Best Inverter Generator

Generators are an excellent investment for a variety of occasions ranging from fun get-togethers (tailgating, camping, and traveling) to the not-so-fun ones (power-outages and emergencies).  However, traditional generators are not appropriate for use with sensitive electronics, and are too large and bulky to transport, limiting their potential.  

As a result, many consumers are making the switch to inverter generators.  Inverter generators are perfect for use at home during a power outage and are easy to transport when traveling.  Further, the inverter creates a current that can be used by any appliance that you plug in at home.  Finally, they release fewer emissions so you can feel good about using one.  Inverter generators are an excellent product that combines portability, power, and safety. 

A Few Things To Consider Before You Buy

Before purchasing an inverter generator, there are a few terms that are helpful to know.  The first difference to know is “AC” vs. “DC” currents.  Alternating current (AC) is the type of electricity you would find in your house and is therefore safe for powering most appliances.  Direct current (DC) is the type of electricity produced by batteries and is not appropriate for directly powering many electronics.  

Another important distinction is “surge wattage” vs. “running wattage”: Running wattage is the power that a generator will produce for prolonged periods.  In contrast, surge wattage is the maximum power a generator can handle for a brief period.  

Surge wattage is essential because most appliances have a higher momentary “start-up” wattage requirement than they do while running.  (For example, a refrigerator that runs at 700W may require 2,200W to start).  Finally, a feature unique to inverter generators is “parallel capability,” meaning that two units can be connected with a cable to double their power output.

Additionally, there are a handful of standard features that all inverter generators should have, including a pull-start option, two 120V AC outlets, and one 12V DC outlet.  Characteristically, all inverter generators produce pure sine wave AC currents, which will not damage sensitive electronics, such as cell phones or laptops, over prolonged periods of usage.  Finally, per federal emission regulations, all inverter generators should be EPA compliant.

While there are numerous inverter generators on the market, knowing a few critical pieces of information will help you narrow down which is the best choice for you.  The first consideration is how often you plan to use the device and how much power you need, which will likely correlate with how much money will be spent on an inverter generator.  

For example, if you live in an area prone to power outages or severe weather and plan to power all the major appliances in your house, investing in a higher-powered, more expensive generator might be worthwhile.  However, if you are planning to use an inverter generator for only occasional camping/tailgating trips to power a handful of small electronics, it is probably safe to save money on a device with lower power output.  

Generally, you want a generator that can comfortably provide enough power to meet all your needs, but not have so much unused power capability that it is a waste of money.  Other things to consider are how often you plan to transport the generator (weight, wheels), what activities you plan to use it for (noise when running), and the unit’s efficiency.  Other product-specific features (such as fuel shut off and USB ports) are  listed below to help you find your perfect fit.

Best Portable Camping Generators

Below is a list of our favorite inverter generators to fit a variety of consumer needs.

Best Overall: Honda EU 2200i

Specifications:

  • Wattage: 2200W surge, 1800W running
  • Weight (pounds): 47 lbs
  • Noise (decibels): 48 dB
  • Fuel efficiency: Runs for 8.1 hours on a 0.95-gallon tank
  • Parallel capability: Yes
  • Warranty: Three years

 The best inverter generator overall is easily the Honda EU2200i.  At only 48 dB, this is the quietest inverter on the market.  It is remarkably fuel-efficient, lightweight, and made with a compact “suitcase” design that makes it ideal for transporting.  Protective features include an oil alert indicator light, overload alarm, and output indicator light.  

The product offers a “fuel off” option, which allows the engine to continue running until the carburetor has utilized all the fuel.  This feature prevents stale fuel and is ideal if you plan to store the generator for extended periods.  Honda boasts a wider oil opening, longer spout, and a larger drain for one of the most effortless oil changes on the market.   

Finally, Honda offers brand-specific features, such as “Honda Oil Alerts” that automatically shut down the unit when oil is running low to prevent damage.  The Honda EU2200i provides superior performance and is perfect for home, work, leisure, and emergency use.  It is also an appropriate choice if you plan to use an inverter generator through the night, as it is quiet and will run for 8+ hours on a full tank of gas. 

Pros

  • Quietest option on the market
  • The teel cylinder liner is extra durable
  • “Suitcase” style with handle is easy to carry
  • Guaranteed by reviewers to start easily
  • Brand-specific alerts and automatic low oil shutdown mechanism

Cons

  • Some reviewers report a smell of gas when in use
  • Spark plug location is inconvenient
  • May not run in the extreme cold (prone to “icing up”)

Pulsar PG2000iSN – 2000 W

Specifications:

  • Wattage: 2000W surge, 1600W running
  • Weight (pounds): 47 lbs
  • Noise (decibels): 59 dB
  • Fuel efficiency: Runs for 8 hours on 1.18-gallon tank
  • Parallel capability: Yes
  • Warranty: One year

 The most significant benefit of the Pulsar PG2000iSN is its value for the price.  As one of the most budget-friendly inverter generators on this list, the Pulsar holds up surprisingly well.  It remains lightweight at only 47 pounds and has a suitcase-style design for portability.  Although it is slightly less fuel-efficient than the Honda, it still offers 8 hours of run-time.  

This product also has a USB outlet, in addition to the standard two 120V AC outlets and one DC outlet.  Protective features of this product include a low oil indicator, an overload warning light, and a grounding terminal.  This product also boasts a choke option, an economy switch (for increased fuel efficiency), an easy circuit-breaker reset button, and several additional features (a charging cable, spark plug wrench, oil, and oil funnel).  

This inverter generator is an excellent choice if you are on a budget, have various charging needs, or have a lower power requirement.  However, if you do find yourself needing more power, rest assured that the Pulsar has parallel capability, and buying two will cost about as much as one competitor.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • USB outlet
  • Grounding terminal for increased security

Cons

  • Some reviewers cite a “break-in” period (i.e., It requires periods of short use, in increasing increments of time and output, to run at highest efficiency)
  • Inconvenient oil-change design

Yamaha EF2000iSv2

Specifications:

  • Wattage: 2000W surge, 1600W running
  • Weight (pounds): 44 lbs
  • Noise (decibels): 51.5 dB
  • Fuel efficiency: Runs for 10.5 hours on 1.1-gallon tank
  • Parallel capability: Yes
  • Warranty: Three years (with an extended three years available)

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without including a Yamaha.  The Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is another strong competitor that is lightweight, nearly as quiet as the Honda, and has a slightly increased fuel efficiency.  Protective features include a low oil warning system, shutoff sensor, and an electrical overload breaker.  

Like the Honda, this Yamaha inverter generator has a fuel petcock, which allows the engine to continue running until the carburetor has used all its fuel, preventing stale fuel and allowing for safe storage.  Additional features include easily-detachable side panels, “Smart Throttle” technology (for greater fuel efficiency and noise reduction), and rubber “feet” that protect surfaces and further reduce noise.  

This inverter generator is also one of a handful that offers a fuel gauge to allow for easy monitoring.  The Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is an appropriate choice for emergency home backup, camping/tailgating, or if you plan to store your inverter generator for prolonged periods between use.

Pros

  • Reviewers call it easy to operate and maintain
  • Excellent heat dissipation technology
  • “Smart Throttle” to increase fuel efficiency and decrease noise

Cons

  • Higher price tag
  • Potential for clogged fuel lines

WEN 56200i

Specifications:

  • Wattage: 2000W surge, 1600W running
  • Weight (pounds): 48 lbs
  • Noise (decibels): 51 dB
  • Fuel efficiency: Runs for 6 hours on 1.0-gallon tank
  • Parallel capability: Yes
  • Warranty: Two years

The WEN 56200i is another budget-friendly option that is lightweight, portable, and extremely quiet.  This product has decreased fuel efficiency, as reflected in the price, but makes up for it with a USB outlet and protective features such as low oil shutdown, low fuel shutdown, and overload protection.  

It offers a choke switch, eco-mode, and has an optional fitted cover available for purchase.  Users report five-star ratings for water resistance and durability, making it an appropriate investment for weather-related emergencies.   

However, reviewers note that the generator may not start in below-freezing temperatures unless it operates in a sheltered location where warm air can enter the carburetor.  The WEN 56200i is a good choice for users who have various charging needs or plan to use their inverter generator in locations where noise is a concern.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • USB outlet
  • Low oil and low fuel automatic shutdown
  • One of the quietest options on the market

Cons

  • Lacks an efficient cooling mechanism and may be prone to overheating
  • Side panel removal required for checking/adding oil or cleaning the filter
  • No fuel valve

Predator 62523

Specifications:

  • Wattage: 2000W surge, 1600W running
  • Weight (pounds): 47 lbs
  • Noise (decibels): 65 dB
  • Fuel efficiency: Runs for 6.5 hours on 1.0-gallon tank
  • Parallel capability: Yes
  • Warranty: Two years

The Predator 62523 inverter generator has garnered positive reviews online, due mostly to its lightweight, portable design and protective features in the form of a low-oil indicator and overload protection.  

Although this product is less fuel-efficient than other options, the Predator 62523 offers an economy mode to boost its efficiency and has parallel capabilities to increase power output.  Interestingly, this inverter generator has a 12V DC outlet in the form of a two-pin outlet, as opposed to the “cigarette” style socket that is more common today.  

This outlet is an advantage if you have appliances with this specific plug style, but can be a downside if most of your DC powered electronics use the more-common socket.  The low wattage capabilities and difficult-to-access oil fill mean the Predator 62523 is best for clients who have small energy needs or plan to use their inverter generator only occasionally.

Pros

  • Reviewers call it easy to use
  • Lightweight and portable
  • High-impact, durable housing

Cons

  • Louder than other options
  • 12V DC two-pin outlet is less versatile than “cigarette” style socket

Champion 73536i-2000 W

Specifications:

  • Wattage: 2000W surge, 1700W running
  • Weight (pounds): 48.5 lbs
  • Noise (decibels): 53 dB
  • Fuel efficiency: Runs for 9.5 hours on 1.0-gallon tank
  • Parallel capability: Yes
  • Warranty: Three years

The Champion 73536i offers many benefits, namely its unique shape perfect for stacking.  Unlike other inverters with parallel capability, this inverter’s design keeps space in mind: Stack multiple Champions to save space and increase power!   

As a result, the Champion 73536i is an appropriate choice for use with RVs.  This product also offers increased fuel efficiency, with 9.5 hours of run time and “Smart Economy” mode, which reduces electrical load and noise, extends engine life, and increases fuel economy.  Protective features include overload protection, low oil shutoff, and a fuel shutoff (allowing the engine to continue running until the carburetor has utilized all its fuel, preventing stale fuel, and allowing for safe storage). 

Additional features included with this product are a 23-foot charging cord, engine oil, and U.S. Forestry-approved spark arrestor.  However, reviewers note that this spark arrester is challenging to access for proper cleaning.  Champion products include free lifetime technical support and sell their products in combinations of 1-4, meaning you can power nearly anything without breaking the bank.   

The Champion 73536i is an appropriate choice for camping, tailgating, with RVs, or emergency home backup.

Pros

  • Stackable, space-saving design
  • Good for use at night (quiet, reliable enough to run through the night)
  • Great customer service

Cons

  • May take multiple pulls to start
  • No fuel filter

Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200

Specifications:

  • Wattage: 2200W surge, 1700W running
  • Weight (pounds): 54.6 lbs
  • Noise (decibels): 59 dB
  • Fuel efficiency: Runs for 8 hours on 1.0-gallon tank
  • Parallel capability: Yes
  • Warranty: Two years

The Briggs & Stratton 30651 provides increased power output, and a unique H-shaped handle to help with transportation, despite the slightly heavier design.  This product’s fuel efficiency is comparable to the Honda but is significantly louder than the competitor.  

This inverter generator offers a USB port for various charging needs and a “Super Lo Tone” muffler to reduce noise.  Reviewers also appreciate the simple, effective setup for changing the unit’s oil.  The Briggs & Stratton 30651 is an excellent choice for users who have a slightly-higher power requirement and do not plan to move their inverter generator frequently.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Compares well to more expensive models
  • Solid and well-built design

Cons

  • Noisier than other options
  • Not CARB compliant (restricts shipping and usage locations, less efficient than models that are CARB compliant)

Rainier R2200i

Specifications:

  • Wattage: 2200W surge, 1800W running
  • Weight (pounds): 44 lbs
  • Noise (decibels): 52 dB
  • Fuel efficiency: Runs for 13 hours on 1.3-gallon tank
  • Parallel capability: Yes
  • Warranty: Three years

The Rainier R2200i is an appropriate choice for mid-level power needs. It offers a lightweight design, quiet operating noise level, and multiple protective features: a low oil alarm, overload alarm, output indicator, neutral floating ground port, and stop/reset buttons.  

The Rainier inverter generator is both EPA and CARB compliant and offers an economy mode for increased fuel efficiency, in addition to its standard 13-hour run time.  Additional features included with the product are oil, a spark plug wrench, and a screwdriver.  The Rainier R2200i is another inverter generator that offers a fuel gauge for easy monitoring.  

Users report that this product may be louder than advertised and may expel a strong scent of fuel, and is, therefore, most appropriate for use outside at a distance.

Pros

  • EPA and CARB compliant
  • How-to guide located on the product
  • Reviewers state that is is easy to start

Cons

  • No oil gauge
  • Potential exhaust odor while the unit is running

Champion 3400 Dual Fuel

Specifications:

  • Wattage: 3400W surge, 3100W running
  • Weight (pounds): 95.7 lbs
  • Noise (decibels): 59 dB
  • Fuel efficiency: Runs for 7.5 hours (using gasoline), 14.5 hours (using propane)
  • Parallel capability: Yes
  • Warranty: Three years

The Champion 3400 Dual Fuel inverter generator provides significantly-higher power output, and it offers wheels and a foldaway handle for smooth movement to counter its heavy design.  The main advantage of this product is its ability to run on either gasoline (7.5 hours per tank) or propane (14.5 hours per tank).   

The Champion 3400 also offers a remote start option and an economy mode for further fuel efficiency.  Protective features include low oil shutoff, an air-cooling mechanism, and a cast-iron sleeve for durability.  The product comes with a propane hose for use right out of the package.  The Champion 3400 has been voted “Best for RV”, reflected by its distinctive 120V TT-30R outlet, making the Champion 3400 Duel Fuel inverter generator an excellent choice for travel and camping.

Pros

  • Dual fuel capabilities
  • Increased power output
  • Electric start option
  • Free lifetime technical support

Cons

  • Significantly heavier than other options
  • Increased price for extra features

Westinghouse iGen4200

Specifications:

  • Wattage: 4200W surge, 3500W running
  • Weight (pounds): 82 lbs
  • Noise (decibels): 52 dB
  • Fuel efficiency: Runs for 18 hours on 2.6-gallon tank
  • Parallel capability: No
  • Warranty: Three years

The Westinghouse iGen4200 offers the highest energy output on this list, which makes up for its inability to run in parallel.  This inverter generator is also the only product on the list to offer two USB ports and one TT-R30 outlet (in addition to the standard two 120V outlets), all of which come with covers to protect them from damage.  

The open frame, hybrid technology, and “Efficiency Mode” options mean the Westinghouse is both durable and efficient.  Additional features included with this product are oil, an oil funnel, a tool kit, and a user’s manual.  Unfortunately, unlike most other options on this list, the Westinghouse iGen4200 does not have an LED data center to provide information about the product’s running status.  

With its large tank size, the Westinghouse iGen4200 can run for an impressive 18 hours, and the TT-R30 outlet also makes this product an appropriate choice for use with RVs when traveling or camping.  It is also an excellent choice for high-energy needs when the inverter generator will not be moved frequently.

Pros

  • High powered enough for all your appliances
  • Starts easily
  • Extended run time

Cons

  • No parallel capability
  • No wheels for transport (the extra wheel kit must be purchased separately)

Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of questions that customers often have when buying, running, and maintaining an inverter generator.

What Is the Difference Between a Traditional Generator and an Inverter Generator?

Seven main categories differentiate between traditional and inverter generators: Current, Power/Fuel efficiency, Portability, Noise, Parallel connections, Emissions, and Price.

Perhaps the most crucial distinction is that inverter generators generally produce a “cleaner” current that is safe for use with sensitive electronics, such as cellphones and laptops.  A traditional generator produces “messier” currents that are appropriate for durable electronic appliances but may damage more sensitive electronics over time.  

Additionally, conventional generators typically produce more power, but inverter generators are more efficient. Inverter generators are more portable, quieter, and produce fewer greenhouse emissions.  Finally, some inverter generators are capable of parallel connections, while traditional generators are not.

With the above information in mind, inverter generators generally come with a higher price tag than their traditional counterparts.

How Do Inverter Generators Work?

Inverter generators work in three phases by converting fuel (such as gasoline or propane) into a high-frequency AC current in the engine, transforming that into DC via an alternator, and finally turning it back into 120V AC via an inverter.  These additional steps create an incredibly stable “sine wave” that replicates the electricity in your house and is therefore safe for most appliances and sensitive electronics.

How Much Power Do I Need?

There are two main factors to consider when deciding on which inverter generator to purchase: What events you will be using it for, and what items you plan to power.  The first consideration will help you decide how often you will be using your inverter generator.  Do you want it for frequent power outages?  For a big camping trip once a year?  For weekend tailgating events?  More frequent usage may require a higher power output.

Once you have a sense of how often you will be using your generator, consider what appliances and electronics you want to power: A 2000W surge/1600W running generator, for example, wouldn’t be able to run a washing machine (1500W) and refrigerator (700W) at the same time.  However, if you mostly need to power small electronics, such as lights (250W), a cell phone charger (20W), and a coffee maker (800W), the 2000W surge/1600W running unit may be more appropriate.

In this regard, knowing the start-up power requirements of your appliances is essential, as well.  A generator with 2000W surge/1600W running ratings would not be suitable for a user who wants to power a washing machine with a start-up requirement of 2200W (even if that same device runs at 1150W).

What Are Decibels, and How Loud Will an Inverter Generator Be?

Decibels (dB) reflect the intensity of noise and measure by magnitude (not a standard linear scale).  Magnitude measurements mean that if total silence is 0 dB, a sound 10x more intense that silence is rated as 10 dB, a sound 100x more intense is rated as 20 dB, a sound 1,000x more intense is rated as 30 dB, etc.  What does that mean in our case?  The inverter generators on this list range from about 48 dB (noise level of a library) to 65 dB (noise level of a normal conversation).

What Is EPA and CARB Compliance, and Are They Important?

EPA compliance and CARB compliance are related to the gas emissions of generators.  As required by the Environmental Protection Agency, all products with a small engine must meet emission pollution standards set by the federal government.  Therefore, all the inverter generators on our list are already EPA compliant.  

In contrast, the California Air Resources Board sets CARB compliance and is generally more strict than EPA compliance.  Several types of inverter generators are not CARB-compliant, and are therefore outlawed California, and may face restrictions in several other states.

What is Harmonic Distortion?

When purchasing an inverter generator, you may see the term “Harmonic Distortion”.  Because AC (such as the current produced by inverter generators) comes in alternating waves, all AC currents experience variability in the power output with each given wave.  This variability is a concept known as harmonic distortion.  Harmonic distortion can cause overheating in the objects being powered, and electronics with microprocessors (such as phones and computers) are particularly vulnerable.  

Eventually, this overheating will cause irreparable damage to the microprocessor.  The total cumulative amount of harmonic distortion produced by a generator is called the Total Harmonic Distortion (or THD).  When shopping for an inverter generator, look for one with less than 3% THD, which is considered “clean” and the safest option for your electronics.

What Should I Do to Run an Inverter Generator Safely?

Much like traditional generators, you should take some precautions when using an inverter generator.  Because they run on fossil fuels, inverter generators emit gasses like carbon monoxide that are unsafe at high levels.  To prevent this buildup of emissions, never run an inverter generator in an enclosed space, keep it at least 20 feet away from your house/tent/RV when running, and always direct the exhaust pipe away from people and animals.

What Kind of Fuel Should I Use in My Inverter Generator?

The manufacturer of each product will specify this.  Many inverter generators run off of “unleaded” gasoline, which is the same as the regular gasoline you would purchase at a pump.

Can I Use an Inverter Generator in the Rain or Snow?

No.  Inverter generators have sensitive parts that can be damaged by water.  Further, a wet generator can pose a shock hazard.  As a result, inverter generators should operate in a dry, sheltered location.

What Portable Generator Parts Require Replacement?

The parts of your generator that need occasional replacement and therefore should be checked regularly for wear and tear – include the air filter, fuel filter, carburetor, and spark plug.  Each manufacturer offers a specific schedule for routine maintenance in the user’s manual.

How Long Can I Leave Gas in the Inverter Generator’s Tank?

Because stale fuel can damage your inverter generator, it is best to empty the tank for storage.  Depending on where you live, fuel can become stale in as few as 15 days.  Due to this relatively short timeline, many buyers opt for an inverter generator with a “fuel shutoff” function, allowing the engine to run until the fuel is gone.  If you’re not sure how long it is safe to leave fuel in the tank, you can contact the manufacturer of your unit for region-specific guidelines.  

What Is the Best Method for Cleaning an Inverter Generator?

The safest method for cleaning an inverter generator is using compressed air to blow away dirt and debris.  A damp cloth with soapy water is another option, but remember that water can damage electrical components and should be used with caution.

Should I Operate My Generator Regularly?

Each user’s manual specifies how frequently you should run your generator to increase its lifespan.  Regularly running your inverter generator is vital to limit damage from stale fuel and oil, to prevent dirt/debris from building up on sensitive electrical components, and to carefully monitor parts of the generator that are prone to wear and tear.

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