best budget portable generators

There are many possible reasons why you’re looking for a budget portable generator but one thing is for sure, not spending a fortune on one is at the forefront of your mind.

Welcome to our review of the Best Budget Portable Generators for 2020!

Portable generators can be used for Camping, Fishing trips, workplace, and many other activities. But just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you need to compromise on quality and performance.

There are so many brands and options to choose from it can be a little overwhelming when you first start looking. That’s why we have put together this Top 10 Budget Portable Generator Review – new for 2020.

We could go into great detail about wattage, power output, startup wattage, and many other factors but we know that you simply want to know “What’s the best Budget Portable Generator”? Right?

So, let’s keep this simple but also informative and help you save time and money when purchasing a portable generator.

This Table Shows Our Top 3 Choices

Editors Choice
WEN 56125i Super Quiet 1250-Watt Portable Inverter...
Lowest Priced
WEN 56105 1000-Watt Portable Generator, CARB...
Quietest
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240, 240Wh...
Title
WEN 56125i Generator 2400W
WEN 56105 1000-Watt
Jackery 240 Power Station
Prime
Weight
31.6 pounds
36.9 pounds
6.6lbs
Our Star Rating
9.6 Stars out of 10
9.4 Stars out of 10
8.9 Stars out of 10
Warranty
2 Year Global Warranty
2 Years
1 Year Warranty
Power
1250 surge watts and 1000 rated watts
1000 starting watts and 900 running watts
240 watt-hour (16.8Ah, 14.4V)
Dimensions
17 x 9 x 12.5 inches
15 x 12 x 14.5 inches
5.2 x 9.1 x 7.7 inches
Run Time
5 Hours on half load
10 Hours on half load full tank
7 Hours
Power Source
Gasoline
Gasoline
Battery Powered
Suitable use
Small RV appliances & Camping
Home DIY & Fishing, Camping
Hiking, Camping, Beach, Photography
What we liked
Power and performance
Low Price
No Noise and Lightweight, Portable
Editors Choice
WEN 56125i Super Quiet 1250-Watt Portable Inverter...
Title
WEN 56125i Generator 2400W
Prime
Weight
31.6 pounds
Our Star Rating
9.6 Stars out of 10
Warranty
2 Year Global Warranty
Power
1250 surge watts and 1000 rated watts
Dimensions
17 x 9 x 12.5 inches
Run Time
5 Hours on half load
Power Source
Gasoline
Suitable use
Small RV appliances & Camping
What we liked
Power and performance
Lowest Priced
WEN 56105 1000-Watt Portable Generator, CARB...
Title
WEN 56105 1000-Watt
Prime
Weight
36.9 pounds
Our Star Rating
9.4 Stars out of 10
Warranty
2 Years
Power
1000 starting watts and 900 running watts
Dimensions
15 x 12 x 14.5 inches
Run Time
10 Hours on half load full tank
Power Source
Gasoline
Suitable use
Home DIY & Fishing, Camping
What we liked
Low Price
Quietest
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240, 240Wh...
Title
Jackery 240 Power Station
Prime
Weight
6.6lbs
Our Star Rating
8.9 Stars out of 10
Warranty
1 Year Warranty
Power
240 watt-hour (16.8Ah, 14.4V)
Dimensions
5.2 x 9.1 x 7.7 inches
Run Time
7 Hours
Power Source
Battery Powered
Suitable use
Hiking, Camping, Beach, Photography
What we liked
No Noise and Lightweight, Portable

Last update on 2020-08-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

10. Westhousing iGEN2000

Producing up to 18.3 amps at 120 volts and 15 amps under normal running conditions. The iGen2200 has enough power to run all your home essentials. And with a 1.2-gallon fuel tank and under normal conditions, this generator will run for 12 hours.

A 79cc 4-stroke Over-Head-Valve engine, which makes 3 horsepower, automatically controls its speed to fit the power needs. An Automatic Voltage Regulator ensures that the voltage distortion stays below 3%.

If you want more power, Westinghouse’s iGen range are parallel capable. So, if you have another iGen and the Westinghouse parallel cable, you can increase the power output. The front panel has two 120-volts outlets and two standard USB sockets.

At 46.3 pounds (21 Kg) a with a sturdy carry handle, this is portable enough for one person to move it around. The iGen2200 is incredibly quiet, at only 52 dB, about the same as a normal conversation at home.

  • Starting 2200W – Continuous 1800W
  • Fuel Type: Gas
  • Capacity: 1.2 gal.
  • Tank Run-Time @ 25% Load: 12 hrs.
  • Noise Level @ 25% Load: 52 dB.
  • Weight: 46.3 lb.
  • Warranty: 3-Year

Pros

  • Powerful enough to run a standard fridge through the night.
  • Incredibly quiet to run, it is not going to disturb anyone’s sleep if used outside an RV.
  • Reliability is second to none
  • It will work in parallel with other iGens.

Cons

  • Recoil Start, but it is easy.
Reviewers Thoughts: This is one of the most popular generators sold on Amazon and you can see why. Quality, Reliability and performance means it made it into our Top 3 List.
Carl
Keen Golfer & Camper

9. WEN 56125i Super Quiet

A 60cc 4-stroke engine powers this generator from WEN to supply up to 1250 watts, rated for 1000 watts at normal use. At half-load, a 0.7-gallon (2.6 L) fuel tank is enough to keep the little engine running for up to 5 hours. And there is an Eco-Mode, that makes the most of the fuel when there is no load.

There are two 120-volt sockets and two USB sockets, on the control panel. This generator will also work in parallel with other generators of the same brand if you need more amperage. The power distortion, while under load, is below 1.2%.

You’ll need a special adaptor to connect two of these generators together which is available on Amazon here!

Fridges fluctuate in power consumption, depending on pump activity, and this can cause issues for budget portable generators. If a short occurs, where an appliance is too demanding, the generator’s overload protection shuts the circuit down.

You could have this generator set up outside of your home, and you would barely hear it. The manufacturer states that this makes 51 dB at 22 feet and weighs only 31 pounds (14 Kg). The Super Quiet 5612i is a manageable load for anyone to carry.

  • Starting 1250W – Continuous 1000W
  • Fuel Type: Gas
  • Capacity: 0.7 gal.
  • Tank Run-Time @ 25% Load: 5 hrs.
  • Noise Level @ 25% Load: 51 dB.
  • Weight: 31 lb.
  • Warranty: 2-Year

Pros

Cons

  • USB Sockets
  • Lightweight and easy to carry, with a large handle
  • Eco-Mode makes the fuel last when the generator runs on stand-by
  • It will work in parallel with other Wen Generators with the connecting kit
  • Low power may struggle with large fridges and appliances
  • The small fuel tank will need refueling in the middle of the night
Reviewers Thoughts: Having the ability to connect two Wen Generators and get up to 30 Amps and 3600 Watts is very handy.
Carl
Keen Golfer & Camper

8. Jackery Portable Power Station

This is a power station that uses a large 16.8 Ah lithium-ion battery, which can also power appliances needing 120 volts. A clean looking station with simplistic features and plenty of powering options. The front panel has a good choice of sockets and an LCD display to see battery status and rate of charge and discharge.

You can use your own car or a solar panel to charge the unit. The package comes with a car charger cable that will plug into the 12-volt outlet of your car and into the input of the station. So, you can keep using your devices without running the battery down.

The solar panel is available to purchase on Amazon, Click here for the latest prices.

No messy fuel spills, the 110-volt outlet will power devices up to 400 watts at peak power, 200 watts at standard use. There are two USB sockets to charge small portable devices directly. Jackery has a 12-volt car outlet for running air pumps.

Being battery powered, this station is silent, though it would not be able to power a fridge. And weighing in at only 6.6 pounds, the unit is portable and small enough to live in your car

  • Starting 400W – Continuous 200W
  • Fuel Type: Lithium-ion Battery
  • Capacity: N/A
  • Tank Run-Time @ 25% Load: N/A.
  • Noise Level @ 25% Load: 0 dB.
  • Weight: 6.6 lb.
  • Warranty: 2-Year

Pros

Cons

  • No noise or fumes when using it
  • Simple and will supply consistent power to sensitive electronics
  • Portable and small
  • Perfect for small electronics, Laptops, Computer and Lights
  • Perfect for a CPAP
  • Optional solar charging panel is handy
  • Only weights 6lbs
  • It does not have enough power to run a fridge or other home appliances
  • When the battery dies, it will take time to recharge, unless you plug it into your car.
Reviewers Thoughts: Perfect for smaller devices when out camping and also perfect for CPAP machines and medical equipment.
Carl
Keen Golfer & Camper

7. Dirty Hand Generator 800W

A 0.55-gallon (2.1 L) fuel tank is enough to keep this little 40cc engine running on half-load for up to 7 hours. Efficient and the easy-to-pull recoil start, make it a great machine to take on a camping trip. The 1.4 horsepower engine is small, but then it is quiet, 58 dB.

The main panel has a variety of sockets. There is a single USB socket to power 5-volt portable devices. A 120-volt main-socket rated to 5.8 amps, and there is also a 12-volt output. At peak output, this generator will supply 800 watts of power, 700 watts at nominal use.

Dirty Hand Tools have not designed this generator with parallel connections in mind, so it will not be possible to hook it up to another generator. But, at 19 pounds (8.6 Kg) for a gasoline generator, it is far more portable than competing machines.

  • Starting 800W – Continuous 700W
  • Fuel Type: Gas
  • Capacity: 0.55 gal.
  • Tank Run-Time @ 25% Load: 8 hrs.
  • Noise Level @ 25% Load: 58 dB.
  • Weight: 31 lb.
  • Warranty: 2-Year

Pros

Cons

  • Lightweight. You can carry this further. Ideal for off track camping
  • Very Quiet when running
  • Portable and small.
  • Available in 3 models ranging from 800W - 3200W
  • Efficient. Will keep going for 8 hours at 50% load
  • This 800W model will not run a small fridge or larger appliances
  • Only has one socket for each of the USB and A/C
Reviewers Thoughts: We tested this on a very cold morning and it started on the second pull. Great for countries with extremely low temperatures
Carl
Keen Golfer & Camper

6. A-iPower SUA2000iV

A 4-stroke 79cc Senci engine powers this beast of a generator to produce up to 2000 watts of power at peak, and 1600 watts at normal use. An automated throttle control changes the engine speed to keep it efficient and to ensure a smooth supply of power.

The 1.1-gallon (4.16 L) fuel tank is a good size and will run for 4 hours on full load, or 7 hours on half load. A-iPower will adjust the fuel consumption in Low Idle mode to keep the engine running for up to 9 hours at 50% load.

The main panel has the usual circuit breaks and the chance to plug in a parallel generator. There is also a regular 120-volt main socket, a 12-volt car style socket with cover, and a dedicated RV outlet. The SUA2000iV does not have a USB socket.

At 50 pounds (22.7 Kg), this is a bit of a monster, and you would not want to carry it around for long. But this 58-decibel generator is quiet enough to use in a camping site outside of your RV. The fuel filler cap is set back a little way from the main control board, a good idea for obvious safety reasons.

  • Starting 2000W – Continuous 1600W
  • Fuel Type: Gas
  • Capacity: 1.2 gal.
  • Tank Run-Time @ 25% Load: 12 hrs.
  • Noise Level @ 25% Load: 52 dB.
  • Weight: 46 lb.
  • Warranty: 3-Year

Pros

Cons

  • Impressive fuel consumption on the Low Idle mode
  • Very quiet when running
  • Will connect to similar generators, including the Yamaha SC2000iV, in parallel mode
  • 9 hour run time at 50% load and 4 hour run time at 100% load
  • High power rating that will easily run a fridge
  • Low oil indicator and auto shut off when it runs low to prevent damage
  • No USB sockets. But you can still plug a USB adapter into the mains socket.
  • Heavy
Reviewers Thoughts: We liked the 7 hour running time of a full tank of gas and the price. We didn't like the weight!
Carl
Keen Golfer & Camper

5. WEN 56105 1000-Watt Generator

2-stroke engines such as the ones used in this model do have their benefits, but it is more common to see them in smaller engines. A 2-stroke will tend to last longer, and they can work on an uneven surface because the engine oil is mixed with the fuel. It also means that there is no need for a regular oil change.

This is a 63cc OHV 2-stroke, both EPA III and CARB compliant, that supplied 900 watts of power at normal use. 1000 watts will cover surges from larger appliances. This means that you can use the 120-volt socket to run anything as demanding as 7 amps.

A 1-gallon (3.7 L) fuel tank, filled to the brim, will keep the engine running for up to 5 hours at half-load. The fuel needed is a 50:1 mix of gasoline and engine oil. Being 2-stroke does make it louder than other budget portable generators. WEN specifies that, at full load, the unit will reach 95 dB at 13 feet (4 m).

  • Starting 1000W – Continuous 900W
  • Fuel Type: 2-Stoke
  • Capacity: 1.0 gal.
  • Tank Run-Time @ 25% Load: 5 hrs.
  • Noise Level @ 25% Load: 95 dB.
  • Weight: 39 lb.
  • Warranty: 2-Year

Pros

Cons

  • Rugged. The 2-stroke factor means it will withstand a bit more mistreatment than its 4-stroke cousins
  • The unit is 39-pounds (17.7 Kg), making it an acceptable load to carry away from your campsite
  • 2-stroke also means that there is no need for a regular oil change
  • Noise levels are high for a generator. You would either need to hide it in a bush or turn it off at night
  • One mains outlet and nothing else.
Reviewers Thoughts: If you're on a tight budget this no fuss 2-Stroke generator will be perfect for your camping vacation.
Carl
Keen Golfer & Camper

4. Pulsar G2319N 2,300W

Rated for 1800 watts with a peak output of 2300 watts, this generator from Pulsar will cope well with heavy demand. A 1.18-gallon (4.5 L) fuel tank is enough to last the engine 4.8 hours on half-load and up to 6 hours in economy mode. And it runs quietly at 59 dB from 10-feet, around the same amount of noise your camping neighbor will make while talking normally.

To keep your sensitive electronics safe, Clean Power watches over the voltage to ensure the current is smooth. This is helped a little with the use of a large 80cc 4-stroke motor.

A single USB socket means you can plug in a smartphone without an adaptor. There are two 120-volt mains socket outlets. A 12-volt car socket outlet for similarly styled adapters. And there are two outlets to allow for parallel connection to other generators of the same series.

  • Starting 2300W – Continuous 1800W
  • Fuel Type: Gas
  • Capacity: 1.18 gal.
  • Tank Run-Time @ 25% Load: 6 hrs.
  • Noise Level @ 25% Load: 59 dB.
  • Weight: 47 lb.
  • Warranty: 2-Year

Pros

Cons

  • High-power outlets to run demanding appliances.
  • Parallel outlets and a USB socket
  • Smooth power and surge protection
  • Heavy to carry 47 pounds (21.3 Kg), to and from the campsite
  • Not that quiet, though 59 dB at 10 feet is within the bounds of acceptable
Reviewers Thoughts: Noise level increased on high load but very impressed on the power output. Easy enough for camping!
Carl
Keen Golfer & Camper

3. ENKEEO 2300W Generator

Enkeeo’s 2300-watt generator has taken the fact that such a machine is heavy and has made it easier to move around. Two-wheels at the back and a telescopic handle at the front means that you will only need to lift it down to the ground.

Rated for 1800 watts with 2300 peak wattage protection, SC2300i has more than enough power for a small RV. Sockets include one for a 120-volt 30-amp RV adaptor and a regular 120-volt 20-amp socket. All protected with surge protection and a grounding bolt that is easy to wire up to.

The generator also has a 1.5-amp USB socket for 5-volt devices. And if you need more power, there are connections to wire it up in parallel. An LCD panel displays loading on the circuit, and fuel levels are visible on a digital gauge.

Considering that it has a 79cc engine and a 1.1-gallon fuel tank, this generator is still compact. Noise suppression keeps this machine down to an impressive 52 dB, so you may not need to wheel this 50.6-pound (23 Kg) far from where you intend to sleep.

  • Starting 2300W – Continuous 1800W
  • Fuel Type: Gas
  • Capacity: 1.1 gal.
  • Tank Run-Time @ 25% Load: 12 hrs.
  • Noise Level @ 25% Load: 52 dB.
  • Weight: 50.6 lb.
  • Warranty: 2-Year

Pros

Cons

  • Rod Handle and Wheels to move the machine away from your camping area
  • LED display giving you a good level of information
  • Plenty of diverse power sockets
  • Heavy, but not such an issue with two wheels
  • The fuel tank is on the small side, considering what it is intended to power
Reviewers Thoughts: A silly little thing like the pull-along handle and wheels made it easy to transport it to your camp pitch. I know it's the little things, right?
Carl
Keen Golfer & Camper

2. FlashFish Solar Generator

A giant and rugged rechargeable power-pack with an impressive 40.8 Ah lithium-ion battery. This station will charge a 160-watt for an hour, with a peak demand of 200 watts. Not intended for powering a fridge, though it could run a small camping fridge for an hour.

FlashFish has aimed their unit at those who want to keep their electronics going. It has two 3.0 USB ports and a single USB port for 2.4-amp charging. If you need somewhere to power a laptop, there are 2-pin and 3-pin 110-volt sockets. For 12V DC, there is a dual-pin socket rated at 10 amps.

You can read the status of the battery on an LCD display, which also tells you whether you are in AC or DC mode. When the battery gets low, you can charge it, which will take around 9 hours through your car’s DC socket.

A solar panel is an optional extra from FlashFish, or you can charge it through an A/C charger that is a part of the kit. Weight in at 4.07 pounds (1.85 Kg), this is a reasonable mass to carry in a backpack, or even to leave in the trunk of your car for emergencies.

  • Starting 200W – Continuous 160W
  • Fuel Type: Lithium-Ion Battery
  • Capacity: N/A
  • Tank Run-Time @ 25% Load: N/A.
  • Noise Level @ 25% Load: Silent
  • Weight: 4.07 lb.
  • Warranty: 1-Year

Pros

Cons

  • The low weight makes it portable
  • Silent. There is a cooling fan, but it is quiet
  • Great for phone charging and laptops
  • Perfect for running camp lights at night
  • It takes time to recharge
  • No bolt to earth the station
Reviewers Thoughts: If you don't want to upset the other campers with a loud generator then buy this!
Carl
Keen Golfer & Camper

1. Firman P01001 1300/1050 Watt

A simple machine that boasts no technical extremes, and a huge 1.3-gallon (4.92 L) fuel tank. Enough fuel to run the machine at normal use for up to 9 hours. There are two sockets, each with an isolator switch.

There is one socket with a waterproof cap for the 120-volt outlet, which is rated for 20 amps. This outlet has a voltmeter situated next to it to make it clear to the user that the power is steady. And on the side of the unit, a 12-volt 8.3-amp two-pin outlet to let you plug it into a standard caravan or RV connector.

Running in quiet mode, the 80cc Firman OHV 4-stroke emits a respectable 62 dB, low enough to be ignored while sleeping in a camper. At 45 pounds (20.4 kg), the generator is not light, this will be heavier fueled-up, and it has no wheels.

  • Starting 1300W – Continuous 1050W
  • Fuel Type: Gas
  • Capacity: 1.3 gal.
  • Tank Run-Time @ 25% Load: 9 hrs.
  • Noise Level @ 25% Load: 62 dB.
  • Weight: 45 lb.
  • Warranty: 3-Year66

Pros

Cons

  • Big fuel tank
  • High power rating with industrial-style protected sockets
  • Big fuel filler cap to make refueling easier.
  • It does not have the same level of voltage smoothing as some other brands. 25% THD at full load.
  • 12-volt socket only accepts an angled 2-pin plug.
Reviewers Thoughts: Solid unit that will be great for rough terrain and inexpensive.
Carl
Keen Golfer & Camper

Best Budget Portable Generator Buyers Guide & F.A.Q

Portable generators are a great source of electricity in many situations. From powering an RV, charging a mobile phone, providing homes with power in an emergency, or for working on a construction site, they can be extremely useful, even vital. 

 

Choosing a portable generator, however, is not always easy. What type do you need? How much power? Do you need it to be portable? Does it have enough running time? All questions you will need the answers to. 

 

To help deal with these conundrums we have created a guide that will help you learn which portable generator is best for you. It will deal with the most common questions asked and so much more. After all, a portable generator is not something that you should buy on a whim. You need to be armed with the correct information

What Are The Different Types Of Generator?

There are three main types of generator that may be used as a source of electricity in different situations. These are:

Portable Generator

Usually powered by gas or diesel a portable generator can provide temporary electrical power when needed. They use a combustion engine to conduct electricity and can be plugged into appliances via its sockets. They have enough power to run a combination of electrical items such as TV’s, freezers, and refrigerators. They are ideal for camping or RV’s.

Inverter Generator

An inverter generator creates AC power via an engine connected to an alternator. It then converts the AC to DC by using a rectifier. It relies on high-tech magnets to do this and uses advanced electronic circuitry during its three phases; output of AC, conversion to DC, inversion to AC. They are more energy efficient as the engine speed adjusts itself according to how much power is needed, and can be set to any voltage and frequency when used with the proper equipment. Inverter generators are best suited to car batteries and laptops and can be easily carried in cars, RV’s, and boats.

Standby Generator

Running on an electrical system that has an automatic switch to power up a device during periods of power loss, a standby generator is ideal for home emergencies, elevators, medical equipment, and fire protection systems. They run on either liquid propane or natural gas and can sense power loss within seconds. They constantly monitor utility power and will run a self check weekly to see that they are properly reacting to power loss.

What Do Generators Run On?

It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway, that generators do not run on thin air and need some kind of fuel to operate. Following are the four kinds of fuel that generators typically run on.

Gasoline-Petrol

By far the most common type of fuel needed to run a generator, gasoline is relatively inexpensive and readily available making it very convenient. It is also safe to use and generators running on this fuel tend to come in smaller sizes and models making them extremely portable.

On the downside, however, gasoline is certainly not environmentally friendly and produces high emissions when in use. It also has a fairly short lifespan, around twelve months in storage, making it a challenge to keep. Cold weather is also not a gasoline generator’s friend as they can be difficult to start in less than desirable weather.

Diesel

Of all the fuels diesel is the least flammable making it the safest to use. It is also, like gasoline, readily available so convenient too. Diesel can run the most powerful generators that tend to last longer so long as they are maintained. It also has a shelf life of around twenty four months, twice that of gasoline.

Diesel also, however, comes with its own set of cons. For one it is slightly more expensive than gasoline and propane, and two its emissions are sky high. This means that use of a diesel generator should be limited as much as possible.

Propane

Providing great fuel efficiency, propane provides the cleanest running engine and the quietest. It is also pretty readily available and has a better shelf life than both diesel and gasoline. It powers durable machines that can last for a long time and are ideal for small appliances or backup in an emergency. 

Propane is not ideal for large powered operations as the logistics to install them and store them safely is really quite prohibited. Propane is extremely flammable and potentially explosive to boot. The fuel systems on propane generators are also highly complex and therefore can be partial to potentially frequent failures. 

Solar

By far and away solar power is the cleanest fuel type available for running a generator. It is free and also renewable making it highly desirable for use. It works by trapping the sun’s energy using solar panels and storing it up in a battery bank for later use. There are also no moving parts in a solar generator making maintaining them incredibly easy. They can be used both outdoors and indoors since there are no fumes or emissions. 

Unfortunately however, solar only produces a relatively low level of power especially compared to the other generator fuels. It is therefore not ideal for powering up heavy-duty and large appliances unless you have a big enough solar set-up.

What Might I Need A Generator For?

There are multiple reasons why you may use or need to use a generator but here are the four most common ones that you may come across.

Home Backup Power

Most people will know that a power outage, especially for longer periods, can be a nightmare to live through. You may be left with no lighting, food will be defrosting, there is no internet, and your smartphone battery may go flat. It can feel like you have had all contact with the outside world cut off! 

However, by investing in a generator you can power up, at least, your home’s essentials, and for as long as you need. Generally, a standby generator is best suited to this kind of use as it has the automatic transfer switch. You could also run a portable generator as long as you install the switch.

Business Backup Power

When you think about it, virtually every business in operation would be affected by a power outage. Banks, insurance firms, bakeries, restaurants, farms, markets; they all use electricity and would be lost without it. Generators will allow them to continue trading as long as the power outage lasts.

Severe Weather Power Loss

Anyone who lives in a severe climate will benefit from having a generator. After all, power failures in extremely cold areas can be fatal! With a generator, however, you can power essentials such as heating and lighting; though gasoline may not be the best option due to poor startup in the cold. Tornado and hurricane areas may also benefit from having the aid of a generator as damage to power lines can last for a long time.

Construction Site Power

Construction workers often require the use of electricity for powering up tools and equipment that are essential to their trade. These tools make their jobs far easier, and quicker, after all, than working with manual non-powered tools. Generators are ideal for this and can be used to power night lighting as well as tools. This means workers can continue working into the night, improving on efficiency again.

Recreational Power

By using a generator whilst camping or roaming around in your RV, you can transfer the convenience of being at home to your home-from-home. Make coffee, keep cool, charge gadgets, watch TV, and light up your tent, all with the power from a generator. Portable, fuelled by gasoline are the most popular for recreational usage as they come in small sizes that are easily stored and moved.

camping
Portable Power comes in handy for recreational use

How Much Power Will I Need In A Generator?

The amount of power you will require in a generator will depend on how and where you intend to use it. Power requirement in a home, for example, is different to that of a camping trip or on a construction site. It will also be influenced by the items that you intend to power up.

Generator Power Required For Camping

The majority of people who go camping will at least take the basics such as kettles, lights, cameras, mobile phones, and perhaps even a laptop. Power consumption may include:

  • Kettle 600W
  • Blender 300W
  • Laptop charger 200W
  • Light Bulbs 100W

Generators for camping will need to be between 1000 and 2000 watts

Generator Power Required For An RV

Compared to standard camper vans, RV’s use a lot of power. This is due to them being fitted with heavy-duty appliances such as air conditioners, fridges, microwaves, and electric kettles. Generators for RV’s will need to be 3500 watts plus.

Generator Power Required For Homes

Home generator power requirements will vary depending not only on the electrical appliances and systems that you have, but also whether they will be running simultaneously or not. Appliances requiring large amounts of generator power include:

  • Clothes dryer 5400W
  • Heaters 4500W upwards
  • Small furnaces 3000W upwards
  • Water well pumps 3800W

Generators for homes will require around 5000 watts.

Generator Power For Construction Sites

Power tools and construction in general require a lot of power to function in the correct manner. For example, a ten inch saw would need 4500 watts of start up power and at least 1800 watts running. Generators for construction sites therefore need to be at least 7500 watts plus.

construction worker using a generator
Portable power is essential for most construction sites

How To Determine The Specific Power Requirements Of An Appliance

The power requirements of an appliance will be located somewhere on the product itself. Where this is may vary with the most common positioning being:

  • The data tag on the motor
  • The name tag
  • The product stamp on the bottom of the appliance

Please note, most appliances list power requirements in amps but you require them in watts. The calculation to translate them is:

 

Watts = Volts x Amps

How To Determine The Amount Of Power You Need In Total

In the majority of circumstances you will need your generator to run more than one appliance simultaneously. If this is the case, you will need to calculate the total power required. To do this you should:

  • First, list all the devices you want to run on the generator. For example, fridge, lights, heating, kettle, microwave etc.
  • Second, check all the appliances power requirements and note these on your list.
  • As the power requirements will be in amps you will need to change them into watts using the calculation listed above.
  • Finally, add all the watts up and you will have the minimum total power that you require in a generator.

Please note, you should add a couple of hundred extra watts onto your total. This is to make sure that the generator can handle any power fluctuations or additional needs in the future.

For more information on wattages and how to work them out. Head over to our SIZE CALCULATOR to work out exactly which size generator you’ll need. 

Here is a helpful wattage and appliance guide

AppliancesRunning WattsStart Up Watts
Clock Radio3 W5 W
Phone Charger3 W5 W
Google Nest5 W5 W
Tablet Computer10 W15 W
32 In LED TV20 W60 W
Air Purifier25 W30 W
Humidifier35 W40 W
Cooling Fan40 W60 W
Freezer40 W60 W
PS4 or Xbox50 W120 W
Lightbulb 60 W60 W60 W
Water Dispenser100 W100 W
Refrigerator150 W300 W
American Style Refrigerator200 W 500 W
Garden Strimmer300 W500 W
Submersible Water Pump350 W500 W
Music Stereo400 W400 W
Vacuum Cleaner400 W1000 W
Toaster700 W1900 W
Electric Drill800 W1100 W
Coffee Maker800 W1000 W
Washing Machine 800 W800 W
Lawn Mower1000 W1500 W
Air Fryer1400 W1400 W
Air Compressor1500 W4800 W
Oven2000 W 2000 W
Home Air Conditioner1200 W4000 W
RV Air Conditioner1300 W4500 W
Belt Sander1400 W2400 W
Hairdryer1400 W1400 W
Hammer Drill1700 W1600 W
Air Compressor – 1 HP1600 W4800 W
Welding Rig2500 W3000 W

Using The Outlets

Most generators have several outlets; this means that you can spread the load out, making it more energy efficient. However, you should also be aware that using all outlets can put a strain on the unit and affect longevity. You should only really use all outlets in an emergency situation or when appliances are of low-wattage.

How Noisy Are Generators?

Generators vary in the amount of noise they produce from the quiet to those loud enough that they will disturb the neighbors and potentially damage your hearing. 

For these reasons you should always choose one that is as quiet as possible; around 60 decibels is acceptable. At this noise level you will be able to hold a comfortable conversation and not disturb everyone around. 

Please note that professional generators will run louder than those used for camping etcetera, due to their higher power rating. Protective gear is essential for this type of generator to safeguard health and wellbeing.

Running Time

Generator running time is usually indicated at either 25% or 50% of their load. This shows how long your generator will run on a full tank of fuel at the set percentage of its total power. If you are purchasing a generator for emergency power you should buy one with as large a fuel tank as possible. This will help ensure you do not run out of fuel during long power cuts.

fuel for generators

The Longer The Warranty The Better

Not only can generators be pricey to purchase, but they can also be costly to repair. For this reason you should try and purchase one with as long a warranty as possible. This way, should your generator need repair or replacement you won’t have to worry as it will be taken care of.

 

Good warranties usually last around two to three years and show that the manufacturer has faith in their product. Always read the fine print and information carefully so you will know what is and what isn’t covered.

What’s The Budget?

As with most things, you get what you pay for when it comes to generators and the more expensive tend to be from respected and trusted brands. The price of generators is usually influenced by a number of factors including the amount of power they generate, ease of use, their noise rating, and the brand manufacturer.

Checklist

  • Does the generator of your choice have enough power?
  • Does the generator of your choice have the features you need?
  • Is the generator of your choice compatible with its usage; ie. portable for camping? Automatic switch on for power cuts?
  • Is the generator of your choice within budget?
  • Does the generator of your choice have a good warranty?

Have you answered yes to these?

Fab, then you’re good to go!

Best Budget Portable Generators F.A.Q

 

  • What are the different types of generator? The three main types are portable, inverter, and standby.
  • How long does a power generator last? A good 5000 watt will use 18 gallons of gas in 24 hours.
  • How does a generator start? Pull cord, push button, or automatic in the case of a power cut.
  • What fuel is used in generators? The most commonly used fuels are gas, propane, diesel, and solar power.
  • How much power will I need from a generator? Power needs will vary. A kettle for example will need 600 watts whilst a light bulb will need 100 watts.
  • Can you add fuel to a generator while it’s running? No, and nor should you do so whilst it’s still hot.
  • How long can you run a generator continuously? It varies but 8 to 12 hours is the common length of time. 
  • Can I store my generator with gas in it? Yes, though it is not recommended due to possible corrosion. 
  • Can a portable generator overheat? Yes, clogged air filters are a common cause of this. When overheating a generator will cut out.