Best Portable Generators in 2020

  • by Ben Wilson • 
  • last updated 6 months ago

Rainier R4400

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Per
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best value
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  • Start Type: Electric
  • Max Power: 4400 watts
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Tank Size: 4 gallons

WEN 56380i

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best choice
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  • Start Type: Electric
  • Max Power: 3800 watts
  • Fuel Type: Petrol
  • Fuel Capacity: 3 Gallons

DuroMax XP12000EH

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premium pick
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  • Start Type: Electric
  • Max Power: 12,000 watts
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Tank Size: 40 gallons

Generators are an invaluable investment for people who need to ensure that their power never goes off. People on life-saving machines, hosting server houses and those who find themselves without power will greatly improve or even save lives by buying a good quality generator. Generators are also used in rural locations where there is no electricity supply or by workmen or people that require continual access to electricity to be able to earn a living. 

In this article, we’ll explore the top ten gas generators on the market today. No matter why you want to buy a generator, I’m sure that one of our top ten generators will fit the bill nicely.

5 Things to Look for in a Generator

By Ben Wilson

Published 6 months ago

When choosing a generator, you’ll need to know what to look for, so that you can select one the best fits your needs. Here are 5 things that you should consider when deciding what generator to invest in:

  • Performance
  • Durability
  • Safety features
  • Size
  • Cost
  • Tank Size

Table of Contents

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Overview

Rainier R4400

Best for -Road vehicle (RV), caravan or travel trailer

The Rainer R4400 offers a nice 3600 watts of power. Enough to provide power for camping, or small outdoor events. With 4400 watts of start up power, booting up your Rainer R4400 is a breeze. The easy to use electric start switch is the modern equivalent to the old fashioned recoil starter engines. Meaning that you don’t need the strength to yank out the recoil starter rope. If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can still use the recoil option. 

To save you having to fuel up constantly, the Rainer R4400 has a large 15 litre (4 gallon) fuel tank. The onboard fuel gauge will also allow you to check how much fuel you have left. One tank should last you up to 18 hours (based on a 25% load), depending on how much power you use.  Which will cost you up to $7 for a 24 hour period (depending on current fuel costs). The only real downside to this generator is that it’s a bit noisy, compared to other models with a 69 weighted decibels, abbreviated (dBA).

Pros

  • Easy electric start switch
  • Fuel efficient
  • 4400 watts start up power
  • 3600 watts power
  • 4 gallon (15 litre) fuel tank
  • EPA-approved and CARB-compliant
  • Spark arrester

Cons

  • Noisy compared to other models
  • No remote start

Start Type: Electric

Max Power: 4400 watts

Warranty: 3 years

Tank Size: 4 gallons

WEN 56380i

Best for -Stylish portable inverter generator for occasional RV use

The WEN 56380i is an impressive newer inverter generator from WEN. The WEN 56380i offers 3400 watts of power. This machine is also parallel capable, which means that you can purchase a parallel kit and double its power. The tank is a bit smaller than other generators reviewed at just 2.2 gallons, that’s half of some other machines. Meaning you’ll need to refuel more often. One great thing about the WEN 56380i is that it offers a smooth current, which means that it can power sensitive machines like laptops and mobile phones. 

You can keep track of the machines lifetime run hours, power output and voltage in the digital control center. 

Pros

  • Quiet at just 57 dBA
  • Battery included
  • Smooth current
  • Digital data center
  • Automatic low oil shut-off 
  • Built-in fuel gauge
  • EPA-approved and CARB-compliant

Cons

  • Runs for just 8.5 hours

Start Type: Electric

Max Power: 3800 watts

Warranty: 2 years

Tank Size: 2.2 gallons

DuroMax XP12000EH

Best for –Whole home power heavy-duty machine, offering uninterrupted power

The DuroMax XP12000EH is a dual portable generator that’s suitable for home emergency use. This generator is referred to as the “beast” by many, and for good reason. The machine draws 12,000 watts of power. That is four times a lot of other machines on this list! This machine gives you as much power as some stationary generators offer. But it’s easy to use, as it’s portable, so all you need to do is remove it from its box, add gas and you’re good to go in minutes. Also there is no need to hire a professional engineer to install this powerful machine, which will save you money.  

The dual fuel technology means that you can fuel this machine on either propane or gas.You’ll get 10 hours running at 50% with gas and 20 hours with propane. So propane is definitely the more cost effective option for running the DuroMax XP12000EH. This machine also features a quiet muffler, which helps reduce engine noise. This machine is really heavy at 250 lbs, but it comes with wheels with solid fill tires and handles to transport the generator with ease. You can get your hands on a of the DuroMax XP12000EH for under $1500, which is a bargain when you consider the convenience and power that this generator provides.

Pros

  • Quiet machine
  • Powerful 457cc DuroMax OHV engine
  • Electric starter
  • Dual Fuel
  • 12,000 watts of power.
  • 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee 
  • Transportation kit included

Cons

  • Heavy at 250lbs

Start Type: Electric

Max Power: 12,000 watts

Warranty: 3 years

Tank Size: 40 gallons

Westinghouse WGen3600v Portable Generator

Best for –Road vehicle (RV), caravan or travel trailer

If you’re looking for a reliable generator for your RV, trailer or for emergency use,  then the Westinghouse WGen3600v is a great option. It provides 4650 watts of starter power and 3600 of running watts. Westinghouse produces some high quality electronics, so the Westinghouse WGen3600v won’t disappoint. It offers slightly less running time than the Rainer R4400 – just 12 hours on a 50% load, which is 6 hours less. 

The WGen3600v is a bulkier machine, but it has a sizable fuel capacity, offering 15 litre (4 gallon). Which is a decent size, meaning you won’t have to refuel too often. The engine is 4-strok, which means that you need to only fill oil tank with 4-strok oil. Westinghouse recommends that you use  SAE 10W-30 specification oil with this machine. Additionally it has power distortions, so it’s not suitable for mobiles or laptops. On the positive size this generator has a clear display and an easy to use engine switch.

Pros

  • CARB, EPA, and CSA compliant engine
  • 15 litre (4 gallon) fuel capacity
  • Not too loud 62 dB of noise
  • 3 year warranty
  • Spark arrester
  • Long-lasting engine
  • Mobility kit included

Cons

  • Comparatively less running time
  • Heavy 112lbs machine
  • Plastic parts

Start Type: Electric

Max Power: 4650 watts

Warranty: 3 years

Tank Size: 4 gallons

Champion Power Equipment 100555

Best for RV or emergency use to safely power several medium sized appliances

The Champion 100555 is a cost effective, affordable generator that can power multiple appliances in case of emergency. Designed for safety, the Champion 100555  features a low oil shut off feature. You get 4375 watts of starting power and then 3500 running watts. The Champion 3500-Watt offers a fairly low amount of running time at just 12 hours, compared to the Rainer. One thing that is great about the Champion 100555 is that it features a volt guard, which means that you can safely use this generator for sensitive machines like laptops and mobile phones. 

If you’re looking for a machine that offers safety and peace of mind then Champion 100555 could be perfect. They offer a 3 year limited warranty on their machines and FREE tech support for life. This machine has a noise level of 68 dB, which is fairly noisy. So would be better kept at a distance from your desired power location. One downside to the Champion 100555 is that it only comes ith a recoil starter, no electric switch is offered. So you’ll need to use some elbow grease to start your machine. 

Pros

  • Volt guard
  • Low oil shut off
  • CARB Certification
  • Great value for money
  • Durable machine

Cons

  • Recoil starter
  • Wheel kit available separately 
  • Noisy
  • Heavy

Start Type: Electric

Max Power: 3500 watts

Warranty: 3 years (limited)

Tank Size: 3 gallons

Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 Inverter Generator

Best for Compact generator for power outages, home backup power

Briggs & Stratton are one of the biggest names in power tool engine manufacturing. The Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 Inverter Generator is a quiet, portable machine with a massive 6500 watts of start up power, 5000 watts continuous power and part of their QuietPower series. This machine is designed to offer quiet power, with an integrated engine that provides up to 14 hours of run time, at a 25% load. Which is OK, not the best run time available. One great thing about the Briggs & Stratton 30675 is that it provides constant power, so that you can run all of your devices/ machines with ease. 

The fuel tank size is pretty decent, at 5-Gallons. Again not the biggest on the market, but reasonable. The Briggs & Stratton 30675 features a telescoping fold away handle and 8” wheels, making this generator truly portable. They say thtat the machine is 45% more compact and 30% lighter, but the machine weighs in at 128 lb, which is pretty heavy in my books. Good thing that it comes on wheels. 

Pros

  • 24-Months Consumer Limited Warranty
  • Fuel efficient
  • Easy to move around
  • Includes wheels and handle
  • Noise reducing shell
  • Low oil shutdown
  • Electric starter

Cons

  • Pull cord easily snapped

Start Type: Electric

Max Power: 6500 watts

Warranty: 2 years

Tank Size: 5 gallons

Champion 100519 6250-Watt DH Series

Best for Portable emergency conservative whole house or office use

The Champion 100519 6250-Watt DH Series is a more heavy-duty generator, compared with the Champion 100555. It offers 6250 Starting Watts 5000 Running Watts. Which is perfect for fueling a large camper van or a wide range of appliances in emergencies. Featuring the Intelligaugage – where you can check your Frequency (Hz), volts, and run time. The Champion 100519 can also start easily in low temperatures. It incorporates foldaway handle and wheels with solid tyres, so that you can move your generator around more easily. The USB adapter and battery charging cables are a nice touch, so that you can ensure that everything is charged up. 

The Champion 100519 is an open frame recoil start inverter generator that provides clean power. The run-time is ok, at 12.5 hours, and the tank size is also alright at 4.2 gallons. Not the longest run time, or largest fuel tank by all means. The Champion 100519 is just about as loud as a vacuum cleaner with 69 dBA noise. The oil recommended on this machine is recommended 10W-30. You also get some decent accessories including a USB Adapter, Wheel Kit, Flexible Oil Funnel, and Battery Charging Cables.

Pros

  • 5000 Running Watts
  • Intelligauge monitors
  • Economy Mode
  • EPA certified and CARB compliant
  • 3-year limited warranty
  • FREE lifetime technical support
  • Lots of accessories
  • Low oil shut-off sensor

Cons

  • No Parallel capability

Start Type: Recoil

Max Power: 6250 watts

Warranty: 3 years

Tank Size: 4.2 gallons

Honda EU2200i

Best for Compact generator for powering a just a few appliances

The Honda EU2200i is a brilliant stylish generator machine. Offering 2000 watts more power than their older EU2000i Model. If you’re looking for a compact generator that is quiet, then the Honda EU2200i is perfect. The sound is one of the quietest, comparable to a whisper, at just 48 decibels at ¼ load and 57 decibels at full load. What’s more, you can add additional power on by using the parallel compatibility feature. Whereby you can add another Honda EU2200i  or even the EB2200i or EU2000i models to double the available power. 

The Honda EU2200i is fuel efficient and offers 8.1 hours on a ¼ load. When compared to other models, that’s not a whole load of run-time. But if you add on a second machine, you can double the run-time. Honda have improved the manual recoil system, so that it’s more robust. Which means you won’t run in to the difficulties that some other buyers have experienced with the Briggs & Stratton 30675 (where the recoil cord has repeatedly snapped). The fuel tank is tiny when compared to other machines at just 0.95 gallons. This could be a pro, or a con, as the small tank is one of the reasons that the Honda EU2200i is so compact.

Pros

  • Quiet machine
  • Improved the manual recoil system
  • Lightweight design
  • Energy efficient
  • Parallel capabilities

Cons

  • No electric push start switch

Start Type: Recoil

Max Power: 2000 watts

Warranty: 2 years

Tank Size: 0.95 gallons

Westinghouse WGen5500

Best for Portable unit for powering home safely during power outages

The Westinghouse WGen5500 is a powerful generator that can easily power your home during power outages, so that you can enjoy uninterrupted convenience. The start up power on this machine is brilliant at 6850 watts, with a running power of 5500 watts. The  14-hour running time of this unit is quite impressive compared to a lot of other machines. The Westinghouse WGen5500 supplies 2 hours of power per gallon. Making this machine extremely fuel efficient. 

The Westinghouse WGen5500 also has enhanced safety features with two Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI), to protect against electrocution and an automatic low oil shutdown. You’ll also benefit from the cutting-edge Pulse-Flo muffler, that dampens sound. The fuel tank can hold 6.6 gallons of fuel, which is reasonable.

Pros

  • Fuel efficient
  • Pulse-Flo muffler
  • Durable
  • EPA, CARB, and CSA Compliant
  • Easy assembly
  • 6850 watts peak power
  • Wheels for easy transportation
  • 3-Year Limited Warranty

Cons

  • No electric start switch

Start Type: Recoil

Max Power: 6850 watts

Warranty: 3 years

Tank Size: 6.6 gallons

Quipall 4500DF

Best for Portable unit for running tools on a job site or shorter RV journeys

The Quipall 4500DF is a dual fuel portable generator that provides running power of 3500 watts and start up power of 4500 watts when on gas. When on propane the output is slightly lower at 3300 watts. The tank is quite small on this unit, at just 4 gallons, which makes it better for short RV journeys or as a transportable power supply for a power tool on a job site. Rather than for longer journeys, as it will need to be filled up more regularly. 

The Quipall 4500DF is a durable machine that comes with a solid pair of “no flat”  wheels for easy portability. The unit is also equipped with some great safety features including  a low-oil warning light, automatic shut-down and circuit protection.

Pros

  • Low-oil warning light
  • Automatic shut-down
  • Circuit protection
  • Dual fuel
  • Digital display

Cons

  • Doesn’t start on propane
  • Loud
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Start Type: Electric

Max Power: 4500 watts

Warranty: Unknown

Tank Size: 4 gallons

Other than gas or solar, there are two main types of generators that you can buy. Depending on your requirements you’ll want to decide what type best suits you. Here are the two types of generator and who (or what situation) they are best suited for. 

  • Stationary Generators
  • Portable Generators

Stationary Generators

As you’d imagine a stationary generator is designed to stay in one place. These units have to be installed by a professional. It’s advisable to speak with your council or check with your towns municipal permits to find out where you’d best place a stationary generator. The best thing about having a stationary generator is the fact that it will kick in the minute that your electricity runs out. Some machines also have some advanced self-diagnosis features, whereby you can get an alert via email or phone if anything goes wrong, or if they need to switch on. Stationary generators are quite a bit of an investment, as they can cost up to $10,000. When choosing a stationary generator, check it’s wattage. They can provide from 5000 to 20,000 watts of energy, depending on the unit you choose. 

Portable Generators

If you’re not looking to make such a huge investment, then a portable generator is a good option. You can get your hands on a portable generator for under $1000. These units run on gas and are much lighter and more cost-effective. You can move portable generators around (As the name would suggest) but you need to be aware that you should always keep it at least 5 metres away from your property. Portable generators should never be used in an enclosed space. Portable generators provide less energy at between 3000 to 8500 watts. If your chosen portable generator has an electric start then you might have to invest in a separate battery if its not included. 

A whole house generator is a type of stationary generator that is used to provide your entire property with electricity. If you live in an area where your home regularly gets cut off grid and has no power, then a whole house generator might be a good investment. You’ll need to select a generator that has enough power to supply your property. This will depend on what size of property you have. You may have to restrict the amount of power you use when you are running off the generator, but again that will depend on the size of your property and your budget for fuel.

An inverter generator is a new type of generator, created by advanced technologies. These generators ensure a constant flow of power, are compact and are fuel efficient. They are also much quieter than conventional gas generators, that can be ridiculously noisy. 

Our favourite inverter generator is the Honda 662250 EB2200i. It’s a great compact generator, designed for the industrial user that’s easy on your wallet. This generator is quiet and fuel efficient, as you’d expect from a decent inverter generator. The only thing about this generator is that it only provides 2200 watts of power. This is just about enough to power your fridge freezer and microwave or electric cooker, so it’s not going to work if you’re looking to power a whole house. 

If you’re using your generator for your whole house on a gas based generator for a while, you’ll probably want to have an idea of how much fuel you’ll need. As well as how much this might cost you. Obviously the prices of fuel fluctuate from one day to the next, so it’s hard to give an accurate estimate on how much you’ll have to pay. 

A 3500 watt gas generator running at a load of 1750 watts will use about one gallon of fuel in 2 hours. So you can expect to pay up to $40 in 24 hours. Conserving fuel by using less appliances while you’re running off your generator is key to making the whole process more budget friendly. 

You might also want to consider additional costs that are involved as well. If you need to decide to use your generator in an emergency, then what are the alternatives? Renting an AirB&B or a hotel will cost a fair bit. Not to mention the food in your fridge and freezer that might spoil. Also finding a place that will accomodate pets can be hard.

Regular care is required to extend the life of your generatory. What’s more, in some cases, the warranty is voided if you don’t follow the care and maintenance instructions properly. Here are five steps that should be taken to ensure that your generator is maintained efficiently:

  • Step 1 – Check before each use: take a few minutes to check the oil level, cooling features and air filters. Cleaning where necessary. 
  • Step 2 – Change oil: After 20 hours or one month use, change the engine oil (make sure you use the oil that is specified in your user manual)
  • Step 3 – After the first month engine oil should be changed every 6 months (50 hours of use)
  • Step 4 – Take your generator to an authorized dealer after 6 months (or 100 hours of use) to check and clean fuel filter, spark plug and spark arrester
  • Step 5 – Take your generator to an authorized dealer after 12 months (or 300 hours of use) to replace the air filter and spark plug. The valve clearance might need to be adjusted and the idle speed should be checked.
  • ZTR – For personal/ residential use on lawns larger than 1 acre, and no larger than 2 acres. ZTR stands for “zero turn radius.”
  • Prosumer – More durable, mid-range zero turn mowers, suitable for small estates and landscaping.
  • Commercial Grade – These machines have enhanced suspension, and offer high all round performance and durability.

When buying a generator, you’ll want to know just how many electrical items you can power. A 5000-5500 watt generator unit can power two refrigerators, gas-heater, a freezer, two sump pumps, lights, phones, a router, a computer, and a TV simultaneously. Which should be suitable for backing up the power supply in most small-medium sized homes. 

The Bottom Line

The size of portable generator that you choose will largely depend on the type of electric appliances that you want to power. The Champion 100519 6250-Watt DH Series is portable and powerful enough to power a small to medium sized home during a power outage. While a Honda EU2200i is great for camping trips or RV journeys. Parallel compatibility features allow you to add on additional units to double the power, in several machines. Portable generators are a great solution to add convenience back into your life for business, entertainment and even in emergencies.

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