Pros: Quiet, reliable, fuel thrifty, easy to start, light in weight.
For small portable generators there is really only one name in generators: Honda. I have been using Honda generators for about 17 years and have always had excellent performance out of these units. The company I work for uses about 15 Hondas of various models and when one of the models failed (just worn out) I began the search for a suitable replacement.
We needed a small portable generator that could be carried by one person, quiet, easy to start, would run at least 3 hours on one tank, reliable, and had clean 120 volts AC. I found it and it is called the Honda EU1000i.
Before writing a review I wanted to see just how rugged these things are. Well, after two and a half years I can safely write about them. Ok, for starters lets say they have two problems. The first is they are pricey. We paid about 800.00 for them. The second is they tend to grow feet. They are so small and lightweight we have had a couple disappear.
With that being said these are wonderful machines! They will start with the first or second pull and in our application it runs about 6 hours on eco-throttle mode. This mode throttles the engine down when the load is small. As the load increases the engine speeds up to keep with the load. Full capacity is 1000 watts although we never put more than 80% on any generator. There is a slick feature with the EU1000i and we have used it several times. You buy a special cable from Honda and you can connect two EU1000is together increasing the power to 2000 watts. A special note on the eco-throttle and that is if you have a load that varies quickly, the generator tends to freak out and start surging. If this happens turn the eco-throttle off.
These generators are just that: real generators. The engine spins a DC generator that runs an AC inverter. This is how the engineers at Honda managed to get such clean power out of the units and have long run times. Output frequency (in the US case 60 Hz) is produced on non-inverter models by carefully regulating the engine speed in some multiple of 60. i.e. 1200 RPM, 1800RPM or the most common among small engines 3600 RPM. The inverter concept is not dependent upon the engine RPM because an inverter is a purely electronic device. The only reason to speed up the engine is to produce more power for the inverter until the engine is running at maximum speed. The inverter always produces 60 Hz. Output voltage is also very well regulated and we found it did not vary more than a volt or two on the entire range or the generator.
We took a oscilloscope and looked at the waveform from the unit and found it to be clean and with no AC waveform distortion or spikes. What does this mean to you? You can safely run sensitive equipment on it without fear of blowing it up. Sensitive equipment could be computers, test equipment, CD players, and in short, just about any sort of electronic equipment. Many generators are not capable of doing this and some produces so much noise they are almost useless for powering electronic equipment. But, if all you are running is a circular saw (or any motor driven tool), who cares?
Back to the Honda
The unit weighs 32 pounds when fully fueled and oiled. Fuel capacity is .6 gallons. Output power is 1000 watts or 2000 watts with two EU1000is connected together via a special cable from Honda. They also feature an automatic shutdown if the oil level gets too low, and 12 volt DC output for charging a battery. You can use both AC and DC simultaneously if need be. It also comes with a USDA approved exhaust so you could use in areas required to have a spark arrestor. And lastly it has a two year warranty!
We use these Hondas a lot. We have one unit that is nearing 2000 hours and is going strong. We run them about 10 to 20 hours a week at promotional events. It is very undesirable to have a generator that makes a lot of noise. The sound level spec from Honda is something like 59dB at 20 feet. What in the blazes does THAT mean???!!! It means you can carry on a very comfortable conversation, without yelling, on a cell phone while standing next to the running generator.
About the only thing we have done to our Hondas is the usual maintenance, oil changes and changing the air filter. We use a heavy duty motor oil such as Chevron Delo 400 in 30 weight, or Shell Rotella T in 30 weight. California has weird gasoline and it spoils very quickly even with additives to extend the life. Gums and vanishes quickly gather if the fuel sits in them for longer than a few weeks. We found that 92 octane has less of the additives in it and it lasts a little longer. But the generators run just fine with 87 octane gas. As side note: They took one of these to Mexico and ran it with the unleaded regular gas whatever that is. It ran fine on that too.
Would I buy more of these? Yes!