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LAST UPDATED: November 7, 2020

The Best Inverter Generators (Review & Buying Guide) in 2020

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 instrumental pieces of equipment. They enable you to gain access to an electrical power source in remote locations. Unfortunately, they are noisy. As the generator runs to produce power for whatever you need to supply power to, the 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. It will only generate the power needed, which makes for super-quiet operation. There are various styles of inverter generators on the market meant to perform in specific settings. Rather than leaving you sorting through bulky search engine results, let's take a look at the top models on the market right now.

  • Best Overall
    Briggs & Stratton P3000 Power Smart Series Inverter Generator
    Briggs & Stratton P3000 Power Smart Series Inverter Generator
    Summary
    Summary

    This generator is small, powerful, offers many ports, and can provide power to different devices and utilities. It produces 2600 running watts, and at 58 decibels, it is quiet.

    Pros
    Pros
    • 10-hour runtime at 25 percent load 
    • Incredibly user-friendly
    Cons
    Cons
    • Not CARB-compliant 
    • Illegal to use in California
  • Best Overall
    Briggs & Stratton P3000 Power Smart Series Inverter Generator
    Briggs & Stratton P3000 Power Smart Series Inverter Generator
  • Best Value
    Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Portable Inverter Generator
    Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Portable Inverter Generator
    Summary
    Summary

    This generator is lightweight, quiet, and cost-effective. At 1800 running watts, it is powerful enough to power home essentials.

    Pros
    Pros
    • 13-hour runtime on a 1.3-gallon gas tank
    • Extremely quiet operation
    • Ideal for household use
    Cons
    Cons
    • Limited number of devices it can power simultaneously
    • Not CARB-compliant
  • Best Value
    Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Portable Inverter Generator
    Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Portable Inverter Generator
  • Honorable Mention
    Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
    Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
    Summary
    Summary

    The Generac generator is very light and compact, and its 1700 running watts is capable of powering many devices despite its small footprint.

    Pros
    Pros
    • Keeps sensitive devices safe
    • Economy mode provides a 10.75-hour runtime
    Cons
    Cons
    • Might not be enough for heavy use
  • Honorable Mention
    Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
    Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
    The Best Inverter Generators
    Amazon

    Generators are instrumental pieces of equipment. They enable you to gain access to an electrical power source in remote locations. Unfortunately, they are noisy. As the generator runs to produce power for whatever you need to supply power to, the 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. It will only generate the power needed, which makes for super-quiet operation. There are various styles of inverter generators on the market meant to perform in specific settings. Rather than leaving you sorting through bulky search engine results, let's take a look at the top models on the market right now.

    Best Inverter Generator Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall 

    Small enough for tailgating and enough power to start an RV air conditioner, the Briggs & Stratton P3000 Power Smart Series Inverter Generator gets our pick for Best Overall. With a 10-hour runtime at a 25 percent load, it is perfect for powering electronics and essentials during recreational activities and DIY projects. Ports include four 120V outlets, one 12V-5A DC Port, one parallel port, and one USB port. Despite being able to produce 2600 running watts, this generator is very quiet. At just 58 decibels, it won’t be a distraction while in use. An LCD is used to show unit hours, the amount of power being used, and maintenance reminders making this an extremely user-friendly unit.


    While it has an abundance of features that will answer most needs, this generator is unfortunately not CARB compliant, and is therefore not legal to use in California.

    Best Value

    Small enough for tailgating and enough power to start an RV air conditioner, the Briggs & Stratton P3000 Power Smart Series Inverter Generator gets our pick for Best Overall. With a 10-hour runtime at a 25 percent load, it is perfect for powering electronics and essentials during recreational activities and DIY projects. Ports include four 120V outlets, one 12V-5A DC Port, one parallel port, and one USB port. Despite being able to produce 2600 running watts, this generator is very quiet. At just 58 decibels, it won’t be a distraction while in use. An LCD is used to show unit hours, the amount of power being used, and maintenance reminders making this an extremely user-friendly unit.


    While it has an abundance of features that will answer most needs, this generator is unfortunately not CARB compliant, and is therefore not legal to use in California.

    Best Compact

    The Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator 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 making it easy to carry to campsites, projects, or during an emergency. At 1700 running watts, this unit is powerful enough to supply power to any appliances and essentials. This generator features one 120V outlet, one 12V DC outlet, and one USB outlet. Additionally, Truepower Technology protects any 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 more heavy users.

    Most Quiet

    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 1800 running watts at just 51 decibels. Less powerful versions of this generator can produce 1600 watts and 1700 watts at only 51 decibels—comparable to the sound of a conversation. This generator features two three-prong 120V receptacles and two USB ports, making it an excellent power source for many applications. The Eco-Mode setting provides this generator with a six-hour 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.

    Best For RVs

    If it's a reliable source of power for your RV that you need, then we can recommend the Champion 4000-Watt RV Ready DH Series Open Frame Inverter. Its 4000 starting watts and 3500 running watts are more than enough to power an RV or the essential items in your home for around 17 hours on gasoline. At 64 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, despite the generator’s hefty proportions, it does not come with a wheel and handle kit—these are sold separately.

    Why Trust Us


    All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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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.

    Top Brands

    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.

    Westinghouse 

    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.

    Generac

    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.
    • Above $500: 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.

    Key Features

    Convenience

    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.

    Power Delivery

    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.

    Other Considerations

    • 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 Generator Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall 
    Briggs & Stratton P3000 Power Smart Series Inverter Generator

    Small enough for tailgating and enough power to start an RV air conditioner, the Briggs & Stratton P3000 Power Smart Series Inverter Generator gets our pick for Best Overall. With a 10-hour runtime at a 25 percent load, it is perfect for powering electronics and essentials during recreational activities and DIY projects. Ports include four 120V outlets, one 12V-5A DC Port, one parallel port, and one USB port. Despite being able to produce 2600 running watts, this generator is very quiet. At just 58 decibels, it won’t be a distraction while in use. An LCD is used to show unit hours, the amount of power being used, and maintenance reminders making this an extremely user-friendly unit.


    While it has an abundance of features that will answer most needs, this generator is unfortunately not CARB compliant, and is therefore not legal to use in California.

    Best Value
    Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Portable Inverter Generator

    Small enough for tailgating and enough power to start an RV air conditioner, the Briggs & Stratton P3000 Power Smart Series Inverter Generator gets our pick for Best Overall. With a 10-hour runtime at a 25 percent load, it is perfect for powering electronics and essentials during recreational activities and DIY projects. Ports include four 120V outlets, one 12V-5A DC Port, one parallel port, and one USB port. Despite being able to produce 2600 running watts, this generator is very quiet. At just 58 decibels, it won’t be a distraction while in use. An LCD is used to show unit hours, the amount of power being used, and maintenance reminders making this an extremely user-friendly unit.


    While it has an abundance of features that will answer most needs, this generator is unfortunately not CARB compliant, and is therefore not legal to use in California.

    Best Compact
    Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator

    The Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator 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 making it easy to carry to campsites, projects, or during an emergency. At 1700 running watts, this unit is powerful enough to supply power to any appliances and essentials. This generator features one 120V outlet, one 12V DC outlet, and one USB outlet. Additionally, Truepower Technology protects any 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 more heavy users.

    Most Quiet
    WEN 56225i 2250-Watt Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator

    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 1800 running watts at just 51 decibels. Less powerful versions of this generator can produce 1600 watts and 1700 watts at only 51 decibels—comparable to the sound of a conversation. This generator features two three-prong 120V receptacles and two USB ports, making it an excellent power source for many applications. The Eco-Mode setting provides this generator with a six-hour 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.

    Best For RVs
    Champion 4000-Watt RV Ready DH Series Open Frame Inverter

    If it's a reliable source of power for your RV that you need, then we can recommend the Champion 4000-Watt RV Ready DH Series Open Frame Inverter. Its 4000 starting watts and 3500 running watts are more than enough to power an RV or the essential items in your home for around 17 hours on gasoline. At 64 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, despite the generator’s hefty proportions, it does not come with a wheel and handle kit—these are sold separately.

    Tips

    • 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. 

    FAQs:

    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.

    Final Thoughts

    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.