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4 stars

Review of the Briggs & Stratton PowerSmart Series™ P4500 Portable Inverter Generator

4500 Starting Watts, 3700 Running Watts on Gasoline

Electric Start: Yes

Weight: 104lbs

Noise: 60dB

Briggs and Stratton P4500

Should You Buy It?

There is a mixed bag of reviews on this generator. Fans of the Briggs & Stratton brand will probably be attracted to its capable power outputs, impressive feature set and the relative ease in which it can be transported using the telescopic handle. And while a lot of owners praise this model an unfortunate few have been less happy with the experience. 
In summary, the P4500 appears to be a decent option for you to consider especially owing to its feature set which includes for many people an all-important electric start. This on its own may make it an attractive option for you to consider.

See what buyers like and dislike about the P4500.


There are, of course, several alternatives inverters to this Briggs & Stratton generator. They include the Westinghouse iGen4500,which is a popular and capable generator, and the WEN GN400i, which uses an open frame and is lighter but has no wheels which may make it harder for some people to move it around.

Key Points about the Briggs & Stratton P4500

Good inverter power outputs
Electric start
Comes with tools, oil and funnel
Carbon monoxide, auto shutdown
Safe with sensitive electronics
Level of quality control
Cheap plastics used in build
Technical Support outsourced
Customer Care

Overview of the P4500 Generator

The PowerSmart Series™ P4500 is designed for a bit more serious camping and recreational use than the less powerful P2400, and it's a popular choice for RV owners.  It's also not a bad option for partial home backup during emergencies and power outages, and like the P2400, it comes with CO Guard. This is a system designed to help warn you of dangerous carbon monoxide levels. But you should never rely on this alone and only operate the generator in the open air. The manual states that this generator is not intended to be used at a construction site or similar activity.

Controls and Features

The control panel is divided into two separate sections, as shown above. One houses the receptacles, the breakers, the CO Guard warning and a grounding lug. The other panel has a digital display to monitor run time and is flanked by two bar gauges which indicate power use and fuel level. Here, there is also an On/Off activation button, LEDs for low oil, overload, and power, plus a button to activate the Quiet Power Technology (QPT- Eco mode), a main reset, and finally a fuel valve dial.

The part which houses the receptacles includes 2xDuplex 120v 20A outlets, 1x120v 30A RV outlet and 2xUSB ports, all of which are protected from the elements by covers.

As is normal for generators equipped with an electric start, you can also use the manual recoil mechanism to get the generator working.

The P4500 is CARB Compliant and has EPA approval, so you can use it in California. 

The generator runs for up to 16 hours at a 25% load on its 3.5-gallon gasoline tank. If during operation the oil drops below a safe level a sensor immediately shuts the generator down.

The carbon monoxide warning system (CO Guard) automatically stops the generator as soon as it detects a dangerous level of this poisonous gas in the area of operation.

The unit ships with standard, non-synthetic, SAE 30 oil together with an oil funnel to facilitate filling, and without which owners say you could easily make a mess.

Briggs & Stratton include a 3-year limited warranty on this model for residential use and 1-year for commercial use.

The manual for the Briggs & Stratton P4500 provides good and comprehensive information and can be seen here.

Power Output

Powering this generator is a 4-stroke 224cc Briggs & Stratton engine. It delivers a starting power of 4500 watts and a running output of 3700 watts. Besides the kind of essential items found in the home this is sufficient to also power some smaller air conditioners, such as a wall unit found in smaller RVs.

The manual says it's okay to use a minimum 85 octane fuel when operating this generator at over 5000 feet. But it also warns you that you'll have to make high altitude adjustments to remain compliant with emission regulations. Without these adjustments you'll experience a significant loss in performance, more fuel consumption, and increased emissions.

Like other inverters, and unlike traditional generator technology, the power delivery is clean so you can safely connect your sensitive electronics.

What Most Buyers Like

Owners like the push-button starter as this make it much easier to start the generator. They say it's a powerful unit and has great fuel economy. They also appreciate the comprehensive information provided by the digital displays which they find very useful in knowing how the generator is operating.

Buyers also like the carbon monoxide sensor fitted to the generator as this is a feature that is often absent on many other brands, and the telescopic handle to aid its movement.

One owner claims that the P4500 is 80% as good as a Honda at 25% of the cost.

What Some Buyers Like Less

Some buyers question the reliability of the unit and suggest this is due to poor quality control. They also say it has flimsy plastic parts and plastic wheels that are easily damaged, with one owner claiming they are only good for concrete and flat surfaces. Another wished the wheels were bigger to make it easier to move around over other types of areas and surfaces.

The oil fill location is seen as difficult to reach and it's covered with a cheap-looking plastic cap.

While some owners welcome the electronics (electronic choke, CO detection, electric starting), others, perhaps a bit too pessimistically, worry about these features being the first to fail over time.

Other buyers report dissatisfaction over the quality and effectiveness of customer care, which apparently is outsourced.

Model Number030836
Running Watts3700
Starting Watts4500
Engine Displacement (cc)224
Frequency (Hz)60
Start TypeElectric/Recoil
Low Oil ShutdownYes
Fuel GaugeYes
Fuel Capacity (gal.)3.5
Spark ArrestorYes
Run Time @ 25% Load16 hours
Hour MeterYes
Width (in)17.6
Height (in)20.3
Length (in)24.5
Weight (lbs)104
Consumer Warranty (Product)36 months
Commercial Warranty (Product)12 months