Portable Generator Buyer's Guide

Portable Generator Buyer's Guide

How to Pick the Perfect Portable Generator

By  | Generator Product Expert
By  | Generator Product Expert

Portable generators can be transported relatively easily from place to place, unlike other more powerful types of generators. They come in a wide variety of different watts and prices. Don't get yourself caught up in all of the numbers, though.

If you take a moment to select the right style first, you will find that it's a whole lot easier to find the right generator to serve your specific needs. Portable generators basically come in 5 different styles: Solar, Recreational, Emergency, Semi-Pro & Professional. 

Portable Generators Solar/Battery Recreational Emergency Semi-Pro Professional
Goal Zero Solar Generator Recreational Honda Inverter Generator Portable Emergency Generators Semi-Pro Portable Generator Honda EB10000
Primary Use Campsite/
Home
Campsite Home Home/Job Jobsite
Frequency Occasional Occasional Sporadic Regular Daily
Fuel Solar Gas Gas/LP Natural Gas Gas Gas/Diesel
Watts 80W-3kW 800W-12kW 1-17kW 3-10kW 1-15kW

 

Solar/Battery Generators

Goal Zero YETI® Portable Power Station

Do you want a generator that won't just power your stuff, but powers itself too? Alternative power stations are becoming more popular as the demands for renewable energy and portable-power increase.

There is no noise, fumes, or gasoline involved with these solar power stations, making them perfect to have for camping or areas without primary power sources. 

These generators are also safe for all of your sensitive electronics, and as solar power technology continues to improve, they're quickly closing the gap between solar power and other portable power options.

   Shop All Solar Generators

 

Recreational Inverter Generators 
Portable Recreational GeneratorsWhen you hear the phrase "camping generators," you might think "loud" and "annoying." Not anymore. New inverter generators are basically the broadband replacement to old conventional camping generators, which are now as unpopular as dial-up internet service.

The state-of-the-art technology was very expensive several years ago. However, prices and noise levels have dropped significantly recently. Recreational generators are finally appreciated by RV enthusiasts and tailgaters. 

 

Emergency Generators 
Portable Emergency GeneratorsRecreational generators are great for tailgating or camping. A power outage, however, is no picnic. Small models will only power an appliance or two. Plus, you'll need to refill their small gas tanks every few hours.

Emergency portable generators, however, feature larger and more powerful engines designed to restore power to mission-critical appliances like refrigerators, sump pumps, televisions, and lights.

In addition, emergency generators come equipped with larger gas tanks designed to run hours without interruption. While not quite a professional-grade, these generators are durable yet affordable. 

 

Semi-Professional Generators 
Semi-Pro Portable GeneratorSemi-pro generators are popular among homeowners with high-end taste and contractors with frequent power needs. With high-quality engines and durable components, semi-pro generators are equally capable of restoring power to a home from a blackout as they are powering tools on a job-site.

While they may not have all the bells and whistles found on professional models, these are heavy-duty generators. If you'll be using your generator exclusively on a job-site, get a professional model. 

 

Professional Generators
Honda EB10000It's not uncommon to see a professional portable generator attending a tailgate party or rescuing a homeowner during a blackout. You won’t, however, find professional-grade generators rusting outside your local hardware store.

These serious-duty generators are built in limited quantities for professionals, who recognize that quality doesn’t come cheap. Professional generators are constructed with commercial-quality components designed to run a full shift on a daily basis. Basic features – like hour meters, lifting eyes and GFCI outlets – aren’t accessories, they’re necessities.
  

Portable Generator Sizing

To size a portable generator, you need to determine the wattage of every appliance you'll want to power at once. Use our generator wattage calculator to figure out your power needs.

 

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