Top 5 Best Portable Generators To Buy in 2019

Best Overall

Westinghouse WGen7500
Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator Review

Premium Pick

Honda EU2200i
Honda EU2200i Portable Generator Review

Traveler's Choice

WEN 56180
WEN 56180 Portable Generator Review

You may have a variety of reasons you need or want a portable generator. Maybe you live in a location where severe weather like hurricanes, tornadoes, or ice storms impact the power grid routinely. Or maybe you like camping outdoors and need a reliable power supply when you’re deep in the backcountry. Regardless of your reason, a portable generator keeps you and your electric machines and equipment fully functional when you need it.

When reviewing portable generators, we looked at several important features:

Power Output

This determines how many watts of electricity generated. You need to choose a generator with enough power output to supply electricity for your needs.

For example, a generator can power your sump pump, refrigerator, and a few lights during a power outage. However, you need to determine how many watts you need and choose a generator that can produce as much as if not more than your total watts required.

Fuel Type

We looked at a few different fuel types, gas being the most prominent, followed by diesel and dual fuel power.

Each comes with both pros and cons, so fuel type is a serious consideration when choosing the right portable generator.

Noise Level

 If you live in a neighborhood or want a quiet generator for outdoor camping, consider the decibels a portable generator puts out.

Read our review below on the quietest portable generator.

Type

You can get either a traditional portable generator or an inverter generator. An inverter uses a magnet and an inverter to induce electricity while traditional ones use copper wiring. 

The difference is an inverter generator creates a smoother, cleaner electricity than the traditional models. The drawback is they cost more.

Here are our top 5 picks depending on what features you need in a portable generator.

Top Ranked Portable Generators Based on Features

If you’ve ever experienced a power outage that caused your basement to flood or ruined all your frozen foods, you understand the need for a portable generator. On the flip side, maybe you want the opportunity to bring electricity with you off grid, like on camping, hunting, or hiking trips. 

Regardless of your reasons, you need a portable generator to keep you powered and your appliances, machines, electronic gadgets and more charged and running. Here are our top recommendations for the best generators in each category:

 Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator ReviewHonda EU2200i Portable Generator ReviewWEN 56180 Portable Generator ReviewPulsar PG7000D Portable Generator ReviewChampion 7500W Dual Fuel Portable Generator Review
Brand And ModelWestinghouse WGen7500Honda EU2200iWEN 56180Pulsar PG7000DChampion 7500W Dual Fuel
Running Wattage75001800150055006750-7500
Noise Level64 dBA48 dBA63 dBA<70 dBA74 dBA
Weight200.62 lbs.47 lbs.50 lbs.353 lbs.202.4 lbs.
Fuel Tank Capacity6.6 Gal0.95 Gal1.45 Gal4 Gal6.1 Gal + 20 lbs. Propane
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
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1. Westinghouse WGen7500

The Best Overall Portable Generator

Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator Review

The Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator features a key fob with electric start and a backup recoil start. It also has a 6.6 gallon fuel tank with a gauge to let you know how much fuel you have left and a run-time of up to 10 hours at half load.

You should be able to use the WGen7500 right out of the box with minimal assembly necessary. The Westinghouse 420cc, 4-stroke engine comes with a 3-year warranty, which is nice to have if you use your generator a lot. It’s transfer switch-ready, meaning you can plug it into your home’s power inlet box for immediate use.

It comes with two Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter 120V receptacles and one 120/240V receptacle.

PROS

  • Puts out plenty of watts
  • Plenty of starting options: manual, electric, remote
  • Will run 10-16 hours depending on load

CONS

  • A bit noisy at 64 decibels
  • Weighs almost 200 pounds
Also, the generator comes with an automatic shut off if the oil overheats or the level drops too low to protect its engine. For an additional $100, you can get the Westinghouse WGen7500DF which comes with the capability for using dual fuel sources: gas and propane.

2. Honda EU2200i

The Best Quite Portable Generator

Honda EU2200i Portable Generator Review

If noise is a consideration for your portable generator, the Honda EU2200i can run as quietly as 48 decibels, which is less than what a normal conversation puts out. Great for outdoor uses when you need a quiet portable generator nearby, like camping or in a neighborhood setting, the Honda EU2200i can put out 1800 continuous watts or 2200 starting watts.

The fuel tank is a little small at less than a gallon, but its fuel efficiency lets you run for over 8 hours at 25% load. And since the Honda EU2200i weighs less than 50 pounds, it highly portable and easy to move from location to location.

Finally, this quiet portable generator also boasts inverter technology to provide stable, clean power anywhere you need it.

PROS

  • Quieter than a normal conversation
  • Inverter technology
  • Very fuel efficient at 25% load

CONS

  • Lower power at 1800 watts
  • Small gas tank

Honda has a long legacy of creating reliable 4-stroke engines that get the job done. The Honda EU2200i portable generator is one in a long line of generators that range from 1,000 watts to 10,000 and features a fuel efficient, low emissions, and eco-friendly operation.

You’ll love the Eco-Throttle technology that adjusts the engine speed depending on the load being used, offering great fuel efficiency for a small gas tank of less than a gallon. In fact it’s so efficient, you can get almost 9 hours of run time at 25% load on one tank. But the best feature is its quiet operation.

The Honda EU2200i features special sound reducing materials that, coupled with the inverter technology, creates an incredibly quiet engine perfect for neighborhoods or campsites with noise level restrictions.

You’ll love how easy it is to transport the Honda EU2200i from location to location as it weighs less than 46 pounds. Especially if you camp a lot and need a portable generator, this lightweight model is the perfect option. You can also connect two of these models together to double your power output and operate more appliances or electronics if needed.

And if you need a reliable, stable source of clean power at home to run more sensitive electronics like your computer, the Honda EU2200i uses a sine wave inverter technology that produces electricity just as clean and smooth as what comes out of your wall outlets.

Other features that make the Honda EU2200i a great buy include an automatic voltage regulator to adjust to the power load you need and outlets that protect against overloaded circuits and a nifty 125V AC outlet and 12V DC outlet that let you charge rechargeable batteries.

Finally, Honda backs its EU2200i with a full three years warranty that covers the portable generator from bottom to top. So when you factor in all the wonderful features, the reliability of the Honda name, and the amazingly quiet operation, the Honda EU2200i is an excellent choice.

3. WEN 56180

The Best Budget Portable Generator

WEN 56180 Portable Generator Review

If you’re budget constrained but still need something to keep the food in the fridge from spoiling during power outages, the WEN 56180 is the perfect portable generator for you. And weighing in around 50 pounds, it’s very portable and great for campsites or other recreational activities.

The gas-powered engine has a 1.45 gallon tank that will give you over 7 hours run time at 50% load. It will also put out 1,800 starting watts and 1,500 continuous watts. The two 120V outlets are three-pronged, and the single cigarette lighter-styled 12V outlet is great for charging your electronics.

At 63 decibels, it’s not the quietest generator, but it’s certainly not the noisiest. Finally, the WEN 56180 offers a low oil shutdown feature that protects the engine from damage.

PROS

  • At under $200, fits any budget
  • Lightweight at just 50 pounds
  • Runs over 7 hours at 50% load

CONS

  • Lower power at 1500 watts
  • No wheels

WEN has been around since 1951, producing and selling affordable, quality power tools. Headquartered in Illinois, WEN offers great 2-year warranties on their generators for damages and repairs on all parts and has service centers around the US, should you ever need it. The WEN 56180 is a lightweight, light powered generator that can help keep your refrigerated and frozen food from spoiling when the electricity goes out. It’s also quite affordable and at under $200, can be worked into almost any budget.

Being lightweight and compact, you can take the WEN 56180 just about anywhere, but it’s specifically rated safe for use in our national parks system thanks to a spark arrestor.

The WEN 56180 generator has a 4-stroke OHV single-cylinder engine that can handle starting watts of 1,800 and continuous watts of 1,500. It’s reliable and efficient with a tank capacity of 1.45 gallons that gives you about 7.5 hours of run time at 50% load. While it’s not the quietest generator at 65 decibels when working at full load, it uses a noise muffler to keep it as quiet as possible when running.

The engine has a safety feature that will automatically stop the engine if the oil level drops too low, and the control panel is conveniently located on the side for easy handling. With its compact and lightweight design, the WEN 56180 is easy to transport from home to campsite or just out into the backyard to power other recreational activities.

You get two 120V AC outlets to power your needs and one 12V DC outlet that works well for recharging your electronics or power tools. One drawback, however, is the WEN 56180 portable generator does not come with wheels. Being lightweight, it’s easier to transport, but you can always buy a separate wheel kit and mount wheels to the frame if you need them.

The generator’s engine is securely mounted to the frame with motor mounts, which works to keep the vibration to a minimum. Finally, the WEN 56180 doesn’t feature an electric start option but comes with a pull-cord instead. You sacrifice some nice features for the budget price.

4. Pulsar PG7000D

The Best Diesel Portable Generator

Pulsar PG7000D Portable Generator Review

If you have a little extra in your budget, a diesel portable generator is cheaper to operate over the long haul since a tank of diesel can last longer than gas. With a four-gallon tank, you get a smaller tank size on a portable generator that can run longer on diesel.

The Pulsar PG7000D generates starting watts of 7,000 and continuous watts of 5,500, enough to power your RV, household appliances, and power tools. While it runs at about 70 decibels at full load, this portable generator makes use of noise reduction technology to keep the sound as a minimum.

While it’s more expensive than other generators, the Pulsar PG7000D is great as a backup power source for your home or a heavy-duty generator for the job site.

PROS

  • 7,000 starting watts, 5,500 running watts
  • Diesel fuel for better efficiency
  • Runs over 9.5 hours at 50% load

CONS

  • The price is high
  • Weighs over 350 pounds

Pulsar uses its over 100 years of manufacturing experience to develop top quality products that perform well. From portable compressors to generators to pressure washers, each machine meets or exceeds the highest quality standards. Diesel portable generators are usually an investment you can rely on for a very long time.

The Pulsar PG7000D features a powerful l10-HP, single cylinder, 4-stroke engine that can generate 7,000 starting watts and 5,500 running watts to help you power just about anything you need. It features five outlets: two 120V outlets, one 120V/240V twist lock, a 120V twist lock, and a 12V outlet. Everything you need to power or recharge will have an outlet on the Pulsar PG7000D portable generator.

For a big, powerful diesel unit, the Pulsar PG7000D is remarkably quiet for a diesel engine at around 70 decibels. Pulsar used specific insulation, air flow, and housing to contain the noise level. In fact, they call this line of portable generators their "Silent Series."

Compared to other diesel generators, this might be true. You’ll particularly enjoy the digital control panel that offers maintenance alerts when it’s time to take care of your generator for long-lasting operation. One drawback is the unit is over 350 pounds. While it comes on wheels, there aren’t handles as the frame is fully enclosed. This can cause difficulties in picking the unit up and carrying it even if you have more than one person.

Positive features that help us recommend the Pulsar PG7000D are the electronic start with a battery, the variety of outlets for use, and a combination digital volt and hour meter to help you keep track of your power needs and your maintenance schedule. You can run the generator for up to 9.5 hours at 50% load on a single tank of gas in the 4-gallon tank.

While the tank is smaller than other models, the efficiency of diesel fuel gives you longer run times. You also get a maintenance free battery and oil included when you purchase this portable generator. Finally, it comes with a 2 year limited warranty and 1 year warranty on parts.

5. Champion 7500W Dual Fuel

The Best Duel Fuel Portable Generator

Champion 7500W Dual Fuel Portable Generator Review

The Champion 7500W Dual Fuel portable generator comes with an electronic start and a 439cc engine that can run on either gasoline or propane, giving you options and longer lasting operation. You can get 8 hours run time at 50% load on a 6.1 gallon tank of gas and 5.5 hours run time at 50% load on a tank of propane.

The Champion 7500W Dual Fuel portable generator features Intelligauge that tracks your voltage and run-time hours so you can watch your run-time and keep track of your maintenance schedule.

This powerful generator puts out 9,375 starting watts and 7,500 continuous watts on gasoline and 8,400 starting watts and 6,750 continuous watts on propane, enough to power just about anything you need.

PROS

  • Powered by both gas and propane
  • Excellent starting watts and continuous watts
  • Runs over 8 hours on gas and 5.5 on propane at 50% load

CONS

  • Noise level is high at 74 decibels
  • Weighs over 200 pounds

Champion has been making power equipment like the 7500W Dual Fuel portable generator for years that makes powering your recreational, home, or job site activities more convenient. You get a convenient electric start feature with an included battery, and they engineered the generator with Cold Start Technology which makes sure you get a quick start in even the coldest weather.

The key feature, however, is the dual fuel capabilities. You can run either gasoline or propane straight out of the box and conveniently switch between the two. The Champion 7500W Dual Fuel portable generator offers a patented fuel selector switch that lets you safely and easily switch between the two fuels.

When running gasoline from the 6.1 gallon tank, you get 9,375 starting watts and 7,500 running watts, and the generator will run up to 8 hours at half load. When fueling your generator with a 20-pound propane tank, you get 8,400 starting watts and 6,750 continuous watts, and it will run for 5.5 hours at 50% load. You also get a propane hose over 3 feet long that comes with a built-in regulator.

The Champion 7500W Dual Fuel portable generator comes with a Volt Guard surge protector built in to prevent an overload situation and to protect its engine. You get a full complement of outlets to power your life: 120V locking outlet, a 120V/240V locking outlet, and four 120V GFCI household outlets. It’s easy to set up the generator thanks to clear directions and concise packaging, and the Champion support network is easy to contact if you have questions or to use the 3-year warranty and free lifetime technical support.

You’ll love the never-flat tires that come on the included wheel kit because they make transporting the Champion 7500W Dual Fuel portable generator easy. And a folding U-shaped handle bar make storage easy. Other great features include a Volt Guard surge protector built right into the control panel, gauges to track both your power output and your run-time hours to keep track of maintenance schedules.

Finally, an automatic shut off feature protects your engine if it runs low on oil.

What You Need To Know Before Shopping

It makes sense to understand the terminology used when comparing generators so you can match apples to apples. Here are three terms you need to know before you go generator shopping:

Watts. This is the power a generator can create. The more watts generated, the more appliances, electronics, tools, and more your portable generator can power. Some common household appliances like your microwave run on 1,000 watts. You need to choose a portable generator that provides enough watts to power the most important things like a heater, refrigerator, RV, job site corded tools, and others, depending on your needs.

Starting power. More tools and appliances use a surge of power when they start that’s greater than they need to run. For example, the power needs to start up a blender are about 1,400 watts, but you only need around 600 watts to run it continuously after it’s started.

Continuous power. Tools and appliances generally use less power when running continuously than when they first start up. Choose a portable generator that matches your highest starting power needs and highest continuous power needs.

Final Words

The portable generator you choose will depend on your needs. Do you need one for a job site, recreational use, or a home backup power situation? In addition, what type of fuel do you want to burn: gasoline, diesel, propane, or a dual fuel? Also, what is your budget? The average price of a generator is around $1,000, with some being much higher and others much lower.

Finally, decide how many watts of both starting and continuous power you need for your appliances, electronics, tools, camping gear, and more. Once you have the answers to these questions, it’s time to shop.

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