Table of Contents
- Portable Generator Buying Guide
- The Top 8 Portable Generator Brands Review: Which Rank Highest?
- 1. DEWALT
- 2. CHAMPION
- 3. DUROMAX
- 4. WEN
- 5. WESTINGHOUSE
- 6. DUROSTAR
- 7. PULSAR
- 8. POWERSMART
- 9. HONDA
- 10. A – iPOWER
- Key Takeaways
Anyone who’s experienced a prolonged power outage knows that the ability to protect yourself and your family from spoiled food, flooded basements and homes, cold and heat, and more quickly stops being a luxury and becomes a necessity. The ability to keep the lights on, ensure heating and cooling systems stay active, and keep your family fed by powering your fridge can be a literal lifesaver.
Today’s best portable generator brands have revolutionized the industry and made portable generators something every household has access to.
What kind of generator do you need? How big should it be? Are generators safe? What do you need to know? We’ll answer all those questions (and more) as we walk you through the unique features of each of the top portable generator brands available.
Portable Generator Buying Guide
There is no shortage of options to choose from when buying a generator. Determining the best make and brand for you and your family starts with considering a few key factors.
While most portable generators on the market will meet the needs of almost any homeowner – so long as blackouts don’t last more than a few days – there are some notable variations in what each brand offers.
What to Look For As You Browse
- Power Capabilities: As a general rule of thumb, your generator should be able to power all essential appliances or devices for a few days. To determine if this is the case, check the startup wattage requirements of each of your appliances and compare this number with the various generator options.
- Fuel Efficiency: It can be challenging to find and get to a fuel source in the middle of a natural disaster. Therefore, you’ll want to find a generator with a high run time when operating with a full tank of fuel. This means you’ll want a large generator with a significant tank capacity.
- Portability: Weight will play a big role in determining which portable generator you get. Obviously; the more power you need, the bigger the generator. To make it easier to transport, choose a generator with handles or wheels.
- Conventional vs. Inverter: Conventional generators run at full speed at all times. Inverter generators allow you to adjust the speed based on your needs. Inverter generators tend to be quieter and more fuel-efficient — making them the ideal choice for recreational activities.
- Control Panel Features: Ease of use depends largely on how many control panel features exist. Choose a brand with multiple household plugs, one that is transfer switch ready, and an odometer that shows remaining run-time capabilities.
Obviously, safety is always the priority. Generators are incredibly safe and most come with a host of features designed to ensure the safety of you and your family. While included safety features vary from brand to brand, there are a few that are must-haves.
What Safety Features Are Critical?
- Inbuilt surge protectors
- Low oil shutdown settings (these will shut the machine down when the oil starts running low)
- Spark arrestors (they prevent the machine from sending out flammable particles that present a fire hazard)
- Circuit protection sensors
The Top 8 Portable Generator Brands Review: Which Rank Highest?
Thankfully for consumers, nearly all of the brands on the market today are reliable, effective, and user-friendly. A few brands do, however, repeatedly rank at the top of the “best of” list. Read on for a review of each, along with a review of each brand’s best-selling generator.
Founded in 1923 by Raymond E. DeWalt and acquired by Black & Decker, DeWalt has become synonymous with reliability. With manufacturing plants located in Connecticut, Maryland, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee; US-made DeWalt tools are associated with a higher level of quality than those made overseas. The fact that the company produces such a wide range of power tools, garden equipment, construction gear, and more is what really sets the brand apart from its competitors.
DeWalt has earned an international reputation for delivering high-quality tools for professional use. Currently, the brand ranks as one of the top three power tool brands on the market. Nearly unanimously, DeWalt users boast about how long DeWalt tools last before breaking down. More popular among professionals and tradesmen than homeowners, DeWalt’s tools have become a staple of construction sites and repair shops across the country.
While a bit pricer than some of its counterparts, DeWalt products are worth splurging on. Not only will you save money on repairs or replacement tools, but you’ll also see a notable surge in productivity. Additionally, the company makes up for the higher price tag by offering a variety of quality guarantees. Users can take comfort in the brand’s 30-day money-back guarantees on every product. DeWalt offers 30-day money-back guarantees and warranties that cover your tool for three years, seven years, or the tool’s lifetime. All of this goes to show that your satisfaction is one of the brand’s top priorities.
When it comes to best-sellers, the DeWalt 7,000-Watt generator tops the list year after year. This make was designed with professionals in mind. Each feature complements the others to create a reliable, quiet, safe, and durable portable generator for daily use.
Intuitive control panels give you the ability to quickly assess how much fuel you have left, how much run-time remains, and more. A siteWattage meter gives real-time power usage feedback so you can adjust as needed while an easy pull-cord makes for a quick and easy start-up (as long as the battery has been fully charged ahead of time). But what really seals the deal for customers is the make’s portability, durability, and ease of use.
Founded in 2003 with the clear mission to create truly innovative products, Champion Power Equipment has earned an international reputation for designing and producing durable and reliable power tools. To date, over 2 million Champion products are sold every year – both domestically and abroad.
Equally suitable for work and home; Champion’s product line has grown to include standby generators for the home, portable generators, inverter generators, engines, and more. Regardless of the specific product, Champion prides itself on its commitment to developing truly innovative products. To facilitate this, Champion employs highly competent engineers to staff their state-of-the-art product development facilities.
It is within these product development facilities that Champion has created unique features like the Dual-Fuel technology, remote starting functions, and V-Twin engines that are simply unbeatable in power and durability. As Champion likes to say, their engineers “provide tomorrow’s technologies today.”
If you ask customers why Champion is one of the best portable generator brands and you’ll likely hear them talk about the company’s incredible customer service team. Champion’s customer support is top-notch. The Champion power equipment technicians that support the US and Canadian customers have earned a reputation for providing comprehensive and friendly support in a timely fashion – making it the leader in customer support rankings.
Boasting a quieter motor than almost any other portable generator, the 4500-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator is ideal for camping, tailgating, and RV living. Freedom and convenience is the name of the game with this generator. The remote starter capabilities work from up to 80 feet away. Its Intelligauge control panel takes the guesswork out of monitoring voltage and operating hours.
Whether you’re traveling or are simply looking for a quieter solution to your generator needs, this meets your needs while offering up to 14 hours of run time on less than two and a half gallons of gasoline. Champion upholds its commitment to customer satisfaction by offering a 3-year limited warranty and free lifetime technical support from qualified experts. By investing in a Champion generator, you’re getting the best of the best while enjoying the peace of mind that comes from superior customer service.
Founded in 2003, DuroMax quickly developed a reputation as a leader in Dual Fuel portable generator technology and consistently ranks as one of the best portable generator brands. DuroMax designs and manufactures an extensive collection of portable generators that include digital inverter generators, dual-fuel generators, and more.
The company’s foundation is its mission of creating high-quality reliable generators that meet the lifestyle and budgetary needs of everyone from homeowners to RV enthusiasts. It has more than lived up to the goal and is routinely praised for durable design, exceptional run time, and unbeatable safety. Eco-friendly consumers respect the fact that the company’s products boast both EPA and CARB approvals.
Today, DuroMax is the most commonly seen generator on construction sites, in homes, and on campgrounds. This is likely because the company’s generators boast an array of added bonuses that include power wattage ranges of between 1800w and 1500w, dual-fuel technology, durable all-metal construction, heavy-duty tires that guarantee that they’ll never go flat, and an idle control that keeps things quiet.
Whether you’re looking to make sure your family is covered in the case of a power outage or need a generator that can keep up with your RV lifestyle, DuroMax has the generator for you.
This DuroMax option is, hands down, one of the top 3 most popular hybrid models on the market. Quickly recommended for those looking for a contractor generator, this DuroMax model boasts incredible power capabilities, can easily power a home during an outage, and is easy enough to use to work for homeowners looking to power their electric tools.
While not as quiet as some of its counterparts, electric key start capabilities, and stellar fuel efficiency more than makeup for the increased noise output.
The Wen company opened its doors in 1951 and has spent the following years building a reputation as the best portable generator brand for beginners and pros alike. EPA and CARB compliant, WEN’s signature black and orange inverter, dual-fuel, and traditional gas generators have become synonymous with affordable reliability that marries durable craftsmanship with modern technology.
Among consumers, Wen’s price point seals the deal and this is no accident. The company has maintained a laser-like focus on resisting the urge to add unnecessary features and functions that will drive up the price without providing essential capabilities. As a result, they’ve been able to offer high-power, dual fuel generators at a price that is simply unbeatable.
Wen’s portable generators are best suited for emergency backup and recreational power needs and customers are given hundreds of models to choose from. Newer models give users the ability to switch from gasoline to propane as needed and most open-frame options offer never-flat tires. There really is little to complain about when it comes to Wen.
Those looking to ensure at-home backup during a power outage or emergency or for a reliable generator to take on their next RV camping trip will love the WEN 56380i 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator. RV-ready and affordable, this option comes with a 2-year warranty and nationwide access to customer service technicians.
Included spark arresters give campers a legal option for campgrounds and national parks. A digital data center ensures key data is easily accessible and easy to read. Careful craftsmanship results in a great design while expert engineering gives these generators exceptional power capabilities. All in all, despite being heavier than some of its competitors, this Wen model fits the bill in nearly every category — all without breaking the bank.
By managing to remain at the top of “best of” lists for over 130 years, Westinghouse boasts something few brands can claim — an unbeatable and time-testing reputation. Westinghouse Generators, a subsidiary of the Westinghouse Electric Company, success lies in its commitment to combining state-of-the-art technology with user-friendly designs. Add in exceptionally capable customer service technicians and you have a true leader in the generator industry.
Defined by the color blue and the letter “W,” Westinghouse products include traditional open-frame generators, inverter generators, solar-powered options, and more. Each model comes with four charging methods, is EPA and OSHA compliant, and is remarkably easy to assemble and use.
Regardless of whether you’re looking to power your home through an outage, ensure power and safety while camping, or need to provide backup power to a construction site; Westinghouse delivers generators that are reliable, convenient, portable, and eco-conscious. While Westinghouse generators are not the cheapest on the market, the reliability and power they provide more than justifies the higher price tag. Discover why Westinghouse consistently ranks as the leader in portable generator technology.
With Westinghouse’s WGen9500 Heavy Duty Portable Generator, you are getting the maximum amount of power a portable generator can provide. It is simply unbeatable in terms of power capabilities. If that alone doesn’t convince you, the model is both transfer switch and RV ready, EPA and CARB compliant, comes with remote start functions, a 12 hour run time, two five-volt USB ports (in addition to the standard outlets), and more. Regardless of your power needs, the WGen9500 will more than adequately meet your needs.
Customers rave about the convenience that comes from remote start capabilities, easy-to-read control panels (complete with LED digital hour meters), incredible power capabilities, and at-the-ready power. On the flip side, this model is both louder and heavier than some of its counterparts.
Equally perfect for work, home, or recreational needs; DuroStar answers the calls of those needing truly affordable backup power options. DuroStar generators are manufactured by DuroPower – a California-based company that has consistently placed a strong focus on creating powerful solutions that are environmentally friendly and affordable. CARB and EPA compliant, DuroStar manufactures portable, dual fuel, and gas generator options and has earned a name as one of the best portable generator brands on the market.
The company’s portable generators have a reputation for being long-lasting, reliable, and user-friendly. By making their own engines, DuroStar is able to ensure that every product adheres to their strict environmental regulations, provides consistent power, and meets the needs of everyone from the weekend camper to the construction site worker. To ensure customer satisfaction, DuroStar offers a 30-day warranty and a 1 year part warranty and staffs their customer service centers with knowledgeable and friendly technicians.
If you’re on a budget and looking for a quality dual tank option, trust the red and black DuroStar. You won’t be disappointed. When choosing the best generator for you, remember that while dual fuel options are convenient, gas generators do provide more power and offer longer run times (thanks to their large fuel tanks and durable design).
Nicknamed “The Beast” because of its power capabilities (despite its small stature), The DuroStar DS12000EH rivals any in-home unit offers incredible user-friendliness, and is approved for use in all 50 states.
Boasting features such as a keyed electric start, easy-to-read control panels, automatic low oil shutoff settings, and a 3-year warranty, this model is portable enough to take camping but powerful enough to keep your entire home running for days during a power outage or natural disaster. Those looking for a power solution that won’t require hours of learning to operate and will work with their budget are consistently impressed by this DuroMax model.
Headquartered in Ontario, Canada; Pulsar has become a favorite among customers looking for a high-powered, durable generator that won’t break the bank or create unbearable noise. Pulsar guarantees an affordable price tag and makes good on its promise by offering generators for hundreds of dollars less than some of its competitors.
Thankfully, customers don’t have to sacrifice innovation or craftsmanship to take advantage of the affordability. Pulsar’s generators range from 1200-15,000 watts, come equipped with foldable handles, tires that won’t go flat, dual-fuel technology, and an intuitive control panel. Furthermore, the fact that most stores carry both generators and replacement parts means that finding and maintaining your generator is never a challenge.
Perfect for construction sites, power outages, natural disasters, and campgrounds; Pulsar portable generators offer the best of both worlds — affordability and quality. While customers review almost always sing the company’s praises, some users do take issue with the fact that the stickers tend to peel off, open-frame options are a bit loud, and the control panel could be more informative. Still, given the power output and price tag; it still wins as one of the best portable generator brands on the market.
Offering a 1-year warranty and round-the-clock customer service help, Pulsar really goes above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction with their G12KBN Heavy Duty Portable Dual Fuel Generator. And the effort does not go unnoticed.
Customers rave about the ability to run their generator for up 12 hours (at half load) and sing the praises of conveniences like the ability to power multiple appliances, tools, and other devices at the same time (thanks to multiple outlets). A low oil shutoff setting ensures your safety and the safety of your home, campgrounds, and tools isn’t jeopardized while a 3-in-1 digital meter makes assessing run time and fuel levels a piece of cake.
If you’re in the market for a compact generator that offers good fuel economy and clean power, Pulsar is the way to go. One thing to note, however, is that the oil can be a bit tricky to change and spillage is not uncommon.
Part of the Briggs & Stratton collection, PowerSmart generators are engineered to safely power your more sensitive electrical appliances (think laptops, tablets, small power tools) and has built a reputation for reliability and performance. Producing over 11 million a year, the company has certainly perfected the science of making engines that work every time.
Not surprisingly, the brand is currently sitting at the top of many best-seller lists for inverter generators, What’s more, many of the brand’s models come with a carbon monoxide detector that ensures safe usage every single time. Quieter than its counterparts, the PowerSmart brand’s generators work exceptionally well for campgrounds, national parks, and RV sites. Users love the peace of mind that comes from knowing they’ll never be without power and neighbors on the campground appreciate the lack of interfering noise coming from the generator.
Affordable and easy to use, the PowerSmart generator series is a must-have for novices and pros alike.
Offering exceptional strong power output and longer than average run times, the PowerSmart Super Quiet Generator tops the list for portable generators. Looking to service both outdoor enthusiasts and homeowners, PowerSmart provides a power station that allows you to charge large and small appliances from a single dock and includes chargers specifically designed to work with sensitive electronics and appliances.
Its lightweight design makes it easy to transport and gives you the perfect power source for your next camping or RV trip. A 2-year warranty places a premium on your satisfaction and an easy-to-follow manual walks you through set up and use without any confusion.
If an intuitive, yet powerful, a portable generator is what you’re looking for; PowerSmart has answered your call.
Best known as one of the biggest auto manufacturers in the world, Honda does more than manufacture cars. The Japanese manufacturers also make batteries, generators, power tools, and more. The brand offers EU series quiet generators, deluxe EM series generators, industrial EB series generators, and economy generators. Each offers the quality, durability, and longevity Honda is known for while serving slightly different purposes. Despite being more expensive than most other brands, Honda has built a reputation for setting the standards everyone else adheres to.
Thanks to its cutting-edge technology, the company consistently ranks as one of the best portable generator brands. For individuals looking for a way to meet their power needs while camping, RV-ing, or working on home improvement projects, this model more than fits the bill. It’s quiet enough to keep running overnight on campgrounds, powerful enough to keep your home functioning during a power outage, and safe enough to use around your family.
Honda has the unique distinction of being one of the first brands to manufacture quiet motors for RV and domestic use. Its four-stroke engine is as powerful as it is smooth. An eight-hour run time allows you to sleep without worrying about running out of power. All in all, Honda is best in class and you can’t go wrong with any of the brand’s products.
10. A – iPOWER
One of the newer brands on the market, A-iPower has set out to prove that quality generators need not be exorbitantly expensive and is giving more established brands a real run for their money.
A-iPower is known for manufacturing portable generators, pressure washers, trash pumps, and more and is headquartered in the Los Angelos area. Customers rave about the price tag, their responsive customer service technicians, and the brand’s easy-to-read displays. Competitors worry that A-iPower’s 4-cycle engines will outperform their own and convince customers to switch brands.
A-iPower is perfect for homeowners, outdoor adventure enthusiasts, and construction site owners and workers. One thing to note about the brand is the variations in naming conventions among the models. Some A-iPower models start with a “SU” prefix while others start with an “SUA” prefix. These prefixes refer to whether the model is part of the newer line of generators or A-iPower’s original line. While there are some variations between the capabilities of the two lines, both consistently perform well and meet customer expectations.
If you’re looking to try your luck with a portable generator, A-iPower is the place to start. Convenient, reliable, and study; the brand truly delivers.
With its SUA4500 Portable Generator, A-iPower has managed to manufacture a portable power source that is equally perfect for camping grounds and homes. Complete with a built-in handle, rugged wheels, and durable powder-coated frame; the SUA4500 withstands uneven terrain, provides ease of transport, and is built to last.
A traditional pull start makes starting your generator a piece of cake while a converter switch allows you to switch between 120VAC and 240VAC as needed – ensuring your needs are met even as they change from day to day. When it comes to recreational and emergency power needs, the SUA4500 cannot be beaten.
Wattage is a key consideration when purchasing a portable generator. Seems simple enough but as anyone who has browsed generators knows, you’ll encounter two wattage readings. Running watts refer to the power produced while running continuously. Starting wattage refers to the short burst of power used to start the generator.
Yes and no. Yes, technically generators can run without pause so long as you have enough fuel. But, this does not mean you can skip maintenance intervals. Just like your car runs on gas and needs regular maintenance to run safely. Consult your manual for recommended maintenance schedules.
Technically, yes. But this is unsafe and should not be attempted. Connecting your generator to any electrical system puts your entire family at risk for electrocution and equipment damage. Instead, install a transfer switch to allow you to power your home appliances without running the risk of dangerous reactions.
Yes, all RV generators should be connected to a transfer switch instead of to the RV directly. Otherwise, the situation is just as dangerous as it is within a home.
There is no harm in utilizing an extension cord but you should be advised that this will cause a dip in voltage output. Generally speaking, the amount of voltage you’ll lose depends on the length of an extension cord. The longer the cord, the more voltage you’ll lose.
As we’ve all seen over the past couple of years, natural disasters and extreme weather patterns are becoming increasingly common. Whether you’re looking to make sure you can keep your family warm, safe, and fed during an emergency or are in the market for a generator that will solve your camping and RV living needs; there are more than enough to choose from.
Deciding what best meets your needs is a matter of weighing priorities. If a quiet and lightweight option is a must-have, a smaller inverter generator is probably your best bet. If power output, run time, and voltage are your priorities, a larger and more traditional open-frame model will likely fit the bill.
As always; shop around, ask questions, and enjoy the freedom that comes from power at the ready.