Buying a generator is a very stressful endeavor. It takes a lot of patience to understand the different specs, characteristics, and features of each model, as they all tend to be very technical information.
It gets even trickier after you have picked the ones you’re interested in. It’s very difficult to compare them because each model has a strength over the other.
It’s the same old problem that portable generator owners had before and is the same old problem we have now comparing the WEN 56200i and Predator 62523.
It’s a very interesting comparison between two similarly impressive products with almost identical specs in the same price range, and this comparison should help people having a tough time buying their first generator.
What to Consider
Since you’re looking for a portable generator, take a careful look at the size, weight, and features for ergonomics and portability as this will dictate if the generator you’re considering is as portable as you need it to be.
However, keep in mind that with more portability, generators tend to be weaker in terms of wattage and fuel tank size.
When it comes to wattage, you only need to look at two figures, rated wattage and peak wattage.
These are two very simple figures. First, rated wattage is the number of watts that your generator can supply without causing excessive wear to your generator. On the other hand, peak wattage is the maximum number of watts that it can supply. However, reaching the max also increases the risk of wear and overloading.
Here’s a tip, when buying generators, go for a generator with more rated wattage than you need. This will give you extra room when using it, especially during emergencies.
While portable generators power your appliances and devices, it doesn’t mean that you should be comfortable just plugging in all of your devices.
Keep in mind that some generators can damage sensitive electronics such as computers, mobile phones, and lab equipment. If you’re going to power these kinds of devices and appliances with your generator, go for inverter generators because they produce clean and stable electricity that saves your devices from voltage fluctuations.
If your generator choices aren’t inverter ones, then at least go for a generator with an automatic voltage regulator and a total harmonic distortion(THD) rating of less than 6%. This will lessen the risk of your generator frying your valuable electronics.
The WEN 56200i is a line of portable generators produced by WEN, a power tools manufacturer found in 1951 and based in Elgin, Illinois. In 2001, 50 years after being established, the company had already sold 50 million consumer units.
The 56200i inverter portable generator runs on an EPA III and CARB Compliant 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine with 1600 rated wattage, 2000 peak wattage, 1.2% THD, and various other features. It can power devices with two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle, and one 5V USB port.
Compact, lightweight, and silent
The main strength of portable generators is that they’re portable, right? Well, not all of them. With many portable generators weighing over 80 lbs, it’s not that surprising that many people find these portable generators not portable at all.
That’s not the case with the WEN 56200i, which weighs only 50 lbs, as it can easily be carried by one person without too much trouble. It’s also easy to move around with just one hand as it comes with a handle.
Next, when it comes to size, the 56200i also impresses with measurements of 18″ x 11″ x 18″. With it very small and compact in its design, you won’t have a problem using this generator in different places and circumstances.
Speaking of using the generator in different places, you won’t have to worry about causing a disturbance. The 56200i is only as loud as or even quieter than a normal human conversation at 51 decibels at quarter load.
Due to this, you can bring this generator anywhere without worrying about getting tired of carrying it, where to place it, and if it will disturb people.
It has enough power
This model comes with 1600 rated watts and 2000 peak watts. In comparison, most household refrigerators need 200 watts to run, which means that it can run up to 8 fridges simultaneously at rated wattage.
Its power isn’t that much, but it’s enough if you’re gonna use it for low-demand devices such as refrigerators and stoves, among others. This model should be good enough for the occasional camping trip and minor power outages.
However, don’t expect this generator to be up to the demands of more intensive environments such as typhoons and construction sites or for businesses such as food stands.
Inverter technology working wonders
Unlike traditional generators that are always on full power regardless of the actual electricity demand, WEN 56200i’s engine has inverter technology, allowing its engine to change speed depending on the power load.
This technology improves fuel efficiency as the engine dials down on performance as the power load goes down, thus, reducing fuel demand. According to WEN, it can run up to 6 hours on half load.
Furthermore, inverter technology is known for helping generators produce more stable and cleaner electricity. With fewer power fluctuations and an increase in power stability, inverter technology helps this generator be more electronics-friendly, as it reduces the risk of the generator frying sensitive electronics.
If that’s not enough for your electronics, it has a THD rating that ranges from under 0.3% at no load and 1.2% at full load, which practically guarantees safety for your phones and televisions, among others.
The WEN 56200i already has good fuel efficiency, thanks to inverter technology. As if it’s not enough, the manufacturer also equipped this generator with the eco-mode throttle feature.
To maximize the generator’s 1-gallon fuel tank, the said feature adjusts the engine’s throttle speed as devices are plugged in and out of the panel.
It’s a helpful feature that can save you money as you use it over time. However, it will prove its true worth in situations where you can’t get more gasoline, as it can extract every bit of performance in every drop of fuel.
If you need more power than the 56200i can provide, you can also use it with another 56200i with a separately sold parallel connection kit.
With this ability, you can get up to 3200 rated watts of clean electricity. You’d have to get another 56200i, though.
Low oil and low fuel shutdown
The WEN 56200i comes with a low oil and low fuel shutdown feature that shuts the generator down should oil and fuel levels go down to insufficient levels.
The low oil shutdown feature is a big help as it reduces the risk of engine damage due to insufficient oil while the low fuel shutdown is good because you don’t have to check at the fuel levels now and then, making it easier to use.
Predator 62523 inverter portable generators are manufactured by Harbor Freight Tools, a California-based discount tool and equipment retailer.
Powered by a 79.7cc air-cooled OHV gas engine with 3 receptacles, this model is known for being more fuel-efficient and lightweight compared to traditional generators.
It can power your basic needs
The Predator 62523 has 1600 rated watts and 2000 peak watts. Its wattage isn’t high by any means, but it will be enough for your basic electricity needs.
If you plan on using it as a backup power source for the occasional power outage or camping trip, you’re good with this generator.
However, if you’re planning to use it regularly in intense environments such as construction projects and long-term traveling, then you’ll have trouble. It’s not that you can’t use it that way, but you’ll have limited options with what you can power with it since it has limited wattage.
Inverter technology boosts fuel efficiency
This model also has inverter technology which allows maximize fuel efficiency, quieter operation, and fewer power spikes and drops.
Inverter technology ensures that your devices will be powered by clean and stable energy, lessening the risk of short-circuiting in devices with sensitive electronics such as mobile phones, televisions, and lab equipment, among others.
According to its specifications, it can supply electricity for up to 12 hours on a full gas tank and at 25% of the power load, which is very impressive for a generator in the $500 price range.
If you want a fuel-efficient generator that produces clean and stable power, the Predator 62523 is a good option.
Also compact, lightweight, and silent
The Predator 62523 is packed inside an 18.5″ x 12.6″ x 18.5″ compact body design. It’s slightly bigger than the WEN 56200i, but it will still fit in most spaces and will be no trouble taking to different places.
In addition to its compact design, it’s also lightweight at just 47 lbs. which helps in its portability. You won’t get tired carrying it around as it’s not that heavy, and it also has a handle which makes it easy to carry around with one hand.
When it comes to operating volumes, it’s only as loud as 67 dB, which is close to the noise a normal human conversation makes.
While this model is a little limited on power, it’s strong when it comes to portability as its compact, lightweight design and its low operating volume makes it easy to use in different places and circumstances.
In addition to the features mentioned above, the Predator 62523 has other various features that add to its already impressive repertoire.
While it’s already electronics-friendly thanks to inverter technology, Predator also equipped it with an automatic voltage regulator intended as a safeguard against voltage spikes and drops, saving sensitive electronics plugged into it and the generator itself from voltage fluctuations.
Furthermore, Predator knows that this generator’s wattage can be a limitation in demanding environments, which is why it has an RV-ready parallel connection ability. With this feature, it can produce up to 4000 watts.
Because generators are often placed in different environments with different demands and challenges, the Predator 62523 has a fully enclosed high-impact housing that protects it from force-induced damage such as car accidents or being dropped.
More on safety, it also has a low oil indicator that will automatically inform you if the engine oil reaches dangerously low levels, which saves the engine from the damage and excessive wear that can be caused by low oil levels.
I don’t know anything about portable generators, how do I pick one that’s right for me?
First, you should set what your priorities are. You need to know what you’ll use the generator for and how much you can afford.
While looking for portable generators, there will be terms and specifications that may be confusing at first, but you must try to understand them by researching. Pick products that are closest to your priorities, and go for the one that hits closest.
Should I run my mobile phone, computer, and other electronics through my generator?
It depends on the kind of generator you have. If it’s a traditional generator that has a THD rating higher than 6%, no, as that has a high chance of frying your device. If it’s lower than 6%, then you should be relatively safe. An automatic voltage regulator can also help.
If it’s an inverter generator, then it’s safe because this kind produces clean and stable electricity.
Does my generator need to be grounded?
Yes, all generators need to be grounded to ensure safety from overloading and electrocution. If your generator isn’t grounded yet, you may seek the help of a professional electrician to ground it for you and make sure that you adhere to your location’s grounding regulations.
Are portable generators durable?
Yes, but it highly depends on usage and maintenance. Of course, if you use your generator frequently and you always use it with high demands, that will take its toll on the generator’s shelf life.
However, even if you use it a lot, your generator will last longer if you avoid using it past its limitations and if you do maintenance procedures such as oil change and replacement of broken parts.
In comparison, the WEN 56200i and Predator 62523 are fairly similar products with the same set of strengths, weaknesses, and features.
In terms of portability, the 56200i is slightly smaller than its counterpart, giving itself a slight advantage in size. However, it’s also worth noting that the Predator is 3 lbs. lighter than the 56200i. With these two observations, it’s fair to say that the two are equal in terms of portability.
Wherever you want to use your generator, you’d be happy with either one as both models have a very portable and ergonomic design.
It also goes the same for power because both models have the same rated wattage at 1600 watts and peak wattage at 2000 watts. They can also be paralleled with another generator for up to 4000 watts of usable power. It’s also a stalemate when it comes to efficiency, but it should be noted that the 56200i has an economy mode that isn’t present in its counterpart.
With both models sporting inverter engines, fuel efficiency shouldn’t be a problem with either one and both generators can save you a lot of gas money.
With the comparison being so close in these aspects, we have to look at other things that can make or break your decision. Both models have very impressive characteristics, but they are made by different manufacturers.
Harbor Freight makes the Predator portable generators, and it’s known for being a good and reliable generator brand. On the other hand, the 56200i is manufactured by WEN, a power tools company.
Both manufacturers have a reputation for reliability, but WEN is the more popular and trusted brand. While it’s not that big of a deal, it’s certainly worth knowing.
The only clear edge is in additional features, with the WEN having a low oil and shutdown feature while the Predator only has a low oil indicator and a fuel gauge.
The WEN 56200i and Predator 62523 are very identical in their characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. The only main differences are in their various additional features, but they are not big differences. With these, you will be happy buying either model as both will be enough for your electricity needs.