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Best Budget: Champion 1200-Watt Portable Generator
For light-duty or occasional use, a budget portable generator makes the most sense. The Champion 1,200-Watt Portable Generator isn’t as powerful as larger generators on the market, but it’s well-suited for its purpose and is affordable. This small generator runs on gasoline and features a 120V 20A outlet, a voltmeter to monitor power output, and a low-oil shutoff sensor. It can put out about 1,500 starting watts and up to 1,200 running watts to keep a limited number of appliances running. With a full tank of gasoline, you can expect this budget compressor to give you up ten hours of power.
Customers find the noise to be as expected, with a manufacturer’s rating of 65 dBA from 23 feet. This generator's compact size means that it's easy to take camping or out to a job site. At about 60 pounds, it’s possible for one person to carry—though it’s even easier for two people to pick up using the built-in handles.
Best for Home: Ryobi 6,500-Watt Portable Generator
If you’re looking for the best portable generator for your home, the Ryobi 6,500-watt Portable Generator checks all the boxes. If you want to keep your fridge running and your lights operational, this model has plenty of power—along with useful safety features that will give you peace of mind.
To run large household appliances, you’ll want a generator with 3,000 to 6,500 watts of power, depending on the size and number of appliances you’re planning to operate. This best-selling model from Ryobi cranks out up to 8,125 starting watts and 6,500 running watts for operating everything from fridges and freezers to sump pumps and hot water heaters. You can also rely it on for powering smaller appliances like televisions and supplying power to your recharge your electronics. The unit has two 120V 20A outlets plus a single 120/240V 30A outlet.
With a full tank, this unit will operate for up to ten hours (depending on wattage use). It includes an EasyStart system to make a cold start a snap and also features sturdy wheels with a handle frame that make maneuvering this generator into place much easier.
Best for RV Camping: Sportsman 3,500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator
Go off-grid without losing power with this portable generator, designed for RV camping (or glamping). This capable camping companion runs on either gasoline or propane and offers up to ten hours of run time before refueling.
This model of Sportsman generator is equipped with 4,000 starting watts and 3,500 running watts. Tap into the power using the four 120V outlets, the single 120V 30A RV-ready outlet, or the 12V DC outlet. RV enthusiasts and campers appreciate that this portable generator can run on propane and find it to be suitable for many applications. However, a few people noted that it is noisier than some other more expensive portable generators, so this model might be better for solo wilderness adventures than in an RV park.
Best Inverter: Ryobi Bluetooth Inverter Generator
Inverter portable generators are popular for their quiet operation and compact size. One of the best portable generators of this type is the Ryobi Bluetooth Inverter Generator. With 2,300 starting watts and 1,800 running watts, you can use this inverter generator for tailgating, camping, on a job site, or around the home.
This model has a Bluetooth feature that enables you to monitor the status of the generator right from your smartphone. You can even shut the generator off remotely using the app. In addition, this small portable generator includes safety features like a low oil shutoff and carbon monoxide shutdown.
While this portable inverter generator offers more limited power compared to larger models, you can power a single major appliance (like your fridge or microwave) or use it to operate several smaller devices simultaneously (phone charger, lamp, fan, etc.). One of the most common gripes with this generator is that filling it with oil is tricky due to the way the unit is designed. However, with a little patience and the right funnel, the job can be done.
Best Battery-Powered: EGO 56-Volt 3,000-Watt Nexus Portable Power Station Generator
While most generators rely on a fuel source like gasoline or propane, power stations take the concept of portable generators to a new level. The EGO Nexus Portable Power Station relies on a pair of powerful 7.5 Ah lithium batteries to provide up to 3,000 watts of starting power and 2,000 watts of running power to your home or RV. Unlike fuel-burning generators, battery-powered generators can be used indoors and are very quiet.
The included batteries charge using a wall adaptor, and more batteries are available to purchase as a backup—but they’re pricey. However, shoppers find this battery generator to be very handy during short-term power outages. Instead of having to store fuel, just keep the batteries charged up and ready for instant power. Keep in mind that this isn’t a high-power generator; it’s better suited for small appliances and charging electronics than keeping your fridge chilled. It's also been used by camping enthusiasts looking for a quiet portable generator that lets them appreciate the silence of the great outdoors.
Best High-Power: DuroMax XP12000EH Portable Generator
If you're shopping for a portable generator to run major appliances, charge devices, and power electronics, you’ll need a high-wattage model. The DuroMax XP12000EH, named the Beast by the manufacturer, delivers 12,000 starting watts and 9,500 continuous watts of power. This unit packs about as much power as you’ll see in most portable generators, so you'll have to do less picking and choosing when it comes to what you power.
Customers say they've used the Beast to power central air conditioning units, full-size refrigerators, televisions, and coffee makers—all at once. In fact, some people have even installed this portable generator to a fixed location outside the house and installed a transfer switch for instant power in the event of an outage. It can run on gasoline or propane, whichever you prefer.
Best Solar: Jackery Explorer 500 Solar Portable Generator
If you’re looking for a small but mighty solar generator, the Jackery Portable Generator is a good option. This model offers a maximum of 400 watts of power, so it’s best suited for charging small devices when you're tailgating or camping, or for keeping electronics juiced up during power outages.
The lithium-ion battery can be charged on the go using the car adaptor. It’s also well-suited for solar charging, though you’ll need to purchase a solar panel to make the most of this off-grid portable generator functionality. This portable generator has pure sine wave power, which means it's safer for small electronics.
Buyers consistently praise this small generator and are often surprised by how much power it can supply. One person reports that this unit has enough to power a 10,000 BTU A/C unit. It also can handle many small tasks, like a power strip loaded up with a shop light, stereo, string lights, and a fan. Plus with the addition of a solar panel, you can charge this portable generator anytime, anywhere, and also have power!