Portable generators are perfect for when you need power on the go, and they’re available in a huge range of shapes and sizes to suit pretty much every need.
Whether you’re camping or tailgating, having a generator to power your small devices can keep you connected.
The majority of people won’t require the monstrous generator units found on worksites, and you’ll have all the power you need with a more compact, lower-wattage generator which you can easily transport from place to place to suit your needs.
One slight problem is that size is subjective, and what one person may find small might be too big for another person’s purpose, so it’s hard to quantify this.
There’s also the cost to consider, as bigger and more powerful tends to mean more expensive too. We’ve included a range of generators from a budget of $129.99 to $479.00 to try and cover all bases.
In a hurry?If you need some power, pronto, then we recommend the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 as our top pick.
It’s perfect for camping, traveling, trips away, or in an emergency due to its compact size and multiple useful features.
OUR TOP PICK
When we were scouring the internet for portable generators the best we could find was the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer, from a company that has been bringing us outdoor, green power solutions for power on the go since 2012.
Good news for the environmentally conscious because this generator uses 100% green energy and doesn’t produce any harmful fumes or toxins.
And it’s quiet! It can provide you with 240 watts of power per hour for charging your devices and running small appliances as it has a lithium-ion battery pack that can be recharged.
It’s also compatible with Jackery Solar Saga which can be purchased separately, and it comes with the power station, an AC adaptor, a car charger cable, and a user guide.
You get all this for a very reasonable price, so there’s no doubt that this is one of the best small portable generators currently available.
- Environmentally friendly option, 100% green, and no harmful fumes produced
- You can recharge it even while you’re using it thanks to the solar panel
- It doesn’t make a lot of noise when it’s running
- Highly portable and easy to transport
- It includes a lithium-ion battery pack for charging in your car
- It features connectors including an AC outlet, two USB-A ports, and 1 DC carport
- Multiple safety features such as short circuit protection, overcharge, overvoltage, and a number of others
- We couldn’t find any!
Coming in at a close second is this FlashFish portable power station which can charge devices less than 200 watts.
You can even use this reliable generator to power your CPAP machine and it’s portable enough to take with you when you travel with a conveniently placed soft handle for carrying and a weight of just 4.07lbs.
It’s equipped with a lithium battery pack that can be recharged, and it’s compatible with a 15-24 volt solar panel which needs to be purchased separately.
You’ll know when you need to recharge because there’s a multifunction LCD display that shows you how much power you have left.
There’s a number of safety features that protect you and your appliances, and it’s one of the most affordable options we’ve included in this list so it offers great value for money.
- Most affordable option
- It’s lightweight and easy to transport thanks to a soft handle
- It has a multifunction LCD display which shows when you need to re-charge
- It can be charged using separately purchased solar panels
- There are multiple safety features such as overcurrent, overvoltage, and over-heating to protect you and your devices
- It’s backed by a 12-month warranty with a friendly customer service team on hand to help you with any questions or inquiries you have
- Doesn’t last as long as stated when running CPAP machines
Next up we have the EF ECOFLOW River portable power station, a more expensive option than what we’ve seen so far but with a higher power output of 600 watts to go with the higher price tag.
Despite packing a powerful punch with a 288Wh output, it’s small and compact in size which makes it easy to take it with you on camping weekends or road trips.
There’s also an extra battery that allows you to boost the River 600 to 576Wh. If you purchase a separate solar panel then you can also use this to re-charge your generator.
The settings are simple and user-friendly with an EcoFLow app that gives you more control over your power usage.
If you have the extra money to spend on a portable generator then it’s definitely worth it.
- It has a higher power output of 600 watts
- It’s small and compact in size for easy transportation
- You can use the X-Boost mode to support more devices
- It comes with an extra battery included
- It’s compatible with solar panel charging
- More expensive option
Next, we have the Progeny portable power station which is a great option to take with you on the go.
It’s small enough to transport easily and you won’t need much space to store it in.
You’ll get 25 charges out of this generator for your smartphone device or you can use it for a number of other purposes, for example, charging your laptop or powering your mini-fridge for approximately 6 to 8 hours.
It’s ideal to take with you camping and you can even power your CPAP machine if you experience a power outage.
It features a pure sine wave AC output to 300 watts continuous, three DC ports (10A/120W max), three built-in USB-A, one USB-C, and one wireless charger on top of the unit.
It’s super reliable and can be re-charged in a short amount of time, with a number of safety features to ensure your protection, such as overvoltage, overcurrent, and overheating protection.
- Incredibly lightweight and easy to carry
- There are multiple safety features to protect you and your appliances
- It can be charged up quickly
- It will charge your smartphone around 25 times
- Reduced chances of devices shutting down when there’s low power
- Slightly loud when it’s in operation
The next portable generator on our list is the Rockpals portable generator which has been upgraded to a 250-watt powerful AC, USB, and 12-volt outputs.
You now get two instead of one AC outputs, two built-in USB 2.1A, and four DC 12V (60W) ports.
You can use this generator to charge a number of devices, including your tablets, smartphones, laptops, and small appliances like a fan, television, or lighting.
Whether you’re away for the weekend or experiencing a power outage, you can rely on the Rockpals like you would a friend and you can re-charge it via three different methods so you’ll never have to be without power.
Choose from solar charging (solar panels sold separately), charging the battery pack for 8 hours via a wall outlet, or charging the portable power station into your car’s 12-volt socket.
The gas-free generator also runs on clean power making it faster, cooler, and quieter.
- Multiple ports to connect to your devices
- It’s compatible with solar generator MPPT technology
- Small and lightweight in size and weight
- The pure sine wave inverter runs on clean power
- It’s quiet when it’s in operation
- The battery doesn’t last as long when powering CPAP machines
If you’re looking for a little more power but without paying high-end prices, the BALDR portable power station is the perfect compromise.
It can provide you with 330 watts of power which is more than the average small generator and is sufficient for charging phones, tablets, computers, and other small appliances.
It’s perfect for longer trips and it re-charges quickly taking just 5 to 8 hours to reach the full battery, and you can choose to charge it in one of three ways.
It has all the necessary safety features, including short circuit protection, overcurrent protection, overvoltage protection, overload protection, and overheating protection, so it’s safe to say it’s pretty well protected.
It features a built-in multi-mode flashlight, so if you’re in an emergency situation it’s a great generator to have on hand as it’ll be able to charge up your mobile phone so you can call for assistance.
- Slightly higher power output than average
- It has a number of protective features to extend the life of the battery
- It has a built-in multi-mode flashlight for emergency use
- You can re-charge it three ways
- It’s easy to use
- It can reach maximum charge in just 5 to 8 hours
- Solar panels can’t be connected to recharge while it is in use
- Some customers have found that it doesn’t run CPAP machine for as long as stated
For those who have more money to spend on a portable generator or if you’re looking for something that packs a bit more power, we definitely recommend the Wen 56203i Super portable inverter generator which supplies a huge 2000 watts of power.
It definitely leans a little on the medium side of small but it’s still easily transportable at 39lbs.
It’s surprisingly quiet given its size and power so you won’t have to worry about it disrupting conversation around the campfire.
It includes two three-prong 120-volt receptacles, one 12 DC receptacle, two 5V USB ports, and it’s all backed by a two-year warranty.
The automatic fuel shutoff will extend the lifespan of the generator as it uses up the remaining fuel that’s left in the carburetor before it fully shuts down.
- It has a much higher wattage power output
- It’s quiet during operation
- It features automatic fuel shut off and other safety features
- It’s backed by a two-year warranty
- Expensive option
- Their customer support could be friendlier and more helpful
Next, we looked at the Westinghouse iGen1200 portable inverter generator which is one of the quietest in terms of operating volume for a generator of this size.
It’s on the slightly pricier side but from a tried and tested brand that has a proven track record of producing high-quality generators.
You can achieve 1000 rated watts and 1200 peak watts with this EPA and CARB compliant generator, which is a lot of power for such a compact unit.
It’s lightweight at just 33lbs and with the convenient handle on top of the generator, you’ll find it easy to carry it with you when you’re on the go.
It’s perfect for use around the campsite as it has a quiet operating volume at 52 dBA and a run time of up to 9 hours on a 0.8-gallon gas tank.
There’s even an Economy Mode that allows you to maximize your fuel efficiency and if you purchase the Westinghouse parallel cord that comes separately you can connect the iGen1200 with the Westinghouse WH2200iXLT, iGen2200, and iGen2500 to increase the available wattage and amperage.
- It’s EPA and CARB compliant
- It weighs just 33lbs so it’s easy to transport
- It’s perfect for home use, travel use, and in the case of an emergency
- It’s quiet when it’s running
- You can use the Economy Mode to maximize your fuel efficiency
- They offer a nationwide customer service network
- It’s on the pricier side
- It can scratch quite easily during assembly and disassembly
Another option that is definitely worth your consideration is the 150-watts portable power station from Aiper, a brand that is committed to designing and producing portable, convenient, and reliable power sources.
You get a lot for your money as it sits at the more affordable end of the price spectrum for portable power generators, although it’s not going to be the best option if you’re caught in an emergency power outage as it won’t be enough to power your home essentials.
What it will be good for is when you’re traveling or camping and you need some backup power to charge up your small electronic devices like a smartphone, tablet, or even your laptop if you can’t afford to be disconnected from your work email while you’re away for the weekend.
If you’re planning on relaxing, it can also be used to power your radio, television, or fans and it features multifunctional outputs to accommodate such a range of purposes.
- It efficiently charges your electronic devices for longer
- There are a number of outputs so you can charge or power a number of devices
- It’s super lightweight at just 3.52lbs and is compact in shape
- It features all the necessary safety features including a built-in battery management system, short circuit protection, overcurrent protection, overpower protection, low voltage protection, and overpower protection
- Aiper offers a 45-days replacement or full refund period with a 12-months worry-free warranty and a 24-hours friendly customer service line
- It has one of the smallest wattage outputs of all the options we’ve included
Last but not least, we had to include another top find from Westinghouse, although this one’s from the higher end of their price range.
The WH2200iXLT portable inverter generator is super quiet when it’s running as it only produces 52 dBA of noise volume despite its slightly hefty 43lbs weight.
It also packs a lot of power into the easily portable unit, reaching 1800 rated watts and 2200 peak watts running on gas.
It’s ideal for home use in case of an emergency or when you need some backup power as it can run all essential home appliances.
The fuel consumption is super efficient with up to 13 hours of run time on a 1.3-gallon gas tank with the option to use the Economy Mode to further boost efficiency.
- It has a high wattage output and can easily handle all home essentials
- There are two 120-volt 20 Amp outputs
- It features an Economy Mode so you can maximize your fuel efficiency
- It’s extremely quiet and only products 52 dBA of noise volume
- It has a run time of approximately 13 hours on a 1.3-gallon gas tank
- You’ll be paying out big bucks for this backup power generator as it’s one of the most expensive options we’ve included in this list
- Slightly heavier than some of the other models we’ve looked at
Top 10 Smallest Portable Generators Buying Guide
How Much Power Should You be Packing?
Either limited space or the need for portability already dictates that you need a small-sized portable generator, but you can still choose from a range of wattage outputs. In general, the lower the wattage the smaller the generator will be, but there are some exceptions to the rule.
So how much power do you really need? The answer will depend on the number of devices or small appliances that you’re planning to power. If you write down a list of the typical things you’ll be charging and add them up to get a total wattage you’ll have a good guide.
You can base your decision around this number, but leave yourself a little bit of leeway and go slightly higher so that your generator isn’t constantly running under a full load.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do portable generators work?
Portable generators run on a gas-powered engine that generates electricity via an on-board alternator which you can then use to power your devices and appliances.
You do this by plugging an extension cord into one of the available outputs, although the exact ones depend on the generator you choose as more powerful units typically have more options.
What size generator do you need for camping?
The answer to this question depends on how much equipment you’re taking.
If you mainly want a backup power source to charge your small devices a few times during the trip then a small, low-wattage portable generator will be sufficient, but if you want to run larger appliances like your television, constant lighting, heaters, fans, and mini-fridges you’ll need to look for something above 300 watts.
Can a portable generator run all day?
Most small portable generators can run for a minimum of 5 to 8 hours when fully charged, and some of the higher-end units allow you to re-charge the generator’s battery whilst still charging or powering your devices.
We hope this article has been helpful and that you now have a better understanding of what makes a great generator.
We’ve shown some of the best small portable generators that are currently available, and while they each have their own advantages, any one of them would be a great appliance to help you power your small devices, wherever you are.
Let us know in the comments if you have a portable generator and what you use it for. If you’ve just bought one, which generator did you go for? We’d love to hear from you!