A portable generator is a great thing to have when the power goes out, but choosing the best one for your needs is challenging. There are so many types of generators available that you might need some help to make a decision.
We’ve already reviewed dozens of generators and we have chosen eight models that we think are worth your time to examine yourself. These models are all rated for 7,500 watts, which means they are large enough to power most of the essential appliances around your home when the power goes out. We’ll go over each model and tell you what we like and what we don’t like about each one.
We’ve also included a buyer guide where we break down the portable generator and explain what each thing does and why it’s important. Keep reading for our detailed reviews of each portable generator, where we compare power output, electric starters, dual fuel, and noise level to help you make an educated purchase.
Tet’s look at the different models we have chosen to review for you.
|All Power America|
The Westinghouse WGen7500 is our choice for best overall portable generator. This model has plenty of features that we believe will get you through any emergency or outdoor event. The Westinghouse features a 7,500-watt continuous power output and lit can handle spikes up to 9,500 watts. It features a remote starter as well as a push-button start. It features a 6.6-gallon tank for extended run times and has a low oil emergency shut off to protect your engine. The control panel is easy to read, has covered outlets, and is transfer switch ready.
The downside to the Westinghouse is the automatic choke on the engine. It’s not capable of opening and closing far enough to work all year. In cold weather, you need to close the choke to start the engine manually. Closing the choke means the remote starter is of little use when you need it the most.
The All Power America APGG7500 is our choice for best value, and we believe that after you see what it has to offer, you will agree that it’s the best 7,500-watt generator for the money. This model features an electric push-button start and has a recoil start backup in case the battery should fail. It has a 13-horsepower 389-cc air-cooled engine and a massive 6.6-gallon fuel tank able to keep the generator running for more than nine hours on a single tank of gas. It has sturdy wheels, a gas gauge, and is transfer switch ready.
We felt that the gas tank is a little thin for its size, and we worry about how it will hold up in the long run. The outlet covers also suffer from not enough protection from the elements.
The Cat RP7500E is our premium choice generator for those who need the best generator and aren’t afraid to spend a few extra dollars to get what they need. The CAT features 7,500 watts continuous power and can handle peaks up to 9,375 watts. It has the largest fuel tank on this list at 7.9 gallons and is capable of extended 11-hour run times before it needs refueling. The engine is one of the few on this list that comes with oil and includes a funnel. It has a low oil shutoff and a tip-over fuel shutoff. During our review, the engine ran smooth and started quickly with the electric start. It’s loud but not as bad as some of the other models on this list.
We wish it had dual fuel capabilities that would have made this the perfect machine. The high price tag is the primary reason the CAT didn’t rank higher on our list.
The Sportsman GEN7500DF generator is a 7,500-watt max generator that runs 6,000-watts continuous power. This dual fuel generator features a 6.2-gallon gas tank that can run for up to 9 hours before it needs refueling. There is also a propane hookup, and a 20-pound propane tank will power the generator for roughly the same amount of time as the gasoline. It features an electric start with a backup recoil in case the electric one fails. We felt that the 13-horsepower engine ran smooth but was very noisy.
We felt that this generator was several pounds heavier than advertised. It doesn’t come with a battery or oil. This generator took several hours to assemble.
The Champion 100219 delivers 7,500 watts of continuous power and 9,375-watts peak to handle any spikes that might come through. This generator can run up to eight hours on one 6.1-gallon tank of gas. The 439-cc engine is air-cooled and features a low oil shutoff. It has an electric starter, and a backup recoils start.
The Champion does lack the dual-fuel feature that many of the other models on this list have. There is also no gas gauge, which means you need to screw off the cap or guess at how much fuel you have left.
The Powermate is a dual-fuel generator designed to accept gasoline and liquid propane. The liquid propane doesn’t go stale, so you can always count on it during an emergency. The unit has an electric start, and they include the battery so you can try it out as soon as you get it. Covered outlets will keep the elements out of your unused plugs when you’re not using them. The gas gauge will allow you to see how much gas you have left without removing the cap.
The model we tried ran well, but it was very noisy. We didn’t like the wheels because they didn’t roll very well on anything but pavement and the axle is very thin and will likely fail over time due to the weight of the generator.
The Ford dual fuel portable generator has plenty of features to help you get through any emergency. It allows you to switch between gasoline and liquid propane, and its switch and go technology allows for seamless switching while the generator is running. Its oversized 6.6-gallon tank will keep the generator running for more than ten hours. It has covered outlets, a fuel gauge, and comes with a propane hose
We enjoyed our experience with the Ford generator and only wished it was a little quieter and had a bit more output power. This generator runs 6,250 watts continuously and can handle peaks up to 7,750 watts.
The Pulsar is the last model on our list, so it’s not as great as our first three choices but still might have some redeeming qualities that interest you. This generator is a dual fuel generator that can run on gasoline and liquid propane. It features a sizeable 6.6-gallon tank capable of extended run times exceeding 10 hours. It also comes with the propane hose included, which is a pain to buy separately. This model also features a handy 3-in-1 digital meter that helps you track fuel level and time running.
The output of the Pulsar is a little low, and it only puts out 6,250 watts when running continuously but can handle power spikes up to 7,750 watts. The wheels are flimsy plastic, and the wheel axles are very thin for the weight of the machine. This machine is also incredibly noisy.
Let’s look at a few of the things we want to look at when choosing a portable generator.
Let’s look at the different types of generators available.
The conventional generator has been around for a long time, and most people have at least a passing familiarity with them. They are a simple device that uses a fuel-powered engine to spin an alternator identical to the one in your automobile. The alternator produces an alternating current that powers your devices.
The engine runs at a fixed speed and spins the alternator at a fixed speed delivering a fixed amount of electricity. The RPM of the motor directly corresponds to the amount of electricity produced by the generator. You need a finely tuned and well-maintained engine in a conventional generator. Due to its nature as a fuel-powered mechanical device, the engine will never run completely smooth, and small fluctuations in electrical current will occur. These tiny fluctuations are why a conventional generator is said to deliver “dirty” power.
Dirty power is fine for most applications and wasn’t a big issue until the invention of sensitive digital electronics. A computer or any “computerized” device like your router, anything “smart,” and a growing number of other devices can malfunction using dirty power. Dirty power can even damage these devices.
An inverter generator looks a lot like a conventional generator, and it also uses a fuel-powered motor to spin an alternator. The conventional generator sends the electricity created by the alternator directly to your devices, but an inverting generator sends the electricity to a new inverting section of the generator.
The inverting part of the generator takes the alternating current and uses technology to turn it into a direct current. The generator then uses the direct current to create a new alternating current. It might sound confusing, but the vital thing to remember is the generator creates the power frequency, not the engine.
This feature allows the engine to run at lower RPM when the need for power is small, and it can increase RPM as the demand for current rises and gives the inverting generator three significant advantages over a conventional one.
Different devices and appliances will draw different amounts of power. Some devices draw extra power to get started and then require less as they run. When a device draws a lot of electricity for a short time, we call it a power spike. You will need to make sure your generator has enough power to handle power spikes while delivering power to any other devices attached to the generator.
Air conditioners and refrigerators are known for power spikes. Each time these devices kick on, they create a power spike. If you have any items that you regularly use that dim the lights for a short time when you power them on, those are power spikes.
A refrigerator only requires about 200 watts of power to operate, but when it cycles on, it creates a 1,200-watt power spike. If you want to run a refrigerator from your generator, you will need one rated for at least 1,200 watts continuous power to handle those spikes. If you’re going to use your generator to power a fridge and a 300-watt television, you will need a generator that delivers at least 1,500 watts continuous power. You always want to have more power than you need, or you can damage the generator and the devices connected to it.
The size of the engine is going to affect the generator in several ways. A larger engine will produce more current, but it will also use more fuel and create more noise. Larger engines will also increase the size of the generator and make it less portable.
Most generators run on fuel, usually diesel, gasoline, or liquid propane. The primary concern with fuel type is lifespan. Gas goes bad relatively quickly while diesel will last much longer. Liquid propane will stay good forever.
Some generators use more than one fuel. The most common dual fuel system is diesel and natural gas. Dual fuel generators can save on fuel costs over time and can are better for the environment.
How much electricity you need is the biggest question when looking for a generator. You need to add up the power requirements of every device you intend to operate with your generator and purchase one that can deliver 10 to 20 percent more power than you need.
For many people of slight build or those with bad backs, starting the generator is challenging. Traditionally, we start a generator by recoil start, which means pulling a cable like we do to start a lawnmower. However, push-button electric starters are becoming more common. Remote electric starters are also becoming available and are the most useful.
Run time is how long your generator will supply power before it needs refueling. The size of the gas tank will have a significant impact on run time as will engine performance and the number of devices connected if you use an inverter type generator.
Most generators provide a few outlets to plug extension cords to run your appliances and devices. Many generators also come with is a transfer switch, which is a special plug that connects to your home circuit box. A transfer switch safely disconnects you from your local power grid so you can deliver power to your entire home using your generator. Disconnecting from the power grid ensures that electricity created by the generator doesn’t travel through the lines and electrocuting neighbors.
As compressors become more complex and offer more features, taking time to make sure you understand how to operate the generator is quickly becoming an important step in choosing a generator. The control panel needs to be clearly labeled and easy to understand.
For your generator to be portable, you need to be able to move it. Before you purchase any generator, make sure that you can maneuver it into place. Some generators have trailer hitches to hook to a vehicle.
We hope that you have enjoyed reading about portable generators. Hopefully, you have a better idea of precisely what you are looking for and learned some new things along the way. We stand by our choice for the best value the Westinghouse delivers plenty of power, it has a large tank and is easy to use. Our pick for best value, the All Power America APGG7500 Gas Portable Generator, is a close second to the Westinghouse and will save you some money.
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Featured image credit: Cat RP7500E Gas Powered Portable Generator with Electric Start, Amazon
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!