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How To Choose The Best Portable Generator and Our Top 7 Picks
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 such as drills, jigsaws, bandsaws, jobsite radios and even charging phones and tool batteries, you name it, if it needs electric a generator can power it. They are are also great for camping trips as they give you access to electric 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 generator, but rather the best generator for 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 ideal generator. Other factors such as power, size, efficiency and price of the generator all count.
A generator used for camping is likly not going to be suitable for powering a large power tool such as a band saw so to help you learn about generators, we’ve compiled a list of the top rated generators in 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 which is perfect for camping, caravans and will power things like laptops, your tv, DVD players and other electric devices.
If you want use it for power tools such as drills and pressure washers etc, we would recommend the larger Wolf WP3500 Generator as it has a lot more power needed for powering power tools.
The Best Portable Generators Which Are Included In Our Review Are Listed Below:
Top Rated Generator Buyers 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 under powered and not able to power the tools you 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 to where you have to work. These one's don’t even require any installation, simply pull the cord to it started when you need power. There models are great for powering power tools and generally are great for tradesmen.
- Inverter generators - These generators produce AC power, transforms the power to DC, and then converts 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 ect 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’s a power outage wherever it is installed. It usually has a transfer switch which turns the generator on as soon as there’s 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 back up 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 backup power supply whenever there’s 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 or 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.
TOP 5 GENERATOR REVIEWS
Wolf Leisure Power Genie WPG950 Portable Generator Review
OUR BEST PICK
This generator provides reliable and stable power whenever it’s needed and is very portable as it it 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 in your caravan or in any situation where you need power to keep your electric devices powered.
What makes the Wolf Leisure Power Genie WPG950 impressive it that it is extremely quiet in operation compared with a traditional generator which are known for creating a lot of noise. It also has low fuel consumption saving you money and increasing the running time and has a very impressive power to weight ratio, so you’ll find it easy to lift again making it perfect for traveling.
We also like that it is fitted with a 'selectable econo switch' that puts the generator in idle state when it’s 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 in normal use and ideal for novices who have little experience using generators.
This invertor generator comes with a 12V battery charging facilities, which make it ideal for outdoor adventures such as taking it on your caravanning trips, using when camping, power electrics on boats, as well as being an alternative to low wattage home back up power should you suffer from power cuts from time to time.
- Powerful 2.6HP - 4 stroke petrol engine which produces enough power for powering most electric devices.
- 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) when compared to standard generators.
- Light weight 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
- ?Long 5 hours run time for continuous power.
- High voltage stability means it ideal for electric devices such as tv's, radios, dvd plays, charging mobile phones and more.
- Low noise emission when compared to standard generators making it ideal for using outdoors.
- Economical fuel consumption saves money
- Lightweight design which means its very portable and easy to carry.
- Comes with overload protection feature.
- 2 years warranty for full peace of mind.
- Not suitable for powering some power tools such as pressure washers.
The Wolf Leisure Power Genie WPG950 Generator is good for use both at home and outdoors, thanks to the 12V output as well as charging facilities.
The machine operates all sorts of home appliances including laptops, portable tv's, and and other electric systems due to the voltage stability features. Power and fuel management are other standout features of this model which we really like. It’s 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 othe other generators in this review.
Overall we found that all the Wolf Generators are some of the best available and its probably the best choice? for travelling, camping, caravanning ect and are brilliant for powering all them home entertainment devices you may want to take with you on your traps.
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 the more powerful WP3500 Generator which has all the powered needed for these types of tools.
Overall both the Wolf Models should win our 'Best Pick; spot but we only have one 'Best Pick' winner so this is probably the best generator for this spot. 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 not a quiet and is powered by a two stroke engine meaning you need to mix petrol and oil which some people try to avoid and as 4-stroke engines are easier to fill in this respect.
Wolf Power WP3500LR 6.5HP Petrol Powered Generator Review
The Wolf Power WP3500LR 6.5HP Petrol Powered Generator is the backbone of the famous Wolf Generator Series whereby there are thousands of them in use within the UK. This generator provides a reliable source of power wherever and whenever it’s required.
It is powered by a simple recoil start 6.5HP 4 stroke petrol engine, which delivers maximum power output of 3.2kW and a constant power of 2.8kW. The generator is fitted with a dependable alternator with integrated AVR for maximum performance and voltage stability. The generator comes with a 15L fuel tank capacity enough to operate to a maximum of 10 hours between refills which is one of the longest run times of any generator we have reviewed.
The safety and performance features in this machine are incredible. First is the AVR which ensures voltage and frequency stability almost to the same as a domestic supply stability. Another one is the low oil shut down feature that guarantees safe and efficient operation. There’s a changeover switch on the control panel which adjusts between 230V and 115V and is equipped with 2 x 13amp 230V sockets and 2 x 16amp 115V sockets. Circuit breakers protect the generator from overload damage whilst a voltmeter shows the output voltage from the machine.
For those who need the ability to move the generator around, the machine is fitted with wheel kit which makes it very easy to move around making it ideal for work sites and you simply fold down handles to help save a little bit of storage space and when being transported.
- Maximum power output of 4.0 KVA / 3200W
- Rated output – 3.5 KVA/ 2800W
- Powerful Wolf 4 stroke petrol Engine
- Starting system – Recoil
- Output voltage – 230V
- Runtime – Min 10 hours at Half Load
- Fuel tank capacity – 15L
- Fuel type – standard unleaded petrol
- Noise level – 69 Db(A)
- Weight – 48kg
- Dimensions without wheel kit fitted– 59.5 x 47.0 x 43.5cm
- Dimensions with wheel kit fitted, handles folded – 63.5 x 64.0 x 54.5cm
- ?Perfect for powering power tools and garden equipment as well as electric appliances.
- Longer run time of up to 10 hours.
- Comes with superb safety and performance features.
- Supplied with a wheel kit for mobility which can be fitted it needed of left off.
- Easy to top up fuel and oil.
- Decent 15 litre fuel tank capacity.
- Relatively low noise when compared to similar models. Only 69 dB(A) at 7m
- Comes with a 12V battery charger.
- Doesn’t put out the power it says.
The Wolf Power WP3500LR 6.5HP Petrol Powered Generator is one of those high power rated generators with a maximum output of 3.2kW. We like the supplied wheel kit and that you have the choice to fit it or now, this machine is ready for use anywhere you need it and can be moved around easy if needed.
The generator’s large fuel tank is just ideal for completing a normal day’s work and it’s even easy to refill.
If you are looking for a model that you can move between jobs, this machine is a great pick and to give you an idea of what it can power we know some users have used it to power catering trailer to power things like fridge, freezer, kettles ect. This alone confirms the power this generator can handle.
Overall a fantastic generator for those who need a lot of power,it may be more expensive than some models but its worth every penny and very reliable.
Hyundai HY3000SEi 2.8 kW Electric and Remote Start Petrol Inverter Portable Generator Review
BEST OF THE BEST
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 and caravan, camping and motorhome markets.
The machine utilizes pure sine technology, this went over are heads too but it baciclly 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 which can have power spikes.
At 28.5kg, its very heavy and comes fitted with a handle to ease lifting. 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 amking it ideal for using over longer periods of time. Furthermore, the HS3000SEi features “ECO” mode which when activated, it 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 2 x 13amp plug sockets on the control panel for powering any device with a standard mains plug. This machine can also be converted to run off LPG especially when out for caravanning. For 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 oil fill jug.
It is covered by a 3 year platinum warranty upon registration.
- 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
- ?Perfect for taking camping and caravanning and powering electric 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.
- Battery is a bit fiddly to take out and recharge.
- It is very expensive.
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 (its its one of the quietest models avaiable), 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 performance of this unit except for the hefty price. If you don’t mind it, go ahead and splash the money for this top quality generator that has long run times and completly safe to use with laptops, a big plus for some.
Regarding the remote start, the idea is great but not all ways possible. If the generator is cold you need to prime the generator with the small bulb pump you press 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 its its warm then it will restart with the remote and it can be used to turn it off which is handy.
Overall its by far the best generator for camping and caravanning but is almost by far, the most expensive. Brilliant generator that will never let you down.
Goal Zero Yeti 150 Universal Power Pack Review
BEST NON PETROL ALTERNATIVE PORTABLE GENERATOR
The Goal Zero Yeti 150 Universal Power Pack is a compact generator designed to power devices in camping and emergency situations and is a great alternative to petrol generators.
There is quite a wide range of products that can benefit from the power of 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 through the recommended Boulder 30 Solar Panel. The other way of charging the portable generator is from the mains, with the included AC Inverter, which takes around 6 hours. The last option is using a 12V car port 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 its very light weight compared to most generators, this generator is a true travel companion.
- Battery capacity – 150Wh, 14Ah (12V)
- Power output – AC, 12V, USB
- Weight – 5.4kg
- Recharge by – AC, 12V, Solar
- Operating temperature – 0 – 40 C
- ?No fumes to worry about so can be used inside tend 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.
- You must buy a solar panel if you choose to charge by Sun which are expensive.
- A bit heavier than it states.
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 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 6 times?, a smartphone 15 times but it does has pass through charging capabilities which means you can charge your devices while charging the generator itself. So if you was 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 using for longer periods. What we really like is the lack of noise and that fact you don't need petrol.
Parker 2.8 KVA / 2.8KW 6.5HP DC Petrol Generator Review
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 alternative used in many other models. The copper motor coils are quite durable and guarantees a greater and more dependable output.
This generator benefits from 12V DC, 110V AC and 240V AC outputs which 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 air flow for the purpose of keeping the 4 stroke 196cc 6.5HP engine air cooled while providing focal lifting support to move the generator. The generator is very compact and thus ideal for home and caravan uses as well as power 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 equipment and appliances in your home such as small fridges, hair dryers, kettle 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 its 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 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 as makes a lot of sense to use 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.
Clarke G720 Petrol Generator 720W Review
A great cheaper alternative to our 'Best Pick'
This model is perhaps the cheapest in the 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’s fitted with a 2-stroke air-cooled motor that delivers 720 watts of power, 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. While 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 2-stroke engines where you have to mix oil and petrol unlike 4-stroke engines where you add the oil and petrol separately.
Miller Generator 6.5hp Petrol Generator Review
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 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 which prevents engine failure in the event that oil falls too low. The machine is built into a sturdy metal frame with handles that make it easy to lift and move into a different work place.
Actually, the machine can be carried by two persons 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 ab 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 trade running time for weight and at 38kg its 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 it 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.
Our 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 best the best generator for your needs.
Below is a quick summary of some of our best recommended models.
Our Best Pick
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 800 watts that’s enough for 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, specially thise looking for a generator for camping and caravanning.
Last updated on February 15th, 2021