Best Portable Inverter Generators: Always Have Backup Power Available
Never be without power again thanks to these efficient and reliable portable inverter generators.
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BY Lisa Conant / LAST UPDATED ON July 17, 2021
If you frequently suffer from power outages, or if you’re an avid camper, tailgater, or power tool user, a portable inverter generator can be a game changer when it comes to having an efficient and reliable back-up power source. These compact electricity generating units are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can own.
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, we have come up with our 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.
Briggs and Stratton is a popular brand that is known to make some of the best inverter generators, and this one is no exception.
- Compact, efficient, and quiet
- Provides an impressive runtime at 25 percent load on just a gallon tank of fuel
- 1700 watts is sufficient for a lot of outdoor activities, but might not be enough for more power-hungry users
This inverter generator is feature-rich and offers a lot of what one needs for a very attractive price.
- Not only does it have a slew of helpful features, but it has a runtime that beats many of the more expensive options
- Maintenance is made more difficult by the hard-to-remove side panel
- Eco-throttle mode only works for loads below 1000 watts
This unit offers an impressive 4,500 peak watts and 3,700 running watts to easily meet your larger power needs.
- At 52 decibels, not only is this generator among the quietest in its class, but it’s also stable and clean enough to safely power your most sensitive electronics
- This unit comes with a hefty price tag
- Weighs just under 100 pounds, making it one of the heavier units on our list
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Benefits of Portable Inverter Generators
- They offer backup power. Whether it’s for tailgating, camping, or to endure those pesky power outages, a portable inverter generator is the most convenient solution if you need clean, backup power.
- Access to clean, stable, and consistent energy. Inverter generators have become a popular alternative to standard generators because they provide clean and consistent energy which is safe for powering up laptops, TVs, and other sensitive electronic items.
- Size and portability. If you need backup power wherever you go, then an inverter generator might be the best option. Inverter generators are typically smaller and lighter than standard generators; an average inverter generator weighs between 35 to 55 pounds, while a standard generator can weigh four to five times more.
- Less noise production. If you need backup power but don’t want to deal with loud engine noises, then get an inverter generator instead. They are much quieter, and the average inverter generator generates just as much noise as a normal conversation.
Types of Portable Inverter Generators
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.
Another difference between inverter generators is that many of them come equipped to accept 20- or 30-amp RV or marine plugs, making them the perfect option for camping or boating. Obviously, if you plan to use your inverter generator for an emergency power supply at your home, or to run power tools and small appliances, you wouldn’t need an RV plug and could put that money toward a regular inverter generator with other outlet styles.
Briggs & Stratton
This company, which started in 1908, is based in Wauwatosa, Wis. It is a gasoline engine manufacturer that has facilities worldwide. One of its most popular products is the Briggs & Stratton P2200.
Founded in 1951, WEN is a company that’s been designing and distributing power tools for decades. It has expanded into developing other products since then, including inverter generators. One of its most popular inverter generators is the WEN 56200i.
The Westinghouse Corporation was founded in 1886 after George Westinghouse patented the revolutionary air brake and changed the face of railroad safety. The company has grown steadily over the past 130 years by providing innovative and useful products such as the Westinghouse Air Fryer Pressure Cooker and the company’s line of air purifiers.
Headquartered in Waukesha, Wis., Generac Holdings, Inc. is a Fortune 1000 company that focuses on manufacturing back-up power sources for industrial, household, and light commercial purposes. The Generac 70432 Home Standby Generator Guardian Series is one of the top-selling whole-home backup generators in the nation.
Portable Inverter Generator Pricing
- Under $500: generators in this price range will vary in terms of features but will fall into the small to medium category and be capable of producing around 3000 watts and under.
- $500 and up: These generators will be medium to large (or open-frame) in size. They will be less portable but will offer a greater power output of 3000 watts and above.
Ease of Use
Inverter generators, as opposed to standard generators, are typically more convenient and easy to use. They will generally be more portable, quieter, and will have a control panel that can be understood and operated on by even those who are new to the product. Compared to standard generators, inverter generators are also much easier to maintain. Some of the most user-friendly inverter generators feature a simple push-button start instead of a recoil pull-start option.
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.
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.
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.
- Parallel Capable. Most inverter generators available in the market are parallel capable, which means that two or more generators of the same brand can be paired with each other to increase the overall power output. This will be particularly useful if a generator’s output is less than what is needed.
- Warranty. Inverter generators are typically easier to maintain than conventional generators, and they won’t need as much regular maintenance. However, unlike conventional generators, inverter generators have a more complicated internal system, which is why the warranty on parts and services that a unit comes with is an important consideration that buyers should look into.
- 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.
- 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.
Best Portable Inverter Generators Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Always make sure to follow the guidelines listed in your generator’s maintenance schedule. Doing this will ensure that your generator always runs at peak efficiency. This will also lengthen the lifespan of your inverter generator.
- Always keep your inverter generator covered when it’s not being used. This will keep it protected against dirt, dust, and moisture, which can clog up its internals and cause shorts.
- Never use your inverter generator indoors or in spaces where carbon monoxide buildup can occur, because prolonged exposure to this gas can be fatal.
Q. What is an inverter generator?
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 six percent, making it safe for powering up sensitive electronic devices.
Q. What is the best portable inverter generator?
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?
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.
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 run-time at 25 percent load. And, it’s offered at an easy-to-swallow price point.