The Best Inverter Generators of 2022

Get clean, reliable, quiet electricity in a pinch, as well as at campsites and tailgate parties, with these top power producers.

By Tom Scalisi | Updated Sep 21, 2022 2:10 PM

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The Best Inverter Generator Options for Backup Power

Photo: amazon.com

Portable generators are one of the most important tools in a home safety plan for when power outages occur. In the event of a natural disaster, the backup power produced by a generator can keep your refrigerator and air conditioner running, the lights on, and other electronics running. It can do all this while hardly being noticed, even at full electrical load.

Inverter generators are a different breed than the open-framed conventional generators most people are familiar with. While both use fuel (gasoline, diesel, or propane), open-framed generators use an alternator to make usable power for homes, campers, and job sites. Similar to their open-framed counterparts, inverter generators come in different models and sizes, which means they lend themselves to some uses better than others.

Inverter generators use a computer-controlled inverter to provide usable power. This makes inverter generators lighter, quieter, and more efficient than open-framed models. The addition of an inverter ensures less fluctuation in the current of the power generated, somewhat like a regulator. This inverted current is considered “clean electricity,” which is important for safely charging sensitive devices, especially handheld electronics like phones and laptops.

Understanding the hallmarks of a high-quality product and getting to know the pros and cons of various models will help you find the best inverter generator for your needs. Each of the top picks listed below was selected based on a thorough review of the market and in-depth product vetting.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Generator
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Generator
  3. UPGRADE PICK: Westinghouse iGen4500 Portable Inverter Generator
  4. BEST SUITCASE MODEL: Westinghouse WH2000iXLT Generator
  5. BEST FOR CAMPING: Champion Power Equipment 200986 4500-Watt 
  6. BEST FOR TAILGATING: A-iPower SUA2000iV 2000 Watt Portable Generator
  7. BEST POWER: Briggs & Stratton Q6500 Quiet Power Series Generator
  8. ALSO CONSIDER: Briggs & Stratton P4500 PowerSmart Inverter Generator
The Best Inverter Generator Options

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Inverter Generator

A variety of important factors go into selecting the best inverter generator for your backup power needs. The info below will help narrow down a unit that provides enough power, portability, and convenience for you.

Wattage

Wattage should be the most critical factor as you shop. Inverter generators, like their open-framed counterparts, come in different wattage ratings. The higher the wattage rating, the higher the power output. Higher wattages usually mean larger, more expensive units, so here’s a guide to choosing the right size for your needs:

  • Light-duty (tent camping, tailgating, etc.): 2,000 to 3,000 watts
  • Medium-duty (RV camping, emergency home use, job site, etc.): 3,000 to 4,500 watts
  • Heavy-duty (powering an entire home, powering a welder, etc.): 4,500+ watts

A compact portable generator may be feasible if you’re only using it to power a radio or a small refrigerator. However, you’ll have less flexibility for plugging in other devices with a low-wattage model. A case could be made that generators under 2,000 watts aren’t worth the investment.

Fuel Type & Capacity

Inverter generators typically use gasoline as a fuel source, and dual fuel generators can run on propane as well. This is a big advantage, as it allows you to choose the fuel you use based on your needs, such as power output requirements, fuel availability in your area, and the fuel type that you have on hand.

Inverter generators have an isolated gasoline tank with a fuel capacity that ranges from as small as 2 gallons to more than 10 gallons. The larger the fuel tank is on the generator, the longer it will be able to provide gasoline-based power, but the size of the generator itself also increases.

Fuel capacity has no bearing on how much propane you can use with the generator; propane gas is stored under pressure in canisters, which attach to the generator with a hose and pressure regulator for direct fuel consumption.

Recoil vs. Electric Start

Inverter generators feature an electric start switch, recoil cord, or both ignition methods:

  • Electric Start: Generators with an electric start store extra electricity in an internal battery, which starts up the device automatically. Users either press a button on the keypad, FOB, or by flipping the switch. This method of ignition is much easier than using a recoil cord, but it does require stored electricity in the generator. Without a charged internal battery, you cannot use the electric start.
  • Recoil Cord: The recoil cord is an old but reliable technology used in many fuel-powered tools. This startup method requires you to quickly and steadily pull the recoil cord to kickstart the engine. While it will take some effort, and possibly more than a few pulls, there’s no reliance on electricity. You can start up the generator any time, even after long-term storage in the garage or shed.

Load Sharing

Purchasing a set of like-branded generators will often give you the ability to wire them in parallel, also known as load sharing. This means that by using a brand-specific kit, you can plug one generator into another. This safely combines their wattages to produce even more power.

Additionally, owning two generators provides a fail-safe if one stops working. You’ll still have power-producing capabilities, just at a lesser output. Load sharing can be a less expensive way to produce enough wattage to run a whole house or power everything in an RV at once.

Noise Level

The most noticeable difference between inverter and open-framed generators is the amount of noise they produce. Open-framed generators are unrefined and loud, producing decibel levels far exceeding the 100 dB mark. Inverter generators are roughly half as noisy compared to open-framed models, often in the 50 to 60 dB range. To better understand generator noise output, consider these common sounds and their equivalent operating dB level:

  • Refrigerator: 50 dB
  • Hairdryer: 70 to 90 dB
  • Motorcycle: 95 to 110 dB

Inverter generators also use sensors to detect how much power they need to expend, throttling down for smaller loads and producing lower noise levels. Your neighbors, either at home or a campground, will appreciate that you purchased a quiet inverter generator over a noisy, open-framed model.

Size and Weight

Physical size and weight will be a factor for some shoppers. As the name suggests, suitcase inverter generators are top-handled units that can be picked up with one hand and carried with ease, as they’re typically lightweight at about 40 to 50 pounds. The drawback is these units are usually 2,200 watts and under for power output.

Wheeled units provide much more power (3,000+ watts), but they’re large and heavy. These portable inverter generator models are more challenging to throw in the bed of a truck or a camper’s storage compartment. As such, it may be easier to use one of these units as a home generator.

Wheel Kit

Some users may struggle with the weight of larger, more powerful units. In recognition of this shortcoming, some portable inverter generators come with wheels so that you can tilt the unit back and transport it to whatever location you had in mind.

Wheel kits may also be sold separately so that you can add them to your existing generator, or replace an older wheel kit. Either way, having a wheel kit will make transporting a heavy portable generator much easier.

Our Top Picks

The following picks represent some of the best inverter generators for portable power. Explore reliable single and dual fuel generator units for home use, RV living, camping, and more.

Best Overall

The Best Inverter Generator Option: Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Generator
Photo: amazon.com

The Champion 3400 Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator is all about flexibility. This model can run on both gasoline and propane—a nice option when camping or when getting to the gas station is a challenge. At 3,400 watts, it has enough power to run all the essentials in a home during a power outage as well. It comes with simple color-coded plug-ins for a parallel adapter that takes the guesswork out of wiring two units together correctly. It has two 20-amp outlets and one 30-amp outlet.

This model uses either a pull or electric starter and has multiple sensors, including overload and low-oil, for safety. Running at 59 dB, it’s a fairly quiet unit. It tends to run better on propane than gasoline, however. The carburetor (the component that controls fuel and air delivery) is prone to failure, so while the dual-fuel capability is helpful, it might cause a hassle from time to time.

Product Specs

  • Type: Dual fuel
  • Size: 25.1 inches long by 17.3 inches wide by 18.3 inches high
  • Power Output: 3,400 watts
  • Outlets: 3
  • Noise Level: 59 dB

Pros

  • Ample wattage output
  • Simple color-coded plug-ins
  • Quiet operation volume
  • Pull or electric starter

Cons

  • Can be temperamental
  • Runs better on gas than propane

Get the Champion 3400 inverter generator on Amazon.

Best Bang for The Buck

The Best Inverter Generator Option: WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Generator
Photo: amazon.com

For those on a budget with some flexible power needs, the WEN 56203i might just hit the mark. This suitcase-style generator is lightweight at only 39 pounds, making it super maneuverable. It has enough power (2,000 watts) to run a small campsite, or a small refrigerator and a few ancillary devices, on a full 1-gallon tank.

It’s super quiet as well, running as low as 51 dB with only a device or two plugged in. There are two 20-amp outlets, one 12V outlet, and two convenient USB outlets. This is a basic, affordable generator. The trade-off for the lower price is the lack of an electric or remote starter.

Product Specs

  • Type: Gas-powered
  • Size: 17.3 inches long by 11.5 inches wide by 17.7 inches high
  • Power Output: 2,000 watts
  • Outlets: 5
  • Noise Level: 51 dB

Pros

  • Carries 2,000 watts of power
  • Quiet (51 decibels)
  • Five outlets included
  • Portable and lightweight

Cons

  • No electric starter
  • Does not come with oil for fueling

Get the WEN inverter generator on Amazon or at Target.

Upgrade Pick

The Best Inverter Generator Option: Westinghouse iGen4500 Portable Inverter Generator
Photo: amazon.com

Westinghouse’s iGen4500 Generator is both a high-tech and high-functioning model. It’s capable of powering a whole house or camper without an additional unit. It uses both a remote start/stop function and a push-button start. This 4,500-watt unit features a digital readout center that displays power output, runtime, fuel level, and other relevant information. The iGen4500 is quiet as well, running at volumes as low as 53 dB. It has two 20-amp outlets on the front as well as a 30-amp outlet and two USB ports.

This model can also be wired in parallel with another unit to a 50-amp outlet, which is enough to power the largest RVs. Note, this is a gasoline-only model, and moving up to a dual-fuel unit nearly doubles the already higher-end price.

Product Specs

  • Type: Gas-powered
  • Size: 24.5 inches long by 17.5 inches wide by 20 inches high
  • Power Output: 4,500 peak watts/3,700 rated watts
  • Outlets: 3
  • Noise Level: 52 dB

Pros

  • Quiet operating volume
  • Fuel efficient
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Gas-only model

Get the Westinghouse iGen4500 inverter generator on Amazon, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Tractor Supply Co..

Best Suitcase Model

The Best Inverter Generator Option: Westinghouse WH2000iXLT Generator
Photo: amazon.com

The quiet, portable WH2000iXLT from Westinghouse is a 2,000-watt suitcase model that weighs 43 pounds and runs at 52 dB. This is an ideal size to put in a pickup and take to a tailgate party or campsite. It has two 20-amp outlets that can also be used to wire two Westinghouse generators in parallel for increased power.

However, what this Westinghouse has in reliability and power, it sacrifices in flexibility. This model has no USB power outlets, opting for only two 120VAC outlets and one 12V. This not only limits the number of devices you can charge at once but also eliminates the convenience of being able to charge USB devices.

Product Specs

  • Type: Gas-powered
  • Size: 20.3 inches long by 12.5 inches wide by 17.8 inches high
  • Power Output: 2,000 watts
  • Outlets: 3
  • Noise Level: 52 dB

Pros

  • Produces 2,000 watts of power
  • Quiet operating volume
  • Fuel efficient
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons

  • No USB outlets included
  • No electric starter

Get the Westinghouse inverter generator on Amazon.

Best for Camping

The Best Inverter Generator Option: Champion Power Equipment 200986 4500-Watt
Photo: amazon.com

When it comes to getting in touch with nature, noise is typically unwelcome. Luckily, Champion Power Equipment’s 4500-watt inverter generator allows users to enjoy the comforts of home without drowning out the sounds of the forest. At 61 dB, its noise output is reasonable for campgrounds and remote getaways. Running for 14 hours on just 2.3 gallons of gasoline, it’s also an economical choice.

This inverter generator features an RV-ready 30A service, so users can run amenities in their campers wherever they might be. This model also features two 20A outlets equipped with clean power for electronics, a 12V automotive-style outlet, and two USB adapters. While it weighs 97 pounds, the oversize wheels make rolling it around a campsite a breeze.

Product Specs

  • Type: Gas-powered
  • Size: 23.2 inches high by 17.7 inches wide by 20.1 inches high
  • Power Output: 4,500 watts
  • Outlets: 6
  • Noise Level: 61 dB

Pros

  • Carries 4,500 watts of power
  • Four outlets included
  • Comes with fuel, hardware, and oversized wheels
  • Parallel compatible

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Difficult to move

Get the Champion Power Equipment inverter generator on Amazon.

Best for Tailgating

The Best Inverter Generator Option: A-iPower SUA2000iV 2000 Watt Portable Generator
Photo: amazon.com

A proper tailgate party requires plenty of gear and entertainment. At 48 pounds, A-iPower’s 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator is a compact and lightweight package that won’t take up precious cargo space yet has enough power to keep the party going.

This inverter generator features a 30-amp outlet for RVs, a 20-amp outlet for household devices, and two 5-volt USB ports for charging devices with clean electricity. Users can run the likes of lights, TVs, radios, and electric griddles in the parking lot for up to 4 hours at full load. And since it produces only 52 dB of noise, it won’t block out the good tunes.

Product Specs

  • Type: Gas-powered
  • Size: 22 inches long by 13 inches wide by 20 inches high
  • Power Output: 2,000 starting watts/1,600 running watts
  • Outlets: 4
  • Noise Level: 52 dB

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Quiet operation volume
  • Pull-start mechanism

Cons

  • Gas-powered only; limited eco-friendliness

Get the A-iPower inverter generator on Amazon.

Best Power

Best Inverter Generator Option: Briggs & Stratton Q6500 Quiet Power Series Generator
Photo: amazon.com

When it comes to emergencies or off-grid utility, a small generator can’t always cut it. For those scenarios, a burly model like the Q6500 Quiet Power Series from Briggs & Stratton might be just the ticket. This inverter generator produces up to 6,500 watts of power and provides both 120V and 240V electricity.

The Q6500 has several power sources, including four 120 volt, 20 amp outlets; two USB outlets; and a 240V locking outlet. These options give users the ability to run several appliances simultaneously or tie into the home directly (with the help of an electrician and switchgear). And at 66 decibels, it’s quieter than many smaller generators. It weighs nearly 150 pounds, but oversize wheels and a telescoping handle make rolling the unit easy enough.

Product Specs

  • Type: Gas-powered
  • Size: 25.5 inches long by 21.1 inches wide by 21.4 inches high
  • Power Output: 6,500 watts
  • Outlets: 7
  • Noise Level: 66 dB

Pros

  • Provides 120V and 240V of electricity
  • Multiple useful outlets
  • Oversized wheels and telescoping handle

Cons

  • Heavyweight
  • Slightly loud

Get the Briggs & Stratton Q6500 inverter generator at Amazon.

Also Consider

The Best Inverter Generator Option: Briggs & Stratton 30795 P4500 PowerSmart Series
Photo: amazon.com

From Briggs & Stratton, this model offers seven outlets (including an RV outlet), two USB outlets, and four outlets rated at 120 volts and 20 amps. A convenient digital readout displays power usage, fuel level, and runtime, which can be up to an ample 16 hours on a full tank (3.6 gallons).

This generator produces up to 4,500 watts of power while emitting only 61 dB of noise, offering a nice blend of capability without being too loud. A telescoping handle and large wheels make rolling this 114-pound generator a breeze. And thanks to an electric start, firing it up is simple too.

Product Specs

  • Type: Gas-powered
  • Size: 24.5 inched high by 17.6 inches wide by 20.3 inches high
  • Power Output: 4,500 watts
  • Outlets: 7
  • Noise Level: 61 dB

Pros

  • Multiple useful outlets
  • Digital readout
  • Telescoping handle and large wheels
  • Electric start

Cons

  • Heavier than comparable options

Get the Briggs & Stratton inverter generator at Amazon or at Lowe’s.

Our Verdict

Chosen for its high power output, ample outlets, and easy electric start, the Briggs & Stratton generator is our top pick for the best inverter generator. Made to be portable with its included wheels and telescoping handle, this powerful 4,500-watt generator is capable of powering an RV or whole house while being monitored by a display panel for safety.

If you need something that is better suited for camping or backup power, the WEN Super Quiet generator carries up to 2,000 watts of power and comes with a lightweight portable design, a fuel-efficient 1-gallon gas tank, and five outlets for over 10 hours of power.

How We Chose the Best Inverter Generators

The right inverter generator can back up a whole house during a power outage or a campground/RV while on vacation. Many of the above units come with ample power output of 2,000 to 4,500 watts, which is accomplished by the included energy-efficient gas tanks. Though some of these models require more fuel than others, many only require 1 to 2 gallons for a full tank.

The above top picks also include multiple power outlets for convenience, and many are parallel compatible for extra power. For added portability, many of these top picks come with wheels and handles.

Finally, many of the above picks come in at under 60 decibels for quiet usage, and they also include electric starters for energy-saving capability. However, please note that some of these units do not come with parallel connection kits or cords; they will need to be purchased separately. Additionally, some of these units are quite heavy, which may limit portability for some users

FAQs

Looking for more information on inverter generators? Consider the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this particular type of generator.

Q: How does an inverter work?

Inverters work by taking DC power, created by a gas generator, and converting it to AC power for household appliances.

Q: Why are inverter generators so quiet?

Inverter generators don’t use alternators, like typical open-framed models might and which require the engine to work harder and produce more heat. For that reason, inverter generator engines run more quietly. In addition, manufacturers can close them inside plastic housing for even better noise control without overheating.

Q: Are inverter generators worth it?

In general, inverter generators are easier to use, more efficient, and produce safer electricity for electronics. For those reasons alone, many users might find them worth it.

Q: Can an inverter generator run a refrigerator?

Most inverter generators will have no problem running a modern refrigerator, which only needs 1,000 watts maximum at startup.