Best Portable Generators of 2021 (Pricing & Features)
Individuals can check out this table for the latest 2021 prices. The side-by-side layout makes it easy to see which generators meet their specific needs.
|Provider||Price||Best for||Engine HP||Engine Displacement||Start-Up||Emissions Certificate||Fuel Capacity||Fuel Type||Noise Level||Battery Life||Running Wattage||Warranty||Weight|
|Westing house||$849||Strength||$14||420cc||Remote/Electric||CARB||6.6 gal||Gas||73 dB||8 hrs||7500W||3 yrs||192 lbs|
|Duro Star||$342.00||RVs||$7||208cc||Recoil||CARB/EPA||4 gal||Gas||69 dB||8 hrs||3300W||3 yrs||102 lbs|
|Yamaha||$883||Smart tech||$1||79cc||Electric||CARB||1.1 gal||Gas||61 dB||10.5 hrs||1600W||3 yrs||44 lbs|
|Honda||$1,049.00||Quiet||$3.70||121cc||Recoil||EPA||0.95 g||Gas||57 dB||8 hrs||2200W||3 yrs||46 lbs|
|Generac||$669.00||All-day||$1||389cc||Recoil||EPA||6.7 gal||Gas||60 dB||10 hrs||5500W||2 yrs||180 lbs|
|WEN||$220||Safety||$2||272cc||Remote/Electric||CARB/EPA||1.1 g||Gas||63 dB||7.5 hr||1350||2 yrs||56 lbs|
|Champion||$589.00||Winter||$8||208cc||Remote/Electric||CARB/EPA||3.8 gal||Gas/Propane||68 dB||10.5 hrs||3800W||3 yrs||119 lbs|
|Duro Max||$499||Eco-friendly||$7||212cc||Electric/recoil||CARB/EPA||3.9 gal||Gas/Propane||69 dB||9 hrs||3850W||3 yrs||127 lbs|
|B&S 30545||$885||Camping||$1||171cc||Recoil||EPA||1.5 gal||Gas||58 dB||5 hrs||2600W||2 yrs||85 lbs|
|B&S 30675||$1,150||Backup||$1||306cc||Recoil||EPA||5 gal||Gas||66 dB||3.5 hrs||5000W||2 yrs||128 lbs|
Generator Types & Descriptions
Different portable generators will appeal to people depending on their needs. Each type has specific fuel requirements and features a unique build and structure.
When consumers know what they want, it makes buying a generator a lot easier.
Most folks recognize diesel, but they may not realize that these generators are easy to maintain. They also last longer than gas-powered types. It is less flammable and better suited to heavy-duty machinery.
Since diesel is considered more of a premium fuel source, these types of portable generators often cost more. People should also consider the emissions, which are higher than many others and could cause harm to humans and animals.
- Dependable strength
- Least flammable
- Longer shelf life than gasoline
- Suits heavy-duty devices
- More expensive
- The number of emissions can be a problem
These portable generators are among the most common because of the convenience. It’s easy to fill up on gasoline since it’s widely available and inexpensive. Devices of this type come in different sizes and models, so there’s something for everyone.
While gas electronics are safe to use, they produce a lot of emissions. Therefore, this isn’t the best portable generator option for sustainability. Also, these units don’t hold up as well in colder climates or for long-term storage.
- Most affordable
- Suits a range of power requirements
- Variety of makes and models
- Widely available
- Not environmentally-friendly
- Storage can be an issue
Another less conventional option is a portable inverter. As the name suggests, it involves a built-in inverter that converts DC (direct current) in one swift motion. This makes it a good choice for smaller or more fragile devices.
Those who are looking for generators for home use should look into this option. One thing to remember is that these generators tend to be more complex, so upkeep isn’t the easiest.
This also hikes the price up. On the other hand, they’re very quiet and run more efficiently.
- Fewer emissions
- Great for fragile or smaller devices
- Low noise levels
- More energy efficient
- Can get quite pricey
- Complex engine interior (more difficult upkeep)
These portable generators offer a more environmentally-conscious option. They run on clean(er) energy and are also much quieter compared to others. While these devices help to cut down on emissions and fuel consumption, they are not without their dangers.
Propane is highly flammable, and setting them up can be a challenge. Storage can be tricky because it must be kept under high pressure.
On the plus side, its shelf life is good, and propane is affordable and available in most places. Just be sure to use it for smaller machinery.
- Availability of dual-fuel generators
- Cleaner energy
- Save money in fuel consumption
- Usually a quieter option
- Better for smaller devices
- Highly flammable
Solar energy is becoming more normalized, and it’s making it to the portable generator scene. This may seem strange, but it provides an opportunity for cleaner, cheaper power without the risk of harmful emissions. With the right solar panels, individuals never have to run out of a fuel source.
There are also way fewer parts to deal with, making it easy to maintain and service. This is a good option for both indoor and outdoor circumstances.
Just keep in mind that these generators aren’t ideal for larger machinery. As solar technology improves, perhaps they will become more portable, too.
- Easy to maintain
- Great for the indoors
- Potential cost savings
- Smaller environmental footprint
- Not good for larger machinery
- Smaller energy output
Portable Generator Buying Guide
The world of portable generators can be a bit confusing, especially for newcomers. So, here is a beginner’s guide to choosing the right appliance.
Once people know what it’s for and where to use it, they can better estimate their power requirements.
1. Determine the Required Power
First, consumers should think about where, when, and how they want to use their portable generator. That way, it’s easier to narrow down their energy requirements and start looking at specific models. For example, a property demands more output than something like a campsite. Also, consider the devices that will need power. Some examples include a microwave, refrigerator, or sound speaker. When it comes to wattage, keep in mind:
- Starting wattage is what's required for booting up the appliance.
- Running wattage is the recommended output to maintain a device continuously.
2. Consider Noise Levels
If people are going to bring a portable power source to an event or camping trip, they want it to be as quiet as possible. That may seem quite uncharacteristic for these types of devices. However, there are plenty of options that create far less noise. Something to look for while shopping around is a muffler or some kind of sound reduction mechanism. Most of these products hover around the 60-decibel mark. For reference, here's a guide:
- 30 dB: whispers.
- 50 dB: refrigerator buzz
- 70 dB: vacuum cleaner
3. How is it on Fuel?
Something else to consider, besides the type of fuel, is how much the device will use. No one wants to have to worry all the time about running out of gasoline or propane. Be sure to check the specifications and keep an eye out for things like fuel gauges, eco-throttles, and auto-adjustments.
4. Fuel Tank Run-Time
Along the same lines, consumers should consider the device's run time. Usually, the specs show this per quarter or half-load. For example, some portable generators can go for 8 hours at 50%. Keep that in mind when shopping around. If the purpose is for emergency backup, then it's better to go with longer run time.
Some people are well-versed in the world of portable power supply, and others are not. For the latter group, it's a good idea to check out some customer reviews. This way, it's easier to pick a product that's easy to use. Some features that can help include fuel gauges, a control panel or screen, electric start, and auto-shutoff.
6. Smooth Movement
Another thing that should come easily is the machine's overall operation. Remember, the larger the device, the more power it's capable of producing. That's great, but it might make it less portable. On the other hand, if the machine is small, then maintenance could be harder due to more components sitting in tight space.
7. Does it Have Enough Outlets?
Something that lots of people may overlook is supplemental outlets. This is important because it helps the appliance offset its load. While individuals don't want to occupy all of the outlets at one time, it helps to have more options.
8. Exhaust Output
Thinking about the different types of appliances, it's not hard to see that some emit more gases and fumes than others. As more people become aware of their environmental footprint, they might not feel comfortable with "dirtier" forms of fuels. For example, solar is a renewable energy source, and propane is better for the air than gasoline or diesel.
Of course, individuals want to consider the costs involved in purchasing and maintaining these devices. Some figures to keep in mind include the initial price, the cost of fuel, and any service or maintenance. It's often better to spend more upfront for a trusted product of higher quality. Some factors that impact price include:
- Power level
- Noise rating
- Manufacturer reputation
- Fuel source
- Safety features
10. Service Support & Customer Reviews
Finally, it's always a good idea to check out some customer reviews before purchasing an item. This is especially true when looking at a big-ticket product like a generator. Take the time to look at client feedback and honest critiques. Also, don't forget about the warranty information. Some policies include the entire device while others only cover parts.
How Much Power Do You Need?
Yet another thing to take into account is overall power levels. As one might expect, different products have unique energy sources and stamina. Plus, consumers may purchase one of these devices for several reasons.
Below is a closer look at what kind of power ratings to look for depending on different circumstances.
Camping Power Requirements
As the weather gets warmer, more people are going to think about taking a relaxing camping trip. While campers want to pack lightly, lots of people have some non-negotiables that they like to keep on hand. For instance, people might bring along a coffee maker for their morning cup of joe.
Perhaps others want their laptop so they can work or watch movies in the evenings. Add all of these things up, and campers will need a device capable of generating 1,000 to 2,0000 watts. For reference, here are the wattage requirements for common camping supplies.
- Coffee maker: 600W
- Laptop: 200W
- Light: 75W
Home Power Requirements
Being at home is another story. The household is where family members have all of their prized possessions: phones, computers, kitchen appliances.
Some people may be more tech-dependent than others, so their power needs will be higher. It also depends on how many machines are running simultaneously.
Since most folks only need the generator for backup or emergencies, it’s probably going to use less power than on a typical day. Here are some points of reference:
- Electric heater: 4500W
- Microwave: 650W
- Small furnace: 3000W
Job Site Power Requirements
Those who have a job in the construction field may already be familiar with transportable generators. They need these devices to help power up things like jackhammers and drills.
On average, these workers need about 7500 watts to avoid power outages.
- Chainsaw: 1100W
- Circular saw: 1400W
- Hand drill: 600W
Recreational Power Requirements
There are plenty of times when folks need some extra energy to sustain their outdoor event, party, or concert. Whether they’re in their backyard or at a park, a compact inverter can keep the fun going.
Total wattage will vary depending on the number of devices and length of the event. Aim for around 1,000 watts and use these figures for reference.
- Home stereo: 150W
- Outdoor loudspeakers: 250W
- Radio: 100W
RV Power Requirements
Like camping, going on an RV adventure can be a lot of fun, provided folks can power up their desired devices. RVing requires more energy than a simple campsite, so travellers should aim for something capable of 3500 watts or higher.
Keep in mind that heavy-duty appliances like air conditioners and refrigerators will require a lot more power than something like a microwave or laptop charger.
- Electric range: 2100W
- Microwave: 625W
- Colour TV: 300W
What is the Best Generator to Buy?
First of all, consumers should determine whether they want a stationary generator or one that’s more compact and easy to transport. The former machine will most likely be heavier and more expensive.
The latter type is smaller, more efficient, and doesn’t typically require professional installation. Given that individuals will have their unique requirements and preferences, there’s no single device that is best for everyone.
When trying to find the best choice, customers should consider a few different factors:
- Overall budget
- Desired fuel source (diesel, propane, solar, etc.)
- Energy needs (2000W, 3500W, or more)
How Much Does it Cost to Run a House on a Generator?
While this isn’t something that families will have to do daily, sometimes emergencies happen.
Here’s how to determine the total cost of powering up a house.
- It’s a good idea to consider the overall energy needs so individuals can prepare themselves for a power outage or storm.
- Then, people can think about which fuel source they’ll use (diesel, propane, solar). The costs involved will vary depending on the type.
- Consider that a 3500W gasoline generator working at half-load will cost about $30 in 24 hours.
How Big of a Portable Generator Do I Need?
Again, the size depends on lots of different factors, so the answer will be different for each family. Think about what the generator will be for. If they want to use it for the entire house, that’s not the same as simply powering up a refrigerator.
- For a single-family household, most experts suggest a 10000W unit.
- However, a smaller property may prefer to purchase a 7500W device.
Many companies offer wattage calculators online to help consumers better find their best generator. Remember, the calculations will vary depending on size, fuel type, running time.
4. Will a 9,000-Watt Generator Run a House?
Yes, for many people, a 9000W inverter will be fine. A larger property may do better with a 10000W generator, just to be safe. However, if need be, families can make do with 9,000 watts. They just may want to be more careful. For instance, they don’t use several appliances at once.
5. What Size Generator Do I Need to Run a Refrigerator or Freezer?
It partly depends on the size of the refrigerator or freezer. Some families prefer larger units, so they will need more energy. For the average fridge, it will require around 700 running watts.
This is the power needed to keep the appliance running. The starting wattage will be higher to get the machine up and going. Typically, the starting wattage is 1.5 times the running watts. In this case, it’d be 1050W.
6. What Can You Run on a 2,000-Watt Generator?
A 2,000-watt generator can be great for lots of different scenarios. For instance, it can be useful for a small household or property, or an RV. The unit can supply power to basic devices such as:
- Coffee makers
- Space heaters
- Vacuum cleaners
Choosing the Right Option Makes a World of Difference
It can seem overwhelming to figure out different energy needs and fuel sources, but that research is well worth it. The good news is that there is an option for everyone and a range of budgets.
Consumers should be sure to check the details of their property and appliances so they can stay safe and avoid outages and surges. If you have experience with compact generators, be sure to let us know your tips and recommendations in the comments below.