What Is the Best Medium Sized Portable Generator?
The medium sized portable generator models we’ll look at in this review are all rated at 5500 watts of running power. This is different from the reviews of 2000W and 4000W portable generators which are so rated according to startup wattage. Why there is this difference in advertised rating systems, I don’t know.
Not every generator that’s listed as 5500W means it has that many watts of running power. Some that state 5500W mean startup power. So even though the majority are telling you about running power, you have to be careful that you’re looking at what you really want.
Do you want 5500W startup, which will mean 1000 or more fewer watts of running power? Or do you really want 5500W running power, which will mean you need to look for 6000 to 8000 watts or startup power?
You can find good generators in either category. Just make sure you’re what you pay for is truly what you want.
Another item of note is that there are several other wattages of generators in what is generally considered the medium sized range. For our purposes here, we’ll speak of medium sized generators as those with 6000 to 8000 watts, and that usually means startup power.
One final important factor of which you should be aware is that it is amazingly difficult to find consistent information about these machines in many cases. I obviously cannot afford the time and effort to purchase each of these generators and test each one myself. So I have to rely largely on online information. Sadly, even on a given manufacturer’s site, there can be conflicting statistics and specifications. For example, a certain page might show the size of a fuel tank as 7 gallons while a related PDF for the same model might state the capacity as 7.5 gallons. I’ve tried, in the reviews below, to use what seemed the most reasonable and reliable data when reporting such items. Be aware then that some points may be inaccurate here and there.
The best medium sized generator is the one that fits your needs as reliably, efficiently, and thriftily as possible. You may not be able to find one that satisfies those needs exactly, but you should be able to discover one that comes close – if not amongst those shown here, then in a model that these help you locate on your own.
Let’s take a look now at eight popular models that give you 5500W of running power. These generators are reviewed in alphabetical order.
Champion Power Equipment 41135
The Champion 41135 weighs in at about 185 pounds. It measures 31.3 x 20.9 x 22 inches, making it one of the smaller machines found here.
Like most, but not all, generators in this group, it gives you four 120V outlets. In many cases you’ll see this described as two duplex outlets, which, based on photographs of the generators in question, I take to mean two pairs of outlets for a total of four.
In addition and as is also common, you get a combination 120V/240V twistlock outlet for powering those larger appliances.
The starting mechanism is a recoil manual pull cord. The gas tank on this Champion generator holds 5.9 gallons of fuel.
With 6800 startup watts and 5500 running watts, you should be able to run this machine for about 10 hours at half load. It produces roughly 72 decibels of sound, which is normal for this size of generator.
Energin 52230 8000 XLT
Several of the generators in this group are not CARB compliant and therefore not for sale in California. The Energin 52230 is one of these. Very often the manufacturer of such a model makes a similar one that is available to California residents as well. So if you live in that state, check around a little if you see a model you like here that’s not available to you.
This Energin generator is of medium size (29.3 x 22.6 x 23.6 inches) and weight (206 pounds).
It has the common 2 duplex 120V outlets (total of 4), and it has separate 120V and 240V twistlock outlets besides. You also get a 12V DC receptacle, but note that a battery is not included out of the box.
In addition to the standard manual recoil starter, you get an electric key start mechanism as well.
The 55230 has the smallest gas tank at 5.9 gallons but the highest startup wattage at 8000W. With that, you can power your appliances and tools for about 9.5 hours at about 74 decibels.
The Firman ECO7000RE is another generator not available in California. Due to some conflicting information (as mentioned above), this may or may not be one of the heftier generators in this lot. It may measure 30 x 22 x 24 inches and weight as much as 227 pounds.
The ECO7000RE model has a 120V/240V outlet but only 2 (not 4) standard 120V outlets.
The starter comes with a remote control (hence, the RE in the model name, I think), an electric starter (the E in the name may also refer to this), and the normal manual recoil.
This Firman’s gas tank holds 7.5 gallons which should give you about 11 hours of power at half load.
It’s a tad noisier than most, at 79 decibels, but it does give you 7000 watts of startup power. That should be more than enough for all but some of the largest appliances.
Note that the model shown here has an extended handle attached to the frame. Due to their weight, many others in this class also have a handle (usually foldable) of some type.
Generac 5945 GP5500
The Generac 5945 GP5500 is one of three in the GP5500 line. (The other two are the 5975, which is approved for Canada but not California, and the 5939, which is not CARB compliant for California.)
This Generac generator is apparently the largest in the bunch at 26.5 x 27.5 x 33.5 inches, but it doesn’t weigh the most – only about 180 pounds.
The GP5500 comes with the common combination of 4 standard 120V outlets and 1 twistlock 120V/240V outlet.
Use the manual recoil cord to fire up the engine to get around 10 hours of power at half load on a full tank of 7.2 gallons of gas.
Startup power is rated at 6875 watts. Running watts are obviously 5500. You can see a number of items that this will power in the chart on this page.
The Honeywell 6151 generator is very similar to the Generac generator just above, but it has a smaller gas tank and includes an electric starter feature. The gas tank holds just 5.8 gallons, but you still get about 9.1 hours of power at half load.
The Honeywell generator has the same number and type of outlets as the Generac model, but the entire control panel is angled, forming a parallelogram instead of a rectangle. I don’t think this should matter to you as a user. It seems like more of a stylistic difference.
How would you decide between the Honeywell and the Generac generators? That’s a tough call. Both are respected brand names. It may come down to that electric starter feature on the Honeywell and what looks to be generally a lower cost on the Generac. To me, the (less than) one hour difference in run time on a full tank of gas isn’t all that significant, even though the Honeywell is apparently more efficient.
Then we have the Pro-Series GENSD55 which is a different animal all together in that it runs on diesel fuel instead of normal gasoline. The relatively tiny tank holds just 4 gallons which will give you about 7 hours of power at full load. So it should give you even more than that at half load.
This is another of those generators not available for sale in California. It has an electric starter option but does not come with the necessary battery to make that feature functional.
The Pro-Series produces just 6000W of startup (aka surge) power). That’s low compared to the others in this group, but it may still be all you need.
This is a bit of a beast as it weighs 250 pounds, which makes it the heaviest of those reviewed here.
You do get plenty of options for outlets – 2 standard 120V, 1 120V twistlock, 1 120V/240V twistlock, and 1 12V DC receptacle.
This Pro-Series generator run fairly quietly at just 70 decibels.
WEN 56682 7000E
The WEN 56682 7000-watt rated startup generator is much like the Energin generator reviewed above. They are roughly the same size and weigh, and both have electric and recoil starters. Each also is rated at 74 decibels of sound output.
The WEN 56682 also has the same number and type of outlets as the Energin.
Neither generator is for sale in California. As mentioned earlier, keep an eye out for similar models by the same manufacturers that are CARB compliant.
While the Energin gives you 1000 more watts of startup power, the WEN offers 1.5 more hours of power on a slightly larger gas tank (6.5 gallons). If it weren’t for these differences, you might think the two machines were the same with rearranged control panels and paint jobs.
Finally we have the Westinghouse WH5500 Portable Generator. This one may be the pick of the litter, so to speak.
The Westinghouse WH5500 gives you a whopping 14 hours of power at half load using just 6.6 gallons of gas (full tank). That’s 3 more hours than any other generator in this review.
It is also one of the lightest and quietest, which is always a plus, at 168 pounds and 71 decibels of sound.
It only has a recoil starting mechanism and only gives you 6750 watts of startup power, but that’s probably all most people need.
You get 4 standard 120V outlets and one 120V/240V outlet. The only receptacle missing is one for DC.
Look at the comparison chart below for facts and features at a glance.