How much is a brand generator worth? In the battle between WEN vs Champion generators, you can’t go wrong with either choice. Let’s see what sets them apart :
WEN GN400i / Most Affordable
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- 50% quieter and 30% lighter
- Digital Hybrid inverter
- 212cc engine / THD 1.2%
- 4000W starting / 3500W running
- Runs for 7 hours at 50% load
- 64 dBA from 23 feet
- Clean Power (less than 3% THD).
- Economy Mode / 66.1 lbs.
- OUTLETS : 1x 120V transfer-switch-ready NEMA L5-30R twist lock / 2x 120V NEMA 5-20R / 1x 12V DC / 2x 5V USB
- CARB / EPA compliant
- 2-year limited warranty
Champion 100302 / High Quality
- 50% quieter and 20% lighter
- Digital Hybrid inverter
- 224cc Champion engine
- 4000W starting / 3500W running
- Runs for 17 hours at 25% load
- 64 dBA from 23 feet
- Clean Power (less than 3% THD).
- Economy Mode
- OUTLETS : 1x 120V 30A RV (TT-30R) / 2x household outlets / 1x 12V DC / 2x USB
- CARB / EPA compliant
- 3-year limited warranty
WEN GN400i : A Generator for Homeowners
Unless you need a heavy-duty generator, for all-day hard work, WEN is one of the best brands. What makes the Wen GN400i such a great inverter generator? Simple; price vs quality vs power. There aren’t many 4000W inverter generators available, even fewer costing less than $450, depending on when you’re reading this. Now for the big question: can a powerful inverter generator, this cheap, be any good? Read our WEN GN400i review to find out.
I’m always pleased to a review a WEN product. It’s rare but great to find power equipment that is win-win all the way. From my point of view, this describes the WEN GN400i in a nutshell. The incredibly low price is certainly enticing. Though, I’m never one to buy a generator simply because it’s the cheapest. Quite the opposite, in fact. My first choice is usually Honda for any gas power equipment. Though, when considering cheaper machines, WEN has to rate highly.
Modern engineering and overall high-quality is not something we commonly expect from a cheap generator. Certainly not an inverter generator, which will always be more expensive than traditional gas generators. Bottom line; the WEN GN400i is pure common sense. Good value for money in the form of above average quality and below average pricing. Certainly hard to resist.
Another reason for seeing the WEN GN400i as one of the best options is the high power, low weight aspect to this fine machine. A 4,000 watt inverter generator is the perfect match for an RV, as well as a great emergency generator for power outages at home. When this generator is lightweight and easily portable, well that’s just fantastic. It’s also remarkably quiet for an open frame generator.
Now WEN is not the only option, when looking for an affordable 4,000W inverter generator. They have some strong competition from the likes of Champion Power equipment, Westinghouse, and Briggs & Stratton. In the interest of providing a comprehensive comparative review, we’re going to look at the WEN GN400i vs Champion 100302. The latter being a comparable 4,000 watt, open frame, inverter generator.
The Champion generator is a bit more expensive than the WEN GN400i. Some may consider the Champion brand the better option, worth paying more for. I’m not too sure if it is. Though the Champion warranty is better, which may suggest a higher quality standard. That is debatable. Both brands stand out as being amongst the best for cheap generators.
Before getting down to the complete WEN GN400i review, and it’s Champion counterpart, here’s a quick overview of the two, for those who don’t have the time for the full review.
WEN GN400i vs Champion 100302 / Generators
|WEN GN400i||Champion 100302|
|Weight||66.1 lbs.||81.6 lbs.|
|Noise Level at 25% Load||67dB||64dB|
|TT-30 RV outlet||Yes||Yes|
|Warranty||2 Years||3 Years|
At a glance, the only real advantage to buying the more expensive Champion inverter generator is the 3-year warranty. It’s also marginally quieter than the WEN inverter generator. Though there may be some features and specs that could appeal more to some buyers for either model. For the big picture, read the complete review.
WEN GN400i Review
- 50% quieter and 30% lighter than a standard 4000-watt generator
- 212cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 4000 surge watts and 3500 rated watts
- Generate clean power to safely operate sensitive electronics such as smartphones, tablets, televisions and computers
- Parallel ready panel allows you to connect any two WEN inverter generators together for increased wattage output
- Includes two 120V NEMA 5-20R receptacles, two 5V USB ports, one 120V transfer-switch-ready NEMA L5-30R twist lock receptacle, and a two-year warranty
Since 1951, WEN has been a proudly American power equipment manufacturer. From the beginning, the brand has established a stellar reputation for providing affordable quality tools, generators, chainsaws, more. Wen generators have become a mainstay for home, camping, and medium-duty job site applications. Their success can be attributed to a few basic principles: affordability, dependability, and good customer service.
The WEN GN400i embodies all that people have come to love about the brand. This is one of the more powerful inverter generators, delivering 4,000 peak (surge) watts, and 3,500 running (rated) watts. It incorporates all the benefits of inverter technology: clean low THD power, a low noise/low fuel consumption efficiency mode, and a parallel kit that allows you to double your power output, using two WEN GN400i generators.
The first thing that struck me, when reviewing WEN inverter generators, is the exceptionally low Total Harmonic Distortion (THD), less than 0.3% at 25% rated load, and less than 1.2% at full rated load. For the average inverter generator user, this may not seem all that remarkable.
Having spent many years in the power supply business, most significantly low THD electricity for power sensitive equipment, I know what an achievement this is. The average digital inverter is rated at <3% THD. Only highly specialized inverters guarantee <1% THD. These are mostly used to supply medical, laboratory, and aviation equipment. These life-critical industries require a perfect power supply, for equipment that is calibrated to 99.9% accuracy. As a point of reference, the WEN GN400i delivers close to NASA grade power. What really impresses me about this is that one of the cheapest inverter generators, provides the best, cleanest power. Houston we don’t have a problem here.
Apart from the incredible inverter, the WEN GN400i displays a general tendency for above average specs and performance. The 212cc, OHV, 4-stroke engine also defies the low price. This is a modern, low emission powerhouse, meeting EPA and CARB emission standards. It is a reliable and durable engine. Though some users have experienced fuel leakages. This has been a rare occurrence and the guys at WEN have been really helpful when dealing with this issue as a warranty repair. This is something that can happen, even with the top brands. A few years ago Honda, arguably the best in the business, had to recall certain models for this exact problem – fuel leaks. In terms of fuel economy, the WEN GN400i is certainly not the best performer. The 1.85 gallon gas tank provides 7-hours runtime at 50% rated load, making the WEN thirstier than most of its competitors.
While this is not an enclosed quiet inverter generator, noise levels are much lower than expected for an open frame 4,000W generator. At 25% load, with the economy switch enabled, it will run at 67dBA. This also a user-friendly generator, though I’m sure many would have preferred an electric starter. The GN400i only has an old-fashioned recoil starter. Not that this is too much of an issue, the generator starts easily, and a panel-mounted choke makes cold weather starting a breeze. A benefit to not having the electric starter is the incredibly low weight, only 66.1 LBS. It also saves on manufacturing costs, helping to make this one of the cheapest inverter generators.
You have a variety of practical power outlets: 2 X 120V 20A AC receptacles, a TT-30R 120V 30A RV outlet, and 2 X 5V USB ports. The AC outlets have circuit breaker overload protection but no GFCI (What is GFCI?). The normal 3 warning light system indicates run, overload, and low oil. There is no display for voltage output, run-time, or any of the other digital gizmos that one often finds on a modern generator. It has a rather small fuel gauge on the metal gas tank. The entire generator is securely mounted to a good frame, offering full protection from mishaps when transporting the machine. The control panel has further protection from an impact resistant outer frame.
The best way to describe the WEN GN400i is incredible value for money. Although one of the cheapest 4KW inverter generators, it supplies the cleanest low HD electricity. Like all WEN products this is a well-made machine. You have the benefit of a massive dealership network with qualified technicians willing to assist you. The brand is well-established, almost 70-years in existence, offering peace of mind for any generator buyer. The 2-year warranty is quite acceptable for generator of this price. Even some that more expensive, only offer a 1-year warranty.
Want a different perspective? Read our comprehensive review of the WEN GN400i.
Champion 100302 Review
I’m not entirely sure if it’s worth paying over a hundred bucks more for the Champion 100302, the WEN GN400i may be better value for money. Though priorities differ, and the Champion 4KW inverter generator has some advantages. It is little quieter. This generator is more fuel efficient than its WEN counterpart, and has a larger gas tank, offering much better runtimes on a tank of gas. A better warranty also offers more reassurance to the buyer.
In many ways, these two generators aren’t all that different. Like the WEN GN400i, the Champion inverter generator delivers 4,000 starting watts and 3,500 running watts. Though the inverter technology used for the Champion doesn’t quite match up that used by WEN, the Champion 100302 is specified at a more average <3% THD. Not a deal breaker, in my opinion, this is pretty much the standard for an inverter generator. The WEN GN400i is exceptional in this regard.
These are both open frame generators with a strong metal frame. Though the Champion is noticeably heavier than the WEN model: 81.6 LBS vs 66.1 LBS. While this gives the WEN generator an advantage when it comes to portability, I’m not too sure if a lightweight generator is always better. More weight often means better durability, through the use of heavier, higher grade metals. Though there doesn’t seem to be any indication that either of these generators are superior in general quality. Both the WEN GN400i and Champion 100302 appear to be the better quality options when considering a cheap, light to medium duty inverter generator.
The Champion engine is similar to that used to power the WEN GN400i. Champion has chosen to use a slightly larger capacity, 224cc, OHV, 4-stroke engine. The difference in engine size is minor and they seem in equal in most ways. The Champion is also a low-emission engine (CARB and EPA certified). Like the WEN equivalent, the Champion generator only has a recoil starter with a similar easy to use on/off switch. Though the choke isn’t as easily accessible, you have to reach into the engine to slide a lever. Not quite as easy as a choke on the WEN user panel.
Possibly the best reason to consider the Champion 100302 over the WEN GN400i would be fuel economy. The WEN is one of the least fuel-efficient generators, whereas the Champion is about average. You can expect to pay approximately 20% less on gas for this generator, compared to the WEN GN400i. That could be quite a lot of savings over the years. In addition to this, the Champion has a 2.9 gallon gas tank, a little over a gallon extra fuel in the tank. This makes for greater convenience for runtime between refueling. At 25% rated load, the Champion will do 17-hours. This tank is also metal but has no fuel gauge.
I find the outlets fitted to the Champion generator to be slightly more versatile. This is essentially because they’ve included a 12VDC battery charging port. A handy extra for campers. You can charge your deep cycle leisure batteries directly off the generator. A USB kit is included, so you’re able to use this generator for all rechargeable batteries. For the rest, it’s pretty much identical to the WEN: 2 X 120V 20A household outlets, and a 30A 120V RV outlet, all with push to reset circuit breakers. Warning lights and low oil shutoff are also the same.
As a brand, Champion has proven themselves in a relatively short time. Like WEN, Champion Power Equipment, has come to represent good value for money. Low prices, good quality, and dependable customer service is something they have in common. In some ways, the Champion 100302 can be seen as the better inverter generator. This is most prevalent when looking at fuel economy. However, as it 25%+ more expensive than the WEN GN400i, it’s tough to say which is actually better value. Perhaps, the better 3-year warranty may be the deciding factor for some.
About the Brands
I’m a firm believer that brand reputation plays a significant role in the final decision making process when buying anything of value. This is probably more important when considering an inverter generator. Even the cheapest of these, are quite expensive. More importantly, inverter generators are more complicated. It takes more skill to repair these machines when there’s a problem. This is when reliable dealership service is of greatest importance. You want to know that some one has your back in the future as your generator gets older.
So choosing a brand you trust is based on a few simple factors. The quality of their products, how they attend to warranty issues, and what kind of service you can expect over the lifetime of your generator. To this end, I’ll be sharing my research into the two brands featured in this review. They are both respected for the service they deliver, and the good value represented in their products. Perhaps a little history behind the brands might make the decision easier.
The WEN Brand
Unlike many tool manufacturers, WEN doesn’t offer much insight into their history on their website. The company was founded by Nick Anton in 1951. Today they have headquarters in Elgin, IL.
In their earlier years, WEN was an all US company committed to research and development. The company was once a forerunner in the development of new technology for power tools. This included random orbit technology, now common on orbital sanders and polishers. They were also instrumental in the early improvements made to chainsaws, electric soldering irons, jigsaws, and quite a few other tools.
For quite a few years, WEN power tools seemed to almost disappear from the market. Industry changes, mostly due to globalization, resulted in an inability to compete with cheap imports. Then a recent resurgence led many to believe this is new unknown brand, passably from China. I’ve seen many power tool discussion forums asking about the brand as most people had never heard of them. Questions relating to the quality of their products and where WEN tools are made, popped up everywhere.
Although WEN advertises themselves as a proudly American brand, they are not that keen to let us know where there tools are made. That naturally leads to unwanted speculation, reaching the most common conclusion; China. I’ve seen many WEN tools that look strikingly similar to other cheap brands. This tends to make me believe that they probably come from the same factory, with minor appearance changes and rebranding.
This in itself is not of much concern to me. Is there any US or European brand that does not have foreign based factories?. Or, at very least, import many of the components. It seems only logical that a cheaper brand will do much of their product and component sourcing from countries where operating costs are lower.
I feel it comes down to brand integrity. When considering imported products or components, a brand that is invested in their reputation will do good research and not just go for the very cheapest. If they’re serious about their long term reputation, brand management will consider both economy and durability. The same can be said for licensing agreements, where factories in other countries manufacture products exclusively for a US or European brand.
I haven’t had too much recent experience with the brand, I don’t often buy cheap tools, or generators for that matter. However, it’s my job to know what’s going on in the world of power equipment, so I ask around and am constantly following discussion forums on the web. This is the best way to get the honest opinions of users. I can say, without a doubt, that WEN is widely considered to be one of the best cheap brands for tools and power equipment. Dealership service is highly rated, and they are good when dealing with warranty repairs.
Champion Power Equipment
Champion started out in 2003, originally in Santa Fe, CA. As the company expanded, new facilities were added in Milwaukee Wisconsin, Jackson Tennessee, and Toronto Canada. Like WEN, and so many other US power equipment brands, Champion don’t clearly state where their generators are made.
Champion Power equipment state quite proudly that their products are engineered in the US. Though the emission of the word manufactured, cannot be ignored. While they develop products and engines in Milwaukee, my guess is that the actual manufacturing is conducted elsewhere. As I mentioned, when talking about the WEN brand, this really isn’t a big deal. It’s just that most US brands are hesitant to admit that their products aren’t actually made in the US. A matter of national pride I guess. Or rather, a belief that Americans prefer to buy locally manufactured products.
In the end, Champion rate quality, both in design and manufacture, highly. Whilst keeping costs as low as possible, they also endeavor to maintain an acceptable level of durability and reliability. This is most certainly a good value brand for more affordable power equipment. They also have an extensive dealership network in the USA and Canada. The brand is serious about providing trained technicians to attend to their many customers and offer a great warranty on their products.