The Champion 100692 is one of the most affordable quiet, 2000W inverter generators. This makes it an extremely popular choice for RV owners, food truck operators, and tailgating. It is also a wonderfully lightweight generator for emergency backup electricity at home. Though it generates barely enough watts to supply basic home power needs.
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Small portable inverter generators have become all the rage in recent years. They’re blissfully quiet, economical, and produce clean power, without high Harmonic Distortion (HD) that would otherwise damage electronic equipment. This means that there is strong competition for the Champion 100692.
The Honda EU2200i remains my first choice in this class of generator. Though we can’t compare it to the much cheaper Champion inverter generators. That’s not to say you don’t have options in the lower price range. The WEN 56235i is one of the cheapest and can certainly give the Champion 100692 a run for its money. When comparing inexpensive portable generators, there’s one brand that can never be ignored. Westinghouse has won my admiration for affordable, great quality portable generators. This review of relatively cheap inverter generators would not be complete without the highly acclaimed Westinghouse iGen2200.
► Recommended in 2021 : 2200W Inverter from Westinghouse
I feel that we are presenting the very best there is to offer, if you’re shopping around for a good quality 2000W inverter generator on a limited budget. Let’s get down to it, our review of the Champion 100692 and two of it’s closest rivals.
Review : Champion 100692
- Great For : camping, tailgating, powering items around the RV or providing backup during a power outage. Not recommended for emergency home backup.
- Weight : 39 lbs. / Lightweight & Easy to Carry
- POWER : 2000 starting watts / 1700 running watts
- Recoil start / Cold Start Technology will start fast when it’s cold outside
- OUTLETS :
- 2X covered 120V 20A household outlets (5-20R)
- 1X covered 12V DC automotive-style outlet
- QUIET : 53 dBA from 23 feet – As quiet as a dishwasher running in the next room.
- Gas Engine : 79cc Champion engine / 1.05-gallon tank
- Will run up to 11.5 hours at 25% load.
- Parallel Ready : CONNECT WITH another Champion 2000-watt inverter for 30 amps of power.
- Optional clip-on parallel kit (100468) is sold separately. This will allow you to integrate two inverters, plus the kit has a standard 30A RV outlet and a 120V 30A locking outlet.
- Clean Power (< 3% THD). Designed for safety with a low oil shut-off sensor.
- Champion’s Inverter Technology includes smart Economy Mode, which lowers the electrical load, making this generator more efficient. Benefits include : Quieter, extended engine life and better fuel economy.
- Fully assembled. Built-in carrying handle makes it easy to move around.
- EPA certified and CARB compliant
- Champion Support includes their nationwide network of service centers — 3-year limited warranty and FREE lifetime technical support.
This little generator looks the part. The trend in quiet generator design is to enclose the machine in a stylish plastic housing. In that sense, Champion have achieved good results. The generator looks cool and modern. It also appears to be quite robust. Good quality plastics and thoughtful design make this a practical machine that can withstand the type of treatment we expect from a camping generator.
Power is derived quite effortlessly, using a 4-stroke, 79cc engine. It produces 1,700 running watts, and 2,000w peak power. While this is a smooth running engine and easy to start, I’m not at all impressed with the fuel consumption. The Champion 100692 is one of the less economical in its class, offering a mere 4.4 kilowatt-hours per gallon. I prefer to see around 5 KWH/G or more. The 1.1 gallon gas tank gives you a reasonable runtime of 11.5 hours at 25% of the rated load. I’m guessing around 6-hours at 50%. This is okay, but not as good as most other generators of this size.
PARALLEL READY : 30 amps of power with the parallel kit (Champion 100468)
Apart from being a little thirstier than some others, the Champion 100692 meets all the standards that we expect from a modern inverter generator. It is both EPA and CARB compliant. Noise levels are not going to be a problem in any campsite, rated at 53dBA. I think this level is measured at around 25% load, with the economy mode engaged to lower RMP, thereby reducing noise. Though, even at full output, I doubt this generator will exceed 60dBA. It will always be quieter than a normal speaking voice.
Anyone will appreciate the lightweight design. The Champion 100692 weighs only 39.5 pounds. It has a handle, allowing you to carry the generator comfortably. When maximizing portability, manufacturers tend to do away with the luxury of an electric starter. This reduces weight and makes the machine more compact. It also cuts some of the cost, improving affordability. The Champion inverter generator is no different in this regard. It only has a recoil starter. I’m not deterred by this. None of the competing generators include an electric starter. Besides, it takes very little effort to start the Champion. I like the position for the recoil starter, neatly placed into a recess in the molded enclosure. It has a large handle with an easy, upward pulling motion. About as easy as it gets.
The user interface is great. It is slightly recessed into the housing, reducing the chance of damage to the outlets, dials, and switches. All the outlets are protected by plastic covers. This is another thing I really like. It prevents dust and moisture from causing damage over time. A manual choke is situated just above the fuel dial, making for quick and effortless starting. An LED light indicates low oil, in which case the engine will shut down. Another LED let’s you know that the AC power is okay, and you can connect to your appliances.
It also has indicator light for economy mode, informing you that the engine speed is being controlled to save fuel and reduce noise. It’s important to observe this, because Economy Mode requires a load of less than 25%. I f you exceed 25% of the rated load, the engine speed needs to increase, this can cause a temporary increase in THD, which may harm sensitive equipment. You should only use the Economy mode when power demand is low, making little indicator light is handy instrument. It reminds you that you need to keep an eye on your electricity usage.
The 2 X 20A household outlets are what I’d expect from a generator with this type of output. It has ports for a parallel kit, which allows you to connect a second Champion 100692 to increase your power output. The parallel kit (sold separately) includes a 30A outlet for easy connection to an RV. It also has an 8A 12VDC outlet. They’ve included a 12V battery charging kit and a USB adapter for this outlet. Making it completely hassle-free to charge deep cycle batteries and USB devices directly from the generator. The AC circuit is protected by a 20A circuit breaker and the DC outlet has an 8A breaker. Keeping everything safe. The ground terminal is easy to access, on the front panel.
Basic maintenance tasks are a breeze. The gas filler is conveniently large. Checking and topping up the oil is super easy. The side panel can be removed without any tools. You have easy, unobstructed access to the engine. It’s not a tough job to clean the air filter or check the spark plug.
Champion is one of the most popular US generator brands. Over the years, I guess people have come to appreciate the good value. A reasonable price for a reliable generator. The Champion 100692 definitely fulfills these requirements and is backed by a 3-year warranty. It is also one of the quietest 2000W generators. My only issue would be fuel efficiency which, in the general scheme of things, isn’t too bad. The Champion may use a little more gas than some others, but a generator of this size is never a huge gas guzzler.
Review | WEN 56235i
- 2350 surge watts and 1900 rated watts of clean power
- Weight : 39 lbs.
- limits total harmonic distortion to under 1.2%
- Eco-mode feature allows the motor to automatically adjust its fuel consumption
- OUTLETS : 2X three-prong 120V receptacles, 1X 12V DC receptacle, 2x 5V USB ports, and a two-year warranty
- PARALLEL READY
- Fuel Shutoff / CARB Compliant
- Engine: 4-stroke 79cc OHV
- Fuel Tank: 1 Gallon
- Surge Wattage: 2350W
- Running Wattage: 1900W
- Product Dimensions: 17.3″ x 11.5″ x 17.7″
- Runtime: 10.5 Hours Quarter-Load
Another all American good value brand, WEN is force to be reconnect with. The WEN 56235i is worthy opponent when pitted against the Champion 100692. If you’re going to compare these two generators based on price vs wattage, the feisty little WEN will probably emerge as the winner. It provides 2,350 surge (peak) watts and 1,900 rated (running watts). That’s more than 10% improvement in power output.
Despite delivering more watts, the WEN 56235i has the same size engine as the Champion equivalent – 79cc. Fuel economy may be snippet better than the Champion 100692, but still not that great. The WEN generator has a slightly smaller gas tank (1.06 gallons), providing 10.5 hours runtime at 25% load, over 7-hours at 50% load. Given the extra watts, the WEN 56235i has a marginally improved kilowatt-hour per gallon rate of 4.7 KWH/G. Making the WEN generator approximately 9% more fuel efficient. In practical terms, you’ll be saving 9c on the dollar with every tank of gas you use.
The WEN 56235i shines as having about the lowest THD of any inverter generator. The Champion 100692, like most, has a THD spec of less than 3%. The WEN generator boasts under 1.2% THD. Mighty impressive for one of the cheapest inverter generators. It also has the upper hand when comparing portability and noise levels. The WEN weighs a mere 39 pounds and is remarkably quiet at only 51dBA, measured at 25% load.
The general design is great. It has a similar slick and stylish enclosure to the others and a sturdy handle with a good center of gravity. There’s a small opening for filling the oil. This opens with the flip of a finger. To access the air filter and spark plug, you’ll need a screwdriver. Not quite as easy as the Champion.
A truly comprehensive user panel offers 2 X 120V 20A outlets, a 12VDC battery charging port and 2 X USB ports. Everything you need clustered to together for maximum convenience. The AC outlets don’t have protective covers. It has a single turn dial to switch the generator on and open the fuel supply. A choke lever is placed directly above this dial. You use a conventional recoil starter to start the engine. LED lights indicate low oil, overload, and output okay. You activate the economy mode, for improved fuel consumption and lower noise, with a switch on the user panel. It also has ports for a parallel connection kit, allowing for two WEN 56235i generators to run in tandem, doubling your power output. The parallel kit includes a 120V 30A outlet (great for an RV) and a 50A 120V/240V outlet which can be used for a transfer switch, providing seamless power to your home electric panel.
The WEN 56235i certainly has some impressive specs. Not only does it offer increased power output, when compared to the Champion 100692, it has the best THD spec. While fuel consumption is fantastic, it is slight improvement on the Champion generator. The WEN is super quiet and wonderfully portable. It cannot, however, match the 3-year warranty that Champion offers. The WEN 56235i has a 2-year warranty.
Review | Westinghouse iGen2200
- 2200 peak watts, 1800 running watts and runs for up to 12 hours on a 1.14 gal. gas tank
- Enhanced fuel efficiency – variable engine speeds allow 30% to 50% higher fuel efficiency than a traditional generator
- iGen2200 is compact and lightweight, weighing only 46 lb. and features a built-in carry handle for easy transportation
- Super quiet – as low as 52 dBA with double-insulated acoustic enclosure, asymmetrical cooling fans, and low tone mufflers to reduce operating noise
- Safely powers sensitive electronics such as laptop computers, cell phones, and more with less than 3% THD
- (2x) 120V 5-20R standard household outlets and (2x) 5V USB ports with rubber outlet covers
- Westinghouse portable generators are functionally tested in the factory and may contain minimum residual oil and/or fuel odor
In my opinion, the Westinghouse iGen2200 is the pick of the bunch. It is more expensive than the Champion 100692 and WEN56235i. The price difference becomes insignificant when you consider the caliber of generator you’re buying. I’ve been observing Westinghouse with a keen interest since they started manufacturing portable generators back in 2012. I believe the Westinghouse iGen2200 can stand up to the traditional industry champions, like Honda or Yamaha. Yet the iGen2200 is much cheaper than the Honda EU2200.
The 4-stroke, 80cc Westinghouse engine is a mighty fine example of exemplary engineering. It has proven to be ultimately reliable and is pretty good in terms of economy. It matches the WEN generator, with a fuel consumption rate of 4.7 kilowatt-hours per gallon. This means the same savings on gas (around 9%), when compared to the Champion 100692. Thanks to a slightly larger 1.14 gallon gas tank, the iGen2200 offers the best runtime of the three – up to 12-hours at 25% load.
Power output is higher than the Champion generator, not quite as good as the WEN model reviewed here. The Westinghouse iGen2200 deliver a pretty reasonable 2,200 peak watts and 1,800 running watts. The outlets are supplied by a high-grade inverter with <3% THD, with the expected economy mode and parallel connectivity.
The Westinghouse iGen2200 is similar in design to the Champion and WEN generators. The impact resistant plastic housing is of an incredibly high quality standard. It can also rank as one of the best in terms of noise level (52dBA) and lightweight portability, at only 46 LBS. A handle makes the Westinghouse easy to carry.
The control panel lacks a 12VDC battery charging port. This is something I really appreciated on the WEN and Champion generators. It’s a great feature for camping and recreational users, as you can charge your leisure batteries with the greatest efficiency and you don’t need an additional battery charger. The iGen2200 does have 2 X USB ports, which many will find handy.
The expected 20A 120V outlets are present, two of them, and these are protected a 20A circuit breaker. Like the others, a parallel kit is sold separately and will allow you to connect two generators to an RV or transfer switch, using a 30A outlet. The parallel connection ports are conveniently positioned on the user panel. The Westinghouse generator has the usual indicator lights (low oil, overload, and output ready), the engine will shut down when the oil level is too low. All the electric outlets have durable plastic covers, which is great.
The all in one dial for on, off, and fuel is pretty much the same as the other generators in this review. It also uses only a recoil starter. The starter handle is perfect and absolutely no hassle to use. The fuel filler is one of the best and is perfectly designed to prevent spillage. Like the WEN generator, it has a small flap for topping up the oil. All other maintenance tasks require a screwdriver to remove the side panels.
Westinghouse is one of the oldest US electric supply companies. They built some of the first electrical generation plants and have well over a century of engineering expertise to bolster their reputation. They may be relatively to new to the portable generator game, but their extensive experience is abundantly evident. The Westinghouse iGen2200 is a superb portable inverter generator, one of the very best.
Initially, the brand was somewhat lacking in the customer service department. As newcomers to the domestic generator market, they simply didn’t have a dealership network that could compare to the established brands. This has improved considerably over the years, and Westinghouse now has an expansive footprint across the Unite States. They also offer a very competitive 3-year warranty.
►Read our full review of the iGen2200 by Westinghouse.
Using Your Inverter Generator Correctly
An inverter generator functions much like a conventional gas generator, with the obvious exception of the inverter. A traditional gas generator uses the engine speed to control the voltage and frequency. This is very basic technology, dating back to the mid 1800’s and hasn’t changed much since . A lever opens the throttle as demand increases and reduces the engine speed when the load demand is less.
This system has never been 100% accurate. Engine speed changes slower than the electricity supplied by the alternator. This means that voltage and frequency fluctuate as the engine adjusts to the load. The end result is a distorted sine wave, caused by erratic voltage and frequency. This is known as Total Harmonic Distortion (THD). At best, high-end traditional generators can achieve less than 5% THD. Cheaper machines will peak at around 20 – 25% THD. This is dangerously high for electronic devices.
By using an inverter, the problem of high THD is eliminated. The alternator and engine functions just like any other generator. The only difference being an electronically controlled inverter. The output current is constantly monitored using an onboard computer. Capacitors and transistors compensate for the sine wave irregularities. This maintains an almost perfect sine wave, typically less than 3%.
Because the inverter is supplying the power to the outlets, not the alternator, it is possible to supply the correct voltage and frequency, even when the engine speed is reduced. This, along with the ability to synchronize the sine wave of two generators, are two additional advantages to using an inverter. The synchronous ability allows for the parallel connection of two generators. The power compensation at low RPM allows for the Economy Mode, which supplies constant low THD power at reduced engine RPM. This saves fuel and reduces noise.
Economy Mode —
As great as the Eco mode is, many people don’t understand how to use it properly. I’ve come across many who claim their inverter generator does not supply clean power, especially when using high-watt equipment, like refrigerators and air conditioners. I’ve found that this is mostly confusion when it comes to using the economy mode correctly. For this reason, I want to explain how the economy switch works. I touched on the topic briefly, when reviewing the Champion 100692, but I feel it needs a detailed explanation as this this is one of the most important topics to understand if you want to get the most from your inverter generator.
Reducing engine speed is great. Not only are you saving on fuel and have less generator noise to deal with, your engine also lasts longer because it is not working as hard. It is tempting to leave the generator in economy mode, regardless of the load.
The inverter continues to deliver clean, low THD power, even though the engine RPM is lower than normal. The inverter will adjust the voltage and frequency as needed. However, an inverter does not generate electricity, it only converts it. The capacitors used to store the power can only handle a limited load. When the load increases, the engine needs to supply the extra watts. This is why eco mode only works when the load is less than 25% of the rated output.
When the load increases (above 25%), the computer will adjust the engine speed, using the old-fashioned mechanical lever. There is a delay which causes the same unreliable THD as with conventional generators. If you’re not using much power, the eco mode works fine. When an air conditioner (or similar appliance) starts, the load demand increases immediately, and the engine needs to speed up. For a brief moment, the inverter is unable to supply reliable power. The engine simply isn’t producing enough watts to meet the increased demand. Once the engine speed is adjusted, power output stabilizes, and all is good.
Because people assume that the computer is managing everything, they believe the power remains stable at all times. This misconception is the reason why they may think the inverter is faulty. You have to realize that the engine is still the same old technology and no computer can change this. It will always take a little time for the RPM to increase. You will hear the generator laboring for a period when the demand increases.
It is important to know how this affects your power output. You should never use economy mode if you have a refrigerator or air conditioner running. As these appliances cycle, they require a high power demand each time they start. Your inverter will be supplying low wattage equipment, at low RPM, and then suddenly have to contend with high demand.
You can only use economy mode effectively, if your power demand remains below 25% of the rated output and will not increase rapidly. This is great for nighttime use, when the AC is turned off. You will probably be watching TV, or using your laptop, with a couple of lights on. This is ideal working conditions for the inverter and the engine and can run constantly at a lower RPM.