How We Rate Portable Generators

At Power Supply Zone, we understand the importance of reliable and efficient portable generators. That’s why we’ve developed a comprehensive rating system to help you make informed decisions.

Our main score, the Editor’s Rating, is based on a thorough analysis across five key categories: Performance, Convenience, Reliability, Value for Money, and Other Users’ Experience. Each category is further broken down into specific criteria.

Our Rating System Explained

Our rating system is designed to provide a clear, concise, and comprehensive assessment of each portable generator we review. We use a numerical scale from 1 to 10 for each of the five categories: Performance, Convenience, Reliability, Value for Money, and Other Users’ Experience. Here’s how it works:

  • 1-2 (Poor): A score in this range indicates that the generator significantly underperforms in this category. It may have serious flaws, lack important features, or receive predominantly negative feedback from users.
  • 3-4 (Fair): A generator with a score in this range has room for improvement. It meets the basic requirements but falls short in some areas compared to other models on the market.
  • 5-6 (Good): This score signifies that the generator performs adequately in this category. It has a decent set of features and capabilities, but there might be some minor issues or areas where it could improve.
  • 7-8 (Very Good): A generator with a score in this range performs well in this category. It has strong features and capabilities, with only a few minor drawbacks.
  • 9-10 (Excellent): This is the highest score range and indicates that the generator excels in this category. It offers superior performance, top-tier features, or exceptional value, and receives overwhelmingly positive feedback from users.

Each category is rated separately, and the scores are then combined to form the overall Editor’s Rating. This approach ensures a balanced evaluation, with each category holding equal weight in the final score. Below you can learn more about each of the criteria and categories we evaluate.

performance iconPerformance

Performance is a critical factor and it refers to how effectively and efficiently a generator can convert fuel (such as gasoline, diesel, or propane) into electrical power. This is typically measured across several key parameters:

This is the maximum amount of electrical power that a generator can produce, usually measured in watts. It determines the number and types of appliances or tools that the generator can power simultaneously.
Fuel efficiency refers to how effectively a generator uses its fuel to produce electricity. A more fuel-efficient generator can produce more power per unit of fuel, which can save you money and extend the time between refueling. Run time is related to fuel efficiency and indicates how long a generator can operate on a full tank of fuel at a certain load (usually 50% or 100%).
Generators produce noise when they’re running, and the amount of noise can vary widely between different models. Noise level is usually measured in decibels (dB) at a certain distance from the generator (typically 7 meters). A lower noise level can make a generator more suitable for use in quiet environments or during nighttime hours.
This refers to the quality of the electricity produced by the generator. High-quality power has a stable voltage and frequency, which is important for safely running sensitive electronics like computers or medical equipment.

Convenience iconConvenience

Our Convenience rating shows how easy and user-friendly it is to operate, transport, and maintain the generator. This is rated on several key criteria:

This refers to how easy it is to move the generator from one place to another. Factors that contribute to portability include the generator’s weight, size, and design features like handles or wheels. A more portable generator is easier to use in different locations, whether it’s in your backyard, at a construction site, or while camping.
This includes how straightforward it is to start and stop the generator, adjust settings, and monitor its performance. Features that contribute to ease of use can include a simple and clear control panel, an easy-to-use starting mechanism (like an electric start), and indicators or gauges that show fuel level, power output, and other important information.
This refers to how easy it is to perform routine maintenance tasks like changing the oil, cleaning or replacing air filters, and checking or replacing spark plugs. A generator that is designed for easy maintenance can save you time and effort, and can also help to extend the life of the generator.
This includes how easy it is to refuel the generator, which can be influenced by factors like the size and location of the fuel tank opening, the type of fuel that the generator uses, and whether it has features like a fuel gauge or a low-fuel shutoff.

reliability iconReliability

Our Reliability rating reflects the generator’s ability to consistently perform its function over time without failures or significant decreases in performance. To rate this category we consider the following factors:

This refers to the generator’s ability to operate effectively and consistently over time. A reliable generator should start easily, run smoothly, and provide a steady supply of power under various conditions. Durability is about the generator’s lifespan and its ability to withstand wear and tear, harsh weather conditions, and frequent use. High-quality materials and construction contribute to a generator’s durability.
This refers to the generator’s adherence to emission standards set by environmental and public health authorities. A generator that complies with these standards is not only better for the environment but also more likely to be reliable and efficient, as it has been designed and built to meet stringent specifications.
The warranty provided by the manufacturer can be a good indicator of a generator’s reliability. A longer warranty period suggests that the manufacturer has confidence in the product’s reliability and is willing to stand behind it. The warranty should cover a significant period and include coverage for major components.

value for money iconValue for Money

Our Value for Money rating reflects the balance between the price of the generator and the benefits it provides, including its features, performance, reliability, and lifespan. The criteria we take into consideration for this category are:
This is the upfront cost of the generator. While a lower price can be attractive, it’s important to consider what you’re getting for your money. A cheaper generator that lacks important features or has a shorter lifespan may not provide as much value as a more expensive model that performs better and lasts longer.
These are the additional capabilities or conveniences that a generator offers, such as multiple power outlets, an electric start, a fuel gauge, or a low-oil shutdown. More features can enhance the usability and safety of the generator, providing better value for the user.
This refers to the materials and craftsmanship that go into the generator. A well-built generator made from high-quality materials is likely to be more durable and reliable, providing better value over its lifespan.
As discussed in the previous sections, a generator that performs well and is reliable provides better value, as it’s more likely to meet your power needs consistently and over a longer period.

user experience iconOther Users’ Experience

The Other Users’ Experience rating is a vital part of our review process. It’s not just about our expert opinion; it’s about the collective experiences of individuals who have used the generator in real-world scenarios. This category is primarily based on feedback and reviews from actual users of the generator. Here’s how we approach it:
We delve into user reviews and ratings across various platforms. These firsthand accounts provide invaluable insights into the generator’s performance, reliability, and overall value. They highlight potential strengths and weaknesses that may not be evident in lab tests or spec sheets.
We look for consistency in user feedback. If most users praise the generator for its quiet operation, for example, it’s a strong indication of its low noise level. On the other hand, recurring complaints about a specific issue can signal a potential problem.
Ultimately, we gauge users’ overall satisfaction with the generator. Would they recommend it to others? Would they buy it again? This gives us a clear idea of whether the generator delivers on its promises and meets users’ needs and expectations.

Drawing upon our years of expertise in the electrical engineering and power systems industry, as well as our own hands-on experience as users of portable generators, we have developed a strong understanding of what consumers truly value in a top-quality portable generator.

Find out more about the team >