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Best Inverter Generator [7 Picks For Emergency Preparedness]

When prepping for an emergency, choosing an inverter generator is not just a convenience detail, it's a safety detail. Power from an inverter generator will silently charge sensitive devices and appliances without drawing the attention of intruders.

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Any serious 21st-century prepper or off-grid citizen has a power source itemized on their emergency preparedness list. Often, the listed power source is a generator.

While all generators are equal as emergency power supply systems, inverter generators are better than the conventional types when it comes to efficiency.

The best inverter generator for emergency preparedness is the Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Inverter Generator. This generator will charge all your common home appliances for 7-14hrs depending on the load and fuel type. Besides, it’s extremely light, has low-level noise, and allows you to use propane in place of gas.

When prepping for an emergency, choosing the best inverter generator is not just a convenience detail. It is most especially a safety detail. Power from an inverter generator will charge sensitive devices and appliances without drawing the attention of intruders as the noisy conventional generators would.

In this article, our focus on the best inverter generator for emergency preparedness answers 3 main inverter generator questions:

  1. Why choose an inverter generator?
  2. Which is the best inverter generator for emergency preparedness in the market?
  3. How do I know which inverter generator to go for?

In a hurry? If you just want to get to our conclusions, here are our top picks and recommendations!

Last update on 2021-09-23 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Table Of Contents show

7 Best Inverter Generators for Emergency Preparedness

When buying generators, there are some basic features that you must pay attention to and not overlook. These include:

  • Wattage (starting/running) (Read about starting and running watts in the FAQs section).
  • Run time
  • Tank Size
  • Weight
  • Noise Level
  • Fuel type

You’ll need to keep in mind these basic features as you check our best picks below. Later in the article, you can read details about these features on the ‘Why Choose an Inverter Generator’ and the ‘Buying Guide’ sections.

Best Overall Inverter Generator:

Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Inverter Generator

The best emergency inverter generator is one that can comfortably meet your power needs. That means it’s not too small in wattage.

We choose the Champion 3400-Watt Inverter Generator because it is a perfect average size generator: not too small as a 2000-watt generator would be and not as cumbersome as a 7000-watt generator.

3400 watts are enough to charge all common home appliances and devices at the same time including a cellphone (10/0 watts) a laptop (75/0), a refrigerator/freezer (600/2200watts), and a color TV (500/0).

Last update on 2021-09-23 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Basic features:

  • Wattage (starting/running) – 3400/3100
  • Run time - 7.5 hrs@25% load on gasoline and 14.5 hrs@25% load on propane.
  • Tank Size - 20 lbs.
  • Weight - 95.7lbs
  • Noise Level - 59dBA
  • Fuel type – dual fuel: gasoline/propane

Other features:

  • Electric start with a push-button.
  • RV ready and parallel ready; can connect with another Champion inverter to produce more power.
  • Produces clean power for sensitive appliances (<3% THD).
  • Multiple outlets: 1x120V 30A RV, 2x 120V 20A household outlets, 1x 12V DC outlet, and  1x USB adapter.

Possible cons:

  • Extremely expensive.

Best value inverter generator:

WEN 56235i Super Quiet Inverter Generator

If you are looking for the cheapest generator but still want good value for your money, the Wen 56235i is an affordable generator.

The WEN 56235i is the best inverter generator for preppers considering its lightweight. You can easily carry the 39lb generator as you would a suitcase. You’ll find the WEN top on the quietest inverter generator reviews with only 51dBA of noise.

Its 1900 running watts are good enough for your devices and medium power appliances such as a small fridge.

Last update on 2021-09-23 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Basic features:

  • Wattage (starting/running) – 2350/2900
  • Run time – 10.5 hours @25%load
  • Tank Size -  1 gallon
  • Weight – 39lb
  • Noise Level - 51dBA
  • Fuel type – gasoline

Other features:

  • Automatic low fuel shut off.
  • Extremely quiet (51dBA).
  • Parallel connection (you can connect another WEN 56235i to increase wattage).
  • Produces clean energy for sensitive appliances (<1.2% THD).
  • Multiple outlets: 2x three-prong 120V outlets, 1x 12V DC outlet, 2x 5V USB ports.
  • CARB compliant.

Possible cons:

  • No electric starter, you have to use a pull start.

Best large inverter generator:

Honda 660270 7,000 Watt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

If you don’t want any limits on power during an emergency, the Honda 7000 watt generator is what you are looking for.

It does not only qualify as the best standby generator for home use but it is also the best large inverter generator for off-grid high power tasks and appliances.

You can use the Honda 660270 to charge a large refrigerator or a high-power saw for any of your off-grid DIY projects.

No products found.

Basic features:

  • Wattage (starting/running) – 7000/5500
  • Run time – 6.5hrs @100%load; 18.0hrs @ 25% load
  • Tank Size -  5.1 gallon
  • Weight – 261lbs
  • Noise Level - 58dBA @ 100% load; 52dBA @ 25% load
  • Fuel type – gasoline

Other features:

  • Automatic low fuel shut off and electronic circuit breakers to protect your generator from an overload.
  • Fairly quiet (58dBA @full load; 52dBA @quarter load).
  • Parallel connection (you can connect another Honda 660270 to increase power output).
  • You have an option for a recoil or electric starter.
  • Multiple outlets: 2x 20A 125V GFCI duplex, 1x 30A 125V locking plug, 1x 30A 125/250V locking plug.
  • Fuel gauge to monitor consumption.
  • Quick-folding convenience handles for transporting and compact storage.

Possible cons:

  • Portability could be an issue considering the weight.
.

Best 3000-watt inverter generator:

Generac 7127 iQ3500 Portable Inverter Generator

Most portable generators have a wattage between 2000 and 7000. A 2000-watt generator may be too small for your home energy needs.

3000-watt generators are quite popular because their wattage is good enough to power the most common appliances (cellphones, tablets, computers, TVs, and refrigerators) all at the same time.

The Generac 7127 iQ3500 Portable Inverter Generator is the best 3000-watt inverter generator. With 3500 starting watts and 3000 running watts, this generator will comfortably power your common home appliances without giving you extra worry during an emergency.

Last update on 2021-09-23 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Basic features:

  • Wattage (starting/running) – 3500/3000
  • Run time – 14.1hrs @25%load; 8.9hrs @ 50% load (Eco Mode)
  • Tank Size -  2.6 gallon
  • Weight – 109.1lbs
  • Noise Level - 55dBA
  • Fuel type – gasoline

Other features:

  • Automatic low fuel shut off.
  • Fairly quiet (55dBA).
  • Parallel ready (you can connect another Generac 7127 iQ3500 to increase power output).
  • You have an option for an electric or recoil pull start.
  • Multiple outlets: 2x 120V 20A 5-20R duplex, 1x 120V 30A L5-30R twist lock, 2x USB ports.
  • Data center to monitor run hours, fuel, wattage, and remaining run time.

Possible cons:

  • Pricey.
  • Quite weighty for its wattage size.

Best remote start inverter generator:

Westinghouse iGen4500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

During an emergency, being able to start your generator from afar can be a luxury in hard times. The Westinghouse iGen4500 gives you exactly that.

Even with the standard recoil pull-start and the electric switch, you can opt to use the remote start/stop key fob without needing to walk out of your house to operate the generator.

Last update on 2021-09-23 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Basic features:

  • Wattage (starting/running) – 4500/3700
  • Run time – 18hrs @ 25% load
  • Tank Size -  3.4 gallon
  • Weight – 93lbs
  • Noise Level - 52dBA
  • Fuel type – gas

Other features:

  • Automatic low fuel shut off and electronic circuit breakers to protect your generator from overload.
  • Very quiet (52dBA).
  • Parallel connection (you can connect another Westinghouse iGen4500 to increase power output).
  • You have an option for recoil, electric, or remote start.
  • Multiple outlets: 2x 120V outlets, 1x TT-30R RV outlet, 2x USB ports.
  • Digital data center to monitor power output, remaining run time, fuel level, voltage, and overall run hours.
  • Produces clean energy for sensitive appliances (<3% THD).
  • CARB Compliant.

Possible cons:

  • Quite pricey.

Best open frame inverter generator:

Champion Open Frame Inverter Generator

Open frame generators are those whose design leaves the engine exposed. That comes with the advantage of quick access to the engine during repair as well as a lower cost. But it leaves the engine prone to dust and other foreign objects.

The Champion Open Frame 4000-Watt Generator is a good pick for anyone looking for a high wattage generator while seeking to save some money. Of course, that will mean compromising a bit on noise level since enclosed models are usually lower on noise.

Last update on 2021-09-23 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Basic features:

  • Wattage (starting/running) – 4000/3500
  • Run time – 17hrs @ 25% load
  • Tank Size -  2.9 gallon
  • Weight – 91lbs
  • Noise Level - 64dBA
  • Fuel type – gasoline

Other features:

  • Economy Mode feature that saves fuel and extends engine life.
  • Automatic low oil shut-off sensor.
  • Parallel connection (you can connect up to two 2800+ watt inverter with the parallel kit).
  • Multiple outlets: 1x 120V 30A outlet, 2x 120V 20A household outlets, and 1x 12V DC automotive-style outlet with a dual USB adapter.
  • Produces clean energy for sensitive appliances (<3% THD).
  • CARB Compliant and EPA certified.

Possible cons:

  • Quite noisy for an inverter generator (64dBA).
  • Recoil start, no electric starter.

Best small inverter generator:

Westinghouse iGen1200 Portable Inverter Generator

If you just need to charge your communication devices during an emergency and your mind is on the question “should I buy a generator?” then the Westinghouse iGen1200 might just be the answer you are looking for.

The Westinghouse iGen1200 could also be the best inverter generator for home backup during power outages. This small generator will give you enough power for your cellphone, computer, tablets, AM/FM radio, and a 27″ TV. Furthermore, it’s only 33lbs and easy to carry around.

Last update on 2021-09-23 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Basic features:

  • Wattage (starting/running) – 1200/1000
  • Run time – 9hrs @ 25% load
  • Tank Size -  0.8 gallons
  • Weight – 33lbs
  • Noise Level - 52dBA
  • Fuel type – gas

Other features:

  • Low fuel and overload indicators, circuit breaker plus an overload reset.
  • Very quiet (52dBA).
  • Parallel connection with the Westinghouse Parallel Cord.
  • Multiple outlets: 2x 120V 20A outlets and 2x USB ports.
  • Produces clean energy for sensitive appliances (<3% THD).
  • EPA and CARB compliant.

Possible cons:

  • Recoil start, no electric starter.

Why Choose an Inverter Generator?

Inverter generators are often top on the list of portable off-grid power generators, which makes them optimal emergency backup power generators.

Their popularity as prepper power generators is explained by their efficiency features when compared to other conventional models.

As a major difference, conventional generators have a fuel-powered engine and an alternator for the electrical output. Instead, apart from having an alternator and drawing energy from a fossil fuel tank, inverter generators also have a battery and an inverter.

As such, the electricity production process is longer, producing an AC that is converted to a DC and back to an AC. This is why inverter generator power is delivered clean at the outlet.

There are many other differences that make inverter generators the best generators for emergency preparedness and give them an advantage over the conventional models.

Advantages of inverter generators (over conventional generators)

Compared to conventional generators, inverter generators will be preferred by a prepper getting ready for an eventual emergency because of these positive features.

Clean power

Conventional fuel-powered generators are said to produce ‘dirty power’. This results from their inability to consistently burn fuel while maintaining a steady 3600 rpm to generate 120 volts and a 60 Hertz frequency. As a result of these fluctuations, they have a high Total Harmonic Distortion (THD), often >5.

Inverter generators have a low THD (˂5), making them perfect for charging sensitive appliances and devices such as computers and phones. The inverter throttles to produce power according to need, which explains why they are considered ‘clean power’ generators, just like what you get at a public utility outlet.

In an emergency situation, you will prefer a generator that gives ‘clean energy’ and doesn’t ruin your appliances and devices. Imagine a spoilt fridge/freezer on day-one of a 2-month long SHTF situation!

Minimal noise

Generators have always been considered a noisy power system. But inverter generators have managed to alter this thinking.

While conventional generators burn fuel at full power and have an unstable power production process, inverter generators control power production according to the load and are, therefore, more stable. This stability majorly explains why they are a lot quieter than conventional models.

Standard conventional generators will produce around 64 decibels (dBA) of noise while most inverter generators have less than 60 decibels of noise.

In an emergency situation, you will certainly prefer a quieter generator that does not call intruders from miles away.

Fuel efficiency

Conventional portable generators can produce more power than inverter generators. This has to do with several factors including the size of the fuel tank and the mechanical difference in electricity production.

Inverter generators are more energy-efficient thanks to how the final AC is produced. The engine of an inverter generator automatically adjusts to the load, which a conventional portable generator cannot do.

The greater fuel efficiency of inverter generators allows for smaller fuel tanks. Greater energy efficiency means less fuel is needed for similar run times and so the fuel tank can be smaller.

Portability

Because they have smaller fuel tanks and engines, inverter generators are usually lighter to carry than their conventional counterparts. This makes them a preferred survival power generator than the heavier models.

Parallel connections

To compensate for the lower power output, manufacturers make inverter generators in such a way that users can connect two inverter generators through a parallel connection to produce more power. The paired generators have to be the same model.

So far, conventional models have not been installed with this feature considering that they already produce plenty of power.

If you would rather go with ‘clean power’ over more output and are not preoccupied about the price tag, you can opt for the parallel connection of two inverter generators and purchase it as your preferred survival power generator.

Lower emissions

It’s needless to say that inverter generators have lower emissions considering they are efficient on fuel combustion and are auto controlled according to the load.

You will notice that these generators are often described as EPA/CARB compliant, which means that they adhere to the 95% emission reduction standards by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.

When buying a generator for off-grid living or emergency preparedness, it is easier to find an inverter generator that complies with environmental requirements than it is to find a conventional generator with the same standards.

Disadvantages of inverter generators

Despite the numerous positives that make the inverter generator better than the conventional models, these generators also have a couple of negatives which, luckily, don’t surpass the positives.

Less power output

While inverter generators have a high fuel efficiency, this also comes with a minus at the output end.

Whereas conventional generators have larger fuel tanks and will keep burning maximum fuel to produce maximum energy, inverter generators will not only take a longer route to output power but they will also burn less energy because they adjust to the load. This is why they have smaller fuel tanks.

If you need more power during an emergency (say to pump water out of a well), you cannot inflate the speed or output of an inverter generator to run faster or produce more than it can. A conventional generator with higher power production would save the day in such a situation.

Even though you can consider a parallel connection (connect two inverter generators for more power) as earlier discussed, that still comes with the disadvantage of a higher cost.

A higher price tag

Because of their complex internal system and power production process, inverter generators come with a higher price tag.

We looked at two generators from the same manufacturer (Champion Power Equipment) and found these differences in prices at the time of writing this article:

  • 3400 watt inverter generator - $1,299.00
  • 3500 watt dual-fuel portable generator- $505.38

This means a whopping $793.62 difference between the pricier inverter generator and the more affordable conventional model, despite the higher wattage of the conventional generator.

If you are going off the grid or simply buying a generator as part of emergency preparedness, opting for an inverter generator will mean digging deeper into your pocket, and you’ll need to see if it fits within your budget.

And now that you know why (or why not) you should/shouldn’t go for an inverter generator, it’s time to tell you what else you should look for when buying a SHTF power generator.

Best Inverter Generator Buying Guide

To be able to tell if a certain inverter generator is the best for you, you’ll need to understand a little more about the basic buying features used earlier to describe the best inverter generators in the market. The following question will help you do that.

1. How much power do I need (Starting vs running wattage)

One of the most important factors you should consider when buying a generator is the size. That means the amount of wattage that a generator can give.

If you buy a low wattage generator for high-power needs, you’ll not be able to use your generator much.

So, the rule of thumb is to calculate the maximum wattage you’ll need at one given time and use that to determine the size of generator you need. 

The formula for calculating the number of wattages you need:

Sum of running wattage for all the devices/appliances
+
the highest starting wattage among the devices/appliances.

Remember to add a few hundred wattages so your generator is not always running on full load.

Example:

If you have 5 devices and appliances to power at the same time and their total running wattage is 2,400 while the appliance with the highest starting wattage is 1,200, then you need 3,600 watts to be able to run all the devices and appliances at the same time.

To ensure you are not running on full load, you can add 400 watts to your total, which means going for a 4,000-watt generator.

2. How long will the generator run (Run time in hrs @ 25%/50%/100% load)

Generators are standby power sources. Which means they do not run always. As such, generator manufacturers will indicate a generator’s run time.

A generator’s run time is the number of hours it can stay on with a specific amount of fuel (normally a full tank) and a specific amount of power consumption (load), rated at a ¼, ½, or full load (25%, 59%, or 100%).

Consider these two examples to understand how much run time your generator should have:

  • If you want a generator that just powers your communication devices for a few hours at a time, you can go for a generator with a low run time (say 8 hours). If instead, you want to run your generator to power your fridge, light your cabin, and power a few other appliances in the night when there is no sunlight, then you’ll need a generator with a longer run time (say 15 hours or more).
  • If your generator has 4000 watts and is rated 15hours@50% load on a full tank, you will be able to power items with a total of 2000 watts (½ load) for 15 hours when your generator tank is full.

3. How much fuel does it take (Tank Size)

Generator fuel quantity is usually indicated in gallons. To decide how big your generator tank should be, consider how much power you need and how much time your generator can run in a full tank as explained above.

4. Is it easily portable (Generator weight)

Inverter generators are generally lighter than their conventional counterparts, considering their fuel efficiency as discussed earlier.

When considering your inverter generator’s portability, you should think of the emergency situation that you are going to use it for.

If it is for off-grid bugging in, then you can go for a heavier generator since you don’t need to move it too much.

If instead, you’ll need to move your generator often, you might want to go for a lighter model. Lighter models are the best inverter generator for preppers during camping trips.

5. How noisy is it? (Noise level in decibels [dBA])

When it comes to generator noise, the inverter generators stand out because they are quieter than other types. Anyone will agree that quieter generators are better, especially if you are buying a generator for an emergency.

As earlier indicated, inverter generators usually have a noise level below 60dBA. But open frame inverter generators can go beyond this limit as with the case of the earlier described Champion Open Frame Inverter Generator which has a noise level of 64dBA.

If your worry is not noise but a limited budget, an open frame inverter generator could work in your favor.

6. What type of fuel does it use?

There are two reasons you’ll need to consider the type of fuel that your choice-generator uses:

  • Environmental conservation: if you are conscious about how much your generator will contribute to the carbon footprint, you will want to choose gas over diesel. A liter of diesel is estimated to release 13% more CO2 compared to the same amount of gas. Of course, a natural gas like propane would be ideal, but not many generators are made with that option.
  • State regulations on noise and greenhouse gas emissions: some states have strict regulations about how noisy your generator can be and the limit of emissions. In such situations, going for inverter generators that are environmentally friendly and comply with guidelines such as those of the EPA and CARB would be your safest bet.

7. Cost

We already discussed cost as a disadvantage when it comes to choosing an inverter generator. Because inverter generators are generally pricier than their conventional counterparts, choosing among inverter generators will require you to weigh your budget against the available choices.

Till here, you have all you need to decide what your best inverter generator for emergency should be. Nonetheless, a few FAQs might just answer any questions you might still have.

Best Inverter Generator FAQs

To help you read some of the details in the main sections or answer questions you may still have, here are a few common questions about the best inverter generators.

Are inverter generators better than other power generators?

If you are looking for the most efficient generator in fuel combustion, the best quiet portable generator, one that produces ‘clean energy’, and one with lower carbon emissions, then the inverter generator is better than other conventional options.

But the real test for the best generator is the one that will respond to your power needs. If you have the quietest inverter generator but cannot charge the appliances you need to power during an emergency, then your choice for the better generator is misinformed.

What is the biggest portable inverter generator?

One of the largest portable inverter generators in the market is the Honda 660270 7,000 Watt. With 7,000 starting watt and 5,500 running watts, the generator can charge anything you want to power during an emergency. That as long as you can handle its 261lbs weight. It has a run time of 6.5 at full load with a 19.2L (5.1 gallons) full tank and a low noise level of 58dBA.

What is the quietest generator?

The quietest inverter generator on the market is the Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt Portable Inverter Generator which can produce noise as low as 49 dBA depending on the load.

It is also quite light (40lbs), which makes it ideal for camping escapades or as backup power for tasks that require a quiet operation.

Last update on 2021-09-23 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What are running watts and starting watts in generators?

In generators, running watts is the amount of power it can produce for a certain number of items at a given time.

Starting watts is the amount of power needed to ignite an appliance or device, which is usually higher than the running watts for high-power appliances.

Low-power devices and appliances have little or no starting watts, which means they are ignited at the same power as the running power.

Best Inverter Generator Summary

Having a standby generator when SHTF is a luxury any prepper or off-grid citizen should be ready for. That means the best time to buy a generator is now; no one knows when disaster strikes or when a power outage hits.

There are many types of generators that preppers can choose from depending on one’s power needs and budget among other factors. While inverter generators have several advantages over conventional generators, these generators also have some drawbacks.

As such, you should consider an inverter generator as your best emergency generator under these conditions:

  • When you have average power needs (around 2000-7000 watts): higher power needs will require a high-wattage conventional generator or a parallel connection between inverter generators.
  • When you need a quieter generator: inverter generators generally have lower noise levels (below 60dBA) while their conventional counterparts have noise levels above that.
  • When you need a readily portable generator: because of their power efficiency, inverter generators have smaller fuel-tanks and are, therefore, lighter than conventional models.
  • When you are not on a tight budget: inverter generators are high-price generators. If you are on a tight budget, you may not be able to go for the best inverter generator for emergency preparedness.

After all, when all the factors have been placed on the scale, the price must strike the balance.

For even more information on power generators for emergency preparation or off grid living, check out our big guide on multiple types of power generators for your home.

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

This website started as a way to keep me going forward on the path to being better prepared.

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