30 Amp Generators – The Top 5
After more than 35 hours of researching and hands-on testing, we’ve picked the Honda EU3000iS as the overall best 30A inverter generator in its class.We must point out one deal breaker though from the onset: the EU3000iS is expensive, especially considering the fact that other competitors offer similar features for half the price of the Honda.For the best budget option, we recommend the Champion 755371i. Nonetheless the EU3000iS is hard to beat on pure performance and if reliability is not something you can compromise on then this is your best bet.
Here is why the EU3000iS sailed to the top:
- Impeccable performance as you’d expect from Honda. Max out 3000 watts to start bigger loads. The EU3000iS is the only 3000-watt inverter generator we tested that produces enough surge watts long enough to start a 7 ¼ inch circular saw (2800-3000 starting watts). No other 3000-watt inverter generator manages to pull all the 3000 watts long enough for such a demanding start.
- Exceptional features of convenience. The Honda is equipped with two fixed handles that allow two people to carry the generator when there’s a need while the swivel wheel kit allows you to roll generator like a baggage. The EU3000iS also has an electric start option for increased convenience, in addition to the classic recoil.
- Very compact and portable. The EU3000iS weighs 131 lbs (in reality it weighs more as this is dry weight) and while this isn’t what you’d call lightweight, the two fixed handles make it easy to carry the generator around.
- There are quite a number of capable 30A generators but the EU3000iS goes far beyond the basics and offers a lot more for a 3000-watt generator
- Very reliable and years of reliable performance to back this
Despite being the priciest generator on the list, we chose the EU3000iS as the overall best 30A generator because of its superior power potential. The EU3000iS is extremely reliable particularly if you’re faced with an emergency that demands a reliable source of power.
In the rest of this review, here’s what we’re going to cover:
- The best 30A inverter generator
- The best budget 30A generator
- The best 30A portable generator
- The best dual fuel 30A generator
- The best 30A Quietest Generator
There’s a great deal of choice in the 30A class but as you’ll see, each of the units we picked suits a particular need, budget, and type of buyer.
2000 watt generators suit most people’s needs because they strike the perfect balance between price and capability. However off grid power needs are increasing for a lot of outdoorsy people, which means 2000-watts may be borderline too low for meeting even basic power needs for campers.
3000 watt models are the next best thing for moderately power intensive camper trailers and RVs (where you typically find a 30A outlet). Of course you should expect to pay more for a 3000-watt unit, with the high end models retailing at more than $2000 although there’s a 30A generator for every budget.
In our tests and reviews we focused on five main features that buyers tend to look out for:
- Fuel efficiency
- Ease of use
We consider these top prority for the majority of portable generator buyers.Here’s the list:
Best 30A Inverter Generator
Measuring 25.9 x 17.6 x 22.0 inches (L x W x H) and weighing 131 lbs, the EU3000iS is the biggest and heaviest of the three 3000-watt models from Honda. However with two fixed handles placed on opposite sides, carrying it shouldn’t be a problem. In fact most users are willing to trade this small inconvenience for the bigger power potential of this generator.
Handling the generator by the two handles is not the only way to move it. You can also roll it on wheels (2 or 4 wheel kits can be purchased separately). Installing the kit is easy regardless of which type you buy.
When it comes to power generation, the EU3000iS is a beast. A 196cc engine produces 3000 watts at peak and 2800 watts running, and gets you 20 hours of runtime at 25% load (on a full tank of gas) or 7.1 hours at rated load. Most importantly, you can extract enough surge power to start and run loads that are otherwise difficult to start and run with most 3000-watt generators. This is the biggest advantage the EU3000iS has over its competitors. Water pumps, sump pumps, circular saws, and most types of 13500 BTU air conditioners are some of the heavier loads that the EU3000iS can start and run with ease. That said, there are not many appliances you can connect whilst such heavy loads are running. In all, the EU3000iS will suffice for practically any type of RV and tailgating use.
Honda 3000iS Noise Level
For most portable generator buyers, noise level is a deal breaker but luckily, the EU3000iS is as good as it gets in the noise department. For all its power, this generator is surprisingly quiet, rated at 49 dBA at 25% load and 58 dBA at full load. It’s the quietest 3000-watt generator from Honda.
On paper, 3.4 gallons of gas (full tank) give you 21 hours runtime at 25% load. However, based on a couple of owner reviews on Amazon, this unit’s fuel economy is better than officially advertised. It’s worth noting that the owner review claiming a 15% better fuel efficiency also stated that they were using non-ethanol gasoline, which gives more power per gallon of gas. This might explain their fuel efficiency claims.
That being said, the EU3000iS is equipped with an Eco Throttle system, which if turned on helps to enhance fuel efficiency by increasing or decreasing engine speed depending on load.
Ease of use
The EU3000iS is extremely easy to use. First off, it has an electric start switch, in addition to the traditional recoil. To use the electric start option, simply turn the engine switch to START position and turning it back to ON position once the engine is running.
Honda EU3000iS Summary
|Top-notch reliable performance for big loads||Expensive|
|Long runtimes||Needs many accessories (bought separately) to get full value from the unit (wheel kit, oil funnel, etc )|
|Ideal for off grid (RV) living as well as small job sites|||
Best 30A Inverter Generator
Our pick for the best budget 30A generator is the Champion 755371i 3100-Watt inverter generator. We found that the 755371i offers the perfect balance between price and features. It’s got some of the best features of convenience we found on any 3000-watt generator and remember most of the budget options out there mainly compete on features.
Performance-wise you don’t get top-notch dependable power generation like you get from the Honda or Yamaha, for instance, but the 755371i provides consistent running power for the majority of 1000-2000-watt appliances you need for typical RV living.
Here is the low down on the 755371i.
In addition to winning the overall 3000-watt budget generator battle, the Champion also takes the crown for best design overall, if aesthetics are a big deal to you. The 755371i weighs 96.6 lbs and measures 25.1 x 17.3 x 18.3 inches (L x W x H), which is more or less the same size range as all generators on our list. The Champion’s build looks more compact and refined than the rest though.
The 755371i comes with two fixed handles on top but also has an additional folding handle that’s hinged onto the second handle. With the folding handle, moving the generator around is a breeze; just lift it up outwards and push the generator on its two wheels. The wheels and folding handle combination is especially handy in RV settings when you need to load or offload the generator via the ramp-like extension on the RV.
Powered by a 171cc 4-stroke OHV engine, the 755371i produces 3100 watts at peak (as per spec sheet) and 2800 watts running. With a full tank of 1.6 gallons, you get 4 hours of runtime at 50% load and 8 hours at 25%.
While the 3100 peak watts are impressive on paper, the 755371i simply can’t generate enough power for a typical RV air conditioner (13500 BTU) and similar appliances with relatively bigger starting wattage.
One owner review on the official product site points out this fact – the unit shuts off every 20-30 minutes of continuous running when the AC is connected. Given the Champion’s price point we are not surprised, and if you should go for this unit, be ready to contend with big compromises in the performance department.
Also worth noting is that the 8 hours runtime on the spec sheet is achievable under the most ideal of conditions. In reality most users report an average runtime of 5-6 hours on a full tank of gas.
The noise level rating for the 755371i is 58 dBA. This is an acceptable level for a 3000-watt generator but remember the noise may increase with load.
Once the engine is started, it runs smoothly for the better part, thanks to the embedded engine control unit. This unit basically monitors loads on the generator’s output and tries to match them with the appropriate engine rpm. In turn you get better fuel economy and smooth running overall.That being said, based on several owner reviews we perused, the 755371i isn’t the most fuel efficient generator in its class. Of course every situation is different as you’d have to consider the loads plugged in and the duration the engine has been running.
Ease of use
This is where the 755371i outshines the competition (in the budget models). From the onset, it’s clear that Champion Power focused on making the 755371i as easy to use as possible.
The Champion comes with a remote key fob with which you can start and stop the engine from 80 feet away. It also has an electric start option with a battery.
The Champion’s control panel is also one of the most intuitive we’ve seen on a portable generator. The proprietary Quick Touch Panel offers seamless access to all the unit’s critical controls, including push-to-reset circuit breakers.
Honda EU3000iS Summary
|Very affordable||Lacking in peak power production|
|Powers most RV basic appliances||Inconsistent/intermittent running (on/off), based on several owner reviews|
|Easy to use. Lots of features to make for a smooth operation||Cannot boost total output via parallel setup. No dual connection|
Best 30A Portable Generator
Briggs & Stratton P3000 Generator
The P3000 is Briggs & Stratton’s offering in the 3000-watt class. The P3000 is built to be ultra portable yet packs a ton of power. It weighs just 84 lbs, which makes it the lightest generator on our list. But weight alone is not why we chose it as the most portable 30A generator; it is the intricate design of its mobility features.
The P3000 features a uniquely designed twin handle system coupled with a telescoping luggage-style handle that lets you pull the unit on its two wheels and take it anywhere with ease. The telescoping type of handle seems more durable than the folding type such as that one found on the Champion 75537i and other generators.
Here’s how the P3000 fares in other departments.
In terms of design, the P3000 is at par with the very best we’ve seen in this class. The whole unit is housed in a plastic casing to minimize noise.
It comes with all the bells and whistles you’ve come to expect on a high end portable generator, including a user friendly LCD display panel (shows power output as well as maintenance reminders for oil, spark plugs, and air filter), and a slew of outlets to enable you access power for your devices in multiple ways.
The P3000 is powered by a 171cc engine that produces 3000 watts at peak and 2600 running watts. A full tank of gas (1.5 gallons) gives up to 10 hours runtime, according to the spec sheet, which is 2 hours better than the Champion’s best time on paper.
So what does this mean for you? It means you can extract a little more from this power gem than you would with a slightly cheaper alternative. During a typical busy tailgating day, you can plug in a big TV screen, a small refrigerator, a small AC unit, a microwave, and some light bulbs at the same time and the P3000 will handle those demands comfortably.
The spec sheet puts the noise level at 58 dBA measured at 7 meters. However, claims from two owner reviews we read state that the P3000 is no quieter than a typical budget generator.
Fuel economy: The P3000 has a 1.5 gallon gas tank. In ideal conditions, you get a maximum of 10 hours runtime at 25% load, which is pretty impressive.
Briggs & Stratton P3000 Summary
|Ultra portable design||Low running watts (2600) compared to other 30A options|
|Reliable power generation. Pushes the limits of what it can manage||Small gas tank (1.5 gallons)|
|Easy to setup and operate||Not cheap|
Best Dual Fuel 30A Generator
Nowadays it’s not as difficult to find dual fuel portable generators as it was a couple years ago. However they’re clearly not made the same and from our research we chose the DuroMax XP4850EH as the best to spend money on when looking for a 30A dual fuel generator.
Let’s breakdown the key features that make the XP4850EH standout.
The XP4850EH features the classic conventional generator build: a tubular steel frame runs along the front, back, and bottom sides of the unit, without the plastic encasing that’s now standard on newer portable generators.However for a generator that pumps out close to 4900 surge watts, the DuroMax XP4850EH occupies a surprisingly small footprint: it measures just 23.2 x 17 x 17 inches (LxWxH). However it weighs 140 lbs, which is quite heavy but the all-terrain wheel kit and folding handles makes it easy to roll the unit from place to place.
The XP4850EH has the biggest engine on our list so it’s no surprise that it’s also the most powerful in terms of output. The 210cc 7-HP engine manages 4850 surge watts and 3850 running watts. Undoubtedly this is a very decent amount of power even for emergencies during a power outage.It comfortably covers the biggest home appliances including a full-sized refrigerator, a large air conditioner, a furnace blower, and a microwave oven, among others.
This is a conventional generator and unlike inverter generators, it does make quite a bit of running noise. Certainly it may not be admissible in some camp grounds so check before you carry it.
The XP4850EH has variable fuel inputs and accepts propane and standard gasoline. Both fuels have their benefits but the best part is that you can maximize each set of benefits whenever the conditions demand. For instance, propane has an indefinite shelf life and burns cleaner, so it’s the ideal fuel for the unexpected outage or for places with stricter emissions laws.
On the other hand, gasoline is cheap and widely available. If you’re going to be living off-grid for a while and need to save on fuel, gas is the better option.
That being said, the XP4850EH gives 8 hours of runtime on 4 gallons of gas (full tank) at 50% load. This is pretty impressive and economical too since you’ll be getting a steady supply of nearly 2000 watts for that long.
Ease of use
The XP4850EH is equipped with an excellent power panel that’s easy to use even for novice generator owners. The panel comprises 2 120V 20 AMP outlets (3-prong) and 1 240V 30 AMP outlet. The panel also comes with a 12V DC output, a voltmeter, and a circuit breaker.
The starting mechanism is easy and varied too. There’s the usual recoil start that acts as a backup to the effortless key-start system (electric start).
DuroMax XP4850EH Summary
|Lots of power for a range of appliances||Loud|
|Variable fuel inputs leads to savings in the long run||Somewhat heavy|
Best 30A Quietest Generator
If we had to recommend the quietest 30A generator it would be the Yamaha EF3000iS.
However choosing a portable generator primarily based on noise level is a tricky thing since generator noise level is subjective. Some people actually love a loud generator so the presumption that a lower decibel is always better for a generator does not hold true for everyone.
Moreover, owning the quietest portable generator might not make a big difference all the time since the majority of the time you’ll not be using it close enough for the noise to matter.
Regardless, here is a brief low down on the Yamaha EF3000iS.
The EF3000iS is a well made generator with a fresh ergonomic build. While it’s somewhat heavy at 136 pounds, it has a twin handle system as well as four built-in wheels that make it easy to move around.
Performance-wise the EF3000iS is in a league of its own. The 171cc 5.5 HP OHV engine puts in up to 18.6 hours of continuous runtime on a full tank of gas (3.4 gallons). This is the longest of any 3000-watt generator we’ve reviewed so far. At peak output you get 3000 watts while for continuous running the EF3000iS generates 2800 watts.
The spec sheet puts the noise level at 53-60 dBA. Considering its output capacity, this is extremely quiet and it’s also boosted by Yamaha’s excellent Noise Block technology that’s integrated in the EF3000iS.
The EF3000iS comes with a slew of performance enhancement features including Smart Throttle for enhanced fuel efficiency and Inverter Technology for cleaner power.
Yamaha EF3000iS Summary
|Great performance thanks to advanced technology||Price point is somewhat on the high side|
|Extremely quiet for its output capacity||Somewhat heavy for its size|
|Longest runtime of any 3000-watt generator at 25% load||Requires delicate maintenance to keep in pristine function|