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The model name's the same but the Honda generator is better

Consumer Reports News: October 19, 2012 11:38 AM

One of Consumer Reports' challenges in presenting timely, relevant test results is that now and then manufacturers make changes to their products without changing the model name. If it's a slight change, like the location of buttons or other features, the product functions essentially the same. But in the case of a Honda generator we recently tested, the changes were major enough to warrant a name change. That didn't happen.

After we posted our latest generator Ratings, we learned of a newer version of the $2,800 Honda EM6500SX that had placed fourth in our rankings. The newer version, with the same name at dealerships, is still one of our recommended models. In fact, a higher overall score raised the 5,500-watt, gasoline-powered portable into second place behind the top-rated Troy-Bilt XP 7000 30477, $900.

Here's what's different. The battery is now integrated into the machine, unlike the earlier version in which the electric-start feature was bolted onto the rear. The current version is also 25 pounds lighter and has an updated engine that uses gasoline more conservatively—getting an average of one more hour of run time on a full tank. And the new unit has improved upon the older one's handling of the surge wattage that refrigerators, air conditioners, and pumps need when they cycle on, even though that model was already excellent on power delivery.

Another note about model names: The numbers in a generator's model name, as in the case of the Honda, do not necessarily correspond to the model's "rated" wattage, what it generally supplies not counting surges. Product names for portables from Generac and Troy-Bilt matched their rated wattages. Names for the Honda and Yamaha did not.

If you do have a gasoline-powered portable generator, remember to start it up every few weeks and run it for a while. While it's running, go to the transfer switch and have the generator take over the circuits it would manage during a real emergency. Running the engine isn't enough. You need to know it can step in when the lights go out.

Ed Perratore

   

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