Generators can be a life-saver in many situations. We often forget how much power we use and need, and how much of a struggle basic tasks are when that power isn’t there.
Most types of food go bad in very little time without a refrigerator, walking down a flight of stairs at night without a light source is a massive chore and trying to cope in sub-zero temperatures without heating is something no one wants to face.
A standby generator, which is installed permanently and stays in one spot, can solve these issues by pumping out power for days in an emergency event such as a large-scale blackout.
But, what if your needs are similar but on a smaller scale?
Maybe you just need enough power to keep the lights on in an emergency but don’t really mind if the energy-guzzling washing machine has a few days out of service. Maybe you want a small refrigerator to hold your drinks when you go out to a cabin in the wilderness. Maybe you live in an extremely cold environment and just want to make sure the electric fire never goes out. Maybe you just don’t have the money or space for a standby generator anyway.
Well, here’s the answer: A portable generator!
Providing less energy, in turn costing significantly less than a standby, a generator that can move around with you just might be exactly what you’re looking for in your backup-power needs.
So, how do you find the right portable generator for you? You might just look for the big names (Honda or Yamaha, for example) - but are they always the best?
Before making your purchase, take a look at the following reviews for some of the best portable generators on the market:
Top 5 Portable Generators
|Yamaha EF2000iSv2||51.5-61 dB||1,600 W||44.1 lbs|
|WEN 56200i||51 dB||1,600 W||48 lbs|
|iQ2000 6866 from Generac||68 dB||1,600 W||46.2 lbs|
|Westinghouse WH7500E||60-71 dB||7,500 W||201 lbs|
|Honda EU2000I||53-59 dB||2,000 W||47 lbs|
Coming in at third place is the solid and reliable iQ2000 6866 from Generac. This compact portable generator has a pretty low weight of only 46.2lbs, making it a good fit for travelling or moving between buildings. It also has an impressive runtime of 7.7 hours on only 25% of its full load.
Where this Generac generator stands out is in its ease of use. It has a PowerDial, used to make its Start, Run and Stop functions easier to use, as well as a switch to change between Turbo, Standard and Economy modes which will adjust the motor, thereby reducing fuel consumption and noise level along with it. It also has indicators to let you know if the generator is overheating, overloaded or in need of more fuel; with an LED display to show you exactly how much fuel is remaining and how much longer the generator will run. Another feature is the Powerbar™, which constantly displays how much wattage is being used at any given time it’s switched on.
On the downside, although rare, this generator has received a significant amount of negative feedback for having defective units and issues with gas leaking as well as some unclear instructions. Make sure to check the generator when putting oil in for any leakage issues and contact the company if the generator has any issues.
- An indicator for if the generator overheats, is low in fuel or is overloaded
- Quiet (engine speed changes with power being used, making noise level much lower at a lower fuel load)
- Display that shows time before generator needs to be reloaded
- Turbo, Standard or Economy switch to regulate noise and consumption of fuel
- Simple Start, Run and Stop functions with PowerDial
- Wattage being produced can be constantly monitored with The PowerBar™
- Easy to fill with a large funnel, wide mouth and spill tray
- Non-slip feet which also dampen the noise produced by the generator
- Can be linked to another iQ2000 6866 to produce more power
- Several users have reported gas leakage. Although not common in comparison to perfectly running units, make sure to keep a close eye on the generator when using it for the first time and follow instructions closely when filling with oil
- Noise increases with heavier loads
- Instructions somewhat misleading in parts
- Will struggle with larger items or with having to power several items at once
In a nutshell: Lightweight, large variation of easy-to-use controls, easy to fill and quiet. Unfortunately, has a number of reports relating to defective machines.
The lowest priced product in the top 3, the WEN 56200i is a bit of a dark horse. It’s heavier than the Generac before it, at 48lbs, so those who want to travel with the generator may not find it quite so convenient. However, it’s still well-shaped and fairly compact making it relatively easy to handle but you may want to give it a miss if you wanted a generator to travel far with.
Positively, it’s fairly quiet with low noise levels according to the Department of Health and Human Services, and it has the feature of adjusting its motor based on fuel consumption, a key extra for the environmentally-conscious. However, this feature doesn’t work while the generator is powering devices that use high-levels of electricity (over 1,000 watts). It also has indicator lights to inform you of low oil, overload risk and output; although it’s not as detailed or easy to control as some other generators.
Despite a couple of flaws, the WEN 56200i is a quality product for its price, having some useful features, a good runtime of 6 hours at half-load and has received a lot of positive views for its reliability.
There is one big letdown with the WEN 56200i, however, and that is its oil container. While other products may make a wide mouth, a tray for overspill or provide you with some kind of funnel for ease of filling, the WEN doesn’t. Spillages could well happen until you get some practice. It’s even a little bit difficult to to get to the dipstick in the first place as it requires disassembly to do so and you have to remove the whole side cover to access the oil hole. Although this is a problem that can be overlooked when the user learns to fill the oil more carefully, it’s enough of a letdown to keep this product from taking the number 1 spot.
- Lower price than brand-name portable generators of similar wattage
- Quiet; the US Department of Health and Human services compares it to the noise-level of normal conversation.
- Very efficient and good runtime
- Can power small, sensitive devices such as mobile phones without damage
- Option of Eco-Mode, which allows the generator to automatically adjust its fuel consumption
- Can be linked to another WEN56200i to produce more power
- Lights to indicate low oil, overload and output
- Automatic shutdown when oil level is too low, for safety reasons
- The oil container is not as well-designed as other models; changing the oil can be a messy job
- Non-CARB compliant
- Advertised as having ‘2000 starting watts’, but it isn’t really capable of reaching that wattage
- Instructions are not as thorough as they could be
In a nutshell: Good price, long runtime, quiet and sensitive to small devices. However, one of the heaviest of its type, inconvenient in filling-up and not so environmentally friendly.
The most famous name on the list, the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is also the priciest, costing (at the time of creating this list) $984.00 on Amazon and over $1,000 from some Ebay stores. The heftier price tag belies its smaller size, it also being the lightest product on the list at only a touch over 44lbs and, in general, has a very nice and compact style. This makes it perfect for taking out camping or moving it from place to place, it won’t weigh you down. Don’t let its small size fool you, however, the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is packed with features that cemented its place at number 1. Firstly, it’s quite unbelievable how quiet this generator actually is - you can have a conversation with someone just a few feet away and not have to shout at them! This quietness is assisted by a muffler with spark arrestor, a Smart Throttle to adjust engine speed in relation to load, and rubber feet with vibration isolation. It also has the longest running time of all the products on the list, lasting an impressive 10.5 hours at ¼ load which is especially vital in remote locations or when blackouts mean there aren’t any other forms of power available to you.
Like both the WEN and Generac generators, the Yamaha has displays to let you know how much oil is left and provides a warning when it is getting too low - preventing damage to the engine. Also preventing this damage is an electrical overload breaker.
One of the other top reasons for recommending this product is its ease of use. As well as the display to warn you of low oil, the fuel gauge is easy to fill, the controls are easy to access, and there is even a system of automatic decompression which means the generator can start-up easier and quicker, as well as an automatic warm-up to prevent slower start-up due to cold weather. So, if this is your first time using a portable generator, or you don’t consider yourself a person who gets along with machinery in general, Yamaha is looking out for you.
Also, for those readers who are concerned with the environment, you can have peace of mind with this generator - it is CARB (California Air Resources Board) compliant and Yamaha generators have some of the longest emission engine durability ratings as in the previous two generators, it’s sheer efficiency and wealth of features puts it solidly at the top of the list. Sometimes you have to pay for quality!--
The Westinghouse WH7500E comes in at a speedy pace behind the iQ2000 6866. Priced at $807.49 on Amazon, the incredible power that this generator can shed out is insurmountable compared to the price you have to pay for it. Overviewing customer reviews alone prove its popularity at a total of 620 ratings compared to the follow up generator, the Honda EU2000I, with 162. However, this number alone cannot prove the Westinghouse’s worth over the Honda’s, so let’s go over its features, benefits and potential impracticalities.
First off, the Westinghouse hits close to the top of the range when it comes to power. Pouring out power at a whopping 7500 Wattage, this generator has the capacity to power up a massive amount of household devices. Not only that, but you have the option to actually link up the Westinghouse to your home’s power panel. This would, however, require a transfer switch; but this is easily purchased, with Reliant and Generac making excellent models. Please note that unless you have the proper experience, you should hire a professional for this installation, as any mistakes could lead to damage of your brand spanking new generator, your home’s electrics, or most importantly - you! Safety is key when installing this mega-powerful beast into your household.
At the same time, the construction of this generator has been done to ensure your own safety, and the safety of the interior workings of the generator itself. With all essentials being centered within an all-steel construction, the Westinghouse will continue to operate in the least ideal of conditions, assurance of a long, cost-effective, and durable lifetime.
The most important aspect, and one of your biggest concerns, is the level of noise generated by this powerful machine. Although the manufacturer has not listed the decibel level of the WH7500E, reviewers have taken it upon themselves to report an average of 60-71 decibels; additionally, the generator is kitted with Westinghouse’s Pulse-Flo muffler, equipped with a spark arrestor.
- Easy start-up with the One-Touch Electric Start; comes with manual option of an easy-to-pull recoil rope and comfy handle.
- Wattage means you can run plenty of hefty appliances without running out of fuel
- Cast-iron components - not plastic - ensuring durability and low oil consumption.
- AC alternator has been designed for minimal to zero maintenance, you just have to keep it clean
- Fuel gauge gives view of fuel level
- 4-cycle engine means you get an oil reservoir
- Battery charges as motor runs
- Low oil shut down switch, avoiding any damage to your generator if the fuel runs out
- Non-inverter generator means that your sensitive electrics (which often tend to be your most essential ones) are not recommended for linkage with the generator, such as your laptop or certain medical devices.
- No warning light if oil level is low; will shut down and only start up once you have refilled to necessary level.
- Heavy, at 201 pounds. Although the generator is kitted out with never-flat tyres and a sturdy handle, the weight of the WH7500E means a struggle in situations where you have to carry the generator (up and down stairs, across tough terrains, etc.)
- Several reviewers have complained of the generator arriving with damages due to the lack of packaging protection within the box
With a decibel level of 53 decibels and weighing in at 47 pounds, the Honda EU2000I is undeniably in the forefront when it comes to seeking out a quiet, light, compact generator. This little power-box is ideal for camping or any travelling adventure you might find yourself in, and its fuel efficiency makes it an even more attractive option, being able to run for up to 8 hours on less than one gallon of fuel! Also, its advanced inverter system allows you to keep in touch with loved ones afar, as you can keep your phones and laptops on charge.
Similar to the four generators already discussed, the Honda is also protected by a shutdown system that detects when your oil is getting low, and has your back covered by ensuring that the oil does not burn out and damage your generator.
The only downfall seems to be the start-up of the Honda. It’s advertised as having a simple recoil starting system; however, this feature has been met with heated reviews by users. A number of complaints all refer to the difficulty of getting the Honda to start up, irrelevant of outside temperatures. However, this seems to be the result of leaving the generator to sit for too long. So, if you’re wanting the benefit of a quiet, compact generator to easily take along with you on your journeys, it might require the extra effort of letting it run once a week, just to keep everything on alert and ready for action when you need it.
- Low oil shutdown
- Light weight with carry handle
- Fuel gauge
- Inverter built-in; ideal for charging your sensitive electrics such as cellphones and laptops
- 53-59 dB with spark arrestor/muffler; less noise than normal conversation
- Fuel efficient – runs up 8.1 hours on less than a gallon of fuel
- Advanced inverter technology
- Protected by OilAlert™ – shuts down engine when low oil is detected
- Complaints about being difficult to start, irrelevant of outside temperatures. Warnings of not letting it sit too long.
- Complaints that it is not as quiet as advertised