The 7 best whole house and portable generators for 2023

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A power generator is a fantastic nice-to-have item to keep around the house. After all, losing power in this day and age, even for a short time, can cause some headaches. Keeping a whole-house generator or portable power station ready to go can turn a night that may have been a genuine emergency into just a mild inconvenience. Outside of emergency use, they can also be used for camping, tailgating, and more. Portable generators and power stations can come in a wide range of prices with an even wider range of features, so although everyone has their own definition of the best portable generator, we've compiled this list of the best we could find according to user ratings and reviews. Check out our selection of the top power generators for 2023 below.

Champion Power Equipment 4500-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, RV Ready - From $833.02 (24% off)

Key Features

  • "Quiet operation" makes it great for camping, tailgating or RVs

  • Features 4,500 starting watts and 3,500 running watts

  • Up to 14 hours of run time on just 2.3 gallons of gasoline

  • Optional parallel kit allows users to connect multiple inverters together to double the power output

  • Built-in intelligauge allows users to monitor voltage, frequency and operating hours

  • Built-in EZ Start Dial makes startup easy

  • Two built-in 120V 20A outlets, a 120V 30A RV outlet, 12V automotive-style (cigarette lighter) outlet, dual port USB adapter

  • Includes a 3-year limited warranty with purchase with free lifetime technical support

Champion Power Equipment 2500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Inverter Generator - $819.76

Key Features

  • Very lightweight, only 39 lbs

  • "Quiet operation" makes it great for camping or tailgating

  • Features 2,500 starting watts and 1,850 running watts

  • Up to 11.5 hours of run time w/ gas or 34 hours w/ propane

  • Optional parallel kit allows users to connect multiple inverters together to double the power output

  • Two built-in 120V 20A outlets

  • Includes a 3-year limited warranty with purchase

A portable generator is a great compromise if you don't want or need to keep a full-sized generator around. This one runs on gas or propane with up to 34 hours of runtime and it only weighs 39 lbs. Like the generator above, this one can also be linked to another generator to double the power output, and it also comes with a 3-year limited warranty.

Champion Power Equipment 2000-Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator, Ultralight - $527.50 (31% off)

Key Features

  • Very lightweight, only 39 lbs

  • "Quiet operation" makes it great for camping or tailgating

  • Using gasoline, this generator features 2,000 starting watts and 1,600 running watts - with propane it provides 1,800 starting watts and 1,440 running watts

  • Up to 11.5 hours of run time w/ gas or 34 hours w/ propane

  • Optional parallel kit allows users to connect multiple inverters together to double the power output

  • Two built-in 120V 20A outlets, a 12V cigarette-lighter style outlet and a USB adapter

  • Includes a 3-year limited warranty with purchase

This portable electric generator is a lot like the option above, but it provides a few less starting and running watts. It runs on gas or propane with up to 34 hours of runtime and like the Champion above, it only weighs 39 lbs. Like the other Champions in this list, this one can also be linked to another generator to double the power output and it also comes with a 3-year limited warranty.

Duracell Portable Power Station 300 - $319.00 (20% off)

Key Features

  • Fully charges in 5-6 hours via wall charger or can be fitted with Duracell's solar panel to charge fully in 4-5 hours

  • Includes LCD screen that shows the battery level and which ports are being used

  • Features 2 USB-A outputs, 1 USB-A QC3.0 output, a USB-C PD output, a 120 AC inverter output, a 12V DC socket port output, 2 DC port outputs and a DC charging port input

  • Weighs only 7.5 lbs

This power station is a great value relative to its features. It charges quickly, offers tons of ports and weighs less than 10 lbs. It can power home electronics, mobile devices, lighting, speakers and more.

DuroMax XP12000EH 12000 Watt Gas or Propane Powered Generator - $1,099.00 (21% off)

Key Features

  • Powered by a 4-stroke DuroMax engine

  • Utilizes dual fuel technology - can run on propane or gasoline

  • Features 12,000 starting watts and 9,500 running watts

  • Can choose between operating at both 120V and 240V simultaneously or at only 120V at full power

  • EPA and CARB approved in all 50 states

We can’t get enough of portable power. This 12,000-watt DuroMax generator for a house is larger than some others on our list, so you may not want to take it camping, but it’s a great backup power option to keep at home or at a worksite. It can run on either gas or propane, it has an electric start, and it's rated for 9,500 running watts so it can handle heavier loads and power things like a refrigerator, home air conditioning unit, and high-amperage power tools.

Generac GP3300i Portable Inverter Generator - $849.00

Key Features

  • Features PowerRush Advanced Technology that "delivers over 50% more starting capacity"

  • Quiet Inverter Power reduces sound output

  • Economy mode automatically adjusts engine speed to save fuel and reduce sound

  • Generator is "parallel ready" and can be connected to another GP3300i to double the power output

  • Lightweight and includes visual alerts to show when it's running low, overloaded, or ready for use

  • Also includes USB ports for mobile devices and more

Portable generators are great for camping or helping out in a pinch if your power goes out, and Generac is a big name in residential and industrial generators alike. The GP3300i model is a 2500-watt gas-powered unit that features multiple outlets and USB ports for charging things like a small fridge or freezer, tablets and mobile devices. It’s only 59 lbs, so transport and storage is easier than larger units and it features quiet inverter tech that aims to help reduce noise pollution when the unit is running.

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 300 - $299.99 (14% off)

Key Features

  • This power station recharges to 80% in 3.5 hours

  • Can recharge via USB-C, wall outlet or car outlet

  • Includes 2 built-in AC outlets that deliver 300W power, 1 USB-C port, 1 fast-charge USB 3.0 port, 1 USB-A port and 1 DC car port

  • Can power up to 6 devices at once

  • Weights only 7.1 lbs

For those who don’t like the noise and exhaust of a normal generator, portable power stations may be for you. This one from Jackery can be charged from 0% to 80% in just 3.5 hours when plugged into a wall outlet (3.6 hours when plugged into a car) and has enough of a charge to power your phone 31x, a camera 15x and a drone 6x, making it perfect for camping and longer road trips. If you’re going to be outside for a while you can also pair it with a solar panel for charging off the road and off the grid. If the Explorer 300 isn’t exactly what suits your needs the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 and Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 1000 are also great picks, worth a look.

What is the difference between a generator and portable power station?

Usually, generators use some type of fuel such as gasoline or propane to "generate" their power from. Portable power stations on the other hand borrow their power from other electricity sources such as a wall or car charger.

How do you use a generator?

The most important thing to remember when using a traditional generator is not to run it inside your home or garage, as it can give off dangerous carbon monoxide emissions. A portable power pack that has been charged up only using electricity is fine to run in the house.

How to hook up a generator to your house?

While some people do in fact take it into their own hands to install a whole-house generator, it can be a troublesome and sometimes risky process. We always recommend hiring or speaking to an electrician for the task.

What size generator do you need?

According to Consumer Reports, the most accurate way to determine what size generator you'll need is to "consider the appliances you need to power and add up their wattage." Home Depot provides a handy infographic showing approximate wattages of common household items you might want to keep running during an outage right here.

Pros and cons of using a generator?

The benefits of using a generator or power pack are, of course, being able to keep your electronics charged and working during a power outage. Generators probably have more cons than smaller power packs due to their use of gas or propane to operate, but you may want to be cognizant of the electricity usage while charging a power pack as well.

How much does a whole-house generator cost?

Price can vary pretty significantly depending on how much power you'll need and what features you'd like your generator to have, but to power your entire home you're probably looking at around $800-$2,500.

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