Need a portable generator that’s not big and bulky?
In this article we’ll cover the different types of generators, power needs, and review the best lightweight portable generators. We will also look at their pros and cons to help you decide on the right lightweight generator for your needs.
The best alternative to your main electricity is a lightweight generator. We use portable generators to ensure stable power in private houses, cottages, various enterprises in medicine, telecommunications, and the banking industry.
In the absence of a power supply in the area, lightweight generators can be very handy.
Let’s say right away that these types of fuels differ in price. For example, the electricity obtained from a gasoline engine is more expensive than a diesel generator or gas power generator.
But on the other hand, gasoline portable generators have a lot of other advantages that buyers would consider during a generator purchase. It is not without reason that gasoline generators are the most common.
Their percentage of all generator sales is 90%, that is, the overwhelming majority. A lightweight gas generator tend to be portable and convenient. Diesel generators, on the other hand have solid efficiency, but are usually heavier and bulky.
Top 5 Best Lightweight Generators
Champion 2000 Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator
The Champion 2000 Watt Inverter Generator stands out in that it’s the most affordable option on this list. No lack of compromise with performance because this generator gets up to 11.5 hours of run time at 25% load. It’s also the lightest generator in its class at under 40 lbs. This, along with its convenient top handle makes the Champion 2000 easily portable.
- 79 cc 4 Stoke OHV Engine
- Includes two covered 120V 20A household outlets with clean electricity (less than 3% THD)
- Starting Watts: 2,000/Running Watts: 1,700
- Noise level: 53 dB
- Demensions (in): 17.3 x 11.5 x 17.7
- Weight: 39.5 lbs
- Includes USB Adapter, battery charging cables, engine oil, and oil funnel.
- CARB Compliant
- EPA Certified
- Lightweight and easily portable
- 11.5 hour run time at 25% load
- Performance problems reported at upper wattage limits
Westinghouse iGen2200 Generator
The Westinghouse iGen2200 Inverter Generator is highly portable, so even if you move from one city to another, it’s not a problem to carry it around with you to your new home. In addition, it’s equipped with a kick start device and a wireless connection.
The iGen2200 generator is a high performing option in its power class and can run for up to 12 hours at 25% load.
It’s also supplied with a steel frame that allows the generator to operate in quiet mode. Unlike many other generators, this generator can only produce a noise level of 68 dBa, which is negligible if you are in a dense residential building.
Apart from gas heat furnaces, you can efficiently operate a sump pump, televisions, and power tools while you’re experiencing a simple power outage in your area. Apart from an additional RV connection, it has two sockets with 120V each. It also has a monitor that informs you about the voltage, operating hours, hertz, and heating. The oil shortage sensor shows you when to fill the tank or stop the appliance.
- 80cc 4 Stroke Engine
- It’s supplied with an ignition switch equipped with Cold Start Technology so that the machine remains in operation even in the cold season.
- Four outlets are available. 2 sockets with 120V, 30A power source, and two sockets with 120V 20A power source.
- It also includes a built-in surge protector that protects your devices from any overload problems.
- Noise level: 52dB
- Dimensions (in): 19.8×11.4×17.9
- Weight (lbs):46
- Three years warranty from the manufacturer
- Highest performing generator in its power class with up to 12 hour run time at 25% load
- Easily portable
- The oil change could be a little difficult due to the position of the dipstick
Honda Power Equipment EU2200i
The look of the Honda EU2200i Generator is close to the older model’s design. It comes with a black and red signature of its housing and a very thick carrying handle that runs parallel on the top. With a compact design, only the fuel tank takes much space in this model.
This unique inverter generator is user-friendly with a portable design. Also, it features a four-procedure color-coded unit that guides every user on how to start the unit using manual recoil. Other essential features you’ll get from this machine are less noise level, fuel shutoff, and a larger section set aside to control oil. At quarter load, its noise level is rated at 48 decibels, while at full load, it’s rated at 57 decibels.
Another upgrade to expect from this ingenious model is power. It boasts 2200 watts peak power while its running power is rated at 1800 watts that is 200watts greater than the Honda EU2000i make. In addition, these Honda EU2200i inverter generators produce power greater than regular generators.
This model can be paired with another EU2200i model and EB2200i and other older identical models of EU2000i. Its design comes with an exclusive eco-throttle system. Essentially, this implies that this generator model is energy efficient and can offer you up to 8.1-hours of runtime when at a quarter of its load but when the fuel tank is full.
- CO-MINDER system: This system is concerned with monitoring CO levels. It instantly shuts down the machine before the detected CO level close to the generator reaches a dangerous level.
- Easy to start: Feature an automatic decompression unit that greatly lowers the amount of strength required to start the engine.
- Lightweight & Portable: It weighs below 47lbs, and it is made to be very compact, allowing you to move and store it seamlessly.
- Fuel-Efficient: This model can operate for up to 8 hours using a single fuel tank, but based on the load. Delivers reliable, clean power at your disposal.
- Electronic Circuit Breaker: To protect your EU2200i against overloads, the generator is designed to have this circuit that adds extra protection.
- Oil Alert: Another significant feature that makes this model stand out is the oil alert that lowers the engine’s functionality as the fuel becomes too little. This feature makes the portable generator perform optimally and prevents the engine from being damaged by overworking.
- Fuel Shutoff: This feature enables the engine to run up to the point where most of the fuel in the tank is consumed before shutting off. This feature prevents stale fuel and damage to the carburetor, more so when storing the generator for a longer time.
- Advanced Inverter Technology: The Honda’s inverter technology ensures clean and reliable power output. It is suitable for sensitive devices like smartphones and computers.
- Parallel capability: This is a critical feature because it offers you the ability to connect two EU2200i inverter generators for more power to run most of your appliances.
- Easy start up- Even though it’s a manual recoil starter
- It supports parallel capabilities, making it a good choice for people who need more power to power their appliances.
- Auto-fuel shutoff ensures the engine runs based on the oil in the fuel tank, thus preventing the damage of the engine. Also, it makes the generator last longer. You can count for long-lasting use.
- CO-Minder technology-senses carbon monoxide and shutoffs automatically before harmful levels are reached
- The runtime ought to be improved
- Run time not as long as others
Briggs and Stratton P2200 Inverter Generator
The Briggs & Stratton P2200 is a portable inverter generator that is constructed for recreational purposes like tailgating and camping. It is a portable design and has enough power for various recreational purposes.
Its surge power is about 2000 watts and has a running power of about 1700 watts. Gasoline powers the generator and has a tank capacity of 1 gallon that powers 111cc OHV.
The P2200 inverter generator offers a runtime of 8 hours at 25% load. It weighs about 54.6lbs, making it averagely easy to carry. Its noise levels are at 59dB. It also features three outlets alongside a USB port; two 120V 20A AC outlets and a single 12V DC power outlet.
Because its THD is less than three percent, you can charge your laptop or smartphone using the P2200 Briggs & Stratton portable inverter generator.
- Lightweight and Portable
- Spark plug issues
- May experience problems at freezing temperatures
Generac GP1200i Inverter Generator
Generac Power Systems is a popular brand in the generator space and they’re known for making larger, home standby generators. The Generac GP1200i is one of the smallest models in their lineup.
At 1200 peak Watts, this generator is more equipped for portability and powering smaller devices such as laptops, phones, cameras and tablets. Inverter technology provides clean energy to sensitive devices without the power surges.
This gasoline powered generator has a 0.8 gallon fuel tank and a run time of 5.5 hours at 50% load. Easy recoil/stat system allows for a quick start up.
At only 36 lbs, the Generac GP1200i is portable enough to be taken for outdoor activities. Economy mode automatically increases fuel efficiency and lowers sound.
- Lightweight and Portable
- Run time not as long as others
- Oil leaks reported
Generator Fuel Types
The lightweight gasoline generators are the most popular type of power generator. Due to its relatively low weight and compact size (especially an inverter generator that uses gasoline), it is very easy to move. Therefore it is the most common for household consumers. It is the best small portable generator for the home in terms of its structure, functionality, and principle of operation.
Relatively low noise level (up to 70 dB), especially if this is a model in a sound-absorbing housing, and the engine is equipped with a muffler. You should install such a small portable generator outdoors, and it does not need a separate room or container.
In addition to the closed version, manufacturers make home gas generators on a frame in an open form. It is cooled using air (natural) cooling, and you should install them indoors.
Gasoline generators are equipped with four-stroke internal combustion engines. The brand of fuel used is necessarily indicated in the passport for the small portable generator, mainly A-95 or A-92 gasoline is used, which depends on the specific generator manufacturer.
The technical design of any gas-powered generator is such that it can withstand long-term, uninterrupted operation without difficulty or do not “pull” at all. The limit of work without interruption is about 5-8 hours in different models. Then it is necessary to maintain technological pauses for at least two hours.
A diesel portable generator does not need such pauses. Still, gasoline generators are easy to start even at low air temperatures, which cannot be said about a diesel engine.
Another powerful argument in favor of gasoline power generators such as the Westinghouse iGen2200 is the low cost. But, again, let’s take the same technical characteristics as a basis. The model of a household compact generator with gasoline will be the cheapest compared to models diesel fuel.
Gasoline portable generators are used mainly as a short-term fuel-efficient backup power supply for private houses, retail outlets, camping trips, and repair teams.
– the need for technical breaks during work.
– low engine resource, which is no more than 4000 operating hours.
– often a large consumption of rather expensive gasoline, which leads to a high cost of one kilowatt of electricity.
– low high engine power for portable generators, which usually varies within 1-4 kilowatts. But for the power supply of a small house or office, it is pretty enough.
Based on such characteristics, we recommend operating gasoline generators in a private house or a country house; they are also appropriate for recreation: a camping trip or fishing.
This type of generator will perfectly cope with the task of powering an electric stove or connecting a light source at night or in the evening. Buying gasoline portable generators for your home is the right decision; you need not make a mistake when calculating its power.
Diesel generators are available in both stationary and portable versions. Natural air cools the latter, and stationary-type generators are provided with water (liquid) cooling.
It is a well-known fact that diesel internal combustion engines do an excellent job with heavy loads. Due to this property, diesel generators can deliver up to several megawatts of power.
Diesel lightweight generators are not only capable of short-term operation. People often use this particular generator as a permanent source of electricity at essential facilities in the industry, finance, and telecommunications providers. In addition, diesel generators are installed on construction sites, in private houses, and cottages.
With the help of these devices, films are shot, concerts are given, cultural events are held. In addition, generators are sometimes mounted directly on a trailer, making it possible to move them often without much difficulty.
The main advantages of lightweight diesel portable generators include a long service life, which reaches up to forty thousand hours. In addition, the economic consumption of diesel fuel (compared with gas-powered generators) is also an advantage.
You can buy a diesel generator for your home if you use it often or even constantly. It can handle long-term work without interruptions and the highest loads. But with such a purchase, prepare for discomfort.
Depending on the requirements for the device, the manufacturer can supply your generators in a noise-proof housing (hood, casing). However, we recommend installing it in a separate room with ventilation if the small generator is provided without a soundproof case.
You can also place the diesel compact portable generator in a special container with metal walls, outlet pipes, and a sound-insulating layer. Undoubtedly, the home should purchase models in noise-protective enclosures.
They reduce noise by 20-25 dB, but they are much more expensive than open-type models. Another disadvantage of diesel power plants is that they do not start well in the cold due to the peculiarities of diesel fuel. To avoid getting into trouble with a “frozen” generator in winter, we recommend buying a diesel generator with a heated engine.
A small electronic relay powered by a battery will keep the engine at a stable temperature of around 38 degrees and start easily. Unfortunately, low-power diesel generators are not equipped with a heating function, which will cause inconvenience in severe frosts.
Therefore they must be stored in a heated room. As a result, the price of a diesel generator is always much higher.
Models of gasoline generators with similar power are 20-40% cheaper. But the high purchase price pays for itself during operation, affecting the cost of one kilowatt since diesel fuel consumption is 20-30% lower than gasoline.
The solar generator market is growing slowly but steadily. Solar portable all-in-one power plants are a new alternative to traditional portable fuel-fired generators.
What is a solar generator?
Solar generators are often battery packs powered by a solar panel. The principle of operation of these generators is very different from how other generators work.
The basic installation of a solar generator is a battery, inverter, solar charger, and solar panels. The energy received from the solar panels passes through the solar charger to a rechargeable battery. Then the inverter converts DC to AC electricity.
Another, more suitable label for solar panels is a portable power station. These devices are also called universal portable power stations. You can charge the battery via a regular wall outlet or car outlet.
No noise: A portable solar power plant does not have a motor and this makes them the quietest generators compared to traditional portable fuel-fired generators. Also, there are no moving parts in the solar generator – shaking internal components in the fuel generator is another reason they make noise.
Free energy supply: Using solar energy is free, so solar panels allow you to use a free and unlimited energy source.
Another cost-benefit is that solar energy is not subject to price fluctuations like gasoline and diesel. When you have solar power equipment, your fuel costs remain the same.
The smallest portable solar generators are not suitable as home backup generators because they contain much less energy than an inverter or the conventional smallest portable generator.
Solar-powered machines that provide enough electricity to power essential household appliances are much larger and heavier than fuel-powered alternatives. The size makes solar-powered machines making less portable option in this case.
Solar power is also not a reliable energy source in regions with limited hours of sunshine or unpredictable weather conditions. For example, a portable solar power plant will not get enough sunshine hours to charge in our country in winter fully.
Read Also: Best Inverter Generators 
What is a lightweight inverter generator?
Inverters generators usually come with a gasoline, diesel, or a dual fuel/tri fuel system. Making it possible to convert the AC mains current (220 V) to the DC input (12 V) through a semiconductor rectifier and, after smoothing out its ripples with capacitive filters, transform the DC voltage into AC with the specified parameters on the load.
Due to this conversion method, it is possible to obtain an output electrical signal characterized by high accuracy of voltage and current.
These are the smallest generators of periodic voltage, which in shape is most often as close as possible to the correct sinusoid. Thus, theoretically, inverters like the Yamaha inverter generator can obtain a current at the output that has any necessary parameters, independent of the input voltage.
In this case, it is possible to obtain not static current parameters but adjustable ones of various frequencies and voltages. The supplied rechargeable batteries generate the 12 V DC voltage.
What are inverters for?
One of the most popular ways to use an inverter is to operate it as an emergency or backup power source for powering household appliances and appliances that consume 220 V AC.
For example, they are often used to connect kitchen and office equipment, a TV, a refrigerator, and high-frequency equipment when there is a sudden power outage.
Depending on the total power of the load connected to it, this technique will work autonomously for at least several hours. Also, with the help of inverter stations, larger appliances (electric saws, drills, planers) are connected for repair and construction work in places with no 220 V voltage supply. Similar devices are no less in demand among fishermen-hunters.
Inverter stations are designed for occasional operation with a spontaneous power outage. They are purchased once and last for many years. The long service life is due to the reliability of the mechanism of these devices, provided by the following factors:
The presence of a unique ignition system guarantees a quick start of the inverter. Also, control of devices with the help of an automatic regulation system contributes to the economic consumption of fuel. As a result, the indicators of fuel consumption are reduced by 40%.
Two Types of Inverter Generators
Depending on the shape of the output signal, these devices are divided into two groups that differ in cost. The first includes units with a pure sinusoidal output voltage. The second are devices that provide a simplified output signal (trapezoidal sine).
Which lightweight inverter generators are better: pure sine wave or modified sine wave?
The advantages of models with pure sinusoidal voltage are:
- a minimal amount of harmonic distortion of the output current waveform;
- ensuring faster operation of inductive motors that are part of microwave ovens and other household appliances, due to which this equipment heats up less;
- It produces less “noise” in audio amplifiers, game consoles, fax machines, fluorescent lamps, and hairdryers.
- reduced likelihood of personal computers freezing, fewer errors when printing a printer;
- more reliable operation of the following types of household, office, and other equipment that are not able to function normally when powered by a voltage from a modified sinusoid:
- laptop computers;
- laser printers and other copying equipment, magneto-optical drives;
- digital clock;
- sewing machines differing in the variable speed of the electric motor;
- equipment with microprocessor control;
- fluorescent lamps;
- some medical devices (such as oxygen concentrators);
- a power tool based on transistors having a variable speed of rotation;
- They are charging devices for cordless power tools.
Most modern sensitive electronics can generally function from inverter generators, which is modified sine wave.
Therefore, if you are faced with providing autonomous power supply to standard household electrical appliances, such as a refrigerator, mobile phone, TV, and lighting lamps. The most optimal and economical solution would be an inverter that generates a modified sine wave, and models with a “pure sine” are better for more sensitive equipment.
The main modes of operation of inverters:
- Long-term operation: Provides for the operation of the small inverter generator at rated power.
- Overload mode: most of these units allow operation for no more than 30 minutes at maximum power, the value of which can be 1.5 times the nominal. Such a large but short-term overload can occur when the refrigerator is turned on.
- Start-up mode: the power plant outputs within a few milliseconds of the increased instantaneous power necessary to ensure the usual start of the device and overcome the capacitive loads.
What is the best choice for an inverter or generator?
Many users will note that you can use a conventional generator to organize an independent power supply to electrical equipment.
However, devices with an inverter system have some advantages: practically quiet operation, lightweight, and small dimensions, which are very important when used in a domestic environment.
In addition, inverters do not contain moving internal components in their design, making them more reliable and requiring periodic maintenance.
In autonomous power supply systems for large objects (for example, large cottages), you can use inverter stations with an additional generator designed to charge batteries. This will increase battery life and produce twice the power.
Benefits of Inverter Generators
The essential advantages of a lightweight inverter generator are the vast possibilities expressed in the conversion of electric current and their high speed of response. Due to this, they have rightfully considered the best sources of independent power supply for welding equipment.
In addition, they are perfectly suitable for a wide range of electrical appliances. Therefore, these devices are equally suitable for household appliances, electric tools, and electronic equipment.
It was possible to achieve the most compact dimensions of inverters by replacing bulky electromechanical circuits with semiconductor boards. The use of semiconductor boards also significantly reduces their weight compared to transformer generators and semiautomatic devices.
The use of a more modern element base and automation could not but affect the price of such devices in the direction of its increase compared to the units made according to the classical scheme.
But, despite this, the benefits that portable inverter generators provide, consisting of broader possibilities in terms of current conversion, fuel economy, and mobility, are significantly more important than one-time savings.
In addition, the maintenance of such power plants is much easier and not as costly and laborious as analogs of other types due to the absence of an electromechanical part in them.
Consolidating all of the above, the most significant advantages provided by an inverter generator can be characterized by the following theses:
- lightness, compactness, and mobility (according to these indicators, they are several times superior to other types of generators), which allows them to be considered portable sources of autonomous electricity;
- high efficiency due to accurate calculation of the engine speed per the applied load;
- silent operation due to the presence of a double sound-insulating body and special mufflers;
- availability of models operating on draft types of fuel (diesel fuel, gasoline), which is very convenient and practical;
- high reliability and durability, which were achieved through excellent adaptability and stability of internal parts and connections to external loads, as well as unfavorable factors influenced by the external environment;
- Power generation of the highest quality.
Can you operate a portable generator continuously?
Yes, even the smallest portable generators can run continuously as long as the proper maintenance intervals are followed. Since gasoline is highly flammable, you must remember to turn off the engine before fueling or refueling any small generator.
In addition, it is essential to pay attention to follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your power plant and avoid running out of fuel while under any load. This can damage the sensitive electronics or even the portable generator itself.
Recommended running time
Typically, the smallest portable generators are perfectly suitable to be used as a backup power source. This means that almost all of them should only be relied on in the short term.
While some models have been built to provide power for several days, most small generators can run at 8, 12, or 24-hour intervals, and some can run 72 hours.
So, Which is Best?
All of the generators discussed are some of the most lightweight portable generators. But, which is the best?
There is no one one-size fits all option as some are better than others in different aspects.
The Champion 2000 is the best performing option as it gets up to 11.5 of run time at 25% load on gasoline and up to 34 hours on propane.
The Generac GP1200i is the most affordable option.
At only 36 lbs, the Generac GP1200i is also the most portable.
The Westinghouse iGen2200i offers the best safety features. This generator some with built in overload protection and low oil shutdown to protect the machine. Its also CARB compliant and comes with a 3 year limited warranty.
The Honda EU2200 is the least noisy with a dB as low as 48.
The features and advantages of small generators with an inverter circuit listed in this article make it possible to enjoy electricity on the go or as a backup source in case of an emergency.
Our top recommendations are the Champion 2000 and Westinghouse iGen2200 because of their combination of high performance, portability, and affordable price tags.
The Generac GP1200i is the most affordable and lightweight option.
I’ve always been a lover of Mechanics and the engineering that goes on behind it. Naturally had a knack for fixing things and i’ve had lots of adventures that generators are second nature to me.