Buying an inverter generator is a lifestyle choice. Your decision to buy one depends on your own specific needs for portable power. Depending on how you use it, freedom of movement, reduced noise, independence, flexibility, excitement, and adventure are a few of the many things an inverter generator offers.
From fishing camps to tailgating parties, an inverter generator will serve you as a quiet, efficient, and reliable source of power. It’s the thing that makes everything else possible. After all, a limitation on power is the worst kind of limitation. So, if you’re ready to elevate your level of fun, we will help you find the best inverter generator for your needs.
To reduce decision fatigue, we’ve created a list of inverter generator reviews that will help you narrow your options. To make things even easier for you, we’ve summarized the crucial factors you must consider when buying an inverter generator. You can find this section after the reviews. So, let’s dive right in.
|Honda EU2000i |
(Best for the Money)
|Champion Power Equipment 75531i||80 lbs||4.5/5|
|Westinghouse WH2000iXLT||43 lbs||4.3/5|
|Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart||55 lbs||4.2/5|
The Honda EU2000i is the best portable inverter generator for frequent use. Yes, this inverter generator is costlier than other inverter generators. But, what it lacks in one-time economy, it makes up for in long-term operating cost. I say this for two reasons.
First, the generator is resistant to damage from normal wear and aging because of its durable construction and superior design. The generator is also cheaper and easier to maintain. Supported by a network of nationwide service centers and backed by a 3-year limited warranty, the EU2000i promises years of reliable performance.
Second, the EU2000i has excellent fuel economy. On a tankful, the generator runs for 8.1 hours at 25 percent load and 3.4 hours at the rated load. But, here’s the amazing part – a tankful is just 0.95 gallons. Depending on where you live, the cost of running this generator at the rated capacity is between $0.58 and $0.88 per hour.
This generator is less than 60 dBA loud, provides clean electricity, has overload protection, a low oil level, and circuit protection, and comes with one 12-Volt (8 A) DC receptacle and two 120-Volt (13.3 A) AC receptacles. It also comes with a lightweight and compact design, eco-throttle mode, and parallel-use capability. In other words, it’s got everything you expect from any inverter generator worth your consideration.
In summary, this is the best 2000-Watt inverter generator on the market for people who depend on a portable source of electricity on a frequent basis. For intermittent use, however, a high-quality budget friendly inverter generator, like our next product, will serve you better.
The WEN 56200i has the same rated and maximum wattage as our top pick. Even their run time per tankful and fuel capacity are about the same. But, the 56200i costs only half as much as the Honda EU2000i does. So, what explains the vast difference in the price? Here’s the reason:
While Honda invested time, money, and effort into designing its own engine, WEN sourced the design from another manufacturer. Sidestepping the research and development phase made it possible for WEN to market the 56200i at a low price.
How does this affect you as a buyer? On the one hand, you get the same performance at half the price. On the other hand, you sacrifice some purchase protection because the warranty on the 56200i is for only 2 years. Although the 56200i is the best inverter generator for the money, I would count on the EU2000i for heavy long-term use. I just trust the build quality of the Honda when it comes down to it.
If you organize tailgating parties, camping trips, or other outdoor recreational activities every weekend, invest in the EU2000i. If you do so only a few times a year, the 56200i is the better option. However, if you’re looking for an inverter generator for your RV, these camping inverter generators won’t do. You need a more powerful unit – specifically, the Champion 75531i.
The EU2000i and 56200i are camping inverter generators. The 75531i is an RV inverter generator. What’s the difference? Power. The 75531i provides a maximum wattage of 3100 Watts and a rated wattage of 2800 Watts.
In addition to running normal appliances, an RV generator must handle heavy loads, such as refrigerators, air conditioning units, microwaves, hair dryers, and coffee makers. A 2000-Watt inverter generator can’t provide that much power.
Heavy loads, like the ones I mentioned earlier, draw a lot of power when you turn them on, almost three times the operating power. This spike will trigger the overload protection in a 2000-Watt generator. On the other hand, the 75531i can handle the demand.
The 75531i comes with a built-in 30 A outlet. So, you can connect the generator to your RV without any adapters. The unit weighs 83 pounds. This can be a good thing because the weight makes it harder to steal. Obviously, it also makes it less portable.
As expected from a great inverter generator, this product provides clean output supply, runs quietly, guards against overloads and low oil levels, and uses fuel efficiently. It comes with a 3-year limited warranty and at a reasonable price. However, the company, founded in 2003, is a new entrant to the market.
Honda and Yamaha are the leaders in inverter generator technology and products. For that reason, they price their inverter generators at a premium. If you want competitive prices, without relying on off-brands, consider buying the Westinghouse WH2000iXLT.
With a peak wattage of 2200 Watts and rated wattage of 1800 Watts, the WH2000iXLT generates more power than the Honda and WEN generators on our list. It offers a better fuel economy and greater fuel capacity too. Like the other machines on our list, this one also runs under 60 dBA. So, why is this fourth on our list?
While Westinghouse Electric Corporation has been around for over a century, the WH2000iXLT is manufactured by Westpro Power Systems, a licensee of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Founded in 2011, Westpro Power Systems is a new company wholly owned by Fusheng Industrial Co., a company specializing in manufacturing compressors. So, the product has the branding of a reputed company, but not its legacy.
Had this product come with a 3-year warranty, I would feel more comfortable buying it. But, it comes with only a 2-year warranty. If anything goes wrong with my machine, I’d be much more reassured if it were a Honda, instead of a Westinghouse.
Personally, I see this as a high-risk and high-reward proposition. So, the WH2000iXLT doesn’t get the top spot, but it’s a great pick if you want to take a small leap of faith.
Despite its impressive power and fuel efficiency, I don’t feel completely comfortable buying the Westinghouse WH2000iXLT because it was manufactured by a licensee and not directly by the company. Its low cost would have been enough to offset my inhibition, had I not found the Briggs & Stratton P2200 inverter generator.
The P2200 delivers 2200 starting Watts and 1700 running Watts. Per one-gallon filling, it runs for 8 hours at 25 percent load. It operates at less than 60 dBA loud and produces a clean sine-wave output. So, I’m satisfied with the performance parameters.
It has parallel-operation capability and comes with a variety of outlets – one DC, two AC, and one USB. However, weighing 54 pounds, it is heavier than other machines on our list. This machine is ideal for those who don’t have the budget for a Honda EU2000i and require more power than the WEN 56200i.
If you fall into this category, the P2200 is the best product for you. Although I feel more confident in Briggs & Stratton’s 2-year limited warranty than Westinghouse’s 2-year limited warranty, it’s nowhere near as comforting as Honda’s 3-year warranty.
I want you to be happy with your purchase. For that to happen the value an inverter generator offers must exceed the price you pay for it. While you can count money, you can’t count value. But, you can get a feel for it, if you know where to look. That’s what this section is all about.
The top reasons you should buy an inverter generator are as follows:
However, regular generators have an edge over inverter generators in the following ways:
In summary, choosing between an inverter generator and a regular generator depends on how and where you intend to use the machine.
Regular generators are better suited for use on a job site than inverter generators. Traditional generators offer more power, better economy, and a longer run time than inverter generators. On a job site, noise shouldn’t be an issue (if it is – opt for an inverter generator). Also, power tools aren’t as sensitive as laptops or tablets. So, the two main benefits that inverter generators offer don’t generally matter as much on a job site. You can figure it out yourself if you are an exception to this rule.
Simple answer – use an inverter generator where noise is a bigger issue than power. For example, if you’re hosting a Friday night tailgating party, noise is an issue. You don’t want your music sharing the stage with generator noise. Power, on the other hand, is not a major concern because you can operate everything you need with a 2000-Watt inverter generator.
Also, consider what plugs into the generator. Are the devices sensitive to electrical fluctuations? If so, go for an inverter generator. Another concern is portability. Inverter generators are much easier to move around than regular generators are.
A feature that makes inverter generators exciting is parallel capacity. Most high-quality inverter generators allow you to pair two units of the same kind to double the power output. So, if you and your friend own the same machine, you can club them together. This capability makes inverter generators ideal for social gatherings.
First, calculate how much power you need. To do this, make a list of the devices you want to power with your new inverter generator. Then, identify the wattage for each device. Many websites offer reference tables for common devices and their wattage. Use a table that provides data regarding running wattage and starting wattage.
Some machines require more power when starting – starting wattage or surge wattage – than they do when running – running wattage. For example, a refrigerator requires around 700 W to run and 2200 W to start. When identifying the wattage for a device, use starting wattage when applicable.
After you identify the wattage for each device, add the values to get the total power demand. Then, shortlist inverter generators that meet this demand. When shortlisting, look at the rated power of the generator, not the maximum power.
For example, the Honda EU2000i has a maximum power of 2000 Watts and a rated power of 1600 Watts. This means, the machine can produce 2000 Watts, but only for 30 minutes. However, it can run for 3.4 hours at 1600 Watts. The difference between the rated power and the maximum power reflects the machine’s capacity to handle surge wattage.
Among the generators that satisfy your power requirement, eliminate the ones that don’t provide the desired run time. Every manufacturer will provide information on the run time. For example, the WEN 56200i runs for 6 hours at 50 percent load or approximately 3 hours at 100 percent load. If 3 hours isn’t enough, eliminate WEN 56200i from your shortlist.
Now, your list should be full of machines that deliver adequate power and run time. Next, calculate the fuel efficiency. To calculate fuel efficiency, divide the runtime on full load by the machine’s fuel tank capacity. This gives you the run time per gallon. For instance, the Honda EU2000i runs for 3.4 hours at the rated load, and it has a 0.95-gallon tank. On dividing the two values, we get 3.6 hours per gallon. Find the runtime per gallon for every machine in contention so you can rank them.
Considering the runtime per gallon and the cost of the machine, you can optimize for a low operating cost or a low one-time cost. When you choose to opt for low one-time cost, an important aspect you must evaluate is the warranty. Read the warranty offer for the product carefully. Pay attention to the parts the warranty covers and how long that coverage lasts. Also, look at what kind of incident can lead to the nullification of the warranty.
If you follow all the steps systematically, you will not have any problems researching, identifying, and buying an inverter generator that’s perfect for you when it comes to power, run time, fuel efficiency, economy, and warranty.
Using the steps outlined here, you could do your own research to find the right inverter generator for your needs. That will entail a lot of time and effort. An easier way is to revisit the products suggested in our list of the best inverter generators of 2018. If you still want more options, look at the full range of inverter generators from Honda, Yamaha, Champion, Briggs & Stratton, and Westinghouse.
Based on our list of the best inverter generators of 2018, one thing becomes clear: quality drives price more than performance does. Quality, in this regard, reflects how long the machine delivers optimal and consistent performance. Performance relates to power rating and fuel efficiency. So, my assessment is that performance is cheaper to buy than reliability is.
A budget-friendly model will help you save money in the short run. A high-end model will pay off in the long run. So, the decision comes down to time-pressure. If you need an inverter generator immediately, go for one of the affordable ones. But, if you can, I recommend that you wait until you have the money for a high-end brand.
Generators have been around for more than a century. Inverter generators are relatively new. But, due to their growing popularity, manufacturers are now working hard to provide the best mix of price, functionality, and performance. All their efforts have pushed the quality of the products up considerably.
With so many products being offered, it can get confusing out there. But, if you are systematic in your approach, you can objectively weigh the good and the bad and find a product that will fit your specific needs.
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