Having a generator can make a huge difference in the event of a power outage or when you go on an outdoor trip or camping trip. The best 4,000 watt generator offers enough power to run your essential appliances, such as the fridge, freezer, water pumps and lights, during a power outage, without being too big, too heavy or too gas guzzling. At the same time, 4,000 watts is the perfect amount to power a medium-sized RV or even electrify a campsite.
In order to find the best 4000 watt generators on the market today, we considered a number of features. First, we checked whether the 4000 watt rating describes continuous power, which is the maximum power the generator can produce consistently, or peak power, which the generator can maintain for only a few seconds while starting up motorized appliances. We also took into account how long each generator would be used depending on its fuel tank size and efficiency. The noise level produced by the generators was a particularly important consideration when searching for the best 4000 watt generators for RVs and camping. Finally, we looked at how the warranties on the various generators stack up.
We spent dozens of hours researching the most popular 4000 watt generators, looking at technical specifications and reading customer reviews. The result is our pick of the seven best 4000 watt generators, shown in the table below. Read on for detailed reviews of each generator, with pros and cons. Our buying guide covers everything you need to know to choose the right generator for your needs. Finally, we present our three favourite 4000 watt generators.
This Westinghouse generator is extremely well equipped for any use, but expect to pay a premium price for the wide range of features included. The generator offers 3700 watts of continuous power and 4500 watts of peak power, a differential wide enough to allow you to safely start engine-powered appliances without disconnecting the entire generator. The four-stroke engine allows this generator to be very fuel efficient – the unit boasts an 18-hour run time while consuming only 3.4 gallons of gas.
Users have been blown away by how quiet this generator is. At only 52 dB, it is not only the quietest generator we have reviewed, but it is also more than 10 dB quieter than the average generator in this class. The generator has an electric start option and a recoil start option, which users have appreciated in order to have a backup in case the generator battery runs out.
The front of the generator has two 120V household outlets, a 30A outlet, a 12V DC outlet and two USB ports for charging small electronics. However, there is no RV outlet, which is the biggest drawback of this generator. Users were very pleased with the LED display, which shows how many watts are being drawn from the unit and how much range is left based on fuel consumption.
Westinghouse offers a three-year warranty on this generator for residential users, but commercial users should know that they will only receive a one-year warranty.
- 224cc OHV 4-stroke
- 3.4 gal
- 120V 30A (TT-30R), Duplex 120V 20A (5-20R), (2) 5V USB ports
- 52 dBA
- Limited to 3 years or 1000h (residential), limited to 1 year or 1000h (commercial)
- LCD display, EPA and CARB compliant, inverter generator, remote start, electric and recoil.
Champion Power Equipment 100302
This modestly priced Champion generator is a versatile unit designed to operate at home, to provide power during a power outage, or for everyday use in your RV. The generator is rated at 3,500 watts continuous and 4,000 watts surge, which means that you may have difficulty starting motorized appliances if you use this generator near its maximum output. That said, users have been extremely pleased with the clean electrical waveform emitted by this generator, making it safe to use for powering and charging sensitive electronic devices.
The generator has only two 120V household outlets, but RV users have been very appreciative of the twist-lock outlet and the 12V DC battery charge outlet in case of RV battery problems. The generator is extremely fuel-efficient at mid-charge, running for up to 17 hours on less than three gallons of gas. However, users note that the generator can be a bit noisy for evening or early morning use, especially in a campsite, at 64 dB. In addition, many users would have liked an electric start function, although they found the recoil start to be responsive and reliable.
The generator comes with a three-year limited warranty from Champion, although users reported no problems with the generator during this time.
- What we liked:
- What could be better:
- 224cc Champion OHV
- 2.9 gal
- 120V 30A (TT-30R), 120V 20A Duplex (5-20R), 12V DC Automotive
- 64 dBA
- Limited to 3 years
- parallel ready, reverse start, RV ready, inverter generator, CARB compliant.
This compact generator from Pulsar has a slightly different construction to the other generators we have reviewed, with a single carrying bar on top and integrated plastic wheels, as opposed to a full metal frame. This, combined with the telescopic handle, makes it one of the most portable 4000 watt generators on the market.
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The generator has a 224cc engine, but only produces 4,000 watts of peak power and 3,500 watts of continuous power, which is not ideal if you have a lot of motorised equipment to power. Fuel efficiency and runtime are average, with 3.4 gallons of gasoline used to run the generator at half load for 15 hours. Although the noise level is not extreme (63 dB), some users found that the generator made a lot of annoying whining noises when operating near its rated power. However, users appreciated the electric start and were very pleased with the ability to start the generator remotely with the included controller.
The socket panel is fairly well equipped, with a twist-lock socket for VR and a USB port for charging small electronics. It also has a 12V DC socket for charging batteries, which, combined with its portability, makes this generator a contender for use in an RV or on road trips. Note, however, that it only has two standard 120V outlets.
Pulsar offers a two-year warranty on this generator, and users note that Pulsar parts are available at most hardware stores and repair shops.
- Engine : 224cc OHV
- Rated/peak output : 3500W/4000W
- Fuel tank capacity : 3.4 gal
- 15h (2) AC 120V, 30A RV, 12V DC 8A, 5V DC USB
- 63 dBA
- 2 years
- inverter generator, parallel capacity, telescopic handle, remote start, CARB compliant.
This Westinghouse generator has six 120V household outlets and two USB charging ports, making it an ideal choice for home use during a power outage, when you need as many outlets as possible. However, note that it does not have a 30A socket, a 12V DC socket or an RV-ready socket like most other generators, so it is largely limited in its range of uses.
This generator is rated at 3,500 watts continuous or 4,200 watts surge, so it can power all the essential appliances in your home in the event of a power outage. Best of all, the generator is extremely fuel-efficient at mid-charge, using only 2.6 gallons of gas to run for up to 15 hours. Users also appreciated the low noise level of this generator, between 52 and 59 dB depending on the power consumption. This low noise level means that it can be used overnight in some cases without waking up the house or neighbours.
The generator does not have an electric start, one of the biggest requests from users. However, users appreciated the LED panel that shows the power drawn from the generator as well as the remaining run time.
Westinghouse offers a three-year warranty on this generator for residential users, but limits the warranty to only one year for commercial users.
- What we liked:
- What could be better:
- 212cc OHV 4-stroke
- 2.6 gal
- (3) Duplex 120V 20A GFCI (5-20R), (2) 5V USB ports
- 52-59 dBA
XtremepowerUS 4000 watt gasoline generator
This XtremepowerUS petrol generator is an impressive model. It has a 212cc engine that will be able to meet all your needs. It is very well designed to offer you not only reliable power but also a high level of usability.
Despite its high power, the generator is surprisingly easy to move. It does not weigh too much and has large handles. For two people, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get it where you need it.
One of the main disadvantages of portable generators is that they can be unbearably loud. Although all generators make a lot of noise, this one is on the quieter side. At 67 dB, you don’t have to worry about drowning out all the other sounds and having to shout over them.
It’s not the loudest generator on the market, but it’s perfect for campsites, construction zones, tailgate parties and parties. A few users have reported delivery problems, but this does not seem to be a common problem.
The recall start on this model is excellent and makes it very easy to start. It requires minimal effort, especially compared to other generators on the market. All this at a very impressive price, making it excellent value for money.
- 212cc 4 stroke OHV 1 cylinder
- Fuel tank capacity 4 gallons
- 1/2 running time 10h
- (1) 120V AC Twist-Lock, (2) 120V 20A AC
- 67 dBA
- recoil start, engine stop switch, voltmeter and circuit breakers
This compact and inexpensive generator from DuroStar is an ideal choice for those who need a generator on a budget or for those who want a generator for a potential emergency but don’t want to spend a fortune on a tool they won’t use frequently. The four-stroke engine produces a relatively low continuous output of 3300 watts, but is capable of producing up to 4000 watts of peak power. Although four-stroke engines are generally more fuel efficient, this generator uses a lot of gasoline and can empty its four-gallon tank in just eight hours at half load.
The power outlet panel is moderately equipped, with two 120V household outlets and a 30A twist-lock outlet for tools requiring more current. The panel also has an analogue display that shows the power used, although it can be somewhat difficult to read. Users warn that this generator can be quite noisy as it is rated at 69 dB of noise. However, given its low price, most users are happy with the recoil start and are not surprised by the lack of electric start.
The warranty is also short on this generator, barely one year, which is not surprising given the price. However, users have found that it has continued to perform well over several years of intermittent use.
- Air-cooled OHV 4-stroke
- 1/2 run time : 8h
- (2) 120V, 20 amp, 3-pin; (1) 120V, 30 amp twist-lock
- 69 dBA
- Limited to 1 year
- EPA-approved reverse start
What can you power with a 4000 watt generator?
To determine how much power you’ll get from your 4000 watt generator, you need to add up the power ratings of all the appliances you plan to connect. However, there’s a catch, because all appliances that are driven by a motor – such as your fridge, freezer and air conditioning unit – have two different power requirements: operating power and surge power. Operating power describes the number of watts the appliance uses to keep running once it has started. Boost power is usually higher, and sometimes much higher, and describes the amount of watts the appliance uses during the few seconds that the engine starts.
To give an example of what a 4000 watt generator is capable of powering, let’s look at some of the common appliances found in a home or motor home. The 4000 watts gives you enough power to run a fridge and freezer, a microwave and an air conditioner, with just a few hundred watts left over to turn on lights and charge small electronics. However, be aware that the peak power to run these appliances is closer to 5000 watts, as they are driven by motors.
Important features to consider before buying a 4000 watt generator
In order to choose the best 4000 watt generator for your needs, there are a variety of important features on generators that you need to understand as they affect how the generator will perform in different circumstances. In this section, we will explain these features, what they mean, and how they can impact your purchasing decision.
Rated and maximum power
All modern generators have two different power outputs: their rated power and their maximum power output, or peak power. The power rating describes the amount of watts the generator is capable of delivering consistently as long as it has fuel. This is the power you cannot exceed once all your appliances are running. For non-motorised appliances, such as light bulbs, dishwashers and even microwaves, the wattage is the only one that matters and you can determine how much power your appliances will need by simply adding up all their individual wattages.
Maximum power output comes into play when powering motorized appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners and some types of pumps. When these appliances are first connected to the generator, the engine needs much more power to start than to run once it has started. The maximum power of your generator will be able to handle this extra wattage requirement for a few seconds, long enough to start these devices. If you have allowed yourself some leeway when calculating your operating power requirements, your generator will probably provide enough peak power to start all your appliances.
The engine is the heart of your generator because it is the component of the generator that converts fuel – gasoline or propane – into electrical energy. In general, a more powerful engine produces more power, so generators that offer roughly equivalent power outputs have similar sized engines – which is why most of the 4000 watt generators we looked at have 212cc or 224cc engines.
Fuel tank capacity
All of the 4000 watt generators we reviewed run on gasoline only, which means they have an internal tank to hold the gasoline. The tank size of these generators does not vary much and is typically 3.4 to 4 gallons. However, the Westinghouse iPro4200 has a small 2.6 gallon tank, which reduces the overall size of the generator, but also reduces its run time and requires you to fill the fuel tank more frequently. In general, a larger fuel tank increases run time – although this also depends on fuel efficiency – and increases the size of the generator.
The runtime of a generator is usually measured at half load (i.e. when the generator is running at half its rated power) and is a measure of how long the generator can run on one tank of fuel. The running time depends on both the size of the fuel tank and the efficiency of the generator engine. The run time of 4000 watt generators ranges from as little as eight hours at half load for the DuroStar generator to an impressive 18 hours at half load for the Westinghouse iGen4500.
The number and type of outlets on your generator are extremely important because they determine the types of appliances and the number of devices you can plug in without having to resort to power strips and adapters. The number of standard 120V outlets can range from as few as two, as on the DuroStar and Pulsar generators, to six on the Westinghouse iPro4200 generator. If you plan to use your generator to power heavy tools, it is important to look for a unit that offers a 120V/240V 30A twist-lock receptacle. On the other hand, if you want to use your generator to power an RV, an RV-ready 120V outlet, such as the one found on Wen generators, may be the most important outlet to have. In addition, some generators, such as the Westinghouse models and the Pulsar generator, offer USB ports for charging small electronic devices. Another extremely useful outlet is a 12V DC outlet, such as the Champion generator, which can be used to charge your car, RV or boat battery.
While you may focus on power when looking at generators, it’s also important to consider the noise a generator will make once it’s turned on. Noise is a particularly important concern if you plan to use your generator for RVing or camping. The noise from a loud generator can wake up an entire campsite or keep you awake at night. Even for domestic use, a noisy generator can keep you or your neighbours awake at night and cause complaints.
In general, generators with more powerful engines produce more noise, although the degree of noise reduction built in by the manufacturer can also play an important role in the noise. For example, Westinghouse generators produce only 52 dB of noise, while DuroStar and XtremepowerUS 4000-Watt petrol generators of similar power produce 67-69 dB of noise.
Size, weight and portability
The size, weight and portability of different generator models may be more or less important depending on where you plan to keep it and how you plan to use it. For occasional home use where the generator is placed where you plan to use it, portability may not be an issue. However, if you plan to use your generator with a camping vehicle, having a huge, heavy generator can be problematic. Fortunately, although 4,000 watt generators are heavy to carry, most are reasonably sized compared to larger generators. If portability is a major concern, the Wen, Pulsar and Westinghouse iGen4500 generators are mounted on a set of wheels for easy movement.
A 4000 watt generator is a significant investment. So you want to be sure that your generator will perform like new for many years to come. A manufacturer’s warranty can protect your purchase in the event that a problem occurs with your generator and helps give you peace of mind with your purchase. Warranties range from one year for the DuroStar unit to three years for all Westinghouse and Champion generators.
How much should you expect to pay for a 4000 watt generator? Prices for these units vary widely, but you should expect to pay at least several hundred dollars for a reliable unit. Our budget choice, the DuroStar generator, costs just over $250, while the Pulsar and Westinghouse iGen4500 models cost $850 and $950 respectively.
When shopping for generators, go for the most reliable model that offers the surge power and features you need. It’s better to pay a little more now than to have to buy a new generator in a few years.
Once you have your new generator in hand, how do you connect it? Here are some of our favourite tips to help you get started with your generator.
For safety reasons, never run the generator indoors or in enclosed areas.
Connect appliances to the generator rather than trying to feed electricity directly back into your home’s power grid – this is illegal!
Always allow the generator to cool down completely before adding fuel to the tank.
Keep enough engine oil and hand filters – in addition to petrol – to enable you to cope with a prolonged power cut.
Do not allow the generator to run out of fuel completely, as this could damage the engine.
Never leave petrol in the generator after you have finished using it, as it could run out and damage the engine the next time you start it.
Our three favourite 4000 watt generators on the market today are the Westinghouse iGen4500, Champion Power Equipment 100302 and the Pulsar PG4000iSR. All three generators are very fuel efficient and offer 15, 17 and 18 hours of run time, respectively, while producing relatively low noise levels. Both the Pulsar and Champion generators feature RV twist-lock outlets, making them an ideal choice for powering a road trip. The Champion generator also comes with a three-year warranty, one of the best in its class. The Pulsar and Westinghouse generators are mounted on wheels for easy transport. We believe the Westinghouse generator is the best 4,000 watt generator because of its huge peak power of 4,500 watts, its extremely quiet 52 dB engine and the inclusion of an LED display on the front panel to monitor wattage consumption and run time.
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