Best Portable Generators

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Westinghouse WGEN7500
Test Winner: Westinghouse WGEN7500
Amazon Link
Portable generators are the types of machines that, for the most part, you hope you never have to dig out of your closet. While they can be used as a power supply at any time and be of use to you, a majority of the time, you will allow consumers to provide the electricity you need. After all, not only is there a base charge for a generator, you must supply the gas which is not free. But, in situations when an emergency strikes via a power outage, or you simply need power that is not accessible to you, a generator becomes a lifesaver. But, their portability is one of their strongest assets.

Now, some are portable via their weight and others, that are actually quite heavy, are designed with wheels for easy movement. Sometimes, however, the trade-off of a more portable generator is their power.

Standout Picks

Honda EU2000I 2000
Everyone in the world has differing views and opinions. However, it seems to be a grand consensus that Honda’s 2000-watt generator is the very best of its kind. It is not difficult to see why with its plethora of safety features, incredible portability and stellar wattage.
Amazon Link
Westinghouse WGEN7500
With peak power of 9500 watts, those that seek insane amounts of power have found the right place. Now, at 200 pounds, you could make the claim that this is nowhere near portable. But, it does integrate roll bars for the easiest possible transport.
Amazon Link
$871.47
Wen 2000
This portable generator resembles the Honda generator maybe more than any other. Given how amazing that model is, that is certainly a compliment. But, it is not simply a cheap rip-off; it can hold its own against any portable generator you stack it up with.
Amazon Link
$431.71
Champion 7500
In many ways, this is yet another example of a portable generator sacrificing less weight for more power. Again, if this is what you desire and need, it does not get much better.
Amazon Link
$1,500.00
Briggs & Stratton Powersmart
For an engine of its size, there are other generators that are a bit lighter. However, because of its low decibel level and fuel efficiency, it is still an ideal choice. Plus, if you are dissatisfied with the power, it does integrate a parallel connector that allows two units to be connected together.
Amazon Link
Briggs & Stratton 7000
This is Briggs & Stratton’s version of their more powerful portable generator. While certain concerns, such as the excessive noise and the ultra-heavy frame, accompany this generator, it is understandable given the immense power.
Amazon Link
Generac IQ2000
Undoubtedly, one of the most noteworthy features of this portable generator is the fact that it uses inverter technology to take the raw power of your devices and create a clean and stable power source no matter what.
Amazon Link
$719.99
Yamaha Inverter
As opposed to the last generator, this does not exactly have what you would call an intuitive control panel. However, its compactness is nearly hard to believe and at first glance, you would never know it was a generator.
PowerPro Generator
All these generators are portable in some way but there is no doubt, this next model is the most portable out of the bunch. This is achieved with a super lightweight body of 36 pounds, a carrying handle, and four rubber pads.
Amazon Link
Generac 5939
In some ways, this is one of the best portable generators with circuit protection and over 6500 watts of power. However, in other ways, it suffers such as its excessive noise and weight for a generator of its wattage capability.
Amazon Link
$549.99

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Effectiveness

If anyone has ever watched Home Improvement, then you know what the main character’s (Tim Taylor) motto is: more power. You know something sometimes, he is spot on with that especially when it comes to generators. Even though this list is designed to rank the best portable models, power is still a vital component. For this, there are two specifications that you need to address. One is the running watts, or rated watts, and the other is the starting watts. Think of the starting watts as the power that is required to initially start-up a device or appliance. Once this is done, the running watts will kick in and run continually. Basically, the running wattage will be the output the majority of the time.

The reason this is important is some appliances need a lot of power to start, such as a refrigerator. This appliance can require up to 2200 watts to start but once it is running, may only require about 700 watts to continue. Another aspect to address, for the smaller units, is if you can link two of them together. With a parallel connection kit, this is feasible and can double your amount of power.

Portability

Now, this is what some people will be the most interested in. It is only common sense that a guide that is predicated on portable generators would focus a bit on their portability. However, typically, a generator is either going to be fairly light and somewhat powerful or extremely heavy and immensely powerful. Clearly, it is obvious to understand why the lighter models are portable, given their weight and their carrying handle. But, how can someone classify a 200-pound unit as being portable?

Yes, not everyone will be capable of simply picking up this beast and transporting it. However, that is never going to be the intention as wheels will be integrated for maneuverability. While it still is by no means going to be easy to roll, you will not be required to pick it up very often.

Features

Remember, virtually everything in this world is predicated on some sort of technology. As such, generators are not simply bulky pieces of machinery that have no indicators or controls of any kind. On the contrary, some have fairly intuitive control panels. But, what exactly should you look for in a control panel? Well, for starters, how about the outlets? Depending on how many 120V AC outlets or DC 12V outlets, or any others, you need should be an indicator of what you are looking for.

Now, there are also sometimes integrated indicators such as lights for low-oil, the current output, and if an overload occurs. But, there may also be meters for your current fuel levels, the voltage, and even the hertz. A fuel gauge, in specific, could be critical for you because without one, to view the current level, you must open the cap, stick a flashlight inside, and guestimate how much gasoline is inside. Yeah, that can be a major pain but a gauge makes life much easier.

Battery Life

When you are investing in a vehicle, there is a strong probability that the fuel economy will be one of the most important factors. Why should this be any different for a generator? If it has poor efficiency, then it is not going to run as long as you need it to. Then, you will be left constantly buying gasoline to fill up the tank. One mode that is convenient to have is an Eco-Throttle System. With this enabled, it allows the engine to automatically adjust itself to produce the power needed for the particular application.

Top 10 Picks

1. Honda EU2000I 2000

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Honda EU2000I 2000
Amazon Link

Everyone in the world has differing views and opinions. However, it seems to be a grand consensus that Honda’s 2000-watt generator is the very best of its kind. It is not difficult to see why with its plethora of safety features, incredible portability and stellar wattage.

Read more

Effectiveness
While this standalone generator can deliver 2000 watts of power, you can double this output with another unit. To do so, you will need an optional cable.

Portability
There is no doubt about it, this has remained as popular as it is because of its portability. Not only is it only 46 pounds but it is very compact and integrates a handle on the top for easy carrying.

Features
When the system detects that there is a low amount of oil, it detects it and the engine will automatically shut down. In addition, to prevent overloading, the circuits are protected.

There are indicator lights on the control panel for low oil, the output and if there is an overload. In terms of the outlets, there are two AC 120V outlets and a DC 12V port.

Runtime and Efficiency
On a single tank of gas, depending on if you have the Eco-Throttle System enabled (which is also on the control panel) and the load, you could get anywhere from 3.4 to 8.1 hours.

Overall
Are there portable generators out there that can dish out more raw power? Of course, there are but here is the thing, the portability of this generator is superb and it combines this with a highly-efficient engine.

Amazon Link

2. Westinghouse WGEN7500

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$871.47
Westinghouse WGEN7500
Amazon Link

With peak power of 9500 watts, those that seek insane amounts of power have found the right place. Now, at 200 pounds, you could make the claim that this is nowhere near portable. But, it does integrate roll bars for the easiest possible transport.

Read more

Effectiveness
This makes an ideal companion for a home transfer switch due to its peak power of 9500 watts. Now, its running wattage is 7500 so it is not as if that will be the output at all times.

Portability
Look, 200 pounds is nowhere near light. No one would try to dispute this but it is still labeled as a portable generator because of its implemented roll bars. As such, you will not need to lift it very often and the wheels will come in handy.

Features
Each outlet has been covered with a rubber cover for additional protection, besides already being circuit protected. Also, the hardened-steel frame adds an additional amount of protection for the gas tank.

Due to the onboard battery charger, this can be started with the single push of a button. Also featured on the panel is a low-oil indicator and a digital hour meter. Finally, there are 5-20R 120V outlets.

Runtime and Efficiency
At a 50 percent load, this can dish out 10 hours of juice. Overall, the 6.6-gallon fuel tank is fuel efficient and when need be, the engine can easily be started in low temperatures.

Overall
Let’s be honest for a second, this bad boy is an absolute beast. If you are looking for pure power and a source for a multitude of your appliances and devices, this is clearly the generator you are looking for.

Amazon Link
$871.47

3. Wen 2000

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$431.71
Wen 2000
Amazon Link

This portable generator resembles the Honda generator maybe more than any other. Given how amazing that model is, that is certainly a compliment. But, it is not simply a cheap rip-off; it can hold its own against any portable generator you stack it up with.

Read more

Effectiveness
With 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts, it may not be the most impressive but it should still suffice for emergency situations. Plus, with the parallel connection kit, you can link two generators together.

Portability
A convenient carrying handle allows you a great means of transporting this generator. Plus, at 48 pounds, while not easy to carry, it still is feasible for most.

Features
Because this limits the amount of total harmonic distortion to under 0.3 percent, it only produces clean power to your devices; which can come in handy if you have sensitive electronics that you are concerned about.

Past the two, three-prong 120V receptacles, there is also a 5V USB port and a 12V DC receptacle. In addition to this, there are indicator lights for the output, if there is an overload, and if the oil is low.

Runtime and Efficiency
At half-load, you could run this for six hours which is fairly respectable. Thanks to the Eco-Mode, though, you can fully maximize the fuel economy.

Overall
Even though this ranks third on this guide, anyone could easily argue the fact that this is the best portable generator on the market. In pretty much every respect, this is either great or amazing.

Amazon Link
$431.71

4. Champion 7500

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$1,500.00
Champion 7500
Amazon Link

In many ways, this is yet another example of a portable generator sacrificing less weight for more power. Again, if this is what you desire and need, it does not get much better.

Read more

Effectiveness
What is unique about this design is the engine can run off gas and propane. On gas, the running watts is 7500 and the starting watts is 9375. Propane, on the other hand, is 6750 and 8400, respectively.

Portability
The manufacturer promises that the tires will never go flat, although take this with a grain of salt, and there is a folding handle. However, at around 200 pounds, it is a beast.

Features
Volt Guard technology has been integrated into this machine. It basically acts as a surge protector so, in times where there is a voltage spike or surge, your devices and appliances will be safe.

What is nice is you can view the run-time hours, hertz, voltage and the power output at any time. Plus, with the push of a button, the engine can be started.

Runtime and Efficiency
A full tank of gas should provide you with eight full hours of power. However, this is a little less with a 20-pound propane tank at just 5.5 hours.

Overall
Besides the obvious advantage of possessing the ability to output massive amounts of power, the ability to run the engine via gasoline or a propane tank is a nice bonus.

Amazon Link
$1,500.00

5. Briggs & Stratton Powersmart

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Briggs & Stratton Powersmart
Amazon Link

For an engine of its size, there are other generators that are a bit lighter. However, because of its low decibel level and fuel efficiency, it is still an ideal choice. Plus, if you are dissatisfied with the power, it does integrate a parallel connector that allows two units to be connected together.

Read more

Effectiveness
This 111cc OHV engine is capable of outputting 1700 running watts. However, it can max at 2200 starting watts.

Portability
Due to the unique design of the carrying handle, it is very simple for two people to carry this generator. Given that it is 54 pounds, it may not be a bad idea to do so.

Features
If you wanted to use your computers, video game consoles, televisions, or other entertainment devices in conjunction with this generator, you can take comfort in knowing it produces less than three percent total harmonic distortion.

The control panel is very basic and you will see two 120V outlets and one 12V-20A DC outlet. In addition, there is an integrated USB port for appropriate charging.

Runtime and Efficiency
One noteworthy design feature, that goes along with the control panel, is the quiet power technology which allows you to save fuel and allow it to run longer. At a 25 percent load, it could run for eight hours.

Overall
For what it is worth, this is a fairly impressive combination of power and portability. While the 12V outlet leaves a lot to be desired in terms of amps, everything else is stellar.

Amazon Link

6. Briggs & Stratton 7000

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Briggs & Stratton 7000
Amazon Link

This is Briggs & Stratton’s version of their more powerful portable generator. While certain concerns, such as the excessive noise and the ultra-heavy frame, accompany this generator, it is understandable given the immense power.

Read more

Effectiveness
To ensure that you can power your home appliances, this generator produces 25 percent more surge wattage. As a whole, it has 7000 running watts and 8750 starting watts.

Portability
Notwithstanding the fact that this does clock in at around 200 pounds, the all-terrain 12-inch wheels that are nearly puncture-proof and the fold-up handle make the maneuverability as good as it can be.

Features
To protect the outlets when they are not in use, there are rubber covers on each one of them. In addition, there is circuit breaker protection.

Directly on the control panel, there is both an electric start and a remote choke that make start-up an absolute breeze. As for the power, there are four 120 V household outlets and one 120/240V 30A outlet.

Runtime and Efficiency
The 420cc engine itself has excellent fuel efficiency and high performance. In terms of the runtime, at a 50 percent load, it will run for nine hours on a full tank of gas.

Overall
It is beginning to become a cliché for high-wattage generators in that they tend to be much heavier than the others. Still, as is evident with this model, manufacturers find a way to make them portable.

Amazon Link

7. Generac IQ2000

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$719.99
Generac IQ2000
Amazon Link

Undoubtedly, one of the most noteworthy features of this portable generator is the fact that it uses inverter technology to take the raw power of your devices and create a clean and stable power source no matter what.

Read more

Effectiveness
If 1600 running watts and 2000 starting watts are not a sufficient amount for you, then you can invest in the optional parallel kit and connect two generators together.

Portability
With a carrying handle integrated into the top of the generator, an extremely compact design, and a weight at just around 50 pounds, someone in your household should be able to handle transporting this from place to place.

Features
Thanks to the inverter technology that is present in this design, sensitive electronics are safe as it takes the raw power from the generator and passes it through a microprocessor to deliver clean power.

An intuitive control panel is definitely on display here. Included for your convenience is a fuel gauge to inform you of your current gasoline levels, the wattage that is being produced, and also modes for turbo, standard, and economy.

Runtime and Efficiency
Thanks to the different modes of turbo, standard, and economy, you can accommodate the amount of power you need based on the appliance or device that is plugged in.

Overall
In a perfect world, this would have come with an electric start but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. There is no doubt about it, though, this is an ideal selection for anyone.

Amazon Link
$719.99

8. Yamaha Inverter

Where to buy
Yamaha Inverter
Amazon Link

As opposed to the last generator, this does not exactly have what you would call an intuitive control panel. However, its compactness is nearly hard to believe and at first glance, you would never know it was a generator.

Read more

Effectiveness
Due to the advanced programming in this particular Yamaha generator, 1600 watts to 2000 watts of power can be achieved. Once again, the option is there for you to double the power via the parallel function.

Portability
At only 2.2 cubic feet, it truly is hard to fathom that this is a generator. Even though it is still 45 pounds which is still a bit heavy, this is one of the most portable units out there.

Features
Not only is there an electrical overload breaker to prevent damage caused by an overload, an oil watch warning system has also been integrated to inform you when the oil is low.

At a simple glance of the control panel, you can see the current fuel level of the generator. Additionally, there is an 8A 12V outlet for charging batteries and two 120V AC outlets.

Runtime and Efficiency
When running at a 25 percent load, you could feasibly get 10.5 hours on a single tank. For excellent fuel efficiency, there is a smart throttle function.

Overall
For its ridiculously small stature, this can still produce a stellar amount of power when it comes down to it. Some may feel the price tag needs to come down significantly but hey, portable generators are a hot commodity.

9. PowerPro Generator

Where to buy
Amazon Link
PowerPro Generator
Amazon Link

All these generators are portable in some way but there is no doubt, this next model is the most portable out of the bunch. This is achieved with a super lightweight body of 36 pounds, a carrying handle, and four rubber pads.

Read more

Effectiveness
Let’s just get this out of the way, the power leaves a lot to be desired. For its incredible portability, the 900 running watts and 1000 starting watts does not provide much power.

Portability
Even though in some way all portable generators are built to be that, this model takes the cake. At only 36 pounds and an integrated carrying handle on the top, this is feasible for virtually anybody to transport.

Features
To give you peace of mind, this has surpassed both EPA and CARB standards. As a bonus, it includes a 60db spark arrestor, making it suitable for all forests and national parks.

The voltmeter constantly displays the current voltage of the generator. However, the power options are a bit limited with just one three-pronged AC outlet and one two-pronged 12V DC outlet.

Runtime and Efficiency
On a single tank of gas, at a 50 percent load, you can expect this to run for around five hours. Overall, the efficiency is very good.

Overall
If you can accept what this generator can perform, you will not be disappointed. However, do not go in expecting to run several appliances and devices simultaneously as that is just not going to happen.

Amazon Link

10. Generac 5939

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$549.99
Generac 5939
Amazon Link

In some ways, this is one of the best portable generators with circuit protection and over 6500 watts of power. However, in other ways, it suffers such as its excessive noise and weight for a generator of its wattage capability.

Read more

Effectiveness
Whether it is for camping or as a backup power source, the 5500 running watts and 6875 staring watts this generator delivers are more than enough.

Portability
This resembles several other portable generators that provide immense power in that it is just under 200 pounds and features wheels for ease of maneuverability.

Features
Both a low-oil shutdown feature to prevent damage to your engine and circuit breaker protection has been integrated.

While it is nothing fancy, the control panel provides you with an hour meter that has maintenance alerts, a 120/240 AVC outlet, and four 120V AC outlets.

Runtime and Efficiency
The fuel tank is 7.2 gallons and when it is filled to the brim, you can expect this generator to run for 10 hours at a 50 percent load.

Overall
It is worth noting that other generators that provide more power are nearly just as heavy as this model. This is not insinuating it is a non-worthy investment, more so just justifying its position.

Amazon Link
$549.99

Sources

  1. Family Handyman, Tips for Using Emergency Generators, Advice
  2. Caitlin McCormack, The 50 Best Generators for Backup Power Supply, Buying Guide