So you want a portable generator but you don’t have much to spend.
There really isn’t much competition at all in this price range.
The Sportsman 1000-Watt Inverter Generator is just about the lowest price you’ll find for a portable generator (click here to compare it to my top 10 portable inverters this year).
With a price this low, is it possible that this generator is really going to be worth buying? Can it actually deliver? Read on to find out!
About this Generator
The Sportsman 1000 Watts generator is pretty basic but that means that it is extremely easy to use.
It starts up easily with the pull cable recoil starter after you’ve switched the engine position to On, opened the fuel valve, and closed the choke.
It has one 120V AC outlet and one 12 Volt DC outlet.
There is a simple on-off switch for the Economy mode. There are lights that indicate power output, overload, and low oil alert.
In addition to the warning light that indicates your oil is getting low, there is also an automatic shutdown feature if your oil is dangerously low.
You wouldn’t want the engine to blow up from running out of oil and this feature means you don’t have to worry about that happening.
This is an inverter, featuring a clean sine wave and stable voltage.
This is important if you want to use the generator to power any sensitive electronics like a cell phone or laptop or television.
You don’t want to risk a surge causing irreparable damage to these important electronics. You don’t have to worry about that with the Sportsman because of its inverter technology.
You’ll get a fairly low power output with this generator, but it’s more than enough for a lot of uses.
It offers 1,000 peak surge watts and 800 running watts.
That’s definitely not enough to provide backup power for an entire home but it’s enough to power part of your home.
This makes it a decent backup power supply for emergency situations.
It also offers enough power for light tailgating and camping use.
It will also work for RV use.
You can successfully use it to power tools while working in the yard but it probably doesn’t offer enough juice to power heavy equipment at a worksite.
Noise Level: How Loud Does It Get?
This is by no means the quietest generator on the market (click here to see my top 10 quietest generators selection) but it’s not as loud as you might expect either.
At no load, the noise is 56db. This is somewhere between the noise of quiet conversation at home and quiet conversation in a restaurant, according to Purdue Chemistry.
Of course, this noise rating is at no load.
When you add on even a 25% load, the noise level is going to go up quite a bit.
At a full load, this generator will probably be about as loud as a vacuum cleaner. It might not be pleasant to be right next to it but it also could be a lot worse.
Gas Consumption & Capacity
This Sportsman generator has a pretty small 0.55 gallon fuel tank. That means that when running a 50% load in economy mode, you’ll get just over 6 hours of runtime.
The total runtime will depend entirely on the kind of load you are running.
With that size of tank, you’re going to have to refill often if you are typically running a full load.
The fuel efficiency isn’t great on this generator but it could be worse. It definitely helps to use economy mode if you want to maximize your time and use of fuel.
The oil tank holds 10 oz of oil. The recommended oil type is SAE 10W30 and you should use this for best results.
As a reader explained in the comments section, Sportsman recommends using 7.5 oz to avoid burning the oil.
Unfortunately, you do have to remove the whole side panel to replace the oil.
This is a bit frustrating but it’s really pretty easy to do.
Service, Manual & Warranty
When making an investment in a generator, it can provide some peace of mind to know that there is a good warranty backing the product up.
Although the cost of this generator isn’t as high as some, it still helps to know there is a warranty.
This generator has a 1-year limited warranty.
The warranty will not cover accidental damage or damage as a result of failing to follow the recommended maintenance but it will cover any defects to materials or workmanship that you may discover over the first year of use.
As with any generator, it’s important to read the manual and to follow the guidelines laid out within it for maintenance and proper usage of the generator.
To get the most out of this generator and to ensure it lasts as long as possible, regular maintenance is key.
This includes things like changing the oil at regular intervals and checking things like the spark plug and air filter.
In the event that you have an issue with the generator, you must find someone at an authorized service center to complete any necessary repairs.
If this need for repairs happens during the warranty period, it’s vital to have the repair done by the authorized technician.
If you repair the generator yourself or have a non-official party complete the repair, it will void your warranty.
If the warranty has expired, it’s still wise to take it to an authorized service center but you’ll probably by fine having any qualified small engine repair person complete the task.
Online Customer Reviews and Ratings
As of this writing, this generator has earned just a hair over a 4-star average on Amazon.
Not surprisingly, a number of purchasers rave about the value with the low price tag.
A few buyers mentioned the customer service as being excellent as well.
A few reviewers describe it as being great while it worked but that it eventually stopped working altogether.
It’s hard to say exactly what happened in these particular instances.
The overall quality of the product is definitely lower than other generators, with cheaper plastic construction.
However, most buyers do seem quite pleased with the generator, especially considering its low cost.
Reviewers are mixed about the noise level, with one 5-star reviewer saying it “runs quietly” while a 3-star reviewer said, “Makes more noise than I would have hoped.” This same 3-star reviewer praised the generator overall.
Potential Problems & Known Issues
Because of the cheaper plastic construction, one problem you might expect is just damage to the surface of the generator. It’s easy for it to get scratched, dented, or even broken.
Damage to the outside isn’t the end of the world and the generator may well continue to work quite well despite the cosmetic damage.
But if you’re someone who likes all of their tools to stay looking sharp, this is worth considering.
There are a number of potential problems and issues that you’ll find with the majority of generators and they require the same set of troubleshooting steps.
If the engine won’t start, it could be that the engine switch, fuel valve, or choke are in the wrong position.
It could also just be that the generator needs to be moved to a flatter and more even surface.
Perhaps you need to change the oil and clean or replace the spark plug.
Another common problem is that the generator runs but doesn’t seem to power all of the connected devices.
This might mean that the air filter is dirty or that there is a short in one of the connected devices. The most likely source of the problem, though, is that the generator is overloaded or at risk of being overloaded soon.
Following all recommended maintenance to the letter is your best hope at preventing these or any other potential problems or issues.
Final Words: Should You Buy It?
If you want a generator but have a very tight budget, this may well be the best generator for you. That is, it’s a good choice for you if you’re on a limited budget and you don’t need too much power.
With only 800 running watts and 1,000 starting watts, this generator is just too lightweight for commercial use or for trying to provide backup power to an entire home.
Depending on how all-out you go as a tailgater, it might not be enough for you there either.
However, there are plenty of uses for which this little generator will be perfectly adequate. Chances are this generator won’t last a lifetime but it should definitely get you through for a while until you can afford a nicer generator.
With its ultra-low price tag, the Sportsman 1000 Watt Inverter Generator comes a number of disadvantages.
That said, there is definitely some value in this budget generator.
This is especially true if you’re just looking for a generator to use for tailgating and camping and maybe for minor power backup.
It provides just enough power for these kinds of uses.
The quality is lower than other generators on the market so it might not last but it’s surprisingly good for its budget price range.
Have you tried this generator? What did you think?