Portable Gasoline Generators
Buying Guide

How to select the best portable gasoline generators. Buy a portable gas powered generator based on the power, size, noise level and other features. See what the important questions are to ask a sales rep.

Portable gasoline generators are usually known as home generators as they are used to provide electricity during the power outages. Small generators for home use are portable; they can be easily moved from one place to another by carrying or rolling on the built-in wheels.

How to select the best portable gasoline generators

Honeywell HW2000iHoneywell HW2000i

Here are the important features to consider when looking for the portable gasoline generators.


Power is in direct relation with a voltage. You want to select a portable gas generator with a consistent power output. If there is a fluctuation in power, the voltage spikes can damage the appliance that is hooked on, or the generator itself. The typical example of the gas generators that are not providing reliable power outage are brushless generators.

The power depends on the application. If you are browsing through the generators for a home, keep in mind that electric appliances, such as water heaters use a great amount of power, so you need large generators. Gas furnaces utilize less electric power, mainly for blower fan and electronics, and it can be around 3.0 kW. Most of the appliances inside home will need a power between 3 and 6.5 kW. Looking at most of the gas generator manufacturers it can be found that the power output is within this range.

For the industrial use, select the gas generator based on the tools it will be used and add up the wattage. Keep in mind that the power used to start the tool is higher than required to run (i.e. circular saw needs 2300 W to start and 1400 W to run).

Note: When shopping for portable gasoline generators it is important to know that they have the maximum and rated power. Maximum power is the maximum output generator can produce usually in 30 minutes. Rated power is less that the maximum (around 90%) and is produced power for a longer period of time.

Generator power is measured in Watts and to calculate the needed power a simple formula is used: Watts=Amps x Volts (1 kW = 1,000 Watts).


Portable gas generators, equipped with the AVR, Automatic Voltage Regulators, are designed to keep the output voltage more constant and its produced power reliable.

Another feature that provides a great power output quality and high fuel efficiency are inverters.


Select model that has the lowest noise level, if using the portable generator for camping, at home or night events. You don't want to upset neighbors in the night with a loud generator. If using it for construction only, at the job site, the noise level is not such an important factor.

Decibel rating is what shows the noise level. With every 10 db increase, the noise level is 10 times more powerful. This is why when reviewing the best portable gas generators, select one that has four stroke engines, vs. two-stroke; select the model with quality construction and materials and off course pay attention on the specs.

Some manufacturers, such as Honda, have easy to recognize models that are super quiet. Honda Super Quiet EU is one of them, and the noise level is between 49 and 60 dB which is according to them no louder than normal speech. Vacuum cleaner has the noise level of 70 dB and the chainsaw has 110 dB.


Buy a portable gas generator that is fuel efficient so it can provide power longer. Read the reviews carefully and see how long will provide a power with one tank. Gas generators with the feature automatically to adjust the engine speed and have larger tanks, are preferred.

Other features to consider

Other important features, when selecting the top rated portable gasoline generators are the size, weight, user friendly design, durability of the components, service, support and warranty.

Portability here means that you can carry one or use the built-in wheels for easy transport.

Questions you should ask before buying a generator

How much power do I need to run? Explain why do you need a generator and how many appliances or tools you want to plug in. What is the gas generator wattage capacity? What is the starting and running wattage? Will it support startup surge power required by some equipment?

  • How many outlets does the generator have?
  • What is the fuel tank size?
  • How long it can run with one full tank?
  • What is the noise level, in dB?
  • What features is it using to stable the power?
  • What are the accessories and special requirements I need to run the generator?
  • Ask the rep. for the brochure so you can find the answers about features and specification.
  • What is the warranty and is there a local technical support?

Important features

  • OHV engine stands for Overhead Valve. If the portable gasoline generator has the OHV engine that means it runs quieter, is durable and produces less emission.
  • Portable generator with the electric start is better than using the starter rope.
  • Auto-Throttle (Idle control) automatically to adjust the engine speed to match the power needed.
  • Inverter for greater fuel efficiency, less noise - designed for sensitive electronics.
  • Low oil shutdown features shut the generator down if the oil level drops below the safe level.
  • A fuel gauge to check the oil is for convenience.
  • For longer service buy a generator with the full lubrication.
  • Ball bearing alternator is better than needle bearing, it lasts longer.


Portable gasoline generators are very convenient to use. Electricity, generated by gas powered generators is sufficient for almost all smaller and larger appliances within your home. The only thing you have to do is to figure out what is the maximum wattage or maximum number of items you will be running at the same time.

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