Even if you are on a budget, you can still find a good portable generator. While these models may not have the power or gas tank size of the more expensive options, they will all work extremely well and efficiently. The four portable generators under $400 presented on this list are perfect for the camper or RV driver who needs generator power only occasionally.
Top models Portable Generators under $400 (in no particular order)
Below we’ve listed our top four picks for the best portable generators around $400. They are listed in no particular order and can all be found on Amazon. Read on to learn more about these great and affordable portable generators.
Champion Power Equipment is a trusted name in the power generation market. They are known for their affordable and dependable products. The 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator is no different than any of their other powerful products.
The 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator comes with many interesting and essential features for a small portable generator. These will be discussed in length below. But, some of the most important are its low-oil shut-off sensor, .6-quart oil capacity, 4000 starting watts and 3500 running watts, multiple outlets, and a volt guard.
In addition to these features, the 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator only makes 68 dBA (decibels) of noise at 23-feet. That is amazingly quiet, which means you can run it in or near an RV and still be able to sleep. Finally, if you only have a 50% load on the generator, it can run continuously for 12 hours, a major advantage for any RVer. If you have no idea what these terms mean we wrote a guide for you to learn everything you need to know about portable generators here.
Champion 3500 watt Features
Here are a few of the features that sets the Champion 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator apart from the competition.
- Fuel Tank: 8 gallons (14.2 liters)
- Fuel Type: This portable generator runs on gasoline.
- Noise Level: It will produce 68 dBA (decibels) from 23 feet.
- Run Time: With a 50% load the 3500-Watt portable generator will run for twelve hours—when started with a full tank of gas.
- Outlets: This product comes with a 120V 30A locking outlet, 120V 30A RV outlet, and a 120V 20A household outlet.
- Surge Protection: The volt guard on the portable generator protects it from voltage spikes and surges.
- Parallel Capable: This product is not parallel capable.
- CARB/EPA Compliant: The 35-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator is EPA compliant, but not CARB compliant.
- Starting: The Champion 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator has a manual recoil starter. It is optimized to be started easily in the cold.
- Warranty: Champion provides a limited three-year warranty with free lifetime technical support from their dedicated experts with your purchase of this product.
While the Champion 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator has many pros, there are a few cons as well.
- Champion’s warranty and technical support help to keep your investment in the portable generator worth the money.
- The noise level of this portable generator is significantly quiet, which is great for protecting your hearing and allowing the product to be used in any situation: home, work, or play.
- The 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator comes with an intelligauge that tracks the frequency (Hz), volts, and run time for you.
- While the product is EPA certified, it is not certified for California. So, if you plan on traveling to that state, you will need another portable generator.
- The portable generator only uses gasoline, so you will always have to have gas on hand to run the generator.
- The fuel tank is fairly small for a portable generator at only 3.8 gallons. But, this means that the product is lighter than many other models.
Reviews from user perspective
Many users love the Champion 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator. Users have used the product in a variety of circumstances, from their home to their food truck and travel trailer. And, the Champion portable generator has shined in all situations it have been put into.
In general, people like the durability and run time as the most important positives of this product. These reviews all gush over the high number of items that the portable generator ran at one time.
The negative user reviews tend to focus on the noise the generator produces. It is quiet for its price range, but not nearly as quiet as more expensive options.
Overall, whether positive or negative, all users claim that for the money, this is one of the best portable generators that you can buy.
DuroStar DS4000S Gas Powered Portable Generator
DuroStar is a subsidiary company of DuroMax Power Systems. The parent, DuroMax, specializes in portable generators, engines, pressure washers, pumps, and accessories. DuroStar also make products in these categories as well.
With their focus on power equipment, it makes sense that the California based DuroStar would manufacture an affordable and efficient portable generator under $400. The DS4000S Gas Powered Portable Generator has many great features that make it a great buy. Some of the most important are its heavy-duty steel frame, full power panel, surge protection, and 4-gallon fuel tank.
Durostar DS4000S Features
Below we’ve listed the features of the DuroStar DS4000S portable generator that could affect your purchase.
- Fuel Tank: 4-gallon
- Fuel Type: This portable generator only uses gasoline as its fuel source.
- Noise Level: This portable generator will make 69 dBA (decibels) of noise when running.
- Run Time: Running at 50% capacity will get you eight hours of total runtime on this product.
- Outlets: Two 120V 20A 60 Hz outlets and One 120V 30A 60Hz outlet
- Surge Protection: The DS4000S is rated for 4000 surge watts, which will protect you from most power surges
- Parallel Capable: This portable generator is not parallel capable.
- CARB/EPA Compliant: All DuroStar products are EPA and CARB compliant.
- Starting: The DS4000S employs a manual pull start, which is common for a generator of this size.
- Warranty: 3-year residential limited factory warranty, one-year commercial limited factory warranty, and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
The DS4000S portable generator comes with quite a few pros and cons.
- The DS4000S comes with a full power panel that includes an oil warning light, volt meter, circuit breaker, and the power outlets.
- The three outlets will work for any appliance or electrical device that may need power.
- This portable generator will give you eight hours of runtime at 50% capacity. Those are very good numbers for the price range.
- If you are looking for a portable generator with a large engine, the DS4000S is not for you. It only produces 7 HP and 3300 running Watts. However, for someone looking to have emergency power, the motor is just the correct size.
- This portable generator is fairly quiet for the price range but is still probably louder than most people would prefer.
- Like the Champion portable generator, the DuroStar DS4000S only uses gas as a fuel source. This limits your fuel options for the generator.
Reviews from user perspective
Most users enjoy the DuroStar DS4000S portable generator. The majority of the reviews are positive, with users naming the extreme durability and ease of use as its most important features. The packaging of the portable generator is also often pointed to as a big help.
For the number of users who have left reviews of the DS4000S, there are only a few negative write-ups. These users indicate that DuroStar’s customer service is not as helpful as one might want. Most of these users end up having a generator that doesn’t work for multiple weeks, which can be annoying and dangerous in an emergency situation.
Pulsar 2,000-Watts Portable Gas-Powered Quiet Inverter Generator PG2000iS
Pulsar makes a wide variety of portable generators, from 1,200-Watts to 10,000-Watts. The company itself has been around for over one hundred years, so you know that their products are worth the money. The 2,000-Watt Portable Gas-Powered Quiet Inverter Generator PG2000iS is one of Pulsar’s lower wattage models, but it illustrates why the company is an industry-leader.
The PG2000iS is smaller than some of the other portable generators we discuss on this list, but it comes with a lot for the size. It includes a 12V charging cable, spark plug wrench, 10W30 oil bottle (350 mL), and a funnel. Plus, the portable generator itself has a low oil shut-off, automatic voltage regulator, and stable Sine Wave Technology.
Here are a few of the features that make the PG2000iS the top model for its wattage and price.
- Fuel Tank: 18-gallon fuel tank
- Fuel Type: Gasoline only
- Noise Level: 59 dBs (decibels) of noise when running from 10 feet, which makes the PG2000iS virtually silent.
- Run Time: This unit will run for eight hours.
- Outlets: Two 120V outlets, One 12V DC 8A outlet, and One 5V DC USB outlet.
- Surge Protection: The peaks watts of this unit are 2000, which will protect against some surges.
- Parallel Capable: Yes, this portable generator model is parallel capable.
- CARB/EPA Compliant: Unknown
- Starting: The PG2000iS uses a manual recoil starter.
- Warranty: Pulsar provides a one-year parts and labor limited warranty on this portable generator.
All products have pros and cons and Pulsar’s PH2000iS is no different. Here are the most important pros and cons to consider when researching portable generators under $400.
- The PG2000iS is an inverter generator. This means it is one of the most efficient and Earth-friendly types of generators available.
- You can run this portable generator for six hours on only 1.18 gallons of fuel.
- This portable generator has a suitcase design and only weighs 47 pounds, so it is easily transportable to a tailgate party, camper, or trailer.
- This is the quietest portable generator on our list. At just 59 decibels from 10 feet, the generator may as well be silent.
- The runtime on the PG2000iS is not very long and the power output is small. So, this is a much better product for pleasure trips and charging duties, not emergency back-up power.
- Even though this portable generator is fairly light, forty-seven pounds is still a lot for most people, and it does not have wheels.
- It is unclear whether the PG2000iS is EPA or CARB compliant, which could make it hard to travel with this portable generator.
Reviews from user perspective
There have not been that many people reviewing the PG2000iS, but those that have in general have enjoyed the portable generator. Many people tend to complain that it is a little bit louder than they were expecting—59 decibels will be audible. However, the whine from the product seems to reduce over time and with use.
Other than that, most users claim that the PG2000iS is a great buy for the price. They note the ease with which it can be moved and are impressed with its ability to handle large loads. Finally, Pulsar provides may spare parts for their portable generators, which is an added bonus for most people.
WEN DF475 4750-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator
WEN has been in the business of making power tools since 1951. Today they sell a variety of power equipment, including portable generators. Their DF475 portable generator illustrates the innovation and technological advancement that the company is known for. Additionally, with the DF475 you receive a lot of generator for the money.
The DF475 uses both gasoline and propane, so you always have two fuel options. Plus, can be converted from 120V to 240V—it is the only portable generator on this list that has that feature. Finally, in addition to your purchase of the portable generator, you will receive a bottle of oil, a wheel and handle kit, and a 47-inch LPG connection hose.
WEN 4750 Watt Features
WEN’s DF475 has a lot of interesting features that set it apart from the other portable generators under $400 models on our list.
- Fuel Tank: 4 gallons
- Fuel Type: Gasoline or LPG
- Noise Level: Unknown
- Run Time: 11 hours when run at 50% capacity.
- Outlets: Two 120V GFCI outlets, One 120V/240V NEEMA 30A twist lock outlet, and a 12V DC cigarette-lighter-style plug
- Surge Protection: Yes
- Parallel Capable: No, this portable generator is not parallel capable.
- CARB/EPA Compliant: Yes
- Starting: Electric starter
- Warranty: 2-year limited
WEN’s DF475 is an extremely solid and useful portable generator, but it does have some drawbacks as well.
- This is another dual fuel portable generator, it will run on gasoline and propane.
- You can get eleven hours of run time out of a 50% load with the DF475, which is an extraordinarily large number for this price range. Plus, the product comes with a digital LED hour counter, so you always know how much time you have left.
- The wheel kit on this portable generator make it extremely portable and the fold-down handles make it easier to store than others.
- WEN does not provide the decibel level for the DF475. It is likely louder than some of the other quiet models on this list.
- You also can not hook up another other portable generators to this model, as it is not parallel capable.
- The electric starter can be a bonus, but it also provides more things that can break on the product.
Reviews from user perspective
Most user rank the WEN DF475 as one of the best overall performers. They cite its high-power capabilities, especially, as a major draw. Most user claim that it will not trip a fuse or overload circuit even when being used to its capacity. This is a major plus for a portable generator.
As far as negatives go, the DF475 is occasionally faulted by users for poor customer service and the noise of the unit. However, most users—whether they left a positive or negative review—indicate that it is a great buy for the price.