Customer Reviews: Lifan Energy Storm ESI 3600iER-CA, 3300 Running Watts/3500 Starting Watts, Gas Powered Portable Inverter, CARB Compliant
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on March 10, 2013
Unfortunately because of it's weight and lack of "Handle with care" indicators on the package the shippers tend to be quite rough with it in transport. In fact my wife said she saw the UPS driver literally drop it off the back of the truck. I guess you could say it's a testament to it's ruggedness that it really only had some broken plastic sound-proofing that was rattling around loose inside. Not even much, maybe 3-4 pieces about the size of a quarter, and the outside molded plastic had a couple small cracks. Purely cosmetic and hardly even noticeable.

The manual itself doesn't bother to mention "how much oil" to put in. For those wondering, it's about 3/4 of a quart. A full quart will over flow out of the filler tube. The manual also doesn't mention how to use the remote. 2 pushes on the lightning bolt starts it, and 1 push on the lock to stop it. The key does NOT need to be in the run position when using the remote.

The first time starting took a few cranks, but it's to be expected. Every time afterward it's eager to start and barely takes a half second of cranking with the key switch. I also have to say this thing is super quiet. We borrowed the in-law's Honda EU3000 which was rated at 59db max, and this little gen is every bit as quiet. Love it!

Let me also say that having the 12volt output in addition to the 120v is something I never considered before, but I suspect I would be lost without if I ever have to buy another gen that doesn't have it. I was considering LED emergency lighting for my home and this will fit into those plans beautifully!

The only reason I am giving this 4 stars is because I haven't had a chance to really load test this unit, and I was a little disappointed to see that the rated wattage is different than advertised. As someone else stated the manual and seller description say one thing(3300W run/3500W surge) and the label on the gen says something else(3000W run/3100W surge). Better to be safe and expect the lower number than to try to push it for the higher number.

My only complaint is that I wish it had a secure space to stow the small tool kit and extra spark plug they send with the unit. The side cover looks big enough, but I'm unsure of how hot it will get in there and I wouldn't want to restrict air flow.

Otherwise for the money spent this is a great alternative to spending two and a half times as much for a well known name brand. Do your home work and research the daylights out of your generator purchase. If find this one suits your needs, I think you'll be very happy.
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on September 23, 2012
Purchase this item and got few damage on transport or manufactured,but oil cover was bent,manual start cord slot banded,otherwise it works fine and very quiet,i use on my semi-truck and works very choke everything is automated,remote start is great and i recommend this unit more power than honda and is quiet as honda,takes about 3gallons for 7-9 ours on automated idle.
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on December 14, 2013
I have the ESI 3600ie, the previous model without the remote start.

The first one arrived obviously destroyed in shipping, so it was replaced. The second one was slightly damaged, but I didn't want to fight for a third one. Since day 1, it has been a 30 minute project to start. I live in Western Mass, and per Lifan USA, there were no authorized service centers closer than Boston. MY BAD: I should have simply returned it, but it was the middle of winter, and I didn't want to be without a generator, and I needed an inverter generator for my hi-tech furnace.

Over a year an a half, I was sent parts and email suggestions on how to make it reliable. None worked. One day I called back, and everyone I knew at Lifan was gone, replaced by a whole bunch of new folks who would tell me anything I wanted to hear and then do nothing. They suggested several local places that were authorized; all said they'd never heard of Lifan and wouldn't do warrantee work. Finally Lifan suggested a place that said on the phone they covered Lifan ; it cost me $120 when I picked it up because they had never seen a generator like this. It started easily at the shop (so I figured it wasn't worth the fight), and then a week later wouldn't start. Lifan customer support told me to send them the bill, which I did, and they told me they couldn't do anything. I somehow had some other Lifan folks' email addresses, so I copied everyone with my story.

I then got an email stating they would send me a refurb (and it would be the newer model) and I should send mine back. A week later, a unit arrived that looked like it had been rolled down a mountain, covered in oil, with several broken and missing parts, and UPS told me that the shipping case was soaked in oil (and had leaked in their truck) and was a toxic hazard. I photographed everything, sent the pictures to Lifan, stating I now had an unreliable unit and a fire hazard I didn't dare start. I never heard back.

Update (sort of):

I have discovered by taking out the air filter (my original unit), spraying it with a little starting ether, and replacing it, the unit will start and run, but it does not run smoothly and incandescent lights flicker. The oil soaked generator is sitting in my garage until I can figure out what to do with it.

My 4 cycle leaf blower, two lawnmowers, and snowblower always start by the third pull. My 2 cycle leaf blower usually takes 3 pulls. I run all my small engines for ½ hour every two weeks to keep them happy (the neighbors don't seem too thrilled). This is the only unit I've had in 30 years that has been impossible since purchase; again, it was my fault to not return it immediately.

I feel completely taken advantage of. The current plan is to junk both units and buy something reliable and locally supported.

I have attached pictures of the refurb unit that was shipped to me. As you can see, it's covered in oil. For obvious reasons, I don't dare start it (which would be difficult, since it turns out they didn't send me the remote starter. I'd have to use the pull start).

2014.02.04 update:

Customer service from the big box store (where I purchased this unit - can't say which but they like orange) looked into this for me since I couldn't get a reply from Lifan. After being contacted by the bix box store, Lifan asked me to ship the two units back to Lifan on Lifan's dime for their inspection. Meanwhile, the big box store refunded my full purchase price. I have now completely washed my hands of Lifan after two years. I bought a Honda inverter generator at twice the price...and it starts and the power is reliable. 5 Stars for the big box customer service!
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on February 19, 2013
I took the unit out of it's box that did survive shipping. Filled it with oil and gas, Turned the key and it would start and stall a couple times then it ran great. I used a 1500 watt heater for a test and honestly you can hardly hear it from 10 feet away (on the plug end of the unit) The exhaust is a bit loader but still quiet. The manual covers the basic and doesn't mention the remote start but with a couple trys and I figured it out. The specs on this unit are all over the place from site to site but on the unit it claims 3000 watt run with a 3100 watt surge. I haven't loaded it completely yet. I will be using this unit a couple times a week all summer at car shows so I'll post updates now and then.
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on July 16, 2013
I bought this to power a 13,500 btu Advent RV AC. The generator handles the load well when the ac is initially turned on. (the AC FAN Must be on LOW setting or the power surge will kill generator, but will start again after being reset.) Once the ac is on, i can put the fan on HIGH with no problem at all. Remote start works great, however it sometimes might take a couple tries before the unit actually starts... I found that you may have to hold down the remote start key for a second or 3 to get the electric start to catch. The unit cranks almost every time with the key and pull start. If the unit doesn't seem to want to start, just check the oil, fuel switch and reset buttons, then give it a minute, and try again. No problems ... so far ... oh and its fairly quite too, the noise from the AC fan on HIGH nearly drowns out the generator (mounted to the rear of the vehicle). I don't plan on messing with the idle control at all. Does not come with oil container/bottle as described in the manual tho....
****update**** generator did not continue to serve its purpose. It would longer power the ac even on low. It just kills. I replaced this lifan with a 6500 watt Troy built/briggs and Stratton(much cheaper, but no electric start). Haven't had any problems since replacement. Make sure you know how much power your generator needs to push! 3000watts is double the power I needed but it still wasn't enough!
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on June 14, 2013
My main concerns are with shipping, quality, and newness. I have a strong suspicion that this unit is not new and unused. I can't be sure which. I'm dropping two stars because of this. Read on folks, and Amazon, if you are reading, note that I'm not pleased with this purchase, although I am keeping the unit.

Despite all the issues that I will describe, the unit works. I have tested my unit and ran it about 1 hour, using a small fan, a hair dryer and a well-known brand of electric indoor grill in various load combinations. When running them all together at highest settings, I was essentially reaching the maximum load of 3300 watts for this generator. The generator did its job and provided lower power when I used only one appliance and using highest power when I ran all three. I feel it is ready for emergency use in hurricane season this year.

I reached home just as UPS was backing up my driveway to my garage. As I arrived, the box was on the ground and I even helped the driver carry it the remaining 15 feet into my garage. I don't think he dropped it to the ground, but I wasn't really there before it was off the truck. I opened the top of the box to find all looked pretty much OK from above. As I unwrapped the bubble plastic, I immediately noticed that some lettering on the unit was smudged black, kind of like you find inside your car's engine compartment. That is what first made me wonder if this was new. It also smelled of oil. I read everything printed thoroughly. One tag said that unit could not be shipped with oil. I thought well maybe they test each unit at the factory. I unboxed the unit. I noticed that the carton had broken through at each caster. This is an indication of rough treatment during shipping.

Things were getting worse. There was a distinct small bump with chipped paint in an otherwise flat small panel for the oil dipstick; this is a bump outward, not a dent inward. I opened the panel. The oil plug/dipstick has a center ridge and this was chipped off. However, the plug could not have made the bump in the panel. What did? I checked the dipstick and it had a light coating of darkened dirty oil. Again, is this because of testing at the factory, or because this was a returned unit? On the opposite side is a larger panel and this is where the battery is located. One terminal was already attached, I only needed to attach the negative ground terminal. I think others reported attaching both terminals?

I continued. I filled the oil with exactly one quart of 10W-30, as recommended and the dipstick showed sufficient oil. The gas tank was empty, a slight hint of fuel odor. I mixed fuel stabilizer into regular gas and I filled the tank halfway. I did my checks again. I tried the electric start as directed. The engine turned over on the 4th try and stayed running. I tried electric start, electric remote start and the manual pull cord. It turned over all ways, although it took several tugs with the pull cord. I paid a premium for this inverter generator over a standard generator, because I plan to use electronic equipment and a PC. The engine was fairly quiet, though I don't have much to compare to except a lawn mower.

Two more things that bother me and are convincing me that this is a used item or very poor quality. One of the bolts near the bottom of the plastic housing was unscrewed and try as I might, I can't angle it properly to get it into the hole it should screw into. As I was stowing the unit, I noticed that the plastic grille over the air filter had two rows broken. I rechecked the carton and there is no obvious damage to the carton at this spot. So is this a used, returned unit? It's looking more so.

Final issues, not too significant. The power panel is different from the pictures on Amazon. The power panel looks like cheaper momentary switches have been used instead of toggle switches as in the picture. The user manual shipped with this unit was not for this model with remote start, and the pictures were even less similar to the actual unit than the pictures on Amazon. I found a PDF of the correct manual at the Lifan web site, although I must say that the pictures and figures in that manual were also different than the actual unit. For example the momentary switches. Also the manual shows a large side panel for the oil side but in reality there is only a small panel.

Again, Amazon, if you sold me a used item at new item pricing, then shame on you. I have bought hundreds and hundreds of items from you for over a decade, and this is the least pleased I am with a purchase.
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on December 2, 2013
Works good, remote start is a big plus. Owners documentation didn't cover remote start or how to use the 12 volt charger. I even called tech support and they didn't know any about its use. It seemed to be something that would charge the battery on the inverter if it got low. I wanted documentation and assurance that I was using the charger correctly. Since this is a new feature l maybe I should give the tech support an other try. Battery wasn't hooked up when I received the unit and there was no information stating that I needed to connect it. I had to remove the unit from my RV to hook it up. Having that information before I installed the unit would have been helpful. But I did start it up easily easily with the pull rope. Have to watch the oil consumption close at first but it got much better as the unit broke in.
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on October 6, 2016
I was impressed at first with this unit. Filled it up with oil without any clue how much to put in, btw its somewhere around a quart I think. I know some people claim it fires right up first crank. Not the case with mine. It takes 3-6 cranks to get it going. I do not have a Honda side by side but IMO its a little noisier than a Honda, but well worth the sacrifice for the price.

So far I have used it about 10 hours to power my trailer. It fired up the roof AC no problem, even almost used the microwave but things started to beep and I shut if off right away. Some of the plastic used to seal the plugs on the inside of the panel had melted and dripped down the front vent. This was on a 100 degree day with the generator it was Hot. I took off the panel and looked like there was plenty left to seal the wires.

What does disappoint me is after only 10 hours the battery is totally garbage. Somehow its still works but I don't trust it(see pictures). I called the warranty department, who was very helpful and truly wanted to help. Point is the battery is stocked nowhere on a serious backorder, and there is no replacement they can give. A quick check I found several motorcycle batteries that fit in the space with close to the same specs for $24.

Aside from me having to buy my own battery for this 40 days after purchase, I am happy with the generator. Yes its heavy, but built solid and fairly quite with lots of power. I do hope it holds up.
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on April 24, 2013
ok first unit arrived, destroyed in shipping with amazon handling superbly, getting the second one to me overnight, and in good shape. manual is a little sketchy (probably why 4 instead of 5 stars) no quick start or parts list. like don't forget to hook up the battery if you want to use the electric start. mine took the full quart of oil.
started almost immediately, settled down and ran quietly. bought to use with my rv and it's air conditioner, which the Lifan ran with no problem. since my use is intermittent I am a lot happier with half the money tied up as the more well known units would require. unit seems well made, and I hope it continues to function reliably.
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on February 2, 2014
Received the generator and followed the instructions. The battery came with the neg. disconnected which I understand. I checked the voltage on the battery and it was down to 4.8 volts. I put it on a charger at 2 amps for a auto charge and it never came up. I took the battery to a local francised battery shop where they told me it was bad. I ended up having to buy a new one. Not a very good way to start out for getting ready for a vacation.
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