Last updated on May 12th, 2022
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In the UK, generators are mainly used for powering work tools where there is no access to electric plug sockets such as mobile work vans (I used to use one for my mobile valeting business) and work sites.
They are also great for camping trips, caravanning and my personal favourite, motorhomes as they give you access to electricity you otherwise might not have so you can power some of the more luxury items you might not otherwise be able to use such as laptops, running portable TV’s. You can even use 500W lithium portable power station for running a mini fridge such as the Alpicool C15 Car Fridge for a couple of days, a great setup for camping.
Before we go into more detail about generators and which models we have included in my review, I would like to bring your attention to the winner of my ‘Best Pick’, the Nassboards 4 Stroke 2.6HP 800W Inverter Petrol Generator. It is perfect for camping, caravans, motorhomes, boats and will power things like laptops, your tv, DVD players and other electric devices.
Even in some more rural parts of the UK, power cuts are not that uncommon and this is where a generator can also come in handy but you can’t rush out to purchase any old generator, it is best to get a generator that is well-suited to your own personal needs. And when I talk of the best, I mean one that matches the needs at hand. Assessing your needs and requirements of the devices you want to run or operate is, therefore, essential to finding your perfect generator. Other factors such as power, size, efficiency and price of the generator all need to be considered.
A generator used for camping is likely not going to be suitable for powering large power tools such as a heavy-duty drill so to help you learn about generators, I’ve compiled a list of the top-rated generators on the market and a buying guide that’ll help you choose a portable generator.
Runner-up – Great for camping, no petrol needed!
Click here to see the larger 1000w model with nearly double the capacity on Amazon.co.uk (The big brother of the model I review here)
The Best Portable Generators Which We Have Included In Our Review Are Listed Below:
- Nassboards 4 Stroke 2.6HP 800W Inverter Petrol Generator – BEST PICK
- Jackery Portable Explorer 500 power station – Best non petrol model
- Hyundai HY3200 3.2KW Electric Petrol Inverter Generator – BEST PREMIUM PICK
- Parker 2.8 KVA / 2.8KW 6.5HP DC Petrol Generator
- Clarke G720 720W Petrol Generator
- Miller 6.5HP Petrol Generator
The Top 6 Portable Generator Reviews
1. Nassboards 4 Stroke 2.6HP 800W Inverter Petrol Generator
This generator provides reliable and stable power whenever it’s needed and is very portable as it is compact and easy to carry. What we really like about this Nassboards generator is that it uses advanced technology that produces consistent voltage and frequency stability of – or +1 percent.
The voltage stability of this Nassboards generator is generally more stable than some of the other alternatives that may not be suitable for more power sensitive equipment. This makes it ideal for powering appliances such as your tv, DVD players, laptops and even charging your mobile phone, basically, this is one of the best choices when looking for a portable generator for camping, using it in your caravan/motorhome or in any other situations where you need the power to keep your electric devices powered, I’m thinking maybe if you own a canal boat etc.
What makes the Nassboards 4 Stroke Inverter Petrol Generator impressive is that it is extremely quiet at only 58dB in ECO mode when in operation compared to a traditional generator which is known for creating a lot of noise. It also has low fuel consumption saving when using it in eco mode for less power hungry devices and increasing the running time to as long as 5 hours. This generator has a very impressive power to weight ratio plus is super compact for a generator, so you’ll find it easy to lift at only 9kgs making it perfect for travelling.
There’s also an automatic power overload cut off which protects the generator in the event of an overload which is an important feature to have. It also has a low oil engine cut off too so that it doesn’t damage the engine should it get low on oil. While I’m talking about the oil, might as well mention that it’s powered by a 4-stroke engine so there is no oil to mix as it just uses standard petrol and then you add the oil separately which is also comes with. All you need to do is add the included oil, put in some petrol and it’s ready to use.
This inverter generator comes with 12V DC which is great for charging electric devices which make it ideal for outdoor adventures such as taking it on your caravanning trips, using it when camping, powering electrical items on boats, as well as being an alternative to low wattage home backup power should you suffer from power cuts from time to time. Never had a powercut myself but it’s good to know it’s here in case.
- Powerful 2.6HP – 4 stroke petrol engine which produces enough power for powering most electrical devices.
- The continuous power output of 700W
- Maximum output 800W when used for shorter periods of time.
- Output voltage – 230V/12V
- Fuel tank capacity – 2.1L
- Low Noise rating of 58 dB(A) in comparison to standard generators.
- Lightweight at only 9.5Kg
- Compact Dimensions of 48 x 25.5 x 42.5cm
- Long run-time of Minimum 6 hours when run in ECO mode
- Long 6 hours run time for continuous power.
- High voltage stability means it is ideal for electrical devices such as tv’s, radios, DVD players, charging mobile phones and many more.
- Low noise emission when compared to standard generators making it ideal for using outdoors.
- Economical fuel consumption saves money
- A lightweight design which means it is very portable and easy to carry.
- Comes with an overload protection feature.
- 2 years warranty for full peace of mind.
- Not suitable for powering some power tools, for example, pressure washers.
To me. this is the ultimate portable generator for taking camping, caravaning, in your motorhome, boat, you get the idea. The machine operates all sorts of home appliances including laptops, portable tv’s, and other electrical systems due to the voltage stability features. Power and fuel management are the other standout features of this model that I really like. The Nassboards generator is an ideal choice for people who want to power appliances outdoors and it is surprisingly quiet when compared to some of the other generators in this review.
Overall I found that all the Nassboards portable generator is without doubt one of the best available and it is probably the best choice for travelling, camping, caravanning etc and they are brilliant for powering all their home entertainment devices you may want to take with you on your trips.
However, if you need to power hammer drills, electrical saws, pressure washers and other powerful work tools this is not the one for you and you will need a more powerful generator that has all the power needed for these types of tools. Overall a fantastic generator with plenty of power for the right situation.
2. Jackery Portable Explorer 500 Power Station
BEST FOR CAMPING – LIGHT WEIGHT AND VERY PORTABLE
The Jackery Portable Explorer 500 power station is an excellent piece of kit and probably one of the best options if you like to do just 2 or 3 days of camping over a weekend like me. I like to think of it as a leisure battery, but just a little fancier, more portable and a bit more innovative, I mean you can stick this thing in your backpack and run a tv and a games console for a few hours in the middle of the woods.
I love that it’s compact and lightweight at around 6kg which means it truly portable. So what’s it really designed for you might be thinking? Well, it’s designed to power your devices while camping such as mobile phones, portable fridges, drones, laptops, lights, mini TVs. To give you an idea, it will charge a smartphone around 50 times, camera batteries 25 times give or take a few charges, it will even power a mini fridge for a couple of days depending on the size. I like to think of them as a good alturnative to petrol generators without having to worry about fuel and much much quieter.
The only real downside, when compared to a compact petrol portable generator compared like my best pick. You can just refuel a petrol generator (don’t forget you still need to carry spare petrol). Because this model uses lithium-ion batteries, you need to recharge them at some point. Easy enough but if you were to use it for longer than a few days at a time, you would need a bigger and more expensive model depending on what you are actually using it for. However, if you’re like me, this is not a problem as it does everything I need for a long weekend away. It’s also a great backup to have at home, never had a power cut in my current house but you never know and it’s just good to know it’s here just in case.
Nearly forget to mention, because they use a lithium battery, they are much much quieter than a petrol generator, almost silent in fact, except for when the fan kicks with devices that draw more power. This means you can charge your phones at night and not have to worry about the noise.
So in terms of connecting to this power pack, you have a standard 3 pin plug that can be used with anything that doesn’t draw more than 500w of power (or surge more than 1000w), this covers most camping equipment and electric devices. You also get 3 USBs which everyone knows about now and a 12v socket for any device that uses a cigarette lighter socket such as an electric pump for kayaks or mini 12v camping fridge such as the Alpicool C15 Car Fridge 12v 15L Car Mini Fridge which I also recommend.
One last feature or more of an option is to pair this with the Jackery Solar Saga 100, this would allow you to top up the Jackery Portable Explorer 500 if you get some sunny weather and give you some extra free power and prolong its use before needing to be recharged. The Jackery Solar Saga 100 also has one USB socket and USB-C socket built-in for charging devices too without using the Jackery 500 power station which is handy. It’s expensive but could be a great option for some people.
- Battery capacity – 518Wh
- Output power – 500W
- Power output – AC, 12V, USB
- Weight – 6kg
- No fumes to worry about so it can be used inside tents, unlike petrol generators.
- Stylish appearance and design.
- User-friendly for outdoor activities.
- It has multiple charging options including solar, mains and car charger.
- Compatible with the Jackery Solar Saga 100 for extended use.
- You must buy the Jackery Solar Saga 100 which is also expensive if you choose to charge by sun.
The Jackery Portable Explorer 500 power station does everything that it says on the box. It’s one generator that will power all portable devices that you can take on camping trips.
What probably stands out in this model is that it offers several charging options. However, for the option of solar charging, you actually have to purchase a solar panel and that means an additional cost although you can buy it as a set too.
Whether you’ll want that option or simply work with USB or AC, this generator is a great recommendation for charging devices whilst on camping trips.
I think it’s an amazing piece of kit and perfect for camping trips over the weekend but probably not ideal for use for longer periods of time. What I really like is the lack of noise and the fact that you don’t have the hassle of petrol to worry about. Now they do sell a couple of larger more powerful model the Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station which also has a USB-C socket and two 3 pin plugs and is capable of running a 900w electric grill for example so will also link to that below.
More powerful 1000W model
3. Hyundai HY3200SEi 3.2kW, 4kVA Electric and Remote Start Petrol Inverter Portable Generator
BEST PREMIUM PICK – IDEAL FOR MOTORHOMING & CARAVANS
For anyone looking for a serious but affordable piece of kit for their motorhome or caravan, even camping although it is a little heavier. This model is well worth considering and is the next step up from my best pick. More powerful, more plug sockets, longer run times.
one of the features I really love is that it features several easy starting options, this model features an electric start which can be started with a simple turn of the key, remotely from as far as 20 metres (65 ft) away or you can simply use the recoil pull cord. The Hyundai HY3200SEi 3.2kW Petrol Inverter Portable Generator has a power output of 3200W which as mentioned is ideal for off-grid use, caravans, camping and motorhome markets.
The machine utilizes pure sine technology (don’t worry if you don’t know what this means) but it basically means it imitates the power produced by the mains output which makes it safe to power sensitive electronics such as laptops that can be damaged by cheaper generators that can have power spikes.
At 35kg it’s fairly heavy, especially when compared to the smaller more compact model including my best pick. This is why is tend to recommend it more for motorhomes and caravans rather than camping as it may be too heavy to pull for long distances, at least for me. However, it comes fitted with a handle and wheels so it’s easy enough to pull along from your garage to your motorhome or caravan for example. The Hyundai HY3200SEi Portable Generator is still very compact so won’t take up to much space.
The 3.2kW produced by the 210cc petrol engine, along with the 7.8 fuel capacity, makes for a run time of up to 8 hours before the need to refuel making it ideal for use over longer periods of time. Furthermore, the Hyundai HY3200SEi Portable Generator features an “ECO” mode which when activated, increases fuel economy by lowering the engine’s revs to match the required power output.
There are two 13amp plug sockets on the control panel for powering any device that comes with a standard mains plug. This machine can also be converted to run off LPG which is a nice option, especially when out for caravanning. For the convenient use of this machine, it comes with DC charging leads, 13 to 16 amp caravan adaptor leads, 1-litre bottle oil, an operating manual and an oil fill jug.
It is covered by a 3-year platinum warranty upon registration which offers that extra piece of mind for an expensive piece of equipment.
- Rated watts – 3200W
- Voltage – 230
- Rated frequency – 50
- DC Rated Output – 12V/ 8.3A
- Sockets – 2 x 230V / 13A
- Output technology – Inverter
- Fuel tank capacity – 7 litres
- Running time – 8 – 11 hours
- Starting method – electric / remote / recoil
- Noise output – 96 dB(A)
- Weight – 35Kg
- Perfect for taking motorhomes, caravanning, camping and powering electrical devices including laptops and phones.
- Provides convenient starting options with the remotes being a standout feature.
- Economical fuel consumption
- Long-running time.
- Provides safe and clean power.
- Compact and portable for convenient transportation and storage.
- Low noise.
- Stylish look.
- 3 years warranty for full peace of mind.
- A little more expensive.
The Hyundai Hyundai HY3200SEi 3.2kW Remote Start Portable Generator is an advanced model that features electric and remote starting options which I personally love. It means you can start the generator without having to physically go to it. Handy if you’re on a motorhome or caravan. There are still more other features to appreciate including the ECO mode and pure sine technology, a must for today’s modern electricals.
With its low noise production (it is one of the quietest models available for its size and power), compact design, stylish appearance and the supplied accessories, this machine will be of great use at home and on the road.
There no serious issues in the performance of this unit. If you don’t mind the price, go ahead and splash the money for this top-quality generator that has long run times and is completely safe to use with laptops which is a big plus for some people including myself.
Regarding the remote start, the idea is great but not always possible. If the generator is cold you need to prime the generator with the small bulb pump and you will need to press it around 5 times. This means if you have to go to the generator to prime it, you might as well turn the key at the same time. However, if it is warm then it will restart with the remote and it can be used to turn it off which is handy.
Overall it is by far the best generator for camping and caravanning but also by far it is one of the most expensive. A brilliant generator that will never let you down.
4. Parker 2.8 KVA / 2.8kW 6.5HP DC Petrol Generator
The Parker 2.8KVA / 2.8KW 6.5HP DC Petrol Generator comes fully equipped with 100% copper motor coils in lieu of the ordinary cheaper aluminium alternatives used in many other models. The copper motor coils are quite durable and guarantee a greater and more dependable output.
This generator benefits from 12V DC, 110V AC and 240V AC outputs are managed by the integrated AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulator) to ensure a smooth voltage output, thus minimising the possibility of power spikes which may spoil voltage-sensitive equipment.
It has a unique open-frame design that maximises airflow for the purpose of keeping the 4 stroke 196cc 6.5HP engine air cooled whilst providing focal lifting support to move the generator. The generator is very compact and thus ideal for home and caravan use as well as powering power tools and other garden equipment. Its noise level is rated at 96 dB(A) which is pretty standard for generators but is still fairly loud when compared to some models such as our best pick by Wolf.
With its powerful engine, you’ll be able to power most of the equipment and appliances in your home such as small fridges, hairdryers and kettles as well as power tools such as table saws and other corded tools.
- High Maximum power output of 2.8kW
- Rated continuous output of 2.5kW
- Voltage – 110V AC / 230V AC / 12V DC
- DC Current – 8.3A
- DC Voltage – 12V
- Fuel – Unleaded petrol
- Ignition system – TCI
- Frequency – 50Hz
- Fuel tank capacity – 15L
- Engine type – 4-stroke, single cylinder
- Engine max. output – 6.5HP @ 3,600 rpm
- Noise level – 96 dB(A)
- Low oil cut-off – Yes
- Compact machine with dimensions – 59 x 46 x 49cm
- Dry weight NW – 40Kg / GW : 42Kg
- Compact design ensures it is easy to store.
- Very powerful with more than enough power for powering garden tools and power tools.
- Strong and reliable.
- Versatile power output.
- Ideal for home and caravan use as well as professional use on job sites.
- Construction could be better but it is acceptable for the cost.
- Not recommended for sensitive equipment such as a laptop as a power surge could damage it.
- Very heavy at 40kg, some may struggle to lift it.
This petrol generator will be good for powering several appliances at home due to its powerful engine, because of this it makes a lot of sense to use it for powering power and garden tools.
You’ll appreciate the compact design that makes it easy to lift and move but the weight itself may be a problem if you work alone or need to move it regularly.
The only downside with this generator seems to be the manufacturing standard does not seem to be the best. However, when it comes to performance, and if you want to power a range of tools, the Parker 6.5HP DC Petrol Generator is a great pick and probably one of the most affordable generators available of its size. What you will need to invest in though is a fly lead conversion plug to convert to a 3 pin plug to run all your tools. Not a big investment as you can usually pick one up for around £7.
5. Clarke G720 720W Petrol Generator
This model is perhaps the cheapest in Clarke’s range of generators and is perfect for emergency home use as well as a variety of outdoor applications, including camping, caravanning and boating. It is fitted with a 2-stroke air-cooled motor that delivers 720 watts of power and this is enough to operate your devices and machines for up to slightly over 5 hours at 75% load.
With the ability to work with various voltages (230V or 12V), this machine provides a great advantage in terms of power supply. Whilst powering your electrical devices is crucial, ensuring they are safe on power can never be overlooked. So the Clarke G720 features an overload circuit breaker that helps to guard against potential electrical overloads that may cause damage to your valued devices.
Anti-vibration rubber feet maximises stability whilst the machine is emitting lots of power. There is a carry handle which becomes handy whenever you want to move or transport the machine.
- Maximum output – 0.7kVA – 720w
- Fuel tank capacity – 4.2L
- Engine type – 2 stroke
- Starting system – Recoil
- Weight – 17Kg
- Runtime – 5.8 hours (at 75% overload)
- Noise level – 65 dB(A)
- Dimensions – 38.0 x 31.2 x 36.2mm
- Easy to use.
- Compact and portable.
- Relatively low noise output.
- Safe to use.
- Might be a little heavy for some users.
The Clarke G720 Petrol Generator 720W offers a great solution in those times when you need backup power at home or need an affordable generator to take on camping trips or caravanning of which the compact and portable design is well designed for.
However, at 17Kg, this generator might be a bit heavy for some people to lift which is the real downside for a small generator. In any case, this powerful, compact and reliable generator offers great value at a decent price and is a great alternative to our ‘Best Pick’ for someone looking for a cheaper alternative who doesn’t find dealing with a 2-stroke engine (where you have to mix oil and petrol) unlike 4-stroke engines where you add the oil and petrol separately.
6. Miller 6.5HP Petrol Generator
This petrol engine suits a wide range of uses such as pumps, go-karts, compressors, construction equipment and more. Since it has the same bolt replacements as a Honda, the Miller Generator 6.5hp Petrol Generator can replace an existing Honda engine with a horizontal shaft. It can also replace brands such as Briggs and Stratton.
This generator delivers 2200 watts of power on the 230V and 1100 watts on the 110V. In fact, the generator also works with 12V DC. It has a 15-litre tank capacity and a petrol runtime of 12 hours.
Fitted in the 2.8kVA generator is an oil alert sensor that prevents engine failure in the event that oil levels fall too low. The machine is built into a sturdy metal frame with handles that make it easy to lift and move into a different workplace.
Actually, the machine can be carried by two people with each holding either side, however, at 38kg it is twice as heavy as most other models.
- Max. output – 2.80 KVA
- Continuous output – 2.50 KVA
- Sockets – 1 x 110V 16amp, 1 x 240V 16amp
- Fuel type – Petrol
- Runtime – 12 hours
- Noise output – 98 dB(A) @ 7m
- Weight – 38Kg
- Dimensions – 60.0 x 46.0 x 49.0cm
- Fuel capacity – 15L
- Starting system – Recoil
- Frequency – 50Hz
- AVR – Yes
- Delivers an impressive 2.2KW of power on the 230V.
- Long running times of up to 12 hours.
- It has a portable design and is fairly compact for its power output.
- Includes an oil alert sensor.
- It is very heavy.
The Miller Generator 6.5hp Petrol Generator is powerful with a maximum of 2.8 KVA and has a large fuel capacity that can last all day but you are trading running time for weight and at 38kg it is heavy.
We like that there is an integrated oil sensor which is handy when it comes to the safety of the machine and avoids seizing the engine should you not realise the oil is low.
The only hiccup of this machine is the weight but if you don’t intend to be moving the machine from place to place, you can comfortably work with it.
Top Rated Generator Buyer’s Guide
If you are looking for the best portable generator for your needs, then you must understand the things that matter in a generator and how to choose one. Otherwise, buying in a hurry might land you in some costly challenges thereafter. The most common mistake most people make when investing in a new generator is purchasing a model that is underpowered and not able to power the tools they plan on using it for.
Our buying guide, however, has consolidated the important considerations before buying a generator.
Types of generators
- Standard Portable generators – Whenever and wherever you need power backup in an emergency situation or when needing to power tools and machines such as pressure washers, a standard generator comes in handy as they are very powerful. It can also be a more convenient option when working with power tools in the garden, rather than looking for a nearby power outlet or an extension cord that can reach where you have to work. These one’s don’t even require any installation, simply pull the cord to get it started when you need power. These models are great for powering power tools and generally great for tradesmen.
- Inverter generators – These generators produce AC power and then transforms the power to DC, and then converts it back to AC. By so doing, it produces steady, single-phase AC power. These generators usually weigh 30–50 pounds, produce less power and are quieter than standard generators usually used for powering power tools etc. They are also fuel-efficient compared to regular generators. However, they can’t contain so much fuel, and thus they don’t run for quite a long time. They are usually perfect for powering radios, tv’s, charging mobiles etc and are perfect for camping, using in a caravan and on boats.
- Standby generators – These ones are stationary objects which are often hooked up in homes or businesses. A standby generator starts operating the moment there is a power outage wherever it is installed. It usually has a transfer switch that turns the generator on as soon as there is a loss of electricity from a utility provider and turns it off once power is back. One thing to keep in mind when you install a standby generator is that you have to pre-select the machines or devices to power up.
- Commercial generators – Usually installed in businesses, they are meant to supply backup power to electrical and computer systems during a power outage. They supply great amounts of power ranging from 60kW to 100kW.
- Home standby generators – A home standby generator performs as a backup power supply whenever there is a power outage so as to ensure that your major home appliances such as air conditioner/heater, refrigerator and others still continue functioning.
Things to look out for before buying a generator
- Fuel Type – on this note, you can either choose between petrol and diesel, propane or natural gas fuel. The most popular fuel type remains petrol and diesel and you’re likely to buy one of these models with petrol being the most popular and widely used.
- Fuel efficiency – getting the right fuel isn’t just enough, but getting the most out of your generator is essential. Sometimes fuel may be hard to find plus you need to power your most essential devices for as long as possible, so pay attention to the fuel consumption rate of the machine.
- Runtime – based on what appliances or machines you want to power with a generator, make sure that it’ll give a considerable running time. Some generators can run for 5 hours on a single fuel tank while other large fuel capacity generators will go for more than 10 hours of continuous power.
- Wattage – keep in mind that all your household electronic items have their own wattage or energy usage. So before you buy a generator, make sure that it would be able to handle the startup wattage of the appliances in your house or power tools you intend to power.
- Generator size – this matters a lot, especially if you’ll be transporting the generator regularly. Make sure it has a decent size and weight as well as wheels and carry handles.
- Safety features – working with electricity is a dangerous affair, so safety features can never be overlooked. Many generators come with features such as low oil shutdown, circuit breaker, and spark arresters. These ensure safe operation of the machine as well as prevent potential damage to household appliances as a result of overload, for instance.
- Transfer switch – this is a device that allows you to connect a generator to a household wiring in a safe manner. This device is usually installed in or out of the house, next to the electrical panel. The transfer switch is wired into the main panel and then connected to the most sensitive appliances such as refrigerator, interior lights and water heater. When it comes to installing a transfer switch, make sure to seek the services of a technician.
Choosing the Correct Generator
Working Out Wattage Requirements
For each appliance/device, you need to identify how many watts it requires and then add 20% for resistive loads or add 50% for inductive loads.
How to know whether its resistive loads or Inductive loads
Resistive loads simply have no moving parts which include kettles, lights, fridges, tv and heaters).
Inductive loads have moving parts which include items with motors, air compressors, pressure washers, power tools etc.
Examples of appliance with suitable generator
1000W heater would need at least a 1200W generator
2000W pressure washer would need a large 3000W generator or larger
500W kettle (Resistive load) and a 3000W motor (Inductive load) would need at least a 5100W generator.
The Best Top-Rated Generators
A generator is a handy machine to have in your home, on a work site or to take with you on your camping trips. If you want to cut the time searching for a generator, we are certain that one of the top-rated generators above will probably suit your needs and be the best generator for your needs.
The Wolf Leisure Power Genie WPG950 Generator is the winner from our generator reviews. The 4 stroke petrol engine in this generator produces a max of 800 watts that’s enough to operate most electronic devices. It is quiet, fuel-saving and safe to use. This generator is not only good for home use but also for camping, caravanning and other outdoor events, thanks to the supplied 12V battery charging facilities.
Speaking of the price, this generator is pretty much affordable so it offers real value for investment and is probably going to be the best generator for most people, especially those looking for a generator for camping and caravanning.
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Last update on 2022-07-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API