbersome at 239 pounds. But this is a small drawback with the included handle and large wheels. You may also find it to be quite loud at 72dB, but this isn’t that bad compared to the amount of power output.

Key Features
  • 18 HP 440cc OHV engine
  • Fuel Capacity: 8.3 Gallons
  • 10000 peak watts and 8000 running watts
  • Gasoline or propane
Specification
  • Brand DuroMax
  • Model DS10000EH
  • Weight 239 pounds
PROS

Noise Level: 72dB

EPA and CARB approved for use in all 50 states

Many outlets

CONS

Very heavy 

No USB plugs

Loud

If you only need a small amount of power for camping or tailgating, then the Pulsar Portable Gas-Powered Inverter Generator is the perfect generator. It’s small and compact with a suitcase-style design and only weighs 47 pounds. It’s capable of producing 2300 peak watts and 1800 running watts. It also is very quiet, with a running noise level of 59 dB. There are dual 120V, one 12V DC, one USB, a DC 8A, and an AC 15A outlet. 

One downside is that it doesn’t have a steady idle, and it isn’t very powerful. But if all you’re looking to power are small appliances or electric devices, then you have plenty of power.

Key Features
  • 2300 peak watts and 1800 running watts
  • Dual 120V outlets
  • Noise level: 59 dB
  • Stable sine wave technology
Specification
  • Brand Pulsar
  • Model G2319N
  • Weight 47 pounds
PROS

4.8 hours of operation at half load on 1.18 gallons of fuel

Compact suitcase design

Lightweight

CONS

Doesn’t have steady idle

Not very powerful

Unreliable start button

Best Portable Generator Buying Guide & FAQ

Whether you’re looking to outfit your emergency preparedness kit or planning an epic camping trip, a reliable generator is a must. A portable generator will be lightweight and compact enough to easily store it away when not in use. Then you can bring it out when you need it. 

There’s a balance to buying the best generator, though. You need to know what you plan to power with it, how you plan to power it, and how you plan to move it around. Once you know these things, you can begin to look for the best portable generator with the features and performance stats that you need. 

Why Do You Need a Portable Generator?

The most obvious reason for buying a generator is to provide you with power in an emergency. A generator will let you run the essentials or life-saving equipment. To get the most from your generator, you’ll want to plan for the essentials you need to run. Then you can be sure to buy a generator that’s powerful enough.

Another common reason for buying a generator is to give you power when there are no other power options, like when you’re camping or traveling in an RV. This helps you create a more comfortable environment and enjoy more of the comforts and conveniences you have when you have access to power.

The fact that portable generators are moveable is what makes them stand out among other generators. They are compact, lighter weight, and often have wheels, making them easier to move around and have power whenever and wherever you need it.

  • Backup power in emergencies.
  • Power outdoor recreational activities. 
  • Power anywhere you need it.

Best Portable Generator

The Most Common Types of Portable Generators

The easiest way to classify portable generators is by their fuel source type. The most common fuel types are gasoline, diesel, and propane. There are also some less common fuel source types, such as natural gas and solar. The type of fuel source you buy is about more than fuel accessibility. Consider the ease of use and maintenance requirements that go along with each type of portable generator. 

Gasoline

Gasoline generators are readily available and affordable. They’re also familiar to most people, and someone with a bit of mechanical experience can work on and troubleshoot them if something goes wrong. Your generator will be easy to set up and user friendly. Gasoline is readily available, which makes powering your generator easier. You can also buy them in various sizes to power whatever electronics, tools, or appliances you need. 

The downside of gasoline generators is that they tend to be louder when running. You may also find that gasoline is hard to come by in an emergency or natural disaster situation, making it tough to power your generator. 

Diesel Fuel

Diesel generators are known for being durable and long-lasting. This makes them ideal for applications that require heavy use in rural, extreme cold, or harsh conditions. They’re also known for having low maintenance requirements, which makes them affordable to own. Diesel engines run cooler, which puts less stress on the engine and helps it to last longer. 

The downside of a diesel generator is that they’re slightly more expensive than gasoline options. They also emit harmful fumes, similar to gasoline generators. Diesel engines don’t work well in wet conditions. Once moisture gets in the fuel, you can ruin the engine. 

Propane Gas (Vapor And Liquid)

Propane and natural gas are the most fuel-efficient options. The engine design is similar to gasoline and diesel, but they use either liquefied petroleum gas or propane. These generators are clean-burning, which means fewer toxic fumes. You’ll also find they’re more affordable to run and maintain. This makes them an ideal choice for long term usage. 

Their downside is that they aren’t as durable or hardy as diesel engines and can malfunction in cold temperatures. You’ll also find that these are the most expensive generators to buy and set up. But once up and running, the fuel itself is very cheap.  

What to Consider When Buying Portable Generators

When looking at generators, pay attention to the peak and running watts. These two numbers are significant because they let you know what kind of surge power demand and operational level demands the generator can handle. Surge power pulls typically happen when you turn a connected appliance on. This is also important because it affects how long the generator will last on a single fuel tank. 

Compare the production of noise and exhaust fumes. These are considered toxic and a nuisance. The more noise and fumes produced, the further away from your campsite or RV the generator needs to be. They can also negatively affect those that are RVing or camping around you. 

The Most Important Features of Portable Generators

Knowing what to look for when comparing generators will make the buying process all the easier. The most important features to consider are the fuel type, number and type of outlets, and weight and size. However, several other features are considered, such as indicator lights, safety features, and ease of use. 

Fuel Type

The fuel type you choose will depend on your budget, ease of access to the fuel, and sound level tolerance. Gasoline and diesel generators tend to be the loudest and produce the most fumes. This makes them less than ideal in RV or campground situations where you’ll disturb others. Solar generators may not be as powerful, but it’s a clean, quiet, and renewable energy source, making it useful in a power outage situation. 

You should also consider safety—fuel can be highly flammable, which makes it potentially dangerous. But with safe handling and storage practices, this shouldn’t be too big of an issue. 

Multiple Outlets

The more outlets that your portable generator has, the more options and versatility you have when using it. Most generators have at least one or two plugs that are a standard 120V three-prong plug. Generators meant for use with an RV will have a compatible 120V plug. Higher-end generators will have more plugs and a wider variety. Modern generators will have several USB plugs and output clean energy for powering your electronics. 

You don’t have to buy the generator with the highest number of plugs. You just need to buy the generator with the plugs to support the equipment you plan to run with it. 

Size and Weight

Your new generator is meant to be portable. This means you need to be able to move it and take it with you. Consider the size and weight of the generator when deciding if it will be portable enough for you. Portable generators range in size from as small as six pounds to as large as 150 pounds.

Keep in mind that as a general rule, the larger the generator, the more powerful it is. So you’ll need to balance size and weight with power production. If you need a larger generator, look for one with wheels, which will make it easier to move.

Best Portable Generator

Care and Maintenance for Portable Generators

You should invest in your generator because you want it to be dependable and long-lasting. However, it doesn’t matter how much you spend or how high quality the generator is if you don’t take care of it. The first step is to keep extra oil, filters, and spare fuel cans handy. You never know how long a fuel outage will last for or how long you need to run your generator. Having these spare supplies accessible will ensure long term running. 

Other important maintenance tasks happen when you’re done using the generator. You should always empty the fuel tank since storing your generator with fuel can cause it to gum up and obstruct performance. While you’re at it, clean the rest of the generator and cover it for storage. 

  • Keep it covered and clean when not in use. 
  • Empty the fuel tank. 
  • Keep backup fuel, oil, and filters handy. 

Best Portable Generator FAQ:

Several questions arise when comparing and buying a portable generator. How do you know what is the best and what level of power output that you need? You will see generators that are as cheap as $100, but how much could you spend if you bought the most expensive one? 

Q: What is the best portable generator to buy?

The best generator is one that you can afford to run and can generate the amount of power you need. 

Q: How many watts do portable generators need?

You need 5000 to 7500 watts to run most household equipment. For RV use, you’ll need 3000 to 4000 watts. 

Q: How much is the most expensive portable generator?

The most expensive generators can be around $3,000. They’re durable, reliable, and the most powerful. 

Our Top Pick

Our top pick for the best portable generator is the Westinghouse WGen7500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator. It generates plenty of power and is compatible with both gasoline and propane. You’ll be able to run it for a decent amount of time with the 6.6-gallon tank. You’ll find it easy to use with the push-button electric start and remote key fob. The intuitive control panel is easy to understand and use. 

Final Thoughts

The Westinghouse WGen7500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator is a great option with its high power production and ease of use. For a more affordable option, the DuroMax XP4400E Gas Powered Portable Generator is a small and dependable little generator.

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