Garden & Lawn

The Top 6 Best Portable Generators – Detailed Reviews and Comparisons

Last updated on June 24th, 2021

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In the UK, generators are mainly used for powering work tools where there is no access to electric plug sockets and are perfect for powering most power tools such as drills, jigsaws, bandsaws, Jobsite radios and even charging phones and tool batteries. You name it, if it needs electricity, a generator can power it. They are also great for camping trips as they give you access to electricity you otherwise would not have.

Even in some 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 needs. And when we talk of the best, we 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 count. 

Electric portable generator

A generator used for camping is likely not going to be suitable for powering large power tools such as a band saw so to help you learn about generators, we’ve compiled a list of the top-rated generators on the market and a buying guide that’ll help you choose a portable generator.

Before we go into more detail about generators and which models we have included in our review, we would like to bring your attention to the winner of our ‘Best Pick’ the Wolf Leisure Power Genie WPG950 Generator. It is perfect for camping, caravans and will power things like laptops, your tv, DVD players and other electric devices.

BEST PICK

Wolf Leisure Power Genie WPG950 Generator
The Wolf Leisure Power Genie generator is a perfect pick for using if you are camping, when you are out in your caravan but also other situations that may arise where portability is an important factor. It is equipped with a powerful 2.6HP - 4 stroke petrol engine and has a continuous output of 700W, with a maximum output of 800W. An economical generator with regards to fuel consumption which will help to keep the running costs low.

The Best Portable Generators Which We Have Included In Our Review Are Listed Below:

  1. Wolf Leisure Power Genie WPG950 Generator – BEST PICK
  2. Parker 2.8 KVA / 2.8KW 6.5HP DC Petrol Generator
  3. Clarke G720 720W Petrol Generator
  4. Miller 6.5HP Petrol Generator
  5. Hyundai HY3000SEi 2.8KW Electric Petrol Inverter Generator – BEST PREMIUM PICK
  6. Goal Zero Yeti 150 Universal Power Pack – BEST NON-PETROL PICK

The Top 6 Portable Generator Reviews

1. Wolf Leisure Power Genie WPG950 Portable Generator

BEST PICK

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Wolf 'Power Genie Petrol Inverter Generator 800w 2.6HP 4 Stroke Suitcase 1x 230V 13amp Socket

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 Wolf generator is that it uses advanced technology that produces consistent voltage and frequency stability of – or +1 percent. The voltage stability of this Wolf generator is generally more stable than the standard mains supply in our homes. This makes it ideal for powering appliances such as your tv, DVD players, laptops and even charging your mobile phone. This is one of the best choices when looking for a portable generator for camping, using it in your caravan or in any other situations where you need the power to keep your electric devices powered.

What makes the Wolf Leisure Power Genie WPG950 impressive is that it is extremely quiet when in operation compared to a traditional generator which is known for creating a lot of noise. It also has low fuel consumption saving you money and increasing the running time. This generator has a very impressive power to weight ratio, so you’ll find it easy to lift again making it perfect for travelling.

We also like that it is fitted with a ‘selectable econo switch’ that puts the generator in an idle state when it is not running, making it even more economical and cheaper to run.

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. When activated, as an extra safeguard, you must first switch the engine off and restart to allow the generator to auto-reset. This makes it completely safe for normal use and ideal for novices who have little experience in using generators.

This inverter generator comes with 12V battery charging facilities which make it ideal for outdoor adventures such as taking it on your caravanning trips, using 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.

Technical Specifications

  • 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 at Half Load

Pros

  • Long 5 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.

Cons

  • Not suitable for powering some power tools, for example, pressure washers.

Our recommendation

The Wolf Leisure Power Genie WPG950 Generator is good for using both at home and outdoors thanks to the 12V output as well as its charging facilities.

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 we really like. It is said to be a quiet machine on paper, however, that’s not exactly the case. With that said, the Power Genie WPG950 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 we found that all the Wolf Generators are some of the best available and it is probably the best choice for travelling, camping, caravanning etc and they are brilliant for powering all them 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.

If your looking for a cheap alternative to our ‘Best Pick’ then the Clarke G720 Generator is a great alternative. It has around the same power but it is not as quiet and is powered by a two-stroke engine meaning you will need to mix petrol and oil which some people try to avoid as 4-stroke engines are easier to fill in this respect.


2. Hyundai HY3000SEi 2.8kW Electric and Remote Start Petrol Inverter Portable Generator

BEST PREMIUM PICK

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Hyundai HY3000SEi 2.8kW Inverter Generator

Providing easy starting options, this model features an electric start which can be started with a simple turn of the key or remotely from as far as 20 metres (65 ft) away. The Hyundai HY3000SEi 2.8 kW Petrol Inverter Generator has a power output of 2800W, ideal for off-grid use, caravans, camping and motorhome markets.

The machine utilizes pure sine technology (this went over our heads too) 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 28.5kg it’s very heavy, so we think the fact it comes fitted with a handle to ease lifting is a really good idea. The Hyundai HY3000SEi is also incredibly compact thus will take little storage space in the garage and when you take it camping etc.

The 2.8kW produced by the recoil start petrol engine, along with the 4.5 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 HS3000SEi features an “ECO” mode which when activated, increases fuel economy by lowering the engine’s revs to match the required power output. This mode also helps increase the lifespan of the engine and is a feature we have only seen on this generator.

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 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, operating manual and an oil fill jug.

It is covered by a 3 year platinum warranty upon registration.

Technical Specifications

  • Rated watts – 2600W
  • Max. watts – 2800W
  • KVA – 3
  • Voltage – 230
  • Rated frequency – 50
  • DC Rated Output – 12V/ 8.3A
  • Sockets – 2 x 230V / 13A
  • Output technology – Inverter
  • Fuel tank capacity – 4.5 litres
  • Running time – 6.5 – 11 hours
  • Starting method – electric / remote / recoil
  • Noise output – 58 dB(A)
  • Weight – 29Kg
  • Dimensions – 58.0 x 32.0 x 51.5cm

Pros

  • Perfect for taking camping and caravanning and powering electrical devices including laptops and phones.
  • Provides convenient starting options.
  • 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.

Cons

  • Battery is a bit fiddly to take out and recharge.
  • It is very expensive.

Our recommendation

The Hyundai HY3000SEi Petrol Inverter Generator is an advanced model that features electric and remote starting options. There are still more other features to appreciate including the unique ECO mode and pure sine technology.

With its low noise production (it is one of the quietest models available), 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, the only issue we found were the hefty price tag. 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.

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 30 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 the most expensive. A brilliant generator that will never let you down.


3. Goal Zero Yeti 150 Universal Power Pack

BEST NON-PETROL PICK

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Goal Zero Yeti 150 Universal Power Pack, 230 V - Silver/Black

The Goal Zero Yeti 150 Universal Power Pack is a compact generator designed to power devices for camping and in emergency situations. It is a great alternative to petrol generators.

There is quite a wide range of products that can benefit from the power that comes from this power pack, including; smartphones, digital cameras, laptops, car adaptors, display monitors, tablets, lights, and other portable devices.

This petrol free generator gets its power from three options. The first is the sun, which takes anywhere from 11 to 22 hours to charge using the recommended Boulder 30 Solar Panel. Another way of charging the portable generator is from the mains with the included AC Inverter and this takes around 6 hours. The last option is using a 12V carport and this one takes 8 hours.

Speaking of the design, this plug-and-play generator looks pretty with an impressive blend of green, silver and black. Weighing only 5.4kg, it is incredibly lightweight compared to most generators. This generator is a true travel companion.

Technical Specifications

  • Battery capacity – 150Wh, 14Ah (12V)
  • Power output – AC, 12V, USB
  • Weight – 5.4kg
  • Recharge by – AC, 12V, Solar
  • Operating temperature – 0 – 40 C

Pros

  • 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 different solar panels.

Cons

  • You must buy a solar panel if you choose to charge by sun and these are expensive.
  • A bit heavier than it states.

Our recommendation

The Goal Zero Yeti 150 Universal Power Pack does everything that it says on the box. It’s one generator that probably powers 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.

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.

To give you an idea of what it can charge, it will recharge a laptop twice, a tablet six times and a smartphone fifteen times, but it does have pass-through charging capabilities which means you can charge your devices whilst also charging the generator itself. So if you were on the move driving, at least you could be charging your devices as well as the power pack itself.

We think it would be perfect for camping trips over the weekend but probably not ideal for use for longer periods of time. What we really like is the lack of noise and the fact that you don’t require petrol.


4. Parker 2.8 KVA / 2.8kW 6.5HP DC Petrol Generator

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2.8 kVA Portable 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. 

Technical Specifications

  • 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

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Our recommendation

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

A CHEAPER ALTERNATIVE TO OUR BEST PICK

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Clarke G720 Petrol Generator 720W

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.

Technical Specifications

  • 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

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Compact and portable.
  • Relatively low noise output.
  • Safe to use.

Cons

  • Might be a little heavy for some users.

Our recommendation

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

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Generator (Petrol) 2.8kva 6.5hp (Alc)

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.

Technical Specifications

  • 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

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • It is very heavy.

Our recommendation

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.
Firing Up Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator To Connect Electricity To His Camper Van

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.

Final Conclusion

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 2021-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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