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Portable generators offer all the benefits of a generator but in a more convenient and easily transportable package.
I created this list of the 10 best portable generators from research and experience.
A generator is something that’s good to have on hand because you never know when you might need it!
Table of Contents
- 1. Honda EU2200i – The Best Portable Generator From Honda
- 2. Yamaha EF2000iSv2 – Performance & Reliability
- 3. Champion Dual Fuel Inverter – Best for RV, High power & Electric Start
- 4. Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000 – Convenient and Versatile
- 5. WEN 56200i – Quiet & Convenient
- 6. Generac 7117 GP2200I – Compact and Easy to use
- 7. Yamaha EF2400iSHC – Best for High starting watts requirements
- 8. Energizer eZV2000P – It Keeps Going and Going
- 9. Briggs & Stratton 30651 – Best Portable Generator (Value)
- 10. Sportsman Portable Generator – The Cheapest One With Some Problems
- Portable Generators Buying Guide
- Best Portable Generators FAQ
- Who can repair a portable generator?
- Can a portable generator run my air conditioner?
- Can I use an extension cord?
- Is it a good idea to build an enclosure for my generator?
- Can I run an entire house with one of these?
- How often should I change the oil and what should I get?
- What are some common problems I may encounter?
- Should I keep it at a distance from my house?
- Safety tips & precautions when using a portable generator
- Conclusion – About this guide
Here are the 10 best portable options on the market right now.
1. Honda EU2200i – The Best Portable Generator From Honda
One of the most popular 2000 watt portable generators, the Honda EU2200i (full review here), has multiple features that made its previous version (the Honda EU2000I) a crowd favorite.
Perfect for home use, camping, at the job site, and many more applications, this Honda inverter generator can tackle a wide variety of appliances.
It’s high power output, and lighter weight makes it a solid workhorse for just about any job.
- This popular model can operate a wide variety of appliances, making it perfect for portable use at home, camping, on the job site, or much more. Reliable Power is now at your fingertips with Honda's Inverted Generators.
- So quiet, your neighbors will thank you. The EU2200i operates at 48 to 57 dBA, which is less noise than a normal conversation. This makes it ideal for camping, supplemental RV power and any other activity that requires quiet operation.
- Add a second EU2200i for additional power. Two identical models can be paralleled with an optional cable or cord for up to 4400 watts of power, or time-consuming applications.
While it is not as attractive as other generators, this generator makes up for it in many other important categories. To me, this is the best portable generator this year, a great successor to the all-time favorite EU2000I.
When measured at 23 feet, the industry norm, the Honda EU2200i only output 48 to 57 dBa.
As a comparison, this is fewer decibels than a normal conversation making it a great choice for those worried about noise control.
Most generators can exceed 70 dBa at 23 feet, making them somewhat of a nuisance for running overnight or with close neighbors.
With this generator, you can easily power appliances for long periods of time without worrying about noise pollution.
Honda has kept the end-user in mind and has designed this generator to be as user-friendly as possible.
The easy to use recoil start, convenient layout, and easy to read labels add to the many reasons why this generator currently has a 5-star rating with over 100 reviews on Amazon at the time of this article.
As with any portable generator, you are going to want it to be, well, portable.
That is where this EU2200i really beats out the competition, weighing in at only 40lbs.
This makes it really easy to transport it to any place you need power on the go. Featuring Honda’s exclusive Eco-Throttle System, this generator gets excellent fuel efficiency and can run 4-9.6 hours on a single tank depending on how much of a load is on the generator.
This generator features two AC out 120v 15A outlets and a DC 12V 8.3A to provide you with easy access to your power.
Honda has also included parallel ports to power two generators at once for up to 4400 watts of power.
It is also loaded with several different LED alerts that will warn you of any problems to prevent damage to your generator.
The oil alert illuminates when your oil level is getting low to keep your generator’s motor protected.
An overload alarm will light when there is a power overload that exceeds the capabilities of the generator, or there is a short circuit in a connected appliance.
Overloads can cause catastrophic failure to generators, and this is just another way Honda stands behind their products.
The last light is the output indicator light, and it will illuminate green when the generator is producing electrical power at the receptacles.
- Easy carry handle
- Excellent Honda Engine
- Three-year warranty by Honda
- Eco-throttle option
- No Fuel Gauge
The Honda EU2200i is the best portable generator according to customer reviews. A high performer in a small package. This is a great generator to have on hand when working around the job site, campsite, or even at home for a backup source during a blackout. I consider the Honda EU2200I to be the best portable generator for most people, as well as the most reliable portable inverter on this list.
2. Yamaha EF2000iSv2 – Performance & Reliability
When you think of a generator, the design is probably the last thing on your mind. Nonetheless, the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 (click to read my full review) manages to be quite beautiful.
The retro-inspired look and the royal blue hue aren’t just window dressing either.
This portable generator is a consistent best-seller from a very trustworthy brand. It’s rated for 1600 watts, and it’s remarkably quiet (click here to see the quietest ones), thanks to its muffler and spark arrestor.
- 1600 watt rated AC output, 2000 watt maximum AC output, 13.3/16.7 amps @ 120V
- Super-quiet muffler with USFS-approved spark arrestor - 51.5 dBA at 1/4 load
- Smart Throttle varies engine speed based on load - improves fuel economy and reduces noise
This generator is lightweight and compact, making it ideal for tailgating and camping.
It’s parallel-ready and CARB compliant.
It has inverter technology, so even sensitive electronics will be safe. With a 500W load, this Yamaha generator will last around 8 hours.
The fuel efficiency is possible thanks to the smart throttle system, which also reduces noise.
Yamaha includes a number of features that make it user-friendly, like a fuel gauge, a low oil light, and an auto-decompression system that means an easier start.
The second version of the EF2000IS is very popular, I think this is the best portable generator from Yamaha in this price range.
- Compact & Lightweight
- Relatively Quiet
- CARB Compliant
- Fuel Gauge
- 2 Years Yamaha Warranty
- Need to unscrew the panel to fill oil
You really can’t go wrong with the Yamaha EF2000iSv2, it’s one of my favorites this year. It provides enough power for things like tailgating and camping, it performs well and consistently, and it’s aesthetically pleasing as well.
3. Champion Dual Fuel Inverter – Best for RV, High power & Electric Start
Most generators have pull cable recoil starters, so a generator with an electric start always feels like a treat.
Just turning the 3-position toggle switch is just so much easier than yanking on a cable and it’s especially nice for those with injuries or a general lack of upper body strength.
At first glance, this generator looks almost like some kind of kid’s toy. Up close, that bright yellow panel is really very clear and easy to understand with everything clearly labeled.
- Dual Fuel – Operate your 3400-watt portable generator right out of the box on either gasoline or propane, plus the unit holds 0.6-quarts of oil (recommended 10W-30) and has a low oil shut-off sensor
- Convenient Electric Start with 3-Position Ignition Switch – Battery included, plus Quick Touch Panel allows you to access all your controls in one spot.Noise Level :59 dBA at 23 feet. Frequency 60 Hz
- Ultra-Quiet Operation – 59 dBA is perfect for RVs, tailgating, your next project or backup power for your home, featuring 3400 starting watts and 3100 running watts with up to 7.5 hours run time on gasoline
Rated for 3100 watts, this generator has enough power to handle a lot.
It’s an inverter so your sensitive electronics will be protected with that clean energy.
This is a dual-fuel portable generator so you can use either gasoline or propane.
This Parallel-ready generator can run on Propane or Gas out of the box!
It has decent fuel efficiency, with a tank of gas getting you up to 7.5 hours. Noise isn’t a problem.
In fact, it’s surprisingly quiet, given the amount of power it has.
This portable inverter is a great choice for the RV with its RV-ready outlet.
It will also work well on a worksite or as a backup power source for your home. The Champion 3400-Watt generator is quite heavy at nearly 100 pounds, but it does have tires, and a pull handle built right in, so transport isn’t all that difficult.
- Can work with Propane Or Gasoline
- Built-in wheels and pull handle
- Electric Start
- 3-year limited warranty with free lifetime technical support
- Heavier than other portable options on this page
It’s not the cheapest, but this dual-fuel inverter generator from Champion Power has a lot to offer. It has plenty of power, it’s RV-ready, and it has an electric start.
4. Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000 – Convenient and Versatile
This generator from Briggs & Stratton offers both power and convenience.
It weighs 85 lbs, but it has wheels and a telescoping pull handle. It has four standard household outlets, more than most other generators offer.
There is also a 12-volt 30-amp locking outlet with RV adaptor, a DC charging outlet, and a USB port.
This makes it an ideal generator for a number of situations, from a backup home power source to tailgating or camping to RV use.
- Run time: Up to 10 at 1/4 Load
- Running Amps 21.7A
- Alternator: Permanent magnet
A 1.5-gallon fuel tank gives you enough juice to last over 10 hours on a 500-watt load.
A special quiet power technology setting will automatically adjust the engine speed, resulting in less noise.
This mode will also save fuel and increase run-time.
One really nice feature of this generator is the LCD display screen.
This shows things like the current amount of power being used and also notifies you of when it’s time to perform various maintenance tasks like changing the oil or spark plug.
The P3000 portable generator is rated for 2600 watts (running watts), but you can effectively double that by running two of them in parallel.
One downside to this portable generator is that it is not CARB compliant.
Because it doesn’t meet their strict emissions guidelines, this generator can’t be shipped to California. It is a transportable inverter that offers safe and clean energy for powering electronics.
The P3000 is the best portable generator around the 3000W power range.
- 4 Power Outlets & RV Ready
- Quiet power technology
- LCD display
- Wheels and pull handle: Easy to carry
- More Power than the average generator this size
- A bit heavier
- Not CARB Compliant (can’t be bought from California)
Four outlets and a helpful LCD display make the versatile Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000 generator stand out. However, it is pretty expensive, and it doesn’t meet EPA and CARB emissions standards.
5. WEN 56200i – Quiet & Convenient
This generator from WEN offers clean energy, with the inverter mimicking a pure sine wave.
It is also EPA and CARB compliant and has very good fuel efficiency.
The quiet operation is a major selling point for this mobile generator. At a quarter load, it only registers at 51 decibels, about the same noise level as a typical conversation.
This ultra-quiet operation makes it a great operation for things like camping where you don’t want to disturb others near you.
- Dimensions: 18" x 11" x 18" | Weight: 50 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
An eco-mode option will result in the absolute quietest operation while also boosting fuel efficiency.
You won’t be able to operate at max capacity in the eco-mode, however.
The WEN 56200i (click here to read my full review) has two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle, and one 5V USB port.
It’s also parallel-ready. Transport is easy with this lightweight generator because of its convenient carry handle.
There is no fuel gauge on this portable generator, but there is an automatic shutdown feature if you are close to running out of either fuel or oil.
This is the best portable generator from WEN in this price range.
- Eco-mode Operation
- CARB Compliant
- Lightweight & Easy to carry
- No fuel gauge
- I find it a bit bulky, even though it’s lightweight
This is a good portable generator for situations where noise is the most important consideration. In addition to its ultra-quiet operation, this generator offers consistent performance and quality construction.
6. Generac 7117 GP2200I – Compact and Easy to use
Generac offers another generator that has an incredibly quiet operation.
An economy mode will result in the quietest noise level while also increasing runtime and fuel efficiency.
Operation of this unit is pretty user-friendly.
There is no fuel gauge, but there are indicator lights to let you know if you’re running low on oil or if you’re overloading. This generator is extremely compact and lightweight.
It also has a convenient carry handle, so this generator is ideal for transport. This makes it great for tailgating and camping.
- Quiet, Compact, Easy to use. AC rated output running Watts: 1700, AC maximum output starting Watts: 2200. Rated 120 VAC Amperage-14.1
- Truepower technology provides clean, stable power ideal for sensitive electronics, tools and appliances while the 1.2 gallon fuel tank allows 10.75 hours of run time at 25% load
- Built-in handle makes it easy to transport and the integrated OFF/RUN/CHOKE knob simplifies startup procedures
Rated for 1600 watts, it also has just enough power to handle some home backup in case of a power outage.
The 7117 is ideal for camping (Image credits: Generac.com)
It is parallel-ready with an add-on kit, so you are able to handle a bigger load when you run two of the units together.
The inverter functionality means that your electronics will be safe with clean and stable power.
The outlets are all covered, a nice feature that prevents any dust or debris from damaging the unit when not in use.
- Economy mode
- Easily movable, ideal for travel
- Covered outlets
- Made in USA & good warranty
- CARB Compliant
- Relatively cheap
- Only 2 120-volt outlets
The Generac 7117 GP2200I is ultra-quiet and also extremely compact and lightweight, it’s ideal for easy transport for camping and tailgating.
7. Yamaha EF2400iSHC – Best for High starting watts requirements
This generator from Yamaha isn’t super lightweight, but the 75-pound weight is manageable, and it is still portable thanks to the dual handles.
Rated for 2000 watts, it provides more power than many similar generators.
It offers clean and safe energy with inverter technology.
This portable generator typically starts quite easily because of its high current output. This makes it great to power high starting watt appliances like an air conditioner.
It uses Pulse Width Modulation for stable and clean energy that is safe for electronics.
- Increased motor starting capability and improved air conditioner starting
- Provides power that is as clean, or cleaner than commercial power and adjusts the engine speed to precisely match the load
- Prevents engine damage caused by low oil, avoiding costly repairs and minimizing down time, adding customer confidence and peace of mind
The speed of the engine will automatically adjust with the smart throttle technology, resulting in better fuel efficiency and less noise.
This generator is best for more demanding appliances – (Image credits: Yamaha)
This portable generator does have a fuel gauge and a low oil warning light.
The cast-iron cylinder liner helps protect the engine and keep it running well for years. Yamaha is also known for making excellent engines.
The 5.5 HP engine provides a lot of power and reliability, but it will also burn more fuel than a lower-HP engine.
Like with the Yamaha EF2000iSv2, this portable generator is another example of a reliable, powerful tool that also has a great looking design.
This model is heavier and a bit bigger than the EF2000iSv2, but it has a similar aesthetic.
- Dual handles for easier transport
- Best portable generator to power an aircon
- Sturdy, excellent construction
- User-friendly control panel
- More expensive
- Only 2 AC Outlets
The Yamaha EF2400iSHC is a great looking generator that performs consistently and provides a good amount of power.
8. Energizer eZV2000P – It Keeps Going and Going
Like the Energizer Bunny, this portable generator just keeps going and going.
With a 500-watt load, you can expect it to keep going for over 9 hours.
It will even last quite a while when running at 100% capacity. Rated for 1600 watts, this generator can handle sensitive electronics and is parallel-ready.
It doesn’t have RV-capability built-in, but you can buy RV outlets to use with it.
- High power inverter generator. A stable output of 2000 watts peak and continuous 1600 watts running to safely power all your devices and sensitive electronic equipment
- Parallel power. A newly designed single-outlet parallel Port makes connecting two ezv-series portable generators easy. Parallel cable Sold Separately, twist-lock and RV outlets available
- Long run time. At an electrical load of 1600 watts (100% of max capacity) the run time is 4.2 hours. At an electrical load of 400 watts (25% of max capacity) the run time is 11.5 hours
The economy mode automatically adjusts the throttle to save you on fuel, boost runtime, and lower noise level.
Even when operating at full load and not on the economy mode, though, this never gets overly loud. This makes it a nice choice for camping and tailgating or any situation where you don’t want to disturb others near you.
The Energizer motto is all about durability and they back that up with a 3-year limited warranty.
Reviewers say that this is a really stable and efficient portable generator, one of the best in the market this year.
- Three-year warranty
- Parallel Ready
- Good portable design
- Only 2 AC Outlets
- Only RV-ready with separate purchase
this isn’t the most powerful or the most versatile movable generator on the market, but it has some definite positives. Click here to read my in-depth review
9. Briggs & Stratton 30651 – Best Portable Generator (Value)
Rated for 1700 watts, this generator from Briggs & Stratton is a good value.
When using the quiet power technology option, the engine adjusts automatically depending on load, providing better fuel efficiency.
It’s not as quiet as some generators, but it is pretty quiet, similar to the noise level of a typical conversation. At just over 50 pounds, it’s pretty lightweight.
It has an H-handle design to make it easy for two people to carry.
- Quiet and fuel efficient 111 cc OHV engine produces 2,200 starting watts and 1700 running watts
- USB port allows charging of portable electronics in order to stay connected. Muffler : Super Lo-tone. Start type: Recoil
- Produces less than 3% total harmonic distortion making it safe for laptop computers, TVs and game systems
It’s also pretty compact. The 30651 is parallel-ready, and you can connect any of the generators from the PowerSmart Series.
- Good value for the money
- Best H Handle design for easy transport
- Reputable Brand
- Not CARB Compliant (cannot be sold in California)
- No fuel gauge
With its compact design and its consistent performance, the Briggs & Stratton 30651 inverter generator will serve you well while tailgating or on a camping trip.
10. Sportsman Portable Generator – The Cheapest One With Some Problems
This generator looks exactly like how you might expect a generator from a brand called Sportsman to look: rugged and camo green (click here to read my full review).
This generator is only rated for 800 watts, so it’s not going to have enough power for a lot of uses, but it should be enough for some camping and tailgating use.
It has a very low price tag to compensate for the lack of power.
The overall quality of construction in this portable generator is also a bit lacking, though, with some cheap plastic housing that might not stand the test of time.
However, at that price level it is hands down the best portable generator.
- Buffalo Corp is a premier wholesale importer of quality products for home and industrial use at affordable prices.
It does feature inverter technology so it can handle electronics like laptops or cellphones.
It is CARB-compliant. The 0.55-gallon fuel tank will last for just over 6 hours at a 50% load.
This is one of the louder portable generators. It’s 56db when it’s on but not running a load at all, which is quite a bit louder considering the wattage.
- Most affordable option on the market
- Compact and easy to carry around
- CARB Compliant
- Not much power
- Smaller gas tank
- Cheap plastic construction
- Assembly required
- Only 1 Year limited warranty
This portable generator from Sportsman has some serious problems, but it also has promise. If you’re looking for an affordable portable generator and you don’t need too much power, this is worth looking at.
Portable Generators Buying Guide
There are many uses for a portable generator including using it for emergency power, running a job site, or other more recreational uses. With the many models and types of portable generators currently available, it may be difficult to narrow down your choices to find the best one for you and your situation.
Here are a few things to look for when choosing your next portable generator:
Power and Outlets
You need first to determine how much power you are going to need from your portable generator.
A refrigerator, for example, only requires approximately 700 watts to run, but it may need three times that to start up.
Outlets are also important. A smaller generator typically uses a couple of 120V AC outlets and maybe some USB ports. The bigger the generator, the bigger the wattage you will need. 4000 watts, for example, may require a 240V plug.
The most common generator is gas-powered, and fuel is pretty easy to come by if you need the generator for an emergency situation. Diesel generators, on the other hand, offer more in the way of fuel efficiency but may cost a bit more as well.
Battery-powered generators can be recharged using a solar panel, they are much quieter, and have zero emissions. However, these generators also cost more, may take a while to recharge, and typically don’t provide more than 1800 watts. They are the best for recreational use like when you choose to go camping or tailgating.
The Fuel Tank
If you have a bigger fuel tank, then the portable generator will run for longer. Many generators allow you power for 7-9 hours at a 50% load. You also must keep in mind that a larger tank also means the generator will be much heavier in weight, so it may not have the portability you are looking for.
Electric start engines are great, but they come at a higher cost. A lot of portable generators use lead-acid batteries like you would find in automobiles while others may use lithium-ion batteries. If you have a battery, it needs to be charged before use.
Smaller generators have super quiet operation while others are slightly louder. Again, a smaller generator is ideal for recreational use like on a camping trip because it won’t bother others around you. But when you start using the larger portable generators, you won’t find something considered “quiet.” A diesel fuel generator will also be louder than a gas powered generator.
Best Portable Generators FAQ
Who can repair a portable generator?
For most people, though, trying to do a repair yourself isn’t a great idea.
This is especially true if your generator is still under warranty, as trying to fix something on your own will disqualify the warranty. You should always have it fixed by a certified repair person.
You can find a list of qualified people through the manufacturer. You can also generally find help from any authorized dealer. Most experienced small engine mechanics should also be able to help with most common generator problems.
Can a portable generator run my air conditioner?
Can I use an extension cord?
It’s also very important to make sure the extension cord is in good condition without any cuts and with all three prongs in working order. As long as you use a heavy duty cord in good condition, it’s perfectly safe to use an extension cord with your portable generator.
Is it a good idea to build an enclosure for my generator?
Enclosures also protect the generator from the elements and prevent any dust or debris from causing damage. Making a DIY enclosure can be done pretty easily at minimal cost. There are a number of helpful tutorials available, including this video.
Can I run an entire house with one of these?
If you run two generators in parallel, you’ll be able to run more of the home. When using a portable generator as a backup power supply after a power loss, you’ll generally have to pick and choose what tools and appliances are more of a priority. You can use our Wattage calculator to estimate how much power you are going to need.
How often should I change the oil and what should I get?
For the Honda EU2000i, it’s recommended that you change the oil every 6 months or every 100 hours, whichever one comes sooner. You should always use the type of oil recommended by the manufacturer. Honda recommends SAE 10W-30 while Yamaha recommends 10W-40.
What are some common problems I may encounter?
There may also be a lack of air. The generator requires air to burn the fuel in the tank. The choke’s position needs to be in the proper place in order for the motor to start. If it is in the wrong position, your engine may not start.
Should I keep it at a distance from my house?
Safety tips & precautions when using a portable generator
- Never operate a generator indoors.
- When running, the generator should be at least 15 feet away from any open windows or doors.
- Don’t run a portable generator when it’s raining.
- Turn the generator off and let the engine cool before refueling.
- If using an extension cord, make sure it is heavy duty and in good condition.
- Install a transfer switch to safely power hardwired appliances.
Conclusion – About this guide
There you have it these are the best generators for the money.
Hopefully, this portable generator buying guide has helped you figure out which generator is the best option for you and made you aware of things you should consider.
Once you use a generator, you’ll wonder how you got along without one before.
Just remember that it’s important to take good care of your generator and perform routine maintenance.
Portable generators offer good value, but they are still an investment, so you should protect that investment.
Have you owned a portable generator before? Is your favorite missing from this list? Let us know in the comments.
Please consider sharing this post with anyone you know who might be in the market for a portable generator!
Last update on 2020-08-03 Affiliate links & images from Amazon Product Advertising API