Helping You Find The Best Portable Generator!

yellow lightningWelcome to, where we endeavor to take all of the guesswork out of purchasing the best portable generator for your money by providing you with meaningful portable generator reviews, information – and our 100% Free Ultimate Comparison Buying Guide that compares, contrasts and allows you to sort by key features among over 70 of the top-selling and top-rated portable generators on the market today.

earthquake 800wAlthough they have long been used for working or recreating off the grid, portable generators are fast becoming the most inexpensive and practical source of emergency power during blackouts. This makes good sense, since even an inexpensive 4,000 watt conventional portable generator may be sufficient to run key appliances like lights, a refrigerator, and a small air conditioner or space heater, all of which can spell the difference between being merely inconvenienced – and very cold, uncomfortable and left completely in the dark.

Moreover, portable generators are much cheaper to buy and operate than standby generators; and, better yet, they don’t require  costly installation like standby units do!

In addition, it’s clear that the need for emergency/backup power will only grow as the weather across our nation grows more violent and unpredictable. In fact, a study by the US Department of Energy (“DOE”) found that intense weather-related phenomena (storms, wind, rain, snow, etc.) caused *78%* of all significant power grid disturbances reported between 1992 and 2010.

Further, these same data as reflected in Figure 2 from the study below also led the same DOE researchers to conclude that the number of such weather-related major outages was rising sharply: ScreenHunter_02 Apr. 27 21.54Thus, the cold fact is that storm-related grid failures are virtually certain to become even more frequent than they are today, making it imperative to plan ahead and buy your generator before you actually need to use it.

The very last thing you want is to begin your search for a good portable generator only after the lights go out.

Here’s what you need to consider when looking for the right model:

First Determine The Correct Size Generator With Our Sizing Calculator

But before you jump into the buying guide, make sure that you have a good idea of how big a generator you actually need. How to properly size a portable generator is a constant source of confusion, and it’s easy to see why. Some say you must pull out the manual for each and every appliance in your home and come to some precise number, while others say forget about adding anything and just go for a small, medium or large generator. Oh, then there’s surge watts, which are different than running watts, and don’t apply to all types of appliances!

Yamaha EF3000iSEIt’s actually not that complicated, fortunately. As far as totaling wattage figures, we agree that knowing the exact running/surge watts for each and every appliance you plan to run is ideal, but this is not feasible or necessary for most consumers in our view. On the other hand, just going for a “big” or “small” unit without having any idea of the draw of your appliances may surprise you when you learn –  after the fact – that your generator can’t run your central air conditioning, or that you spent 3x more than was necessary by purchasing a much larger generator than you really needed.

Thus, to get you squarely in the ballpark, without the need for turning the house upside to find your 10 year old Frigidaire’s manual, we’ve generated our own easy to use Generator Sizing Calculator. This tool will not only tell you how many watts you need, but as you play around with it, perhaps identify those power-hungry appliances you’re willing live without during an outage –  if only for the purposes of allowing you to buy a smaller, less expensive generator. After all, who needs to use a hair dryer (which uses anywhere from 800 – 1,500 watts depending on the model) during a blackout anyway?

Conventional Generator or Inverter Generator?

There is perhaps no more hotly discussed question right now amongst generator folks than this one. Sadly, many times advertisers hype up their literature such that you may be led to believe that inverter generators are so superior that no one should ever buy a conventional generator. This is simply untrue.

Without getting into the weeds on the technical side, here are the basic pros and cons of inverter generators versus conventional generators.

Inverter Generators


  • Champion Power Equipment 73536iGood Fuel Efficiency:  this is largely due to their ability to reduce engine RPM when under lighter loads, compared to a conventional generator that must rotate at a constant 3600 RPM to create power, regardless of load.
  • Lower Noise Level:  Inverters tend to run more quietly than the average conventional generator, although some conventional models get pretty close. This can be important if you’re camping or live in a tight subdivision.
  • Higher Quality Electricity:  Inverters definitely produce a “cleaner” waveform that make them better suited to power sensitive electronics like computers, microwaves, TVs, DVD players, etc.
  • Greater Portability:  Inverters are usually much smaller, lighter and therefore easier to move around and carry.


  • Limited Wattage Output:  they are not exactly powerhouses, and their total wattage is usually quite limited, normally less than 4,000 watts in most cases (although there are exceptions).
  • Shorter Runtime:  Despite their fuel efficiency, they tend to have puny gas tanks that require more frequent fill ups. Conventional generators, on the other hand, can store relatively large amounts of fuel.
  • Very Expensive:  Inverter Generators are much, much more expensive watt for watt than conventional models! With a conventional generator, you may get anywhere from 6 to 10 watts of power per dollar spent. However, inverter types will typically give only 1 to 4 watts per dollar. Our comparison guide calculates this for you so you can compare the watts/$ for each unit.

Conventional Generators


  • Westinghouse WH5500Nearly Unlimited Power:  many conventional models pack a tremendous amount of juice.  In fact, besides being able to power multiple circuits through simple transfer switch mechanisms, many are large enough to power your entire home, just as effectively as a whole house standby generator – but with wheels!
  • Longer Runtimes:  Although they do vary, most conventional models can outlast inverter types due to their larger gas tanks. One model featured in our Ultimate Buying Guide can even run for a full 24 hours at half load – good luck finding an inverter that comes anywhere close to that.
  • Much Greater Affordability:  As stated above, conventional generators will typically give you anywhere from 6 to 10 watts of output per dollar spent – versus 1 to 4 watts/$ for inverters. Pretty simple math there!


  • More Noise:  yes, as we said earlier, conventional generators are generally louder than inverters, although some are much quieter than others.
  • Less Fuel Efficient:  because they require a constant RPM to generate power, they have a bigger appetite for fuel compared to a similarly rated inverter.
  • Less Portable:  although even larger ones can still be wheeled around in most cases, only the smallest of conventional generators can be carried around easily.
  • Lower “Quality” Electricity:  conventional generators produce a less clean waveform and more variable power output (especially when subjected to heavy loads). Without digressing into tech-talk, this means that conventional generators are not as well suited to power certain sensitive electronics or appliances that contain microprocessors, such as computers, laptops, TVs, DVD players, etc.  Of course, this does not mean that you cannot power these items with a conventional generator under ideal circumstances (e.g., maintaining a consistent, light load on the generator, using surge protection and buying a more professional-grade conventional model with more sophisticated voltage regulation), but tread carefully here unless you know exactly what your are doing, or damaged electronics could result.


So what’s the best portable generator type? Well, it all depends.

In our view, if you are interested in powering key home appliances, like a fridge, AC unit, sump pump, space heater, and other typically used items during a power outage, than you just can’t beat the significantly greater power, runtimes and affordability of a conventional generator.

On the other hand, if you need a generator mainly for camping or recreating, and/or want to use it to power sensitive electronic equipment, the greater portability and cleaner, more stable power output of an inverter generator make it a better choice.

Here’s a quick video by Generac that briefly discusses the subject:

Choose The Best Portable Generator With Our Portable Generator Reviews and Ultimate Comparison Buying Guide

OK, now the fun part. Now that you’ve determined what kind and approximate size of the generator you want, you can discover the right model for you by selecting among more than 70 of the most popular and highly-rated conventional and inverter portable generators on the market today by using our totally free and interactive Ultimate Portable Generator Buyer’s Comparison Guide.

The Buyer’s Guide was assembled by taking the very best selling and top-rated models from and compiling their respective critical buying information, such as fuel type, surge/running wattage, runtime, electric or manual start, CARB approval, outlet number/type, average user satisfaction rating and estimated price. In addition, we’ve also created our very own unique value indicator based on how many watts the generator delivers per dollar of purchase price – which quite literally – tells how much bang for each buck the model provides.

And best of all, this information is accessible in tabular format and can be sorted to hone in on precisely the features you most care about. Do you only want a liquid propane generator? Are you only interested in inverter generators? Are you from California and need to select from only CARB approved models? Whatever your preferences, you most likely can sort by them in the Guide and whittle down the pack with just a few clicks.