With a portable generator, you will never again worry about keeping your family safe and comfortable during an emergency when the power goes out. These machines help you keep foods cold in your refrigerator and make dishes for your family as well as charge the devices that you use daily. As the generators are portable, you can move one to any room in your home where you need power and even take that power outside or with you.
The CAT RP12000E 12000 Running (Check Price on Amazon.com) is the best portable model because it produces up to 15,000 watts when it first starts and can provide a constant 12,000 watts as it runs, which is enough for multiple major appliances. It has a total of nine outlets across the front and sides that let you plug in items that need between 20 and 50 amps.
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55 MODELS CONSIDERED
Top Portable Generators Comparison Chart
10 Best Portable Generator Reviews (2020)
1. CAT RP12000E 12000 Running
The top choice for those looking for a portable motor is this CAT RP12000E 12000 Running Watts/15000 Starting Watts Gas Powered Portable, which comes from the same company known for making quality construction equipment.
It kicks on with 15,000 watts and lets you power all major appliances and devices. As it runs, it will gradually cut back to producing 12,000 watts of power, which keeps the engine from overheating.
Depending on the number of outlets that you need to use and the wattage needed, this generator can run for a little over 11 hours before you need to add more fuel. CAT guarantees that it will last 11.2 hours on a single tank when you use just half the available outlets.
The front and sides of the machine actually feature nine outlets that you can use with cell phone and other electronics chargers and with major appliances. Those outlets can accommodate devices that need 20, 30 or even 50 amps.
2. Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500
One of the top choices for those concerned with powering smaller devices during an emergency is this Briggs & Stratton Q6500 Inverter Generator – 6500 Starting Watts QuietPower Series Portable for Home Backup. As a QuietPower model, it runs as quietly as any small appliance and lets you focus on taking care of your home and family.
It has a 6,500 watt rating when first turned on, which lets you power several smaller appliances.
Many will like the ample outlets located on this machine. It has a locking outlet that can accommodate a 240 volt device, and because it locks, you can keep your kids and pets from accidentally unplugging that item. There are four more standard outlets that can accommodate 120 to 240 volt appliances and two outlets that let you plug in devices via USB cords.
It has an exterior shell that absorbs some of the sounds produced and a telescoping handle. That handle works with the rugged wheels to help you move the generator anywhere you need it to go.
3. DuroMax XP12000EH
This DuroMax XP12000EH Dual Fuel Portable goes by the nickname of the Beast because it’s one of the strongest, most efficient and powerful portable machines on the market. As a duel fuel motor, you can use a fuel supply made from either propane or gasoline. When used with propane, you can hook up the same tank that you use with your grill.
You can get up to 20 hours of power from this machine when you use a standard propane tank and use 50% of the available outlets, and you’ll extend its run time when you use fewer devices. A single tank of gasoline will power the motor for up to 10 hours.
When it detects that the oil runs low, it will shut itself down to preserve the engine. It comes with a durable metal frame that features isolated motor mounts and a muffler that runs more smoothly to make the entire motor run quietly.
4. Westinghouse WGen7500
This Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable with Remote Electric Start ranks among the easiest machines to use because it comes with a convenient key fob. This fob works in the same way your own car key does to help you remotely start the motor to provide your family with power quickly.
While it doesn’t work well at higher altitudes, it produces 7,500 watts in most areas and has a starting wattage of 9,500.
A push button electric start turns on the motor as quickly as the key fob does, and a main breaker switch lets you turn the power on and off. Four 120 volt, 20 amp outlets on the front of the generator and a larger 240 volt, 30 amp outlet each have a rubber cover. These covers block out moisture and keep others from unplugging cords.
It has a tank that holds up to 6.6 gallons of gasoline and a fuel gauge that shows you when the tank runs low. At a 50% load rating, it will run for 10 hours on a full tank.
5. Champion Power Equipment 73536i
When you need more power but still want a portable generator, consider the Champion Power Equipment 73536i 2000 Watt Stackable Portable Inverter. It has a stacking design that features a small cage designed to protect the motor, but this design lets you stack two or more generators on top of each other to get the maximum power that you need.
Simple switches and a knob on the front let you change the amount of fuel used and turn it off and on.
The clean power provided keeps sensitive electronics like your smartphone safe and this applies to the 12 volt DC outlet as well as the two standard outlets that work with basic appliances. Even when you use the full 1,700 watts that the motor can provide, it can run for over nine hours. It comes with a three-year warranty and extra support from the manufacturer too.
6. Champion Power Equipment 76533
The Champion Power Equipment 76533 3800 Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Generator with Electric Start comes with a battery that powers the electric start, which makes turning the generator on as easy as pushing a button. With a starting wattage rating of 4,750 and 3,800 running watts, it can power some of the basic appliances that you need as well as power convenience electronics too.
Four outlets on the generator can work with any 120 volt device and have built-in protection against power surges.
Compatible with both propane and gas, it works with a standard propane tank just like the one you use with your BBQ grill. It can hold 3.4 gallons of gasoline in its tank and run for 9.5 hours. If you use a 20-pound propane tank, it can provide up to 10.5 hours of power, depending on the appliances you use.
7. WEN 56475
A simple counter on this WEN 56475 4750 Watts, Gas Powered Portable Electric Start Generator shows you the number of hours you used it to show you when you need to change the oil and do other types of maintenance. Though it only comes with four outlets, each one has a grounded design, and two of those outlets can accommodate larger devices.
A reset button protects the machines and any devices plugged in during a power surge.
Certified to meet safety standards, it also meets the emissions and other types of standards used in all 50 states. The 223cc motor has a starting wattage of more than 2,000 to keep the motor safe and to prevent surging before dropping down to 3,750 as it runs.
Its push button electric start makes it easy to flip on the generator in any emergency situation without turning a key.
8. Westinghouse WGen3600v
Though this Westinghouse WGen3600v Portable only has three outlets, each one has a durable rubber cover that keeps moisture out. Those covers add an extra layer of protection to keep devices securely plugged into the outlets.
The front also has buttons for switching between 20 amp and 30 amp hook ups and a power switch that works with a recoil start to instantly turn on the motor without damaging the outlets or any electronics used with those outlets.
Westinghouse designed this as a plug and play generator that you can plug your devices into, add some fuel and use right away. It comes with everything needed to use it, including an oil funnel, oil and a shut down feature that turns the generator off when there isn’t enough oil inside. This WGen model comes with a tank that holds four gallons of gas and can run for 12 hours on that tank.
9. DuroStar DS4000S
An open steel frame surrounding this DuroStar DS4000S, 3300 Running Watts/4000 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable protects it from all types of damage and keeps it safe as heavy objects fall on it. This frame also serves as handles for moving the machine, but it lacks the wheels found on other portable models.
Though it has a manual start rather than an electric start, it monitors the amount of oil inside and shuts the motor off to keep it from seizing when that level drops too low.
A gas tank inside the motor holds four gallons, which gives you up to eight hours of power, though the total amount of power you get depends on how you use it. The generator also features three outlets. One is a 30-amp outlet that you can twist to lock, and the other two are 20-amp outlets that can accommodate 120 volt devices.
10. Pulsar PG1202s
When you need to power a few smaller devices and aren’t too worried about your home appliances, the Pulsar PG1202s 1200W Peak 900W Rated Portable Gas-Powered might be a good choice for you. This has a maximum rated output of 900 watts and a starting rating of 1,200 watts.
While it can run your stove or refrigerator, it can provide power to your microwave, phone, computer and lights.
It has a manual start that lets you turn it on in the same way you would your lawnmower via a cord that pulls out from the side. This cord has an ergonomic handle that helps you keep a grip as you pull. Its recoil start cuts back on the snapping feeling that you would otherwise feel.
An air-cooled, two-stroke motor uses a fan to reduce the temperature inside and to keep the motor from overheating. When you use this on a half load setting, the generator will run for 8.5 hours.
Our Top Choice
After weighing factors like cost, ease of use and number of outlets, it quickly became clear that the CAT RP12000E 12000 Running Watts/15000 Starting Watts Gas Powered Portable is the best portable model. A rugged metal cage acts like a case and surrounds the generator to keep it safe from falling debris during a hurricane or another type of storm, and large wheels on the base help you move the machine around your home or lawn with ease because those wheels can roll across any type of terrain.
Its low harmonic distortion design provides a set amount of energy that won’t overload any device.When you turn on the motor, it produces up to 15,000 watts and can help you get all your appliances and devices running again. While this number drops the longer you use it, it can continue producing 12,000 watts of power as long as it has fuel. CAT guarantees that the generator will run for more than 11 hours on a single tank of fuel when you use just half the outlets.
CAT added nine outlets to this machine oo. Each of those outlets has a convenient location on the front or side that you can easily reach. You can use those outlets with devices that need 20, 30 or 50 amps.
How to Choose the Perfect One
Are you confused about the different types of generators? Ask yourself a few simple questions to determine the best type of portable generator for you.
1. How Much Power Does Your Home Need?
Those who buy portable machines often want one that can power appliances in their homes during an emergency situation, but even they still need to look at how much power they need. While a standby model, which is a type of permanent model, can operate multiple circuits and produce 20,000 watts of power, portable models produce less power. Most produce between 5,000 and 7,000 watts.
A good way to determine the size that you need is with a look at your home. Make a list of all the things you’ll need during an emergency, including lights, cell phones and appliances like your fridge and stove. You can then add up the number of watts each one needs.
2. What Fuel Source is Best?
Portable generators use either propane or natural gas. You’ll need to source the fuel necessary to run it and keep enough on hand to last until the power comes back on. Though some models use gasoline, you’ll need to use a special additive in that gas to make it work with the machine.
3. Do You Need an Electric Start?
An electric start makes it easier for you to turn on and use a generator. You can push a button on the front to start the motor instead of pulling on a cord to start the motor.
As you look at our list of the top portable models, you’ll want to keep an eye out for those that come with an included battery. Some companies make you purchase the battery that works with the electric start separately.
4. Should You Invest in a Manual Transfer Switch?
Standby generators usually come with an automatic transfer switch that you use to connect one to your circuit breaker. This automatically turns on the power to specific circuits. With a portable generator, you can purchase a manual transfer switch separately.
A manual transfer switch lets you hardwire or more permanently attach it to your home’s system. It provides instant power to any appliances operating on that circuit breaker. If you have a power failure, you can turn on the motor to provide power to appliances and other devices without running extension cords around your house.