Sometimes, you just need power outdoors.
You might be lakeside in your camper van, you might be working, you might be trying to set up an electric grill and if there’s no electrical outlet nearby… then you need a portable generator.
Unfortunately, there are an incredible number of portable generators on the market today.
It’s really hard to tell them all apart.
We’ve put together a list of the best portable generators for 2020 and we’ve tried to keep them suitable for every budget too.
A Quick Buyer’s Guide To Portable Generators
Before we get to our Top 5 Best Portable Generators For 2020, let’s take a quick look at how you should choose a generator.
That way, you’ll be able to work out what you need before you review our list.
How Much Does A Portable Generator Cost?
You can spend as much as $2,000 and as little as $200 on a portable generator.
In general, the price reflects two things: the amount of power that your generator will make and its expected longevity.
Sure, there are always some exceptions to this rule but it’s a pretty good thing to keep in mind.
The big consideration is probably going to be the amount of power that you need, anyway.
There’s no point in buying a $200 generator and then expect to power an RV and a full set of camping equipment off of it – that’s not going to happen.
How The Energy Is Made
There are three common options for energy production with a portable generator: gasoline (the stuff you buy in the gas station), diesel (probably from the gas station too) and more rarely propane.
If you’re of an environmental bent it’s worth noting that propane is clean burning and thus, less polluting than the other two.
However, there’s no denying that gasoline is cheap, easy to find and often the first choice of generator owners.
The Total Power Output
Our recommendation is to get the things together that you’re likely to want to plug in at the same time and then add about 20% to their combined power consumption and that’s the minimum amount of power that the generator you buy should produce.
Why? Because there’s always something you’ve forgotten that you want to plug in afterwards.
So, by buying a little more than you need, you’re covered for that too.
The Size Of The Generator
If there’s only going to be you around to deal with the generator – you probably want to keep it on the small side.
If, on the other hand, you intend to work with a team and have a truck capable of carrying something bigger, you can scale up rapidly.
Just don’t buy something that you can’t move and that can’t be moved every single time that it’s needed because otherwise, it’s an ornament not a portable generator.
Best Portable Generators
Pulsar 1,200-Watt Gas Powered Generator
This is a very budget friendly generator that shouldn’t be too hard to manhandle from one place to another by yourself though at 37.5 lbs. it’s not so light that you would want to carry it around all day either.
1,200 watts is the official output, but the small print says that you can rely on this to produce 900 watts when running and only 1,200 as a peak output.
So, don’t plan to put too many devices into the power source as it’s likely to struggle.
It will run for 8.5 hours at half load (that’s 450 watts) and only requires 1.1 gallons of fuel which is very economic. It’s a surprisingly well-made machine and we’d expect to get a few years out of it.
You can find the Pulsar 1,200-Watt Gas Powered Generator on Amazon.
Aeiusny Portable Solar Generator
If you want something ultra-light, then you might want to consider this interesting device.
You charge it via solar or a/c current prior to coming out and then you can power say a laptop on it for about 8 hours or charge 40 smartphones with it.
The solar charging aspect is good but it takes about 8-10 hours to fully charge, so, you only get one charge a day but there’s no doubt about it – if you don’t want to carry a lot of weight, at 7 lbs. this is awesome.
You can find the Aeiusny Portable Solar Generator on Amazon.
WEN 56200i 2000-Watt Gas Generator
We absolutely love this generator because it is very quiet compared to other mobile generators.
It’s not light though and it comes at 50 lbs. but with a 2,000 watt peak and 1,600 watts running, it’s much more substantial than our first two picks.
It’s a great choice for camping or for a tailgate and as an emergency source for your home.
You can find the WEN 56200i 2000-Watt Gas Generator on Amazon.
WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt Generator
You can’t lift this, by yourself, at 110 lbs. but you can drag it using the wheels. If you really need some serious power and you have a decent budget to spend.
Then thus ultra-quiet number from WEN is superbly built and will run for 8.5 hours while producing 3,400 watts all the time and peaking at 3,800 watts.
You can find the WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt Generator on Amazon.
Briggs & Stratton P4500 Power Smart Generator
With a 4,500-watt peak and 3,700 watt running time this is the heftiest generator in our round up and in all respects.
It’s big and heavy and while it has wheels – you need two or three people to life it.
It’s also the most expensive model. But if you want something you can always rely on and which produces some serious power – this is it.
You can find the Briggs & Stratton P4500 Power Smart Generator on Amazon.
We hope that you’ve found this guide to portable generators in 2020 helpful and you might want to check out our sustainable travel guide for other tips on getting the most out of life on the move.
If, on the other hand, you’re thinking about going with solar power on the road check out our review of Mobile Solar Power Made Easy!
There are plenty of options for power away from home.