As hurricane season approaches, we receive numerous inquiries about the best generator for various needs and budgets. However, as the hurricane season ends, the winter storm season heats up. It seems that every season can benefit from the use of a great generator.
To compile our list of top-rated generators, we assembled a team of specialists comprising contractors, outdoor enthusiasts, and hurricane survivors who based their recommendations on their real-life experience and feedback. Our list encompasses a variety of generators, including portable units, whole-house models, and even camping and tailgating options, allowing you to browse and find the ideal recommendation that suits your needs.
Editor’s Note: Check out our best generator for home use article to get our top picks for the home.
Best Gas Generator Overall
To determine the best gas generator, we disregarded cost and instead relied on our team’s experience to identify the standout product. After some debate and bruised egos, we kept coming back to Honda. Ultimately, the EU7000iS emerged as the victor due to its reliable GX engine and additional features.
In fact, among Honda’s offerings, the EU7000iS really stands out as a top choice for many applications. With its GX390 EFI engine and 5500 running watts, this generator boasts impressive power while still featuring an inverter for electronics and a quieter operation.
We also love these great features:
- Push-button electric start
- GFCI outlets and electric circuit breakers
- Parallel capable
- Electronic fuel injection (EFI)
Best Dual Fuel Generator
DuroMax 8000/10000-Watt Dual Fuel Electric Start (XP10000DX)
Dual fuel generators offer the flexibility to run on either gasoline or propane, which is especially helpful in emergency situations when gasoline may not be readily available. Propane also burns cleaner than gasoline, although it may result in slightly lower power output.
Our top pick for the best dual fuel generator is the DuroMax XP10000DX. At just under $1,300, this powerful generator delivers 8000 watts of power. While the DuroMax XP12000DX offers even more power, we prefer the XP10000DX for its longer runtime of almost 2 hours on the same 8.3-gallon fuel tank.
Best Electric Start Generator
Champion 8000W Electric-Start Tri-Fuel (100416)
An electric start can make using a generator much easier. No more pulling cords, as long as you remember to charge the battery. Lithium-ion batteries are our preferred choice as they last longer and weigh less than lead-acid batteries. The good news is that electric start generators are available in a wide range of power levels.
Champion offers several electric start models with a battery to eliminate the need for a pull cord. The generator charges the battery, but make sure to keep it fully charged before you need it. We recommend the Champion 8000-watt tri-fuel model, which runs on natural gas, propane, or gasoline. It’s flexible for both jobsite and emergency power use.
Best Quiet Generator
Generators are known for their noise, but some models can significantly reduce the sound with smaller engines and full enclosures. Most generators fall within the 2000-3000-watt range, but a few exceed that.
Our team has once again chosen the Honda EU3000S1AG as the best quiet generator, thanks to its Honda GX200 commercial engine, which offers an electric start, a rare feature in its class.
With a noise level of only 50-57 decibels, it’s one of the quietest generators available. Additionally, it offers a 13-hour runtime at 50% load on a full 3.4-gallon tank, and it’s parallel capable if you need to connect two generators together.
- Champion 1850/2500W portable inverter generator (100889): Great budget pick <$500 with quiet operation and weighing just 39 lbs. $699 at Lowe’s
Best Battery Inverter Generator
For those who don’t require a solar recharging capability for their battery-powered inverter, the EGO Nexus Power Station is an excellent choice. With most power outages lasting only a few hours, a complete off-the-grid solution may not be necessary for everyone.
If that fits the bill, the EGO Nexus Power Station might be a great fit. It offers 2000W continuous power and 3000 surge watts, providing more versatility than the Goal Zero Yeti . It can also run on up to four EGO 56V batteries that attach externally, allowing for greater flexibility.
If you ever run out of power, you can always have an additional set of batteries on hand. Additionally, these batteries are also compatible with EGO’s exceptional line of lawn care equipment, making them more valuable than just a backup power supply.
With the option for solar charging, the EGO Nexus Power Station is now the most versatile power supply available.
If You Need More Onboard Capacity: Goal Zero Yeti 3000X 1500/3000-Watt Lithium Power Station
To have a truly quiet generator, a battery inverter provides the best option. Beyond just noise levels, these inverters emit no fumes. That makes them safe for even indoor use. However, a few drawbacks exist. First, you need enough batteries to cover the duration of your power outage (though solar charging can help). Secondly, these inverters don’t provide the same power output as gas, propane, or diesel generators. Lastly, cost significantly more per watt to purchase.
Choosing the right one can be challenging with several high-quality competitors, each with advantages and drawbacks. However, our Pro team voted the Goal Zero Yeti 3000X as the best battery inverter thanks to its massive 3075Wh capacity and available solar panels. The downside is it’s costly, and we didn’t get as much startup wattage in our testing as our other recommendations.
Price: $3,499 (no panels)
- Milwaukee M18 Carry-On Power Supply: 1800 continuous and monster 3600 surge watts run 15-amp tools with ease. $699 with two extended-capacity batteries.
- DeWalt 1800/3600-Watt Portable Power Station and Charger: Best surge wattage available that’s great for jobsite use. Limited total capacity to just 864Wh at a time and there’s no app control. Buy it for $529 bare at Acme Tools .
Best Portable Generator for Home Use
Generac GP6500 8125W Portable Generator (GP6500 COSENSE)
In our search for the ideal portable generator for home use, we aimed to find a model that strikes a balance between power, quality, portability, and affordability. Since the generator is intended for occasional use, we considered carbon monoxide detection a necessary feature in our selection.
The Generac GP6500 is a top-performing generator that excels in many aspects. With 6500 running watts and 8125 starting watts, it surpasses the smaller 5000-watt category, delivering ample power to run almost anything on 120V, including a 120V/240V plug option.
Although it’s not ideal for sensitive electronics due to its high total harmonic distortion (THD), it comes in at a reasonable price under $900. Furthermore, Generac offers a wide range of models that cater to varying power needs, making it easy to find the perfect fit for your requirements.
- Ryobi 6500/8125-watt generator with CODetect (RY906500S): Similar to the Generac GP6500 but with a larger engine and smaller gas tank. $899 at Home Depot
- Craftsman 5000/6250-watt generator with CO detection (CMXGGAS030731): Fewer watts but highly effective and priced $150 less. $799 at Lowe’s
Best Generator for Camping and Tailgating
Westinghouse 1800/2200-Watt Portable Inverter (IGEN2200C)
When it comes to selecting the perfect generator for camping and tailgating, the top priority is a compact size for convenient transportation and a low noise level to avoid interrupting the festivities. While features such as USB ports and a CO sensor are desirable, they are secondary considerations compared to a compact size and quiet running.
The Westinghouse IGEN2200C has caught our attention due to its optimal balance of weight and noise level. With a mere 47-pound dry weight and operating at a low noise level of 52 decibels, it is highly manageable. In addition, its THD is less than 3%, ensuring that your electronic devices remain undisturbed.
- Honda 2500/2800-watt portable inverter generator (EG2800i): less fancy with more power and longer runtime—plus a Honda engine. $1199 at Home Depot
- Champion 1850/2500-watt generator (201122): 39 pounds and under 60 decibels and <3% THD for electronics. $699 at Lowe’s
Best Whole House Generator
Generac Guardian Series Natural/LP Gas Generators
If you’re in the market for the best whole or standby generator, it’s important to note that it differs from a portable one. These generators are designed to turn on automatically in the event of a power outage and are not easily movable. Some individuals, like my neighbor, opt to conceal their LP tank to keep it out of sight if they don’t have a natural gas line already installed.
Keep in mind that when shopping for these systems, you’ll need to factor in the cost of a transfer switch and professional installation on top of the unit’s price. The Generac Guardian series, which ranges from 14kW to 26kW, is competitively priced and comes with the added benefit of Generac’s Mobile Link feature. With this technology, you can monitor your system’s status from anywhere in the world using either cellular data or WiFi.
Price: $4,697 – $6,997
- Kohler Natural/LP Gas Home Generators: $3,325 to $6,147 (8.5–22kW) at Home Depot
- Briggs and Stratton Natural/LP Gas Generators: $2,599 to $10,499 (10kW – 25kW) at Acme Tools
Best 10000-Watt Generator
Honda 9000/10000-Watt with CO-Minder (EB10000G)
As we dive into watt-specific generators, it’s important to note that manufacturers often advertise peak or surge wattage instead of running watts. This means that a 10,000-watt generator may only have a running capacity of 8,000 watts.
When it comes to portable generators, 10,000 watts is close to the highest range that’s readily available. For a generator of this size, a powerful engine and comprehensive features are necessary for ease of use.
The Honda EB10000G is a top-notch commercial-grade generator that boasts a robust Honda GX630 powerplant with a 688cc displacement. This model features an electric start and a low noise/high-efficiency design to match its brawny capacity.
Another Good Choice
- DuroMax 8500/10000-watt electric start portable generator (XP10000DX): true 8,500 running watts with 120V (20A), 120V (30A) twist lock, 120V/240V (30A) twist lock, and 120/240 (50A) outlets and electric start. $1299 at Home Depot
Best 5000-Watt Generator
Honda 5000/7000-Watt Electric Start with Co-Minder (EM5000SX)
Portable generators with a 5000-watt capacity offer an ideal balance of power, portability, runtime, and affordability. They typically come equipped with a range of useful features, and this level of power is suitable for most applications except camping and tailgating.
When it comes to putting together the best package, no one does it better than Honda. The commercial-grade Honda iGX390 engine with electric start is just the beginning of its impressive features. Additionally, it is compatible with the Honda My Generator app, which allows for remote monitoring and control. Overall, this is the most comprehensive package we’ve come across.
- Craftsman 5000/6350-watt portable generator (CMXGGAS030731): Excellent value with Briggs and Stratton 306cc engine and carbon monoxide sensor. $799 at Lowe’s
Best 3000-Watt Generator
Honda 3200W Super Quiet Inverter Generator (EU3200i)
3000-watt generators commonly show up near RVs and community social events. With many quiet models available in this range, they’re also suitable for camping and tailgating.
For those seeking the ultimate portable generator experience, the Honda EU3200i is the best 3000-watt generator available. It features a fuel-injected Honda GX130 engine, making it one of the few in its class to offer a simple two-step start. Additionally, it comes with remote smartphone monitoring and control capabilities.
With a noise level of 54-58 decibels depending on the load, it operates incredibly quietly. The Honda Eco Throttle system provides excellent fuel efficiency, allowing for up to 8.6 hours of runtime on its 1.2-gallon tank at an 800W load. At full load, the tank will last for 3.3 hours. If desired, you can also connect two generators together using a parallel kit.
- Ryobi 3400/4000-watt portable inverter generator (RYi4022X): Excellent high-value choice with 3400 running watts and 12-hour runtime. $799 at Home Depot
Best 2000-Watt Generator
Westinghouse 1800/2200-Watt (IGEN2200C)
Typically, the best small generator belongs to the 2000-watt class. These generators are highly portable and our top picks all include an inverter to provide “clean power” suitable for sensitive electronics. Additionally, as the smallest generators in terms of power, they also tend to be the most affordable inverter generators.
Ideal for camping and tailgating, the Westinghouse IGEN2200C is our top pick for the best 2000-watt generator. This inverter generator is reasonably priced within this group and offers 2200 running watts, an ultra-low noise level (52 decibels), a weight of less than 50 pounds, and 6 hours of 50% load runtime on a gallon of gasoline.
- Honda 1800/2200-watt portable inverter generator (EU2200i): powered by a Honda engine with low noise and weight. A bit pricey, though. $1299 at Acme Tools .
- Champion 1850/2500-watt portable inverter generator (100889): Good <$500 budget generator with low noise and weighing just 39 pounds. $699 at Lowe’s
Best Generator Brand
When determining the best generator brand, our team prioritized reliability above all else. A generator could have all the power and features in the world, but if it doesn’t start when you need it to, it’s useless. However, we also value features and power.
After careful consideration, we determined that Honda is the top generator brand. Their engines are incredibly durable and start reliably, making them suitable for both personal and commercial use. They offer a wide range of features that are comparable to their competitors. Additionally, Honda has included carbon monoxide detectors in all their portable generators to ensure safety.
While Honda’s generators are top-notch, they come with a premium price tag, costing hundreds of dollars more than other brands.
- How much power do you need?
- 120V, 240V, USB? What outlets do you need to run your equipment or home?
- Running electronics? Check for total harmonic distortion (THD) under 6%)
- Powering a jobsite every day or emergency power a few times a year?
- Gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, or solar fuel sources?
- How long do you need to run on a tank of fuel?
- Recoil or electric start?
- Is noise a factor?
- What about electronic fuel injection for better fuel efficiency and fewer maintenance issues?
- Need a set of wheels? Not every generator comes with them
- Need a lift? Lift hook bars are helpful
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