What is the Difference Between Mobile, Portable, and Towable Generators?

The terms “mobile” and “portable” for generators are ambiguous and could mean multiple things. Sometimes those terms refer to an inverter generator, larger gasoline powered generator, a truck mounted generator, or generator attached to a trailer (towable). Mobile or portable generators could encompass any power generation unit that is not specifically bolted down and stationary.

Portable Generators

That said, portable generally refers to a generator that can be moved by one person. It might have wheels to help maneuver or be light enough and have a handle to carry.

An inverter generator is a type of portable generator. The Cummins Onan P2500i is about 50 pounds and has a carry handle built into the casing. It’s a digital inverter generator that runs on gasoline, and offers 2,200 running watts, capping out at 2,500 watts.

The Cummins Onan P4500i offers more power with 3,700 running watts, peaking at 4,500 watts. It’s also a digital inverter gasoline generator. The P4500i weighs about 98 pounds, but has wheels and a telescopic handle, like a big suitcase, to make it easy to move around. 

Industrial Portable Generators

When someone says portable, they could also be referring to an industrial portable generator, which could be used on a jobsite, like Winco’s lines of Dyna Professional and Big Dog generators. These generators range from 104 pounds to 504 pounds and can be mounted on a four-wheel dolly for increased maneuverability. These generators typically have a lifting eye built into the frame. This lets you use mechanical assistance, such as a forklift or crane, to lift it in or out of a truck or trailer. The Winco line offers watt capacities (starting/running) of 3000/2400W up to 22000/19000W.

Mobile & Towable Generators

Towable generators are portable as well, but they are fastened to a trailer to tow behind a vehicle. Towable generators generally range from 20kW to 500kW. These generators can be run in parallel for additional power. Paralleling generators refers to connecting two or more generators together to increase output. Towable generators are ideal for worksites (local or remote), events, unexpected outages, and scheduled outages. 


Since the terminology is confusing, you can just give us a call to discuss what you need. You can review some specification sheets at the links below, but a Prima Power Systems rep will be happy to answer any questions and help you find a generator that meets your needs.

You can find the spec sheets for our portable generators at these links:

Winco Portable Generators

Atlas Copco Mobile Generators

Doosan Portable Generators