|Last Update: September 4, 2006
|The Honda EU1000i Portable Generator.
It wasn't that long ago, the idea of carrying a portable generator in a light duty expedition vehicle would seem pretty ridiculous. Especially
considering most generators of old were extreme heavy, noisy and many times less than reliable. Enter the Honda EU1000i. It makes carrying
a generator as easy as storing a couple gallon water jug.
The EU1000 is Honda's lightest and smallest portable generator and shares the field with the Yamaha EF1000, which is nearly identical in size,
weight and specs. A tiny 50cc 4 stroke gas motor turns an alternator which generates a peak 1000 watts at 120 volts and a constant 900 watts at
120 volts. That may not seem like a lot of power, but consider that the package weighed in at only 30lbs fully fueled and ready to go and is about
the size of a loaded duffel bag.
Honda also makes 2 additional EU series models, which should be considered if your power needs are greater. The EU2000, is about 2/3 bigger
and heavier, but generates a peak 2000 watts and a constant 1600 watts. For the typical camper who relies on a generator for all the comforts of
home, the larger EU2000 should be considered. Honda also makes an even larger EU3000 which is still portable, more suited to home use.
For my purposes, I selected the smaller EU1000i, because my generator uses are minimal and the Honda was purchased largely to serve as an
emergency back up and to meet light duty power needs at camp. My typical use for a generator this size would be to provide power for my Engel
refrigerator at night, while the truck is turned off, as well as camp lighting, and for cold nights, possibly a very small portable electric heater. The
generator would really prove it's worth should both our truck batteries die unexpectedly, as it's equipped to provide 8amps of power at 12 volts.
The generator could recharge the starter battery in a short period of time as well as substitute for the alternator in the event the alternator died.
Should the alternator die far from home, the generator would keep the battery charged enough to run the truck motor and very minimal lighting.
Running a generator in a moving vehicle is not exactly safe, but with our truck, we'd strap it down in the bed, with the rear canopy window open.
After all, it would be an emergency situation.
The generator uses standard 87 octane or higher fuel and being a 4 stroke engine, requires no mixing of oil. It stores a little more than 1/2 gallon
and will run at maximum rated load for almost 4 hours. At 1/4 the load, the use time is extended to more than 8 hours. It should be noted that the
Yamaha's competing generator, the EF1000, does have substantial higher fuel economy, if that's something that is important to you. I personally
am a die hard fan of Honda engineering and reliability, which is why I went with the Honda.
Our truck electric system, now consists of a 150amp custom full size ND alternator, an Optima redtop starter battery, an Optima yellow top auxiliary
battery, 30 watts (2 amps) of auxiliary solar panel power and now a back up compact Honda generator.
|These photos show the EU1000i's compact size. It easily stores away in a corner of our truck's bed, taking up no more room than a duffel bag of clothes. The fuel
storage is airtight, so spillage and vapors are not a worry.
|The main panel of the EU1000i. The top "parallel operation" outlets accept a special plug that allows this unit to be plugged into another EU1000i to double it's
capacity, allowing a single 2000 watt appliance to run off of one of the generator. Twin AC plugs. A 12 volt plug, requires a special Honda plug and an be used to
recharge a car battery. The Eco-Throttle switch allows the generator to full at full power when turned off and to run at its slowest speed needed for the load, when turned
on. Indicator lights show when the generator is ready to be used, when low pressure has shut the motor down and an overload indicator.
|The proprietary 12 volt plug. While the 12 volt plug could be used to power 12 volt accessories, it's meant to be a battery charger only. It's protected by a push button
circuit breaker and supplies as much as 8amps of power. The same 12 volt output of the EU2000. The EU3000 only supplies 4 additional amps at 12 volts. The EU
series generators are most efficient when used for power AC accessories. Fully loaded with oil and fuel, the generator only weighes in at 30lbs.
|The generator case has two main access hatches. The top hatch simply pulls off and is primarily used to access the spark plug. The side hatch is the main access to
the generator internals. It primarily meant to provide access to the oil dipstick (shown) and air filter (shown) The clear tubing are fuel lines. One of which is a
carburetor drain, should you ever need to completely empty the unit of fuel.
|There's one additional access panel that is rarely needed to be removed. It's the rear exhaust/muffler cover. Surprisingly, this cover is plastic, but apparently, the
exhaust doesn't get hot enough to risk melting it. 4 screws need to be removed to get this panel off. Once removed, you have access to the muffler, which needs to be
removed to access a mini spark arrestor, which needs to be cleaned every once and a while. Note the rubber shock mounts built into the case.
|Starting the generator is extremely simple. First, the fuel vent cap must be turned from closed to open. If left closed, the carburetor would quickly starve for fuel from
lack of vacuum. Then the "eco switch" should be turned off. The Eco switch, when turned on after the generator is started and warmed up, allows the generator motor
to run at the least required rpm for a given load. This not only saves fuel, but makes it that much quieter when powering light loads.
|Next, turn the main power switch to the "on" position. When the generator needs to be shut down, this is the switch that does it. Simply turn it off. Not shown here is the
"choke" lever, which is needed when attempting to start in colder weather. It's a white lever located at the top of the main access hatch. Simply turn the choke on to
start, if needed, then turn off.
|Once the fuel cap vent is opened, the eco switch is off, the main power switch is on and the choke is set, if needed, the pull starter can be used. In most cases, only
one pull is needed to fire the motor. Once fired, a green light will come on in the front of the panel to indicate that the generator is ready to be used. The right picture
shows the generator running. Note the lack of smoke. The comes from a relatively clean burning 4 cycle engine. However, common sense is that a generator should
never be run in a confined space or indoors for any length of time due to the carbon monoxide dangers.
|The generator can power up to a 1000 watt 120 volt appliance. The typically means most lights, most hand power tools, except for a circular saw, almost any
electronics appliance, any Engel or similier type refrigerator and even a small microwave. However, one possible purpose of the generator at camp would be to power
a heater. I tested the idea out with this cheap space heater. It has two settings, hi and low. Unfortunately there are no wattage usage indicators on the heaters, but
other small units of this size can use as much as 1500 watts on high. When I tested the heater on low, the generator had no problem. I would estimate, the wattage
usage to be around 750. But on high, the generator engaged it's protective circuitry which shuts off the generator (but not the motor) as indicated by the red light. The
only way to reset is to turn off the generator and restart it. The EU1000 can only be used to power a 120volt heater is on the heater's low setting. In a confined space,
such as a tent, or camper, the low setting should be enough for all, except the most extreme conditions. By the way, I'm not recommending that a space heater should
be used under those circumstances. It's only meant to illustrate an example of power usage.
|The generator has yet to be put to the full test in the field, so I can't give a conclusive answer as to the wisdom of
purchasing it. I can see that the EU2000 would be far more practical for anyone using a generator on a regular
basis. The EU1000 is clearly for light duty use and extreme emergencies. One additional practical purpose of
having an EU1000 is a cost effective emergency generator in the event of a power outage at home. Even the small
EU1000 can power most TVs, radios and even a computer to keep informed as to what's going on as well as
lighting and in some cases all at the same time. I'll report back as the generator is put to use.