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Best generator under $200

Bestmachinery.org reviewers and experts has collected 12 products, we scoured industry research, ratings and reviews to bring you the Best Generator Under $200 that you can choose…

We’re a small workforce of woodworkers, engineers, and contractors with mixed expertise of over 10 years coping with energy instruments and doors energy gear (OPE). I have a degree in mechanical engineering and together with my team, we use this medium to share our insights and recommendations with you.


Showing  1 - 10  in  12 results
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  • SCORE
    9.0
    AI Score

    The AI technology help us to evaluate the real value of product based on automatic rating system

  • Brand
    Craftsman
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  • SCORE
    9.0
    AI Score

    The AI technology help us to evaluate the real value of product based on automatic rating system

  • Brand
    Craftsman
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  • SCORE
    8.8
    AI Score

    The AI technology help us to evaluate the real value of product based on automatic rating system

  • Brand
    PowerSmart
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  • SCORE
    8.6
    AI Score

    The AI technology help us to evaluate the real value of product based on automatic rating system

  • Brand
    TogoPower

Last update on 2022-05-25 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API

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1 ratings

Overviews

There's a generator for you, whether you need power for your home during an outage, portable power for yard work or a party, or power to take along for a camping or RV trip. The best generator is a handy power source in any situation. But choosing the right generator isn't just about power and performance. It's also about choosing a generator that meets your specific needs.

To help you find the right generator, we've looked at many generator types and the features that set them apart. We first considered the type of generator - a conventional gas-powered generator, a dual-fuel generator that can run on both propane and gas, a quiet and efficient inverter generator, or even a solar generator.

We've also looked at portable generators, which are easy to take anywhere you need power, and backup generators, which are specifically designed to power your home in an extended outage. We've considered each generator's power rating and maximum, determining how many appliances and tools you can power. Finally, we thought features such as how long you can run your generator continuously, as well as the price and warranty for each generator.

We've spent dozens of hours researching the best generators available, looking at tech specs and user reviews to determine which are worth the most.

Our picks from the top 12 generators are listed in the table below – read on for detailed reviews of each, along with their pros and cons. Our buying guide covers everything you need to know to choose the right product for your needs.

Generator type

There are different types of generators for different needs. If you only need electricity at home, a stationary backup generator will suit you better than a portable generator. Likewise, the types of appliances and electronics you plan to power can determine whether a conventional inverter or generator is better suited for your needs.

Portable or standby?

The first choice you need to make is whether a portable or standby generator is best for you. A standby generator is typically designed to supply most of a home's electrical needs during a short or long-term power outage. For this reason, standby generators are usually found in storm-prone areas where extended duration outages are expected.

These generators are stationary, installed outside the home, and can be hooked up to a natural gas line to provide an unlimited supply of fuel following a storm. Compared to portable generators, standby generators typically produce significantly more watts - over 10 kilowatts - and are very quiet.

Portable generators are more versatile and can be used for everything from camping and RVing to outdoor parties and powering your home in the event of an outage. Portable generators come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and powers to meet the most diverse needs. Still, it's important to keep in mind that some portable generators are easier to transport than others.

Inverter or conventional?

Conventional generators produce AC electricity directly from their motor, which can then be used to power appliances and tools. However, this alternating current is relatively "dirty" and can damage sensitive electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, and anything with a microchip.
Inverter generators take this AC electricity and convert it to DC and AC. This essentially cleans up the electricity, reducing the overall distortion of electrical waves, which can be used safely with sensitive electronic devices. Also, inverter generators use microcontrollers around the engine, which makes them much more fuel-efficient than conventional generators.

How much power do you need?

Once you have decided on the type of generator you need, the next thing to determine is the wattage you need. Generators range from small portable generators offering less than 2,000 watts of power to massive portable generators like DuroMax's model that offer up to 12,000 watts. Standby generators like Generac's model offer even more control - over 20 kilowatts.
The best way to determine how much power you need is to add up the wattages of all the appliances and tools you plan to use at the same time. This number should be less than the continuous wattage of your generator. If you have motor-powered appliances, such as a refrigerator, freezer, or air conditioner, you will also need to consider the starting power requirements of those appliances. When starting, the power should not exceed the peak power of your generator.
Remember that it is easier to go for a more powerful generator than you need initially than to increase your available power later. Also, the closer you run your generator to its rated output, the faster you will burn fuel and the louder the generator will be.

Fuel options

When it comes to portable generators, gasoline is the most common fuel option. However, dual-fuel generators can run on gasoline or propane, such as the Champion and DuroMax models. Propane is often less expensive than gasoline, but you'll get slightly less power from your generator when running on propane, as it's a less energy-dense fuel. That said, propane offers the advantage of running your generator more or less continuously by switching propane tanks on a single fuel line.
Although more expensive and less common, some portable generators can run on diesel, such as the Generac XD5000E model. These generators tend to be virtually indestructible and are more immune to frequent variations in the price of standard gasoline.

Finally, some triple-fuel portable generators and many standby generators can run on natural gas. Natural gas is less energy-dense than propane. Therefore, you will experience some loss of power when you run your generator on natural gas. However, natural gas is the cheapest fuel, and it is virtually limitless if you hook it up to your home's natural gas line. This is a major advantage for standby generators, as natural gas lines often continue to supply fuel even during extended power outages and in the aftermath of major storms.

Generator fuel tank capacity and run time

Your generator's fuel tank capacity and engine efficiency combine to determine how long your generator will run in one go. Fuel tank capacity is usually measured in gallons and varies widely, even between generators in the same class. Run time is measured in hours, typically at 25% or 50% load.

If you always plan to run your generator on gasoline, the range can be significant. For example, a long-running generator like Champion's 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Inverter can power you for an entire day's work or an entire evening at your RV or campsite. On the other hand, a generator with a small fuel tank and limited run time may require you to turn off the power every few hours, cool your generator, and then refuel.
Remember that for dual-fuel generators running on propane, it is possible to extend run time simply by using a larger propane cylinder or by connecting multiple propane cylinders to a shut-off valve. If you use a tri-fuel generator or a standby generator on a natural gas line, the run time can be extended to several days.

Safety Features

Modern generators are equipped with several important safety features that protect you and your generator. The first of these features is a low oil shutdown feature: all the portable generators we reviewed automatically shut down before they run out of oil. This would protect the engine from irreversible damage and power surges if the engine were to run out of oil. Almost all generators also have a low oil level warning light, so you know to turn off the generator ahead of time.
The other important safety feature of generators is overload prevention. The generators automatically shut down if you exceed their peak or continuous rated power for more than a few seconds. This helps prevent engine overheating, which can essentially melt important components of your generator and pose a dangerous fire hazard.

Ease of use

Another essential thing to consider when choosing a generator is whether it has features that make it easier to use. Many inverter generators offer electric starters in addition to the standard recoil starter, and some, like Pulsar's model, offer remote starters, so you don't even have to leave the house to start your generator. Like the DuroMax model, other generators have voltmeters that allow you to monitor how much power you're drawing and whether you're about to overload the generator.
Another vital usability feature to consider is the presence of a purge on the generator carburetor. This feature makes it much easier to drain fuel from the generator before a long storage period, which is essential so you don't end up with stale fuel in your engine.

Noise level

A generator's noise level can significantly determine where and when you can use it. For example, a noisy generator might not be a problem on a construction site, but you might attract complaints if you're camping or trying to run your generator outside your home at night of your neighbors.
Inverter generators are quieter than their conventional counterparts, and smaller generators make less noise than larger ones. Also, keep in mind that generators generally produce more noise closer to their rated power.
When choosing a generator based on noise, it's essential to consider whether your application requires an ultra-quiet generator. Generator sets such as those from WEN and Honda are priced higher because they are some of the quietest generator sets on the market in their respective power classes - so you have to ask yourself if that extra price is worth it. Sadness.

Portability

Not all portable generators are equally mobile, so it's essential to consider the size and weight of your generator and whether it has wheels. Lightweight generators like Generac's portable model may not have wheels, but that's not a problem since one person can easily transport them. On the other hand, a massive generator like DuroMax's model may require two or three people to lift it out of a vehicle, even if it's mounted on wheels to make it easier to transport the rest of the way. Consider where you are likely to use your generator, how you plan to route it, and your ability to lift the weight of your generator on your own.

Warranty and customer service

All of the generators we've reviewed are built to last, but having a manufacturer's warranty can provide great peace of mind. Manufacturers' warranties range from one to three years, as with the Pulsar generator. Warranties for standby generators are often five years or more. Many manufacturers limit the warranty for commercial users because the generator is expected to be used more frequently.
Customer service is also essential for having peace of mind after purchasing your generator. Customers love companies like Generac and Champion for their support - Champion offers lifetime technical support for many of their generators - making it much easier to file a warranty claim if something goes wrong with your equipment.

Generator prices

Generators cover a wide range of prices, depending on whether you are looking for a portable or standby generator, an inverter or conventional generator, or a small or large generator. On the inexpensive end of the spectrum, a generator like the DuroStar model costs less than $300. WEN and Honda generators are generally the most expensive due to their superior engines - the Honda generator costs over $2,000. Standby generators also tend to be significant investments, costing several thousand dollars depending on the exact model.

Advice

Maintenance is the most important thing you can do to ensure a long life for your generator. You should always do two essential things to ensure your generator is running smoothly.
The first is to change the oil relatively frequently. You should change the oil in your generator after the first 20 hours, then every 50 to 100 hours of use. Keep an eye out for the low oil level light - if you see it come on, you should shut down the generator immediately to avoid engine damage. It's always good to have fuel and filters on hand with your generator or travel with it.
The second thing you need to do to protect your generator engine keeps the fuel from stale inside your generator. Before storing the generator for an extended period of storage, be sure to empty the gas tank and drain the carburetor of any remaining fuel. If your generator is not equipped with a carburetor flushing device, you will need to run it dry to remove leftover fuel. Also, continually refill your generator with fresh fuel after the storage period.
Additionally, there are some vital safety tips to keep in mind when using your generator. Always allow it to cool before adding fuel to the tank. Adding fuel to a hot generator is a dangerous fire hazard. Also, never backfeed your generator. If you plan to hook up your generator to your home, you should invest in a transfer switch and take the time to safely connect your generator to your home's power grid.

Our Verdict

Our three favorite generators on the market today are the WEN 56200i, the Champion Power Equipment 100263, and the Firman W03083.

All three generators are portable, and both Champion and Firman generators come with RV outlets, so you can easily take them on the road.

Users have appreciated the power, variety of outlets, and compact and lightweight design of the Firman W03083 generator, making it ideal for various RV trips.

The Champion generator offers a little less power. Still, it is more versatile to meet all needs thanks to its quieter operation and the possibility of running it on gasoline or propane. We believe the WEN generator is the best generator for most users because it provides a reasonable amount of power in a highly compact and lightweight package.

Stephen A Poirier
Stephen A Poirier
Stephen A Poirier has worked for more than 10 years at Best Machinery, where he has written on carpentry, masonry, painting, plumbing, electrical, woodworking, blacksmithing, welding, lawn care, chainsaw use, and outdoor power equipment. When he’s not working on his own house, he volunteers with Sovereign Grace Church doing home repair for families in rural, suburban and urban locations throughout central and southern New Jersey.