I rambled a bit about generators in my last blog post and promised to get back to you on which one I ended up with. Well, you probably guessed from the title of this post that I went with the Honda EU2000i.
The EU2000i is a neat unit that is very compact. This generator measures around 20 x 12 x 17 inches, and comes in at 47 pounds dry. With its fuel tank full it is around 55 pounds, and it is easy enough for a big guy like me to carry it around by its molded-in plastic handle.
It has a 98.5cc 4-cycle gasoline engine mounted on a metal chassis inside its blow-molded plastic body. There are two 20A 125V AC outlets and one 96 watt DC outlet that can put out 8 amps at 12 volts. The DC outlet is designed to accept a specific Honda wiring harness that can be used to charge automotive type batteries. Overall this generator is rated for a maximum of 2000 watts at 120V AC (16.7 amps), and a more realistic 1600 watts at 120V AC (13.3 amps).
One neat feature of this generator is that should you ever decide that you need more power, you can buy another EU2000i or an EU2000i Companion (with a 30A outlet) and easily link them together with a special wiring harness to double your power output. Honda has some clever engineers, I guess.
It is super-easy to use. Push to choke lever to the side, and move the start-stop switch into position. Open the fuel cap vent and give the recoil starter cord just one pull. It will light off, and you are in business. Once it is going, you can back off the choke pretty quickly, and once you put it into Eco-throttle mode (by pressing a switch) it will quiet down considerably.
Eco-throttle mode will be fine for your live-sound needs, as you will not need to have instant access to full power like you would if you were running a power saw. This mode will reduce noise and let you go a lot longer on a tank of fuel. And you will find that quietness and fuel-efficiency are what Honda generators are all about.
The EU2000i is insanely quiet. The first time I used mine was at a big party in a park (around 1000 people), and I chained it to a tree about 40 feet away from the sound board. I started it up, started stringing the extension cord, and I by the time I got to the table I thought it had stalled out. I started walking back towards the generator, and it had not stalled. It was just so quiet that I could not hear it over the sound of the crummy Harbor Freight generators that the bounce house guys were using on the other side of the park. It is rated at 59 dB(A) at full power or 53 dB(A) at ¼ power.
At this same party I went through a little over ½ gallon of fuel in five hours. This was running a mixing board, two 500-watt powered speakers, a wireless set-up, a small effects rack with a CD player and my laptop. Honda says that it will empty its 1.1-gallon tank in 4 hours at maximum power or 9.6 hours at ¼ power. Amazing!
Maintenance is simple, but is very important. The oil should be changed after the first 20 hours of use and then every 50 hours thereafter. This is not a hard job but it is a little messy and your Honda dealer would be happy to take care of it for you (for a fee). The other thing to do is keep the fuel in good shape. I recommend a fuel stabilizer, such as Sta-Bil, that will keep the gas from going bad. Run the generator at least once or month to keep crap from building up in the fuel system. That is about it. You might need a spark plug sometime, but they make plugs a lot better than they used to so it should be good for quite a while.
There have been no surprises with the EU2000i. I have used it for a few outdoor shows and some power tool work and it has never let me down while putting out perfectly clean power. In fact, my amplifiers have quite a bit less noise when using this generator than many hard-wired residential or commercial power outlets that I have used. Go figure.
The one thing I have not needed it to use it for is a power outage, but it does give peace of mind to have it around. Honda says it will run an Energy Star efficient fridge or freezer, or any number of other appliances including microwave ovens and blenders. It would certainly be cool for camping or a tailgate party.
The Honda EU2000i is not cheap, with an MSRP of $1149 and a street price of around $950. I know you can get more powerful generators for less money at Harbor Freight or Home Depot. But, you get what you pay for, and Honda is the leader in reliability, quietness and efficiency. They offer a 3-year warranty on their generators, which is head and shoulders above any of the other manufacturers. Think about it…