The smallest generator with electric start is primarily designed for ease of use, features low maintenance needs and offers a lightweight, compact design that makes it easy to transport. These smaller generators may have a more compact design compared to competing models, but many have a higher than average voltage rating and runtime.
The smallest generator with electric start offers not only a more compact design and whisper-quiet operation, but they’re much easier to set up, shut off, or run compared to pull-start models. They also have lower maintenance needs and feature a more streamlined design that makes them easier to store and transport. Despite their smaller size, some even offer a higher than average runtime compared to larger models. However, these generators will usually come with a higher price tag.
Now that you know why so many RV owners and campers prefer small electric start generators, keep on reading to check out all of the innovative features they have to offer and find out which models are currently dominating the market.
Same Features and Style in a Smaller Package
In general, the inverter generator is very small, especially when compared to a conventional generator, which can easily weigh over a hundred pounds. But the smallest inverter generators are designed with ease of use and portability in mind, meaning they’re even more convenient to use than the slightly larger standard sized inverters.
Even though they’re smaller, they still contain many of the same features that a larger generator will offer, including fuel gauges, safety shutoff technology, and smart engine technology. One downside that’s to be expected with these models is the smaller fuel tank. A smaller fuel tank will equal a shorter runtime. However, you can easily get past this issue by using an additional generator or relying partially on a solar panel set up to supplement some of your power needs.
- Dual Fuel – Operate your 3400-watt portable generator right out of the box on either gasoline or propane, plus the unit holds 0.6-quarts of oil (recommended 10W-30) and has a low oil shut-off sensor
- Convenient Electric Start with 3-Position Ignition Switch – Battery included, plus Quick Touch Panel allows you to access all your controls in one spot.Noise Level :59 dBA at 23 feet. Frequency 60 Hz
- Ultra-Quiet Operation – 59 dBA is perfect for RVs, tailgating, your next project or backup power for your home, featuring 3400 starting watts and 3100 running watts with up to 7.5 hours run time on gasoline
- Clean Power for Sensitive Electronics – RV Ready with a 120V 30A RV, plus two 120V 20A household outlets with clean electricity (less than 3% THD) and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter
- Champion Support – Includes 3-year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support from dedicated experts
- 3600 Rated Watts & 4650 Peak Watts (Gasoline); 3240 Rated Watts & 4650 Peak Watts (Propane); 4 Gallon Fuel Tank (with Fuel Gauge); Electric Push Button and Remote Start
- Intuitive Control Panel Features a 5-20R 120V Duplex Outlet, an RV-Ready TT-30R 30 Amp Outlet, and an L5-30R 30 Amp Outlet
- 212cc Westinghouse 4-Stroke OHV Engine; Long Lasting Cast Iron Engine Sleeve; Automatic Low Oil Shutdown
- Plug-and-Play! Comes With Oil, Oil Funnel, Tool Kit, and User's Manual; Minimal Assembly Required (Wheel Installation and Battery Hookup)
Smart Engine Technology
So, why buy a smaller generator? People often associate a smaller model with less power. While in many cases this is true, inverter generators are slightly different in this regard. They still pack plenty of power, although their power is not comparable to a conventional generator. However, they do easily trump conventional generators in terms of efficiency, maintenance needs, and ease of use. Inverter generators are highly efficient. In fact, higher-end models even come equipped with smart engine technology. Models with this feature work by automatically adjusting the engine’s speed based on load. This means, if you’re just charging a smartphone, the engine will detect this lower load demand and slow the engine down, emitting a lower power flow. If you’re powering a TV or air conditioner, the engine speed will increase in order to meet power load needs.
Higher Starting Wattage
High-end inverter generators often offer a higher than average starting wattage. The Westinghouse WGen3600DF Portable Inverter Generator has a starting wattage of 4650, for overload protection, while the Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Electric Start offers over three thousand watts. Models with this type of power are often more marketed towards RV use, or for emergency power backup. However, if you often spend a week or two camping out in the backcountry, a generator with this type of power can be a huge asset. Portability and Design
Inverter generators are often a better choice for caravanning and camping because they’re much lighter than conventional generators. Their housing is typically made out of a tough plastic exterior that’s designed to minimize noise during operation. In terms of design, generators with a weight of twenty to forty pounds will typically have a built-in handle, designed to make it easier to transport the generator from the car to the campsite. Slightly heavier models will have built-in wheels, which make it easier to transport or move around.
Can Smaller Inverter Generators Be Used for Parallel Operation?
Yes, most can! Even the smallest generator with electric start can be attached in parallel with another generator in order to increase the available power supply. So, even if you have a generator that has a lower load capacity than what you need when you’re on the road, you can purchase an additional unit to be used for certain appliances or devices. The real benefit to using the inverter is the fact that it won’t damage sensitive electronics, the way that a conventional generator can. It’s one of the main reasons people choose this style of a generator for use on the road. The inverter supplies a steady stream of power with little distortion, which is why it’s the best type of generator to use for any type of sensitive electronic device. So, if you use an inverter generator on the road to charge your iPads and smartphones, but it doesn’t have enough juice to run your AC at night, purchasing a second model for this specific purpose is the perfect solution. However, not all inverters are parallel operation approved, so double check that the model you’re interested in is parallel compatible.
Smaller inverters are priced much the same as larger inverter generators. Price is based on extra features, load capacity, wattage, and quality. Just like with other inverter generators and conventional generators, the higher the load capacity and a longer runtime equal a higher price tag.
Is the Fuel Capacity Comparable to Larger Generators?
Yes. Most inverter generators will have a fuel capacity of half a gallon up to two gallons. The larger the fuel tank, the longer the runtime. If runtime isn’t a primary concern of yours, then a smaller fuel tank should work just fine if you only need the generator for cooking purposes or to charge your smart devices. If you need a generator that can run your AC or space heater, then you’ll want a model with a larger fuel tank.
As we mentioned earlier, smaller inverter generators have a very compact design. This is mirrored in the unit’s control panel. Often, a variety of controls will be neatly packed into a smaller control panel. This is where you can control engine speed, check out fuel levels, and where you’ll find the parallel operation port if the generator you choose is compatible. Some models will have an LCD screen where you can view fuel levels, runtime, and total generator load.
Most newer models of inverter generators come with important safety features including automatic shutoff when low fuel levels are detected, or if the engine runs hot. Fortunately, some of these smaller models will also come with these crucial safety features.
Proper maintenance is crucial in order to keep an inverter generator running smoothly. Additionally, failure to properly maintain a generator can actually void the warranty. Each model’s specific maintenance needs should be clearly listed in the user’s manual. Often, this entails checking the oil, changing the filter, and cleaning the fuel strainer.
Considering inverter generators have flooded the market in recent years, due to their rise in popularity, finding the best compact model with an electric start wasn’t exactly easy. But we did a little digging and came up with a model that not only received rave reviews for ease of use but for power and efficiency as well.
The Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Electric Start has a reputation as the best smallest generator with electric start, although the manufacturer does produce higher wattage models. Despite it’s small, compact design, it still offers impressive power and is considered an inverter generator you can rely on when you’re camping or caravanning.
What We Love:
- Smart engine technology
- Higher than average starting wattage
- Easy to use
- Low maintenance
- Dual-fuel design allows you to operate propane or gas based on user preference
- Features a three-year product warranty
What We Didn’t Love:
- Lower fuel tank capacity equals a shorter runtime
- High price tag
- Not CARB compliant
- Cannot be shipped to California
The smallest generator with remote start is Champion’s 3100-Watt RV-Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Remote Start. Measuring in at merely 25.5″ x 17.3″ x 18.30″, it’s nearly identical to the standard 3100-watt model without the remote. And, it also runs at a respectably quiet 58db.
There are several models of inverter generators that are reasonably priced and designed to meet your needs on the road. The best model for the money will depend on what type of performance you’re looking for. Westinghouse is currently one of the leading manufacturers of inverter generators and they offer an extensive line of lower priced models that offer better than average runtimes and fuel efficiency. Of course, in order to get the best value for your money, you must first calculate your power needs based on the types of devices or appliances you want to plug into a generator and go from there to figure out which model offers the type of power you need at a price that’s reasonable.
Yes! These compact generators are often chosen for camping or RV’ing. Their lightweight, compact design makes them a perfect choice if you’re searching for a generator that’s highly portable. One of the inverter’s biggest selling points for the camper is the fact that they offer whisper-quiet operation. The low level of noise these generators emit is very important if you plan on using a generator at a campsite and don’t want to disturb your fellow campers.
To learn more about how inverter generators work and what type of power you need when you’re traveling through the backcountry, read our article on what size generator for camping.
As long as you carefully calculate the wattage of appliances and devices you’re running, you can safely use a 2000 watt generator to power up a number of appliances in the home including a TV, lights, and even a fridge. Of course, these generators may not have a long runtime if you have several devices running off it at once, or if you overload the generator. Before use, make sure you total up the amount of wattage you need to run each appliance or device before you hook them up to your generator in order to avoid causing a shutdown or overheating issue.
The best portable inverter generators are fuel efficient, easy to use, and loaded with great features that can protect the generator against damage if the engine overheats or fuel levels run too low. These smaller models come with many of the same benefits as their larger counterparts, they just simply feature a much smaller design that allows for easy transportation. The smallest generator with electric start is quiet-running and easy to use and maintain. Of course, not all smaller inverter generators will offer the best runtime. In fact, finding a model that can run all night long can be a real challenge. However, most users have found the fact that these generators are much easier to use and care for is a fair tradeoff. A great choice if you only need to power a couple of sensitive electronic devices or one major appliance, these inverters can be the perfect addition to your next caravanning adventure.