Generators have become an essential part of our professional and personal lives, but they’re not all made equal, and some may let us down when we need them most. This is why it’s essential to research different brands and models before making a purchase.
In most situations, choosing the wrong generator will amount to reduced productivity, and, if you’re running a business, some serious dips in revenue, but in severe cases, a malfunctioning generator is the difference between life and death, so quality is crucial — Enter Craftsman!
Craftsman generators have long been considered some of the most reliable and well-priced models on the portable power market, so it’s small wonder that you’ve decided a Craftsman is the right one for you.
However, with the Craftsman catalog growing every couple of years, choosing one can be tricky, but this guide will help you find the perfect Craftsman generator for you in no time.
Best Craftsman Generators: Reviews
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
2500 watts may not seem like a lot, but it’ll cover all the essentials and then some in your RV or in an emergency, plus, even though the tank only takes 1 gallon, you’ll get roughly 7 hours of runtime under 50% load.
This is the top-notch inverter technology in action, reducing fuel consumption to match the load and nothing more.
The enclosure is incredibly rugged, and during my tests, I could tell that it goes a long way in dampening the running volume of the motor as well. I measured an average of about 60dBA, but it’s capable of going well below that threshold when the load is light.
As such, it’s a dynamite option if you’re trying to limit noise pollution or if you need to be right by its side for lengthy periods.
Another thing I love about this unit is the cleanliness of the power — Check the inverter in action with an oscilloscope, and you’ll see an almost perfect sine wave.
What does this mean? Well, you can power pretty much all sensitive electronics with this thing, and no damage will be done!
I can’t fault the compatibility of the 2500i either, as it arrives with two standard 120 V AC outlets, a 12 V DC outlet, and two 2.1 A USB ports for charging your smartphone, tablet, portable battery… you name it.
Weighing in at 55.1 lbs, it’s not the lightest generator in its class, but it’s certainly not a backbreaker, and the central handle is nice and comfortable.
- 60dBA — Suitable for use in close quarters and around others on campsites
- Compatibility — Versatile outlet selection helps to power tons of appliances
- Pure sine wave — Not a threat to sensitive electronics.
- Fuel efficiency — Modest tank, but 7-hour+ runtime
- Pull-start-only — An electric start would have been nice
Also available from Inexbuy
The Craftsman 3000i is very similar to the 2500i, it has that slightly boosted output for shouldering more demanding loads, yet, as one of the company’s newer builds, it benefits from plenty of design upgrades.
For instance, it’s even quieter! In fact, I used it to power my house AC, and the AC was louder than the generator itself.
And despite offering a full 500 extra watts, it’s only 3 lbs heavier, so loading and unloading this thing is super easy, and the handle is ergonomically designed too, perfect for all the sensitive hand joints.
On the compatibility front, you get a similar spread as the 2500i, but the 12 V DC outlet has been substituted for an RV-ready AC outlet.
I was a little disappointed that the USB ports didn’t come with a dust cover, but other than that, I was perfectly happy with the control panel.
The inverter technology does a fine job of extended runtime, and during my tests, the 50% Power Boost feature was a godsend, allowing me to power far more appliances than typically possible with a generator of this size.
LED indicators take care of things in the security department, letting you know when oil is running out, but if you miss it, the auto-shutdown will keep the motor in top shape.
- Compatibility — Great spread for the avid RV adventurer
- Running volume — An exceptionally quiet unit that maintains a livable environment
- Pure sine wave — Doesn’t damage sensitive electronics
- Weight : power ratio — Very light for its output, making it a great choice for camping/fishing
- Outlet protection — Absence of dust covers leaves USB ports vulnerable
Also available from eBay
If you’re looking for a traditional unit with a bit more muscle, the 5750 might do the trick.
Offering a mighty 7000 watts of starting oomph, it can fire up pretty much anything, and thanks to a super robust site-tested steel frame, physically speaking, it’s just as strong, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer some intelligent nuance too!
Not only does this generator arrive with the standard low oil and circuit breaker overload protection, it also cuts operations short if the CO sensor detects a dangerous level of carbon monoxide in the air.
Just to be safe, I put this protocol to the test by smothering the 5750 with its box, and lo and behold, it shut down after roughly 17 seconds!
It’s also worth noting that there’s an impeccable Briggs & Stratton motor in this generator, and it works like a charm — Even though there’s no electric push-start, the pull-start is silky smooth and fires the generator up on the 1st or 2nd time, guaranteed.
There’s also a pretty nifty fuel gauge so you can estimate how much longer the motor will run, which is especially handy in on-site scenarios where you need to forecast productivity for the day.
With 5 AC outlets in total, including four 120 V AC outlets and one 120/240 V latching outlet for a secure connection, it’s about as versatile as these larger site-ready units get and very well suited to RV enthusiasts.
- CO shutdown — Eliminates danger from carbon monoxide inhalation
- Briggs & Stratton motor — Consistent and built to stand the test of time
- Fold-out handle and wheels — Still portable even though it’s heavy (176.6 lbs)
- 8.5-gallon capacity — It can achieve a lot over the course of a 12-hour runtime
- Ignition — No electric start (but the pull-start is great!)
For more power still, there’s no substitute for the Craftsman 7000, a beast of the portable power world with a 3500-watt overhead for starting demanding electronics — Yep, 10,500 watts of get-up-and-go juice!
It’s also the only Craftsman generator on my list with an electric start, so if you’re looking for both muscle and convenience, it’s a great choice, particularly for senior or differently abled individuals for whom a pull-start isn’t really an option.
During my tests, the 8.5-gallon all-metal tank fought the good fight for about 12 hours under a consistent 50% load, so you’ll definitely get a full day’s work out of it and then some, making it a solid addition to your emergency blackout arsenal.
With another fantastic Briggs & Stratton motor at the helm, it’s certainly reliable enough for those vulnerable situations.
Weighing just shy of 200 lbs, you’ll need a helper for loading and unloading, but the fold-out handle, robust wheels, and never-flat tires make small work of moving it around once it’s on solid ground.
Compatibility-wise, it arrives with the same 5 x AC spread as the 5750, and it comes with the CO detector as well, so you can keep the lights on and keep safe!
- CO sensor — Shuts down to reduce carbon monoxide in the atmosphere
- 10,500 starting watts — There’s nothing this thing can’t fire up
- Never-flat tires — Won’t let you down in challenging environments
- Briggs & Stratton motor — Consistent and long-lasting
- Electric start — Push-start is perfect for seniors
- 197.6 lbs — You will need help with loading and unloading
Also available from Buildclub
Best Craftsman Generators Buying Guide
If you’re sure that a Craftsman generator is right for you, but not so sure how you’d go about picking one, this guide will set you on the straight and narrow.
Craftsman doesn’t do things by half in the output department, so if you’re looking for some low-power options, you may be barking up the wrong tree here. Their generators run from a minimum 2200 watts to a maximum 8000 watts, with a few stops in between.
If you’re unsure how much power you’ll need, it’s best to work it out before dedicating to a purchase. You can do so by calculating the combined starting and continuous load of the appliances you wish to power simultaneously.
Once you have at least a rough estimate of the energy you require, I’d recommend looking for a Craftsman model that offers a bit of headroom, just so you’re not running it flat out 24/7, as this will put a lot of strain on the generator.
The full list of available outputs in the Craftsman line includes:
- 2200 watts
- 2500 watts
- 3000 watts
- 3300 watts
- 3500 watts
- 5000 watts
- 5750 watts
- 7000 watts
- 8000 watts
You’ll want to balance power with overall capacity to get yourself a Craftsman generator that’s beefy enough to power your appliances for the necessary amount of time.
Runtime is determined by a number of factors, but the most important is tank capacity, as the more fuel a generator can hold, the longer it stands to run without intervention.
Craftsman generator tank capacities span 1.18 gallons to 8.5 gallons, with runtime ranging from 7 to 12 hours under 50% load. If you want something capable of handling a full 8-hour’s work, I’d shoot for a generator with a 3300-watt or above output.
Traditional Vs. Inverter
Another important factor to consider when it comes to runtime is generator type, of which there are two: traditional generators and inverter generators.
Traditional generators run at a consistent speed no matter the size of the load, meaning you could only be running a 5% load, and they’d be running with the same intensity as they would for under a 50% load.
Needless to say, this isn’t great for fuel efficiency, meaning you’ll deal with diminished runtimes, but, on the plus side, they’re far more affordable and often more powerful than the alternative.
They’re also more abundant than their inverter counterparts, which is why of the 13 generators in Craftsman’s current catalog, 9 follow the traditional blueprint.
By contrast, inverter generators are capable of lowering their RPM to support smaller loads, thereby saving tons of fuel in the process.
This is why Craftsman’s 1.18-gallon inverter generator runs for a whopping 7 hours under 50% load, while the 8.5-gallon traditional models only exceed this runtime by 4 to 5 hours.
Inverter generators are typically much quieter as well, so if you plan on being in close proximity to your generator for an extended period, an inverter model is absolutely the right choice for you.
Craftsman generators arrive with a variety of different outlet configurations, so it’s important to give them a look over before handing over your hard-earned money.
The last thing you want is to bring home a generator only to realize it’s not capable of powering the appliances you had in mind.
All models will arrive with at least one AC outlet, as these replicate the wall outlets in your home, some will throw a 12 V DC outlet in for good measure, and others will also have 120 V 30 A outlets for RV compatibility.
Newer inverter models most often come with some super handy USB ports too, allowing you to charge up small electronics such as tablets and smartphones with ease.
It’s easy to get carried away and purchase the biggest, baddest generator you can, but bear in mind that the larger you go, the less portable your generator will be, and as most applications require the shifting of generators from one place to another, a heavy unit can be a real drag (literally!).
Granted, larger units will most likely arrive with wheels and a handle of some description, making transporting them by hand easy once they’re on the ground, but good luck loading and unloading a 100–200 lbs generator from your vehicle!
All Craftsman generators run on gas, so if you’re looking for flexibility in the fuel department, perhaps a dual-fuel design, you won’t find it with this company.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Was Craftsman Founded?
Craftsman was founded way back in 1927 by Sears and would serve as the infamous chain’s in-house tool subsidiary for 90 years, gradually earning the respect the company has amassed today by providing the nation with reliable, affordable products.
Who Makes Craftsman Generators?
Stanley Black & Decker acquired Craftsman Tools from Sears in 2017, so, technically speaking, they’re responsible for producing Craftsman generators, but the company hasn’t been dissolved into Black and Decker, so it seems likely that production processes remain unchanged.
Besides, Black & Decker is another highly respected brand, so if anyone was going to take the reins from Craftsman, you’d want it to be them!
As far as I know, the only generator that Craftsman outsourced is the 3000i inverter model, which is actually produced by Generac, but again, this is a legendary company with serious clout, so it’s more of a positive than a negative.
Who Makes The Motors In Craftsman Generators?
While it’s not entirely certain that they make the motors for every single Craftsman generator, it’s known that the Craftsman has a solid working relationship with Briggs & Stratton, a company with an exceptional track record in the portable power industry.
Alongside Honda and Yamaha, Briggs & Stratton is considered one of the premium names where generators are concerned, so you’re in good hands when you choose a unit with one of their motors doing the heavy lifting.
Where Are Craftsman Generators Made?
You’ll be happy to hear that Craftsman generators are all produced right here on American soil in Fort Mill, South Carolina. They may well source certain components from elsewhere, but in every area that matters, these generators are 100% American.
Are Craftsman Generators Loud?
All generators are pretty noisy beasts, and Craftsman units are no different, especially the larger ones, but you can do your ears a favor by picking up one of their inverter generators rather than their traditional builds.
Fitted with sound-dampening enclosures, these things run as close to quiet as generators get.
How Long Will A Craftsman Generator Last?
They may not be the most expensive generators in the world, but that doesn’t mean that Craftsman generators aren’t built to stand the test of time.
With proper care and maintenance, you can expect a Craftsman unit to last between 25 and 40 years, which equates to roughly 10,000 to 30,000 running hours — Not bad, huh?
Do Craftsman Generators Have Electric Starts?
Certain Craftsman generators do indeed have electric starts, making them a great option for those who perhaps don’t want to rag on a pull-start every time they need some portable power.
Having said that, I find the pull-starts on Craftsman generators to be quite impressive, always firing the unit up within 3 pulls.
There you have it — Four of the best Craftsman generators that you should seriously consider if you’re on the hunt for a reliable and well-priced portable power solution. While Honda is the undisputed king of the generator industry, you really can’t go wrong with a Craftsman!