Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Honda EU3000iS Portable Generator Review


I am a huge fan of Honda generators, and my EU2000i has been extremely versatile for smaller outdoor gigs and parties (not to mention power failures), but in the back of my mind I always wonder if I am going to have to run a show that is going to require more power than it is up for. Well, I figured that it was high time to take a look at the next model up in the Honda line, the EU3000iS.

The EU3000iS is a clean-looking generator that is fairly compact, measuring around 26 x 19 x 23 inches. It has a lot of quality in it, so it is not terribly light, coming in at 134 pounds dry. With its fuel tank full it is around 160 pounds, so you will really need both of those handles to haul this thing around. Or you could spring for the optional wheel kit…

It has a 196cc 4-cycle gasoline engine that is mounted on a metal chassis inside its blow-molded plastic cladding. There are two 20A 125V AC outlets and a 30A 125 locking plug (to attach it to a motorhome), as well as a bonus 144 watt DC outlet that can put out 12 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 3000 watts at 120V AC (25 amps), and a more realistic 2800 watts at 120V AC (23.3 amps).

One neat feature of this generator is that should you ever decide that you need more power, you can buy another EU3000iS 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. Turn the fuel level ON, Pull the choke knob out, and turn the engine switch to the START position. The electric starter takes care of the rest. Should the internal battery go flat there is also a recoil starter, and this thing will pretty much get going in one pull. 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 EU3000iS is insanely quiet. When I tried this one out for the first time I chained it to a tree about 40 feet away from the sound board. I started it up, started stringing the extension cord, and by the time I got to my table 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 58 dB(A) at full power or 49 dB(A) at ¼ power.

At this event I went through less than a 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 3.4-gallon tank in 7.24 hours at maximum power or 20 hours at ¼ power. That would be nice for your next power outage!

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). They also have 300 hour intervals for air filter changes and valve adjustments. The other thing to remember is to 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 EU3000iS. I have used it for a few outdoor shows and some light construction work and it has never let me down while putting out perfectly clean power. Its inverter provides stable power for computers, and 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. You will not have this luxury with a cheap-o generator.

I have not used it during a power outage, but it has a lot more output than my EU2000i, which has always worked well in the past. Honda says the EU300iS will run an Energy Star efficient fridge or freezer, a 13,500 BTU RV air conditioner, a furnace fan or any number of other appliances including microwave ovens and blenders. It would certainly be cool for camping or a tailgate party.

The Honda EU3000iS is not cheap, with an MSRP of $2329 and a street price of around $1999. 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…


1 comment:

  1. A neighbor has the little brother to this one. They use it for power outages around 3-4 times a year (big trees=lots of downed lines and blown transformer fuses)
    It works great and is very quiet- we don't hear it two doors down.