An RV generator is an important and expensive piece of kit, so you’ll want to make sure you get the right one for your RV and lifestyle. I get a lot of questions about generators, so I’m going to help you out by comparing the Champion 3100 vs the Honda 3000 RV generators.
In my opinion, and practically everyone who’s into RVing, the Champion 3100 and the Honda 3000 are the two most suitable RV generators you’re going to come across, with enough power for your average RV setup including air con. But how do you choose between them? After all this is a big decision and you really don’t want to blow big bucks and get it wrong.
Boondocking, emergency planning or stopping over somewhere en route to a campsite. There are plenty of scenarios where you’ll need a generator. Generators bring greater freedom and more choice, and that’s basically what RVing’s all about. So, you need an RV generator, but which one should you go for?
Here’s all the specs and everything you need to know, to help you to make an informed, educated decision on which RV generator you need, here’s the Champion 3100 vs the Honda 3000, round one…
At 3,100 Watts with a 2,800 Watt running power, the Champion comes out slightly on top against the Honda’s 3000 Watt maximum and 2,600 Watt continuous running power. It’s well worth checking your running power needs and if you’re nearing the limits the Honda could just give you the edge.
Bear in mind that AC units require a lot of power to run, so you may have to decide which other appliances are really essential. Both of these units will power your AC, refrigerator, lights and a few appliances such as phone chargers or TVs all at the same time.
Likewise, for more power, the Champion has a greater engine capacity at 171cc to the Honda’s 163cc. At a quarter load the two generators are nearly level at 8hrs running time for the Champion and 7.7 hours for the Honda.
Performance, efficiency and noise levels are improved in both the Champion 3100 and the Honda 3000 through use of their respective Economy and Eco-Throttle modes.
On this point alone it’s pretty much neck and neck, however the extra wattage provided by the Champion gives it the edge in this category as well as its slightly longer run time. However, these are only minor advantages, let’s take a look at other important generator ownership factors.
The Champion runs at 58 dB from 23 feet, which means you can have a conversation, watch a film and almost not hear it from inside your RV. However, at a full load I find it tends to run louder and the sound is concentrated at the exhaust end of the generator, great for you but not so good if you have nearby neighbors.
Still, the Champion is not a loud generator and its noise can be reduced by using the economy mode which allows the engine to idle when a lower load is required.
The Honda is really quiet, at 58 dB which goes down to 52 dB at a quarter load. Definitely the quieter of the two, when the Honda is not fully loaded you’ll barely notice it’s on.
However, if you’re planning on running your generator mainly at its max then, to be honest, I’d say the Honda still has the edge, but I wouldn’t rule out the Champion either.
If noise level is all important to you, then you should know that the Honda 3000 is also available in an extra quiet model, the Honda EU 3000iS. It’s heavier, less portable and has a bigger tank and subsequently a longer running time (20hrs on a quarter load), but runs at just 50 dB on a quarter load or 57dB at a rated load.
As I said, if noise level really is a dealbreaker for you, then this may be worth looking at, but remember quietness often means compromising other important factors.
When it comes to noise levels the Honda 3000i is definitely quieter than the Champion 3100. It all depends on how important this is to you and where you are planning on using your generator the most.
Weight & Portability
The Honda is slightly lighter at 78 lbs, while the Champion weighs in at 80 lbs. Both have built-in wheels, folding handles and built-in carry handles.
What I will say is I found the Honda 3000i to be easier to move around, it’s offset handles make lifting slightly easier and the wheels roll better on uneven ground. With the Champion I struggled a bit to roll it on natural terrain.
Remember you’re going to be using this in all weathers, year round. If you’re not a heavy weight lifter, then in my book, it’s well worth avoiding injury and keeping lifting to a minimum.
The Honda’s easier maneuverability is definitely an important factor for me, but it may not be as important to you. Consider your individual situation, will you be alone or is there someone about to help. Will you be boondocking? Do you envisage having to move your generator over any kind of distance and what type of ground?
When you are looking for an RV generator, you’ll need to make sure that you’ll have easy accessibility to fuel and that your generator is as fuel efficient as possible. It is important to try to find the right balance between weight and fuel tank capacity, while bearing maneuverability in mind.
Fuel Tank Capacity
Both the Champion 3100 and the Honda 3000i have a 1.6 gallon fuel tank. As with most generators of this kind they can be a little tricky filling up, so make sure you use a funnel and keep a steady hand.
The Honda has a fuel gauge, but the Champion 3100 does not. If you’re new to RVing you might prefer to see the level on a gauge rather than having to remove the filler cap to guesstimate the level. A small point, but an extra point to the Honda.
Thanks to their Inverter technology, both the Champion 3100 and the Honda 3000 provide great fuel efficiency. When you select economy mode or the eco-throttle feature both generators allow the motor to idle reducing fuel consumption, prolonging lifespan and diminishing noise levels.
With eight hours running time at a quarter load, compared to 7.7 hours at a quarter load for the Honda, the Champion 3100 is slightly ahead in terms of a fuel-efficiency.
Both of these gasoline powered generators can be adapted to work with alternative fuels. However, it is strongly recommended that you speak to an expert and possibly also the manufacturers in order to ensure that any modifications that you are thinking of making will not void your warranty.
Given that the Champion 3100 and the Honda 3000 are pretty much neck and neck, let’s take a look at their features, prices and some other factors which may help you to make your decision.
Both generators use inverter technology. This makes them more fuel-efficient and allows for more reliable power, which means your sensitive electrical gadgets and appliances will be safely and securely powered without any major dips in current.
To protect your generator’s engine both the Champion and the Honda have a low-oil shutoff feature.
The Champion 3100 on the Honda 300 both use a recoil start. However, you also have the option with the Champion, to purchase the Model #75537i which comes with a remote control. If you purchase this model you will have a choice between recoil, electric or remote control starting, which can make life a little easier. The remote control works up to 80 feet away and meaning you can power up your generator without having even to get up.
Both models feature easy-to-use control panels, the Champion 3100 has an intuitive quick touch panel, whereas the Honda 3000 has an easy-to-see Control Panel, thanks to its recessed convenience light meaning you won’t need to reach for a hand light or struggle in the dark.
Both the Champion 3100 and the Honda 3000 have one 120V 30-amp outlet, two 120V AC standard outlets and one 12V DC outlet. So you have everything you need to power your RV or to recharge your batteries.
Now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. This is the one main, huge difference between the two generators. The Honda 3000 is well over double the price of the champion 3100. Obviously there is Honda’s excellent reputation and reliability to bear in mind.
However, given the excellent performance of the Champion 3100 and the fact that the two generators performed pretty similarly with no obvious all-round winner, it’s quite simply not the case that the higher priced one is 100% the better RV generator.
These two are so closely matched that if you’d like the Honda but you’re put off by the price tag, I really don’t think you’d be disappointed at all with the Champion.
Both the Champion 3100 and the Honda 3000 come with a three-year warranty.
Firstly I’d just like to say it’s important to consider how often you’re going to be using this and where.
If it’s just for a back up or a few trips a year, consider if you’ll really get your money’s worth splashing out on the Honda. Possibly unless you are planning on using it with close neighbors. I’ve never had a complaint yet about my Champion, but I consider myself to be a considerate neighbor.
Another factor to bear in mind is where you’re planning to get your generator serviced. This is by no means the be all and end all, but if you do live near to a Champion service center or a Honda service center this could help tip the scales in their favor.
Before making your choice, I strongly suggest checking out the resale values of these models in your country or area. Although the Honda is a lot more expensive it does tend to have a great resale value when looked after correctly. Yet another reason to ensure that you take good care of your generator with regular oil changes and air filter cleaning. Make sure that you drain any stale oil and use fresh fuel after any period of inactivity. This will ensure that your generator retains its value no matter which model you go for.
One final consideration before summing up, future use. Out of these two models only the Honda can be used in parallel. Just something to bear in mind, but if you ever wanted to increase your power in the future you could attach another Honda in parallel with this model.
Whether you choose to splurge on the Honda 3000, or to go for the Champion 3100, make sure your choice fits in with your needs. If noise and manoeuvrability are your priorities, the Honda is probably the better option. The Champion, however, has the edge when it comes to power, purchase price and run time.
Decide what’s important to you and make your decision. If you can justify its price tag, the Honda’s a really great model to go for and they do hold their value. However, I personally would go for the Champion. They are just both too similar in terms of performance to justify the extra cost to my mind. The only time I’d go for the Honda over the Champion would be if I really, really needed a quiet generator.
That’s my thoughts, obviously your choice depends entirely upon your own personal circumstances, and with the high quality and performance of both of these generators you will not be disappointed whichever one you go for.