Many know the old adage, you get what you pay for. However, in our testing, we revealed that you can buy a heck of a generator for an affordable price. Just how affordable? Turns out there are several options that cost about half that of more well-known brands. Even better is the fact that performance is not compromised at this price point. Before you go shopping for a new generator, check out our more affordable options below.
Jump To => Our Top Pick & Video Review
Cheap Generic Generators
When many think of a “cheap generator,” they may be inclined to think of an overseas produced model. Although many of them are made in China, they claim to be dependable and strong. Cheaper generators often use cheap parts that may malfunction. However, we have come across a few reliable and affordable models as seen below. These units also performed quite well in terms of output consistency and noise. As our video below shows, the Westinghouse, priced well below the Honda, is actually quieter.
We Found A Better Alternative
If you’re the type to shy away from buying off-name products, the Westinghouse may be the right fit. Not only is it manufactured by a well-known name in the generator industry, but comes in at a huge price cut when compared to Yamaha or Honda. In fact, the Westinghouse iGen 2000 that we tested cost about half that of the same size Honda or Yamaha. Because of this super aggressive price point, many may be reluctant to pull the trigger on one. However, in our testing the Westinghouse iGen outperformed most other generators in terms of noise AND output. See our full decibel test at the end of the post which shows just how quiet this unit is. Another feature that we like are the on board USB charging ports. We now live in a world where even a USB port has become a necessity for camping. The power delivered by this unit is also clean, making it suitable for sensitive electronics.
How Does It Really Save You Money?
Everyone is trying to save money where they can. However, you have to really wonder whether saving a couple hundred dollars on the price of your generator is really going to save you money in a year or two down the road. It is not just the price of the cheap portable generators you have to look at. You have to question whether you will have a durable generator that works when you need it the most for the next few years. More importantly how is the customer service provided by the manufacturer? Many of these budget generators may have operations completely offshore, which may pose as an issue when reaching out for support.
NOTE: We will note that when dealing with both Westinghouse, Honda & Champion, the customer support provided was stellar. This made us feel significantly better about testing and using these units.
Other Available Models
In order to help you see what is available for small portable generators, we have included a comparison between a Chinese made generator and mainstream generators below. The numbers and user reviews may surprise you. These are similar sized generators.
This 2800 watt, 150cc gas powered generator is just a little more than $800. Owners say it is ultra-quiet at 60dB when you are 23ft from it. Runtime is 7 hours at a 50% load. However, it has a 2.5-star rating. The issues include a complaint of it not starting as it should right out of the box and how it began having issues soon after it was received, if it even started at all. Similar stories and complaints can be viewed all over the web.
Instead of choosing the cheapest generator you can buy, you may want to consider spending a little more for a generator that has solid reputation. These generators are the most popular available, provide more than ample costumer service, and thus, trusted by thousands. Also, it’s important to note that in the unlikely event that either of these units were to malfunction, there are likely service centers readily available throughout the US. This is something that cannot be said for other brands.
At roughly $999.00, this generator is pricier. Honda promises to provide you with a super-quiet generator that is only 59 dB and only 53dB at 1/4 load. The tank is smaller and runs for only 3.4 hours when you are running on a full load. Out of over 300 reviews, though, it still has an average 4.5. This is a testament to the portable Honda unit. This is the perfect unit for camping as it only weights in at 50lbs. This is definitely one of the most popular portable generators. Read our Full Honda Generator review for more info.
This portable inverter is roughly $965. It provides you with 1600 running watts of power and 2000 starting watts. It is very quiet measuring in at 51.5dB at 1/4 load. It has improved fuel economy and it is carb compliant. Over 400 people have purchased and reviewed this generator. Most agree that it is very quiet and durable. Many prefer it over the Honda brand generator, simply because it has been around longer and has since become a trusted name among campgrounds. Major complaints are the fact it consumes a lot of oil and customer service is not helpful. Read Our Full Yamaha Generator Review for more info.
See how all the units stack up against each other in terms of noise, power output and overall performance in our Ultimate Decibel Challenge.