Best Portable Inverter Generator in 2018: A Complete Buying Guide

These days, we can take technology for granted. We have endless access to electricity to power a variety of devices and appliances that make our lives so much easier. However, what happens when you’re traveling? If you like to go camping, road tripping, or tailgating, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo modern conveniences.

Today we’re going to be looking at the best portable inverter generators. These machines will provide power for your next adventure so that you can keep the good times rolling. Whether you need power for a coffee maker or your laptop, a portable inverter generator will ensure that you can get access to the electricity necessary. Let’s see what these inverters have to offer. 

Best Portable Inverter Generator - Comparisons 

10 Best Portable Inverter Generator - Reviews 

1. Champion 3100-Watt Portable

When picking out an inverter generator, one of the primary features to pay attention to is how you get your power. Either you can run off of gasoline, or you can use a battery to provide the energy you need. This Champion Generator allows you to use either one. There is a switch that lets you convert to gasoline when necessary.

The other element to consider when picking out a generator is how many watts it produces. In this case, you get a max level of 3100 watts, with an operating level of 2800. This number of watts is ideal for operating multiple devices simultaneously, including high-powered appliances like microwaves and heaters.

What’s nice about this generator is that the power is “clean.” Even though it runs on fuel, you don’t have to worry about it cutting out and causing a short. Thus, you can plug in sensitive electronics, such as your laptop or cell phone. This generator comes with two standard outlets, as well as an RV plug (30 amps) and a 12v converter.

Because we’re looking at portable inverter generators, you want to be sure that you can bring the machine with you wherever you go. The Champion is extra convenient because it has wheels built in on the back, as well as a folding handle that lets you pull it like you would airplane luggage.

Finally, one neat feature of this particular generator is the inclusion of a wireless remote start. You can turn the machine on from up to 80 feet away, making it even more convenient and versatile, especially if you use it while camping.

What we liked

  • 3100 watts
  • Built-in wheels for rolling
  • Folding handle for convenience
  • Wireless remote control
  • Clean electric start
  • Battery included and easy to replace
  • Two 120-volt outlets
  • 30-amp RV plugin
  • Operates at 58 dB
  • Lasts up to eight hours
  • 12-volt DC adapter
  • Gasoline fuel option
  • Low oil indicator light
  • Cold start technology

What we didn't like

  • In rare cases, the power may fluctuate
  • Wheels are not all-terrain

2. DuroMax XP4400E 4,400 Watt

Overall, when you’re deciding on the best inverter generator for your needs, you will probably want to go from the amount of watts necessary to power the devices you want to bring. In this case, you get a monster generator that produces enough power to run a small house. With an operating level of 3500 watts, there’s almost nothing that you can’t use with this machine.

Another element that you want to pay attention to with inverter generators is how long they last. Since you are using gasoline, you have to be sure that you won’t run out too quickly. In this case, with a four-gallon tank, you can get up to eight hours of continuous use at 50% capacity. That means that if you want to keep it running as long as possible, you should cap off at 1750 watts if possible.

One thing that we want to mention about fuel is that it does go bad. Thus, if you only use your generator in emergencies or not very often (i.e., once or twice per year), it can be a good idea to drain the lines after you’re done with it. Gasoline will evaporate and become less useful over time, so you never want to leave your generator with a full tank for very long.

As far as access to power goes, this generator has two standard outlets and one for your RV. Since it generates so much electricity, you can run your RV’s air conditioning without any problems (although it will suck up more fuel). To show you how much power you’re using, it does have a voltage meter on the side.

When it comes to portability, this generator has two folding handles with rubber grips. It also comes with thick rubber tires that can take on almost any terrain, making it ideal for camping. In fact, it’s rated as environmentally-friendly by the EPA, so you can use it in national parks without any problems. 

What we liked

  • 4400-watt max
  • 3500 watt continuous
  • Four-gallon tank
  • Lasts up to eight hours
  • Automatic low oil shutoff
  • Built-in all-terrain tires
  • Rugged roll bar frame for protection
  • Folding handle for convenience
  • Voltage meter on the side
  • Two 120-volt outlets
  • One RV plug (30-amp)
  • Built-in circuit breaker
  • Keyed start
  • EPA rated for use in national parks
  • Muffler reduces noise

What we didn't like

  • In rare cases, parts may be missing
  • On rare occasions, the tank may leak slightly

3. WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt

So far, we’ve been looking at high-powered generators. However, if you don’t need that much power, you don’t want to invest in something that will be too much for you. In that case, you may prefer to get a model like this one from WEN.

With an operating output of 1600 watts, it’s perfect for most small appliances. What we like most about this generator is that it produces pure sine wave energy. While we won’t get into the technical details about how that works, it means that it’s as clean as possible. Clean energy is ideal for sensitive electronics like cell phones and computers. This generator also comes with a USB port so that you can charge your devices more efficiently.

As the name suggests, this is a quiet generator, producing just about 51 decibels when operating. For reference, human speech is around 60 dB, so it’s pretty quiet, especially if you use it outside.

Another cool feature of this generator is the eco-mode option. You hit the switch, and it will become much more energy efficient. For example, if you’re only using 1000 watts, you can hit the eco-mode button and save a lot of your fuel to extend the life of the machine. This generator is rated by the EPA so that you can use it in national parks or while camping.

Finally, we appreciate the fact that this generator will shut itself off if it runs low on gas or oil. There are also indicator lights on the front to show when the oil is getting low or when the overload protection kicks in. Overall, safety is not an issue with this machine. 

What we liked

  • 2000 watt max
  • 1600 watt continuous
  • Extra quiet operation (51 dB)
  • EPA compliant for national parks
  • Eco-friendly mode saves power
  • USB port for phone charging
  • Pure sine wave power for electronics
  • Large carrying handle on the top
  • Overload and low-oil light
  • Two 120-volt outlets
  • Automatic shutoff when low fuel or oil
  • Compatible for parallel connections
  • Weighs just 48 pounds

What we didn't like

  • In rare cases, the unit may develop a leak
  • On rare occasions, the overload protection may shut the generator down unexpectedly

4. Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000 Inverter 

One thing that’s pretty common with inverter generators is the fact that most of them only come with two outlets. While the goal of this is to prevent using too much power at once, it can be somewhat limiting when you want to operate multiple appliances.

With this model from Briggs & Stratton, you have four outlets, so you get double the versatility. On top of that, it comes with an RV plug (30 amps) and a USB port so that you can charge your phone or other mobile devices with ease.

When it comes to power and performance, this generator delivers up to 2600 continuous watts, making it ideal for most small to medium appliances. However, it is rather compact, which means that it has a smaller fuel tank (1.5 gallons). That being said, at 25% capacity (650 watts), it will last for up to 10 hours. Nonetheless, if you are running multiple devices simultaneously, you will have to pay attention to the fuel level. Fortunately, there is an indicator on the front to make it easier for you.

As far as portability goes, this generator comes with a telescoping handle and two six-inch plastic tires. While it’s not necessarily all-terrain, it’s perfect for most environments, so feel free to bring it to your next tailgate party or camping trip. 

What we liked

  • 3000 max watts
  • 2600 continuous watts
  • Quiet operation (58 dB)
  • 1.5-gallon fuel tank
  • Lasts up to 10 hours (25% load)
  • Four 120-volt outlets
  • One USB port
  • Overload protection
  • Low-oil indicator light
  • Automatic shutoff
  • Built-in tires
  • Telescoping handle for convenience
  • LCD screen displays info
  • Works for parallel power
  • Fuel gauge

What we didn't like

  • Limited fuel supply
  • Wheels are not that rugged

5. Champion 2000-Watt Portable Inverter 

One thing about portable inverter generators that we haven’t covered yet is that they can be rigged to work simultaneously. Parallel power is when you hook up multiple generators to each other to deliver more wattage as needed. Most models have the capability, but this unit from Champion takes things a step further.

This generator is built to be stackable, so you can easily use two or more at a time while keeping them together and organized. It’s easy to connect multiple units to get extra power boosts whenever you need it. Since this model delivers up to 1700 watts of continuous electricity, you can add another and power almost anything you can imagine.

As with other inverter generators, this unit creates clean power, which makes it ideal for sensitive electronics like cell phones and laptops. There is no USB port, but you do get two standard outlets and a 12-volt DC plug as well.

One thing we also like about this generator is that it has an economy mode so that you can save power and use less fuel. Because the tank is just one gallon, having this feature can extend the life of the machine substantially. Nonetheless, if you use 25% capacity, this generator will last up to 9.5 hours.

What we liked

  • 2000 max watts
  • 1700 continuous watts
  • Stackable design for parallel power
  • Quiet operation at 53 dB
  • Runs up to 9.5 hours
  • Delivers clean power for electronics
  • Smart economy mode
  • Low oil and overload indicator lights
  • Two standard 120-volt outlets
  • One 12-volt DC outlet
  • Weighs less than 50 pounds
  • Convenient carrying handle

What we didn't like

  • Limited fuel capacity
  • In rare cases, the overload sensor may kick in unexpectedly

6. Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Portable Inverter 

For some occasions, having a compact and lightweight inverter generator is going to be better than lugging a massive, high-powered model. In those situations, you may want something like this model from Westinghouse. At just 43 pounds, it’s one of the lightest units we’ve seen.

Comparing the power output, this generator delivers up to 1800 watts of continuous power. It has a 1.3-gallon fuel tank, which can last up to 13 hours at 25% capacity (450 watts). To help extend your fuel consumption, it comes with an efficiency mode switch so that you’re not wasting energy that you’re not using.

This model is compatible with parallel power if you get the cord for it, and it comes with two standard 120-volt outlets. It operates at just around 52 decibels, making it extra quiet as well. Overall, it’s a decent pick if your power needs are not that substantial. 

What we liked

  • 2200 peak watts
  • 1800 continuous watts
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Two 120-volt outlets
  • Easy carry handle
  • Quiet operation (52 dB)
  • 1.3-gallon tank
  • Lasts up to 13 hours (25% load)
  • Efficiency mode available
  • Compatible with parallel power
  • Rubber feet for stability
  • Easy to drain the fuel
  • EPA rated for low emissions
  • Weighs only 43 pounds

What we didn't like

  • Can be challenging to get replacement parts
  • Limited fuel capacity

7. Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt Portable Inverter 

Beyond making some of the most reliable cars on the road, Honda is also in the business of manufacturing high-quality generators. In this case, we have the upgraded version of their compact model. It’s ideal for most situations, thanks to its clean power and fuel efficiency.

What we like most about this generator is that it comes with an eco throttle mode. Since you are not likely to be using all 1800 watts at once, having this option means that you can save more gas and keep the generator running for much longer. According to the company, the minimum runtime is four hours, with a max of 9.5 hours.

Overall, this generator is fairly standard. It comes with two 120-volt outlets, as well as a DC outlet converter. It can be connected to other units for parallel power, and it has indicator lights for low oil and overload protection. One new feature is the addition of a fuel cutoff for safety reasons, making this a marked improvement upon the old model. Also, the motor is built to stay cool, helping it run more efficiently overall.

What we liked

  • 2200 watts max
  • 1800 continuous watts
  • Min 48 to 57 dB operation
  • Lasts between four and 9.5 hours
  • Eco throttle mode
  • Two standard outlets
  • Low oil indicator light
  • Overload protection
  • Rubber feet for stability
  • Easy carry handle
  • Parallel power compatible
  • Weighs just 47 pounds
  • Efficient airflow for better operation

What we didn't like

  • Oil may need to be frequently changed

8. Yamaha EF3000iS Portable Inverter

When it comes to inverter generators, Yamaha is probably one of the most well-respected brands out there. For years, the company has been the top manufacturer of high-quality generators, and this model shows this commitment to excellence.

First of all, we appreciate how well this machine is built. It’s made of sound absorbing materials so that it’s quiet when at full power (max 60 decibels), and it’s also built to be as low-maintenance as possible. As we discussed earlier, one issue that many generators have is that the fuel can go bad when it’s in storage, which can affect the performance over time. This Yamaha is designed to keep deposits out of the motor so that you can use it repeatedly without worry.

The other thing that we really like about this inverter generator is that it has a smart fuel function. Rather than having to flip a switch, the motor automatically adjusts the fuel to match the load. Thus, you never have to worry about wasting energy that you don’t need. That being said, it delivers up to 2800 continuous watts so that you can operate a lot of devices at once. In fact, this model is so fuel-efficient that it can last up to 19 hours on a full tank.

Overall, the only downside to this generator is that it’s massive and heavy (136 pounds). However, it does have four wheels so that you can move it around pretty easily. Only when you have to lift it into your car or truck will you experience any issue with the weight. 

What we liked

  • 3000 max watts
  • 2800 continuous watts
  • Four wheels for easy transportation
  • Sound absorbing material reduces noise
  • Carrying handles on both sides
  • Low-maintenance design
  • Automatically adjusts fuel consumption
  • Can last up to 19 hours 
  • Two 120-volt outlets
  • One RV outlet (30 amps)
  • Low emission rating by EPA

What we didn't like

  • Heavier and bulkier than other models
  • No electric start

9. Generac 6866 iQ2000 Inverter Generator

One issue that many generators experience is that you don’t know how much energy you’re using at any given time. Yes, you can calculate how many watts based on the devices you have plugged in, but there’s no guarantee that they are all using the maximum amount of electricity.

With this model from Generac, you get both a fuel level and a power level indicator. These gauges are helpful to ensure that you don’t overload the system or run out of gas before you have a chance to refill. It even comes with a built-in digital clock for added convenience.

Another cool thing about this generator is that it has three operating modes. When you need extra juice, you can turn it to the turbo setting and get maximum wattage. If you’re trying to save fuel, then it also has an eco mode that adjusts the output based on the load. At 25%, this model can last up to 7.7 hours. 

What we liked

  • 2000 max watts
  • 1600 continuous watts
  • Super quiet operation 
  • Electronic fuel gauge
  • Power level indicator
  • Built-in clock with LED display
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Parallel power compatible
  • Two standard outlets
  • Three power modes (turbo, regular, eco)
  • Lasts up to 7.7 hours at 25% load
  • Weighs just 46 pounds

What we didn't like

  • Limited fuel supply
  • In rare cases, the motor may short out over time

10. Duracell Powerpack Pro 1300

So far, we’ve been looking at gasoline-powered generators, but this next unit from Duracell is battery only. This is more of an emergency power pack than anything, which means that it comes with some extra features as well.

When talking about providing continuous power, this model can deliver up to 600 watts. It has two USB ports and two standard 120-volt outlets, as well as a 12-volt DC outlet. On top of that, it comes with two alligator clips for jump starting your car or truck, and it has an air compressor for inflating your tires.

Other features include an LED light for illumination, overload and circuit protection, and it uses an AGM battery for energy efficiency. Overall, this is a great product to either keep in your car for emergencies or have in your garage. 

What we liked

  • Electric powered generator
  • 1300 peak amps
  • 600-watt capacity
  • Two standard outlets
  • Alligator clips built-in
  • Two USB ports
  • Rubber feet for stability
  • Easy carry handle
  • Built-in air compressor and LED light
  • Overload and short circuit protection
  • Air pressure gauge on the side
  • Compact and lightweight design (23 pounds)
  • AGM battery included

What we didn't like

  • Not as powerful as other models
  • In rare cases, it may not hold a charge for long

Traditional Generator vs. Inverter Generator, Video created by -Champion Power Equipment

Final Verdict 

When trying to figure out which inverter generator is the best of the best, we’re looking at overall power and reliability. With that in mind, we decided that the Yamaha EF3000iS and the WEN 56200i are our top picks. 

If you need a lot of energy and you want something that will hold up for a long time, then the Yamaha is your best bet. We like that it offers 2800 watts of continuous power and that it has some of the best components available on the market.

For those who want a more compact offering, the WEN is an ideal choice, thanks to its energy-efficient design and reliability. Both of these generators are highly ranked, and they will be a welcome addition to your next adventure or during an emergency situation. 

Sean J. Stone
 

Sean has been a woodworking enthusiast for 8 years, and in that time has written huge resources on woodworking and tools.

>