We have run our generators fairly hard during planned power outages at work and so far there is no difference in the operation of the three Honda (2 - 2000 watt and 1 3000 watt) and the 2500 watt HF unit.
We have broken them in (all of them ) and changed the oil to synthetic.
We ran each of them with a load equal to their max continuous rating (and in the case of the HF unit the max surge) for at least a tank of fuel.
The HF unit may well crap out the next time it is used, but there is no evidence of it in oil usage, noise, or anything else SO FAR.
Several of my maintenance people have bought these for emergency use at home (we are in the hurricane belt here in Mobile, AL.)
I think you won't go wrong with the Hondas, but at the same time the HF unit seems to be well made and 40% of the price.
I have not taken one apart and don't plan to either, but if one does quit then it is a possibility. The main problem area with most of these Chinese generators is the low quality spark plugs used, but again so far there has been no problem with these. The replacement is a NGK CR7HSA.
The main problem with generators is that they are not operated enough and the fuel tends to varnish and the Alcohol blend tends to cause prolems as well. Probably you should use Sta-Bil fuel treatment in all of the generators.
We run our generators every month, loaded, for at least an hour to help insure that they will run and we have two available where these things are critical for backup.
I have to admit that I bought the Harbor Freight Predator inverter generator as a test to compare to the Hondas and I have expected it to give trouble, but so far it has run just as good as the Hondas. The testing has not yet run for a year, but we are working on it.
We let the guys borrow the generators for camping etc. just to keep them running more (see above), but they tend to borrow the Hondas and not the HF unit.
We have also had one generator stolen and again it was one of the Hondas and not the HF. If you are going to steal something you might as well compromise your ethics for the perceived higher quality and value!
I do wish the HF unit was lighter and I am going to try side by side testing for the intake silencer (mine) vs. the Hondas and the unmodified HF generator here to see what the difference really is on noise.
When we checked the noise with the same load and idling with the admitted (perhaps) lower quality dB meter APP on my phone they measured the same at the same distance, but the HF unit sounded to the ear a little "rappier" and that was from that intake noise discussed above.
I talked with the guys at break this morning and we decided to run some more tests since it is about time for the monthly PM.
We are going to compare the gensets again with a Kill-a-Watt hooked up and borrow a good dB meter from the safety department. We will take a 5' rope with a hook on it and measure from the handles on the top.
We will load them all the same and as close to their max rating as well to compare at idle, 1500 watt load, and max.
We know that the HF unit uses less gas than the book says when loaded with two 1500 watt heaters for 8 hours. This time we will try it with measured output.
Also we think that we can parallel two of the HF units and we will try this as well. Since the inverter electronics are pretty standard and the Hondas and others just tie the outputs together it might play (or not).
Either it will work or we will have two crispy units.
Also since these inverters are pretty common and the pinout are pretty much the same the unused terminals on the inverter might just give the eco
mode if hooked up.
Experiment time! ( will report when the smoke clears)
If possible we will try to do a video, but that is a fairly low priority for us.