Honda EU3000i Handi Review: Our Portable Off Grid Generator

Honda EU3000i Handi Review: One of the must-haves for RV and off-grid living is a quality portable generator. Whether you have only battery and inverter, use solar for your primary charging source, or even if you’re tied into the grid to some degree, having a quality off grid generator backup is vital. We are currently boondocking in an RV but working on to build our own off-grid home, and we only wanted to buy one generator that would work for all of our needs. After weeks of research, we stumbled upon the Honda EU3000i Handi and it was the no-brainer option, and we thought we’d write a review of this Honda portable generator.

For you audio or visual types, we’ve made a YouTube video of our Honda EU3000i Handi Generator review. Feel free to check that out below; it basically has the same information but has a lot of video clips to watch as well. We will also give you a short tour of the Honda 3000 generator and you can hear how loud (or quiet?) it is.

For those who want more information or would rather read the review, scroll below the video and keep on readin’!

At the outset of our off grid generator research we knew we were going to need at least 2400 watts and ideally 3000 watts of power. A 2400 watt generator would give us a good start. A 3000 watt generator would be more ideal for running numerous power tools like a table saw. The more power the better to feed the grid and battery bank for our home once built. Here is a great post on how to determine what size of generator you need.

Our original plan was to buy a Yamaha 2400 watt generator. We knew a 2000 watt generator would be too small for our needs yet the available 3000 watt generators were just far too heavy for a single person (think Alyssa!) to transport safely. Honda doesn’t have a 2400 watt generator but Yamaha does, so we figured this was what we would have to do. Our research focused on the Yamaha lineup. However, we were concerned that the continuous amp load for this generator might be borderline too low for our larger power tools. Even though you can connect two units in parallel for about double the amp load weren’t keen on the idea of buying two of them to link them together. This seemed like an odd investment and a bite more complex than necessary. More parts mean a higher chance of failure. No bueno for a critical utility like power.

best off grid generator
Our snowy, off grid homestead in progress. A generator’s gotta be tough if it wants to hang with this family!

We decided to go try to touch some of these units as most of our research was done online. Ultimately we were concerned the Yamaha 2400 might be settling. We just wanted to be sure.

Our criteria for an off grid portable generator went something like this:

  • Adequate power potential: Although our power needs currently are minimal on a day-to-day basis, we wanted something with enough power for our long term needs including the use of multiple power tools at once for building our home and to eventually serve as backup power for our battery bank when solar isn’t carrying the load.
  • Scale-able: While our power needs are relatively small today (excluding the use of power tools), we plan to have a decent-sized home in the near future.  We want the generator to work for that as well include the option to parallel connect two units for double the power output.
  • Minimal noise: I can’t think of any reason to have a noisy generator, but if you can have power and peace and quiet too why not? We wanted something quiet so that it wouldn’t be disruptive to the household, or to any potential neighbors. Though we don’t intend to end up in an RV park or do a lot of camping initially we didn’t want to have to choose between power or not.
  • Lightweight: We wanted something light enough that neither of us would risk injury trying to move it. Also lightweight enough that I would be able to lift it on my own without help from anyone else. Portability needed to include wheels where possible to keep lifting to an absolute minimum.
  • Serviceable: We wanted to be able to take it into town, or at least not too far from our home, to get it serviced
  • Durable: We wanted something name brand with a proven record of having quality generators. We didn’t want to take the risk of having a faulty tool with something so critical as our power.

Then, we stumbled upon the perfect generator: The Honda EU3000i Handi.

honda eu3000i handi review - honda 3000 generator

Honestly, we didn’t even know that this portable generator model was available. We stopped in at a local motorsports store to see if we could put our hands on a generator to understand them better. Unfortunately the store only have the 2000w model in stock. The salesman however told us about a model that was only slightly heavier than the 2000w model, but had 3000w output. Something we hadn’t found in our research. He said they’re hard to find as they usually sell very quickly.

We did some snappy research and found several other Honda outlets in the area. A few stops later we stopped into an Ace Hardware. The salesman said “Darn, you are a few hours too late! I had two of them this morning and a gentleman come in earlier today and bought them both! These have been selling like hot cakes.”

Moments later, a truck was rolling in with a new shipment of stuff and it just so happened that there was a Honda EU3000i Handi on board. The salesman disappeared and came back with the small generator that was fresh off of the truck.

After a short debate about whether we had found “the one” and how difficult this model can be to find, we bought the generator! You know that feeling you get when you just KNOW something is the right decision? That’s how we felt. Even though we were hoping to spend $1,000-1,500 for a generator, once we saw the value we happily paid the higher price.

Since then we’ve relocated to our newly purchased 5 acres in Northern Idaho where we are living in our RV while we build our home. At the time of this writing, we’ve been living on our land using the generator to charge our RV battery and to run our power tools for a month, and here is a review of what we think so far: in short, we love it!

Fuel Economy

The fuel economy of this Honda 3000 generator is better than advertised! We’ve been running the small generator for about 1 hour each evening to charge our trailer battery. We’ve also used it to run multiple power tools, and have had some days we were ran it multiple times within the day to charge camera gear, cell phones and laptops. The 6.5 gallons of non-ethanol fuel we arrived with just ran out- after 3.5 weeks! This has surpassed our expectations.

The ratings are 1 tank (1.58 gal) lasts 7 hours at 1/4 load. For the math savvy we’ve run it for approx 1 hour each evening for 25 days (that’s 25 hours or approx 4.5 gal), plus numerous daytime hours running power tools etc as mentioned before. We’d estimate we’ve put about 35 hours on the generator so far and consumed 6.5 gallons. That’s about 15% more efficient than advertised. We’ve also been running non-ethanol fuel which has more energy per gallon. This may account for the increase in efficiency.

Ease of Oil Changes

Changing the oil in the Honda EU3000i is ridiculously easy. It takes us 5 minutes tops. Oil changes are recommended on the Honda Handi every 100 hours or every 3 months, whichever comes first. In our case, 100 hours easily comes first! Watch our YouTube on how to change the oil in a Honda EU3000i Handi generator.

honda eu3000i handi generator oil change

Quietness

The Honda EU3000i Handi is reasonably quiet. If you’re concerned with noise pollution like we were then this generator is for sure one to consider. Most all generators in this class, including Yamaha generators, are fairly quiet. Most in the 60db 58-65db range. Industrial generators of course are priced power, but aren’t designed to be particularly quiet. If you have neighbors close by, will be running it at night, or if you’re in an RV with close living quarters the super quiet series generators seem to each be very suitable.

We regularly run our generator just before bed time during peak use in the trailer. It has a very quiet hum that we don’t really notice while inside the trailer. We’re easily able to carry on an conversation, get serious work done or even watch a movie. Even standing next to the generator while running it’s not uncomfortable to have a normal conversation.

Here is our Honda Handi humming away in the snow as we sip hot cocoa in the cabin.
Here is our Honda Handi humming away in the snow as we sip hot cocoa in the cabin.

Power Output

The 3000 watt output was really important for us as it will be our backup for solar eventually. We want to be able to power up our battery bank quickly (1-2 hours) rather than having to run a smaller generator for 8-10 hours.

We also expect a few long stretches without strong sun particularly in the winter months and having a generator that will tie into our grid and power the grid while simultaneously filling up our battery bank was important. The FlexOne Inverter/Charger/Solar Charge controller unit we’ll be using from Outback Power systems has a computer than can allow our generator to supply the grid first and any excess can be used to fill batteries.

This is also helpful for times when we might be equalizing your batteries and can’t access their stored energy. Having a sufficient generator to power our grid during these times is a must.

With plans to do much of our own construction around our property we’ll be running many power tools. Some of which have a particularly high starting amp loads and a few even have high running amp loads. Being able to easily power these tools without damaging the generator or having to mickey mouse things to get them to work makes a tough job that much easier.

honda portable generators - off grid generator

Thus far we’ve observed that our loads on the Honda 3000 generator haven’t been any where near it’s rated limits. Our largest outdoor demand to date was operating a 3/8″ hand drill, 12″ miter saw, charging 20v lithium tool batteries, charging 18v NiCad tool batteries and powering our RV simultaneously. Seemed the generator wasn’t working hard at all. One other time Alyssa was using a 11oo watt hair straightener, powering our RV, charging 2 15″ MacBooks, 3 cameras, 2 walkie talkies and 2 phones. Again, no problem.

The Honda EU3000i Handi is rated at 21.8 continuous amps at full load which is a considerable amount of continuous energy. The Outback Power FlexONE inverter/charger is rated at 3600w (30 amps) continuous which is plenty to run a fully equipped cabin. To give the amp ratings some context. With the exception of the highest demand appliances such as the proverbial microwave, air conditioner and hair dryers I can’t see why this wouldn’t suffice for nearly all RV uses and certainly for a conservative off grid homestead like ours. We’ll do updates along the way to share when we find the limit of the generator.

Ease of Lifting & Portability

The Honda EU3000i Handi only weighs 78lbs which is great compared to the 131 pounds of the traditional Honda 3000 generator. If you watch our Honda EU3000i Handi review video on YouTube, you will see that Alyssa is easily able to lift it into the car or wherever it needs to go, even if she’s wearing a dress and flip flops! While she doesn’t want to carry it around for hours, she’s easily able to take it out on her own which is important as I may not always be around. It’s important that she is able to power up the RV with no assistance.

honda portable generators - eu3000i handi
We can easily lift and strap the Handi generator to our four wheeler to bring it to the work site. Alyssa can do this on her own with no assistance from myself – score!

We also have been loving the built-in wheel kit. On reasonable hard surfaces, even our gravel driveway, we’re easily able to roll the generator where it needs to go. Moving it in and out of our pickup bed (our “secure storage” at present) to the tailgate each evening is easy thanks to the long handle and wheels. We both prioritize our health and well-being, and since we do so much physical labor around our homestead, it’s critical that we don’t risk injury. This one feature was worth the added cost. Surely it will save our backs and even more serious chiropractor visits that could result from such repetitive heavy lifting.

honda portable generators - small honda generator

Honda EU3000i Handi Generator Specifications

Just in case you don’t want to go digging, here are the official generator specifications from Honda.

EngineHonda GX160
Displacement163cc
AC Output120V 3000W max.(25A) 2600W rated (21.7A)
Receptacles20A 125V Duplex, 30A 125V Locking Plug
DC Output12V, 100W (8A)
Starting SystemRecoil
Fuel Tank Capacity1.6 gal.
Run Time per Tankful3.5 hrs. @ rated load, 7.7 hrs. @ 1/4 load
Dimensions (L x W x H)24.5” x 14.9” x 19.3”
Noise Level65 dB(A) @ rated load, 57 dB(A) @ 1/4 load
Dry Weight78 lbs.
Residential Warranty3 Years
Commercial Warranty3 Years

Pros of the Honda EU3000i Handi

Not to be biased because this is the portable generator we ended up purchasing, but here is an overview of the pros especially compared to other small generators:

  • Wheel kit: The wheel kit is one of our favorite features. Because it is built into the frame it is highly durable. Never underestimate the value of rolling over lifting and carrying. You only get one body and it has to last a lifetime!
  • Lightweight: 78lbs compared to its 131lb counterpart. This massive (approx 40%!) reduction in weight justified the higher cost (avoiding injury is priceless to us).
  • Fuel economy: We’ve been getting 8-9 hours on a single tank of fuel compared to the 7 hours specified by Honda. Two thumbs up. Fuel isn’t expensive, but it’s really a hint that the generator isn’t working hard. Also a plus!
  • Serviceability: It just so happens that the small town we live in has a Yamaha AND a Honda service provider, but many cities do not have a Yamaha GENERATOR service provider. Yamaha’s presence in the generator market just isn’t as strong. It is much easier to get a Honda serviced so if you’re on the road a lot, Honda could be the way to go.
  • High wattage output and continuous amp capacity: It’s not just about running large appliances, but not running the equipment at full capacity all the time. For us so far we haven’t even stressed the generator in the least as evidenced by the fuel economy. A plus that we chose 3000w over the 2000w or 2400w models. Stay tuned for updates as we work to find the limits of the Handi EU3000i.

Cons of the Honda EU3000i Handi

There really aren’t many cons to this generator that we have found…yet. It filling our needs just as we anticipated. Depending on your personal needs, it may not be the best generator or may/less be more power than you need.

  • Pull start: The heftier 3000w electric start Honda was appealing for the remote start/auto start installation feature on our power system. We expect to be fairly attentive to our power use and don’t really need our generator to “kick on” automatically once our grid system is installed. The 40% weight reduction was far more valuable to us for the one person (Alyssa!) portability and operation. So far it’s a one, sometimes two, pull start. Alyssa can give it a light pull on her own and it fires right up. So this wasn’t really a con for us, but we can see how it might be for those who need the electric start for some reason. If you’re reason is ease of starting, give serious consideration to how easy these generators are to pull start. You’ll be pleasantly surprised and might consider all that extra weight a nuisance as we did.
  • Cost: Expect to pay about 10% more than other 3,000 watt generators. It’s a tad odd the pricing here as it seems you get far less for more, but there are some serious perks for the price. The factory integrated handle, wheel kit, very compact size and large weight reduction. As seems to be the norm, you pay more for compact things! Darn, you might think it would cost less it it were smaller but no such luck! (Have you ever tried to buy a counter-depth refrigerator? Same thing.)

Summary

In summary, we are satisfied with our purchase and enjoying the Honda EU3000i Handi generator. For us correctly choosing such a critical piece of equipment was important. In the end we fortunately stumbled on the Handi and would strongly recommend you give it a look if you’re in the market for any of the 2000 watt, 2400 watt or 3000 watt quiet series generators. We’ll keep updating as we go along.

best off grid generator - honda 3000 watt generator
We recently took our generator to do a demolition and it did awesome.

Have a generator or questions?

Which generator to you use? What were your criteria and how has it worked for you? If you have any questions about the Honda EU3000i Handi generator, or off grid generator questions in general, let us know in the comments below. We’d be happy to help you find the best small generator for your needs based on our experience and research.

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Jesse

An entrepreneur at heart I enjoy practicing building things, helping people through the things my hands create and making the world a better place. Building a home, subsistence living and being independent are things I've long desired and am excited to finally be closer to achieving. I believe we are all capable of anything we put our minds to if only we free our mind from fear of the unknown and humbly start from nothing willing to ask for help. All anyone can do is practice, practice, practice. Thankful to all my mentors along the way, both known and unknown. So blessed to share this journey now with Alyssa and have someone with like values, passion and mindset. LET'S EAT!

Comments

  1. me says

    This website has many great suggestions and oozes advice of the most useful kind. What it needs is a proofreader. There are many grammatical errors. Just give your written work to people strong in English and they’ll smooth it out for you before posting. And to correct what’s up now. The content is good, so that’s why I’m writing. Also it would be great to have more photos. Video wastes so much time but still photos are wonderfully efficient and descriptive. So nice you don’t have popups. Those are becoming the cancer of the internet. :)

    • Jesse says

      Thanks Me for stopping by. We’ll be the first to admit our posts could use a little love in the editing department. Considering most are written well after dark and at the end of long working days we do alright. Perfection is far from the norm on this journey. In the near future we hope to slow down a bit and deliver the highest quality articles while not beating ourselves up. Seems most folks get the gist pretty well. Hopefully you’ll bear with us and suffer through the typos and grammar errors. We’ve outsourced a lot of work to our team but this blog we want to be real. Run by two, dirt under their nails, homesteaders. That means things won’t always be sexy, but they’re as real as they come. Video is a passion of ours. Not everyone enjoys them but we are excited to work on our story telling. It’ll mean a lot to us (and already has) to look back on the journey and along the way we hope to inspire others. One video in particular makes us a bit teary eyed which is deep emotion we won’t soon forget. Thanks for the feedback on more photos. We’ll see about bumping up the pics as appropriate for each post. :)

  2. me says

    I can’t believe I’m the only one that has left a comment. This stuff is great. I guess being mentioned by Mother Earth News was a great boost.

  3. christina says

    Great job you two! Found you on Mother Earth News by accident. What a great mishap to have! Keep up the great work and your dreams can come true.

  4. says

    Fabulous review! Thanks for sharing this kind of information with us all. Love to see an update after a year of wear and tear and your thoughts on how it is holding up.

    • says

      Thanks Gaz! We will definitely do another update. Just yesterday we strapped the thing to our ATV, drove it up a steep hill, and were able to bring our power tools to our hot tub deck. So awesome!

  5. Bill says

    I am in the process of down selecting a portable inverter generator for camping and running my RV. The 3000 Handi was one on my short list for the exact same reasons that you chose it. I believe that your article pushed me off the fence on the 3000 Handi side. Thanks

  6. Bill says

    Oh yea… one other important consideration for me… The 3000 Handi is the only 3000 watt generator that (at less that 20 inches tall) fits under my tonneau cover on my truck. that is important to make sure it stays securely locked up.

    • says

      Glad our article helped you narrow down your focus! 8 months later and we’re still loving this generator for all the reasons mentioned! No regrets. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do if that’s what you decide to go with!

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