Homeowners shopping for a portable, gas-powered generator don’t necessarily want to power everything in the house, or even most of it. If your essentials top off considerably below 3,000 watts and you’re will to pay more for a solid design and smart features, Honda Power Equipment wants you to consider the Honda EG2800i, one of two new portables the company showed off at GIE+Expo last week.
The EG2800i and its contractor-market sibling, the EB2800i, are both inverter models, which have a number of advantages over the typical generator. Instead of running at a constant speed, inverters have extra smarts to tailor engine speed to the load, what you’re powering. This saves fuel, important if your local gas stations are also out of power or roads are impassable. The improved energy efficiency helps the product last longer.
Inverter generators are also typically the quietest you’ll find—why they’re preferred for camping. (This model is rated for 61-69 dBa at about 23 feet.) And the power they provide is especially clean, meaning that sensitive products such as electronics won’t run hotter when powered by the generator. These benefits, however, come at a cost: Both generators cost roughly $1,150.
Specs of the EG2800i
Honda says the new generators, at 67 pounds, are the lightest open-frame generators in their class, and that relatively light weight matters should you need to transport the machine without help. For connections, you get two protected 20-amp outlets plus one 120-volt, 30-amp twist-plug receptacle for a transfer switch. Most transfer switches allow a single connection to your home, which also lets you power hard-wired appliances, but they’re typically 240-volt. While this shouldn’t rattle any electrician you hire to install a transfer switch, know that you’ll need another generator to power a 240-volt appliance.
Unlike most generators, including some other Honda inverter models, the EG2800i has no publicized surge wattage to account for the extra watts that some items, such as ACs and fridges, need when they first cycle on. So when figuring what you’ll power with this generator, total up appliance wattages by what they would need at most. If you exceed the rated wattage, the automatic-overload feature will shut the machine down.
There are several other features. One is the numbered, step-by-step startup sequence displayed on the console (see right), for starting the Honda GC190 engine. This leads you from turning off the fuel shutoff through setting the choke, turning on the switch, pulling the cord and opening the choke back up. The fuel tank holds 2.1 gallons, enough for about five hours of run time at maximum load.
Besides the fuel shutoff, a helpful feature that protects the engine and fuel lines from gas left for long periods, you get a low-oil indicator light. An output indicator will glow green when your power draw is beneath the maximum the generator can deliver. Otherwise, an overload alarm flashes and the generator shuts down.
Another plus: The Eco Throttle switch, when left on, lets the inverter adjust engine speed as needed in the usual way. But whenever you’re running the generator consistently close to the generator’s maximum output, the EG2800i can work less hard if you turn the Eco Throttle off.
Lastly, you might like to know that both the new generators are made in America. As with Honda’s mowers, engines, snowblowers and certain other products, the company manufactures them in Swepsonville, North Carolina.