Portable Power Station vs Generator

It is easy to be confused by the terms generator and portable power station. A generator produces current for immediate use, while a power station has onboard batteries that can store current for use at a later time and which can also be drawn from immediately.

The key difference is that as long as the generator has a continuous fuel source, power can be produced while the power station will run out of battery.

We have an entire article on the intricacies of gasoline generators and solar generators if you would like to explore the topic further. The rest of this post will look at portable power stations vs generators.

The heaviest generator in this comparison weighs 352 lbs. and can generate 12.0 kW continuously.

At the lower end, the GENMAX Portable Inverter Generator only weighs 5.64 lbs and produces 2.2 kW.

Key Takeaways

  • There are several different types of generators that use different fuels. These include gasoline, Biofuel (dual or hybrid), diesel, and solar generators.
  • The general rule that applies to generators is that the bigger and heavier they are, the greater the power they produce.

Types Of Portable Power Stations 

As long as the battery in a portable power station is charged, the unit can supply AC or DC power immediately and silently, making them environmentally friendly and suitable for indoors and socially acceptable.

Power stations consist of the following primary components:

An inverter to convert the Direct Current (DC) stored in the battery to a usable Alternating Current (AC) of 120 and/or 240 volts, depending on the power station model and where it is used.

A charge controller that moderates the current from an external power source when the unit is recharged.

A battery. The latest models of portable power stations tend to use Lithium-ion or lithium-iron phosphate (LiFePO4) chemistry. Older model mobile power stations may use lead acid or gel batteries. 

Types Of Generators

Although some solar units are called solar generators, in reality, the technology is closely tied to mobile power stations. These have been included in the comparison. 

An internal combustion engine powers generators in the traditional sense and uses the following fuel sources:

The lists that follow below provide more details about each type of generator by fuel source, and I’ve included solar for a holistic viewpoint.

Bi-Fuel Generators (Dual Fuel Or Hybrid Fuel)

Bi-fuel generators are generally sold as being compatible with gas and propane (LPG). 

There is a vast range of Bi-Fuel Generators. In the following, we compare two generators in each category, from small generators to larger units.

Power Output Of The Generators

Available power output rages are listed below.

Make and ModelTypeGas / Diesel PowerPropane Power
GENMAX Portable Inverter GeneratorGas Only2.2 kW120 Volts50 ampsn/an/an/a
WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt RV-ReadyGas Only3.8 kW120 Volts30 ampsn/an/an/a
Firman WH03041 Dual Fuel InverterGas and Propane3.0 kW120 Volts25 amps2.7 kW120 Volts25 amps
Westinghouse 15000 Watt Dual Fuel Home BackupGas and Propane12.0 kW120-240V 50A (240V)100A (120V)10.8kW120-240V45A (240V)90A (120V)
Yanmar Portable Diesel GeneratorDiesel3.5kW120-240V14.6A (240V)29.2A (120V)n/an/an/a
Voltmaster Portable Diesel Generator – XDR60ELDiesel5.5kW120-240V22.9A (240V)45.8A (120V)n/an/an/a
BLUETTI EB3A Portable Power StationSolar0.6kW120 Volts5 Ampsn/an/an/a
BLUETTI EP500Pro Solar Power StationSolar3.0kW120 Volts25 Ampsn/an/an/a

Run Time Of Generators

The run times of Bi-fuel inverters range between 9 hours (Firman, 1.8 gas tank) to 11 hours (Westinghouse gallon gas tank)

Make and ModelTypeGas TankRun Time (Gas/Diesel)Run Time(Propane)Using 
GENMAX Portable Inverter GeneratorGas Only1.00 Gal6 hoursn/a1.1kW
WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt RV-ReadyGas Only‎2.20 Gal8.5 hoursn/a1.9kW
Firman WH03041 Dual Fuel InverterGas and Propane1.80 Gal9 hours5 hours1 kW
Westinghouse 15000-Watt Dual Fuel Home BackupGas and Propane10.5 Gal12 hours7 hours12 kW
Yanmar Portable Diesel GeneratorDiesel3.43 Gal8 hoursn/a1.75kW
Voltmaster Portable Diesel Generator – XDR60ELDiesel5.00 Gal14 hoursn/a2.5kW
BLUETTI EB3A Portable Power StationSolarn/a0.5 hoursn/a0.6kW
BLUETTI EP500Pro Solar Power StationSolarn/a1.7 hours **n/a3.0kW

🎓 Editors Note: If the Bluetti EP500Pro is connected to solar panels (1.2kW array), the machine can be used indefinitely, assuming ideal weather conditions.

How Portable Are Generators?

Bi-fuel generators range in degrees of portability.

Make And ModelSizeDry Unit WeightEase Of Transport 
GENMAX Portable Inverter Generator11.42L x 12.2W x 7.09H in5.64lbs.Very portable and easy to carry
WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt RV-Ready23.2L x 18,0W x 20.1H in99.2Lbs.Even with wheels – weighing 99.2 lbs., it is a heavy device; however, it is much easier to transport than the bigger machines.
Firman WH03041 Dual Fuel Inverter23.2L X 17.8W X 17.9H in90lbs.At 90 pounds, it is still heavy; however, it is much easier to transport than the bigger machines.
Westinghouse 15000-Watt Dual Fuel Home Backup34L X 31W x 35H in352lbs.This is a large device, and although it is fitted with wheels, it is not easily transportable except within the home.
Yanmar Portable Diesel Generator26.8L x 18.9W x 23.8H In187lbs.This is not a portable generator. It does not have any wheels either.
Voltmaster Portable Diesel Generator – XDR60EL38.3L x 23.5W x 26.5H In253lbs.This is not a portable generator
BLUETTI EB3A Portable Power Station10.04L X 7.09W X 7.20H in10.14lbs.Very portable
BLUETTI EP500Pro Solar Power Station11.1L X 22.8W X 29.9 In167lbs.Although it has wheels, this is not a portable unit.

Which Generators and Power Stations are Rechargeable?

None of the gas, propane, or diesel machines have a storage battery (other than the starter battery in the Westinghouse) and therefore, are not rechargeable in the traditional sense.

Recharging entails refilling the tank with propane or gas. The Charge times for the Solar generators are listed below. 

Wall Socketsolar panelCar Cigarette Lighter
BLUETTI EB3A Portable Power Station1.3 hours2.0 hours (200w)3.0 hours
BLUETTI EP500Pro Solar Power Station2.5 Hours5.0 hours  (1.2kW)n/a

How Much Do Generators Cost?

The cost of each machine is listed below. Apart from periodic maintenance, very little needs to be spent to keep them running.

Make And ModelCost
GENMAX Portable Inverter Generator$369,99
WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt RV-Ready$799.99
Firman WH03041 Dual Fuel Inverter$1,167.61
Westinghouse 15000-Watt Dual Fuel Home Backup$2,749.00
Yanmar Portable Diesel Generator$4,525.00
Voltmaster Portable Diesel Generator – XDR60EL$6,995.00
BLUETTI EB3A Portable Power Station$239.00
BLUETTI EP500Pro Solar Power Station$5,399.00

What is the Environmental Impact?

The environmental impact of each device is listed below. Diesel is the worst emitter, followed by gas and then propane.

Make And ModelPropane emission per tankNoise levelsNoise intrusiveness
GENMAX 50-Amp RV Ready Inverter Generator8.69 pounds of CO2n/a58 dBAAs loud as an electric toothbrush
WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt RV-Ready19.13 pounds of CO2n/a57 dBAAs loud as an electric toothbrush
Firman WH03041 Dual Fuel Inverter18.17 pounds of CO212.17 pounds of CO258 dBAAs loud as an electric toothbrush
Westinghouse 15000-Watt Dual Fuel Home Backup106.37 pounds of CO274.26 pounds of CO274 dBAAs loud as a washing machine
Yanmar Portable Diesel Generator76.85 pounds of CO2n/a82 dBAAs loud as an alarm clock
Voltmaster Portable Diesel Generator – XDR60EL112.52 pounds of CO2n/aTBATBA
BLUETTI EB3A Portable Power StationZeron/aTBALow
BLUETTI EP500Pro Solar Power StationZeron/aTBALow

You’ll notice that solar products emit very little noise. If you are interested in knowing why, this article answers the question of solar-powered generators’ quietness.

Maintenance Requirements

The maintenance needs of the different fuel types differ.

Gas/Diesel and Propane Generators:

As a rule, all generators have very low maintenance requirements. An annual service usually is sufficient to keep them running in good order. The service requirements will typically include the following steps:

  • Change all of the filters (oil, fuel, and air.)
  • Empty the old oil and replace it.
  • Change the spark plugs (gas-powered generators.)
  • Ensure the crankcase breather is clean.
  • Flush the cooling system.
  • Test the current that the system produces to ensure it is still operating at spec.
  • Check that the coolant levels are in order.

Solar Generators Require no maintenance until the battery requires changing.


The following lists the typical applications for which each generator is most suitable.

Make And ModelHome Back UpCampingRecreational VehiclePortable Commercial
GENMAX 50-Amp RV Ready Inverter GeneratorYes (Partial)YesYesNo
WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt RV-ReadyYes (Partial)NoYesNo
Firman WH03041 Dual Fuel InverterYes (Partial)NoYesNo
Westinghouse 15000-Watt Dual Fuel Home BackupYes (Full)NoNoNo
Yanmar Portable Diesel GeneratorYes (Partial)NoNoNo
Voltmaster Portable Diesel Generator – XDR60ELYes (Full)NoNoNo
BLUETTI EB3A Portable Power StationNoYesNoNo
BLUETTI EP500Pro Solar Power StationYesNoYesNo

Final Verdict

Generators are designed for different purposes. Despite the growth in the popularity of solar units, the gas/diesel and propane units remain the most flexible and useful for most purposes.

The price of generators ranges from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. The smallest units are useful to provide basic power for LED lights, phone chargers, and the like.

Larger units can produce 10kWh or more and are effective backup systems when there is a disruption in the utility power supply.

Ultimately, your requirements will determine what’s best for you. At Bloom Centre, we advocate for a more sustainable approach. This article explaining how solar-powered generators work should help you better understand portable solar.

Mathew, our founder and chief editor at BloomCentre, combines his passion for renewable energy, commitment to sustainable living, and his rich experience in the solar industry to provide reliable and insightful advice.