Pick highest rated portable generators
Portable Generators

Buying Guide: Top Rated Portable Generators of 2021

Portable generators offer a reliable power fix during blackouts or when in remote places without easily available power sources such as while camping or working with power equipment at a job site. Another common use is while off-grid living to power some basic appliances and necessities. Since electric generators come in various sizes, outputs, features, and price points, picking the right one for your needs isn’t always straightforward.

Luckily, we have done the hard job for you by scouring the internet for the top rated portable generators in the market and presented our findings in a mix of size, output, and price. We’ve also put together infallible ideas in the portable generator buying guide below, to help you pick the best product that meets your needs. However, before we delve into the buying guide, let’s examine the best rated portable generators of 2021 and sample their salient features.

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Best Premium Generator: Westinghouse WGen9500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator

Top on our list is the Westinghouse WGen9500DF Portable Generator. It’s an ideal pick if you are looking for the best premium generator with multiple fueling options. The machine runs on both gas and propane. It can support primary home appliances such as a refrigerator and air conditioner for twelve hours.

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How does Westinghouse WGen9500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator stack up?

Pros

  • Supports gasoline & propane fuels
  • RV, ST Switch & Transfer Switch ready for easy setup
  • Ability to change fuel source while generator is running

Cons

  • Slightly noisy
  • Missing a low oil indicator
  • Heavy
Run Time (at 50% load)7 hours on Propane
Total harmonic distortionbelow 23%
Multiple GFCI power outlets2x 120V 5-20R, 1x 120V L14-30R, 1x 120/240V 14–50R ports
Four-stroke overhead valve (OHV) engine457cc fuel displacement
Warranty3-year residential, 1-year commercial
Starting MechanismRemote, electric, and recoil
120/240V AC output60Hz frequency
Dimensions 27.2 x 26.1 x 26.5 inches
Weight220 Pounds (98 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity6.6 gallons
Noise level74dBA
Additional featuresVoltage meter & bonded neutral grounding system

Features

The Westinghouse brand has been around for over 130 years. It specializes in a wide range of power products, including portable generators, power stations, pressure washers, and gardening tools. The Westinghouse WGen9500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator is an ideal pick for anyone looking for an affordable power backup solution.

With a retail price of only $1,500, this machine gives you value for money with 12 hours of uninterrupted runtime at 50% load on gasoline. If you run it on gasoline, you get up to 9500 running watts with a peak of 12,500 watts.

Its power output when on propane is slightly lower with running and peak wattage of 8500 and 11,200 watts, respectively. This output is enough to support your home appliances and power tools, especially when working in remote locations. And that’s not all!

Best Value Generator: WEN DF1100T Dual Fuel Portable Generator

Do you experience frequent power outages in your area, or do you often work with power tools in remote locations? Then the WEN DF1100T Dual Fuel Portable Generator is your solution to fix your problems. With its wheel kit, it’s easy to move around. You can use this generator to run multiple appliances such as sump pumps, television sets, computers, charge electric devices, and power tools for long hours. This way, you minimize the impact of blackouts on your business or daily life.

WEN DF1100T 11,000-Watt 120V/240V Portable Generator
WEN DF1100T 11000-Watt Portable Generator
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How does WEN DF1100T Dual Fuel Portable Generator stack up?

Pros

  • Easy to start
  • Easy to move around
  • Affordable price
  • Nationwide technical support

Cons

  • Its 50A port doesn’t work well with right-angle cables
  • Does not support multiple starting mechanisms
Fuel TypeDual Fuel
Surge WattsGasoline: 11,000, Propane: 9,500
Running WattsGasoline: 8,300, Propane: 7,500
Runtime (at 50% load)8.5 hours on 6.6 gallons of gasoline, 3 hours on 20 gallons LPG
Weight214 Pounds (97.06 kilograms)
Starting MechanismElectric and recoil
Warranty2-years
CertificationsEPA and CARB
Measures27.3 x 20.6 x 21.9 inches
Noise level72 dB(A)
Multiple 120/240V power outlets5-20R, L5-30R, and 14-50R
Additional accessoriesBottle of oil, 12V direct current lighter, and propane connection hose

Features

The history of Wen dates back close to seventy years ago when Nick Anton founded the company. Today, the Wen brand is a byword for power tools and electric generators. The WEN DF1100T Dual Fuel Portable Generator gives you the benefits of a premium generator at a fair price of $900.

For instance, its 477cc OHV engine comes with an electric starting mechanism and supports both LPG and gasoline fuels. These fuels give you sufficient power to run multiple appliances at once for up to 8.5 hours runtime when in half load.

If you opt to use LPG on this electric generator, you get up to 9,500 surge watts and 7,500 running watts. However, if you need more power, use gasoline on the machine to as high as 8,300 running watts and 11,000 surge watts.

DuroMax XP13000E Gas Powered Portable Generator

DuroMax is a renowned brand for quality, durable, and reliable electric generators such as the DuroMax XP13000E. Besides providing you with electricity anywhere, this company is committed to protecting the environment against global warming by designing low carbon emission generators.

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How does DuroMax XP13000E Gas Powered Portable Generator stack up?

Pros

  • CARB & EPA certified in all U.S. states
  • All-metal body is built to last
  • 3-year limited warranty

Cons

  • Heavier than other generators in its class
  • Can run only on gasoline
Fuel TypeGasoline
Fuel tank8.3 gallons
Surge Watts13,000
Running Watts10,500
Runtime (at 50% load)8 Hours
Weight234 Pounds (107 kilograms)
Noise Level74 dBA
Starting MechanismElectric and recoil
Warranty3-years residential, 1-year commercial
CertificationsEPA and CARB
Measures30 x 29 x 26 inches
Noise level 74 dB(A)

Features

It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for an outdoor power solution for your camping needs or want an emergency fix to run your household AC gadgets during blackouts. The DuroMax XP13000E has got you covered. It also serves as an excellent power source for remote job sites to run tools such as drill, saws, and sanders besides lighting up dark spaces. The machine runs on a 500cc OHV engine which gives you 13,000 surge watts and 10,500 running watts. With a full tank of fuel, the DuroMax XP13000E can supply you with enough electricity to power your home appliances for 8.5 hours on half load.

You don’t have to worry about connecting this generator to your mains as its electric panel features multiple power outlets. These include 120V ground-fault circuit interrupter AC outlets for home use, as well as 30A 1120V/1240V, and 50A 1240V twist lock sockets for high voltage tools. In case you want to charge batteries, you can use the 12V charging ports on the generator. Starting this machine is also easy as it comes with an electric start mechanism. Should this option fail, turn to the recoil starter and fire up the engine.

Other features that come with the DuroMax XP13000E include an idle control mechanism that adjusts its fuel consumption depending on its load and the low oil shutoff. The latter protects your machines by cutting fuel supply when it’s low on oil.

Champion Power Equipment 100520 8750-Watt Open Frame Inverter Generator

Champion is an American brand that boasts of innovative power products such as electric generators, lawnmowers, water pumps, and snow blowers. The Champion Power Equipment 100520 Inverter generator is one such product. It’s designed to give you a safe and reliable power supply whenever you need it.

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How does Champion Power Equipment 100520 8750-Watt DH stack up?

Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to maintain
  • The electric start mechanism makes it easy to power up
  • 3-years limited warranty
  • Free lifetime support

Cons

  • Does not support multiple fuel sources
  • Does not support heavy-duty equipment
Fuel TypeGasoline
Fuel Capacity4.2 gallons
Surge Watts8,750
Running Watts7,000
Runtime (at 50% load)5.25 Hours
Weight155 Pounds (70.49 kilograms)
Noise Level72 dB(A) at 23 feet
Starting MechanismElectric and recoil
Warranty3-years
CertificationsEPA and CARB
Measures26.6 x 25.6 x 23.7 inches

Features

This machine comes in an open frame design with a never-flat tire and foldable handle, which makes it easy to move about. You don’t have to worry about noise because at 72 dB(A), it’s quieter than other generators in its class, thanks to the company’s Quiet Technology. It has a starting and running power of 8750 and 7000 watts respectively and can run for 10.5 hours at 25 percent load capacity.

With a total harmonic distortion of less than 3 percent, this generator allows you to power your devices without the fear of damaging them. It also features a Touch Control Panel for easy load management and control of the machine. When in Economy operating mode, this machine supports a smaller electrical load, effectively reducing the noise level and lengthening the engine life. It comes with covered power outlets for added user safety and protection against wet weather. This product comes with battery charging cables, a flexible fuel funnel, and a USB adapter.

Quietest Portable Generator: Generac 7127 iQ3500-3500 Watt Portable Inverter Generator

For more than half a century now, Generac has continued to produce standby power generators for homes with unmatchable ingenuity,-and their efforts have paid off. The company now provides one of the most compact and quietest portable generators, such as the Generac 7127 iQ3500, for both home use and outdoor activities such as camping and tailgating parties.

Generac 7127 iQ3500 Portable Inverter Generator in backyard
Using Generac 7127 iQ3500-3500 Watt Portable Inverter Generator for carpenter work
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How does Generac 7127 iQ3500 Portable Inverter Generator stack up?

Pros

  • Compact design
  • Smart digital display panel
  • Advanced inverter technology makes it super quiet

Cons

  • Premium price
  • Does not support heavy equipment
Fuel TypeGasoline
Fuel Capacity 2.6-gallon
Surge Watts3,500
Running Watts3,000
Runtime (at 50% load)14.1 hours
Weight109 Pounds (49.5 kilograms)
Noise Level44 dB(A)
Starting MechanismElectric and recoil
Warranty3-years
Dimensions23.7 x 18 x 21.7 inches

Features

This generator comes at a premium price and doesn’t support heavy equipment. However, you can connect multiple Generac 7127 iQ3500 generators in parallel for increased power output.

The Generac 7127 iQ3500 Portable Inverter Generator comes with an advanced PowerRush technology that gives you up to 50 percent more start power (3500 watts) than comparable products. Its running power is 3000 watts. You can scale up your power source by connecting multiple Generac 7127 iQ3500 generators in parallel.

Generac uses TruePower technology to deliver clean and safe electricity for your sensitive electronics. With this machine, you don’t have to guess the fuel level or remaining runtime. Simply check its smart digital display panel to get the generator’s vital data at a glance. The Generac 7127 iQ3500 features multiple USB ports for direct charging of smartphones, tablets, and iPads. Run the generator on Economy Mode for the lowest noise level and longer engine life.

Easiest to Move Generator: Honda EU2200iTAG Portable Inverter Generator

Honda is a global brand with an outstanding track record for designing fuel-efficient and low carbon emission power engines. It’s no surprise that the Honda EU2200iTAG Portable Inverter Generator made it our top choice for the easiest to move generator. The machine features a compact and lightweight design (47 pounds), making it highly portable.

Honda EU2200iTAG
Honda EU2200IC 2200-Watt
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How does Honda EU2200ITag 2200-Watt stack up?

Pros

  • Compact & lightweight design
  • Easy to transport & store
  • Durable & Quiet
  • It comes with a low fuel shutdown mechanism alert
  • It comes with an overload electronic circuit breaker & spark arrestor

Cons

  • Higher price
  • Missing fuel gauge
  • No USB outlet
Fuel TypeGasoline
Fuel Tank0.9-gallon
Surge Watts2,200
Running Watts1,800
Runtime (at 50% load)4 Hours
Weight46.5 Pounds (21.5 kilograms)
Noise Level48-57 dBA
Starting MechanismElectric and recoil
Warranty3-years
CertificationsEPA and CARB
Measures20.0 x 11.4 x 16.7 inches

Features

Its recoil start mechanism incorporates a decompressor system which ensures easy engine start every time by reducing the force needed to fire it up. Moreover, the color-coded contact points of the starting mechanism enable users to quick start the generator. Unfortunately, this generator doesn’t come with a DC output. It also doesn’t support high voltage devices but you can connect multiple Honda EU2200iTAG generators in parallel to scale up your power source.

Although this portable generator is meant for domestic use, it runs on a commercial-grade Honda GXR120 engine. This feature makes the electric generator more reliable with 2200 surge watts and 1800 running watts. It produces enough electricity to power home appliances and work equipment such as drills, and electric saws.

Get more flexibility by controlling and managing your generator with the Honda My Generator app through your smartphone. The app connects wirelessly with the generator via Bluetooth and allows you to stop and manage its operations and set service reminders.

Don’t worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because this electric generator comes with the CO-MINDER detection system which shuts down the engine in case the concentration of the gas is dangerously high. The machine is safe to use on computers and other sensitive electronics thanks to Honda’s inverter technology. Designed to allow easy and quick oil change. Accessories that come with this product include an anti-theft bracket, storage cover, and parallel cable. Moreover, the company gives you up to 3 years of limited warranty.

Which Portable Generators are the Best?

Are you shopping for a portable generator and don’t know where to start? Worry no more because you’ve come to the right place. If you are unable to make a decision, don’t feel bad about it because the market can be confusing with hundreds of options to choose from. The good news is that we’ve got you covered. In this portable generator buying guide, we’ll provide you with all information you will need to choose the product that best suits your needs. So, let’s delve into the subject and get you what you need to know about buying the highest rated portable generators in the market.

When and Why You Need a Portable Generator

Your journey to purchasing the right portable generator starts by understanding your needs. Here is a sneak peek of reasons you need to invest in a quality portable generator.

Get Affordable Power Everywhere

Electrical power has become one of the most sought-after resources in the world today. You need it to run your home, communicate, do business, have fun, and much more. Most people connect to the grid to access electricity. Unfortunately, the downing of transmission lines causes power outages which can last for hours.

Also, not all places are connected to the grid. To make matters worse, most green energy sources such as solar and wind are transient and may not be fully reliable to give electricity always. Therefore, truly get the freedom to access electricity from anywhere, anytime, you need a portable generator. Therefore, if you are an outdoor lover and often go camping, a portable generator is an ideal way to power your tent or RV. This way you can enjoy your perfectly brewed coffee or watch your TV thriller in the jungle.

Avoid Food Losses

It is not uncommon for people to stock their fridges. Unfortunately, all you need is for a power outage to strike and last a few hours for the food to go bad. Such a situation can put a dent in your wallet. The good news is that you can avoid such losses by investing in an affordable portable generator.

Keep Your Electric Car on The Road

If you own an electric car and an extended power outage strikes, you can get stranded and find it difficult to run errands. A portable generator can fix this by allowing you to charge your automobile and keep it running during such eventualities.

If You Live in Disaster Prone Area

It is not uncommon for utility companies to shut down power supply during disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. These firms take such decisions as a precautionary measure to avoid electrical accidents which can be fatal and destructive. For instance, downed fire lines have been known to cause forest fires, especially during dry and windy conditions. A portable generator allows you to survive such harsh times without the need to suspend your normal uses of electricity.

Keep Your Water Taps Flowing

If you rely on water from your well, your taps can run dry during power blackouts, especially if you don’t have sufficient reserves in your storage tank. In such cases, life can be difficult because you can’t perform essential tasks such as flush the toilet, take a shower, cook, or do laundry. But if you have a portable generator, all you need is to power it up and connect your sump pump to get your taps flowing again.

If You Depend On Medical Equipment

Managing medical conditions is never easy. It even gets more complicated when you have to use electronic devices such as an oxygen tank or heart monitor. The devices require a constant supply of clean electricity. You cannot take chances, by depending on electricity from your utility company. In such cases, investing in the right portable generator is critical if you want to save the life of your loved one.

To Support Your Business or DIY Hobbyists

It is not uncommon for owners of startups and freelancers to work from home. Also, DIY diehards often have their workspaces in their homes. During power outages, these people cannot work and provide critical services to their clients. However, with a portable generator, you do not have to worry about such.

Types of Portable Generators

As you shop for a top portable generator in the market, it pays to know the available options in the market. For instance, there are generators for both commercial and residential use. Commercial grade electric generators are characterized by high power output as they used to run heavy-duty equipment. On the other hand, portable generators for domestic or personal use are usually smaller in size and produce less power. However, a top portable generator for residential use can be used for commercial purposes.

Another way to categorize portable generators is by the type of fuel used to power it. The commonly used fuels are diesel, gasoline, and LPG. Most generators run on a single type of fuel such as diesel or gasoline. However, there are also designs that use multiple fuels such as gasoline and LPG. Dual fuel engines give clients the flexibility of using readily available and affordable fuel. This feature comes in handy during emergency situations when you cannot access your preferred fuel.

You can also classify portable generators by their design. For instance, most generators that run on fossil fuels, convert only 13-18 percent of the energy from the fuel to electrical power. Most of the energy produced is lost through heat, sound, and smoke.

To make electrical generators more efficient, manufacturers use electrical rectifiers built from powerful magnets. The resultant designs are known as inverter generators. These machines produce both AC and DC currents. People use them to power sensitive equipment due to the low harmonic distortion associated with their electricity. They also tend to be small and easy to carry.

Key considerations

When buying a portable generator, there are top considerations you need to make. Read on to discover them.

Pricing – How much does a portable generator cost?

The pricing of products determines their affordability. It, therefore, goes without saying that your budget affects your choice of a portable generator. A good quality portable generator goes for about $900 while a high-end dual fuel model with about 10,000 watts output goes for about $1,500.

While pricing is a major factor when buying an electrical generator, you shouldn’t rely on it solely to decide whether or not to buy a product. On the contrary, consider focusing on the generator features that meet your needs.

Features that Matter Most

When buying a portable generator try to see how its features meet your needs. For example, your machine of choice should power your equipment effectively. Now, let’s take a deep dive into the features you should look out for in a portable generator.

Power Output

As mentioned above, the power output of a generator determines whether or not you can use it to run your equipment. To estimate the power out of your ideal generator, compute the total wattage of the electronics you want to run. For example, if you wish to use the generator to run your home appliances such as a refrigerator, TV, sump pump, and computers, calculate the total wattage of the gadgets. You can use a free online calculator to do this.

It is also important to know whether the generator produces AC or DC currents. This feature is critical if you intend to power sensitive electronics such as lab equipment and computers.

Power Outlets

Consider the type of power outlets that the generator has before buying it. Common power outlets that come with generators include USB, 120/240V 5-20R, L14-30R, and 14–50R ports. These power ports may be customized to suit specific uses such as powering households or RVs. For added user safety, manufacturers include ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) and socket covers to protect consumers from electric shocks. USB ports come in handy when you want to charge electronics such as laptops, power banks, cameras, and mobile devices.

Type of Engine

Most portable generators run on OHV engines. If you intend to purchase a machine for daily use, go for a workhorse with a commercial-grade engine. Such engines can withstand heavy use. They also come with an extended user warranty.

Fuel Capacity

The size of a generator fuel tank determines how long it will run. The larger the fuel capacity the better. Generators that allow refueling while running ensure that you don’t interrupt the electricity supply to refuel.

Ease of Movement

The main purpose of a portable generator is to provide you with electricity on the go. Therefore, these machines should be easy to move around and transport. Small portable generators are lightweight and compact. Such machines are easy to carry and transport in your car trunk. Larger models come with wheel kits that make them easy to transport.

Safety Features

The durability of a generator depends on how well you use it. Top brands incorporate safety features that protect your generator from accidental overloading and low oil. When this happens, the generator automatically shuts down and protects it from getting damaged.

Easy to Use and Control

Another factor to consider is whether the generator is easy to use and control. For example, consider its starting mechanisms. The best brands design generators with multiple starting mechanisms such as recoil and electric start. If you live in cold areas remember to buy models that come with cold start mechanisms.

Some models come with digital control panels that are easier to use than analog controls. Advanced designs feature remote controls features that allow you to connect to the generator via a mobile device.

Noise Levels

Generators can be noisy and a real nuisance, especially in residential areas. Where noise is an issue, such as campsite and densely populated areas, go for the quietest models.

Product Design: How long should a portable generator last?

Generally, portable generators are not built for daily use. A good generator should give about 2000 runtime hours before it starts to give you major mechanical problems. If you run it about 200 hours in a year, you should have about ten years of optimal performance. To ensure that the generator lasts this long, it should have robust construction. The best models come in all-metal construction.

Portable Generators Safety Tips

Before operating electrical generators, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with the best practices to operate such machines safely. Here are quick tips to get you started.

How to Separately Generators Safely

To run a portable generator safely, start by familiarizing yourself with the equipment. A good place to start is to use the manufacturer’s manual to under the salient features of the machine. A common mistake most users make is to generalize generators and operate them without following the manufacturer’s manual. The problem with this approach is that different brands have features that make their products unique. If you fail to follow their instructions to the latter, you are likely to damage your machine and lose the manufacturer’s warranty.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Portable generators produce carbon monoxide as part of their exhaust gases. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas. However, it is poisonous and can cause death. To avoid suffering such accidents, do not run a generator indoors. Always keep your generators outside and away from people.

Protecting Against Electric Shocks

Generators produce electricity, which can cause electric shocks if mishandled. Such accidents can happen due to poor connections, using frayed cables, not grounding your generator, or placing it in a wet area. To avoid such scenarios, get a qualified technician to help you connect your generator to your house mains. Always use cables that are not damaged and operate the generators on dry ground. During wet weather use a protective tent to keep off precipitation from the machine.

Proper Handling and Maintenance

Just like any other machine, a generator requires care and maintenance. For instance, always run your generator at least once a month for a few minutes even if you are not using it. This move keeps the machine in a good operating condition. Perform periodic maintenance religiously such as oil changing the oil and cleaning. Also, use a protective cover when storing a generator. By so doing, you protect your machine from moisture and rodents.

FAQs

Are portable generators safe for electronics?

Yes. It is safe to use portable generators on electronics, only that when using sensitive electronics such as lab equipment, use an inverter generator.

How much does a portable generator cost?

A good generator costs between $900 and $1500. Always review a generator before paying for it to ensure that you get value for your money.

Can portable generators run continuously?

Yes, you can run your generator continuously. However, to achieve this, service your machine as advised by the manufacturer. If the fuel tank runs dry, you might want to switch off the machine first and refuel, unless it is safe to do so.

What is a portable generator?

A portable generator is used to provide electricity anywhere. It is smaller than standby generators and can be moved from one place to another with ease.

Can portable generators run on propane?

Yes, while most models run on gasoline and diesel, there are generators that use propane, especially dual fuel brands.

How loud are portable generators?

Portable generators can be quieter than a lawnmower and as loud as a motorbike engine. The noise levels of generators range between 44 dB(A) and 80 dB(A).

So, how much can a portable generator power?

The best small portable generators can produce between 2,000 – 3, 000 watts while top heavy-duty models can produce up to 10,000 watts.

How does a portable generator work?

A portable generator uses an engine that runs on fossil fuel such as diesel and gasoline to turn an electrical generator that produces AC current. An inverter is used to convert the AC to DC.

How often should I run my portable generator?

Whenever you need to. However, run it at least once a month to make sure that it’s in good operating condition.

Are portable generators AC or DC?

Portable generators can produce both AC and DC currents depending on their design.