1. Yamaha EF2400ISHC.
The Yamaha EF2400ISHC delivers 2400 watts of portable power, with easy access to both DC and AC outlets, and though it’s a touch heavy at 75 pounds, twin handles make it easy to move. It runs for more than eight hours one tank of gas; an at-a-glance fuel gauge lets you know how much is left in the tank. An aluminum die-cast frame (combined with an aluminum TIC rotor) makes the device durable, and though it puts out some serious power, the engine speed at full load runs at only 34,000 revolutions per minute, so you won’t have to scream over the engine noise.
2. Champion 3500-Watt Portable Generator.
It looks like something out of some survivalist’s fever dream, but this bright yellow almost-retro generator delivers some serious power. It produces 3,500 watts via the Champion 196cc engine—powerful enough to fuel 15,000-BTU RV air conditioners, with 12 hours of juice at 50 percent load and a noise level of a relatively whispery 68 decibels, all from a 3.8-gallon gas tank. Cold Start Technology assures that the generator will fire even on cold days, while internal computers monitor the voltage, frequency, and operating hours to help you track maintenance intervals.
3. Smarter Tools 9500 Watt Portable Generator.
With a starting output of 9,500 watts and 7,500 continuous watts, this Smarter Tools generator is the biggest of the bunch—and thankfully it comes on a pair of ten-inch no-flat wheels to make it easy to move around. It’ll power your fridge, freezer, microwave, heater blower, and RV A/C with aplomb via the 420cc four-stroke cooled OHV motor, which runs for ten hours at 50 percent load on seven gallons of gas. You get four standard outlets as well as a 120-volt 20AC, a 240/120-Volt 30A twist-lock, another dedicated 120-volt 30A twist lock, and one 120-volt 8A DC outlet. Yet despite all that power, it runs at a modest 73 decibels.
4. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Portable Power Station.
When 9,500 watts—or even 1,000 watts—feels like overkill, opt for the eminently portable Goal Zero Yeti 400. Its replaceable lithium battery weighs only 17 pounds (and has an 18-month shelf life), and is fully charged via a wall socket in seven hours. Or you can plug it into a 12-volt outlet with the included car charging cable to get a full charge within four to seven hours. Upgrade to one of Goal Zero’s solar panels and the device can be charged in the field; their Boulder 100 Briefcase will replenish the generator in about eight to 16 hours. It comes with three USB ports, two AC outlets, and a 12-volt output, with a digital display to monitor run-time/recharge estimators as well as a battery level monitor and an input/output meter.
5. Westinghouse iGen 2200.
With a max run time of 12 hours on 1.2 gallons of gas, the iGen 2200 from Westinghouse delivers a steady stream of 1,800 watts (backed by 2,200 watts at its peak) to run whatever car-camping or game day essentials need juice. The inverter tech makes it compatible with smart electronics like laptops and tablets, and it only produces 52 decibels, lower than a normal conversation. It includes two USB charging ports as well as two 120-volt standard plugs for things like slow cookers, microwaves, a coffee maker, fans, incandescent lights, and TVs.
6. Generac iQ2000.
Unlike some generators, which require a detailed review of the owner’s manual or Jedi-like instincts, the iQ2000 from Generac utilizes a host of easy-to-read digital read-outs to keep you informed. This includes a display of how much run time is left, a power indicator to show the total available watts, and status lights to let you know when you’re low on fuel or oil, as well as alerts for when you’re in danger of overloading or overheating. A simple power dial makes it easy to shift from start to run to stop position, and a switch toggles between economy, standard, and turbo modes.