Unlike the portable generators of decades ago, today’s best portable home generators are easy to start, produce stable power, and provide you with valuable status information. They range from lightweight models that power a few small appliances to heavy-duty equipment that produces almost as much power as a whole-house generator.
Once you know your requirements, start comparing features to find the model that will work best for you.
It’s hard to go wrong with a generator as highly rated as the Eu7000is. With 7000 peak watts and 5500 running watts, it can power your lights and essential appliances at home or run large power tools in your workshop.
Honda’s proprietary eco-throttle system, which reduces the engine speed when your appliances aren’t drawing power, improves fuel efficiency, and gives this generator 16 hours of runtime on 5.1 gallons of fuel. The electronic fuel injection system further improves efficiency, eliminates the need for engine choke, and with no carburetor to worry about, you’ll have less maintenance work.
The generator features six outlets in total, including two GFCI 120V 20A duplex outlets for safer use in damp conditions. For flexibility in powering appliances with larger wattage requirements, you can choose between using both 120V and 240V or only 120V. This model includes a pull cord start to serve as backup in case you find the battery dead in an emergency.
Its operating noise level of 52 to 58 dB(A) is quieter than normal conversation and remarkably low for a generator this size. The folding handle and two large wheels that swivel and lock make this 261-pound generator no trouble to move. Equipment this well designed doesn’t come cheap, but this model is still less expensive than some generators with a comparable capacity and features.
WEN 56475 4,750-Watt Generator
An all-around solid choice for back up power at home, this generator is equipped with a 223cc OHV engine that provides 4750 peak watts and 3750 running watts. That’s enough to run your lights, refrigerator, furnace fan, and a few other essential appliances.
It includes two 120V outlets (standard household 5-20R), a 30A 3-prong outlet (L5-30), and a 120V RV outlet (TT-30R) that lets you power your recreational vehicle without the need for an adapter. The 4-gallon gas tank will power the generator for 11 hours at half load.
The keyless push-button electric start eliminates the need to struggle with a pull cord. Safety features such as low-oil shutdown, an automatic voltage regulator and overload protection, and a spark arrestor reduce the risk of fires and damage to the generator and your appliances. The digital readout helps you keep track of oil changes and other maintenance.
The generator comes with engine oil, a funnel, a battery, and tools as well as a wheel kit and handles. It’s 112 pounds, but compact and made even more portable by the foldable dual handles and wheel kit. This generator can’t be connected to a 220V home outlet, so you’ll need an extension cord.
Living up to Westinghouse’s 130-year reputation for innovation and reliability, the popular iGen4200 is one of the finest mid-range generators out there. This model’s 212cc Westinghouse 4-Stroke OHV engine provides 4200 peak watts and 3500 running watts. Using the specialized “efficiency mode” to maximize fuel economy will give you up to 18 hours of runtime on one 2.6-gallon fuel tank.
It’s equipped with a 120V duplex outlet (standard household 5–20R), two USB outlets, and an RV-ready 120V 30A outlet (TT-30R). The uncommon hybrid design combines the sturdy durability of a traditional open frame generator with the fuel efficiency of an inverter.
This generator requires only minimal assembly and a tool kit, oil, and oil funnel are included. Running at just 62 dB(A), it’s only as loud as the average conversation, making it ideal for your next family barbecue or outdoor party. With no wheels, though, this 82-pound generator is less maneuverable than some. The price is moderate for this model’s size and reliability.
A-iPower SUA12000E 12,000-Watt Generator
Built for serious power, the SUA12000E gives you an ample 12000 peak watts and 9000 running watts to handle your lights, refrigerator, sump pump, and even your air conditioner all at the same time. Used in your workshop, it can run four or five power tools at once. Fill the 7-gallon all-steel fuel tank, and you’ll get an average of 9 hours of runtime at 50 percent load. The outlets include GFCI protection.
The built-in DC adapter plug and included charging cables let you charge your batteries and the USB adapter gives you a way to charge your cellphone. A handy cover keeps the wires organized while protecting them from damage. The control panel is designed for convenience and easy visibility, so you won’t miss important status information. The generator features keyless one-touch push button start for effortless startup.
This model is a sizable 206 pounds, but mounted on 9.5-inch high-traction wheels designed for moving heavy loads over rough terrain, making it easy to move between your home, garage, barn or other buildings as needed. It runs a little loud at 78 dB(A), but that’s to be expected given its size.
Generac 5735 GP17500E
If you’re looking for a generator to power your whole house, but a wired whole-house model isn’t in your budget, this is the generator for you. The Generac 5735 provides for a heavy load of 26250 peak watts and 17500 running watts from its Generac 992cc OHVI engine. It easily handles a 4-ton A/C along with other household essentials. With a full 16-gallon tank, you’ll enjoy 10 hours of runtime at 50 percent load.
The hour meter helps you determine when to change the oil, the low-oil shutdown feature protects the engine from damage, and the idle control keeps the engine in a moderate rpm range to conserve fuel.
It’s a 390-pound heavy-duty piece of equipment, so be prepared for loud operation. Despite this model’s weight, the large handle on its rugged steel tube cradle, the wheel kit, and the lifting eye makes it easy to transport around your property.
Assembly can be a challenge, though. The assembly illustration included has no written instructions, making it difficult to follow.
Generac 7117 GP2200i
One of the best portable home generators in terms of value for the money, the GP2200i is equipped with a Generac OHVI engine that allows a load of 2200 peak watts and 1700 running watts. It features a 120V 20A (5-20R) duplex outlet, a 12V 8A output to charge your batteries, and a USB port for your phone and other devices.
Fill the 1.2-gallon fuel tank, and you’re good to go for 10 hours and 45 minutes at 25 percent load. Run it in economy mode to improve fuel economy and lower the noise level. By using Truepower technology to minimize harmonic distortion, this generator provides clean, stable power ideal for sensitive electronics and power tools.
The off/run/choke knob makes startup easier, and the LED status lights keep you informed on the unit’s low-oil, overload, and power status. Full pressure lubrication and a spin-on oil filter keep the engine running reliably. Changing the oil requires you to remove the side panel using a Phillips head screwdriver (not included), which can be inconvenient.
If you want to power more appliances or tools, take advantage of this generator’s parallel-ready design to double your power by connecting two inverters together using parallel kit model 7118 (sold separately).
Briggs & Stratton 30664 8,000-Watt Generator
The 30664 is one of the most reliable options available for running most of your home, including a small air conditioner, during a power outage. It can handle a load of 10000 starting watts and 8000 running watts with its 2100 series OHV 420cc engine. When full, the 7.5-gallon tank gives you 9 hours of runtime at 50 percent load.
The generator is equipped with four 120V outlets and one 120/240V 30A outlet. Circuit breaker protection keeps your appliances safe, and the rubber outlet safety covers protect you and your family from accidents. The fuel gauge and hour meter take the guesswork out of refueling and oil changes. With the key electric start and remote choke, you’ll enjoy fast startup from a single location.
The quick start guide this model comes with gets you up and running fast while the operator’s manual goes into more depth on operation and maintenance.
This 237-pound generator sits on 12-inch wheels for easy transport. It’s equipped with Briggs & Stratton’s own super lo-tone muffler, which dampens the noise, but it’s still somewhat loud compared to other generators of its size.
If you need reliable backup power for a few appliances or you want electricity in your workshop or RV, the DS4000S can provide it at an economical price. This generator is powered by a DuroStar air-cooled OHV engine that allows for a load of 4000 peak watts and 3300 running watts. It features two 120V household outlets and one 120V 30A twist lock outlet. A full 3.96-gallon tank keeps it going for 8 hours at 50 percent load.
The four-point fully isolated motor mounts on the heavy-duty steel frame dampen vibrations, and the muffler further reduces noise down to a modest 69 dB(A), around the same as a vacuum cleaner. Install the wheel kit (sold separately) on this 94-pound generator, and you’ll have no trouble moving it.
It uses a recoil pull starter, but is known to start easily. Although this model features an automatic low-oil shut-off, the engine is sensitive to low oil levels, so that’s something you’ll need to keep an eye on when the generator is running. It lacks a wattage meter, so you’ll need to know how much wattage each item you plug in draws and keep track of the load yourself.
Champion 4,000-Watt RV Ready Digital Hybrid Open Frame Inverter (Model 100302)
Another highly rated hybrid model, this generator’s strong suit is producing clean power with less than 3 percent total harmonic distortion (THD) that’s stable enough for the most sensitive electronics. It runs on a 224cc Champion OHV engine and can handle a load of 4000 peak watts and 3500 running watts for up to 17 hours of runtime on one 2.9-gallon tank.
With two 120V 20A household outlets, an RV-ready 120V 30A RV outlet, and a 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter, it can supply power to your most essential appliances, batteries, and devices. For extra power, combine two 2,800-watt or higher inverter or digital hybrid generators with the optional parallel kit (sold separately).
Operating at 64 dB, it’s quiet enough not to disrupt your home. It’s a moderate 81.6 pounds, but lacks wheels, so it’s not the most portable choice. All controls are conveniently located on one panel, but this model isn’t equipped with a voltmeter or automatic voltage regulation.
Goplus Gas-Powered Inverter Generator
This budget-friendly little inverter generator will keep your refrigerator, lights, and TV on when the power goes out, and at 35 pounds with a built-in handle, it’s no trouble to carry along on a camping trip.
The 53cc 4-stroke OHV 1-Cylinder engine can handle 1250 watts, and a full 0.7-gallon tank provides 6 hours of runtime at 100 percent load. It’s built for efficiency with a low fuel consumption rate that’s especially valuable in times when fuel is in short supply.
The control panel’s status lights keep you updated with helpful information, and the oil alarm protects the engine by reminding you to change the oil. It runs as quietly as 58 dB(A). While many generators can tolerate ethanol, this model requires ethanol-free fuel. Another minor quirk of this model is that over-tightening the fuel cap can cause a vacuum lock in the fuel tank and stall the engine.
Finding the best portable home generator for your needs is about more than getting the right wattage. Modern features such as push-button start, efficiency mode, digital displays, and quiet operation make a real difference when it’s time to put the equipment to the test. Before you buy, dig into the details of several different models to find one you’ll be glad to have when you need it.