If the situation is dire enough that you’ve found yourself reaching for your portable generator, it had better work. Usually thought of as an emergency kit essential, having a portable generator prepares you for natural disasters, electrical outages, and other types of emergencies. Let’s face it: after binge-watching so many seasons of The Walking Dead, we’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.
When looking for a portable generator, you want to choose one that is resistant to the elements, can last for hours, and most importantly is reliable. Like car and home insurance, hopefully, you’ll never need to use your portable generator, but it will definitely make you feel better to know it’s there just in case.
There are several types of portable generators, including standby generators, inverters, portable, and electric (check out our top picks in each category here). When using a portable generator, safety is a key and having more than one generator may be worth the investment. Portable power generators are typically charged using wall outlets and can safely run indoors in enclosed spaces. If you need a larger, gas or propane-powered inverter generator, these should only be run outdoors with at least 20 feet of clearance from a home or building to ensure carbon monoxide poisoning does not occur.
1. Jackery Portable Power Station Generator Explorer
The Jackery Portable Power Station Generator Explorer is ideal for taking outdoors to help charge small electronics. The generator can be charged through an AC outlet, a car port, or through its solar panel (kit sold separately). Our team loves that the generator is light and noiseless with zero emissions, making it safe to use in nature and around small kids. The Jackery Portable Power Station Generator Explorer is great for avid campers or anyone looking for a portable generator to keep on hand in case of an emergency. Thanks to its built-in handle, it’s comfortable to carry around a campsite and has a small footprint that makes it easy to store when not in use.
2. WEN Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
When you need an external power source but don’t want to broadcast that fact to your neighbors, there’s the WEN Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator. The four-stroke engine on the WEN has one of the quietest motors available, making it a great option for the first camping trip with baby or for anyone who wants to charge their sensitive electronics during a power outage without the added headache of a rumbling generator. The lightweight WEN, which weighs only 39 pounds, produces 2000 surge watts and 1700 rated watts of clean power. Any remaining fuel in the carburetor is used before the WEN’s auto shutoff goes into effect, helping to prolong the life of the generator. The WEN has two 120 Volt receptacles, one 12DC receptacle, and two USB ports. WEN also sells the same model in a 2350-Watt model and offers a parallel connection kit for customers who want to double their power source.
3. Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator with Remote Electric Start
LONG RUN TIME
If you need a generator that can run for hours uninterrupted, the Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator with Remote Electric Start is a great option. Westinghouse has included several user-friendly features, including a remote start using a key fob and a CARB-compliant output that makes it safe to use in any state in the US. The Westinghouse boasts an impressive 7500 running watts and 9500 peak watts output and has a 6.6-gallon fuel tank that can power the generator for up to 11 hours. Westinghouse has included all the tools necessary to run the generator, including a battery charger, oil and funnel, and a tool kit. A 120/240 Volt twist-lock outlet makes it possible for users to use a transfer switch to attach the Westinghouse to their main power source and use it as a backup generator for the house during a power outage.
4. FlashFish 40800mAh Solar Generator
If your home isn’t large enough for one of the bigger generators on our list or you want something lightweight and compact that can be stored in your car or easily carried during camping trips, the FlashFish 40800mAh Solar Generator is a small but mighty option. With a built-in handle and overall weight of around four pounds, the FlashFish is the most portable option on our list. A great option for powering small electronics, including CPAP machines, the FlashFish comes with a 110 AC output (200W), two DC outputs, two QC 3.0 quick charge USB ports, and one additional USB port. A large LCD screen on the electric generator lets users know how much power they have remaining. The lithium battery pack can be quickly charged by an AC wall adapter, car charger, or a solar panel (customers would have to buy this separately). The FlashFish is designed with safety in mind and has short-circuit, over-current, over-charging, low-voltage and overheat protection.
5. DEWALT 8,000-Watt Gasoline Powered Electric Start Portable Generator
BEST FOR LARGE JOBS
From powering tools at a construction site to supplying much-needed electricity to large appliances during a power outage, the DEWALT 8,000-Watt Gasoline Powered Electric Start Portable Generator is built tough to last for extended periods. A battery is included with the generator to power an electric start and an idle control means users can conserve fuel and decrease noise pollution when possible. A smart runtime meter means users will always know how much power they have left. The generator is built to withstand treacherous environments, from muddy and uneven construction sites to areas that have been hit by a natural disaster. DeWalt designed the generator with a hardened steel tube cradle, covered outlets, and durable, never-flat wheels that make it easier to move the 200-pound unit. We also like that the generator has an auto-shutoff that will take effect if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are detected.
6. CRAFTSMAN 2200-Watt Inverter Gasoline Portable Generator
BEST FOR SENSITIVE ELECTRONICS
The Craftsman 2200-Watt Inverter Gasoline Portable Generator has several impressive features going for it. The portable generator (it weighs 46.6 pounds) is safe for sensitive electronics, like LCD screens, smart TVs, and laptops. A great option for use outdoors, the super quiet generator can hold 1.2 gallons of fuel and features an auto-shutoff to help protect the generator when the fuel tank is emptied. The Craftsman has a user-friendly design that includes a start dial that allows users to turn the generator on and off or select ‘choke’ with the simple twist of a knob. For customers that need a little more power, the Craftsman can be connected to a second converter with the use of a parallel kit. It’s also CARB compliant and can be used by customers in California.