Inverter generators have changed the way we view portable power. The increasing interest in these remarkable machines has everything to do with the advanced technology they provide. Inverters produce clean power that is safe for electronic equipment. They also tend to be quieter and more economical than traditional gas generators.
The number one reason for buying an inverter generator is that they produce a pure sine wave with low Harmonic Distortion (HD). Though there are several other benefits, like better fuel economy and quiet operation.
The many advantages to buying an inverter generator comes at a price. They are always going to be more expensive than old-fashioned gas generators with a similar power output. A lot has been written about the pros and cons of buying an inverter generators. If you’re still unsure whether it’s worth paying more for inverter technology, you can read the following article: Inverter Generators ǀ Are they worth paying extra for? This article explains all there is to know about inverter generators, explaining how an inverter generator works, the importance of low THD, and detailing all the pros and cons when buying this type of generator.
Since this article is essentially a review of the top 5 inverter generators for 2020, let’s get down to business. The models chosen for this review have made the grade as being the best in their respective categories. At least that’s what we’ve decided. This decision is based on dedicated research.
Amongst the many factors that we’ve considered, opinions of generator users are paramount. So, we’ve spent hours reading and analyzing customer reviews. With a trained eye, we’ve made a concerted effort to check what the genuine buyers have to say about the many inverter generators that are available today. We’ve also looked at technical specifications, brand integrity, service and, of course, the price.
The inverter generators that we’ll be reviewing
Even so-called experts will never agree as to which is the best inverter generator. Though I speak with decades of experience in the power generation industry, when expressing my opinions on the models we’ve chosen for this review. You may not always agree with my point of view, but it does come with some real knowledge about both generators and inverters.
Top Quality Expensive Inverter Generators
I think most can agree that Honda generators, of any size or description, will always feature in any best generator review. To this end, we’ve chosen two Honda inverter generators for this review.
The tremendous Honda EU7000i tops our list as the very best inverter generator. Since this is a an incredibly expensive, industrial-grade inverter generator, and the most powerful by far, it may not be what many are looking for. Though, since we’re reviewing the best inverter generators, the top dog, no matter how expensive it may be, has to feature in the number spot.
The other Honda inverter generator selected for this review, is the enduringly popular Honda EU2200i. While the delightfully portable and quiet EU2200i is also about the most expensive in it’s class, it remains one of the most popular. With the Honda reputation for durability and outstanding service, along with the best fuel economy, many see the little Honda inverter generator as a worthwhile investment.
Best Value Cheap Inverter Generators
If the expensive Honda generators aren’t exactly your cup of tea, fear not. We’ve also looked for the best cheap inverter generator and the best value for money inverter generator.
For the best cheap inverter generator, we’ve chosen the WEN 56200i. I know the A-iPower SUA2000iV is considered by many to be the best cheap inverter generator. Though I have some concerns about the brand and the overall quality of this generator. I reviewed this model last year. You can read about it in this article if you want to know more: A-iPower SUA200iV ǀ Cheap Inverter Generator. In the same article, I review the WEN56200i as better alternative amongst the more inexpensive inverter generators. I still maintain that the WEN model is the better machine, hence it’s listing as the best cheap inverter generator for 2020.
Best Dual Fuel Inverter Generator
Finally, we’ve also included the best dual fuel inverter generator. Environmentally conscious generator buyers prefer the option of using cleaner burning propane instead of gas. There also some additional benefits to buying a dual fuel generator. I’ll discuss these in more detail later. Our choice for the best dual fuel inverter generator for 2020 is the very reasonably priced Champion 3,400 Watt Dual Fuel Generator.
Quick Overview ǀ Top 5 Inverter Generators 2020
Honda EU7000i: The most powerful inverter generator – 7,000 watts peak power and 5,500 watts rated power. Super tough industrial grade, the best for a jobsite and camping. Quietest and most fuel efficient 7KW generator.
Champion 3,400W Dual Fuel Inverter Generator: Very affordable. Dual fuel compatibility – runs on gasoline and propane. 3,400 peak watts; 3,100 running watts. RV ready.
Westinghouse iGen4500i: Editors Top Choice. 4,500 peak watts; 3,700 running watts. TT-30 RV outlet. Wireless remote control. Excellent fuel efficiency and blissfully quiet. Best inverter generator for RV and home emergency power.
Honda EU2200i: Best compact inverter generator. 2,200 peak watts; 1,800 running watts. Quietest and most fuel efficient.
Wen56200i: Best cheap inverter generator. 2,000 peak watts; 1,600 running watts. Affordable quality, quiet and fuel efficient. 2-Year warranty.
Detailed Review of the Best Inverter Generators 2020
If you’re looking for the full lowdown on the top 5 inverter generators for 2020, the reviews that follow offer all the information. The good and the bad.
- 120V/240V; 7000W maximum power; 5500W rated power.
- Advanced Honda GX390 EFI engine with electronic fuel injection.
- Up to 18-hours runtime on 5.1 gallons of fuel.
- All metal, industrial-grade design.
- Quietest 7KW generator, as low as 52dBA.
- High-grade inverter for best durability, stable power for electronics.
If spending north of four grand on an inverter generator seems a little extreme, you may want to scroll down to the more affordable inverter generators picked for this review. However, if you need the ultimate machine, capable of delivering clean inverter power, and tough enough for the most demanding jobsite, this will be your first choice. Even if you are techno-junkie who gets a thrill from the reading about incredible technology, then this review will have you captivated.
Although expensive, Honda generators always leave me amazed. I have the utmost respect for quality engineering and durable machines. In this regard, Honda ticks all the boxes, and then some. The Honda EU7000i/S models are the ultimate that this prestigious brand has come up with. If you’re wondering what the difference is between the Honda EU7000i and EU7000iS, the answer is very little. Both models are basically the same; being 7,000W/5,500W inverter generators. The “S” model simply includes a remote control which is something contractors may well appreciate. Switching the generator off, when it is not needed, will obviously save money on fuel. A remote control makes it much more convenient and will save on time – you don’t need to walk to and from the generator every time you want to switch it on or off. So, apart from the remote control, this review covers both the EU7000i and EU7000iS models.
I’ve got to start with the unparalleled GX390 engine. In general, I believe the Honda GX engine range is the pinnacle of engineering when it comes to engines for power equipment. Ultimately reliable, and amongst the most fuel efficient, these engines are profound in their brilliance. The GX390, with EFI electronic fuel injection, takes this legendary engine to new heights. With heaps of power, this 389cc workhorse effortlessly supplies the requisite 7,000W peak load without a hint of strain. The increased power alone, is significant. Because this engine doesn’t have to work too hard, it will experience less wear and outlast any other, used to power a generator of this size.
Probably the most remarkable thing about this technologically superior engine, is its incredible fuel economy. The Honda EU7000i is fitted with a fairly large 5.1-gallon gas tank which, like the rest of the generator is made from high-grade, ultimately durable steel. On a tank of gas, this generator will supply a constant 25% of its rated load (1,375W) for an astonishing 18-hours. Even when pushing this powerful beast to the limit, using 100% of the 5,500W rated power continuously, it will keep purring along, without fail, for 6.5 hours. This amounts to 7 kilowatt-hours per gallon (KWH/G). The average fuel consumption for a portable generator is around 5KWH/G, precious few exceed 6 KWH/G. This places the Honda EU7000i streaks ahead of the pack. Like most inverter generators, this one has an economy mode. This is a switch on the user interface which, when engaged, reduces the engine RPM when the output demand is less than 25% of the rated load. In doing so, fuel economy is improved, and noise levels drop to a virtually inaudible 52dBA. Given all this, it’s quite probable that the Honda EU7000i will run all day (8-hours or more) on a single tank with normal use.
The next thing that has me awe-struck, when viewing the Honda EU7000i, has to be exceptional the build quality and design. Many generators claim to be industrial grade machines. Few actually make the cut. If you’re a firm believer in good old-fashioned design integrity, I’m sure you’ll feel the same way that I do. In a bid to prevent high noise levels, most inverter generators are in enclosed in a plastic housing. This is a great thing and does a fairly good job at protecting the generator too. Though when it comes to hardworking environments, even the best plastics can’t hold up to steel for long term durability, or offer as much protection to the engine, alternator, and electronics. The removable metal panels that enclose the EU7000i are as tough as it gets. They also do an outstanding job at insulating the generator from noise. Even at full rated load (5,500W), the Honda EU7000i only produces 58dBA. This is quieter than a conversational voice, making the big Honda generator the best in this regard. Even quiet inverter generators with engines half the size, can’t match this one for being an almost silent inverter generator.
Continuing the theme of indestructible industrial design, the user panel is all metal with an additional impact resistant plastic outer frame. This means, if the generator is knocked from the front, the plastic shield will absorb the impact, leaving the switches and electronic controls free from damage. The user interface also offers a host of great features and a great array of outlets. The EU7000i has an electric starter, with a really easy, turn dial and push-button setup for quick and uncomplicated starting. Electronic fuel injection, which obviously includes an automatic choke, means effortless starting in any weather. In case of a battery failure, you have the reassurance of a recoil starter.
The panel has 2 X 30A receptacles: one is 120V only, and the other, 120V/240V. It has the usual duplex 120V 20A outlets, two of them. Meaning a total of 4 standard 120V household type outlets. In addition, the 20A outlets have OSHA compliant GFCI protection. More great news for contractors. Naturally, all these outlets also have the appropriate circuit breaker protection, as well as a main 30A 120V/240V circuit breaker. The small, inconspicuous, digital display is actually deceptive in its advanced capabilities. It allows you to toggle through a range of options, displaying useful information, like operating hours, wattage, and engine speed. It also offers diagnostic information supplied by the onboard computerized engine management system. If you need to double the power output, the Honda EU7000i has ports for parallel connection.
Now for the not so good news. I’ve already mentioned the frighteningly high price, which is an obvious detraction from all the marvelous features. Though, with that said, how can a generator this incredible and tough possibly anything but expensive? Another drawback to the super-tough nature of this beast is the inordinately high weight. Again, I feel this cannot be avoided – high-grade metal is heavy, and the Honda has plenty of it. This brings the weight up to a back-breaking 261-pounds. To help you manage this weight, two ultra-strong fold down handles are fitted, as well as a super heavy-duty, all-terrain wheel kit.
For the longest time, I’ve been a reverent fan of Honda generators. Actually all Honda power equipment has earned my greatest admiration. For almost 50-years, the brand has been the benchmark by which all portable generators are measured. Honda is also one of pioneers when it comes to inverter technology used for portable generators.
Of course, ultimate reliability and exceptional dealership service has its price. Though, in my opinion is this money wisely spent. It’s highly probable that the average generator user will never need to replace their Honda during their lifetime. Few portable generators last like these machines do. Even fewer are as enduringly reliable. In the long run, Honda prices make sense. Nine times out of ten, Honda generators are the most fuel efficient, that amounts to huge savings over the many, many years that you’ll be using the generator. Not to mention the longest average life expectancy. Let’s face it, replacing a generator prematurely is an outright waste of money.
Proof of Honda’s commitment to outstanding quality comes in the form of a 3-year warranty which applies to both domestic and commercial users. How many manufacturers are prepared to offer a warranty like this for a generator working in the treacherous conditions of commercial applications?
Champion 3,400W Dual Fuel Inverter Generator
- Dual fuel inverter generator – use propane or gas.
- 3,400W starting power, 3,100w Running Power.
- RV ready 30A outlet.
- Lightweight portable inverter generator.
- Parallel connectivity.
Champion Power Equipment has grown into a brand with strong recognition. Champion generators have come to represent great value for the medium-duty generator buyer. Reasonable prices, good quality, and friendly customer relations have come to define Champion as one of top choices for camping and home backup portable generators.
Options for a dual fuel inverter generators are limited. This makes the Champion (100263) 3.4KW inverter generator quite sought after. The incredibly reasonable price is yet another strong attraction to this model. Dual fuel operation has several advantages, beyond the environmental benefits. There may times when gas is in short supply. This is often when you most need your portable generator for emergency power, like during a hurricane, snowstorm, or earthquake. Propane is a versatile fuel source; it can be used for cooking and heating, making a generator with dual fuel capabilities a very practical solution. You only need one type of fuel for all your camping and emergency needs. Propane is safer to store than gas. It cannot be spilled and does not release noxious, dangerous fumes. Unlike gas, propane can be stored for long periods, making ideal for disaster preparation.
The only downside to using propane is that it can be more expensive in some areas. Another disadvantage is the lower power output that you get from your generator when using propane. Although it is a cleaner fuel, with lower emissions, propane is not as efficient as gas. This means that an engine using propane does not produce the same horsepower (HP) as it would when running on gas. The result is less watts using propane to fuel a portable generator. When running on gas, the Champion 100263 will generate 3,400W peak (starting) power and 3,100W maximum constant (rated) power. When using propane, this is slightly reduced – 3,060 starting watts and 2,790 running watts. This may leave you somewhat limited, especially if you’re using a large RV generator.
The 192cc engine, used to power the Champion dual fuel generator, is well-made and reliable. It also has the luxury of an electric starter, as well the backup of a recoil starter. Perhaps not the most fuel efficient, it is still pretty reasonable. Certainly not what one would call a gas guzzler. At 25% rated load, runtime is 7.5-hours from the 1.6-gallon gas tank. A 20LBS propane tank will provide a very convenient 14.5 hours runtime at 25% rated load.
The Champion dual fuel generator is enclosed in a pretty stylish plastic housing. This keeps the mechanical components and inverter quite well protected and goes a long way in reducing noise levels. Although this is not one of the quietest inverter generators, you won’t be plagued by a noisy screamer in a campsite. Nosie levels are specified at a very comfortable 59dBA at 23-feet. However, Champion do not say at what load this measurement is taken. My guess is that this noise level is at 25% rated output, with the economy mode engaged to lower the RPM and further reduce the noise. A full output, it is probably a fair deal louder. Though I doubt this generator will become much louder than a normal speaking voice. So it still qualifies as a quiet inverter generator.
This is a very user-friendly generator, with all your controls on a large panel at the front of the machine. Even the recoil starter is on the control panel, adjacent to the choke and 3-postion starter switch – all very convenient for easy starting. The connection for a propane pipe is also at the front on the same panel. Outlets include 2 X 120V 20A receptacles and a 30A RV outlet. It also has a 12 VDC battery charging outlet with a USB adapter included. These features make the champion dual fuel inverter generator one of the best options for camping. The on/off switch for the battery is a handy inclusion. This means there’s no need to manually disconnect the onboard battery for storage, you simply flip the switch. It has the expected ports for a parallel connection kit, allowing you to use two Champion generators in tandem.
Weighing in at just under 96-pounds, this is not a particularly heavy generator for its rated output. Two large handles at the top, provide great grip for carrying the generator and a built-in wheel kit is standard. These are not the best wheels for rough terrain. They’re quite small and certainly not heavy-duty.
There’s a huge demand for dual fuel generators as people become more environmentally conscious, not to mention the other benefits that I mentioned in the review. The Champion 3,400 Watt dual Fuel generator has even greater appeal, in that it is the perfect size for an RV and includes an RV ready outlet. Affordable and practical, this is a fantastic generator for camping and home backup power. Backed by the Champion reputation for excellent service at their many service centers, and a fantastic 3-year warranty, this a great deal. Easily the best dual fuel inverter generator for 2020.
- 4,500W peak power, 3,700W running power
- RV TT-30 outlet
- Remote control
- 18-hours runtime (25% load); 3.4-gallon gas tank
- Digital multi-function display
The Westinghouse Electric Company is one of the oldest suppliers of electrical equipment the United States, responsible for some of the first industrial power generation plants in the early 1900s. Though it was only in 2011, that this prestigious brand ventured into the world of portable generators. As relative newbies in the market, Westinghouse portable generators are incredibly reasonable in their pricing. With a quality standard close to that of market leaders, like Honda and Yamaha, yet costing considerably less, Westinghouse, in my opinion, is the best value brand for portable generators. You can read more about the Westinghouse brand and their venture into the portable generator industry in this article: Westinghouse ǀ Best Value Portable Generators.
In addition to the incredible value for money that the Westinghouse iGen4500i represents, it also one of the best RV inverter generators. I say this because the power output is spot on for the needs of most RV owners. Producing 4,500W peak power and 3,700 rated power, this generator is capable of running any size RV air conditioner, alongside all your other electrical appliances. If your RV is fitted with a 30A electrical panel, the iGen4500 is perfectly matched: 30A continuous power, with a 37A surge capacity.
Westinghouse value for money goes beyond the incredibly reasonable purchase price, savings continue for as long as you use the generator, which is bound to be many years. Fuel economy is one of the biggest long term savings. The 3.4 gallon fuel tank is quite large for a generator of this size, offering amazing convenience, with incredibly long runtimes. You can expect up to 18-hours from a tank at 25% rated load (925W). This would be with the economy mode switched on. Or, as Westinghouse call it, Efficiency Mode. This exactly the same as the Eco, or Silent Mode you’ll find on other inverter generators. It reduces the engine RPM, adapting to the power demand. This means when you’re using 25% or less of the rated load, the engine uses less fuel and produces less noise. Taking noise levels down as low as 52dBA. This makes the Westinghouse iGen4500, one of the quietest inverter generators.
For those who are easily impressed by technical gadgets and gizmos, the iGen4500 is packed with amazing stuff. The digital display is beautiful to look at and really functional. Two quick glance digital gauges, allow you to view the output, expressed a percentage of the total rated load, and the fuel level. For more detailed information, a numeric display offers a comprehensive selection of accurate data. It will display, more accurately, your actual fuel tank level in liters, or the precise wattage that you’re using in real time. It will also show lifetime running hours, remaining runtime, and precise voltage. The iGen4500 also comes with a wireless remote control, a factory-paired remote fob is included with your purchase. This allows you to switch the generator on or off from of a distance of up to 109 yards.
The control panel is packed with every type of outlet imaginable. The usual duplex 20A (5-20R) outlets are a given, as well as a 30A RV outlet. Then it also has 2 X USB ports, and a very handy 12VDC battery charging port. All the circuit breakers are neatly grouped and easy to use. I like the plastic covers for all the outlets. This keeps dust and moisture out and provides an additional level of safety. There is no GFCI protection, which is pretty normal for domestic/camping generator. A large push-button for the electric starter makes for quick and effortless startup. It is also equipped with a recoil starter.
Weighing only 98-pounds, with a tough metal handle at the front, and wheels at the rear, the Westinghouse iGen4500 is also one of the best in terms of portability. Power to weight ration is outstanding. Though, like so many inverter generators in this class, the iGen4500 has rather small, flimsy wheels. They’re perfectly fine for a paved surface but forget about gravel. The compact enclosure has easy access to the battery, engine, and alternator via removable side panels. Draining the oil and disconnecting the battery is even easier, with covers that unclip without the need for any tools. This is a beautifully user-friendly generator.
The Westinghouse iGen4500 is, without a doubt, my personal top choice of the all inverter generators featured in this review. If you compare the specs to any of the high-end inverter generators from brands like Honda or Yamaha, the more affordable Westinghouse compares more than favorably. In some instances, the iGen4500 exceeds the top models. Although not the cheapest in its class, the quality and spec level you find in this generator makes it superb value for money. More importantly, you’ll be saving on fuel costs forever more. Over the six years or so that Westinghouse has been in the retail generator market, I’ve seen their dealership network grow to match any of the established generator brands. The 3-year residential and 1-year commercial warranty is also pretty impressive.
- 2200 watts, 18.3A, 120V
- Ideal for TV, DVD, satellite, fridge, coffee pot, and more
- Super quiet – like a conversation
- Lightweight – less than 47 lbs
- Fuel efficient – up to 8.1 hrs on 0.95 gal of gas
- Inverter – stable power for computers & sensitive equipment
Compact lightweight inverter generators, like the Honda EU2200i, are often the best-selling. This is because of their easy portability. You can carry a generator like this in one hand, pop it in the trunk and take it anywhere. They are the preferred choice for tailgating, camping, and food trucks as an economical, quiet practical power source.
Inverter technology is of most importance when using a smaller generator. This is because Harmonic Distortion (HD) is most prevalent when a generator reaches around 70% of its maximum rated output. Obviously, a smaller generator, with a lower wattage output, will be more likely to reach this percentage of its total capacity during normal use.
The Honda EU2200i is undoubtedly the best in this class of small generator. While power output is somewhat limited (2,200 peak watts; 1,800 running watts), it is a winner for practical portability. Weighing only 46-pounds, this is probably lightest generator you’ll ever find. A molded handle, at the top, allows you to carry the nifty little Honda like a suitcase. You also don’t need to transport as much fuel. The EU2200i is the most economical generator on the market. When making use of the full 2,200W rated power continuously, you’ll get 3.2 hours uninterrupted power. At an average 25% rated load, expect around 8.1-hours. If you’re using this generator to power your TV and a few lights during an outage, or on a camping trip, you could probably expect anything from 10 -12 hours before you need to fill the 0.95-gallon gas tank.
Along with being exceptionally fuel efficient, the Honda EU2200i is also the quietest. At the full rated load, it is quieter than any other, at 57dBA. Switch the economy mode on, and the generator won’t exceed 48dBA as long as the load remains below 25% of the rated load. That’s 450W, enough for most TVs, with satellite receiver, and a couple of CFL lights. No matter how hard you push the whispering Honda, it will never be louder than a normal speaking voice from a distance of 23-feet. Little wonder this generator is a big hit for campsites.
If you need more power, the Honda EU2200i Companion can accommodate a parallel connection kit. The kit will allow you to use two generators in tandem and includes a 30A RV adapter outlet. So you can connect the two generators directly to your home, using a transfer switch, or connect it to your 30A RV port.
The cool thing about having two generators of this size, instead of a single large model, is the versatility it offers. A lot of the time, you don’t need more than 1,800W. In these instances, it’s much easier to use just one EU2200i. It’s more portable, uses less fuel, and you wont hear it purring in the background. For those times, when you need more power, like a power outage at home, two EU2200i generators will provide 4,400W peak power and 3,600W running power. This is sufficient to supply your home comfortably, possibly running a refrigerator and air conditioner simultaneously. This will depend on the BTU rating for your AC and the size of your refrigerator.
Because the intended use for the Honda EU2200i is to run a few low-watt appliances, it is not crammed with multiple outlets. There are variations to this model, with different outlet setups. In its most basic form, the EU2200i only has a single 120V 20A outlet, into which you can plug a stanard extension cord. The EU2200i Companion has parallel connection ports and a 30A 120V outlet. A handy addition, especially for camping and fishing trips, is the inclusion of a 12VDC battery charging port. That’s the full extent of your user panel. There is no electric starter or gauges of any kind. Though using a recoil starter for an engine of this size is quite common, and Honda engines are designed for easy starting in all weather conditions.
The Honda GSXR120, 121cc is a real gem. It is quite a bit more powerful than the average 2,200W inverter generator, which is a good thing. A more powerful engine doesn’t need to work as hard. Using larger engines is one of the things that make Honda generators so durable. Not to mention that the GXR engine is an immaculate example of rugged and reliable engineering. Ironically, using this larger engine doesn’t make the Honda heavier, louder, or thirstier. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The EU2200i is the lightest, quietest, and most fuel efficient in its class.
The Honda EU2200i is a real winner. It comes as no surprise why this little bombshell is so popular, despite the above average price. Lightweight, quiet, fuel efficient, and, above all, perfectly reliable. What more could you ask for? To boot, you have the reassurance that you’re buying from the top dog in the portable power equipment business. That means reputable service from any number of dealerships nationwide, and a 3-year residential or commercial warranty.
Wen 56200i 2000W Inverter Generator
- 2,000 watts peak power; 1,600 watts running power
- Quiet, as low as 51dBA
- 6-hours runtime at 50% load, a-gallon gas tank
- Lightweight – 48-pounds
Following the mass appeal of the Honda EU2200i, many generator manufacturers have sought to produce similar, compact inverter generators. This has lead to numerous cheap “knockoffs”. Some, like the A-iPower SUA2000iV look deceptively similar to the 2.2KW Honda inverter generator. Though, when it comes down to it, no cheap inverter generator can compare to any similar model from the Honda stable.
Understandably, people are eager to find cheaper alternatives, Honda generators are expensive. Though it is not easy venturing into unchartered waters. Many of the cheap compact generators hail from completely unknown brands. You really can’t be sure if these generators are any good. More importantly, are you going to receive the customer service that you need as time goes by?
Buying a cheap inverter generator is more complicated than buying a more expensive machine from a respected brand. To this end, I wouldn’t recommend simply looking for the very cheapest option. This is where I hope to shed some light on the topic. I’ve researched what is available and have a good understanding of the brands. Spending just a little more, when shopping around in the bargain basement, can provide great peace of mind in the long term.
Over the years, I’ve reviewed countless WEN products. From chainsaws to portable generators, the WEN brand is usually the best option for affordable power equipment. Make no mistake, buying from a cheaper brand will never be the same as paying heavenly prices for the very best prestigious names. Though one thing’s for sure, WEN is a well-established manufacturer of power tools and gas-powered machinery. Since 1951, these guys have earned a good reputation providing homeowners and DIYers with affordable quality and aftersales service you can rely on. This is why I recommend the WEN56200i as the best cheap inverter generator.
The WEN 79.7cc engine is one the best used for cheaper power equipment. It’s modern, meeting all emission regulations, making this an EPA II and CARB compliant generator. It is reasonably fuel efficient and quiet. I’m saying this in relation to other cheap inverter generators. Comparing the WEN 56200i to any in a similar price range, it is the best in terms of fuel economy and noise levels. Providing you with 6-hours runtime, at 50% load, from the 1-gallon gas tank. Noise levels are really good – 51dBA at 25% load from 23-feet.
One thing you should be aware of, is the tendency for WEN engines to use quite a lot of oil during the first 50 – 100 hours of operation. This shouldn’t be cause for much alarm though, after a short running in period, the engine settles into a good running pattern and doesn’t require any extra maintenance. Generally, WEN engines stand the test of time and remain reliable.
One thing that deserves a mention, has to be the exceptional inverter used for this generator. It surprises me that one of the cheapest inverter generators has the lowest THD spec. Most inverter generators, including highly acclaimed Honda models, have THD specified at less than 3%. The WEN56200i is quite unique in having a THD level that never exceeds 1.2%. This is close to the type power used for critical medical and laboratory equipment.
Portability is also great. The WEN 2KW inverter generator weighs only 1-pound more than the super-lightweight Honda equivalent. At 48-pounds, this is one of the lightest portable generators and it’s designed for easy carrying.
The general quality of this generator is a step up from most cheap models. Quality materials and good engineering are evident throughout. It has a great user panel, comparable to any in this class. This means 2 X 120V 20A household receptacles, a 12VDC battery charging port, and a 5V USB port. It has the usual parallel connection ports, and an economy switch to reduce engine RPM at lower loads. Improving fuel consumption and noise levels. Like all small generators, there’s no electrical starter.
If you’re going to buy a cheap inverter generator, beware of settling for cheap junk, simply because the price is the lowest. The WEN 56200i is close to the very cheapest. Though, in this price range, I believe it displays the best quality and performance. For general household and camping use, the WEN inverter generator should be a dependable power supply. The 2-year warranty is another indication that this machine is a cut above other cheap generators which usually have a 1-year warranty.