Portable Generators: Expert and User Reviews

In this report

Portable Generators: Ratings of Sources

1. ConsumerReports.org Generator Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
Credibility:
Editors include three categories of generators in their report: portable generators (all 4,500 to 7,500 watts) and two sizes of stationary generators. After running a variety of test appliances with the portable generators, editors rate each generator on user-friendliness, power quality, power delivery, run time and noise. Full details are available to subscribers.
2. Popular Mechanics Portable Generators, Roy Berendsohn, October 2013
Credibility:
The editors at Popular Mechanics test five generators in this comparison test. In addition to testing ease of use and performance, editors measure noise output and power quality for running sensitive electronics.
3. Amazon.com Generators, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of January 2016
Credibility:
Amazon.com users review the generators they've purchased, rating them on a 5-star scale. Generators are listed in both the Automotive and Patio, Lawn and Garden sections. Standout gasoline-powered models get 4.4 stars or better out of 5 after at least 50 owner reviews (propane-powered generators tend to get fewer reviews).
4. Camping Life Magazine Portable Power, Editors of CampingLife.com, June 2, 2011
Credibility:
Editors test the Generac iX2000, Yamaha EF2000iS and Honda EU2000i, connecting each generator to a couple of appliances to assess power and performance. They also measure noise levels and fuel consumption, and compare factors such as weight and ease of use. The article doesn't give formal rankings, but lists the pros and cons of each generator. "The Yamaha offers a little more for your money when it comes to buying portable power," editors conclude.
5. Popular Mechanics Which Small Generator Is the Toughest?, Roy Berendsohn, Not Dated
Credibility:
Popular Mechanics tests four 2,000-watt generators in this comparison, conducted "even as Hurricane Sandy raged through our area" in October 2012. The Honda EU2000i is named the best overall, followed by the Yamaha EF2000iS. Testers say the Generac iX2000 and Briggs & Stratton P2000 are also top-performing small generators. However, editors include few details on testing methods.
6. HomeDepot.com Portable Generators, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of January 2016
Credibility:
HomeDepot.com publishes owner reviews and ratings of the portable generators it sells. Several models earn 4.5 out of 5 stars or better after at least 60 reviews -- some with more than 500 reviews. However, like many online retailers, a good number of products include reviews that were originally posted on manufacturer web sites.
7. Walmart.com Portable Generators, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of January 2016
Credibility:
Walmart.com sells a smaller selection of generators, and it also pulls reviews directly from some manufacturer web sites. However, you can also helpful reviews about several brands -- notably Champion -- that appear only here.
8. Electric Generators Direct.com Portable Generators, Mike Sawisch and Contributors to ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com, As of January 2016
Credibility:
You can find lots of portable generators listed at ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com. Some only get a handful of reviews, but others draw dozens and sometimes hundreds, and feedback looks to be largely from the site's customers. Product expert Mike Sawisch adds a brief review of generator models he recommends, but these appear to be based primarily on features and brand reputation rather than testing.
9. ConsumerReports.org The Best Generators for Camping and Tailgating, Ed Perratore, Aug. 7, 2014
Credibility:
In this free article, Ed Perratore discusses small 1,000- to 3,000-watt inverter generators (which aren't included in Consumer Reports' generator rankings). These are handy not only in power outages, but to take on the road for camping and tailgates. He lists the features of two Briggs & Stratton models, but without testing them or picking a favorite.