Best 10 Portable Generator
Having a portable generator is quite a big investment, considering that it is not cheap and you use it for essential and emergency situations related to electrical supply. That’s why people tend to select renowned brands that are more likely to be known for its reliability and warranty. It still won’t reduce the fact that there is an overwhelming number of options out there – some has better functions, some win at the design, and some offer multi purposes items.
Here are some of the best models that you can choose in the market:
1. Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt
EU2200i has similar design and appearance as its predecessors, as it carries the signature color combination of red and black, as well as the bulky handy at the top part. It has small fuel tank that consumes most of its compact design. The power of this model, however, is upgraded with 2200W surge power and 1800W running power.
Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt is designed to be highly user-friendly. To guide its users, it features four parts color-coded system as the machine is started by manual recoil mechanism. It also has additional user-friendly features such as low-noise level that operates on 57 dBA at full load and 48 dBA at quarter load, large oil control panel, and automatic fuel shut-off.
2. Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator
WGen7500 is amongst the most powerful models in the whole series of WGen from Westinghouse manufacturer. The series itself is designed to suit with homeowner instead of for commercial or construction purposes. It results in simple machine maintenance, easy starting system, and intuitive handling.
As the name implies, the model can deliver up to 7500W when it runs on full power. The engine can run much more efficiently due to the use of overhead valve technology. With 6.6-gallon fuel tank, it can run for maximum 14 hours at half power load. It uses gasoline but also has chargeable battery on board.
3. DuroStar DS4000S Gas Powered 4000 Watt
DuroStar is a well-known brand that’s mostly associated with good money value, powerful engine, and high-quality generator. This time with DS4000S, it also offers the same benefits for the users.
This portable generator model is very capable in terms of power. It generates 4000W of starting output and 3300W running wattage, as well as being able to run 8 hours on half load. In short, it provides good value for your money.
The starting system of DS4000S is quite simple with traditional recoil mechanism; it is quite quick and very easy to switch into motion. It features a warning system for low oil level and automatic shutoff system when the fuel source begins to get low. This feature is great to prevent engine damage and add longer durability for your generator.
4. Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Gas Powered Portable Inverter
For portable inverter generator, the EF2000iSv2 has quite unique appearance. It sports slimmer frame and round edges that may remind you of retro-looking radio – one that delivers electrical power rather than sound waves.
Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is a popular inverter generator model that has seen many praises and received high ratings both from the users and experts. Its strength includes quiet operating sound, lightweight body, and user-friendly control panel. It’s also the quietest generator.
It produces standard power output at 2000W category and 1600W running power – but 900W less than the older model from the same manufacturer. It seems like Yamaha targeted to sell user-friendly and simple machine. It’s still suitable to bring on various outdoor activities, such as tailgating or camping trips.
5. Sportsman GEN2000
GEN2000 is a space-saving portable generator that is ideal to power a single major electrical device at one time. It runs with customary gas fuel so it should be easy to find the fuel source in the nearest service station to you. This machine puts out 2000W surge watts and 1400W running watts. For the outlets, it has one 12V DC and two 120V outlets, which you can use to power several small devices at the same time.
This model features automatic low-oil shutoff to prevent your engine from being damaged when there’s too little amount of fuel in the tank. The fuel tank itself has total capacity of 1.2 gallons. By using single full tank, GEN2000 can run up to 9 hours depending on its running load. The engine, which is EPA certified, doesn’t operate loudly but is not exactly quite with 70 dBA noise level.
6. Inverter Generator Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500
For a standard of inverter generator, Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 is amazingly powerful. It delivers 6500W surging watts and 5000W running watts. There are four 120V/20A outlets for construction tools, as well as couple of USB ports to charge sensitive electronic devices.
The compact design quality of this generator is visible when you compare to common generator model with same output – it is 30% lighter in weight at 128 pounds and 45% smaller in dimensions at 25.5” x 21” x 21.5”. It features telescopic puling handle and wheel on one of its ends. The 8-inch wheels smart design makes it highly portable compared to other 2000W inverter model.
7. Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel
If you want a portable generator with perfect mix of convenience and versatility, then The Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel will make a great choice. It has adequate amount of generated power to start and run essential electrical items at times of power outage.
Champion 3800-Watt is powered by gasoline and propane. With gasoline, the 224cc engine can yield up to 4750W when starting and 3800W when running. The full 3.4-gallon fuel tank supports the engine to run 9 hours straight at half load. Meanwhile with 20-pound propane fuel tank, it generates 4725W when starting and 3240W when running, with 10.5 running time at half load.
The engine produces 68 dBA noise level when operating. It also features built-in surge protector Volt Guard, that keep it safe from overloads. This generator has various outlets including one 120V/30A RV, 120V/30A locking outlet, and couple of 120V/20A household outlets.
8. WEN 56200i, 1600 Gas Portable Inverter Generator
WEN 56200i is a machine that’s able to generate 2000W power when starting and 1600W when running. The manufacturer sells WEN 56421 Parallel Kit in case you want to double its power. It is totally safe to use for sensitive electronic devices such as smartphones, camera, or laptops, due to the use of low total harmonic distortion (THD). It also comes with USB ports to charge your personal electronic device directly.
Considering its lightweight and portable quality, this portable generator engine is suitable to bring on hunting trips or camping. It has handles to carry the machine anywhere. Even for recreational uses, the small fuel tank works efficiently. As addition to these features, the manufacturer also uses beneficial sound canceling mufflers and design so it runs as quiet as possible. WEN 56200i operates as silent as you can get from an inverter generator.
9. Westinghouse WGen5500 Portable Generator
For you who are looking for affordable and reliable portable generator, Westinghouse WGen5500 is an alternative that’s worth to consider. It is capable to back up the power of your house at times of outages. It delivers solid 6850W at its peak and 5500W when running, making it more than sufficient. It also runs on impressive 14 hours duration on half load, with only 6.6-gallons of gas.
This generator machine has convenient amounts of outlets. There is couple of 120V/20A, and one 120/240V 30A twist-lock outlet. It runs at 72 dBA noise level with advanced huge muffler technology and catalyst named Pulse-Flo.
The material is built from durable cast iron sleeve – makes the body frames sturdy and dependable. There are two Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) which prevent accidental electrocution. Compared to other models that fall into 5000-6000W power category, Westinghouse WGen5500 offers an affordable price.
10. Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160
If you need a portable generator to charge small and low-powered devices under 100 Watts, then this Jackery Portable Power Station 160 will make a fitting choice. With great durability and portability, it gives you ability to recharge your devices anywhere.
This portable Power Station is a friendly alternative for adventurers and travelers to bring and use conveniently on outdoor area. As an addition, it features an advanced benefit of complete solar power stations. This generator uses single AC socket and 167Wh lithium battery that can generate up to 150 Watts power. It also has DC outlets and USB ports for handheld devices.
What is Portable Generator?
Portable generator is equipment that’s specifically used to provide temporary and transportable source of electric power. It is a common device to be found on job sites, leisure areas, and even household. Here are several basic uses of this machine:
- Extended power outages or cuts
- Construction and building sites
- Outdoor activities such as festivals, camping, or hunting
- Home, garden, and park uses
- General auto repair and DIY project purposes
- Onboard power sources of boats
- Temporal pop-up stores and impermanent installations
The capability of portable generator is rated by the generated power it can produce in watts unit. The more watts it has, the more electrical devices you can power up with it. There are two watts types out there:
- Starting watts: the peak power and required amount to start running motor-based items
- Running watts: the constant power produced to keep the electrical items to run
How Does Portable Generator Work?
The best way to explain and understand how portable generator operates is by focusing on the core components and their basic overview. It is possible to see this equipment as a complex machinery piece if you’re not familiar with it, but the key parts are actually relatively simple.
Even though there are so many different brands and models available as options to purchase all around the world, the basic principle of how portable generator runs is practically the same. Whether the machine is powered by gasoline / petrol or diesel / propane, majority of the important parts that make it work do not vary much. In general, here are the parts that you need to be aware of:
- Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)
- Alternator or generator head
- Generator starter
- Control panels and devices, such as power outlets
- Fuel tank
- Protection or safety devices
In the most basic explanation, here is the summary of how a generator machine works in the simplified steps:
- Fossil fuels are entered into the fuel tank. It is typically gasoline or propane – even though the larger machine usually used natural gases. Generally, the fuel is inputted through safety tube, but in smaller models may use funnel.
- The gas or fuel liquid inside the fuel tank provides source for combustion energy to run, after you begin to operate the machine. Portable generator starter can be a manual pull cord or electric push button. As long as the fuel source is available, the engine would be able to run.
- The built-in generator head or alternator is transformed by internal combustion engine. It converts rotational motion as mechanical energy into electricity power. The generator head is basically comprised of drive shaft that’s linked to the engine that will spin electromagnet within coil to produce and utilize electric field.
- The produced electricity is transformed into practical voltage or wattage by regulator then. The useable electric power is sent into the power outlet on the generator. By then, the power can be sent through standard cables and plugs into various electrical devices that are connected to the portable generator.
Some components might vary depending on the manufacturer, model, version, and size. For example, some models might incorporate extra systems such as exhaust and cooling features, exterior machine frame, or lubrication pipelines.
Portable Generator vs. Standby Generator
To decide whether you should opt for standby or portable generator, here is the list of features from each type:
- In terms of cost, this unit is pricier than a portable one. It also should be installed by professional, which will require labor costs. Depending on local law in your area, there might be specific regulations about proper location and noise restrictions.
- A standby generator starts automatically at times of power outage. It typically is able to supply more amount of power than portable unit.
- This type of generator runs self-diagnosis to allow you now if it needs maintenance. Some models even able to inform you by text or e-mail.
- There are more options when it comes to fuel, whether you want to use natural gas, gasoline, or propane to provide supply of power.
- The power capability ranges from 5,000-20,000 watts.
- A portable unit tends to cost less than standby type of generator.
- It usually runs by using gasoline, so you might want to store in abundance. For extended storage, the fuel needs to be added with stabilizer.
- As the name implies, the generator can be brought anywhere, inside or outside your property with exception of enclosed space, because it can produce harmful levels of carbon monoxide. Make sure to run the portable generator at least 20ft away from your building and electric equipment such as window AC or central AC. Turn the exhaust to face away from any building structure.
- Protect the generator with a canopy that specifically designed for your unit model when it rains.
- Some models feature electric starting mechanism, so they will require battery.
- The power capability ranges from 3,000-8,500 watts.
Types of Portable Generator
As there are a great number of portable generator types that available in the market, it is important to find a model that will suit with your power supply requirement and intended use scenarios. Below, four different types of this unit will be explained:
1. Quiet portable generator
In general, it’s already known that generator is a practically noisy machine when operating – even though the technology advancement in recent years has made it possible to lower the sound levels in with dramatic improvement.
A quiet portable unit is typically sold in more expensive price range compared to the more affordable but noisier models. Inverter type of generator tends to be on pricier side, considering that it usually is designed with more compact frame. This type of portable generator unit has smaller body yet works more efficiently so it can generate the equivalent amount of electricity power as its counterparts.
Majority of inverter generators also has full enclosing frame that has sound dampening quality. It makes them able to operate much quieter than the conventional open frame model design – which lets sound vibration to escape at much higher levels naturally to its surroundings. Besides, they also tend to be lighter and smaller to carry than standard generator models, due to the reduction in the size of its engine.
2. Household portable generator
A portable unit that designed for household usage purpose is commonly kept for occasional events such as electricity cutouts in temporal period. It is usually only operated in case of extended power cut and possibly utilized for that purpose for once or twice throughout the year.
There are numerous portable generator models that designed and sold for this exact occasional purpose in mind. Majority of the models are made to deliver lower power range and mostly marketed for few far and between usage, designated to power a basic appliance or two.
The most common targeted appliances to be powered by household generator in the scenario of power outages are lights, freezers, and fridges. Other equipment includes entertainment and communication devices such as TV, computers, laptop, or phone.
To find an ideal purchase for occasionally used household generator, it is important to calculate the total required power for the essential devices and appliances that you’d like to keep running. From there, you can choose the most compact portable generator that meets with power capability that you need.
3. Outdoor portable generator
Generally, the buying guide for outdoor portable unit is pretty much the same with the rules of thumb to buy household generator in prior point. The best way to approach final buying decision is by calculating the required power to keep your appliances and devices during outdoor activity to operating, then selecting the most compact alternative that meets with all your needs and preferences.
When you’re about to buy portable generator to use on motorhomes or caravans, an additional feature that’s important to consider is its noise level. Be mindful of the different sound levels that produced by different models because not all of them are suitable for the outdoor environment purpose. Some recreation sites may not allow you to bring louder and bigger generator due to the noise restriction regulation.
4. Portable generator for boats
Boats with larger body frame and engine will have equivalently large power generator that installed permanently. However, it is different for smaller boat craft. It opens the market for smaller sized portable power generator unit that designated for boats with modest size.
Keep in mind that the portable unit itself should not be operated or fuel filled on board, or anywhere close to the core engine of the boat, due to the high risk of electrocution, fire, or buildup of toxic fume. Once again, it is necessary to calculate the amount of power output that you require in various scenarios while you’re on the boats so you can find the perfect model unit that’s match with your needs.
How to Choose Portable Generator
Here are some advises regarding portable generator buying considerations:
1. Delivered Power and Multiple Outlets
The required power is the first thing you need to find out and calculate before buying a generator unit. For example, you might only need 700W to run your refrigerator, but what if it requires 2100W to start the appliance?
The types and numbers of outlets are also adding to the buying factor. An inverter generator with compact size probably will have a couple of 120V AC outlets and several USB ports. Any unit that has over 4000W capability might have 240V plugs in addition to a few 120V outlets. A 240V plug can be necessary to have if you want to connect the generator into panel directly. If the unit is intended for outdoor usage, try to search for models that have GFCI outlet protection.
2. Frequency of Usage
Majority of portable generator models that sold nowadays come with several years of warranty that benefits their users. Any models from reputable brans will do if you’re only using the unit for recreational use or emergency power.
On the contrary, if you use the generator daily to be run by a crew, it is better to select legitimate model that specifically designated for commercial uses. In addition of getting suitable equipment with your job, those models are more likely to give longer warranty that lasts years instead of months. Of course, they have more expensive price than the standard models.
3. Type of Fuel
By far, the most widely used type of fuel is gas. This is due to the reason that gas is commonly available everywhere except for particular circumstances such as major storm. That being said, diesel powered generators offer better fuel efficiency. It takes more money to upgrade, but there are various benefits to get, such as losing the frequently clogged carburetor for a convenient period of time. Diesel powered generator is also more suitable for household usage, even though it isn’t as commonly available as gasoline.
Propane portable generator is another great alternative to go. There are some model units that allow you to convert gas generator to propane use. It’s an ideal option to choose if you don’t mind a bit more complicated engine and environmentally friendly source of fuel.
A generator that’s powered by battery has benefit of being rechargeable by solar panels, omits zero emission, and operates silently. The disadvantage including the expensive price tag, long time to recharge, and in general cannot provide over 1800W of power. It is not the most practical option for outdoor activities such as tailgating and camping.
4. Fuel Tank Capacity
A fuel tank with larger capacity allows you to go longer before you need to refuel. Majority of portable generator runs 7-9 hours in average by using half load. If you use more it will last in shorter time and vice versa. Again, it might be the matter of needs and preferences but larger tank is more favored in common.
The material of fuel tank is not usually seen as a make or break factor for most people. However, just for further information, there are different of fuel tank material such as stainless steel and plastic which each has their own pros and cons.
5. Starting mechanism
Manual pull recoil starter is the traditional system that used by many older models – even though it’s still relevant nowadays. More modern models tend to use electric start, which may cost a bit more but works amazingly.
An electric starter requires battery, which means there’s a potential of leaked battery acid that commonly found in car. However, some models incorporate lithium-ion battery that’s safer. Make sure that the battery is already charged in advance on portable generator units with electric starter.
6. Noise Level
Quiet operation feature is more often to be found in smaller sized generator. Some model units even run quieter than normal conversation. An option for quite feature becomes rarer once you’re looking for 4000W category and above. Fuel source type may also affect the noise level as gas can operate more silently than diesel.
Tips to Maintain Portable Generator
Having a portable generator is necessary in terms of various circumstances such as power outages. However, it’s simply not enough to just purchase one. Doing regular maintenance is a necessary thing to do to anticipate the unexpected unfortunate events. You want to make sure that the unit is operating at optimum capacity when you use it, without any issue that prevents power supply and distribution.
So, what can one do to maintain their generator unit in the best condition possible? Here are several listed tips that provided by experts and professional, that you can easily perform at home.
1. Make sure the unit is stored in clean conditions and covered when you don’t use it
Storing your portable generator in a room for a while provide a chance for dirt and debris to ruin it. The build ups of dust and even mold may accumulate on the unit’s body or engine. If the contaminants get into the key components, your machine might be hard to function properly. Keeping it under protection and clean condition is the best way to maintain the unit.
cover serves as shield for the unit and provides extra benefits such as weather resistance or water proofing. Note that it might present as insulation, so you have to take the cover off before operating the unit to prevent overheating.
2. Empty the fuel tank after each use
After the portable generator has completed the job, the tank needs to be emptied. It is advisable to have decent amount of fuel inside generator, but it must not be stored and left idle inside the tank. This condition may result in gum deposits, in which the gas clings to the metal frame and surface of the unit. Gum deposits will disturb how the machine works so it is recommended to transfer leftover fuel to separate gas container.
3. Buy and keep backup for fuel and oil filters
Having enough fuel backup benefits you in case of unexpected cases such as extended power outages for several hours to days. It is advisable to have decent amount of backup fuel, as well as backup filters if ever the generator needs replacement.
4. Observe the wattage capacity
Making sure that your portable generator is able to handle required voltage that you’re going to use is basic rule to maintain the unit. Different generator models have different wattage rating – both the starting and running wattage, so be sure that you have checked them out. It can be checked through label or manual that comes with the generator.
Safety Tips to Use Portable Generators
In terms of ideal scenario of portable generator usage, the unit is typically able to provide reliable source of backup power, even on an array of environments and applications. However, it is essential to keep some best practices and important rules when it comes to running the machine safely. Here are some of the advices and tips that you can use:
- It is heavily important to make sure your generator unit doesn’t run in enclosed space. It needs to face open air directly on minimum three sides of the equipment.
- Most portable generator units do not come with water proof feature, therefore they should never operate in wet conditions such as during rain or snow. It provides a chance to expose the engine directly to moisture. By preventing these circumstances, you can avoid severe safety risk not only for yourself, but also people that currently on the immediate area.
- Most portable generator models will get warm if it used on long period of time. Such as other machine and appliances, it is normal to happen. However, there is a risk of overheat under certain conditions such as extended heavy performance or hot weather. Refer to the manual to prevent your unit to be overheated so you can avoid any serious damage or malfunction.
A question of whether portable generator is safe to use often surfaced, especially by first-time buyers. It can be answered by both yes and no – because in fact, the answer depends a lot on where and how it is used. In general, a portable power generator unit is safe equipment, particularly the modern models where they incorporate improved convenience, user-friendly quality, and safety in overall.