Illustration of two inverter generators side by side

If a generator performs its primary function well, you’ll need to look at features and conveniences to compare models. That’s a particular strength of recreational inverter generators, as you can see in the models below: They offer niceties such as extra receptacles for gadgets and remote control from a smartphone app. Most of them also serve a purpose beyond the tailgate.

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“Recreational inverter generators are really designed to be a portable power source, but in a pinch, you can actually use them to power a few appliances at home,” says Dave Trezza, who heads up Consumer Reports’ generator testing.

All the recreational inverter generators in CR’s ratings max out at 2,000 or fewer watts and weigh about 50 pounds. The portable generators we test range from 4,500 to 7,500 watts and weigh up to 200 pounds. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, check our generator buying guide.

As for the three recreational inverter generators below, they all perform well in our tests and deserve a shout-out for designs that are clearly conceived with the user in mind.

New Portable Generator Safety Features

To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, some new generators feature a built-in sensor that triggers an automatic shutoff if CO builds up to dangerous levels in an enclosed space, and some also have engines that emit less CO in the first place. Recent test data from CR shows that these safety features are likely to save lives.

Consumer Reports recommends portable generators only if they pass our new CO safety technology test. None of these recreational models feature either a CO safety shutoff or a low-CO engine.

As with all generators, these should be used outdoors only, 20 feet from the house, with the exhaust directed away from windows and doors.

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