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WEN 56310i Inverter Generator Review & Comparison

WEN, which was established in 1951, has been in the business of manufacturing electrical devices for several decades now. Initially focusing on power tools, they have branched out into portable generators.

This familiarity with electronics makes their generators part of a niche of high-quality generators on the market.

These decades of manufacturing expertise are exemplified in the WEN 56310i 3100 watt inverter generator, which has an extensive range of controls and features such as a power saving economy mode.

Along with this, its physical design is meant to be lightweight and portable while reducing noise for your convenience.

With 3100W of surge power and 2800W of running power, single unit users will find this useful to power RVs and trailers.

However, this model can be connected in parallel with another unit to increase the power available, thus making it useful for household users as well.

Design, Dimensions & Weight

WEN 56310iThe WEN 56310i is designed to be compact, packing in many features into a small and light generator.

It’s hard plastic body ensures that its noise is kept to a minimum, is 57 decibels – an extremely low level as far as generators go.

It is also designed and marketed as being extremely light. With a dry weight of 81.4 lbs, it delivers on this promise.

Furthermore, when its 1.85 gallon/7 liter tank is filled to capacity with gasoline it weighs around 93 pounds, thus still being quite light. Furthermore, its extendable handle and 2 wheels make it easy to transport.

This makes this model the lightest model out of those we have reviewed, narrowly beating out the Champion 100302.

While there is not much appreciable difference between the weights of the two, which have been rounded off in the following comparison table, the 56310i easily beats out other models with which it is competing in the market.

Table: This model is the lightest WEN 56310i Weight

In terms of dimensions, it has a length of 26.75 inches, a width of 20 inches, and a height of 23 inches. These are highly compact proportions.

While WEN itself hasn’t uploaded an official video of this model, a user-uploaded video can be found at the following link to give you a better spatial idea of its size:

Power Output / Generation

This model uses a 4-stroke, single cylinder OHV engine, which, for lay users, means that only an oil appropriate for a 4-stroke engine should be used. There is, however, no single recommended oil type stated by WEN.

Rather, they give a range of oils depending on the temperature range of usage in the manual for the model.

As stated before, this model is capable of providing a surge wattage of 3100W and a running power output of 2800W, which makes it perfect for trailer or RV users.

However, since it can be connected in parallel to another unit of the same model, its power supply can be increased, making it fit for home users as well.

Comparatively speaking, this is not a very high running wattage and in fact only higher than the wattage of the Briggs and Stratton 30545 P3000. However, it does share this wattage with a number of other models.

You can still find models with a higher wattage than this though by consulting the following table:

Table: This model has one of the lower running wattages

WEN 56310i Power

It can comfortably power a number of daily household electrical appliances.

Furthermore, as an inverter generator, it produces an electric current with very little distortion or fluctuation, making it ideal for using sensitive equipment such as laptops.

To power such sensitive equipment, it has 2 5V USB ports on the control panel. Apart from these, it has 4 more receptacles: two three-pronged 120V AC outlets, a twist-lock 120V AC outlet, and a 12V DC receptacle.

Such a high number of receptacles makes it convenient to use this generator for a variety of purposes.

Fuel and Noise

The WEN 56310i uses only unleaded gasoline as fuel for its engine. This gasoline must have an octane rating of above 87, which means that only mid- and upper-grade gasoline can be used for this model.

The octane rating of gasoline is generally printed in a prominent location on the gasoline container, usually on the front label near or around the brand name.

Thus, finding appropriate quality gasoline should not be too much of a concern.

As stated before, the fuel tank of this model has a volume of 1.85 gallons or 7 liters. This means that with a tank full of gasoline this generator can run for 7 hours on a 50% load.

This is not a very high fuel tank volume. In fact, this model has one of the three lowest fuel capacities out of the reviewed models.

As such, only three reviewed models have a lower fuel capacity than it. Conversely, there are a number of models which have a higher fuel tank capacity and which can thus run for a longer period of time and can be viewed here:

Table: This model has a low fuel tank capacityWEN 56310i Fuel Capacity

This model is also both CARB and EPA compliant which means that it can be used in all states, including California.
Noise should not be too much of an issue for this model as long as the load on it is not too high.

On low loads, it makes a noise of about 57-58 decibels at a distance of 22 feet. However, at a 100% load, this noise can go up to 68 dB which can easily become too loud and jarring unless the generator is kept sufficiently away from you.

Thus, at low loads, this model has one of the lowest noise levels, second only to the Honda EU3000iS and one decibel lower than some models by Champion and Briggs and Stratton.

However, at higher loads, this model is capable of having the highest noise level, tied with various other generators at 68 dB.

Since this model also has a low running wattage, it is likely that you will be using higher loads on this model which means that it is reasonable to expect a noise level higher than 57 dB.

As such, you can search for models with better noise levels in this table:

Table: At low loads, this model is one of the quietestWEN 56310i Noise

Display & Control Panel

WEN 56310i control panelThis model has a compact, well-designed control panel. Controls with similar functions and purposes are clubbed together for easier access and use.

However, the labelling of the controls is in very small lettering which might make it slightly hard to decipher for those with weak eyesight.

The control panel has the following controls:

  • Eco-mode switch: this turns the eco-mode on and off which allows the model to automatically match the engine speed to the load being used thus maximizing efficiency and minimizing fuel wastage
  • 3-in-1 switch: this switch encompasses the functions of an engine switch, fuel valve, and a choke lever all in one
  • Parallel connection ports: these are used to parallel connect your unit to another unit of the same model to increase the available power
  • Low oil light: turns on when the oil in the engine is low and automatically shuts the engine off
  • Overload light: turns on when the generator has been overloaded
  • Output light: turns on during normal functioning of the generator
  • Receptacles: this model has a whopping 6 receptacles: a 12V DC outlet, 2 5V USB ports, 2 three-pronged 120V AC receptacles, and a twist-and-lock 120V AC receptacle
  • Grounding nut: used to ground the generator – refer to the local regulations before grounding

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Startup and Shut down

This model only has a manual start option. Before starting, make sure to unplug any loads from the engine and ground the generator properly.

Also, ensure that it is placed in an open space with plenty of ventilation. Do not start it in an enclosed space or indoors.

After ensuring this, follow these steps:

  • Turn the Eco-Mode switch to OFF position
  • Rotate the 3-in-1 switch to CHOKE position
  • Pull on the starter cord slowly until resistance is felt and then pull sharply and then slowly return the cord to its original position
  • Once the engine starts, turn the 3-in-1 switch to ON position
  • Before plugging in any loads, let the generator run for a few minutes so that its internal temperature and speed are stabilized.

To shut down the generator, first, switch off all the appliances plugged to it and then unplug them. Then perform the following steps:

  • Turn the 3-in-1 knob to OFF
  • Close the vacuum relieve valve on top of the fuel cap by rotating it counterclockwise

Additional Features

The WEN 56310i has a few extra features unique either to itself or WEN generators more generally which can possibly mark it off from other generators:

  • Integrated wheels: this model comes with integrated wheels attached to it which increase its mobility – coupled with its low weight, these make it even easier to maneuver
  • Extendable handles: this model also has extendable handles which allow you to easily pull it around, rather than having to lift it up, in order to move it – this increases its portability
  • Eco-Mode: this mode allows the engine to adjust its speed if the load on the engine is low, thus decreasing fuel usage and noise – however, this feature is of limited use as it only works if the load on the generator is 1000W or less, which is less than 50% of its maximum running wattage
WEN 56310i Generator

Warranty/Repairs

To register for the warranty, you must fill the warranty card and mail it to WEN along with a receipt of purchase as proof.

This will guarantee a warranty of 2 years from the date of purchase if it is being used for private purposes or 90 days if it is used for commercial purposes.

The warranty allows for repairs of your generator and replacement of any parts without having to pay for labor or the parts.

However, you cannot avail of the generator if proper maintenance hasn’t been followed, it has been neglected/abused, or if any unauthorized changes have been made to it.

Furthermore, the warranty is voided if the model is bought from third-party retailers such as pawn shops or resale stores. You should be careful that your purchase is made only from retailers authorized by WEN.

To avail of the warranty, you must call WEN Customer Service who will instruct you accordingly.

Alternatively, you can contact them via email or send them a mail which must contain a copy of your receipt of purchase and warranty along with a description of the problem you face.

WEN Customer Service contacts are as follows:

Toll-Free Number: (800) 232-1195 Email: [email protected] Address: WEN Products 2750 Alft Lane Elgin, IL 60124

Care and Maintenance

Regular care of a generator helps to prolong its life and ensure that it remains in good working order. In particular, proper maintenance of your unit is integral to its continued functioning.

Furthermore, improper care and not following the maintenance schedule in the manual can lead to the voiding of your warranty.

The manual gives the following maintenance schedule:

  • Within the first 8 hours: change the engine oil
  • Every 8 hours or daily: check the fuel and engine oil levels
  • Every 25 hours: replace the engine oil and check the cartridge of the air cleaner
  • Every 50 hours or 3 months: Replace the engine oil
  • Every 100 hours or 6 months: check and clean the air cleaner cartridge and the spark plug
  • Every year: change the spark plug and clean the fuel tank

You might need to change the engine oil more often in dusty or hot climates. A good rule of thumb is to change it as and when necessary rather than simply looking at the maintenance schedule.

The same advice is applicable for the spark plug.

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Consumer Comments

The WEN 56310i is an extremely popular generator, enjoying high ratings on online retail stores like Amazon and HomeDepot.

As such, it has received a significant number of reviews from customers who use both single units and parallel connected double units.

This can be aggregated to create a list of customer’s likes and dislikes.

Customers have liked:

Value for money

Quite a few users have stated that this model packs a considerable bang for its buck – it is a high-quality generator available at economical pricing while still having features which make it competition for brands such as Honda or Yamaha – in fact, many users have compared it favourably to Yamaha as a cheaper alternative

Low noise

Many users have found the low noise level of this model to be a big plus for them – in particular, users who used this model for camping were especially pleased with the low noise of this model

Auto shut-down

Some users have commended the auto-stop feature of this model which shuts the engine down in case of low oil or low fuel, thus preventing damage to the engine

Parallel connection

Some users have also bought two units of this model because of the parallel connection feature, which has allowed them to increase the power supply they get – they have been extremely satisfied with this increase in power

Customers have disliked:

Inadequate manual

Some users have also stated that the manual does not provide enough information about the generator – for instance, the generator has an oil drain extension which the manual does not clearly inform users about

Low power

Many users have stated that the low power offered by this generator means that it cannot be used for too many electronics unless it is connected in parallel with another unit – this decreases its utility

Ineffective eco-mode

The eco-mode of this model has also been criticized by some users as it can only be operated on loads of less than 1000W which renders it practically useless for users whose basic needs exceed this wattage

Oil panel

Quite a few users have also commented on the poor design of the oil panel – to change the oil requires a partial disassembly by removing three screws to get to the oil panel opening since it is located on the side of the generator

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Pros/Cons

By analyzing reviews of the generator along with it’s manual and features, a few pros and cons of this model can be ascertained.

Pros

Quiet: as an inverter generator, this model produces less noise than traditional generators, having a noise level of 57 or 58 dB at a low load, which can go up to 68 dB at 100% load – this also makes this generator ideal for camping as the noise will not be unduly disturbing

Multiple power receptacles: this model has 6 power receptacles, including 2 USB ports, which makes it extremely compatible with a wide range of electronic items and gadgets

Extremely steady output: the output current of this model is extremely steady with very little distortion or fluctuation – it is thus marketed as being ideal for running sensitive electronics such as laptops on as there is no danger of sudden surges which can damage the item

Very portable: this model has a comparatively low weight at 81.4 lbs with an empty tank – coupled with the integrated wheels and extendable handles of the model, this makes it highly portable and mobile

Auto shut-down: this model automatically shuts down if there is a low level of oil in the engine or if the fuel gets over, thus preventing damage to the generator

Cons

Inadequate eco-mode: the eco-mode and idling feature on this model only works with loads lower than 1000W which can easily make it functionally useless for users whose power demands are greater than that

Cumbersome design: the design of this model can be cumbersome as far as the oil panel is concerned as it requires unscrewing a panel which covers access to the oil tank

No fuel valve or gauge: there is no fuel valve or gauge in this model to control the fuel and tell how much fuel is left in the tank, making it harder for users to time and control the fuel intake of their generator

No hour meter: there is no hour meter on this generator to allow users to track the number of hours they have used their generator for and thus time maintenance accordingly – this can make proper care and maintenance harder to schedule

WEN 56310i Generator

FAQs

Does this model have an electric start as well?

No, this model only has a manual/recoil start.

Does this model run in parallel with two units connected together?

Yes, it does.

What fuel does this model use?

It uses unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of above 87.

Is there no dedicated fuel valve in this model?

No, there isn’t. Rather, there is a 3-in-1 knob which functions as the fuel valve, choke, and engine switch.

What is the noise level of this generator?

The noise level varies according to the load and is 57 or 58 dB at 25% load but can go up to 68 dB at 100%.

Is this an inverter generator?

Yes, it is.

Where is this model manufactured?

It is made in China.

How long does this supply power for?

At 50% load with a full tank, it can supply power for 7 hours.

How much does it weigh?

With an empty tank, it weights 81.4 lbs.

Is this model a pure sine wave or square sine wave generator?

It is a pure sine wave generator.

Is it safe to use a laptop or computer on this generator?

Yes, since this is an inverter generator it is ideal for sensitive instruments.

Can I use this inside my house?

No, this is a major safety hazard and can easily lead to carbon monoxide poisoning within minutes.

Does this have a 240V outlet?

No, the highest receptacle is 120V.

What is the recommended oil type for this model?

There is no single recommended oil type – rather, the manual recommends a range of oils depending on the temperature gradient of the locations of your usage.

What are the dimensions of this model?

It has a length of 26.75 inches, a width of 20 inches, and a height of 23 inches.

Pricing

Comparatively speaking, this model is definitely one of the higher priced ones out of the reviewed generators.

While it is still much cheaper than brands such as Honda or Briggs and Stratton, there are many competitively priced models with similar power ranges which are cheaper than the 56310i.

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Our Recommendation

Keeping a comparative framework in mind, which can be seen through our use of a comparison table, we have rated the key aspects of this model as follows:

Price

This model is one of the more expensive models available on the market, although it is significantly cheaper than the next most expensive generator (Champion 75531i).

However, there are many models available which are less expensive than this model.

Noise level

This model has a variable noise level which begins at 57 dB, which makes it one of the quietest models, but can go up to 68 dB on higher loads, making it as loud as the noisiest models reviewed.

Fuel tank capacity

This model has one of the three lowest fuel tank capacities out of the reviewed models which means that it will not last too long during a single use.

Performance

This model hasn’t received the best reviews for its performance: users have mentioned that its eco-mode is inadequate and the oil panel is situated in a less accessible location.

Ease of use

This model has received some negative reviews in terms of its ease of use, from the location of its oil panel to the lack of an hour meter or fuel valve.

Furthermore, the manual has inadequate information, which many customers have complained about.

Overall, this model is good in terms of its performance, ease of use, and features.

There are models which have better specific stats than this model although a great plus point of these models has been its low noise level, which beats out many others.

8.4 Total Score
WEN 56310i Generator

Overall, this model is good in terms of its performance, ease of use, and features.

PROS
  • Quiet
  • Multiple power receptacles
  • Very portable
CONS
  • No fuel valve or gauge
  • No hour meter
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Recommended Accessories

This model comes with integrated wheels and cords for the outlets, thus obviating the need to buy more cords or a mobility kit.

However, WEN does recommend a weatherproof covering for the model which can be seen here:

WEN Universal Weatherproof Inverter Generator Cover, Large

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Furthermore, if you intend on connecting this model in parallel with another generator, then WEN also recommends a parallel connection kit available on Amazon.

WEN 56421 25-Amp 3000-Watt Parallel Connection Kit for Inverter Generators

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Summary

This model exemplifies the expertise that WEN has honed over many decades. It is a high-quality inverter generator which pulls out the technological stops associated with such generators.

It has a light build, a low noise level which can easily be kept in the lower 60s dB if there is not an excessive load, and a current output with the extremely low distortion which makes it ideal for sensitive electronics.

Furthermore, its extendable handles and integrated two wheels make it physically portable.

However, the manual is unreliable and hard to follow and its eco-mode is not of particular use since it only works with loads below 1000W. Furthermore, the design of the oil panel is cumbersome and not user-friendly.

It also has a potentially low power output of 2800W of running power for some audiences. This, however, can be remedied by connecting two units of this model in parallel.

All in all, this model is good for an RV or trailer audience along with campers due to its low noise level.

It can also power household electronics, especially sensitive equipment, but it should not be relied on as extensive backup in case of a blackout.

WEN 56310i Generator

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