Do you find yourself needing just a little more power? When you are working outside with increased electrical needs, or perhaps while dealing with an emergency power outage, do you wish you had a powerful generator that was still highly portable? If you have found yourself in situations where you need reliable, long-running power that a rechargeable generator or power bank cannot provide, then a portable inverter generator may be just what you need.
In this article, we will show you the candidates for the best portable inverter generator on the market. These generators are easy to transport and will keep you powered up as long as you keep them gassed up and properly oiled. Read on to check out our rundown of all the front-runners and what they have to offer!
- Overall our pick for best portable inverter generator is the Westinghouse iGen2200 Portable Inverter Generator. The iGen2200 gives you everything you could need in a portable generator, from fuel efficiency and low carry weight to a variety of outlets and features. It is truly the best on the market.
- The Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator came in at a close 2nd place and is our choice for runner-up. Offering many of the features that you will find in our pick for best, but it does take a hit in a couple of areas.
- The best portable inverter generator budget pick is the WEN 56200i 2000-Watt Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator. A wonderfully capable generator all on its own, it has several great features, including a very respectable running wattage, at a lower price point than the other models we researched.
Who Should Get This?
Why would someone need a portable generator? What sort of situations would it be helpful in? Here are several ways that having the best portable inverter generator would be useful and extremely helpful:
- Campers – if you enjoy frequently taking a weekend here and there for a quick wilderness retreat, or if you are a die-hard camper that wants a little more flexibility in what you can use in camp, then one of our picks could make your getaways more enjoyable. Power fans, lights, music, or even electric cooking equipment.
- Tailgators – if you are one of those people that find half the fun of going to games is the pre-game in the parking lot, then these are ideal for you! Save the battery of your vehicle, while making your tailgating setup the envy of the visitors. Plenty of wattage for music, and even electric grills, deep fryers, pizza ovens. Change the tailgate landscape!
- Off-Grid Enthusiasts – even if you have renewable energy setups like solar or wind, and even if you have a full-size generator, these portable units can still be incredibly useful. Great for emergency use, supplementing existing power, or allowing you to bring power farther from home than before. Ideal for using electric landscaping equipment away from the home.
- Storm or Disaster-Prone Areas – if you live in an area that is frequently affected by severe storms, hurricanes, tornados, or rolling blackouts, these portable generators can literally be a lifesaver. Generous run time and output ensure that you will be able to keep cell phones and radios charged to help communication, keep a sump pump running to help with flooding, and it can also help keep your refrigerator or freezer operational to prevent food loss and spoilage.
- Craftsman, Trade Workers, and Handymen – if your job frequently requires you to be performing work at different locations, these units are a perfect solution. Throw one in the back of your vehicle, and have portable, steady power for any and all power tools you need to get the job done quickly and effectively. Great for running saws, drills, nailers, light-duty welders, and more.
How We Picked The Best Portable Inverter Generator
If you need significant power in a reasonably compact form that is easily portable over small distances, then you are in the right place. What follows are some categories we used to objectively evaluate these generators. While they are not the only criteria, they are some of the most useful.
Running Wattage/Peak Wattage
These are the limits for how much power the generator can supply on both a continuous and a surge basis. The running wattage is how much wattage can be provided for a load that is steadily drawing power, and the peak wattage is how much power can be supplied for a very short time before causing a fault. Oftentimes appliances like power tools require a much higher power requirement in order to start up.
When evaluating anything that is supposed to be portable, weight is an extremely important consideration. A few pounds either way can be the difference between having a portable generator that you love to take along for any project or need and being reluctant to even use it because it is such a pain to lug it around.
Another very important thing to consider when making your decision is the noise level of the generator. There is a spectrum of noise levels that run from whisper quiet to having to shout for conversation if it is on. Generally speaking, the noise level is one of the things that fluctuate with the price point. High-end models will often have very manageable noise levels, whereas budget units may have to make the sacrifice of having a higher dBA rating.
This is certainly a factor that comes into play when selecting the best portable inverter generator, though it is usually not one of “make-or-break” features. Some generators will have a variety of outlets that includes one or two AC outlets, DC outlets, and occasionally USB outlets as well, for charging your devices directly. Other units may only have limited outlet configurations, so that power strips or multi-outlet extension cords may be needed, depending on the needs of your situation or project.
Displays Or Readouts
This includes digital displays, fuel gauges, warning or indicator lights. A fuel level indicator is a fairly standard display on just about any generator, but some models also include things like a load or draw display, low oil indicator, overload or fault indicator, and output indicator.
The more fuel your generator can hold, the less often you will need to refuel it, and the longer it will run, however, the extra fuel will cost weight if you plan on carrying or transporting it while it is full. Most models will have similar capacities, though even a small variance can mean the difference between refueling now, or two hours from now, or the difference between finishing your project or task or having to get more fuel before you can finish.
Run time is a very important thing to factor in when making your eventual choice. The run time is the approximate time that the generator will operate at a given load percentage, with a full tank of fuel. Frequently run time is calculated with either a 25% or a 50% load.
Best Portable Inverter Generator: Our Picks in 2020
The Westinghouse iGen2200 Portable Inverter Generator is a great option for nearly any need. It is strong enough to keep your refrigerator or other essentials running in an emergency, and portable enough to be used for nearly any project outside the home where you may need some serious power to get things done.
Not only is it reasonably quiet while operating, but it also features a whipping 12 hour run time at 25% load, and an economy mode to stretch that run time even further by reducing fuel consumption for light or transient loads.
- Super efficient, providing up to 12 hours of run time on 1.2 gallons of gasoline
- Less than 3% total harmonic distortion, so you can run your sensitive electronics
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Ultra-low tone, community-friendly noise level
- Optional cord allows two units to be run in parallel to increase output
- The spark plug boot is hard plastic and can break easily
- Rough idle
- Can leak gas from the float bowl screw
The Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator is our runner-up for the best portable inverter generator for good reason. It has nearly the same continuous power rating as our pick for best, plus an array of similar features, but at a slightly higher price point.
The simple off/run/choke knob keeps the startup process trouble-free, and once it is up and running, the economy mode helps make the most of the fuel usage. Equipped with TruePower, it produces clean and refined power that is safe for your sensitive devices and tools. Generac has advised however that because there is no industry standard, they do not publish noise levels, even for comparisons.
- Nearly 11 hours of run time on 1.2 gallons of gas
- Choke, run, stop functions all integrated into one dial for easy operation
- Clean, stable power for delicate electronics
- The optional parallel kit allows two units to be connected for higher output wattage
- Hot exhaust melts plastic grill
- Louder than expected
- No oil drain plug, you must pour the oil out
The WEN 56200i 2000-Watt Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator is our budget pick for the best portable inverter generator. It provides many similar features to more expensive models while maintaining the lowest price point of the units we researched. The 1600 continuous wattage will make it easy to keep your essentials up and running.
It has an economical one-gallon fuel tank, which provides nearly 9 and a half hours of run time at one-quarter load. The easy to use Eco-Mode toggle switch extends engine life and lowers fuel consumption automatically. This is definitely a great option for extra power on a budget.
- Low noise operation
- Eco-mode throttle for increased fuel efficiency
- Super safe for delicate electronics, 0.3%THD at no load, 1.2%THD at full load
- To increase available power, two units can be connected with an optional cable
- Can be hard to start, particularly in cold weather
- Leaks gas
The Pulsar G2319N 2,300W Portable Gas-Powered Inverter Generator is a great option for those who need a reasonably high running wattage, with a little extra room for surge loads. The 2300 peak wattage rating on this generator certainly facilitates that, giving an extra half kilowatt for peak or surge loads.
Run two units in parallel with the optional parallel kit, to double the output and support heavier loads like heavy tools, or RV hookups. The minimal noise of this unit makes it a great choice for any outdoor activity or social event where a little extra juice is needed to get the festivities going.
- Super quiet operation, great for camping or social gatherings
- Compact design
- To increase available power, two units can be paralleled with an optional kit
- Stable sine wave technology means cleaner power for your delicate electronics
- Includes oil, plug wrench, funnel, and charging cable
- Hard starting and the pull cord is not high-quality
- May die after only a few uses
The Champion Power Equipment 100692 2000-Watt Ultralight Portable Inverter Generator is the lightest model of portable inverter generator that we researched, and it is also one of the quietest. With a reliable pull-start and Cold Start Technology, you are ensured a quick and easy startup regardless of the season.
This generator also includes a smart economy mode, which will automatically manage the load, in turn extending the engine life and improving fuel economy. The output has less than 3% total harmonic distortion, so it is safe for sensitive and delicate electronics and tools.
- Very quiet, great for camping
- Under 3% THD, so your sensitive electronics are safe
- Optional clip-on parallel kit features 30A RV hookup and 30A locking outlet
- Low oil auto-shutoff
- No dedicated DC USB outlets
- Leaks gas
How Many Watts Do I Need?
That will depend on what you are planning on using the generator for, of course. If you plan on running multiple appliances with it, we recommend you check the manual for each appliance and add up the wattages listed and you should have a ballpark estimate of the running wattage you will need. Simple camping trips and handyman projects will not generally need as much planning since they will not be running as much all at the same time.
How To Choose The Best Portable Inverter Generator
Once you know your needs, the best options will become apparent. If you need something highly portable with adequate power, then you should definitely look hard at the Westinghouse iGen2200 Portable Inverter Generator or the Champion Power Equipment 100692 2000-Watt Ultralight Portable Inverter Generator.
If you are using it for emergency preparedness, then you should likely turn an eye towards long run time, fuel efficiency, and the Westinghouse iGen2200 Portable Inverter Generator, Champion Power Equipment 100692 2000-Watt Ultralight Portable Inverter Generator, or the Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator. All three have run times of ten hours or more at 25% load, and they are quiet enough to be used in residential settings without ridiculous amounts of noise.
For projects, tailgating, or other applications where the generator may get banged around a bit, the budget options like the WEN 56200i 2000-Watt Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator, or the Westinghouse iGen2200 Portable Inverter Generator would definitely be great options that will get the job done and not break the bank.
The Conclusion For You – Best Portable Inverter Generator
Hopefully, this article has helped you to decide what the best portable inverter generator is for you. By taking a look at what you want, and what you need, based on what you will use the generator for, you should be well-equipped to make an educated choice on which unit will fill your needs.