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.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at 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 those that could be improved. We’ll provide a non-biased recommendation, as well as suggestions as to which generators are best for which uses.
DuroStar DS4000S – The All RounderThe DS4000S from Durostar is a powerful gasoline powered generator. It has a maximum wattage of 4000 watts and runs at a continuous wattage 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 a number of features that tend to be found on more high-end generators.
As with all generators, there are some good things as well as some points that could be improved. Fortunately, the DS4000S has a great number of points that make its place on our list of the best cheap generators well-earned.
DuroStar is a brand that has always been well known for providing high-quality products, at a fair price. The DS4000S is designed to be as usable as possible whilst maintaining high build quality, and vast reserves of power.
The DS4000S is fitted with a traditional pull start that has been designed to be as easy to use as possible. Often, users complain about recoil starters. The recoil start on the DS4000S has been very well reviewed, what’s that it is easy to start on cold days and after it has not been used for quite a period of time.
It’s fitted with all of the safety features that you would expect from a high-quality generator as well. It is fitted with a system that automatically detects when the oil level in the engine becomes too low. If this happens, the generator automatically shuts down in order to prevent major engine damage. This also helps to avoid large repair bills in the future.
The control panel is on the front of the generator and has been very ergonomically designed. There is a voltmeter as well as a fuel gauge on this control panel. These are handy features to have as you will be able to see how much power you’re using, and how much fuel you have left. Assuming that you keep an eye on their fuel gauge fitted, you won’t have any problems with an unexpected loss of power.
The DS4000S from Durostar is a generator that has been designed with rugged use in mind. It isn’t particularly lightweight, weighing in at 94 pounds. This is however due to the sturdy steel encasing that allows it to be moved around without concern of breakage. If you would like to make the generator even easier to move around, there is also an optional wheel kit available for purchase.
- A maximum power output of 4000 watts, a continuous power output of 3300 watts
- Portable – the DS4000S can be fitted with a wheel that makes it very portable
- Fuel Efficient – the 4-gallon fuel tank on this generator will allow it to keep going for up to 8 hours when being used at 50% of its load.
- Variety of Power Outlets – The DS4000S comes fitted with a variety of different power sockets, including 2 3-Prong 120V sockets, and another 120-volt twist-lock socket
- Powerful 7 HP air-cooled engine
- Provided with a 1-year limited warranty as standard
- Not lightweight
- Warranty invalidated if you do not carry out the regular recommended maintenance procedures
- POWERFUL DUROSTAR ENGINE: The DS4000s is Powered by a DuroStar 7.0 Hp, air cooled OHV engine w/low oil shutoff.
- PLENTY OF POWER: With 4,000 starting watts and 3,300 running watts, this unit is a workhorse that provides plenty of power to handle multiple jobs from powering high voltage appliances to heavy duty power tools.
- POWER PANEL: Includes a selection of outlets for maximum compatibility in your applications including: 2 120V household outlets and 1 120V 30A twist lock outlet.
- POWERING EVERYONE ANYWHERE: The DS4000s is EPA and CARB approved for use in all 50 states.
Duromax XP4850EH – The Most PowerfulThe 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 running wattage 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, as well as a 120/240V twist-lock socket that’s ideal for use 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.
- 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
- No inverter
- Not CARB compliant
- POWERFUL DUROMAX ENGINE: The XP4850EH is Powered by a DuroMax 7HP, 212cc OHV Engine.
- DUAL FUEL TECHNOLOGY: The ability to run on Propane or Gasoline allows the Freedom and Flexibility of Fuel Choice.
- PLENTY OF POWER: With 4,850 starting watts and 3,850 running watts, this unit can handle heavy loads from lights and a refrigerator to a home air conditioner and high amperage power tools.
- MAXIMUM POWER: With DuroMax MX2 technology, get the maximum power from each of the 120 Volt receptacle. choose between operating the generator at both 120 V and 240 V simultaneously, or at 120 only with full power.
- POWERING EVERYONE ANYWHERE: Like all DuroMax generators, the XP4850EH is EPA and CARB approved for use in all 50 states.
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. This amount of power is more than enough 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.
There’s a good selection of power outlets, with two regular 120V power outlets, a 120V RV-ready outlet, and a 120V locking socket. All sockets have got electrical surge protection too, meaning any appliances you have connected have full protection against 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.
- Camping and RV-Ready – fitted with an RV-specific 120V 30A socket
- Efficient – it’s able to provide up to 9 hours of power when fuelled by gasoline, and 10 and a half hours of power from propane gas.
- Electric start – no need to worry about constant recoil starts with this generator
- Dual Fuel – the two fuels can be easily and quickly switched between
- CARB Compliant
- Could be more power outlets
- Dual Fuel - Runs on GAS or PROPANE straight out of the box. Engine type: 4-stroke, wheel diameter: 8.0 inches
- 4750 starting watts, 3800 running watts with up to 9 hours run time on a full tank of gas and up to 10.5 hours on a 20 lb. propane tank
- Powered by a reliable 224cc Champion engine with Touch Start, push-button electric start (battery included).Gasoline Starting Amps at 120V - 39.6A.Gasoline Running Amps at 120V - 31.7A.Propane Starting Amps at 120V - 35.6A.Propane Running Amps at 120V - 28.5A
- Frequency: 60 Hz. Outlets - 120V 30A RV, 120V 30A locking, two 120V 20A household outlets all secured by Volt Guard, protects your appliances from power surges
- Champion Support - 3 year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support. Refer instruction manual before use.
Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Solar – The CheapestThe Rockpals 250 watt portable solar generator is certainly not the most powerful generator on our list of cheap generators. 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 is more than enough power to keep a relatively large electronic device 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 large variety of power outlets 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.
- 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
- No solar panel included – must be purchased at an extra cost
- No parallel connection possible
- Cannot be used whilst charging
- UPGRADED 250-WATT POWERFUL AC, USB AND 12V OUTPUTS: Comparing to similar battery powered generators, Rockpals RP250W portable generator has upgraded the AC output to 250W continuous (300W surge max) dual AC outputs, built-in 2x USB 2.1A and 4x DC 12V ( 60W ) ports. Perfect emergency backup power for home/ travel/ camping, charging up your tablets, iPhone, iPad, laptops, fans, TV, lights and CPAP machine (*Use ROCKPALS DC converter from your CPAP would get longer hours)
- HIGH CAPACITY LIGHTWEIGHT LITHIUM POWER PACK: 240WH(3.7V 64.8Ah/12V 20Ah) lithium polymer batteries and weights 5.5lb. powerful enough to charge smartphones ( 2500mah ) 25 times, laptops ( 50W ) 3-5 times, 32" TVs ( 75W ) 2-3 hours, mini car refrigerator ( 60W ) about 4 hours or other small appliances, lights, and more (AC output). This solar generator is also very handy to be put on your RV, camper and perfect for emergencies, camping or wherever you need power
- EASILY RECHARGEABLE VIA THREE WAYS: 1)The solar generator can be recharged from the sun with any compatible 60W or 100W solar panel (SOLD SEPARATELY). 2) This battery pack can be fully charged in 8 hours by being plugged into the wall outlet. 3) The portable power station can also be charged by plugging into your car 12V socket. (Car charger included)
- PURE SINE WAVE INVERTER: Better than modified sine wave and clean power like utility supplied electricity. Inductive loads like microwaves and motors run faster, quieter and cooler. Reduces audible and electrical noise in fans, fluorescent lights, audio amplifiers, TV, fax and answering machines. And it is a gas-free source of portable power supply, it runs quiet (The cooling fan on the side of generator will make a slight sound when working), no exhaust fumes
- WHAT YOU GET: Rockpals portable generator (240Wh Portable Power Supply), 6.5ft / 2m AC adapter, 3.3ft / 1m car charger cable, DC to Cig Socket adapter, user guide, our worry-free 18-month warranty and friendly customer service
A-iPower SUA2000iV – Extra Quiet Cheap GeneratorThe SUA20009V is one of the quietest cheap generators that are available on the market. It is a whisper quiet generator that’s very well-priced too.
Even though it’s extremely quiet, it still manages to be really quite powerful too. It’s got a peak wattage of 2000 watts and can provide a continuous running wattage of 1600 watts. It’s fitted with an efficient little 79cc that’s made by A-iPower. It’s able to return up to 7 hours of run time when being 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 allows it to keep outputting power for up to 9 hours when being used at half of 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 only 50 decibels. This really is very quiet, especially for a generator that’s putting out 2000 watts of power.
The SUA2000iV is as environmentally friendly as possible too – it’s both EPA and CARB compliant. Not only does this give you the reassurance that you’re having a minimal negative environmental impact, but it also means that you can use it anywhere in the USA as it passes both restrictions.
This unit from A-iPower can also be connected in parallel with another generator from A-iPower, or surprisingly other brands such as Yamaha too. This is the only generator that we have seen to offer a parallel connection with other brands of generator. In our opinion, it shows that A-iPower truly does have your best interests at heart.
It comes with a 3-year warranty too, so there’s no need to worry about losing money on a faulty product.
- Very Cheap
- Quiet – It operates at only 50 decibels!
- Very portable – it weighs only 50lbs and can be easily moved anywhere via the carry-handle
- Well-reviewed on Amazon
- Inverter Generator – the power that the SUA2000iV outputs is of very high-quality, and is perfectly suitable for powering smaller, more sensitive electronics
- Environmentally considerate – it’s both CARB and EPA Compliant
- Efficient – when the generator is in eco-mode, it will run for up to 9 hours whilst at half capacity
- Parallel connectivity – the SUA2000iV can even be connect4ed in parallel with other brands of generator
- Not a massive amount of running power
- 2000 peak watt/1600 running watt 1. 1-Gal. Fuel tank. Provides up to 7 hours of run time at 50% load
- A-iPower exclusive eco-throttle system provides 9 hour run time at 50% load
- 58D BA noise lvl ensures quiet operation so you won't wake up your neighbor & wife, perfert fit for camping, trailer travel, on site work or power outage. Eba/CARB ready ship to all 50 States
- A-iPower world leading inverter technology provides a safer & Cleaner electric flow for all your application
- Parrelle ready for double power, no parrelle kit or outlets needed for parreling, you can even pair Our generator with Yamaha and other brands
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.
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.
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 the power that it outputs is of the finest quality.
Last update on 2019-06-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API