All generators are intended to provide power. However, there are very different performance requirements for generators used to supply electricity to power tools on a construction site and supply a steady stream of power for living off the grid. Even a generator intended for emergency back-up power may not be the best generator for off grid living. We’re going to explain how generators for homes off the grid differ from the general market and share our recommendations for people shopping for these types of rugged generators.
Before buying a generator you should know how to operate a generator .
01. Wen Model 56380i 3800 Watt Inverter Generator
This portable inverter generator is a good choice for small off the grid homes with low power demands. It puts out 3400 watts of steady power and can deliver 3800 watts of surge power. You’ll see a surge like this when you turn on your refrigerator or washing machine.
You’ll appreciate the electric start button when you start it up when you set it up or arrive at your cabin. The battery is recharged by the generator operations, and the inverter can be used to recharge your smartphone and other electronics, as well.
One reason why this generator makes our list is the sheer number of accessories that are available. For example, you can pay extra to buy a cover, magnetic oil dipstick, parallel connection kit and Y-cable adapter. If you connect two of these generators in parallel, you have a 7000 plus watt generator. That’s enough to power a refrigerator and another large appliance. And if you have two generators in parallel, you can turn non-essential items off if one generator dies and still have lights and heat. Or take one of the portable generators with you to provide power at your campsite.
This generator is incredibly fuel efficient. That’s why it is CARB compliant and EPA III compliant. In layman’s terms, these generators are allowed in national parks and rural areas in California, when many others are prohibited due to their carbon emissions. The generator will use up fuel in the carburetor before shutting down. That doesn’t just increase fuel efficiency but reduces the risk of damage because old fuel was allowed to sit in the generator for a period of time.
You can charge anything with it. You get two three-prong 120 volt receptacles, one 120 volt NEMA RV receptacle, a 12 volt DC plug, and a 5 volt USB port. This configuration allows you to use the generators to power your RV as well as AC appliances.
This generator is relatively quiet. You can also see the best super quiet portable generator reviews.
It is big, it is bulky, and it is heavy. That’s especially true if you have a closed frame over the generator to protect it. That means it isn’t as portable as advertised.
Reliability is an issue with this unit. The key components are surprisingly fragile. And it is hard to get replacement parts.
- Environmentally friendly
- A diverse array of power connections
- Reliability and repairability
02. Generac Model GP3500iO GeneratorCheck Latest Price On Amazon
Generac is a well-known manufacturer of generators. This model has 3000 running watts and 3500 starting watts. That allows it to handle the surge that happens when you turn on an AC or refrigerator. Its power output is high enough to run a modest AC.
This generator is RV ready. You can directly plug your RV into this generator, allowing you to live full-time in the RV. It also produces enough power to run an RV air conditioner up to 15,000 BTU.
Another point in favor of this generator is that it is parallel ready. You can buy a connection kit and connect two of the generators in parallel, getting 6000 running watts and 7000 starting watts. RV owners will appreciate the compact design.
It is roughly 20 inches by 20 inches by 20 inches. Furthermore, it is fifty percent quieter than the competition, so the generator noise won’t keep you up at night if it is sitting in a storage compartment or on your trailer. We’ll say this is the best generator for RV owners.
The open frame around the generator makes it somewhat portable while helping to protect it.
It may not work due to issues with the control panel or the wiring. This may happen out of the box. Getting support is difficult. Repair is a challenge, as well. For example, if the oil sensor fails, you can’t replace it without replacing the entire motor.
- RV ready
- Can connect in parallel
- Compact design
- Electrical glitches
03. Briggs and Stratton Model P4500 Inverter Generator
This is a 4500 watt generator by Briggs and Stratton.
This generator is RV ready, meaning it is ready to plug your RV power cord into so that you have power. The small, compact design makes it a great choice for stowing in a storage compartment. It is just 20 inches by 20 inches by 25 inches.
It has an inverter to provide smooth power without the peaks and valleys that can damage smart devices.
This generator has more advanced safety features than comparable products. For example, it has a sensor that turns off the generator if carbon monoxide levels are too high. The company also gives you a funnel for filling the engine with oil.
The manufacturer says the decibel rating is only 61 dB. That’s much quieter than average.
Briggs and Stratton make it relatively easy to find replacement parts, though these items are described by Briggs and Stratton part numbers, not specifications. That forces you to only buy branded replacement parts.
It is not parallel compatible with another generator by the same manufacturer or another company. You can only get the 3700 running watts out of the one generator.
Enabling the battery used to start it is a painful process. You have to manually remove the cover and battery, remove covers on the wire connectors, connect the batteries, reinstall the battery and start charging it. This makes setting up the generator and starting it for the first time a challenging process, since the manual doesn’t explain this process in sufficient detail.
- RV ready
- Safety features
- Can’t run in parallel
- Setup is challenging
04. Duromax Model XP1200E Generator
This generator puts out a whopping 9500 watts. If you want to run an off-the-grid home with a full set of appliances, this is the best generator for off grid living. You could power an air conditioner, refrigerator and one or two other big appliances while it is running.
While this generator is described as a backup generator for home owners on the grid, the RV ready design makes it suitable for powering your life off the grid, whether you live in an RV or a cabin.
The generator is CARB compliant and meets other strict environmental standards. That’s essential if you want to have this generator at your cabin in rural California or while camping in a national park.
This is the only generator on our list that can provide both 120 volt and 240 volt power simultaneously. That makes it suitable for powering industrial equipment like power tools or electric ovens. Or you can have it only put out 120 volt power. This also makes the generator a good choice for construction sites off the grid.
The generator runs unevenly. This can be due to carburetor problems or issues with the idle control. Don’t use this generator if you want to be using close to its peak load. It is not suitable for powering sensitive electronics.
This generator ships without cords and plugs you need to connect it to anything.
- High power output
- Can put out 240 volts as well as standard 120 volt power
- Not safe for sensitive electronics
- Intermittent power generation
05. Champion Model 100573 Generator, 4000 Watts
This 4000 watt generator is among the most portable on our list. For example, it has massive wheels on the open frame, so you can take it to your off-the-grid cabin or campsite. It weighs roughly a hundred pounds.
It is very convenient to use. That’s partially due to the fact that it has a wireless remote start. That’s a significant step up from pull start cables or messing with batteries to be able to start it at the push of a button.
It is parallel ready, though you have to buy a separate parallel kit and second generator. You can also buy everything from generator covers to a wide range of replacement parts from the manufacturer.
The generator’s inverter means it can provide safe power for smart devices.
At 64 decibels, it is relatively quiet for a generator.
The generator is not as fuel-efficient as advertised. The manufacturer says it can run up to 17 hours with a light load. Expect to be refueling it every four to six hours with a partial load. It will run overnight if you’re not running an electric heater or air conditioner.
- Parallel ready
- Remote start option
- Inverter generator makes it safe for smart devices
- Requires frequent refilling
The best generator for off-grid living provides a reliable supply of power at the voltage and amperage you need. It will have minimal maintenance requirements, and repair will be as straightforward as possible. Other features like easy setup and a simple startup are a bonus.