Generators are invaluable items for homeowners and those who enjoy outdoor life. They allow people to take the creature comforts of home with them when they go camping or out in their RVs, and they serve as a source of backup power for homes so that essential appliances or medical devices will remain operational during a power outage.
Generators are rated by the wattage that they can put out, which determines the type and number of appliances that they can run. A 5000W generator should have enough strength to power most of the essential electronics in a small home. Here are a few of our top picks for generators in the 5000W range that are suitable for home use.
A Look at the Best 5000 Watt Generators
1. Generac 6864 Diesel Powered Generator
This diesel-powered generator is designed to provide clean, smooth power with less than 5% harmonic distortion, ensuring clean, smooth operation even for sensitive electronics. This is a professional-level generator that features an hour meter to allow the user to track maintenance intervals and a simple electric touch starter. The generator has a starting wattage of 5500W and a running wattage of 5000W.
The 12-gallon fuel tank can, when filled, power the generator for 32.4 hours if it is running at 50% load, making this a generator that can be depended on during blackouts or even after a storm. It is also suitable for camping use, or use on a job site since it features an integrated lifting eye for ease of movement.
The air-cooled, direct-injection diesel engine is industrial-grade and is protected by a steel cradle that is coated for corrosion resistance. While this is a premium-priced generator, it is worth the investment for those who want something that can meet long-term energy demands, and be depended upon to work well in even the most challenging conditions.
The one downside of this generator is that it has a noise level of around 110db. This is far louder than some other portable generators. The trade-off is that it can run for a long time and put out a lot of power. The noise may be acceptable for outdoor use, but home users could find it a little too loud for long-term use.
Starting Watts: 5500W
Running Watts: 5000W
Running Time: 32.4h at 50% Load
2. Generac 5939 GP5500 Gas Generator
Another Generac-branded generator, this 5500W gas-powered generator has a shorter running time, but is more portable and puts out a little more energy. A good choice for camping and tailgating, or for use in the home, garage, or workshop, the generator features a 389cc OHV engine, a circuit breaker to protect the outlets, and a 6.7-gallon fuel tank.
The generator can run for up to 10 hours at 50% load on a single tank. This isn't as long as the other Generac generator included in this list, but the trade-off is that the generator is lighter. It comes with never-flat wheels as well, making it easier to move around.
One downside of this generator is that it is not CARB or CSA compliant. The lack of CARB compliance means that it is not suitable for users in California. For those who are able to purchase it, however, it is a dependable generator that can even be used to power smart-TVs, computers, or air conditioning systems, making it a nice choice for those who want to keep a steady power supply during extreme weather or rolling blackouts.
Starting Watts: 6875W
Running Watts: 5500W
Running Time: 10h at 50% load
3. Green-Power America GN5250DW Gas Dual Fuel Generator
out 5250W starting power on gas and 4750W starting power on propane. The running wattage is 4250W on gas and 3800W on propane.
This generator is relatively quiet in operation, producing just 70 decibels when running at full load. A relatively compact generator, the gas tank has a volume of just 4 gallons. A full tank allows the generator to run for up to 12 hours at 50% load, and the generator has two 120V AC outlets, one 12V DC outlet, and one 120V twist-lock AC outlet. This makes it a nice choice for workshops, households, and camping or RV use.
Weighing in at just 115lbs, this generator is at the lighter end of the ones found on this list. It is wheeled for ease of movement and has a heavy-duty steel frame for added protection and durability. There is an adjustable handle for easy transportation, and the handle folds flat for ease of storage.
The engine has a low oil auto-shutoff, and an overload protector that will help to reduce the risk of engine damage. It is CARB compliant and EPA-approved, which means that it can be shipped anywhere in the United States. Even those who live in a state where emissions regulations are more relaxed may still appreciate these features from an environmental-friendliness perspective.
Starting Watts: 5250W on Gas
Running Watts: 4250W on Gas
Running Time: 12h on 50% load
4. Briggs & Stratton Generator With Wheel Kit
This portable power generator from Briggs & Stratton is an older model, but a very reliable one, and one that can still be found online. Fans of the generator appreciate its powerful starting wattage output, comparatively lightweight, and good run-times. The generator features 4x 120V outlets, and a single 120/240V 30A outlet, allowing users to run household appliances or power tools and workshop devices.
The generator has a fuel gauge and an hour meter that allows users to monitor gas levels, a lo-tone muffler to reduce noise production, and a simple recoil starter. It is ideal for use outdoors whether for camping/RV trips or for powering things in the garden or garage. It can also be used as a backup home generator, or for running some power tools.
This generator is CARB compliant and EPA certified. This means that the generator is suitable for shipping to California and other states where there are requirements for strict emissions limitations and environmental friendliness.
Starting Watts: 6250W
Running Watts: 5000W
Running Time: Up to 9 hours on a full tank
What to Look for in a Home Generator
If you are looking for a generator for home use, there are several criteria that you should take into account, including:
- - Starting power
- - Running power
- - Running time
- - Size and weight
- - Fuel type
- - Noise
Starting Power and Running Power
The starting power matters because many appliances - especially those with motors or pumps - will require significantly more power to start up than they pull at a steady rate once they are running. Often, the difference between starting pull and long-term power drain can be several hundred watts.
The generators listed above all produce significantly more wattage of 'burst' power for starting up than their steady output, with some units offering 25% more starting power. Before you buy a generator, make a list of the appliances that you want to run, calculate their starting drain and steady power drain, and make sure that you will be able to run them all without issue.
Choose a generator that is a little bit more powerful than you need. Remember that generators run more efficiently when they are not being operated at full load. If you try to run a generator at close to full capacity for prolonged periods, you may shorten its useful life, and you could also find that you waste fuel compared to running a more powerful generator.
Size matters in several ways. If you are looking for a generator to use on RV or camping trips then you will want one that has non-flat wheels and that has a good quality handle so that you can move it around relatively easily. The dimensions of the generator may matter as well, since you will want to make sure that you can store it safely when the RV is not in use.
If your plan is to use the generator in a garage or workshop, you will want to make sure that it will fit somewhere well-ventilated and out of the way, without causing a tripping hazard. If you are getting a generator for home use, and it is simply going to sit in your yard, then you may not care so much about how heavy it is, but you will want to know that it is powerful enough to take care of your energy needs.
Size isn't just about portability, either. The size of the fuel tank is important for some applications. Some of the lighter generators in the list above have running times in the 7 to 10-hour range, which is fine for watching TV on an evening at a campsite, running a few lights, or powering the music system for an outdoor barbecue. If you want to run refrigerators, CPAP machines, or other devices that you would like to stay running, uninterrupted, overnight, then you will need to have a bigger fuel tank. The Generac 6864 can run for more than 30 hours on a full tank, making it a good choice for those situations.
The fuel type is another important consideration. Are you looking for a gas generator or an LPG one? Would you prefer a dual fuel generator? Dual fuel generators are useful if you are going to be traveling a lot and aren't sure what fuel will be available in each area.
Most generators that are dual fuel will have a higher wattage output with gas than they would with LPG. The trade-off here is that LPG, while less efficient and sometimes more expensive, tends to burn cleaner. This means that LPG is sometimes preferable if you are going to be using the generator close to your home. Gas is worse for the environment, and also for your engine since it will produce more carbon deposits.
When you are choosing a generator, consider the availability of fuel in your area. In addition, consider the climate. Propane tends to freeze in cold temperatures. Gasoline is less susceptible to cold weather, so it is a better choice if you are worried about power outages in the winter. In contrast, if you are buying a generator to supply power during storms or natural disasters, plan ahead and think about how they will impact on your fuel supply. If you live in an area where there are earthquakes or wildfires, you will need to take precautions when storing fuel.
Many neighborhoods have noise pollution rules designed to prevent residents from being a nuisance to one another. Industrial generators are incredibly noisy, and would not be suitable for use in a residential community. Smaller, portable generators tend to be quieter, but there can still be some variations in how noisy they can be.
So, what is a good noise level for a generator intended for use on a public campsite or at home?
One useful rule to remember is that every 10 decibels equate to a noise level that is ten times stronger. So, a 70dBA generator will be ten times noisier than one that is rated at just 60dBA.
If you live on a street or a block with attached properties, or you and your family are particularly concerned about noise yourselves, then you should look for a generator that is rated around 65 decibels. This is slightly louder than the volume that most people speak during a normal conversation but quieter than a vacuum cleaner. A 70dBA generator may also be acceptable, but anything that is louder than that would most likely be too noisy to use if you have neighbors. This is particularly true if you are thinking of using a generator at night.
Some of the generators listed above are ones that are very quiet and are therefore ideal for home use. Note that a generator may be quiet when running at 50 to 70 percent load, but get much louder when you are trying to use it at close to full capacity.
How Much Should You Pay for a Generator?
The price of a home generator can vary massively depending on whether you are buying a dual fuel one, a solar generator, or a gasoline/LPG generator. Other things that impact the cost include power output, the number of connectors available, and safety features. Spark arrestors and low oil shut-offs are premium features that not all manufacturers include in their products by default.
It's fair to say that you get what you pay for. While there are some generators available for just a few hundred dollars, they tend to be less well-known brands, and while they may get the job done you are taking a gamble on customer service and support. If your plan is to power a CPAP machine or some other mission-critical piece of equipment with a generator, you need a robust warranty and access to 24-hour support.
Trusted brands such as Briggs & Stratton or Generac are a good choice. There may be a premium to pay compared to an off-brand, imported generator, but you should find that the product you buy lasts for many years, requiring minimal maintenance and offering good fuel efficiency. Treat the generator as an investment that will pay for itself over time. Buy the best generator that you can afford, giving yourself some overhead in terms of both starting wattage and sustained power output, and you will have the peace of mind that your electrical needs will be taken care of while you are off the grid.