Phil has been working as a technical engineer since his graduation, and has never thought of changing his profession. Also, he’s an avid fisherman and camper, so it’s not only work which makes him deal with generators.
Last updated: April 20, 2021
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When you don’t want to have to leave your home or RV to go outside and start your generator, having a remote start option for your generator can make a world of difference. Remote start is especially important when the weather outside is frightening, such as during a power outage at home.
In order to help you find the best remote start generator, we considered a number of specifications of generators that have this feature built in. We looked first at whether each generator is a conventional generator, which can provide more power, or an inverter generator that provides cleaner power. We also looked at the surge and rated wattage of each generator, since this affects what you can run with the generator. Finally, we considered whether the generator runs on gasoline, propane, or both, and how long it can run for without refueling.
We spent tens of hours researching remote start generators, reading through technical specifications and consulting customer reviews. The result is our list of the five best remote start generators in the table below. Scroll down for detailed reviews of each generator, complete with pros and cons. Our buying guide covers everything you need to know about choosing a remote start generator. Finally, we sum up our three overall favorite remote start generators on the market today.
This remote start inverter generator from Pulsar is inexpensive given how much power it offers and extremely compact. The generator is capable of producing a maximum of 4,000 watts of surge power or 3,500 watts of continuous power, which is plenty to power an RV or your home’s essential appliances during an outage.
The fuel efficiency and runtime of this generator are middle of the road for its class, using 3.4 gallons of gas to run the generator at 50% load for 15 hours. The noise level, of 63 dB, is relatively quiet given the size of this generator. However, users found that the generator often makes a loud whining noise when running close to 3,500 watts.
The PG4000iSR is ready to use with an RV thanks to a 30-amp RV outlet. Plus, it has a USB port for charging your small electronics and a 12V DC outlet for keeping the onboard battery juiced up. Note that while this generator has an electric and remote start, there is no backup recoil starter. So if the onboard battery runs out, you’ll need to recharge it before you can start up the generator.
The small size of this generator, combined with its very reasonable 92-pound weight, make this generator very easy to transport and store. The generator’s frame has wheels tucked away at the bottom, although these don’t do well with rough ground. Plus, there is a telescoping handle to make towing it easy.
Pulsar offers a two-year warranty on this generator. Also, users note that parts for this brand are carried by most hardware stores and repair shops.
What are its best features?
Inverter generator with 4,000-watt surge power
Highly portable with telescoping handle
Electric start with remote control and recoil backup
What could be improved?
When it runs near capacity, it makes a whining noise when running near capacity
This powerful conventional generator from Westinghouse boasts an extraordinarily impressive surge power of 9,500 watts, along with a rated power of 7,500 watts. That makes it an ideal candidate for powering your home or a large RV, especially if you have power-hungry appliances like an air conditioning unit.
The main panel of the generator has four standard 120V household outlets so you can take advantage of all of that power. Plus, there’s a 120/240V twist-lock outlet, which can be outfitted with an adapter to connect this generator to a large RV. The generator also includes a display panel that shows how much wattage the generator is drawing and the estimated runtime remaining.
Importantly, the Westinghouse WGen7500 includes a backup recoil starter in addition to the electric remote start. However, there is no 12V outlet for charging the onboard battery, which is an odd thing to leave out considering that this generator has nearly everything else. A main breaker allows you to cycle the power to all of the outlets without turning off the generator’s engine.
When running at 50% load, the generator can run for up to 11 hours on a single tank. That’s not bad for this size class, but beware that the generator uses a lot of fuel thanks to its 6.6-gallon tank. While its noise output of 73 dB is by no means quiet, it is still one of the least loud options given the amount of power this generator creates.
Westinghouse also includes a three-year limited warranty with the generator.
What makes it stand out?
73 dB noise (good for its size)
Backup recoil start
Display indicates wattage draw and remaining runtime
This conventional 4,000-watt generator from Champion is surprisingly inexpensive, which makes it a great choice for anyone who is on a budget but is keen to get a generator with a remote start function. Despite its low price, the only real downside to this generator is the amount of noise it produces – at 68 dB at a 25% load, it is significantly noisier than some of the inverter generator options available in this same size class.
Otherwise, this is a very reliable and versatile generator. It is mounted on a set of large wheels and a steel frame for portability. Although it’s heavier than an inverter generator, at 125 pounds, the difference is not so huge as to be problematic. Plus, the modest 3.8-gallon fuel tank on this generator gives it a very long runtime of up to 12 hours at 50% load.
Thanks to an included 30-amp RV-ready outlet, you can pair this generator with a medium-to-large RV. There’s also a 120-volt/240-volt twist-lock outlet for plugging in heavy-duty tools and appliances. It has a recoil starter to use as a backup for the remote start, but note that there is no 12-volt DC outlet for charging the onboard battery. Another nice feature of this generator is Champion’s Volt Guard technology, which acts as a built-in surge protector for anything you have plugged into the generator.
Best of all, Champion offers a three-year warranty on this generator and free lifetime technical support.
What are our favorite features?
12-hour runtime at 50% load
Backup recoil starter
Volt Guard technology
Three-year warranty with lifetime technical support
What could be better?
No 12-volt DC outlet
Loud and heavy compared to inverter generators of this size
You may experience some sticker shock with this remote start generator from Ford, especially given that it’s limited to a maximum of 5,250 watts of surge power and 4,250 watts of continuous power on gasoline.
But two important factors contribute to that price. First, this is a dual fuel generator, so you’re able to fuel it with either gasoline or propane. Second, it comes with a 224cc four-stroke Ford engine, which means that you’re backed by Ford’s reputation for durable and reliable engines.
The generator is rather large and bulky for its power output, especially given that the fuel tank is only four gallons. However, the frame has one of the best towing options that we’ve seen and the large wheels ensure that it can travel over any type of ground. It’s also capable of running up to 11 hours on gasoline at 50% load, so you don’t have to worry about refueling in the middle of the day.
The generator includes a 30-amp RV-ready outlet, although it is somewhat large to store on an RV. It also has a 120-volt/240-volt twist lock outlet for powering heavy-duty appliances. A backup recoil starter allows you to get the generator going even when the battery is dead, but note that like the WGen7500, there is no 12-volt DC outlet for charging the battery.
Ford offers a two-year warranty on this generator, which is somewhat short considering its high price.
This compact and portable inverter generator from Champion Power Equipment is highly versatile, although it does suffer from an extremely short runtime.
The generator is capable of producing 3,100 watts of surge power and 2,800 watts of continuous power, making it the lightest-duty remote start generator we reviewed. Don’t let that fool you, though, as this generator is more than capable of powering an RV or basic home appliances.
The generator is relatively quiet, at just 58 dB at 25% load. While this is louder than some competitors in its size class, it costs roughly half as much as those quieter generators.
The main downside of this generator is its poor runtime. The generator is rated for just eight hours at a 25% load. This is in large part because of the small 1.6-gallon fuel tank, which is a design compromise that allows the generator to be extremely compact and portable. The generator comes with a tucked-away set of wheels to allow it to roll around, or you can lift it from the carry handles on top. Still, given that this generator offers nearly 1,000 watts less than the Pulsar generator, the 97-pound weight of this generator is a big ding.
The generator includes all of the outlets needed for a wide range of uses, including a 30-amp RV-ready outlet. Users noted that while the 120-volt outlets and 12-volt DC outlet have reset buttons for when they are overloaded, the 30-amp RV-ready twist-lock outlet cannot be reset without fully shutting down the generator. One major advantage of this generator is that it includes a backup recoil starter in case the onboard battery dies.
What stands out?
Inverter generator with 3,100-watts surge power
What cons did we manage to find?
Small fuel tank and short runtime
30-amp outlet does not have a reset button
Heavier than more powerful Pulsar inverter generator
Now that you’ve learned more about our five favorite remote start generators, why opt for a generator with a remote start at all? In our buying guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about why a remote start generator could be the right choice for you, as well as explain all of the other things you need to consider when choosing a generator that will fit your needs.
Remote start: Is it a convenient or excessive generator feature?
Many people might see a remote start feature as an excessive option that simply adds to the price of a generator. Others might see it as convenient, or even necessary. In the end, it depends on how you’ll be using your generator and under what type of conditions.
For example, if you’ll be using your generator with an RV, having a remote start can be extremely convenient. With the ability to turn on your generator without having to go outside, you can get all of the appliances in your RV up and running without even having to get out of bed – which also means you can turn the lights on before needing to move around your vehicle.
Another case where a remote starter can be important is during weather bad enough to knock out the power grid. If your generator is already set up in this situation, having a remote starter will save you from going out into the wind, rain, or snow to start up the generator. That may not seem like a big deal, but it can save you from a slip and fall or at the very least make getting through the power outage somewhat easier.
Generator type: Inverter vs conventional
Both conventional and inverter generators output AC (alternating current) electricity, but they do it in different ways. Whereas conventional generators simply produce AC electricity and send it to the outlets, inverter generators convert the initial AC current to DC (direct current) and then back to AC electricity.
This has the effect of cleaning the electrical current and smoothing it out so there is less harmonic distortion. That’s a big deal because the electricity coming from inverter generators is safe to use with any appliances, tools, or devices that are controlled by microchips. For example, you can charge your computer or smartphone using an inverter generator without worrying about surges, but you wouldn’t want to plug these devices into a conventional generator because they could be fried.
Inverter generators like the Pulsar and Champion 77537i also offer a number of other benefits over conventional generators. The most noticeable is that inverter generators are incredibly quiet compared to traditionally noisy conventional generators. Inverter generators can produce less than 50 dB at 25% load, compared to well over 60 dB for conventional generators.
In addition, inverter generators are typically much more compact compared to conventional generators that produce the same amount of power. They also often weigh less, and have fully enclosed engines so that you can’t burn yourself. All of these characteristics make inverter generators much easier to store.
The main downside to inverter generators is that they tend to be significantly more expensive than conventional generators with similar power outputs. Worse, inverter generators can be much costlier to repair than conventional generators because of the complexity of the microprocessors coupled with the engine.
The other problem with inverter generators is that they are typically limited to a maximum of around 4,000 watts of surge power. It is relatively difficult to find inverter generators above this power rating, as they are simply too expensive for most manufacturers to produce for a wide market. However, you can increase your power with inverter generators by connecting two units of the same model in parallel.
What are your power needs?
The other big consideration when choosing a remote start generator is how much power you need for all of the appliances you plan to run with it. This determination is largely related to how you plan to use your generator – the energy requirements of a small RV, the essential appliances in your home, and the best whole house generator are very different. Thus, there are massive generators like the 9,500-watt Westinghouse model and small generators like the 3,100-watt Champion generator.
The simplest way to figure out how much power you need is to add up the wattage requirements of everything you want to power with your generator. Alternatively, you can estimate how much wattage you will need depending using a variety of online tools that approximate the energy requirements of different standard appliances.
Importantly, generators have two different wattage outputs. The surge power is the amount of power the generator can sustain for several seconds in order to allow motor-driven appliances, like refrigerators, freezers, and even some power tools, to start up. The running power is the amount of power that you’ll be able to draw from the generator over its entire runtime.
Fuel tank, run time, and engine efficiency
Another important thing to consider is how long you’ll be able to run your generator without refueling. The runtime depends largely on the size of the fuel tank in your generator and the efficiency of the engine. Note that engine efficiency is reduced as the power draw from your generator approaches the rated power output, so runtimes are usually measured at 25% or 50% load.
Runtimes can vary widely between generators. For example, the large conventional Westinghouse, Ford, and Champion generators are all designed to run for 11 hours or more at 50% load, while the small Champion 77537i only runs for a maximum of eight hours at 25% load.
Outlets are another important consideration since they affect how you’ll be able to use the power available in your generator. Almost all generators come with at least two 120-volt outlets, but if you have heavy-duty tools or appliances you may want a 120-volt/240-volt twist-lock outlet as well. Having a 12-volt DC battery outlet is important for keeping the onboard battery on your generator charged so that your remote start works properly. Finally, if you plan to use your generator with an RV, you will likely want a 30-amp RV-ready outlet like on the Champion 77537i.
The two most important safety features, found on all of the generators we reviewed, are overload protection and low-oil shutoff. Overload protection ensures means that if you exceed the generator’s power capacity, the generator will automatically shut down in order to prevent a power surge or damage to the engine. Low-oil shutoff automatically detects whenever the engine oil is dangerously low and powers down the generator before the lack of oil can damage the engine.
Another minor, but important, safety feature of the Pulsar, which is also considered to be the best among Pulsar generators, and Champion inverter generators is that the engines are enclosed. That prevents you from burning yourself on exposed hot engine parts, which is possible with conventional generators.
Tips and tricks
The most important thing that you can do to maintain your generator is to replace the oil every 50–100 hours, and possibly even more frequently if you use the generator in dusty conditions or at its maximum power output.
Also remember that you need to allow the generator to cool down fully before refueling when using a portable generator.
Adding a remote start to your generator can increase the price slightly compared to its immediate competitors, but the price of remote start generators broadly can vary depending on the size, type, and manufacturer of each generator. Of the generators we reviewed, prices range from less than $450 for the moderately sized conventional Champion generator to nearly $2,000 for the large Ford generator.
A dual fuel generator like that from Ford is not necessarily more reliable, since reliability ultimately depends on the engine rather than the carburetor. However, having the ability to run on both propane and gas gives you more options when fuel is hard to come by, such as during a power outage.
If your generator has not been run for a long time, the onboard battery may be depleted or dead. In that case, the electric remote start won’t function. You’ll need to either use a secondary recoil start to get the generator going, or else charge the battery in your house using a battery charger that is compatible with 120-volt outlets.
In general, it’s best to keep your generator inside and out of the elements when it’s not in use. This will prevent undue wear and tear on the generator’s components, especially if the engine is exposed. Make sure to remove any fuel from the fuel tank before storing, as stale fuel can cause a significant amount of engine damage.
Our three overall favorite remote start generators on the market today are the Pulsar PG4000iSR, the Westinghouse WGen7500, and the Champion Power Equipment 46539. The Westinghouse and Champion generators are both conventional generators, which allows them to be offered at very reasonable prices. While they are both somewhat loud, the WGen7500 in particular is one of the quietest generators in its class and provides enough power for your entire home. The Champion generator offers a huge variety of features, such as an RV-ready outlet and backup recoil starter, and includes a three-year warranty and free lifetime technical support. Still, we feel the Pulsar generator is the overall best remote start generator because its inverter engine is extraordinarily quiet, it comes with an RV-ready outlet, battery charger, and USB port, and it is priced very reasonably for its feature set.