Top 5 Best Portable Generators of 2023 – Reviews & Buying Guide
Power fails when you least expect it, but if you live in a storm-prone area, it helps to always be ready. At other times, your travels may take you to remote places off the grid. In both these cases, a reliable portable generator could be what saves the day.
A portable generator helps to keep the lights on, maintain a comfortable temperature, and charge your devices in a house, a camping tent, or an RV. Here is what you need to know about the five best portable generators of 2020 and the top secrets that buyers use to find the best models.
Portable Generator Buying Guide
As an RV owner, I have gained lots of generator experience. It takes intensive research to get the best model for your appliances. One thing I have noted over the years is that the best quality machines don’t come cheap, but these are the units that will work reliably and serve you for longer. Here are a few important specifications to consider when buying a portable generator.
Gas-powered models are preferable
There are solar-powered generators that rely on the position and strength of the sun for power production. You can also find fuel generators that use diesel in combustion engines. These are noisier and frustrating to maintain.
On the other hand, gas-powered models are the most popular because they generate more power. They also run quietly and can be easier to maintain.
Know the wattage before you click to buy: the more, the better
More wattage means more power. If you are powering the home, a generator that can cough up more than 2000 watts may be ideal for charging your appliances and even running the air conditioner. On the other hand, machines that yield less than 2000 watts of power may only help in back-up lighting.
You need a machine with a quick-start function
One of the complications associated with portable generators is starting. Sometimes it takes up to five pulls to start the engine. However, generators with the best designs have an electric start feature that makes it easy to power them on. I would go with this option over the pull-start generators any day.
Some newer models have a remote-start feature that enables wireless starting via a remote device. These are even more convenient.
It should have a surge protector and circuit breaker
All generators have voltage fluctuations that might be destructive to your devices and appliances. It is best, therefore, to consider a generator that comes with an in-built surge protection feature.
Find a model that works quietly
Gas-powered generators produce much less noise compared to fuel-powered models. Some manufacturers also include muffler systems that reduce noise levels even further. You will sleep peacefully when these are on.
Fuel gauge and efficiency
When considering the power and functionality of your generator, remember to investigate its fuel tank capacity. A larger tank will enable you to work seamlessly without having to refill time and again. Additionally, the best portable generators have a fuel gauge that can help you track fuel levels so you know when it’s about time to refill.
Find one that’s lightweight and fitted with wheels
A truly portable generator should be easy to carry. It will have transportation conveniences such as being lightweight or the inclusion of wheels for hauling.
Get a generator with multiple outlets
Having multiple outlets in a generator is not only convenient for powering your numerous devices and appliances, but it can also help to stabilize the power of the machine by spreading the load.
Top 5 Best Portable Generators
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The value proposition for this model is the electric start engine. One of the significant downsides in many portable generator models is their longer start time. The inclusion of an electric start engine in this unit may help to speed things up a little.
The portable gas-powered generator coughs up 1700 watts of power, which could be enough to power all your home’s utilities in a storm. The manufacturer states that this machine can power several sets of 120 volts at once. That implies that it could also find use in recreational vehicles and deliver substantial efficiency.
The generator features a 16-gallon fuel tank that may help to reduce downtimes associated with frequent refueling. Additionally, an included fuel gauge should make it easy for you to monitor the fuel levels on this generator
As mentioned before, the electric start helps with a quicker starting function. There is a battery pack that comes with the machine to facilitate that easy start.
The machine weighs 390 lbs, which in my opinion, is a lot for a single person to haul into a truck without some assistance. However, there are wheels included. That means that when you get where you are going, there will be no more lifting to do.
The engine is designed with full pressure oiling and automotive-style spin, and that might help with motor durability and efficiency.
One of the things you often have to worry about with generators is noise. It’s too bad for the neighbors, and it’s even worse in your job sites and camping trips. It appears that the Generac 5735 GP17500E Gas Powered generator can work more quietly, given that it’s fitted with a muffler device.
If you are looking for a brilliant performance of the generator power back up, then this is an ideal choice.
- Powerful engine with automatic oil shutoff
- Large fuel tank capacity
- Electric start with included battery pack
- Moderately portable, wheels included
- Unreliable battery life
- Engine maintenance could be a tedious task
WEN 56200i 2000-Watt Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator, CARB...
- Dimensions: 18" x 11" x 18" | Weight: 48 lbs
- Noise Level: 53 dB operation
- EPA III and CARB Compliant 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts
Last update on 2023-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Can you lift 30 pounds? I bet you can. The Wen Quiet Super Inverter Watt 2000 Portable Generator is much lighter than the first entrant in our review. This generator’s weight makes transportation a far less strenuous task. Beware, though, that there are no wheels included; you will need to lift it whenever you have to move it.
This Wen generator model can produce 1600 rated watts, working on a 79 cc four-stroke engine. One thousand six hundred watts is an okay power level when all you need to do is turn the lights back on in a hurricane, along with charging a few things at home.
The manufacturer promises clean power without spikes and drops. It’s not clear how that is achievable, but if that’s true, you should be able to safely charge your vulnerable electronics on this unit. But never underestimate the importance of surge protector; you may need one just in case.
An Eco function on this generator will likely help with efficient fuel consumption. It is a self-adjustment feature on the motor that controls the speed of fuel use based on the number of items that you plug or unplug from the panel.
From its name, you probably have the inkling that this generator may be one of the quietest models out there. However, there is no muffler device included. What they promise is that the 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine works naturally quieter than other generators. That could be good for camping and hunting activities.
- It’s quieter and uses fuel economically
- Starts quickly on the first or second pull
- Lightweight for easy transportation
- Refilling the engine oil is not a straightforward task
- 1600 watts of power may not be sufficient for a job site
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Like the Generac 5735 GP17500E, you have an electric start feature here that should make it less stressful to power up the machine. A remote start/stop feature included means that you could switch on this machine from the comfort of your bed.
The Champion Power Equipment generator produces 4000 surge watts, which then levels off to 3500 running watts. Champion is thus the machine with the most power so far in this portable generator review list. You could use this machine to power your home, but for efficient use of that power, I would rather put it in a food truck or a workshop.
Its main drawback is the small fuel tank of 3.8 gallons.
Unlike the Generac 5735 GP17500E, you may have to refill this machine twice as many times in a given day, depending on the power demands of your applications.
One remarkable thing that I can speak for in this model is the included RV receptacle for your mobile home. On top of that, you get other connections including a 120V twist-lock outlet and one 120V duplex outlet.
Unlike the earlier reviewed generators, the Champion Power Equipment Generator comes with an in-built surge protector. You may, therefore, be able to safely charge for your laptops and TVs without worrying about them getting fried.
In terms of portability, this unit weighs 124 pounds, which is one of the weightier generators on this list. However, the included pair of wheels may help to ease the transportation task.
- Electric start
- Sufficient power for job sites
- Inbuilt surge protection
- It’s heavier than most units
- It is loud
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This Honda generator weighs 34 pounds and has convenient handles, making it one of the easiest models to transport.
The main selling point for this model is the Honda inverter technology with which the machine yields ample power, almost like line power. Two thousand, eight hundred watts of the simultaneous power supply is what you get when you crank up this device. That is substantial power, but not close to what you get with the Champion Power Portable Generator.
The Honda engine is known for its durability. There is also an Eco-Throttle System that reportedly achieves fuel efficiency; the manufacturer states that the engine can run for eight hours on less than one gallon of fuel.
An automatic fuel shut-off switch helps to power down the machine when fuel runs low. This feature could help to maintain the efficiency and durability of your engine for long periods of time.
- Powerful engine
- Lightweight and portable
- Fuel efficiency
- Fuel leakage issues
- No easy start functions
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Briggs & Stratton P2200 Portable Generator produces 2200 starting watts and 1700 running watts of power. You may be able to get eight hours of operation from a single gallon of gas. That could be a good thing for your budgeting efforts.
The engine in this generator unit has a harmonic distortion of less than 3%, which implies that there is less risk of power surge for your vulnerable electronics when charging with this generator unit.
For those looking for an easy-to-carry unit, here you have a 55-pound machine that you should be able to move with little assistance.
The included muffler system helps you perform more quietly. You might be able to work with this unit without waking your neighbors or scaring away wild game. Fifty-nine decibels is the maximum sound volume you get, according to the product specs.
One other noteworthy feature here is the control panel that includes three outlets, including a DC outlet, one household, and one USB adapter power port. It is also possible to integrate this machine with a second one to obtain more power for your worksite activities.
- Quiet operations
- High fuel efficiency
- Can be connected to a second generator
- Engine shut-off issues
- Performance may decline after a few months of use
The Best Pick
The Champion Power Equipment 46539 is the portable generator nonpareil.
Its unique features include an electric start function that makes it easy to turn it on and restore power. The amount of energy you get with this machine is more than what you get with any of the other reviewed generators.
Its 3500 running watts could be sufficient not only for powering your home appliances but also for keeping your worksite operational as you wait for power to get restored. An included pair of wheels helps with portability, and extra handles add to the convenience as well.
The Champion Power Equipment generator similarly features convenient outlets, including one RV receptacle for your mobile home and others for your home circuit. An in-built surge protector could also help keep your appliances safe without getting into extra costly acquisitions.