5 Best Portable & Stationary Generators – Complete Buying Guide [2020]

generators

Be aware when choosing among the best generators in the marketplace today.

The problem is a lot of them appear to have many great features but they simply do not perform as advertised. So how do you avoid getting taken on portable generators that can sometimes run you over a 1000 dollars?

Well, you can start right here because we have done some of the leg work for you. We will introduce you to some highly rated models. In addition to that, we will also tell you what to look for when looking for a new portable inverter generator.

Quick Comparison of the Top 5 Generators

Top-Rated Portable Generator Reviews

Here is what we feel are 5 great models that you can never go wrong buying:

Briggs & Stratton Q6500 | Portable Inverter Generator For Home

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Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 Inverter Generator - 6500 Starting Watts QuietPower Series Portable Generator for Home Backup
  • Quiet, portable inverter generator delivers 6,500 starting watts of reliable home backup power
  • QuietPower Series inverter technology and a noise-reducing shell give you power that's more than 60% quieter than a standard generator (66 dBA at 25% load)
  • Design is 45% more compact & 30% lighter (128 lbs) than a standard portable generator. Start Type: Recoil
  • Highly-efficient 306cc Briggs & Stratton integrated engine/alternator provides up to 14 hours of run time at 25% load
  • Power a wide variety of electronics & devices at the same time with (4) 120V-20A outlets, (2) USB outlets & (1) 120V-240V locking outlet. Use of RV adapter in the twist lock outlet provides 2500W of continuous power (120V / 20.8A)
If you want a good quality brand generator at the best price this is it. You can power a lot of devices with the 5000 running watts that this top-rated portable generator gives to you. That makes it great for backup home use, RV use and remote job site use.

This is a very quiet running model too due to its noise-reducing shell. It will run as long as 14 hours when its 5-gallon tank is full. With its large plug selection you can run a variety of devices. It features 4 – 120V outlets, 1 – 120V/240V twist lock plug and 2 – USB ports. It can even run the AC unit on your RV with no problems at all. Read Full Briggs & Stratton Q6500 Review

Duromax XP4850EH | Dual Fuel: Gas/Propane Portable Generator

DuroMax XP4850EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator - 4850 Watt Gas or Propane Powered-Electric Start- Camping & RV Ready, 50 State Approved
  • POWERFUL DUROMAX ENGINE: The XP4850EH is Powered by a DuroMax 7HP, 212cc OHV Engine.
  • DUAL FUEL TECHNOLOGY: The ability to run on Propane or Gasoline allows the Freedom and Flexibility of Fuel Choice.
  • PLENTY OF POWER: With 4,850 starting watts and 3,850 running watts, this unit can handle heavy loads from lights and a refrigerator to a home air conditioner and high amperage power tools.
  • MAXIMUM POWER: With DuroMax MX2 technology, get the maximum power from each of the 120 Volt receptacles. choose between operating the generator at both 120 V and 240 V simultaneously, or at 120 only with full power.
  • POWERING EVERYONE ANYWHERE: Like all DuroMax generators, the XP4850EH is EPA and CARB approved for use in all 50 states.
This is a really good  dual fuel portable generator. It can run off of regular gas or for an extended time on LP gas. This Duromax unit also has a nice   7hp air cooled engine. That will go a long way to help extend its useful engine life.

Despite its weight, it’s a fairly portable generator for home use too. That is because it has a tough tubular frame and rolls easily on its oversize wheels. It has a variety of built-in outlets to power items too. You can run USB powered devices, standard outlet ready devices or plug into an RV twist lock port. See Our Complete Duromax XP4850EH Review

Champion 100302 | Small Quiet Portable Generator For RV

Champion 4000-Watt RV Ready DH Series Open Frame Inverter with Quiet Technology
  • Advanced Open Frame Inverter Design - 50% quieter and 20% lighter than a traditional Champion 3500-watt generator, plus our Economy Mode feature saves fuel and extends engine life, No GFCI Outlets
  • Quiet Technology and Extended Run Time - 64 dBA is great for RVs, tailgating, your next project or home backup, with 4000 starting watts and 3500 running watts for up to 17 hours run time on gasoline
  • Clean electricity for sensitive electronics - RV Ready with a 120V 30A RV, plus two 120V 20A household outlets with clean power (less than 3% THD) and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter
  • Parallel Ready - Increase your power output by connecting up to two 2800-watt or higher inverter or digital hybrid with the optional Parallel Kit
  • Champion Support - Includes 3-year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support from dedicated experts. No Voltmeter. No Automatic Voltage Regulation
Here is a small portable generator that runs quieter than most. Just don’t mistake that for meaning it does not have a lot of power. It features a very good 3500 watts of steady running power. Its digital hybrid design not only makes it quieter than others but it’s lighter too.

This is a high quality generator that is 100% RV ready. It has outlets that work for standard plug items, USB devices and an RV twist lock plug. You can also increase the output capacity of this generator by using it in tandem with another Champion 100302 unit. Those who review this unit give it a very high rating. Enjoy Our Detailed Champion 100302 Review

Best Stationary Generators

Kohler 20RESCL-100LC1 | Standby Generator For Home Use

Kohler 20RESCL-100LC16 Air-Cooled Standby Generator with 100 Amp Transfer Switch Single Phase, 20,000-Watt
  • 20,000-watt air-cooled generator automatically starts up when the power goes out
  • Includes 100 amp 16-circuit automatic transfer switch
  • Fast response--power to your home in 10 seconds; premium power quality; quiet operation
  • 100% corrosion-proof enclosure offers protection from even the harshest seaside conditions
  • Measures 48 by 26.2 by 29 inches; 5-year/2000-hour limited warranty, Battery type needed - Group 51
Are you looking for a home backup generator for your large or medium-size house? Kohler Company is one of the best brands you can buy. It produces 20,000 watts of continuous running power. That is enough watts to run all of the important devices in your home after a power outage.

This standby generator also makes the transfer of power over to it very seamless. Included in the package is the transfer switch necessary to do this. Best of all is this unit can run on LP or natural gas. That means it will run a long time before you have to worry about it running out of fuel. Find Full Kohler 20RESCL-100LC1 Review here.

Generac 7043

Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator 22kW/19.5kW Air Cooled with Whole House 200 Amp Transfer Switch, Aluminum
  • True power technology delivers best-in class power quality (less than 5% thd) for Smooth operation of sensitive electronics and appliances
  • Includes a 200 amp NEMA 3 (indoor/ outdoor rated) whole house Smart transfer switch
  • Generac evolution controller features LED indicators for generator status, utility power presence or maintenance required
  • Tough, durable all-weather aluminum enclosure offers 3 removable sides for easy access for installation, service and maintenance
  • Battery not included. Generac Battery 7043 5819 Sold Separately.
In the realm of air-cooled home standby generators, the 22000W Generac 7043 towers above them all. A member of the Guardian series of generators, it boasts an MSRP that shames all air-cooled home standby generators, with the lowest cost per kilowatt. This unit powers entire homes. The marketing leading brand, with a reputation to maintain, does not fail to deliver on the features and functionalities that their clients have come to expect and is the total backup electricity solution for the entire home.

The Best Portable & Stationary Generators – Complete Buying Guide

The following is some very useful information when looking to purchase a new model.

What is a Portable Generator?

This refers to an electric generator model that meets certain requirements. A portable model can be described as one that needs nothing but fuel to work once its setup. The design of them allows the engine inside them to produce a steady flow of electric current as they are running.

A portable option also has several different power outlets built right into it. Do not be fooled by the term ‘portable’ here though. It does not always mean that a certain model is easy to take from place to place.

Whether it’s placed on a cart or on wheels a heavy portable option may still be a chore to move. What it does mean though is it’s a model that’s versatile. It also means it’s a unit that can be setup and work in little or no time at all.

Portable Generator Features

Here are some important features to focus on when shopping for a new one:

Power output

Power output on any model is expressed in watts. Doing the math is pretty simple here. The more watts a unit generates the more items it can power up.

Fuel type used

A good portable generator will usually run on one of three different types of fuel. They are gas, LP gas and natural gas. A unit that runs on LP gas will run longer than one that uses regular gas. Of course, natural gas supply is even better because it’s endless. A portable solar generator is hard to find but they are the cheapest to run and most green type of these devices.

Fuel capacity

This pertains only to LP gas and regular gas of course. It’s something you want to know for sure. That is because the bigger the tank capacity the longer a model can run without needing to be refilled.

Method of starting

If it’s raining or very cold out when you lose power hand cranking a generator will be no fun. That is why an electric ignition start is great to have. Large stationary options for your home will have an automatic starter and sense when you lose power and turn on.

Ready outlet types

Make sure you know what type of outlets your generator has built into it. That will let you know the extent of what you can run with it. Even a cheap generator will have a standard outlet, USB port and a DC plug. Be careful when buying a low cost model. It might not have the type of outlets you need.

Portability

As we just said not all portable models are really that portable. The ones that are truly portable will have some added features to help with that. They will typically be lighter, have oversized wheels and also have solid tubular frames built around them.

Generator Types & Styles

Here are some of the various types of generators described in more detail:

Portable generators

Just like the name says portable models are not meant to be used in just one place. That does not mean they are always easy to move. Oversize wheels and sturdy tubular frames help you move them easier.

Standby Generators

Standby options are large size units that stay in one place at a home or business. They come on automatically in the event of a power loss. Many are big enough to power large homes and workspaces.

RV Generators

RV generators are very similar to portable ones with one big exception. They have a special plug that RV’s use to hook into them.

By Fuel Type

Diesel Generator

Diesel options are the very large units you see outside of big buildings like grocery stores and hospitals. They run a long time on a tank of fuel and can power entire buildings.

Gas Generator

An affordable gas model is usually to the smaller side. These are best used when a small amount of power is only needed for a few hours. It’s the recommended type of generator when portability is a must.

Propane Generator

In comparison with gas models, propane fuel units run much longer. Customer reviews show these are starting to catch gas generators in popularity. They can be big or small size.

Electric Generator

Many people get a funny look on their face when they hear the words electric generator. It does not mean you have an electric powered generator to produce current. All generators can technically be called electric generators.

Solar Generators

Those people that like to choose green products are the ones that buy solar powered generators. When you look to purchase one of these be careful. They are not very budget friendly.

Inverter Generators or Conventional

More and more models that are being made are inverter type generators. That is because reviews by customers show they like their even current flow. A conventional generator’s energy flow fluctuates much more than those with an inverter.

By Size

The smallest generator models by far are those that run on gas. They are meant to be very portable and used for short periods of time.

Medium size options can be both portable and standby units. They can also be powered by different types of fuel. They have a wide variety of uses too.

Large size models are almost always home or business based standby units. They are so heavy they can’t be moved once in place. Most can run an entire home or work area.

Typical Uses of Generators

Here are some of the common reasons why you might want to buy such device:

Home backup power

One of the most frequent uses for these devices is simply as a backup home power source. These come in all shapes and sizes. Which one you choose depends on how many items you want to run at a time.

RV use

Portable models for RV use are usually rated under 4000 watts. They should also be easy to move because they do not stay in one place long.

Tailgating

Stereos, electric cookers and lights all need the power to run when you are tailgating. A good generator can be the life of the party.

Remote camps

Maybe you have a remote campsite or cabin that has no power. A generator will sure be nice to have here. It will enable you to have creature comforts even when far from home.

Medical equipment backup

Generators are a must-have piece of equipment if somebody has life-sustaining medical equipment that needs power at all times.

Jobsite power

One of the biggest uses of these devices is at work sites where no power has been hooked up yet.

Outdoor parties

Running extension cords all across your yard for a party is tedious and a tripping hazard. A few quiet models set up around your yard will help here.

Useful Generator Safety Tips

These devices can be dangerous to be around if they are not run with care. Here are a few important safety tips when using them:

  • Never pour gas into a hot generator. You also don’t want to change tanks on an LP gas generator when it’s still hot.
  • Do not try to move heavy models yourself. You can seriously hurt your back or injure a muscle. Better to call a friend to help just to be safe.
  • Never make electrical connections to a generator when it’s running. Make sure all cords are plugged in and connections made before starting it up.
  • Be extra careful when moving a hot generator. Still hot engines and exhaust ports can cause severe burns.
  • Never run any model unless it’s on very level ground. Generators placed on an angle may leak gas and become a fire hazard.

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Last update on 2020-12-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API