The best Honda generator
Honda generators are built to an exceptionally high standard and are well-known for their competitive performance and outstanding reliability.
Within their range of generators, you'll find options that suit any need -- from campers focusing on lightweight portability to high-demand industrial users. Honda offers standard and inverter generators, and their models vary widely in their wattage and decibel rating.
To help you pick the right model for your particular needs, we've put together the following short but detailed guide. We've also made a few recommendations to get you started. Our favorite, the Honda EU3000iS Portable Inverter, delivers plenty of consistent, safe, reliable power, yet it is so quiet, you'll hardly notice it's running.
Considerations when choosing Honda generators
Types of Honda generators
Honda make two kinds of generators: standard and inverter.
Standard (or traditional) models have been around for decades and are a lot cheaper. The drawbacks are their comparative size, weight, and noise. In addition, standard generators may produce power spikes and lulls, which can be a nuisance if you are powering lighting. These generators produce AC output.
Inverter generators are lighter and quieter, offer much greater fuel efficiency, and produce lower emissions. They're ideal for camping and other outdoor activities.
One big advantage with Honda's inverter generators is that they produce very balanced power delivery. If you look at the waveform of output from a standard generator, it's all horizontal and vertical lines -- like squares -- so power delivery surges and drops. This can give problems with sensitive electronics like laptops and music systems. Inverters have a smooth waveform, which mimics your household supply and is perfectly safe for more delicate appliances. Inverter generators produce DC output.
Honda generators range from 1,000-watt to 10,000-watt output. Every electrical device should have its wattage marked on it somewhere, so some simple math can tell you how much you need.
However, if you simply add up the wattage requirement of all of your appliances, you often end up with a larger figure than is practical or really necessary.
There are two things to consider. First, you don't need to run everything at once. Second, appliances have a start-up requirement (an initial power surge), followed by a lower demand while the device is actually running. By switching things on one at a time, as you need them, you'll dramatically reduce your overall total wattage.
Many elements define how long a Honda generator will run for. Most manufacturers give maximum figures, but Honda gives minimums, too -- which gives a much better overall picture. Their fuel gauges also tend to be more accurate than those of many competitors.
Consider the size and weight of a Honda generator before you buy, especially if you plan to take it camping or to a job site. The lightest Honda generators weigh in at 29 pounds.
Most people go camping or RVing for the peace and quiet. The last thing you want is some rattly generator disturbing you.
Honda's inverter generators are among the quietest available. Most are rated under 60 decibels (dBA), which is about the same as normal conversation.
Honda generators have numerous safety features and failsafes, so you can't overload them. They'll also shut off if the oil level is low.
Starting can be done either with a push button, corded recoil (like a lawn mower), or both. Even Honda's pull-cord models are considered easy to start up.
Some Honda inverter generators can be run in parallel for extra output (often called "daisy chaining"). The result is the sum of each device, with no appreciable loss. So if you pair two 3,000-watt models, you end up with 6,000 watts. A special cable is required, but that's all.
Entry-level Honda generators are often portable 1,000-watt inverter models that run fairly quietly and cost around $850. Efficient 2,000- to 3,000-watt inverter models cost from just over $1,000 to around $2,500. Their more powerful 4,000- and 5,000-watt standard models also fall within this range. Honda's most expensive generators cost around $5,000 and may offer 10,000 watts for industrial jobs.
Q. Does a Honda generator need much maintenance?
A. The air filter should be cleaned every three months, the generator needs an oil change and spark arrestor clean every six months, and the spark plug should be replaced annually. A regular schedule is published in your operator's manual.
Q. Can I connect my Honda generator to my household system?
A. Not directly. There's a high risk of shock and equipment damage, and in most areas it's illegal. This can be done, but you need a device called a transfer switch. Professional installation is strongly recommended.
Honda generators we recommend
Best of the best: Honda EU3000iS Portable Inverter
Our take: Efficient power delivery for a wide variety of equipment -- even small air conditioner units.
What we like: Super quiet for the performance -- just 57 dBA. Runs for up to 20 hours. Electric starting plus recoil backup. Low emissions. Can be "daisy chained" for extra output with an additional cable.
What we dislike: At 131 pounds, it's a bit heavy and doesn't have wheels. No USB outlets.
Best bang for your buck: Honda EG2800IA Inverter Gas Generator
Our take: Powerful but still portable. Great price.
What we like: Easy startup. Impressive output, though it only weighs 67 pounds. Quiet (67 dBA), CARB-compliant, and runs for up to 12 hours. Accurate fuel gauge. Transfer-switch ready.
What we dislike: Not much. A few models had higher than normal oil consumption.
Choice 3: Honda EU1000i Inverter Generator
Our take: Honda's smallest inverter is ideal for camping and other modest power requirements.
What we like: Weighs just 29 pounds, so it's highly portable. At 59 dBA maximum it's also remarkably quiet. Up to eight hours of run time. Low oil pressure safety shut-off.
What we dislike: Some owners report engine faults -- an uncommon issue for Honda generators.
Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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