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Generac have made quite a name for themselves in the generator market over the decades, and considering the wealth of quality models under their belt, their popularity is hardly surprising.
Yet, despite having a relatively fleshed-out catalog of portable generators, these days, they’re mostly known for their large, whole house standby generators.
Now, this could mean one of any number of things… their portable generators underperform, their standby generators are just particularly amazing, or they have more competition in the portable generator market?
To get the lowdown for you and myself on Generac’s portable offerings, I researched the company's history and spent some time testing a few of their most popular portable generators.
Here’s what I discovered!
Generac: A Brief History Of An Enduring Company
Founded way back in 1959, Generac Power Systems cut their teeth supplying portable generators for sale in the infamous Sears catalog.
So, although they’ve taken the standby generator market by storm, they actually got their start engineering smaller units, which gave me my first clue that portable Generac generators might be serious contenders in the modern industry.
Despite being responsible for these early commercial generators, nobody really knew the Generac name, as all generators listed by Sears were sold under the Craftsman brand, a company that would become a dominant force in the generator industry in their own right.
By the time the 70s rolled around, Generac were making a push in the recreational vehicle side of the power generation market to some success, setting the foundation for their first self-branded foray into the industrial and commercial markets in the early 80s.
Are Generac Generators Made In The USA?
Almost all Generac generators are made right here in the USA in one of their many facilities scattered across Wisconsin, with the only exception being their OVH engines.
These are sourced from outside the US.
Would it be better if they were also made in-house on US soil? Yep, but compared to most other big generator brands, they make far more of an effort to keep things close to home — Well done, Generac!
This was my second clue that Generac portable generators might be a real force to be reckoned with and that they had simply been overshadowed in the industry by their larger counterparts.
But that’s enough of a preamble. Let’s take a look at their generators already!
OUR TOP PICK
One of the smallest of Generac’s popular offerings is the GP3300i, a generator with the footprint of an ant and the power of a bear!
The 149cc brushless motor is capable of supplying 3300 watts of starting power and 2500 watts of continuous power, which is enough to power pretty much any household appliance and even a lot of power tools.
You could also power multiple smaller electronics simultaneously with the GP3300i, making it a great option for tailgating, RV adventures, and camping, especially as it doesn’t hog much space in transit, which brings me to my next point…
Weighing only 59.5 lbs and measuring 22.2 x 13.3 x 18.4”, Generac really have the portability factor on lock with the GP3300i.
The built-in handle is both sturdy and ergonomic, so even when transporting it by hand, it’s not much of an imposition.
The GP3300i boasts a pretty versatile 5-outlet panel.
You get two 120V 20A 5-20R outlets for powering all your standard household appliances, two 5V USB DC ports for smaller electronics such as your smartphone and tablet, and a 120V 30A L5-30R twist lock for larger electronics and RV use.
You can also chain the GP3300i in parallel to double up on output and outlets!
As an inverter generator, you expect the GP3300i to have a “liveable” running volume, but at 54–68 dBA, it’s about as quiet as a portable generator gets.
With a 1.2-gallon tank, you wouldn't think the GP3300i could run for too long, but thanks to the inverter technology, you can expect about 10¾ hours at 25% load, meaning it’s a solid choice for keeping essentials running throughout the day or night.
Pros & Cons
- Parallel potential — Chain two to double up output and outlets
- Compact — Perfect for transport
- Inverter technology — Quiet and efficient
- 5 outlets — Versatile application
- Outlet protection — No dust covers
- Handle count — Some lateral handles would be nice
While the GP3300i is capable of firing up some pretty intense power tools, it’s not exactly work-site ready, which is where the GP8000E comes in.
With a robust site-tested steel frame and more watts than you could shake a stick at, professional applications are its bread and butter.
The 420cc air-cooled motor at the heart of the GP8000E tops out at 10,000 starting watts and a very impressive 8000 running watts, meaning it can power a multitude of demanding electronics at the same time — Perfect for the construction site!
That’s not to say that it’s not suitable for the adventurous souls out there who enjoy a good RV or camping jaunt, but it’s nowhere near as portable as the GP3300i.
With a pull-out handle and an integrated set of wheels with puncture-proof tires, once this generator hits the ground, it’s a doddle getting it from A to B, but as it weighs nearly 200 lbs, lifting it requires at least two people.
Worksite-ready generators are often fairly limited in the compatibility department, but the GP8000E bucks the trend with four 120V 20A GFCI 5-20 outlets and an individual 30A L14-30R twist lock so you can power a wide variety of electronics at once.
Again, this makes it great for use on job sites on which multiple workers may need power at the same time.
The GP8000E is a ferocious beast, so it’s no surprise that it has a mighty roar — We’re talking between 70 and 90 dBA depending on the load.
However, it likely won’t be as loud as the electronics it's powering if you’re using it on a job site.
With a 7.9-gallon fuel tank, the GP8000E will rage on for roughly 11 hours at 50% load, meaning it’s more than capable of handling a full 9–5 workday.
Pros & Cons
- 8000 running watts — Suitable for demanding electronics
- Outlet protection — Dust covers a-plenty
- Puncture-proof tires — No terrain is too tough
- 11-hour runtime — Full day’s work and then some
- Pull start only — An electric start would be ideal
- Running volume — I’d recommend ear protection if working close by
If the GP3300i was a little bit too bulky for the applications you have in mind, the Generac GP2500i is the perfect alternative Granted, it’s not quite as powerful, but it still has enough juice to keep the essentials going for a loooooong time!
Pushing out a maximum 2500 starting watts and 2200 running watts, the GP2500 is the master of small electronics.
It’s not going to keep your whole RV afloat, nor is it going to support all that many power tools, but for all things compact, it’s one of the best in the biz.
The best thing about the GP2500i is its portability. With a small 19.7 x 11.4 x 17.9” footprint and an ergonomic handle, it’s not much of a burden to store or transport, making it the best of these three generators for highly mobile activities, especially as it only weighs 48 lbs.
For a compact generator, the GP2500i sure packs one hell of a punch where compatibility is concerned.
You get two 120V 18.3A AC outlets for your typical household appliances, a USB port for effortless charging of small electronics, and a 12V 8A DC outlet for good measure, meaning you can hook this generator up to pretty much any household or camping appliance.
You can expect the GP2500i to run at between 54 and 65 dBA depending on how hard you’re pushing it, so it’s not too noisy to be around, something you’ll appreciate when you’re out in the wilderness attempting to reconnect with nature.
The 1-gallon fuel tank may seem like a drawback of this model, but remember, it’s an inverter generator, so you’ll actually get about 8½ hours runtime out of it, which is more than enough for charging the essentials and keeping a few lights on through the night
Pros & Cons
- Portability — Lightweight and compact
- Compatibility — Wide selection of outlets for the size
- Outlet protection — All but the DC outlet have a dust cover
- Running volume — You can work near it without going deaf
- Output — Not capable of powering demanding electronics
There you have it — Generac’s selection of portable generators is very impressive indeed, and any one of them would make a great addition to your arsenal of moveable power.
They’re pretty reasonably priced as well, so if you’re looking to max out your bang for buck, I highly recommend checking out their full line-up.
Generac may be famous for their backup units, but on their journey to perfecting super reliable, high power generators, they have clearly also mastered the art of the portable power pal!