For years I used an old generator that drank quarts of oil and was as loud as a garage band. One day it simply disappeared. Oh well.
I have a pole shed in the woods I am building and I needed portable electricity for power tools. I also live out in the country and every so often storms knock out power. It's awfully nice to have the security of knowing all is not lost when the power goes out.
So I researched every generator I could find and the Wen got lots of positive and intelligent reviews at Amazon. Other generators near its price got mixed reviews, some good and some bad . Honda generators made me salivate, but the prices were 4 times higher. So I took the plunge and bought a WEN 3500 Gas Powered Portable Generator with Wheel Kit. You can go and read the reviews for yourself!
I am personally very happy I bought it. But this is the real deal. It has wheels so you can move it around easily, but it is a big generator with real power. And it's a lot quieter than my last generator.
Plus it starts in my Minnesota winter! See my YouTube video on that here.
When I started looking for a generator I had to balance several desires. It had to be big enough to power my fridge, furnace and small appliances in case of a power outage. But I also wanted to be able to haul the generator around for electric tools (and to run a compressor) so it couldn't be too big. Plus I don't have endless money, but I do want it to be reliable.
I decided I needed at least 3000 watts. (see "How big is big enough", below).
I'd love a Honda, but the Honda EU3000iS (rated at 3000 watts) is $2300! The little Honda Eu2000ia Companion Portable Generator (rated at 1800 watts) is $1000. Even the Yamaha EF2000iS 1,600 Watt is $860. Sigh.
So I looked at other brands (many, many hours): Duromax, Champion, All American, Wen…all the brands in the $300-$450 range. They all had 7 hp engines and although some claimed higher watts, after reading the specs and the reviews, I could see some were exaggerating.
So I read reviews until I was able to form an overall sense of each one. No generator had perfect reviews, but Wen's were more positive and most important to me, when there had been a problem, Wen responded quickly and sent out new parts or whatever was needed. Just support your product and I'll be satisfied.
Once I had pretty much settled on the Wen 3500, I thought I should look at the whole line of Wen generators, so I wouldn't regret my choice later on. The 3500 is 112 pounds, the 5500 is 190 pounds, the 7700 is 200 pounds and the 9000 is 210 pounds. All generators are heavy because they have a lot of copper wire in them. The Wen generators all have wheels so they roll nicely, but I need to haul it back and forth to a pole shed in the woods so lighter is better for me.
Also, the price jumps from $340 to $600 or $700 or $800. Of course more money = more power.
I chose lower weight and price…knowing it will be good enough for what I need.
If you don't have to lift it frequently, and you've got the dough, go for the larger ones. Nobody ever regrets having more than enough power, except that a larger generator uses more gas.
With $3/gallon gas, running under half-load:
the 3500 costs $1.08/hour (11 hours, 4 gallon tank, 7 hp)
the 5500 and the 7000 cost $1.77/hour (11 hours, 6.5 gallon tanks, both are 13 hp)
the 9000 costs $2.16/hour (9 hours, 6.5 gallon tank, 15 hp)
the 13000 costs $3.00/hour (7.5 hours, 8 gallon tank, 20 HP)
NOTE: I use ethanol-free gas because ethanol can tend to clog up carburetors. It costs a bit more to run, but it's a lot cheaper than carb repairs every Spring.
So if you have the need, here's where to get the bigger generators:
5500 peak watts:
the WEN 56551 5500-Watt 389cc 13-HP OHV Gas-Powered Portable Generator with Wheel Kit ($500)
7000 peak watts:
WEN 56682 7000-Watt 390cc 13-HP OHV Gas-Powered Portable Generator with Electric Start and Wheel Kit ($800)
9000 peak watts (the big daddy):
WEN 56877 9000-Watt 420cc 15-HP OHV Gas-Powered Portable Generator with Electric Start and Wheel Kit ($850).
13,000 peak watts (the largest, most powerful monster)
WEN 5613K 11,000 Running Watts/13,000 Starting Watts, Gas-Powered Portable Generator with Electric Start and Wheel Kit ($1,800)
Simply put, you want enough power for everything you want to plug in.
How much electric power each appliance uses is measured in watts. Like a 100 watt light bulb uses more power than a 40 watt bulb.
So all I had to do was list ALL the appliances I might plug in and use AT THE SAME TIME.
Appliances use more power starting up than when they are running, so I calculated the starting wattage so if everything went on at once, I would be OK.
The STARTUP wattage is the PEAK power I MIGHT need IF everything started AT ONCE.
And that is a generic computer's wattage, I looked mine up and it uses under 300 watts, not 800. So my startup wattage is from about 2400 to 3300 watts.
So then I looked at the running wattage:
So a 3000 watt generator that can produce 3500 watts at peak will do me just fine. In fact, it will probably run at half power most of the time if we have a power outage.
If you want to install a transfer switch and power your whole house in an outage, get one of the larger generators (the links are just before this section). Especially if you want to run a well pump in addition to other appliances.
Consumer Reports has an easy wattage calculator: just click the items on a list, and it calculates your total. Then please come back and click here to pick out the size generator you want to get. You can see I put a lot of work into making this page so I truly appreciate you using my links.
Amazon has a Generator Buying Guide you might find useful.
I looked at a lot of generators and this Wen generator got the best and most intelligent reviews by owners. Then I compared prices from vendors. Finally I bought my Wen 3500 generator from Amazon.
Click on this link to the WEN generator page at Amazon and you'll get the same great deal I found.
All these Wen generators include free shipping, but if you are an Amazon Prime member you can get NEXT DAY shipping for around $4. Wow.
I am personally very happy I bought it. But this is the real deal. It has wheels so you can move it around easily, but it is a big generator with real power. If you just want to power a radio at the beach or run only one appliance such as a refrigerator, get a smaller one like the Wen 1800. It’s about 50 pounds so it isn’t hard to move and it’s only around $170. And it will run over 7 hours on a gallon of gas!
Here is a great explanation of how much power you'll have from the Wen 3500 (from an Amazon review):
"…I put in an inquiry at Wen's website and got a call the next day from someone who was very helpful. So here is the deal: When the 120/240 switch is set at 120, the full 25 amps is available at either of the 120 receptacles. When the switch is set at 240, 120 volts is available at the twistlock and so is 240 volts. But, since the two outputs of the generator are now in series, you can only pull reduced amperage of about 13 amps from either the 120 or 240 volts, but not both. This is a very good design and so far the generator has never failed to start on the first pull. I am very pleased with it. I have an associate degree in electronics and have a good deal of experience in this area."
15° below zero and my Wen starts right up!
Setup, Startup and Review
The Generators come with a wheel and handle kit
Full disclosure: I have personally bought and used almost everything I mention on my web site. I search for good deals on good products for myself and tell you where to find them. If you buy from Amazon I do get a small commission, but you get the same price you would anyway. Most of the other stores I mention pay me nothing, but if they are convenient or have a good deal, I tell you.
Thanks for your support. I'm not getting rich doing this. When folks use the product links I can see they care. It is a fair amount of work keeping the site up. And of course you can email me anytime.