The market for generators are divided into three main subsets: portable generators, whole home (or standby) generators, and inverter generators. Standby generators are large units, which are stationed outside a home or commercial property. They are wired directly into a building’s electrical system, and can run a portion of the building when and if needed. Inverter generators are compact, more efficient, and far more expensive versions of a portable generator.
Standard portable generators are a great mix of power and portability. They can be used for a number of reasons, under many circumstances, and can power just about anything you can plug in. Most portable generators can be separated into three wattage classes:
- Smaller generators run between 1000W and 3000W
- Mid-sized generators run between 3000W and 5000W
- Large portable generators are those over 5000W
The WEN 56180, which is the subject of this extensive product review, run as 1500W, putting it firmly into the smaller portable generator class, providing quick and easily-transportable power at a fraction of the cost of comparable inverter generators. Read on for our full breakdown of the WEN 56180, from your friendly professionals at Generator Expert.
Features of the WEN 56180
Smaller does not mean inferior. The WEN 56180 portable generator packs a reliable and sturdy punch. It easily provides 1500W of consistent power, with a 1800W surge. This may not seem like a lot of power, however it has been shown that many generator purchasers end up purchasing a portable generator that is too powerful for what they really need it for. Over-purchasing and under-purchasing is a common problem prevalent in generator buying processes. More on this below.
Regarding Over-and Under-Purchasing xxx
Over-purchasing happens when you pick out the generator that is far larger than your requirements. You do want to be mindful of unexpected plans, future additions and other unforeseen circumstances. But If you need a smaller 1500W generator and you purchase the 7500W model, you have over-purchased. Unused potential is being wasted in the form of initial cost, larger and heavier bulk, fuel consumption, and more intensive maintenance.
However, the opposite is true in under-purchasing. Picking out the smaller generator that 1500W generator and then attempting to power 2500W with it will quickly lead to disappointment. You should know your power consumption budget and plan to purchase the appropriate portable generator.
1500W is a smaller generator, but if 1500W is the right size to fulfill the needs without being too small or too large, then 1500W is not small, it is just right. Be sure to plan ahead, know your wattage draw and budget in for unexpected additions. The 1500W WEN 56180 may by your Goldilocks generator that is just the right sized tool for the job.
There are many on-line wattage calculators that will assist you in learning what kind of power draw you are drawing depending on the devices you wish to power from the generator. The larger wattage generators will power more devices, or more power hungry devices, and the smaller generators are great for small jobs where you need a remote power source but are not expecting to supply power for a large number of devices.
Regarding Generator Power
The WEN 56180 is capable of supplying 1500W with a 1800W surge. This is a great little generator for the tailgate party, campsite, or weekend at the cabin. You can light up the dark while at the camp, power the television to watch the game from the parking lot, or run the coffee maker for those remote camping mornings.
At the house, the WEN 56180 is perfect for those unexpected power outages. 1500W is enough to run the refrigerator and keep your food cold until the commercial power can be restored. The 1800W surge capacity is perfect to allow the refrigerator motor cycle on and off without overloading the circuit breakers. Generators can handle momentary pulses of increased draw for just such occurrences. Motors and fans always draw that extra “surge” to get them started.
Regarding Generator Fuel
The WEN 56180 has a 1.1 gallon fuel tank and will give you 7.5 hours run time on half load capacity. This lengthy run time gets even longer if you are running your generator at less than 50% load. Nearly eight uninterrupted hours grants you the ability to run your critical appliance needs without worry, throughout the night or while you attend to other needs. While camping or tailgating, odds are you aren’t running at full capacity and this long runtime capacity most likely equates to a single full tank easily handling all your needs, eliminating the need for refueling.
Regarding Generator Controls
The simple and easy control face plate gives you all the options you need to safely run your generator at your fingertips. The main engine on/off cutoff switch is illuminated, as is the “power” indicator that remains lit when the engine is running at speed and supplying voltage to the outlets. Even in the dark, if you need to turn off the generator you will clearly be able to see where this critical switch is.
A standard household 20A dual three prong outlet is all you need in this smaller class of generator. Both plugs are backed up with a pop-out circuit breaker, resettable right on the control panel. Next to the breakers is an option that many generators do not have and that is the single 12v cigarette-plug style outlet.
You won’t have to eat up one of those precious plugs on the generator or at the working end of your extension cords with your phone charger. Just plug the same charger cable you use in your vehicle and plug directly into the generator’s cigarette adapter plug outlet on the face plate, and you have 12vdc to top off the battery in your phone, tablet or any other of our portable electronic devices.
More About the WEN 56180
Our small generator here is a packed little machine. Don’t let its smaller size deceive you. The WEN 56180 runs continuously at 1500W and that is plenty of power to get the tailgate party started, or to bring some comforts to the campsite, or in case of a catastrophe, provide some of your critical needs appliances that precious power they require until the emergency is over and regular power is restored.
Perfect for parking lot kitchens; cooking for the tailgate and forgot to thaw the main dish? Or just wanting to heat up those frozen hot-pockets? Your standard microwave runs at 1000W.
Your family talked you into camping and you’re just not up to the task of another nature walk without some freshly brewed coffee? Pressing “brew” on your Keurig surges to 1500W but quickly drops down to 300W. Coffee will be ready soon. And the inflating pump for that air mattress only runs at 50W, so enjoy that campfire with some of your home amenities!
The hurricane knocked out city power and you can’t sleep in the muggy summer heat. Your box fan will move your air around surging at 1700W and running all night long at 900W. Or if you have a lot of perishable goods in the refrigerator, you can plug it into the generator and save your groceries as the refrigerator cycles on at 1500W and runs cold at 700W.
Whatever your needs, the WEN 56180 is a more than capable tool to provide you that small dose of critical remote power.
Compact not only in its features, but also in its built, the WEN 56180 packs a large punch in a small package. Weighing in at just 50 pounds, this easily handled generator can be lifted in and out of storage and lugged around job sites and campgrounds without straining your back.
The heavy duty open pipe frame measures up to a rugged performance and fully encloses the generator’s working parts. Measuring 20” wide, 16” deep and just over 17” tall, this small bundle can be stored on a shelf in the shed or even kept fully contained in a protective bin between uses, not only keeping the generator safe from dust and other debris, but also keeping your garage shelf safe from any stray oil and gasoline from the generator.
Reporting a 63dB operating volume, this is comparable to normal speech, possibly an animated conversation slightly louder than ordinary chatter. Larger generators that provide more power come at the cost of being much louder as well.
This model generator is compliant with the California Air Resources Board and can be sold and operated in the state of California. The influence of California’s stricter regulations is becoming a benchmark for small engine manufacturers and this generator already meets those expectations.
To download the owner’s manual PDF of the WEN 56180 Generator from the WEN website, please click here.
Pros and Cons of the WEN 56180
The results speak for themselves, the WEN 56180 is a solid little generator if you are searching for a “solid little generator”. We have put together a couple pros and cons about this unit, and listing its small wattage should not be listed under “con” as it is specifically designed to be a small output generator.
If your complaint about this generator is that it won’t handle the wattage you need to draw, then you have under-purchased your generator.
Pros of the WEN 56180
- CARB compliant. This generator is certified under the California Air Resources Board rules and regulations meaning this portable generator can be purchased and used in all 50 states.
- 12vDC outlet. This outlet is not available on so many of its contemporaries, it’s a nice feature that is convenient and useful.
Cons of the WEN 56180
- No switched breakers. We would have liked to see a switched breaker that allows you to turn the output on and off instead of the popped/reset type. Not a deal-killer but a nice option.
- No oil alert. Another con that is certainly not a reason to avoid the generator, but could have added a nice value to the unit. The low oil cutoff will do its job without a fancy LED, but visually alerting the user to the condition would be a nice addition.
Alternatives to the WEN 56180 Generator
- Briggs and Stratton Generator
- Champion Generator 3500
- DuroStar DS4400 Generator
- Westinghouse WGen7500 Generator
The WEN 56180 is a small generator as a smaller price. The home consumer looking for a small needs generator can rely on WEN’s reputation and reviews to provide them with the security of portable power.
The 56180 model is a good model generator for those looking for an easily transported unit to power up those few small appliances they just can’t do without.
Those looking to power up the entire RV or construction site should look to WEN’s lineup for heftier models, but the 56180 will be more than enough for those who know what to expect from a smaller line of generators.
Additional Generator Resources
- Portable Generator Transfer Switch: A 2020 Guide
- Generator Oil Matters: Choosing The Right Oil For Your Generator
- Power Line Conditioner: A Great Purchase? Our Take + 4 Options
- How To Parallel Generators For Strong Power in 2020
- The Importance of a Generator Wheel Kit in 2020
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