Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 300, 293Wh Backup Lithium Battery, 110V/300W Pure Sine Wave AC Outlet, Solar Generator (Solar Panel Not Included) for Outdoors Camping Travel Hunting BlackoutView on Amazon
PowerSmart Generator, Super Quiet Generator, 2000 Watts Portable Inverter Generator, Gas Powered Generator, Fuel Shut Off, CARB Compliant Red/Black, PS5020View on Amazon
- BrandChampion Power Equipment
- BrandChampion Power Equipment
WEN 56235i Super Quiet 2350-Watt Portable Inverter Generator with Fuel Shut Off, CARB Compliant, Ultra Lightweight, BlackView on Amazon
- BrandChampion Power Equipment
Westinghouse Outdoor Power Equipment WGen3600v Portable Generator 3600 Rated and 4650 Peak Watts, RV Ready, Gas Powered, CARB CompliantView on Amazon
- BrandWestinghouse Outdoor Power Equipment
Last update on 2021-08-01 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API
What happens when you lose your electricity source in the middle of the night? All your equipment including the TV, the phone, the Wi-Fi router, would stop working at once. In that case, you might need a generator. An electricity generator does not only provide power in case of blackouts, but also shows itself as a cool gadget in picnic trips, BBQ outdoors, or camping. In this article, wildriverreview will talk about the best generators under $500, and how to choose the best of them.
1. The watts
Here is the list of the most popular wattage ranges provided by a generator:
- Less than 3000W: 3000W and below generators are considered small and most portable. Devices of this type are enough for small families with some basic devices such as a TV, a computer, a few lamps, or a fan.
- 3000W - 7000W: Average power rate provided by generators. This type of generator can support the average use of families, with a few lamps, a fridge, or an oven, perhaps.
- 7000W - 50000W: The most powerful range of wattage for a generator. The type of generator is sufficient to provide for a large family with lots of equipment. However, the power comes with the cost and the noise. Therefore, it is not recommended to buy generators in this range if you don’t plan to use that much.
In conclusion, we advise you to try to estimate the power usage of all the devices and equipment you need, then choose a generator with the power rate of 1.5 - 2 times of the wattage you estimated.
2. The battery
The generators don’t only come with the generator itself, but some brands might equip their devices with a battery. A battery is useful when you want to store the electricity generated for a short while, or when the power you actually use is lower than the power generated. A battery is not only a way of storing electricity but also a way to reduce fuel usage, noise, and carbon emissions.
3. Output voltage
Below is the list of voltage and amperage of popular generator outputs:
- DC 12V - 5A: 12V is made specifically for lamps, phones, laptops or monitors. This output usually makes it into the generator as an essential port
- AC 110V: AC 110V is what every American and Japanese uses everyday at home. AC 110V can be converted into AC 220V and vice versa.
- AC 220V: AC 220V is what every person in the world other than Americans and Japanese people uses everyday at home. AC 220V can be converted into AC 110V and vice versa.
Although the currents can be converted into another, voltage to voltage, AC to DC and vice versa, it is obviously better to have it pre-installed on the generator.
4. The size
There are two main design for generators, which are the portable type and the stationed type:
- Portable generators: Portable generators are usually designed with a handle for users to carry around. Portable generators don’t usually generate strong currents or wattage, but use less fuel and produce less noise.
- Normal generators: Normal generators are big, loud, and fuel consuming. It can generate as much power as you require.
The last factor that would affect your choice is the color and the style. You had better choose a generator that looks cool with the internal look of your house, your room, or your car.
5. The fuel for the generator
When electricity doesn’t play the fuel part anymore, there comes a few alternative sources of energy. The traditional energy sources are being used to power the generator. However, some of them might come with a few disadvantages:
- Gas fuel: Gas has been used for cars for hundreds of years now; therefore, when it comes to the idea of powering the generator, gas was the first to think of. Gas is cheap, fast to refuel, and releases lots of energy to turn into electricity. However, using gas in generators might contribute largely to the carbon emission that helps increase the effect of the greenhouse.
- Propane fuel: Propane doesn’t make any difference than gas powered generators. Propane is considered to be even more power-effective than gasoline. Although gasoline is considered very dangerous to use with the generator, propane does even put more danger on the users.
- Solar powered generator: Solar energy is safe, clean, and environment-friendly. However, the disadvantages of solar energy is that you can not get any energy or a very small amount of it on rainy or cloudy days. Provided that you use the generator under a very bright sunny sky, you could never reach the wattage produced by the weakest gasoline generator.
- Wind power generator: This type of generator is considered to be impossible at the moment. It requires a very big fan and a high position with lots of wind to generate real electricity. You could expect some kind of wind powered generator in the future, but for now, there should be no hope.
- Hand rotating generator: The generator uses the force from your hands to rotate the turbine and produces electricity. This type of generator is usually very small and suitable for emergency situations when the access to the fuel sources above is out of reach.
Among those energy sources, gas and propane are two most popular sources because of their performance, though they are considered being dangerous and not recommended with children because of the safety concerns.
1. Champion Power Equipment 100307 4375/3500-Watt Portable Generator
As a generator for high performance, Champion Power Equipment 100307 4375/3500-Watt Portable Generator, at the first look, shows itself as a beautiful device with the yellow look, and a cool modern engine that can produce 3500 watts at its top performance. The product weighs exactly 104.9 pounds, measures 23.2 inches x 19.1 inches x 20 inches. It features a 224cc engine that is powered by a gas tank with 3.4 gallon volume.
Unlike other cheap generators, the engine type is 4-stroke, which is identical to the engine type in your car or your motorcycles. The generator runs on gasoline or propane, for which is flexible for you to choose from. We can see a small display that has all the information ranging from the voltage, the frequency, and the runtime hours, so you can keep track of the generators’ work.
Finally, the outputs include One 120V 30A RV outlet, one 120V 30A locking outlet and two 120V 20A household outlets.
- 224CC engine + 3.4 gallon tank
- 4-stroke engine
- 120V + RV ready
2. DuroMax XP4850EH Generator
DuroMax XP4850EH Generator is a good candidate if you want a generator that works with multiple sources of energy, in which case here is the gas and propane fuel. The maximum wattage provided by the generator is 3850 watts, and the generator itself is wrapped inside the dimensions of 24 inches x 17 inches x 17 inches.
The device weighs a little more than other models at 130 pounds, produces a 120V voltage with gas or propane fuel. The fuel tank can take up to 3.96 gallons, powering the 4 stroke engine - the same type of engine you see in a car or a motorcycle. Additionally, the generator also supports 240V output, RV-ready outlets and 12V DC charging ports to charge your mobile devices with.
- 3.96 gallons of fuel
- 4-stroke engine
- 120V + 240V dual support + 12V DC chagrin ports + RV ready
3. TogoPower Portable Generator
TogoPower Portable Generator is the budget choice in our list today. For a budget of just over $150, the generator still manages to give you the top power of 1000 watts, and it’s perfectly sufficient for camping, outdoor activities, or hunting sessions.
The generator is powered by gasoline fuel, featuring 120V AC output to power most devices you have such as your phone, your coffee maker, or your dryer. The tank only features the volume of 1.05 gallons of gas; however, it is enough to run the generator for at least 6 hours.
The engine is a 2-stroke engine, which is cooled down by an air cooling system designed specifically. Finally, it comes with one year of warranty, weighs only 34.8 pounds, and defines itself as the best candidate for budget generators under $500.
- Lightweight: 34.8 pounds
- 1.05 gallons of gas + 6 hours tops
- Affordable price
- 120V AC output
4. WEN 56235i Super Quiet 2350-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
The last item on the best generator under $500 list today is the WEN 56235i Super Quiet 2350-Watt Portable Inverter Generator. It offers a very lightweight design that only measures 17.3 inches x 11.5 inches x 17.5 inches and weighs 39 pounds. There would be no difficulty carrying the generator around for your BBQ parties with that kind of weight.
We have a 79 cubic centimeter (or cc) 4 stroke engine to power a 2350W generator. As for the output, we see two three-prong 120V sockets, one 12V DC outlet and two 5V USB ports for charging your phones. The fuel shutoff technology tries to use all the remaining fuel left in the carburetor before shutting down, thus, maximizing the lifespan of the engine and the generator in general.
Finally, we have a two-year warranty policy coming with the product if you order today.
- Two-year warranty policy
- Lightweight: 79 pounds
- 120V + 12V + 5V
- 2350W + 4-stroke + 1 gallon tank
1. What about the warranty?
All of the generators we introduced in this article are warranted for at least one year. Therefore, there should not be any kind of worries about your generator breaking. However, in our opinion, if you use the generator properly, you would never have to take your generator to the warranty center, because a generator can’t just break out of nowhere.
2. What is fully-shut-off technology?
Fully-shut-off technology is the name advertised by brands, which indicates the technology that dries out all the gasoline left in the carburetor before shutting down the generator. Because of that solution, there would be no fuel left inside the tank when you store it for months, thus, resulting in no engine damage.
Fully shut off technology is usually made into a premium electricity generator that usually costs over $1000.
3. What power rate should I choose out of my generator?
To choose the power rate you need of a generator, you should follow the below procedure:
- List out the essential devices and equipment you plan to use with the generator.
- Calculate the sum of the power required by the manufacturers for all the devices listed above.
- Make some adjustments if needed
- Choose a generator with the power rate being in the range of 1.5 to 2 times higher than the value you have in the previous step
4. Can I use another fuel type for my generator?
No, and it is not recommended at all. If your generator is designated to be used with gas, use gas for it. On the other hand, if it works with propane, don’t try to use gas with the generator.
Some generators are designed to fit with both gas and propane at the same time, although it might cost you some more.
5. My generator supports 120V output? What about 240V?
The 120V output is designed for American households; therefore, if you live in the United States, there would not be concerns about the voltage.
If you want your generator to be compatible with devices made for markets other than the United States, you might need an adapter, which can be purchased separately.
We have outlined the specifications of generators, the process to consider what are the best generators for your house, and given out the list of the best generators under $500. Refer to our final picks below and feel free to click on any links you want to be directly taken to its Amazon page:
- The best generator under $500: Champion Power Equipment 100307 4375/3500-Watt Portable Generator
- The runner-up: DuroMax XP4850EH Generator
- The most powerful device: WEN 56235i Super Quiet 2350-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
- The best generator under $500 for budget choice: TogoPower Portable Generator
That has wrapped up our article about the best generators under $500. Choosing a good generator is obviously not an easy job and requires a little deep understanding in the field of engineering and physics.
Last but not least, we hope you had fun reading and choosing the best generator for yourself. Please feel free to share with us any thoughts you have on generators or the generator model of your choice! See you in our next articles!