Do you enjoy camping but don’t want to trade in complete reliance on electricity?
Wherever you might find yourself if there isn’t an electrical outlet for miles your best bet is to invest in a portable generator.
Portable generators are perfect for everything from tailgate season to outdoor construction projects.
However, with so many generators on the market today, you may have no clue what the right generator for your personal needs is.
That’s why we’ve put together the 14 best portable generators for every budget.
Whether you’re new to the world of portable generators or you have some basic experience with the equipment, there are a handful of specifics you’ll need to keep in mind when shopping around for the right portable generator.
With so many options out there it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but that’s why we want to give you the features to consider and what to look out for.
Prices can vary drastically when it comes to portable generators. Typically the price point will affect the amount of energy the generator produces and the length of time it will last (although this isn’t 100% the case, just a general guideline).
You can pick up a portable generator for under $200, or you can spend well over $1,500 on one. With such a wide price spectrum unless you know what to look for and what will satisfy your needs you may not have a clue what to go with. You don’t want to buy an inexpensive generator only to find it doesn’t power the equipment you want to run, and at the same time, you don’t want to overpay for a generator that offers more power than you’ll ever need.
So as you go over the other points of importance make sure to keep in mind the price and what you can afford.
2. Energy Source
Every generator has an energy source. Many generators will use regular gasoline (the same gasoline you purchase at a fuel pump). However, others might run off of diesel, while a handful will use propane. Diesel fuel costs more than regular gasoline, yet it often burns longer and gives you more energy per gallon. Of course, if you’ve been around diesel engines before you know it creates a unique odor. It also requires additional maintenance to keep it running.
Whatever you end up going with, it’s important to keep in mind how the generator creates the energy.
3. Power Production
The amount of power a portable generator produces (and the length of time it can output the electrical current) is important. You may want a portable generator to work with an electric grill or television at a tailgate. Or you may want it to power large lighting rigs and construction equipment. The amount of power the generator creates is critical.
You should have a basic idea as to what you want to use the generator will. Do you want to use it to power some basic handheld electronics, or do you want it for a specific job? Keep all of this in mind when you’re looking for the right generator.
Lastly, keep in mind the size and the weight. If it’s just you and you want a portable generator, you may want to go with something smaller that you can carry on its own. However, if you’re working with a team and have the vehicle capable of moving it, something larger may be just right. After all, you probably don’t want to buy a 75-pound generator pre-fill-up and not have the ability to move it (or the vehicle to secure it in).
There are some great portable generators out there. It really comes down to what you need the generator for and how much you’re interested in spending. There are excellent electric generators that are perfect for keeping in the trunk of your car or in the crawlspace for storm season. Many of these even come with solar panel options, making the generators perfect for when your outside and want to charge camera gear.
However, we understand that many of you want portable generators that will work for tailgates and more extensive camping needs. That is why we have selected the Westinghouse iGen 2000 Inverter Generator as the Editor’s Pick.
This generator has a solid gas tank with minimal weight (and yet it still feels sturdy). It is also extremely quiet, so you can enjoy your tailgate conversations without yelling over a loud generator. It even has an air filter so you aren’t smelling burning fuel.
A few highlights of the Westinghouse iGen 2000 Inverter Generator include:
For such a small size, the Mpow 222Wh is a workhorse that will help you keep a number of small electronics going.
It’s also simple to use, so you won’t be pulling any ripcords to turn on the generator. Instead, there is a simple Power button on the top. It even looks like an old boombox you may have owned in previous years.
On the side, you’ll find a flashlight and DC input, plus a fan. On the rear, there is a USB port and USB C type connection for charging your electronics.
You’ll even find a single AC output.
Probably the best feature with this portable charger is you can load it up with energy by connecting it to a wall outlet. That means no buying gasoline. You can even charge it by connecting it to your car’s 12V socket, although if your car battery is starting to wear down this isn’t generally recommended (especially on cars with smaller batteries).
At just 5 pounds, this is a great device to have on hand during a storm, especially during tornado or hurricane season. It’s not something you’d take with you for camping or when you need to power larger devices, but it is perfect for emergency settings.
Some of the features to consider about the Mpow 222Wh include:
When it comes to power while you’re outside, the Pulsar 1,200W Portable Gas-Powered Generator is a solid introduction to the world of generators. It features a 1.1-gallon fuel tank that will provide up to five hours of continuous operation (at half load).
The Pulsar 1,200W Portable Gas-Powered Generator comes with two 120V outlets and 1 12V DC output. This makes the generator good when you want some electricity during a cookout but don’t need anything massive drawing power.
Uses a 2.2 HP 2 Stroke Engine.
When you want an electrical generator that gives you additional power options, the Jackery Portable Power Station Generator Explorer 240 may just be the right generator for you.
This is more than just a generator to keep in your car. It uses a rechargeable lithium power pack that has enough energy to last while you’re camping.
You can charge smartphones 18 times before the pack runs dry. This is great if you want some basic electrical devices running while you’re camping, or if you live in an area that is often hit by storms for extended periods of time.
The Jackery Portable Power Station Generator Explorer 240 recharges through a single power outlet. It even has a solar panel (purchased separately) that lets you charge up the generator after 10 hours of full sun. This makes it a reusable generator when outside camping (and why it’s such a great device to travel with).
The Aeiusny Generator Portable Power UPS is a fan favorite and the #1 top seller on Amazon. This is because the device is easy to use, portable, and runs off of an electrical charge.
The Aeiusny Generator Portable Power UPS also comes with a backup solar panel for charging, plus you can connect it to a car outlet for charging as well.
The Aeiusny Generator Portable Power UPS features three AC outlets, four DC ports, and four USB ports. This way, you can connect just about all of your small electronics to the device.
In total the Aeiusny Generator Portable Power UPS tips the scale at just over 7 pounds, making it an incredibly portable generator that is great for camping or for keeping on hand for possible emergencies.
There is also a built-in light on one end. While it’s still better to use a flashlight for mobility, when you need some extra light to see what you’re doing around the generator, this is a helpful feature.
The Pulsar 2,000W offers an easy to carry design while moving away from the electrical charge and into the world of gas powered.
In order to increase power output, you need to purchase a gas powered generator. An electrical charge generator is great for small devices and emergency settings, but if you need to power larger devices (or for longer periods of time) you’ll almost need to go the way of gas powered.
The Pulsar 2,000W is an especially quiet generator for a gas-powered option. It offers a 1.18 fuel tank and, while it is designed to be carried thanks to the handle (it looks and feels like a laundry detergent container) it does weigh 47 pounds. So while it’s portable, you may not be able to carry it for long distances depending on your physical strength level.
In terms of gas generators, you’ll be hard pressed to find something quieter. In fact, it produces just 59 dB, which means it’s nearly impossible to hear just 10 feet away. If you run a small tailgate or have an outdoor cookout away from any power outlets this is a fantastic investment.
The Pulsar 2,000W comes with 2 AC 120V outlets, plus 1 12V DC outlet and 1 5V DC USB outlet.
In all, it is a very compact design, so you won’t have a bulky device you struggle to move about.
The WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator is just a few dollars more than the Pulsar, and it produces the same 2,000 watts of power, so you’ll be directly comparing these two options.
It is especially quiet. In fact, it runs at just 51 dB, making it quieter than a window air conditioner.
The WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator also comes with a more rugged design and offers 2 120V outlets, 1 12V DC outlet, and 1 5V USB port.
The generator does come with a 1-gallon fuel tank, which gives it a half-load runtime of around six hours, which is suitable, although it isn’t all that different from other options that are less expensive (you’re paying for how quiet and durable this generator is).
The generator is also much lighter than some of the other options at just 48 pounds.
If you’re an avid tailgater and have been on the lookout for a portable generator that packs a punch and is quiet, the Westinghouse iGen 2000 Inverter Generator is a great option.
The Westinghouse iGen 2000 Inverter Generator is just 46 pounds, making it one of the lighter portable generators in its class.
It also has a 1.2-gallon gas tank, which is slightly larger than other options in the class, which helps increase runtime. In fact, you’ll squeeze out a 12-hour runtime, which is perfect for most tailgates and other camping activities.
With the Westinghouse iGen 2000 Inverter Generator, you have two 120V outlets and two USB outlets. It doesn’t have any 12V outlets, which is a bit of a downside, but if your car is around you can use the 12V from the car, so this outlet is often not necessary.
Creates just 52 dB of sound, making it one of the quietest gas generators on the market.
There are easy to ready controls on one side of the generator, including lights for low oil, overload, and output ready. You can also change the efficiency mode, plus you have control of a 20A circuit breaker, and overload reset.
For generators like this, we do recommend investing in a funnel so you can easily pour in the gallon of fuel without spilling.
If you’ve been around generators that smell like burning fuel you’ll appreciate the Westinghouse iGen 2000 Inverter Generator. It has a built-in air filter, which removes the fumes and allows you to enjoy the smells of your tailgate instead of a gas generator.
The Generac 6866 iQ2000 Super Quiet is a great, compact design that is great for light camping and when you want something that is easily portable.
The generator does use a 1.06-gallon gas tank that can run 5.7 hours at 50 percent load. If you cut it to 25 percent load it will last 7.7 hours.
There are easy to read controls on the side of the generator and it weighs in at around 46 pounds, making it one of the lighter options in the category.
Power connections are a bit limited on the Generac 6866 iQ2000 Super Quiet though, as it has just two 120V outlets (no USB connections or 12V DC connectors).
If you want a light generator that uses just the standard 120V options than this may be a good fit for your needs.
At this price point and size range you’re going to start seeing relatively heavy generators, although most do come with wheels, allowing you to roll the generators like a heavy suitcase (although you should check the owner’s manual of the generators as rolling some with a full fuel tank may cause the engine to flood and burn black upon initial startup).
Of the different generators we’ve covered, this has one of the best start features (especially for the size). Using a remote start, you can kick on the generator at up to 80 feet (the remote clips onto your keychain just like your car fab).
The Champion 3100-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator comes with a 120V 30A RV connection, two 120V household outlets, a 12V DC outlet, and two USB ports, giving you more connectors than anything else we’ve covered so far.
The Champion 3100-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator does have an eight hour run time at 25 percent load and comes with a three-year limited warranty and free lifetime technical support.
Features a large 1.6-gallon fuel tank and produces just 58 dB of sound at 23 feet.
The Champion 3100-Watt RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator does weigh nearly 95 pounds, so the wheels are a great feature, although this does limit your ability to take the generator will you away from a smooth surface ground).
If you’re looking for a portable generator that has a fun look to it, gives you a number of power options and yet is still as quiet as possible, the Yamaha EF2000iSV2 is the way to go.
The Yamaha EF2000iSV2 runs at just 51.5 dB, making it probably the quietest generator you’ll find with this kind of power (at full power the noise is 61 dB).
It also uses an easy to use, yet elegant dial on the front to control energy output. It looks more like a classic radio than a generator.
The generator only weighs in at 45 pounds, so it is easier to carry and yet still packs a punch. It also has a 10.5-hour runtime at 25 percent load.
The Yamaha EF2000iSV2 has two 120V AC outlets, one DC outlet. It also has a 1.1-gallon fuel tank. Which for its size and weight is surprising it would be this large.
So if you’re looking for a generator that has a number of connection options and yet looks more retro cool than like a standard generator, you can’t go wrong with this option.
The Honda EU2200i takes quiet to the next level, as it produces just 48 dB at 25 percent load. The runtime on the device will span between four hours and 9.6 hours, depending on running at full or at 25 percent load time.
The Honda EU2200i weighs just 47 pounds and is an exceptional generator option. You can also parallel it with a second generator if you’d like.
The generator comes with a single DC 12V outlet and two USB ports. You’ll also find two AC 120V outlets as well.
The easy to carry handle and red design gives it the look of a gas tank, but at its size, it is the perfect RV companion.
When you want to really up your power production, the Briggs & Stratton 30663 is a 7,000 Watt generator. This isn’t the kind of generator you take with you for camping. It’s what you use for work. In fact, it is designed to produce 25 percent more surge wattage.
The 420cc engine is larger than some mopeds out there and with a 7.5-gallon metal fuel tank, you can run the generator for nine hours continuous at 50 percent load.
So if you want a portable generator that can move about the work site, this is a great option. It also has two durable wheels with rubber tread so you can pull it over bumpier terrain.
However, you should keep in mind the Briggs & Stratton 30663 is not up to California fuel standards, so it cannot be shipped if you live in the state of California.
The gas-powered generator does weigh 221 pounds, so it’s not light. It’s on the very end of the “portable” scale, but when you want power with the ability to move it, this is a powerhouse to consider.
When you want a powerful generator that is still portable, the Westinghouse iGen4500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator is a great purchase.
It features a number of easy to read LED displays, including remaining run-time, power output, fuel level, voltage and lifetime run hours.
It has two 120V AC outlets, a 120V AC 30A outlet, which is a must when you want to connect an RV, two 5V USB connections, plus a number of control features to give you optimal control over your generator.
Despite the size, the Westinghouse iGen4500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator runs at just 52 dB and has an 18 hour run time with its 3.4-gallon gas tank. Of note, you can also purchase it in the state of California, which is great when you want a powerful generator and live on the West Coast.
The generator does weigh in at 98 pounds, but the handle and wheels make it easier to travel with.
When you want power and yet the ability to travel, the Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 Inverter Generator is top of the line.
It runs at 66 dB, which for the size is as quiet as you’re going to get. It also weighs at just 128 pounds, which is light for the size, yet extremely durable.
You’ll have access to four 120V outlets, 2 USB outlets, plus 1 120V-240V locking outlet.
It is important to note the Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 Inverter Generator cannot be shipped to California.
You really can’t go wrong with any of these generators. Whether you want something that’s perfect for emergencies or you can take with you on outdoor hiking trips all the way to extremely powerful generators designed for epic tailgates, there’s something for you.
We went with the Westinghouse iGen 2000 Inverter Generator because of how compact and yet powerful it is, all while remaining as quiet as you’ll find in a generator of the size. If you need larger generators for backup power purposes there are larger, less portable options out there. But when you’re on the go, the Westinghouse iGen 2000 Inverter Generator is a fantastic purchase.
Did any of these portable generators catch your eye? What did you like about them? And what do you want to see in your own portable generator?
Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear your perspective.