Camping and overlanding don’t mean that we have to completely rough it, as they say. Even if the idea is to get away and unplug, it may be necessary to use computers and phones. If the overland adventure involves driving in an RV, extra power will be needed to take advantage of refrigeration and air-conditioning.
This is when an inverter generator comes in handy and our list of best portable inverter generators will help you choose the right one for you.
Best Inverter Generator
What Is The Difference Between A Generator And An Inverter Generator
Generators have been around for a while now, allowing travelers to keep some modern appliances going out on the road. The idea is fairly simple.
An alternator is powered by a gas or propane engine, producing the electricity needed to run electrical appliances. Traditional generators are capable of producing electricity with one hitch; they cannot produce clean energy.
Many modern appliances, especially sensitive electronics like computers, can be damaged by power dips and spikes that often occur with generated electricity.
This is where an inverter generator comes into play, and since you might want to take it with you to the outback, you should look for a portable one.
An inverter will produce alternating current (AC) power, convert it to direct current (DC), and then turn it into electricity that is “clean.”
Clean energy is stable and will not damage precious devices. This is what makes the inverter generator one of the most important overlanding accessories.
What follows is a closer look at the best 8 inverter generators, each with its own advantages and limitations.
Best 8 Inverter Generator Reviews
Generator Measurements: 19.3 x 11.0 x 17.9 inches, 44.1 pounds dry.
The Yamaha engine has a displacement of 79cc and is a single cylinder four-stroke OHV that is air-cooled. It has a fuel tank with a 1.1-gallon capacity that allows it to run for 10.5 hours continuously at one-quarter load.
The EF2000iSv2 is rated at 1600 watts with a maximum of 2000 watts. Amps are rated 13.3 with an increase to 16.7 at maximum.
While this generator may struggle with a large RV air-conditioner, it does have the ability to pair with another generator for added power. The Pulse Width Modulation refines the clean frequency and voltage.
Not only are there two AC outlets, this inverter also comes with an 8 amp 12 volt DC outlet as well. That extra is great for those needing to charge things like batteries.
The minimum decimal level of 51.5 climbs to a peak of 61 dBA at max load. This elegant-looking generator comes with a three-year limited warranty. Have a look at the pros & cons list to see why this device made it to our list of best portable inverter generators.
- This generator has a parallel function
- It is easy to start
- The three year limited warranty
- An elegant and modern look
- This generator may struggle with larger RV appliances
- The price point is high for the output produced
- It may start to use more oil as the engine ages
Generator Measurements: 20 x 12.6 x 16.9 inches, 46 pounds.
The engine on this product is a single cylinder OHV with 80cc of displacement and air-cooling. Its tank holds 1.06 gallons of fuel providing 7.7 hours run time at a quarter-load or 5.7 hours at half-load.
The power output of this inverter generator is rated at 1600 watts with a maximum of 2000 watts. The amps are rated at 13.3 at 120 volts.
Those overlanding in higher elevations, such as the Rockies, may experience a drop in productivity from the generator. Many generators are affected in a similar way.
This unit offers many intuitive controls that are easy to use, including a run-time display that shows current power usage. While the two AC plugs are conveniently located at the front, a 12 volt DC plug would have been a nice bonus.
An integrated dial eliminates the need for separate controls for start, stop, and run controls.
The product is made in the US and comes with a three-year warranty.
- The integrated PowerDial combines run, start, and stop into one control
- The run-time display indicates power level remaining at current load
- It comes with a high-quality pull cord
- Made in the USA
- There is no 12-volt battery charger outlet
- It may run less smoothly at higher altitude locationsLimited compatibility
Generator Measurements: 22.25 x 12.0 x 19.25 inches, 48 pounds.
Wen’s engine has a displacement of 79.7cc for a single-cylinder OHV that is cooled by forced air. The one-gallon fuel tank provides gas to power the generator for six hours at half-load.
Running wattage is rated at 1600 with a surge wattage of 2000. This generator is rated at 13.3 amperages.
This inverter is parallel connection capable, a nice feature for those who will require more than the maximum 2000 watts already obtainable.
There are automatic shutdown features for both the fuel and oil, just in case we forget to check. It offers two three-prong 120-volt receptacles, one 12 volt DC receptacle, and a 5 volt USB port.
The Eco-Mode feature allows for better fuel economy. It comes with a two-year warranty along with EPA III and it is CARB compliant as well. This one also has important certifications for those of us who are more environmentally conscious.
- Wen Eco-Mode adjusts motor fuel consumption
- Includes 12 volt DC outlet and 5 volt USB port
- An automatic shutdown when low fuel and oil levels are detected
- The fuel cap is located directly above the controls and outlets
- The oil fill compartment is difficult to access along the bottom
- The two-year warranty is less than many other companies offer
Generator Measurements: 19.7 x 11.2 x 17.9 inches, 47.1 pounds.
Pulsar’s 80cc engine is a single cylinder OHV four-stroke that is cooled with forced air. The 1.18-gallon fuel storage provides 4 hours of run time at rated loads or 8 hours at half load.
It generates 1600 watts at normal load with a maximum of 2000 watts. It generates 13.3 amps at 120 volts.
Accidental overloading is preventable with the overload warning and shut down of the outlet in question. This a good safety feature in the event a heavy duty appliance is connected to it.
At half load or less, this unit can generate power for a long time. Along with two household-style plugs, it comes with a 12-volt car lighter style outlet as well.
Noise levels average at about 59 decibels.
The warranty on this generator is split. The engine is covered for two years, but the components and labor for only one year.
Have a look at the pros & cons list to see why this device made it to our list of the best inverter generators.
- A 12-volt car lighter-styled outlet is included
- An engine overload light alerts when power draw is too great
- It has the ability to charge a 12-volt automotive battery
- The design includes many proprietary parts
- It can burn oil faster when compared to other generators with inverters
- It comes with split one-year warranty components
Generator Measurements: 20.0 x 11.4 x 16.7 inches, 46.5 pounds.
The EU2200i makes use of a four-stroke single cylinder engine with overhead camshaft at 121cc of displacement.
It is cooled by forced air.
Wattage is rated 1800 with a maximum of 2200 watts. Current is rated at 15 amps with an 18.3 amps rating at maximum. The smaller 0.95-gallon tank supplies 3.2 hours at full load or up to 8.1 hours at a quarter load.
A fuel off switch allows the existing gas to burn off before the engine stops, a feature that helps to prevent stale gas from accumulating in the carburetor.
The clean fuel is safe for more sensitive electronics, even if two generators are run together at once. The smaller fuel tank is nursed along with the Eco-Throttle System.
While producing 57 dBA at the rated load, the noise level drops down to 48 dBA at a quarter load. At that level, it wouldn’t disturb the surroundings as much as other units do.
For these portable generator inverters, both commercial and residential warranties are for three years.
- Can power refrigerators and small air conditioners
- Lower noise output than other generators at smaller loads
- The commercial warranty is three years
- Higher amps and wattages increase the price noticeably
- Compact design holds less fuel
Generator Measurements: 21 x 12.5 x 17.35 inches, 54 pounds.
As expected, a Briggs & Stratton OHV single cylinder four stroke engine with 110cc displacement powers this inverter generator. The one-gallon fuel tank is capable of supplying a run time of eight hours at a quarter load.
Running watts are listed as 1700 with a maximum wattage of 2200. Amps are rated at 14.6 with a maximum of 18.33 amperes.
The Briggs & Stratton P2200 is capable of parallel connection. It does run a bit loud, rating at 59dBA at a quarter load, or 57 dBA in Eco-Mode.
The two 120 volt AC and single 12-volt dc outlets have circuit protection breakers. A USB connection is also supplied with this unit.
A two-year warranty is offered by Briggs & Stratton, and the generator is CSA and PGMA compliant.
The lack of CARB compliant may prove frustrating for California residents.
- It produces less than three percent harmonic distortion
- The auto-idle control feature makes it fuel-efficient
- The H-beam allows two people to carry this generator with ease
- It is louder than some inverter generators at this size
- The 1700 watt standard output will struggle with some equipment
- Wheels for the generator are sold separately
Generator Measurements: 22.4 x 17.3 x 18.3, 83.3 pounds.
This powerful generator uses a Champion four-stroke engine with 171cc of displacement that is air cooled. A 1.6-gallon fuel capacity supplies up to eight hours of run time at a quarter load.
A great running wattage of 2800 can climb up to 3100 watts. The running amps of 23.3 may climb up to 25.8 amps as well.
The Smart Economy Mode is capable of reducing the electoral load, a feature that lowers the noise level and helps to extend the engine’s life.
The technology does not support parallel connections, but this should be okay when considering the out of this inverter. The energy produced is under three percent THD.
Outlets include an AC duplex rated at 20 amps, a single outlet at 30 amps, and a 12 volts DC plug-in. The noise level averages about 58.0 dBA.
This Champion 3100 Watt Inverter Generator is EPA certified and CARB compliant. Champion’s three-year warranty and lifetime technical support are very strong. This could be a great generator for travel trailers.
- It has Smart Economy Mode technology
- A three-year warranty with free lifetime tech support
- Wheels are included to make moving this heavy generator easier
- 3100 Starting Watts
- Steady Clean Power and fuel-efficient
- Quick Touch Panel
- Not parallel capable
- Pull-Start Rope Quality Average
- There is no fuel gauge
- Complicated Break-In Cycle
Generator Measurements: 26.3 x 24.8 x 22.9 inches, 119 pounds.
A 224cc Champion four-stroke engine powers this high power output inverter generator. A 3.4-gallon fuel tank supplies this portable generator with up to nine hours of running time.
On 20 pounds of propane, it can run for up to 10.5 hours. Running watts of gas is 3800 with a maximum of 4750 watts. On propane, the running watts are 3420 watts with a maximum of 4275 watts.
Gas amps range between 31.7 and 39.6 amperes. The propane range is between 28.5 and 35.6 amps maximum.
Either fuel delivers 120 volts to four outlets. One is locking and rated at 30 amps, another one is non-locking at 30 amps, and the duplex supplies 20 amperes.
Safety tech includes a fuel selector switch, as well as volt guard on all outlets that helps to protect against surges. The power comes with an increase of volume, with 68 dBA measured on average. With all these features, this could be one of the best inverter generators on our list that has high power output.
Champion support is the same as with their other products.
- A great price for the power generated
- Can run on gas or propane
- Fuel efficient
- It provides the wattage that’s needed for heavier appliances
- Extreme environmental temperatures can damage the generator
- The generator is loud
Buying Guide – Best Inverter Generator
How Does An Inverter Generator Work?
An inverter generator works a bit differently compared to a conventional generator. We can divide the entire process into 3 main steps.
First, the alternator on the inverter generator produces AC (Alternating Current) power. On the second step, the rectifier device in the inverter generator converts that AC power to DC (Direct Current) power.
In the third step, the DC power is again inverted back to clean AC power at the correct voltage.
As the device inverts/converts the DC power to AC power again, it is known as the inverter generator. Due to this mechanism, this type of generator can produce clean and stable power.
Considerations on How to Select an Inverter Generator for Your Goals
Power Capacity or Where Do You Want To Use?
First and foremost, you should figure out the total wattage you will need from your inverter generator. For that, you will have to know where you are going to use the inverter generator.
Depending on that, we can discuss 3 of the most common scenarios of using an inverter generator here. So, let’s go…
Overlanding, Camping, and RV
Many overlanders use inverter generators to power up their electronic devices while on the journey. If you are in need of an inverter generator for camping, then you can go with one that has a minimum of 2000 watts of power capacity.
On the other hand, if you want to use the inverter generator in your RV, then you should go with a bigger one. For instance, a 3100 watts inverter generator would be a sweet spot for powering up an RV refrigerator, air conditions, and other smaller accessories.
On Job Sites
A lot of people use inverter generators in their job sites. A powerful inverter generator would be capable of powering up power tools that don’t need very high power.
For example, you can run drills, rotary hammers, chainsaws, portable jigsaws, and so forth with an inverter generator. Remember, power-hungry power tools like MIG welders, air compressors, and table saws, etc. will not be compatible with portable inverter generators.
As Power Backup at Home
Admit it or not, it is not possible for a portable generator to power up all of the electrical appliances at a typical home at once.
However, if you want to power up a specific number of appliances like the TV, AC, or refrigerators only, then it is possible to do that with a 3000 to 4000 watts inverter generator.
As always, everything will depend on the amount of power you are going to need in reality. So you have to ensure that you have figured out the amount of total power you will need from your next inverter generator.
The ‘Parallel Capability’ feature is one of the best features of an inverter generator. Remember, this is a rare feature, so only the best inverter generators will have it.
If your inverter generator comes with this functionality, then you will be able to connect another similar inverter generator to it to double the total energy output. Cool feature, isn’t it?
For your convenience, we have tried to include several inverter generators with the ‘Parallel Capability’ function above.
Size and Portability
While camping or overlanding, you will need a portable inverter generator. That is why we have reviewed only the best inverter generators that come with a compact size.
But some of them are bigger and heavier than the other. So make sure you know which one you are choosing — is it lightweight enough for you or is the size perfect for you?
Generators are known for their loud noise. Interestingly, most portable inverter generators are very quiet compared to conventional generators.
Every good generator manufacturer will specify the noise level of their inverter generators. So you have to make sure you are getting a silent one.
Typically, most inverter generators come with a 50 to 60 decibels noise level.
This is actually very quiet from generators. Still, many campsites might have specific rules and regulations about the noise level of generators.
In this case, the quieter the inverter generator the better. On the flip side, with the increase of the power, the noise level also increases in the case of inverter generators.
You might think that we are talking about environment-friendly inverter generators when we are saying ‘Clean Energy’.
To be clear, every type of generator releases toxic fumes to the environment. But the inverter generators are actually far more environmentally-friendly compared to the traditional ones.
In reality, we are actually talking about the quality and stability of the power output from the inverter generator.
Normal traditional generators produce modified sine wave power. This is not suitable for operating sensitive appliances like speakers, laptops, smartphones, etc.
On the other hand, pure sine wave energy is the most suitable for operating any kind of electrical appliances. As a result, this is known as ‘Clean Energy’.
All of these inverter generators on our list produce clean pure sine wave energy. That makes these portable generators perfect to use with any kind of modern electronic devices.
Maintenance and Warranty
It goes without saying that you should choose an inverter generator that has the best warranty policy. Also, you should take care of your inverter generator, if you want long-lasting service from it.
Most top brands offer their products with a reliable and longer warranty policy. However, their products also tend to be a bit more expensive than the normal ones.
Still, we would recommend going with the top brands even though those are pricier.
What to Avoid When Buying an Inverter Generator
If you are new to buying an inverter generator, chances are you lack knowledge on this topic. So in this section, we will let you know some of the vital things you should avoid while buying an inverter generator. Here we go…
Buying from an Unknown Brand
Most inverter generators would be a bit expensive. So you might be tempted to buy your next one from a no-name brand that is offering the inverter generator for a cheap price.
Yes, it is saving you a few bucks in the first place. But you know it can go out of service anytime soon.
In addition, most cheap no-name brand inverter generators might not produce the specified power. Thus, it would be a problem while powering up multiple power-hungry devices at the same time.
All in all, it is not worth it to buy an inverter generator from a no-name brand for the sake of saving a few bucks. We would always suggest going with reputed brands while choosing the best inverter generator.
Getting an Overpowered Inverter Generator
Generally, it might seem perfect to use an overpowered inverter generator. But, if you dive a little deeper, you will notice some drawbacks while using inverter generators that are more powerful than your requirements.
First of all, a more powerful inverter generator will be pricier compared to a low powered one.
Moreover, it will be bulkier and noisier than a smaller one as well. If you use your inverter generator for overlanding trips or camping, then you should opt for a portable one.
For that reason, it is always better to use an inverter generator with the appropriate power relevant to your requirements.
Getting an Underpowered Inverter Generator
Most low-powered inverters will be cheaper as well. So buyers might be tempted to use one of those to save some money. But it is a big mistake you are making. First, you should know how much watts you are going to need exactly.
Also, you should keep the start-up/peak power required for each of your devices in mind as well. Because some devices like power tools require double the power to start-up compared to its normal power requirements.
A Less powered inverter generator could save you some money. But, what is the use of the device if you can’t power up all the required devices at the same time with your inverter generator?
So try to get an inverter generator with enough power for powering all of your devices.
Not Checking the User Feedback of the Previous Buyers
As a rule of thumb, you should always check what the previous buyers are talking about your chosen inverter generator. If the product is performing badly for most of them, you should avoid it.
On the contrary, if everybody is saying it is doing great. You can use their feedback as your inspiration to buy your next inverter generator.
Not Checking the Overall Size and Weight
You might have found the best inverter generator while researching online. It might come with the best features and functionalities.
Also, it could be from a top brand. But don’t pull the trigger yet. First, you should get to know the net dimension and the overall weight of the inverter generator.
Many people tend to forget this significant factor before deciding on their new inverter generator.
Later, they buy it and see that it is not quite portable as they thought it would have been. So, make sure you are getting the right size inverter generator based on your requirement.
Frequently Asked Questions about Inverter Generators
Who Makes Inverter Generators?
Unfortunately, we don’t have a straightforward response to this question. Why? Because we cannot point you towards a single brand that is well-established as the best inverter generator maker.
On the other hand, we can tell that several brands are well-reputed for manufacturing high-end inverter generators.
For instance, Yamaha, Wen, Briggs & Stratton, Champion, and so on. Before you decide on the brand, you should check whether the inverter generator you have chosen checks all the boxes of your requirements.
For your convenience, all the inverter generators reviewed above are from these top brands.
Are Inverter Generators Better?
If you are looking for a generator for your overlanding adventure, then inverter generators are the best option for backup power. There are many ways an inverter generator is far ahead of a conventional generator.
In short, they are quieter, portable, produce clean and stable energy. As a result, you could say that an inverter generator would be a better option than a traditional generator if you don’t need a lot of power.
What Is The Best 3500 Watts Inverter Generator?
Frankly, there is no single inverter generator that is the best 3500 watts inverter generator. Why? Because it all depends on the preference and requirements of the users.
However, to help you narrow down your choices, we can say that the ‘Champion 3800 Watts RV Ready Dual Fuel Portable Generator’ would be a good pick.
Yes, this might not be a 3500 watts inverter generator, but it is capable of handling more than that.
What Company Makes The Best Generators?
It is so hard to provide an accurate answer to this question. Because there are many companies that make inverter generators.
Among them, some of the most notable ones are Champion, Wen, Yamaha, Honda, Pulsar, and more.
All of these brands are known for manufacturing top-quality products. Plus, we have included inverter generators from all these top brands in our review list above. So, you can choose the one you like the most.
Concluding Our Best Portable Inverter Generator Reviews With Some Buyers Advice
Each of these inverter generators is capable of producing clean power that is so crucial with today’s electronics.
We do have some recommendations from the list, however. For a first time shopper, the Generac 6866 iQ2000may be worth looking into.
The integrated power dial makes operation easy.
While it lacks a battery charger outlet, the solid construction and support here in the states should provide a positive experience.
No matter if you are off-roading or at home, the Honda EU2200iis a great step up.
The ability to power refrigerators and small air conditioners makes it the perfect mate on your overland trips, especially in the middle of nowhere. Proper care should help avoid problems with plastic housing.
For those needing power for larger appliances, the Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel is the answer.
Multiple fuel sources and great support make this choice a no-brainer for heavy-duty needs!
You may also want to check out our piece on the best generator for travel trailers. It is a comprehensive guide with lots of advice on how to choose.