Stay Powered Up: The Best Portable Generators In 2022
Keep the lights on during a blackout; charge your devices when there’s no power; take off on the road as a lone wolf with no need for civilization and its luxuries – there’s plenty you can do when you have the best portable generator by your side. In this guide, we help you identify which of these top generators is best for you and your needs. Whether you need a battery-powered option to recharge on remote work trips, an inverter generator for emergencies to power appliances, or small portable generators for anything in between, there are plenty of options in our guide for you.
I lived in Texas for most of my life and spent a lot of time without power due to storms and hurricanes and a portable generator is a key way to ensure you survive those events or even remain a little more comfortable. Now, I have a camper van that I take skiing, climbing and on 2-8 day trips across the country and the PNW, and a portable power station allows me to work from anywhere and charge devices overnight while I sleep. Without further ado, here are some of the best portable generators on the market. Find the right one for your needs and budget, and never get caught in the dark again – no matter where you are.
- Best For Remote Work: Goal Zero Yeti 500X Portable Generator
- Heavy Duty: Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator
- Best For Weekend Trips: Jackery Power Station Explorer 160 Portable Generator
- Most Portable: Briggs & Stratton 30545 Portable Generator
- Quietest Generator: WEN Portable Generator W/ Inverter
- Best For Emergencies: Sportsman GEN2000
- Best For RV Use: Briggs and Stratton Portable Generator
- Best Run Time: Westinghouse Portable Generator W/ Inverter
- Most Budget-Friendly: ACOPOWER 150Wh Lithium-ion Portable Generator
The Best Portable Generator
The GoalZero Yeti 500X proved to be the perfect mobile working companion. The diminutive size has saved precious cargo room in our tester’s Subaru, but packed enough juice to power all the electronics needed for multiple days of work as a remote editor. It has all the necessary ports and it recharged quickly via a 12v socket in the car or at home on 110v. Our tester also replenished the Yeti 500X with a Goal Zero Nomad 100 solar panel used as a windshield shade while riding or climbing, and the charge rate seemed appropriate for the panel wattage.
The GoalZero Yeti 500X never failed, glitched, or caused any issues with anything it powered over the five-month testing period. If our tester is packing a laptop or camera gear, the Yeti 500X is their default power station for the daily mobile work driver. This is one of the best portable power stations available and can supply power to recharge your cell phone 42 times, or a laptop 10 times on a single charge. The Yeti 500X can also run a small space heater and multiple appliances to make van life a little more comfortable.
Four different port options for a variety of devices
Battery-powered & solar powered
Lightweight design with a large carrying handle
- ModelYeti 500X
- Weight12.9 Lbs
Whether you are running DIY projects out of your workshop, require an emergency home backup energy supply or have a trailer or RV you want to power, the WGen7500 portable generator from Westinghouse is an excellent choice for heavy-duty workloads or powering appliances. It couldn’t be easier to operate thanks to a simple electric push-button stop-start feature which will have you back up and running in seconds. It even comes with a remote start key fob which can be operated from up to 109 yards away. It’s easy to maintain and comes fitted with a powerful 4-stroke air-cooled engine that can run for up to 16 hours on a large 6.6-gallon fuel tank.
The WGen7500 conveniently operates on both 120/240 volts and is fitted with four standard household outlets so you can quickly get all your major domestic appliances back up and running in case of an emergency. If you are looking to invest in a premium portable generator that’s reliable, efficient, and packed with innovative features, then the WGen7500 is ideal. With its easy transport roll bar and wheels, it can be securely moved from one location to the next. Perfect to use as a generator for RV.
Push-button electric start
Up to 16 hours run time from the 6.6-gallon fuel tank
Powered by a 420 cc 4-stroke OVV engine
Automatic low oil shutdown and digital hour meter
Transfer switch ready
- Weight192 Pounds
When looking for small portable power banks as a power supply for my camper van, all my research had my eyes on Jackery. While I’ve been perusing the 200 model, the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160 is an excellent small portable generator with enough juice for comfortable weekend trips. We’ve picked out the Jackery as it presents an eco-friendly clean powered solution and is ideal for folks who love to camp or spend quality time outdoors. It’s small, discreet and compact, and perfect for charging a variety of popular low-powered devices such as cameras, tablets, and phones. Featuring an AC output port along with one USB-C port and two convenient USB-A ports as well as a standard DC 12V, port it’s highly practical and conveniently portable. It’s perfect for short blackouts or trips off-grid. This is my personal choice for van camping trips.
The Jackery Explorer 160 is equipped with a lithium battery pack, so there’s no fuel, fumes, or mess to clean up. The unit itself can be charged either by plugging into a wall socket, via your car, or even with a solar panel which is sold separately. When utilizing a wall socket, it takes up to 5 hours for a full charge which is enough to power your camping lights for up to 26 hours or recharge a camera 20 times. Other cool features that you might appreciate include an LCD screen indicating the battery life status as well as a very cool and convenient built-in flashlight with an SOS mode.
High capacity portable power station
Quiet, eco-friendly generator equipped with a powerful lithium battery
LCD screen with charge/discharge
Powerful built-in flashlight with SOS mode
Package includes a DC to car adapter cable
- Weight3.84 Pounds
Never worry about running out of power ever again thanks to this quiet running Briggs and Stratton PowerSmart series inverter generator. With 3000 watts of starting power and 2600 watts of running power output, it’s a lightweight and efficient solution to all your backup and portable power needs. It’s been intuitively designed with a telescopic luggage-style handle and large 6-inch wheels for convenient maneuverability, a rare find among large generators. Whether you’re heading off camping or tailgating, it makes the ideal portable generator.
This Briggs and Stratton unit is operated via inverter quiet power technology, which means that it’s safe and clean. It features a parallel port, USB port as well as DC outlet plus the option to charge four household appliances via 120v outlets. There’s a clear and easy-to-read LCD display that indicates power being used, hours remaining, and useful maintenance reminders for changing oil, air filter, and spark plugs. It also comes with parallel capabilities meaning that you can conveniently connect two Smart Power generators to pull even more power if necessary. Possibly the best portable generator, the Briggs & Stratton also makes for a great standby generator during emergencies as well. For more amazing power supply options, check out our selection of the best solar phone chargers.
Quiet power tech automatically adjusts engine speed and reduces noise
Easy-to-transport unit with telescoping luggage handle and large wheel design
LCD displays important performance stats
Tether two units together thanks to parallel capabilities
10 hour run time at 25% load
- BrandBriggs & Stratton
- Weight96 Pounds
Portable with lots of power, this slightly-larger WEN Portable Generator W/Inverter model gives you all the conveniences you need, and a bit more. If you’re going to camp out under the stars but can’t be without your gadgets, or you want to work remotely, WEN is able to charge them; this unit is also excellent for heavy-duty purposes, such as power tools that are too far from outlets and small appliances for camping and off-grid living.
Flip on the Eco-friendly switch and utilize every drop of power. This model also comes in a slightly less powerful version (1250 watts) as well as a more powerful one (3100 watts) depending on your needs. Gas-powered and extremely quiet, the WEN quiet portable generator comes with an inverter, overload protection, and a two-year warranty.
Running wattage 1,600W, tether two units together for more power
Eco-friendly mode auto-adjusts fuel consumption
Ultra quiet, operates at 53 decibels at quarter load
Lightweight and portable design with a carrying handle
- Weight48 Pounds
When you purchase a portable generator, gas has to stretch for as long as possible. The Sportsman GEN2000 sports 2000 watts with nine hours of runtime, supporting five different outlets that you can use to power small appliances, a small air conditioner or charge your mobile electronic devices: laptops, phones, tablets, and you can even power coffee pots if you can’t function without that morning cup of joe.
This is widely considered as one of the best generators for power outages; it’s slightly heavy, giving it no chance of getting knocked around by adverse weather that may knock out your power. The 1.2-gallon tank offers about nine hours of run time. Be sure to read the startup/safety guide that comes inclusive with this model to get started properly.
2,000 surge watts rated, 1,400 starting watts
1.2-gallon gas tank
9-hours run time at a 50% load
Engine shut off switch, circuit protection
- Weight55 Pounds
The Briggs and Stratton P2400 Portable generator is another great unit to consider as it has an efficient and reliable system and inverter. This generator comes with a 24-month warranty, 2 120v AC plugs, one DC plug, and an adapter for a USB port to directly charge devices. With this model, you can bulk up and purchase a secondary unit, allowing you to parallel cable connect them and generate enough power to run major appliances.
The generator comes with easy-to-grasp handles, making it comfortable to carry, and since it weighs 55 pounds, one to two people are more than enough. This unit comes with a protective and noise-reducing shell so it runs very quietly. For extra security and peace of mind, there are also carbon monoxide detector and auto-shutoff feature. This inverter generator is also great for camping/RV use when noise restrictions are not in place.
8-hours of runtime on 1 gallon of gas
Safe for all appliances/small devices
CO shutdown technology
Lightweight, compact design with carrying handles
Quieter than a conversation between two people
- BrandBriggs & Stratton
- Weight55 Pounds
The Westinghouse Portable Generator W/Inverter is a quiet portable generator that comes with a good warranty and support. Westinghouse makes their models compatible one with another, so you can hook up an entire generator system made solely of Westinghouse models. You get two AC outlets and one DC, giving you the ability to plug in a power strip and power devices.
With a 1.3 gallon tank that runs on gasoline, EPA-approved operation, and an “Efficiency Mode” for optimal use, this is one of the best gas-powered portable generators. Its run time is around 13 hours at 25 percent load, so you’ll have everything you need to go off the grid, at least for a little while. You may also be interested in some of the top emergency radios from our list. Check them out.
1.3-gallons gas tank
13-hours run time at 25% load
Relatively quiet operation, 52 dBA
Compact, lightweight & portable design
Inverter parallel cord available for amplifying wattage
- Weight43 Pounds
Outfitted with outlets and included adapters, your ACOPOWER generator is the perfect solution to your on-the-go power needs. Utilize the ultra-bright LED control panel to operate your unit; harness solar energy, use a car adapter, or AC adapter into your wall at home before a trip or storm. Three ways to charge, endless ways to use it. You can power cellphones, laptops, and other small devices for your next camping trip.
For such an affordable generator, this unit is packed with useful features. It is convenient and easy to pack up, coming in at just three pounds, making it a great choice for car camping or small camper vans. During a winter storm or hurricane when power is lost, this device can keep multiple appliances running as long as they are small, to make things a little more comfy and keep you connected.
Gas-free generator with 40,800 mAh high battery capacity
LED panel shows important performance stats
3 ways to recharge, around 8-hours to fully charge it
Super-lightweight, compact design for easy portability
- Weight3.31 Pounds
Why Trust Us
After having my life rattled by torrential thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes in my 20 years of living on the gulf coast, I saw how beneficial some of the best portable gas generators can be. Going without power for a few days is manageable, but once you start approaching four days or even weeks, you risk food spoilage and start to hit breaking points, and many devices that once had a charge reach their limits too. Now, I have a camper van that I take trips in and need power to charge my phone, power small appliances and work remotely. For car camping, I have come to love battery-powered generators for the lack of gas, noise, and ease of use.
Who This Is For
Whether you're making moves towards off-grid living, camping, living it up with van life, or want to be prepared for the next big storm or natural disaster, you could benefit from a portable generator and therefore, this guide is ideal for you.
How We Picked
When selecting our roundup of standby generators we looked for a range of sizes, prices and either gasoline or battery-powered options. We wanted to ensure there were options in our list for all user groups whether you need the best portable home generator or a solar generator and lithium-ion battery for off-grid travels.
How We Tested
Testing included car camping trips and remote work, so it was predominantly focused on off-grid use in the outdoors. Our tester loves his Yeti 500X for remote work trips and I am about to pull the trigger on a Jackery for myself.
Features To Look For In Portable Generators
Power - This is going to be the most important factor as you need to ensure you purchase a generator that has enough capacity to power your home, workshop, RV, etc. We look at this issue in more detail in our FAQ section. But as a general rule of thumb, as a home backup supply, you'd need 5000 watts of power to manage all your usual appliances. It's also worth going for a generator which can also provide "safe" power. By that, we mean the power to also keep your more sensitive electronic items like smartphones and tablets from being harmed, which is best done with inverter generators. If you aren't trying to power your whole home, your power needs will drop significantly.
Portability - The whole point of a portable generator is that it has been designed to be transported where you need it most. There are plenty of compact options featuring built-in wheels which make it easy to maneuver your generator smoothly from one place to the next. Units with fold-down or telescoping handles are also excellent choices. Non-gas generators are usually significantly more portable for camping trips.
Startup - There are two key options when it comes to firing up your generator. You can go for a user-friendly and easy electronic ignition with a simple push-button operation or a unit with a ripcord. The choice is yours, but essentially a generator is no different from a lawnmower in that respect, and it's certainly not something that you should be nervous about. When you opt for a solar unit or battery-powered unit, this problem is a non-issue.
Noise produced - Generators, primarily gas-powered ones, can be noisy to operate. Noise isn't a deal-breaker, but if you are a light sleeper, it's probably a sensible choice to go for something that makes a minimal amount of noise or is fitted with sound mufflers.
Overload protection - It's a good idea to go for an outlet protected by circuit breakers to prevent your generator from overloading.
Fuel tank size - The larger the tank, the longer it will run but the more space it will also take up. You need to be practical about what storage space you have available for your generator both when it is and isn't being used.
Portable Generator FAQ
Q: What do portable generators do?
A: A portable generator provides essential backup in case of a power outage or blackout at home or when you are away on a camping or tailgating trip, for example. It's the ideal transportable solution for when you still require access and use of items such as lights, a stove for cooking a meal or making a hot drink, plus running other small appliances and electronics.
Q: How do portable generators work?
A: It depends on what kind of power source you go for. The vast majority of the most powerful portable generators are run on gasoline or liquid propane, with a few duel fuel models out there. Solar-powered options are available as are versions that can be charged via a power outlet or an AC adapter. Solar-powered options are becoming increasingly more popular due to their distinct eco-friendly and environmental advantages.
Q: How do I decide how much power I need?
A: Portable generators are sold according to how much power output they can generate, which is measured in watts. If you want to be able to power a range of essential domestic appliances in case of a blackout emergency, then you will require a minimum of 5000 watts.
The best way to figure out how much power you need before you go ahead and purchase a generator is to physically write down a list of all the essential appliances you would want to continue using. Add up that total wattage and go for a generator that meets those needs. As a handy reference, below are some of the most common domestic applianced and how much power they utilize:
- Refrigerator - 600 watts
- Portable heater - 1500 watts
- Lights - 60 to 600 watts
- Air conditioning unit - 1000 watts
- Computer - 60 to 300 watts