The Best Cheap Portable Generators of 2019

A generator is a blessing after a big storm or hurricane.

Power outages can last days or weeks, and while that sounds bad in writing, it feels much worse when you've lived through it. That's why demand for generators skyrockets after a storm.

A standby generator system automatically restores power to a home. These systems are permanently installed (often by a professional contractor or electrician) and they cost several thousand dollars. 

Alternatively, many gas-powered generators cost hundreds of dollars. These portable generators are useful for maintaining critical things like lighting, heating, cooling and food storage, but don't expect one to power a whole house (or even a whole room). 

Gas-powered electricity is expensive. It can also be dangerous. Gas generators need to be kept at a safe distance from a home to minimize the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Learn how to use a generator safely before buying one. 

Despite the risks and expenses, a portable generator is worth it for many households. Here are the best-reviewed portable generators (with 3,000 watts or more) that have sold for $500 or less:

Good Price: $500 | Great Deal: $401

This generator is easy to use and it runs effectively with gas and propane, according to several Amazon reviewers. Some customers were surprised by how loud this generator is.

Good Price: $286 | Great Deal: $198

DuroStar's compact generator is easy to operate and relatively quiet, according to several Amazon reviews. Many customers were surprised that this generator does not come with oil. Others complained that the oil filling/draining process was messy and more difficult that it should have been.

Good Price: $400 | Great Deal: $250

Many Amazon customers praised this DuroMax generator's capabilities, but a lot of customers received a generator that was damaged during shipping. Vet third-party sellers carefully.

Good Price: $381 | Great Deal: $281

Champion's 3500-watt generator is beloved: Most Amazon customers like or love it. The generator is very loud, however, as several customers noted in their reviews (even positive ones).

Good Price: $452 | Great Deal: $400

This Champion generator has a wireless starter and costs around $100 more than the base model. Many customers love starting their generator from inside their homes (especially on cold days). The most common criticism is that the generator is loud.

Good Price: $500 | Great Deal: $450

This Pulsar generator runs well on propane and gasoline, according to several Amazon customers. Some reviewers found the generator's starter to be finicky and the choke to be ineffective.


John DeFeo