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Home generators are more popular than ever before.

A generator is used to provide emergency home electricity when the power goes out. A generator can be a useful tool if you live in an area where seasonal storms bring down power lines or if your main source of power is prone to failure. Home generators come in all shapes and sizes, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars for small models that can run on gas or diesel for several hours up to thousands of dollars and higher for bigger, longer-lasting models that run on natural gas or liquid propane. You should choose a generator based on how much electrical capacity you need at different times during an outage, how long you think an outage will last before grid-supplied electricity returns and your budget. Generators are classified by the amount of electricity they can produce over a period of time, measured in watts (or kilowatts). Smaller generators fall in the range of 400 kW to 5 kW and can run on gasoline or propane

What Is the Smallest Portable Generator?

As a general rule, the lightest portable generators are in the 400 kW to 5 kW range. Some of these small generators can run on gasoline or propane. Some can run on natural gas. Generators in the 3 to 5 kW range are ideal for most households and small businesses. These models can power essential appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, televisions and computers. They can also run power tools used for home improvement jobs. However, they cannot handle all household appliances at once or larger items like air conditioners that use a lot of electricity.

Newer generators in this category typically come with inverters that convert DC power from the generator to AC power you can connect directly into your home’s electrical system through a transfer switch. ” The main advantage is you don’t have to install a separate distribution panel on-site,” says Hanks. “It basically allows you to tap into the home grid so if there’s ever an outage, you can run the generator automatically and have access to things like lighting, refrigeration and some very basic appliances.”

The Top 5 Small Portable Generators

Honda EU2000i

Honda EU2000i

Small and lightweight, Honda’s EU2000i delivers the perfect combination of power, performance, and all-around reliability—all in a compact package fit for use anywhere. With Honda engineering at the core of its proven dependability, our innovative MY GENERATOR app is sure to provide you with that extra peace of mind you need from your generator. With Bluetooth capability built right in, new CO-MINDER spot checks every 30 seconds and will shut it down before saturation levels reach dangerous heights while on standby or running modes! The EU2000i can support up to 10 hours of power while sipping less than a gallon of gas per hour and weighing just under 40 pounds, Honda’s new generator is truly the ultimate in portable quiet power.

And for those who demand nothing short of the best, Honda engineers have taken noise level reduction to a whole new level! A high level of sound insulation is provided by the double walled enclosure and air-cooling system. This helps to protect your hearing, making it easier than ever to work with Honda’s new generator for hours on end!

If you want quiet, portable power, this is the generator for you! 

Wattage Product Dimensions Output Wattage
2200 watts 21 x 12.24 x 19.72 inches; 54 Pounds 2200 Watts
Jackery Solar Generator 1000

Jackery Explorer 500 Solar Generator

The Jackery Solar Generator 1000 has been designed as an easy-to-use power source. With a high capacity and impressive endurance, this portable generator is perfect for powering all your home needs outside or at your campsite – with 3 pure sine wave AC outlets, 2 USB-C ports, and 1 Quick Charge 3.0 port you’ll never need to worry about overwhelming the generator’s capability again! 

With smart features like overcharge protection & full battery indication it can even keep itself safe from accidental damage after being used continuously for hours each day – just imagine how many times that would be if you own two Jackery solar panels (sold separately). Lock in our offer today and upgrade to endless solar power!

Wattage Product Dimensions Voltage Output Wattage
1002 watts 13.1 x 9.2 x 11.1 inches; 22.04 Pounds 110 Volts 1000 Watts
Yamaha EF2000iSV2

Yamaha EF2000iSv2

The Yamaha EF2000iSV2 is a “heavy-duty” generator that can generate enough power to meet everyday needs. Rated at 1600 watt AC output and 2000 watts maximum, this generator provides enough power for any situation and all but eliminates sound pollution. You won’t have to worry about disturbing your neighbors with this one!

This generator is also environmentally friendly, meeting California Air Resource Board (CARB) certification standards. It runs on unleaded gasoline and features a low-oil shutoff function to prevent damage.

It comes with an automatic idle control feature that helps users save money while running the unit. This generator has enough power for most household or recreational needs.

Wattage Product Dimensions Output Wattage
1600 watts 19.3 x 11 x 17.9 inches; 44.1 Pounds 2200 Watts
Generac 6866 iQ2000

Generac 6866 iQ2000

Power your appliances with the Generac 6866 iQ2000 generator. It’s only 2000 watts of AC power and it can run for up to 7 hours on just a single tank, so there’s no need to worry about running out of juice. Do you know that power goes off all the time? No worries! With this little guy, you’ll be set for life!

Product description: The Generac line has always been known as a reliable battery backup system – now they come in a smaller package at the same high levels of quality. Designed for people who don’t want an electrician all over their house, this is perfect when you are looking to keep the lights on during blackouts since it runs without being plugged into water and gas.

It is the best choice for people looking to buy a reliable backup generator that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Oh, did I mention it comes with a full 3-year warranty from the manufacturer? Not bad! The only con I can think of is that it can be louder than most generators on this list. But honestly, you can’t expect anything less from this cheaper alternative!

Wattage Product Dimensions Voltage
1600 watts 20 x 12.6 x 16.9 inches; 46.2 Pounds 120 Volts
Westinghouse iGen2200

Westinghouse iGen2200

We’re excited about the Westinghouse iGen2200 for a couple of reasons. First, in addition to being an outage-saving emergency backup power source, the iGen2200 can run your home essentials too. But most importantly, it’s incredibly quiet and fuel-efficient- less than 52 decibels and up to 12 hours on 1.2 gallons of gas! The iGen2200 features Economy Mode for maximum fuel efficiency; parallel capability by combining more than one unit with other available wattage models like our WH2200iXLT; and plenty of outlets in two 20 amp 120V outlets (or five 15 amp 110V) plus two USB ports–one are perfect dorm room presentation gifts or stocking stuffers this holiday season!

Wattage Product Dimensions Voltage
2200 watts 19.8 x 11.4 x 17.9 inches; 46 Pounds 120 Volts

Frequently Asked Questions

But how does it all work?

A generator takes the power from an outside source and converts it into electricity.  The outside source can either be a gas or diesel-powered engine to produce electricity, which is then converted into usable AC current for your home through the use of an inverter. The generator’s engine is hooked up to the generator via an internal transmission system. The engine will turn at a high RPMs (revolutions per minute) in order to compress air inside an attached piston chamber; this compressed air moves upward because of its higher density compared with that of the outside atmosphere, and when it reaches the top of the piston chamber, it forces its way out through a port located at the lower end of the chamber. This produces energy that is sent through the generator’s engine to an attached output coil, and the electricity is then produced.

How Long Do Small Generators Last?

While smaller generators might power your home for a day or two during an outage, they typically last longer than older backup generators. “The average life of a portable generator from 2005 to 2007 is somewhere between 8,000 and 12,000 hours,” says Hanks. “That’s usually when the internal parts start wearing out.” 

Smaller generators are in use 24 hours a day, so their typical life span is about two to three years. But if you follow proper maintenance guidelines (see sidebar) and choose one that matches your household’s needs, it should last much longer.  Your generator should be big enough to support all the devices you want to use during an outage, including major appliances and anything with a large power draw. “If you connect more loads than your generator can supply, it will eventually burn out,” says Erickson.

And while most generators have similar maintenance requirements — oil changes every 25 hours or so — those that run on fuel are subject to additional wear and tear from gasoline fumes and dust.  “The dry air is really hard on engines,” says Erickson. “A lot of times we’ll swap them out because they’re dirty internally after just a couple of months.” The average life span for portable gas-powered generators is about two years versus five years for those that run on a battery.

What is Fuel Economy Enabled?

Fuel economy is not only about how many miles you can travel on a gallon of gas, it also includes the cost of maintenance and operating costs. Small portable generators are great for those who need electricity during power outages, but they are very limited in their range. For example, a small generator that runs off of gasoline or propane will be able to provide enough energy to run your appliances inside your home for just a few hours at best.  Efficient fuel consumption translates into low long term maintenance and operating costs which means more time enjoying the benefits of having an emergency backup source instead of constantly having to worry about refilling tanks as well as other major problems that would otherwise be avoided if you had opted to install solar panel systems on your roof.

This is why it is very important to educate yourself on all of the different choices you have when it comes to portable power.  To help make this process easy, we will be providing a full list of reviews for small power generators with a variety of fuel sources located at the bottom of this article.  All you need to do is go down the list and find one that meets your needs and budget.

Does Your Generator Need to Be Grounded?

Your generator will need to be grounded if it is not permanently installed in the home. Most portable generators that are used as backup sources for temporary power outages will not require a ground connection, but you should check with your local electrical inspection department to confirm that this is the case. For more information on whether or not your portable generator needs to be grounded, read below:

“Grounding a Generator usually isn’t required when there’s no permanent installation,” says Erickson. “The exception would be if you have metal pipes, which means you’d have to run grounding cables around them.” Otherwise, wiring directly into the house’s service panel saves time and money because it eliminates having to tie into existing 3-prong outlets. If a temporary generator is used outside and it is not grounded, the electricity coming out of the outlet will be ungrounded.

If you’re improperly grounding your portable generator, you risk deadly electrocution or a fire caused by faulty wiring. If you’re unsure about whether or not your portable generator needs to be grounded, read your installation manual carefully. Manufacturers always include information on this topic in their manuals.” 

How many watts does a generator need to power a house?

A standard home requires 3 kW of continuous power capacity during normal use. A 3 kW generator can generate enough power for small items like your refrigerator or freezer but will not be enough to sustain other appliances that require more energy at the same time — such as your furnace and hot water heater — if they run simultaneously. How much each appliance uses depends on how old it is.  As appliances age, their energy requirements increase because of wear and tear, so newer models will generally be able to perform better under these conditions than older ones. Few Final Words? A portable solar system allows you to tap into the power of the sun to keep your portable generator fueled. The system includes a panel, charge controller and battery storage unit. You can use this system with generators rated from 2 kW to 30 kWh.


Generators can be great for those who need electricity during power outages, but they are very limited in their range. For example, a small generator that runs off of gasoline or propane will be able to provide enough energy to run your appliances inside your home for just a few hours at best. There are other generators that can be run off of natural gas or propane, but even these have their limits. It is extremely important to read the information on each generator you consider getting because there will be some that are not capable of powering more than just a few appliances with energy left over for your home’s air conditioner. In this case, portable solar panels may be able to help you conserve fuel so it lasts longer.

There are several sizes and types of small power generators available, and all of them have different advantages and disadvantages to weigh against one another before deciding which is best for your needs. Some even offer multiple fuel sources (such as propane and natural gas) while others only provide one option (like gasoline). If you want a small generator that will provide you with just enough energy to keep the essential items in your home working, then a gasoline-powered model is probably the best choice for you.