REVIEW: Briggs & Stratton Inverter Generators

Posted In: Camping Gear, Generators, Product Review, RV Products, Video

Choice is good! We’re happy to see Briggs & Stratton entering the portable inverter generator market. In recent years, a number of new options have appeared for RV campers. But Briggs & Stratton commands special attention. This is a time honored American brand (rooted in Wisconsin) with a long history of successful small engine design. The new breed of Briggs & Stratton generators boasts many thoughtful design features that allow you to tote your own personal power plant wherever you go.

In this video review, we take a look at TWO new inverter generators that are ideal for RV camping: the 2000 Watt class P2200 and the 3000 Watt class P3000. Impressively, these units can be linked together with a parallel cable for even more power. It’s pretty unusual to be able to link together two ‘mismatched’ generators in parallel. To our knowledge, this capability is unique to the Briggs & Stratton designs.

Let’s face it: all entries in this market will inevitably be compared to the gold standards: Honda and Yamaha. So how do these Briggs & Stratton units stack up?

The P2200 is a highly competitive offering in the 2000W generator category. It’s a reasonable weight and size, cranks every time with ease, and is quiet too. It costs about $500 less than the Honda, $300 less than the Yamaha. If there are compromises they appear to be beneath the hood. In other words, from a performance and features standpoint, the P2200 doesn’t appear to be missing anything compared to its Honda and Yamaha 2000 Watt counterparts. I wouldn’t hesitiate to pack this unit for a weekend camping excursion, stadium tailgating, or even light yard work. The P2000 will power just about everything on an RV except an air-condtioner. You need to step up to a 3000W class genset (or add a second P2000) to handle an A/C.

…from a performance and features standpoint, the P2200 doesn’t appear to be missing anything compared to the Honda and Yamaha 2000 Watt gensets.

Note that Honda has a new 2000W genset called the “Companion” that includes a 30 Amp outlet for an additional $200 or so. I’d like to see Briggs & Stratton offer a 30A RV outlet too, but that’s not really something that’s expected in this 2000W class. For this class of generator, a 30A outlet is a “nice to have” not a “need to have,” if you know what I mean. Either way, a 2000 Watt generator is not going to power a typical 13,500 BTU RV air-conditioner by itself.

The P3000 is perhaps a more interesting entry. It’s a workhorse that cranks out 2600 running Watts of power – enough to power an average RV air-conditioner all by itself. Although it’s priced about $1000 less than the competition, it offers a few compelling features that are unique.

The most unique P3000 feature is the SmartStation LCD display that provides an hours meter, a percentage of power consumption meter, and maintenance reminders. When you watch the video, you’ll see this display in action. It’s a wonderful feature that is missing on the Honda and Yamaha equivalents. This display will contribute to the longevity of the unit – because you’ll know exactly when it’s time to change the oil, air filter, and spark plug.

The SmartStation display… is a wonderful feature that is missing on the Honda and Yamaha equivalents. This display will contribute to the longevity of the unit – because you’ll know exactly when it’s time to change the oil, air filter, and spark plug.

Another major upside of the P3000 is the ability to link one P3000 to either another P3000 or a P2200 and run the units in parallel! This is really great – if you have larger power needs you can pair two of these bad boys for 4600 running Watts of power. Or you can pick up one of each unit, and enjoy the variety of usage from the pair.

The P3000 has a 30 Amp outlet on board, so RV campers can plug their rig directly into the unit via the included adapter.

Note that our P3000 powered a 13,500 Watt BTU RV air-conditioner with apparent ease, only consuming about 50% of the running Watts to do so.

For such a powerful unit, the P3000 is fairly easy to move. It only weighs 84 pounds – so I can lift it into our truck, onto a picnic table, etc. Once on the ground, it rolls easily thanks to the built-in wheels kit and telescoping luggage handle.

The only feature that’s really missing from the P3000 is an electric (and/or optional remote) start. Honda and Yamaha each offer an electric start, which is a very nice convenience.

But to be fair, electric start systems are not without their downsides. They add weight (thanks to a heavy battery required to power the starter mechanism). They also add complexity, and like all things mechanical will someday fail. So from a design standpoint, Briggs & Stratton has certainly made a reasonable choice here. Some consumers will actually prefer a pull start for the reasons mentioned. Even so, I’d still like to see an optional electric start included in future models, especially if the engineers can keep the weight manageable.

Overall we’re excited to have these Briggs & Stratton units as an option for RV campers. Is the build quality up to Honda and Yamaha standards? Probably not. We see a little more plastic being used to construct these units, which are assembled in China. But the plastic appears to be confined to the body panels, so perhaps Briggs & Stratton has made compromises in the right areas. And everything must be viewed in context with the price. These models cost much less than their Honda and Yamaha equivalents, and deliver an awful lot of value for the money.

The new Briggs & Stratton generators are quiet, they appear to deliver the promised clean sine wave power, and they are priced right. Only time will tell how they perform over the long haul. Since they are Briggs & Stratton products, you can buy with confidence that maintenance and repair parts will be easy to obtain. It’s good to have choices, and Briggs & Stratton are providing some nice ones here. We look forward to seeing how they perform over time, as we pair them with our Airstream and travel the country.

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