A portable generator is an essential accessory for camping, in emergencies, and when you need an off-the-grid solution for keeping your devices powered. The best portable generators come complete with awesome features suitable for a variety of situations and environments, and while previous generators were rugged, cumbersome, and roaring beasts, modern models are lightweight, compact, and silent, so you’ll have no trouble transporting it in an apocalypse, and you’ll also get a good night’s sleep, too.
Even if you’re not a camper and don’t believe we’re headed for doomsday soon (have you been keeping up with the news?), it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have, so it’s in yours and the world’s best interests you at least check these generators out, you could be our only hope.
The Best Portable Generator
Our top pick of the best portable generators is the WEN Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, which is ideal for RV and camping conditions where power and silent operation are paramount.
The clean power production is suitable for your smartphone and tablet while economy mode saves you wasting fuel on unnecessary connections. The recoil cord is easy to pull to start, and unlike every TV sitcom where the family go on a camping trip destined for disaster, you can trust it to start every time.
Quiet operation equivalent to sound level of ordinary conversation
Clean power production for safe operation to sensitive devices
2 3-prong 120V receptacles, 1 12V DC port, and 1 5V USB port
Lightweight design with carry handle
- Weight48 pounds
With straightforward instructions, the Rainier Super Quiet 2200 Peak Watt Portable Inverter Generator is one of the easiest products (not just generators) to set up we’ve ever selected. Thankfully, the good times don’t stop there though, and after setup, you’ll find yourself with a power generator capable of helping you out of sticky situations and keeping you cool (or toasty) throughout the night.
With 13 hours of run timer, it’s one of the most powerful options around while still being fuel efficient. It’s also quiet enough for peaceful evenings, and the multiple outlets save you and your family succumbing to some Lord of the Flies-style degeneracy, which is always a positive, no?
Provides up to 13 hours of run time
Gas powered with 1.3 gallon fuel tank
Hushed hum operation as low as 52 decibels
2 120V power outlets and 1 12V DC outlet
- BrandRainier Outdoor Power Equipment
- Weight43 pounds
The Champion 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator is the generator for the modern man. You can start it through wireless operation from up to 80 feet away, and it boasts a huge 8 gallon capacity, which is enough to see you through even the worst storms ever recorded.
This oil capacity can last 45 hours, ensuring, so you know you can rely on it whatever disaster strikes. The Volt Guard system protects from surges, offering further protection, and the Cold Start functions ensure even if you find yourself stranded atop the highest and coldest peak, you’ll have something to cook your hot dogs on, because who really enjoys them straight for the tin?
Wireless start from up to 80 feet away and push button start includes battery
RV ready for air conditioning
Volt Guard protects from power surges
Cold Start capability operates in low-temperatures
- BrandChampion Power Equipment
- Weight140 pounds
The DuroStar 3300 Running Watt Gas-Powered Portable Generator is our choice for the best value option. The gas-powered operation is muffled with a sturdy steel frame so you can relax with your BBQ watching the sunset, while its easy-to-read power panel prevents it suddenly failing.
The 4 gallon tank provides an ample run time of up to 8 hours on half-maximum output and is perfect in emergencies so you never need to take refuge in a motel again following an outage.
Heavy-duty steel frame with fully isolated motor reduces noise
Full power panel with warning light and oil level
Up to 8 hours run time of 50% maximum output
4 gallon fuel tank with ease read fuel gauge
- Weight102 pounds
A compact but reliable option, the Briggs & Stratton PowerSmart Series Portable 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator is quiet and efficient, boasting 1700 running watts (with 2200 starting) to provide you a great backup in an outage.
The system is designed to support laptops and charge your smartphone, which is something your kids will be happy about. The one-gallon fuel tank also supplies 8 hours of power, so you’ll have enough for a weeklong camping trip and then some. If you need more power, you can attach another Briggs & Stratton generator to the parallel connectors to maximize for Darth Sidious-esque unlimited power.
Quiet and fuel efficient operation with 1700 running watts
Safe for laptops, games consoles, and TVs
1-gallon fuel tank provides up to 8 hours run time
Parallel connector ports allows connection between 2 units to increase power
- BrandBriggs & Stratton
- Weight55 pounds
Boasting remarkable power, the DuroMax 4400-Watt 7.0 HP Gas Powered Portable Generator is a true behemoth of backup energy. Its price isn’t too outlandish and gives you everything you could expect from a heavy-duty generator. It’s also easy to use, with a clear power panel to prevent you running out of fuel,
Even if this happens, the air-cooled system will shut it off automatically, preventing damage to the unit. It’s also quiet and starts up quickly with no hassle. You won’t need to use it every day, but when an outage strikes, you can turn to the DuroMax and trust it to keep everything working.
Air cooled with low oil shut off
Heavy duty steel frame traps noise for quiet operation
Full power panel with interface for off switch, voltmeter, and circuit breaker
2 fully protected 120V power outlets and 1 120V twist-lock outlet
- Weight120 pounds
The Jackery CPAP Battery Backup Powerpro 500 Portable Generator is our premium pick and is an awesome and convenient electric generator for home or for when you take the Great American Road Trip you’ve always planned.
It boasts multiple charging options, with either AC outlets or environmentally conscious solar panels, and the ETL safety certification protects the unit from overheating to ensure longevity. It’s well-built and easy to use, and the lack of fuel protects the planet from emissions, because someone’s got to do it, right?
Recharge with AC wall power outlet or solar panel
ETL Safety certified batter management prevents short circuit and controls temperature
Lithium battery pack emits no fumes or clanging with no fuel required
Compact and lightweight design ideal for camping or at home
- Weight12.5 pounds
The Westinghouse Super Quiet 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator is a compact option for camping or small apartments that avoids many pitfalls of similarly small units. Working on oil, it shuts off when the level gets too low, and it’s so quiet, you’d be forgiven for asking it to speak up every once in a while.
We know camping trips can’t all be family bonding, so for evening downtime, this is ideal for charging smartphones and tablets, which we’re sure everyone will appreciate. Despite its size, it provides a solid 12 to 13 hours of power, which is more than you’ll need, but it’s always good to have backup so who’s complaining?
Low THD makes it safe for sensitive electronics and devices
Automatic low-oil shutoff
Parallel cable connection allows you to double power supply
Quiet operation at lower volume than normal speaking voice
- Weight43 pounds
Affordable and efficient, the WEN 4750 Watt Gasoline Powered Portable Generator is great for supporting you and keeping your home lighted up during extreme weather. It’s heavy, but this adds to its durability, and the wheel kits with foldable handles ensure it’s easy to move from house to campsite and back again.
It provides 11 hours of run time before needing to refill, and the digital readout is useful for keeping on top of any maintenance. It’s easy to start, using electric operation, and runs so smoothly you’ll never need to shout at your family to speak up when standing next to it. Yeah, that quiet.
Digital readout to manage oil changes and maintenance schedule
Electric start with low-oil shutdown protects parts
Wheel kit and foldable handles for easy portability
Up to 11 hour half-load run time
- Weight112.5 pounds
It was only a matter of time before everybody’s favorite portable powerbank Gods tried its hand at crafting the best portable generator and here we are. The Anker Powerhouse Compact 400Wh Portable Outlet is a small generator that packs quite the punch, and with 4 USB ports, it lets everybody stay connected no matter how far from civilization you feel.
It’s an excellent off-grid solution and supports you in emergencies or while camping with a battery management system designed to eliminate the risk of a short circuit or overloading. The built-in handle makes it easy to carry, and while it’s expensive, with over 24 hours of charge, it’s enough to keep you up to date on all the goings on night after night.
Off-grid power supply ideal for camping, emergencies and safe for sensitive electronics
Multiple device charging with 4 USB ports
Battery management system for voltage and temperature control and short circuit prevention
Ultra-high capacity and ultra-portable design fits comfortably in tent, car, or house
- Weight9.26 pounds
Portable Generator Buying Guide & FAQ
Features To Look For In Portable Generators
When looking at the best portable generators, be sure to consider these key features to find the right one for you.
Power Requirements - The wattage of your generator determines how much power it can put out. Depending on what you need your generator for, you can decide based on the amount of juice required. If you need a portable generator for camping, then high wattage is not a high priority. However, if you live in areas with frequent natural disasters, a high wattage generator could be the difference between survival and not.
Noise - Generators of the past were typically loud, so loud you couldn’t have a conversation anywhere near them. Modern models of portable generators, however, are more quiet, and while there’s still a range of decibel levels, they are nothing like those of the past.
Consider where you’re using the generator. If using it on a campsite, other campers may not be happy about a disrupting generator rumbling while they’re trying to relax in the evening. If you’re using it overnight, you don’t want to be disturbed by the generator when you’re trying to sleep.
Fuel Efficiency - A fuel efficient portable generator is an attractive option as it allows you access to power for longer without overdoing and refilling it too frequently, especially in disaster scenarios. Large tanks or battery charges with a consistently steady power output are desirable.
Run Time - After a disaster, you may need your portable generator to get you through at least the next few days. A short run time isn’t ideal for these situations but it may be acceptable for short camping trips, especially if you’re only using it for a few hours each night, and there’ll be some left over for next time.
Ease of Use - No one likes a product that’s too complicated and portable generators which are easy to start and easy to refill are essential for you to get the most from them.
Portability - By the nature of being portable generators, these products are easy to transport, but some are easier than others. Some will come with wheels and handles for easy moving wherever you need while others are small enough to carry using a built-in handle or in your arms. Consider that smaller generators will often have less power though.
Number of Outlets - Pick the number of outlets to reflect how many people will use the generator to save arguments and also make sure everyone’s included. More outlets gives you a wider range of powering options, which is necessary in a blackout, having too many connected devices and electronics will drain the fuel or battery faster.
Emissions - As the world becomes more focused on reducing emissions, you may want one that minimizes pollution. Inverter and battery-powered generators are the best for reducing such emissions, but they rarely provide as much power.
Types Оf Generators
Depending on what you need a generator for you can select one of the many types to suit you.
Gas-powered generators are the most versatile and common, they are easy to transport and with specially designed frames are extremely quiet. The fuel is the easiest to find, making them the most reliable, but the shelf life of such fuel isn’t long, which means you may end up wasting it if not used frequently. Unused fuel in a generator left dormant too long (over 3 months) can damage the engine.
A portable diesel generator is durable and typically run for the longest although this isn’t a set rule. There is no need for circuit balance, so there’s less risk of overpowering the unit, meaning you can use it with a variety of applications safely. They are powerful enough to keep refrigerators running after a blackout but diesel doesn’t last as long and they are often more expensive.
The favored generator of Hank Hill, a propane generator is sometimes preferred over diesel and gas despite perhaps not offering as much power. Because propane has a longer shelf life, you won’t feel you’ve wasted it if you don’t use it as quickly as you expected. However, propane is heavier, and so it adds weight to your portable propane generator, making it less portable than other options.
Perhaps best quiet portable generator, a solar-powered generator is emission-free and environmentally friendly. To counteract the potential for no sunlight to charge, though, they also may have an additional charging port for you to plug into an AC socket.
Inverter generators work on AC power, outputting this, converting it to DC and then inverting it back to AC. They are one of the most energy efficient options available and are lightweight enough for easy transportation in your car, boat, or RV.
The Placement Аnd Operation of Your Generator
To ensure safety and simple operation, the placement of your portable generator is important. The potentially dangerous fumes mean you should not run it too close to the house and always in a dry location as moisture can damage the electronics and other parts.
To ensure consistent performance, check on the fuel and oil levels regularly. While some generators have an automatic shutoff system if the oil gets too low, this is not true of all models.
When starting it, there should be an ample amount of fuel (or charge) stored in the tank (or battery). To prevent damage and overworking, allow the engine to run and warm up for a few minutes before connecting it to anything.
Also, switch off the generator if you’re not using it. This isn’t just to save on fuel or battery charge but also to prevent unnecessary operation. It should also be off when refueling. Flip the circuit breaker switch into the OFF position and then turn the machine off at the power switch to avoid any short circuiting or overloading.
It’s always advised to keep adequate replacement fuel close by, but remember fuel has an expiration date and you should use it up before this date occurs. If you don’t, then do not use the fuel in the generator as it can cause damage to the unit.
Portable Generator FAQ
Q: What are the most common uses of portable generators?
A: You can use a portable generator for many things, but they are used most commonly:
- During blackouts
- Following extreme weather such as storms or hurricanes
- When camping
- At outdoor events including sports
- For farming
- On off-grid construction sites
Q: How big should my portable generator be?
A: The size of your generator depends on what you expect to use it for. If you live alone or only plan on using it for quick camping trips or watching sports, then a small power generator is sufficient. However, for large families or extended trips into the wilderness, consider a larger generator to power everything you need sufficiently.
Q: How do you safely run a portable generator?
A: While portable generators are not hugely unsafe to use (the opposite, in fact) misuse can quickly lead to danger, especially if you’ve never used one before. To ensure you and those in your party aren’t responsible for unsafe generator operation you can follow these tips:
- Only operate at a safe distance from yours and others’ homes
- Never use in an enclosed space such as a building or garage
- Do not attach it directly to the main wiring of your home
- Use a heavy duty extension cord attached to an AC or DC outlet
- Ensure combined wattage is not too much for the cord or outlet to handle
- Switch it off and allow it to cool down before refilling the fuel tank
- 8 Features to Look for In a Portable Generator - Urban Survival Site
- Generator Types and Maintenance Guide - Grainger Industrial Supply
- Gas, Diesel, Propane, What Generator Fuel is Best? - Rational Preparedness
- How to Use a Generator - WikiHow
- Best Use for a Portable Generator - Ever Unfolding
- How to Use a Portable Generator Properly - Today’s Homeowner