Frequent power outages, unfavorable environmental effects, and inadequate grid infrastructure in remote areas force people to buy portable generators. According to a survey, in 2018, the worldwide portable generator market size was 3.88 billion US dollars, and it is expected to reach 5.87 billion US dollars by 2026.
Portable generators are best suited for emergency power backups, recreational activities, job sites, and RVs. If you want to buy one, then here we have a list of the best in the business.
Portable Generators Comparison Chart
Terms used in the below table along with their meanings:
Gas Tank Size (Gallons)
Runtime @ 50% Load (Hours)
18 x 11 x 18/48
G & P
G: 12000, P: 11400
G: 9500, P: 9025
G: 8.83, P: 7.2 @ 40 lbs tank
30 x 29 x 26/224
24 x 17 x 1/94
27.2 x 26.1 x 26/174
G & P
G: 9375, P: 8400
G: 7500, P: 6750
G: 8.83, P: 5.5@ 20 lbs tank
27.8 x 28.7 x 26.4/202
28.5 x 21.1 x 20.7/120
22.4 x 14.4 x 19.9/55
19.3 x 11 x 17.9/44
1. WEN 56200i Portable Inverter Generator– Overall Best
WEN 56200i is the epitome of portability and affordability.It weighs only 48 pounds, and you can carry this machine with the built-in ergonomic carry handle. It is also a compact machine measuring 18 x 11 x 18 inches.
The gasoline-powered 79.7cc 4-stroke engine can deliver 2000 starting and 1600 running watts. The output is perfect for tailgating, camping, and running a couple of essentials during an outage. You can’t run heavy appliances on this unit. It has a 1.2% THD, making the machine safe for sensitive appliances.
The outlets on this unit are two 120V AC outlets, one 12V DC outlet, and one 5V USB outlet. You may need a connector to connect more than one USB cable with this machine. You will find an eco-mode switch, a parallel connectivity port, overload, low oil, and output indicators on the control panel.
One of the most amazing features of this machine is the runtime. It gives almost 5 hours runtime at 50% load on 1-gallon gasoline. Other inverters don’t have such an impressive tank size to runtime ratio. The machine doesn’t feature an electric start, so you will have to start it manually. The noise level is 53 dBA, and it won’t bother you even at full load. The unit has a 2-year warranty. It is an EPA-certified and CARB-compliant unit.
2. DuroMax XP12000EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator– Quiet Performance
DuroMax offers power, versatility, exceptional features, and safety on wheels. It is an ideal machine for people looking for more power for their homes, worksites, and large RVs. The portability of the machine is enhanced with the help of big wheels and dragging handles. Despite being heavy, it is easy to move the machine at homes and worksites.
The unit produces 12000 starting and 9500 running watts on gasoline, 11400 starting watts, and 9025 running watts on propane. The 457cc DuroMax OHV engine is an electric and manual start unit. It makes 74 dB noise even at loads above 50%.
The outlets on this machine complement the output. You get two 120V AC 20A outlets, one 120V 30A outlet, one 120/240V 30A outlet, and one 120/240V 50A outlet. It comes with a 50-amp plug to run heavy machines, power large RVs and manage big tools at worksites. The control panel also features a voltmeter, engine switch, oil, and battery recharge indicators. The unit has an idle control switch that adjusts the engine speed according to the load applied. It results in fuel-saving and increased runtime. Its patent technology, DuroMax MX2, allows you to get maximum power from each 120V outlet, or you can run the generator simultaneously at 120V and 240V.
The tank capacity is 8.8 gallons. It can run up to 9 hours at 50% load. The runtime on propane depends on cylinder size and load applied. It is an extremely safe-to-use machine. The safety features include a spark arrestor, GFCI outlets, automatic low oil shutdown, and overload protection. Please note that it is a CARB compliant and EPA approved machine.
3. Durostar DS4000S Portable Generator– Economic Choice
DS4000 is an ideal machine for people looking for moderate power at an affordable price. It weighs only 94 pounds, and you can move the machine easily with a wheel kit (separately bought). The unit features a 208cc OHV gasoline engine which delivers 4000 peaks and 3300 rated watts. The power output is enough for small homes and RVs, running small tools at a worksite. You can also use the machine to power your sensitive appliances.
The outlets consist of two 120V AC 20A outlets and one 120V AC 30A outlet. The outlets are limited, and you may need an extension to power more than 3 appliances at one time. The control panel also features a voltmeter and an engine switch.
You can get up to 8 hours runtime at 50% load with a 4-gallon fuel tank. The fuel gauge allows real-time fuel level monitoring and aids in the refilling process. You can start the unit with a recoil starter. The safety features include an automatic low oil shutdown, GFCI outlets, and surge voltage protection.
The machine has a 3-year limited warranty. It is an EPA-approved and CARB-compliant model.
4. Westinghouse WGen5500 Portable Generator– Extremely Lightweight
Westinghouse is another leading generator manufacturer. Its machines are reliable and durable. The Wgen5500 is yet another highly portable machine on our list. The unit weighs 174 pounds, but you can easily move it with the help of heavy-duty never-flat wheels and an ergonomic U-shaped rubber grip handle.
The unit has a 212cc 4-stroke OHV Westinghouse gasoline engine and delivers 6850 peak and 5500 running watts. It is a perfect example of a mid-range generator. The power output is enough for running heavy appliances, tools at worksites, and powering an RV. You can also use this generator during hurricanes and storms as it is a sturdy and well-built machine.
The most remarkable feature of this machine is its runtime. No other machine in this power range can give a runtime up to 15 hours on a 4.7-gallon tank. We tested this machine for runtime and found this claim to be true. The generator lasted for 14-15 hours with a 50% load, and that too without any fluctuations or overheating. However, you must not run your generator for more than 8 hours continuously.
The outlets consist of two 120V 20A household outlets, one 120V 30A outlet, and one 120/240V 30A outlet. You can select the voltage with the help of a voltage selector switch or operate the unit at 120V or 240V simultaneously. You can monitor the machine’s working parameters like running hours, frequency, and volts. Such features help in timely maintenance.
It has a 3-year warranty and comes with EPA and CARB certification. You can use the machine in all 50 states. The safety features include automatic low oil shutdown, rubber-protected outlets, and overload protection.
5. Champion Power Equipment 100165 Portable Generator– CARB Compliant
Champion is one of the most sought-after generator brands all over the world. The yellow and black color machines are a synonym for quality and durability. This model, 100165, is a dual fuel machine with a 439cc engine. The unit delivers 9375 starting and 7500 running watts on gasoline and 8400 peaks and 6750 rated watts on propane. The power output on both fuels is enough for small homes, RVs, and worksites with lightweight tools.
It is a highly portable machine. You can move the unit without any hassles with a U-shaped handle and heavy-duty wheels. The running noise is 74 dBA. It is probably one of the biggest issues in this machine. The safety features include volt-guard, GFCI outlets, automatic low-oil shutdown, and overload protection.
The gasoline tank size is 6.1 gallons with a runtime of up to 8 hours. You can get 5-6 hours runtime on a 20-pound tank at 50% load with propane. The runtime is not exceptional but lets you sleep peacefully with one full gasoline tank. The outlets consist of four 120V 20A outlets, one 120V 30A twist-lock outlet, and one 120/240V 30A outlet.
6. Champion Power Equipment 100554 Portable Generator– Best for RVs
Champion offers machines to meet everyone’s needs. Its 100554 portable generator is one of the most user-friendly machines currently available in the market. You get a lightweight machine with sturdy wheels and an ergonomic handle, remote-start, silent operation, outstanding runtime, along with a 3-year warranty. What else do you need?
The machine has a 208cc gas-powered Champion engine, which delivers 4375 starting and 3500 running watts. You can use this machine to run small to medium appliances at home, tools at worksites, and small RVs. The power output is limited and is not suitable for big homes or large RVs.
The fuel tank is 4.7 gallons with a runtime of 12 hours at 50% load. The runtime outnumbers other models in this category. The outlets consist of one 120V 30A locking outlet, one 120V 30A RV outlet, and two 120V 20A outlets. The intelligauge keeps you aware of the running hours, voltmeter, and other working parameters. You can start the machine with a remote, push-button, and recoil rope. Its cold start technology starts the unit quickly in cold weather.
The noise level is 68 dBA. It is a silent machine and won’t bother you much. The safety features include rubber-covered outlets, volt-guard, low oil shutdown, and overload protection.
7. Briggs and Stratton P2200 Portable Inverter Generator– CE Compliant
The next generator on our list is from the house of Briggs and Stratton. Briggs and Stratton is known for making high-quality standby generators and inverters. Its inverters are specifically designed for tailgating, camping, and running sensitive appliances during a power outage. The 111cc OHV gasoline engine can produce 2200 starting and 1700 running watts with less than 3% THD.
The unit weighs only 54 pounds, and you can lift it with its H-shaped ergonomic handle. The parallel-ready machine has a 1-gallon gas tank and offers a runtime of up to 4 hours with a 50% load. It produces only 59 decibels of sound at 50% load. The outlets on the unit are two 120V household outlets, one 12V DC outlet, and one USB outlet.
The control panel also features low oil, overload, and output-ready indicator lights. The machine has a 2-year warranty and is CE compliant. You cannot use this inverter in California as it lacks CARB certification.
8. Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Portable Inverter Generator– Ultra lightweight
Yamaha offers one of the most durable and high-quality inverter generators in the market. One of the best features of this machine is its ultra-lightweight and compact design. It weighs only 44.1 pounds and comes with an ergonomic handle for easy portability.
The inverter features a 79cc OHV air-cooled engine and delivers 2000 starting and 1600 running watts. Yamaha’s Pulse Width Modulation Technology guarantees a stable and fluctuation-less output. You can use this generator to run sensitive appliances, small tools and use for camping, tailgating, and outdoor gatherings.
The parallel-ready machine has two 120V AC outlets and one DC outlet. The fuel tank size is 1.1-gallons and provides a runtime of 4-5 hours at 50% load. The safety features consist of a USFS-approved spark arrestor, low oil warning, and overload protection. A unique feature in this machine is the Gasoline petcock; it allows the unit to run without gas for a few minutes so that the gas doesn’t go bad. You can store the machine without emptying the fuel tank or adding fuel stabilizers. It is a recoil starting the machine with a smart throttle and fuel on/off switch. The noise level varies from 51.5 dBA (25% load) to 61 dBA (100% load).
To find out your exact power needs, make a list of all the appliances you plan to run during a power outage or in your RV. Mention the starting and running wattages and then count the total for both. Consider the example below.
|Appliances||Starting Wattage||Running Wattage|
|1/2 HP Furnace||2350||875|
The total starting wattage of all the appliances is 6250 watts, and 3075 is the power needed to keep them running. In this case, a generator with a 3500-watt starting power will be perfect. The trick is to add appliances one by one on your generator. It is better to leave a cushion of 300-400 watts. You can calculate the wattage of your appliances in the same way.
Conventional or Inverter Generator
The inverter generator can get clean AC power, but you have to go with a conventional unit to get higher output power. Inverter machines are more fuel-efficient and are compact and light in weight. On the other hand, conventional units have big fuel tanks and big bodies.
The first thing to look at when buying a portable generator is how portable your generator is. If it is lightweight, then you may only need a comfortable handle to carry it. On the other hand, make sure your unit has big wheels and a durable handle if it is heavy.
It is always suggested to go for a dual fuel portable generator. The reason is that when any fuel gets short in your area due to any reason, you can still manage to run your generator on the second fuel option.
As you can take portable generators to any place, dual fuel generators are the best choice for traveling.
Fuel Efficiency and Runtime
Your portable generator must be fuel-efficient to give you extended runtime. During outdoor trips and natural disasters, fuel-efficient generators come in handy. A generator with a big fuel tank and a fuel-efficient engine will benefit you a lot.
Large generators come with a big gas tank. If you use your generator frequently, then look for a big tank. Otherwise, a small tank will suffice. Apart from the gas tank, it is also essential to consider the run time.
A user-friendly machine will give you full features on the control panel. It will come with a digital display to tell you about the total working hours, oil level, wattage being drawn from the unit, and other working parameters.
If you don’t want to pull the starting rope every time the power goes out, look for an electronic starting generator. Some generators also come with remote control start feature. All such features make our life comfortable in one way or another. An electric start generator is costly as compared to a recoil start. The ideal situation is to look for a generator that offers both starting mechanisms.
Your machine must be both EPA and CARB compliant to move with your generator in all the states of America.
What is your purpose for buying a portable generator? The answer to this will help you to determine the total power you need. If you need a portable generator for your home or construction site, then a 5,000-watt to 10,000-watt generator would suit you. If you require an RV generator, then a 5000-watt generator is ideal. Or if you need to power your campsites or tailgates, then 2000-watt generators are best suited.
You may need more power sometimes. Hence, a generator with a paralleling ability is best under such situations. It is easy to connect two inverters. However, connecting a conventional generator is not always possible. You will have to install a paralleling kit and then connect two generators. Even if it works, you may experience fluctuations in the output.
If you are conscious about your generator’s running sound, buy an inverter as it is quieter than a conventional generator. However, its power output is less than a conventional generator, but it is best to run your sensitive appliances. Conventional generators are loud, but they can be made quieter with a generator box and some other tricks.
Warranty and Customer Service
A generator with a warranty is always better than one without a warranty. A new generator may start troubling you after a year or two. We don’t want you to spend a hefty amount on repairing it. Therefore it is better to look for a generator with a warranty cover. Make sure you read all the terms and conditions. Helpful customer service is a cherry on the top as far as the after-sale service is concerned.
Inverters are costly compared to conventional generators. The price you have to pay for a generator depends on the features. Models with advanced control panels, electric starting, dual fuel options, and safety features are expensive than simple generators.
Fuel Type: Gas vs. Propane
Selecting the right fuel type is very important. Before you start using your generator, it is best to know about some of both fuels’ basic properties. These properties are related to the generator and help you get more out of it in the long run.
Power Output: When you compare gas and propane in terms of power output, the gasoline takes a clear lead. The reason is gas has a better energy density as compared to propane. It is the reason why every dual fuel generator gives more power to gas as compared to propane. On the other hand, propane is cheap but does not have a high energy density than gas.
Run Time: When you consider small generators under 5000 watts, propane offers a better run time than gas. However, as the generator size increases, the run time for propane decreases and increases for gas. All the calculations for run time and power output have been made under controlled circumstances.
Availability and Shelf Life: Both fuels are available around the year. However, gas is difficult to find during times of natural disasters. In such situations, propane comes in handy. Why? Because it can be stored for a very long time as compared to gasoline. The shelf life of gas is 10-12 months, and that for propane is 8-10 years.
Safety: Propane is a safer fuel to use. There is no risk of spillage and storing a propane cylinder is more comfortable than storing gas tanks. However, managing propane cylinders is difficult on the go.
Each fuel type has its pros and cons. Therefore, a dual fuel generator is best because it can give you the best of both worlds.