With their compact size and low noise level, inverter generators seem like a perfect solution for food trucks and food carts. However, inverter generators are much more expensive than traditional ones, and models by big brands like Honda run a few thousand dollars. This can be a big burden on your overhead costs.

Fortunately, there are cheaper, sufficient alternatives, like the WEN inverter generators. WEN 56380i is a 3800W inverter generator with lots of power and a fair price tag. Let’s dig into what this generator has to offer.

WEN 56380i Portable Generator Review

Technical Spec

  • 212cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 3800 surge watts and 3400 rated watts
  • Half-load runtime of up to 8.5 hours Includes two three-prong 120V receptacles, one AC 120V NEMA TT-30R RV receptacle, one 12V DC receptacle, one 5V USB port
  • A digital load and fuel display
  • Fuel shutoff that maximizes the generator’s lifespan
  • Produces clean power to prevent damage to sensitive electronics
  • Dimensions: 23.2″ x 18″ x 20.1″
  • Weight: 99.2 lbs

Performance and Fuel Consumption

WEN 56380i has a 3800W peak, and 3400W continuous power at 120V. This is enough for powering devices like small air conditioners, microwaves, and some freezers. It is equipped with a 4-stroke, 212cc OHV engine with one of the highest torque ratings for this size of generators. It can run continuously with no problems; however, it does need refilling after 6-8 hours if you need to use it continuously.

wen 56380i inverter generator

Powering multiple kitchen appliances at the same time might get tricky, because inverter generators are often less powerful than traditional ones. They usually suffer when their wattage exceeds about 50%, so you should carefully plan your power needs ahead of time. This unit can run two full-size fridges and a few lights at the same time. If you need to run more devices or bigger ones, consider getting two or three of these units for backup.

If you need more power (if you run a food truck you will most likely do) you can easily link up two WEN inverter generators using a WEN GNA50i 50-Amp 6000-Watt Parallel Connection Kit to share wattage between multiple units.

Fuel Capacity

The fuel tank capacity is 2.2 gallons. The manufacturer claims that that si enough for about 8 hours on half load and 4 hours with a full load at 120V before needing a refill of fuel. The bigger the load, the less time WEN 56380i will be able to power it with full capacity. It runs better when not pushing it too much, and gives you a bit more time if the load is less demanding.

Inverter generators in general are very fuel-efficient. WEN 56380i offers eco-throttle; this means that the generator will automatically adjust its power output depending on your needs. If you only need it to power a few small lamps, for example, it will throttle down and won’t use more gasoline than necessary. If you start running a microwave or a bigger appliance, though, the eco-throttle function will automatically adjust your generator’s output to warrant stable operation of your equipment.

Noise Level

When it comes to noise levels, this generator is rated at 57 dB, which is very low. In reality, it is closer to lower 60’s dB in eco mode, and up to 72dB in full mode. It’s still no louder than a vacuum cleaner and will hardly bother you, or your customers, especially if it’s positioned well.

Build Quality and Weight

This generator is surprisingly sturdy and well-designed. It is quite heavy though, weighing over 100 pounds. The fully built-in handle that folds in when not in use and two wheels keep the generator portable. Most of the engine parts are made of steel or other heavy-duty materials, which increases its durability.

Control Panel

The control panel layout is nice, designed with ease of use in mind. It features four control buttons for electricity generation (start/stop), voltage adjustment (useful when running sensitive equipment like computers or other electronics), fuel pump cut-off in case you run out of gasoline, and a reset button in case something goes wrong with your generator’s settings. It also features a small LED panel that shows your generator’s power output and diagnostics.

wen 56380i control panel

Another perk is the included USB ports for charging handheld devices – iPhones, Android phones, tablets, etc. The manufacturer claims it takes 4 hours to fully charge an iPad with this inverter generator. There are also plenty of sockets for other appliances, like water heaters and TVs.

Safety Features

WEN 56380i generator comes with several neat safety features. It features an overload protection that will shut off automatically if it senses an overload and automatic voltage regulation (AVR). The low-oil shutdown protects the engine by shutting it off when the oil level is too low. This function makes this unit extremely safe to use – you can leave it unattended without worrying that something might go wrong.
Another feature that maximizes the generator’s lifespan is fuel shutoff, that makes sure the remaining fuel in the carburetor is used before shutting down. How it works and why it’s important you can see in this video:

What we liked about WEN 56380i

This generator is very fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly with its eco throttle function; it is both EPA III and CARB compliant, so you can use it in all states. It is easy to use and safe thanks to its overload protection and low oil shutdown. WEN 56380i offers excellent value for its price, especially considering it’s a generator with inverter technology.

What we didn’t like

This generator is heavy, weighing over 100 pounds, so it is not easy to carry around. It works great for powering multiple appliances at once, but like most inverter generators falls just a little bit short of being able to fully fulfill the power needs of a food truck. We should note that it doesn’t have a remote start feature, which is not a deal-breaker for us, but might be important for some people.

Who makes WEN generators?

Founded by Nick Anton in 1951, WEN originally made its mark by basically creating power tools. Their research and development team played a vital role in helping to develop a variety of common everyday tools such as the chainsaw, the electric soldering gun, the electric jigsaw, the electric engraver, and the knife and wet wheel sharpeners. WEN even pioneered random orbital technology; the technology seen in most polishers, waxers, and buffers.

Today WEN Products is licensed by Techtronic Industries of Hong Kong, an original equipment manufacturer for many huge and globally known brands. The headquarters of WEN is located in Elgin, Illinois, but their products, including generators, are made in China.

Final Thoughts

All in all, WEN 56380i is a sturdy generator with an excellent price-value ratio. WEN 3800W inverter generator costs around $750, which is an amazing price for what you get. It has all the features you need for powering multiple appliances, is easy to use, and can be safely left unattended since it comes with several safety features. This means that you will be able to give your full attention to preparing delicious meals and serving your customers.

Share This Story