Top positive review
956 people found this helpful
Excellent Generator for the Money!
on July 14, 2013
Note: This is a very long review. Please click on the blue, "Read more >" link below to see the entire review. No changes have been made to the original review that was posted on July 14, 2013 (except for data and grammar corrections). As time progressed, updates and comments were posted at the end of the original July 14, 2013 review. The last update is dated, 03 Jul 2016.
Start of original July 14, 2013 review:
Spent a few months debating which inverter generator to purchase. My main priority was the ability to power the 13,500 BTU Dometic a/c unit on my new 2013 toy hauler (OEM model 457915; LRA rating is 63 amps; start capacitor kit not installed). Like a lot of folks I did my fair share of googling and visiting various online forums collecting information.
If money was no object, I would have probably purchased one of the Honda or Yamaha 3000w inverter models (or a pair of the Honda/Yamaha 2000's). However, they're more than double the money. I seriously considered the Yamaha EF2400iSHC, but it cost about $400 more. Plus, I'd heard of a very small number of folks that were unable to power a 13,500 BTU a/c with their EF2400iSHC.
In any case, received my new Champion 75531i (3100w max/2800w rated) inverter generator from supergenproducts.com two days after I ordered it. Added some oil and fuel and it cranked up on the very first pull!
First impression? It's a tad louder than I expected under moderate/heavy load (with the 13,500 BTU a/c compressor on). I'd guess around 62-64 db or so (it's distinctly louder on the exhaust side of the generator). When the a/c compressor kicks off with the economy mode turned ON, the engine RPM's (and sound level) drop quite a bit--again, I'll take a guess and say down to around 57-58db. In any case, not as quiet as the EF2400iSHC which I've used in the past. It's rated at 53-60db (25% to full-load conditions). However, it's important to keep in mind the Champion 75531i is designed to compete with the lighter, 80 lb. Honda EU3000iH "Handi" generator which has a db rating (of 57-65 db, 25% to full-load) similar to the Champion 75531i. I've heard the Honda "Handi" on several occasions and I believe the 75531i's sound level is very comparable. The Honda "Handi" should not be confused with the more common, much **quieter** (49-58 db), much heavier, 134 lb. Honda EU3000iS.
In terms of power handling capability, the Champion successfully handles the Dometic 13,500 BTU a/c compressor surge with the economy mode turned ON; however, the overload LED does flash momentarily every time the compressor kicks on. FWIW, this was on a 100 degree day with high humidity. Voltage (measured with my Fluke inside the toy hauler) was steady at 124.5 volts with the frig on, converter on (battery fully charged), a/c fan on high, and a/c compressor off. When the a/c compressor kicked on, the voltage readout on my Fluke became erratic for a split second then quickly stabilized at 123.4 volts (again, with the economy mode ON). Of course, with the economy mode turned OFF, there was much less voltage fluctuation when the compressor kicked on; however, the 75531i is continuously 3 or 4 db louder and uses more fuel with the economy mode OFF. Lastly, even though Champion states clearly on the generator's box that the 75531i is not recommended for use with a circular saw, it did successfully power my Craftsman 13 amp circular saw (the overload LED flashes momentarily upon startup with economy mode turned both ON and OFF).
The build quality seems very good to excellent. The two wheels are rubber and not plastic, so it wheels around quietly. The two stationary handles on top are all plastic, but feel more than strong enough to support the full weight of the generator. There's a very large handle on the exhaust side that lifts up and allows you to wheel the generator around quickly and easily. This handle does flex a bit. Not sure how it will hold up with repeated use. The generator I received had a cracked handle and shroud from an overtightened bolt. I called Champion customer service and they've agreed to send me a replacement handle and shroud (added 25 Jul 2013 comment: parts received approx. a week later and installed DIY).
Bottom line, I think the Champion 75531i 3100w max/2800w rated inverter generator is a good buy at its current street price of $800-$850. From all indications, it appears Champion does a good job of backing up their products with good warranty service. I called them a few times to get technical info on the 75531i before this purchase and they were always very helpful and informative.
End of original July 14, 2013 review.
31 Aug 2013 Fuel Consumption Test: 75531i gas tank is rated to hold 1.6 gallons. Filled up an empty gas tank to the "red mark" as recommended by Champion and it took exactly 1.6 gallons. This daytime test was conducted under severe conditions: outside temps of 104-105 degrees, 50-60% humidity, Economy Mode ON, elevation 1200 ft., and an ambient temperature of 108 degrees inside my toy hauler! The a/c compressor was ON for more than an hour straight before cycling off for the first time when inside temperatures finally reached 77 degrees (cooling approx. 140 sq ft). According to my Progressive Industries EMS current meter the a/c was pulling a 13-14 amp load (approx. 60% of the 75531i's rated load) when the compressor was ON. With the compressor OFF, generator load was only 2 amps (fan on high). The 75531i powered the Dometic 13,500 BTU air conditioner (converter and all other appliances OFF) under these conditions for 6 hours before running out of fuel. With lower outside temperatures and pre-stabilized temperatures inside the toy hauler, I would expect longer runtimes (at least 7-8 hours), especially at night. The 75531i is rated by Champion to run 8 hours under a 25% (constant) load. During my 6 hour test, I estimate the average load was much closer to 50%.
09 Nov 2013 Update: Have begun to notice the 75531i, when hot, is sometimes hard to restart. On several occasions, when I turned it off to refuel after a lengthy run (turned it off using the master ON/OFF switch; did not run it out of fuel), it was very difficult to start 5 minutes later. On one occasion it required almost 10-15 pulls on the recoil rope to start(**). Have also noticed a minor oil leak just below the valve cover area. Strangely, it doesn't appear to be coming from the valve cover. Champion tech support suggested I make sure the rubber vent hose was properly inserted in the valve cover and to make sure the oil was not overfilled. The rubber vent hose was completely dry and was properly inserted. The oil was not overfilled; however, just to be cautious, I purposely reduced the oil level to just below the "full" mark (checked oil on level ground using a level). After checking the rubber vent hose and reducing the oil level, oil continues to leak around the black, plastic assembly that surrounds the cylinder.
(**) Picked up this tip from another Amazon reviewer which seemed to work: if you plan on restarting the 75531i within a few minutes of turning it off (while it is still hot), try forcing the engine off by pulling the choke out or on (vs. turning the fuel off or turning the master ON/OFF switch off). Push the choke back in or off before attempting to restart the engine with the starter rope. This procedure appears to force a little extra fuel into the combustion chamber during shutdown making it easier to start when hot.
23 Mar 2014 Update: Sorry to say I sold my Champion 75531i generator. I stand by everything I've stated in this review. However, after using this generator to power my 13,500 BTU a/c on several camping trips, I've found it to be just a tad too loud for my needs. I don't think this reflects badly on the 75531i. In my opinion, the 75531i competes admirably against the similarly designed $2300 Honda "Handi", which has very similar no load/full load sound output specs. After much trial and error, I've decided I need an inverter generator that will produce sound levels of 60 db or less under FULL load (not 25%).
13 Apr 2015 Update: The vast majority of 13,500 or 15,000 BTU RV air conditioners draw no more than 15 amps of continuous current to "run". This is well within the continuous current capability of two Honda EU2000i's paralleled, one EU3000iS, and a Champion 75531i. Each of these generator configurations produce 26.66, 23.33, 23.33 amps of continuous current, respectively. At first glance it would appear all 3 of these generator configurations produce more than enough continuous current to "run" just about any RV air conditioner. However, it's common knowledge this is simply not the case. The limiting factor is not continuous current, but inrush current--a little known specification rarely disclosed by manufacturers. Inrush current is a short burst of current (less than a second in duration) necessary to "start" an air conditioner compressor (or other inductive load like an electric motor). The inrush current needed to "start" an air conditioner compressor can be 2-6 times higher than the continuous current needed to simply "run" it. During the last year I've discovered the Champion 75531i is capable of delivering more inrush current than the aforementioned Hondas (results obtained with an inrush current capable clamp-on ammeter). In simple terms this means the Champion 75531i has the potential to "start" (and, of course, run) more RV air conditioners than a Honda EU3000iS and/or two Honda EU2000i's paralleled.
So, to make a long story short, I'm back to using a Champion 75531i. It will run my a/c unit with the Economy mode ON (less wear & tear, better fuel economy, lower noise vs. running the 75531i with the Economy mode OFF). The aforementioned Hondas would only start my Dometic 13,500 BTU RV air conditioner (OEM model 457915; LRA 63 amps; start capacitor kit not installed) when run with the Economy Mode OFF. This meant the Hondas were running continuously at maximum RPM. The end result is significantly increased sound level, wear and tear, and fuel usage (vs. running the Hondas with the Economy mode ON). Not an ideal situation, and just too much compromise for generators that cost more than twice the amount of a 75531i.
And, last, but not least, a final comment about sound level. The Honda EU3000iS, even when run with a high load at maximum RPM (with the Economy mode OFF), was still quieter than the 75531i (even when the 75531i was under low load with Economy mode ON). The Honda EU3000iS is impressively quiet--arguably the most quiet generator on the market. A paralleled pair of EU2000i's operating at maximum RPM (with the Economy mode OFF) had a sound level roughly equivalent to the 75531i (with Economy mode ON) when powering a similar load. Yes, one EU2000i is quieter than a 75531i. However, two EU2000i's paralleled, running with the Economy mode OFF, at the same time . . . much louder.
22 Oct 2015 comment: In this review, it's hard not to notice the many references I make to the Champion 75531i's "Economy" mode (Honda calls it "ECO", Yamaha calls it "ECON"). For those new to the inverter generator world, an explanation may be in order.
Turning an inverter generator's Economy mode ON allows the generator's inverter circuitry to adjust the engine's RPM to accommodate changes in electrical load. If the electrical load increases, the generator's inverter circuitry senses the change and increases the engine RPM (or throttle) to accommodate the additional electrical load. If the electrical load decreases, the inverter decreases engine RPM.
There are several advantages to turning the Economy mode ON. When powering low or medium electrical loads it results in lower sound level, less fuel usage, and less wear and tear while the generator is operating. There is one disadvantage when turning the Economy mode ON. The generator is less able to successfully start (and run) high current, inductive-type loads (i.e., electrical motors, power tools, or an air conditioner compressor).
If the Economy mode is turned OFF, the generator's engine runs continuously at or near maximum RPM---regardless of the size of the electrical load. There is one major advantage to turning the Economy mode OFF. It puts the generator in a much better position to start (and run) high current, inductive-type loads (see previous comment about inductive loads). However, there is a trade-off. Turning the Economy mode OFF results in higher sound level, more fuel usage, and more wear and tear to the generator--especially when powering low to medium electrical loads.
Note: If the Economy mode is turned ON while powering a high electrical load continuously, for long periods of time, it offers little to no advantage vs. operating with the Economy mode OFF. In both cases, the generator's engine is continuously running near or at maximum RPM to accommodate the high electrical load.
15 Jan 2016 Update: "Dry camped" for 2 weeks using the Champion 75531i. Ran it continuously for 12-14 hours a day to power the a/c (80-90% humidity, temps in the 80's) and charge the batteries. Was surprised it was able to reliably start/run the a/c (same unit mentioned earlier in this review) AND charge the batteries (50% depleted at 12.2v) at the same time---total initial current 22 amps (converter drew 10a during the initial charge of the batteries; a/c drew a constant 12a). Did this daily for 2 weeks with never an issue. The Champion ran for approx. 5-7 hours on a tank (1.6 gal.) of gas (times varied with load). Be forewarned, the Champion 75531i is a tad loud under this kind of load. Depending on the placement/location of the generator in relation to any neighboring campers, the sound level could be an issue. Fortunately for us, it wasn't. Due to the high hours of use (>100 hrs.), it was necessary to change the Champion's oil during our 2 week stay. Lastly, to prevent restarting issues when hot, we shut down the Champion using only the choke when refueling (see "09 Nov 2013 Update" for specific details).
03 Jul 2016 - Our 75531i Champion, with about 150 hours on it, is still working great. Our new toy hauler (as of Mar 2016) has a Dometic Brisk Air II 15,000 BTU rooftop a/c unit in the main living area. The inrush/start current (LRA = locked rotor amps) for this a/c unit is 70 amps---very high. Amazingly, the 75531i can still start it; however, it struggles a little.
Disclaimer: The above review reflects only my personal experiences and opinions. YMMV: Your Mileage (experience/opinion) May Vary (dramatically).