8 Best 5,000 Watt Portable Generators of 2021 – Guide & Comparison
These days people are taking preparedness more seriously than ever. No longer are preppers the only people with food stored and contingency plans ready in case of emergency. Blackouts have been fairly common in some areas, and natural disasters have always been able to leave hundreds or even thousands without power for days or weeks at a time.
A 5000-watt generator offers enough power to run your essentials in case of an outage. From refrigerators to air conditioners, these machines will keep your life going when the world around you seems to stand still. Of course, they’re not just for emergencies. Construction crews have long used these devices to provide power where there is none for running tools and other electronics.
Recently, it was time to replace our old generator, and we figured it was the perfect time to put some of the popular models to the test and see which machines are the best. The following eight reviews will share what we’ve learned so that you can benefit from our testing too.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Pulsar PG5250B Dual Fuel Portable Generator||
|Best Value||Green-Power America GPD5000W Gasoline Generator||
|Premium Choice||Generac 5939 Portable Generator||
|A-iPower AP5000V Portable Generator||
|WEN 56475 Portable Generator||
The 8 Best 5000-watt Portable Generators – Reviews 2020
1. Pulsar PG5250B Dual Fuel Portable Generator – Best Overall
Whether your generator is for emergency use or as an alternative source of power for an RV or a job site, versatility is the name of the game. With the Pulsar PG5250B, you’re no longer limited to running your generator on gasoline. Instead, it’s able to run on propane or gasoline, providing more options for when you need them. Other generators offer this option, but not with the Switch & Go technology you’ll find on the Pulsar, making it easy to switch fuel sources without even shutting the generator off. Luckily, a propane hose is included.
This generator offers receptacles for standard 120V AC, 30-amp RV, and 120/240V twist-lock. There are only two 120V outlets though, but you can run a power strip from either to add more outlets as needed.
On gasoline, you’ll get about 12 hours of runtime on the 4-gallon tank at 50% load. On propane, you’ll only be limited by the size of your tank, though you don’t get as much power running on liquid propane gas (LPG). On LPG, you’ll get 4,750 watts peak and 3,850 watts running, while you get 5,250 watts peak and 4,250 running watts on gas.
2. Green-Power America GPD5000W Gasoline Generator – Best Value
Generators can get pretty expensive, but there can also be some major price differences between models. Take the GPD5000W from Green-Power America, for instance. It offers a full 5,000 starting watts and costs less than half what other models go for. Unfortunately, you only get 3,850 running watts, but that should be sufficient to power most home devices.
One drawback to this cheaper model is the lack of 240V connectivity. However, you do still get 12V and 120V outlets, including a 120V twist-lock outlet. At 109 pounds, this machine is noticeably lighter than a lot of the competition, even though it’s also a bit larger at 26” x 24” x 22”. Thankfully, you’ll get 2 fold-down handles that make it easy to pull to wherever you need.
Running at 50% load, you’ll get about 11 hours of operation from a full tank, which is 4 gallons. In our experience, she starts up easily and never gave us any concern for alarm. Considering the affordable price and solid performance, we think this is easily one of the best 5,000-watt portable generators for the money.
3. Generac 5939 Portable Generator – Premium Choice
At 389cc, the motor on the Generac 5939 Portable Generator has quite a bit more displacement than the motors on most of the other 5,000-watt generators we’ve tested. This is how it manages to offer an impressive 6,875 starting watts with a consistent 5,500 running watts. This is plenty of power to run the mix of 120V and 240V outlets on this machine.
Naturally, with a larger engine, this machine is bigger and heavier than similar models. It’s 29” x 27” x 25”, making it a few inches larger in every direction than most competing 5,000-watt generators.
While most of these generators only offer two 120V receptacles, here, you’ll get 4 120V outlets and a 120V/240V outlet as well for larger devices. But you won’t get the same fuel economy as smaller machines offer. The tank on this generator holds 7.2 gallons of gas, but you’ll only get 10 hours of runtime at 50% load with a full tank.
Luckily, all the outlets are covered to protect them from the elements. You’ll also get some valuable features like a digital hour meter, low oil shutdown, and circuit breakers on every set of outlets.
4. A-iPower AP5000V Portable Generator
With a 208cc motor, the AP5000V isn’t nearly as stout as some other models we tested. It offers a peak 5,000 watts with 4,000 running watts. Not the most powerful, but still sufficient for multiple tools and appliances. It is a bit quieter than other models, however, operating at just 68 decibels at 75% load, or 58 decibels at 50% load. This is noticeably quieter than some units we tested.
You also get decent fuel economy with this machine, managing 12 hours of runtime on four gallons of gas at 50% load. You’ll still get 120V and 240V connectivity, so you’re not missing out, even with the smaller motor. And at 109 pounds, it’s one of the lighter options. Plus, it’s more compact than other models as well, at 24” x 18” x 20”.
We would like to see a bit more connectivity overall though. You only get 3 outlets total on this device, which includes just two standard 120V outlets. There’s also just a single handle to help pull this machine. A second handle would make transportation much easier.
5. WEN 56475 Portable Generator
Affordably priced but slightly underpowered, the WEN 56475 portable generator offers just 3,750 running watts and 4,750 starting watts. It will still run most of your appliances though, except for anything that requires 240V electricity. Even with the lower power output, this machine offers just 10 hours of runtime at half load.
Still, there’s plenty here to like. For example, this machine meets CARB and EPA compliance for all 50 states, even California. It’s also easier to start than many models with a keyless, electric push-button start that gets it up and running quickly.
For connectivity, you’ll get 2 standard 120V outlets, a twist-lock 120V, and a 30-amp RV receptacle as well. Automatic voltage regulation protects your devices against voltage spikes and the low-oil shutdown protects the generator from running when the oil gets low.
6. DuroMax XP5500EH Fuel Portable Generator
The DuroMax XP5500EH features a dual-fuel design that allows it to run on propane or gasoline. Unfortunately, no propane hose is included, and switching between fuel sources isn’t as easy with this machine as it is with others we’ve tested. Still, it’s a nice feature to have when you need it.
This machine offers 120V and 240V outlets that can run simultaneously. However, there is no 30-amp RV outlet, which seems like a major oversight since RVs often use generators like this for power when they’re boondocking. When running, this generator only creates 69 decibels of noise, which is pretty decent compared to other models.
At 127 pounds, this is a pretty hefty machine, though far from the heaviest. It is pretty compact though, at 24” x 17” x 17”. You’ll get 5,500 starting watts and 4,500 running watts with a fuel tank that holds just under four gallons.
7. Champion 100496 Portable Generator
With 6,250 starting watts and 5,000 running watts, you would never refer to the Champion 100496 as underpowered. It’s got plenty of output, allowing it to power 4 120V outlets and a 240V receptacle as well, all of which are covered to protect them from the elements. Likewise, Volt Guard protects any equipment plugged in from voltage spikes.
At 150 pounds, this is one of the heavier models we tested, and the single handle doesn’t make it easier to transport. It’s also one of the more expensive models that we’ve used, though we don’t think it warrants the high price.
The fuel efficiency of this machine isn’t great. The gas tank is nearly 6 gallons, but you’ll only get 9 hours of runtime at half load from a full tank. At least it’s all protected by a 3-year warranty; our favorite thing about this generator.
8. Durostar DS5500EH Portable Generator
With an operating volume of 69 decibels, this is one of the quieter generators we tested. It offers decent connectivity with 12V, 120V, and 240V outlets, though you only get 2 120V outlets to use. This machine offers 5,500 starting watts and 4,500 running watts in a package that’s quite a bit bulkier than similar machines we’ve seen. It’s 25” x 22” x 22”, making it a full 5 inches wider and taller than other models.
One nice feature of this generator is that it can run on propane or gas. Unfortunately, no propane hose is included, so you’ll have to source one separately. There is an electric “rocker start” on this machine, but the battery died after a few months, making this feature essentially useless.
Unless you’ve spent hours comparing the specs on similar generators, it can be difficult to narrow down all the choices and be certain that you’re picking the right one. If you’re still on the fence about which model to choose, then this buyer’s guide was written for you.
Choosing the Right Generator
While all of these machines perform the same general job, powering appliances and electronics when there’s no electricity available, differences between them can make each model more or less applicable for different situations. You don’t want to purchase a generator for a specific need, only to find out that it won’t do what you were hoping.
To make sure you don’t experience this, we’re going to discuss the most important traits that you should be prioritizing when shopping for a new 5,000-watt generator. Determine which of these is most important for your specific needs, then, look for the machine that most closely matches those parameters.
Starting Watts vs Running Watts
The power output of a generator is measured in watts. The motors on different generators might be different sizes and offer different levels of horsepower, but the important measurement you’re looking for is watts, as that will determine what you can actually power with the generator.
Though these are all 5,000-watt generators, 5,000 watts means something different on each model. Some models choose their name based on running watts, while others are named for their peak wattage. Though these sound similar, they’re quite different measurements.
Peak watts or starting watts represent the maximum wattage that a generator can produce for short intervals. They can’t maintain this level of output for long, but they can spike output to match this level for brief periods. This is necessary because appliances, power tools, and other electronics often have much higher power needs to get started, often double what they need to run.
That’s why the running watts of a generator are lower. Running watts represent the wattage that a generator can put out for extended periods. This is the number that you’ll mostly be relying on. That said, if you don’t have enough starting watts to get a large device running, then the running watts you have available won’t make much difference.
Generators are there as backup devices for when there’s no electricity and no other alternative. As such, versatility in their use is great. By this, we mean the ability to use different fuels. What happens if there’s no gas available? Or what if power is out for longer than expected and the few gallons kept on hand don’t last long enough?
Some generators fix this issue by allowing the use of multiple fuels. Most commonly, this means they’ll run on gas or liquid propane, which many people already have on hand. If not, you can easily pick it up at many local gas stations, hardware stores, and even grocery stores.
Our favorite dual-fuel generators even allow for seamless switching between fuel sources, so all you have to do is turn the dial and you don’t even have to shut the machine off.
However, you should be aware that most dual-fuel machines offer less power when running on propane.
Size and Weight
If your generator is going to sit in place as a backup for your home, then its size and weight might not be an important factor for you to consider. But if you’re using a generator for a construction crew or you carry it around with your RV, then you’ll be prioritizing these traits a lot more.
Even among generators of similar power, there are some major size discrepancies. Some are several inches larger in each direction and can weigh nearly twice what other models do, even though the power output is relatively similar.
If size and weight are important factors for you, then you’ll want to make sure you look for a more compact, lightweight option.
You might have several gallons of fuel stored away, but do you know how long an emergency will last? Or, if you use a generator to power a job site, then fuel economy can make a big difference in your overall operating costs.
Fuel efficiency is measured in hours of runtime. But you also have to look at the size of the tank. Having 12 hours of runtime is great, but it’s not the same if you’re getting 12 hours from a 4-gallon tank or a 7-gallon tank.
There are plenty of great 5,000-watt generators on the market. Unfortunately, that’s what makes it so hard to choose between them! Luckily, we’ve been able to test them side by side for a fair comparison. You’ve read about each of these models in our reviews, but we’re going to quickly summarize our recommendations once more so they’re fresh in your mind.
The Pulsar PG5250B was our favorite overall. It offers unmatched versatility with the Switch & Go fuel technology that allows you to swap between gas and propane as fuel sources without shutting the machine off, and a propane hose is even included.
For a more affordable machine to get you through an emergency, the Green-Power America GPD5000W offers 12V and 120V outlets at a very affordable price. It weighs just 109 pounds, making it much lighter than competing models, and still offers 11 hours of runtime on 4 gallons of gas.
Need more power? We recommend the Generac 5939 portable generator with a stout 389cc motor that offers 6875 starting watts. You’ll also get 120V and 240V covered receptacles with folding handles and never-flat wheels for easier transportation.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 8 Best 5000-watt Portable Generators – Reviews 2020
- 1. Pulsar PG5250B Dual Fuel Portable Generator – Best Overall
- 2. Green-Power America GPD5000W Gasoline Generator – Best Value
- 3. Generac 5939 Portable Generator – Premium Choice
- 4. A-iPower AP5000V Portable Generator
- 5. WEN 56475 Portable Generator
- 6. DuroMax XP5500EH Fuel Portable Generator
- 7. Champion 100496 Portable Generator
- 8. Durostar DS5500EH Portable Generator
- Buyer’s Guide