Family Handyman|April 2020
Small inverter generators are surprisingly versatile. They’re capable of powering a slew of electronics, devices and power tools. They’re also lightweight and portable and quiet enough to not drive your neighbors crazy. However, with so many options to pick from, it’s hard to know where to start. I chose five popular models within the 2,000-watt range, costing $499 to $1,049, to test their noise, features, ease of maintenance and portability. After comparing them, I’ll tell you my top choices.
What’s an inverter generator?
Standard portable generators create “dirty” power, an unsteady current that could damage sensitive electronics such as TVs, cell phones and computers. An inverter fixes that problem. The generator produces raw AC power, and the inverter turns that into low-voltage DC power, and then back into clean, stable 120-volt AC power that’s safe to use with your devices.
What they are (and aren’t) good for
These generators are lightweight, small and quiet, making them great for the jobsite. They’re also useful for camping and tailgating. They can charge your laptop and power your circular saw at the same time or keep your fan, lights and outdoor electric grill running at the campsite. They don’t produce enough power to back up your whole house if there’s a power outage; you’d need a higher-watt option.
Things to consider
Every generator has two watts ratings: “starting watts” and “running watts.” The starting watts rating is always higher because it includes the extra power the generator can put out for a few seconds to start a device with an electric motor. The running watts rating is the maximum power the generator can supply to actually run devices. It’s the only rating you should consider when buying a generator
Fuel, run-time and load gauges
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