Introduction & Overview
Inexpensive and portable, the PowerPro 56101 has been built to bring a little convenience into the lives of cable cutters. In plain English, this pint-sized generator is small but it’s also your perfect light-up the night companion. A handle is fitted to the top of the toolbox-like frame, which means it’s manageable. In fact, it’s so undersized that it can be picked up with a single hand. The big question, then, is whether the features built into the PowerPro 56101 are equally undersized. Equipped with a 2-stroke, 1000-Watt gasoline engine, this is a small package that obviously has a lot to prove. So, besides being able to trip you up in the dark, what can this backup generator do for you today?
Remember that all too human need you have for electrical power? Disasters happen, power failures force candles and never-ending board games out of dirty drawers, and all your regularly scheduled activities have to wait for the daylight hours. If you purchase a compact PowerPro 56101 backup generator, those once unavoidable inconveniences melt away. Small it may be, but big things do come in small packages, which is a maxim the manufacturers must have had in mind when they designed this portable device. A robust metal cover tops the generator. The red sheet metal bolts to a rugged black plastic block, a 12 x 14 x 13.5-inch chunk of sturdy material that’s clad in controls. Finally, on the sides, round black engine cowlings complete the power-packed profile. On one of those rounded cowlings, the right side if you’re looking at the control panel head on, the T-shaped pull start handle waits.
- Dimensions: 12 x 14 x 13.5 inches
- Weight: A light 35.5-lbs
- Wattage: 1000-Watts starting and 900-Watts running
- Output: 12-Volt DC and 120-Volt AC
- Engine Features: 2.0 HP 2-Stroke
- Engine Displacement: 63-cc
- Fuel: 1-Gallon of Gasoline
- Tank Run Time: Approximately 5-hours
- Noise Level: 60-dB
- Integrated Inverter: No
- Starter Type: Manual recoil
Small but reliable, the PowerPro 56101 generator is well-suited as a companion for your camping excursions, minor work projects, and tailgating adventures.
Let’s face it, when you’re dealing with a small backup power unit, you’re probably not expecting much. Happily, the PowerPro 56101 generator does somehow manage to exceed your expectations on practically every front. Two output sockets are mounted on the lower left side of the control panel. Farthest to the left, etched in white lines, a two-pin 12-Volt DC power outlet waits. While it’s possible to charge a large 12-Volt battery with this device, it’s not an application that can be recommended, as the engine may run roughly if a selected 12-Volt load draws excessive quantities of electrical current.
Meanwhile, connected to the 120-Volt socket to the right of that low-voltage outlet, all kinds of appliances snap solidly into place. This is a three-pronged power outlet, so the PowerPro 56101 is going to require grounding before that third pin can be safely used. Otherwise, this is the only standard power AC OUT provided, which is just as you’d expect since the generated power can’t exceed the 900-Watt mark. Nevertheless, working with 120-Volts, you should be able to energize all of your home essentials. A small refrigerator, a couple of lightweight power tools, even a portable heater or air conditioner, all of these items will operate off of this remarkably compact generator. Just remember, however, that the size of these appliances should lean towards the lighter end of the application gamut. Use discretion, opt for devices that don’t draw more than 7.5-Amps, and don’t overload the generator.
Engine & Fuel
You want less preamble and more hard facts, so skip past the rhetoric and hit those generator specs head on. First of all, this is a gasoline powered device. The compact fuel tank fills with one gallon of unleaded gas. But that’s not the end of the matter. No, this is a 2-stroke engine, which means there’s no separate oil reservoir lubricating the machine parts. Instead of that two fluid engine architecture, the oil and gasoline are directly mixed then poured into the fuel tank.
So what does the fuel/oil mix mean for this 2-stroke, 63-cc engine? Well, the mix has to be correctly blended. If the lubricating component is low, expect engine wear. Conversely, if the oil mix is too rich, the engine could foul or emit a nasty cloud of smoke, a dirty great fume trail that other campers will view with some horror. Avoid this predicament by using a 50:1 gas-to-oil mix. Strangely enough, some owners of the PowerPro 56101 believe this mix is too high, so a 32:1 blend may work out better.
You’ll have to get on one knee to get down to the same level as this popular portable generator. Face the control panel, extend your right hand, and feel the T-shaped pull-string handle settle into your palm. It’s a manual activation mechanism, a thin cord that looks suspiciously breakable. And there have been reports of recoil cord breakage, unfortunately. Still, breakage problems aside, the pull rope quickly starts the generator engine. The 4 stabilizing rubber pads that support this toolbox-sized housing help, for you’re going to feel a tad off-balance when you’re down on one knee, tugging at that plastic rope.
This seems like a good moment to talk about affordability. All things considered, the PowerPro 56101 portable generator is a sound investment. Granted, there are a few drawbacks to mull over, but there are no cut corners when it comes to product reliability. No, if there are any manufacturing shortcuts, they’re located in that slightly substandard recoil rope starter. Take care, stabilize the 56101 on its rubberized feet, and pull sharply but carefully. If you adhere to that starting routine, your camp or work site will soon light up with 900-Watts of shadow-chasing power.
Plugs & Control Panel
Somehow, despite the small form factor, the control panel on this perfectly capable power generator manages to reserve plenty of space for its various control switches and a single electrical meter. That’s right, once more, you’re getting more than you’d expect from such a small and affordable portable generator.
There are the two outlets to check out. On the far left, right at the bottom of the control panel, a DC 12-Volt power outlet is installed as a two-pin socket. Directly to the right of that first power outlet, a standard AC OUT 120-Volt three-pin socket is on hand to power all of those essential appliances you have packed in the back of your vehicle. Finally, mounted above both outlets, a little square voltmeter relays output voltage.
The package of three outlet components is easy enough to spot, for they’re outlined in white by a series of etched lines. One thing, though, what are those two covered buttons positioned above each outlet? Well, these are circuit resets. Should a DC or AC circuit generate a potentially hazardous current spike, these safety mechanisms will ‘trip’ and isolate the power source. Judging by this provision, safety is regarded as an essential feature on the PowerPro 56101.
Embedded operational instructions are stamped into the middle of the uppermost panel section. Just to the right of that bulleted list, a sunken square of panel real estate hosts the sealed engine switch and a choke control. That metal fuel/air mixer slides horizontally, as described in the starting sequence listed in the ‘Operation Summary.’ As for the last item on that control surface, it occupies the bottom half of the panel. This is the ‘Air Cleaner’ compartment, an enclosure that holds a sponge-like intake cleaning element. Replace that filter every 50-hours, as recommended by the maintenance section in the user’s manual.
There’s not a lot of controls on the panel, but all of the important ones are covered. An extra 120-Volt AC outlet would have been nice, but that addition is hard to justify, especially when you see the 900-Watt operational limits of this portable generator. Also, a fuel gauge might just have been a handy extra, but the 1-gallon fuel tank does compensate for this omission by providing surprisingly extended run times.
Is the PowerPro 56101 noisy? It’s a simple enough question, one that you probably think you already know the answer to, right? After all, that compact frame should produce less engine noise than a larger generator. Well, the answer isn’t quite that simple. If you go by the features list, the quoted noise rating is recorded as a more than satisfying 60-dB at 22-feet, which will keep even the fussiest camp host content.
On top of the low noise feature, a muffler-equipped exhaust system further attenuates the engine. Still, not everyone is in agreement here. Some users have left negative reviews for this small backup power machine, reviews that complain of excessive noise production. Also, probably because of the 2-stroke engine design, the governing mechanism built into the engine can sometimes run a little rough. Size comes to the rescue again, however, for even if the sound pollution is just a tad more than expected, this is a condensed package. Just use a smartly selected placement strategy to keep the noise levels low.
Admittedly, this would be a handy feature to have onboard an electricity producing device that generates less than 1-kW of power, but this is not an advanced piece of equipment, nor is it an inverter generator.
Without a doubt, this popular piece of equipment has become a best-seller due to its highly affordable price tag. A balance is struck between the sheer number of useful features and cost, so the mobile genny occupies a perfect spot within a crowded product market. To put it another way, this low-priced device has earned its place as one of the finest 1000-Watt generators on the market. Here are a few suggested price points, as collected from some lead online sellers, that prove this point.
Home Depot: $131.06
Shop elsewhere if this sub-kilowatt drawback is a dealbreaker. But do know what you’re missing out on when you’re on the brink of rejecting this top-selling portable generator. It’s small, of course, but the PowerPro 56101 more than makes up for its output failings by delivering more than you’d expect from such an affordable portable generator. A spark arrestor and a CARB/EPA compliant safety rating top the bill, so this best-seller from PowerPro will satisfy the low-emissions mandates that protect California and other environmentally fragile areas.
What’s in The Box
Battery charging cables are included in the box. They’re packed away tidily with a spark plug wrench and a User Manual. Please note, oil isn’t included in the package, nor is there a low oil change alarm or cutout to worry about.
Remember, there’s no oil reservoir built into the PowerPro 56101 engine, so these features are not required. Instead, the oil and fuel are mixed, poured into the one-gallon tank, and drawn into the 2-stroke engine. Use a fuel stabilized lubricant, an oil that’s designed for this engine type. Then, if that oily component does run too rich, you can use the included wrench to replace the spark plug. A maintenance plan takes care of such matters. After all, your new PowerPro generator can only perform at its best when all of these mechanical parts are properly cared for by yourself or another responsible adult.
Protect that CARB and EPA compliance rating by establishing some kind of a maintenance strategy. Bolster that plan by taking advantage of the included 1-year limited warranty. Manufactured by WEN, an Elgin, Illinois-based product maker, this brand is plainly backed by a company who has established a well-recognized market position. Consider that warranty, that company reputation, and feel safeguarded by a manufacturer who puts excellent customer service above all else.
Pros and Cons
- Incredibly compact and easy to carry
- Quiet 60-dB operation
- A CARB and EPA compliant design
- Equipped with independent circuit resets
- Fitted with a carrying handle and 4 rubber feet
- Suited for low-power applications
- A need to mix the oil and gasoline correctly
- Comes with a flimsy pull-start rope
When the zombie outbreak comes creeping and moaning up to your property, it’s time to cut your ties to the power grid. All right, there’s no such thing as a fictional army of the undead, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a backup generator like the PowerPro 56101. On the contrary, there are enough real-life disasters occurring in the news to give even the most easygoing family head pause. Stop here for a wander among some of the most telling user reviews. These folks own or have access to this diminutive portable generator, so they’ve encountered all possible issues, addressed them, and hopefully solved them.
First of all, this first problem has become something of a recognized system flaw. It’s the pull-start mechanism, the thin rope that starts the generator engine. Be aware that there have been reports of starter snapping. That rope breaks, there’s no way to start your newly acquired portable genny, and you’re left in the dark, literally in the dark, while the rest of the campground gets on with their fun evening.
Other potential troublemakers include a higher than expected noise level, a rough idling effect, and an inability to power heavier appliances. Those first two operational hurdles were only observed on a few rare occasions. As for the power supply problem, that’s really an unavoidable effect. It’s really the only downside of the design. Remember the 900-Watt output rating, a power availability limitation that equates to a 120-Volt output at 7.5-Amps. Smaller refrigerators and air conditioners will whirr into action when this output level is accessed, but larger appliances simply require more output muscle.
By the way, the run times quoted here assume a fifty-percent load. If your load is heavier, expect reduced running hours and possible output dips, a phenomenon that electronic appliances won’t tolerate for long. Finally, mechanically speaking, that oil/fuel ratio isn’t etched in stone; the 50:1 ratio works for some users, but others have rejected that mix in favour of a 32:1 formula. The gasoline and 2-Stroke oil must be mixed correctly. According to more than a handful of users, a poor mix can result in anything from carburetter gunk to a fouled spark plug.
Finally, if you flip the PowerPro 56101 until the engine cowling and starter rope are facing you, you’ll see a gas shutoff. Take care, leaks have been reported in this area of the equipment. But that mechanical snag, as well as any of the other problems listed here by concerned owners, can easily be fixed without ever having to call in a replacement part.
Take another look at the PowerPro 56101, a portable generator that really earns its place amongst some of the finest mobile power producers. It’s a 2-Stroke champ, a piece of equipment that can practically be swallowed up by your packed electrical tools and appliances. Pulled from amongst those inert items, though, it settles on 4 robust rubber pads. A read through the numbered instructions on the control panel directs your hands. You adjust the choke control, pull the recoil starter rope, and the engine springs to life. You’ve got power.
Sure, the 1000-Watt starting power drops to a governor-stabilized 900-Watts as the equipment settles, but your two outlets are now ready for some low-to-moderate output gadgets, perhaps even a power tool or two. You pull up at the park, start your tailgate party, and feed the event with power-mixed tequilas. Then, with the weekend over, you’re out on the job. A power tool and a small lighting fixture energize. Work is getting done, even in the dark, even in the middle of nowhere. Better yet, a spontaneous vacation is in the cards. You worked hard, so why not take a break? In California, a state that enforces stringent emissions restriction laws, your PowerPro 56101 still hits the mark because it’s CARB and EPA compliant. Head for a national park and take your portable generator along for the ride.
When all is said and done, this reasonably priced portable generator may not cost a lot of cash, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cheap product. No, it’s inexpensive, equipped to perform, and sized to go anywhere.