The 4 Best Inverter Generators for your Home!
When the power goes out in an emergency, your refrigerator, lights, and ability to recharge small electronics like your phone and a radio goes with it. Without these things, your food supply is immediately diminished and it can be difficult to keep current with what is happening in the world beyond your home. That is where inverter generators can save the day!
An inverter generator can provide enough power to your home to keep your essential appliances powered and make your transition to bugging in go much more smoothly. During short outages of only a few days – such as after a major storm – having a large generator can even keep your house running as if the grid hasn’t gone down (depending on the season and needs). We’ll cover the basics of inverter generators and highlight five of the best inverter generators that you can keep around your house to provide backup power during an emergency situation.
What is an Inverter Generator?
Traditional generators convert gasoline or another fuel to AC electricity – and inverter generators accomplish pretty much the same thing. But inverter generators actually convert that AC electricity to DC and then back to AC. In the process, the current is essentially cleaned so that the voltage output by your generator is consistent and has a very low distortion, which is important to avoid damaging the motor in your refrigerator or frying the delicate circuitry in small electronics like computers and phones.
Inverter generators also have a number of advantages over traditional generators. Most important, they are much more fuel efficient than traditional generators because the speed of the engine adjusts according to the amount of power being drawn from the generator, whereas traditional generators run at a consistent power all the time. During a long blackout when you aren’t able to replenish fuel supplies, that efficiency can translate to hours or days of extra generator use.
In addition, inverter generators tend to be significantly quieter when running, which can be important if you are trying not to draw attention to the fact that your home has electricity. Inverter generators are also typically small and portable, which makes them easy to hide or to move into the house for security when it is not in use.
Unfortunately, inverter generators do come at a cost – literally. Clean current and fuel efficiency comes at a price premium compared to traditional generators that provide similar maximum power outputs. In addition, whereas traditional generators can come in at nearly any maximum power you would like to purchase so that you could power your entire home off of one, inverter generators are typically limited to 4,000 watts or less – so only essentials can be covered during an emergency.
What to Consider When Buying an Inverter Generator
The main thing to consider when choosing an inverter generator is the maximum number of watts that it can produce. You’ll want to check the appliances that you would want to run during a blackout to see how many watts they each draw and add that up – this needs to be less than the rated output of the generator you use. In addition, remember to leave some leeway for charging small electronics. If you plan to run motor-powered appliances like a refrigerator, make sure the generator you choose has enough surge wattage to cover the extra power requirements of the motor when it is starting up.
Another consideration is what type of fuel your generator uses. Most generators – and all but one of the ones we review below – run only on gasoline since it is typically readily available and highly efficient. But, some generators are able to run on either gasoline or propane, which can be a major advantage for preppers since propane lasts much longer than gasoline without going stale and can be easier to store in large volumes. However, note that most dual fuel generators will have a lower maximum power output when running on propane and will run less efficiently.
Wen 56200i 2000-Watt Generator - Affordable Inverter Generator
This Wen generator is great for preppers who don’t want to spend a fortune on a generator and provides an impressive 1,600 watts of running power and 2,000 watts of surge power on the small 80cc engine. The small engine also gives this generator a number of ancillary benefits. It is small and easily portable at only 48 pounds, and it is one of the quietest inverter generators you can find at just 51 dB of noise. The motor is a pull-start rather than an electric push-start, although the recoil reliably starts the motor within a few pulls.
Like the Honda generator, this model has just a one-gallon gas tank and runs for only six hours at half-load – so it may not be the best choice for extended use. However, the generator features an eco-mode switch that throttles the power output to increase the efficiency of the motor and help it run for slightly longer and conserve fuel, which can be helpful if you are only powering one appliance at a time.
The outlet board offers much the same choices as the Honda generator, with two standard 120V outlets and a 12V DC battery charging port. There is also a USB charging port, which is a nice feature for recharging your phones. The generator can be paired with a second WEN generator – which is still less expensive than most 4,400-watt inverter generator – in parallel and controlled with a parallel connection kit from WEN to boost the amount of power you can put out. Indicator lights give you a heads up when the oil is running low or the generator is overloaded, so it is easy to interpret any problems that arise during use.
Best of all, WEN offers a two-year warranty on the generator, which is relatively generous given the low price of the unit.
Champion 4000-Watt Generator - High Capacity Inverter Generator
This massive generator from Champion provides an impressive 3,500 watts of running power and 4,000 watts of surge power at a budget price. That’s enough power to consistently keep most of the appliances in your house running and may be important to have if you need to run an air conditioning unit or heater during the blackout.
The 224cc engine starts reliably on the first few pulls from a recoil cable and, once running, produces only 64 dB of noise – loud, but not bad considering the amount of power that this generator is able to provide. However, one thing to consider with this generator is that the noise will make it noticeable and at 82 pounds, it is bulky and heavy to move around the house to keep it out of sight. The frame is not mounted on wheels, either.
A nice design feature of this generator is that the gas tank holds 2.9 gallons of gasoline, so that even though it guzzles fuel compared to smaller generators it can run for 8 hours at half-load – enough to get you through most of the day or night with power. The outlet panel features the typical dual 120V AC outlets and 12V DC outlet. It also has a 30A circular outlet designed for powering an RV, which can be a major advantage for RV owners, and comes with a dual USB adapter for the 12V DC port and ports for wiring the generator in parallel. All of the outlets have easy to access reset buttons in case the generator is overloaded.
The generator also comes with a long three-year warranty from Champion to ensure your generator will last for years to come.
Westinghouse iGen2200 Peak 2200-Watt Generator
This inverter generator from Westinghouse is relatively small and quiet, but the 1,800 watts of running power and 2,200 watts of surge power are plenty to run several appliances throughout a blackout. The 79cc motor starts with a recoil cord and produces just 52 dB of noise, which makes it easy to run the generator during the day or night without attracting unwanted attention. Plus, the small size makes it easy to pull inside for security when not in use – the generator weighs just 43 pounds.
One downside to this generator, like many of the others in its class, is a small fuel tank that holds just over one gallon of gas. The generator can run for a full day at one-quarter power, but at half-load it is reduced to a six-hour runtime. There is an eco-mode switch on the generator to help conserve fuel and increase the runtime. In addition, Westinghouse offers a parallel connection kit if you want to pair this generator with a second inverter generator.
With that downside in mind, it’s hard to beat the price for this inverter generator. It costs less than half of the comparable Honda generator and similarly comes with a three-year warranty and lifetime technical support from Westinghouse. Important for California residents, the generator is certified by the California Air Resources Board for sale and use in the state.
The outlet panel is fully functional with two 120V outlets and a 12V DC outlet for battery charging. The choke is easy to access and there are indicator lights to warn when the oil is running low or when the generator has been overloaded. The engine will also automatically shut down when the oil is low to prevent any permanent damage to the motor.
Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Generator - Best Dual Fuel Inverter Generator
The only dual fuel inverter generator on our list, this generator from Champion is the most versatile for any emergency situation thanks to its ability to run on either gasoline or propane. The generator is able to produce 3,100 watts of running power and 3,400 watts of surge power when running on gasoline, although expect to lose several hundred watts when running on propane because of that fuel’s lower efficiency. The motor also features an electronic push-start, which is often much more convenient than using a recoil pull-start motor (the battery is included inside the generator).
Switching between propane and gasoline is relatively fast, although you will have to turn the generator off and allow it to cool down when switching fuel sources. The generator features a large 1.6-gallon gas tank, but beware of its ability to guzzle gas – it runs just three hours at half-load on gasoline. Although propane is less efficient, the larger volume of a standard propane tank allows it to run for eight hours at half-load, which can be convenient if you are leaving the house and want to keep appliances running.
The generator is relatively quiet for the wattage it puts out, producing 59 dB of noise. Portability is not an issue despite the bulk of the generator since it is mounted on wheels for easy transport and has carry handles on its top. The outlet panel is also fully featured, with two 120V AC outlets, a 12V DC outlet, and a 30A RV-ready twist-lock outlet – which makes this generator a doubly good choice for RV owners. The panel also has a low oil indicator life and the engine will automatically shut off when the oil runs low to prevent damage.
To top it all off, Champion offers a three-year warranty on the generator and provides free lifetime technical support.
Every Prepper Should Consider a Backup Power Source!
Having an inverter generator for your home can allow you to produce clean energy to power your essential appliances like a refrigerator as well as lights and emergency electronics. Although a generator is a significant investment, it can make a major difference in your ability to bug in comfortably in the aftermath of a blackout. Check one out today!