The 7 Best Portable Generators to Buy 2020

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No matter where you are from or where you are going, we have all experienced a couple of situations without power. It can be a frustrating endeavor to work or even complete daily task without power. However, the best portable generator is designed to give you a secondary power source that can be used at home or when outdoors.

Generators have been a growing commodity for many people in recent years. Not only does it enable you to do the things you need to when the power goes out, but it enables life to continue as normal whenever you are caught in the dark. In this article, we explore some of the top portable generators that money can buy.

The 2 Main Types Of Portable Generators That Everyone Needs To Know About:

You might think that all types of portable generators are the same. However, this is not the case. There are 2 types of portable generators commonly available today. To help you find the right portable generator, this guide will make it much easier:

Conventional Alternator Generator:
Once you build a mental image in your head of a generator, this is the common generator that you might be thinking of. It is commonly seen as a generator that is held in place by an open frame, with the capacity to give you a lot of power. These generators are cheaper than the inverter, but they can work just as well in every situation.

One of the easiest ways to spot them is by looking at the construction. They are also much louder and you will definitely notice when someone is using one of them in their home or on an outdoor camping trip. Additionally, they can be heavy and harder to move around when you are traveling.

Inverter Alternator Generator:
The Inverter Alternator Generator has many of the same characteristics as the conventional version. However, they generally have an enclosed casing that reduces the sound. While they might lack in providing you the same power output, they are more fuel-efficient, while also being lighter and easier to move.

Another different you will notice is the price of these generators. They tend to be a little more expensive when you buy them. We like them and have included them in this list since they basically symbolize portability for the traveling enthusiasts.

Before we continue with some of the many special features you need to consider, let’s have a closer look at a few of the top generators that you can actually buy. These have been carefully selected using the buyer’s guide you will find below.

The 7 Best Portable Generators 2020

1. Briggs & Stratton 30663 Gas Powered Portable Generator

Why We Like It: The Briggs & Stratton 30663 Gas Powered Portable Generator is not only powerful but includes wheels to make this heavy machine easier to move. The peak power output of 8,750-watts is more than enough to sustain a small to medium household.

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Power Output:
Depending on the type of job you are doing, the power output is certainly something to keep in mind. The Briggs & Stratton 30663 Gas Powered Portable Generator might start with a peak power output of 8,750-watts, but the standard running power output is still a staggering 7,000-watt for running most of your household items.

A 420cc engine has been included in the core of the unit and this can provide 21-foot-pounds of torque while sustaining it for around 8-hours of full running time. The metal fuel tank is large, with an overall capacity of 7.5-gallon, removing the need for you as the user to actually refill it constantly. For normal households with standard appliances, the running time is much longer.

Portability:
The main goal of selecting the product is the overall portability. When you consider that it weight around 220-pounds, it might not be ideal for quickly moving around the home or even taking somewhere. However, the addition of large wheels makes it possible to push or pull the unit to the area on your own.

Other Features:
The generator has been designed in accordance with CSA and PGMA standards, making it much easier to buy when you have specific regulations to follow. It includes four 120-volt power outlets and a 240-volt outlet at 30-amps. While this might not be an important feature for the standard user, it definitely helps a lot when working with power tools.

Finally, you don’t need to worry about pulling a lever to get it started. The unit is simple to start and only the turn of a key will get it going. Thanks to this, any person can get it going as long as the unit has some fuel inside. Unfortunately, it does turn out to be a little loud and expensive, but definitely one of the most powerful portable generators available today.

Pros
  • The running power output is around 7,000-watts
  • Four 120-volt power outlets are includes for multiple connections
  • It features a large 7.5-gallon fuel tank
  • The unit meets PGMA and CSA standards
  • Large 12-inch wheels are used to wheel it around
Cons
  • It is one of the most expensive portable generators.
  • You might have to deal with the loud noise as well

2. WEN 56200i Generator

Why We Like It: The WEN 56200i Generator is one of the quietest generators you can find on the market today. Not only is it an inverter generator, but it features an eco-friendly mode that will greatly reduce your fuel consumption. This feature could save you a lot of money.

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Lightweight And Quiet:
The main feature that has made the WEN 56200i Generator stand out is the size of the unit. It is actually designed for the average user with little to no experience to use in times of need. The unit merely weighs around 48-pounds, making it possible for almost anyone to carry it around. However, this could be a little heavier, once the 2-gallon tank has been filled.

Since you might not like the noise of the conventional generator, this unit is only around 52-decibels when it is powered and running at maximum capacity. All of the sounds are caught up on the inside of the casing and the generator is small enough to place inside your home or camping area if you need to power all your things.

Eco-Friendly:
When we think of something that uses a lot of fuel, the word eco-friendly is not the first that comes to mind. Yes, this unit will still expel carbon dioxide, but when you activate the eco-friendly mode on the control panel, it can reduce the power output. Since it gives you clean power, it is also more efficient to use on delicate electronics like your mobile devices.

Other Features:
The running wattage on this unit is 1,600-watts, while the peak power output will give you up to 2,000-watts to work with. It features two 3-prong 120-volt power outlets to connect all of your important devices and electronics. Additionally, the unit is CSA compliant, allowing you to use it outdoors in all 50 states.

Finally, it is a little more affordable than some of the high-powered generators, while still giving you some excellent value for your money. The unit is backed by a 2-year limited warranty and includes a functional design with a carry handle. We should mention the safety features, with overload protection to automatically shut down the unit.

Pros
  • It weighs in at only 48-pounds
  • The sound output is around 51-52 decibels
  • It includes an eco-friendly mode that runs on 500-watts
  • The unit is also CSA compliant for use in all the states
  • Multiple power outlets allow you to use multiple electronics (Including a USB port)
Cons
  • The unit only features a 2-gallon tank
  • It might not be able to power all of your power tools

3. DuroStar DS4000S Gas Powered Portable Generator

Why We Like It: The DuroStar DS4000S Gas Powered Portable Generator is capable of delivering a massive 4000-watt power output. Since it is one of the conventional generators, refilling it and starting the unit is much easier.

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Powerful Engine:
The unit is powered by a massive 1 HP engine and this has been air-cooled to ensure you can run it for prolonged periods. It starts with a power output of 4,000-watts, which will eventually turn down to 3,300 watts once the unit is on and constantly running. This power is enough to make sure you can use some of the basic electronics in your home.

It has also been EPA and CARB approved, ensuring that you can use the generator in all the states across the US. You might need some help in lifting this 94-pound monster, but for camping trips, it will certainly help to power all of your camping gear. Additionally, it works great for users with power tools, especially when you do business on the road.

Other Features:
The unit is extremely compatible to use inside your home. It features 2 120-volt power outlets to ensure most of the electronics without strong elements are sufficiently powered. A voltage meter is included in the package, making it possible for the user to find the precise power output and prevent potential power surges.

Next, the EZ-pull starting mechanism is included to get it going. Since it does not take too much effort, even the weakest of individuals can get it going. At half-load, it should give you a satisfactory runtime that spans around 8-hours. However, this will greatly depend on the number of appliances or electronics used on it.

Pros
  • The unit has a powerful peak power output of 4,000 watts
  • It includes and EZ-pull starter for anyone to get it going
  • Two 120-volt power outlets are sufficient for most homes
  • Being a conventional generator, it is affordable
  • A voltage meter is included to prevent power surges
Cons
  • At 94-pounds, it is rather heavy to move around on your own

4. Generac 5735 GP17500E Portable Generator

Why We Like It: The Generac 5735 GP17500E Portable Generator is one of the generators you will buy to power your home. This 16-circuit generator can give you a massive power output of 17,500-watts to run all the appliances in your home if needed.

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Power Output:
Blackouts are not as common in all areas of the world and this means that everyone will need something that can run their entire homes. However, the Generac 5735 GP17500E Portable Generator is designed with a massive power output of 17,500-watts and features a 992cc OVHI engine that is cooled on the inside for prolonged running times.

At full capacity, the unit can give you up to 26250-watts of power, making it one of the most powerful generators that anyone with either power tools or standard home appliances can need. To keep this unit running at these power wattages for around 10-hours, the manufacturer has included a massive 16,-gallon tank for the fuel.

Other Features:
Weight can be a little bit of an issue if you need something lightweight, but fortunately, the massive wheels and lightweight steel tubing that surrounds it will make it much easier to move around. Additionally, you only need to push a single button to activate the unit with the electric starter added to the panel.

One of the selling points on this unit is definitely the display panel. Not only does it show you an accurate measurement of the fuel that is still available, but it can even calculate the hours you have available. An idle control feature will reduce some of the noise, but we have still found that it is a little noisier than some of the others.

Pros
  • The unit can reach a peak power output of 26250-watt
  • The display panel gives you all the information needed
  • An electric button is all you need to turn it on
  • Massive wheels are added to move the unit around
Cons
  • The unit is the most expensive we could find
  • At more than 300-pounds, moving it around can be a daunting task

5. Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator

Why We Like It: At first glance, the Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator might seem like a standard generator, but since it comes with an electronically controlled remote, it is much easier to start. You simply need to push a button and the unit will be ready to go.

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Longest Running Time:
Most generators will give you up to 12-hours of running time until they need to be refilled. However, the Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator is designed to give you up to 16-hours of running time. The time will go down a little bit when you run it at 50%, but 14-hours is still an extremely long time to keep everything powered.

The 6.6-gallon tank is not the largest, but still large enough that you won’t have to spend too much time or effort in continuously filling it up with gasoline. Additionally, the remote control can allow you to turn it on or off, or even change the power output of the outlets from 120-volts to 240-volts for many of your power tools.

Other Features:
Most generators will give you up to 12-hours of running time until they need to be refilled. However, the Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator is designed to give you up to 16-hours of running time. The time will go down a little bit when you run it at 50%, but 14-hours is still an extremely long time to keep everything powered.

The 6.6-gallon tank is not the largest, but still large enough that you won’t have to spend too much time or effort in continuously filling it up with gasoline. Additionally, the remote control can allow you to turn it on or off, or even change the power output of the outlets from 120-volts to 240-volts for many of your power tools.

Pros
  • Adjustable outlet switch for your power tools
  • It includes massive wheels to move around
  • The unit can run at 25% for up to 16-hours
  • Maintenance is made easy with readily available parts
Cons
  • Refilling 6.6-gallons can be expensive if used daily
  • The unit is still heavy when you need to pick it up

6. Westinghouse iGen2500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

Why We Like It: Much like the other generators from Westinghouse, the Westinghouse iGen2500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator is another extremely quiet generator that has been designed to give you power in all situations.

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Super Quiet Design:
If you have taken note of the generator types that we mentioned at the start, you will see that an inverter is much quieter than your standard conventional generator. The Westinghouse iGen2500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator. With a sound output of only 52-decibels, there is no need to buy an expensive cover for the sound.

The unit has a peak power output of 2,500-watts, which will be enough to run a couple of smaller things in your home. The general running wattage is 2,200-watts, making it one of the only generators to not lose as much power when it has settled after being turned on. At 50%, this super quiet generator will give you around 10-hours of running time.

Overall Size:
If you are in the market for a generator that can be used for traveling or perhaps camping, you might have found the perfect option. It does have a carry handle, making it easier to move around this 48-pound unit when on the road. The small dimensions allow you to hide it as well if you have a decent extension cord.

Other Features:
The generator has many of the same features that one would find in a small unit. However, it has an LED control panel to indicate all of the most important information. Not only this, but the stylish design with colors makes us think, that it can even be used for hunting. After all, with less noise, you are more likely to bag your target.

Finally, the unit includes two 120-volt power outlets, but only a 1-gallon tank for gas. The upside is that it is also considered eco-friendly if you use it at 50%. We did mention that you can get a good 10-hours out of the unit at this power output level. The manufacturer has included a 3-year limited warranty, but you have lifetime technical support.

Pros
  • It weighs in at only 48-pounds with a carry handle
  • The control panel is LED for use in the dark
  • At 50%, the unit runs for 10-hours
  • The unit has a sound output of only 52 dB
Cons
  • It is not designed for powering power tools
  • The 1-gallon tank can be frustrating to fill up

7. Pulsar 1,200W PG1202S Portable Generator

Why We Like It: You don’t always need to have a lot of power or even a massive generator to get the job done. The Pulsar 1,200W PG1202S Portable Generator is the perfect small and low-power generator for a budget-strapped camping trip.

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Affordability:
Compared to many of the other advanced generators, the Pulsar 1,200W PG1202S Portable Generator is not designed for powering everything in your home. It only peaks at around 1200-watts but will run continuously on 900-watts if you need to sustain electronics for a lengthy amount of time. At such a low level, the unit will run for around 8.5-hours uninterrupted.

With these features not really standing out, you can get it for a real bargain. All of them are included for the cheapest possible price, while still giving you a 35-pound unit that is easy to move around. Since the tank is only 1.1-gallons, you don’t need to constantly spend most of your camping budget to refill it when you use it sparingly.

Other Features:
The generator includes the same two 120-volt power outlets that we have become accustomed to so far. However, the one 12-volt DC power outlet can be helpful when you need to have something that draws a lot of power working. Once the unit has been set up, the noise output measures slightly higher than the super quiet versions at 65-decibels.
The electronic push-start method might be the most common found nowadays, but the recoil start method used on the Pulsar 1,200W PG1202S Portable Generator is still good enough. It does not have any fancy features otherwise but mostly comes across as a basic unit that will get the job done efficiently.

Pros
  • It weighs only 35-pounds in total weight
  • The unit is one of the cheapest on the market
  • At half load, it can run for 5-hours straight
  • 65-decibels is still quiet enough for camping
Cons
  • The 1,200-watt power output is not the best for power tools
  • It only comes with a small 1.1-gallon tank

Guide to Buying the Best Portable Generators

You might have seen the top generators and the two different types that are available. However, portable generators have a couple more important features that one needs to consider. If none of these work for you, we have designed this intricate buyer’s guide to guide you on your way to finding the top portable generators:

Weight And Size:
One of the reasons you are probably reading this article is to find something smaller and easier to work with. However, a portable generator does not always mean it is going to be lightweight. Occasionally, the heavier generators have special wheels that can accommodate the weight of the generator and a full tank of gas. This makes them easier to move, but still portable enough for travel.

On the other hand, you might be looking for a good generator that you can hide somewhere safe. In this case, the dimensions of the generator will play a massive part in allowing you to do so. We have not directly gone into all of the dimensions, but many of them are small enough to hide and perhaps even carry along on your camping trips. After all, camping is about being minimalistic about what you are taking along.

Power Output:
One of the most important factors to consider when buying a new generator is the amount of power that is able to put out. The option you choose will depend on a couple of factors, including the type of units that need to be powered. If you need to power something that contains an element, you will need to have a much higher power output.

Additionally, smaller appliances might only need a few watts to be efficiently powered and to sustain this for a certain amount of time. Generally, the generator will have a peak power output that is achieved once you turn it on. However, it will go down a little bit if the generator has settled and is running continuously.

Power Outlets And Voltages:
Each generator will have some sort of power outlet that allows you to power your devices or electronics. For most portable generators, the power outlets are around 120-volts. However, power tools might need a little more power and this can go up to 240-volts. The higher the voltage your power outlet, the more fuel it will drain.

Not only do you need to consider the voltages, but the number of power outlets that have been included. The more outlets your generator has, the more electronics or appliances can be powered simultaneously. This can potentially allow the top generators to power your entire household without too much effort.

High-end generators have one or two power outlets. However, you can switch these up to different voltages, depending on what you need for your specific items. The method can either be in the form of a twisting control or perhaps even a remote control for the generators that have been designed to be controlled easily.

Generator Power Supply:
Not all generators are powered by gas. Some of them can also be powered by diesel depending on the one you choose. For most portable generators, gas is generally easier and you can use them much more sufficiently, especially when you don’t need to use them for days on end like most commercial buildings or stores.

Additionally, the diesel generator is also a great option, but diesel is commonly reserved for some of the larger generators. They are power by diesel to help make them more fuel-efficient. They can also be more eco-friendly when you are using diesel and sustain your for days instead of merely using them for hours.

One of the downsides of choosing a diesel generator is the amount of noise output. Unfortunately, they have been known to be kind of heavy on the noise levels and if you have a few people nearby, they might find it intolerable. However, the upside is the longer duration of the fuel inside the generator before it needs to be refilled.

Gas Tank:
One of the features that some people neglect to look at is the gas tank size of the unit. It might tie into the overall size of the unit, but you need to know how many gallons of gas the tank can hold. Not only will this give you a better indication of the duration it can remain on, but also indicate if you need to have an additional tank for refilling it.

Since power tools and many other things can draw a lot of power, or even drain the tank much faster, it is worth noting that an additional gas tank can greatly help you to keep the unit sustained. Naturally, it will all come down to the purpose of your generator and whether you need to use it for long times before finding the nearest gas station.

Circuit Breaker:
Having a circuit breaker can be considered a minor feature, but with generators being fairly expensive, it is a good idea to consider it as one of the important features. The circuit breaker has one feature and that is to protect the generator from damages. This can happen when you have a unit that has a faulty circuit, while also protecting it from being a potential fire hazard.

Safety Features:
The circuit breaker is not the only safety feature that people can look for. Many of the top generators are CSA and EPA compliant. This includes safety features that will automatically shut-off the unit once the oil is low or when something is wrong. We recommend looking for a generator that is compliant with some of these organizations.

If the generator is not compliant with some of the organizations, you might not even be able to use them legally. If you are caught with a non-compliant generator, you might find yourself facing hefty fines for using them

Additional Features To Consider:

These are the most common main features that every person need to look at before they buy a portable generator. However, generators have definitely evolved from the days of the standard generator to look better and make it easier to use. Here are a couple of additional features that you might need to keep in mind to ensure you have the best possible generator:

  • Display: Most displays are fairly standard, but a portable generator can have an electronic display. The electronic display makes it much easier to keep track of the fuel levels and the hours remaining to ensure you never run out of power.
  • Starting Mechanism: if you are tired of the pull mechanism that needs to be pulled over and over again to get it started, you can find an electronic starting mechanism. One of the most advanced generators can even allow you to start the unit with a remote control.
  • Carry Handle: One might not really think that this is really important, but if you have a lightweight generator of less than 50-pounds, having a carry handle can make it much easier to move it around.
  • Noise: Not only can the conventional generators be noisy, but they can frustrate many of the campers or neighbors. Depending on where you are using the generator, it is important to look at the level noise output.
  • Warranty: Lastly, we must consider the warranty. These generators are expensive and they need some sort of protection. The standard generator from the top brands will keep you protected for around 2-years.

These are all the features that can make a generator stand out and give you great value for your money. However, a generator needs to be maintained as well, which can be daunting or expensive if you don’t have the skills to take it apart. Fortunately, you can look for a service warranty for your generator to ensure it functions as a well-oiled machine.

Frequently Asked Questions:

The information mentioned above should potentially cover everything that you might have been wondering about when it comes to selecting a portable generator. However, there are still a few unanswered questions that some people might have. Whilst doing research, here are a few of the most common unanswered questions:

Starting Watts Vs. Running Watts:
Starting watts is what a generator can achieve once it has been turned on to get an appliance or tool running. This is generally much higher than the running watts. However, smaller things like lights will continuously use the same amount of watts.

The only real area that will be affected when it comes to starting watts and running watts is power tools and some of your appliances that use an element. These will need some sort o boost to get them running and you need to consider this when you decide for what the generator will be used.

How Much Does It Cost To Run A Household With A Generator?
To accurately measure the costs, you will need to a few of your own calculations. You will need to consider which appliances will be used, as well as the amount of time these appliances will be running. Next, you also need to keep in mind what the current gas prices are to ensure that it is easier to calculate.

Additionally, the power source you are using will have an effect as well. Diesel will give you a more power-efficient unit that can work for longer, slightly reducing the costs.

Can I Run All My Appliances Using A Portable Generator?
While the fuel and the wattage have been mentioned, you also need to consider the safety issues. Some generators can have power surges and they are hard to control with all your specific appliances, especially when something does not need as much power to function.

You will need to do a little bit of research on your generator and the appliances to find out what is the maximum voltage they can function on. One thing you don’t want is to fry any of the circuit boards on your appliances. However, a good circuit breaker can always help you to avoid some of these potential issues.

Conclusion:

The best portable generator can make your life easier and ensure that you always have the power to use. Blackouts won’t have an effect anymore and in the modern age of security, the generator can help keep some of your battery-operated security systems going as well.

Let us know in the comment section which of these portable generators you have used and if they have been working for you. If we might have missed any of your favorite options, we would love to add them to this list.