Not the cheapest but an exceptional generator with lots of power. (Buy from Amazon)
This buying guide has everything you need to know about buying the best inverter generator. It’s comprehensive and extensive in the actual inverter generator models we review. We feel it’s important to educate yourself before spending your money so we spend countless hours doing research so you don’t have to.
Best Inverter Generator Guide
If you just want to see our recommended model reviews then just skip the first half of the article, but for your convenience we’ll list our picks for the best inverter generators:
We have something here for every budget and application.
Westinghouse WH2400i | 2400 watts
Westinghouse WH2000iXLT | 2200 watts
Yamaha EF2000iSV2 | 2000 watts
Briggs & Stratton P3000 (30545) | 3000 watts
Briggs & Stratton P2200 (30651) | 2200 watts
WEN 56200i | 2000 watts
WEN 56310i | 3100 watts
Honda EU2000i | 2000 watts
Generac 6866 iQ2000 | 2000 watts
Generac 5791 | 850 watts
Champion Power Equipment 73536i | 2000 watts
Champion Power Equipment 75531i | 3100 watts
✓ Note: If you’re looking for a generator for demanding electronic devices, tools, power equipment or powering your entire home when the power goes out, then you’ll need a powerful gas generator. If that’s the case then please read these articles to get you on the right track.
What size generator do I need?
Wen 5613K (13000 watt gas generator) — one of the best gas generators for the money.
We have many generator articles on our site but we think these links will help you find what you’re looking for.
Okay, now let’s begin our generator buying guide and help you find the best inverter generator for your specific needs.
Introduction to Generators | What you Need to Know
Electricity is a truly wonderful thing. It is a form of energy that is clean, silent, and invisible, and yet so very powerful. This fundamental force is the lifeline of any modern home appliance, power tool, electronic gadget, or recreational device. The electricity that we use in our homes, i.e. the 120V/240V AC power which is supplied by commercial power companies, can be created from running water (hydroelectric), sun rays (solar power plants), burning coal (thermal power plants), wind (windmills), and nuclear reactions (nuclear power plants).
Electricity is used to power everything from your smartphone and coffee maker, to log splitters, trains, small aircraft, and even gigantic construction equipment. Electric power can be supplied simultaneously to millions of people, stored for many years, and you can even transport it up to several thousand miles away from the source.
Can you imagine a life without electricity? A life without computers, phones, lights, fans, electric grills, heaters, AC, TV, transportation, in short — a total blackout. You get the idea, right? Well that is exactly what is going to happen when the next storm or natural calamity strikes. Floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and the like result in broken power station equipment, torn power lines, damaged transformer arrays, stuff that requires days, if not weeks to fix.
And during that period, you take a trip back to the 19th century, unless you have an electric generator in the house to power all of the essential equipment such as lights, fans, heaters, phones, etc. You see, disaster never sends you a warning signal before it strikes. And the best way to deal with it is to stay prepared beforehand. You can stock all the food and tools that you need to survive for months, but you won’t be able to survive more than a couple of days without power.
The worst thing you could do is go shopping for a new generator a few days before the storm hits. Because every other person in your locality will also be present at the nearest store, searching for the first generator they can lay their hands on. And generators are not stocked in the thousands like cans of tuna, nor are they designed to serve the same purpose. So instead of frantically searching for a new generator (which may or may not be right for your needs) with the help of a flashlight, inside a dark department store after the storm has hit, why not do some research and get the perfect model for yourself when you still have some time in your hands?
This Inverter Generator (3400W) runs off of gas or Propane | Champion 100263
The best of both worlds. Can run up to 14.5 hours on a 20 lb. propane tank.
Remember, a generator has many more uses than just being a backup power source for your home appliances when the lights go out. If you’ve ever thought about tailgating, camping, RV trips, or fishing on your own boat, can you imagine how useful a generator would be in those scenarios? You could power the rooftop AC of your RV with it, while watching the latest shows on TV and cooking some bagels in the microwave. While camping, you can use a small portable generator to power your camping equipment such as electric grills, heater, or even your laptop/smartphone.
Most portable generators these days are designed to run virtually silent, and come with USB charging ports for smartphone, as well as 12V sockets on the front panel so you can easily plug your electronic equipment straight into the generator. Portable medium-sized generators are also a great way to power that electric log splitter, leaf blower, chainsaw, snow blower, or power drill.
No longer do you have to be limited by the 25-foot range of an electric power tool, since you can literally throw that 50 pound generator on the back of your truck and drive it straight to the work site. Wheels and handles mean that you can comfortably move the generator around and take it with you wherever you need.
If you’ve decided to buy a new generator after reading all of this, then you made a great decision! However, buying a generator, and choosing the right generator for your needs, are two completely different things. The latter requires a significant amount of research as well as some basic insight into how generators work. Don’t worry if this is your fist time, or if you didn’t pay attention in science class — we are here to help you out.
In this article, we shall first explain the basic concept behind the working of a simple generator. It is actually an electric motor working in reverse if you think about it. Then, we shall discuss about wattage ratings- how many do your really need? We shall also cover the concept of starting power and running power for various appliances that you use in your home. Then, we will talk about the various differences between a conventional generator and an inverter generator.
After that, we shall tell you how to make the right choice while shopping for a new inverter generator. Really though, if you’re a home user and want to power your electronic appliances during a picnic, fishing trip, or RV ride, what you really need is an inverter generator instead of a conventional portable generator. We’ll explain why, and finally we cover some of the best inverter generator models currently available on the market, along with their features as well as pros/cons. So strap in and sit tight, because this incredibly interesting ride has just begun (and… it is going to be really freaking long).
How Does a Generator Work?
Any modern electrical generator works on the same basic principle- electrical induction. This phenomenon was discovered by the English scientist, Michael Faraday, during 1831-1832. He noticed that when an electrical conductor (wire, metal plate, etc.) is moved around inside a magnetic field, electrical pressure is created across the two ends of the conductor, and when you connect an ammeter to the conductor, you can notice a current flowing through the piece of metal.
The generator can either be an AC or a DC type, AC stands for alternating current and DC stands for Direct Current. More on these two soon, but for now you need to understand exactly how the whole induction thing works inside a generator. Magnets are of two types- permanent and temporary. Temporary magnets mainly refer to electromagnets which are basically wires wrapped around a metal core.
Video | See How A Generator Works
When you pass an electric current through the coils of wire, a magnetic field is generated around the metal core. It is strongest near the core, and decreases in strength as you move away from the magnet. For reference, the Earth has a pretty strong magnetic field as well but you cannot notice it in day to day life because it is too weak on the surface. However, as you go thousands of miles deep towards the molten metal core though, you begin to feel its effects strengthen (that rotating magnetic field is what gives our planets molten metal core its shape).
So, if you were to take a pretty large piece of copper winding and move it fast enough, you can actually induce a current of a few mA (milliampere) in it, just with the help of the earth’s magnetic field. Rare earth magnets consist of metallic alloys with elements such as iron, neodymium, boron, etc. as the major ingredients. Electric magnets need a current supply to generate a magnetic-field, while permanent magnets (rare earth types, ceramic magnets) are always magnetized.
Back to our induction principle — we know that if you move a metal wire inside a magnetic field, you can cause electrical pressure (voltage) to appear across the two terminals of the wire. But don’t expect to power your microwave or electric drill by moving a wire nearby a horseshoe magnet.
The amount of voltage or current produced inside a magnetic field is directly proportional to the number of conductor elements (wires), and the speed at which they are moving (rotating). You need to wind millions of turns of ultra-thin copper wire around a laminated metal core to generate the amount of current that is need to feed the appliances in your home. Then, you need something to spin it. In the case of a generator, that spinning power is provided by an internal combustion engine.
In your average portable generator, this engine is usually a direct overhead valve (OHV) single-cylinder gasoline engine- quiet similar to that of a small motorcycle engine. The larger the engine, the more watts your generator will be able to produce, since only larger engines have the power that is needed to spin bigger rotors with more coil windings and metal cores (those densely wound coils and metal cores can get surprisingly heavy).
The part of a generator that contains all of these magnet poles, coil windings, etc. is known as the alternator — quite literally the same thing that your car also has under the hood. The alternator consists of two parts — a stator (static part) and a rotor (moving, or rotating part). The stator supplies the magnetic field, while the rotor spins in this field, because of which current is generated across its terminals.
So, we have three basic components in a generator — an engine, an alternator, and a fuel tank. Bigger engines = more power potential, with the need for bigger tanks in order to produce adequate running times.
So by now, you know the following:
A generator is a means to convert conventional fuel (gasoline) into electric power (energy cannot be created, it can only be modified).
It consists of an engine, alternator, and fuel tank.
Larger engines are needed to produce more power, and they result in greater emissions, noise output, and weight (not very desirable qualities).
Okay, those are the basics behind the working of a very simple conventional generator. An inverter generator consists of some extra parts, we shall discuss about those in the section that differentiates between conventional generators and inverter generators. But now we need to clear up some things regarding AC and DC current. Here’s the deal- the 120V outlet in your wall supplies AC power, although many appliances in your home run on DC. But wait… isn’t that a little counter-intuitive?
Can’t we just generate and supply DC power to the homes? That’s a problem scientists have been dealing with since the invention of the modern large scale power generation systems, and there is a reason you get AC power to your homes instead of DC. But first, you need to understand what AC and DC are. DC stands for direct current, or stable current. If you drew it on a graph, with voltage on the Y-axis and time on the X-axis, you would end up with a straight line.
Basically in a 120 V DC supply, the voltage would stay constant at 120V at any given point in time- no spikes or dips. DC current is the type of current that is observed naturally, and this is what we get from batteries. DC is natural, while AC is artificially generated. AC is alternating current, where the most ideal or “pure” form can be represented by a sine wave pattern in a voltage versus time graph.
As you move the conductor INTO a magnetic field, the current on the voltmeter starts RISING above zero and goes on increasing, displaying a POSITIVE value as you bring the wire closer and closer to the point where the magnetic field is strongest. But when you begin to pull AWAY the conductive element from the strongest part of the magnetic field, the needle gradually shows an increasingly NEGATIVE value.
Generating large amounts of AC power at high voltages is much easier than generating large amounts of DC power at high voltages, due to the inherent differences between the designs of DC and AC generators.
On top of that, the biggest challenge is usually the part where you have to transfer the generated electric power from the hydroelectric/thermal power station to the house of a paying consumer, often thousands of miles away. That is where a STEP-UP transformer comes in. The power loss due to transportation (due to electrical resistance in wires) over several hundred miles of wire has to be compensated by stepping up the voltage of generated electricity to the order of 20-30,000 volts.
And here is the important part — it is MUCH easier to step-up AC voltage compared to DC voltage, making AC power much easier to transport which is why all power generation companies supply AC to your homes. You, the end customer, receive single phase 120V AC. But, not all components of your home use AC. For example, all components with batteries in them such as cordless power tools, computers, phones, etc. use DC.
These components are also rechargeable, which is why they come with a rectifier inside that converts AC to “rectified DC”. This is not true DC though, and it basically involves chopping away the negative humps on a sinusoidal single-phase AC signal.
Conventional Generator vs Inverter Generator
The average consumer does not carry a degree in electrical engineering, which is why we are going to present the answer to the above question in a very simplified manner. Don’t worry, because you’ll still get to know about a lot of stuff, such as clean AC power and the importance of stable voltage when it comes to powering delicate electronics. In the previous section, we talked about how generators work, as well as AC and DC. The goal of any generator, large or small, is to act as a portable power outlet.
Watch this informative video by Champion Power Equipment
For those of you who live in the Unites States and certain Asian countries, this means 120V AC. For people from Europe as well as other parts of Asia, it means 240V AC. Remember that power (voltage x current) is still the same, since a higher voltage means that current is less, while a smaller voltage will mean that the socket pushes out more current. So a 1200 watt oven will still consume 1200 watts, no matter whether you run it off a 120V supply, or a 240V supply.
How does an inverter generator work?
It takes DC power, and converts it into AC power. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, there are actually many types of inverters out there, some output AC current in the form of square or block waves, while the others output modified sine wave signals. The inverters that you should be concerned with, are the ones that output pure sine wave AC power. But here is the tricky part — inverters don’t just modify the type of signal, they also have the capability to make it cleaner.
What does “clean” current mean? The power that is supplied by the power company to your home is in the form of pure sinusoidal AC signals. If you know what a sine wave looks like, then you should know that it sports a curved outline with gradually rising and falling amplitude (voltage in this case) values on a time axis.
Square wave AC consists of abrupt “square” shaped signals that rise and fall instantly, giving sensitive electronics little time to react and could potentially damage circuitry by causing it to run hotter than its specified operating range. Inverters use inductors and capacitors to “invert” the input signal, and overlap the inverted signal on the original DC input, by adding in a phase shift. If this is all too technical for you, don’t worry.
Basically an inverter is a means to convert low voltage DC into high voltage pure AC which your appliances can actually use. Battery inverters store DC power in a battery and discharge it by first converting that power into AC, and then stepping up the voltage to desired levels (120V or 240V).
We are concerned with inverter generators, and how they differ from regular AC generators. An inverter generator is actually a simple AC generator coupled with a rectifier + inverter circuit. The alternator in a conventional generator outputs 3 phase AC that the rectifier converts into DC. This DC power is then fed into the inverter which first cleans it up and then converts it into single phase AC at the specified output voltage. The result is a stable, pure sinusoidal AC current that can be used to power your laptop, smartphone, smart TV, washing machine, etc.
Basically, any modern electronic appliance that has been designed to operate on sinusoidal AC will perform at its peak only when it is fed with stable, clean 60 Hz AC power. The electricity from any inverter generator will be near identical to the main power that you get from your wall socket. On the other hand, a conventional AC generator will output choppy, low quality AC current which consists of blocky square wave signals, unsuitable for powering delicate electronics.
This will heat up your phone, laptop, stereo receiver, home theater system, etc. and cause any microprocessor based low-voltage system to get damaged if used for long periods of time. Just try feeding your home theater with power from a conventional AC generator, and you’ll be able to notice the increased distortion in sound quality. It might be slight, but it will be there- —also the receiver unit will run hotter than before, and can actually cause damage or shorten its lifespan.
There are some other differences between the two types of generators, and we have divided those differences into various categories:
When it comes to power output, things tend to vary quite a bit depending on the specific model and pricing. However, conventional generators are capable of delivering anywhere between 3000 to 20,000 watts of power, while your average inverter generator will be restricted to a maximum power output of somewhere between 4000 to 5000 watts. But hey, don’t jump ship just yet. With 4000 watts of power, you will be able to run the rooftop AC in your RV, while roasting a chicken in the microwave and watching TV. You don’t need more than 4000W unless you plan on running some of local power delivery service from the backyard for your neighbors.
Think about it, even if you don’t own a RV and plan to use the inverter generator at home in case of a power grid failure or some sort natural calamity, 3000-4000 watts should be all you need. You can power nearly 4 fans, 8-10 LED/CFL lights, a TV, a microwave, a water heater, and a laptop with all that power. And you’ll still have some headroom for additional appliances such as a blender, toaster, etc. So even though conventional generators are capable of generating more maximum power per dollar (judging from price of the actual generator itself, not efficiency or running costs), you don’t need any more power than the high end inverter generators have to offer.
If you have researched portable generators online, then you have probably noticed that the inverter generators are smaller and lighter than their conventional counterparts. However, this extra portability comes at a cost. Due to their petite size, inverter generators are outfitted with smaller fuel tanks, whose capacity typically ranges between 0.8 to 2 gallons. But do we care about who boasts a larger belly? No, we care about how much electricity we can get out of that fuel. And that is where the fight equalizes between the two, with a slight advantage for the inverter generator.
It is true that inverter generators pack slightly smaller fuel tanks. However, all of them come with extremely efficient microprocessor-assisted 4-stroke engines. These engines have been loaded with all sorts of efficiency optimizations from the spark plug to the exhaust. Which is why, they deliver more power per drop of fuel in comparison to the older 2-stroke engines used in conventional generators.
Conventional generators are incapable of decreasing their engine speed based on the load at the other end. A 4000 watt conventional generator will run its engine at the rated maximum of 3600 rpm regardless of what appliance is connected on the receiving end. It doesn’t care if you connect a power drill + microwave combo, or a 40 watt bulb — the engine will keep drinking fuel at the same rate.
If the speed of a conventional generator fluctuates, so will the frequency of the output AC power. So with a conventional generator, you’re quite literally throwing away precious fuel whenever you are not using at least 70% of the power that it is rated at.
Well then, what about the inverter generator? It features an intelligent load monitoring system that constantly keeps checking the load being put on the output, so the microprocessor can instruct the engine to increase or decrease its speed in order to conserve fuel, just like your smartphone or laptop goes into power saving mode whenever it is not being used to do heavy tasks.
Thanks to the advanced power manipulation circuitry inside an inverter generator, this decrease in engine rpm levels does not translate to a fall in frequency of the output AC power. So, basically what this does is increase the amount of power that you get per unit of fuel. Meaning that, even with a smaller tank, an inverter generator can match the total running time of a much larger conventional generator.
— Noise and Efficiency
Remember the whole smart speed control thing that we talked about? Well if you think about it, the benefits are far more than just decreased fuel consumption. What it also means is that your generator will become much quieter when you are using it to power something that is not very power hungry, such as a laptop, miniature toaster, or even a compact microwave oven (600 W).
In terms of efficiency, an inverter generator is the clear winner among the two because of its superior engine design, intelligent load monitoring, and microprocessor assisted operation. Not to mention the lower emissions, they greatly reduce the environmental footprint of an inverter generator in comparison to a conventional generator. Simply put, inverter generators are designed from the ground up to be much more efficient and silent in comparison to their larger, older counterparts.
Yet another clear win for the inverter generator. Even small sized conventional generators are bound to be larger than inverter generators due to their clunky engine designs and large fuel tanks. If you tend to travel a lot, or if you need a generator for camping and picnics, then an inverter generator is definitely the way to go. Most of them weigh around the 50-pound mark (dry weight), and are smaller than a 20” square box. They also include ergonomic carry handles on the top, so you can pick them up and move them around, just like a suitcase.
Can you lift the inverter generator? If not, get wheels.
Portability — WEN 56310i vs Champion Power Equipment 73536i.
This is the only area in which the conventional generator scores a clear victory over its newer, quieter, and more efficient counterpart. No matter how hard you try, you’ll not be able to find an inverter generator that is priced equal to, or less than a conventional generator of similar power rating. It requires research and custom built parts to reduce size, noise, emissions, etc. while still maintaining performance. If you don’t need clean AC power and your appliance is capable of running off a square/block wave AC current, then a conventional generator will do just fine. Here are some other scenarios where you might want to get a conventional generator instead of an inverter generator-
You have an appliance that is not very sensitive to current quality, and needs to run continuously for like at least 15-16 hours a day.
You don’t really care about heat output, noise, etc. because the generator is going to be located at a large distance from your home or room.
You’re on a budget and need something cheap for your lights, fans, heaters, etc. (All of these are not very sensitive to current quality).
We have discussed the major differences between an inverter generator and a conventional generator now. But there was one little detail that we did not mention in the above section, and that was parallel operation. Most inverter generators are capable of being tethered to another generator of similar make or model via a special tethering cable that allows them to sync up their power output.
So, if you take your 2000W inverter generator to the party, and find out that your friends also brought the exact same model — you can hook up both of your 2000W generators to output 2000 + 2000 = 4000W of power.
The same principle applies to expandability and future upgrade scenarios. If you find out that your 3-year old inverter generator is simply not cutting it because you have installed some new equipment over the years that draws extra power, or if you need to do some upgrades to your house/RV, you can simply buy a second generator of the exact same model instead of scrapping the previous generator completely.
In the end it is all up to you, do you want one single unit that generates all of the requisite power, or do you like to have the capability of splitting up your generator space into two separate, independent, portable units, with each one generating a portion of the maximum power. Keep in mind the fact that two generators working together to generate “X” amount of power will usually consume more fuel than a single generator that has been designed to output the same “X” amount of power. Also, your noise output and emission signature is bound to go up.
Some cities have strict rules regarding noise and pollution levels, so you might want to look those up unless you want to be visited by a bunch of angry neighbors who are not particularly fond of the little engine concert in your backyard.
Choosing the Best Inverter Generator (for you)?
Since we have covered the working of a generator, as well as the various differences between an inverter generator and a regular generator, it is time to tell you how to select the perfect inverter generator for yourself. Note that even though we say inverter generators, most of the points that we are about to mention below will also apply to conventional generators. There are many models out there, and every manufacturer will try to make it look as if their generator is the coolest, meanest, and smartest one in town.
Remember, do not fall for their marketing tactics. They will often use long and cool sounding words for rather simple and basic functions that almost every tier two unit has these days. For example, company “X” may call their automatic engine speed regulation “Eco Smart”, while company “Y” will choose to call the same “7th Sense”.Just make sure that the unit you’re purchasing is built solidly (most Yamaha, Honda, Champion, and WEN units are), with easily available spare parts and a good in-class warranty.
Check out the features, and always get a generator that is easy to maintain and run. Fuel efficiency and noise levels matter as well, so check out the quality of the engine installed in your generator. Honda and Yamaha engines are extremely trustworthy, and other reputed generator manufactures even source their engines from these two manufacturers.
Here are some key features that your new inverter generator MUST have at all costs:
Manual Fuel Shutoff switch
Well, let’s face the truth — unless you live off the grid or in the middle of nowhere, most of your generators lifespan will be spent in storage. You will only take it out when you plan to go tailgating, fishing, on a RV trip, picnic, or when the power supply is out. And that amounts to a few hundred hours a YEAR. So, what happened when the generator sits under a weatherproof sheet inside your barn or garage? Fuel may leak and evaporate, clogging the fuel system.
To deal with this, you normally drain out all the fuel and run the engine till you’re confident that not a single a drop is left in the tank, before you proceed to store the generator for a long period. However, good generator models will include a switch which turns off the fuel system automatically when you shut down the engine, preventing fuel leakage or loss.
Low-oil automatic shutoff with indicator light
Often times you will notice (or not for that matter), that when the generator has been running for quite a long time, it begins to rattle or emit weird sounds all of a sudden. If that is your oil supply going down, it means that the engine is not being lubricated properly and you might end up with an engine seizure. Repairing your totaled engine will either cost you half the amount you initially paid for the generator. Make sure that your portable generator comes with some sort of visual engine oil level indicator- this could be an oil gauge or LED display.
A fuel gauge
Having a fuel gauge does not spare you from the pain of having to refuel the generator, but at least you’ll be able to know when you can take a break and go watch your favorite TV show, or have a snack while the generator is running.
Suitcase or H-style handles for models between 30 to 150 pounds, and dual rail handles along with wheels for anything heavier than that. Even 50-100 pound models come with wheels these days so you can literally take the generator along with you wherever you go (don’t try rolling it on snow or sand- that will not work). Some models have luggage-trolley style telescopic handles on the front, along with rear radial wheels to make the transportation process super easy, even for a 100+ pound hunk of metal, plastic, and rubber.
So you now know what features to expect from a decent inverter generator. But how many watts does your generator produce? Isn’t that stuff super important? Well actually that is the first thing you need to look up before buying a generator — know if it supplies enough wattage to fulfill your needs. But there is a little caveat here. Thanks to modern marketing tactics, the large wattage rating that is flashed on the front of the generator box is rarely what the generator ACTUALLY supplies.
More often than not, it is the PEAK power output or starting power output — something the generator produce for the first few seconds after starting up. This number can be anywhere from 20%, to as much as 100% more than the actual continuous power supply rating of the generator, i.e. the amount of power it will actually supply consistently while running.
For example, if a generator is rated at 4000W, then its continuous power supply capability is probably between 3000-3500 watts. But why do the manufacturers give us this number instead of the actual continuous power rating? Does it matter? Well we are glad you asked, because it actually matters quite a lot.
Any appliance in your home that uses some type of motor has a “starting power” requirement, as well as a “running power” requirement, with the former being up to three times as high as the latter. This is not true for all appliances though, and mostly applies to stuff like fridges, AC’s, furnace fans, pump motors, etc. Notice that appliances which use motors are the only ones that are affected by this phenomenon. This is because you need a high amount of initial current to get the motor out of its idle state.
Notice what happens when you open the door of a fridge? You hear a sudden whirring sound, right? That is the compressor of the fridge spooling up in order to increase the “coolness”, since you just let a large amount of hot air in from the surrounding while opening the fridge doors to take out your frozen pizza, which you’re about to put in the microwave. The same happens when you first start a fridge — the motor inside your compressor (a compressor is a type of pump) has to boot up, and it takes that little bit of extra juice for just a few seconds, in order for the motor to get out of bed and onto its feet.
The same principles apply to AC’s, sump pumps, power tools… you get the idea. So if you intend to run any of that stuff off your brand new generator, you better take a good look at the specs for your various appliances and prepare a nice little sheet. We’ll give you an example to make things clearer-
You must ONLY select the items which you expect to power at the same time with your generator. Make this list with the highest-load case scenario in mind. Be practical, and don’t expect to power the house with a thousand-dollar generator because that just isn’t going to happen. Make three columns, with one row per appliance. The three columns will represent- appliance name, running watts, and additional starting watts.
Add up all of the “running watts” of the appliances in the first column of the list to get part A of the total. Keep this number aside for now.
Scan the third column for the highest “starting wattage” you can find.
Now add the value that you found in step 3, to the result that you got at the end of step 2. This is the final wattage number that you should aim for, and add in an extra 10-20% for future proofing.
✓ Note : Even if you are going to power all of the appliances simultaneously, DO NOT turn them all on at the same time, as doing so may overload the generator. That is the reason we did not add up ALL of the starting wattages to the total, instead we only took the highest starting wattage in the pool into consideration.
To help you select the right generator, we have provided some average consumption figures for commonly used electric appliances below:
Emergency & Backup : Refrigerator (700W), Sump pump (2200W), Well pump (2000W), Furnace (875W).
Home Use : Microwave oven (1000W), Space heater (1800W), Table lamp (100W), 27” TV (350-400W), Laptop (400-500W), Desktop PC (800W), Coffee machine (1500W).
Recreation : Radio (100W), Slow cooker (250W), Ceiling fan (200W), Compact television (150W), Blender (300W).
Outdoor & Construction : Electric lawnmower (1200W), Hand drill (600W), Air compressor (1600W), Circular saw (1200W), 12” Electric chainsaw (100W), Edger (960W), Paint sprayer (600W), Hand sander (1200W).
Now, we are going to help you get a rough idea of how many watts you truly need for some hypothetical used cases:
Recreational purposes : Electric grill (1600W) + AM/FM radio (100W) + Fan (200W) + Laptop(300W) + Cellphone (25W) + Outdoor lighting (250W) + Inflator pump for tents, rafts, etc. (50W + 150W starting)= 2500 watts.
Powering your home during an emergency : 60 watt bulb (60W) + Light bulb (75-100W), Refrigerator (700W + 2000W starting), Sump Pump (800-1100W + 1300-2200W starting), Electric furnace (1000W), Electric water heater (2000-4000W)= 10,000 watts to 12,000 watts. (Might need to get a large one, or pair up two 5000 watt units).
Jobsite : Halogen work light (300W-1000W) + Electric drill (440-600W + 600-900W starting) + Hammer Drill (1000W + 3000W starting) + Air compressor (1000-1600W + 1600-4500W starting) + Belt Sander (1200W + 2400W starting) = 15000-20,000W (you’ll need to pair together a bunch of inverter generators for this one).
Apart from wattage, you also need to consider the other factors such as runtime and weight. Here is some food for thought- if a 1000W generator runs on “X” amount of fuel for 8 hours, then will a 2000W unit run for 4 hours on the same amount of fuel? Well, the answer is — it depends. If you connect the same 60W light bulb to each of these two units, you will surprised to see that the 2000W unit will consume nearly the same amount of fuel as the 1000W unit, per second.
This is because inverter generators actually reduce engine rpm to increase efficiency and decrease noise levels, depending on the amount of load connected. So even though the larger 2000W unit has a more powerful gasoline engine installed inside (say 250CC versus 125CC for the 1000W unit), it will actually spin at the same rpm as the smaller engine when connected to similar loads. Yes, it will consume a TINY bit extra fuel because of the heavier piston, crankshaft and rod, but the heavier flywheel will also give it more momentum so it will actually consumer nearly the same amount of fuel as its smaller cousin at the exact same rpm.
However, if you run both the models at maximum load then the one with twice the capacity will probably consume much more fuel per second, meaning that you need a larger fuel tank. Take note of the following two parameters- run-time at 25% load, and run-time at 100% load. Also note the minimum as well as maximum noise levels. For maximum efficiency, we recommend that you use at least 25% of the generators maximum continuous power output while it is running.
Alright, that’s enough talk regarding inverter generators and how you can choose the right one. Now let’s take a look at the cream of the crop when it comes to inverter generators- the following models rank among the best in the market and are definitely worth looking up if you’re in need of a new inverter generator. We have also listed the main features and specifications of each unit, along with its pros and cons to make the selection process easier for you.
Westinghouse WH2400i | 2400W Inverter Generator
.3 Gallon Gas Tank Lasts 11 Hours at a 25% Load. Very reliable & well-made.
Specifications and features:
2400 peak watts, with 2100 running watts
Westinghouse single cylinder 79 cc engine, direct overhead valve, 4-stroke gasoline type
Run-time of 11 hours under 25% load, 1.3 gallon fuel tank
Automatic low oil shutdown for added safety
Dual muffler design, along with double insulated acoustic hood and asymmetrical fans for silent operation (52-59 dB)
Power indicator light and overload reset
Supports parallel pairing, and has a high efficiency mode
AC Overload Reset
High Efficiency Run Mode
Low Oil Shut Down
Outlet ports include a USB-10A, 12V DC, and Duplex 5-20R
Weighs 43 pounds. Size: 20.25” x 12.5” x 17.25”
2-year limited warranty
Parallel Capable unit Using the Westinghouse Cable : 260041
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Westinghouse WH2400i.
Overview | Westinghouse WH2400i
If you plan on getting a portable power supply for your camping and tailgating needs, this Westinghouse generator is definitely worth checking out. It packs a starting, or peak wattage output of 2400 watts and the running power output or continuous power output is 2100 watts. With 2100 watts, you could easily run a couple of outdoor lights in the night, or you can run an electric grill, fan, radio, and laptop simultaneously, and even charge your smartphone at the same time using the USB-10A port on the front panel.
The 2400 watts of starting power might even be enough for some small AC units, so you might want to check out the specs on your RV’s rooftop air conditioner to see if this little 43-pounder is worth taking on your RV trips. It supports parallel pairing and the ECO mode automatically throttles engine speed to maintain efficiency, depending on the amount of load connected to the generator.
A run-time of 11 hours is sufficient to last the entire day, or you can use it to power the lights and heating unit in your camp throughout the entire night. Note that this is rated run-time for 25% load, or 500 watts- which is still more than enough to run large outdoor lights, a few 75-100 watt light bulbs. Noise output is muffled well by the internally padded acoustic hood, and is a mere 52 decibels at 25% of the rated load.
Even under maximum load, it does not exceed 59 decibels. For your reference, 52 decibels lies between the amount of noise generated in a library and a normal conversation, while 59 decibels is about the same amount of noise that is generated during a normal conversation between 2 people at a distance of 1 meter from each other.
Westinghouse WH2000iXLT | 2200W Inverter Generator
Excellent build-quality. Designed to be used for a variety of applications.
2200 peak watts, 1800 running watts
Westinghouse 79 cc, single cylinder, direct overhead 4-stroke gasoline engine
Run-time at 25% load is 13 hours, 1.3 gallon fuel tank
Dual muffler design with asymmetric fans and dual insulated acoustic hood for quiet operation
Power indicator light with AC-overload reset
Outlets consist of a Duplex, and a NEMA 5-15R 120V AC
High efficiency mode, capable of parallel operation
Sound output : 52-59 dB
Weighs : 43 pounds. Size: 20.25” x 12.5” x 15.25”
Parallel Capable unit Using the Westinghouse Cable : 260041
2-year limited warranty
Overview | Westinghouse WH2000iXLT
If the WH2400i looked good to you, then you’ll surely love this one. It is a specialized version of the 2400i, with some modifications. The running wattage has been reduced to 1800W, and the starting wattage is now 2200. However, you’ll find that this is still enough to power your home water heater or microwave, while running a couple of low power light bulbs at the same time. Or, you could use it to power an electric chainsaw and power drill simultaneously.
Do the wattage calculations and decide if this little 43-pounder can power the equipment that you plan to use most frequently with a portable generator. You should know however, that the runtime on this model is 13 hours, compared to the 11 hours on the 2400i. That is probably because of the more advanced micro-controller design, or maybe Westinghouse just refined that 79cc single cylinder 4-stroke engine to become even more efficient than it already was, since both the 2400i as well as the 2400iXLT use similar engines.
Engineered to keep cool under heavy work loads.
Fuel tank capacity is 1.3 gallons on both of these generators, and the 2400iXLT carries the exact same sound signature as its less fuel-efficient sibling, with noise levels ranging between 52-59 decibels for minimum and maximum load respectively. Warranty is the exact same 2-year limited cover, so all that differs between these two is the outlet port type, with the 2400iXLT using a NEMA 5-15R instead of the Duplex 5-20R for 120V AC output, and the 2400iXLT runs about 15-20% longer while generating slightly less (about 10%) peak and running power.
Documents for the Westinghouse WH2000iXLT:
✓ View or download the MANUAL
✓ View or download the SPEC SHEET.
✓ View or download the PARTS LIST.
Yamaha EF2000iSV2 | 2000W Inverter Generator
Ultra-quiet and professional build quality make this an instant classic.
The Yamaha EF2000iSV2 is has proven itself to be one of the best inverter generators by consumers and experts — usually in close competition to the popular Honda EU2000i, which is also covered in this article.
This is the new and improved model (version 2). A fantastic inverter generator just got a little bit better.