Buying a portable generator is a huge investment, as most models cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Choosing the model and brand that’s right for you is very difficult as there are countless models out there with different types, wattages, and other specifications.
The DuroMax XP5500EH and Westinghouse iGen4500 are good starting options when you’re looking for a portable generator, especially when it’s your first time buying one. Both models are manufactured by reputable brands and are well-liked by the market.
Both models have their strong and weak points, but both are very good for their price range.
When buying a generator, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers, thinking that one is better than the other just because it looks good on paper.
To help you avoid that, we’re going to help you set what you’re looking for in a generator and the factors you need to consider.
Table of Contents:
What to consider
Power and fuel capacity
Power capacity is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a generator. You’re buying a generator because you want to use it with different electronic devices, which makes this important as this will dictate the amount of power you can supply with your generator.
When looking at power and capacity, there are two values that you need to understand, which are rated wattage and peak wattage.
Rated wattage is the number of watts that the generator can supply comfortably. For example, a generator with 3000 rated watts can supply 3000 watts of total electricity to different devices all at the same time.
Peak wattage is the highest number of watts that a generator can run. While it can run at this level, it’s not advisable to run at peak wattage. For example, a generator with 3500 peak watts can supply up to 3500 watts before it gains the risk of overheating, shutdown, or even fire.
When you’re looking at these two values, get as much rated wattage as possible, as it’s the amount of power you’ll be running most of the time. You’re going to need a high rated wattage especially if you intend to use your generator to supply multiple appliances simultaneously. Higher rated wattage also gives you leeway, as there will be a bit of extra power in reserve when you need it.
Peak wattage is also important, not because you need to use your generator to the max. It’s because you need to be aware of the generator’s limits. Yes, generators are powerful, but it’s dangerous when you always push it to the maximum load because it can cause damage to the generator.
Technically, a generator with high rated wattage can run more powerful electronic devices and appliances.
However, when buying a generator, you should take note of the types of electronic devices, tools, and appliances that you’re going to run with your generator as not all models are safe to use with specific electronic devices.
Devices with sensitive electrical circuits such as mobile phones, scientific equipment, and televisions should be taken care of when plugging into generators, as some models can cause short-circuiting inside these devices.
If you want to avoid this problem, you need to look at the model’s total harmonic distortion(THD) percentage.
A generator with THD 6% or greater has higher chances of causing short circuits. Generally, sensitive devices can run without risking damage when powered by generators with 6% THD or less, which is why most portable generators are rated with 5% THD.
If you’re going to use your generator for electronics, you need to prioritize getting a model that has THD 5% or less.
Size and portability
You need to make sure that the generator you’re buying is portable and ergonomic.
First, plan where you’re going to use the generator. Then, find a suitable model that fits your plan. Furthermore, prioritize generators with handles and wheels as it makes moving so much easier.
There will be times that you will need your generator in unusual places and situations, and you need to make sure that you can take it there.
You need to make sure that the generator is intuitive and easy to use, especially if it’s your first time buying one.
A generator can be very powerful, it can have good functions, but it will still be useless if you can’t understand how to use it due to its poor design.
When scanning different models, make sure that it will tell you what’s happening while you’re using it with features such as panels and gauges.
It’s great to have a generator with an intuitive design that tells you the things you need to know to make the device run to your liking.
During difficult times, you need to get it to work as quickly and as easily as possible without fumbling at the controls.
Product price is very important, but so is value for money. When buying a generator, you need to find one that suits your needs and has good value for money within your price range.
It’s very easy to settle for a substandard product trying to save money, but you need to understand that buying a more expensive, superior model will pay off in the long run.
On the opposite, you also need to avoid going for a product that’s above your needs and budget. It may be a better model, but it won’t be worth it if you won’t be able to extract its full performance.
Ratings can tell a lot about the product because you’ll get the information from people who were once like you, looking for a generator. The only difference is, they have bought the product.
Using the customer reviews, you can learn about the generator from people who have experience using it.
You can see if the product is as good as prescribed, has any issues, and if the manufacturer is responsive to people who have problems with the generator they bought.
DuroMax XP5500EH Portable Hybrid Generator
DuroPower, an engine and power tools manufacturer based in California, produces the DuroMax line portable generators. The DuroPower brand is widely praised for the dependability and durability of its products.
All DuroMax generators are built with heavy-duty steel and rigorously tested. The only thing customers complain about in DuroPower generators is that they are quite heavy and noisy at high power loads.
However, even if they’re heavy and noisy, that’s a small price to pay for the good return on investment as DuroMax generators are very reliable and long-lasting.
Excellent power capacity
When it comes to power capacity, DuroMax XP5500EH has a 4500 rated wattage and 5500 peak wattage. It also has a 3.96-gallon gas fuel tank. According to their website, the XP5500EH can run up to 9 hours on a full gas tank and at 50% of the power load.
The XP5500EH is a good choice if you’re planning on plugging high consumption devices to the generator. It’s also nice to have a bit of leeway with extra power capacity available when you need it.
This model only has a <12% THD rating, which means it’s not suitable for sensitive electronics and devices such as mobile phones, computers, and televisions. This lessens your flexibility when it comes to the range of devices you can power with the generator.
DuroMax XP5500EH is a good generator if your priorities are set at big power capacity and powering high consumption electrical devices. If you’re planning on powering sensitive electronics with a generator, you’re better off looking at other models with lower THD.
Apart from the 3.96-gallon gas fuel tank, DuroMax XP5500EH is also propane ready as it’s a hybrid portable generator.
This generator has efficient fuel consumption. But, according to some global ratings on Amazon, the XP5500EH can go as much as two times more efficiently when running on propane.
That’s very impressive, to say the least.
A fair share of ease-of-use features
DuroMax went with a more traditional approach, equipping the XP5500EH with a fully-featured power panel. The panel has two 120V household GFCI outlets, 12V DC charging posts, a 120/240V 30A twist-lock outlet, and a voltmeter.
With the different outlets available, users can have more choices when they use the generator.
They also added a low oil shutoff system, preventing damage and excessive wear which tends to happen to other traditional generators when left running until it runs empty on gas. It’s also RV-ready and has an electric start feature.
With the low oil shutoff system, you won’t need to bother yourself to check on the fuel levels from time to time because the generator will do it for you.
A bit pricey, but for a good reason
It’s a bit expensive and will leave a hole in your wallet, DuroMax XP5500EH has great features and offers return value for investment in the long run, as it’s suitable for many kinds of situations.
Westinghouse iGen4500 Portable Hybrid Generator
Westinghouse generators are manufactured by the Westinghouse Electric Company, a reputable power & electricity management firm. It’s one of the oldest power generation companies around, having been operating since the late 1800s.
The company’s products are known for good ergonomics, reliability, and user-friendliness. Most owners of Westinghouse generators complain about noise and the lack of 12v outlets.
The Westinghouse iGen4500 has a hybrid engine with a 3.4-gallon gas tank. According to the manufacturer’s website, this model can run as long as 18 hours on a full tank of gas and at 50% of the power load.
It also has an “economy mode” which maximizes fuel consumption. The economy mode lessens the speed in which the generator runs, which can lessen operating noise for an added benefit.
The iGen4500 has impressive gasoline efficiency, but it fares even better when it comes to using propane. According to some global reviews on Amazon, this model is efficient by up to two times more when it’s running on propane.
Because of that, some customers use this generator with propane alone to maximize the benefits of the added efficiency.
The Westinghouse portable generator is rated with just 3% THD. Due to the very low THD, this generator can power most devices without the risk of short circuits and devices getting fried.
If you like electronics, especially phones and computers, this model will be perfect for you as it’s very electronics-friendly.
When it comes to ports and outlets, Westinghouse went with a modern approach with two 20A household outlets, USB ports, and a TT-30R RV-ready outlet. USB ports are a great option especially for people who are fond of using mobile phones.
With 3% THD, you don’t have to worry about the appliances and devices because it can power all kinds of electrical devices and appliances safely.
Perfect for beginners
This model has a telescoping handle and “never flat” wheels, making it easier to wheel around different areas. It also comes with features such as remote start and button start for a hassle-free startup.
To help the user get a better knowledge of what’s going on with the generator, it has a built-in real-time LED display. It shows lifetime hours, load/output, volts, runtime, and remaining fuel.
It’s good for home use, but it’s also perfect for the outdoors and traveling because it’s an RV-ready portable generator.
If you don’t know much about electronics and generators and you want a model that’s straightforward and easy to use even for non-technical people, the Westinghouse iGen4500 is well suited for you.
Great value for money
The Westinghouse iGen4500 doesn’t have the biggest power capacity, but it makes up for it in flexibility. Furthermore, it’s ease-of-use features make it a very viable option, especially for first-time buyers.
Due to this, it’s not bad for the sub $1,000 price tag.
Can it be a backup power source for my home?
Yes, as long as you limit your use to the generator’s rated wattage. It can be a backup, but that doesn’t mean that you’re just going to plug in all appliances without considering the generator’s limits.
Where can I purchase spare parts?
While there are aftermarket spare parts available out there, it’s much better if you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines so that you only use genuine spare parts.
Should I ground my generator?
Yes, as you risk electrocution when your generator isn’t grounded. Without grounding your generator, you’re letting it run on excessive power.
If you don’t know what to do, it’s always better to contact an electrician. You also need to make sure that it’s alright to ground the model, as not all models allow grounding.
The Westinghouse iGen4500 and DuroMax XP5500EH are good portable generators with unique strengths and weaknesses.
The iGen4500 is very user-friendly and flexible. It’s integrated with features designed for beginners. It’s a very good option if it’s your first time buying a generator. Furthermore, it’s also more flexible and can run sensitive electronics with it having just 3% THD.
While DuroMax XP5500EH requires more technical knowledge from the user, it’s a much better option if you want more power capacity. Just keep in mind that it’s not suitable for electronics and appliances with sensitive circuits. While it’s not as straightforward as the iGen4500, it’s not that advanced and even beginners can get used to it in time.
If you want an all-around and safer choice, Westinghouse iGen4500 is good for you. It’s easy to use, is flexible, and has decent capacity.
However, the DuroMax XP5500EH is better than the iGen4500 as it will give you a better return on investment.
It may not be as flexible as the Westinghouse, but the DuroMax has better performance and will be more useful in the long run, especially during times of disaster. It’s more expensive, but it’s a worthy investment.