Champion 3800 Watt Portable Generator - Pros and Cons From an Owner

Updated on April 14, 2020
JerryFisher profile image

I own a small construction company and employ four builders. I go though a lot of equipment, and I enjoy writing reviews. on them.

Champion 3800 Watt Dual Fuel Generator

About the Champion 3800 Watt Portable Generator

This Champion 3800 Watt portable generator has been described as easy to use, quiet, and economical, with plenty of power for its size.

The great advantage of it, straight out of the box, is that you can run it on Gas or Propane. And it's got an Electric Start.

We run it on propane as we can get a reliable 3800 watts right up to 10.5 hours on a single 20lb propane tank.

At 122 pounds, it's a two-man lift, but it's got a very sturdy frame (which we like in the construction game) as when it gets busy on site, it can take some solid knocks.

Champion says that you can run three power tools off it, but when things are busy, we've run up to five at once. It's powered by a 224cc gas powered motor that initially we thought would be too small for the job, but we were proved wrong on that score.

I haven't needed to run this unit at home, but we did take it away with us on a camping holiday to Lake Tahoe in the fall and it ran everything we needed, plus it was quiet enough that we had no complaints from our neighbors.


  • Dual Fuel - Runs on Gas or Propane
  • Weight: 122 lbs
  • 3800 Running Volts with 9 hours on full tank of Gas.
  • 3800 Running Volts with 10.5 hours on a 20lb propane tank.
  • Propane hose included
  • Dimensions: 22" (length) x 22" (width) x 30" (height)
  • Chassis: 8 inch wheels + sturdy frame
  • Motor: 4 stroke, single cylinder, 224cc gas engine
  • Power output: 3800 watts with 4000 watts maximum (will run lights, television, and fridge all at the same time)
  • Economy: 12 hours @ 50% on full tank of gasOverload protection
  • Low oil sensor light
  • Hours used information
  • Outlets: 120V 30A RV, 120V 30A locking, Plus two 120V 20A household outlets.
  • All outlets secured by Volt guard - protecting your appliances from power surges.
  • Push-button start (battery included).
  • Back-up pull handle if battery fails
  • Low oil shut off
  • Air cooled
  • Electric and Recoil starting.
  • Three year factory warranty with Free Lifetime Technical Support

Problems With the Champion 3800 Watt Portable Generator

I can't honestly say I've got too many complaints at all. I find it a little difficult to change the oil given the position of the dip stick, but I've had five portable generators before this, and that's a complaint I've got with all of them.

I lent it to a friend who took it away camping with his family and he reckons it was quite noisy. As I've said, that's not my experience but maybe I'm just used to the noise. It's definitely a lot quieter than the Honda (that was my last portable generator). Champion says that the noise level is equivalent to 68 decibels. Well, a vacuum cleaner is rated at 70 decibels to give you an equivalent. Difference here, though, is that you're running it outside. But I didn't get any complaints from my neighbors on our holiday at Lake Tahoe—yikes! maybe they were just nice neighbors.

One thing you have to do when first purchasing is do a start up and oil change after seven hours. There are well written instructions for 'running it in' and its important otherwise you wont be able to draw full wattage.

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What I Like About This Champion Generator

There's plenty to like about this Champion 3800 Watt portable generator. I was a little skeptical at first because, having owned five generators before, I'd never owned a Champion. In fact, they've all been either Honda or Yamaha, but after wearing those out, I've got to say I was a little blown away by the price of the Champion brand compared to the others. It didn't have quite the wattage that I'd been used to, but I thought I'd take a chance on it anyway and if it didn't work out well, then I'd return to a Honda. But, after a years use, I'm sold on it.

  • It's a real easy start and we've never yet had to push the starter button more than once.
  • It's quiet—well at least I think so (questionable).
  • It's lightweight. Yeah, sure you've got to have two to lift it into the trunk, but given the power it has, plus a four-stroke motor, you've got to expect that. With its 8 inch wheels, though, it is easy to shift around. So in many ways, it's lightweight.
  • It's economical. It will run for 9 hours on 3.5 gallons of gas.
  • You don't have to unplug your RV from the power panel before starting. This is a great feature because this is always a hassle with our RV. The Champion 3800 Watt portable generator has circuitry that delays power until the generator is up to full power. This takes about twenty seconds.
  • Three year factory warranty. This is important to me because unlike a lot of generator users, who use theirs just for their RV or as a backup, I use mine most days, all day to power tools on construction sites. I can't afford to be let down by low quality.

Questions and Answers about the Champion 3800 Watt Portable Generator

Q) When you face the control panel, where does the muffler exhaust from?

A) To the right side and exhausts to the right side too.

Q) Is the pull start difficult?

A) The Champion 3800 Watt comes with electric start and electric remote. It does have a pull start but you'd only use that if your battery goes dead. I disconnect my battery if its not in use.

Q) Can you connect the 3800 Watt to to your house electrical panel?

A) Yes you can but its not meant as an alternative like this. The 3800 Watt is just an emergency back up generator. It wouldn't run everything in your house if they were all on at once, but will run the important ones like heaters, lights and heat pumps.

Q) How long can you run the Simpson 3800 Watt at one time?

A) I've used mine for work, regularly for six hours flat out. It just needs another tank of gas at this point and away you go again. Its a Champion workhorse.

Q) Is the 3800 Watt waterproof?

A) We've often used it in the rain without issues at all. There's nothing on the generator to show it can't be used in the rain, but I do paint over little scratches it gets on the frame from time to time to prevent corrosion.

Q) Is the Champion 3800 Watt noisy if used in a camping ground?

A) Honda's are quieter, but haven't had any complaints with the Champion either.

Q) Does the 3800 Watt have a 220Volt outlet?

A) No it doesn't but its simple to make one by connecting the two 110volt outlets to a buss bar and you'll have 220 volts.

Q) How long would the Champion 3800 Watt portable generator last if you ran it at 2000 watts?

A) A continual 2000 watts should see the gas tank empty after 15 hours.

Q) If the battery goes dead. Can you start in manually?

A) Yes, but only if using propane as a fuel source. if using gasoline then the recoil start won't work without a charged battery attached. I have tried it, and Champion customer service confirmed this.

Q Is it possible to hook this up to a 1000 gallon underground propane tank?

A) Yes

Q) Does it come with the cart?

A) Yes it comes with a wheel kit for mobility

Q) What would it take to run this on natural gas? (The kind furnaces use)

A) Natural Gas conversion kits are available online. Just Google natural gas conversion kits for portable generators. Between $175 and $200.

Q) Does this generator have a voltage regulator?

A) Yes, this unit has an AVR (automatic voltage regulator)and keeps the voltage under stable control. Also, the Champion has a feature not use by other generator manufacturers. It is called "Voltguard" and is designed to protect appliances from damage if an when an AVR should fail, which is relatively ever, but saves ultimate damage from high voltage (300 VAC) reaching the appliance. Voltage is checked at 145 VAC and automatically stops the engine immediately preventing appliance damage.

Q) If I use the two 20amp plugs with two plugs connected, am i limited to 20amps? can I get the full 3,800/4,375 watts with out using the 30amp plug?

A) The 20A outlets on this machine share a circuit breaker. This means they share the same 20A making the total possible output from this duplex outlet 2,400 watts. (Amps X Volts = Watts). To get the full capacity of the generator, you will need a 30A extension cord.

Q) What diameter pipe needed to run high pressure from lp tank to unit 100ft?

A) 3/8" should be plenty. the gen. runs on low pressure, delivery at 1gph. is more than enough.

Q) I made the mistake of using 10% ethanol gas in my lawn mower and had to replace the carburetor. Does this generator need non-ethanol gas?

A) Nearly all the gasoline in the United States contains up to 10% ethanol now. Even 91 octane at the pump has the same 10% as 87 octane. That is a common misconception. That being said, all small engine equipment is made to run on this type of fuel since it is all that is available to nearly everyone these days.

Q) Can this connect to another one to gang together ?

A) You can connect a second generator using a parallel kit for increased power

Q) How does this generator work in altitude? I live around 6000 ft.

A)The generator will lose 3.5% of its capacity for every 1,000 feet you travel above sea level. Above 3,500 feet we also recommend that you change the carburetor jetting for gasoline operation to a high altitude jet.

Q) Can I run fridge, sm. freezer, tv, & toaster?

A) Yes you can ,I run a fridge ,freezer and a window ac unit with it ,you get about 400 hundred less watts if you run propane ,but thats the cleaner way to go.

Q) What are your experiences with using this in a campground at night? I would like to run a/c at night, but i have heard that campgrounds won't let you.

A) I have used my Generator several times camping in Campgrounds with never any complaints or problems from the agencies responsible for there operation both State and Federal. the rules are that you are to be quite after 10 pm in most campgrounds with that said up to 10 pm you are fine.

Why You Need a Portable Generator

If you don't own a portable generator, maybe its an idea to think about owning one. Most RV's if not all have one to provide all their power and most builders like me have one as so many construction sites we work on don't have power at all.

But maybe of more importance than anything is the fact that these days the weather is getting wilder and wilder. If you get hit by a big storm, that can knock your power out for days if not weeks and so if you had a portable generator, that's going to get you through until its reconnected.

If the storm causes a flood in your basement then you can use the generator like the Champion 3800 Watt Portable Generator to power up a pump and you'll have your basement dry in no time.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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