LAST UPDATED: November 7, 2020
Best Inverter Generators (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Inverter generators are an excellent source of portable backup power, whether for tailgating, camping trips, or during a power outage.
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PUBLISHED ON November 7, 2020
Generators are important to have on hand. They enable you to gain access to an electrical power source in remote locations. Unfortunately, they are loud. As the generator runs to produce power for whatever you need to supply power to, sound can be a real issue. If you're tailgating, camping, or using lights for a small job site, the noise can be disturbing and distracting. That's where inverter generators come in. Regular generators are designed to run at full tilt, while inverter generators electronically control the throttle to meet the user's demands. They only generate the power needed, which makes for super-quiet operation. There are various styles of inverter generators that perform in specific settings. Take a look at the top models on the market in the guide below.
This generator is powerful, offers many ports, and can provide power to different devices and utilities. It produces 4500 running watts and features a 3.5-gallon tank.
- Has an electric start and telescoping handle
- Very portable
- Can power a small air conditioner and refrigerator
- Shuts down if CO levels are too high
- At nearly 115 pounds, it's a little heavy
- If the pull start handle comes off, it can be a hassle to repair
This generator is lightweight, quiet, and cost-effective. At 1800 running watts, it is powerful enough to power home essentials.
- Economy mode capable of a 13-hour runtime on a 1.3-gallon gas tank
- With only two 120V outlets, it's limited in the number of devices it can power up simultaneously
The Generac generator is very light and compact, and its 1700 running watts is capable of powering many devices despite its small footprint.
- Truepower Technology keeps sensitive devices safe
- Economy mode provides a 10.75-hour runtime from its 1.2-gallon gas tank
- 1700 running watts and three output ports might not be enough for more heavy users
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Benefits of Inverter Generators
- Portable, efficient, and reliable. It's the best solution for those who need mobile, backup power, whether for outdoor recreational activities or during a power outage. Inverter generators are also very efficient—unlike conventional generators, they can adjust the engine speed to your power needs.
- Quiet. If you need enough juice to power your essential items but hate the sound of loud, running engines, then an inverter generator is the best solution. They typically run at noises lower than 60 dB, which is just as loud as a normal conversation.
- Produce "clean" electricity. Whether it's an open frame inverter generator or a more compact one, the electricity produced will be safe for sensitive electronic items like laptops, mobile phones, and other gadgets.
Types of Inverter Generators
Small, Medium, or Open Frame
Small inverter generators, which have an output of between 2000 to 3000 watts, are useful for light activities like camping or tailgating. Medium-sized inverter generators, which have an output of between 3000 to 4500 watts, will allow you to power up essential items and are great for use at home, at a job site, or for an RV. Large, open frame inverter generators that have an output of 4500 watts and above, on the other hand, can power an entire home or serve as backup power for a construction site.
Briggs & Stratton
Briggs & Stratton started in 1908 and is based in Wauwatosa, Wis., is a gasoline engine manufacturer. It has facilities in the U.S. and worldwide, and one of its top products is the P3000 Power Smart Series Inverter Generator.
In 1886, Westinghouse was founded to develop the electrical infrastructure of the U.S. It eventually diversified into developing other technologies, from engines to generators, to other electronic equipment. One of its most popular generator products is the WH2200iXLT Portable Inverter Generator.
This U.S. and Canada-based company was founded in 1959, and it is one of the most popular home backup generator brands on the market today. It offers different kinds of generator products, from gasoline to diesel, to inverter generators. A popular Generac inverter generator is the GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator.
Inverter Generator Pricing
- Under $500: Inverter generators at this price range can vary, but they'll typically be small to medium in size and capable of producing a maximum of 3000 watts.
- $500 and up: Medium to large, open frame inverter generators will fall into this price range. They will typically be less portable but will offer an output of 3000 watts and above.
Not only should an inverter generator be quiet and relatively easy to lug around, but it also shouldn't take an expert to operate. This is why the control panel should be user-friendly and easy to understand, with all the controls and the input and output ports laid out logically.
Of course, this will depend on your power needs, but suffice to say, power delivery is an inverter generator's power output that most determine whether it's worth purchasing. If you need something for tailgating or camping, then a small, 2,000- to 3000-watt inverter generator will do. If it's to power up fairly big household appliances during a power outage, then you'll need more than that.
Number of Outlets
This will vary from generator to generator, and its size and power output will largely determine the number of outlets it will have. Small inverter generators will have around two to three 120V AC outlets and a few USB ports for smaller gadgets. In contrast, inverter generators with an output of 3500 watts and above will typically have more outlets with additional 240V plugs.
- Parallel Device Operation. Most inverter generators available on the market are parallel capable, which means that they can be paired and used together with another inverter generator from the same supplier to double the overall power output. With this feature, two or more inverter generators can be paired to generate the same power as a larger one.
- Warranty. Inverter generators are easier to maintain than conventional generators that use more oil and need their parts replaced regularly. However, inverter generators will break down over time. And since an inverter generator is too complicated for someone without the relevant mechanical skills to fix, the warranty on parts and services that a unit comes with is an important consideration that buyers should look into.
- Eco-Throttle Mode. This will either be built-in or come as a feature that can be switched on and off from the unit's control panel. When switched on, this feature will allow the unit to save fuel by adjusting the engine speed to provide just as much power as you need.
Best Inverter Generators Reviews & Recommendations 2021
The Briggs & Stratton 30795 P4500 PowerSmart Series inverter generator features a push-button electric start, wheels, and a telescoping handle, so it's a great option for campsite, recreational, and RV use. It's portable, well built, and can service most basic needs in an emergency, including powering a small air conditioner and refrigerator. The machine has four 120V, 20A outlets, one 120V, 30A RV outlet, and two USB ports, so you can power up several devices at the same time. It also includes CO guard carbon monoxide shutdown technology, so it will automatically turn off if it detects harmful levels of CO. It's reliable, easy to start, and has good fuel economy.
However, it's a little heavy and a little loud unless it's in quiet mode. Also, if the pull start handle comes off, you must take the machine apart to get to the rope to repair it.
The Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator is a cost-effective way to attain enough power to tackle various tasks and is our favorite budget option. The generator has 1800 rated watts and 2200 peak watts, so it's strong enough to run home essentials in a power outage. This small generator weighs just 43 pounds, so it can easily be moved. It is also very quiet at 52 dBA. Additionally, it has an economy mode that is one of the most efficient that we’ve found, and the WH2200iXLT is capable of a 13-hour runtime on a 1.3-gallon gas tank.
One downside is that this generator only features two 120V outlets, limiting how many devices it can power at once.
The Generac 7117 Gp2200I W 50St Inverter can power several different devices but keeps a small footprint, making it our top pick for a compact inverter generator. This generator is only 46 pounds, so it's easy to carry to campsites, use for various projects, or depend on during an emergency. At 1700 running watts, this unit is powerful enough to supply power to various appliances and essentials. This generator features one 120V outlet, one 12V DC outlet, and one USB outlet. Additionally, Truepower Technology protects sensitive devices that may rely on it as a power source. An economy mode allows this unit to achieve a 10.75-hour runtime on the 1.2-gallon gas tank, making it efficient enough for many activities or outdoor events.
If there’s any downside to this generator, it’s that the 1700 running watts and three output ports might be insufficient for heavy users.
During camping and social gatherings, the sound of a generator can be a significant disturbance. The WEN 56225i 2250-Watt Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator is one of the quietest models on the market but can produce more than enough power for essentials and more. The 56225I is capable of producing 2250 watts at just 53 decibels. Less powerful versions of this generator can produce 1600 watts at 53 decibels—comparable to the sound of a conversation. This generator features two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle, and five USB ports, making it an excellent power source for many applications. It has a six-hour half-load runtime on a single gallon of gas.
However, the relatively low runtime of this inverter generator means it won’t satisfy more power-hungry users.
If it's a reliable source of power for your RV that you need, then check out the Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator. Its 3400 starting watts and 3100 running watts are more than enough to power an RV or the essential items in your home for up to 7.5 hours run time on gasoline. At 59 dBA, it's not the quietest on this list, but it will still operate no louder than a normal conversation. The 120V 30A RV outlets make this generator RV ready, and it has two additional 120V 20A household outlets that produce ultra-clean power (rated less than 3 percent THD). It is parallel ready and is backed up by a three-year limited warranty with free lifetime technical support.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have a fuel gauge and hour meter. As a result, you don't know how much time you have left before it runs out of gas.
- Make sure to follow the guidelines in your generator’s manual, especially regarding the regular maintenance schedule. This will ensure that your inverter generator will be running at peak efficiency. If you use your inverter generator often, the maintenance schedule will give you a good idea of what you need to do based on the amount of time your inverter generator has been running.
- Keep your inverter generator covered when not in use. Not only will this keep your generator from attracting dirt and dust, but it will also protect the generator from moisture, which can get into the wiring and cause shorts.
- Never use your inverter generator indoors because they produce carbon monoxide, which is fatal when inhaled.
Q. How do you test an inverter generator?
You can test it with a voltmeter. Switch the meter to AC Voltage, connect its ground to the generator's frame, and put the probes into the outlets. You should get a reading after.
Q. What are the disadvantages of an inverter generator?
Inverter generators are generally more reliable and efficient than conventional ones, and the only real disadvantage is that they are more expensive.
Q. Should I get an inverter generator?
This will depend on your power needs. But if you need a fair amount of backup clean energy that is convenient and portable, then an inverter generator is the best option on the market.
Our top pick for the best inverter generator is the Briggs & Stratton P3000 Power Smart Series Inverter Generator. It is portable, strong, quiet, and very easy to use. It also has many ports, making it the perfect generator for tailgating and other outdoor activities. If you need a less expensive but feature-rich option, try the Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Portable Inverter Generator.