Long story shorts, small electric start generators offer the same style and features in a smaller capacity compared to pull-start models. Even, they come equipped with easier setup, lower maintenance needs, and higher runtime.
That’s why many people prefer small generators with electric start as their emergency power backup and camping use. However, due to the rise in popularity, inverter generators have more and more flooded the market these days. Finding a good model turns out not to be easy anymore.
Here, I’ve already been digging and came up with 4 smallest electric start generators that not only got rave reviews for ease of transporting but also for efficiency and power as well.
|My top pick Champion 75537i 3100-watt||View on Amazon|
|Best budget option Powerhorse LC3500i 3500-watt||View on Amazon|
|Most fuel efficient Honda EU3000IS1A 3000-watt||View on Amazon|
|Quiestest operation Generac 7127 iQ3500 3500-watt||View on Amazon|
Champion 75537i 3100-watt RV Ready – My top pick
- Wireless remote start helps start/stop the generator from 80 feet
- Run quietly at 58 dB
- EPA certified and CARB compliant
- Fuel efficient with smart Economy Mode
- Equipped with push-to-reset circuit breakers
- Small wheels for soft ground
|Rated/Peak Watts||2800/3100 (watts)|
|Dimensions||24.4 x 14.3 x 18.3|
|Fuel Tank Size||1.6 gallons|
|Run Time Per Tank||8 hours (25% load)|
|Highlight Features||Wireless remote start|
3-position ignition switch
Quick Touch Panel
Low oil shut-off
The #75537i is one of the rare generators that get both EPA certification and CARB compliant to meet all safety and emissions standards. So, if you’re living in the state of California, rest assured to pick it.
The product when arrived will be fully assembled with the foldable U-shaped handle and built-in carrying handles to make storage a cinch. There are also never-flat tires in the included wheel kit to help with easier transport.
I love the convenient electric start including a battery. It highlights the Cold Start Technology that during power outages in winter, I can start the machine right off the bat.
Another impressive feature is its wireless remote key fob, allowing you to start and stop your generator from up to 80 feet away.
Built with a reliable 171cc single-cylinder OHV engine, this inverter generates 3100 starting watts and 2800 running watts, which I think is enough for any outages. Producing only clean power is another plus since you can run sensitive electronics with ease in mind.
While enjoying up to 8 hours of runtime at only ¼ load, you’re worry-free of its silence. From 23 feet away, the generator’s noise level is only at 58 dB, which is equivalent to a normal conversation.
Overall, if you’re finding a small electric start generator quiet that is powerful, lightweight, and convenient, the Champion #75537i is really worth considering.
Powerhorse LC3500i 3500-watt – Best budget option
- Super fuel efficient with Engine Smart Controls
- CARB and EPA compliant
- S. Forest Service qualified spark arrestor
- Lightweight and portable
|Rated/Peak Watts||3000/3500 (watts)|
|Dimensions||24.3 x 21 x 19.5 inches|
|Engine Size||212 cc|
|Fuel Tank Size||2.6 gallons|
|Run Time Per Tank||11 hours (25% load)|
|Noise Level (dB)||57|
|Highlight Features||Parallel-ready design|
CARB and EPA compliance ratings
U.S.D.A. Forest Service qualified spark arrestor
Low oil alert
The most highlight is its U.S. Forest Service qualified spark arrestor. (If you’re new to this program, learn more from here) In general, this approval allows you to safely use the generator in any forests and parks, which is ideal for camping or tailgating parties.
Compared to the Champion #75537i, you can easily find some similarities, such as the CARB and EPA compliance ratings, parallel-ready design, and electric start convenience with battery included.
For better fuel efficiency, you might love this inverter more because of its Engine Smart Control and variable engine speed. This combination helps to reduce not only duel consumption to prolong the generator’s runtime but also lower noise level.
With insane affordability, the Powerhorse LC3500i is the best choice for those who want a small, high-quality electric start generator without breaking the bank.
Honda EU3000IS1A 3000-watt – Most fuel efficient
- Advanced inverter technology produces safe power for your sensitive devices
- Most fuel efficient
- Low oil shutdown
- The heaviest in this list
|Rated/Peak Watts||2800/3000 watts|
|Dimensions||25 13/16 x 19 x 22 13/32 inches|
|Fuel Tank Size||3.4 gallons|
|Run Time Per Tank||20 hours|
|Noise Level (dB)||57|
|Highlight Features||Long running time|
Advanced inverter technology
Low oil shutdown
The next time there’s a power outage, the 196cc Honda EU3000IS1A engine will provide enough power needs for your essentials in an emergency.
At 3000 starting watts, 2800 running watts and 120V AC power, the inverter meets up all kinds of versatilities, from home to RV use.
It can operate a wide range of huge appliances, such as fridges, microwaves, and most 13,500 BTU RV air condition units. Rest assured that it’s also 100% safe to sensitive electronics, like a laptop, smartphone, and TV thanks to the advanced inverter technology.
While running like a beast, the EU3000iSA, with a remarkably low 49 to 58 dB noise level, is silent enough to avoid disturbing your neighbors.
And with the simple electric start with battery included, its convenience is even leveraged immensely. In cold weather, it allows you to start it effortlessly and rapidly.
If power efficiency is your biggest concern, Honda EU3000IS1Ais your best choice.
Generac 7127 iQ3500 3500-watt – Quiestest operation
- Amazingly quiet
- Easy to use
- Long run time
- There’s no EPA certified and CARB compliant
|Rated/Peak Watts||3000/3500 watts|
|Dimensions||23.7 x 18 x 21.7 inches|
|Engine||212cc OHV 4 stroke engine|
|Fuel Tank Size||2.6 gallons|
|Run Time Per Tank||8.9 hours (50% load)|
|Noise level||55 dBs|
|Highlight Features||Smart LCD|
Powerush Advanced Technology
The Generac 7127 iQ3500-3500 Watt ensures a quick start in winter with its Powerdial 03 operation settings and battery included.
But the real fun begins at the perfect combination of Advanced Inverter technology and Powerrush Advanced technology, making it a true competitor to Honda EU3000is.
Based on independent third-party testing, this generator delivers over 5 dB (equal 40%) quieter while due to manufacturer’s specifications, is 500 more starting watts than Honda. That means it generates 50% more starting capacity to increases electrical current upon demand when starting electric motors.
Combined with clean inverter power and durable Steel enclosure, the machine is arguably a versatile choice for job sites or recreational activities, allowing you to do more with less.
As a more affordable option with superior performance in silent power than Honda, the Generac 7127 iQ3500-3500 Watt is surely the best choice to power any of your household appliances.
How to choose the smallest electric start generator? (buying guide)
Since inverter generators are designed with a compact silhouette, lightness, and low maintenance in mind, I’ll skip these three elements when choosing the smallest electric starts generator.
Instead, we’re going to take an extensive look in others. They are:
Though an inverter electric start generator isn’t comparable to a conventional pull-start design in terms of power, it’s still arguably a powerful option for home use.
In general, a small inverter generator can emit a power range of 2000W to 3500W.
To know which number will meet your power needs, total up the amount of all household appliances that are intendedly hooked up to the machine. Then, go from there to find out the most suitable.
Fuel Tank Size & Run Time Per Tank
The only gripe that’s to be expected with these small electric start generators is the smaller fuel tank which equals a shorter runtime.
But don’t quickly be disappointed because of the fact that nowadays small inverters have improved a lot in their fuel tank size.
Commonly, they have a capacity of 1 up to 3.5 gallons, which is equivalent to 6 to 20 hours. This issue also depends on how fuel efficient these generators are as well as how many devices running off at once.
Remember, the larger the fuel tank, the longer the runtime.
If you plan to buy a generator for charging your smart electronic devices or cooking purposes, a smaller fuel tank (1-1.5 gallons) works just fine. Conversely, for higher power need, you’ve got two options:
- Choose a generator with a larger fuel tank of 2-3.5 gallons
- Using a solar panel or an additional generator
Parallel option & Solar Panel System Compatibility
For home use, considering the parallel feature in your small electric start generator is just enough to increase the available power supply.
While 80% of modern inverters are parallel operation approved, some are not. That’s why I advise you to double check this feature in the generator you intend to drop money on.
In terms of solar panel system compatibility, it’s a more versatile option for camping purposes. Particularly, if you’re finding a method to power up an AC for all night use, consider this feature since it’s designed to supply juice for the RV’s battery.
It’s ideal for your setup if you plan to camp with a large group or have larger appliances needed powering.
There are two critical safety features to keep in mind when choosing a small electric start generator:
- Shut-off technology
- Unit’s control panel
The safety shutoff technology will help you shut down the machine automatically when the engine runs hot or the fuel levels are too low.
The control panel – as its name defines – is a small electrical board where you can track many elements of the generator. For examples, engine speed, total generator load, parallel options (if yours is compatible), runtime, and fuel levels.
Generally, it avoids three things:
- Endanger someone working on power lines
- Fry electric appliances
- Damage the generator
Price & Budget
People often associate a model featured higher starting wattage and more extra features with a better choice. While in some cases it’s true, selecting generators for a tight-budget person is a bit different in this regard.
A small inverter is usually priced within $650-$2200 based on wattage, extra features, quality, and load capacity. Just like any other types of generator, the longer runtime, and higher load capacity, the higher the cost.
If your budget isn’t on the table, carefully calculating the wattage of devices and appliances you’re running is a must. Then, pick a generator that meets just enough your power need.
As an example, the Powerhorse Inverter Generator that I’ve listed above, priced under $700 while featuring 3000W engine for 11 hours of runtime, is really worth considering.
Who makes the smallest electric start generator?
Champion Power Equipment
Founded in 2003 in California and after 15 years with more than 2.5 million sold generators, you can tell it, Champion is the world’s reliable generator of choice.
My guess is, the guarantee of all their products are as powerful and efficient as advertised is the vital selling point of Champion. Plus, is their caring customer service.
When you visit their website, there’s always automated assistance to give you advice on choosing the most suitable product based on your demand. Then, some more clicks will take you one step closer to your next potential small generator.
Like Champion, Powerhorse is a newcomer in this generator industry but their extensive lines, available for all budget ranges, have received rave reviews. Most of them focus on three things:
- Reliable operation
- Durable encasements
- High-quality engine
And that’s the reason I ranked their Model# LC3500i as one of the best electric start generators with a small silhouette.
Established in 1946 as a Japanese company in the automotive industry, but through the years of venturing to many other equipment and products, Honda is now also renowned for generators as well.
Their products are highly rated by worldwide customers. Most compliments focus on their superior expertise in engines that whether your budget is tight or loose, there will be a good one from Honda catalog for you.
This list would be meaningless if there wasn’t Generac – a brand that’s founded in 1959 by Robert Kern, specialized in power backup for industrial and residential locations.
Their products highlight a practical design and affordability that no matter how much of your power requirements and budget, there’s always one Generac fitting snugly to them.
Importantly, despite the cheap price, their generators are assured to meet all safety requirements.
What size generator will run a house?
To find out the most suitable generator size to run your house, you should consider two things:
- How frequent of power outages that happen to your living area
If you rarely lose power, either a recreational or mid-sized inverter is great. Level up, for occasional outages, a small electric start generator or a large inverter will work its best.
In the worst case, outages not only frequently happen to your living area but sometimes are also prolonged, you’ve three options to consider:
- Small electric start generator
- Large inverter
- Home standby
In terms of wattage, aside from calculating the rated watts of all the needed appliances, consider their surge watts as well since it can throw off your calculations if not accounted.
What can you run on a 3000-watt generator?
I understand that such low power capacity might cause some inconvenience when operating your appliances, but a careful calculation of the devices’ wattage can make it possible.
A 3000-watt generator can power up many appliances, such as a refrigerator, lights, and a television. Of course, if letting all of them run at once, your generator will be out of juice soon.
While the power outages might be prolonged, prioritizing the important devices (like fridge, AC, or water heater) and minimizing the use of others (such as TV and smartphones) will enhance the generator’s runtime.
Is it okay to run a generator without a load on it?
Yes. A generator should be started without a load on it.
If needed, it should be switched on just after ensuring that the frequency and voltage’s values are as expected. Hence, after starting, you should double check these two elements.
Is it OK to let a generator run out of gas?
No, it isn’t.
That’s because when running a generator that’s out of gas, the values of voltage and frequency will be fluctuated, meaning damage might happen to some sensitive electronics.
What is the difference between an inverter generator and a regular generator?
Compared to a regular generator, an inverter comes in some similar style and features, such as:
- Safety shutoff technology
- Fuel gauges
- Smart engine technology
Regardless, are many advances:
- Smaller size for lighter weight, more ease of transporting and compact design
- Ease of setup, use, and shut off
- Lower maintenance needs
- More whisper-quiet operation
Some inverter generators even provide higher runtime than other larger models.
How far away from the house does a generator need to be?
Generally, it should be 21 to 23 feet.
Can you plug a generator into a wall socket?
No, you can’t.
It’s an improper way to plug a generator directly into a wallet socket or any other forms of home’s power supply.
When the power comes back on, your generator will be damaged permanently. In some worse cases, the machine might burst into flames and be exploded.
With those innovative features as mentioned above, an electric start generator with a small design is truly the best choice for home use.
Of course, not all smaller inverters offer the optimal runtime and fuel efficient. I hope that my four suggestions of the smallest electric start generators help you figure out which models are currently dominating the market. Finally, thanks for reading!
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I’m James J. Decker, a hobbyist and DIYs and also a big of home improvement and gardening tools. I immensely enjoy how these amazing products improve productivity and efficiency, and allow me to do jobs for which I would’ve otherwise needed professional help.