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Portable generators like the Tailgator serve a multitude of uses. They can be used to keep the lights burning if you live in an area with frequent power outages, or for use in camping and hunting to power small lights and even some electric heaters. They’re also great for tailgating and can power small refrigerators and TV sets so you can keep your beverages cold and won’t miss a minute of the action (and can enjoy the commercials, if that’s your thing). They’re also a great source of power for outdoor weekend projects, as they can be used to power items like electric chainsaws and a wide variety of power tools.
They’re also great for charging cordless appliances, make a handy addition to any garage that isn’t pre-wired, and have a multitude of uses. Portable generators are a handy item to have, and in this article we take a look at the Tailgator portable generator to determine how it stacks up against other similar portable generators.
Generators come in two main categories: portable, like the Tailgator, and stationary, or standby generators. Standby generators are good for people who live in an area with frequent power outages, but can cost thousands of dollars and require installation by a qualified and knowledgeable professional—which represents another bill, potentially for as much as you paid for the generator.
That’s where the portable versions shine. The ability to quickly and cleanly generate power comes in handy in many different applications, and convenience is key. Some of the generators on this list are a little too hefty to be considered very portable, but the heavier ones do come with wheel kits which make moving them short distances more convenient.
The Tailgator Portable Generator
Tailgator is a well-known and trusted name in generator manufacturing, and the most recent model of this mini-workhorse is the somewhat confusingly named Tailgator 63025 630253 2 (which we’ll be referring to as simply “the Tailgator” from here on out, as it is currently the only version of the generator available).
The Tailgator provides portable power anywhere you need it: just fuel it, pull the starter cord, and you’re ready to generate energy. This could well be called an ultra-portable generator due to its size and weight, and it won’t require two people to lift it out of a trunk or carry it reasonable distances. The Honda we review below is almost as portable, but with a price tag nearly ten times that of the Tailgator (though admittedly with much higher wattage output).
The Tailgator is a sixty-three cubic centimeter two-cycle gasoline-powered generator. It’s air cooled, so there’s no need to worry about radiators or fluid levels (other than fuel). It has built-in circuit breaker protection to make any surges in the power produced contained and away from any electronics you may have hooked up to it.
While it only has one 120 volt grounded receptacle built to take three-prong plugs, you can of course plug an extension cord or power strip to it and power as many devices as will run on its 900 watts. It has a run-time of up to five hours at fifty percent of its total capacity. To put that into perspective, you could run five 100 watt lightbulbs for about five hours.
The Tailgator is available from online retailers for generally between $$ and $$$, but a wise consumer always does some research, as there are occasional sales or retailer coupons you could use to bring the price down. At this price point, it’s the cheapest of the models we reviewed, though it is also the generator with the least power output. Still, for the price and the watts-per-dollar spent output, you can’t beat it.
How It Compares
We picked three other similar generators commonly available on the market to see how they compare, and will go into the specifications, pros and cons, and any other information you might need to make a good decision if you find yourself looking to buy a portable generator to take advantage of its many uses. The portable generators we compared to the Tailgator are:
This little powerhouse measures 19.5 x 15.25 x 16.25 inches, delivers 900 watts at 120 volts, has a five-hour run time at 50% capacity, and weighs under forty pounds; making it ideal for on-the-go power anywhere you need it.
Ease of Use
Simplicity itself—pull the cord, and the recoil-start engine springs to life. In our tests, only a single pull was needed to start this little powerhouse, and you don’t need to be Hercules to get it to spring into life. Once the engine is running, all that remains to do is plug in whatever you’re trying to power, and you’re off.
With a run-time of five hours at fifty percent capacity, this little generator is great for intermittent or light use, but anything more demanding will tax its capabilities. Add to that the fact that it requires about a thirty minute cool down every four to five hours and its performance might be a little lacking for some uses.
This is the only generator we could find that was under forty pounds. It sits on four anti-vibration rubber stoppers, and the fuel port and starter cord are conveniently located. Its light weight and small form factor make it supremely portable, and you’ll find it easy to transport, set up, and maintain.
This seven horsepower, durably built portable generator is an air-cooled, overhead valve engine featuring a low-oil automatic shutoff which guards against engine damage. It’s built with a heavy-duty steel frame that features four anti-vibration mount points which keep the engine movement isolated so it won’t cause excess noise. The power panel has an oil warning light, a circuit breaker, a voltage meter, and a low oil warning light next to three 120 volt outlets (two 20 amp; one 30 amp).
Ease of Use
The recoil-start engine is easy to pull and caught on the first try and didn’t require a lot of muscle to move.
The DuroStar has a four gallon fuel tank, so it has a run time of around eight hours, which we found can be increased with light use. It’s also an overhead valve engine, similar to that found in an automobile, so there’s no need to mix gasoline and oil.
Though it is quite a bit heavier than the Tailgator, it comes complete with a wheel kit (which requires assembly), making it convenient to move short distances. The anti-vibration engine mounts are also a great design feature. This was also one of the quieter generators we reviewed.
This is a newer model of the popular EU 2200 and is sure to be just as popular as the earlier model. This model features 2,200 watt output at 120 volts, and is an inversion generator, so it can operate a variety of appliances and can charge laptop batteries smoothly and without the output cycling some other generators can cause. It’s extremely quiet, the quietest of all the generators we tested, and operates at a stunning 57 maximum decibels, which is quieter than a regular conversation, making it ideal for camping or hunting.
Ease of Use
Like the other pull-start recoil engines we’ve tested, this one caught on the first pull and ran smoothly, not require a lot of fussing or a lot of muscle.
Great fuel economy and power output, which one would expect from the price. The EU2200i, being an inversion generator, produces clean and stable power in a light (under fifty pounds), portable package.
This was the quietest generator out of the bunch and produced the least vibration. It features indicator lights right next to the outlets, with an overload alarm and low oil alert.
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Like the Honda generator, this Westinghouse model is an overhead valve engine, so you won’t need to worry about mixing fuel and oil. It produces 5,500 steady output running watts with a 6,850 surge of peak watts, which is impressive to say the least. Add to that an incredible run time of up to twenty hours on a single 6.6 gallon tank of fuel, and you’ve got a perfect all-day generator for a decent price.
This engine has a cast iron sleeve, which makes it a good deal heavier than the other portable generators we’ve looked at, but is the only generator on our list to feature a 240 volt receptacle alongside two 120 volt, “house current” outlets. The WGen5500 also features an innovative VFT readout, for voltage, frequency, and total lifetime running time.
Ease of Use
This model is a recoil-start engine, like the other models we’ve reviewed, and (like the other models) caught on the first pull. This generator did require a little more effort to start than the other three, but only a little.
Running an incredible twenty hours at 5,500 watts makes this the best performing portable generator on our list.
It’s well designed, but the cast iron sleeve (which does have its benefits) adds considerably to the weight of the generator, dragging the rating down to three stars.
Though the larger, more expensive generators each have their selling points, if you’re looking for a small, light, reasonably quiet generator and don’t need to power a whole house, the Tailgator is definitely worth a look. The second place winner would no doubt be the Honda EU2200i, but its large price tag leaves something to be desired. It’s a little like comparing apples to oranges due to the size differences, weight, and power output of these generators, but for a small, extremely portable generator, you can’t beat the Tailgator. We give it four out of five stars.