5 Outstanding Powerhorse Generators – Reviews and Buying Guide
Last updated: Apr 17, 2020
51Hours of Research
Generators are massive sources of energy when there’s a power outage, or when moving around in your RV or taking outdoor excursions like camping. Our attention today on the Powerhorse generators, which are sold by Northern Tool + Equipment Company. Founded in 1981, the brand has a chain of 74 stores across North America all stocked with heavy-duty generators, air compressors, pressure washers, meat mixers, among other power tools and industrial machinery.
Now that you’re on this page looking for the best Powerhorse generators, it is our pleasure to give a rundown of the top models from this brand. After considering 10 Powerhorse generators, we narrowed down to five generators of which we recommended each to certain application as shown in the table below. Our best overall model is Powerhorse 7,500-watt Inverter Generator. With its range of outlets including 120V/240V and USB outlets, 16-hour runtime, easy electric start, and just 55 dB noise level, this unit is perfect to use around the home without interrupting conversations and disturbing your neighbors. Better still, its wattage is just beyond most homes’ needs, which gives room for increasing load.
Top 5 Powerhorse Generators Review 2020
As you would expect, Powerhorse generators are not made equal. This is where our buying guide comes in to help you understand your power needs, whether you need an inverter or conventional generator and crucial safety features that your generator must have. Generators are complex machines and it took us several days to research and prepare this post. We hope the in-depth reviews of our select models will be useful in your decision-making. Let’s dig in.
Our top pick is this Powerhorse 7,500-watt Inverter Generator which is capable of producing 6,500 watts while being able to surge up to 7,500 watts. The generator operates at a quiet 55 dB, making it suitable for both home and office use. It features a dual 120/240 voltage so as to expand usage options and its parallel-ready design makes it easy to connect another 120/240 voltage inverter generator for added power. The required cables to use in an expanded setup are not included though.
Another good feature is the completely copper-wound head that prevents overheating for a longer lifespan. The control panel includes a range of smart functions that indicate operator status and diagnostics such as power output, battery voltage, RPM, and runtime elapsed/remaining. It also includes an electric start that allows for easy and quick starting. The machine comes with an 11.2Ah battery for the electric start function. You can even put the engine to idle to reduce fuel consumption.
With a fuel tank of 6.6 gallons, this Powerhorse can run continuously for 16 hours. That’s more than enough for electricity to be back after an unexpected power outage or even powering devices when camping overnight. Other nice touches include a spark arrester for safety, an automatic choke to restrict airflow into the engine, folding/locking handles for easy carrying and flat-free tires to allow easy movement on the ground. Overall, this model has enough for standard use and it has all the convenient features you need to use it outdoors.
Produces a lot of power up to 7500W
Electric start engine with a battery included
With variable throttle to conserve fuel and minimize noise levels
Comes with folding and lockable handles for easy carrying
Parallel-ready design, allowing for an extra generator invertor to be connected
The Powerhorse 2,000-watt Portable Inverter Generator is a lightweight and compact gas-powered machine with an operating output of 1,600 watts and surge power of 2,000 watts. It utilizes the inverter technology to produce clean consistent power that has under 1.5% total harmonic distortion, making it good for running sensitive appliances and gadgets, including computers, radio equipment, and smartphone chargers. This is simply as safe and dependable as the output from your house sockets.
At 52.2 pounds, this generator falls on the light side of things and it includes a large, sturdy handle to further enhance portability, allowing easy access to power while on the road. It features an engine smart control system that increases fuel efficiency by consuming just enough engine power to carry the connected load. Engine speed is varied by microprocessors to control according to the load demands.
This generator is also designed to operate quietly with a measured noise rating of 52 dB, which is less than normal conversation. This means you can enjoy portable power supply without disturbing the surrounding including neighbors. And because it is parallel-ready, you can easily add a similar unit to the connection using a supplied cable and double up the output to 3,200 watts. Now this will be enough to power virtually all home appliances and devices simultaneously. For anyone seeking a truly portable generator, this Powerhorse 2,000W generator should be on top of your list.
Lightweight machine weighing 52.2 pounds
Offers clean, steady power for sensitive gadgets
Smart engine controls
Quiet operation at just 52 dB
CARB and EPA compliant
Parallel-ready so you can double the output with another generator
If you feel that the 1,600-watt model above is insufficient for your needs, this Powerhorse 3,500-watt Inverter Generator is a decent alternative with twice the amount of power. This one is ideal for RVs, jobsites, tailgating and group camping. The smooth-running machine is ultra-quiet at 57 dB noise level, meaning it won’t drown your conversations thus good for outdoor parties. To further enhance ease of use, Powerhorse outfitted this model with four wheels that move flawlessly on almost any surface.
This machine boasts less than 2% harmonic distortion and so it’s safe and reliable just like what you get from standard electrical outlets. You can trust it to run items such as TVs, computers, power tools and many more. It also benefits from high-quality 100% copper-wound heads for continuous running at maximum load without overheating.
Integral to this machine is the Engine Smart Control plus variable engine speed, which help maximize productivity while minimizing fuel consumption. Along these lines, the model is EPA and CARB certified, thus it meets North American air-quality standards. Moreover, its spark arrestor has been approved by the U.S Forestry so it’s safe to use in forests and parks.
This model uses an electric start (battery included) for hassle-free starting each time and you get up to 11 hours of run time. It also allows connection to another 3,500W or 2,000W Powerhorse generator to increase output.
3,500 watts of power is enough for most uses
Low oil shut down protection
100% copper-wound head to prevent overheating
Engine Smart Control regulates speed according to the load
Easily connects to another 3,500W or 2,000W unit to offer increased power
Easy electric start with battery included
With LCD digital display which shows oil level, output power and overload
Yet another powerful model from Powerhorse, the 7,000-watt Portable Generator delivers remarkable performance, endless peace of mind and an unparalleled value, all in a portable generator. When there’s a blackout, you can rely on this machine to provide light and power for your family and electrical devices, as well as keep your projects going. Apart from emergency situations, this unit is great for camping, parties, tailgating, running power tools, heaters and air compressors.
When it comes to construction, it features industrial-strength cast iron cylinder sleeves and double ball bearing high-performance forged crankshafts, all built to last for years. Premium 100% copper-wound heads allow optimum operation at full load continuously without overheating, while a low oil shutdown providers extra protection and peace of mind.
The control panel is conveniently located for easy access of ON/OFF switch plus other functions. There are also a host of outlets in the form of 8 120V, one 120V/240V and one 12V DC, which let you power multiple appliances and devices simultaneously. Its 6.2-gallon fuel tank provides long run time without refilling or interruptions and an automatic voltage regulation with voltmeter ensures consistent and steady output.
Moreover, this machine is incredibly quiet to allow uninterrupted conversations. It even includes a wheel kit with flat-free tires for easy mobility on the ground. All things considered, this generator includes features that you would expect to pay a lot to get, making it trustworthy for both professionals and DIYers. Powerhorse stands fully behind it with a 2-year warranty.
Suitable for a range of indoor and outdoor uses
Delivers safe and reliable power for sensitive appliances
Built to last engine with cast iron cylinder sleeves
Low oil shutdown function for added protection
Easy-access control panel offers convenient operation
Large fuel tank ensures less refilling and more run time
Lastly, we have this incredible Powerhorse 11,000-watt Portable Generator that’s made for power-hungry jobs and machines at home or on a job site. Fitted with a 100% copper-wound head, this massive generator can drive projects continuously without overheating. In addition, you can safely power sensitive devices as it enjoys less than 5% harmonic distortion.
Delivering outstanding operation at an unbeatable value, this machine will protect your family when there’s a blackout, storms or other natural disasters. It can power devices to keep a big party in the garden and remains a reliable source of energy great for camping or RVing in the backcountry.
The rated power is 5500W and you get two circuits to offer 23amps, each 2750W. Also, there are 8 120V 30A locking outlets, a 120V/240V 35 outlet and a 12V DC outlet, which allow you to power a range of appliances, power tools and mobile devices.
Supplied with this generator is a wheel kit with flat-free tires to enhance mobility. The portable generator also includes folding/lockable handles that make it easy to lift on one side and move it on its wheels. Powerhorse also included a low oil shutdown that will automatically activate to turn off the machine in case it runs out of oil. The starting method is electric but they didn’t include the required battery for this model. Its side control panel is also easy to operate since everything is well-labelled.
Overall, this 11,000-watt generator can be a life-saver for the most demanding of jobs whenever there’s a power outage.
Massive range of power at 8,400 watts and surge up to 11,000 watts
Produces clean energy that’s safe for home and industrial equipment
Includes voltmeter to monitor output
Powerful 457cc engine with easy electric start
Features low oil shut off function to protect the unit
With large never go flat tires for easy movement on any terrain
Multiple outlets, which let you run several appliances simultaneously
Too heavy at 200 pounds
A bit loud at 78 dB
Having looked at our favorite Powerhorse generators, let’s go through a brief history about the brand and things that will help you pick the right model for your home or business.
Powerhorse generators: What you should know about them?
Powerhorse generators are marketed and sold by Northern Tool + Equipment. The family owned business was founded by its current Chief Executive Donald Kotula back in 1981.
It started out as a mail-order firm and has since grown into the ultimate one-stop shop for hardworking DIYers and professionals. Although the company is based out in Faribault, Minnesota, the actual Powerhorse generators are manufactured in China.
The company also claims to sell useful machines and power tools at great prices as well as back them with excellent customer care. Apart from generators, they offer pressure washers, air compressors, welders, and power tools, and some of these can be powered by the same Powerhorse generators when working far away from electrical outlets.
Generator type: inverter or conventional?
Probably the main thing to figure before buying a generator is whether you want an inverter or traditional generator. Find below the differences illustrating the pros and cons of each in different aspects.
Current: conventional generators only produce AC current while inverter produces energy in 3 phases – high frequency AC then DC and back to a steady AC current. As a result, inverter generators have the benefit of minimal harmonic distortion, making them clean and safe to use with sensitive devices and appliances.
Power and fuel efficiency: inverter generators are less powerful than conventional counterparts. Most inverters range anywhere from 1,200 to 4,000 watts, whereas conventional models can reach over 10,000 watts. However, as we have seen, you can still find a few inverters with a lot of power such as the Powerhorse 11,000-watt Portable Generator. Inverters are also more fuel efficient than conventional models because of how they produce the final AC current.
Parallel connection: inverter generators allow for parallel connections to make up for the lower power output. Conventional models, however, lack this kind of flexibility.
Noise: inverters are very quiet in the region of 50–58 dB of noise, whereas conventional generators tend to average 65 dB.
Size and portability: conventional generators are bulky and heavy because of their power, which is associated with large engines and large fuel tanks. Though most of them have wheels for easier movement, they still cannot be as portable as inverter generators. Some inverters can be even carried on their handles, with the Powerhorse 2,000-watt Portable Inverter Generator being a perfect example.
How much power do you need?
This depends on your usage needs. For instance, if you need to power well water, you own gas or electric heaters, and run most of your household appliances, generators in the range of 3,500 watts to 5,000 watts should be sufficient.
For RV, camping, tailgating and boating, a 2,500-watt generator is ideal, though you may need to check the power requirement for the electrical equipment you have on-board, including blenders and coffee pots.
How long you need to run your generator?
Obviously, this depends on the tank capacity, load requirements, among other factors. Some generators are designed to provide power for 8 hours, others 10 and some up to 16 hours. For instance, the Powerhorse 7,500-watt Inverter Generator can run continuously for 16 hours on 1/4 load, while the Powerhorse 11,000-watt Portable Generator operates for 8.5 hours on a ½ load, yet both machines have 6.6-gallon tanks.
How often you use it will also determine how long it can run on one full tank. A portable gasoline generator, mainly used on the go purposes such as camping, is expected to last a while. If you are using a backup generator when there’s a power outage, it can conserve fuel to use another day because blackouts rarely last that long.
A must-have for every generator is overload protection, which protects against potentially dangerous effects of an overload current or a short-circuit current. Improper application of an appliance or equipment’s voltage rating can result to damage, personal injury or even cause death to humans handling the equipment.
Something common with Powerhorse generators is the 100% copper-wound heads that prevent overheating when the machines are running at maximum power.
Another important safety feature is the low oil shut-off, again present in nearly all Powerhorse generators. In the event that oil falls below minimum, the machine shuts down to prevent engine damage.
Tip and tricks
Below are some basic measures that you can take to ensure safe operation of your generator.
Make sure the installation location is dry, stable and level. This must be outdoors and far from air intakes. The machine needs enough, unobstructed flow of air so that proper cooling of the engine and generator head is possible. Ensure that the generator is in area that’s not exposed to direct sunlight, rain or snow.
Ensure that the machine is properly grounded to prevent electrical shock. You should consult a qualified electrician to determine grounding requirements and follow procedures that conform to local regulations.
The battery for the electric starter should be fully charged before inserting into the unit.
Carefully connect the unit to the electrical system using the automatic transfer switch. If there’s no transfer switch, plug the essential devices directly into the unit.
When it comes to maintenance, observe the following:
Check receptacles before every use to ensure that they are not broken or cracked.
Monitor the fuel system and check for leaks on a frequent basis.
Clean dust and debris from the generator as soon as it accumulates, using a damp cloth or soft bristle brush, but never with a pressure washer or garden hose.
Avoid storing the generator with the battery charger connected as the battery can overcharge and boil dry.
Always make use of the handle and wheel kit to move or lift the generator and call for a second hand before generators tend to be heavy.
Most Powerhorse models have a 2-year limited warranty along with a 90-day commercial warranty. The former applies to household use whereby the manufacturer can replace defective parts or repair them at no charge, except if the equipment fails because of lack of proper maintenance. Any abuse, misuse, improper installation and alteration will void warranty. The same conditions apply to commercial uses, such as when the generator is bought for a business or to be used for income generating activities.
Simply check if the generator has an outlet that’s compatible with the plug of the power cord coming from your recreational vehicle. If there’s none, you will need to purchase an adapter that is suitable for both your generator and RV plug. For example, a 2,000W unit will require a 120V, 15-amp adapter that is compatible with the 30 or 50-amp power cord from your RV. Just so you know, a 30-amp power cord has 3 prongs while a 50-amp one contains four prongs.
As far as having reliable, compact and fuel efficient generators go, you can never go wrong with Powerhorse models. Moreover, they are available in a variety of power range, size and some with multiple outlets to power nearly every appliance and device in your home.
Our top pick in this respect is the Powerhorse 7,500-watt Inverter Generator. Its 420cc engine starts quick and easy each time and it runs super-quiet at 55 dB. We liked its variable throttle for conserving fuel, intuitive control panel, 16-hour runtime and multiple receptacles.
Finally, the Powerhorse 3,500-watt Inverter Generator is the most ideal for the average household. With 11 hours of runtime, 57 dB noise level, electric and recoil start options, and the option to add an extra 2,000W or 3,500W Powerhorse model, this model has the right balance of application and price.
So, have you found your best powerhouse generator from this post? Over to you.