WEN 56200i Review

Summary

The WEN 56200i is a beautifully made inverter generator that features a revamped styling for 2018. The shape and design remain intact though but the housing is now accentuated with orange, replacing the bright yellow accents on the old design.

The unit is still housed in an insulated plastic cover to keep it as quiet as possible. The overall build is small and the ergonomic handle makes it easy for someone to carry the generator in one hand. The feature set on the 56200i is quite impressive and the control panel is one of the most flexible we’ve seen on a portable generator.

Clean power without the dangerous surges and sags of conventional generators is what you get from the 56200i. You can double the total output by connecting a second unit using the WEN 56421 parallel kit (bought separately) although this would also mean additional expenses on your part.

Evidently WEN wasn't aiming at high end performance with 56200i. The emphasis appears to be on ease of use, features, and affordability. Please read below our detailed review of the WEN56200i.

For those of you who intend to read my detailed review you will find some great information. For those in a rush you can click here to go to Amazon and check pricing and any available discounts

WEN 56200i: Overview

When it’s time to shop for a new portable generator, you’re surely spoilt for choice. There’s something for every budget and application but the 2000-watt inverter generators are the most practical for the outdoors. They’re lightweight, portable, silent, and easy to operate. They deliver clean power for the most demanding of electronic gadgets and other basic appliances.

That being said, with more choice comes a lot of difficulty in choosing the best inverter generator for your camping needs. The current 2000-watt range is pretty impressive. The top performing Honda EU2000iSv2 sits comfortably at the top of the list followed closely by the Yamaha EF2000iSV2, Ryobi RYI 2001, Generac IQ2000, and the P2200 from Briggs & Stratton in no particular order.

The WEN 56200i strikes the perfect balance between price and features. Its feature set capably rivals that of its pricier competitors. Performance-wise, the 56200i comfortably matches the 1600-watt continuous output of its top tier competitors, which is enough power for basic loads. However, based on review tests and user feedback, the WEN falls short in terms of peak performance. Powering up a 2000-watt load, for instance, might be problematic.

 Nonetheless if top performance is not your number one priority in choosing an inverter generator then the WEN 56200i is a pretty solid choice overall.

​WEN 56200i Generator: What Applications Does It Power?

Like other 2000-watt models, the WEN 56200i inverter generator is not the best choice for providing backup power in critical emergencies. With a total of 2000-watts at peak output, there’s only so much load it can take. Precisely this means that connecting a relatively large inductive load (such as a ½ HP well pump) will easily trip the unit’s overload protection system.

In the same regard, the 56200i is not ideal for construction job sites where surge wattage needed to start a typical jobsite power tool ranges from 1800 to 2500-watts.

But when it comes to mobile power for campgrounds, tailgates, and RVs, the WEN is right at home. With its super quiet operation, the 56200i is great for supplying ‘clean’ power at campsites and for RV appliances such as a deep freezer (1500 starting watts), lighting, and electronics.

Before using this generator, determine how much total wattage you’ll need and plan accordingly. Below are some of the tools and appliances that the WEN 56200i generator can power with ease:

  • 30 incandescent light bulbs (60-watts each).
  • 130 CFL light bulbs (15 watts each).
  • LED/LCD TV display
  • Laptop/notebook computer
  • Desktop computer
  • Cellphone charger
  • Microwave oven
  • Toaster
  • Electric kettle
  • Coffee maker
  • Fan

You can use this guide to gauge your power needs.

C​ontrol Panel

The control panel on the WEN 56200i generator is both elaborate and flexible, with clearly marked switches, buttons, and receptacles. It features the main power switch, which is the biggest knob on the panel that you cannot miss. The switch has 3 states - OFF, ON, and CHOKE.

Next you have 3 indicator lights for low oil, overload protection, and output. Below the indicator lights is the ECO-MODE switch with OFF and ON states. Turning this switch ON engages the generator’s eco-mode throttle that maximizes fuel efficiency by automatically matching the engine speed with current load. This way you can extract maximum fuel efficiency while keeping noise levels to the bare minimum.

However, eco-mode throttle is only good when the load requirement is below 1000 watts. The engine must run at full speed to generate enough power for loads over 1000 watts.

Right below the ECO-MODE switch are the parallel connection outlets where you plug the parallel kit when setting up two WEN generators in parallel.

The panel is equipped with two 3-prong 120V AC receptacles and one 12V DC outlet. For added flexibility, the panel is also equipped with a 5V USB port.

Finally you have the grounding nut at the very bottom of the panel.

WEN 5200i: Performance​

The WEN 56200i utilizes a 79.7cc 4-stroke gasoline engine to generate power, first in AC form then it is converted to DC power before it’s finally changed to AC.

At peak output the 56200i pumps out 2000 watts of electricity while at continuous running it manages 1600 watts. This is not a lot of electricity but it’s sufficient for your power needs in your RV, a campsite, tailgates, or even in your home for small appliances.

The 56200i engine manages 6 hours of runtime at ½ load. What this means is that the 56200i can generate electricity continuously for 6 hours at half load. At full load you get slightly over 4 hours of runtime. Of course this is the manufacturer’s rating as the actual runtime may vary with each specific use case.

The engine’s output mirrors a pure sine wave, with total harmonic distortion kept at 0.3% at no load and 1.2% at full load. In simple terms this means you’re going to get clean power from the 56200i all of the time. You can have peace of mind knowing that your delicate gadgets are safe when you connect them to the generator.

When full, the one-gallon tank gives 6 hours of run time at ½ load. Obviously if you’re going to be running it all day, it pays to keep a full gas can nearby.

Apparently you can stretch it to 8 hours runtime when eco mode is engaged. However these are mostly claims made through buyer reviews.

​WEN 56200i: Noise Levels

The 56200i operates at 51 decibels at ¼ load. This isn’t the quietest we’ve seen among the portable generators we’ve reviewed but it’s quiet enough to permit a normal conversation without the need to scream on top of your voice.

Noise levels will obviously vary depending on load. For instance when you engage eco mode at at ⅓ load, you’re going to have a fairly quiet experience from the 56200i. In a similar regard you should expect the generator to be at its loudest when operating at full load.

WEN 56200i: Maintenance & Care

When you take good care of your generator, it will reward you with longevity. Fortunately this generator’s manual comes with a handy maintenance log to help you keep track of the different checks you need to make.

There are must checks with every use, for instance oil and fuel. Check oil and fuel levels every time you’re going to run the generator.

For oil, check every 8 hours of use and fill up. After 25 hours of use replace the old oil with new oil completely and do the same after 50 hours or every 3 months. The 56200i is equipped with an automatic shut off feature to protect it from running on low oil. Nonetheless, check oil level before starting the engine as it’s a critical step for safe and proper starting.

Change oil more frequently if you run the generator under dusty conditions or under heavy load most of the time.

For the air cleaner cartridge, check every 25 hours of use and clean after 100 hours or every 6 months, whichever comes first.

For the spark plug, check after 100 hours or every 6 months and change every year or as necessary.

For the fuel tank, clean once a year but check fuel levels before use.

For your safety, never perform any maintenance tasks when the engine is running. That includes cleaning and performing the different checks. Never clean the generator with water (using a hose or pouring directly from a bucket). When water gets inside the generator it can corrode the working parts and may also cause a short circuit. Clean the generator with pressurized air, a damp piece of cloth or a soft brush.

WEN 56200i: Accessories

You can actually do without most of these accessories – except oil – but having them makes life a lot easier when operating the 56200i.

Here is a list of accessories that will make running your 56200i generator less of a headache:

Oil:

We all know why your generator needs oil and why it’s vital to replace oil regularly. A new unit doesn't ship with oil so when your new generator arrives, you want to add oil before giving it its first run. You need 0.37 quarts for this engine.

What kind of oil should you buy? The manufacturer recommends high quality 30W, 4-stroke engine oil for regular use.

Convenience cord:

The 56200i comes with an extension cord but you might find that a convenience cord is indispensable at certain times, particularly when you need to hook multiple appliances at the same time. Ordinarily you’d have to plug in each appliance separately but with a convenience cord, you only have to plug it in and extend it out to wherever your appliances are. You then plug them in from there.

WEN 56200i universal weatherproof cover:

This waterproof vinyl wrapper is handy if you regularly use your generator on the road. While it is made for the 56200i generator, most WEN portable units will easily fit.

WEN 56421 parallel kit:

You don’t need to buy this parallel kit if you don’t have a second generator to create a parallel setup. it’ s handy when you have a second unit and want to boost total power output to accommodate bigger loads.

Based on some buyer reviews we perused on Amazon, this parallel kit works with Ryobi and Honda generators as well.

WEN 55021 dipstick:

Many new generators now come with a dipstick but unfortunately the 56200i is not one of them. You have to purchase it separately.

That said, a dipstick is one of those accessories you must have, seeing as you’re going to be checking oil levels with every use.

WEN 56200i: ​How to Operate, Easy or Not?

Operating the 56200i is a breeze. It’s easy to see why; the 56200i has the same streamlined start up process as the Honda EU2000i.

When you receive a new unit, the first endeavor is obviously to add oil and gas. Let it run for a couple of minutes before adding any loads.

Start process:

Starting the 56200i takes on average three pulls. Yes, this is yet again another manual start up method courtesy of a recoil cord.

Below are the typical steps to follow when starting the engine, which you’ll find elaborately stated in the user manual. 

  1. Unplug all cords (if any) from the generator. If there are any loads hooked onto the generator you may find a harder time getting the engine up and running.
  2. Turn off the eco-mode switch. The generator needs to run at maximum speed for startup.
  3. Turn the 3-in-1 knob to choke position. You can access this knob underneath the vacuum relief valve on top of the fuel cap.
  4. Hold the recoil starter handle by one hand and pull slowly until you feel some resistance. Now make a quick pull to start the engine. You may need to repeat this step severally until the engine starts. Slowly return the cord to the starter position (don’t let it snap back).
  5. Turn the 3-in-1 switch to the ON position.
 Let the engine run for some minutes to stabilize its speed and gain some heat before connecting any appliances.

Generator Pros 

Affordable:

This is perhaps WEN’s biggest advantage; the 56200i retails at half the price of the Honda EU2000i and that’s a big deal if you’re a budget buyer. Obviously there are compromises you’re going to make, but then again if your power requirements are average, this generator is more than enough.

Very portable:

The 56200i weighs 48 lbs (54 lbs shipping) and features a streamlined build. Thanks to the sleek handle, carrying the generator in one hand makes it look and feel like carrying a small baggage.

Quiet:

The 56200i is rated at 51 dBA at ¼ load, which is about the same as an average window air conditioner. Of course things get a little louder when the loads are bigger but even then you can expect to have normal conversations.

Easy to operate and manage:

The 56200i is one of the easiest portable generators to operate. Even if it is your first time operating a generator, the user manual makes it a breeze to get the generator up and running.

The most important part is to follow all safety guidelines as outlined in the manual.

Easy to maintain:

Again, the user manual makes it easy to maintain the generator in order to prolong its life. The manual contains a handy maintenance log to help you keep track of your maintenance schedule and the repetitive tasks involved.

Clean power for electronics:

Like all inverter generators, the 56200i produces pure sine wave output just like utility-supplied power. This ‘clean’ sine wave output is stable as it’s free from frequent surges that can damage devices such as laptops and phones.

Generator Cons

Weak performance:

Performance is undoubtedly this generator’s weakest point. In addition to a short run time of 6 hours at a load of roughly 500 watts, you’ll find a difficult time getting some appliances started with this generator. If you need power in the region of 1800-2000 watts to start an appliance, the 56200i is definitely going to struggle or fail.

In short, this is not the generator to use for heavy duty appliances.

Louder than comparable generators:

51 decibels at ¼ load isn't so loud but it’s still louder than most of its closest competitors in the same class. If this is going to be a big issue for how and where you intend to use the 56200i, you might want to consider another generator that runs slightly quieter. However be prepared to pay a little more as well.

​Summary

The WEN 56200i is a inverter generator that produces clean power for basic appliances and electronics. In many ways, the 56200i is comparable to many of its high end competitors, particularly when it comes to its compact design, weight, noise levels, and fuel efficiency.

The differences start to manifest when you subject it to higher loads. The 56200i lacks the performance edge you’d need to start, for instance, a 10000 BTU air conditioner. That said, this is a great portable generator that meets all the basics so long as your power needs are average.

The 56200i definitely appeals to budget shoppers and gives value for money if your power needs are not over the top. If you are not convinced you can also read our review of the 2000 watt Yamaha or Honda units.

​WEN 56200i Specs Table

1 gallon