Best Portable Generators

This handy review covers the many ways a portable generator comes in handy in times of need or fun. This guide discusses a number of ways portable electric generators can be a beneficial or even an essential device to have.

Below are the steps to get this generator running:

Remove all packaging from generator.

If wheel kit was purchased install now before adding any fluids (gas and oil).

Fill with 20 ounces of 10W-30 oil with funnel.

Add 4 gallons of fuel. I purchased a gas can on Amazon with an extension tip which has a built-in close/open push valve to avoid spilling while filling. (No-Spill 1450 5-Gallon Poly Gas Can (CARB Compliant))

Make sure you ground the unit using copper wire on the grounding wing nut for safety reasons. Copper wire or the ground stake is not included in this package.

Make sure Choke switch is set to “Off”.
Makes sure gas valve is set to “On”.
Make sure circuit breaker switch is set to “On”.
Make sure power switch is set to “On”.

Pull recoil starter cord firmly (might take 2 or 3 pulls) to start generator motor. Mine initially took two pulls when I first tried. It now takes just one pull to start her up.

First time running when brand new: As stated in the manual, when the starter cord is pulled and motor begins to run, leave in “closed choke” position for a minute then move lever half way to open for another 30 seconds before moving lever slowly again all the way to “open” position. Allow the motor to run for several minutes before attaching any power cords.

Thereafter: Once motor begins running, slowly move lever from “closed choke” position to the “open” position. Generator noise will increase once in open position as motor kicks into high gear.

Now you can plug in your extension cords into the outlets. 12/3 gauge is ideal since thin cords will get extremely hot and can drain power to your equipment. I purchased two 50 foot cords using one for each outlet and surge suppressors attached to each cord with multiple outlets. Search US Wire 65100 12/3 50-Foot SJTW Orange Heavy Duty Extension Cord.

Ryobi 3,600-Watt 212cc Portable Generator

The Ryobi 3,600-Watt Generator is the perfect power solution on the jobsite, at home and for recreational use. This Generator features a reliable 212cc engine and delivers 3,600 Running-Watt (4,500 Starting-Watt) for up to 8-1/2-hours at 50% load. With 3-Step Easy Start the Ryobi 3,600-Watt Generator is always ready with power when you need it. The automatic voltage regulator provides cleaner more consistent power. Equipped with 9 in. flat-free wheels and quick-release handle, this Generator is easy to transport. All backed by a Ryobi 3-Year Limited Warranty, this Ryobi 3,600-Watt Generator is guaranteed to perform.

  • 3,600 running watt, 4,500 starting watt; powered by 212cc OHV engine
  • 3 position easy starting process; automatic voltage regulator for cleaner more consistent power
  • Quick-release handles for easy and compact storage
  • flat-free wheels for easy transport

Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator 

  • Dual Fuel – Runs on GAS or PROPANE straight out of the box. Engine type: 4-stroke, wheel diameter: 8.0 inches
  • 4750 starting watts, 3800 running watts with up to 9 hours run time on a full tank of gas and up to 10.5 hours on a 20 lb. propane tank
  • Powered by a reliable 224cc Champion engine with Touch Start, push-button electric start (battery included)
  • Frequency: 60 Hz. Outlets – 120V 30A RV, 120V 30A locking, two 120V 20A household outlets all secured by Volt Guard, protects your appliances from power surges
  • Champion Support – 3 year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support. Refer instruction manual before use.
  • Please refer user manual for trouble shooting steps
 Started right up on propane, switched to gasoline and also started right up. Ran it just enough to do the first oil change (5 hours, and yes it has a run hours on the meter). So far so good, runs a 10,000 BTU window unit and fridge. Unit arrived in 2 days in pristine condition, some assembly is required .Unlike some of the larger units, I can actually pick this one up, weighs about 100 pounds.
Update, one year later (2016) after hurricane Matthew:
1. Propane stores without having to worry about it going bad, get one of the 30 lb bottles on Amazon like I did, JUST IN CASE!
2. If you’re like me, you don’t start it up and run it often enough to keep the battery for starting charged. This unit seems to start easier on propane, and only took me two pulls. I have found that it starts easier with 3/4 choke rather than full choke, I assume that could be adjusted somewhere.
3. Still extremely satisfied with this purchase, it runs a 10,000 BTU window unit, the fridge, and plenty left over to run the TV, modem, lights, router, etc.
4. Get a small battery trickle charger, I can recommend the “NOCO Genius G1100 6V/12V 1.1A UltraSafe Smart Battery Charger” on Amazon, it charged the starter battery no problem in about 5 hours from totally dead. You can use it on car batteries too!Bottom line, it “just works” for me, and I couldn’t be happier with this product. The dual fuel aspect is a real selling point, no need to worry how old your gasoline is.
Really good quality. The only negative thing I could say about it is that it is hard to change the oil. It needs an oil drain extension and then it would be perfect. I will purchase another unit soon.

Key Features

• Dual Fuel – Runs on GAS or PROPANE straight out of the box

• Safety Fuel Selector Switch

Gasoline Fuel Tank and Propane Inlet

• Propane Hose

• Gasoline Fuel Tank – 6 Gallon (22.9 L)

• 120/240V operation

• GFCI protected outlets

• Touch Start – Battery for push-button electric start

• Portable – U-shaped folding handle with never-flat tires

• Runs up to 8 hrs. on a full tank of gas

WEN 56180 1800-Watt Portable Power Generator

This generator is for light to medium usage. There are two 120 volt outputs (60 Hz) and one 12 volt (cigarette lighter) output. The running power on this unit is 1500 watts. Lights take very little power to operate (and your camper lights are probably 12 volt). A/C units use a lot of power. To determine if this generator would work for the A/C unit check the power consumption. If below 1500 watts you’re ok.I wanted a generator that was no heavier than 50-55 pounds, yet one that would be rated at at least 12 amps. I also wanted a generator with US based customer service. At 51 pounds, 12.5 amps, and a toll-free customer service department with US English speaking tech support folks, this generator suited me just fine.

The generator arrived well packaged and without any damage. If you follow the instructions regarding keeping the generator level, getting the oil in can be a bit of a hassle. Once I decided to use a long, transmission oil funnel the oil went right in. I measured out 13.5 oz of 30W oil in a measuring cup and that saved some time.I then put in some 87 ethanol-free gas, turned the on-off switch to “on,” turned the choke to “start” and turned the fuel shut-off valve to “on.” The generator cranked on the 4th pull. I wanted to run it for about 1/2 hour without a load just to get the engine somewhat broken-in. I figured the little bit of gas I put in would run out in about 1/2 hour. Wrong.

After about an hour of running, I turned the fuel shut-off value to “off” and let the gas run out of the carb. Once it shut down, I checked the fuel tank and it still had most of the fuel I had put in it. So, I am inclined to go along with the company’s claim of 7.5 hours on 1/2 load. While running, the noise level was about what I expected. Not super quiet, but not so loud that you have to raise your voice when talking around it.

By the way, the 30W oil for small engines is in the lawn and garden section at Wal-Mart. Don’t look for it in automotive where you normally look for oil. Wal-Mart had one brand of 30W small engine oil that had the SL API service classification – one of the three recommended service classifications referenced in the owners manual.(we have written a guide about Impact Wrench and chainsaw)

I also purchased the WEN 56406 cover, but it was way too large for the 1800 generator, While it looks to be very durable and well made, it was simply not made for this generator.

Overall, this is a sweet little generator. I highly recommend it if it meets your power requirements.

Finally, the spark arrestor permits usage in all national parks and forests. Remember when you had plan to provide your family power in times of emergency? Remember WEN.

Champion 1200-Watt Portable Generator

This thing works amazingly well, for the price. I picked it up to keep a refrigerator, and a few lights on during outages.

For the purpose of controlling expectations, this is important to note that this is a small basic generator. It does a fine job of keeping electrons flowing to quite a few small things, and possibly one large thing. Startup surges will cause the voltage to dip briefly, so running electronic equipment that need stable power, at the same time as something with a large surge might not work well. There are bigger, more expensive generators that are designed for that sort of service.This generator operates our refrigerator/freezer, a number of LED lights, and some fans during outages. Fuel consumption seems much lower than that of larger units, providing the same service.

I am so happy I got this generator, the feeling of knowing I have something backing me and my family up while the storm roar outside is a big relief. Here in hurricane/lightning central, the power WILL be going out. It is inevitable. So you can believe we will be sitting on the PC with a fan going while we charge our devices and await the power company. A couple 30 minute breaks to run the refrigerator compressor and we are set.

I broke this generator in properly, checked every bolt and nut and it is set well from the factory. They seem to have some sort of oil in it, nowhere near enough to run it (as stated on the box and generator itself) so drain it out and put in some good oil. I ran this thing no less than 8 hours (seemingly longer) on the 1.5 gallon full tank. It comes with spark plug removal tool and the proper funnel for not only changing the oil but also adding a tiny bit to the cylinder for storage.

The fuel on and off switch is located properly so that the carb runs dry. This thing should honestly cost more than it does, but it’s nice to have this price range for people who need a little power when emergencies strike.

The unit it only slightly louder than my central air compressor. Grab some oil stabilizer and carb cleaner. Run this thing the right way and break it in well. It isn’t too hard to carry, good weight balance overall and about 60 lbs. I didn’t feel a big difference with a crankcase full of oil and tank full of gasoline.

  • Designed for Safety – Includes a low-oil shut-off sensor and has a 0.6-quart oil capacity (recommended 10W-30). Frequency : 60 Hertz
  • Dependable – At 1500 starting watts and 1200 running watts, enjoy up to 10 hours of run time on a full tank of gasoline with a noise level of 65 dBA from 23 feet
  • Multi-Purpose – Includes a 120V 20A household outlet, and provides “just enough” power for RV-use, camping, tailgating, boating, weekend trips, family vacations and small jobs around the house
  • Voltmeter – Easily monitor power output at a glance
  • Champion Support – Includes 3-year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support from dedicated experts

Product Description

Great for camping, RVs, sporting events, home back-up power, job sites and more, the DuroStar DS4000S gas-powered generator has a 7.0-horsepower air-cooled overhead valve engine with a recoil start that cranks out 3,300 constant running watts of power (and a peak of 4,000 watts).

This rugged workhorse is ideal for a wide variety of uses from getting you through a power outage to keeping you and your family supplied with all the necessary conveniences of home while being miles from nowhere. Note for California residents: This model is not CARB-compliant. Units sold to California must be CARB-compliant.

The power panel features the main controls, including start switch, volt meter, and circuit breaker. It offers two 120-volt, 20-amp, 3-prong outlets (NEMA 5-20R) to supply power to all of your home appliances, plus one 120-volt, 30-amp outlet (NEMA L5-30) for high-powered tools.

The DS4000S has an 8-hour run time at 1/2 load, and it has a 4-gallon fuel tank that also includes an easily readable gauge. The heavy duty steel frame has four-point fully isolated motor mounts for smooth and quiet operation. Other features include a recoil start, super quiet muffler that reduces engine noise (69 dBA rating), and automatic low-oil shut off to protect the engine. An optional wheel kit is also available for the DS4000S, enabling easy portability. Backed by a 1-year limited warranty.

This generator came with two open end wrenches, a screwdriver and a spark plug wrench. Once you open the box you will see that there is a block of wood inserted in the engine and tied down with a nylon strap. It also has a metal shipping brace attached to the bottom of the frame of the generator. These will have to be removed before you can use the generator. As per the manual you would have to turn the unit upside down on top of the foam pad that was shipped with this unit to remove the shipping brace. Removing the nuts and bolts from the shipping brace was impossible for me using the included cheap wrenches or even with my own pliers and open end wrench. The bolts connecting to the nuts were small and hard to turn. I had to use a large ratchet with a long handle using a 10 MM adapter which helped the bolts come off easily. Once everything was removed I then installed the wheel kit DuroStar DS4000S-WK Wheel Kit for DS4000S. It helped me move my generator from my backyard to my garage when I was done using it at night. The generator is pretty heavy so moving it around without the wheel kit will be a challenge.

I purchased a funnel with an extension flexible clear hose with attached plug. The clear hose helped me know when the oil compartment was full. The attached plug on the end of the clear hose is convenient to use as well when you’re done filling your generator with oil. Simply close the end of the hose with the plug to avoid any continuous oil drips after using. Another great thing about the plug end is that in fits exactly into the oil drain/fill hole on my generator which minimized spilling oil while filling. You will have a small amount of oil leaking at some point (removing after its full) so place something (a plastic mat or sheet) under the work area to avoid a messy cleanup and stains. This funnel was bought  for $8  Heavy Duty Transmission Funnel. This generator can only hold 20 ounces of 30W oil but when you have to add more oil after multiple hours of use the clear hose then becomes very helpful.

My first oil change was done right after I went through one full tank of fuel. I chose to change the oil at that time as other reviewers indicated as to remove any metal debris that probably came loose during use to avoid damage to the new motor. Draining oil from this unit can be a pain since it drips directly onto the frame. What I did to avoid a mess was to lift the generator on the wheeled side before opening the oil drain cap and placed one of the legs under the generator on top of a brick. This helped keep the flow of oil from making any contact with the frame as it drained. Once I saw that the oil had slowed I would then tip it towards the opening of the oil drain hole to completely drain. I used a small metal bowl to catch the dripping oil to then discard the oil into an oil canister for transporting. I disposed of the oil at my local car mechanic shop. The oil drain cap has a built-in oil dip stick for checking how much oil has burned. Convenient little piece.One thing to keep in mind is to make sure your generator is on a leveled surface while it is running. I accidentally left mine at an inclined angle  due to an elevated portion on the ground which caused oil to slowly spew through the air filter while it was running. I thought something broke but after further inspection I realized what I have done. I powered it down and wiped everything clean with a couple of paper towels. I washed the foam air filter in dishwashing liquid and warm water and replaced everything after it has dried. No oil has dripped since.

After a few days of using my generator I then noticed it was creating “clanging” noises while it was running. I turned it off and noticed that two nuts on the top corners had become loose. The top portion (yellow metal top) was creating this noise while the motor ran. I simply tighten them down which eliminated the noise and has not come loose as of yet. I assumed it became loose during shipping or just did so on its own since the motor is constantly running for hours. This generator vibrates quite a bit as I assume all portable generators do. After hours of use I suggest you inspect the nuts and bolts connecting the top panel to the frame to ensure nothing has loosened.

If you want two more 120v outlets then I suggest you convert the 3 prong outlet (L5-30P) into two 120v outlets (5-20R) by using a Y splitter cable adapter. The one I purchased on Amazon is called “Coleman Cable 01915 3-Foot Generator Power Cord Adapter, 10/3 Splitter Y Adapter, L5-30P to (2) Lighted 5-20R“. This will help distribute the load of power from the generator.

For storage, you can  purchase a small cover for this generator on Amazon. Not sure how long it will last since I just bought it but it received good reviews. It’s water resistant and has an elastic hem with drawstring. It was difficult finding one that fit this generator but this one fit like it was custom made. The size of the cover is 26depth x 18width x 20height which is the small size. The vendor name is “Covermates” who sells it for $42.

This generator came in handy when I needed it the most and has performed like a champ. I had a refrigerator, electric start stove, charged 3 smart phones, a battery charger charging 8 AA batteries, 4 lamps using energy efficient bulbs, 2 laptops, an LCD TV screen, Blu-ray player and brewed a cup of coffee running all at the same time and this generator didn’t struggle at all. It can handle more than what I used it for. My generator ran for 14+ hours before I needed to refuel. Obviously, the less power consuming equipment you use the longer it will run.

If I was to buy this generator at my local Home Improvement store right after a natural disaster it could easily sell out for $800+. If you don’t need to power NASA then this generator will help you when you need power. I’m very grateful for all of the reviews (good and bad) that were listed on Amazon to help me and my family make a wise and cost effective choice to help get through our power outages. I hope my review helps others as well. If I have other info to share (ex: fuel cup cleaning and spark plug changes) I will post my experience. I highly recommend this generator to run your basic needs.

Just got this generator today. Actually ordered it before Hurricane Irma because I’m in Florida but it didn’t come until today. My power was restored yesterday so it was a moot point but we have frequent outages here so I’m sure it will be well worth the money I spent. Anyway, I unboxed it put the handle on filled it with my premixed 50 to 1 2 cycle oil then I cranked it gently a couple of times with the power off just to get some gas into the carburetor. Then I turned the power switch on turned the gas valve on closed the choke and it started on like the third pull. Seemed to run very well.
Just like a typical two cycle small engine. I was surprised at how quiet it actually is. I don’t even think I saw one puff of smoke leave the exhaust.
After a few seconds I put the choke back in the run position and let it run for about half an hour. It did not seem to miss a beat. I have a standup 15 inch oscillating fan in my garage and I plugged it directly into the unit and you couldn’t even hear the difference in the motor. There was absolutely no strain. I think those fans only use about 35 or 40 W anyway so it shouldn’t have been much of a draw. The real test will be when I plug my 55 inch TV with my cable box and combination router modem into the power strip. Even all those and the fan shouldn’t exceed 500 W.

I have used this little guy for everything from running box fans to a chop saw to a window air conditioner and even a shop-vac. Things to consider: If your load requires a stable voltage this may not be an ideal power source for you. For instance an air conditioner that has digital controls may malfunction as the voltage sags due to the inrush current of the compressor starting up. However a mechanically controlled unit I.E. the kind with knobs will work just fine.

I like the fact that it is two cycle as there is no valve adjustment and no oil changes required. As long as you run it dry before storing it, it should be reliable for years.

Having said that, if you want to run a sensitive load make sure to de-rate the running watts by half. This eases the amount of governor surge at inrush.Finally, the 12 vdc function is not good for charging batteries but is fine for 12 vdc below 8 amps roughly. You can get it to charge batteries but must tune the governor down quite a bit severely lowering voltage of the ac outlet.

As far as noise. Get creative with placement and blocking the sound and it can be ignored. For the newbs out there, probably can’t fall asleep next to the thing or watch TV next to it. BRING AN EXTENSION CORD FOOLS so you can position it remotely enough where its noise is a non issue.

OVERALL

I’m giving this a five-star review for now but I will update as I use more items plugged into it.

 

It will help you out in buying the best gaming laptop for yourself.That said, even gaming laptops under $800 and $500 can run all the latest games without any lags.