10 Best Portable Generator for the Money [Buyers Guide 2021]

Relying on electricity for your power needs can be frustrating, especially if you live in areas that experience rampant power outages. Besides power outages, it is not areas that have a connection to the primary electricity source. For instance, if you love camping, outdoor activities or you’re a construction contractor, complete reliance on electricity can be challenging.  You will need a temporary power source to meet your power demands whenever you’re in the bush camping or rural areas working. If for any reason, you need a temporary power supply, investing the best portable generator for the money is your best bet.

It can act as a power backup plan when the mains are off and your perfect power solution for your outdoor power demands. Even so, when shopping for a portable generator, you should get value for your money; this can be challenging. There are many portable generator brands in the market, with all manufacturers running campaigns why you should buy from them. Here is an honest review of the best portable generators for the money in the market today.

10 Best Portable Generator For The Money

1. Sportsman GEN4000DF Portable Generator

It is the most affordable and versatile portable generator in this review. It is a budget dual fuel generator that can either run on propane or gasoline.

This model has a starting power of 4,000 watts and 3,500 running watts when running on gasoline. The peak wattage drops to 3,600 watts and running wattage to 3,100W when the unit is running on propane. Both fuel options don’t produce a powerful power output. Still, it is enough for running essential appliances at home in case of an emergency. Other uses of this generator can be running small power tools and other outdoor power demanding activities such as tailgating and camping.

GEN4000DF has a fuel tank capacity of 3.6 gallons. When running on gasoline, this generator can achieve a runtime of up to 10 hours when running on a half load. Running it on a 20-pound propane gas tank will give you a higher runtime of about 12 hours at the same load. You can power one or two appliances overnight when using either fuel source without the need to refuel the generator.

You can only start this generator through its traditional recoil mechanism. And it operates at 69 decibels noise level. This noise level will not stop you from having a peaceful sleep at night.

The control panel has 6 outlets;

  • Dual duplexes 120V 20A household-style outlets
  • Single 120V 30A RV Ready outlet
  • Single 12V 8A DC outlet for easy charging of your batteries

Other reliable features on this model include a voltmeter for easy monitoring of the generator’s power output. It also has an automatic low oil shut-off and circuit breaker (overload protection), which enhances the safety features of this model.

Its open-frame design makes it easy to grab and move the 90 pounds of this unit. The frame is also made tough for outdoor environments, so you don’t have to worry about its durability.

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Pros

  • It’s a budget-friendly and yet a reliable portable generator.
  • It’s a dual fuel generator giving you the freedom to use either gasoline or propane.

Cons

  • It’s not an inverter generator which means its power output is not suitable for powering vulnerable electronics.

2. DuroStar DS4400E Portable Generator

This is another option for an affordable portable generator for homeowners, RV revelers, and for powering other outdoor activities.

It’s a powerful generator that comes with a 208cc (7 horsepower) gasoline-powered engine that delivers a peak wattage of 4400W and 3500W running wattage. If you’re looking for a generator for powering on essential appliances during an emergency, this generator will serve you faithfully.

This generator has two starting methods; the conventional recoil start mechanism and the electric starter option. Its power output has a high THD level which is below 12%. Do not run your vulnerable appliances with this generator. It has a rated noise of 69 decibels when running on a 50% load within the acceptable range.

DS4400E has a fuel tank capacity of 4 gallons. With a 50% load, this generator can operate for about 11.5 hours on a single tank. This runtime is enough for powering your appliances throughout the night or power tools throughout the day. Considering its power output and low price range of below $500, this runtime is impressive.

The control panel features four power outlets;

  • Duplex 120V 20A household-style outlets (GFCI protected)
  • 120/240V 30A outlet (transfer switch ready)
  • 12V 8A DC outlet

Thanks to its transfer switch-ready feature, this generator will offer you an easy time connecting it to your home’s breaker box.

In order to increase its reliability and efficiency, this generator has;

  • A voltmeter that offers you an easy time to monitor the power output
  • A light indicator that indicates when the oil level is too low.
  • A built-in fuel gauge that makes it quick to assess gas level.
  • A circuit breaker that trips when the generator has an excess load
  • Automatic low oil shut-off sensor that protects the engine from running without oil.

These extra features are to make this generator easy-to-use power equipment.

This unit weighs about 122 pounds, making it a bit heavy for anyone to lift and transport by themselves manually. The provision for an 8-inch wheel kit slot and the presence of a flexible handle improves its portability when the generator is on the ground.

Pros

  • It is a low-priced generator but comes with features found in high-priced models.
  • The model has GFCI protected outlets.
  • It comes with an electric start option.

Cons

  • You have to ground this generator when using it.

3. DuroMax XP4850EH Portable Generator

It’s an open-frame hybrid generator that will cost you less than $500 but offer you quality services with its high power output. It is a perfect companion for homeowners and outdoor lovers looking for budget-friendly power equipment.

When running this generator on gasoline, you will benefit from a peak wattage of 4850W and a running wattage of 3850W. Running it on propane will deliver 4608 peak watts and 3658 rated watts. Either fuel source will give you adequate power for running your critical appliances at home and even some power tools at a job site.

This generator supports both conventional pull start and electric start mechanisms. And it operates with a noise level of 69 decibels which is less noisy than an office. You can still hold online meetings, watch your favorite movie or even take a nap when this generator operates from 23 feet. This generator is not ideal for powering sensitive electronics because it has a higher THD level of less than 12%.

The generator has a gasoline tank capacity of 4 gallons. When running on a 50% load, this generator can serve you for about 10 hours on a single tank. It may not be the best runtime, but it can comfortably power a 15,000 BTU AC unit throughout the night while you’re asleep. A 20-pound propane gas tank can serve the same load but for a reduced runtime of 9 hours.

The control panel offers 3 AC outlets and a single DC outlet;

  • Duplex 120V 20A GFCI protected outlets
  • 120/240V 30A (transfer switch ready) outlet
  • 12V 8A DC outlet

Other added features include;

  • A convenient voltmeter
  • Built-in fuel gauge
  • Overload protection feature (circuit breaker)
  • A light indicator that displays when the oil level is down.

This unit weighs around 122 pounds. Manually lifting and transporting it can be a challenge. However, it comes with a folding handle and wheel kit that makes it stress-free to move once it is on the ground.

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Pros

  • It is a budget-friendly generator but with reliable features.
  • It has GFCI protected outlets.
  • It has an elegant electric start option, with the conventional pull-start acting as a backup option.

Cons

  • It has a relatively low runtime.

4. Champion 76533 3800-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator

This is a powerful and versatile portable generator that will cost you around $600 or below. Despite its budget-friendly tag, it is one of the most reliable generator brands in the market today. You have the option of using propane or gasoline on this generator.

This model can generate a huge 4,750 starting watts and 3,800 running watts when running on gasoline. The power output can comfortably handle a 15,000 BTU RV AC unit, power your critical appliances at home and run a couple of power tools. When running on propane, it produces a peak wattage of 4,275W and 3,240 rated watts. Whichever fuel source you are going to use, you are sure of reliable power output.

Champion 76533 features a simple and elegant electric start system and a traditional pull start mechanism. When it’s running on a quarter load, this model produces a noise volume of 68 decibels. Its power output has a higher THD level of less than 20%, and it’s not suitable for running delicate appliances.

The fuel tank capacity is 3.4 gallons of gasoline. You can expect a continuous runtime of up to 9 hours when this unit has a load of 50%. A 20-pound propane tank will run this generator for about 10.5 hours while running on a 50% load.

This generator has 4 AC outlets;

  • Duplex 120V 20A outlets
  • 120V 30A outlet (Transfer Switch Ready)
  • 120V 30A outlet (RV Ready)

You can conveniently connect this generator to your house via the breaker box or your RV unit power panel.

Extra and safety features on this model include;

  • Cold Start technology guarantees you easy starting even during cold weather.
  • It has an Intelligauge meter that shows power voltage, frequency, and the remaining lifetime hours.
  • Overload protection and an automatic low oil shut-off feature
  • An in-built surge protector that keeps your appliances safe from voltage spike risks.

This generator weighs about120 pounds which can be challenging to lift. However, its maneuverability is improved by the presence of an 8-inch wheel kit and a folding handle.

Pros

  • A good budget generator.
  • It comes with a surge protector (VoltGuard).
  • It has a Cold Start Technology that guarantees easy starting during the cold weather.

Cons

  • It has a relatively low runtime.

5. Westinghouse WGen7500DF Portable Generator

This generator is designed to make work easier for you by allowing you to plug in a wide variety of appliances. It’s a powerful dual fuel generator that can run on either gasoline or propane. Its rugged open frame material makes it conducive for any outdoor environment.

This model can generate a maximum of 9500 watts and 7500 running wattage when running on gasoline.  This power output is sufficient for running most household electrical appliances and a wide range of power tools on a construction site. Running it on propane delivers a peak wattage of 8,550W and 6,750 rated watts. You will still have a wide number of appliances to power, even when running it on propane.

This model offers convenient ways to power it on. You can use the conventional recoil start mechanism, the electric start option, or go for the remote operation that provides more convenience. The generator operates at a noise level of 74 decibels which is slightly higher but acceptable considering the amount of power. It is not advisable to use this generator to run your delicate home and work appliances. Its power output has a relatively high distortion rate which is less than 23% THD.

This model has a 6.6-gallon fuel tank capacity; this generator can serve you continuously for 16 hours while on a quarter load. This is an impressive runtime, especially when you don’t have many appliances to power. Running it on a 20-pound propane gas tank will deliver about 11 hours of operation when running on a quarter load.

This generator has 5 AC outlets and 2 DC outlets;

  • Two duplexes 120V 20A receptacles (GFCI protected)
  • 120/240V 30A receptacle (transfer switch ready)
  • Two 5V DC USB outlets

Other admirable features of this model are;

  • Smart Switch feature that automatically the generator on when the main grid goes off and turns the generator off when the mainline returns.
  • It has a convenient meter that displays the lifetime hours, frequency, and voltage of your generator. You can easily plan for the maintenance of this generator by looking at the lifetime hours.
  • A built-in fuel gauge.
  • Overload protection and low oil shut-down features

Even though this generator weighs about 194 pounds, it’s still portable thanks to its open-frame design, 10-inch wheel kit, and folding handles. You can conveniently move it once it is on the ground.

Pros

  • You can operate it remotely
  • It comes with the Smart Switch Ready feature
  • It has a high runtime.

Cons

  • It seems to have a hard start when running it on gasoline. To avoid this, you have to start it on propane then switch to gasoline once it’s up and running.

6. Ryobi RY906500S Portable Generator

It is one of the best power solutions when working on the job site or at home.

This gasoline-powered generator can generate a peak wattage of 8125W and 6500 running wattage. You can power multiple household appliances whose running wattage does not surpass what this generator offers. Its hand-truck frame makes it suitable for outdoor use. You can use this generator for powering a couple of your power tools on your job site.

The generator starts on a traditional pull start mechanism. However, Ryobi makes it easier for you to start this unit by providing EasyStart technology that assures users of a stress-free starting process. It has a rated noise of 72 decibels when running on a quarter load.

RY906500S has a fuel tank capacity of 6 gallons. This generator can serve you for up to 10 hours when it is running on a half load. If your concern during a power blackout is to run your AC unit and refrigerator overnight, then this unit’s runtime is enough. A 10 hours’ runtime on half load means you can power your power tools for the better part of the day without having to refuel the generator.

This generator has 5 AC outlets for meeting your power demands;

  • Two duplexes 120V 20A household-style outlets (GFCI protected0
  • Single 120/240V 30A outlet (Transfer Switch Ready)

GFCI protected outlets mean you can safely operate this generator in a damp environment without fear of suffering an electric shock. With the Transfer Switch Ready outlet, it is safe to connect this generator to your home’s breaker box and power your selected appliances during a power outage.

Other winning features on this model include;

  • CO detection feature: You can sleep assured that there will be no risk of inhaling carbon monoxide. The CO detection feature shuts down the generator when it senses carbon monoxide levels are rising to a dangerous level.
  • It has a convenient meter that shows the unit’s running voltage, frequency, and remaining lifetime hours. This display will help you plan for the next maintenance based on the remaining lifetime hours.
  • This unit has a low oil shut-off feature and overload protection (circuit breaker) to safeguard the generator and your appliances.

RY906500S weighs about 195 pounds, but it is still portable. Its convenient open frame design makes it easy to lift this unit when you are two or more adults. To further improve on its maneuverability, it comes with a 10-0inch wheel kit and folding handles. You can quickly move this generator on any terrain once it is on the ground.

Pros

  • It is a budget generator with modern features.
  • It comes with a CO sensor which is an advanced security feature in modern generators.
  • It has GFCI protected outlets.

Cons

  • It offers a low runtime.

6. WEN 56200i Portable Inverter Generator

If you’re looking for a source of clean and portable power at a pocket-friendly price, you will not go wrong with WEN 56200i. It is the perfect power solution for camping, tailgating, and amateur DIY lovers.

This compact and portable generator runs on gasoline. It can generate a peak wattage of 2,000W and a running wattage of 1,700W. This power output can run a selected number of appliances in a small house, selected power tools, and entertainment appliances in an outdoor fun activity. However, if you have more power demands, this unit supports parallel connections. If your increased power demands are intermittent, you don’t have to buy a bigger generator, buy a similar WEN 56200i model and run them parallel.

The starting mechanism of this model is based on a conventional recoil start system. It operates at a noise level of 51 decibels, making it one of the top 10 quiet portable generators. This generator produces a clean sine wave that has less than 1.2% THD. You can plug in your delicate electronics without any fear.

It has a 1-gallon fuel tank capacity, and this generator can power a 50% load for around 7 hours on a single tank. Looking at the size of its fuel tank capacity, running for 7 hours shows a high fuel efficiency in this model. The high fuel efficiency is because it’s an inverter generator.

On the control panel, you will find 2 AC outlets and 3 DC outlets;

  • Duplex 120V 20A household-style outlets
  • 12V 8A DC cigarette style lighter outlet
  • Two 5V DC USB ports

You can easily plug in your smartphone, tablet, or other smart devices to charge through the 5V USB ports.

Other features on this model include;

  • Light indicators display when the oil level is down, the unit is ready for loading, and when it is overloaded.
  • The fuel shut-off feature allows the carburetor to utilize all the fuel before the unit power off. This feature ensures there is no stagnation of fuel in the carburetor, which would have otherwise hampered the performance of this generator.
  • It also has overload protection and low fuel shut-down features.

This lightweight generator weighs about 40 pounds. You can conveniently carry it around your homestead, camping ground, or work site. For easy handling, it has a molded handle at the top.

Pros

  • It is an inexpensive inverter generator.
  • It is highly portable, thanks to its lightweight nature.
  • It has an excellent fuel-efficient rate.

Cons

  • This model is designed for powering small electrical appliances for travelers and not for home power outages. Even so, you can power a couple of your household appliances in case of a power outage.

7. Honda EU3000iS Portable Inverter Generator

It is the most expensive generator model in this article, but it is worth every coin you will spend on it. It’s the perfect choice for homeowners who want to power selected appliances during a power outage, RV and camping revelers, and DIY lovers.

This gasoline-powered generator delivers a running wattage of 2600W and a peak wattage of 3000W. You can double this power output by connecting this generator with a compatible model through its parallel connection capabilities. You can confidently power your delicate electronics with this generator, thanks to its less than 3% THD levels.

You can start this generator by using the conventional pull start mechanism or a simple electric starter option. Both options will give you an easy time to start it, but the electric option is preferred if you don’t like doing a pull start in the morning. The generator operates at a noise level of 50 decibels on a quarter load. It’s the quietest generator in this review.

EU3000iS will offer you a runtime of about 20 hours when running it on a quarter load, thanks to its 3.4-gallon fuel tank capacity. Running it on 50% load will give you roughly 10 hours of continuous runtime on a single tank. Whether you are going to run it on quarter load or half load, you are guaranteed an extended runtime.

Honda EU3000iS has 3 AC outlets;

  • Duplex 120V 20A receptacles
  • Single 120V 30A receptacle for an easy connection to your RV trailer but through an RV adaptor

Admirable features on this model are;

  • A CO MINDER system. It monitors the ambient carbon monoxide levels and automatically shuts down the engine when it detects the carbon monoxide level is becoming dangerous. You can only restart the engine after the ambient carbon monoxide level has gone down.
  • A built-in fuel gauge for easy monitoring of fuel level when the unit is running
  • A circuit breaker that ensures the unit is not overloaded.
  • An automatic low oil shut-down sensor that protects the engine from running without oil.
  • Three light indicators display when the unit is ready for loading, when its overload occurs, and when the oil level is low.

When looking at portability, this model has a compact enclosed design. You can easily store it at the back of a truck or the boot of a car during transportation. In terms of weight, this generator weighs about 130 pounds which can be challenging for one person to lift. You can share the load by carrying it with your colleague thanks to the double handles, one on each side.

Pros

  • It’s a super quiet generator, and it gets 60 decibels when running on full load.
  • It has a carbon minder system.

Cons

  • It is a heavy model, and it does not have provisions for a wheel kit.

Things to Consider When Buying Best Portable Generator for the Money

Power Output

best portable generator for the moneyThe main reason you are shopping for a generator is that you want to meet your power demands. Before making any decision on which portable generator to go for, you should determine your power requirements. If you are looking for a generator to power your entire house when there is a power outage, get a high-powered generator. This is a generator with a high number of watts. If you intend to power essential appliances and your camping power needs, you can go for a low-wattage portable generator. For instance, in our review, Westinghouse WGen7500DF is ideal for powering most household appliances, while WEN 56200i is for basic usage.

Knowing your power requirements should be the first step in establishing your ideal portable generator. For the best services, go for a portable generator with a slightly higher power output than your requirements. This is to make room for an additional appliance that you may add in the future.

Fuel

Check on the fuel tank capacity and fuel consumption efficiency. These two affect the runtime of a generator. A generator with a small fuel tank capacity will have a shorter runtime than a generator with a bigger capacity. Most manufacturers of portable generators claim their models are fuel-efficient. To confirm the claim, check whether the generator has an auto-idle system or an eco-mode feature. These features regulate the engine speed, which further governs fuel consumption depending on the existing load.   

Safety Features

The safety features of a portable generator can make a real difference between operating a safe generator and a risky generator. Your safety and that of your generator and appliances plugged in should be among your top considerations when shopping for one. Some of the safety features to watch out for include;

  • Automatic low oil shut-off: With this feature, your generator’s engine will not operate without oil hence safeguarding it and extending its lifespan.
  • Overload protection: A reliable generator should have at least one circuit breaker for surge protection. This feature ensures your generator does not operate in an overloaded capacity which can shorten its lifespan.
  • Automatic CO detector: Generators emit carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas; fortunately, modern generator brands are coming with the CO-MINDER feature. This feature monitors ambient CO levels and automatically shuts off the generator when the concentration rises to dangerous levels. Alternatively, you can buy a CO sensor and install it in your house. This device will raise the alarm when it detects a higher level of CO in your home.

Such safety features protect your generator, appliances, and anyone around where you are operating the generator.

User-friendly

The best portable generator for money should be easy to use.

Check the generator starting mechanisms. Is it the conventional pull start or electric starter mechanism? Most generators may have both, and others also have a remote operation feature. If the generator has a traditional pull start mechanism, it should be easy to start from the first pull.

How about the control panel? The control panel should have user-friendly functions, such that a novice generator user can operate it.

Mobility of the Generator

best portable generator for the moneyAn ideal portable generator should be easy to move from one place to another. Even though most of them are heavy, they should have features such as a wheel kit and flexible handles that improve their maneuverability. A lightweight, portable generator like WEN 56200i doesn’t need a wheel kit because you can easily lift its weight.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a typical portable generator and an inverter generator?

best portable generator for the moneyA standard or typical portable generator is a gasoline, propane, or diesel-powered generator that generates power for temporary usage. These generators have a higher total harmonic distortion level which can be harmful to delicate electronics. However, modern portable generators come with power surge protection which protects delicate appliances from damaging power spikes. Standard portable generators are ideal for heavy-duty usage.

An inverter generator, on the other hand, is a generator modernized with inverter technology. This type of generator produces clean and stable power that you can use to power delicate electronics. The inverter technology converts DC power into AC power and later converts it to DC power. This process of conversion removes surges and delivers a clean sine wave for your appliances. Inverter generators are expensive and produce a small power output compared to cost-friendly standard portable generators. Inverter generators are ideal for light-duty energy demands.

When should I choose an inverter generator over a standard portable generator? 

If you’re looking for a portable generator that you can easily transport and guarantee you power quietly, consider an inverter generator. These units are lightweight, generate clean power for vulnerable appliances, and operate quietly. Besides being light, they come with classy handle designs that make it easy for users to maneuver with them. However, the price of buying inverter generators is slightly higher than that of a conventional portable generator. The high price is compensated by the many advantages that make an inverter generator a worthy investment. They include;

  • High in fuel efficiency because of eco-mode features.
  • Clean power output for all your devices
  • Smaller and compact body designs for high portability

Final Word

A portable generator is your best companion when you have temporary power demands. The temporary power demands could be due to a power outage, the need to power your tools off the main power, or any outdoor activity, including the job site. However, it is not every portable generator brand out there is worth your money. In order to make your selection process easier, we have reviewed our top 8 best portable generators for the money in the market. Any of the above models will serve you to your satisfaction. However, before you settle for any of them, consider your power requirements, fuel tank size, and consumption efficiency, safety features, among other factors.    

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