Best Honda Generators

Updated October 2020
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Buying guide for best honda generators

Whether you’re buying a generator to use as emergency backup, as a supplement to leisure activities, or for professional applications, it needs to be reliable. The last thing you want is for your generator to fail when you need it most.

Honda’s experience with gas motors is unrivaled. They power everything from garden tools to race cars. Combine that with their technical excellence and reputation for bullet-proof build quality, and you get some of the very best portable generators on the market.

The range of Honda generators runs from lightweight models you need for camping to heavyweight models found at job sites. Two of the biggest considerations when choosing a generator are type and power output. As for type, would you be better off with a traditional or inverter generator? As for power output, the number of watts you purchase affects your out-the-door price as well as your satisfaction when the need for a generator arises.

In the following guide, we take an in-depth look at the performance and features Honda offers in its generators so you can find the right one.

Honda portable inverter generators are the perfect job site devices. They are capable of supplying your power tools and can also be used to recharge cordless batteries.

Considerations

Generator type

  • Traditional generators create AC directly from the motor’s output shaft. They are simpler and cheaper to make, but any change in the gas motor’s rpm directly affects current. That’s not enough to stop most things from working, but you might notice side effects, like a momentary dimming or brightening of a light bulb. If you’re running a power tool, that’s not a problem. However, that kind of power spike can be damaging to TVs, computers, and similar items.

  • Inverter generators create DC output. This drives an inverter that converts it to AC. The process takes motor fluctuation out of the equation and provides a smooth, balanced current. Inverter generators are more expensive, but you don’t have to worry about them damaging your digital devices. They are also smaller and lighter.
     

As a result of these facts, inverter generators are generally recommended for camping, RVing, and other leisure uses. Traditional generators are more focused on professional use.

Power output

One of the most common questions when choosing a generator is “how much power do I need?” A basic approach is to look at all the devices you need electricity for, add up the watts of each, and arrive at a total.

However, that probably results in a higher number (and more expense) than you really need. You probably don’t have to turn on everything at once. For best economy, do a few calculations with two or three items together.

It’s difficult to generalize, but for camping, you might need 1,000 watts or less. As home backup and for light job site use, you might be able to get away with 3,000 watts.

Minimizing your needs will reduce your expense, but sometimes you do need high output. The easiest approach is to buy a big generator. Honda offers plenty of choice in this arena. Some of Honda’s commercial models have a boost mode. For example, a generator rated for 5,000 watts may be able to deliver up to 7,000 watts in 10-second bursts. This helps you start power-hungry equipment.

A flexible alternative is to buy two modestly sized inverters. For example, you could buy two 2,000-watt generators that run at the same time. You’d need a special harness to wire them together (not expensive), but then you would have the option of running one when you have light needs and both for greater demand. Not all generators can be used this way, so if you want this ability, check before ordering.

Bear in mind that the output quoted is usually a maximum at startup. Normal operational wattage will be somewhat less. Expect about a 10% drop after the machine has started.

Other features

Run time

A generator’s run time will have an impact on your buying decision. Honda’s four-stroke engines are all very efficient, but inverter generators usually run longer than comparable traditional models. Actual run time depends on power demands, which can be difficult to assess, though Honda provides minimum and maximum figures that give reasonably accurate guidance.

Several Honda models also have an “Eco-throttle” option for increased economy, though it’s not for full-time use.

Noise output

Honda has gone to great lengths to make generators that are among the quietest available. Many won’t be heard above normal conversation. Larger models, particularly commercial variants, are louder, but the company publishes specific decibel (dB) outputs, so if decibel output is a potential issue, you can check the specs before buying.

Portability

Portability varies, but the design of every Honda portable generator makes it as easy as possible to move the object around. For example, Honda’s smallest inverters have a convenient handle molded into the chassis (and weigh as little as 29 pounds). Some Honda generators have protective roll cages that do double duty. Larger ones have wheels with folding handles that stay out of the way when not needed.

Startup

You’ll want to know how a particular Honda generator starts before you buy it. Some smaller models have pull cords, but most have push-button electric ignition (battery provided). Conveniently, many push-button generators have a pull-cord backup in case of problems. A safety cut-out will operate if low oil pressure is detected, thus protecting the motor from damage.

Honda generator prices

Inexpensive

Honda build quality and reliability is never going to be cheap, but with lightweight 1,000-watt portable inverter generators starting around $800, they are still very competitive.

Mid-range

For recreational use and home backup, most people want something in the 2,000- to 3,000-watt range. Honda inverter generators in this category run from around $1,000 to a little under $3,000. You get more power for your money if you choose a traditional (non-inverter) model. In that same price range, you can get an output of 4,000 to 6,500 watts.

Expensive

At the upper end of the scale, you’ll find Honda inverter generators up to 7,000 watts and traditional models up to 10,000 watts. These tend to cost from $5,000 to $5,500.

Tips

Honda builds a lot of safety features into its generators to protect you and the device from harm. Nevertheless, anything that generates electricity is potentially dangerous. It’s up to you to take suitable precautions.

  • Read the user manual carefully. Pay particular attention to how to turn the generator OFF quickly in the event of an emergency.

  • Make sure you understand what you can connect and how to do it. If you’re not sure, don’t do it. Get expert advice.

  • Do not refuel while the generator is hot. Petrol vapor is almost impossible to see, but it can cling to clothes and skin, causing severe burns.

  • Be careful around the motor and exhaust. They get hot when running. Make sure the generator has cooled down before you put it away.

  • It’s illegal — and extremely dangerous — to backfeed power from your generator directly into your home’s wiring system. You and anyone in the neighborhood on the same power lines is at risk. If you want direct feed, you need a transfer switch fitted by a qualified electrician.
Honda generators are very quiet, but local ordinances may still restrict generator usage, especially at night. Check local laws before ordering.

FAQ

Q. Can I run my laptop from a Honda generator?

A. Yes, but in certain circumstances, like when running low on fuel, a traditional generator can surge, producing a spike in power. For sensitive electronics like laptops, therefore, Honda recommends an inverter generator instead. An inverter generator has built-in voltage regulation to prevent this kind of incident.

Q. Is it dangerous for my Honda generator to run out of gas?

A. As with your car, it’s not great for the motor because it can drag up dirt deposits from the bottom of the fuel tank. However, unlike cheap generators that are prone to coil damage, there should be no lasting harm to your Honda if it runs out of gas.

Q. What is a gen-cord?

A. It’s an extension cable specifically designed for outdoor use that runs from your generator to inside your house, RV, etc. They are usually 30A, so they can handle the supply safely, and they may have two or more outlets on the delivery end.

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