Best Smallest Portable Power Generator
Portable power generators range in output power from a few hundred watts to 10kW or even larger units.
Small and compact units are commonly used in residential areas, in emergencies, for camping, tailgating, fishing, hunting, and similar activities to power smaller appliances like TVs, smaller fridges, etc. and to charge smartphones, tablets, laptops, and similar devices and gadgets.
The smallest power generators can be replaced in many situations with lithium power stations that have many advantages over power generators, but also a few disadvantages as well.
Published: July 27, 2021.
On This Page:
- Intro to Smallest Power Generators
- Power Generators vs Lithium Power Stations
- Best Smallest Power Generators
Intro to Smallest Power Generators
The smallest power generators feature starting power in the 800-1200 watts range and running power in the 600-1000 watts range.
They feature 40-60cc two- or four-stroke internal combustion engines that burn gasoline ("gas" for short) and spin an electric generator that produces electric power that is transferred to the external load via built-in controller (inverter) electronics and, usually several, power receptacles.
The most common AC receptacles are 120V 15A 5-15R and 120V 20A 5-20R receptacles, but due to the output power limitations, the actual maximum output current is usually up to 10 Amps.
DC receptacles are not always available, but if present, they are usually 12V 4-8A receptacles and/or USB charging ports.
If DC receptacles are not present, one can always plug in a 12V battery charger or USB power charger directly in the 120V receptacle and charge 12V batteries or other required equipment and devices.
Due to the size of these generators, the number of receptacles is usually very limited and includes 1-3 120V receptacles, sometimes combined with DC receptacles (12V and/or USB).
Again, having "the smallest generator" comes with certain limitations.
The following comparison chart lists some of the most popular compact power generators. For comparison purposes, Jackery Explorer 1000 Lithium Power Station is also added to the chart!
|Buffalo Tools Sportsman GEN1000i||
56 dB @23 ft
15.6 x 8 x 13.8
22.8 lbs; 10.3 kg
AC: 120V 20A 5-20R; DC: 12V 4A
|Generac 76711 GP1200i||
18.5 x 10.2 x 15.7
36.3 lbs; 16.5 kg
AC: 2x 120V 20A 5-20R; DC: 5V USB (1.0A, 2.1A)
|Honda EU1000i (EU1000T1AG)||
50 dB @100%
17.8 x 9.5 x 14.9
28.7 lbs; 13 kg
AC: 2x 120V 15A 5-15R
|Jackery Explorer 1000 Lithium Power Station||
|~850 Wh Eff.||
13.1 x 9.2 x 11.1
22.04 lbs; 10 kg
AC: 3x 120V 15A 5-15R; DC: 1x Car 12V Port (12V, 10A, 120W), 1x USB-A (5V, 2.4A), 2x USB-C, 1x Quick Charge 3.0 port
16.2 x 14 x 14.8
37.5 lbs; 17 kg
AC: 2x 120V 20A 5-20R; DC: 12V 8A
15 x 12.8 x 12.6
34.8 lbs; 15.8 kg
AC: 120V 20A 5-20R
17.7 x 9.4 x 14.9
27.9 lbs; 12.7 kg
AC: 2x 120V 15A 5-15R; DC: 12V 8A
Note: Amazon affiliate links (the 'Model' column) open in the new windows, feel free to check them for the most up-to-date offers and prices. Also, we have really tried to verify every single bit of information in this chart and article (and in the end - our website), but things change over time without prior notice.
There are other rather compact power generators on the market that may also fit someone's needs, but these units have been already on the market for some time and have been used and tested by countless users in real-life situations.
Power Generators vs Lithium Power Stations
Power generators burn fossil fuels and convert their chemical energy into electric energy. The most popular fuels are gas (gasoline, petrol), diesel, propane gas, and natural gas.
In order to keep their dimensions to a minimum, practically all compact generators are designed to burn gas only.
Since they feature internal combustion engines, no matter how small, even the smallest power generators may be noisy and they MUST be running outside, often at least 20-25 feet (6-8 m) from the home doors and windows - they must be positioned downwind, if possible.
Also, if possible, home Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors are highly recommended - as fuel burns, power generators release fumes that contain toxic and very dangerous Carbon Monoxide (CO) that can easily kill humans and pets. This is a serious warning!
On the other hand, power stations use onboard lithium batteries to store the energy, requiring no extra air - unlike power generators, power stations may be used indoors.
Also, since they don't feature internal combustion engines, power stations are almost silent during operation.
In order to maintain a power station, all one has to do is to recharge them periodically, usually every 1-3 months.
The output power of most popular power stations is usually higher than the output power of small power generators thanks to the high power and highly efficient lithium batteries and control (inverter) electronics.
But, since power stations rely on internal lithium batteries, their energy output is rather limited. Also, while fuel tanks can be filled almost in seconds, it takes hours to recharge the power stations' batteries.
Honda EU1000i vs Jackery Explorer 1000
Honda EU1000i is one of the best smallest portable power generators, while Jackery Explorer 1000 is one of the best lithium power stations/solar generators with an output power of ~1000W.
And neither of these units is cheap :)
Jackery Explorer 1000 features high capacity lithium battery that is able to store ~1000 Wh of energy (hence the "1000" as part of its label) and with the efficiency of ~85%, it is able to provide some 850 Wh to the external load with the maximum continuous output power of 1000W and 2000W surge power.
Note this "850Wh"!
On the other hand, Honda EU1000i features a 0.55 gal fuel tank and maximum continuous output power of 900W, with 1000W surge power.
When the Honda EU1000i is pushed to its limit, it can provide 900W for 3 hours, generating 50 dB of noise, which is very quiet!
So, 0.55 gal of fuel will provide 2700Wh (900W x 3h = 2700Wh).
When the Honda EU1000i is powering external loads at 225 W (25% of its nominal load), its runtime is 6.8h with only 42 dB of noise - just a few feet away most people will have issues in determining if the unit is running or not, especially in the city with all the background noises.
In this case, 0.55 gal of fuel will provide 1530Wh (225W x 6.8h = 1530 Wh).
Now, compare these 2700Wh and 1530 Wh with 850Wh of the Jackery Explorer 1000 - in the worst-case scenario, the Honda EU1000i power generator provides almost 2x more energy than the Jackery Explorer 1000 power station.
But, while power generators depend on the availability of fresh gas, power stations may be recharged using solar panels, car adapter chargers, wall chargers, or even using small power generators.
For short: Both power generators and power stations have their pros and cons - choose according to Your own needs and requirements.
Many people living in areas with regular blackouts feature both power generators and power stations, combined with smaller solar panels with charge controllers.
And with advances in electronics and technology in general, such equipment may be found cheaper than most people think.
Best Smallest Power Generators
Here is our list of the best smallest power generators - You can agree with us or not, so when choosing your "the best smallest" power generator, choose according to your own requirements and preferences.
Also, we have included a short review of Jackery Explorer 1000 lithium power station for comparison purposes - lithium power stations are not cheap, not even when compared with the more expensive compact power generators, but they have some advantages over power generators that some people may find very useful.
Honda EU1000T1AG Portable Inverter Generator
Honda EU1000T1AG features physical dimensions of 17.8 x 9.5 x 14.9 inches (45.2 x 24.1 x 37.8 cm) and it weighs 28.7 lbs (13 kg) dry.
Unit is powered by a 49.4cc Honda GXH50 internal combustion engine, providing 900 Running Watts and 1000 Starting Watts. Honda EU1000T1AG features a manual recoil engine starting system.
Fuel tank capacity is 0.55 gal (~2.1 liters) which is enough for 3h at nominal load (100%, 900W), and 6.8h at 25% load.
Honda EU1000T1AG is a very quiet power generator - at 100% load its noise levels are ~50 dB and at 25% load, its noise levels are only 42 dB, which is very important for operating in residential areas, when camping, tailgating, and similar.
Output receptacles include a pair of 120V 20A 5-20R receptacles. Note that the actual list of receptacles may vary depending on the submodel.
Note: Honda EU1000T1AG does NOT feature a 12V DC port like older Honda EU1000i models.
Also, Honda EU1000T1AG comes with a CO-MINDER and an advanced Carbon Monoxide detection system that monitors the level of CO around the power generator and if required, shuts off the unit to prevent CO poisoning.
Other safety features include overload protection, a low oil alert system that shuts off the engine if the low oil event is detected, etc.
Another interesting feature of Honda EU1000T1AG is that it is a Parallel Ready power generator, allowing the user to connect in parallel another Honda EU1000T1AG (or compatible) power generator to increase output power.
Honda EU1000T1AG comes with a 2-year residential and 1-year commercial warranty.
Personally, the only issue with this model is its price, everything else is - excellent!
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Honda EU1000T1AG Portable Inverter Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Yamaha EF1000iS Portable Inverter Generator
Yamaha EF1000iS features a manual recoil engine starting system.
Fuel tank capacity is 0.66 gal (2.5 liters) which is enough for 11.9h @25% load - that is 225 watts for almost 12 hours on a single fuel tank!
The physical dimensions of the Yamaha EF1000iS power generator are 17.7 x 9.4 x 14.9 inches (45 x 23.9 x 37.9 cm) and it weighs 27.9 pounds dry (~12.7 kg).
Yamaha EF1000iS power generator features 2x 120V 15A 5-15R receptacles and one 12V 8A DC receptacle.
Note: DC 12V 8A port should be used only for charging lead-acid batteries and not advanced Lithium-ion or Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries with built-in advanced Battery Management Systems (BMS) - this is a standard limitation of 12V ports found on the power generators not just limitation of the Yamaha EF1000iS power generator.
To protect the unit, Yamaha EF1000iS comes with a low oil alert system and an overload protection system.
Yamaha EF1000iS comes with a 3-year residential and 2-year commercial warranty.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Yamaha EF1000iS Portable Inverter Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Buffalo Tools Sportsman GEN1000i Portable Inverter Generator
Sportsman GEN1000i is powered by a 40cc 1.3HP four-stroke engine providing 800 Running Watts and 1000 Starting Watts - engine features a manual recoil starting system.
Also, noise levels are acceptable at 56 dB @23 ft - there are less noisier units, but they are larger, heavier, and more expensive since they feature larger mufflers and thicker/heavier noise protection panels.
Sportsman GEN1000i features one 120V 20A 5-20R receptacle and a 12V 4A DC charging port.
To protect the unit, it comes with a low oil alert system and an overload protection system.
Personally, if You are looking for a balanced design and well-built compact power generator and Honda and Yamaha are slightly over your budget, consider this unit.
Sportsman GEN1000i comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Buffalo Tools Sportsman GEN1000i Portable Inverter Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
TogoPower GG1000 Portable Generator
Fuel tank capacity is 1.05 gal (4 liters) ensuring 6h of operation at 50% (400W) load.
Unlike four-stroke engines, a two-stroke engine of the TogoPower GG1000 burns 50:1 fuel:oil mix, simplifying the construction of the unit.
TogoPower GG1000 feature physical dimensions of 15 x 12.8 x 12.6 inches (38.1 x 32.5 x 32 cm) and it weighs 34.8 pounds dry (15.8 kg).
The unit features single(!) AC 120V 20A 5-20R receptacle with no 12V or USB charging ports - this single receptacle is really limiting this unit, but if more receptacles are needed, use various adapters/extensions that provide the user with more receptacles.
If the unit is overloaded, a circuit breaker pops out, protecting the unit from possible damage.
TogoPower GG1000 comes with a 1-year limited warranty, which is an acceptable warranty for the unit in this price class.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the TogoPower GG1000 Portable Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Lithium Battery Station
Also, its large lithium battery is able to store ~1000Wh of energy, which is delivered to external loads via power controller (inverter) featuring an efficiency of ~85% and a broad list of receptacles, including:
- AC: 3x 120V 15A 5-15R
- DC: 1x Car 12V Port (12V, 10A, 120W),
- USB: 1x USB-A (5V, 2.4A), 2x USB-C, 1x Quick Charge 3.0 port.
Jackery Explorer 1000 features physical dimensions of 13.1 x 9.2 x 11.1 inches (33.3 x 23.4 x 28.2 cm) and it weighs 22.04 pounds (~10 kg) - it is more compact and lighter of most 700W-1000W power generators.
Jackery Explorer 1000 may be recharged using solar panels, car adapter charger, wall adapter charger or even using a power generator.
Unlike power generators, Jackery Explorer 1000 power station may be safely used indoors with practically no noise of any kind.
Note that the Jackery Explorer 1000 is just one of Jackery power station models - the following comparison chart lists Jackery Explorer power stations with their most important features and specifications.
|Model||Jackery 160||Jackery 240||Jackery 440||Jackery 500||Jackery 1000|
|Stored Energy||167 Wh||240 Wh||440 Wh||518 Wh||1002 Wh|
|Runtime||~0.85 * Stored Energy / Device Power||~0.85 * Stored Energy / Device Power||~0.85 * Stored Energy / Device Power||~0.85 * Stored Energy / Device Power||~0.85 * Stored Energy / Device Power|
|Input||8 mm DC
(12-30V, 42W Max.)
|8 mm DC
(12-30V, 42W Max.)
|8 mm DC
(25.4V, 4A, 100W Max.)
|8 mm DC
(12-30V, 100W Max.)
|8 mm DC
(12-30V, 200W Max.)
|AC Output Ports||1x 110V AC - 100W Continuous, 150W Surge||1x 110V AC - 200W Continuous, 400W Surge||1x 110V AC - 300W Continuous, 500W Surge||1x 110V AC - 500W Continuous, 1000W Surge||3x 110V AC - 1000W Continuous, 2000W Surge|
|USB Output Ports||1x USB-C (5V, 3A), 2x USB-A (5V, 2.4A)||2x USB-A (5V, 2.4A)||3x USB-A (5V, 2.4A, 21W Max)||3x USB-A (5V, 2.4A)||1x USB-A (5V, 2.4A), 2x USB-C, 1x Quick Charge 3.0|
|12V Output Ports||1x 6 mm DC 12V, 7A||-||2x 6 mm DC 12V 10A||2x 6 mm DC 12V, 7A||-|
|Car 12V Port||-||1x 12V, 10A, 120W||1x 12V, 10A, 120W||1x 12V, 10A, 120W||1x 12V, 10A, 120W|
|Dimensions||7.4 x 4.59 x 6.73 inches
18.8 x 11.7 x 17.1 cm
|9.05 x 5.24 x 7.87 inches
23 x 13.3 x 20 cm
|11.81 x 9.53 x 7.6 inches
30 x 24.2 x 19.3 cm
|11.84 x 9.2 x 7.59 inches
30.1 x 23.4 x 19.4 cm
|13.1 x 9.2 x 11.1 inches
33.3 x 23.4 x 28.2 cm
|Weight||3.97 pounds (1.8 kg)||6.6 pounds (3.0 kg)||12.57 pounds (5.7 kg)||13.32 pounds (6.03 kg)||22.04 pounds (10.0 kg)|
|Automatic Power Off||6h, <10W||6h, <10W||6h, <10W||12h, <10W||?|
|Amazon Link||Jackery 160||Jackery 240||Jackery 440||Jackery 500||Jackery 1000|
Note: Amazon affiliate links open in the new windows, feel free to check them for the most up-to-date offers and prices.
If the Jackery Explorer 1000 is overkill for your needs, feel free to go for a smaller model.
On the other hand, if the Jackery Explorer 1000 is kind of too small for your needs, since larger power stations usually feature larger batteries, perhaps 2000W power stations are a better choice:
But, larger batteries and stronger electronics increase the price and weight of such units.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Jackery Explorer 1000 Lithium Battery Station Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Best Smallest Portable Generators Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Here are some of the most common Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the smallest portable generators and generators in general:
What is the smallest and quietest generator?
One of the smallest and the quietest portable power generators is Honda EU1000, with its physical dimensions of 17.8 x 9.5 x 14.9 inches (45.2 x 24.1 x 37.8 cm) and noise levels of ~50 dB @100% load and only 42 dB @25%, which is very important for operating in residential areas, or when camping, tailgating, and similar.
Why are Honda generators so quiet?
Honda generators feature fully enclosed construction with advanced mufflers that decrease the noise significantly.
What is the smallest and quietest 2000 watt generator?
Honda EU2200i and WEN 56235i are two very compact and very quiet portable power generators in the 2000W class.
For more about this topic, feel free to check our Best 2000 Watt Portable Inverter Generators article.
How much is the smallest generator?
The smallest portable power generators in the 1000W class are not much cheaper than the power generators in the 2000W class.
On average, 1000W power generators cost a few hundred US$, with the best models having prices in the 1000+ US$ range.
Is 70 dB loud for a generator?
For a 25% load, 70 dB is a lot of noise, unless it is an open frame 10+ kW power generator.
For tailgating, camping, and residential use, power generators with maximum noise under 60-65 dB are preferred.
Which is better, a portable power generator or a portable power station/solar generator?
Portable power generators and portable power stations/solar generators complement each other - they all have their pros and cons.
For example, power generators don't require the sun to recharge their internal batteries - just add fuel and they will work. On the other hand, having a few solar panels is often more than enough to recharge the internal battery of the solar generator, allowing it to be fully independent of fossil fuels.
Few Final Words
Small power generators and larger power stations overlap in terms of output power and available energy.
While power generators can be refueled in minutes (even faster), power stations require hours of charging. But, power generators must use proper fuel and oil and have more complex maintenance procedures, while power stations may be recharged even using solar panels, wind turbines, car cigarette lighter adapters, etc.
Also, power stations may operate indoors, with practically no noise, and can be recharged every few months in order to keep their batteries (almost) fully charged.
Personally, power generators and power stations don't exclude each other, on a contrary, they both can help users stay powered in the events of blackouts and various other emergencies, when camping, hiking, fishing, etc.
But, whatever You choose, always read the Owner's Guide properly, get accustomed to your power generator/station and act according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
And stay safe.