10 Best Portable Generators for Home Use in 2020

The Best Portable Generators for Home
Image by Don Nichols / Canva Photos

Do you know those TV ads about how buying a house makes you act like your parents, suddenly interested in things like the most durable garden hoses or the best portable generators? As a relatively new homeowner, I can personally attest that those commercials are 100% true.

Shortly after buying our house, I immediately started thinking — do we need a portable generator in case of an emergency? Or should we get the best solar-powered portable generator to cut fossil fuels? (Yes! — we should! And so should you!)

Although I’ve procrastinated actually buying a generator — some old habits die hard — I have been doing some research. Here’s what I found out about the best portable generator for home use.

Our Top Picks: Best Portable Generators for Home

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick rundown on what we liked about each generator in our ranking.

1. Westinghouse WGen5500 Portable Generator

The best portable generators for home use overall

Westinghouse WGen5500 Portable Generator

Manufacturer: Westinghouse | Peak Watts: 6,850 | Weight: 170 lbs | Capacity: 4 Gallons of Fuel | Run Time: 15 Hours | Price: 💰💰💰

In my research, the Westinghouse WGen500 scored the best in all essential features for a portable generator. Its power comes from a 420cc Westinghouse 4-Stroke OHV engine and offers 6,850 peak wattage. Run time is also impressive, at up to 15 hours on a 4-gallon fuel tank. I also liked the recoil start.

Since sustainability is important, the fact the product is EPA and CARB compliant really caught my attention. (CARB stands for California Air Resource Board, the governing body overseeing emissions in the state — don’t worry, I didn’t know that either).

Those who’ve used the product say it’s powerful enough to run air conditioning, a well pump, fans, and lights. Others report that it produces plenty of power and doesn’t bog down under high surge loads. But since I’m still learning, I especially liked how plug ‘n’ play the generator is, coming complete with oil, an oil funnel, a tool kit, and a user’s manual.

  • Handles surge at AC start-up
  • Includes convenient remote control
  • Converts easily to a floating neutral generator

  • Bit heavy
  • Middle-of-the-pack in terms of volume

2. Nature’s Generator 1800-Watt Solar Powered Portable Generator

The best eco-friendly portable generator for home use

Nature's Generator 1800-Watt Solar Powered Portable Generator

Manufacturer: Nature’s Generator | Peak Watts: 1,800 | Weight: 282 lbs | Capacity: 60 Ah/720 Wh SLA Battery | Run Time: Variable | Price: 💰💰💰

For ultimate sustainability, I looked into solar-powered portable generators. The 1800-watt solar-powered portable generator from Nature’s Generator came in first in the category. While it’s a little under-powered to run an entire house, it does serve up enough juice to get most jobs done, with a battery pack to store extra energy.

I also liked that the generator converts 12-Volt to standard home electronic voltage. The dual USB ports deliver up to 3 Amps or 15-Watt output.

Otherwise, the generator comes with Polycrystalline solar panels. Another cool feature is the 300-watt wind generator ports — wind generators sold separately. There’s also a central LCD panel, clearly displaying the system information, plus app access. A universal, heavy-duty cart also comes included.

Those who’ve tried the generator call it easy to assemble, with better-than-expected performance. Another trusted it to keep a home office running during recent California wildfires.

  • Easy-to-use app
  • Quiet while camping
  • Powered an old Gulf Stream

  • Not the most powerful generator
  • Not appropriate for emergency backup
  • Heavy, especially with power pod on top

3. Firman 10,000 Watt Remote Start Portable Generator

The best portable generators for home backup

Firman 10,000 Watt Remote Start Portable Generator

Manufacturer: Firman | Peak Watts: 10,000 | Weight: 230.5 lbs | Capacity: 8 Gallons of Fuel | Run Time: 12 Hours | Price: 💰💰💰

Emergency backup ranks high on the list of reasons most people buy a generator. In my research, the best portable generator for a home outage is the Firman 10,000-watt remote start portable generator. First off, it offers impressive power, at 10,000 peak watts, and 12 hours of run time on an eight-gallon fuel tank.

It also has a Max Pro Series 439cc FIRMAN engine, with a Phoenix FatHead block. The Whisper Series muffler keeps it quiet, running at only 74 decibels. I also learned the generator offers ample run time, courtesy of the integrated fuel gauge. That means less time spent refueling, which is important in an emergency scenario.

I also liked the wheel kit with heavy-duty, oversized free wheels for easy maneuverability, and the remote start. The remote works from a distance of up 168 ft. Those who’ve bought the unit say it runs like a champ, fires right up and runs smooth. It is a bit heavy, though. And again, everything you need comes included.

  • Towing handle
  • Easy to assemble
  • Great fuel efficiency; small size

  • A little loud
  • No gas drain
  • Can’t connect to a transfer switch

4. Westinghouse WGen3600v Portable Generator

The best cheap portable generator for home use

Westinghouse WGen3600v Portable Generator

Manufacturer: Westinghouse | Peak Watts: 4,650 | Weight: 90 lbs | Capacity: 4 Gallons of Fuel | Run Time: 13.5 Hours | Price: 💰💰

After we bought our house, we didn’t have a lot of extra money. If you’re like us, the best cheap portable generator for home use is the Westinghouse WGen3600v. The 3600v offers many of the same features WGen5500, with a bit less peak wattage at roughly half the price.

The WGen3600v boasts 13.5 hours of run time on average with a 4-gallon fuel tank. Depending on what needs power, some get up to 18 hours of run time with this unit! There’s also an L5-30R outlet and household duplex outlets, making it the right choice for RV’ers as well as those looking to power up their homes.

Fans of the generator report that it’s easy to start and a little quieter than comparable models. I liked the three-year limited service, labor and parts coverage.

  • Fires up on first pull
  • Amazing emission control
  • Controls, outlets, oil plug, and oil fill/dipstick clearly labeled

  • Sold without wheel kit
  • Needs to be run at least five minutes once a month
  • Remote leaves run/stop in on position, draining battery (to avoid, turn off by hand)

5. WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

The quietest portable generator for home use

WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Manufacturer: WEN | Peak Watts: 2,000 | Weight: 39 lbs | Capacity: 1 Gallon of Fuel | Run Time: 7 Hours | Price: 💰💰💰

To keep the peace with neighbors, I researched the quietest portable generator, and the WEN 56203i emerged as the clear leader. It offers pretty high peak wattage for its low weight and reasonable price. The run time is respectable even though it only has a 1-gallon fuel tank.

I also liked the inverter for safely charging devices like laptops and cellphones, as well as the fuel shut-off, limiting maintenance and helping the thing remain easy to start up. (In case you aren’t aware, inverter generators electronically throttle the engine up and down to meet demand and save juice).

Crucially, the generator runs at an extremely quiet 51 decibels at quarter load — less than a window air conditioner or even an average conversation, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Always sustainability-minded, another cool feature is the eco-mode switch, which means the engine automatically adjusts fuel consumption depending on what’s plugged into it.

I was also encouraged by reviews stating the unit handled a box fan easily, even in power-saving mode. Otherwise, it had no trouble running a full-size refrigerator at peak wattage.

  • Works well on a boat
  • Easy to use starter rope
  • USB ports for phone charging

  • Couldn’t handle a 1500 watt heater
  • Not meant to power a whole house
  • Faulted out running a 12″ radial-arm saw

6. Champion 7500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator with Electric Start

The best dual-fuel portable generator for home

Champion 7500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator with Electric Start

Manufacturer: Champion | Peak Watts: 9,375 | Weight: 202.5 lbs | Capacity: 6 Gallons of Fuel | Run Time: 8 Hours | Price: 💰💰💰💰

I was wondering about the benefits of a dual fuel generator (running on both regular gas and propane), and it turns out they run a lot more efficiently and require very little maintenance. The best dual fuel generator in this ranking is the 7500-watt dual fuel generator from Champion.

The generator runs on a 439cc Champion engine, with a 6-gallon fuel tank, and plenty of outlets, including protected household outlets. With an electric start, Champion’s product offers impressive peak wattage (peak wattage is a bit lower when running propane, however).

It’s also got an “Intelligauge,” which tracks voltage, hertz, and run-time while monitoring power output. I also liked the built-in Volt Guard surge protector to help prevent overloads. The generator is EPA certified and CARB compliant.

Although run time estimates between 5.5 and eight hours, one satisfied customer ran a 180-amp, 240-volt Harbor freight MIG welder for over 11 hours straight. The unit is pretty heavy, though.

  • Excellent documentation and easy to run
  • Easy to set up and crank on either fuel system
  • Runs an 8500w/6500w well pump and refrigerator

  • Loud
  • Frame a bit faulty
  • Missing a main circuit breaker

7. Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt 120-Volt Portable Inverter Generator

The best gas-powered portable generator for home use

Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt 120-Volt Portable Inverter Generator

Manufacturer: Honda | Peak Watts: 2,200 | Weight: 46 lbs | Capacity: 0.95 Gallons of Fuel | Run Time: 8.1 Hours | Price: 💰💰💰

If you’re looking for a tried-and-true, standard, no-frills gas-powered generator, then I recommend the Honda EU2200i. Best of all, it’s very reasonably priced, with a reliable Honda motor with a recoil start. And unbelievably, the whole thing runs for a little over eight hours on average with less than a 1-gallon fuel tank — that’s efficient!

It also has an inverter making it stable for laptops, cell phones, and other sensitive electronics. Don’t miss the automatic overload shutoff. It’s also easy to partner with the same wattage partner models for added power. The fuel efficiency comes primarily from the eco-throttle, monitoring wattage to maximize run time.

Finally, the unit is small and lightweight — perfect for small spaces. Those satisfied with the generator say it started on the second try right out of the box. It works well at the job site or to power a boat. Many others comment on the eco-throttle and low emissions.

  • Runs an ice eater
  • Great for camping
  • Works well with propane conversion kit — sold separately

  • Issues with a broken rear vent screen
  • Takes multiple pulls to start, for some
  • Lots of shipping damage issues reported

8. Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer Portable Generator

The best battery-powered portable generator for home use

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer

Manufacturer: Jackery | Peak Watts: 200 | Weight: 6.6 lbs | Capacity: 16.8Ah, 14.4V Lithium Ion Battery | Run Time: Variable | Price: 💰💰

For small jobs, battery-powered portable generators are a great option, and the Jackery Portable Generator sets itself apart in this category. Running on a 240 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, Jackery is also lightweight and portable. It’s perfect for camping trips, or as one satisfied customer described, charging up phones and other small appliances. Peaks wattage is 200 volts when fully charged.

Speaking of phones and other tech- there are 2 USB-A ports, 1 DC carport, and one AC outlet. For extra power, consider adding the Jackery Solar Saga, sold separately. Although not suitable for large appliances or for powering an entire home, customers report the generator handling a boom box, a shop light, some string lights and even a box fan. However, the fan ran at a slower speed than usual.

In other words, with Jackery, you’ll get reliability and power in a small affordable package!

  • Powerful battery pack
  • Solar panel compatibility
  • Those living #vanlife use it to power laptop and phone

  • Slow to full charge
  • Three-hour cutoff an issue those powering CPAP
  • Low draw USB devices cause AC output to turn off

9. Champion 3650-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator

The best RV-ready portable generator

Champion 3650-Watt RV Ready

Manufacturer: Champion | Peak Watts: 4,500 | Weight: 219 lbs | Capacity: 3.4 Gallons of Fuel | Run Time: 9 Hours | Price: 💰💰

Dreaming of #vanlife, or hitting the open road in an RV? Me too. While that goal is a ways off for us, I did come across the 3650-watt RV-ready portable generator from Champion. Running up to nine hours on a 3.4-gallon tank, the Champion offers 4500 peak wattage.

It’s also pretty quiet, hitting 68 dBA from a distance of 23 feet, so don’t worry, you won’t disturb others while RV camping. There’s an Intelligauge to monitor power usage and track maintenance. It’s optimized to start in cold weather conditions while you’re on the road, and it boasts a rugged steel frame.

What sealed the deal for me were reviews from users calling the Champion a lifesaver. Some use it to power AC in their trailer, while others found success using the Champion to power an air compressor.

  • Recommended for camping
  • Light enough for one person to move
  • Ran fridge, fan, and lights post-hurricane

  • Manual start only
  • Can’t be paralleled
  • Just a little bit noisy

10. Generac 2200 Watt Portable Generator

The best small-space portable generator for home

Generac 2200 Watt

Manufacturer: Generac | Peak Watts: 2,200 | Weight: 46.5 lbs | Capacity: 1.2 Gallons of Fuel | Run Time: 7 Hours | Price: 💰💰

And the last generator I discovered in my research is the 2200-watt portable generator from Generac. Hands-down this is the best small space generator in this ranking. The well-reviewed generator is less than 50 lbs, with a 1.2-gallon fuel tank, running for a respectable seven hours at half load.

There’s also TruePower Technology for those sensitive devices with a USB port. Start up and powering down are simple, too, with an integrated knob that handles the choke. I also liked the economy mode, reducing emissions while monitoring fuel usage. The generator is also easily paralleled.

Satisfied users call the generator reasonably priced and easy to move. One customer had success powering a three cubic-foot fridge in econo-mode. Many like the ability to charge phones through the USB port.

  • Recommended for camping
  • Light enough for one person to move
  • Quietest generator ever used, especially in economy mode

  • Oil-change panel challenging to remove
  • Louder than some other brands, but pretty quiet
  • Need to bleed the carburetor for long term storage

Our Process

For this guide on the best portable generators for home, our team spent 5 hours researching the most popular options from over 50 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about one hundred and fifty user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each generator. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 10 portable generators for home on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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