Best Inverter Generator: Reviews & Buyers Guide 2020

So, you are considering buying an inverter generator and want some help in choosing the best. Well you’ve come to right place. We have reviewed all the top inverter generator models and present our results below.

However, although we have chosen an overall winner (see below), the best generator for you will depend on your own circumstances, what you want to use it for and your budget. We've therefore chosen winners for each category.

Anyway, here are the best inverter generators on the market today:

Category Winners

So What Exactly Is An Inverter Generator?

Before we consider what to look for in a generator, we should probably know what one is. 

In order to understand what an inverter generator does, let’s consider what generators and inverters are first.

Generators

A traditional generator uses fossil fuel (often diesel) to drive an alternator, which in turn produces electricity. In the US the diesel motor is set to run at 3600 rpm generating the 120V, 60Hz AC electricity used by most devices.

Unfortunately it is difficult to maintain an exact 3600 rpm and hence traditional generators are prone to drops and surges in power, often damaging to sensitive electrical equipment such as laptops.

Inverters

Inverters transform a DC electricity source to AC power. For example they are used to transform a solar power source into an AC source.

Inverter generators

Inverter generators use relatively new technology to produce AC electricity (like a traditional generator), but then convert this using electronics into DC electricity.

An inverter then transforms this back into a stable 120V, 60Hz AC electricity which is ‘clean’ (ie has none of the surges of a traditional generator). It can then be used more safely by electronic devices. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Inverter vs Traditional Generators

We’ve already mentioned one key advantage: they produce a more stable power source.

They are also more compact and quieter, mainly as they have no need to run at exactly 3600 rpm like their tradition models.

And as they are not preset to deliver the 120V, 60Hz AC feed, and can modify their output according to need, they are much more fuel efficient.

Their main disadvantage is that they tend to be more expensive to purchase (compared to a comparable traditional model) due to their more sophisticated electronic set up.

Inverter Generator Selection Criteria

The key things we considered when reviewing each generator


Price

This will be the most important factor for many.

There’s a wide range of prices – its possible to spend anywhere for a couple of hundred bucks to nearly a thousand dollars.

But it’s important to realise that you get what you pay for: a cheap model will have less power and run time, may not have the same level of support and may not be as robust as a more expensive model.

We’ll help you understand the various trade-offs of features and price for each model.

Quietness

Generators can be very noisy.

Many (again campers are an example) will want to minimise the noise effects on themselves and other people nearby. None of us want to be the traveller spoiling the peace and quiet for everyone with a roaring generator.

Again, there are several inverter generators designed to be quiet – we’ll show you which.

Brand Reputation

For many of you, choosing a well-known and reputable brand will be an important factor in choosing a model.

Thankfully, many of the generators reviewed are made by strong brands such as Honda and Yamaha.

However, don’t dismiss some of the others – brands such as Champion and Wen make good quality products and are respected in this market.

Run Time

How long do you plan to run your generator?

For some an evening of use for light and TV use, say, would be sufficient. For others a full day of use will be required.

After sales support

This is one factor that is often neglected by buyers.

However, it is key – especially as you’re likely to be out and about if you need assistance.

There’s nothing worse than being in a strange town or in the middle of the countryside with a malfunctioning generator with minimal ways to get help as soon as possible.

We therefore looked at the makers’ support arrangements including phone/online support and the availability of repair shops.

Portability

The ability to carry or take their generator anywhere easily will be key for some.

This will be particularly important for campers amongst you.

There’s no way you’ll want to drag a cumbersome beast of a generator into the wilds.

Thankfully there are many great portable generators on the market which are perfect for your needs.

Power

The power required from a generator – usually between 1500W and 3500W – depends on what you plan to use it for.

If you just plan to light your campervan, say, a low power generator will be sufficient.

Running a fridge, TV and heating will require more.

This is one of the key determinants of price and so it’s important to choose the most appropriate power level generator for your needs.


The Best Inverter Generator Reviews

Below are the top inverter generators we reviewed.

It's important to note that although the Honda EU2200i was judged the best overall inverter generator, other models may be more suitable (or within your budget).

The Durostar ds4000i, for example, is much cheaper and perfect as a back up power generator but would be unsuitable to take camping, being bulky and quite noisy.

The Yahaha EF2000is would instead be the best choice for camping as it is portable and quiet.

The Best Inverter Generator Overall: Honda EU2200i

Honda EU2200i 2200W 120-Volt Portable Inverter Generator

$1,049.00  out of stock
2 new from $1,049.00
1 used from $1,987.00
as of May 25, 2020 4:12 am

Features

  • This popular model can operate a wide variety of appliances, making it perfect for portable use at home, camping, on the jobsite, or much more. Reliable Power is now at your fingertips with Honda's Inverted Generators.
  • So quiet, your neighbors will thank you. The EU2200i operates at 48 to 57 dBA, which is less noise than a normal conversation. This makes it ideal for camping and any other activity that requires quiet operation.
  • Thanks to our exclusive Eco-Throttle System, the EU2200i offers great fuel efficiency. Runs 4.0 to 9.6 hours on a single tank, depending on the load. This makes it the ideal choice for overnight power, or long time applications.
  • Honda's inverter technology means stable, clean power in a smaller, lighter package. The precision of Honda's inverter technology ensures our inverter generators produce power that is as reliable as the power you get from your outlets at home.
  • Need more power? Add a second EU2200i for additional power.

Full review here >>> Honda EU2200i Review

We’ve chosen the Honda EU2200i as the best inverter generator available now. The successor to the EU2000i (itself, until recently, our favorite generator), the EU2200i is even better value...

However the EU2200i had some stiff competition – the Yamaha and Champion models are also pretty good – but the Honda won mainly due to the features you get for the money.

In particular we were impressed with

  • the over 8 hours run time per tank of gas
  • how easy it is to maintain
  • its ability to power even the most energy hungry appliances such as TVs and fridges.
  • the wide selection of certified repair shops, vital if you have a problem whilst out and about.

It is, however, one of the priciest generators – but worth it.

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The Best Budget Inverter Generator: DuroStar DS4000S

Durostar DS4000S Portable Generator, Yellow/Black

$420.00
$341.99  in stock
4 new from $341.99
Free shipping
as of May 25, 2020 4:12 am

Features

  • POWERFUL DUROSTAR ENGINE: The DS4000s is Powered by a DuroStar 7.0 Hp, air cooled OHV engine w/low oil shutoff.
  • PLENTY OF POWER: With 4,000 starting watts and 3,300 running watts, this unit is a workhorse that provides plenty of power to handle multiple jobs from powering high voltage appliances to heavy duty power tools.
  • POWER PANEL: Includes a selection of outlets for maximum compatibility in your applications including: 2 120V household outlets and 1 120V 30A twist lock outlet.
  • POWERING EVERYONE ANYWHERE: The DS4000s is EPA and CARB approved for use in all 50 states.
  • FUEL TANK CAPACITY (GASOLINE): 3.96 GALLONS

Full review here >>> DuroStar DS4000S Review

The DuroStar DS4000S portable inverter generator is a the cheapest generator we reviewed at under $300.

As you might expect it doesn't have many of the great features of the more expensive models, especially the Yamaha EF2000iS and Honda EU 2000i.

But it does provide a (reasonably) portable experience, 8 hours running time with a high power outage.


The Best Portable Inverter Generator: Yamaha EF2000iS

Yamaha EF2200iS Inverter Generator, 2200 Watts, Blue

$1,099.00
$999.34  in stock
17 new from $998.25
as of May 25, 2020 4:12 am

Features

  • Powerful Yamaha 79cc Engine - Provides high power output.
  • Yamaha Quiet Technology - Outfitted with Yamaha sophisticated muffler for quiet operation.
  • Standard RV Outlet - No more searching for the right adapter. DC Outlet - Flexibility to charge and use devices.
  • Illuminated Multi-Function LED Display - See generator status at a glance both day and night.
  • Smart Dial Knob - Simple and easy start-up. Smart Throttle - Automatic load sensing adjusts power to device needs.

Full review here >>> Yamaha EF2000iS Review

Japanese electronic devices are famously easy to use and beautifully simple in design. This fresh offering from Yamaha is no exception; their top of the line, notably fuel efficient generator has a peak wattage of 2,000 / 1,600 running wattage. The engine is able to shed heat, so that it doesn’t build up and manages to stay very cool while running.

At $990, this option is considerably more expensive than many that are produced within the United States of America, but Yamaha has a repeatedly validated reputation for being a worthwhile investment. If maintained properly, the longevity of this engine, accompanied with the incredible fuel economy, combine to make the EF2000iS worth every penny of the cost.

This generator carries the rare ability to run at least twenty four hours at a full load and not show the faintest sign of slowing down or succumbing to malfunction. By industry professionals, campers, and others who have experienced this product, it is revered as being one of the most reliable generators on the market.

Features include an electrical overload breaker, which prevent the damage that can occur in many generators from unexpected electrical overload; this is a handy addition, but many owners claim that the slick power of this generator creates an experience where these overloads are very rarely threatening to occur.

The engine comes to life gracefully with a gentle pull of the recoil coil cord, and runs so smoothly and quietly that many have said that it is at least twice as quiet as comparably priced generators, even at a full load. It also comes equipped with Pulse Width Modulation control inverter technology.

This is one of the most stunning, mechanically sound, and generally dependable inverter generators on the market. Consider adding this tool, which represents the best in Japanese innovation, to your repertoire; either as a backup generator for around the house our out on the open road and into the wilderness with your camper, RV, or boat.


The Best Alternative To Yamama ef2000is: WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000W

WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, CARB Compliant

$699.99
$420.39  in stock
6 new from $420.39
Free shipping
as of May 25, 2020 4:12 am

Features

  • Extremely quiet operation is comparable to the sound of a normal conversation according to the US Department of health and human Services
  • EPA III and CARB Compliant 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts
  • Great for campgrounds, construction sites, tailgates and power outages
  • Produces clean power to safely operate and prevent damage to sensitive electronics such as phones, tablets, televisions and computers
  • Includes two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle and one 5V USB port

The WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000W portable inverter generator is a cheaper alternative to the Yamaha ef2000is. It boasts many of the features of the ef2000is but at around half the price.

The unit runs at only 2000W and so is more appropriate for outside use rather than as a home back up power source. It is portable and quiet, and has a 9.5 hours running time, making it perfect for camping and RV power generation.

The other key feature it shares with the Yamaha is fuel efficiency.

Buying the Wen is also a great way of getting many of the benefits of the Yamaha ef2000is for less. Wen does not have the same brand recognition as Honda or Yamaha. Yet it produces products of the same high quality.

You could thus buy two Wens for the same price as the Yamaha and generate twice the power. Indeed the 73536i has stacking technology to enable such a set up.

In summary then, the Wen 56200i is a great alternative to the Yamaha ef2000is. This is especially the case for campers and RV owners on a budget or not concerned with brand.


Generac iQ2000 – 1600 Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Generac 6866 iQ2000 Super Quiet 1600 Running Watts/2000 Starting Watts Gas Powered Inverter Generator - CARB Compliant

$777.45  in stock
12 new from $777.45
as of May 25, 2020 4:12 am

Features

  • Quieter than Honda. Smarter. Portable. Run Time (50% Load)-5.7 hrs. Fuel Capacity-1.06 Gallons. AC Rated Output Running Watts-1600
  • PowerDial integrates start/run/stop functions into 1 easy-to-use dial / PowerBar monitors and displays wattage used
  • 7.7 hours run time at 25% load. Displacement: 80 cc; Oil Type: SAE 10W-30
  • Economy, Standard, and Turbo modes of operation saves fuel and reduces noise
  • Parallel 2 units together for twice the power (parallel kit model 6877 sold separately) / Storage Cover model 6875 sold separately.Full load fuel consumption (gallons/hour):2.85

Generac has created a well-priced, quiet, clean, and effective competitor to market leaders with their iQ2000-model inverter power generator. At less than $800, this is really is an ideal generator for the average person with small electrical power needs.

Generac’s iQ2000 has been third party tested and proven to be quieter than Honda, and this comparative quietness makes it the perfect companion for those who use their generators in the great outdoors and are wanting to savor the sounds of the wild. Yes, it is very quiet, reliable, and simple to operate, with a fuel economy that is truly commendable.

A major factor to its convenience is that it this ultra-lightweight option weighs under fifty pounds, which makes it very portable, and a wise choice for camping or tailgating. The design was precisely engineered for the main purpose of being low maintenance and portable for travel.

This generator offers three engine speeds (Economy, Standard, and Turbo), which are easily changeable according to your needs, and make a significant impact in keeping a quiet volume and limiting the rate of burning through fuel. It has also been designed for easily accessible parallel capability, allowing one to double the power without sacrificing portability.

Not only is this an innovative generator for its slick design and enviable lack of sound pollution, but those who purchase this inverter generator will also reap the benefits of a LED dashboard which is intuitive and communicative, which clearly shows important information such as remaining runtime, wattage use, and fuel level status.

This option comes with a limited three year Residential and Commercial Warranty.


Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 PowerSmart Series 2200-Watt Inverter Generator

Briggs & Stratton P2200 PowerSmart Series Inverter Generator with Quiet Power Technology and Parallel Capability, 2200 Starting Watts 1700 Running Watts

$499.00  in stock
5 new from $499.00
Free shipping
as of May 25, 2020 4:12 am

Features

  • Quiet and fuel efficient 111 cc OHV engine produces 2,200 starting watts and 1700 running watts
  • USB port allows charging of portable electronics in order to stay connected. Muffler : Super Lo-Tone. Start Type : Recoil
  • Produces less than 3% total harmonic distortion making it safe for laptop computers, TVs and game systems
  • 1-gallon fuel tank for up to 6.5 hours of continuous operation at 25% load
  • Parallel connector port allows connection between 2 units for more power

This quiet and fuel efficient generator produced 2,200 starting watts and 1700 running watters. As well as being suitable for camping, tailgating, and use in the RV, it is also safe for laptop computers, TVS, and other household electronics, which is not true of all of its competitors.

It is not the quietest option, but it is an effective machine for the price and it packs a lot of power. It also comes equipped with a USB port. Weighing in at about 52 pounds, this generator is designed for portability and easy transport.

This is an affordable option, priced at about $630, and is well suited for parallel capability if you would prefer to have double the power. This is quite a good deal for 4400 Watts, as a single 3000-Watt version of this same general model available for just under double the price. This model can also partner with the 3000-Watt version.

Generally speaking, this is a great option if you are conscious of how much you are spending, and will reliably provide and deliver a lot of portable power.


FAQ

What is the biggest difference between portable generators and a standby home generator system?

The biggest difference, of course, is that the portable unit can be moved to different locations, while the true standby system is permanently installed on a fixed concrete slab.  Additionally, portable generators must be started by hand or switch before power can begin to flow, while the standby system will turn on automatically.

Portable units must be hooked up to your inlet box and standby systems are permanently installed via a transfer switch into your circuit breaker panel.

When utility power is restored the standby will automatically shut down, while the portable must be manually turned off and moved back into its place of storage.

Another advantage of the best type of standby generator is that the unit can be set to automatically perform a diagnostic test to ensure that proper maintenance is always up to date.

What amount of generator backup power do I need to run my home appliances during a power outage?

Homes of from 1200 to 3000 sq. ft. can typically run critical electrical items by using a 5000-7000 watt generator. The most common items that need emergency power during a blackout would be the furnace motor, frig, freezer, lights, television, sump pump and water pumps.

Larger systems of about 10,000 to 15,000 watts will supply enough juice to run most air conditioners.

Just make certain the initial surge requirements are taken into consideration when you buy the appropriate size for your home backup power.

I use a computer to operate my home business. Can I still use it during a power outage, if I have a home power generator

Power from a backup source is just as safe as what you normally have coming out of the wall socket. The spikes or surges that accompany power generation are a normal aspect of electricity.

Nevertheless, make sure you use a good quality surge protector to guard against small influxes of power distortion.

Does the start-up of an engine or motor require a different wattage?

As mentioned above, many engine startups take an extra large amount of amperage for their initial start-up. Some appliances and tools, such as the refrigerator or freezer, furnace fan, air conditioner, electric chain saw, weed trimmer, etc. will soak up more watts than normal when you initiate the startup.

Therefore, don’t buy your home electrical generators without taking into account the surge requirement rather than just the normal running wattage.

My neighbor tells me to get a transfer switch. What is that exactly?

A transfer switch is a device that is fed by both utility and generator power. It isolates the two types of power from each other so a back feed does not occur. National Electrical Code requires a device like this if two types of power are going to feed the house.

Always get a qualified electrician to install your transfer switch.  The potential danger to workers and neighbors from back-feed is great when utility power is restored unless your transfer switch functions properly.

Since the portable backup generator can be moved from location to location, are there any restrictions?

Yes, do not place the generator too close to any place where humans or animals will be congregating.  These units produce carbon monoxide gas, which can be deadly.  Also, never run a generator inside your home or garage.

Remember, these have combustible engines and use gasoline and oil, so make sure to always provide plenty of ventilation.


More Generator Reviews


The Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 is as efficient as it is powerful. Just one gallon of gas can keep the generator going for eight hours.


The Energizer eZV2000P lives up to the trusted Energizer brand name. It’s a high powered (2000W) but portable generator perfect for the RV, camping trips or as back up power to most household appliances.


The A-IPower SUA2000i 2000W is compact, relatively lightweight, portable, and reliable. It provides clean energy, too, so you can power sensitive electronics. Is it worth the hype? Find it out in our A-IPower SUA2000i 2000 review.


The Westinghouse WH2200iXLT is an American made portable inverter generator, perfect for light RV, back up or camping duties.


The WEN 56203i is a low cost alternative to the more well known Honda EU2200i – similar power, portability and quietness at less than half the price.


The Atima AY2000i is a compact generator designed to deliver all the power you need for recreational and work purposes. It delivers clean energy thanks to its inverter technology, and it is perfect for those looking to power up sensitive devices or appliances.


The Yamaha EF2400iSHC is a heavy-duty inverter generator is great for users who need a durable electricity source for camping or a durable way to power small appliances during black outs. . Here’s our review.


The Pulsar PG10000B16 is a dependable hybrid generator that switches from LPG to gas while running. Here’s our review.


The Champion 3100W Review: An affordable RV Ready inverter generator. Quiet and Portable.


Champion 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator (EPA) $349.99  in stock 1 new from $349.99 Free shipping Check Price On Amazon Amazon.com as of May 23, 2020 10:35 am Features Designed for Safety – Includes a low-oil shut-off sensor and has a 0.6-quart oil capacity (recommended 10W-30) Reliable and Powerful – At 4000 starting watts and 3500 running watts, enjoy up to 12 hours of run … Read more


The DuroStar ds4000S might be the perfect option if you’re looking out for a cheap electricity back up option (rather than, say, to take camping).

At under $300 it can provide peace of mind for significantly less than some of the more portable and lightweight options, which are made of more regular use.


This Honda EU2200i review gives the low down on this perfect portable inverter generator quiet, lightweight and fuel-efficient.