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Power Station vs. Generator: Which Is Better?

Power - by Joe Weber - updated on 10/20/2023

Split image with Champion Generator on the left and Goal Zero Power Station on the right

Here at Batteries Plus, you see and hear a lot about generators and portable power stations. To someone unfamiliar with those pieces of equipment, you may think they are the same thing. You might be surprised to learn that these two machines are quite different; each with their own positives and negatives. Let's start with the basics.

What is a Portable Generator?

Portable generators generate electricity by utilizing a gas or propane-powered engine to drive an onboard alternator, producing electrical power. The unit has several power outlets that enable you to connect extension cords, electric tools and appliances.

Generators come in all shapes and sizes from the small unit for camping and tailgating, to large framed and wheeled units, all the way up to permanent installation units designed for home or business backup.

Gas generators are the most popular choice for home backup power and construction sites. Because these are so popular, and they've been around for a while, they have had time to come down in price to make them very reasonably priced.

What is a Power Station?

Goal Zero Yeti power stations are very similar to generators, except they don't rely on a gas or propane-powered engine to generate power. They also don't produce fumes or make any noise so it's safe to use indoors. Okay, so they aren't exactly the same but they both provide the same thing, power.

Power stations utilize a battery (or batteries) to store energy that can be used at a later time. Most power stations use lithium batteries but some older models may use lead-acid batteries. Power stations are charged up by using a home wall outlet, vehicle DC outlet or solar panel. When the power goes out (or you're on the road camping or tailgating) turn it on and have instant power for your devices or appliances.

What Makes Them Different?

Other than one using an engine and one running off of a battery, there are several other things that make them different. Take a look at the chart below that highlights some of the key factors for both.

Key Points Goal Zero Yeti Champion Generator
Power Source Wall outlet, vehicle outlet, solar panel Gas or propane
Capacity 187 Watt Hours to 6,071 Watt Hours + expansion tanks. Each expansion tank is another 1,200 Watt Hours 1,200 Watt to 15,000 Watt
Runtime Varies and depends on how many devices are connected to it and the size of the batteries 7.5 hours to 22 hours
Emissions None. Completely safe to use indoors Emits harmful fumes. Cannot use indoors. Must be used outside
Noise Silent Noisy, starting at around 50 decibels
Startup Push button, instant on Pull start, electric start (switch), remote start
Cost Higher upfront cost for large power stations with little to no maintenance costs Lower upfront cost but added maintenance and fuel costs
Maintenance Little to none. Regular maintenance. Oil changes, filters, fuel fill-ups, etc.
Transport Very portable. Smaller units can easily be carried one-handed Even small ones are close to 50 lbs. Not ideal for frequent transport.

Which Is the Better Choice?

Both generators and power stations will provide plenty of power for your home or adventure power demands. They are both great at their jobs and are both used widely. So, how do you decide which one to go with?

If you are going to be using it for device charging and small electronic appliances, then a small, very portable power station might be the best option for you.

If you are going to be using it for construction sites for power tools or larger construction equipment where it will always be outside and endure heavy use throughout the day, then a generator may be a better option.

For home backup? You could really go either way. They are both excellent options for home backup and can provide your home with plenty of reliable power for your necessary appliances during a power outage that can last you for days if needed.

Which would I choose?

I have some unique insight into this topic. I live in an area with frequent severe weather, excessive heat and a weaker power grid. Backup power is not just a want, it's almost an absolute necessity in this area. Space is also an issue, with our neighbors only a stone's throw away and a small backyard so we didn't want the noise of a generator, however minor, disrupting anyone.

Based on my situation, the answer would be a Goal Zero Yeti power station. Yeti Power Stations come in all sizes for whatever power demands your home has. It can also be simply unplugged from the outlet and packed in the car for power on the go.

If you are looking to add backup power for your home, a Goal Zero Yeti Power Station is an ideal choice. Bundle a Yeti 3000X or 6000X with expansion batteries and an integration kit (transfer switch) to create one eco-friendly, multi-day backup system for your home that is completely silent and produces no fumes so it can be safely installed and used indoors.

Installing it as close to the circuit breaker box as possible would be ideal, most likely in the garage or basement (if you have one). Just please remember to have a professional electrician install the transfer switch.

What does a transfer switch do?

The Goal Zero Integration Kit allows you to connect your Yeti directly to your home's electric system. You can select 4 circuits (like HVAC, refrigerator, certain room outlets, etc.) to connect to the integration kit to flip on when the power goes out. No more running extension cords.

Why is Having Portable Power Important?

There are two big reasons to get portable power, power for your adventures and power when you need it.


Going on a long road trip? Heading out for a weekend of camping? Are the kids always looking for a charger? Having portable power is important in these scenarios so you can enjoy your time while still having access to all of your favorite electronics.


When your power goes out, you have limited time to keep your refrigerated foods safe. Not to mention the A/C or furnace. Your family's health and safety are the most important things to think about when you have no power. Portable or backup power will let you keep those things running when you need it most.

Batteries Plus is Your Home for Portable and Backup Power Supplies

Being prepared for the worst is part of life, don't leave your family in the dark when the power goes out. Stop by a store today to see all we have to offer for your backup power needs. From emergency radios, flashlights and power banks to generators and power stations, we have what your family needs to stay powered and safe during emergencies.

Don't forget to read up on tips to stay safe during emergencies and example items you should keep in your emergency kit in our recent article, "How Technology Can Help During Severe Weather".

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