Smallest 4 Stroke Generator to Buy for 2022

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Smallest 4-Stroke Generator

The smallest 4 stroke generator is quieter, incredibly durable, and offers a more efficient operation compared to 2 stroke inverter generators. So how do these two engine types differ? What’s the leading 4 stroke inverter generator on the market? Can a 4 stroke really provide a more reliable performance compared to 2 stroke models?

The smallest 4 stroke generator features a four-part engine cycling process and is a more power efficient option. It’s also much cleaner running, compared to the standard 2 stroke inverter generators. While this type of generator doesn’t offer the same type of power that the 2 stroke models are known for, it does offer a longer lifespan, requires fewer repairs and replacement parts, and is a much safer option for the environment. 

If you want an inverter generator that’s more energy efficient, easier to use, and a model that has a longer lifespan compared to the 2 stroke generator, then read on to learn how these generators work, why they perform more efficiently compared to the 2 stroke and what other benefits they have to offer.

The 4 Stroke Inverter Generator

The name 4 stroke refers to four engine cycles. This type of internal combustion engine will utilize four piston strokes in order to complete an operating cycle:

  • Exhaust
  • Power
  • Compression
  • Intake

The piston will make a couple of complete passes in the cylinder in order to complete an operating cycle. The operating cycle requires a couple of revolutions of the crankshaft. 4 stroke engines are currently the most common type of engine used in these compact generators.

Our top picks: Portable 4-Stroke Inverter Generators

Budget Pick for Small 4-Stroke Generator: WEN 56200i
  • Dimensions: 18" x 11" x 18" | Weight: 48 lbs
  • Noise Level: 53 dB operation
  • EPA III and CARB Compliant 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts
  • Great for campgrounds, construction sites, tailgates and power outages
  • Produces clean power to safely operate and prevent damage to sensitive electronics such as phones, tablets, televisions and computers
Generac's Ultra-Quiet Honda-Beating Generator
  • ULTRA-QUIET – 40% Quieter than Honda* Advanced inverter technology and enclosure design provide optimal quiet performance (* Over 5 dB(A) quieter than the EU3000is, based on independent third-party testing)
  • Ideal for work or play - durable steel enclosure, clean inverter power and easy portability make this the ideal generator for jobsites or recreational activities
  • 16% more power than Honda, Featuring power rush advanced technology.Rated AC Frequency:60 Hz
  • Digital smart lcd - digital wattage meter, run time remaining display, generator status, hour meter and fuel level
  • USB ports - charge mobile devices including smartphones and tablets
Recommended Higher Output, Compact 4-Stroke Generator: Westinghouse iGen4500
  • 3700 Rated Watts and 4500 Peak Watts at Less Than 3% THD – Telescoping Handle – Gas Powered – Remote Start With Included Key Fob, Electric and Recoil Start
  • Features a 5–20R 120V Duplex Household Outlet, an RV-Ready Tt-30R 30 Amp Outlet and Two USB Outlets – Great Choice for Travel Trailers or Home Use – Strong Enough to Run All Your Essentials
  • Led Data Center: Rotating Digital Display Shows Fuel Level, Power Output, Remaining Run Time, Voltage Output, and Lifetime Hours
  • Extremely Quiet, Extremely Fuel Efficient: as Low as 52 dBA Noise Output and Up to 18 Hour Run Time on a 3. 4 Gallon Gas Tank – Features “Economy Mode” for Maximum Fuel Efficiency
  • All Westinghouse Portable Generators are Functionally Tested in the Factory and May Contain Minimum Residual Oil and/or Fuel Odor; EPA and CARB Compliant; Backed By 3-Year Limited Service, Labor, and Parts Coverage and Nationwide Customer Service Network

Our Choice

We checked out some of the leading models of 4 stroke inverter generators on the market and had a really hard time choosing an absolute winner. Of the three above, we actually like them all. If forced to pick one, we’d go with the Generac 7127 iQ3500. It has enough power to be truly useful in a wide variety of situations while still in a very reasonably sized package. It checks off all the boxes for power, portability and noise level. We love the 120V, 220V and USB outputs as well as the electric start.

If it’s more power than you’re looking for, the WEN 56200i is a great choice that is lighter and well loved by its owners. And, yes, if you want more power, the Westinghouse iGen4500 is worth a close look.

WEN 56200i Generac iQ3500 Westinghouse iGen4500


With this cycle, the air-fuel mixture travels to the combustion chamber. This cycling event occurs once the piston has moved from TDC to BDC. The piston’s movement toward BDC is what creates a very low amount of pressure in the cylinder. Atmospheric pressure is used in order to force the mixture through the intake valve where it travels to the cylinder, filling the low-pressure area. Next, the cylinder continues to fill past the BDC as the mixture freely flows as the piston initiates a change in direction. The intake valve will then close, sealing the air-fuel fluid inside the cylinder.


A compression stroke involves the compression of the air-fuel liquid inside the cylinder. The engine’s combustion chamber is sealed in order to form a charge, which is the amount of compressed fluid that’s trapped inside the chamber. By compressing the fuel, more energy can be released once a charge is ignited. Both the exhaust and intake valves have to be sealed shut in order to ensure that the cylinder is sealed properly for compression. The compression process basically squeezes or reduces a charge from a large to a small volume in the chamber. In order to maintain the momentum needed to compress the charge a flywheel is used.

Once the piston has compressed the charge there will be an increase in the amount of compressive force supplied by the efforts of the piston which causes heat to generate. The heating and compression of the fuel vapor in the charge will lead to a rise in the charge temperature, as well as a rise in fuel vaporization. This increase in temperature will uniformly occur throughout the chamber in order to produce faster fuel oxidation after ignition.

Fuel vaporization occurs as drops of the fuel vaporize from the heat generated by the piston. Only gas vapors ignite. The droplet surface area that’s exposed to ignite the flames will allow for more efficient burning of the charge in the combustion chamber. The increase in the droplet surface area will allow gas to increase the amount of vapor that’s released as opposed to the gas remaining in liquid form.


The combustion or ignition event will occur once the charge is ignited and oxidized rapidly via a chemical reaction used to release heat energy.


The power stroke involves a process in which heated expanding gases force the piston away from the cylinder. The force and combined subsequent motion are then transferred through a connecting rod that’s used to apply force to the crankshaft. The amount of torque applied will initiate the rotation of the crankshaft. The amount of force used is determined by the size and pressure of the piston, in addition to the throw of the engine.


Exhaust will occur once gas is expelled from the chamber and released into the atmosphere.

How the 2 Stroke Inverter Stands up to the 4 Stroke Generator

Most new inverter generators are four strokes instead of 2 stroke, including even the leading smallest generator with electric start.

The 2 stoke engine completes the power cycle using just a couple of strokes of the piston. The beginning of the compression stroke and the end of the combustion stroke take place at the same time, with the exhaust and intake functions happing at the same time as well. Most inverter generators have made the switch to the 4 stroke engines because a 2 stroke engine tends to run much hotter, which results in engine components wearing down rapidly.

Another downside of the 2 stroke engine is the fact that the spent exhaust is very dirty, especially compared to a 4 stroke.

For these reasons, 4 stroke inverter generators remain the more popular option.

Power and Efficiency

Not only do 4 stroke engines produce cleaner emissions, but they’re also said to run more efficiently than 2 stroke engines, allowing for a longer runtime for inverter generators, and an overall more powerful operation.

Smaller 4 stroke generators are perfect for a wide range of applications including camping, on the beach use, RV’ing, and any  other type of outdoor event that requires a reliable source of electricity.

As you can see, the 4 stroke inverter generators have become a standard in the industry, mainly because they’re much cleaner to run compared to 2 stroke models. By separating the intake from the exhaust, the amount of unburnt fuel is reduced, as is the amount of expanding gases that are released. The 4 stroke engine will also reduce how hot the generator runs, which can save on wear and tear.

However, there is a downside to the 4 stroke design and that’s the amount of power they produce. Inverter generators that have a 2 stroke engine are able to produce more power.

Inverter generators have made the switch to the 4 stroke engines in order to be CARB compliant. The generator’s longer lifespan and lower emissions feels like a fair tradeoff for a lack of power.

Are 2-stroke generators quieter than 4-stroke?

The 2 stroke generator is quieter than a conventional generator but much louder than a 4 stroke generator. They can also be more difficult to start, tend to use a lot of fuel, and are terrible for the environment. Because of this, most inverter generator manufacturers have switched to producing only the more environmentally-friendly 4-stroke generators. Aside from being bad for the environment and using up a lot of fuel, they also require more ongoing maintenance and tend to require more repairs than other styles of generators. So, if you’re considering getting a new generator for camping or caravanning, we recommend going with a 4 stroke model. The initial cost may be a little steeper, but these generators tend to last much longer and have very low maintenance needs.

What is the quietest portable generator for camping?

If you’re shopping for a new inverter generator for camping out, then there are a few things you may want to consider before you take the plunge and order a model you’re not familiar with, for your next camping trip. Obviously, if you’re searching for a quiet-running model, then you know that you need a generator that offers whisper-quiet operation, in order to use it at your campsite. Most campsites these days have a strict noise ordinance. So, if you don’t want to get booted from your campsite, then you’ll need to search for a generator that fits the bill. Aside from noise, if you’re camping out in the summer, then you probably need a model that’s at least 240v. These models will usually allow you to hook up a couple of small devices at one time, or a medium-sized appliance.
Some campers recommend models made by Honda, which come with the popular Eco-throttle feature which automatically adjusts the engine’s speed in order to match the operating load, in addition to a two-tiered noise dampening system that’s said to significantly lower the generator’s noise emission.

Final Thoughts

The smallest 4 stoke generators have a lot to offer if you’re someone who’s looking for an inverter generator that’s going to last and one that’s better for the environment. Their powerful design combined with their ease of use and their low maintenance needs are just a few reasons why these generators are dominating the market.

Obviously, the big drawback here is the fact that they’re not as powerful as the 2 stroke models. But in terms of longevity, they definitely win, hands down. So, if you want a generator that’s going to last for years to come and not one that’s going to need to be replaced or repaired at the end of the season, then check out one of the leading models of 4 stroke generators on a market, for a model that you can rely on and use season after season.

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