Pros / The digital meter gauges maintenance needs and voltage output.
Cons / The surge power rating is only 5,500 watts.
Verdict / WEN's portable generators are good, reliable and average.
Mostly known for high-quality power tools, WEN also manufactures portable generators that keep you working when the power's out. The design of the generators is rugged with large, yellow roll cages and never-flat tires. The power generators range between 3,500 and 9,000 running watts. Whether you want a small generator for powering a TV at a campout or a heavy-duty generator for a construction site, WEN gives you plenty of options. Since 5,000-watt generators are the most common for families needing to power essential appliances during a blackout, we reviewed the WEN 5500.
The WEN 5500 has a running power rating of 5,000 watts and a surge rating of 5,500 watts. The 500-watt difference is the smallest surge rating available among the 5,000-watt generators. Most generators have a difference between 1,000 and 1,250 watts. The best portable generators have up to a 2,000-watt difference between their surge wattage and their running wattage. This extra wattage, which the generator can only sustain for about 10 seconds, is for starting electric motors, which can require two to four times more power at startup than they do while running.
With a 389-cc OHV motor and a 6.5-gallon fuel tank, the 5500 has a running time of 11 hours when running on a 50 percent load. This is above average, with an efficiency of 1.69 gallons an hour. For comparison, the longest running time is 14 hours. Even the best portable generator is only slightly better, with an efficiency of 1.8 gallons per hour. Fuel efficiency is important to consider, because fuel can be difficult to acquire in an emergency.
The best aspect of the control panel is the comprehensive features. It has four household outlets, an industrial twist-locking 120/240-volt outlet and a 12-volt DC outlet. It also has a voltage meter, an hours meter, a fuel gauge and a voltage selector switch, which allows you to isolate the voltage to 120 or 240 volts. The ability to produce 120 or 240 volts makes the alternator more efficient and reduces the current's distortion, which is safer for your appliances. However, it lacks GFCI protection, which protects you from electrocution if the alternating current takes an alternate path.
- Surge Wattage Increase
- Fuel Efficiency
- Running Time
- Fuel Tank Capacity
The WEN generators are rugged and reliable portable generators. The 5500 has a weak surge rating, which is only 500 watts more than the running watts, but the running time is good, with 11 hours on a 6.5-gallon tank. The control panel has everything you'd want in a 5,000-watt generator, except GFCI protection.