The Best Portable Generators

Portable generators are perfect if you need a reliable back-up source of power. They provide this by using a small gas-powered engine to produce electricity. If you travel in your RV, go camping, or live off-grid, portable generators can be an excellent way of making sure you have access to power when you need it. I use my portable generator to top-up my solar system on cloudy days, or if I’m working late at night, and our power starts to run low.

We reviewed dozens of portable generators to identify the best of the best. We considered features including the starting watts and running watts, which fuel each generator used, and whether they have an electric start. We also considered the weight of each generator, and how much noise they produce while running.

Top Pick
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Westinghouse WPro12000 Ultra Duty Industrial Portable Generator

This powerful portable generator offers a remote push-button start and 12,000 running watts with up to 16 hours of run time.

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$2,499.00 USD

Our top pick is the Westinghouse WPro12000 Ultra Duty Industrial Portable Generator. This powerful portable generator stood out as a clear winner, thanks to a range of features, including an air cooled engine, innovative remote electric start, and all-terrain tires.

The 5 Top-Rated Portable Generators

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best Overall Westinghouse WPro12000 Ultra Duty Industrial Portable Generator 4.3
Runner Up Champion 7500 Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator 4.5
Best Budget Buy WEN 56180 1800 Watt Portable Generator3.6
Best Quiet Portable Generator Westinghouse iGen 2500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator4.3
Best Lightweight Portable Generator Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Portable Inverter Generator3.8

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Our Top Pick: Westinghouse WPro12000 Ultra Duty Industrial Portable Generator

The Westinghouse WPro12000 Ultra Duty Industrial Portable Generator stood out as a clear winner, thanks to its range of impressive and functional features. These include a remote start option, meaning you can start this generator from up to 109 yards away, using the included key fob. This is a great option if you’re running low on power in bad weather!

The heavy-duty wheels and foam grip handle mean it’s easy to move this generator around, making it the perfect choice for RVing, as a backup at home, or for completing DIY projects. You also get loads of outlets and receptacles, including four 120V 20A 5-20R GFCI household outlets, one 120V 30A L5-30R receptacle, one 120/240V 30A L14-30R Transfer Switch Ready receptacle, one 120/240V 50A 14-50R receptacle, and two 5V USB ports – plenty of ways to connect multiple appliances. With an impressive 15,000 peak watts and 12,000 running watts, plus a large, 10.5-gallon fuel tank, this portable generator runs for up to 16 hours with less than 5% Total Harmonic Distortion.

Westinghouse WPro12000 Ultra Duty Industrial Portable Generator Key Features:

  • Smart idle feature
  • EPA and CARB compliant
  • 3-year warranty
  • 10.5 gallon fuel tank with built-in fuel gauge
  • Multiple power outlets

Our Runner Up Pick: Champion 7500 Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator with Electric Start

Runner Up
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Champion 7500 Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator with Electric Start

This dual fuel portable generator can be operated with gas, or propane, for ultimate convenience.

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$879.00 USD

Our runner up pick is the Champion 7500 Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator with Electric Start. The dual fuel capability of this portable generator means it can be run on either gas or propane. When running on gas, you’ll have 9375 starting watts, and 7500 running watts. On propane, it offers 8400 starting watts, and 6750 running watts. There’s also a built-in surge protector to help prevent overloads.

There’s no worry about starting this generator, as the electric start provides an easy option, but there is also a manual recoil start option. If you’re using this generator in winter, it includes Cold Start Technology to help make sure it starts every time. The power output monitor makes it easy for you to keep track of voltage, and run-time hours. With a decibel level just above a vacuum cleaner, this generator is perfect for both home and holidays.

Champion 7500 Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator with Electric Start Key Features:

  • 3-year warranty
  • Lifetime technical support
  • 8 hours run time on gasoline, 5.5 hours on propane.
  • 6 power outlets

Best Budget Pick: WEN 56180 1800-Watt Portable Generator

Best for Budget
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WEN 56180 1800-Watt Portable Generator

This portable generator is a great budget choice for camping and RV trips.

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$249.99 USD

If you’re looking for an affordable portable generator for occasional use, the WEN 561801800-Watt Portable Generator is a great choice. Its compact design provides reliable power, while the low-oil shutdown system protects the engine from damage. This generator is CARB and EPA compliant meaning it can be used in all 50 states of the USA.

This WEN portable generator is also a great option when RVing or camping, as the spark arrestor means you can still use it when camping in forests or national parks. While it doesn’t come with wheels, it only weighs 50 pounds, so is light enough to move around without too much bother. You can purchase a wheel kit separately if you’d like that option.

WEN 56180 1800-Watt Portable Generator Key Features:

  • Runs at half-load for 7.5 hours
  • 1800 starting watts, 1500 running watts
  • 3 power outlets
  • 1.1 gallon tank

Best Quiet Portable Generator:Westinghouse iGen 2500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

Best Quiet Portable Generator
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Westinghouse iGen 2500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

This portable generator uses inverter technology to make sure it runs extremely quietly.

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$749.00 USD

The Westinghouse iGen 2500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter generator provides an impressive amount of power, despite being both quiet, and lightweight. Once running, you’ll hear only 52 decibels of noise output, which for reference, is around the same as a refrigerator or air conditioning unit. It’s also very fuel efficient, and can run for up to 10 hours on just 1 gallon of fuel.

It’s perfect for both an emergency backup during power outages, and for camping trips where you want to run a few appliances. This generator also has loads of great features, including an LED Data Center. This is a rotating digital display which shows fuel level, power output, remaining run time, and voltage output.

Westinghouse iGen 2500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator Key Features:

  • Weighs 49 pounds
  • 3 year warranty
  • 2500 starting watts, 2200 running watts
  • CARB compliant

Best Lightweight Portable Generator: Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Portable Generator

Best Lightweight Portable Generator
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Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Portable Generator

This lightweight portable generator is also quiet, and fuel efficient.

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$729.00 USD

The lightweight Briggs & Stratton 30561 P2200 PowerSmart Series Portable Generator is a great choice if you’re looking for a versatile portable generator which is going to be easy to move around. The design is compact and easy to move around, thanks to the clever ‘H’ shaped handle, that allows 2 people to carry this generator. Coming in at only 55 pounds though, you can also carry this on your own.

This is a fuel efficient choice as well, and can run for up to 8 hours at 25% load, using just 1 gallon of fuel. If required, you can also use the dedicated parallel connector port to connect 2 of these generators together. This creates more power for your devices, perfect in the case of a power outage. It’s worth noting that this generator cannot be shipped to California.

Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Key Features:

  • 2200 starting watts, 1700 running watts
  • 59 decibel operating volume
  • 2 year warranty
  • 4 power outlets, plus USB adapter

Who Should Buy a Portable Generator

Portable generators are an incredibly useful piece of kit. If you live off-grid, or even in an area where you sometimes suffer from power cuts, it’s reassuring to know you have a backup source of power. There’s nothing worse than a storm cutting your power, and knowing you have a freezer full of food which will quickly spoil.

Or, you may live off-grid, and work online. A couple of cloudy days can soon impact your power reserves. With a portable generator, it’s quick and easy to recharge those batteries. Portable generators are also great for camping, and tailgating. You might also consider a portable power station, which we’ve reviewed in a separate post.

Top Pick
Buy Now
Westinghouse WPro12000 Ultra Duty Industrial Portable Generator

This powerful portable generator offers a remote push-button start and 12,000 running watts with up to 16 hours of run time.

buy now
$2,499.00 USD

Important Features to Consider

A portable generator should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a portable generator:

  • Electric or pull-cord start. Most portable generators use a manual recoil start, where you pull a cord to fire up the engine. In most cases this is fine, but if you have shoulder problems, or limited strength, sometimes it can be difficult to use. Nowadays, quite a few generators offer an electric start option, which is as easy as pushing a button!
  • Weight. If you want to move your portable generator around frequently, for instance from your RV, to your car, then into your boat, weight will be an important consideration. Lighter portable generators tend to come with a carry handle. Others have either 2 or 4 wheels which can be used to pull the generator into a new position.
  • Starting and running watts. Before you decide on a portable generator, be sure to calculate the starting and running watts of all the appliances you plan on using. Many appliances require a higher number of watts to power up, then this decreases dramatically once they’re running. Selecting a generator which doesn’t have enough power to cover the starting watts means you won’t be able to power your appliances.
  • Inverter or conventional. Portable generators are available in 2 types – inverter generators, and conventional generators. Inverter generators are small, lightweight, and quiet. They come in a casing which helps to reduce noise. Conventional generators are housed within an open metal frame. They are usually the cheaper option. They provide more power, but also create more noise.
  • CARB and EPA compliant. CARB stands for the California Air Resources Board. This is an environmental agency which monitors emissions from generators. If a generator isn’t CARB compliant, it can’t be sold or used in states which follow these guidelines. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) puts in place national standards, which must be met by all manufacturers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a portable generator and how does it work?

A portable generator provides you with electricity. They’re usually powered by gas, and use a small internal combustion engine to turn an alternator. It’s the alternator which generates the electricity. Once powered up, you can use the power outlets on the generator to plug in your electrical appliances.

Portable generators are designed to be moved from place to place, for example if you’re RVing. They will often have wheels at one end so you can pull them along, or will be lightweight enough that you can carry them by hand.

How many watts do you need in a generator?

This answer to this depends on how many appliances you want to run. Bear in mind that portable generators will show two different watt rates:

  • Starting watts. This is the maximum amount of power produced by your generator.
  • Running watts. The amount of watts produced continuously, once your generator has been started.

Generator manufacturer Honda suggests that most household appliances can be powered with a generator of between 3000 and 6500 watts. If you’re planning on using your portable generator when RVing, you may be able to use a generator with a lower wattage. When camping, a portable generator of 1000 – 2000 watts will most likely serve your needs just fine.

This Wattage Estimation Guide will help you calculate the amount of watts used by a range of applications. If you plan on running multiple appliances, you’ll need to take that into account as well.

Bear in mind that many applications, including air-conditioners, hair-dryers, and microwaves all have a far higher starting wattage than their running wattage. Make sure you select a portable generator which has a wattage higher than the starting wattage of any appliance you want to use.

What can you run on a 2,000 watt generator?

With a 2,000 watt generator, you could run a refrigerator, TV, lights, and laptop. That might be perfect if you’re in an RV for a vacation. If you’re at home, and want to run a water pump at the same time as those appliances, the starting wattage of the refrigerator and the water pump would be over 2,000 watts, so your generator would cut out if you tried to start both of these at the same time.

How many appliances can a 5,500 watt generator run?

A generator of this size should be sufficient to run most household items, but you’ll need to be careful about the order in which you power up your appliances. As an example, if you want to run your Refrigerator/Freezer, kettle, and air con unit at the same time, this is achievable with a 5,500 watt generator.

But, starting them all at the same time will put you over the 5,000 watt limit. Start appliances with a higher starting wattage first, and wait until their power usage decreases to their running wattage. Then gradually add your other appliances one by one, so you don’t overload the generator.

Other Portable Generators We Reviewed

Top Pick
Buy Now
Westinghouse WPro12000 Ultra Duty Industrial Portable Generator

This powerful portable generator offers a remote push-button start and 12,000 running watts with up to 16 hours of run time.

buy now
$2,499.00 USD

We looked at 20 other portable generators. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best portable generators, they’re still be best of the rest and each is a great option for your dog. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

Quiet Portable Generators

Atima AY2000i Portable Inverter Generator

Atima AY2000i Portable Inverter Generator

This quiet, 2000 watt inverter generator is parallel ready so can be connected to another of the same model to increase your power.

Key Features:

  • Yamaha engine
  • Ergonomic design
  • 52 dB at quarter load

Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 Inverter Generator

Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 Inverter Generator

This powerful generator provides 6500 starting watts, and 5000 running watts.

Key Features:

  • Luggage style, telescoping handle
  • 14 hour run time
  • 66 dBA at 25% load

Champion 3100 Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Champion 3100 Watt Portable Inverter Generator

This quiet inverter generator provides 3100 starting watts, and 2800 running watts.

Key Features:

  • Quick touch panel for all controls
  • Clean power for sensitive electronics
  • Ultra quiet, at 58 dBA

Champion 4000 Watt Digital Hybrid Inverter Generator

Champion 4000 Watt Digital Hybrid Inverter Generator

This advanced open frame inverter generator is 50% quieter, and 20% lighter than a comparable traditional generator.

Key Features:

  • Only 64 dBA loud when running
  • 4000 starting watts, 3500 running watts
  • 3 year warranty

Kings Portable Inverter Generator

Kings Portable Inverter Generator

This portable generator provides 2000 starting watts, and 1600 running watts.

Key Features:

  • Produces 58 dBA
  • CARB compliant
  • Low oil shutoff protects engine

Lightweight Portable Generators

Dirty Hand Tools 104609 800W Inverter Generator

Dirty Hand Tools 104609 800W Inverter Generator

This compact generator is suitable for use in all 50 states.

Key Features:

  • 800 watts starting power, 700 watts running power
  • Weighs just 19 pounds
  • 3 power outlets

Honda EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator

Honda EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator

This Honda generator provides reliable power in a lightweight package.

Key Features:

  • Operates at 48 – 57 dBA
  • Weighs 47 pounds
  • 2200 starting watts

Pulsar 2000 Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Pulsar 2000 Watt Portable Inverter Generator

This lightweight and quiet inverter generator has a compact suitcase design for easy transportation.

Key Features:

  • CARB compliant
  • Weighs less than 47 pounds
  • 2000 starting watts. 1600 running watts

Rainer R2200i Portable Inverter Generator

Rainer R2200i Portable Inverter Generator

This compact generator provides up to 13 hours of run time.

Key Features:

  • 2200 starting watts, 1800 running watts
  • Eco mode for conserving fuel
  • Weighs 44 pounds

Xtremepower US Portable Gasoline Generator

Xtremepower US Portable Gasoline Generator

This lightweight generator is ideal for camping, or emergency use at home.

Key Features:

  • 1200 starting watts, 1000 running watts
  • Weighs 39 pounds
  • Air-cooled engine

10,000-Watt Portable Generators

All Power America 10000W Portable Generator

All Power America 10000W Portable Generator

This dual fuel portable generator can be powered using either gas, or LPG.

Key Features:

  • 10000 starting watts, 8000 running watts on gas
  • 8500 starting watts, 7000 running watts on LPG
  • Electric or recoil start

DuroMax 10000 Watt Portable Gas Generator

DuroMax 10000 Watt Portable Gas Generator

This generator is perfect for trips away, or use at home.

Key Features:

  • Electric start
  • 10000 starting watts
  • All terrain tires

Ford Dual Fuel Portable Generator

Ford Dual Fuel Portable Generator

This dual fuel generator has an electric start, for quick and easy power.

Key Features:

  • 11050 starting watts, 9000 running watts (gas)
  • 10050 starting watts, 8100 running watts (LPG)
  • Large 6.6 gallon tank gives up to 10 hours run-time, at 50% load

Gentron GG10020 10000 Watt Gas Powered Generator

Gentro 10000 Watt Gas Powered Generator

This EPA certified generator provides 10000 starting watts, and 8ooo running watts.

Key Features:

  • Easy electric start
  • Includes double-handle kit for easy transportation
  • 11 hour run time on half load

Pulsar 10000W Portable Dual-Fuel Generator

Pulsar 10000W Portable Dual-Fuel Generator

With dual fuel capability, this generator provides 10000 starting watts, and 8000 running watts on gas. On LPG, it provides 9000 starting watts, and 7000 running watts.

Key Features:

  • Electric start
  • Drop down transportation handles
  • Low oil shut-off feature

4,000-Watt Portable Generators

All Power America APG4000 Gas Powered Generator

All Power America APG4000 Gas Powered Generator

This portable generator provides 4000 starting watts, and 3300 running watts.

Key Features:

  • EPA certified
  • Low oil shut-off
  • Runs for 8 hours at 50% load

DuroMax XP4850EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator

DuroMax XP4850EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator

This dual fuel portable generator provides 4850 starting watts, and 3850 running watts.

Key Features:

  • Electric start
  • Power panel with oil warning light, electric start, and low oil indicator
  • EPA approved for use in National Parks

DuroStar DS4000S Gas Powered Portable Generator

DuroStar DS4000S Gas Powered Portable Generator

This portable generator has 3 outlets, and a run time of 8 hours.

Key Features:

  • 4 gallon gas tank
  • 4000 starting watts, 3300 running watts
  • Heavy duty steel frame

Green-Power America GPD4000 Consumer Select Series Recoil Generator

Green-Power America GPD4000 Consumer Select Series Recoil Generator

This 4000 watt generator can run for up to 8 hours with a 50% load, using just 4 gallons of fuel.

Key Features:

  • 4000 starting watts, and 3000 running watts
  • Manual recoil start
  • 4 outlets

Sportsman 4000 Watt Portable Generator

Sportsman 4000 Watt Portable Generator

If you’re looking for a portable generator with an RV outlet, this is the perfect choice for you.

Key Features:

  • 4000 starting watts, 3500 running watts
  • 5 outlets
  • Manual recoil start

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Emma Stenhouse