Sudden power blackouts can disrupt your usual way of life and affect many daily duties that require using electricity. Thus, it is important to have the best portable generator in your workplace or household. Such a unit will solve the power outage problem in your household so that you continue with your daily routine without worries.
If you are on the lookout for a potent tool to backup your power supply in case of an emergency blackout, it is vital to go for a portable generator. Besides, you can use such equipment as an additional power source for the tools you utilize daily in the household or at work.
As an expert carpenter with over a decade of experience in the industry, I know much about such devices. When I wanted to purchase a generator for myself, I went through several portable generator reviews to learn about how these units work, various models, features, and factors to consider before buying one.
During my working experience, I have tested many portable generators and know what items deliver the best performance and last for long. Thus, I have gained expert knowledge of some reliable brands to purchase, depending on what equipment one is looking for. This comprehensive review discusses various generator models, how effective they are, as well as factors to consider when buying a portable generator.
Reviewing the Seven Best Portable Generators of 2020
I have picked the top-rated generators based on the size of each item, its cost, safety features, durability, and performance. Below, you can read about the seven top-rated portable generators on the market. So, if you need a backup power supply for your household or some equipment to take with you on camping trips, here, you can find a suitable unit that will meet your requirements.
WEN 56200I Super Quiet 2000-Watt – Best Portable Generator for the Money
Once I decided to review portable generators, the WEN 56200I model came into my mind. This device can warm an entire household easily and power all the essential electrical items. At the same time, this equipment is lightweight, so you can easily lift and carry it wherever needed.
It has several safety features, including an automated low-fuel shutdown and overload protection of the unit and electronics connected to it. This model has a USB port, as well as other outlets to connect the necessary devices.
This generator is powered by gas, and its eco-mode lets the generator’s motor change the fuel consumption automatically when some electronic devices plugged and unplugged from the unit. The device comes with a 12V DC and a 5V USB port, as well as three-prong 120V receptacles. Besides, it is compliant with both CARB and EPA III.
This equipment is among the most silent compact generators that produce clean energy. It can generate 1600W continuous running power and 2000W starting power without any fluctuations in the voltage.
This unit has a four-stroke 79.7cc engine that produces approximately 51 dB operating at 25% load and 55 dB at 75% load. It comes with a two-year warranty, meaning you can replace the device in case of any malfunction. However, within all the years I have used the WEN 56200I model so far, it never failed to do its job.
The device also has a low total harmonic distortion, meaning that everything powered up by this model is safe as long as it is under the generator’s wattage limits. With only one gallon of gasoline, you can have this equipment running for approximately four hours, depending on the electronic devices you connect to it.
WestingHouse iGen2500 – Great Portable Generator for Home Use
This WestingHouse iGen2500 inverter generator is a portable unit for households and RVs. It is lightweight enough for one to carry since it weighs roughly 46 pounds. Despite its small size, this generator produces a great power of 2200 running wattage and 2500 surge wattage. Which makes it the most reliable portable generator in its category.
This device can power induction motors, making it perfect for any electronic gadgets within one’s home, for example, AC units and fridges. The tool allows managing your power consumption, meaning that you will experience no trouble keeping your items powered up with clean energy.
The WestingHouse iGen2500 model has a four-stroke strong engine that can run at half load for over six hours on one gallon of gasoline. It is quiet, as it produces only 53 dB at 25% load. Also, this paralleling generator can be connected to another iGen device generator for increased power.
It has an outstanding design with an LED display, an insulated hood, asymmetrical fans, and two quiet mufflers. The display contains all the necessary information, as it indicates the power output, level of gasoline, remaining running time, and voltage. These features allow managing the tool settings and limiting the operational noise level.
Besides, this WestingHouse iGen2500 model is made with an automatically adjusting speed that allows the tool to generate only the needed amount of power. So, the device is a fuel-efficient option that also operates quietly and has reduced exhaust fumes.
The inbuilt suitcase-like handle ensures comfortable carrying and transporting the device when needed. This unit is the best pick for small to medium-sized houses, and I would recommend it to all homeowners without hesitation.
Honda 2200W Companion – Reliable Generator for Home Power Outage
If you want to compare portable generators, it is essential to pay attention to the power each tool produces. This portable Honda unit has an efficient engine to power the electronic devices you connect to it, and it is another durable model I want to recommend.
The Honda 2200W Companion is an upgraded version of the Honda EU2000I model that was highly popular among homeowners all around the world. This particular model comes with a 10% higher power, easier maintenance, and more silent operation. This small device weighs under 47 lbs. and can carry excessive power for the whole household.
This portable inverter unit generates 2200W of starting power and 1800W of continuous running power. It meets all standard portable power requirements and can be connected in parallel, meaning you can use it with another Honda device to increase the total power.
This Honda 2200W Companion is not only powerful, but it can also be used to charge such electronics as cameras, laptops, cameras, and so on, using clean and stable energy. Moreover, this device is easy to use, thanks to its comfortable recoil starter. This feature makes this model an amazing power tool to carry for camping, as well as for emergency power outages at one’s home.
Besides, this device has great durability, thanks to its powerful engine and advanced cooling system. It runs by the Eco-throttle inverter system created by Honda. So, you can rest assured that the fuel will be consumed efficiently.
Also, this unit is pretty quiet, as it generates only 48 dB and 57 dB at 25% and 100% load, respectively. Besides, its gas capacity is below one gallon that will allow the device to run for roughly eight hours at 25% load.
This generator, however, is a bit pricey, and it doesn’t come with an electric switch or a fuel gauge. So, it’s hard to determine the leftover fuel.
According to many portable generator ratings, this Honda 2200W Companion model is a highly recommended unit that delivers both functionality and power. Besides, it is CARB-compliant, so you can use it both for personal needs and commercial purposes.
DuroMax XP12000EH – The Best Rated Heavy Duty Portable Generator
If you are in search of a portable unit that you can use for household emergencies, then you should not overlook this particular generator. This dual-fuel unit can operate either on gas or fuel. It is ideal for everyday use, as well as for unforeseen backups. You can take this model when going camping or for any other outdoor activities.
It is a great power source to use in case of unexpected blackouts. A potent 457cc overhead valve engine powers this tool. The model features a completely loaded power panel that allows you to use whooping 12,000 watts of the maximum power.
The device is tremendously powerful, as it can back up all your basic appliances, as well as the comfort ones, in case of any unforeseen outages. It ensures maximum comfort and allows you to continue with your daily routine, even during extended periods of power outages.
Besides, the product comes with a one-year-warranty if utilized for commercial use and a three-year one if used at home. Thus, you’re fully covered against any problems with the tool. Also, the manufacturer provides a satisfaction guarantee of thirty days on every retailed item.
If you want to run the device, make sure to remove all the packaging, fill it with propane or gas, and you’re good to go. This DuroMax XP12000EH model can run smoothly and quietly on gas on a 50% load for ten hours. However, while on the same load on propane, it can work for approximately twenty hours. This unit has a four-point heavy-duty frame with completely isolated motor mounts.
It has a power panel that displays information about the voltmeter, the circuit breaker, the light for oil supply warning, and the power outlets. Also, this generator has a shut-off feature. Thus, when the fuel is too low, the device automatically goes off for engine protection.You’ll also note that this unit won’t make loud noises while at work, thanks to the Quiet Muffler technology.
Another thing I noticed about this device is that it does not produce fumes, so you won’t get any unpleasant smells as it may happen with standard gas generators. Moreover, you will rarely have to clean oil and black smudges on the tool. The generator also has a throttle that controls the usage of fuel and a surge arrester that protects it from overvoltage transients.
This model has a great design that allows wheeling the device to any place. The wheels are made of solid plastic, so they are pretty durable and can cross any terrain. However, the biggest problem with this model is that it is quite heavy. Despite coming with wheels for easier transportation, this unit weighs about 250 pounds.
Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel
This Champion 3800W portable generator is powered by a 224cc double-fuel engine that can operate on propane or gas. Propane doesn’t only allow reduced emission, but it is also safer and simpler for transporting and storing. Moreover, propane is preserved in a condensed form, so it is even more easy to use.
I can profoundly say that such a generator can run longer on propane rather than gas stored in a container of the same size. However, if gas is your fuel of choice, the strong engine of the device can generate 3800W of constant running wattage and a starting peak wattage of 4750W. You will get a slightly lower constant running power of 3420W when using propane, and a starting power will be of 4275W.
Whatever fuel you decide to use, these power figures are adequate for powering a significant majority of household electrical appliances, should there be an emergency. Also, this unit can operate the majority of water pumps.
This Champion 3800W dual-fuel model has an electric starter, making it way much easier to start this unit, especially in cold weather. A gas tank can run at 50 to 75% load for roughly six to nine hours, respectively, based on how much power you consume. If using propane, you will get the overall working time doubled.
The device comes with three outlets and circuit breakers for convenient usage. Besides, it has an inbuilt Volt Guard system to protect your connected electronic devices from any voltage rise.It works similar to an automated voltage controller.
Additionally, this generator comes with a display that shows its running period and voltage. The device comes with safety elements, such as a spark arrestor authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture, and a shut-off detector for low oil level.
For such a big model, this generator is exceptionally silent. That’s great news for both homeowners and camping enthusiasts who are in search of a reliable backup power source.
Although this unit has not the lowest noise levels, it is still good within its class and price range. The only disadvantage of this unit is that it isn’t lightweight. Even though this device is portable, thanks to the solid wheel kit, 122 pounds are not easy to lift. Nevertheless, you can expect high power and quality from this generator, and it comes with a three-year warranty.
DuroMax XP4400E 4400-Watt OHV – A Reliable Portable Generator For Everyday Use
This generator is powered by gas, and it comes with a powerful 7 hp engine. It has a starting power of 4400W and a continuous running power of 3500W. This DuroMax model is ideal for small houses and outdoor activities.
This unit can run for roughly eight hours on half load with a full tank of four gallons. The steel frame built around the device protects it from rattling. Thus, this tool operates quietly and produces roughly 69 dB at 25% load.
This unit comes with several outlets, as well as a twist lock, in case you have tools that need an outlet with high power. All the outlets of this model are overload-protected, ensuring the safe operation of all the connected devices.
Besides, this DuroMax XP4400E model comes with several safety features, including a protection system for low oil level. Thus, it will power off if the amount of oil is too low. It also has an advanced automated voltage controller, a battery charger, and a voltmeter indicator light.
Also, the device has a foldable handle and wheels for easy transportation. This heavy-duty equipment is not only powerful but provides great value for money. Moreover, it allows for changing power modes between 120 and 240 V.
The only pitfall is that it may be difficult to change the oil if you haven’t done it before.
WestingHouse created the WGen series of portable generators with the latest technologies available on the market. This company has been in the industry for over a century, and it is among the best portable generator brands.
This WGen7500 gas-powered unit is a durable and easy-to-use tool. This long-lasting model is ideal for emergency power backup, household projects, camping, tailgating, and other tasks. The device has a starting power of 9000W and a continuous running power of 7500W.
This unit has been protected with a sturdy steel frame that comes with roll bars on its top. A cast iron sleeve also acts as a protection to the tool and its gas tank and ensures easier transportation of the equipment.
You won’t have trouble powering up this model, as it comes with an electric switch and a common recoil start. If you’re having a hard time starting it, check the light indicators on the panel and read the manual.
The large gas tank of the device can hold 6.6 gallons of gas, and it comes with a fuel gauge for easy regulation of the level of the fuel. With such storage, this unit can run for roughly eleven hours on half load.
With a four-stroke OHV engine, this equipment can generate enough power to ensure that all your appliances are running as usual. Besides, it saves on fuel and can start up even at quite low temperatures. All the outlets have lasting rubber covers for protection against harsh weather conditions. Although this WestingHouse WGen7500 model has quiet mufflers, it isn’t the quietest generator on this list.
This tool also has an automatic low-oil shutdown option. If the oil is low, or if the equipment overheats, this feature makes the generator shut down to prevent any damage to the engine. Also, the unit has an automated hour meter on its control panel so that you can monitor the operation of the tool, timely maintain it, and ensure a long service life of the product.
Also, this portable generator comes with a handle and wheels for easy transportation. The only downside to this model is that it isn’t really quiet, meaning you will have to put it at a faraway distance from your place. Also, it weighs around 200 lbs., making the generator questionably portable.
Important Factors to Consider When Buying a Portable Generator
Although I review portable generator options and other equipment in detail, there are only some questions on these tools left uncovered. Thus, I decided to address some of the frequently asked questions on portable generators to help you to select the ideal model for your needs.
Are There any Standard Power Requirements?
Depending on where and how often you plan to use your generator, you should go for the corresponding power rating. Although power requirements differ from one-hour home use to a whole camping day, you can pick a device with the maximal power needed. Alternatively, for each of these circumstances, you can purchase generators with different ratings.
There are no standard power requirements, as the needs of each person differ. The required amount of power also dependents on the items you want to power up. Typically, electric appliances are rated in their surge and running power.
Surge power is the amount of wattage necessary to start up the device, and the power consumption is highest at this time. The running power is the wattage needed for running the appliance continuously. This number is way much smaller than the surge power.
So, be careful with determining the amount of wattage you need from your backup power source. After setting on the numbers, consider all the devices that you will need to power up, and choose a unit with the ratings slightly above that figure. The additional allowance will cover some extra power needs if they come up in the future.
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What if I Need Quiet Operation?
It is easy to find a low-noise generator, so make sure to purchase a product that operates as quietly as possible. Alternatively, you can buy long cables and put the unit far from your place.
I recommend purchasing a portable generator that produces 60 dB or less. With this noise level, you can hold conversations easily and not disturb your neighbors, whether at home, work, or campsite.
If you want a clearer explanation of the noise levels than decibels, here are some examples. When you whisper, you produce 30 dB, a fridge operates at 50 dB, and a vacuum cleaner produces 70 dB. However, it is important to note that workplace generators usually produce more noise because of their increased power ratings.
What is the Run Time of a Fuel Tank?
Most generators show their run time at either a half or quarter of the load. This figure shows how long the unit will operate on a full tank of fuel, and it is a fixed percentage of its complete power.
If the generator is used for emergencies only, and you have no idea about how long the main power will be out, it is necessary to purchase a portable generator with a big fuel tank.
How to Pick an Easy-To-Use Unit?
An easy-to-use tool comes with automatic control options that prevent any damage to the product. These features include a fuel gauge, a low-oil automatic shutdown, and an electric start.
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How to Choose a Portable Generator?
The weight of the generator not necessarily corresponds to the amount of power it produces. However, tools of higher powers are normally a bit heavier than standard ones. Thus, make sure that the selected device comes with handles and wheels so that you could move the item around easily.
How Should I Use the Outlets?
Having various outlets in your portable generator means that you can optimally use the unit for the number of devices equals the number of receptacles. However, I recommend not using all the outlets at once to protect your generator from overheating. Utilize all the sockets in case of emergencies, or if all the connected devices have a low wattage.
Is My Generator Environmentally-Friendly?
If the equipment runs on fossil fuels, it has quite high emissions. To avoid polluting the environment, you can buy a solar or propane generator. Also, check if the selected model has exhaust certificates, such as CARB or EPA.
What Determines the Price?
The cost is determined by the power amount the tool produces, its ease of use, durability, and the noise rating. The manufacturer also matters. Well-known brands have the proven experience in crafting such equipment, and you are guaranteed of the quality of their products.
What Does the Warranty Say About the Product?
I strongly recommend buying only the tools that come with a one- or two-year warranty. Thus, in case you find out any malfunction, you can use the warranty to fix or replace the item.
Make sure to read through the warranty information and the manual that comes within the purchased device. This way, you will be fully informed about the warranty conditions.
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Where Should I Place My Portable Generator?
When you want to use the generator, make sure to set it outdoors away from your windows and doors to prevent any exhaust fumes from getting into the house. It is important to do because the emitted carbon monoxide gas is poisonous if it gets concentrated.
Also, don’t place your device inside your garage, even with its door open. It is dangerous because it can result in an accident. Additionally, you need to make sure that the portable generator is protected from snow, rain, and moisture.
How Often Should I Use My Generator?
It is important to keep your unit in good condition and prevent its parts from getting affected by the oil and fuel left inside. So, it is necessary to operate your unit regularly or remove oil left inside the device after each use. By maintaining the equipment this way, you will ensure its efficient operation and long service life.
Also, I advise looking through the manual to see how often you need to run the unit. Usually, it is recommended using a portable generator at least once a month.
Purchasing the Right Portable Generator for Your Needs
In this review, I have discussed some of the best portable generators on the market. Now, you need to identify what features you look for in a portable backup power source and choose the right model for your household or workplace. Are you looking for affordability, ease of use, functionality, portability, durability, or all in one? Understanding your needs and specifics of the use of the equipment will make choosing the perfect portable generator quite easy.
I’ve compared portable generators that I have used so far, and that provided a great performance over the years. Therefore, I can profoundly recommend any item mentioned in this article. Have you used any of the portable generators reviewed above? If yes, what was your experience? If you have any questions left on these devices, leave a comment below, and I’ll get back to you with pleasure.