Cheap Generators – What Are The Best Buys?

A cheap generator does by no means refer to a bad generator. There is a good selection of reasonably priced and low-priced generators available on the market – some of which should, without, doubt, be avoided.

Throughout this guide, we’re going to cover the 5 best cheap generators that you can buy. In each mini-review, we’ll go through all of the points that are great about the generator, as well as what we think could be better. We’ll provide a non-biased recommendation, as well as suggestions as to which generators are best for which uses.

DuroStar DS4000S Gas Powered 4000 Watt Portable...
Duromax XP4850EH 3850 Running Watts/4850 Starting...
Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable...
Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Generator Rechargeable...
A-iPower SUA2000iV Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable...
DuroStar DS4000S
Duromax XP4850EH
Champion 3800 Watt DF
Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Solar
A-iPower SUA2000iV
Starting 4000W - Running 3300W
Starting 4850W - Running 3850W
Starting 4750W - Running 3800W
Starting 300W - Running 250W
Starting 200W - Running 1600W
Fuel Type: Gas Capacity: 4 gal.
Fuel Type: Gas/Propane Capacity: 3.96 gal.
Fuel Type: Gas/Propane Capacity: 3.4 gal.
Fuel Type: Solar
Fuel Type: Gas/Propane Capacity: 1.1 gal.
Tank Run-Time @ 50% Load: 8 hrs.
Tank Run-Time @ 50% Load: 10.42 hrs.
Tank Run-Time @ 50% Load: 9 hrs.
Recharge Time: 7-9 hrs
Tank Run-Time @ 50% Load: 9 hrs.
Noise Level @ 25% Load: 94 dB
Noise Level @ 25% Load: 69 dB
Noise Level @ 25% Load: 68 dB
Noise Level @ 25% Load: 0 dB
Noise Level @ 25% Load: 50 dB
Weight: 69 lb.
Weight: 127 lb.
Weight: 119 lb.
Weight: 5.5 lb.
Weight: 50 lb.
Warranty: 1-Year
Warranty: 1-Year
Warranty: 3-Year
Warranty: 18-Months
Warranty: 3-Year
Price: $$
Price: $$
Price: $$
Price: $$
Price: $$
DuroStar DS4000S Gas Powered 4000 Watt Portable...
DuroStar DS4000S
Starting 4000W - Running 3300W
Fuel Type: Gas Capacity: 4 gal.
Tank Run-Time @ 50% Load: 8 hrs.
Noise Level @ 25% Load: 94 dB
Weight: 69 lb.
Warranty: 1-Year
Price: $$
Duromax XP4850EH 3850 Running Watts/4850 Starting...
Duromax XP4850EH
Starting 4850W - Running 3850W
Fuel Type: Gas/Propane Capacity: 3.96 gal.
Tank Run-Time @ 50% Load: 10.42 hrs.
Noise Level @ 25% Load: 69 dB
Weight: 127 lb.
Warranty: 1-Year
Price: $$
Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable...
Champion 3800 Watt DF
Starting 4750W - Running 3800W
Fuel Type: Gas/Propane Capacity: 3.4 gal.
Tank Run-Time @ 50% Load: 9 hrs.
Noise Level @ 25% Load: 68 dB
Weight: 119 lb.
Warranty: 3-Year
Price: $$
Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Generator Rechargeable...
Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Solar
Starting 300W - Running 250W
Fuel Type: Solar
Recharge Time: 7-9 hrs
Noise Level @ 25% Load: 0 dB
Weight: 5.5 lb.
Warranty: 18-Months
Price: $$
A-iPower SUA2000iV Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable...
A-iPower SUA2000iV
Starting 200W - Running 1600W
Fuel Type: Gas/Propane Capacity: 1.1 gal.
Tank Run-Time @ 50% Load: 9 hrs.
Noise Level @ 25% Load: 50 dB
Weight: 50 lb.
Warranty: 3-Year
Price: $$

DuroStar DS4000S – The All Rounder

The Durostar DS4000S is a powerful generator that runs on gasoline. Its maximum wattage is 4000 watts and it has a running output of 3300 watts. We consider the DS4000S to be the best all-rounder cheap generator on our list for a number of reasons. It’s powerful, very well priced, and offers numerous features that are often found on more high-class generators.

As with every generator on the market, there are good things and some points where there is room for improvement. Luckily, in the case of the DS4000S there are a great many points that underpin why it’s being included in our guide to the best cheap generators.

DuroStar is a brand that’s well-regarded for making well-built products that are both powerful and cost-effective.

The DS4000S comes with a regular pull starter designed for the easiest possible use. People comment on how easy it is to start both on cold days and when it hasn’t been used for a period of time.

The DS4000S is well-equipped and comes with a system that will automatically detect if/when the engine is not sufficiently lubricated by oil. If this happens, the engine will stop running and wait to be refilled with oil. This acts to prevent any major or expensive engine damage.

The generator’s control panel provides useful information. There is both a voltmeter and fuel gauge on the control panel. It’s easy to see the current power output, as well as the amount of power that you’re using at any time you like. Assuming an eye is kept on the fuel gauge, there won’t be any problems with unexpected losses of power.

The Durostar DS4000S boasts a sturdy design that’s perfect for getting well-used. It isn’t considered particularly lightweight as it weighs in at 94 pounds. It’s encased in steel and is extremely hardwearing.

Key Features

  • Surge/Starting Wattage: 4000 watts
  • Continuous Output: 3300 watts
  • Portable – the DS4000S only weighs 94 pounds. There’s also a wheel kit available, that makes moving the generator around even easier
  • Fuel Efficient – when under half load, the DS4000S will keep running for up to 8 hours
  • A Good Choice of Power Sockets– the DS4000S is fitted with numerous outlets for you to plug into. There’s a 120V locking outlet and two 3-Prong 120V sockets
  • Powerful air-cooled engine with 7hp
  • Warranty period of 1 year

The Cons

  • On the heavy side
  • Warranty invalidates if regular recommended maintenance procedures are not applied

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Duromax XP4850EH – The Most Powerful

The Duromax XP4850EH gets the title of the most powerful generator on our list of cheap generators. It’s got a very large amount of power, with a starting wattage of 4850 watts and a continuous output of 3850 watts.

The XP4850EH is a unit that’s very capable of handling both small and large loads. However, the sacrifice with a generator that’s this cheap and powerful is the lack of inverter that it has. If you’re not looking to use the XP4850EH to powerful small and sensitive devices however, this shouldn’t be a problem.

The XP4850 is a generator that’s simple, and exists to create power and really nothing else. It’s a simple machine, and it does what it’s meant to very well.

The control panel on the front of the generator, there is a good variety of power sockets. There’s two standard household 120V sockets, including a 120/240V locking socket that is perfect for using when camping or when using alongside an RV.

The XP4850EH boasts a number of safety features as well. Duromax has made sure that this cheap and powerful generator does not compromise on safety. It’s got an automatic low-oil level detection and machine shutdown should the oil level become too low – ensuring no large repair bills and engine damage.

It’s equipped with some more luxury features too, which are particularly surprising to find on a generator that’s within this cheap price tag. It comes supplied as standard with an electric starting button, so you don’t need to use the recoil starter if you would rather not. Both of these starting options also mean that there are always two means of getting the generator started should one fail.

The XP4850 is dual fuel too, being able to be powered by either propane gas or regular gasoline. It truly is a generator that comes with a surprising number of features considering the price.

Key Features

  • Maximum output of 4850 watts
  • Running wattage of 3850 watts
  • Durable –  the strong and heavyweight frame on the XP4850EH makes it tough
  • 130 pounds in weight
  • Powerful – fitted with a 210cc air-cooled engine
  • Dual Fuel – it’s fitted with a 4 gallon fuel tank, and can be conveniently fuelled by either regular gasoline or propane
  • Efficient – it’s got runtimes of up to 20 hours on propane and 8 hours on gasoline.
  • Quiet – The powerful XP4850EH runs at only 69 decibels
  • Electric and recoil start

Downsides

  • No inverter
  • Not CARB compliant

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Champion 3800 Watt DF – The Dual Fuel Option

The 3800-watt RV-ready Champion generator is a power source that’s ideal for use when camping or when using with an RV. The more powerful generators that champion offers in this range are very highly rated, but so too are the smaller and cheaper units such as this one.

This 3800-watt dual-fuel generator from Champion has features that are similar to those found on Champion’s more expensive units, in a cheap and condensed unit without compromising on quality.

This dual fuel unit has a maximum power output of 4750 watts, and a continuous power output of 3800 watts. It has sufficient reserves of power that allow you to plug most things into it that you’re likely to whilst on the move. It’s RV-ready too, coming fitted with a designated socket.

Among a varied selection of power outlets are two regular 120V power outlets, as well as a 120V RV-ready outlet, and a 120V locking socket. All the sockets have electrical surge protection so any appliances connected to the generator have full protection against any electric shock.

This 3800-watt dual fuel generator has a single-cylinder engine that’s easy to start via the electric start button it’s fitted with as standard. It’s also got cold-start technology installed, making it as easy to start as possible at all times.

It’s not a particularly heavy generator either at just over 100 pounds in advance. However, if you’d rather pull the unit along instead of lifting, it can be very easily done too as it’s provided as standard with wheels that don’t go flat, as well as a comfortable pulling handle.

It’s got an automatic low oil level detection and shutdown, preventing long term engine damage as a result of the engine becoming burnt out. The control panel is fitted with a gauge that informs you of how much power’s being output, as well as giving maintenance advice.

Key Features

  • Camping ready – This generatort comes fitted with a 120V 30A socket that is RV-specific
  • Highly efficient – can provide up to nine hours of power when filled with gasoline, and 10 and a half hours of power with propane gas.
  • Electric start – it’s not necessary with this generator to be concerned about constant recoil starts
  • Dual Fuel with easy switching – the two fuels can easily and quickly be switched
  • CARB Compliant
  • Well-priced

Downsides

  • Could be more power outlets

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Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Solar – The Cheapest

The Rockpals 250 watt portable solar generator is far from being the most powerful in this guide. It is, however, the cheapest by a considerable amount. This doesn’t mean though that it’s not a good choice for people that would like a great value for money unit that still provides high-quality power.

Even though it’s not got a large power output, it’s able to offer features and services that it’s more powerful competitors may not be able to. It’s very good for use alongside small and sensitive devices, due to the high-quality power that it outputs.

Inside, this Rockpals is fitted with a lithium polymer battery that is 60,000mAh in size. This amount of wattage is sufficient for a relatively large electronic device to run from, such as a light or notebook computer, running for a long time.

The maximum power output of this Rockpals unit is 300 watts starting, and 250 continuous watts. It’s fitted with an inverter too, which means that the power it outputs has very little harmonic distortion if any. Clean power of this kind is the power that small and sensitive electronics should be powered by to avoid damaging them.

There is a good number of different power sockets on this 250 watts unit. Some of these include two normal wall outlets and a further four 12V DC outlets. If you’d like to charge smaller devices such as phones and cameras at the same time as other larger appliances, this Rockpals 250 has another two 15W USB ports to cater for this.

This Rockpals 250-watt unit can be charged from either the wall or a solar panel. If the weather is sunny, it’ll be recharged via a solar panel in around 9 hours. If plugged into the wall, the 25o watts Rockpals will regain full charge in as little as 7 hours.

Key Features

  • Extremely Cheap
  • Staggeringly small and lightweight – it weighs only 5.5lbs
  • Very well reviewed
  • Inverter – outputs high-quality power that’s suitable for powering small sensitive electronics
  • Environmentally considerate – it can be charged by solar panel

Downsides

  • No solar panel included – must be purchased at an extra cost
  • No parallel connection possible
  • Cannot be used whilst charging

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A-iPower SUA2000iV – Extra Quiet Cheap Generator

The SUA20009V is one of the quietest cheap generators on the market. It is whisper quiet and very well-priced too.

Even though it’s extremely quiet, it still manages to be really quite powerful too. It’s peak wattage is 2000 watts and this generator can provide a continuous running wattage of 1600 watts. Fitted with an efficient little 79cc that’s made by A-iPower, it’s able to return up to seven hours of run time when used at 50% of its potential. However, it’s also fitted with an economic throttle that adjusts the engine speed to only that that’s necessary to provide the currently required power output. This feature enables it to keep outputting power for up to nine hours when used at half its potential.

However, the A-iPower SUA2000iV isn’t being called the quietest generators on our list of cheap generators for sale for no reason. It’s able to operate at just 50 decibels. This really is very quiet, especially for a generator that’s pumping out 2000 watts of power.

In addition, the SUA2000iV is as  friendly to the environment as it’s possible to be – it’s both CARB and EPA compliant. This not only gives you the reassurance you’re having the least negative environmental impact that’s possible, but it also means you are able to use thsi generator anywhere in the USA because it passes both restrictions.

This A-iPower unit is also able to be connected in parallel with not just any other A-iPower generator, but surprisingly with other brands like Yamaha too. It’s the only generator we have come across that offers this parallel connection with other brands of generator. In our opinion, this demonstrates that A-iPower have truly taken your best interests to heart.

It comes with a three-year warranty too, so there’s no need to worry about losing money on a faulty product.

Key Features

  • Very Cheap
  • Quiet – It runs at just 50 decibels!
  • Very portable – weighing just 50lbs this unit can easily be moved anywhere with its carry-handle
  • Well-reviewed on Amazon
  • Inverter Generator –  the power put out by the SUA2000iV is very high-quality, and is ideally suited to powering electronics that are smaller and more sensitive
  • EPA Compliant
  • CARB Compliant
  • Efficient – when it is in eco-mode, this unit can run for as many as nine hours while at 50% capacity
  • Parallel connectivity – the SUA2000iV can be combined with other generators for increased power

Downsides

  • Not a lot of running power

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Conclusion – Which Unit Is The Best Value For Money?

With a maximum output of 400 watts and a price tag as low as $300, it’s easy to see why the DS4000S generator made it onto our list. However, it’s not exactly lightweight at 94 lbs, and the wheel-kit does come at an extra cost.

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The Duromax XP4850 is an extremely powerful generator for its size. It’s cheap, and it does exactly what it says to a high standard. It does lack an inverter, which may or may not be a problem for some users. If you’re looking to power small devices, this generator may not be the best choice. On the other hand, if you’re looking to power large appliances, it’s a great choice and offers a lot of power for not an awful lot of dollars.

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The Champion 3800W Dual Fuel unit is a great unit if you’re going to be using it for activities such as camping. It’s small and powerful, CARB compliant and produces clean power that’s suitable for more sensitive, smaller devices. However, it is not the cheapest option on our list.

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The Rockpals 250-watt is a great unit for providing small amounts of power to a large number of small appliances. It’s not the best generator for powering very large devices as it quickly becomes overloaded and runs out of power. If you’re looking to buy a small, portable, and very cheap generator for charging devices such as cameras and mobile phones though, it doesn’t get much better.

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The A-iPower SUA2000iV is in our opinion, the best generator on our list of cheap generators. It’s cheap, has plenty of power, and is extremely quiet. It’s a very positively-reviewed generator, and people really don’t have anything bad to say about it whatsoever. It can be used anywhere, it’s portable, and the inverter ensures that it’s current output is of the finest quality.

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Last update on 2019-12-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API