What every best Portable Generators has:
- Reliable performance.
- Easy starting
- Adequate run time
In this report, editors test 3 stationary generators and 23 portable generators of 4,500 to 7,500 watts. After running a variety of test loads 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.
There are hundreds of portable generators here, and the top models have hundreds of reviews from the site's customers. The site's product experts add a brief review of generator models they recommend, but these appear to be based primarily on features and brand reputation rather than testing. The site also provides a handy summary of reviewers' top pros and cons for each generator.
There are tons of portable generators for sale on Home Depot's website. The top-rated models here are all gas-powered, and most of them are from the Generac brand. We found a total of nine portable generators with ratings of 4.5 out of 5 stars or better after at least 100 reviews. However, like many online retailer sites, Home Depot picks up many of its reviews from the manufacturers' websites.
Walmart sells a smaller selection of portable generators online than other retail sites – about 140 models in all. It's a little tricky to figure out which models have the best reviews, since the site doesn't always list brand and model numbers on the main search page. We found six generators with ratings of at least 4.5 stars out of 5 from 100 users or more - but, again, some of these reviews are pulled from manufacturer websites.
We found lots of reviews for generators at Amazon. There are more than 1,500 models sold here, including backup generators for the home and smaller ones intended for camping and RV use. Gas models are the most popular here, and several earn overall ratings of 4.5 stars out of 5 from 250 owners or more. We also found good ratings for one dual-fuel model.
Popular Mechanics tests four 2,000-watt generators in this comparison, conducted "even as Hurricane Sandy raged through our area" in October 2012. They hook each one up to two small loads, a heater and a motor, and measure the smoothness of its current. The Honda EU2000i is named the best overall, followed by the Yamaha EF2000iS. The Generac iX2000 and Briggs & Stratton P2000 also do well, but both are discontinued.
This report covers all types of generators – small inverter generators, standard portable generators, and larger standby generators. Editor "Jason" says the models went through "exhaustive testing" but doesn't go into detail about his methods. However, he does outline the criteria his ratings are based on: noise level, energy efficiency, portability, ease of maintenance, and ease of obtaining service. In the case of inverter generators, he also considers how "clean" their power is.
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.