Top Picks for Portable Generators Under 5000W for Christmas 2013

Do Portable Generators make great Gifts? Of course they do.

Many folks are trying to come up with great and unique gifts for the holiday season. Some are even thinking of coming up with their own great gift to self. For those considering a portable generator I’ve complied a few generator best picks for Christmas 2013.

Two questions come to mind when considering generators as gifts. They are what size should I get and how much do I have to spend.

Unfortunately, with all the optional features and output/outlet configurations it is not as easy as just size and price.  

What Size Generator Do I Get?

Often times one is uncertain as to what size of genie to purchase. There is a series of questions that need to be answered in order to make the appropriate choice.

Asking about the intended purpose is usually the best start. Does this generator need to be a handy portable for supplying power for tailgating or camping?  Or maybe, it’s a backup emergency generator for covering the basics of needs during power outages.

In general, a handy generator to cover recreational needs only needs to be in the 1000 to 2400W range, but for RV’s your may want to push to 3000 to 4000W. The price ranges will vary from $150 to $2000. The features, economics, quietness, and durability all play into which choice you might make.

For basic emergency back up a 2500 to 3000W system can be adequate for basic household needs. A 5000W to 7500W will be more than likely to cover all your needs but can be less economical to run. At larger wattage the field narrows, but again there are a number of features that can drive the price range all over the place. Reliability becomes a bigger consideration in these sizes as well.

In our article How Many Watts Do I Actually Need I help you answer many of the questions to provide a better way to zero in on a size.

Why Our Picks of the Top Portable Generators for 2013

To help aid you in making a faster decision I’ve compiled a list of the best portable generators for 2013. These picks are based on our review of the features, review ratings, and customer feedback. These are highly subjective on our part, but we think they represent some of the better choices for you or as gifts to others.

Additional Criteria

I’ve grouped the generators by wattage range at close to rated continuous load. In selection of the generator we refer to these ideals.

  • Typical Wattage Need Range is defined as using 50 to 80% continuous output capacity of a generator. This is considered the normal operation for most folks for basic needs with the ability to use extra capacity for other items that may need to come on line at other intervals.
  • Surge rating is not considered a major issue but should be considered if your appliance will require that surge.
  • We’ve indicated typical or normal uses
  • “Best sellers” isn’t necessarily the most valid criteria, some best sellers are due strictly to price and you suffer on quality and reliability. A good user rating with bestselling is used as a better indicator.
  • Alternate suggestions are closely related and potential for better price points.

Use your best judgment and use the buying tips to determine your needs, and then take a look at the following top portable generators.  We’ve indicated our in depth review when it is available.

Under 1000W Portable Generators

Generally speaking folks have difficulty with generators in this size range. They appear to break down easily and are not that reliable. However, One does stand out as a trooper.

Yamaha EF1000iS 1,000 Watt Portable Inverter Generator  50cc OHV 4-Stroke Gas Powered,  (CARB Compliant)

For Detail information check out the Yamaha EF2000i review which is very similar.

  • 4.4 out of 5 stars with 31 customer reviews.
  • Typical Load Range is 500W to 800W
  • Continuous power at 900W and Surge to 1000W (best case)

Typical uses: RV use, auto, and boat owners are typical, but recreation with ATV, motorcycles and the like are also good uses. Small tools can also be powered by this unit. Great handy and portable unit for small jobs and other sport related equipment like pitching machines.

Key features: This unit is only 28 lbs. and has long run time of up to 12 hours when using the economy mode. It has 12V DC charging. Very Quiet and is CARB compliant. Incredible voltage stability at less than 1% and 0.1Hz frequency variation. 3 Year warranty.

Alternates at Lower cost and less features, check them on Amazon:

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1200W to 2000W Portable Generators

OK there is a theme here. When it comes to the small generators I’m finding it hard to beat the Yamaha brand. Yes they are costly, but you’re paying for quality and performance.

Yamaha EF2000iS 2,000 Watt  Portable Inverter Generator, 79cc OHV 4-Stroke Gas Powered, CARB Compliant

PowerupGenerator Detail Review: Yamaha EF2000i details

  • Rating is stellar 4.7 of 5 with nearly 200 reviews, it also gets a number one best seller position on Amazon for outdoor generators, that’s a trifecta in our book.
  • Typical Load Range 800 t0 1200W for maximum economy.
  • 1600 Rated Watts/ 2000 Surge Watts

Key features: Ultra quiet, light weight at under 50lbs, solid build, 12V dc output, twin matching for series output, and CARB compliant. It will run about 6 hours on 1.1 gallons tank of gas. Smooth inverter power electronics.

Typical uses:  It’s an economical choice for everyday use whether your tailgating, working in the yard, or out roaming the wilderness.

Alternate Choices at the up to 2000W Range see on Amazon:

2000 to 3000W Portable Generators.

I had to let Yamaha win out again here for top generator in this class. However, at the alternative sizes you need to check out the Champion and Honda inverter. If going to general portable without the major features and low cost check out our review of the All Power America APG3012 – 2500W.

Yamaha EF2400iSHC Portable Generator

In Depth Details: Yamaha EF2400iSHC review

  • Yamaha wins out again in this range, with another 4.7 of 5 rating and is still a top level in the overall portable power generators.
  • Typical Load Range 1500W plus or minus up to 2000W
  • 2000 Rated Watts/ 2400 Surge Watts

Typical uses: A little more power for small AC units under 13,500BTU but isn’t recommended for RV units.  Great all around unit with enough power to handle most appliances or several small appliances/tools.

Key features: Smart Throttle for economical fuel usage, super quiet exhaust/muffler, inverter system, moderate weight at 75lbs. 3 year warranty. And features previously mentioned.

Alternate suggestions check them out at Amazon

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3000 to 4000W Portable Generators

There is great competition in this range for your generator, It’s a good size for everyday backup and job use in an economical size.

Champion Power Equipment 46539 3500/4,000 Watt Gas Powered Portable Generator With Wireless Remote Electric Start (CARB Compliant)

Powerup’s Review of the CPE 3500/4000W Genie

  • Gets a 4.6 of 5 user rating
  • Typical Load Range 2500 to 3000 Watts
  • 3500W Rated Watts/ 4000 Surge Watts

Typical uses: Good for emergency and recreational needs. It will power a majority of your household in emergency setups and works great for RV needs. Basic 120V setups.

Key features: (CARB Compliant), Has Electric start, but does not come with a lot of extra bells and whistles, it’s a basic unit providing a straight forward power production.  4 duplex plugs, RV 30 amp twist lock plug, L5-30amp plug.  (Only has 120V capability, no 240V). 3.8 gallon gets about 12 hours of half load run time. Excellent price range for unit size.

Alternate units to check on Amazon

In Liquid Propane:

4000 to 5000W Portable Generators.

In this wattage range the popular DuroStar DS4400 4,400 Watt Portable Generator ( our review) And DuroMax XP4400EH 7 HP Dual Fuel Propane generators get reasonably good rating, however, reliability and customer service issues take them out of the top ratings. It’s tough to beat the Westinghouse and Brigg & Stratton for this range. Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the Yamaha, but it’s coming at a hefty price near $3000 for the features and quality.

Westinghouse WH4500 5,600 Watt 292cc Gas Powered Portable Generator This model has been claimed to be discontinued in favor of the WH5500 model, but is currently still available.

  • This is a fairly new unit and the rating doesn’t have enough users as of yet. Based on the quality and other units we expect it to be in the +4 rating range.
  • Typical Load Range is going to be 2500 to 3500 Watts
  • 4500 Rated Watts/ and 5600 Surge Watts

Typical uses: Adequate to power the majority of your house, but may come up a little short if you want full house functionality. Excellent range for economical use on job sites.

Key features: EZ start with a great alternator for high efficiency in increased electrical output and lower fuel consumption. Solid built to perform with easy maintenance. It is CARB complaint and relatively quiet. 6.6 gallon tank for full day run time at 50% load.

Alternates check on Amazon

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Summary

Picking a generator is no easy task, but zeroing in on the size you need and checking out the models here will give you some great choices. Do take reviews with a skeptical eye to the user bias as some folks do provide good detail and others have a tendency to not understand the real workings of generators.

Lack of power may be an elevation issue where you lose power significantly at higher elevations. Others don’t understand the restrictions on circuit breakers and plugs. Be sure to check out our tips and buyer guide section for more in depth knowledge to help you get a generator for your gift our own needs.

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