6 Lightweigh and Portable 1000-watt Generators That Won’t Let You Down
Last updated: Apr 28, 2020
53Hours of Research
When you need a small amount of power on the go, there are few tools better than a 1,000-watt generator. These miniature generators are compact, lightweight, and quiet, yet provide enough power to run several appliances or power tools.
In order to help you find the best 1,000-watt generator, we reviewed 13 different models that have received praise from customers. The WEN 56125i took our Editor’s Choice award out of that initial list thanks to its full 1,000 watts of running power, two included USB ports, and modest price tag. We also took a close look at five other generators that can help meet your power needs.
Top Six 1,000-watt Generators Review 2020
When choosing the best 1,000-watt generator, we considered a number of different factors. First, we looked at whether each generator was an inverter or conventional generator, since this affects efficiency and what electronics you can plug into it. We also considered the number and types of outlets and the amount of noise that the generator produces. Finally, we looked at the size and weight of each candidate generator – after all, these will affect how portable it really is. At the end, we narrowed our picks down to the six generators highlighted in the table below. Continue reading for detailed reviews of each 1,000-watt generator. Our buying guide covers everything you need to know about these portable generators in order to get the right one for your needs. Finally, we’ll sum up our three overall favorite 1,000-watt generators on the market today.
This relatively inexpensive 1,000-watt generator from Wen packs a serious punch. To start, it offers a full 1,000 watts of running power and 1,250 watts of surge power. It’s an inverter generator, which makes it safe to use with all of your sensitive electronics as well as relatively fuel-efficient.
Users appreciated the five-hour runtime at 50% load, which is on par with some of the more expensive generator options we reviewed. The Eco Mode switch is a nice touch as well, as it allows you to increase fuel efficiency when you’re only using a fraction of the generator’s potential power output. While the 51-decibel noise production puts this generator in the middle of its class rather than at the front of the pack, users found that it was plenty quiet to hold a conversation around.
We liked that Wen included a pair of USB outlets in addition to the two 120-volt outlets. However, keep in mind that there is no 12-volt DC outlet for battery charging on this generator.
At just 31 pounds, this generator is pretty easy for one person to carry. Users also thought the handle design on the top of the generator was good enough.
This Yamaha inverter generator is expensive, at more than twice the price of our Editor’s Choice Wen. But, it’s hard to beat the reliability of a four-stroke Yamaha engine – as evidenced by the fact that Yamaha offers a three-year warranty to residential users and a whopping two-year warranty for commercial users.
This generator also has a number of advantages over the Wen generator. It’s quieter, starting out at just 47 dB of noise and maxing out at 57 dB. It also has a 12-volt DC outlet, although it lacks USB ports for charging small electronics. It’s also the lightest 1,000-watt generator we reviewed, which is a big plus for portability.
In other respects, it gets a little harder to justify the price of this generator. It only provides 900 watts of running power and 1,000 watts of surge power – users noted that having a bit more starting juice would really increase its versatility. In addition, the runtime is on par with what the rest of the 1,000-watt generator pack offers.
This Honda generator is for people who don’t want to hear any noise at all. It produces just 42 dB of sound, which is incredibly quiet – it’s nearly 10 times quieter than our Editor’s Choice Wen generator for the same power output. In fact, the maximum amount of noise produced by this generator at 900 watts of power is still less than the Wen produces when you simply turn it on.
Of course, that kind of quiet technology comes at a price – this generator is roughly on par with the price of the Yamaha model. It offers the same power specifications as the Yamaha, and Honda is just as well-regarded for the reliability of its engines. However, Honda only backs this generator with a two-year residential and one-year commercial warranty.
While this generator has a pair of 120-volt outlets and a 12-volt DC outlet, users would have liked to see a pair of USB ports for small electronics. In addition, the runtime is extremely short – just seven hours at a 25% load. That means that while this generator may be quiet, it will need to be turned off and refueled far more frequently than any of the other options we reviewed.
The iGen1200 is a tempting inverter generator in the mid-price range from Westinghouse. It offers an impressive 1,200 watts of surge power and a full 1,000 watts of running power. Unfortunately, though, the nine-hour runtime at a 25% load is shorter than what some of its competitors offer.
Still, users liked that this generator was pretty quiet, starting at just 52 dB. Like the Wen generator, it has two 120-volt outlets and a pair of USB ports, but no 12-volt DC outlet. The outlet covers are a nice touch, especially if you plan to use this generator in poor weather conditions.
In terms of portability, we would have liked to see a few pounds shaved off this generator. When it’s full of fuel, it can actually be a bit difficult for one person to carry this unit. However, users liked the design of the top carry handle, which is patterned to give you extra grip.
The other advantage to this generator is that Westinghouse provides a three-year, rather than two-year, warranty. Still, given how similar it is to our Editor’s Choice Wen in so many other respects, this is one of the few areas where this generator really justifies its higher price tag.
This conventional generator from Firman offers a bit more power than most of the inverter 1,000-watt generators we’ve seen. The 1,300 watts of surge power can give you a lot more flexibility when starting up motor-drive appliances, which increases the potential uses for this generator.
At the same time, the conventional build means that this generator is cheap. It’s just over half the price of the cheapest inverter generator we looked at, and the price tag makes it a relatively low-risk purchase.
That said, there are some definite drawbacks to choosing a conventional generator over an inverter. The 63 dB of noise makes this generator 10 times louder than the Wen generator, and 100 times louder than the Honda model. It’s also heavy, at 45 pounds, so it may not be the best choice if portability is critical to you.
Still, users were overall pretty happy with the runtime – 9 hours at a 25% load – and outlets on this generator. It also has an analog voltmeter, which allows you to monitor how much wattage you’re drawing at any time. Users also liked the three-year warranty, although keep in mind that it drops to just 90 days for commercial users.
This conventional generator from DuroStar is ideal if you need power on a budget. At just over $100, this generator is a serious steal and perfect for anyone who only plans to use the portable power it offers on rare occasions.
The biggest drawback to this generator is that it’s noisy. Users compared it to a loud lawnmower, which means that you’d want to consider using ear protection if you’ll be standing next to the generator for an extended period of time.
While the generator has a two-stroke engine, users were pretty happy about the runtime. DuroStar built the generator to be a bit large, with a one-gallon tank. That allows it to run for fully six hours at 50% load before it needs to be refueled.
On the other hand, portability could be better. The generator is box-shaped, which makes it bulky and awkward to carry. It’s not as heavy as the Firman conventional generator, but at 39 pounds, it’s not light, either. If portability is critical to you, this isn’t the generator that we’d most recommend.
For the price, users were thrilled to get a three-year residential warranty. However, beware that the warranty period drops to just one year for commercial users.
Three-year residential warranty
Not the heaviest conventional generator
Long six-hour runtime at 50% load
Bulky and not all that portable
Only one-year warranty for commercial users
No 12-volt DC outlet
Now that you’ve learned more about our six favorite 1,000-watt generators, how do you choose the right one for you? In our buying guide, we’ll highlight just what 1,000 watts can do for you as well as point out the important features that you need to know about to get the perfect generator. We’ll also answer some common questions asked by first-time generator buyers.
What can a 1000-watt generator power?
A thousand watts may not seem like much, especially when you consider that heavy-duty generators can provide 10,000 watts or more. But, depending on what you need power for, a 1,000-watt generator may be more than you need, but if even 1000-watt output is exceeding your needs, you’d rather opt for a portable power station.
A thousand watts is enough to run a lot of modern electronics. Your laptop probably only requires around 300 to 500 watts to power (you’ll want an inverter generator for this), while a flat-screen television typically uses less than 200 watts. You can also use your generator to run lights – 60 watts each, or only 12 watts each if you have LED bulbs. Your dishwasher, coffee machine, and slow cooker can also run on just a few hundred watts each.
Keep in mind that 1,000-watt generators aren’t necessarily well-suited for the kitchen or work sites.
While a refrigerator may only use a few hundred watts to run, the startup power requirements are likely to exceed 1,000 watts. The same is true for many motor-powered appliances and power tools, like air conditioning units, table saws, and outdoor yard tools like electric leaf blowers.
Important features to consider before you buy a 1000-watt generator
Now that you have an idea of what appliances and electronics you can run with your generator, it’s important to think about the features that affect how you can power those. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the things you need to consider when choosing a 1,000-watt generator, but if you are interested in more powerful models, be sure, that there are other portable generators, which will provide you with up to 10,000-watt.
Generator type: conventional or inverter
The biggest difference between 1,000-watt generators is whether they are conventional generators or inverter generators. Conventional generators, like the DuroStar DS1050 and Firman P01001 models, use a traditional generator design to produce energy. They are typically inexpensive, but not particularly quiet or fuel-efficient. More important, the energy is “dirty” enough that these generators aren’t safe to use with sensitive electronics like phones and computers.
Inverter generators tend to be slightly more expensive, but they have a lot of benefits. First, they are safe to use with all of your electronics. In addition, inverter generators tend to be quieter and more fuel-efficient than conventional generators. Another advantage is that if you have two units of the same model of an inverter generator, you can connect them in parallel to double your available power.
The engine is at the heart of any generator, so it’s essential to ensure that you get a reliable engine. Most inverter generators come with engines between 50 to 60cc volumes – look for four-stroke models, as these are more fuel-efficient than older two-stroke engines. Conventional generator engines are no less reliable, but are slightly larger in size. For example, the Firman P01001 generator includes an 80cc OHV engine.
We should point out that certain brands, like Honda and Yamaha, are known for the reliability of their engines, and especially taking into account that the Yamaha model is considered to be one of the best among Yamaha generators. While these are expensive, the generators are likely to last for years or decades if properly maintained.
Fuel tank capacity and runtime
The fuel tank capacity and engine efficiency together determine the runtime of your generator. Runtime is important because when you run out of fuel, you have to power down your generator and let the engine cool down before you can add more gas – a process that means you’ll be without power for around 20 minutes.
Most 1,000-watt generators offer around four to six hours of runtime at a 50% power load. The DuroStar generator offers six hours, while the Yamaha generator offers 12 hours at 25% load.
Keep in mind that while a larger fuel tank may be good for runtime, it also takes up more space. So, a generator with a more sizable fuel tank may be slightly larger and less portable.
It’s important to think about what you plan to power with your generator when considering what outlets you need. If you need three-pronged 120-volt outlets to power your computer, for example, it’s important to make sure your generator comes with those. USB outlets, which are found on the Wen and Westinghouse generators, can be particularly helpful for powering a smartphone or other small device without using up one of the 120-volt outlets.
A 12-volt DC outlet for charging batteries is important if you plan to keep your generator with your car or boat.
Generators aren’t the quietest tools, although 1,000-watt generators are small enough that you won’t wake the neighbors or need ear protection to use them. Inverter generators are much quieter than conventional ones, with most models averaging just over 50 dB at a 25% load. The Honda generator is impressively quiet, with a minimum noise production of just 42 dB. Conventional generators, on the other hand, typically produce between 60 and 90 dB of noise – between 10 and 1,000 times as loud!
Size, weight, and portability
If you plan to travel with your 1,000-watt generator, portability is a major concern. Most 1,000-watt generators are small compared to more powerful models, but they do vary quite a bit in size and weight. The lightest 1,000-watt generator we reviewed is the 28-pound Yamaha, while conventional generators like the Firman weigh over 40 pounds, even though Firman generators also come with much more powerful and for that reason heavier models than this one particular generator. Keep in mind that none of the 1,000-watt generators we reviewed are mounted on wheels.
A generator is a significant investment, and you want to be sure it will last. Many of the generators we reviewed come with three-year warranties, although some only offer two years. Beware if you plan to use your generator on a commercial basis, as many manufacturers offer much more limited warranty periods for commercial users.
Yes, inverter generators are almost always quieter than their conventional counterparts for the same power. Keep in mind that a difference of 10 dB is a difference of 10 times more noise – so conventional generators that are 10 to 20 dB louder are significantly louder!
It’s not a good idea to power sensitive electronics like laptops and smartphones with a conventional generator. The reason is that these generators put out electricity with a lot of distortion, which can damage sensitive circuits and electronic controllers. Inverter generators reduce distortion and so are safe to use with these sensitive electronics.
Our three overall favorite 1,000-watt generators on the market today are the Wen 56125i, the Yamaha EF1000iS, and the Honda EU1000i. All three of these models are inverter generators, and the Yamaha and Honda models are known for the reliability of their engines. The Honda generator stands out for being ridiculously quiet, with a maximum noise production of just 50 dB. It’s priced competitively with the Yamaha generator, which we liked a little better because it’s still relatively quiet while offering a longer runtime and extended warranty policy. We think the Wen 56125i is the overall best 1,000-watt generator because of how much you get for half the price of the Yamaha and Honda models. It offers 1,250 watts of surge power, plenty of runtime, and a pair of USB outlets for powering your small electronics. While it’s not the quietest or lightest generator in its class, the modest price tag more than offsets these drawbacks for us. And please keep in mind that 1,000 watt generators are also being made by other respectable manufactures, like for example Ryobi generators have lots to offer, so if you would like to extend the comparison in order to make the best choice, you are most welcome.