Are you tired of the city life’s hustle and bustle and plan to go off-grid for a couple of weeks? Apart from the food supplies and potable drinking water, you need an alternate source of electricity. You may argue that you have a solar, hydro, or wind power system at your off-grid location, but what about the off days? What about the overcast weather conditions? How will you cater to a high installation cost, repair, and maintenance of the complex system and the space needed for installation? Some people also go off the grid on their RVs. For off-grid living, you need an alternate source of power to run your necessary appliances, and a generator is the best option.
Without a generator, you will have no power, will be cut off from the world, and your food will rot without a refrigerator.
Now that you know a generator is compulsory for off the grid living, you will have to find the best one according to your needs. There are hundreds of generators available for you to buy for off-grid living. However, selecting the best one is not an easy task. To save you from the hassle and ensure that you get the best unit for off-grid trips or cabin, we have prepared a list of the best off-grid generators. In this review, we will evaluate the 5 best off-grid generators for your use, along with a buyer’s guide and a FAQ section. At the end of this article, you will be able to select the best generator according to your needs.
Table of Contents
Off-Grid Generators (Comparison)
Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator
WEN 56200i Portable Inverter Generator
Champion Power Equipment 100165 Dual Fuel Portable Generator
Honda EU3000iS Portable Generator with Inverter
Generac 6864 Diesel Powered Portable Generator
Off-Grid Generator Reviews
1. Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator – Overall Best
Fuel Option: Westinghouse WGen7500 is a portable gas-powered generator.
Engine and Power Output: It is featured with a 420cc Westinghouse 4-stroke OHV engine that generates 9500 watts of peak power and 7500 watts of rated power. Its engine is protected under the cast-iron sleeve.
Tank Capacity and Runtime: Its fuel tank comes with a fuel gauge and has a storing capacity of 6.6 gallons. On this fuel tank size, this Westinghouse generator can run up to 16 hours at quarter load.
Starting Mechanism: We have a push-button electric start, recoil start, and a remote start with a key fob. You can turn your generator on and off from 109 yards away.
Control Panel: If we talk about power outlets, then there are four 120V AC 20A household outlets that are GFCI protected. Also, we have a 120/240V AC 30A outlet. All these power outlets are covered for protection.
GFCI protected outlets to protect people from electric shocks. And the 120/240V twist-lock outlet can be used to tie your generator into your house through a transfer switch.
Other than power outlets, its control panel features a data center that shows Volts, Frequency, and Time. Also, there is an electric start button, along with a battery indicator.
Weight, Warranty, and Certifications: The weight of this generator is 210 pounds, and it comes with a 3-year limited warranty. Also, if we talk about its certifications, then it is EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and CSA (Canadian Standards Association) certified.
Portability: Durable tires and a fold-down handle make transportation easier and safer.
Noise Level:73 dB (A) is its operational sound.
2. WEN 56200i Portable Inverter Generator – Off-Grid Generator for Camping
Fuel Option: If you are looking for an off-grid inverter generator, then it is recommended to go for WEN 56200i that runs on gas.
Engine and Power Output: It comes with a 79.7cc 4-stroke OHV engine that can produce 2000 starting watts and 1600 running watts. With a less than 1.2% THD rating, this generator becomes safe to power your most sensitive electronic items.
THD is Total Harmonic Distortion that shows the amount of distortion available in a particular signal.
Parallel Capable: The parallel capability of a generator allows it to link another inverter generator to produce more power. So, you can connect another WEN 56200i with the WEN 56421 parallel connection kit.
Tank Capacity and Runtime: If we focus on its tank size, then it is of 1 gallon that offers a runtime up to 6 hours at half load.
WEN 56200i is featured with an eco-mode that saves fuel, extends the runtime, and increases the life of an engine.
Starting Mechanism: You can only start your generator by using a recoil start mechanism.
Control Panel: The power panel of this machine has two 120V AC outlets, one 12V DC outlet, and one 5V USB port. Also, there are parallel operation outlets, eco-mode switches, and three-light indicators (Output, Overload, and Low-oil).
Weight, Warranty, and Certifications: WEN 56200i weighs only 48 pounds and has a 2-year limited warranty. Also, it is EPA III approved and CARB (California Air Resources Board) compliant.
Portability: A convenient carrying handle helps you to easily move the generator from one place to another.
Noise Level: It operates at 51 dB (A) from 22 feet away.
3. Champion Power Equipment 100165 Dual Fuel Portable Generator – Best for Off-Grid Home
Fuel Option: This Champion Power Equipment 100165 is a dual fuel portable generator that runs on both gasoline and propane. You can easily switch between gas and propane with the help of a fuel selector knob.
Engine and Power Output: It is powered by the 439cc Champion 4-stroke engine that is capable of generating 9375 peaks and 7500 rated watts on gasoline and 8400 peaks and 6750 rated watts on propane.
Tank Capacity and Runtime: If we talk about the gas tank, then it has a storage capacity of 6 gallons that can help you to power your appliances up to 8 hours at half load. But your generator can run up to 5.5 hours at half load on a 20-pound propane tank.
Control Panel: We have four GFCI-protected 120V AC 20A outlets, one 120V 30A twist-lock outlet, and one 120/240V 30A outlet. Also, we have a battery switch, electric start switch, and an intelligauge that keeps track of runtime, frequency, and voltage.
Starting Mechanism: You can either start your generator manually or electrically. For an electric start, a battery is included. Also, there is a cold start technology that helps you to start your unit in no time during winter.
Portability: Champion 100165 is also quite easy to move. We have two never-flat tires and a fold-down handle for easy transportation.
Noise Level: From a distance of 23 feet, this generator operates at 74 dB (A).
Weight, Warranty, and Certifications: It is EPA certified and CARB compliant and weighs 202 pounds. Also, it shares a 3-year limited warranty.
4. Honda EU3000iS Portable Generator with Inverter – Under $3000
Engine and Power Output: The 196cc Honda GX200 engine powers Honda EU3000iS portable generator. It produces 3000 watts of starting power and 2800 watts of running power.
The advanced inverter technology of Honda provides clean and stable energy so that you can power your delicate electronics without any doubt.
Fuel Option: It is a gas-powered generator, so always use gasoline to run this generator.
Tank Capacity and Runtime: A 3.4-gallon gas tank can give up to 20 hours of runtime at a 25% load. Its eco-throttle system saves fuel and gives an extended runtime.
Noise Level: Honda EU3000iS operates between 49 dB (A) and 58 dB (A). This variation in noise level is caused due to changes in load.
Parallel Capable: Link another Honda EU3000iS inverter generator to double the output power.
Starting Mechanism: Both the electric and recoil start mechanisms are part of this unit.
Control Panel: Its control panel of this generator has two 120V AC 20A outlets, one 30A outlet, and one 12V DC outlet. Also, we have oil-alert and overload alarms.
Weight, Warranty, and Certifications: It comes with a 3-year limited warranty, and its weight is 144 pounds.
Portability: Two carrying handles are there to easily move the unit.
5. Generac 6864 Diesel Powered Portable Generator – Diesel Generator for Off-Grid
Fuel Option: The last but not the least off-grid generator in our list is the Generac 6864 that runs on diesel.
Engine and Power Output: It has a Yanmar LW Series 435cc diesel engine that is responsible to give 5500 surge watts and 5000 rated watts.
Its less than 6% THD rating provides smooth operation to sensitive electronics.
Tank Capacity and Runtime: Generac XD5000E has a huge fuel tank capacity of 12 gallons that provides 32.4 hours of runtime at half load. Thanks to its idle control feature that saves fuel.
Starting Mechanism: It is powered by an electric start system with recoil backup.
Control Panel: It has four 120V 20A outlets, one 120V 30A outlet, and one 120/240V 30A outlet. Also, there is an engine switch, hour meter, and a voltage selector switch. This voltage selector switch allows you to switch between 120V and 120V and 240V at the same time.
Weight, Warranty, and Certifications: The weight of this generator is 254 pounds; it is CARB compliant, and it features a 2-year limited warranty.
Portability: Its steel frame is designed in such a way that it offers comfortable carrying handles.
Output and Power Needs
When you buy a generator for off-grid living, you need to make sure that it has enough power to keep your appliances running without any fluctuations. The best way to do this is to make a list of all the appliances in your cabin or RV and then mention their starting and running wattages. Calculate the total of both to find your power requirements. To help you sort this out, we have given an example below.
|10000 BTU Air Conditioner
|Laptop and Phone Charger
In the example above, 7170 watts are needed to start all the appliances at one time, and 5470 watts are needed to keep them running simultaneously. In this situation, a generator of 6000 watts will be ideal. You don’t need a generator according to the starting wattage but as per the running power needs. You can add the appliances one by one so that they release the extra load. If your needs are less, you can edit the table above and find out the power requirements. Remember, load management is an important aspect of getting more out of your generator.
Inverter vs. Conventional Generator
The next big thing to consider is going for an inverter generator or a conventional generator. If your main concern is to power sensitive appliances like laptop/phone chargers, medical equipment like CPAP machines, then an inverter is best for you. However, if you need more power to run appliances like air conditioners, well pumps, heat pumps, and other heavy appliances, a conventional generator is the best. Inverters provide you with clean power but have a limited output. They are also less noisy and lightweight compared to classical generators and are also expensive. On the other hand, conventional generators are capable of producing more power as compared to inverters, and cheaper than inverters. The inverter vs. generator debate boils down to two things; type of power and amount of power you need.
Type of Fuel
If you are going for an inverter generator for your off-grid adventures, you will be limited to gasoline/propane generators. On the other hand, with a conventional generator, you will have the option of going for single fuel or dual fuel generator. You can choose a gas, propane, or diesel generator for off the grid cabins. If you plan to go off-grid on your RV, it is best to choose the fuel type according to your RV engine. If you have a diesel RV, buying a diesel generator is a great option. However, it is best to have a dual fuel (gas and propane) generator when it comes to off-grid living. The reason is that it is possible that you may not find gasoline easily in remote areas. Gas has a short shelf life (8-10 months) compared to propane (8-10 years). You can easily store propane cylinders in your cabin without any worries. Gas is also highly flammable as compared to propane and can be more hazardous. Please keep in mind that gasoline has a higher energy rating than propane but propane burns cleaner. Diesel, on the other side, has a higher energy rating than gasoline and propane. Its burning is not clean but provides a better runtime.
Gas Tank Size and Runtime
If your power needs are high and you want your generator to run continuously for 6-9 hours, then go for a generator with a large tank size. As the tank size increases, run time also increases. To increase the run time, it is best to keep the load at half of the generator’s total output. Some generators come with efficient engines that conserve fuel and provide you with a better run time.
Look for a generator that offers maximum options on the control panel. The latest model will come with various meter readings, low oil and fuel indications, and an odometer to display the total running hours of the generator.
If you plan to run your generator with an RV, make sure it has all the power outlets to directly connect your appliances. If you are connecting your off-grid cabin with your generator, it must be transfer switch ready. We suggest that you don’t connect the generator directly to your cabin without a transfer switch. It can back feed and cause problems to the appliances and the generator.
When you are off the grid, you will need to move around your generator frequently. Hence it is best to look for a generator with all the portability features. An off-grid generator must have push/pull handles with an ergonomic design and durable wheels. If you are going for an inverter generator, it must come with a carry handle and wheels.
If you don’t want to go out from the luxury of your cabin, buy a remote start generator. Otherwise, you will have to settle for an electric start or recoil starting the generator. Electric start generators save you from the hassle of pulling the starting ropes, but you still have to go out. Remote start generators are costly than electric start or recoil start models.
A generator must always be safe to use. It must come with features like surge protection, auto shutdown in response to overheating and overloading, and low oil. Make sure you look for covers on the power outlets to keep them safe from dust and water while your generator is outside.
We don’t want you to disturb the peace of your off-grid living area. Therefore, it is better to look for a generator with a minimum sound rating. Inverters are less noisy compared to conventional generators. Some states limit the noise output from a generator. You must check the local laws before buying a generator. Secondly, a quiet generator will also give you peace of mind.
Warranty and Certification
Look for a generator with a warranty. The warranty covers come in handy when you have to get your generator repaired within 1-2 years of purchasing. Friendly customer service will help you set your generator for the first time and solve your queries later on. If you are a resident of California, don’t buy a generator that is not certified by CARB. Generators certified from EPA also ensure that the air quality is not affected due to generator exhaust.
The last thing, but one of the most important, is the price. If you are buying an advanced machine with all the latest features, you will have to pay more. Inverters and diesel generators are costly compared to single fuel conventional generators.