A portable generator is a nice product to have on-hand because you can transport it easily from point A to point B as you need it. Great amenity to have in the backyard or when you are out and about. You can choose from a large range of prices and wattages, and there are numerous high-quality brands available. A portable generator is a must if you live in an area that routinely sees bad weather because they can help you out if you lose power for a short amount of time. They’re also very lightweight, and this makes it easy to toss them into your car and go if you like to camp out in more rural areas. But how do you pick out the correct one?
Since there are so many portable generators on the market, narrowing down your choices can seem like an overwhelming task. This is especially true if you’ve never bought one before and you have no idea what to look for. To save you time, I’ve picked out the best portable generators and reviewed them for you so you know what examples of quality products are. I’ve also put together a short buyer’s guide that will outline everything you need to know about these products at the end.
A generator is a nice thing to take when you go camping because it allows you to charge your smaller electronics any time you want, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space in your pack. It’s also lightweight enough to carry along.
1. WEN 56380i Portable Generator – Top Pick
This is an inverter-style portable generator that offers quiet and clean power while being compact enough to fit neatly into your garden shed until you need it without taking up a huge amount of floor space. You can generate up to 3,800 surge watts and 3,400 rated watts of power each time you switch it on, and it has a 212 CC four-stroke air-cooled engine that runs at 57-decibels at a quarter load, and this makes it as quiet as running an AC window unit. In turn, this limits how invasive it is without sacrificing power to ensure that you can run it around the clock if need be.
This portable generator comes with a fuel shutoff feature that cuts the fuel to allow your generator to use up the remaining fuel from the carburetor before it shuts down. In turn, you won’t have a problem with buildup, and this minimizes maintenance. The lightweight design with wheels built into it with a folding handle makes it extremely easy to move around your yard without a problem, and you get over 8.5-hours of half-load run on one 2.2-gallon tank. It has a 120-volt, 3-pronged cord, and there is eco-mode that allows the generator to adjust the fuel consumption based on how many items you plugged in to make the battery last longer.
- Runs at 57 decibels
- 212 CC four-stroke engine
- 2.2-gallon tank
- Folding handle for easy storage
- Wheels make it easy to move
- Has Eco-Mode options
- Two-year warranty attached
- Volt meter is dim
2. DuroMax XP12000EH Portable Generator – Step-Up Pick
This is a heavy-duty portable generator that gives you a higher amount of power at 12,000-watts. So, this can easily take on all of your electrical needs without a problem. It’s also a surprisingly flexible generator, despite the power output because it has a dual-fuel feature on it. It can run on propane or gasoline without a problem, and this makes it a very solid choice for emergency situations. You can also cut down on your running costs by using propane over gasoline for long-term use because gasoline is usually the more expensive option.
This portable generator comes with an extremely sturdy build on it, and it’s both CARB and EPA-approved for use in all 50 states. You can set it at 9,500 running watts to power heavy loads from home air conditions, appliances, or lights without overloading it. It comes with a 457CC OHV engine, and you get a very durable steel frame that resists damage, rust, and corrosion without a problem after years of exposure to the elements. It also comes equipped with solid wheels that can handle any terrain and make it a very easy to maneuver choice. However, it does weigh in at 260-pounds, so you want to make sure you have the strength required to move it.
- EPA and CARB approved
- 12,000 starting watts and 9,500 running watts
- Uses gasoline or propane for fuel
- Durable steel frame
- Larger, solid wheels
- Shuts off with low oil
- Hybrid model is more flexible
- Hard to source repairs if you need them
3. Westinghouse iGen2200 Generator – Mid-End Budget Pick
This portable generator is another inverter-style machine that will produce up to 2,200-peak watts with 1,800-running watts when you have it on. This gives it enough power to keep your heavy-duty power tools running in your garage or workshop, and it works for recreational, home, or emergency based use. It can power most large appliances and home necessities at the same time without being overloaded, and it features a four-stroke OHV Westinghouse engine. This engine will automatically adjust the speed to only give you enough power for your chosen applications to enhance how efficient it is with the fuel to make it last longer.
This is a lightweight portable generator that weighs in under 50-pounds to make it easy to pick up and move around without struggling. There is also an ergonomic carrying handle built into the design, and it operates at an impressively quiet 52-decibels to avoid disturbing you. You can use it to safely power sensitive electronics because it produces stable, clean power with less than 3% THD. You get a parallel cable that allows you to attach it to another Westinghouse generator to double your power, and it has overload protection with an automatic shutdown feature if you run low on oil.
- Three-year warranty
- Has overload protection
- Shuts down when you’re low on oil to protect the engine
- Weighs under 50-pounds
- 2,200-peak watts with 1,800-running watts
- Can hook it to a second Westinghouse generator
- 52-decibel quiet operation
- Takes several pulls to start
4. SereneLife Portable Generator – Bargain Budget Pick
Anyone who is on a tight budget but needs a portable generator should take a look at this option by SereneLife. It has outputs for 12V DC, USB, and AC, including an extra cigarette socket cable. There are three five-volt USB ports, three 12V DC ports, and a 110-volt Dual AC outlet. In turn, you can easily power all of your electronics like laptops, tablets, phones, running lights, cameras, and small home appliances. You get three different charging modes with this product, and you can recharge it by connecting it to a solar panel, plugging it into your car’s 12-volt socket, or you can plug it into a standard wall outlet.
This portable generator has an upgraded power capacity at 42,000mAh with more built-in DC and USB ports to make it more convenient to use. The advanced safety options are another nice feature on this product, and it includes voltage control, an emergency light button switch, and overpower or short circuit protection to keep it running. The power bank has an LED flashlight built in, and it has a battery level indicator. You get a one-year warranty from the date of purchase with a 100% money-back guarantee.
- Has multiple ports
- Upgraded power capacity
- Three different charging modes
- LEd flashlight built in
- 100% money-back guarantee
- Short-circuit protection
- One-year warranty
- Power level doesn’t stay consistent
5. Champion 200965 Power Generator – Best For Dual Fuel Needs
This dual-fuel portable generator is a nice choice if you’re trying to power your outdoor movie screen or equipment and you want consistent power from start to finish. This is a nice combination of convenience and versatility, and it works for powering your RV or home. It can start and run a 15,000 BTU AC unit without a problem, and it can also power your essential items when the power goes out. It has Cold Start Technology built in to ensure it starts right up when the temperature drops, and you get a dual-fuel model that can run on propane or gasoline. There is also a patented dual-fuel switch that allows you to quickly and easily swap from one fuel source to the other.
When you use gasoline, the 208CC engine will produce 4,375-starting watts with 3,500 running watts, and it can run for up to 14 hours on a 50% load when you fill the 4.7-gallon fuel tank. When you use a 20-pound propane tank, this unit will run at a 50% load for 4.5-hours with 3,950-starting watts and 3,150-running watts. There is a 3.3-foot propane hose included with a regulator built in, and this portable generator will run at 68-decibels at 23-feet. There is a surge protector built into the design, and you can easily monitor the maintenance needs and power output to keep it running in top shape.
- Runs on gasoline and propane
- Cold Start Technology
- Surge protector built in
- Runs at 68-decibels at 23-feet
- Monitor power output easily
- EPA certified and CARB compliant
- Has a low oil shutoff sensor
- Has higher maintenance needs
6. Generac 7117 Gp2200I Generator – Best For Easy Starting
This inverter portable generator will give anyone who loves the outdoors a power solution for their open-air festivities. This product comes outfitted with TruePower Technology that allows it to produce clean power that is safe to use with more sensitive tools, electronics, and appliances without any damage. It has a fully enclosed and compact design that makes it easy to move from point A to point B, and it has economy mode that you can switch to to help reduce the fuel consumption rates and noise emissions to help it last longer and run quieter. It also has parallel capabilities that allow you to connect two generators together to increase your power output.
You get a maximum output of 1,700 running watts and 2,200 starting watts on this portable generator, and it comes rated at 120 VAC with a 14.1 amperage. It has a 1.2-gallon tank that runs for just over 10-hours at a 25% load, and there is a nice handle built in that makes it easy to transport. The integrated choke/off/run knob makes startup very quick and easy, and the LED status lights will let you know the power levels, if you’re low on oil, and if it’s overloaded. You get a two-year limited warranty from the date of purchase to protect your investment.
- Fully enclosed design
- Can hook two generators together
- Two-year limited warranty
- TruePower Technology runs cleanly
- LED status lights
- 2,200 starting watts and 1,700-running watts
- 1.2-gallon fuel tank
- May be too loud for some environments
7. WAWUI Portable Solar Generator – Best For Short-Term Use
This simple portable generator is great if you’re out entertaining under your pergola and you want to run a few small devices like your phone and need to charge it. You can choose from a 42 or 84-watt device when you shop to tailor it to fit your needs, and it works for short-term emergency backup in your home or out on the road. You get a rechargeable and replaceable battery solar generator system on this product, and it maxes out at 64 hours of power at low-level use. It has its own lights with two levels and three extra-bright LED bulbs.
This is a quieter solar portable generator that comes with a carrying handle to make it easy to move around. You also get the solar panels you need to charge the device during the day, and you can also plug it into the car or a USB port to charge it. The anti-dust design on the ports make it safe and reliable to use, and the bright green coloring makes it easy to spot when you put it down. It also comes equipped with a LiFePO4 battery that has an average lifespan of 12 years.
- 42 or 84-watt device available
- Charges via solar power
- Solar panels included
- Very compact and lightweight design
- Battery can last up to 12 years
- Easy to use
- Anti-dust seal on the ports
- Has much lower power outputs
8. PowerSmart Generator – Best For Use in RVs
This portable generator is excellent for use in RVs, construction sites, campgrounds, and mobile devices when the power goes out. It’s a workhorse that will give you consistent power levels to take on multiple charging and powering projects at one time, and it comes with a 63CC two-stroke, two-horsepower gas-powered engine that will give you 1,000 surge watts and 900 rated watts when you use it. It weighs in at less than 40 pounds to make it a very lightweight and portable option that is easy to maneuver from point A to point B as you need it.
You’ll get a 12-volt DC output with a 120-volt household outlet built into the design, and this gives you clean power to more sensitive devices like laptops, phones, and outdoor electronics. It has a 1.1-gallon fuel tank that allows the portable generator to run at 50% load capacity for up to five-hours. Each generator from this company comes with a two-year warranty from the date of purchase, and there is a very responsive customer service team if you have any questions or concerns about the product. You get very stable legs on this product with an ergonomic handle that ensures it stays upright and is easy to carry.
- 1,000 surge watts and 900 rated watts
- Weighs less than 40 pounds
- Ergonomic handle
- Very stable legs
- Multiple outlets built in
- Two-year warranty
- Easy to maneuver
- Runs louder
9. ROCKPALS Portable Power Station – Best For Outdoor Camping
Rockpals’ portable generator comes equipped with a 280wh Lithium-Ion battery pack that gives you enough power to charge your phone, MacBook, tablet, and more through multiple cycles while you’re out in your hot tub enclosure without a problem. It has one 110-volt AC outlet, one 12-volt car port, two DC 12-volt ports, two USB ports, and more to help you charge all of your small appliances at one time. You can get up to 40% quicker charging times on your items when you use this portable generator, and this allows you to be on your way quicker without draining the batteries.
This portable generator comes with MTTP technology built in, and you can recharge the battery in five to seven-hours using a standard outlet or in six to seven hours using solar power. It also has a battery management system to help improve the battery utilization ratio and extend your battery life. There is short-circuit protection, overvoltage protection, overcurrent protection, overheating protection, and overload protection on this product to help it last longer. It’s also a quiet machine that won’t disturb your day as you use it to charge your items.
- Has multiple ports
- Can charge is via solar or traditional power methods
- MTTP technology
- Charges items up to 40% quicker
- Battery management system
- Overheating protection
- Runs quietly
- Can cut out with higher voltage use
10. EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station – Best For Use Indoors
The final portable generator on the list is another solar powered model, and it gives you a consistent power source for emergencies, outdoor use, or for use indoors. The EcoFlow X-Stream Charge technology on this product allows you to recharge your power station up to 80% from 0% in just under an hour, and this makes it one of the fastest products on the market. You can go into the EcoFlow app and set up Quiet Charging mode too so it doesn’t disturb you as it works. The X-Boost technology on this product allows you to charge up to 10 devices at one time without a problem, as long as those devices are 1,800-watts or lower.
You get a nice modular design on this portable generator, and it has a RIVER Extra Battery design on it that allows you to customize your power station by adding a second battery. In turn, this doubles the power capacity to 576Wh. It’ll fully charge in 6 to 12-hours using solar power, depending on the sunlight conditions. You get a solar cable included in the purchase, and it comes with a very sleek and modern design that is visually-appealing.
- Has EcoFlow X-Stream Charge technology
- Can take your devices to 80% power in 60 minutes
- X-Boost technology included
- Charge up to 10 items at once
- Uses solar power to charge
- Sleek and modern look
- Easy to set up
- Warranty is limited
Portable Generator Buyer’s Guide
Portable generators come in different styles, brands, sizes, and power levels. Finding one that will match all of your needs can be challenging, but this short buyer’s guide will help you find the perfect portable generator to suit your needs.
Pick a Type
One of the first things you do is decide on a type of generator, and they come in five main styles. Picking one from the start will help you narrow down your choices and make it not seem so overwhelming. The five main types of portable generators include:
- Solar – Solar panels are popular on houses, but they’re also a popular charging option for generators. There is no fumes, noise, or gasoline involved with using this type of generator, and this makes them a nice choice for camping or use in areas with no primary power source.
- Recreational Inverter – A recreational inverter generator is popular for camping, and they pack in a lot of technology. Tailgates and RV enthusiasts love these small but powerful models for their miscellaneous power needs.
- Emergency – An emergency generator has more powerful and larger engines with a bigger fuel tank. They’re meant to power big appliances like lights, televisions, sump pumps, and refrigerators for hours at a time, and this makes them more expensive.
- Semi-Professional – Contractors with a lot of power needs and homeowners with high-end taste like semi-professional generators. They’re powerful enough to run tools on a job site, or you can restore your power to your entire home during a blackout.
- Professional – The final category is arguably the most expensive, and this is the professional category. They use commercial-grade components that will run for a full shift on a daily basis. They have components like GFCI outlets, lifting eyes, and hour meters.
It’s a huge safety concern if your phone dies and you’re out at a rural site with no way to get in contact with someone if something goes wrong. Smaller chargers fit into your pack and can last for hours at a time, and you can recharge some of them depending on the type with solar panels.
Take a look at the fuel source your generator runs on. Many of the portable options run on solar power or batteries, but some run on gasoline. Generally speaking, you’ll get more run-time out of a system that uses gasoline as a fuel source than you will with a battery, and it’s easier to keep it running if you have gasoline with you ready to put in. Battery and solar-powered generators are good for using in short bursts around the house like charging you tools to use in your raised planter boxes.
How many different outlets will you need to charge your various items? Four or more outlets gives you the best wattage across them because it helps to spread the load. You should only use more than one or two in extreme circumstances because it can really drain the generator, and your items may not charge nearly as quickly as they would if there was only one plugged in. Also, all of the outlets should be easily accessible on the front or side of the device.
The generators on my list are all small enough to carry with you when you go hiking without adding too much additional weight. You can easily slip them right into your backpack, and they should have enough outlets to plug your various items in.
How much power does your generator have to put out to satisfy your needs and wants? Most of the generators on the list maxed out before they hit 5,000 watts because they had a much smaller size. Ideally, you’ll get one that has more than enough power to charge your devices when you need it without draining the power source itself. This simple calculator can help you decide.
You want to know when you’re running low on fuel like gasoline or oil, but you should also have an indicator when your batteries are dying and need charging. The generator you pick should have warning lights that are easy to see and understand. This will ensure that you don’t accidentally damage the motor or any parts of it by running it without the correct fuel levels.
Extremely large generators are common in machines, but they use professional-grade parts and materials that can withstand daily heavy use. The portable options are going to be slightly less durable than these ones, but they should both last for years.
All of the generators on the list will help you restore some power in a pinch. The highly portable designs are nice for putting them in your car and taking them camping, RVing, or even carrying them around your yard. You can read the reviews and use the buying guide to narrow down your choices. When You find the best one for your needs, you can ship it straight to your door so it’s ready to go when you need it.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.