Last winter, it had been raining and cloudy for a week in the desert. I wasn’t getting enough sunlight on my solar panels to charge my battery. I had also been using more power than ever after adding Starlink to my system, and with a big storm thrown in, the power ran out. In retrospect, my battery bank is too small. I have a lot of solar but way too small of a battery bank. The batteries were going down a little more each night, unable to get full during the day because it was raining. When it’s raining, I get virtually no solar. It was also winter when the sun is low on the horizon, and the days are short.
I realized I had not followed my own advice: to size your system for the worst possible conditions. I had increased my power usage significantly throughout the year with Starlink and by running both a refrigerator and freezer. I hadn’t resized my system to cover the added daily power draw.
It occurred to me that I may have been wrong about not having a generator. There may be a time and place for one of these things.
So, after doing some research, I bought myself a Champion 2000-Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator. This is the first of a long-term review.
Why the Champion?
Champion generators were the original Honda “clone.” Honda is a big name and very expensive. They are super high quality and durable. They will last you forever and cost you. Champion is affordable. They have been making dual fuel generators for a long time and have excellent reviews.
Dual Fuel Option is a Game Changer
One of the biggest reasons I don’t like generators is that you have to carry gasoline. I don’t like carrying gas in a gas can. Gasoline is highly flammable. It potentially spills and always smells. When old fuel sits in the tank, it can gum up your generator and won’t run. That alone has kept me from buying one, and still would today.
These dual fuels eliminate that problem! This unit comes with a regulator that plugs right into your propane tank and you can easily switch fuels with the EZ Start Dial.
I’m carrying propane whether I have a generator or not so for me this is a game changer!
Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to using any type of generator.
-Storms: I can run the generator if there are several days or weeks of rain where I am.
-Shade: If I need to park in the shade to cool my rig off, I won’t be getting solar to my panels.
-Cheaper Per Watt of Power: This is a 2000 watt generator putting out about 1700 watts of power. Even with dual fuel adding to the cost a little bit, this is far less than the cost of solar. The same number of watts for solar is typically about $1 a watt.
-No Installation: If you want to put in a solar system, you need to install it. You may not know how or have the skills or tools for that. You might not have enough room on your roof. The cost to pay someone to install a solar power system will be double or triple the price of a generator. Startup with the generator couldn’t be any simpler. You add the oil, add the fuel, and it’s running.
-Size: You must have the added space to carry this around and it weighs 40 pounds.
-Startup Effort: There are steps to get the generator running every time you use it.
-Maintenance: There will be maintenance. For example, the oil must be changed after so many hours which can be a hassle.
-Repairs: It may need to go in the shop at some point.
-Cost: Fuel costs are ongoing. When you invest in a solar system the sun charges your panels and powers it for free!
Unboxing First Impressions
This unit is packaged really well and shipped completely dry. You add the oil and gasoline yourself. The box includes a half liter of oil, a funnel, a propane tank hose with regulator, and a dual USB adaptor. I kind of like the bright yellow color!
The no-tool access panel and oil drain tube allow for easy maintenance. The control panel gives you access to everything you need, including ECO and full power modes, an inlet to snap the propane hose on and off, one 12V outlet, and two AC outlets.
Gasoline vs. Propane Watts
Propane is less volatile than gasoline. It has a lower overall fuel efficiency, producing fewer BTUs per gallon than gasoline. As a result, it produces less power.
The dataplate on the side of the unit indicates the load capacity per fuel type. You’ll see peak or starting watts are the same at 2000 watts. The running or steady watts vary at 1700 for gasoline and 1530 for propane. When buying a dual fuel generator, you must compare these numbers to all the electrical devices you plan on running. Do not overload your generator.
A generator is not for everyone. For me, the dual fuel inverter generator is practical in an emergency or as a backup to your solar system.