The Best Portable Generators of 2024

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If you live in especially hot or cold climates, or rely on medical devices that must be connected to power, even a few days without electricity can be life-threatening. Instead of waiting for the power company to fix the issue, the best portable generators allow you to immediately restore electricity to your most important items, making power outages much less disruptive and dangerous to you and your family.  Small Generator

The Best Portable Generators of 2024

These handy machines convert fuel (either gas, propane, or solar) into electricity, and have multiple outlets to connect different types of power cords. Unlike larger "whole house generators" that are permanently installed, portable generators are designed with mobility in mind, featuring wheels and carrying handles. This versatility makes portable generators useful for a variety of applications in addition to emergency preparedness, including tailgates, camping trips, or powering tools on a construction job site.

We think most people will get the best results from the Honda EM5000SX Portable Generator, which was recommended by our experts for its reliability and power. Generators can be quite pricey, so if you're on a budget, check out the Briggs & Stratton 3500 Portable Generator. It's more than $2,000 cheaper than our top pick, but will still power your most critical appliances and is made by one of the most trusted engine brands on the market. 

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Best overall: Honda EM5000SX Portable Generator - See at Amazon

Best budget: Briggs & Stratton 3500 Portable Generator - See at The Home Depot

Best dual fuel: Westinghouse Outdoor Power Equipment 12500 Portable Generator - See at Amazon

Best heavy duty: Honda EB10000 Portable Generator - See at Amazon

Best compact: Honda EU2200i Portable Generator - See at Amazon

Best solar powered: Anker Solar Generator 767 - See at Amazon

This expert-recommended Honda generator is versatile enough for a range of applications, and provides the best balance of performance, reliability and power.

This Honda generator was specifically recommended by our expert Michael Prasad, a certified emergency manager and senior research analyst at Barton Dunant, who praised its overall reliability. Its functional design hits that user-friendly sweet spot of performance and portability, boasting a powerful 389cc iGX390 Honda engine, intuitive controls, and a pair of beefy rubber wheels for convenient transport. 

The 5,000-watt running output is sufficient for powering most household appliances and a great portable option to connect to your home via transfer switch. We're also fans of this model's Bluetooth connectivity, allowing users to use the Honda My Generator App. As long as you're within 75 feet, you can use your phone or another connected device to start and stop the machine remotely, as well as monitor its output power, engine operating hours, fuel level, and maintenance reminders.

Despite the low price, this Briggs & Stratton machine still provides an impressive amount of power, and doesn't compromise on quality or reliability.

This budget-friendly machine from Briggs & Stratton still packs enough power to operate several large appliances simultaneously, such as a refrigerator, freezer, AC unit, and sump pump. 

Most importantly, unlike some other lower-priced options, this model doesn't compromise on quality. Briggs & Stratton has been making small engines for over a hundred years, and has a great reputation as high-quality, dependable machines that last a long time if properly maintained. You're also not skimping on safety either, thanks to a carbon monoxide shutdown feature that automatically powers off the unit when harmful levels of CO are detected. 

The 4-gallon fuel tank provides up to 8 hours of continuous runtime when operating at 50% load, and the low oil shutdown feature protects the engine from unnecessary wear and damage. Although it's not as powerful as larger options, the 3,500-watt capacity translates to a lower overall weight of just 111 pounds, which naturally increases portability.

Instead of relying on a single fuel source, this dual-fuel machine accepts both gas and propane, and can seamlessly switch between the two.

Capable of using gas or propane for fuel, this Westinghouse generator is a great choice for those who don't want to be limited to a single fuel source. My favorite feature of this dual-fuel machine is its user-friendly design. A straightforward fuel switch makes it easy to select your preferred option, and since you don't have to shut off the unit to do so, keeps power flowing at all times. Large, color-coded wattage specs for each fuel type are clearly displayed too, so you won't need to go digging through the manual to make sure your appliance is compatible. 

A push-button start adds to this hassle-free operation, and the remote start key fob is effective from up to 99 feet away. This generator also includes a propane hose with regulator, so no need to purchase it separately. This model is available in a 15,000-watt option for those who want more power, as well as 4,650, 6,600, and 9,500-watt versions for lighter-duty use.

With a robust one-piece frame and 9,000-watt running capacity, this model is designed to stand up to emergency conditions, and still deliver a ton of power.

This 10,000-watt Honda generator is beefy enough to deliver large power loads, and its robust frame is well-suited to heavy-duty use. Whether you're using it to power table saws, air compressors, and bench grinders on a rough job site, or just want to make sure it can withstand the damaging effects of a natural disaster unscathed, this is a great option. 

The Honda GX630 commercial engine provides 9,000 running watts, and the 8.1-gallon fuel tank has an impressive runtime of 7.9 hours at half-load capacity. This machine is naturally louder than smaller models, although not by a huge amount. Its 73-decibel level is only marginally louder than the 66-decibel level of our top pick, the Honda EM5000SX.

Not surprisingly, this heavy-duty machine is, well, pretty heavy. Its 403-pound weight is beefier than any other option on our list, although the convenient lift-hook handle and wheel kit make this less of an issue. 

This compact generator weighs just 47.4 pounds and features a top-mounted carrying handle for one-handed transport.

If portability is your top priority, and don't have the need or space for a large-output machine, look no further than this compact Honda generator. Another Honda model recommended by our expert Prasad, this 47.4-pound generator features a top-mounted carrying handle for convenient transport and storage. This compact design is also well-suited for emergency evacuation situations, and much easier to toss into the bed of a pickup truck than a 200-pound machine. 

Despite its small footprint, this model's 2,200 starting wattage is sufficient to run a full-sized refrigerator or freezer, or multiple smaller appliances like microwaves, electric skillets, coffee makers, or small air conditioners. Depending on the load, this generator can run continuously for up to 9.6 hours. If you need more power but don't want to worry about transporting and storing a full-size machine, you can simply purchase a second unit and use a parallel cord to combine their outputs.

Our reporter named this the best solar powered generator and for good reason: it has 12 outlets and needs only the sun as a fuel source. Normally priced at almost $3,000, a 25% Prime Day discount brings the price down by $700. It's still an expensive buy, but a stellar time to save on one of the best generators on the market.

If you want to avoid the harmful fumes and noise pollution of a gas-powered generator, consider this solar model. It doesn't provide as much overall power of a similarly sized gas-guzzler, but it does eliminate your reliance on a fuel source that may become unavailable or expensive in an extended emergency situation. That being said, its effectiveness is wholly dependent on sunlight, which can present its own limitations. 

This generator includes a pair of 200-watt solar panels for capturing and supplying energy from the sun, as well as the necessary cables and adapter for connecting them all. Anker claims that these two panels — when used in ideal conditions — are able to charge the generator battery from empty to 100% charge in just 5.7 hours. Of course, in less than ideal conditions, like in overcast or rainy weather, that rate will decrease. 

Another useful feature of this generator is its wide variety of charging ports. In addition to the four standard three-prong ports and a beefier TT-30R outlet, this unit also provides two car sockets, three USB-C ports, and two USB-A ports. We're also big fans of the large, bright display, which gives you a lot more data than the gas-powered generators on this list. The Anker smartphone app also allows you to monitor the operation from afar, and keep an eye on real-time charging status, remaining battery, or even customize power usage.

If you're not familiar with these machines and how they work, purchasing the best portable generator for your needs can be an intimidating process. Keep these factors in mind as you're shopping:

There are two main types of portable generators, conventional (or "standard") and inverter generators, which generate electricity in slightly different ways. 

All portable generators require some kind of fuel to convert into electricity. While most run on gasoline, others use propane, and larger full-house generators can also use diesel or natural gas, so make sure you choose the one best suited to your situation. Prasad says you should consider where you would store the fuel for your generator, and where you plan on obtaining it in your local area. Gas is a popular option because of its availability, but you'll need to have a supply on hand if you want to be fully prepared for an emergency. If you wait until you're ready to use your generator, you may be standing in long lines with everyone else at the gas station.   

"Dual-fuel" generators are becoming more common and can accept multiple fuel types, typically gas and propane. Dual-fuel models aren't just convenient, they're invaluable during extended power outages when gas stations have run dry, since you can seamlessly switch over to propane. "After a major storm with multi-day power outages, it is easier to get a tank of propane than it is to get a gallon of gasoline," said Prasad. 

Solar-powered portable generators only require sunlight to convert to electricity. Although they take longer to charge up, these models have essentially an unlimited fuel supply (as long as the skies are clear of course) and are the best portable generator options if you're totally off the grid.

Portable generators have two wattage outputs, starting and running. The starting (or "surge") wattage is typically only for a few seconds, while the running wattage is what it can sustain for long periods of time. To make sure your generator meets your needs, Prasad advises that you calculate the total amount of energy used by whatever you plan on powering. Larger appliances like refrigerators typically state their required starting and running wattage information on their data plates, and for smaller items you may need to consult the product's instruction manual.

To ensure your generator is compatible with the type and quantity of items being powered, make sure it has enough outlets, as well as the correct type. While standard 20A 120V duplex three-prong outlets are fine for smaller appliances, high-wattage applications typically require larger 30A outlets.

Even though portable generators are designed to be transported, they're not exactly lightweight. Prasad recommends that you consider your physical capabilities when choosing a portable generator. He adds that you'll need to be able to move it from a safe storage area to where you want to run it, reiterating that it needs to be positioned outside in an open area, and away from windows and doors where fumes might enter the home. If you want the capacity of a larger generator, but aren't able to move it safely, consider purchasing two smaller ones that can be paired together.

Portable generator engines can be loud, and if you plan on running them for long periods of time, can get a little irritating, especially at night. If maintaining a low noise level is a priority, compare the decibel (dBA) specs on your potential generators to choose the quietest option. Inverter generators are almost always quieter than standard generators, and solar-powered models are silent.

Safe generator usage "is one of the most critical aspects those of us in emergency management and public safety want to relay to the public," said Prasad. Portable generators that use combustion fuel, gas, and propane must be used outside — at least 20 feet from your home — to avoid deadly carbon monoxide buildup. All of our picks for the best portable generator have carbon monoxide detection and automatic shut-off features.

When selecting the best portable generators for this article, I called upon my own experience as a general contractor using standard and inverter models, and also consulted with Michael Prasad, a certified emergency manager and senior research analyst at Barton Dunant, an emergency management training company.

I based my selections on several criteria, including portability, performance, user-friendly interface, and safety features. Due to Prasad's emphasis on safety, we made sure that all of our picks (apart from the solar-powered option) feature some kind of carbon monoxide detection and shut-off system.

To calculate the size of the generator you need, first add up the wattage requirements for all the items you plan on powering at the same time. 

The Home Depot has a convenient formula to determine the total wattage needed for each item: Running Wattage (R) + Starting Wattage (R x 3) = Total wattage needed. 

Keep in mind that even the best portable generators are really only meant to run a few core items at a time. "If you plan on running all of the appliances, heating/air conditioning, and lights in your house during a hurricane when the power goes out, a portable generator is not the answer," said Prasad. To continue running everything as usual, you'll need a much larger whole-house generator. 

Inverter generators aren't necessarily better than other types of generators, but they do have their advantages. They have superior fuel efficiency, and are also typically lighter and more compact than standard generators, which makes them more convenient for transport and storage. 

Inverter generators tend to be more expensive upfront than conventional options, and have a lower power output.

The Best Portable Generators of 2024

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