Best Home and Camping Inverter Generators for the Money 2017

Updated on November 7, 2017
Yamaha and Honda make the most reliable inverter generators on the market. The extra cost is typically worth it in the long-run.
Yamaha and Honda make the most reliable inverter generators on the market. The extra cost is typically worth it in the long-run.

5 Good-Value Inverter Generators

A good inverter generator not only provides you with backup power in the case of an emergency, but it is also more energy efficient than conventional generators.

These are just a few of the reasons why you might consider an inverter generator over the much less expensive conventional type.

In this post, I'll explain how inverter generators work and give you a short list of my five favorites for the money.

See the thumbnail for the full decibel level scale.
See the thumbnail for the full decibel level scale.

Inverter Generators vs. Conventional or Standard Generators

Weight

While standard generators use heavy copper coils to generate raw electricity, inverter generators use a lighter alternator. Because of this and a smaller gas tank they are generally much lighter and more portable than your standard generator. Some of the more portable options weigh as little as 30 pounds.

Fuel Efficiency

Inverter generators are up to 40% more efficient than conventional generators. This is because conventional models must run at a full 3600 RPMs in order to function where an inverter can adjust its speed in order to give it better fuel economy.

Parallel Operation

Many inverter generators can work side by side meaning you can join multiple units together as a way to backup your home appliances or RV when you are out on the road

Noise

Standard generators are considerably louder than an inverter generator. Most of this is because again they don't need to run at full RPMs and are therefore quieter when operating; however, even at full capacity they are generally quieter than their standard generator counterparts. Here's a graph that lists various Honda models and compares their decibel levels:

This is a quick look at how an inverter generator functions.
This is a quick look at how an inverter generator functions. | Source

Clean Energy

Perhaps the best and most important reason to consider an inverter generator is because of its clean energy. Today's latest computers, laptops, and even appliances are now geared with sensitive electronic equipment.

While a standard generator may be less expensive you're not protected from dips in power.

While this is probably fine for your lights, drill, or well pump, it's not ok for sensitive electronics like your computer or TV.

1st they procure the AC power at up to 20,000 HZ, then they convert the AC power to DC power, then they convert that DC power to AC power at 120 Volts or 60Hz. With these pure sine waves you can feel safe in powering any device, and even sensitive ones like you computer, and feel confident that your devices won't get damaged.

If you want a standard generator that can power sensitive electronics then you'll need one with AVR or automatic voltage regulation. This is also sometimes labeled as True Power Technology. These types of units are typically sold at a premium.

Either way you can get additional protection by using an uninterruptable power supply or UPS.

Price

Conventional generators are much less expensive than inverter generators. If you're not running sensitive electronics, then conventional is probably the way to go.

Maximum Output

While there are some expensive inverter models that have high capacity or can operate in parallel operation to achieve high levels of power, in general, you'll get a higher capacity out of a standard generator unit.

How Much Power do you need?

Common appliances may require more or less wattage than you may have estimated. Here's a useful spreadsheet that should help you understand just how much wattage you'll need to get with your inverter generator.

Which generator is right for you?

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Best Inverter Generators for the Money

Under $5,000: Yamaha EF6300iSDE Inverter Generator

If you want one of the best inverter generators that money can buy, then the Yamaha EF6300iSDE is at the least, a good place to start. With 6300 watts of power you have enough capacity for just about everything you'd need. For me, this means I can keep my two refrigerators, gas powered-vent furnace, and much more running without a problem. This got a lot of use after we got hit by a hurricane.

More than this, Yamaha's Inverter generator is quiet, easy to start, and somewhat easy to maintain. In addition with Yamaha's quality, you know it should last you a long time.

Maintenance

If you're worried about the maintenance on this generator here's a quick look at what I do in order to keep it running well.

  • After 50 Hours of Running Change the Oil
  • Start it Every Couple of Months and Let it Run for Around 30 Minutes

Other than that, it should be good to go.

Final Thoughts:

Admittedly, spending nearly $4,000 on a generator is a lot of money to put out upfront. However, I've been happy that I didn't go with something cheap.

An Inverter Generator for RV Enthusiasts Under $3,000

In the Under $3,000 category you should compare the EF4500iSE, the Honda EU3000iS, and the newer Yamaha EF3000isE.

Personally I like the EF4500iSE and especially for RV enthusiasts. It gives you maximum fuel efficiency while producing a very minimal level of noise. It also cranks up well in cold weather.

To give you an example of just how quiet it is, I can stand within 10 feet of it and have no issue talking to those around me.

The only downside to this is that it's quite heavy at around 200 pounds. So, you may need assistance if you actually need to lift it up.

Still, overall I think it's worth it to go with a quality Yamaha generator that will last you a long time. This one, is certainly worth its weight.

Portable Inverter Generator Under $2,000

At under $1,400, the EF2400iSHC is one of the top rated models on the market. It'll run your RV air conditioner, microwave, or even your oven while producing clean energy at an efficient level.

5 stars for Yamaha EF2400iSHC Portable Generator

Under $1,000: Yamaha EF2000iS or Newer EF2000iSH (if reasonably priced)

Another really popular model under $1,000 is the Yamaha EF2000iS. At 55 pounds I regularly take it with me to go camping or tailgating. Because it has noise reduction it's not an overly big distraction either.

Under $500: Go With the Hyundai HY2000si

If you're looking for a less expensive model, then I highly recommend the Hyundai models. In particular the HY2000si gives you good capacity and a good level of reliability for the money you're spending. In addition, Hyundai has a good reputation for customer service.

© 2013 Brandon Hart

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