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Lifewire / Nick Jaynes
Wireless remote operation
Motorhome direct hookup outlet
Free lifetime technical support
Bulky and very heavy
Lots of assembly required
Louder than the competition
The Champion Power Equipment 46539 3500-Watt generator might be big, but it backs up its size with loads of power output and several smart features. With remote operation and 12 hours (at 50% output) of run time per tank, it’s ideal for RV owners and contractors alike.
Recreational vehicle (RV) owners, contractors, and large-family campers often require a generator with lots of power output, long run times, and sizeable gasoline tank capacity to fuel their electrical needs. If these kinds of users are willing to tote around a 140-pound behemoth like the Champion Power Equipment 46539 generator, they’ll be rewarded with an easy-to-use and reliable portable generator.
Cut the box apart, lay out the components, and it’s quickly apparent this is a design that would have Steve Jobs turning over in his grave. The Champion Power Equipment 4653 is very utilitarian and has switch gear that looks like it was borrowed from a generic parts bin. This makes us worry that some of these chintzy components could fail prematurely, though those fears are somewhat mitigated by Champion’s 3-year warranty.
The battery and its wiring are exposed, as are most of the larger components. Encasing it all in a plastic body—like most other generators at this level—would make it look a lot nicer and add some peace-of-mind regarding durability. However, it would also likely jack up the sticker price.
On the upside, the outlets are well-positioned and the ignition button, pull-start cord, and remote work as expected.
The first hurdle you will face is moving this thing from your front doorstep (if it’s delivered by a parcel carrier) to your driveway or garage. It is wheeled, but not when it’s in the box, meaning its 140-pound dry weight proves challenging.
Whether you drag it to your desired setup location or simply decide to set it up where it was dropped off by the carrier, the first step is opening the lid of the box. Once you’ve retrieved the instructions, you’ll find that Champion recommends you not attempt to lift the generator out of the box, but rather cut it at all four corners and lay it flat.
On that flat cardboard surface, you’ll flip over the 4653 and install the wheels, support leg, and handle. Flip it back up on its wheels and add the 30-weight oil, making sure not to overfill. Then connect the battery. With accessories mounted, battery connected, and oil topped up, you’re ready to add gasoline.
Granted, this all sounds rather simple, but if you’re not handy with tools, or simply don’t own any hand tools, you’ll find this setup challenging. What’s more, the 4653 is more complicated to set up than many of our other favorite portable generators, which generally only require you to add oil before they’re ready to fire up.
All that heft has got to be good for something, and that something is power output and lengthy runtime. In our testing, the Champion Power Equipment 4653 proved reliably powerful. To ensure clean running, we filled the 3.8-gallon tank with non-ethanol gasoline, which was available in our area—if you don’t have access to ethanol-free gasoline, do not run fuel with more than a 10% ethanol blend. Also ensure you’re filling it with a minimum of 85-octane gasoline.
Also be aware that the Champion Power Equipment 4653 can put out momentary voltage fluctuations, up to 4000 watts, which makes powering sensitive electronics a bit dangerous. If you do choose to power a computer or something similar, you would be well advised to use a surge protector in between the generator and the computer.
All that heft has got to be good for something, and that something is power output and lengthy runtime.
With the gasoline tank topped up, the Champion can run for a remarkable 12 hours at 50% power output. It powered our equipment, from a corded power saw to a voltage-hungry set of work lights, without issue. We didn’t have an RV with which to test the 4653, which is one of its intended uses, but we’re confident it could power appliances in a modest RV for most of the day.
With such robust power output, the 4653 is ideal as an on-the-job-site power supply or a way to charge multiple appliances for RV campers who aren’t into truly roughing it (no judgments).
The 4653 features two duplex 120-volt, 20-amp three-pronged outlets, one 120-volt, 30-amp outlet, and one 120-volt, 30-amp twist-lock outlet. These are super useful for high-energy drawing appliances.
Like many portable generators, you can either pull-start the 4653 or start it with the ignition button.
The standout feature of the Champion Power Equipment 4653 is its remote controller. You can stop or start the generator from up to 80 feet away. That means you can be across the campsite or across the worksite and fire up the generator as you walk toward it, ensuring whatever you’re going to power off it is ready when you get to it.
Another good thing about being able to start the 4653 from 80 feet away is that it will be a lot quieter from that distance. Like its gross weight, the 4653 also puts out a hefty number of decibels. Champion rates it at 68 decibels. Our app-based decibel meter confirmed that audio rating.
To put that into perspective, that’s quieter than an average lawnmower by around 20 decibels. However, the 4653 is ~12 decibels louder than most more compact portable generators. Like its size, you have to make some sacrifices in order to get such impressive power output.
The Champion Power Equipment 4653 generally retails for around $599. This is comparable to—if not significantly cheaper than—other generators in its size and power output class, like the Wen 56380i 3800-Watt generator, which retails for around $820.
Looking more broadly at the portable generator market, however, we find even more expensive generators that put out lower wattage than the Champion Power Equipment 4653. The Briggs & Stratton P2200 is a perfect example. It retails for $677 on Amazon. Although it puts out 1100 fewer watts than the Champion 4653, it is significantly smaller at 54 pounds and noticeably quieter, as it is rated at 59 decibels (though in testing, we found the noise output closer to 64 decibels).
For around $599, it’s comparable to—if not significantly cheaper than—other generators in its class.
Yes, it has a utilitarian and lackluster design, louder operation, and relatively laborious setup process. But considering the power output and $599 price tag, it’s clear why we named the Champion Power Equipment 4653 as our favorite budget generator.
We could compare generators from our 10-best list to the Champion Power Equipment 4653. However, that might not be fair for the Champion, which is easily three times heavier and around 25% louder than most.
Instead, let’s compare it to something in its size and weight category: The Wen 56380i generator (which weighs in at 111 pounds).The 56380i has a nicer and cleaner design, and the housing doesn’t leave many internal components exposed to the elements. It runs quieter, too, 57 decibels compared to the 4653’s 68.
The two have nearly the same wattage output—the Wen 56380i is rated at 3400 watts and can surge to 3800 watts, while the Champion churns out 3500 watts with a 4000 watt surge rating.
It might seem that at first blush, despite putting out slightly fewer watts, the Wen generator is the standout. The battle isn’t over yet, though. The Wen 56380i can only hold 2.2 gallons of fuel, and thus can only run at 50% load for 8.5 hours. Comparably, the 4653 can run for 12 hours at half load, thanks to its 3.8-gallon tank. The Wen also lacks the remote start/stop of Champion’s 4653, which is a huge standout feature.
Ultimately, that remote start might prove to be a deciding factor for some buyers. With the Champion 4653, buyers get a long run time and plenty of power, but it’s loud and cumbersome to move around.
Worth the extra weight.
Initially, we were put off by the Champion Power Equipment 4653’s gargantuan weight and laborious setup process, but the more time we spent with it, the more we liked it. Yes, it’s loud and not much to look at, but you’re actually getting a lot for that $599 price tag. Reliable 3500-watt output is hard to find in this range, especially for the sort of duration that the 4653 is capable of. Throw in the remote operation, and it’s hard not to love the Champion Power Equipment 4653 generator.
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