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Champion Industries Champion International Generator (896682400128)
(1 Epinions review)
Peace of Mind At a Low PRice
Nov 14, 2008 (Updated Nov 26, 2008)
Review by knoydart
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Cheap, powerful, reliable, conveneint & easy to use.
Cons:A bit noisy, too noisy for the RV park. Fuel gague failed soon after purchase.
The Bottom Line: Its hard to find fault with it at this price. Others look way over priced in comparison.
Normally I'd research a purchase like this quite a bit but I got this generator in a hurry, a large ice storm meant our power was out for a long time & I didn’t have a lot of choices. Basically this was the last shop I tried calling & this was the last generator they had. I've not been disapointed though.
Recommend this product?
There's several varieties of this generator, ones with 120v RV outlets, ones with 240v outlets & ones with both. There's even a propane powered version although the power output is lower than the gasoline version. All have regular 120v sockets as well.
Moving the generator into position is easy as long as you have the tires pumped up. If you don’t it’s almost easier to carry it. The handle is comfortable & it is easy to guide into place although it doesn’t cope with rough ground very well, either it scrapes the front stand if you don’t lift it up enough or it drags the rear frame if you lift it up too high. This is something quite common with small generators.
Supplied accessories are quite standard, a spark plug tool, a 2 way wrench for work on the engine, a 12v battery charging lead, wheels, handle, exhaust spark arrester, engine oil & comprehensive instructions.
At 3.5Kw this example is a bit large for my needs but it does allow room for leeway in the future. As it was a demo model I didn’t have to assemble it, although after reading the instructions that doesn’t seem to be too hard. Adding oil was tricky, the sump plug is in a tight spot so I used a small funnel to avoid a messy spill. Gassing up the 4 Gallon tank was not problem & the built in fuel filler gauge soon showed “Full”. Starting was an easy process, close the choke lever, open the fuel tap, turn the ignition on & yank the starter. I find that the choke can be fully closed within a minute.
You soon notice the noise, this is NOT going to be a generator for the RV park unless you have a noise reducing cover! It isn’t really excessive but compared to similar generators it is noticeable & in a quiet RV park it will make its presence heard. However at 3.5Kw it is so big it isn't likely that you will want to take this with you to an RV park to begin with. Champion also sells a 1.2KW version that is much smaller & quieter version would be better suited to the task of powering a parked RV.
The control panel has a useful set of connectors, 1 x 12Vdc, 4 x 120Vac & 1 x 240Vac. Unlike costlier generators there are no weather proof covers for the outlets, but this isn’t a problem for most. The 30 amp connector is the one I use as I have it powering my house via a Transfer Panel. A couple of overload reset buttons & a voltmeter completes the round up & I do have to say I find the voltmeter totally useless. I’d much prefer to see an Elapsed Engine Time clock put in to make it easier to keep a track of use & on top of the maintenance schedule.
Running time is 12 hours at half load on the 4 gallon tank. Most of the time I’m getting 18 hours for a tank full out of it as my house load is so low since I carried out extensive energy savings. What is nice is that my Heating Furnace has a large bower motor & this takes a huge demand when it starts up, but the 4.5Kw surge capacity of the generator handily copes with it.
Reliability has been perfect, in fact I left it unused for a year & when I tested it yesterday it started on the first pull. That is pretty amazing, although I do have to add I put Fuel Stabilizer in the gas tank, something I would definitely recommend.
There’s been some niggles. I think the most disturbing one is to do with the supplied spark plug which is only rated to run for an hour. I assume this is at max capacity so it will probably be OK at lower loads for longer periods as the gas temperature in the engine cylinder will be lower. However the last thing you need in a crisis is your generator failing. Lets be honest, if you're on generator power becuase of 6ft of snow outside you'll hardly be likely to pop out to the local auto shop to get a spare spark plug if the supplied one burns up. I’d encourage any buyer to shell out the $3.50 needed for the recommended “Continuous Use” Spark Plug shown in the manual & start using that instead before you need backup power in an emergency. (see it DOES pay the read the instructions!)
There’s also a problem with the gas tank’s fuel gauge which soon failed & now shows “Empty” all the time. This isn’t a serious flaw & may just be a fluke but what it does mean is that a user may be tempted to open the fuel cap while the generator is running to see how much is left. While you will probably get away with this there is always the risk there could be a fire & you want to avoid that at all costs.
You don’t get any power cords, while this keeps the price of the generator down it adds to the total expense if you need one of the 240V/30 amp variety to power your home. Luckily there is always eBay & if you keep looking you’ll find one sooner or later that won’t empty your wallet. I got mine delivered for $45 & it is very well made.
I only paid $250 for my generator, recently I've seen them on sale at $299. I’ve seen some people claim to have bought some from Schucks with a $100 mail in rebate & so ended up getting the same generator for as little as $150 so it pays to shop around. Even for $250 it’s still a great bargain. Yes it is a bit noisier but not much & it is SO MUCH CHEAPER! The matter of the spark plug is annoying & I bet if Champion had actually supplied the “Continuous Use” plugs it wouldn’t have been any more expensive so the choice confuses me.
In conclusion the only matter I would raise is to invest in a good chain & padlock. I’ve heard stories about portable generators being a little TOO “portable” when the power goes out & given the low weight & size this is all too easy to do. When in use I chain mine to a large tree so no one can steal it.
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