Portable power generators are great for outdoor living, emergencies and more. They can power devices on remote camping trips, your RV or home in a storm, or heavy-duty power tools for outside work.
In this carefully curated collection, our handy-man wefoundthebest editor found the best and most popular portable power generators that run both on gasoline, propane and solar power – and even written a guide on how to choose.
#1: PowerSmart Generator 900W, Gas Powered
Our first item in this collection is something simple & affordable, the PowerSmart 900W. The 1.1 gallon tank will run for 5 hours on half load, and can provide up to only 1.000W, which is still enough for most powertools, lights etc, and has 120V + 12V output. It is liked in many reviews for being compact and simple, and also quite fuel efficient. However, it’s not particularly quiet.
#2: WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt
An affordable, yet larger and more capable choice could be the WEN 3800. It outputs 3800W (120V, 12V, USB) from a 212cc 4-stroke that will run for about 8 hours on half load. It comes in 4 power sizes; 3800, 4000, 6250 and 8750, and is recommended by buyers for low noise, portability and effectiveness in many reviews.
#3: Westinghouse WGen5300s (Gas)
The Westinghouse WGen5300s is a traditional cage-style portable generator powered by a 4-stroke engine. It has a large gas tank of almost 5 gallons and outputs 5300Watts, but also comes in larger 6000, 7000 and 9500W options. In reviews, buyers like the Westinghouse for home backup and many other uses. It is well put together, powerful and reliable.
#4: Champion 2000-Watt Dual Fuel Generator
Our next choice is this Champion Dual Fuel Power Generator. On gasoline, it outputs 1600 running watts, on propane 1440W. It is quite quiet with only a 53db output from 23 feet, and can be linked in parallel. Champion also makes a larger 2500W Dual or Gas, or 4500 Dual or Gas – all in the same stylish design. Champion also makes a larger capacity cage-style generator.
#5: Generac iQ3500
Generac is another popular brand in power generators, and the Generac 7127 iQ3500 is the biggest in their line of orange/black sleek generators. It is known to be particularly quiet, has all the expected output options, two engine speeds and electrical start. In reviews, buyers praise the Generac for being light weight, super quiet and powerful. Like most power generators, it comes shipped oil-dry, so it needs to be filled with oil as well as gasoline for the first run. From then on, you need only to provide gasoline and the rare occasional oil change.
#6: DuroMax XP10000E Gas
If you need something powerful, Duromax XP10000 is a recommended choice providing 8000 Watts, but many more options running up to 15000W. It outputs both 120 and 240V simultaneously, and if colors matters to you, it also comes in the smaller green series. It it shipped with useful accessories such as cables, tool set, wheel kit, oil funnel, propane hose and more and more. They are hybrids and will also run on propane.
#7: Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500
When it comes to power generators batteries, the Jackery 500 is a good bet. It can power a TV, a blender, air pump, projector and output to almost anything via USB or 12V. This type of option is perfect for explorers and small households. In reviews, is it highly recommended by most buyers for being well designed, great portable power on the go. You can charge it in a wall outlet or via solar panels.
#8: River ECOFLOW Power Station
Another battery choice in power generators is this River Ecoflow. It has three 120V DC outlets (600 W each), 12V, USB, USC-C and more, making it compatible with almost any home appliance, even heavy duty tools. You can charge it in less that 2 hour in an AC outlet and add an extra battery, giving it even more output power and watt-hours. You can also power in your car or with solar panels.
Guide: What to look for when buying a portable power generator
Purpose: First of all, consider why you need a power generator. Are you powering phones on a camping trip, an RV (with AC, lights, refrigerators etc), or power tools for work – or even your house in case of a storm? For how long will you be needing that power?
What matters with a portable power generator is power output, noise, portability, ease of use and ease of maintenance. But most importantly, consider what you need it for.– Wefoundthebest.com
Power Source: Gas/Propane or Solar: The first thing to consider is how the generated is powered:
- Gasoline powered generators run on a small 2 og 4-stroke engine and needs gasoline refill – this is the traditional and most versatile option, but also the noisiest.
- Dual powered generators run on gasoline or propane gas (sometimes propane gas comes directly from the RV). The propane comes via a hose. These are also called “hybrids”.
- Solar powered generators need a solar panel accessory and the necessary charge time but are also most earth friendly. They typically provide less power and will not power other power tools, for instance. And then of course – completely silent.
Power output: Before choosing a power generator, consider what you need it for. Everything depends on the power you need, and for how long. Smaller devices will output 1000W, typical generators 3-5.000Watts, and larger generators 10.000W or more.
Output options: Power generators come with a variety of output options. Consider what best serves your need:
- 120V AC: A traditional wall output that let’s you plug anything to the generator, as long as it provides the necessary power.
- 12V DC power: Will take anything that also goes in the car “cigarette lighter” plug.
- 240V AC: Some generators will also power devices running on 240V, the typical European standard
- USB output: Can be used for speakers, charging phones, smaller lights etc.
#1 tip: Buy a generator large enough for your need, with the right output options, and good low noise reviews.– Wefoundthebest.com
# of receptacles: Besides the output options, also consider if you need more than one receptacle for a particular output options. For instance, you might need to insert more than one device, so you need several available 120V outlets on the generator. Many larger generators have 2 or 3 receptacles for each type.
Noise level: Solar powered batteries make zero noise, but gasoline / propane powered ones do. In case of the latter, read reviews to learn about the reported noise level, and where you need to run the generator (next to other campers, for instance). This is “the big one” many worry about.
Some units proud themselves on being particularly quiet.
Electric start (gasoline): Most larger gasoline power generators have an electrical start, a nice convenience feature. In case that doesn’t work, there’s always the “pull-string” option.
Run time (gasoline powered): If a portable generator is gasoline powered, is has an internal gas tank. This will provide independent runtime for a number of hours, typically 5-10 hours. With an external gasoline tank, you can refill the power generator. Longer run times are needed if the RV needs over-night powering.
Auto-off: Some generators have the option to turn itself off after some time, like if you know that you only need it to run for ie. 2 hours to power a particular machine.
Gasoline tank size: Run time (see above) has to do with the tank size of the generator. Typically the tank size is 1-2 gallons.
Engine type: 2-stroke or 4-stroke are different engine types. 2-strokes need special gas and oil that is then mixed, but are noisier. 4-strokes run on regular gasoline and needs oil servicing, and is also quieter.
Engine power / size: Gasoline powered generators are basically a small engine. It has a certain size (cc) and power (Horsepower). The bigger the engine, the larger the Watt output.
Display: A good display will show the load put on the generator, remaining fuel and even voltage.
Battery life / watt-hours: A battery (solar powered) power generator typically has less run time, often calculated in Watt-hours. For instance 300Wh means that the battery will power a 300W device for 1 hours.
Battery gauge: For solar powered batteries, a gauge is often provide to tell you about the remaining power.
Weight / size: Higher weight and size makes the generator harder to store, move and transport. Only buy a generator of a size that you actually need – you will appreciate a compact size.
Transportation: Some generators come with practical handle for carrying, a trolley-style wheel and handle, or a combination.
Design & style: The classical “cage-style” design has a new competitor: The more boxy, sleek looking generators. Battery powered ones typically are even more esthetically pleasing to the eye.
Accessories: Consider the accessories that come with the unit. That could be cables, solar panels, extra gas tanks etc.
Build quality: An important factor is build quality – you will want to keep a power generator over the years. Check reviews by buyers to learn about durability in real life – you can’t always trust the glossy brochures.
Warranty: Check specs to learn about warranty in case anything breaks.