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Best Portable Inverter Generators: Reliable Power Wherever, Whenever

Never be left in the dark again thanks to these rugged and reliable portable inverter generators.

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BYLisa Conant/ LAST UPDATED ON September 7, 2022

Whether you’re purposely going off the grid or are looking for a clean, reliable alternate power source to run your RV, tailgate party, or favorite power tool, investing in an inverter generator is a great idea. It can be a game changer if you suffer from frequent power outages and need access to electricity in an emergency.


You can use a portable inverter generator to power everything from sensitive electronics to portable refrigerators, power tools, c-pap machines, lights, and much more. No matter your power needs, there is likely a portable inverter generator on the market that will be an ideal solution. To help you sift through the vast array of offerings, I’ve come up with my top favorites, along with a handy buying guide to help you learn exactly what to look for to ensure you get a durable, reliable, and efficient model that won’t let you down when you need it the most.

Best Overall

Briggs & Stratton P2200

Summary
Briggs and Stratton is a popular brand that is known to make some of the best inverter generators, and this one is no exception. 
Pros
  • Long runtime 
  • Relatively lightweight and easy to transport
  • Can be connected in parallel for added power
Cons
  • Not powerful enough for some applications
  • Can be difficult to get started
Best Value

WEN 56200i

Summary
This inverter generator is feature-rich and offers a lot of what one needs for a very attractive price.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Quiet operation
  • Long runtime
Cons
  • Eco-throttle only works loads below 1,000 watts
  • Side panel is tough to remove
Honorable Mention

Westinghouse iGen4500 Electric Start Portable Inverter Generator

Summary
This unit offers an impressive 4,500 peak watts and 3,700 running watts to easily meet your larger power needs.
Pros
  • Plenty of power and runtime
  • Easy push-button start
  • Backed by a three-year warranty
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Heavy
Best Portable Inverter Generators: Reliable Power Wherever, Whenever

Summary List 

Best Value: WEN 56200i

Best Eco-Friendly: Jackery Solar Generator 1000

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Our Methodology

When it comes to choosing the best portable inverter power generators, I wanted to provide you with a well-rounded list that features a good variety of reputable manufacturers with solid track records of providing high-quality, reliable products. I included a wide range of price points to suit any budget. I focused on inverter generators that use the latest technology and that feature innovative, compact designs suitable for a wide variety of vehicles and uses. For more information on the selection criteria, click this link to The Drive’s Gear About page, which explains our methodology further.

Best Portable Inverter Generator Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Model: 030758
  • Weight: 55 pounds
  • Wattage: 1,800 watts

Pros

  • Long runtime
  • Relatively lightweight and easy to transport
  • Can be connected in parallel for added power

Cons

  • Not powerful enough for some applications
  • Can be difficult to get started

The Briggs & Stratton P2200 offers 1,700 running watts of electrical power anywhere you need it. The P220 is powered by a compact, efficient, and quiet 111 cc overhead valve engine. This engine, combined with a one-gallon fuel tank, allows for continuous operation for eight hours at a 25 percent load. At just under 55 pounds, the unit can be moved around easily and can be linked in parallel with another for extra power. With harmonic distortion levels of less than 3 percent, the P2200 is safe to use to provide power to laptops, TVs, mobile phones, and other fragile electronic devices.

This generator might not be enough for more power-hungry users, however. While you might be able to power your refrigerator depending on its wattage demands, you won’t be able to power up other, larger appliances.

Specs

  • Model: 56200i
  • Weight: 48 pounds
  • Wattage: 1,600 watts

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Quiet operation
  • Long runtime

Cons

  • Eco-throttle only works loads below 1,000 watts
  • Side panel is tough to remove

Generators in the WEN 56200i’s price bracket very rarely can be called quiet, and they’re pretty much never described as powerful. They are often heavy and bulky, challenging to even get to where they’re needed. This WEN generator punches above its price class, however. It produces just 53 decibels, has an engine that is both EPA and CARB compliant, and weighs less than fifty pounds. With a total production of 1,600 rated watts and 2,000 surge watts, the 56200i makes the electrical oomph one needs, all in a small and portable package. It boasts a very impressive 9.4-hour run time under one-quarter load, lasting longer than some generators well over double its price.

The side panel, however, is difficult to remove, making maintenance of the unit that much more difficult. Another drawback is that the eco-throttle mode only works for loads below 1,000 watts.

Specs

  • Model: iGen4500
  • Weight: 104.7 pounds
  • Wattage: 3,700 watts

Pros

  • Plenty of power and runtime
  • Easy push-button start
  • Backed by a three-year warranty

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

When you have larger power needs and you want the ultimate in reliability and durability, the Westinghouse iGen4500 Electric Start Portable Inverter Generator deserves your attention. It offers an impressive 4,500 peak watts and 3,700 running watts to easily meet your larger power needs. It’s equipped with a TT-30R RV-ready outlet, two 20-amp household outlets, and two 5-volt DC USB ports to provide versatile power options.

With a variable speed engine, you get impressive fuel efficiency. In fact, you can run this unit for up to 18 hours on a single 3.4-gallon tank of fuel. The push-button electric start is a welcome relief from some models that feature an annoying and unreliable pull-start. A bright LED display shows rolling data regarding fuel level, maintenance needs, power output, and more.

I appreciate that this inverter generator is backed by a solid three-year warranty and comes with lots of safety options to prevent dangerous malfunctions. It also features a quiet operating noise level of only 52 decibels. What I don’t love is the heavy price tag or the heaviness of the unit itself. Weighing in at almost 105 pounds, it’s one of the heftiest models on the list.

Specs

  • Model: 200962
  • Weight: 39 pounds
  • Wattage: 1,665 watts

Pros

  • Runs off two different fuel sources
  • Super lightweight
  • Cold start technology ensures starting in freezing temps

Cons

  • Pull-start can be frustrating
  • No 30-amp RV or marine-ready option

If you’re looking for a really lightweight, yet powerful power source, check out the Champion Power Equipment 2500-Watt Ultralight Portable Dual Fuel Inverter Generator. This versatile generator can run off regular fuel or propane, giving you options in the event of a fuel shortage or when a trip to the gas station just isn’t in the cards. Even better, this generator weighs a mere 39 pounds, making it one of the most lightweight options available.

For your investment, you get 2,500 watts of starting power and 1,850 watts of running power when using fuel or 1,665 watts of running power when using propane. Not to mention the cold start technology that ensures the unit starts quickly and easily in some pretty frigid temperatures. It’s equipped with two 120-volt, 20-amp household outlets, two 2.1-amp USB ports, and the ability to hook two units up in tandem to double your power capabilities.

One drawback is that this model doesn’t feature an easy push-button start, but has the typical pull-start that some people struggle to get to work on the first try. The other thing that appears to be lacking on this unit is the addition of a 30-amp RV- or marine-ready outlet. You can purchase a separate kit that offers a 30-amp RV outlet, but that’s going to add to your cost even more. The three-year limited warranty is also a great feature.

Specs

  • Model: SG1000
  • Weight: 22 pounds
  • Wattage: 1,000 watts

Pros

  • No smelly fuel source needed to run this generator
  • Multiple charging options
  • Can be charged quickly when in direct sunlight

Cons

  • Expensive
  • User manual is confusing and not very clear

For the environmentally conscious user and anyone looking to run a generator that doesn’t sound like an airplane constantly passing overhead, there’s the Jackery Solar Generator 1000. This innovative and smartly designed generator can be 100 percent powered by solar charging. The unit comes equipped with two lightweight and portable 100W solar panels that are capable of fully charging the generator in six to 12 hours, depending on the amount of sunlight you have. Be warned, however, that the included solar panels aren’t waterproof.

You can also charge the generator using a standard household electric outlet or your vehicle’s 12-volt power outlet for times when there is little to no sun. It offers an impressive 2,000 watts of starting power and 1,000 watts of running power. The best part? Running the generator is almost completely silent and won’t ruin your enjoyment of the outdoors. The drawback? It has a hefty price tag. The directions are also somewhat vague and unclear.

Specs

  • Model: Explorer 300
  • Weight: 7.1 pounds
  • Wattage: 300 watts

Pros

  • Super compact and lightweight
  • Great for charging sensitive devices/li>
  • Silent operation

Cons

  • Not powerful enough to charge appliances
  • Fully recharging this tiny unit takes longer than expected

For the times when larger inverter generators are just overkill, there’s the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 300. This ultra-portable inverter generator weighs only 7.1 pounds and can easily fit in your car or camping gear. It’s an entry-level power supply that’s equipped with a 293Wh rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack. It will give you a peak wattage of 500 watts and 300 running watts so that you can quickly charge or run your laptop, smartphone, tablet, fans, lights, and more.

This little power source is equipped with two 110-volt, 300-watt pure sine wave AC outlets, one 5-volt USB port, one quick-charge 3.0 USB-A port, one USB-C port, and one 12-volt DC car charging port. It’s the perfect option for minimalist travelers and folks who like to pack light. As an added bonus, this power station can be recharged using Jackery’s SolarSaga solar panel. You can also recharge it via an AC or DC outlet.

While I love the portability and simplicity of this unit, it’s definitely not up to snuff if you need to power a small cooler, refrigerator, or any other small appliances. It’s strictly for light-duty charging needs. Jackery customer service gets high marks for quick response times and friendly people, though.

Specs

  • Model: EU2200ITAG1
  • Weight: 46.5 pounds
  • Wattage: 2,200 watts

Pros

  • Powerful, yet lightweight
  • Quiet operation/li>
  • Automatic carbon monoxide monitoring

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No push-button start

What would a list of portable inverter generators be without including the long-time favorite and crème de la crème of products? The Honda EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator has been touted as one of the most efficient and reliable portable inverter generators on the market. That still holds true today, as Honda continues to innovate and advance its product as well as give you the low-maintenance, dependable engine that the company is known for. This updated model delivers 10 percent more power than its predecessor.

With 2,200 watts of power, you can run a lot of appliances and tools. You can link two units in tandem to pump that up even more. As an added bonus, this model weighs less than 50 pounds and operates between 48 and 57 decibels. It even has a smart co-minder function that alerts you to excess CO. You can also link it to your smartphone to monitor usage, get service reminders, and shut it off remotely. The drawbacks to this generator are few, but the price tag has to be the biggest one. One other nit-picky complaint is that this unit doesn’t come equipped with easy push-button start, but that’s hardly an issue.

Our Verdict

When it comes to the ideal combination of power, reliability, functionality, and price, our top pick is definitely the Briggs & Stratton P2200. It delivers a decent 1,700 watts of running power and can run for up to eight hours at 25 percent capacity, making it a versatile option ideal for many users. For a more budget-friendly option, the WEN 56200i gives you 1,600 watts and a 9.4-hour runtime at 25 percent load. And, it’s offered an easy-to-swallow price point.

Consider Secondhand

When we start shopping for tools and products, we never overlook the secondhand market. In fact, it’s usually the first place I look. Whether you’re scrolling through Amazon’s Renewed section, eBay for car parts or tools, or flipping through the pages of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you have hundreds of thousands of used tools, parts, and gear ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Refurbished to like-new status, they’ll be willing to give you many more years of faithful service all while saving you money. 

If those options don’t have what you need, your local salvage yard is great for car parts, while swap meets are a great resource you should tap. Just Google either and head on down.  

Secondhand Tips

To make your secondhand search easier, here are two tips to finding the best deals and making sure your new-to-you stuff wasn’t destroyed by the previous owner. 

  • When going with an online seller, make sure they have a high user rating and a great reputation among other consumers. 
  • When buying secondhand, do your homework. Shop around and compare pricing between sellers to make sure you’re not getting taken to the cleaners.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Portable Inverter Generator

While there are many similarities between most of the best portable inverter generators on the market, it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all consideration. There are several important key factors to familiarize yourself with to ensure you’re getting the best choice to suit your needs and that will hold up to the serious wear and tear over time and continue to deliver reliable power when you need it most.

Key Features

Number of output ports 

Naturally, the number of output ports a generator offers will be an important consideration. Smaller generators will have one or two output ports, as well as a few USB ports for smaller devices. Medium to large generators, on the other hand, will have more and will have additional RV-ready outlets. If you need an RV- or marine-ready generator, be sure to double-check the port layout prior to purchase.

Clean Power Delivery

One of the key features of an inverter generator is its ability to deliver clean, consistent, and stable energy. Since the energy is delivered in pure sine waves, it has less harmonic distortion and is therefore safe for powering up sensitive electronic devices such as laptops, TVs, mobile phones, and other gadgets.

Engine Efficiency

Unlike conventional generators that maintain engine speed no matter how many appliances are being powered, inverter generators can adjust their engine speed depending on load requirements. This makes inverter generators much more fuel-efficient than conventional generators. This ability to adjust engine speed also means inverter generators won’t get as much wear as conventional generators over time.

Noise Level 

Many of today’s inverter generators function much more quietly than their larger, less portable counterparts. With noise levels below 60 decibels, most inverter generators fall below the noise ordinances laid out by the National Park Service, making them a great option for camping.

Lightweight Portability

Another key selling point to an inverter generator versus a regular generator is that inverter generators are much more lightweight and portable. Since most inverter generators weigh around 40 to 60 pounds, you can easily take them camping, in your truck, on your boat, or move them between homes as needed. 

Portable Inverter Generator Pricing 

You can get an efficient and decently powerful portable inverter generator that can run small appliances and sensitive electronics for under $500. If you’re looking for power above 1,000 watts and a generator capable of running in parallel, plan to spend between $500 and $900. For a more powerful, durable, and rugged marine- or RV-ready generator with all the latest tech features, expect to pay upwards of $1,000.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q. What is an inverter generator?

A: An inverter generator is a device that converts mechanical energy into clean, usable AC electrical energy with a Total Harmonic Distortion that is less than 6 percent, making it safe for powering up sensitive electronic devices. 

Q. What is the best portable inverter generator?

A: The best portable inverter generator will have the best balance of price, portability, power output, and ease of use. It will also need to be reliable and come from a brand with a proven track record.

Q. What are the advantages of a portable inverter generator?

A: Compared to traditional generators, inverter generators are typically smaller, quieter, and more fuel-efficient. They also produce stable energy and safeguard against surges which make them safer than conventional generators for powering up sensitive electronic devices.

Q: Are there different types of portable inverter generators?

A: When it comes to portable inverter generators, there really is only one type. That said, inverter generators can vary greatly in size and power production. Some may offer as little as 200 watts of running power, while the largest portable inverter generators can provide upwards of 4,500 watts.

Q: How long can you run an inverter generator continuously?

A: Depending on what you’re powering and the power level at which you run your portable inverter generator, you can expect it to run continuously on a single fuel source for between 6 and 18 hours. If you have a solar-powered portable inverter generator, you can often get 6-24 hours of runtime, again depending on how many devices you have drawing power from it.

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