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4 stars

Review of the WEN 56380i Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

3800 Starting Watts, 3400 Running Watts on Gasoline

Electric Start: Yes

Weight: 99.2lbs

Noise: 57dB


Should You Buy It?

Going by the number of satisfied buyers compared to those who have been disappointed, the answer is a definite yes. It's so popular that it's often sold out. It is heavy and bulky, but that's a price you must pay for what is one of the more powerful inverters. 

A clinching factor for some potential buyers is the electric start that comes with this model, and which you may see as an essential feature. And compared to some of the more premium brands, it's quite affordable, though some owners say its long-term durability remains to be seen. A lot will depend on how well owners follow break-in and maintenance procedures, as well as making sure to use it regularly (this usually means for not less than 15 minutes every month).

Although it's fairly powerful, it's also always wise to ensure any prospective generator has the right amount of power for your needs. Remember, the altitude of where you live can reduce published outputs. But it's always possible to run two of these generators in parallel to increase the available power outputs.

Key Points about the WEN 56380i Super Quiet

4 and 5-star reviews
Comprehensive digital display
Parallel capable
Safe for use with sensitive electronics
Small no-flat wheels
Lack of break-in procedure
Quality control problems

Overview of the Generator


This WEN portable generator has a lot going for it. It's reasonably powerful, affordable, compact, relatively light in weight, and quiet. Buyers include recreational users, boat and RV owners, and people who need to power basic equipment for short periods during outages and emergencies.

Controls and Features


The generator has one of the more comprehensive control panels you'll find on comparable models. It is neatly laid out for easy operation. Among its benefits is a digital display so you can keep track of voltage/frequency, run time, load, and fuel level. It also has LEDs for low oil, operational readiness, and an overload condition. 

The SQ56380i comes with a battery to power the electric push button start in the multi-function Auto-Off/Run/Start dial. If the battery is flat for any reason, you can resort to the side-mounted recoil cord to start the generator. Once running, a sensor monitors for low oil levels and, if detected, shuts the engine down to protect it from damage. You won't be able to start it again until you add sufficiently more oil.

The Auto-Off combines a fuel shutoff, which allows the remaining fuel in the carburetor to burn during the engine shut down sequence. This means there is no fuel left in the carburetor to deteriorate over time while you store the generator away. Gasoline deteriorates rapidly over time, loses its power, and causes blockages. 

While these blockages will prevent you from starting the generator, more than likely just when you need it most, many owners recommend the use of a fuel stabilizer to reduce this problem, and we explain what these stabilizers are.

For equipment connection, it includes 2xthree-prong 120v receptacles, 1xAC 120v NEMA TT-30R RV receptacle, 1x12v DC receptacle, and 2x5v USB ports.

With EPAIII Certification and CARB Compliance, this model can be used in all 50 states It can also be used safely in National Parks and camp sites as it comes equipped with a spark arrestor.

The generator runs for up to 8 hours at 50% load on its 2.2-gallon fuel tank.

WEN offer a 2-year warranty on all their inverter generators.

For more detailed information about this model and its operation have a look at the WEN SQ56380i manual

Power Output

Powered by a 212cc 4-stroke OHV engine, the generator produces 3800 starting watts and 3400 running watts. An ECO-Mode adjusts engine speed automatically, matching the power output with the demand to maximize fuel efficiency and minimize noise and emissions.

You can increase the output power by connecting a second SQ56380i using a separately sold WEN 56421 Parallel kit.

While power outputs are good indicators, it's not a good idea to run portable generators at 100% of their rated outputs for more than half an hour or so. To extend the life of the engine, you should aim for no more than 75% to 90%. And remember, no portable generator is designed to run 24/7.

To ensure you meet your power needs, you should also take into account the information we provide about running a portable generator at altitude because this can have a significant effect and reduce published power outputs.

The inverter technology used in this model provides a power output mirroring a pure sine wave with a Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) of under 1.2% at full load. In other words, the power output is as clean as your home supply, allowing you to safely connect sensitive electronic equipment.


This closed frame portable inverter is quite heavy at 99.2lbs. It's probably too much for most people to lift and move around on their own. To make transport easier it has a set of no-flat rear wheels and an extendable handle. No-flat wheels are supposed to rid you of the problem of deflated tires. But many people find they develop permanent flat spots and deform over time when the generator is stored away for an extended period. For this reason, some owners choose to replace them with other types of tires.

We've included some more information about these sort of wheels and some of the alternatives.

Noise Level

The generator has a noise level of 57dB when under 25% load. WEN say this is quieter than a window air conditioner or an ordinary conversation. 

What Most Buyers Like

Most are very happy with the performance of the SQ56380i and recommend it to others as a medium-powered inverter. In fact, some say it's the best value for the dollar, and has a modern clean look. One happy, but owner, thinking out loud, wonders whether time will tell if they should have invested in a more premium model.

Many say it's a great addition for an RV, and the unit is easily able to run a 15000 BTU air conditioner in normal mode and a 13500 BTU model in ECO Mode. 

One suggests it's perfect for providing some backup power for a house, but a bit heavy for camping. A few others think it's louder than similar models, but on the other hand most are impressed by how quiet it is. 

What Some Buyers Like Less

Some owners say the fuel tank is too small, but actually in operation find the generator to be very economical, especially in Eco-Mode.

There are some other disappointing features, which are listed below:

Some of the controls feel cheap.

The model is rated to maintain its emission compliance for only 125 hours. This is the lowest level of certification and quickly runs out. 

Unlike some other brands, no oil is supplied with the unit. So new owners must go and buy some before preparing the generator for first use. 

The instructions are good, in places even humorous, but they lack clear guidance on break-in procedures. And you must read them carefully before starting the generator for the first time. This is because there are 4 tie-down brackets securing the engine to the bottom which you must first remove.

Several think the wheels need to be bigger: the ones supplied are too small to be useful on anything other than hard surfaces.

Although the electric start is great, some units arrive with a dead battery. 

One owner recommends buying a large-mouthed funnel for gas, and a long-shafted funnel for filling the oil reservoir: the items provided are practically useless.

Some say that while the control panel is good it's difficult to read the digital display in sunlight. 

Owners have varying views on high altitude use, with some having no problem and others warning of the cost of installing a high elevation kit.

Avoid using ethanol fuel and buy a magnetic oil dipstick as the supplied oil dipstick is terrible. A magnetic replacement is essential for collecting shavings on first start up, and less on the second to ensure a trouble-free break-in process.

Some units arrive in perfect packaging but with a broken spark plug cap, raising quality control concerns at the factory. There is a strong recommendation to change the factory-fitted Torch spark plug for an NGK 7131 Spark Plug - BPR6ES.

Reactions to after sales service for this particular model ranged from very pleased to having been disappointed.

Inverter TechnologyYes
Rated Voltage12V DC
Rated Amperage10A (Total)
8A (Cigarette Lighter)
1A/2.1A (USB)
Rated Wattage3400W
Surge Wattage3800W
Rated Voltage120V
Rated Amperage28.3A (Total), 28.3A (TT-30R)
20A (5-20R)
Frequency60 Hz
Phase Single
BATTERY1.6 Ah Lithium-Ion
CARB CompliantYes
Engine Type4 stroke, OHV, single cylinde
CoolingForced air
Spark Plug TypeNGK BPR6ES / Torch F6RTC
Spark Plug Gap0.7 - 0.8 mm (0.028 - 0.031 in.)
Spark Plug Torque15 ft-lbs
Engine Speed3600 RPM
Fuel Tank Capacity2.2 US Gallons (8.3L)
Octane87 minimum
Fuel ShutoffYes
Oil Capacity18.6 fl. oz. (0.55 L)
Lubrication SystemSplash
Half-Load Run Time (Hours)8.5
NOISE 25% Load57dB
LxWxH (inches)23.2x18x20.1