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Shopping for a generator doesn’t have to be stressful when you have solid buying knowledge before going into the purchase. The price of a generator can vary from under $400 to over $2,000, and the included features can be vastly different from one model to the next.

Because any two generators can be so different, it’s critical to know what you need out of a generator before you make a buying decision.

Knowing the most desirable features for your specific situation helps you make the best buying decision when it comes to indoor and outdoor generators. At the same time, it’s important to know what makes an all-around good generator and recognize those features as you shop.

The type of generator you need may fall into any of the following categories:

  • Gas-powered generators
  • Budget generators under $400
  • Portable generators
  • Heavy-duty generators

Besides those categories, it’s always good to know the top brand names with the biggest reputations.

In this case, Pulsar generators carry a name that can’t be beat, and their range of models encompasses the smallest portable generators up to the biggest models that can stand the most wear and tear. (While choosing a reputable brand narrows down your decision, you shouldn’t write off smaller brands without weighing their features, benefits, and user reviews.)

Your generator shopping experience starts with feature-benefit analysis, where you’ll rank features that matter to you and understand the benefits that come with those features.

Top Generator Features

Generator details

Check the specks

Knowing the best generator features on the market helps you weigh different models and compare them against each other to make the right buying decision. You’ll find that not every generator feature is important to you or carries the same weight, but other features are near-universal in their desirability.

For instance, you might not need a generator that can run for 16 hours at peak power, so extended power load capacity just isn’t that important to you. Instead, maybe you’re looking for a generator that takes liquid propane so you can spend less on fueling it. Your usage is unique, and so are the features you value.

Many features are subjective based on the way you’ll use your generator, such as home or work use. At the same time, everyone looking to buy a generator should consider features like durable steel frames and never-flat wheels that extend the longevity of your purchase.

These are the most-discussed features you’ll find when shopping for a generator (and the benefits of each one):

Rated & Peak Watts

You’ll notice that every generator you see online or in-store has rated and peak watts listed as a primary feature. In fact, rated and peak watts are some of the most important features when it comes to generator shopping.

Rated watts refers to the power load that a generator can handle for extended periods without exceeding its capacity. The higher the rated wattage, the more usage your generator can withstand on a daily operating basis.

Generally, you’ll want higher rated watts for shop or project work, and you might be able to get away with lower rated watts for home or intermittent use.

Peak watts is typically double the rated watts and refers to the maximum that the generator can handle for short periods without blowing (you won’t want to run a generator at peak for extended periods of time).

If you see short surges of expanded use in your generator’s future, then consider choosing a high peak wattage. However, if your generator’s usage is likely to be predictable, then a lower peak wattage is acceptable.

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Run Time (Half Load & Full Load)

Any generator you shop for has a listed run time at half and full load. Longer run time is helpful for self-explanatory reasons: more uptime on less fuel.

Generally, you don’t want to risk running out of power at an inopportune moment, no matter why you’re using a generator.

Choose a generator with a run time that exceeds what you think you’ll need to be on the safe side.

Even if you don’t plan to run your generator for extended time periods, being generous with the run time ensures that you’ll be protected if you find yourself relying on it for longer periods.

Generator Runtime

For a generator, when the heat goes out, the heat is on

Gasoline vs. Liquid Propane

Basically all generators rely on gasoline or liquid propane to fuel their operation, and many generators can run on either fuel source.

Most people have a preference when it comes to fuel type. First, liquid propane is predictable in pricing and typically more affordable, while gasoline is variable in price and can be more expensive.

Because the cost of fuel is variable, consider a generator with dual fuel source capability. If your generator can use either of the two common types of fuel, then you can switch fuel sources based on the time of the year to use the most economical option each time.

Work vs. Home Use

Portable Generator Work

You better work!

Work generators are more expensive but handle higher wattages for longer on dedicated projects.

Portable Generator Home

Empower your home

Generators marketed for home projects may have lower wattage capacity and shorter run times in exchange for a lower up-front cost.

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CARB Compliant

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulates engine emissions standards in the state of California.

No matter what state you’re in, choosing a CARB-compliant generator ensures safe and environmentally-friendly emissions levels during operation. CARB compliance may be especially important for generators used in the workplace.

Durable Steel Frame

Steel is the most durable working material for a generator frame.

Don’t skimp on frame material; a good frame protects the generator’s inner workings and extends its lifespan.

Never-Flat Wheels

Never-flat wheels are built around a non pressurized air pocket that ensures a lifespan as long as your generator’s life.

These everlasting wheels won’t go flat when your generator is subjected to repeated temperature changes during outdoor use

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The 5 Best Generators for Indoor & Outdoor Power

We’ve named the best generator in each buying category, including gas-powered, budget (under $400), portable, heavy-duty, and Pulsar brand (the most popular brand on Newegg)

The best generators on Newegg are determined by real user ratings and reviews as well as feature-benefit analysis.

They include:

#1: Best Gasoline Generator: Generac GP8000E

The Generac GP8000E portable generator is a top choice for a reliable electric start gas-powered fuel source.

Its features include an open metal roll cage frame for easy servicing and durable design, along with solid rubber never-flat tires for an extended tire lifespan.

The specs of this generator include:

  • 10,000 starting watts
  • 8,000 running watts
  • 120/240 AC voltage
  • 5 gallon fuel capacity
  • 420cc OHV engine
  • Included accessories for servicing, including hour meter, spark plug wrench, shipping bracket wrenches, funnel, and oil
Generac GP8000E Generator

You can get your power from a Generac-ac-ac-ac-ac-ac

#2: Best Budget Generator Under $400: ORICO Peak Portable Power Station

ORICO 500W Generator

ORICO is much more useful than He-Man’s friend

The ORICO Peak Portable Power Station is an ideal low-cost backup power source for camping and outdoor use with its compact size and affordable price point.

This inexpensive budget generator makes an ideal short-term primary power source on your campsite or as extra peace of mind for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and similar medical devices during outdoor travel.

Its specifications include:

  • Budget price point with plenty of features for the cost
  • Lithium-ion battery for long life at 3.6V capacity
  • Lightweight design at just 6.5 kg for easy mobility
  • Solar power source to recharge in the great outdoors
  • 1 DC port and 4 USB ports for versatile use
  • Included accessories including adapter and car charger
  • Built-in LED flashlight for camping and outdoor use

The Pulsar Silent Series Portable Quiet Inverter Generator is the top portable machine on the market with nearly 5,000 positive user ratings.

This popular portable generator’s top feature is a wireless remote starter that lets you control the power from up to 80 feet away.

True to its name, the Silent Series generator is nearly inaudible from a distance of just ten feet, making it a good portable option for use around groups of people.

Its top features include:

  • Compact design with collapsible handle for less physical real estate
  • 4,500 peak watts and 3,700 running watts operation for convenient capacity
  • Never-flat wheels for maximum lifespan and easy handling
  • 15-hour extended operation at 50% load on just 3.2 gallons of fuel
  • Quiet operation at under 63 measured decibels to save your hearing
Pulsar G450RN Generator

Pulsar keeps the lights shining bright

#4: Best Heavy Duty Generator: Pulsar Heavy-Duty Portable Dual Fuel Generator

Pulsar G12KBN Generator

Like a G12 like a G12

The Pulsar G12KBN model comes CARB compliant and ready to fuel your home or RV power needs.

This popular heavy-duty model comes with over 4,600 positive user ratings, and for good reason—like many Pulsar models, it’s one of the most durable on the market.

Its features include:

  • 457 cc, single-cylinder, 4-stroke engine for power you can trust
  • 12,000 peak and 9,000 rated watts with gasoline fuel
  • 10,800 peak and 8,550 rated watts with liquid propane gas fuel
  • 50A plug is grounded for safe operation
  • Portable electric start for convenient use wherever you need it
  • 10-inch never-flat wheels for extra longevity, true to their name
  • Durable heavy steel frame that can weather any storm

#5: Best Pulsar Brand Generator: Pulsar Hybrid Series Dual Fuel Portable Generator

The Pulsar PG12000B Hybrid Dual Fuel Portable Generator is the top choice among brand enthusiasts who swear by Pulsar’s powerhouse generators.

This massively-equipped generator comes with:

  • Switch-and-go operation to get you up and running faster than ever
  • Electric push start with recoil backup
  • 3-in-1 digital meter for constant accurate readings
  • Drop-down handles for accessibility and portability
  • 457 cc engine that can handle all you can throw at it
  • 12,000 peak watts and 9,500 rated watts with gasoline operation
  • 10,800 peak and 8,550 rated watts for liquid propane gas operation
  • 120V, twist-lock, RV, and DC outlets for operation wherever you are
Pulsar 12000W Generator

Dual fuel is pretty cool

Considerations When Buying Indoor & Outdoor Generators

The best generator depends on your needs; there’s no single best generator that overrides individual consideration. If you’ve made it this far and you’re still having a hard time choosing the best generator for your needs, keep reading Newegg Insider for more expert insight: Tips for Choosing the Perfect Generator

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Author Lindsey Newman

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