Best Emergency Generator Reviews

Updated October 29, 2020

When you’re stuck without power at home, an emergency backup generator can help you stay safe and comfortable until the lights come back on.

A good home emergency generator can power must-have appliances, like a refrigerator or an AC unit, as well as smaller electronic devices, like TVs, computers, and cell phones.

An emergency power generator is also great to have on hand when you are camping or traveling in an RV, as you never know when you’ll be stuck without power.

Choosing the best generator for a home power outage can be difficult. There are so many different options on the market, and you might not know where to start when it comes to shopping.

Generators are a big investment for your home, so you’ll want to make sure that the one you choose will provide you with the quality and value you are looking for.

We’ve rounded up some of the top emergency generators to help you choose the best version for your needs.

Best Emergency Generators

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1 Westinghouse - WGen7500 Portable Generator with Remote Electric Start Westinghouse WGen7500 Emergency Generator
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2 Champion 76533 3800-Watt Dual Fuel Generator
Best Overall
Champion 3800-Watt Emergency Generator
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3
Best For Low Budgets
3WEN 56200i Emergency Generator
WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
Best For Low Budgets
WEN 56200i Emergency Generator
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4 Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator 200 Amp Transfer Switch
Best For Higher Budgets
Generac 7043 Home Standby Emergency Generator
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5 Generac 7033 Guardian Series 11kW_10kW Air Cooled Home Standby Generator with Whole House 200 Amp Transfer Switch (not CUL) Generac 7033 Emergency Generator
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6 Firman H08051 Electric Start Gas or Propane Dual Fuel Portable Generator Firman H08051 Emergency Generator
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1. Westinghouse WGen7500 Emergency Generator

Highlights
  • This gas powered generator has 7500 running watts and 9500 peak watts.
  • It has a 420cc 4-stroke OHV engine with low oil shutdown protection. 
  • It has both electric and recoil start options, as well as a remote start fob. 
  • The generator has a 6.6 gallon fuel tank for 11 hours of runtime.

This small but powerful generator from Westinghouse is a great choice for those who need a mid-sized option.

It has a 420cc engine that is completely EPA and CARB compliant to meet emissions standards. It is gas powered with a 6.6 gallon fuel tank, but has a long run time of 11 to 16 hours, depending on the load you use.

The engine is protected by a cast iron sleeve, and it has a low oil shutdown feature to help the engine last longer.

The control panel has four standard 120 volt outlets for basic household devices, as well as two heavy duty outlets for transfer switches.

A digital meter helps you keep track of the generator’s fuel level. The generator comes with oil and an oil funnel included to get you started. It has a durable exterior frame with wheels, which makes it slightly easier to move around.

The generator has a noise level of 72 dB, so while it’s not the quietest on the market, it shouldn’t be too disruptive while you’re trying to have conversations.

Specifications

Size:
27.2 x 26.1 x 26 inches
Voltage:
120V
Wattage:
9500 peak, 7500 starting
Noise Level:
72 dB
Power Source:
Gas

Pros

  • This generator has an excellent run time for its size, it can run for up to 16 hours at 25 percent load.
  • It has a full control panel with four standard outlets, a transfer switch outlet, and a ST switch outlet.
  • The generator is very easy to start using the remote key fob, but you can also start it using recoil or the electric start button on the generator.
  • A low oil shutdown feature protects the generator from damage.

Cons

  • Although this generator is relatively small, it feels quite heavy.

2. Champion 3800-Watt Emergency Generator

Highlights
  • Volt Guard built-in surge protector
  • Cold Start Technology
  • Intelligauge
  • EPA-compliant and CARB-certified
Best Overall
Champion 76533 3800-Watt Dual Fuel Generator

Coming from an established brand in power generation equipment, the Champion 3800-Watt bi fuel generator combines top-notch performance with convenient features, making it ideal for powering RVs or providing electricity during power outages. It uses Cold Start Technology to make sure that you can start it even in cold weather. The Intelligauge helps keep track of power output and maintenance intervals and the built-in shut-off sensor automatically shuts off the generator when the oil is running low.

Its 224cc Champion engine can generate up to 4,750 starting watts and 3,800 running watts for 9 hours at half-load when 3.4 gallons of gasoline is used. When a 20 lbs. propane tank is used, it generates 4,275 starting watts and 3,240 running watts for 10.5 hours at half-load. It comes with a 3-year limited warranty and free lifetime technical support.

Specifications

Size:
26.3 x 24.8 x 22.9 inches
Voltage:
AC: 120 volts 60 Hz
Wattage:
Gasoline: 3,800W rated, 4,750W peak output Propane: 3,240W rated, 4,275W peak output
Noise Level:
68 dBA
Output:
1x 120 volts 30 amp RV outlet (TT-30R), 1x 120 volts 30 amp locking (L5-30R), 2x 120 volts 20 amp household outlets (5-20R)
Power Source:
Fuel Type: Gasoline, Propane Start Type: Recoil, Electric

Pros

  • Convenient electric start
  • Highly efficient four-stroke engine
  • Protected outlets
  • Hassle-free set-up

Cons

  • Limited number of outlets
  • Rubber hoses may need regular replacement

3. WEN 56200i Emergency Generator

Highlights
  • Produces 1600 rated watts (2000 surge watts).
  • Eco-mode feature to adjust fuel consumption. 
  • Long runtime (9.4 hours at quarter load).
  • Limits harmonic distortion so can safely run laptops, tablets and phones.
Best For Low Budgets
WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

This is a great option if you’re looking for a generator for camping trips, as this model is portable, compact, and quiet, running at 51dB at quarter load. 

Weighing 48 pounds it’s easier to move this inverter generator around as needed, and although the fuel tank holds only 1 gallon, it will run for over 6 hours at half-load. Harmonic distortion is limited to less than 1.2%, so it’s safe to run more sensitive electronics such as laptops and tablets, and there’s even a USB port. Alongside this are two three-prong 120V and one 12V DC ports. 

We like the Eco-Mode, which adjusts the generator’s motor and therefore the fuel consumption when items are plugged and unplugged. The output is limited to 1600 rated watts, but if you need more power you can link up a second generator using a connection kit (not included). The two-year warranty gives you added peace of mind.

Specifications

Size:
18 x 11 x 18 inches
Voltage:
120V
Wattage:
1600W
Noise Level:
51 dBa
Output:
1600 rated watts / 2000 peak watts
Power Source:
Gasoline

Pros

  • Compact and portable design, ideal for camping or worksites.
  • Extremely quiet operation at 53dB at quarter load.
  • Four outlets including a USB port.
  • 2 year warranty.

Cons

  • Relatively low output, so can only handle a few devices simultaneously.
  • Oil needs to be changed after the first 20 hours of use.

4. Generac 7043 Home Standby Emergency Generator

Highlights
  • Produces 19,500W running watts (22,000W peak watts).
  • Durable aluminum enclosure with removable sides for easy maintenance.
  • Clear LCD display to monitor battery status and maintenance intervals.
  • Can connect to a propane or natural gas supply.
Best For Higher Budgets
Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator 200 Amp Transfer Switch

With a running watts output of 19,500W, this powerful generator can power all of the essentials in your home. The THD (total harmonic distortion) of less than 5% means it’s going to give you clean power for any sensitive devices such as televisions and laptops. 

A durable aluminium enclosure ensures it withstands all weather conditions, and if there’s an issue such as a storm whilst you’re away from home, you can monitor the status of your generator wherever you are in the world. We like the fact that this generator is supplied with a 200amp transfer switch, but there’s no battery included.

Specifications

Size:
48 x 25 x 29 inches
Voltage:
240V
Wattage:
19,500W running watts
Noise Level:
67dB
Output:
19,500W running watts / 22,000W peak watts
Power Source:
Propane or Gasoline

Pros

  • Includes a 200 amp whole house smart transfer switch.
  • Suitable for running sensitive electronics and appliances.
  • Mobile link remote monitoring to check the status of your generator.
  • 5-year limited warranty.

Cons

  • Does not include battery (sold separately).
  • Warranty has some exclusions.

5. Generac 7033 Emergency Generator

Highlights
  • Can connect to mobile phones 
  • Automatic switching function
  • All-weather rated aluminum enclosure
  • Dual-fuel compatibility (LP and NG)

The Generac 7033 runs on two fuel types — liquefied petroleum or natural gas — and can be connected directly to your existing gas lines so there’s no need to keep refueling every use. It automatically switches on through an indoor- and outdoor-rated 200-amp NEMA 3 smart transfer switch, which facilitates the shift within seconds upon detecting an outage. 

But of course, on normal days, you’re not supposed to feel the presence of the generator. During these times, you’ll be able to rest assured that the home standby generator is still working — it conducts its own quiet, low-RPM self-test mode to make sure that everything’s in working order. 

Any remaining worries can be dispelled by using the Mobile Link system, which will allow you to quickly check the generator’s status, as well as keep up with its maintenance schedules.

The unit comes in a weatherproof, durable aluminum enclosure that opens three ways for easy service and maintenance. It outputs 11,000 watts at 45.8 amps with liquefied petroleum and 10,000 watts at 41.7 amps with natural gas, which can power up to a medium household with a few high-power appliances. The battery for this unit is sold separately.

Specifications

Size:
48 x 25 x 29 inches
Voltage:
120/240V
Wattage:
11,000 watts LP, 10,000 watts NG
Noise Level:
63dBA
Output:
45.8 amps (LP), 41.7 amps (NG)
Power Source:
Liquefied petroleum, natural gas

Pros

  • Connects directly to household gas lines
  • Weatherproofed aluminum enclosure
  • Easy-to-use design with LED indicators
  • High-capacity indoor and outdoor transfer switch

Cons

  • Battery and mobile link remote device sold separately

6. Firman H08051 Emergency Generator

Highlights
  • Dual fuel – can be run on gasoline or propane.
  • Robust open frame design.
  • 120/240V output.
  • Produces 8000W (running watts) output when run on gasoline.

This is a powerful portable generator for a worksite or for use as a backup home generator if your mains power fails. It offers the flexibility to run on either gasoline or propane, and a simple turn of the dial allows you to switch between the two. 

Running on gasoline, it produces 8000 running watts (7250W running on propane). A full 8 gallon tank of gas will give you a 12 hour runtime at 50% load, making this a fuel-efficient option. Operation is simple, with a push button electric start (the battery is included), built-in fuel gauge and a 3-in-1 display to quickly view the hours, Volts and Hertz. 

There are a total of five outlets, including one 14-50R outlet which can be used for your RV, and a twist lock L14-30R outlet meaning it can be connected to a breaker box to power your home. This is a portable generator and it comes with a wheel kit, but bear in mind that at 212 pounds it’s very heavy to lift off the ground.

Specifications

Size:
32.1 x 22.2 x 24.4 inches
Voltage:
120/240V
Wattage:
8000 running watts (gasoline) / 7250 running watts (propane)
Noise Level:
74dB
Output:
10000 peak watts / 8000 running watts (gasoline) 9050 peak watts / 7250 running watts (propane)
Power Source:
Gasoline / Propane

Pros

  • Can run for 12 hours at 50% load on a full 8 gallon tank of gasoline.
  • Electric start.
  • Comes with a 5-foot propane hose.
  • 3-in-1 data panel measuring hours, Volts and Hertz.

Cons

  • No remote start.
  • Comes with a wheel kit, but at 212 pounds is heavy to manoeuvre.

Emergency Generator Buying Guide

Finding the best generator for a power outage can be tricky, particularly if you’ve never used one before. In an intense storm or heat wave, a generator may actually be the thing that keeps you safe at home. 

A generator will also help you get your devices up and running, so you can stay connected to your loved ones anywhere. Here’s what to look for when selecting an emergency power generator. 

Inverter Or Traditional

One key factor to consider is whether you want an inverter generator or a traditional generator. An inverter generator takes the power coming from the engine and converts it from an AC current to a DC current and back. This reduces harmonic distortion and results in a much more efficient use of energy. 

There are a number of advantages to using an inverter generator. One of the biggest advantages is that inverter generators produce ‘clean electricity’, which is safe to use with sensitive electronic devices like smartphones. 

If you were to use a traditional generator with a sensitive device, it could cause long-term damage. For sensitive devices like phones, tablets, and laptops, you can also consider using portable power stations. Inverter generators also use fuel much more efficiently, so you won’t have to refill your tank as often.

Inverter generators are also significantly quieter than a traditional generator, so they feel less intrusive to have in your space. 

However, there are a few advantages to using a traditional generator. The first is that traditional generators are much more affordable. If you’re on a budget, a traditional generator may be a better option for you than an inverter. The other advantage that traditional generators have is their power level. 

If you’re looking to power a high volume of devices, a traditional generator is going to provide the higher wattage levels that you need. 

Fuel Type

The type of fuel your generator uses is another factor to look at when selecting the right product for you. There are two common fuel sources for generators – propane and gas. 

There are also dual fuel generators and tri fuel generators, which can use all use combinations of propane, diesel and gas. These generators add an extra level of convenience, however, they are typically slightly more expensive. 

There are a number of advantages to using a propane generator. Propane generators are typically very easy to start and are long-lasting, and generally don’t require much maintenance. 

Another big advantage that propane generators have is that they are not very noisy. This means they’ll be less intrusive when you run them at home. Finally, propane does not require a pump to distribute, which means it might be easier to get in an emergency. 

However, gas engines have their advantages as well. Gas is slightly more accessible than propane, as it’s available at local gas stations, and it’s often more affordable as well. 

Gas generators are also slightly safer than propane generators, as there is a reduced risk of ignition. Both propane and gas generators can be very reliable – it just depends on your personal preferences when selecting an emergency generator for home use. 

Power

Another factor to consider is the power level and the power output that your generator can offer. The power level of a generator is measured in wattage. 

The starting wattage indicates how much power the generator can offer to turn on devices, while the running wattage indicates the amount of power the generator can offer consistently. When deciding how much power your generator needs, think about the devices you would need to power with it. 

Powering a small apartment is much different than powering a large house full of appliances and electronic devices. 

To power an entire house full of appliances like refrigerators, AC units, water heaters, and more, you’ll typically need between 25000 and 35000 watts. However, you might choose to only power essentials, like a refrigerator and an AC unit or heater. 

In this case, you may only need about 15000 watts generator. If you’re only powering smaller electronics, like a computer, TV, or phone, you can get away with 5000 watts generator or even less. 

You’ll also need to consider the power output of the generator and make sure it has the appropriate outlets for your devices. 

Most emergency generators have a full panel of outlets with both 120 and 240 volt options. Some have twist lock outlets and transfer switches to give you more flexibility. Many generators also have 12V DC outlets or even USB ports to connect to a broader range of devices. 

When selecting a generator, check your devices and see what kind of outlet they require. You’ll want to make sure that your generator has the right selection of outlets. 

Durability

When selecting an emergency generator, you’ll want to make sure that you choose a model that can handle some wear and tear. Look at the construction of the engine and make sure it is protected – many models use cast iron sleeves. It’s also very important that the generator has a low oil shutdown feature. 

This prevents it from running without oil, which can cause long-term damage. You’ll also need to consider the exterior of the generator – does it have a metal frame to protect it? 

Does it have a high quality wheel kit? All of these factors affect the lifespan of the generator. 

Emergency Generator Cost

Emergency generators are a big investment, and you’ll want to find an option that fits your budget. When weighing the cost of a generator, you’ll want to think about value for money. 

Think about the durability of the generator as well as how easy it is to use and how much power it can provide. Generators typically cost several thousand dollars, but the price can vary depending on the features that the generator offers.

Our Verdict

An emergency generator is a must-have to keep yourself safe during power outages. It’s particularly important if you live in an area that experiences hurricanes, tornadoes, or other severe storms.

Since you’ll be relying on your generator to keep you safe, it’s important that it is durably built, easy to use, and provides enough power for your home.

We’ve found some of the most reliable emergency generators on the market, and you can use this guide to narrow down your options.