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Best Portable Generator for Home Use 2015

Updated on January 12, 2015

Whether you're looking for a power source while you are out camping or want a home power backup in case of a loss of power, a portable generator can fill your needs.

That being said you'll need to decide not only capacity, but also whether you want to go with a gas or propane generator. Knowing ahead of time what type of equipment you plan should help you in deciding what type of generator you need.

Top Ten Portable Generators for the Money in 2015

Under $300 - DuroStar DS4000S Portable Generator

The DuroStar DS4000S features a 7.0 horsepower, air-cooled, OHV gasoline engine which produces 3300-watts continuous power and up to 4000 watts surge. It has a 4-gallon gas tank, with an easily readable gauge, which provides about 8 hours of continuous run time. The DuroStar is mounted in a heavy-duty frame with four point fully isolated motor mounts to keep it running smooth and quiet.

The DuroStar has a super quiet muffler that produces a 69 db. rating. It also features an automatic low-oil shut off to protect the engine. The front power panel features the start switch, a voltmeter and the circuit breaker as well as two 120 volt, 20 Amp 3 prong outlets and one 120 volt, 30 Amp outlet. It has a manual recoil pull start. Weighing in at about 93 lbs. and measuring 20" x 27" x 22" it can be a bit hefty to move. It does not come with wheels but DuroStar does offer an optional wheel kit. The DuroStar is backed by a 1 year limited warranty. It is not CARB-compliant.

Best Cheap Portable Generator - Under $400 WEN 56352 Gas Portable Generator

The Wen 56352 has a 6.5 horsepower, single cylinder. OHV engine which generates 3000 running watts of power with a 3500-watt peak surge. The 56352 will run continuously for up to 15 hours on the four gallon gas tank.

The tank has an easy to see fuel gauge. Features include a 120-volt outlet, a 120/240-volt NEMA outlet and a 12-volt cigarette style DC receptacle. It also has an engine operation hour counter, an automatic voltage regulator and a circuit breaker.

The automatic low oil engine shutdown can save the motor if the oil runs low. Starting is a breeze with the transistorized ignition and manual pull start. The Wen comes complete with handles and wheels for easy moving. It is not CARB-compliant and is not for sale in California.

5 stars for WEN 56352

Under $500 Briggs & Stratton 30466 Gas Portable Generator

Includes Wheel Kit

Briggs & Stratton has been a trusted name in small engines and outdoor equipment for over 100 years. The 30466 is a high quality portable generator featuring a 250cc, 1150 series, OHV, B & S, fuel-efficient engine. Measuring 26" x 18" x 23" it weighs in at 133 pounds. The B & S comes complete with a wheel kit featuring 8-inch flat free tires so it can be moved easily and a fold down t-handle makes for easy storage. It produces 3500 continuous watts with 4375 watts of surge power. That's plenty of power to keep your essentials up and running during a power outage without breaking the bank. The four-gallon gas tank holds enough fuel to run for 8 hours.

Briggs Stratton 30466 4,375 Watt 250cc Gas Powered Portable Generator With Wheel Kit

The fuel shut-off valve is a nice touch. The B & S has both 120 and 240-volt outlets. The outlets have rubber covers for foul weather protection. All outlets and controls are conveniently located on a single sided control panel. Low oil shutdown protects your engine in case of a low oil emergency. The 30466 carries a two-year consumer warranty. It is non-CARB compliant. Briggs & Stratton does not supply decibel ratings for this generator.

Best New Gas Portable Generator

ETQ TG32P12

The ETQ TG32P12 is a compact powerhouse weighing in at 110 pounds. A wheel kit with solid never flat tires is included for ease in moving. The ETQ features a 7 horsepower air-cooled 207cc 4 cycle gasoline engine. It has a low oil shut down to protect the engine. This generator produces 3250 running watts of power and a peak of 4000 watts.

The 4-gallon fuel tank provides about 13 hours of run time at 50% load and has a top read fuel gauge. The ETQ has two 120-volt 14A ground fault interrupt receptacles and one 240-volt outlet. The ETQ delivers clean and steady Sine Power making it great for sensitive electronics. It has an easy pull recoil start and starts with ease. Noise is limited with its large muffler producing a 69 db. rating. The ETQ comes with a one-year manufacturer's warranty. This generator is non-CARB compliant and is not for sale in California.

Top Portable Generator for Homes

Champion Power Equipment 46561

If you are looking for a generator that is easy to start, look no further than the 46561. This generator's 196cc

4-stroke OHV air-cooled gas engine comes equipped with a wireless remote electric start. The battery is included and it can be remotely started from up to 80 feet away. A nice feature for those cold snowy nights when the power goes out or when you don't want to leave your RV to start the generator. It can also be started with the electric start switch on the front panel or the manual recoil start.

This generator is rated at 3500 continuous watts with 4000 watts maximum output. It has one 120-volt duplex outlet, 1 120-volt twist-lock outlet and one RV receptacle. The four-gallon gas tank provides 12 hours of run time at 50% load without refueling. Champion includes a side panel "intelliGauge" display that displays volts, hertz and operating hours information. It has low oil shutdown and over voltage protection.

It comes complete with a wheel kit and a folding handle for ease of movement and weighs in at 135 pounds. Rated at 68b db. at 21 feet, the Champion is non-CARB compliant and not for sale in California. The 46561 has a limited two-year warranty with the first year covering parts and labor and the second year labor only. Champion also provides lifetime free technical support.

Best Generac Portable Generators - Propane and Gas

Generac is a well-known name in the industry that defines quality and long-term reliability. They're also number 1 in our portable generator manufacturer poll. Here are a few of their top rated models.

Generac 5939 GP5500 6,875 Watt 389cc OHV Portable Generator

This is a portable gas-powered generator with 389cc OHV engine. It a reliable 5,500-watt power supply (6,875 surge). It also feels solid and has never-flat wheels like you'd find on your wheelbarrow, but it's also easy to store with its ergonomic fold-down handle. Runs 10 hours at 50% load.

Generac 5747 XG8000E 10,000 Watt 410cc OHV Wheel Kit Electric Start

This professional-grade portable generator is a reliable 8,000-watt power supply with 10,000 surge watts. Features include an illuminated panel, 9-gallon steel fuel tank with gauge, advanced 410cc OHVI engine, electric start, and full-wrap frame tubing.

What's the Best Brand/Manufacturer for Gas or Propane Portable Generators? - Reader Poll

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Each of these generators can give you peace of mind in case of an emergency. Although any of the generators listed above would be sufficient as your RV or a small home backup power source, I would recommend the Briggs & Stratton 30466 if you're budget is under $500. The B & S is made mostly in America and with the company's trusted reputation for quality engines. Above $750 I'd recommend you go with a Generac model.

What portable generator do you use or plan on buying? Leave a question or comment below.

What Portable Generator do you use for Your Home?

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      mandm1100 3 years ago

      Choosing a portable generator does take a little thought. There are a few items that most people will want to run if the power goes out for more 8 hours. The fridge/freezer is something we all have; these will need about 1000 watts of surge power to get the compressor motors started. Once running they draw much less power. Having a TV and some lights is also nice; these items draw less power. LED TV's and CFL bulbs may only draw 10-50 watts a piece. A heat pump/air conditioner will require a much larger generator. An oil furnace heater will run on a smaller generator but it's imperative that you know it's startup current. Make a list of items you want to power up with their power requirements. You do have a couple of choices: buy a big enough generator to power all devices, or a generator large enough to power most of the loads and to selectively use the power hungry items one at a time. In my opinion, having a generator is only part of the equation. What you really want is a generator that will start up when the power goes out. For some that may be a couple of times a year. For others it may only happen once every 3,4,5+ years. It's important that the generator be started and run several times a year. Gasoline generators are known to have starting issues when sitting for a long period of time with gas in them. It's best to keep the tank empty and only add a little fuel when testing. Let the generator run until its out of gas before storing it. Always keep a fresh supply of gas on hand. After a few months dumps the gas from your portable gas container into your vehicle and fill the container with fresh gas.

      For those who seldom have power outages, the simpliest way to power your devices is with extension cords. The first thing is to measure the distance from where the generator will be placed to a point in the house. Typically a 12AWG extension cord can be used for a generator under 2400 watts and a 10AWG cord for a generator under 3600 watts. Once inside the home you could then use 14AWG cords; unless the item your powering is more than 2400 watts. Never undersize the cords. The other option is to install a subpanel with a manual transfer switch. The electrical circuits you want to power up with the generator will then be moved to this subpanel. The subpanel can be connected to the generator by an appropiate extension cord or a dedicated line can be run to an outside location where the generator will be located.

      Since the generator is not going to be used much, I would recommend one of the less expensive brands. Yes, a Honda or Yamaha would be great due to quality and quietness. However, you can get more power for less money with other brands. I personally have a Yamaha but I use it quite a bit when boating.

      The key thing is to plan ahead before a disater happens. Having a portable kerosene heater for the winter or a small window air conditioner for summer should be on your list as well as a means to cook food.

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      generatorboy 3 years ago

      I have researched the 2000 watts portable generator from Yamaha at bestportablegeneratorratings.com and customers give its good coverage. It is quiet and practical for small workshop/field sites. Also great for camping and other recreational activities. Thanks for you good post!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      YAMAHA EF3000is/EB and YAMAHA EF4500is

      Super quiet, very efficient and reliable. I prefer portability over a fixed mount system. Can take either one of them anywhere. While at home have both connected to my main with a transfer switch and find that the 7500 watts combined is sufficient to run everything in my house.