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9 Best Portable Generators [2020]

Best Portable Generator

Portable generators are a great alternative or backup power source for home and outdoor use, especially during outages.

When shopping for a portable generator, its weight will be a key consideration because it directly affects portability. Power should be a priority too because it determines what appliances your generator can support.

You’ll also find that most portable generators are either gasoline-powered or battery-powered, and the one you pick will depend on your preferences.

Check out our top 9 portable generator review and buying guide to help you choose the model that best meets your backup power demands.

9 Best Portable Generators – Reviews

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​PRODUCT

​FEATURES

Westinghouse iGen1200

1. Westinghouse iGen1200 (Best Portable Generator for Emergency Power)

  • 1000-watt running power
  • Less than 3% THD
  • Suitcase handles for portability
  • Parallel-capable for power expansion
Jackery Explorer 160

2. Jackery Explorer 160 (Best Budget Portable Generator)

  • Great price and affordability
  • Noiseless 46400mAh battery operation
  • Lightweight at 3.9 pounds
  • Supports solar recharging
Wen 56200i

3. Wen 56200i (Portable Generator with a Long Run Time)

  • Long 12-hour run time
  • High 1600-watt running power
  • Low 1.2% THD for sensitive devices
  • Has parallel capability
Generac 7117

4. Generac 7117 (Easy-to-use Portable Generator)

  • Integrated Off/Run/Choke knob
  • LED engine status lights
  • High 1700-watt running power
  • Economy mode for efficiency
Honda EU2200i

5. Honda EU2200i (Best Portable Generator for Home Use)

  • High 1800-watt running power
  • Low 48-57 dBA noise levels
  • Has parallel capability
  • Superior engine efficiency
Acopower HY-S320

6. Acopower HY-S320 (Best Lightweight Portable Generator)

  • Lightweight and compact at 3.3 pounds
  • Noiseless and fumeless
  • Home AC/Car/Solar charging
  • LED display and emergency light
Pulsar PG2300iS

7. Pulsar PG2300iS (High-Performance Portable Generator)

  • High 1800 running watts
  • Multiple power outlets
  • Parallel capability
  • Low THD for sensitive devices
Honda EU1000i

8. Honda EU1000i (Low-maintenance Portable Generator)

  • Protected low-oil alert
  • Circuit overload protection
  • 900 watts of running power
  • Low 42-50 dBA noise levels
Jackery G0500ANH

9. Jackery G0500ANH (Best CPAP Portable Generator)

  • 300 watts for running a CPAP
  • Doesn’t produce noise or fumes
  • 2 handy charging options
  • LED light and LED display panel

PRODUCT

1. Westinghouse iGen1200

(Best Portable Generator for Emergency Power)

Westinghouse iGen1200
  • 1000-watt running power
  • Less than 3% THD
  • Suitcase handles for portability
  • Parallel-capable for power expansion

2. Jackery Explorer 160

(Best Budget Portable Generator)

Jackery Explorer 160
  • Great price and affordability
  • Noiseless 46400mAh battery operation
  • Lightweight at 3.9 pounds
  • Supports solar recharging

3. Wen 56200i

(Portable Generator with a Long Run Time)

Wen 56200i
  • Long 12-hour run time
  • High 1600-watt running power
  • Low 1.2% THD for sensitive devices
  • Has parallel capability

4. Generac 7117

(Easy-to-use Portable Generator)

Generac 7117
  • Integrated Off/Run/Choke knob
  • LED engine status lights
  • High 1700-watt running power
  • Economy mode for efficiency

5. Honda EU2200i

(Best Portable Generator for Home Use)

Honda EU2200i
  • High 1800-watt running power
  • Low 48-57 dBA noise levels
  • Has parallel capability
  • Superior engine efficiency

6. Acopower HY-S320

(Best Lightweight Portable Generator)

Acopower HY-S320
  • Lightweight and compact at 3.3 pounds
  • Noiseless and fumeless
  • Home AC/Car/Solar charging
  • LED display and emergency light

7. Pulsar PG2300iS

(High-Performance Portable Generator)

Pulsar PG2300iS
  • High 1800 running watts
  • Multiple power outlets
  • Parallel capability
  • Low THD for sensitive devices

8. Honda EU1000i

(Low-maintenance Portable Generator)

Honda EU1000i
  • Protected low-oil alert
  • Circuit overload protection
  • 900 watts of running power
  • Low 42-50 dBA noise levels

9. Jackery G0500ANH

(Best CPAP Portable Generator)

Jackery G0500ANH
  • 300 watts for running a CPAP
  • Doesn’t produce noise or fumes
  • 2 handy charging options
  • LED light and LED display panel

1. Westinghouse iGen1200 – Best Portable Generator for Emergency Power

Westinghouse iGen1200
  • Weight: 33 pounds
  • Dimensions: 18 x 10 x 15.5 inches
  • Power Source: Gasoline
  • Rated/Peak Power: 1200Watts/1000Watts

Westinghouse iGen1200 is a great portable generator for providing emergency power in the event of an outage or for use in remote locations.

It has a well-balanced mid-range power output, producing 1000 running watts and 1200 surge watts. This is enough power for multiple light-duty household appliances during blackouts.

With its low total harmonic distortion (THD) of less than 3%, this generator will provide stable and clean power to your vulnerable devices such as phones, laptops, computers, tablets, and many more, in emergency situations.

For ease of handling and portability, this inverter generator comes with a built-in suitcase handle that offers a firm grip during transportation.

If you need to double the power you get from the generator, you can use its parallel capability and cord to hook up a second 1200-watt generator.

An issue we noted with the Westinghouse iGen1200 portable generator is that filling up the engine with oil can be a cumbersome and messy process that may cause some spilling.

Pros:

  • Enough running power for many appliances
  • Low THD for clean and stable power
  • Suitcase handle simplifies portability
  • Parallel-capable to expand the power

Cons:

  • Oil filling can be messy

2. Jackery Explorer 160 – Best Budget Portable Generator

Jackery Explorer 160
  • Weight: 3.9 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.4 x 4.59 x 6.73 inches
  • Power Source: Battery
  • Rated/Peak Power: 150Watts/100Watts

Jackery Explorer 160 is the best budget portable generator on our list. Its reasonable pricing makes it affordable and most accessible to people who wish to acquire some backup power.

Something you’ll instantly love in this generator is the fact that it’s battery-powered, making it quiet, fumeless, and requiring little to no maintenance.

It is the absence of a gasoline engine that makes this generator very lightweight at 3.9 pounds. The generator is also very portable, and you can pack it easily for all your camping trips, or even transport it by hand over short outdoor distances.

The battery has a capacity of 46400mAh, and will comfortably charge mobile devices such as phones, tablets, GoPro cameras, and other small electronics through 1 AC outlet, 1 USB-C port, 2 USB-A ports, and 1 DC 12V port.

You’ll also love its solar-ready feature, which means you can charge it with the Jackery SolarSaga 60W solar panel, cost-effectively.

Unfortunately, the solar panels you need to charge the Jackery Explorer 160 portable generator are sold separately.

Pros:

  • Reasonably-priced and affordable
  • Noiseless and fumeless operation
  • Lightweight and highly portable
  • Solar-ready for recharging

Cons:

  • Required solar charging panels sold separately

3. Wen 56200i – Portable Generator with a Long Run Time

Wen 56200i
  • Weight: 48 pounds
  • Dimensions: 18 x 11 x 18 inches
  • Power Source: Gasoline
  • Rated/Peak Power: 2000Watts/1600Watts

Wen 56200i stands out from the pack by being a portable generator with the longest run time of all the models we have reviewed.

At quarter load (25%), the generator will run for about 12 hours; the same runs for 6 hours on a 50% load. It can power many of your appliances through a blackout or for an entire night of camping, before requiring a refill of its fuel tank.

The superior run time is made possible by a 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine and a 1-gallon fuel tank. The engine produces 1600 running watts, which is enough power for many settings including camping, tailgating, or your home as backup power.

With is low THD of 1.2% at full load, this generator is especially suitable for powering sensitive electronics including laptops, cellphones, tablets, and vulnerable devices.

You can also expand the generator’s power using is parallel-ready capability and parallel kit, which allows the addition of another 2000-watt similar generator.

We did note, however, that Wen 56200i is one of the heavier models on our list with a weight of 48 pounds. It will definitely take some effort to transport it.

Pros:

  • Long run time
  • High running power
  • Low THD for sensitive devices
  • Has parallel capability

Cons:

  • Heavy

4. Generac 7117 – Easy-to-use Portable Generator

Generac 7117
  • Weight: 46 pounds
  • Dimensions: 19 x 11 x 17 inches
  • Power Source: Gasoline
  • Rated/Peak Power: 2200Watts/1700Watts

Generac 7117 is a portable generator built for ease of use with its simplified controls and intuitive indicators.

This generator comes with an integrated Off//Run/Choke knob, which helps simplify the tool’s startup procedure. You don’t have to fumble with multiple knobs and buttons to get the generator started.

Another way this inverter achieves ease of use is through its LED status lights, which serve as indicators for power output, low-oil, and engine overload, in case it occurs.

It also has one of the highest power outputs, producing 2200 surge watts, and 1700 running watts, which is enough power for most of your household appliances.

A smart economy mode is also included for providing excellent fuel economy and noise reduction by varying engine speed depending on the load it supports.

With Truepower technology from Generac, the generator is able to provide clean and stable power for your sensitive electronics.

Generac 7117 may be easy to use, but it is also pricey and budget buyers may be unable to access it and its simplified features.

Pros:

  • Integrated controls for ease of use
  • Status light show system health
  • High running power
  • Promotes fuel efficiency and low noise

Cons:

  • Pricey

5. Honda EU2200i – Best Portable Generator for Home Use

Honda EU2200i
  • Weight: 46.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20.0 x 11.4 x 16.7 inches
  • Power Source: Gasoline
  • Rated/Peak Power: 2200Watts/1800Watts

Honda EU2200i is one of the best portable generators you can get for home use. It is powerful, quiet, and has the parallel capability to support power expansion.

The generator from Honda produces 1800 running watts, and 2200 surge watts, which makes it a great source of backup power for your home. It will support a wide range of small-to-medium appliances, for several hours.

This inverter generator may be gas-powered, but is has impressively low noise levels of 48 - 57 dBA, which makes it no louder than a normal conversation. It will not disturb you or your neighbors.

If you need more power, you can use this generator’s parallel capability to add another 2200-watt Honda EU2200i using a parallel kit to double the output.

Honda’s proprietary Eco Throttle system promotes superior fuel efficiency allowing the generator to run for up to 9 hours on a single fuel tank of 0.95 gallons.

The top-rated portable generator also produces a clean and stable power that is safe for your sensitive home appliances.

The only major downside of the Honda EU2200i portable generator is its very steep price, making it the most expensive model on our list.

Pros:

  • High running power
  • Low noise levels
  • Expandable power
  • Superior efficiency

Cons:

  • Very expensive

6. Acopower HY-S320 – Best Lightweight Portable Generator

Acopower HY-S320
  • Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Dimensions: 6.5 x 3.15 x 6.89 inches
  • Power Source: Battery
  • Rated/Peak Power: 100 Watts

Acopower HY-S320 is the best lightweight portable generator on our list.

It weighs only 3.3 pounds, which combine well compactness as the generator measures 6.5 x 3.15 x 6.89 inches in size. You can transport it by hand, or pack it with other camping gear and it will occupy the least space.

Because the generator is battery powered, it is virtually noiseless, will not produce harmful fumes common with gasoline tools, and requires very little maintenance.

It is also the second most affordable portable generator after the Jackery Explorer 160. If you’re on a budget, you can consider it as an alternative choice.

Another feature you’ll love about this generator is that it supports multiple charging options. You can use a home AC outlet, solar panels, or your car to charge it.

Because of its LCD display and emergency light, the generator is a great outdoor companion especially for night activity such as camping.

A key drawback of the lightweight Acopower HY-S320 generator is its low maximum output power of 100 watts, which will only support small electronic devices.

Pros:

  • Very lightweight and compact
  • Noiseless and fumeless operation
  • Multiple charging options
  • The LED display supports outdoor use

Cons:

  • Low maximum power output

7. Pulsar PG2300iS – High-Performance Portable Generator

Pulsar PG2300iS
  • Weight: 47 pounds
  • Dimensions: 19.7 x 11.22 x 17.91 inches
  • Power Source: Gasoline
  • Rated/Peak Power: 2300Watts/1800Watts

Pulsar PG2300iS is a great high-performance portable generator, which packs a lot of power and long run time while supporting multiple appliances.

The portable generator produces 2300 surge watts, and 1800 running watts, which is enough power to support multiple light-to-medium-duty applications across different settings such as camping, tailgating, and at home.

It has multiple power outlets for versatility and diversity. You get 2 AC 120V household outlets, 1 DC 12V 8Amp outlet, and 1 DC 5V 1.5 Amp USB outlet to charge your mobile devices.

A unique feature of this generator that you won’t find on many other models in our list is parallel capability. It allows you to run 2 PG2300iS generators together to double the power output, using a parallel kit.

This generator produces clean and stable power by maintaining a low total harmonic distortion, which protects your sensitive appliances such as phones, tablets, and many more.

The only issue that may concern you regarding Pulsar PG2300iS is its weight of 47 pounds, which makes this generator a bit difficult to transport compared to lighter models.

Pros:

  • High running watts
  • Multiple power outlets for versatility
  • Parallel capability
  • Clean and stable power output

Cons:

  • May be bulky to transport

8. Honda EU1000i – Low-maintenance Portable Generator

Honda EU1000i
  • Weight: 28.7 pounds
  • Dimensions: 19.5 x 15.9 x 11 inches
  • Power Source: Gasoline
  • Rated/Peak Power: 1000Watts/900Watts

Honda EU1000i is a gas-powered portable generator that is also low-maintenance because of its advanced engine protective features.

One such feature is the protected oil alert, which safeguards the generator from failure or damage by shutting off the engine when oil levels fall below the required levels.

A second protective feature aims at safeguarding the generator circuit from power overload. Combined, both features reduce the maintenance required for this portable generator.

Besides low maintenance, the 900 watts of running power produced by the generator are great for a wide range of applications including a microwave oven, incandescent lights, a portable fan, TV/DVD, coffee maker, computer and many others.

At a 25% load, the inverter generator produces a low noise level of 42 dBA, which is impressively quiet for a gas-powered generator.

You also get multiple power outputs to support a wide range of devices.

The Honda EU1000i is, however, notably pricey, and will not appeal to many budget buyers.

Pros:

  • Low-oil engine shutoff
  • Circuit protected from power overload
  • Mid-range power for multiple applications
  • Low noise levels at different loads

Cons:

  • Pricey

9. Jackery G0500ANH – Best CPAP Portable Generator

Jackery G0500ANH
  • Weight: 12.45 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.8 x 9.8 x 6.5 inches
  • Power Source: Battery
  • Rated/Peak Power: 500Watts/300Watts

Jackery G0500ANH is a unique power station that positions itself as a great CPAP portable generator to help people with sleep apnea breathe better at night, especially when out camping.

The generator boasts of a 500-watt-hour capacity, which enables it to power your CPAP for at least 7 hours.

Because the generator is battery-powered, it will support a healthy goodnight sleep because it does not require any gasoline, hence no harmful fumes. It is also noiseless. You will barely notice it running as you sleep.

It is also capable of supporting other devices through multiple outlets. They include 2 USB-A output ports, 2 DC output ports, and 1 car cigarette lighter socket.

You can recharge the generator through an AC wall outlet, a process that takes 7 hours for a full charge. An alternative charging option is a 100-watt solar panel from JackPro.

Some handy additional features include a built-in LED flashlight that comes in handy during emergencies and an LCD display to show system status.

The only issue with the Jackery G0500ANH is that the Jackery SolarSaga 100W solar panel you will need to support outdoor recharging is sold separately.

Pros:

  • Enough power to run a CPAP
  • Noiseless and fumeless
  • Diverse recharging options
  • Handy productivity features

Cons:

  • Recommended solar panel is not included

How to Buy the Best Portable Generator

How to Buy the Best Portable Generator

1. Portability

Portable generators should be light enough to allow easy transportation from one point to another especially considering their popularity in outdoor use.

In our reviews, we identified generators weighing as little as 3.3 pounds, which can be easily carried in the hand without wearing you out.

Some models are significantly heavier, but they tend to produce more power and have more features compared to the lighter ones.

It’s worth noting, however, that heavy generators may also enable portability using features such as wheels or firm handles to facilitate the same.

2. Power Source

Portable generators can be powered by a variety of sources. The main ones are batteries and gasoline, which tend to have both benefits and drawbacks.

Gasoline generators are notably more powerful and tend to run longer than battery-powered ones. That’s why all the generators with high output wattage from our review were all gas-powered.

Battery-powered ones may be less powerful, but they are also almost noiseless and do not produce fumes as gasoline ones do. They are also cheaper than gas-powered ones.

Also, because battery-powered ones have no engine, they require less maintenance than gas generators.

3. Peak/Rated Watts

Your portable generator’s output power will be measured in peak and rated watts. Peak watts represent the maximum surge or starting power the generator can achieve.

Rated watts, on the other hand, represent the stable running output of your generator.

Peake power is always higher than rated power, so if your generator is rated 2200Watts/1800Watts, the first wattage is the peak, while the second wattage is the rated power.

The higher the number of peak/rated watts produced by your generator, the more powerful it is for multiple-appliance support.

4. Clean Output (Outlets)

Clean and stable out is an essential feature of any portable generator. Hence, it is important to ensure that the model you buy has the least total harmonic distortion (THD) possible.

The lower the THD, the cleaner the output of your generator. A clean output is necessary to safeguard sensitive electronics such as phones, tablets, laptops, and other gadgets.

Your generator should also have multiple AC and DC power outlets to support a range of appliances you may have at home or outdoor during camping, for instance.

Some common generator outlets include 120V AC household outlets, 12V DC outlets, and 5V USB outlets.

5. Noise Level

Portable generators are recommended as great sources of alternative power because of their recognized low noise levels.

Noise levels vary depending on the power source and load on the generators. Gas-powered generators have higher noise levels than battery-powered ones because the former have engines.

However, gas-powered portable generators still do a decent job in keeping their noise levels below 60 dBA.

Because battery-powered ones have no engine, they are virtually noiseless and are great for home use or for people with CPAPs for sleep apnea.

6. Compatible Appliances

You should buy a portable generator that is compatible with the appliances you wish to power using it.

Most generators are designed to support a vast range of household appliance, and will often feature standard 120V AC outlets as part of their core power outputs.

However, appliance compatibility may vary between models, and especially between different power outputs.

Low-output generators such as battery-powered ones may not support high-wattage appliances such as fridges and microwave ovens, hence the need to confirm compatibility.

Conclusion

We’ve done extensive coverage of the best portable generators the market has to offer today.

When shopping for one, remember to consider all the features and configurations we’ve listed on our guide, including the power source, portability, power outputs, and compatible appliances.

From our reviews, Pulsar PG2300iS emerges as the best overall portable generator because of its high-power output, versatility, and price combination.

Remember you can always jump back to our top 9 portable generator reviews and buying guide to help you choose the ideal model for your alternative power needs.