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Best portable generators 2021

Best portable generators 2021
(Image credit: Honda)

The best portable generators will make the world of difference if you have a power outage. Right here, we’ve collated all the best portable generators for use at home including quiet generators, gas, and battery-powered generators too. 

There’s a lot of choice when it comes to the best portable generators and first, you’ll need to decide which type of power source you’d like. Gas generators will run for as long as you need them to, providing you keep topping them up with fuel. It’s worth noting that gasoline generators are noisy though, and they can be quite smelly too. 

On the other hand, battery generators are quiet and won’t need any fuel, but they will need charging up so won’t provide endless power. The best portable generators for home don’t necessarily have to be really light, but if you need a generator for an RV or for on the go, you’ll want to consider its weight. 

Powerful portable generators will have an output of around 9,000 watts, making them pretty heavy. If you need an easy-to-move option, we’d suggest one of the best portable generators with wheels. Finally, consider the wattage of each generator. Take note of the rating for surge/ starting and running wattage of each portable generator. Normally, the higher the rating, the better. 

1. DeWALT DXGNR7000: Best portable generator overall

DeWALT DXGNR7000

(Image credit: DeWalt)

A great portable generator for serious workplace power off the grid or when there’s been a power cut.

Specifications
Running watts: 7,000
Starting wattage: 8,750
Power type: Gasoline
Run Time: 11 hours at 50% load
Weight: 192 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Impressive amount of wattage+Smart runtime meter
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy!-Not an inverter generator

With its steel frame and rugged exterior it’s clear that the DeWALT DXGNR7000 is designed for on site work or as a backup generator when the power goes out, rather than for camping trips or general use around the home. You get four 120 volt power outlets to play with and a whopping 7,000 watts of running power, so you should find it handles most heavy duty equipment. It’s gasoline powered and quite noisy too, but it does have a built-in starter motor so there’s no need to use a pull cord to start it. You should be aware that this isn’t an inverter generator, so don’t get this if you’re looking for something to power sensitive electronics like laptops, tablets or phones.

What the DeWALT DXGNR7000 lacks in sophistication it makes up for in raw power. One to consider if you’ve got a lot of tools you need to power on a work site.


2. Ford FG2200iS: Best value portable generator 

Ford FG2200iS

(Image credit: Ford)

The Ford FG2200iS is a very cheap inverter generator that will give you 2,000 running watts for an incredible price.

Specifications
Running watts: 2,000
Starting watts: 2,200
Power type: Gasoline
Tank Capacity: 1.8 gallons
Run time: 6 hours at 50% load
Weight : 50 lb
Reasons to buy
+Excellent value for money+Quiet running
Reasons to avoid
-Small tank-No fuel gauge

The Ford FG2200iS is a basic but great value inverter generator that will give you 2,000 running watts across two 120 volt power outlets and a USB port. It’s gasoline powered and needs to be started with a pull cord but it’s a reliable performer and light enough to pick up with one hand. The lack of fuel gauge and the small tank can be a pain and it’s also not as quiet as the Honda EU3000is Handi, but if you’re looking for a gasoline-powered generator to take on camping trips and you don’t mind a bit of noise then this is the generator you’re looking for.


3. Honda EU3000is Handi: Best portable generator motor

Honda EU3000iS

(Image credit: Honda)

The EU3000is boasts a genuine Honda motor, so it’s quiet compared to other similar-sized generators on the market.

Specifications
Running watts: 2800
Starting wattage: 3000
Power type: Gasoline
Tank capacity: 3.4 Gallons
Run time: 10 hours at 50% load
Weight: 131 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Honda motor+Quiet running
Reasons to avoid
-No USB ports-No fuel gauge

The Honda EU3000is Handi is an inverter generator so you can run sensitive electronics and at 131 lbs it’s light enough to port around. You don't need to start it with a pull cord because it has a starter motor built in.

The Honda EU3000is Handi appears quite ordinary when you first look at it. In fact it’s lacking a few features that other generators have. For example, there’s no fuel gauge or USB ports, just two 120 volt power outlets, but it’s what’s inside that matters, and this generator comes with a Honda motor that runs much more quietly than its competitors. The high starting wattage of 3,000 watts means it’s less likely to cut out than other generators when plugged into something power hungry. There’s no electric starter, so you’ll need to pull a cord to get it going. It’s an inverter generator so will work fine with sensitive electronics, it’s just a shame it has such basic features.


4. Goal Zero Yeti 400: Best portable generator for home electronics

Goal Zero Yeti 400

(Image credit: Goal Zero)

With 3 USB ports and the ability to charge using solar power, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 is a great generator.

Specifications
Running watts: 400
Starting watts: 1200
Power type: Lithium battery
Power outlets: 7
Run time: 200 hours at 50%
Weight : 17 lb
Reasons to buy
+Solar charging capabilities+Great-looking design
Reasons to avoid
-Solar panels cost extra-Only 400 running watts

Not only does the Yeti 400 Lithium Solar Generator look great, but it’s full of surprises. First of all it has a lithium battery, which is much longer lasting than battery-powered generators that use a lead acid battery, it’s also a lot lighter; at just 17 lbs you can take this anywhere. 

The Yeti 400 Lithium boasts 3 USB ports and two 120 volt power outlets to give you plenty of options for charging and it’s completely silent in use. Being able to charge via solar power is a big plus, since that’s effectively free energy, however the solar panels are expensive, and you have to use Goal Zero ones. 

With 400 running watts you can’t run too many devices at once, but if you simply want to charge multiple home electronics then this is could be the best option for you. 


5. RYOBI 18V ONE+ Powersource: Best portable generator for connectivity

RYOBI 18V ONE+ Powersource

(Image credit: RYOBI )

This inverter connects to any ONE+ battery and offers one 120 volt outlet and 2 USB ports

Specifications
Running watts: 150
Starting watts: 250
Power type: 18 volt battery
Power outlets: 3
Run time: N/A
Weight : 1 lb
Reasons to buy
+Quiet+Very light
Reasons to avoid
-Very low wattage-Battery costs extra

The RYOBI 150-Watt Powered Inverter Generator for 18-Volt Battery is an inverter that connects to any ONE+ battery (which RYOBI also sell) so that you can plug devices into it directly using the 120 volt power outlet or two USB ports.

It’s a bit unfair to compare the RYOBI 150 inverter to a fully fledged generator that runs from gasoline or propane, since it has such a small output wattage, but if your needs are small it’s something to consider because it’s easy to throw into a car and costs a lot less money. This makes it perfect for camping or charging devices when you're out and about.


6. Champion Power 75531i: Best portable generator for camping

Champion Power 75531i

(Image credit: Champion Power)

If you need power on your trips to the great outdoors, the Champion Power 75531i is worth considering.

Specifications
Running watts: 2800W
Max starting watts: 3100W
Outlet type: 120V 30A
Power type: Gasoline
Fuel tank capacity: 1.6 gallons
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Enough power for smaller devices 
Reasons to avoid
-Limited outlets-Looking old

The Champion Power 75531i is a 1.6-gallon gasoline powered model that’s lightweight, portable and offers enough outlets to keep your devices charged throughout your trip. Its 171cc engine can generate up to 2,800 running watts, which is more than enough for basic items like small televisions, air compressors and even some power tools. It’s also great at keeping devices like smartphones and tablets charged.

You shouldn’t expect it to handle heavy-duty things like full-sized refrigerators or washers. For that you’ll want something a little heftier, like our top pick.


Can I use a portable generator in the rain?

If your portable generator gets wet, you risk destroying it or worse – hurting someone through electric shock or electrocution. Some portable generators have a GFCI outlet, which automatically shuts the device off if it gets wet. If you think you’ll be working in wet locations, we recommend purchasing a generator that has a GFCI outlet.

While it’s best to avoid using your machine during bad weather, sometimes it can't be helped. If you must use it on a rainy or snowy day, try to keep your generator dry by placing it on a dry, flat surface and covering it. Some companies even sell generator tents, like this Champion Storm Shield. Just make sure you get one that fits your generator. Many of these tent covers connect to your generator in such a way that they can resist strong winds up to 70 miles per hour, so they're good for all types of weather.

Which portable generator wattage is best?

When electronics start up they will use more power than they will while running, which is known as the surge wattage, or starting wattage, before then settling down to down to their running wattage. If the surge wattage is higher than the generator can handle, it will cut out. To calculate what you need, add together the running wattage of all the devices you want to use simultaneously, then add on the single highest starting wattage of all the devices. This will give you a wattage number to look for in a generator.