We're sharing everything on our homesteading journey to living a happy, self-sufficient life

We're learning a lot, and so will you...

7 Best Portable Generators for Home Backup – 2017 Reviews

7 Best Portable Generator for Home Backup Reviews

In this modern world we have become so reliant on electricity, to power our essential appliances and equipment: fridges, televisions, computers and other must have electrically powered domestic items. But when the power grid goes down, or we are the unwitting victims of a random lightning strike, losing that much needed electricity will not only leave us sitting in the dark, but we can be cut off from the world of technology. To keep your household powered in emergency situations, a small portable generator is a great short term solution, while you wait for the electricity to kick back in.

Our pick

THE BEST PORTABLE GENERATOR

Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Portable Inverter Generator with Parallel Capability

A powerful and versatile generator it can used for multiple household appliances, and with its innovative inverter, it can also safely provide the smooth and clean power you need for sensitive devices like cell phones.

Essential Specifications for Portable Generators

Cost effective Portable generators can be quite affordable. They can cost from around as little as $100 up to $1000 dollars, depending on the size of the generator.

Fuel efficient. Most generators run on gas, and your gas usage will depend on how many appliances you need to power, so it is a good idea to have a backup supply of gas containers.

Indoor use. You can use a generator for all kinds of indoor appliances, but it is not a good idea to have the generator operating while it is inside the house or in an enclosed space as it can emit fumes. If you use the generator outside in wet weather, it should be covered.

Outdoors Activities. A portable generator is ideal for outdoor activities like camping, sporting events, traveling in a motorhome/RV, for use on a boat, or if you live on a property in a remote area.

Lightweight and compact. Most generators have large wheels and a handle, and are easily transported onto a vehicle.

Electric start. Some generators may offer electric starting, so they may come with a battery or you may need to purchase a battery.

Multiple plug outlets. Some generators have up to four power outlets so that you can plug in multiple appliances.

Ten Features to Look for When Buying a Portable Generator

1. Running Time

Depending on what you will be using your generator for, look for a generator that will give you the longest running time. There are quite a lot of generators that can run for five or up to 7.5 hours on a single tank of gas, but there are some bigger generators that are powerful enough to provide you with 11 hours of continuous power at 25 percent capacity like the Westinghouse WH7500E Gas Powered Portable Generator.

2. Choose your wattage
There are two main power measurements for portable generators: startup watts (also known as peak power) and running watts. A generator can provide power from 1000 to 9000 watts, depending on whether it is the startup or running wattage.

All of your household appliances have their own energy usage or wattage. Remember, before you purchase a generator make sure that it has enough power output to handle the startup wattage (approximate 2 to 3 times the values as indicated for each appliance or household utilities like lights.

You can check the individual wattage on household appliances on the Energy.gov website.

3. Fuel efficiency

There are two reasons that you should consider a fuel efficient generator. Fuel may be hard to find during a natural disaster. The second reason is that you need to hook up a few appliances to the unit. So look for a generator that can give you the most hours on a single tank of gas.

4. Size does matter​

Portable generators are designed to be lightweight, but they are not all created equal, and if they are higher in wattage, they can be heavier. So if you plan to transport your generator regularly, then you should consider the weight of the generator and whether it comes with a handle and wheels.

5. Traditional generator or inverter generator

Traditional generators run on full speed and high power which is good for large appliances, especially if you are going to be plugging in multiple appliances. But if you are going to be powering sensitive electronics like laptops and cellphones, they can be effected by power surges, so it is best to choose a generator that has an inverter. Inverter technology is where the generator's alternator produces high voltage multiphase AC power. That AC power is converted to DC, which is converted back to AC by the inverter, which produces that stable, consistent power that is safe for your digital devices.

6. Safety Features

We all know that working with electricity can be dangerous, so many generators have extra safety features like a built-in surge protector, which protects your appliances from any spikes in voltage. A low oil shutdown feature means the machine alerts you when the oil level is low. Spark arrestors control the noise level of the generator during operation, and built-in circuit protection sensors protect you from electrocution.

7. Choose the right extension cord

If you have to use an extension cord, make sure that you do not join multiple extension cords together to plug the machine into the wall. Use a heavy-duty extension cord, or one that has been recommended by the generator's manufacturer. Also, plug your appliances directly into the machine, or use a single cord and connect the generator to a power-transfer switch.

8. Set up a transfer switch

A transfer switch is an electrical device that allows you to safely connect a generator to your household wiring. It is usually a compact breaker box that is installed inside or outside the home, beside the electrical panel. The switch is wired into the main panel and will be connected to the most critical appliances, such as the water heater, refrigerator, stove, and interior lights. A licensed electrician is the best person to install a transfer switch in your home.

9. Control panel features

The control panel on a generator usually has three to four standard household plugs, which can include a 120/240-volt AC outlet for large appliances or industrial extension cords. The best portable generators only require a flip of a switch or the push of a button to start the generator. Another handy feature to look for is a control panel that has a voltage selector switch, and a odometer that shows you how many hours you have been using the generator.

10. Safety tips

It is important to consult the operator manual for a full list of safety precautions, but here are four safety tips to consider when operating your generator.

  1. Make sure the generator is placed on a level surface.
  2. Avoid overfilling the fuel tank or the oil reservoir as it can cause the fuel or oil to leak, and never fill up the generator when it is running or hot.
  3. Keep the generator a safe distance from open flames, or pilot lights.
  4. Do not overload the generator. Only plug in the most important appliances, and remember the generator is only a short term solution.

Best Portable Generators - Product Comparison

1. Westinghouse WH7500E Gas Powered Portable Generator with Electric Start - 7500 Running Watts and 9000 Starting Watts

Westinghouse has been manufacturing reliable, high quality domestic appliances for over 60 years, and their gas-powered portable generator has got all of your emergency power needs covered. It has an easy electric start from battery power, a massive startup/peak power of 9000 watts, and a running time of 7 500 watts, which is more than enough power to keep large appliances like fridges, freezers, televisions and air conditioners functioning.

Although the majority of conventional generators will run for about 8-10 hours at 50% load, this model can last for up to 11 hours at 25 per cent capacity. It has a 6.6 gallon fuel tank, and a powerful.420 cc, OHV engine that is designed for quiet operation.

The Westinghouse monster generator is very easy to assemble, and the control centre offers you four power outlets, and it has never-flat tires, high-leverage handles, and additional accessories like a tool kit, and a 1-litre bottle of oil.

What we like:

  • Easy to use
  • Good size
  • Durable
  • Push button start
  • Fuel efficient
  • Battery for electric start
  • Wheels
  • Four power outlets

What we don't like:

  • Not CARB-approved. Units sold to California must be CARB-compliant.
  • Heavy
  • Could use an extra 30-Amp outlet on the control panel

2. Champion Power Equipment 42436 1500/1200 Watt Multi Purpose Portable Generator

The Champion Multi Purpose Portable Generator is powered by a 80cc Champion single-cylinder OHV engine with a 1.5 gal. fuel tank, and it is ideal for emergency power for smaller appliances like interior lights, small fridges, microwaves and television. The generator produces 1500 starting watts and 1200 running watts for up to 10 hours on a full tank of gasoline, while running at 50% capacity. The generator features Volt Guard™, a built-in surge protector that protects your appliances from any spikes in voltage above a safe threshold, as well as Cold Start technology, which optimizes the generator to start easily in cold weather.

Champion have designed the generator with a durable steel frame, but It is still quite lightweight at 62 lbs, which means it can also be used for your recreation vehicle, and camping. The generator’s control panel has a 120V 20A household outlet, and a voltmeter, so that you keep an eye on the amount of voltage that you are using per appliance.

What we like:

  • Affordable
  • Easy to start
  • Fuel efficient
  • Lightweight
  • Quiet
  • Perfect for small appliances
  • Ideal for camping
  • Cold start technology makes it ideal for cold climates.
  • Surge protector
  • Volt -meter

What we don't like:

  • Not enough power for multiple large appliances
  • Only one plug outlet

3. Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Portable 2200/1700 Watt Inverter Generator with Parallel Capability

The Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 Powersmart is a powerful and versatile generator with so many great features. It is powered by a fuel efficient 111cc motor, which can provide 2200 starting watts and 1700 running watts of power for up to 8 hours of continuous operation on a single tank of gas.

The PowerSmart generator can be used to power up your main appliances with two 120-Volt household outlets, and with innovative inverter technology, it can produce smoother power for sensitive electronics like computers and cell phones. This generator is also perfect for your camping needs as it is 38% quieter and 45% lighter than a traditional camping generator, and with the ergonomic handle, it is easy to transport the unit from your vehicle to the campsite.

This unit also has handy safety features like an onboard low oil indicator and overload alert system, and the PowerSmart mode automatically adjusts the engine speed to save fuel. One of the highlights of this generator is its parallel connector, so you can attach another generator, for even more power.

What we like:

  • Easy to start
  • Good design
  • Enough power for multiple appliances.
  • Economical
  • Safety features like low oil alert and overload system alter
  • Quiet
  • Ideal for camping and tailgating

What we don't like:

  • No wheels
  • No fuel gauge

4. PowerPro 56101, 1000/900 Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator

If you are looking for a portable generator that is perfect for short term household electrical emergencies, or for camping and holidaying in your RV, then the PowerPro 56101 with 1000 starting watts and 900 watts of continuous power for up to five hours on one tank of gas is your best choice.

Weighing in at 36 lbs, and with a handle and rubberised pads for stability, the PowerPro one of the most lightest and portable generators on the market. If you using the generator outdoors it is both EPA and CARB compliant, and with a quiet exhaust system of 60dB up to 22 feet, it is suitable for camping in national parks. The power panel features an engine On/Off switch, a 120-Volt 3-prong receptacle, a 12-Volt DC receptacle, a volt meter, and individual circuit reset buttons.

What we like:

  • Easy to start
  • Sturdy
  • Good size
  • Lightweight
  • Ideal for small appliances
  • Perfect for camping and for travelling
  • Great back up generator
  • Good value

What we don't like:

  • Not enough power for large appliances
  • Smells of oil when the machine is running

5. Honda EU2000I 2000/1600 Watt Super Quiet Inverter Generator

The Honda EU2000I Quiet Inverter Generator is just like its name, it is one of the quietest generators on the market with a noise level between 53 to 59 decibels during operation. Although it is small and compact at 46 pounds, it delivers the necessary power for household appliances like a microwave, refrigerator, hair dryer, and with a smart inverter you can also safely power your digital devices.

The generator is powered by a reliable Honda GX100T OHC four-stroke engine, and with a 0.95-gallon gas tank, it can run for up to 8 hours on continuous power, depending on the amount of connected appliances.

There is no need to worry about the oil running out as the generator has an oil alert system, and with extra built-in circuit protection, you can be confident that the machine will not overload during operation. The Honda Super Quiet generator has a sturdy handy, so it is easy to store in your RV or car while you are on your way to a sporting event or going camping or boating.

What we like:

  • Quiet
  • Easy to start
  • Solid
  • Great value
  • Lightweight
  • Ideal for multiple appliances: fridges, freezer, television,and internal lights
  • ideal for camping and boating
  • Built-in circuit protection
  • Inverter provides clean power for digital devices.
  • Economical and fuel efficient

What we don't like:

  • Expensive
  • No wheels
  • No press button start

6. DuroStar DS4000S, 3300 Running Watts/4000 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator

The DuroStar DS4000S is a powerful and versatile generator that is well made with a heavy duty steel frame. It can be used to supply emergency power to your major appliances and lights as it provides 4000 watts of starting power and up to 3300 watts for 8 hours of continuous power at 50% capacity. It has a massive 4 gallon gas tank, and the reliable 4-stroke OHV single cylinder engine is easy to start with the Ez-Pull recoil system.

There is no need to worry about overheating as the engine has a forced air cooling system, and there is a full power panel with oil warning light, a volt meter, circuit breaker and three 120 volt power outlets. The DuroStar has a super quiet muffler that reduces engine noise, so it is ideal for camping or for use in a RV.

What we like:

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to operate with the EZ-Pull recoil system
  • Relatively quiet
  • Sturdy compact frame
  • Ideal for powering multiple appliances
  • Can be used for camping and for a RV.
  • Fuel efficient
  • Easy to read fuel gauge
  • Oil alert lamp and voltage meter

What we don't like:

  • No wheels
  • The oil drain is obscured by the frame (oil runs along the frame and makes a mess)

7. WEN 56180 1800 Starting Watts/ 1500 Running Watts, Gas Powered Portable Generator

The WEN 56180 Gas-powered Generator is one of the most reliable compact generators that is available for home use. It has 1800 watts of starting power and 1500 watt of running power, which make it the perfect choice for emergency power conditions in your home and for powering essential appliances like the refrigerator, microwaves, and the computer, and as it is lightweight and quiet, it can also be used for camping.. It is fuel efficient as it can run up to 7.5 hours on one tank of gas, and the CARB-compliant engine with low emissions means it can be operated in all 50 states, and can be operated while you are camping in the national park or forest.

The WEN generator has some essential safety features like an internal air-cooling system that helps to stop the generator from overheating, and the low-oil shutdown safeguards the 4-stroke OHV engine from being damaged. You have a choice of two AC 120V three-prong wall outlets and one cigarette-lighter-style 12V DC outlet, so you can power more than one appliance or electrical device.

What we like:

  • Great price
  • Relatively quiet
  • Very good quality for its price range.
  • Easy to start
  • Automatic voltage regulator
  • Plenty of power to run lights, refrigerator and fans
  • CARB compliant and low emissions
  • Lightweight
  • Ideal for camping

What we don't like:

  • Not ideal for running multiple large appliances
  • Customer service is not very helpful

Our Top Pick

Our top pick for the best portable generator for home use is the Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Portable Inverter Generator. The Briggs & Stratton P2200 Powersmart generator can supply all of your power needs. It made by a reliable manufacturer and guarantees you a solid working performance.

Our pick

THE BEST PORTABLE GENERATOR

Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series Portable Inverter Generator with Parallel Capability

A powerful and versatile generator it can used for multiple household appliances, and with its innovative inverter, it can also safely provide the smooth and clean power you need for sensitive devices like cell phones.

The Briggs & Stratton generator is also a great choice for outdoor activities like camping and boating. It is quiet, fuel efficient, and has some extra safety features like the low oil alert and overload alert system, and the pièce de résistance is the parallel connector, which allows you to attach another generator for additional power.

Leave a comment: