How to Choose a Caterpillar Generator

Are you looking for the best Caterpillar generator?

Caterpillar generators are excellent investments for anyone who wants to be spared from frustration when unexpected outages happen. Whether it is because of a hurricane or windstorm, among other incidents, a generator can be your savior.

Not to mention, many of the generators from Caterpillar are portable. While they are limited in terms of the power that they can supply, they are affordable, compact, and lightweight. It can make an excellent addition to your camping essentials!

About Caterpillar

Established in 1925, Caterpillar is known for their industrial machinery and equipment, especially those that are used in construction and mining. They also produce engines, turbines, and locomotives. Unknown to many, they are also in the business of finance and insurance.

In 2019, Caterpillar recorded a total of $53.8 billion in sales and revenues. While they have a wide array of products, on this buying guide, our focus will be on their selection of portable generators. They offer a selection of commercial and residential generators, which have a power of 7 to 16,200 kW. However, this guide focuses on their compact and less powerful but equally impressive generators.

Our Top Picks for the Best Caterpillar Generators

While almost all of their products are incredible, below are five of the top options for the best portable generators from Caterpillar.So, if you are looking for the best Caterpillar generators, take note of our recommendations above. They are portable but pack a lot of power. You can be confident that they will be dependable wherever you are!

Best for heavy duty jobs – jobsites – contractors

1. Cat RP12000E  

Wrapping up our list of the best Caterpillar generators is the most powerful out of the five products mentioned. If you have demanding power requirements, then this can be an excellent choice.The powerful motor, however, also has a downside. It isn’t as compact and lightweight as the four products listed above. However, that should not be a problem since moving it around will still be easy. Thanks to the two large wheels, you can quickly change its location without the need to do a heavy lifting.

670cc V-Twin OHV Power

The engine is one of the notable features that you will find in this portable generator. Understandably, this is also responsible for its impressive power and performance. The motor runs on gasoline and supports both 120 and 240V. There is a running wattage of 12,000 watts and peak wattage of 15,000 watts.

13.2-gallon Fuel Tank

Considering that it is categorized as a portable generator, the size of the tank is impressive. It is larger than most of its competitors, which also means that it will have a longer runtime. According to the manufacturer, the average runtime is 11.7 hours at 50% load when the fuel tank is full. The tank is also notable because it acts as a sound buffer, minimizing the noise that the generator makes as it works. It is also worth noting that there is a built-in fuel gauge.

Dual LED Illuminated Operator’s Station

The operator’s station has the most important controls that you will need to set the generator. It also comes with a digital display, which makes it easy to monitor the functions whether it is day or night. It will show the voltage, frequency, and runtime.


Nine Outlets

Given its size, it is just logical to have a lot of outlets. With nine outlets, you can run multiple appliances at the same time. It is also a good thing that the outlets have snap-on rubber covers. When nothing is plugged, the covers will protect against dust and debris.

Electric Start

If you have already used a traditional generator, then you will know that it can be quite a struggle to start the motor. With this model, that should not be the case. With the electric start feature it will be up and running within seconds.

350 Pounds

Weighing 350 pounds, it might feel like the use of the word portable in the name of this product is misleading. Yes, it is heavy, but this should not be a big problem. There are two rubber wheels and a convenient handle, which means that it will be easy to move the generator around despite being quite heavy.


  • Powerful
  • Durable construction
  • Easy to use


  • A bit heavy

Best for jobsites – power outage – contractors

2. Cat RP7500E

Whether it is for home or for play, this is another Caterpillar generator that should be on your radar. It has 7,500 starting watts and 9,375 running watts, making it more powerful compared to the performance of the first two generators mentioned above.

For those who are living in California, however, take note that this is non-CARB-compliant, which makes it illegal to use in the state. There is another version of this model that is CARB-compliant.

420CC OHV Engine

This generator can offer exceptional power for a wide array of applications. Sure, it isn’t as full-powered as full-sized generators, but comparing it to the other portable generators, the performance of this model is hard to match. The engine has a cast iron sleeve, which will also provide the protection it needs from dirt and debris.

Electric Start Switch

Gone were the days when starting a generator means pulling a coil. This model comes with a convenient switch. Simply push the switch and the generator will be ready within seconds, making it effortless to use.

Automatic Voltage Regulator

By having an automatic voltage regulator, this generator comes with a protection device. It controls the output of the generator and regulates the voltage that it supplies. In turn, you don’t have to worry plugging even the most sensitive electronics. It is capable of keeping the voltage as smooth as possible.

 Cat RP7500E

7.9-Gallon Tank

The maximum capacity that the tank of this generator can hold is 7.9 gallons. When it is full and there is a 100% load, the average runtime is 5.43 hours. To extend the runtime to 11 hours, then you have to keep the load at 50%. It is also a good thing that there is a convenient fuel gauge at the back of the tank, which will provide an immediate warning if you need to refuel.

Lithium-Ion Battery

Another notable feature that you will enjoy in this product is the rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which also means that it has two sources of power. When the generator is running, it automatically charges the battery. Once the fuel tank is empty, it will use the power saved in the battery.

Six Outlets

You will have up to six outlets to plug your appliances at the same time. There are four 20A 120V AV outlets, one 30A 120V ACL5-30 outlet, and one 30A 120/240V AC L14-30. If you are not using the outlets, they are completely covered, which will protect them from external elements that can speed up wear.

Three-Year Limited Warranty

If you register this generator, then you will be eligible to the three-year warranty that the manufacturer offers. Thankfully, the registration will be quick, so there’s no reason to not do it. Otherwise, the warranty is only two years. The warranty policy is the same across the five products that are briefly reviewed in this buying guide.


• Affordable
• High running wattage
• Fuss-free design


Best for Home power – jobsites – power outage

3. Cat RP6500E 

This is another heavy-duty generator from Caterpillar that can deliver exceptional performance. Nonetheless, because of its size, do not expect that it will be as powerful as the larger generators that you will find from the same manufacturer.

From food truck owners to camping enthusiasts, this portable generator has a wide range of applications. It has six AC outlets, which will let you power multiple appliances at once.

Electric Start

Among others, one thing that you will love the most in this product is its electric start feature, which is also what makesit user-friendly. In the case of traditional generators, start-ups can be a struggle. Nonetheless, there is also an option for pull/recoil start.

7.9-Gallon Fuel Tank

Despite the compact size, it comes with a large fuel tank. With a capacity of 7.9 gallons or 30 liters, it can provide power that you need for hours. The high-capacity gas tank also comes with a gauge, which will let you easily determine if there is a need for a refill. At 50% load and when the tank is full, it will have a continuous runtime of up to 12 hours.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

While it powers your appliances using fuel, it is versatile since it also comes with a lithium-ion battery. This will provide the power that you need anytime and anywhere. The battery automatically charges when the battery is running, making sure that power is available when you need it.

Cat RP6500E

Multiple Outlets

This generator comes with six outlets. There are outlets for both 120V and 240V. These outlets have a twist-and-lock mechanism. To add, there are snap-fit rubber covers. This will help to keep dust, debris, and moisture out.

LED-Lit Control Panel

You do not have to be left guessing when you are using this generator. It comes with a convenient backlit display, which will show everything that you need to know. This will let you monitor how the generator is working. It shows voltage, frequency, running hours, and total hours.

Mobile Design

Like the other portable generators that are mentioned in this short guide, it also has excellent features for mobility. For instance, it has two rubber tires, which will never get flat. They have excellent traction and will roll smoothly on different surfaces. To add, there is a foldable handle that comes with an ergonomic grip. It is cushioned so that it will be comfortable to hold when you are moving the generator.

Low-Maintenance Design

It can be frustrating if you are using a portable generator that requires a lot of effort when it comes to care and maintenance. When you purchase this generator, it already comes with a tool and maintenance kit, which will make it effortless to maintain the product’s peak performance.


• Engine is quick and effortless to start
• Long run-time
• Solid rubber wheels


• No auto-idle

Best for RV, campsites and other outdoor activities that require power.

4. Cat RP5500 

If you are looking for a handy and multi-use generator, then one of the top options that should be on your list is the Cat RP5500. It is a great choice for motorhomes for powering a microwave, fridge, and fan. At home, it can be equally functional when used in appliances like a fridge and washing machine.

While it is decent for most appliances, however, take note that it isn’t for power-intensive applications. If you have demanding requirements, then we suggest that you choose a more powerful generator.

5,500 Running Watts

Looking at the technical specifications, this portable generator has 5,500 running watts and 6,875 starting watts. According to the manufacturer, it can provide power for up to 15 hours before there will be a need for refueling. This runtime is at a 50% load. It can power most small appliances. Although, some people were quite disappointed over how it is a bit under-powered.

300cc OHV Engine

The engine is one of the highlights of this product. At 300cc, it is going to be fuel-efficient, which is a great way to save money in the long run. It is also a good thing that the engine operates quietly, so it will never be a disruption.

All-Steel Construction

Like most of the generators that you will find from Caterpillar, the durability is hard to match. Among others, this is attributed to its all-steel body, which is sure to withstand the test of time. The rugged steel frame is also constructed in such a way that it minimizes vibrations.

LED Control Panel

This generator is filled with features that will make it user-friendly. Among others, one thing that you will appreciate is the LED backlit panel. It displays the important information you need to know as the generator works. This will show voltage used, current runtime in hours, total runtime, and frequency. Whether it is day or night, it will be easy for you to see whatever is on the display.

Caterpillar Generator

Built for Portability

Whether you are going to use the generator at home or a campsite, you will also love how this generator is created to be portable. This means that wherever you are, the generator will be easy to move around. It has solid rubber wheels and a double-hinged handle.

Constructed with Your Safety in Mind

If peace of mind is what you are looking for, then the Caterpillar RP5500 has your back. Aside from being made by a reliable manufacturer, it has several features that will guarantee your safety.

There is automatic low oil shutdown. This means that the generator will immediately stop working once it detects that the oil is at a low level. You will then have to refill the oil before the generator continues supplying the power needed.

All of the wirings are also covered. They are protected from external elements that can speed up wear and cause safety concerns.


• Wheeled construction for mobility
• Easy to use
• Fuel-efficient


• Does not come with electric start

Best for camping, tailgating or other outdoor activities

5. Cat INV2000 

This is the cheapest and most portable of the products that are mentioned in this buying guide. That also means that it is the least powerful. Some users were quite disappointed with how the power might end up being underwhelming, so take note that this isn’t ideal for heavy applications.

If you need more power than what it can deliver, then you can connect it to another inverter generator, provided that the technical specifications are compatible. Connect two generators to double the power output.

79.7cc OHV 4-stroke Engine

To be honest, this is the least powerful of the five models that are included in this review. So, choose this only if you need a generator that you can use for light-duty applications. Given its output, it is only good for a mini fridge, laptop, TV, and small power tools. If you have power-hungry appliances, then you will be disappointed with the performance of this generator.

1-gallon Fuel Capacity

Given the portability of this inverter generator, it is no longer surprising that the fuel tank has a maximum capacity of only one gallon. When the load is only at 50%, then you can enjoy an average runtime of six fours when the tank is full.

3% Total Harmonic Distortion

In case you are unaware, total harmonic distortion is the degree of distortion of the current or voltage waveform. This affects how the generator responds or performs. A good practice is to keep this at less that 5% to ensure a smoother voltage. With this model, the total harmonic distortion is only at 3%, which allows it to generate clean electricity.

 Cat INV2000

53 to 62 dBA

One of the most common reasons why a lot of people hate their generators is because they are too noisy. Luckily, that is not going to be a problem when you have the Cat INV2000. It meets National Park service campground requirements, so you can be confident that it will never be a distraction to anyone.

Cat INV2000 Inverter Generator
Mini Fridge. -Small Power Tools. -Halogen lights. -Phone Chargers.

Engine Smart Control

This portable generator works as if it has a mind of its own. With the Engine Smart Control, it automatically adjusts its power depending on the load requirements. There is no need for manual controls. This also makes it a breeze to ensure peak performance regardless of the appliances that are connected.


If you are looking for a portable generator that you can use in the worksite, you have one good reason to pick this model as it complies with the  OSHA standards. Meaning, it has been tested and proven to have no harmful emissions that can put the health of the workers at risk. To add, it is also EPA and CARB-compliant.


• Compact and lightweight
• Operates quietly
• Fuel-efficient


• Does not come with an electric start

Cat RP6500E

How to Choose a Caterpillar Generator

If you go online and search for Caterpillar generators, you will find a lot of options. To help you narrow down the possibilities, below are the most important considerations.

INV2000 RP3600 RP5500 RP6500E RP7500E RP12000E
Running Watts 1800360055006500750012000
Starting Watts 2250450068758125937515000
Engine Size 79.9cc 212cc 300cc 420cc 420cc 670 v-twin
Run Time @ 50% Load 6 Hrs 13.5 Hrs 15 Hrs 12 Hrs 11 Hrs 11.7 Hrs
Fuel Capacity 1 Gal 4.5 Gal 7.9 Gal 7.9 Gal 7.9 Gal 13.2 Gal
Number of Covered Outlets 455669
AC Voltage 120120120 & 240 120 & 240 120 & 240 120 & 240

Types of Generators

To start, you need to be familiar with the different types of generators available. This will help you easily narrow down the possibilities depending on your needs and preferences.

Portable Generators : The five products that are mentioned in this article all belong to this category. They are compact and lightweight, meant to be moved around depending on where you want to use them. These are also perfect choices in the campsite or in an RV.

Standby Generator : This is larger and more powerful compared to a portable generator. As the name implies, it is on stand-by and will automatically turn on when the power supply is cut.

Inverter Generator : Compared to other generators, it is quieter. It is also more expensive compared to portable generators. It is a good choice if you want fewer emissions and better fuel efficiency.

Size and Weight

If you are buying a portable generator, then go for one that is compact and lightweight. This way, it will be easy to bring it anywhere you go, such as when you are camping or anywhere else you need a temporary power supply.

Some may be large and heavy, but they are still considered portable because of their design. A common feature would be rubber wheels. This way, the generator can roll smoothly when you need to move it around instead of lifting it.

Power Requirements

As you try to trim down the possibilities, you should also consider your power needs or requirements.

The most important figure that you should understand is the wattage. Small generators can deliver 500 to 3,000 watts. Larger and more powerful generators, on the other hand, will deliver power of up to 10,000 watts.

To compute your power requirements, start listing the devices that you need to power through the generator. Know their individual watts an add them up. Next, there are two concepts that you need to understand. Starting watts refer to the power needed for the appliances to start. Rated watts or running watts, on the other hand, refer to the energy requirement for the appliances to function after the start-up. Both of these should match the power that the generator can deliver.

Best Caterpillar Generators

Fuel Type

The choice of fuel is important in Caterpillar generators because it will be indicative of the overall performance. It also affects the cost of long-term ownership, maintenance, and eco-friendliness.

Most of the Caterpillar generators will run on gas. These generators have a small tank, which also means that there will be a short runtime. While it is an accessible fuel, take note that it is highly-combustible, which can make it unsafe. In the long run, this can also be expensive because of the high cost of gas.

If you are looking for a more affordable alternative, then you can go with diesel. Although, this is not as popular as gas. One of the good things about diesel is that it is the least flammable fuel source, which makes it safe. However, the shelf life is limited without additives. It can also be noisier compared to the generators that run on gas.

Tank Size

Aside from the type of fuel, you also need to consider the size of the fuel tank. This is important because it determines how many gallons of fuel can be filled at a time. Especially if you will be camping or you will be anywhere there is no easy access to fuel, you will benefit from having a large tank without compromising portability.


The size of the fuel tank will have an impact on the runtime of the generator. The latter refers to the number of hours by which the generator can operate continuously. In the case of the Caterpillar generators, which is also the practice amongst other manufacturers, the runtime stated is based on a 50% load capacity. The higher the load is, the shorter the runtime will be.

Cat INV2000



It can be annoying if the generator makes a lot of noise. Especially if you will be using your Caterpillar generator in the campsite, look for the quietest model available. Many parks will have rules when it comes to the maximum noise output of the generator. This will also prevent you from disturbing others who are enjoying their time in the campsite.


Another important consideration would be how you will be starting the generator. This is going to affect its ease of use. Traditionally, generators have a pull/recoil start method. This involves having the need to pull a string until the engine successfully starts. Today, we have more modern models with an electric start feature. The generator will start within seconds by activating the switch.


A common feature that you will find in Caterpillar generators is the display. It is often in the form of an LED screen. It has a backlight, which means that it will be easy to read whether it is day or night. The latter will display the important information you need to know, such as the total runtime. It can also show how much fuel is remaining so that you can refill the tank immediately.


Caterpillar generators can be expensive! For the best value for the money, make sure to choose a model that comes with a durable construction. An all-steel body is great. This might make the generator heavy, but this will also have a positive impact on its longevity. To be durable, it will also good to have rubber covers for the plugs, which will protect against dust and dirt.

Safety Tips when Using Caterpillar Generators

Caterpillar takes pride in having innovative products with state-of-the-art safety features. As the owner, however, you are still largely responsible to ensure safe use.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Run the generator in an open and well-ventilated area Never run the generator when you are indoors. It emits carbon dioxide, which is a toxic gas. It also has a foul smell that many people will find bothersome.

Do not leave a portable generator open in the rain  If you are camping, you can buy tents especially made for generators, which will have a canopy but will leave a lot of open spaces for proper ventilation.

If you need to re-fuel the generator, turn it off first  Also, let it cool a few minutes before filling the tank. Be careful not to make splashes. It can result in ignition, and in turn, will be a fire hazard.

It would be best to plug the appliances directly to the generator  If you have to use an extension cord, make sure that it is heavy-duty and that it meets the power requirements of the generator.

Pay attention to the load capacity of the generator  You should never overload the generator as this can be a safety issue

Always read the instructions from the manufacturer  Different models may have different operating requirements.Follow religiously whatever is stated in the manual.


Whether it is charging your gadgets at home or powering a fan in the campsite, among other applications, a portable generator is a lifesaver! While there are countless brands available, Caterpillar is one of the names that will be hard to match.

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