Sportsman 1,000-Watt Portable Generator, by Pat Cascio

If you’re serious about your preparedness, then you really should consider owning a backup generator! Of course, a portable generator isn’t meant for long-term use. It is mostly for power outages, that might last a few days or at most a few weeks. You can’t possibly store enough gas or oil, for operation of a portable generator for years and years. It is a short-term solution – period!

There are so many different types and sizes of generators out there, it will make your head spin. When shopping for a portable generator, you have to keep in-mind what you intend to operate with your generator. We own several portable generators, one is a 3,500-watt, for heavy usage, and the other one is only 1,000-watts and it gets the most use. We simply don’t need to operate everything in our home, that runs off of AC electricity when the power goes out.


The Sportsman 1,000-watt portable generator under review today, is one we purchased from Home Depot,  several years ago. I studied their web site for what I believed would be the best choice for us, for our second portable generator, that would be used more often than the larger portable generator we already had on-hand. You must also keep in-mind that, the bigger (more wattage) your generator puts out, the more fuel it needs to run – that is something to keep in the back of your mind. Plus, you also need to know local laws, when it comes to storing fuel on your property – some locales are very strict on this, and might only allow you to have 5-gallons of fuel – if you have a high wattage portable generator, that 5 gallons of fuel, probably won’t last you half a day, if you are running the generator with a full load.

The copy hype for the Sportsman 1,000-watt generator states that this unit is “the ideal size for hunters and campers to run small appliances, such as a portable television”. Personally, if I’m out hunting or camping, I don’t believe I’ll have a portable television with me, unless I’m in my travel trailer. This little two-stroke portable generator only weighs 38-pounds. So its easy to transport in the trunk of your car, or bed or your pick-up truck – without fuel in it. I don’t do tailgating parties or anything like that, so I don’t worry about transporting this generator – it stays at home.

A two-stroke engine requires a mixture of gas and two-stroke fuel. In the case of this generator, the fuel tank holds .8-gallons of gas, and you have to have that gas mixed 50:1 with the two-stoke oil, you can’t just mix any kind of oil with it. No, it takes a special two-stoke formulated oil that you can get at any big box store, farm/ranch supply store, etc. This oil is cheap enough, and it doesn’t require very much of it, that you can keep several bottles on-hand and mix it as needed. Some places sell this fuel ratio already mixed, however it is very expensive – I priced a one quart can – and it was almost $20. That equates to $80 per gallon, and that is highway robbery, if you ask me.

Equipped with a single 120-volt outlet, and with a 900-watt (continuous) output, you don’t want to plug-in a lot of appliances at once. However if you need to run more than more electrical appliance, you can use one or more power strips. Keep in mind that the wattages needed to operate whatever it is you want to run. You can check the Home Depot web site, or the owner’s manual for this generator, and it gives you some basic information on how many watts are needed to run things. The Sportsman 1,000 can run for up to five hours, at half load on one tank of gas, and that’s pretty decent.

Sportsman 1000 Watt GeneratorThis generator has a traditional recoil starting cord. It has an overload protection built into it, and if you plug in something that has more wattage than you need, the generator will shut down. Of course, unplug that device and wait a few minutes and you can restart the engine. One thing I learned with some generators is that when you first go to start them, and you close the choke, and open the fuel valve – it is best to let it sit about 5-minutes, before trying to start it. What happens is that, when you turn the fuel valve to the “on” position, it tends to flood the tiny carburetor and it won’t start – be advised.  By the way, this generator is EPA and CARB (California Air Resources Board) approved for sale in that state.

The owner’s manual states that, you shouldn’t run this generator above 3,000-feet – I haven’t taken it that high, but if you live in a higher elevation, then you probably shouldn’t buy this generator.

Sportsman 1000 Watt GeneratorOf course, there is an on/off switch – and I can attest that, more than once, my oldest daughter, has forgotten to check if the switch was in the “on” position, before trying to start it…when in the “on” position, and after you have turned the fuel switch to the “on” position, more than likely, this little machine will start on the second or third pull of the recoil cord. We like to run our generators every couple of months, to make sure they are working, we only run them for about 10-minutes.

I will say, because this is a two-stroke set-up, that it is a bit noisy compared to our 3,500-watt generator. It just comes with the motor and the muffler. Not a big deal, because we live out in the boonies, and we have no nearby neighbors to complain about any noise. And this is only a two horse power engine.


When the Sportsman arrived, we only needed to attach the carrying handle and the rubber foot pads. Those tasks took just a few minutes. Of course, we read through the owner’s manual – I always do that, believe it or not. Even when I get a new gun sample to test, I read the owner’s manual, even though I might be familiar with that particular model gun. The generator comes with a spark plug wrench and a screw driver. I strongly suggest that, you get several spare spark plugs for any generator you might own – they don’t last forever. Sure, after “X” hours of use, you can pull the spark plug and clean it, but they are so inexpensive that it just easier and smarter to pull the fouled plug and replace it with a new spark plug. It only takes a minute or two. And you’ll know when your spark plug is starting to get fouled – the generator will start running a little rough.

This model generator comes with a one year limited warranty. The warranty card states, that if you have any problems, you should call the company, and not return it to where you purchased it. Well, the second time my daughter went to start this little machine, the pull cord broke. We called Home Depot, and they told us to bring it in and they’d repair it. Well, they gave us a replacement generator – brand-new – that’s customer service!

Our Use

Living out in the boonies, we have a lot of power outages especially in the winter, when trees come down over the power lines. At times, we are without power for several days before they get to us – the small towns in the area have their power restored first – we’re accustomed to being “low priority.” If its cold, we pull out our kerosene heater, which really warms the entire house – when it is placed in the living room – it works better than our baseboard electrical heaters do. Sometimes, we just sit on the sofa – the wife and I – and listen to the portable radio. Other times, we might want to watch the big screen television, and that’s when we get the little Sportsman generator out and running, and watch television – or I can even get on the Internet. The big screen television doesn’t use many watts, believe it or not. We rarely turn the lights on and use the generator for that at night – instead, we have alternate portable lighting.

When time comes to do some cooking, we can’t use our electric stove, so we either go out to our travel trailer and use the propane stove out there, or we hook up a propane tank to our camp stove and cook that way – it’s not a big deal to us, when the power goes out – it really isn’t!


When we purchased this little Sportsman 1,000 watt portable generator, it was on-sale for only $90 – one steal-of-a-deal. I checked the Home Depot website before starting this article, and they are now listed at $149.99 – still a decent deal. However, they launch sales all the time, so keep checking if you don’t want to pay full retail for it. We even received free-shipping.

If you want to be prepared for short-term power outages, and don’t want to spend a lot of money on a big portable generator, then check out this little gem. It will do most of what you want it to do, just don’t think you can operate all of your electrical appliances at the same time. You can run a washing machine – but not a clothes dryer. Note that you have a water well, that this little 120 Volt generator won’t operate a 220 Volt well pump. That’s why we keep plenty of water stored at our digs.

Take some time to figure out how many watts you think you’ll need to run before buying any generator, and then make your choices based on that, and of course, on your income. For us, we are pleased with this little 1,000-watt generator – it gets used a whole lot more than our bigger one does, since it doesn’t burn through the fuel like the big one does. If the power is going to be out for days, then we crank-up the bigger generator, and plug-in the refrigerator and freezer twice a day for about 45-minutes, to keep everything cold or frozen.

Checkout the Home Depot web site, you’ll you’ll likely find a backup generator to fit your needs.


  1. Pat,

    I too, have this same generator. It’s the Harbor Freight version. I had a lot of fun doing some upgrades on it. I installed a combination tach/hour meter a NGK brand spark plug cap and an inline fuel filter. I have found it to be hard to start and think it could benefit from a fuel primer bulb type carb but for now when I get ready to use mine I take the air cleaner cover off and give it a shot of carb cleaner in the carb throat. It usually takes off on the second application and after a warm up period I reinstall the cover and put it to work. The combination tach/hour meter is handy for making sure the rpm’s are around 3600 so that the 60 Hz is right on for those appliances that need it. I found those on Amazon. There are several video’s on YouTube showing how to adjust the running speed governor to get the correct 60Hz under a load. I have used mine to run a 5000 BTU window air conditioner and that is just about all it can do at one time.

  2. Small, <5kW generators rarely last beyond 1,200 hours of use. This is my experience over many years and religiously changing the oil.

    Roughly a third of the generator failures I've seen have been engine related; the remaining failures were with the electrical generator.

  3. IMO, it is better to own an inverter generator of at least 2000 W capacity. They are quiet and, in my experience during the 2011 tornado outbreak in northern Alabama, they can be run in such a way to only use 1 gallon of fuel or so per day to keep critical items (such as refrigerator/freezer, a few lights and a computer or radio) running. Ours is a Honda EU2000i, and these have reputations of running more than 5000 hours before failure.

  4. I read somewhere a comment by a family living off grid their their experience with generators made in china was a life of only about 300 hours on average. Unfortunately that has been our experience with them (bought mostly from sams) at our off grid cabin. We used generators a lot during construction and also now as well especially during the summer months (south Texas without ac is miserable). Also I totally agree with not getting a bigger gen than necessary (more fuel and noise)…maybe a couple depending on current needs. We use a Honda 2000 most of the time…very efficient and very quiet. Converted it to propane so refueling is not an issue. Also have a new one for backup. We also have a generac that is probably 20 years old (made in the USA-3500XL) still going strong. I am afraid the old saying…you get what you pay for…still applies. If I were depending on Chinese generators I would stack them deep.

  5. I have the Harbor Freight version as well. Does anyone have a recommendation of a mini fridge that the generator will power? I think the start-up watts of most full size refrigerators is beyond the peak output of these units, unless I’m mistaken?

    Second, I just left the deep woods myself, but most of my equipment was battery powered. Tools, flashlights, radios, and even hand warmers were all rechargeable batteries. Ditto my phone and tablet. Point being, this little generator and 5 gal of fuel would have easily kept everything powered for 2 weeks.

  6. There is a ton of info online and on youtube regarding this model generator. The consensus is they will die an early death, after driving you nuts trying to keep it running.

    I know it’s cheap, but this is a case of throwing money away. Better to save up a bit longer and get a name brand inverter based gennie if you want a small generator.

    Like w/ guns, a HiPoint is better than nothing, but you can save a bit longer and get a Glock or ruger and KNOW you can depend on it.

    I’ve run my 18 year old Generac 5500XL for hundreds of hours and it’s been reliable and durable. Ran it for 14 days after Ike.

    I’ve seen Honda EX2000’s with unbelievable time on them and they still run.

    YMMV, but this model (and the other versions sold by various discounters) is not worth it.


    (I’ve got one, and it will not run, btw.)

  7. I just did a quick search and found that it recommends NOT BEING RUN ABOVE 3,000 feet.

    From “Shop My Way” website description: “Not recommended for high-altitude use above 3,000 ft.”

    There may be a high altitude kit or you may need to re-jet if possible. Just an FYI. Read the paperwork THOROUGHLY to find appropriate altitude mentions.
    I’m sensitive to this because I live at 6,500 feet.

  8. Just want to reiterate the warning about not running your generator “indoors”. But make sure that includes attached garages and sheds, even if there is not a connecting door with the house. A leaky sill plate or other hole like that can be all that it takes. I’ve personally seen it bad enough to make people sick, and heard about worse. And think about your animals, too. You don’t want to kill all your chickens or rabbits, for example.

  9. Have noticed a lot of used gens on craigs list,end of season for contractors? As with all equipment the considerations are:initial quality,maintence,use cycle(used 8 hrs on site or left sitting without fogging),lubrication(special oil/filter? use synthetic for heavy use?)repairable or throwaway.

  10. craigslist is a good place to find good quality generators. while not small portable units the onans are mostly very high quality long lasting units. lots of them are 3 kw. and larger but occasionaly smaller units show up. the secret to their longevity and quietness is in their 1800 rpm. speed. and a general rule of thumb is older is better as they have less electronics in them. the older units will have a square body generator and that will tell you a lot about the hours and conditions under which it was used. if rusty it probably will be high hours as well as being used under full loads as the rust is from heat burning the paint. the newer units will have a round generator made of aluminim, still a good unit but more fragile. most common failure on these units is the fuel pump.
    i have an onan 3 kw. from ww2. and still generates every time it is started, and has no problem delivering full power.
    i hope someone is able to find use in this post.

  11. This was a timely review for me. I have been considering getting a small generator, mainly to run some house lights during our more and more frequent power outages. I live about 50 miles ssw of you (as the crow flies). During the February 2019 snow storm we were without power for about two weeks. Normally we use battery lanterns, but one night I plugged in a couple of lights to our generator via extension cords. Made a difference in morale. Will probably pick one up and run it until it breaks.

  12. I have the Harbor Freight version of this generator, and I agree that it is a good value for the money.

    I ran into something with mine that other users should be aware of. I was test running it and doing some break-in, so I plugged in my 500W halogen work light to serve as a load. About 15 min. later, I noticed that the light had gone out. When I checked it, the bulb was burned out and showed signs of serious overheating.

    After replacing the bulb (those little buggers are EXPENSIVE), I decided to check the voltage by plugging in my Kill-A-Watt unit.

    The generator was putting out 148 volts! No wonder the light bulb got fried. After looking around on YouTube, I found a video that showed how to adjust the output.

    There is a screw on the right hand side of the unit near the top that is recessed under the top shroud near the fuel valve. There is a little cut-out in the shroud that allows the screwdriver to reach the screw. It doesn’t hurt to check it every time–the next time I ran it it needed a another (minor) adjustment. You may also find a voltage difference between light and heavy loads.

  13. If you come in to some money and want to kill two birds with one stone, get a welder/generator. I had a plain ole 3500 watt generator that I was using to power our whole house after a tornado wiped out electrical lines leading to our house. Of course 3500 watts is no where big enough but that’s all I had. Then something went wrong with it and I’m pretty sure it put 240 volts down one leg of it’s circuit and fried just about everything in our house. It ruined our TV, sound bar, refrigerator, clocks and blew the fuse on our central AC.
    It was May here in Oklahoma and already so hot and muggy you couldn’t breathe. So since I needed a portable welder anyway I quickly purchased an eleven thousand watt “continuous” welder/generator and hooked it up to the meter base at my house. Presto! We had all the electric we needed and it even ran our central AC.
    I’ve used it plenty of times while building corner post and other projects around the place and I have never regretted spending the money to buy it. Hobart and Lincoln have these available for around $3000-3300 dollars around these parts. Now I know were talking smaller generators here in this blog but if you don’t have a generator at all and if you can swing it financially you might consider a welder/generator combination.

  14. One more thought. If you get a welder/generator, mount it on a small two wheel trailer and then you can not only pull it around your property with your tractor or 4-wheeler but you can also pull it right up next to your electrical meter, pull the meter and wire it in to the meter base with heavy gauge wires. If you don’t know how to wire it up safely you better get someone else to do that part for you.

  15. The commentators suggesting Honda generators are 100% correct, they’re simply the best and I personally know of one which operated for almost 7000 hours before any major part had to be replaced.

    A Honda EU1000i will weigh the same as your generator but use far less fuel, not require two stroke oil, make less noise, put out better quality power and last many times longer. If you can find a Honda or Yamaha 2nd hand for a good price that’s potentially a much better deal than buying a new Chinese one.

    As for the “special” two-stroke oil your generator requires, just use any two-stroke oil which is rated for air-cooled motorcycles and mix it at 45:1 just to be safe, it should cost half of what you’re paying. If you’re storing gas for a long period of time don’t forget to add fuel stabilizer as well.

  16. I concur with those who down voted.

    Mine ran fine for a week then died. New carb (at least it parts are cheap!) didn’t help.

    Even if it does work, it’s annoyingly loud – two stroke loud – and emits a cloud of blue exhaust.

    Do yourself a favor and get a Honda EU1000 or even one of the cheaper Chinese knock-offs. I picked up a used EU1000 for $500. 5X more $$ but worth it.

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