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What's behind our generator Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 41 models in generators to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Based on power delivery, power quality, run time, noise, and ease of use.
  • Power delivery
    How much wattage models delivered and how well they handled surges in power demand over various loads.
  • Power quality
    A generator's ability to deliver power smoothly, with consistent voltage.
  • Noise
    Measured at 23 and 50 feet from the generator. We recommend hearing protection for standing close by the unit while it's running.
  • Ease of use
    Includes starting, transport (for portables), and helpful features such as fuel shutoff.
  • Run time range
    Our average of how long a generator ran, over various loads, on a full tank of gasoline or diesel fuel, a 20-pound tank for propane-based portables, or a 250-gallon propane tank for stationary models.


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Recommended generators

Recommended generators are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
Wheeled, portable generators are the biggest sellers but you need to keep gas on hand. Stationary generators are larger and more expensive but run on propane or natural gas. If you're looking for information about generators, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Use our generator buying guide to help you choose the best generator for your needs.

Recently reviewed generators

This Smarter tools Portable generator is Gasoline or propane-powered and is rated for 6200 watts. It has:
  • electric start
  • fuel shutoff
  • low-oil shutoff
  • 6 power outlets

Generator buying guide

Blackouts needn't lead to spoiled food and nights by flashlight. Consumer Reports' generator tests show that you can start powering a houseful of lights and appliances for less than $700. But as we found, some important components cost extra.

We focused on moderately priced portable and stationary models that deliver 5,000 to 7,000 watts, enough for most needs. But we also tested some larger models that deliver more power. Portables cost the least and can be stored in a garage or shed when you don't need them. One lower-priced model we tested powered refrigerators, well pumps, and other home gear almost as well as a more expensive top-scorer.

Stationary models install permanently outside your home and start automatically when needed. And because they run on propane or natural gas instead of gasoline, they offer extended or unlimited run time.

Buying a generator is just the beginning. Many models don't come with parts that you'd think would be included with the price. And some could let you down when you need them most or put an added stress on appliances. Here are the details.

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