WEN 56380i Review

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WEN 56380i Review
WEN 56380i Review

How about powering your home or office with cheap, reliable electricity? If yes, then you already probably have a generator for these very reasons. And if not, then this is the right place to help you in finding one that suits your needs and is reliable for years to come. 

Not knowing about the generator features and specifications before purchasing one may backfire big time. So it is pertinent to know about the honest reviews of the relevant portable generators so that they could bring more peace than chaos to your lifestyle.

One such product that I am going to review now is the WEN’s state-of-art, feature-packed 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, Model 56380i.

WEN 56380i Review - Dimensions
WEN 56380i Review – Dimensions

At a Glance

After decades of designing and manufacturing power tools, WEN has now become one of the pioneer manufacturers of high-end and affordable electrical power generators. 

Their research and development have reflected a lot in this 3800 Watts, Model 56380i inverter generator, thereby signifying performance, quality, and affordability. Let’s talk about the features packed inside this inverter generator.

  • Fuel Shutoff – Helps maximize the generator’s operational life span by using the fuel in the carburetor before shutting down the unit.
  • Clean Power – Minimal Total Harmonic Distortion to help run sensitive electronic devices and prevent damage.
  • Powerful Engine – Produces 3800 surge watts and 3.4 kW rated power.
  • Long Runtime – A half-load runtime of up to 8.5 hours (which is fine in my opinion, as most of the inverter generators run for shorter periods on the same load in comparison)
  • Certification – EPA III and CARB Compliant.
  • Ease of Access – The set includes two three-prong 120 receptacles, one 5V USB port. One AC 120V NEMA TT-30R RV receptacle and one 12V DC receptacle are also included.
  • Display Meter – Shows digital load and fuel consumption.

About WEN Tools

If somebody isn’t competitive enough to provide innovation, quality, and ease in this developing world, they would simply cease to exist. This fact is vastly applicable to the world of electronics where we are seeing a new tech pop out now and then. And I came to know that WEN has been doing exactly that for a living.

Now that WEN had caught my eye, I tried to explore the brand a bit.

Knowing more about WEN wasn’t much difficult for me as they have been around for decades. They have cemented their reputation as a manufacturer and provider of reliable and quality portable electric tools. This multi-million dollar company was founded by Nick Anton in 1951 and took over the world of power tools by storm during the late 20th century. Since then, the company has never looked back.

Their research and development team made sure to keep inventing reliable and quality equipment, resulting in selling more than 50 million units of equipment to its trusted consumer base. This portrays that people trust them, right? 

But I won’t jump to that conclusion so fast without knowing everything about the generator I’m reviewing.

WEN’s Product Categories

Having its headquarter in Elin, Illinois, WEN originally burst into the market with everyday-use power tools like chainsaws, soldering guns, electric engravers, etc. With the help of their R&D team, WEN expanded its expertise to include the latest and state-of-art equipment like drill pressers, nailers, miter saws, air compressors, and portable generators to name a few.

WEN even pioneered and took forward the “Random Orbital Technology” that is being used in polishers, waxers, and buffers today. This reflects that they are pretty good at innovations too. 

But for now, I will only focus on one product that concerns us all. That’s the 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, Model 56380i. 

Features and Ease of Use

WEN 56380i Review - Control Panel
WEN 56380i Review – Control Panel

WEN takes pride in building innovative equipment. At a glance, the model 56380i does seem to fit that category. 

Let’s quickly go through the features and specifications of this portable inverter generator in detail to help you know if this may be a good fit for your needs.

Sleek Design

The inverter has a modern and sleek design that is pretty attractive in looks. You will not be disappointed with the aesthetics. 

Compact Size

The unit is comparatively smaller in size than most of the other generators of the same output wattage. The compact size makes this inverter popular and ideal for RV and outdoor use.

Light Weight 

At 99.2 lbs, this generator is lighter and less bulky than most of its competitors like the Honda EU3000is (that weighs 130 lbs). However, it’s still not as light as a few, like Champion 3000-Watt generators.

Noise Level

The engine operates at extremely low sound levels. The noise was 57 dB at 25% load, making the engine quieter than a normal conversation. So just stop worrying about waking your neighbors up in the middle of the night during a power outage.

Electric Start

This inverter generator has a keyless electric start, thereby enabling you to start the engine with a single press of a button. 

All you have to do is to turn the knob to the start position and press the orange-colored switch to turn the engine on.

Cleaner Power

One of the best features of this generator is its near-perfection clean power production. The output has less than 1.2% Total Harmonic Distortion, making it perfectly safe to use for your sensitive electronic equipment like mobile phones, laptops, etc.

Low Maintenance

The ‘Fuel Shutoff’ feature uses up the fuel remaining in the carburetor before shutting down the generator automatically. This helps prevents blockages in the fuel lines and reduces the maintenance needs.

Digital Display

You can monitor the voltage, frequency, wattage, run time, and fuel supply with the help of an easy-to-read load and fuel display meter. The digital display provides all the information at your fingertips. 

Parallel Ready

The portable generator is ready to be connected in parallel if more than 3.8 kW is required. Just link two inverter generators together using the WEN 56421 Parallel Kit Connection in a hassle-free way.

Portable Design

The WEN Inverter Generator, Model 56380i has a lightweight design (as compared to a few other similar types). To further increase the portability, the unit comes along with a collapsible handle and built-in compact wheels, hence simplifying the storage and transportation.

Output Ports

The generator features one DC 5V USB port, one 12V DC outlet, one 30A TT-30R outlet, and two 15A 5-20R three-prong outlets. 

Eco Mode

The generator unit comes with an Eco-Mode that maximizes fuel efficiency and run time. The engine automatically adjusts the fuel consumption based on the power output needs. 

Automatic Shutdown and Overload Protection

The engine shuts down automatically during low-oil and low-fuel situations. The overload protection helps safeguard sensitive electronic equipment from damage.

Engine Specs for WEN Generators

Let get into knowing about the engines used in the inverter generators by WEN. 

The company mostly uses three types of engines. 79.9cc and 98cc for generators with lower power output (2000 Watts and less) and 212cc and 212cc for mid-level output powers (3-4 kW). 

For now, I will only focus on the type used in the inverter generator model 56380i and its main features related to the performance and specs.

What Engine Is Used in WEN – Model 56380i Inverter Generator?

The engine model used in this generator is the 212cc 4-stroke OHV engine. It has a maximum power output of 4.2 kW with a speed of 3600 RPM.

The main features of this EPA and CARB certified engine unit are:

  • Horizontal Single Cylinder
  • 4-Stroke
  • Forced air-cooled
  • Manual Recoil/Electric Starting Mechanism
  • Forced Splash Lubrication System

You can find the engine’s full specifications here.

Fuel Type and Efficiency

This inverter generator has not incorporated a dual-fuel engine, hence the only fuel you can use to run this engine is gasoline.

Fuel Tank Capacity

The gasoline capacity of the fuel tank of this generator is approximately 8.3 liters (or 2.2 gallons).

Why Is Gasoline Used for This Generator Unit?

As with most of the other generators, gasoline is used in this inverter generator as well. It could also have been a dual-fuel or just any other fuel type like propane but gasoline was probably selected due to its widespread use and ease of availability.

Benefits of Using Gasoline

  • Gasoline produces more energy per unit of fuel than propane and natural gas; hence it can be an ideal choice for running the generator in low fuel and high power requirements.
  • Gasoline is considerably cheaper than propane if we compare the cost of per kW generation. That makes it more efficient in terms of economic values. On the flip side, natural gas is even cheaper than gasoline, but gives out less energy per unit than gasoline, hence becoming impractical. 
  • Gasoline is easily available and extremely common. You won’t have to venture far to have your fuel tank filled. Propane may only be available at some specific locations in your vicinity.

How Long Will The Engine Run On Full Tank?

According to the industry standards for inverter generators with variable engine speeds, fuel consumption ratings are done at 25% load. 

But for this generator unit, I found out that the engine keeps running for about 8.5 hours straight at a 50% load cap with a full fuel tank (2.2 gals of gasoline). 

The graph of load curve and fuel consumption is not linear, it is still somewhat close enough. So I guess it’d run for about 16-17 hours at 25% load.

At full load, you can keep it operational for about 4 hours.

Noise Levels

Portable generators are never noiseless. However, with the advent of the latest technologies and scientific advancements, this issue is being addressed by the companies as a priority. 

WEN has somewhat exceeded expectations in incorporating such tech in this inverter unit, making it one of the quietest in the market. This feature has made this model a hot cake for those who like to have a noiseless environment around them while using a portable generator.

During my research, I rarely came across any generator that was quieter than this one. But there were a few.

Let’s know exactly how loud it can get during the operation.

Variable Load Noise Level

The 212cc 4-Stroke engine operates at about 57 dB at 25% load from 7 meters (23 feet). That is quieter than a normal conversation. In addition to that, the Eco Mode helps to reduce the noise levels even further by slowing down the engine during periods of low or no power usage. 

Hence, the variable load noise levels can fluctuate between 53 – 65 dB. It is quiet, but not too much.

Full Load Noise Level

At full load, this generator is not as quiet as it should be. It can go up to 68-75 dB at full power. Though that is pretty good, it’s still not impressive to be honest if you ask me, given a few other portable generators being even quieter. 

Noise Reduction Technology – Comparison With Other Models

What I have found out is that WEN has made this generator pretty solid and remarkable in terms of noise cancellation. But I came across more than a few generator units that were quieter than this one while running on full loads. 

I’ll mention a few names and models here just for the sake of comparison and see if WEN’s claim is impressive or not.

Louder Models

  • Kohler Power Systems have generators with noise levels of 69-70 dB.
  • Generac’s Guardian Line Series and Protector Gas Series have generators that produce sounds measuring 66 dB

Quieter Models

  • Westinghouse’s WH1000i produces an average sound of 59 dB
  • Westinghouse iGen4500 fluctuates between 46 dB to 61 dB depending upon the load conditions.
  • Champion Power – Model 100574 has an output of 64 dB while running at full load.
  • Honda EU2200i can run as low as 48 dB when at 25% load. 

To conclude, I’d say that, though quite noiseless as compared to a few noisy generators, WEN still has a lot of work to do in this department to make this generator even quieter. 

I’d consider it a bit louder in comparison to its competitors.

Portability

How can we forget about the ease of transportation of a portable generator being of paramount importance? Moving your engines around requires that they be compact, lightweight, portable, and easy to carry.

WEN claims that this inverter generator has a lightweight design and is easy to store and transport. Let’s find out the compactness and weight of the inverter so that you may know if it’s portable enough for you. 

Dry Weight

The dry weight of this WEN generator unit is 99.2 lbs. / 45 kg.

Wet Weight

The wet weight or curb weight of this generator is about 118.6 lbs. / 53.8 kg (that includes Engine Oil = 0.5 qt and full gasoline tank = 2.2 gals).

Compactness

The model 56380i is compact and can easily fit your vehicle or RV without taking up much space due to its smaller-than-average size. Its dimensions are:

  • Length: 23.2 in / 58.92 cm
  • Width: 18.0 in / 45.72 cm
  • Height: 20.1 in / 51 cm

Ergonomics

Portability and ease of transport are among the top features of this model. Though the unit is not as lightweight as it should be, the built-in wheels and a collapsible handle with an attractive design simplify the portability of the engine. 

The sturdy wheels help in ground movements on different surfaces without getting stuck. The handle seamlessly folds and fits into the design without making it look weird and out of place. 

I’d say that a bit of extra weight that this inverter carries is probably due to the presence of this wheel kit and handle. 

Portability – Comparison With Other Models

This model is compact and comparable with other engines of the same kind, there’s no doubt about that. But for me, its increased weight is a tad extra. There are more than a few competitors that are producing lighter and more compact models while providing the same or even power output.

Here’s how a few similar models fare in dimensions and weight in comparison.

Heavier

  1. Honda EU3000iS Super Quiet Inverter Generator
    • Dimensions: 25.9 x 17.6 x 22 inches
    • Weight: 130.7 lbs.
  1. Yamaha EF3000iSE Generator Inverter Generator
    • Dimensions: 26.8 x 17 x 21.8 inches
    • Weight: 147.71 lbs.

Lighter

  1. Westinghouse iGen4200 Hybrid Open Frame Inverter Generator
    • Dimensions: 24 x 20.5 x 20 inches
    • Weight: 80 lbs.
  1. WEN GN400i RV-Ready 4000-Watt Open Frame Inverter Generator
    • Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.8 x 18.9 inches
    • Weight: 66.1 lbs.

Service and Maintenance

Servicing and maintenance of the electric generators should always be performed by certified and knowledgeable professionals. In case you are not familiar with the procedures, it would be best that you call a professional or a technician to help you out in that regard.

WEN has detailed all the maintenance schedules in the user and operation manual of the model 56380i here

If you need further help, you can call the WEN help center at 1-800-232-1195 or email their support team at [email protected] for further support in regards to your inverter. 

User and Operation Manual

You can go through the operator’s manual of the WEN model 56380i inverter generator here

Warranty

WEN offers a 2-year warranty for this generator equipment. The company has a nationwide network of its own (and sponsored) certified technicians and professionals that can help you out if you get stuck and need a hand.

As an additional step, if you need to claim your warranty within the stipulated period, you will have to include the following in your support email:

  • Your shipping address
  • Item’s model number
  • Item’s serial number
  • List of requested part numbers 
  • Proof of purchase

Commonly Known Issues

WEN’s inverter generators aren’t immune from issues like all others, and here are a few that I have found during the extensive research done on this model.

Long Wait For Replacement Parts

The users may have to wait for weeks before they can get any replacements parts or warranty claims validated. WEN takes a bit of time in delivering the needed parts. The long wait of a week or weeks could be frustrating and discouraging.

Electric Start Fails

Though not very common, the electric start push-button starts failing after prolonged use. The only way to run the generator then is to pull start it. This issue takes significant advantage of this inverter generator off the table.

Loud For Nearby Use

The sound levels can easily exceed 70 dB when the generator is running on full load. This noise level is pretty loud for operating the generator right outside the window of your room or running it in a quiet camping place. 

Hence, you’d be spending on an acoustic enclosure for your inverter very soon if you want to have a peaceful sleep during the power outages.

Faulty Fuel Lines

As per the user reviews and experience, it is not fairly uncommon that the fuel lines start leaking after a few hundred hours of usage. 

Online User Reviews and Ratings

I also looked for the average ratings, the users have given this inverter generator, over several websites in general. 

Here’s what I have found:

  • Ratings
    • Positive – 976
    • Critical – 65
    • Total – 1041
  • Reviews
    • Positive – 261
    • Critical – 30
    • Total – 291
  • Average Rating: 4.7 / 5

Ratings by Features

  • Value For Money – 5 / 5
  • Portability – 4.7 / 5
  • Maneuverability – 4.7 / 5
  • For Working Out – 4.4 / 5
  • Light Weight – 4.3 / 5
  • Noise Level – 4.3 / 5

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s go through a few common queries of the potential customers who want to know more about a few features of this generator.

Is there any natural gas conversion kit available for this generator set?

WEN does not sell any natural gas conversion kit along with this inverter. That may be because the water vapor build-up will result in rusting of the carburetor and fuel lines while using natural gas as fuel.
You will need to visit the market and talk to an expert or the company’s customer support to know more about conversion kits. I have mentioned the contact details of WEN’s customer support in the review article above.

Is pull-start easy to use when the battery drains itself during storage?

The pull start works just fine with this generator so you don’t have to worry about your battery getting drained and being able to start the generator afterward. It only requires a single pull (in most cases) to turn the generator on.
In regards to the battery drainage, the generator charges it while it’s running. So if you are planning to store the unit for a long time, you may want to turn it on for a while after every 30-40 days or so to keep the battery from getting drained.

What type of fuel does this model use?

As I had mentioned in the review above, this model uses regular gasoline as fuel. It isn’t dual fuel so there no option to use any other kind of fuel unless you use a conversion kit. 
WEN recommends that you use gasoline with a minimum octane number of 87. To add to your knowledge, using high-octane gasoline would extend your engine’s life and decrease the maintenance required for the generator by producing fewer byproducts during combustion. 

What is the fuel consumption rate at specific loads for the WEN 56380i inverter generator unit?

WEN has used an efficient engine for this generator, hence giving you peace of mind in regards to the fuel consumption. The engine runs for about 8.5 hours at 50% load on a full fuel tank of 2.2 gallons.
If you want to know more, I have also mentioned the estimated run time for 25% load in the above review. 

Will this generator be able to run my RV’s 15,000BTU AC?

The RV’s 15,000BTU AC typically requires about 3.5 kW to turn on. So this generator should be able to power it easily but you will have to manage the load first.
Start your AC first before connecting any other devices and turning them on. Keep an eye on the overall load and you should be good to go.

What type of engine oil should I use for this generator?

As per WEN’s instructions, the type of oil you should use for your engine depends on the operating temperature.
* 30W Engine Oil for temperatures above 40°F
* 10W-30 Engine Oil for temperatures between 0°F – 40°F
* Synthetic 5W-30 Engine Oil for all temperature ranges 

Does this inverter come with an hour meter? Or does the digital display also show the total overall run time?

The digital display meter only shows the current run time of the running generator. Once you turn the generator off, it will go to zero and the count will start again from scratch the next time you turn it on.
For logging the total number of hours, I’d suggest that you use a third-party hour meter.

Can I use the output power for my sensitive electronics?

If you ask me, this generator is one of the best in actually producing clean power exactly as the company claims. At full power output, the total harmonic distortion is even less than 1.2% so your sensitive tools and gadgets are pretty safe.

Where can I buy a starter battery replacement?

You should be able to get a replacement battery from any authorized spare parts dealer or an auto-parts shop. It’s a simple 1.6 Ah Lithium-Ion battery.

Pros and Cons

WEN’s inverter generators are pretty solidly built if we take a look at their quality, specs, and features. However, there’s no portable generator that can incorporate every single feature and not bring with it any cons.

Here’s what the model 56380i brings to the table.

Pros:

  • Approval certifications. EPA III and CARB Compliant.
  • Compact size and attractive design.
  • 16-18 hours run time at 25% load. Increase in fuel efficiency with the Eco mode.
  • Fuel shutoff extends engine life and minimizes maintenance.
  • Stable & pure sine wave output with minimal THD. Safe to use for sensitive electronics.
  • Keyless electric start at the press of a button.
  • Digital display meter. Shows wattage, run time, frequency, and fuel quantity.
  • Portable design that comes with preinstalled wheels and a folding handle.

Cons:

  • No pre-installed hour meter. You’ll have to buy it separately from another vendor.
  • Pretty loud at full power. Nearly as loud as a conventional generator.
  • Does not include a remote start technology.
  • A bit heavier. Not for one person to lift it and move around.

Summary

It’s very difficult to provide a quality product with a lot of features and specifications at a cheap price when it comes to portable inverter generators. There are a lot of competitors who are battling it out to capture a bigger consumer base in the market by providing more for less. It looks like WEN is doing a pretty good job in all of the departments when we take a detailed look at this inverter model.

Though it’s not the quietest and lightest among the lot, it gives you good value for money with its latest and state-of-art tech and features. You may not get a keyless electric start, digital display, and output with extremely low THD at such a price. 

The specs of this inverter make it perfect for use as a backup by tech geeks who would like to run their sensitive equipment on a near-perfect sine wave output. The compact size also allows it to be transported around for camping and tailgating purposes, in your RVs, and even the food trucks or businesses on the wheels.

If you are looking for something even quieter, cross out this model. But if you are in for comfort, affordability, and good value for money, you have got a great choice in WEN 56380i.

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