Best Portable Inverter Generators 2019 – Top Picks & Reviews

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an inverter generator

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 can 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.


A Quick Glance at our Favorites

ModelPriceWarrantyEditor Rating
Yamaha EF2000iSv2
small Yamaha EF2000iSv2
(Best Overall)

Check Price
3 Years4.85/5
WEN 56200i 2000W
small WEN 56200i 2000W
(Best Value)

Check Price
2 Years4.70/5
Westinghouse WH2200iXLT
small Westinghouse WH2200iXLT

Check Price
2 Years4.45/5
Champion 3400W
small Champion 3400W

Check Price
3 Years4.25/5
Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200
small Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200

Check Price
2 Years4.20/5

7 Best Inverter Generators 2019

1. Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Inverter Generator – Best Overall

Yamaha EF2000iSv2

Yamaha’s EF2000iSv2 is quiet and reliable. At 1,600 watts (2,000 watts maximum output), it’s capable of running everything in your home. It’s CARB-compliant and throttles output to demand, so it’s efficient, clean and relatively safe to be around. It can also run north of five hours on one tank of gas. There’s much to love about this generator.

It’s also expensive. It’s almost possible to buy two lower-watt inverter generators of different brands and run them in tandem for what you’ll spend on one of these. It isn’t the heaviest generator at 44 pounds, but it doesn’t come with any features that aid its portability. If this is the generator for you, consider finding a cart or hand truck you can use to move it around.

All things considered, however, those are pretty minor beefs. If you’re looking for our top pick, this one is it.

Pros
  • Quiet
  • Matches output to demand
  • Clean
  • Great output
  • Strong performance
  • Runs a long time
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Could be more portable

2. WEN 56200i Inverter Generator – Best Value

WEN 56200i

The 56200i is WEN’s version of the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 and a pretty well-made one at that. It matches the original for output, improves a little bit on sound at quarter load (51 decibels for this one as opposed to 51.5 decibels for the Yamaha), and is just as clean and efficient in operation. In fact, it’s one of the quietest generators on the market, capable of producing electricity at a sound no louder than a window air conditioner.

At a price much lower than the Yamaha, it is a better for-dollar value. The cost to operate this model each year is just about two-thirds of the Yamaha’s.

There are a couple of things that keep it from being our top pick. The first is related to it being a clone, so your cash savings come because a few corners were cut in quality. It can eat oil, especially on first use, and it probably won’t last as long as the Yamaha. It’s also tall enough to be a little on the awkward side.

Pros
  • Super quiet
  • Good output
  • Affordable
  • Great value
Cons
  • Eats oil
  • On the tall side
  • Not as durable as the Yamaha

3. Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Inverter Generator

Westinghouse WH2200iXLT

Westinghouse’s WH2200iXLT offers a little more power and a little more portability for a good deal less money, but at the price of a little more noise. It also has a very efficient engine. At quarter load, this thing will crank out power for a whopping 13 hours on a 1.3-gallon fuel tank.

Why isn’t this our top-ranked inverter generator? The answer is pretty simple. With a legitimate top pick tool, you’ll know when something is on its last legs. The WH2200iXLT has a very annoying habit of just simply not working. For some things, that might be a mere inconvenience. However, you really want to know that a generator will work when you need it. For that reason alone, we dropped it to the third spot. It’s a great generator, but you always have to worry about whether it’ll work.

Pros
  • High output
  • Affordable
  • Portable
  • Long run time
Cons
  • Can fail for no apparent reason

4. Champion 3400W Portable Inverter-Generator

Champion 3400-Watt

There is one significant advantage the Champion 3400W has in this field: it can crank out a lot of power. With other models, you’d have to operate a couple of generators in tandem to get them to the 3,100-watt running power of the Champion. You might also like that you can operate it on gasoline or propane. Propane is affordable, cleaner for the environment and stores a lot longer than gasoline.

However, it’s much heavier than most of our other choices, even though it comes with wheels to help move it around. It’s also noisier than other models, and it costs a lot of money, enough that it might actually cost less to buy two of less expensive generators to reach the same power output.

Pros
  • Super powerful
  • Compatible with multiple fuels
Cons
  • Noisier than other models
  • Expensive
  • Heavy

5. Briggs & Stratton P2200 Portable Inverter Generator

Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200

If you’re looking for a mid-quality inverter generator, the Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 is a choice. It is affordable compared to some of the other models, but it gives up quite a bit to get to that price. The output, 2200 watts, is pretty comparable to other units. What really sums this model up is “affordable power.”

It’s a little heavier and creates more ambient noise. It also drinks gasoline a little more quickly than competitors and isn’t as clean or efficient in operation. In fact, it’s not CARB-compliant, so it can’t be shipped to California. While there’s certainly an argument to not care about what California does, there is no argument that a cleaner, more efficient generator is better than one that requires lots of fuel and produces lots of obnoxious exhaust fumes.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Good output
Cons
  • Not CARB-compliant
  • Noisy
  • Inefficient operation
  • A little heavier than others

6. Ai Power Inverter Generator

A-iPower SUA2000iV

Billed as a lightweight, portable generator, the Ai Power Inverter Generator is just that. At 46 pounds, it’s light enough that most people can carry it, and has a handle that allows two people to pick it up in tandem. It comes with the added bonus of being one of the most affordable generators in its class. For the price of our top pick, you can almost certainly pick up two of these.

However, it has substantial drawbacks. At 69 decibels, it’s definitely a little louder than other inverter generators. That’s loud enough that it would preclude sitting next to it and having a conversation. Probably you also couldn’t sleep close to one and get a good night’s rest. The engine is also not as efficient as the competitors’. You’ll need to keep refilling the gas tank.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Not very efficient
  • Loud

7. Briggs & Stratton Q6500 Inverter-Generator

Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500

This Briggs & Stratton inverter generator really belongs in a different class. Compared to the others we’ve reviewed, the big overarching issue is that it’s just too much generator. That’s great if you need a ton of power, but it also means a lot of drawbacks.

First, the power. At 6,500 watts of surge power and 5,000 watts of running power, it’ll turn on the lights … and just about everything else you need.

Now, the rest. It’s really expensive compared to our other models, even our top pick. It’s also much louder and will burn through fuel much more quickly. All these things have to be taken in the context of just how much power it will produce, but at face value, they

It’s also not CARB-compliant. While it’s true that the environment isn’t everyone’s top concern, exhaust fumes aren’t a lot of fun to breathe, and using up lots of fuel costs you money you could spend on other things.

Pros
  • Will run everything in your home
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Loud
  • Not CARB-compliant
  • Short run time on a lot of fuel

Buyer’s Guide

During a disaster, a generator can be an important lifeline until power is restored. A generator can help make sure that critical medical machines run, food in your refrigerator doesn’t go bad, and your furnace keeps going. If you’re going to buy one, you need one you can have faith in.

It’s understandable that you don’t want to leave the purchase decision to a handful of online reviews. We wrote a buyers’ guide, not to tell you which one to buy, but to understand how to buy the right one. Part of that is knowing how inverter generators work.

How they work

There are two kinds of electrical current, direct current and alternating current. Imagine direct current as moving in a straight line. It’s an uncomplicated move, favored by crude means of generating electricity like batteries. However, it also starts to lose strength quickly as it moves down a wire of some kind.

Imagine alternating current as waves on an ocean. Sometimes the waves go above the median, and sometimes the water recedes below the median to make space and energy for the peak.

Alternating current is much more efficient to transmit energy down long transmission lines. When power comes to your house, it comes in alternating current electricity. Because of that, AC electricity is standard household power.

Generators are intended to mimic wall power, so they produce electricity in alternating current. Wall current is by design stable and consistent. For many years, generators produced crude unregulated power. It was alternating current, but it was sometimes prone to surges.

Inverter technology produces alternating current like an old-school generator, but converts it to direct current before converting it back to alternating current, for which the output is regulated. The surge risk is gone. You might see it referred to as clean power.

Modern electronics require consistent, stable alternating current. Sudden changes can damage circuits. Inverter generators do for phones and laptops plugged into a generator what a surge protector does for them during an electrical surge.

Other benefits to inverter technology

There are some other reasons inverter technology offers something extra. The first is that it’s easier to match the generator’s output with what you actually need. In generators that just crank out juice, it’s more or less consistent whether you need all of it. Inverter technology makes it easier to only produce what there is demand on the circuit for. If you plug in enough things to push demand to peak production, those generators will produce peak output. If you’re just charging a phone and running a fan, inverter generators will only produce enough electricity to charge your phone and power your fan.

These generators burn fuel more efficiently because they’re reserving peak performance for when it’s needed. That’s a money saver compared to an old-style generator that runs at peak output all the time. It’s also more environmentally friendly because it’s producing less overall exhaust in generating electricity. Plus, it’s newer technology, which is generally more efficient than older-style generators that are just built to run.

How to shop

Now that you know what an inverter generator does and what benefits and versatility it offers, the question becomes how to pick the best inverter generator.

We’ll go through some of the ways to figure out which model of inverter generator is right for you.

Output

The amount of power generated is measured in watts. This is a good first way to figure out what kind of generator you need, because price tracks pretty closely with power output. Some of the most powerful generators will crank out 12,000 (or even more) watts of power, which will keep your household appliances going and power your Christmas light display. Most people will be satisfied with the 2,000-watt generators. Those are probably the biggest you’d need, especially for an inverter generator. You can, of course, also look at smaller loads if your anticipated need is smaller.

Know how much power you’ll need and buy a generator to meet it. There are lots of handy charts online that will tell you how much power you’ll need for certain appliances and tools.

Inverter Portable Generator

Doubling up

One handy feature of inverter generators is that you can operate them in parallel. That means you can connect two inverter generators and double your power output potential. This comes in pretty handy when you need a lot more juice than what you normally require. One instance of that is touring the country in a recreational vehicle. Normally, you can run everything with one generator. But if there’s a super hot day and you need to run a power-sucking air conditioner, inverter generators allow you to connect a second generator to keep everything running.

When buying an inverter generator, definitely keep this option in mind. If you ever think you’ll need excess power capacity, get a generator with the potential for it.

Pollution

Because a generator is basically an immobilized gasoline engine, its exhaust is dangerous. This is why generators should never be used indoors or in enclosed spaces. The warning label that tells you this is a reminder that a generator can be a dirty piece of technology.

Inverter generators, like any newer design, tend to operate a little more cleanly than traditional generators. They’re also more environmentally friendly in that their output matches the demand. When something only runs as hard as it needs to, it will use less fuel.

CARB-compliant inverter generators pass some of the world’s strictest air quality standards. If you live someplace with air quality standards that apply to generators, buy one that complies with them. Even if you don’t, the reality that generator fumes can kill you in enclosed places ought to be incentive to minimize your exposure to exhaust.

Silence: music to your ears

Generators have traditionally been loud. One thing that mitigates the noise is the need to operate them outside. The noise also serves a useful purpose in letting you know when the generator runs out of fuel. If the noise stops, the generator is out of gas and whatever you’re powering is without juice.

Depending on how much power it produces, a generator can put out as much as 70 decibels in noise. That’s as loud as most people’s televisions. However, some inverter generators can produce as little as 50 decibels, which is about as loud as an average two-person conversation. Take into consideration how much noise a generator will make. Be sure that includes the range of decibels, because an inverter generator that doesn’t create much power will also create less noise.

Size (and portability) matter

Whatever you use your generator for, portability is part of it. If you pull it out after a storm to run your refrigerator and phone charger, you’ll have to move it. If you move it around your yard to provide extension-cordless juice to power tools, you’ll have to move it. If you stow it in an RV, you’ll have to move it. You can see the common thread. Make sure you can move the generator you’re looking to buy around. If you’re a little older or don’t have a lot of upper body strength, definitely look for one with wheels.

Price

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering the prices of inverter generators. You’ll want to figure out maintenance costs, expected operational life, and how much gas it uses. The price tag of any generator tells you only one part of the overall cost of owning, operating and maintaining a generator.

Online pricing fluctuates and can even be different from website to website. If you find a specific model of inverter generator but have time, consider waiting a few days and checking prices again.

Conclusion

Based on our reviews, we’d recommend the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Gas-Powered Portable Inverter Generator as the best all-around inverter generator to buy. If it’s not available, we’d suggest the WEN 56200i. It’s not only the one we think is the best for the money, but also one of the quietest inverter generators available. We liked the Westinghouse WH2200iXLT and the Champion 3400W as good alternatives to the Yamaha, and felt that the Briggs & Stratton 30651 was an okay second-tier choice. The Ai Power Inverter Generator is environmentally friendly, which is the best thing going for it. As for the Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500, it’s okay as a generator of last resort.

We hope you found our reviews helpful and, when paired with our buyers’ guide, a great resource in helping you find the right inverter generator. We wish you success in finding the right generator for wherever you need one, and hope that the next time a storm puts your lights out, your generator will keep your wireless network powered up.

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About the Author Adam Harris

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!