Best Small Generator Reviews

Updated November 2, 2020

Small generators are a perfect addition to your house. It is even better if the generator is portable so you can take it with you on a camping trip or if you need to run to your friend’s house to help him or her out if they have problems with electricity. When you need more power, these small generators can come in handy and really save the day.

Generators represent an extra source of power in your household or outside of it. They are mostly used as a backup power source, especially if there was a shortage of power, that can happen due to a number of reasons.

Not only are they small, so they fit almost any backpack or a bag, they can also be eco-friendly, so you don’t have to worry about exhaust fumes, and you’re just using the sun’s energy to power your small generator.

Usually, generators have to be CARB compliant. If you’re wondering what this means, it’s used in regards to generators that have to meet certain air pollution standards in order to protect the environment.

Even though they are small, that doesn’t mean they aren’t powerful enough to withstand difficult situations. There are a variety of different generators such as electric ones, gas or propane ones. Feel free to check out our list below and see which small generator works the best for you and your needs.

Definitely, a deal breaker are the fuel options, and it’s important to realize which one you are leaning towards.

Best Small Generators

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1 Wen 56125i Super Quiet 1250-Watt Portable Inverter Generator Wen 56125i Small Generator
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2 Westinghouse iGen1200 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator Westinghouse iGen1200 Small Generator
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3
Best For Higher Budgets
3Honda EU1000i Small Generator
Honda EU1000i Inverter Generator, Super Quiet
Best For Higher Budgets
Honda EU1000i Small Generator
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4 Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160
Best Overall
Jackery Explorer 160 Small Generator
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5 Yamaha EF1000iS Gas Powered Portable Inverter Yamaha EF1000iS Small Generator
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6
Best For Low Budgets
6NusGear 155Wh Small Generator
NusGear Generator Portable Power Station
Best For Low Budgets
NusGear 155Wh Small Generator
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1. Wen 56125i Small Generator

Highlights
  • 2 year warranty
  • Ligtweight and portable
  • It can power a freezer, refrigerator, furnace etc.
  • On a gallon of fuel, it runs 5-7 hours

This small and lightweight generator is quiet and won’t disturb you when it’s on. You could compare its sound level to the sound of a normal conversation.

The engine produces 1250 surge watts and 1000 rated watts. It is safe for outdoor use – you name it – campground sites, tailgates, construction sites and also power outages. The reliable generator is not hazardous for any other appliances in its vicinity.

It comes with two three-prong 120V receptacles and two 5V USB ports. It is easy to start this small generator on a first pull if you follow the instructions from the manual.

In order to power it, you’ll need to mix gasoline and cycle oil. A piece of advice is to open the fuel vent on the fuel cap when in use. If it’s closed it’ll run a bit wonky and may die out under load from fuel starvation.

Specifications

Size:
17 x 9 x 12.5 inches
Voltage:
120V
Wattage:
1250 surge watts and 1000 running watts
Noise Level:
51 dBA
Power Source:
Gasoline

Pros

  • Not noisy
  • Safe for outdoors
  • Lightweight
  • CARB compliant

Cons

  • Plastic housing
  • Cover when rains

2. Westinghouse iGen1200 Small Generator

Highlights
  • The building quality is great
  • It is simple to use
  • You can carry it anywhere

This portable generator is amazing for powering your garden equipment or for camping. 

It has low level noise so it won’t disturb your peace and quiet, because you can barely hear it running. It has the capability to work with another Westinghouse generator so you can double their power. 

It is one of the most compact generators on the market at this time. The safety features do a lot of things, they can adjust the engine speed to whatever you need it to, or it can lower or raise its fuel efficiency. When buying this generator you get lifetime support and 3 year warranty.

Specifications

Size:
18.5 x 11.2 x 15.8 inches
Voltage:
120 Volts
Wattage:
1200 Watts
Noise Level:
Noise levels go up to 52 dB
Output:
10 amp
Power Source:
Gasoline

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight and portable
  • The price is acceptable and low
  • One of the most quietest generators on the market
  • Being able to pair it with other generators

Cons

  • Small fuel tank
  • Short running hours

3. Honda EU1000i Small Generator

Highlights
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Exclusive eco-throttle system
  • Oil alert
  • Clean power
Best For Higher Budgets
Honda EU1000i Inverter Generator, Super Quiet

This small generator is portable and can travel anywhere with you. It is suitable for any activity that requires quiet operation, such as camping, your RV or even your own house. 

The power it produces is stable and clean, perfect for computers and other sensitive equipment. Another amazing feature is that the engine shuts off if the oil pressure is low, so it is a great energy saver. The generator can run up to 8.3 hours on a single gas tank. 

It is safe and reliable, and the power you get from this generator is similar to the power you get from the outlets at your home. There is also a protective vapor lock to secure fuel vapor when the generator is not operating.

Specifications

Size:
19.5 x 15.9 x 11 inches
Voltage:
12-15V
Wattage:
1000 Watts
Noise Level:
53-59 dBA
Power Source:
Gasoline

Pros

  • Stable power solution in a smaller package
  • Fuel efficient
  • Not loud
  • Easy to start and move
  • Great for overnight power

Cons

  • Not perfectly designed engine
  • Within the expensive price range

4. Jackery Explorer 160 Small Generator

Highlights
  • Green, clean power
  • Quiet generator
  • Solar recharging
  • Convenient for outdoor activities
Best Overall
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160

What is special about this generator is that it is eco-friendly. There is a lithium-ion battery pack, so don’t worry about polluting the environment. It is practical for charging your phone, tablet, laptop or any other similar device. 

Furthermore, it is easily charged with solar power. User guide will help you if you have any issues with hooking up this small generator. It is safe and simple to use, just plug it into a socket or your car. It is convenient for outdoor activities. 

Built-in led flashlight with SOS mode is another feature that can come in handy on a camping trip.

Specifications

Size:
7.4 x 4.5 x 6.7 inches
Voltage:
3.6V
Wattage:
160W
Noise Level:
Reduced
Power Source:
Solar power/battery

Pros

  • Built-in LED flashlight
  • Portable power station
  • Power saving
  • High-quality design

Cons

  • Can’t support devices more than 100W
  • Solar panels sold separately

5. Yamaha EF1000iS Small Generator

Highlights
  • Sound-blocking design
  • Two year warranty
  • Centralized control panel
  • Uses premium technologies

Thanks to its quality design, the noise that comes for this small generator is on a minimum. This generator’s run time is long, so don’t worry, if you don’t fuel it for 12h, it will still be working.

With its lightweight design, you will easily move it around and carry it with you. A handle makes the entire process a lot easier. All of its features are easily accessible with a simple push of a button. It is an ideal unit for RV, boat owners or a car.

It is important to mention that the AC output port can only charge/power devices that operate at less than 200 Watt. It can also be powered by solar energy, and it’s only necessary to leave it in the sun for 6 hours.

It is very easy to start this small but mighty generator, even if the weather outside is cold.

Specifications

Size:
17.7 x 9.4 x 14.9 inches
Voltage:
12V
Wattage:
1000 Watts
Noise Level:
Low
Power Source:
Gasoline

Pros

  • Smart throttle load
  • CARB compliant
  • Fuel efficient
  • Clean and stable power

Cons

  • Pull cord hard to pull
  • Cannot be returned

6. NusGear 155Wh Small Generator

Highlights
  • Large capacity battery power
  • Multiple input modes 
  • Solar recharge
  • Safe and quiet
Best For Low Budgets
NusGear Generator Portable Power Station

This super quiet generator can fully charge your phone, laptop or tablet. It is portable so you can use it on your trip or when you’re not at your home. It’s perfect for short blackouts, hurricane emergencies and CPAP machines. 

The handle design makes it easy to transport. Battery Management System (BMS) enables voltage and temperature control and more advanced safety operations to ensure complete protection for you and your devices. 

You need to make sure that the AC device doesn’t exceed 150 Watts, in order for the generator to function properly. It charges quickly and can even help you when you need to air up the mattresses if you’re spending the night somewhere.  

As with all lithium batteries, you have let it cool to the room temperature before recharging, otherwise you can experience some issues.

Specifications

Size:
12.2 x 9.84 x 7.09 inches
Voltage:
11V
Wattage:
155W
Noise Level:
Low
Power Source:
Battery

Small Generator Buying Guide

Type

There are different types of generators you can buy for your home, camping trip or your vehicle. The type you plan on purchasing is directly related to the reason you’re buying it and your lifestyle. 

For instance, if you plan on traveling, you’ll probably get a portable generator, and if you are environmentally conscious, you’d might want to take eco-friendly units into consideration.

Portable Generators

Portable generators work like a charm if you plan on going on a camping trip, or if you know that you’re going to change locations frequently. This also means their design has to be lightweight and compact, so they’re practical enough for carrying them around, putting them in a bag or in your vehicle. 

It is even better if they come with a handle, so you can easily pick them up and move from one place to another. Make sure to inform yourself about the dimensions, so you know they can fit into your car or backpack. If they’re too tall or heavy for your trunk, it will definitely be a problem. 

Standby Generators

Standby generators are more convenient for houses or when you plan to stay in one place for a certain period of time. Its main function is to keep the power on when there is an outage. They usually run on propane or natural gas, so there is no need for refueling.

Home standby generators are more suitable for a house, because of their size and design. They operate automatically when you need some backup power. They are extremely reliable 

Power Source

Most small generators need gas, electricity or propane to function properly. However, some of them even turn solar energy into power, which is a great feature when you’re outside. 

The downside is that solar panels are usually sold separately, so you’ll need to invest a bit more in order to be eco-friendly. 

Small Gas Generator

As its name implies, a gas generator produces energy and runs on gas. They usually have a great starting performance, clean power and are stable and cheap. 

The last reason is probably the biggest reason why people opt for these types of generators. They are cheap, but mighty.

Small Electric Generator

Electric generators convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. They take pride in quick and easy starting, multiple fuel options and some even have wheels or handles so you can move them with more ease. They work on the principle of electromagnetic induction and are perfect for places that face frequent power outages.

Small Propane Generator

A small generator powered by propane will run until it runs out of gas. In most cases, their run time is long, and it provides enough power for your RV or certain appliances. The propane engines are generally quieter than other engines. They are great for power outages due to bad weather or a short circuit.

Pricing Range

There are cheap generators that work perfectly fine, and you could be blown away by their features and design. Actually, there is no rule. 

Even though it might be a famous brand (like Generac Generators) that manufactured the unit, (which usually means the generator is within the expensive price range),  that only isn’t a guarantee that everything will be in order. The prices go from $100 to $1000, depending on the brand, its features, quality and the extra details it comes with. 

Weight

Since we’re talking about small or compact generators, they shouldn’t weigh much. Most of the times, their weight can range from 1 kg to 15 or 20 kg. 

Sometimes, they also have handles or small wheels so it’s even easier to move them.  Even if the generator is small, for instance, if it is a 2000 watts inverter generator, it should still be enough to run a mid-sized refrigerator. So, don’t let these smaller weights and sizes fool you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are Generators Waterproof?
A:

Some generators can be left in the rain for a couple of minutes, but it is not recommended to either leave them in the rain for a long period of time or run them during rainy weather. They are not waterproof and their parts can be damaged by the moisture or rain.

They usually come with cover you can use to protect it from bad weather, and if not, we recommend you to purchase one.

  • Don’t take a generator on a rafting trip.
  • Use a cover and a tarp if the weather is bad.
  • Don’t risk damaging your small generator.
Q: Do All Generators Need To Be Grounded?
A:

Not all of them need to be grounded. The easiest way to find out is to check your user manual and read the information about the product. If we’re talking about a separately derived system, a grounding rod will need to be used.

If it’s not a separately derived system, it doesn’t have to be grounded. Furthermore, you don’t want to experience an electric shock if something goes wrong, so read the manual twice!

  • All of the generators are different.
  • Consult your user guide before making a decision.
  • If the center point isn’t grounded, the risk of electrical shock is increased.
Q: What Size of a Generator Is Needed To Power a House?
A:

You will most likely need a 7,500 Watts generator to bring your household appliances to life after a power shortage. If you need all of the appliances working at once, these types of generators are perfect for it. For example, for an RV 3000 to 4,000 Watts generator is more than enough.

  • You’ ll probably need 5000-7500 Watts for a house.
  • 3000-4000 Watts is convenient for an RV.
  • Household appliances can work if the generator is powerful enough.

Our Verdict

All in all, small generators are pretty useful for charging phones and other similar devices, keeping the household appliances in life and also serve as a flashlight when you’re in total darkness. 

We really liked Yamaha1000iS because of its compact design, but powerful features. It is easy to see the information on the LED screen, every power output is marked so you can easily assemble the unit. 

It is possible to return the product if you end up not liking it, or if there’s a problem on the manufacturer’s side. And what’s best, it weighs only 1kg!