The Powerpro 56101 is the answer for when your power needs are specific and small. At 1000 watts and 900 running watts, you will be limited with what you can power with this unit, but for the limits on power, this is a great value for the money. At 900 watts there is 7.5Amps at 120volts.
It is important to know first off that this is a 2-stroke, single cylinder generator, meaning there is no separate oil reservoir as with the 4-stroke engines in most portable generators. You must mix the oil directly with the gasoline in this type of engine.
For a small capacity generator, this has features that outshine other models of this size, as you’ll read below.
First off, this generator is made by WEN. WEN is a top name manufacturer and stands behind their products with a 1 year warranty and excellent customer service. The information in this review is deemed accurate, however you may contact the company directly with any questions or concerns. They can be reached via email at: email@example.com. You may also call 800-232-1195.
WEN Products are headquartered in Elgin, IL 60124
There is a larger version in a 4 stroke model available under the PowerPro Brand. It is a 4050 watt (3250 running watts), the PowerPro 56405 model, but at this point you might consider their flagship WEN 56400, or 56352 model reviewed on this site.
What about the engine?
The PowerPro is CARB compliant, meaning that it is available for sale in California by meeting their strict emissions requirements. The 63cc engine is 2HP, made in China. With its 1 gallon tank, you can expect to run 5 hours at ½ load draw. There is no gas meter on the fuel tank.
As mentioned, this is a 2-stroke engine where you must mix the oil with the gasoline. There is a conflict in the mixing ratio recommended. The user’s manual recommends a 50:1 ratio of gas to oil. This is about 2.5 oz oil in 1 gallon of gasoline. 50:1 seems rather high. Other literature recommends 32:1.
The thing about oil in gas mixtures, care should be taken with accurate measurement. Too much oil may cause the engine to smoke or for oil to leak out of the exhaust. You also run the risk of fowling, making starting difficult. Too lean and you risk damage to the engine as the oil is meant to lubricate the moving parts during operation.
The oil also aids in compression. You may wish to start with the lower ratio, and increase up to the larger, and hold below where you get smoking or leaking. You can us 10% ethanol gasoline, but you will see better performance with higher octanes.
Make sure you get oil rated for 2-stroke engine use. Most have fuel stabilizer included which is recommended if you will keep the gas in your generator for a few months. Oil is NOT included with purchase.
To insure accurate measurement, you should mix the oil and gas outside of the gas tank and not directly in the tank in some sort of metered container. The company recommends NMMA or TC-WII or TC-W3 or JASO FB or JASO FC classified oil.
The recommended spark plug is NGK BP5ES or similar. Reviewers have suggested replacing the spark plug that comes factory installed with a “quality” one. The gap should be 0.7-0.8mm.
The included spark arrester allows you to use the generator in national parks.
How Portable is It?
When you have a low capacity generator, it is a great choice for tailgating or camping where you don’t expect to be powering much at the same time. In fact the unit is very portable. At only 36 pounds it is easily carried by most and there is an included handle on top. It doesn’t have a wheel apparatus, but at the size and weight, it doesn’t need the added expense.
The dimensions are only 14” wide x 12” deep x 13.5” high. Yup, small and compact.
Of course you want to use any portable generator on a level surface. This unit has four rubber foot pads to help with uneven surfaces as well as help to reduce vibration. Shaking is common in larger units, but there is little or no comments in reviews on excess vibration of this unit.
Since the unit is so small, you want to avoid operating in high temperatures in direct sunlight to prevent overheating.
How Loud is It?
According to the specs, this generator is relatively quiet. They report the noise level as 60 decibels (dB) when measured at a distance of 22 feet. This dB level is what you would expect for normal conversation.
This does NOT coincide with many reviews by actual users who comment that the unit is “loud” measuring up to 85 dB at private measurement measured at 10 feet. I have difficulty believing a dB rating this high as even the large 7HP, 5000 watt generators rarely get this loud.
Read about noise readings and an explanation of measurement on this site on the article “What is the Quietest Generator.”
It’s been said that this model Idles rough without load but runs smoother when a load is attached.
What Makes the PowerPro 56101 Such a Good Deal?
Let’s face it, for the price, you wouldn’t expect much. Happily, this little generator delivers more than would expect for the money. Most units of this output and price would give you a single AC outlet (5-15R) like you would find in your home, a breaker for that outlet, and that’s about it. This one gives you so much more.
You get a voltmeter so you always know the wattage output. This is usually not included in even the mid-range generators. One reviewer recommends water proofing the meter by outlining the cover with silicone
You get a 12 volt DC outlet with reset button (8.3Amps). This is not intended to charge automotive batteries. AND the unit comes WITH the DC cord with clips on the business end. You just don’t find this feature in standard generators of 1000 watts. You may find this in smaller inverter type generators but you’ll pay MUCH more for those generators.
Wow! No wonder this is such a popular generator. At the price, it should be in every home as a “must-have appliance. You’ll spend more on your coffee maker these days!
Which one costs more?
Honestlly, if you keep one of these in your garage just for power outages, by keeping your refrigerator/freezer running, you’ll recoup the cost of the generator by keeping your food from spoiling!
Is it Easy to Start?
As you would expect, it is a standard pull-start recoil. The mechanism is made of plastic (remember they have to cut costs somewhere). The starting mechanism is where most of the negative comments are. These comments range from hard to start (which may be procedural), to the recoil mechanism breaking all together.
Do yourself a favor and replace the pull handle with a good one from the hardware store. Alternatively, WEN offers a replacement recoil starter mechanism from their site should you need it.
What is the Maintenance Schedule?
Just like any generator, take care of it and it will take care of you. Since it is a 2-stroke engine, there is less maintenance than the larger 4 cycle engines, such as oil changes and adjustments. There are a few items that you’ll need to take care.
Air filter should be checked before each use and cleaned every 3 months or 50 hours of use. Cleaning is a simple as removing from the housing, washing, drying, and treated with motor oil prior to reinserting.
Clean or change the spark plug with the included plug wrench every 6 months or 100 hours The oil and gas mixture could necessitate cleaning more often.
With the nature of ethanol fuel, there is always the possibility of buildup in the tank. So cleaning the tank and keeping the fuel fresh is important. The owner’s manual recommends cleaning every year or 300 hours by removing the tank from the engine by removing four bolts, and draining via the fuel line. If you’re handy, you can leave the tank in place and carefully disconnect the fuel line at the carburetor, open the fuel valve and drain that way.
4 out of 5 Stars on Amazon
There are over 100 reviews on Amazon.com for this unit. Over 80% rate it 4 or 5 stars. The few negative reviews talk about the starting rope mechanism, losing power, or that it is louder than expected.
What more can I say? If you don’t already have a portable generator, and you’re not ready to shell out the bucks for a larger model, this one really makes sense to own. After you check out the price for this unit, you’ll agree that for the insurance of keeping your good from spoiling in a power outage, to being able to call on 1000 portable watts at any other time, you can not afford to be without one.
With more features of any other generator of this size, the volt meter, versatility of having the available 12V, and the backing of a major maker in WEN, this unit gets a big yes from me. The reviews of consumers concur.
The only real drawback is the recoil starter where most of the complaints come from.
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