The Sportsman GEN154 generator appears to be an excellent square-wave output generator for the money. This smaller power source weighs 50 some pounds fueled, is compact, and has one AC outlet that can provide enough AC watts for basic home emergency use. Seems adequate power for lower wattage building and construction power tools where house power is not available.
The power unit also has a 10 amp, 12-volt DC battery charge outlet with cables, a power on indicator, and both AC and DC circuit breakers. I do not believe the breakers are ground fault type.
The 2.8 Horsepower engine is super easy to start, low oil shutoff protection, a gas feed shut off valve (see images), uses standard unleaded fuel, and consumes less fuel than the bigger generators.
I used a sufficiently accurate RadioShack sound level meter to measure various operation sound levels (din). With no AC load and with low loads on this generator, the noise level at about 10-feet is around 78 dBA (slow response weighted). At about 50-feet is at about 61 dBA with clear line of sound (no obstructions).
The generator can become significantly louder under a heavier load. The sound pressure at around an 1100 watt load and at about 10-feet from the generator recorded at 87 dBA (slow response weighted). At about 50-feet recorded at about 78 dBA, probably loud enough to get complaints to the camp host if you run the generator at a heavy load for very long, or late at night.
I setup the RV to demand 500 watts. The RV's electronics, the refrigerator in electric mode, battery charger, and one single patty burger-maker machine produced about 550 watts provided from the generator. The generator hardly noticed. At 10-feet' the noise level was 74-76 dBA actual, at 50-feet away dropped to around 62 dBA.
I then removed the burger maker and added back in a toaster to produce a demand for around 900 watts. At 50-feet the sound pressure displayed around 64 dBA (see image), louder than many national park expectations of 60 dBA. However, this is the reading with an unobstructed clear line of sound. Bushes and trees between the generator and the next campsite may reduce the sound level significantly to within national park expectations.
Most national parks prohibit generators louder than 60 dBA at 50 feet away and under full load, prohibit running a generator after a certain hour at night (unusually 10pm), and may have limitations during certain times of the day. Best to check with the camp host before starting up a generator.
Several kids having fun can produce din in the high 80's and 90's dBA from about 40-50 feet away. During those times, a generator running in your camp ought not to be a big deal. Regardless, even 60 dBA can be annoying at camps where people are looking for a peaceful experience. Kids that get too loud can be warned. It is expected that a generator grinding away can be even more annoying and bring a demand from the park host to shut it off.
The manufacture claims that the Sportsman GEN154 generator can produce 2000 surge watts, and reports 1500 continuous watts available. 2000 watts just is not going to happen from this generator, lucky to get 1300 watts actual continuos power available at a heavy cost in fuel use. 1200 watts or so continuous is reported by users to be about the maximum useable limit the generator can produce.
Energy-saving low wattage appliances can stretch out the available watts to allow more appliances operating at the same time. Your RV's electronics and onboard battery charger may be using 65 to 150 watts, and that must be calculated in as well when the RV's 120 volt AC line connection is plugged into the generator.
Watts needed and watts the appliance produces are of different values. The Sportsman generator can run our 700-watt microwave oven with power to spare. The oven requires around 950 watts actual available to work properly. Our toaster needs available around 720 watts, 325 watts in bagel mode (Toasts only the inside of the bagel), and our single hamburger patty grill needs around 355 watts. Our waffle maker needs 538 watts available, and a smaller energy-saving coffee maker may require around 500-1000 watts available.
You can check the label on the bottom or back of the appliance to determine the approximate watts needed to operate the appliance. The information is usually near the model number - for example, 120 Volts, 750 Watts. If the label reports, for example, 120 volts, 5 Amps, then multiply Volts x Amps to get the approximate Watts needed to power the appliance.
Using a typical home extortion cord (16 gauge wire) can require more watts to move the current to the appliance. Use a 14 gauge cord or a 12 gauge cord no longer than 25-feet for best results. Most generator manuals provide maximum wattage suggestions for long cords. Follow those recommendations for safety reasons.
Walmart had the best price for the Sportsman GEN154 generator, however this generator may be too loud at higher loads for the campsites we frequent.
We considered a smaller Ramsond Sinemate 1500 Portable Pure Sine Wave Digital Inverter Generator, essential for sensitive electronics, and which seems can for a short period provide around 925 or so actual continuous watts available. It is smaller, uses less fuel, and a little quieter for camping. The downside is the model 1500 costs about $400, does not provide quite enough continuous watts to run our small 700 watt RV microwave oven, even when plugged direct into the generator outlet. Finding a 600 watt microwave oven at a decent price is proving difficult as well.
The Sportsman GEN154 generator is worth the money, is probably adequate for emergency use at home to power a small refrigerator, or freezer, (perhaps both if they don't start up at the same time), and some lights when the power is out. The bigger generators use a lot of fuel, and are very noisy, a serious problem in apartments and anywhere people are. Although some recommend a line conditioner, these devices can have trouble with square wave electricity. It’s probably best to avoid plugging sensitive electronics into this generator.
DO NOT plug into you home's main electrical circuit panel without the required accessories. You can be charged with a crime for doing that. It is also a serious safety violation not to provide a ground to the ground post connection on the generator.
Always use outdoors, or safely route the exhaust outdoors. The exhaust from any gasoline engine operated indoors can kill rather quickly.
This Sportsman GEN154 generator seems adequate for construction use on a property where house power is not available and when used with mid-sized drills, small table saws, and other lower wattage construction tools.
This Sportsman generator seems to be a good addition at a very good price from Walmart at this time.
Customer Service Notation: I’ve bought often enough over the years to know the customer service levels of several major online stores. Sears seems among the worst for me, have not had any successful purchases through Sears.com, primarily because they refuse to ship to my local store, and I refuse to purchase for that reason. I'm simply not going to drive some 55 miles round trip to pick up a product they refuse to ship to my local store.
I rate Walmart.com among the best, a full five starts for excellence in customer service. Most shipments happened without issue and arrived fast at my local store. When there was an issue it was fixed very fast. A rare event involved the Sportsman generator considered in this review. It arrived at a Georgia distribution center, then disappeared, gone, evaporated. Although communications became temporally confusing, Walmart.com was very quick to reship express at no extra charge.