The Best Generator Engines Revealed

Ever wondered who builds the best generator engines? We've put them to the test - now it's time to crown the winners.

A generator is only as good as its engine. Sure it might be packed with the most innovative features, large capacity fuel tanks, noise-reducing casing, remote starting and more. But when it comes to the crunch, if the generator's engine isn't up to par, its performance won't be either. Read more about best generator engines.

There are a number of generator engine names out there - many of which you will have heard of - like Yamaha and Honda - plus a few you might not have. Because each manufacturer specialises in a different class of engine, there's not really one engine that's better than all the rest across all types. It comes down to the particular type of generator and how you use it.

We've tested a range of Generator Engines to find out the best performers

To find out who scoops top honours for each generator type, we put a range of different generators to the test. Here are the results:

Best Engines For Inverter Generators

Yamaha's MZ80 engine is sheer brilliance. The power behind Yamaha's 2000w generator, the MZ80 boasts the best energy output and fuel efficiency compared to other generators its size. Its only 79cc vs competitor's 98cc sized engines, yet the Yamaha produces as much if not more power than its rivals. Perfect for inverter generator applications.

The Yamaha MZ80 engine is the genius behind the market leading Yamaha EF2000iS Inverter Generator

But let's not forget Honda's GX100. Also providing the power behind the brand's 2000w generator (Honda EU20i), the GX100 is an engine you can rely on.

Best Engines For Petrol Trade & Backup Generators

Honda wipes out the field with its famous GX390 engine. This little beauty is a feat in engineering, combining super tough durability and exceptional power output with fuel efficiency and quiet performance. It's pretty legendary and on any standard 8kVA trade generator worth its salt, you'll find a Honda GX390. The best Australian Generator Manufacturers such as Gentech, Powerlite and Dunlite use the Honda GX390 in their all-purpose petrol trade generator models.

The Gentech 8kVA Generator is also one of the most popular trade generators and is powered by the Honda GX390 engine
8kva Petrol Generator: for trade and farm use

Special mention here also to Generac. The American designed and built generator, Generac OHVI engines stands alone as the only one specifically designed for generator usage. They pride themselves on being the market leader for home and business back-up generators and build their engines to handle demands for prolonged periods when required.

Best Engines For Diesel

Kohler; One of the best generator engines. These guys really know how to build a diesel engine with maximum power, long term performance and heavy-duty construction. It's no coincidence, then, that these are the engines chosen for mine-spec generators from the likes of Gentech and Dunlite.

Also highly commended is the Yanmar engine. This Japanese manufacturer has been building engines for more than a century for a massive range of applications, from seagoing vessels to agricultural equipment and generator sets. Powering Pramac's three-phase generators, Yanmar diesel engines are really built to last. Designed with Yanmar's proprietary direct injection technology, maximum combustion efficiency is achieved. Again, your best Australian Generator Manufacturers such as Gentech, Powerlite and Dunlite use Kohler and Yanmar Diesel engines in their Diesel gensets.

Kohler and Yanmar Diesel engines are used in the market leading Mine Spec Generators

Best engines for Large Diesel Stationary Generators

Yanmar also feature here, but for number one spot, we couldn't go past Perkins. Get to know this name because they are leading the way in diesel engines for stationary generators and have been doing so for the last 80 years. They have no less than nine classes of diesel engine, from the compact 400 series to the super-powered 4000 series. Pramac and Powerlink Stationary generators use the Perkins 1000 series, which delivers compact, efficient power and reliability. You'll find Pramac and Powerlink stationary gensets, powered by Perkins engines, providing backup and prime power to commercial buildings and on industry job sites all over country. These are some of the best generator engines you can choose from.

Do you agree on our list of champions? Tell us what you think!


DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.

4 thoughts on The Best Generator Engines Revealed

27 February 2021
I disagree. The best generator engines are going to weigh at least 300 Lb., Run @ 1800 rpm, sip .25 - .5 gallons of diesel per hour, and run 24/7 quietly for at least 50,000 hours between overhaul. These are all 3600 rpm lawnmower engines; most of them designed to trash your ears for 400 - 600 hrs and then go to the scrap heap. Where are the Onan's, lister petter's, isuzu's, kubota's, etc.

4 March 2018
We ran a 7.2 k Yamaha generator for 93 days after hurricane Maria hit us and put 1500 hours on it. Works like new from first day and still looks new, what a machine.

My Generator Response
What a machine indeed Ramon! Cheers mate :)

5 August 2016
If your'e in the US and looking for a new genie in the 2000 watt range and one that uses the legendary yamaha MZ80 engine... check out the Smarter Tools AP-2000iQ. The great thing about it is the price, for $599 you too cant beat it. It is also strong enough to power my A-Frame Rockwood with the 10,500 btu a/c.

26 November 2015
I need a 1000 watt portable generator...

My Generator Response
Sure Anderson, by far the best 1000w generator is the Yamaha EF1000iS. It's very popular for recreational use such as charging camping batteries and running small domestic appliances. It is the lightest and quietest generator in its class and comes with a 4 year warranty. Hope that helps - thanks, Steve

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