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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 EU3000i Handi Generator Specifications
Just in case you don’t want to go digging, here are the official generator specifications from Honda.
|AC Output||120V 3000W max.(25A) 2600W rated (21.7A)|
|Receptacles||20A 125V Duplex, 30A 125V Locking Plug|
|DC Output||12V, 100W (8A)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||1.6 gal.|
|Run Time per Tankful||3.5 hrs. @ rated load, 7.7 hrs. @ 1/4 load|
|Dimensions (L x W x H)||24.5” x 14.9” x 19.3”|
|Noise Level||65 dB(A) @ rated load, 57 dB(A) @ 1/4 load|
|Dry Weight||78 lbs.|
|Residential Warranty||3 Years|
|Commercial Warranty||3 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.)
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.
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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