For the unprepared, a power outage is the worst kind of emergency, especially as they tend to happen during seasons you can least afford to be without power. And, yes, not all of us can find space in the budget for a large standby generator that can back up all your house’s circuits.
The WEN 56200i is just what you need if you are looking for a quiet, reliable, yet affordable portable generator for tailgating, camping, or off-grid construction work. This WEN 56200i generator review shares everything we have learned about this inverter generator.
Why Choose WEN?
WEN generators are made by WEN, a small company based in Illinois. WEN itself is owned by a company called Great Lakes Technology. Older Americans may be familiar with WEN generators as they have been around since 1951.
Although WEN is an American company, the generators are made in China. Many prefer equipment made in the US, but it has to be said that being American-made does not always mean stellar quality.
Despite being manufactured in China, WEN generators are well-made, with a good reputation for their sturdy build, quality, and reliable performance. WEN also boasts a USA-based customer support team and a nationwide network of support technicians.
The WEN 56200i is a portable inverter generator that uses a gasoline-powered engine to deliver 1,600 watts of continuous power and a surge capacity of 2,000 watts. It uses an inverter module that produces clean power with no spikes and drops that may damage sensitive electronics like smartphones, laptops, and CPAP machines.
Even though power needs differ, the WEN 56200i’s 1,600 watts of continuous power is not sufficient to backup most homes. As a result, it is more suitable for recreational use. The 2,000-watt generator is portable and quiet enough to use for camping and tailgating and produces enough electricity to run power tools when working away from the grid.
Sometimes it is not the generator’s capacity that limits how many items you can power at the same time. The generator may simply not have enough ports. That is true to an extent with the WEN 56200i.
The WEN 2000-watt generator features two three-prong 120V AC receptacles and one automotive-style 12V DC port. It does, however, add a 5W USB port that some of its direct competitors lack and which is convenient for charging your tablets and phones.
You may find that doubling the generator’s capacity gets you the amount of power you need. In that case, the WEN 56200i is parallel capable, which means you can use a parallel kit to tie it with another WEN 56200i and double the power output. The parallel kit is bought separately.
The main benefit of inverter generators and the reason they are more expensive than traditional open-frame models is their ability to deliver stable, cleaner power that protects sensitive electronics.
The WEN 56200i 2000-watt inverter generator produces some of the cleanest power among the generators in its class. According to the manufacturer, the generator’s inverter module limits total harmonic distortion to 1.2 percent at full load and a low 0.3 percent when running without load.
Tank Capacity and Runtime
The last thing you want is to be refilling the gas tank every two hours. With a larger fuel tank, you would spend that time on something more productive.
The WEN 56200i has a 1-gallon gas tank that delivers 9.4 hours runtime with the generator running at 25 percent of its rated capacity. While that’s still quite decent, its competitors have larger fuel tanks and better runtimes.
A great perk of inverter generators is their variable speed. They throttle up and down as you plug and unplug load items. Known as Eco Mode on this generator, this feature gives you longer runtime when powering smaller loads. That helps to prevent unnecessary fuel usage.
Another important benefit of the Eco mode feature is noise reduction. Since the generator runs at a lower RPM, it does not make as much noise. The noise level for this generator is 53 dBA, which is no louder than a normal conversation.
With a quieter generator, you keep happier neighbors and avoid annoying fellow campers or falling foul of noise pollution laws that some federal parks and camping grounds enforce.
Dimensions and Portability
Portability on a generator is a factor of not just its weight and bulk. An ergonomic carrying handle improves ease of handling and reduces fatigue if you must lug the generator around a lot. The handle needs to be sturdy and have a solid feel to it.
The WEN 56200i measures 18 inches long, 11 inches wide, and 18 inches high. That’s not bulky, but it isn’t the most compact either. It is a bit tall, which may pose an issue if you intend to transport it under your truck’s Roll-N-Lock tonneau cover.
The generator weighs 48 pounds, which is fairly light. That’s the ‘dry’ weight, which does not factor in the gasoline. With a full tank, the generator weighs about 57 pounds. You should still be able to carry the generator with one hand, so we would say it is quite portable.
As WEN itself says, with the WEN 56200i, power is one less thing you have to worry about. But how long will the generator hold up? Feedback from current owners is encouraging on that front. Many are happy with the build quality, itself a measure of durability.
Like most other inverter generators, the WEN 2,000-watt inverter generator is not waterproof. If you have to use it in rainy weather, cover it to protect against water damage. If you can’t buy the purpose-made cover, a large umbrella or makeshift tarp will work.
The WEN 56200i portable inverter generator runs on a 79 cc, 4-stroke gas-powered engine. According to reviews, the engine is quite efficient and easy to start. Most times it starts on the second pull.
In terms of fuel usage, the consensus is that it sips gas. You will save even more gas if you are only running low-draw appliances as that would mean you can run the generator in the fuel-efficient Eco mode.
If you look after it well and change the oil as recommended, it will fire up and purr like a kitten every time you run it.
Using Your WEN 2000-Watt Inverter Generator
The WEN 56200i super quiet 2000-watt generator uses a manual recoil start, which is standard in this class. Review after review says starting the generator is easy.
- If it doesn’t start on the first pull, the generator fires up on the second pull most of the time.
- Before you start the generator, you should fill the fuel tank. The funnel is more useful for filling the oil. Use a larger funnel so you don’t spill the gas.
- You will find that the fuel cap has a vent with a valve that opens and closes it. You need to turn the valve to OPEN before running the generator. Return the cap valve to OFF after stopping the engine. If you don’t do this, the gas may spill when you move, lift, or tilt the generator for transportation.
- Don’t neglect to add the oil when running the generator the first time. Remove the oil cover by undoing the three screws you will find on the right side of the generator.
- With the cover off, you should see the oil plug. Undo it to fill the oil. To avoid overfilling the oil, pre-measure the oil to the recommended volume.
- Now, to start the generator, turn the big knob on the user interface from OFF to CHOKE. Then pull the recoil cord. The generator should fire upon the first or second pull. After running for a few seconds, turn the knob from CHOKE to RUN. You will hear the generator’s sound stabilize to a smooth purr.
How to Maintain Your WEN 2000-Watt Inverter Generator
A well-maintained generator optimizes fuel usage and has a longer use life. You will be glad to know that maintaining your WEN 56200i inverter generator is straightforward.
- Most of the maintenance work involves changing the oil, which you should do every 25 hours.
- A few people have asked why the generator doesn’t have a dedicated ON switch. When you look at it closely, you will find that the CHOKE switch that doubles as the ON switch serves an important purpose.
- Turning the knob to the OFF position shuts the fuel supply from the gas tank to the carburetor, which starves the engine of gas and forces it to stop. So, the carb is drained of all the fuel that would otherwise gum up and block the jets if the generator sits idle for a long time.
- Gasoline degrades if it sits too long in the fuel tank. So, it is a good idea to treat it with a stabilizer. Otherwise, the gas may be no good when it comes time to fire up the generator after a period of sitting idle. As a best practice, when not in use, store your generator in a garage or shed to protect it from bad weather.
- Besides the gasoline degrading, your generator may also not start as easily after sitting for months. Give it more pulls than you would normally, and it will eventually start. The starting issues also tend to worsen in winter.
Safety Features on the WEN 56200i Inverter Generator
Although few people ever ground their inverter generators, it is not because there is no means of doing that. The WEN 56200i has a grounding nut that’s easily accessible on the control panel where you can attach and secure a grounding wire and protect the generator, yourself, and your connected equipment from lightning strikes.
If your area is prone to lightning, it is a good idea to put this important feature to use and ground your generator. While traditional open-frame generators have self-grounding capability thanks to their metal frames, inverter generators have a plastic outer shell that does not conduct electricity and is, therefore, not useful for grounding purposes.
It is not a good idea to connect more load items than the generator can power, but if your wattage calculations are off, that may well happen. Thankfully, this WEN 56200i 2000-watt generator has an inbuilt mechanism for preventing damage to the generator caused by overloading.
The WEN 56200i will automatically trip and has a button you use to reset it. There’s an overload indicator light on the control panel that warns you are now exceeding capacity. It is the middle of the three warning lights that you will find right at the top of the control panel.
Low Oil Shut-off
As well as the overload indicator light, the WEN 56200i has a low oil indicator light. It is the extreme right one of the three indicator lights. This light gives a timely reminder to top off the oil. If you don’t top the oil, the generator will automatically shut down to protect itself from severe wear.
Generators produce exhaust sparks that can start a fire when used in a forested area. As such, federal guidelines require that all generators used in national parks have a spark arrestor. You may not easily see it in the exhaust system, but the WEN 2000-watt inverter generator does have a federally-approved spark arrestor.
What You Can Power With the WEN 56200i Inverter Generator
This inverter generator is too small to back up your home’s electricity. But there is still quite a lot you can do with its 1,600 watts of continuous power at home, at your cabin out in the woods, around your RV, and on remote job sites.
The first thing you need to do is calculate your power needs to have an idea of which of your appliances and devices the generator can run at the same time.
A common mistake is making your calculations based on running watts. Some appliances, like your AC unit, require significantly more power to start up the motor than they need to run. The safest approach is to work off your appliances’ starting watts, so you know you will always have excess capacity to prevent an overload.
|Engine Type||4-stroke, OHV|
|Tank Capacity||1.19 gal.|
|Max. Runtime||6 hours @ 50% load|
|Dimensions||18″ x 11″ x 18″|
|Noise Level||51 dBA|
- Economic buy
- Multiple outlets
- Clean power output
- Impressive runtime
- Less noise
- Missing data center
- External grounding required
Comparing WEN 56200i 2000-Watt Gas Portable Inverter Generator With Similar Generators
While the WEN 56200i generator compares well on most features, it does not blow the competition out of the water. It has the same engine specs as the Champion 100692 and its other direct competitors. Its runtime is the lowest among the options we reviewed above, mainly because of a smaller fuel tank. The generator is also not as portable, and the warranty is one year shorter than the other options.
Where the WEN 56200i shines is the power quality, with a THD of around 1.2 percent at full capacity. If you use a CPAP or even a BPAP, you may want to get this generator just for that purpose. It’s also hard to miss that the WEN 56200i is priced cheaper than its competitors, which means it may deliver more bang for your buck.
Many owners have remarked on how quiet the generator runs, which is an important attribute in an inverter generator. And while the WEN does not jump off the page in terms of specs, feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive. It is fuel-efficient and a reliable performer overall.
The WEN 2,000-watt portable inverter generator is a quiet, efficient, reliable generator that is great for recreational use. It flies under the radar when compared to its competitors, but those that have bought it have a lot of positives to report. It is well-built and sells at a great price. We strongly recommend it.
Check Out More Of Our WEN Generator Reviews
The Ultimate WEN DF1100T 11000-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator Review
The Ultimate WEN 56203i 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator Review
The Ultimate WEN 56235i 2350-Watt Gas Portable Inverter Generator Review
The Ultimate WEN 56380i 3800-Watt Gas Portable Inverter Generator Review
The Ultimate WEN DF475T 4750-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator Review
The Ultimate WEN GN400i 4000-Watt Gas Portable Inverter Generator Review
The WEN 2,000-watt inverter generator’s 1-gallon tank delivers a runtime of 9.4 hours running at a quarter load. Although not world-beating, that is comparable to options from rival brands.
We have seen recommendations for Mobil 1 Synthetic 5W-30 oil as a good option for portable inverter generators. Others use 10W30 automotive oil. Otherwise, refer to your user manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation. Also, check for how much oil you need to add when changing the oil.
The WEN 56200i has a dry weight of 48 pounds and weighs around 57 pounds when the gas tank is full. While that’s not light enough to carry for a distance, it is a manageable weight to lift onto a truck and to carry for short distances.
The WEN 2,000-watt portable inverter generator has a noise level of 53 decibels running at a quarter of its capacity. That’s no louder than a normal conversation and quieter than many options in this class.
No, WEN and Generac aren’t the same. These are different companies whose only similarities are that they are both American companies that manufacture portable generators.