For nearly 60 years, Honda has been the world leader in the portable generator market. Their generators always have the latest technology, and their build quality and reliability are the best available. There’s just one problem: Hondas are also the most expensive generators you can buy. Is it worth the price? Should you buy one, or should you consider a cheaper alternative? Let’s take a look at what makes their generators are so special, and if it makes sense for you to spend the money to buy one of their units.
Sony’s first transistorized television was revolutionary, turning what was once a large, heavy appliance into something that was portable. Seeing the potential of this new technology, they looked for a power source that could keep their TV working on the go. They contacted Honda, asking for a generator that would make enough power for this new appliance. The result was the E300. A prototype was first shown to the public in 1963, and after took two years of development, it went into production.
The E300 wasn’t the world’s first compact generator, but it was the first to make portable electric generation practical. Before its debut, generators were either powered by large diesels or small, noisy and unreliable two strokes. The E300’s four stroke engine didn’t smoke, and didn’t require frequent rebuilds. It soon found its place on worksites, as a source of home backup power, and as a power source for recreation. Since then, Honda has been the leader in portable generator technology. Nearly every feature we expect from a portable generator, from pure sine wave inverters to automatic throttles, debuted in a Honda.
Honda is a big company, making everything from sump pumps to jet engines. That means they can leverage their massive resources to stay ahead of the competition in niche markets, like generators. For example, they have an indoor weather simulator dedicated to small engine equipment, which lets designers simulate everything from summer rains to snow. This added testing lets them make sure their equipment will work in any operating condition.
From there, models are customized for use in their home markets. Generators offered in North America must first pass through their U.S.-based research and development facility. Here, their products pass through tests designed for real world situations, including use with American appliances, climate extremes, and high altitudes. All this work results in the most reliable, easiest-to-use generators available today.
Honda makes a point of leading the market with new technology and integrating it into their models as quickly as possible. For example, Honda introduced their first inverter generator in the late 1980s. Today, nearly every model they sell has an inverter. This device smooths out electricity from the generator coils, resulting in an even waveform that is virtually identical to the power from a household outlet. This makes the power from these generators safe to use with electronics. While their largest models don’t have inverters, they do come with voltage controllers. This keeps power flow consistent, saving wear and tear on electric motors.
Generator noise is annoying for users, as well as those around them. A loud generator can get you in trouble with noise ordinances, and it may be banned from use in some RV parks. Honda generators are consistently the quietest in standard operating tests across all segments, from fully enclosed models to commercial open frame units. Honda was also the first company to introduce low tone mufflers, which help eliminate the high-pitched noises that are the most annoying to our ears.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious problem for both home and commercial users. To address this, Honda’s new CO-MINDER system can shut down the engine automatically if CO levels get dangerously high.
Need to generate a lot of power for your worksite? Honda’s commercial models have defined hot and cool zones. This makes it easy to set up a line of generators without having problems with overheating from the exhaust of neighboring units.
Honda generators excel in most areas, but there are a few features missing from their lineup. You aren’t going to find a 12 volt cigarette lighter outlet or a USB port on a Honda generator. This makes them less convenient for charging and powering small electric devices.
Most enclosed portable generators can be linked with parallel cables that have built-in high voltage locking plugs. This lets you use a pair of these quiet generators for RV shore power. However, the only way to use a locking plug with a Honda is by pairing an EB2200i with an EB2200i Companion. The companion doesn’t have standard household outlets, so its use as a stand-alone generator is limited.
Honda only makes gasoline-powered generators. If you want a dual fuel generator that can run off of cheaper LPG, you need to look elsewhere.