We spent weeks researching alternators during the fall-winter 2020-2021 seasons and tested four of them that we thought were ideal for fast, portable power. These generators aren’t big enough to power an entire home, but with some smart energy management, you can use one of them to keep the essentials going during an emergency. Because these generators are so small, they are great for camping, and working on outdoor projects too.
The quietest, lightest and most powerful 2200W generator we tested is easy to start, and the Bluetooth app makes monitoring its power output simple.
*Price was at the time of publication $1100.
After we tested four alternators in the 2200 watt range, it was clear to us that the Honda EU2200i was the best. The Honda was the quietest, lightest, most powerful generator we’ve looked at—it even surpassed its listed capabilities and powered hardware and tools that overburden other generators. Its distinguishing feature is a high-quality Honda engine, which is much larger than other generators we tested. Starting a gas engine can be frustrating, and that alone could prevent anyone from buying a generator, but the EU2200i was the only model we tested that started on the first wire pull every time we used it. Plus, you can easily monitor Honda’s power output through a Bluetooth-connected app, so during a storm you can manage (and maximize) alternator operation from the comfort of your home. This is a relatively new feature that is not available in many generators. Like all of our picks, the EU2200i also has a carbon monoxide detector on board that shuts down the generator if the lethal gas concentration increases too much, which can happen if the generator is operating in an enclosed area. (Which is why you should never run one of these things indoors or even in your garage with the doors open.)
Honda alternators have an excellent reputation and industry recognition as the gold standard, but the drawback is that this quality comes at a cost. The EU2200i fan is priced at over $1,000, about $400 more than other gas options. But if we’re experiencing a storm outage or powering the coffee maker on a camping trip, this is the machine we rely on.
The RYi2322VNM can’t match the EU2200i’s power output, but it’s as good as any non-Honda option, and features easy-to-use Bluetooth connectivity and a convenient user interface.
*Price was at the time of publication $630.
If the Honda EU2200i is too pricey or you put a premium on handy features, we also love the Ryobi RYi2322VNM Bluetooth Inverter Generator. Its engine is smaller than a Honda’s, so it’s not as powerful, but in our tests it performed like any other non-Honda alternator. What sets it apart from other models we tested, including the EU2200i, is how easy it is to understand its Bluetooth app. The Ryobi app not only tracks power usage, as the Honda app does, but it also displays the fuel level at any given moment and an estimate of how much time is left while the generator is running at current load. The app also lets you switch into and out of eco mode (helping with fuel efficiency), and can restart the generator if the machine is overloaded. To top things off, the RYi2322VNM has wheels and a telescopic handle (like a piece of luggage) that make moving it around the yard a breeze.
The DeWalt performs well and includes key safety features, but ranks slightly below Honda in performance and noise, and lacks the app support that sets Honda and Ryobi apart.
*Price was at the time of publication $650.
With more severe weather and unpredictable hurricane seasons lasting longer, we’ve noticed that portable inverter generators are often in short supply. If they aren’t our two best options, we also love the DeWalt DXGNI2200 2200W inverter generator. Like the others, it has the advantage of detecting carbon monoxide, which we consider essential. As for performance, the DeWalt was similar to the Ryobi in our tests; However, because it lacks an app, it’s harder to manage the available power. DeWalt described this model as “very quiet,” and while it’s true that all the models we tested were relatively muffled, the Honda EU2200i still made the least amount of noise in our tests.
Ego Power + Nexus PST3042 Portable Power Station
The battery-powered Ego runs indoors and eliminates the noise and hassle of the gas engine. They’re as powerful as our gas-powered picks in power output, but they don’t match up to runtime, and hours-long recharge times aren’t practical on a long-term outage.
*Price was at the time of publication 1000 dollars.
The Ego Power + Nexus PST3042 portable power plant delivers power comparable to that of the Honda EU2200i with none of the drawbacks of a gas engine. It hardly needs any maintenance, makes hardly any noise, and produces no exhaust, so you can use it indoors. This makes them ideal for undertaking projects around the house or garage, or for hosting backyard entertainment. It particularly excels in intermittent work—we got the equivalent of a day’s cuts with a circular saw on a single charge—but its limitations appear in high-pull and continuous use applications such as running a space heater, which also drain batteries quickly. Recharging the batteries fully can take eight hours or so. Despite these drawbacks, the Ego is still an excellent power supply, with an easy-to-use application that helps you extend your power supply. During our real-world testing, we always found this model above others due to the simplicity of battery power as opposed to gas. It’s useful if you live in an area that’s prone to short-term power outages, but you’ll need to keep a close eye on battery levels. If you have already invested in Ego batteries by purchasing the company’s lawn equipment, the Power + Nexus is more attractive, as all batteries are compatible.