Champion Power Equipment 3500 Watt Portable Generator Review

Champion 3500W/4000W Generator

Champion 3500W/4000W Portable Generator

The Champion 3500/4000 Watt portable generator is CARB compliant, mid-weight, fuel efficient, electric start with remote control in a the usable 3500 running watt size range.

Champion Power Equipment model 46539 is both highly rated and a best seller on Amazon for this range of portable generators.

It is classified as a recreation use generator. It is a great size for being able to power up a fridge, lights, PC’s furnace and other household appliances.

It provides two AC duplex plugs, one 30 amp twist lock receptacle, and one 30 amp NEMA TT-30R respectable (slant slots for prongs). It does not have a DC capable plug.

Power Output and Generation

The Champion 46539 generates power with a 4-storke 196cc OHV gas powered engine and runs at 3600 RPM.

The rated output is 3500 watts AC, with a maximum of 4000 watts providing 20 or 30 amps at 120V. Giving only 2400W at the 20 amp plugs and 3500W at 30 amp RV and twist lock plugs.

There is no 220/240V or DC outlet.

On this Champion model, for electric and recoil start and stop all electrical loads must be off.

champion 3500w 196cc engine

196cc 4 stroke engine

For remote start power is not supplied to the plugs for 15 seconds which allows the engine to reach full speed. On remote stop the power is cut off and the engine stops 5 seconds later.

Since the 46539 generator uses an electric start the battery does recharge while the unit is operating, however, it can drain between uses and should be considered begin checked or recharged monthly.

Fuel Type and Noise Levels:

The Champion 46539 uses standard (engine type) Unleaded Gas and has a capacity of 3.8 gallons of regular gas, minimum octane rating of 85 which is a couple of points lower than comparable models. Also no more than a 10% ethanol blend. It also has a fuel gauge for easily checking current level of fuel.

champion 3500w fuel gauge

Champion 3500W Fuel Gauge

At the typical 50% load reference point you should get close to about 12 hours run time per full tank.

It is CARB compliant for California market giving it a good use rating for construction and recreation use.

Oil needed is the standard 10W-30 oil for crane shaft at 0.63 qts. and no mixing is required for the 4 stroke engine.

It does come with an oil sensing system for automatic shutoff, so to avoid shutdown you will need to check levels at each use.

Also we noted that for high altitude the manufacture can provide main jets to compensate for altitudes greater than 3500 feet.


The generator is in the relative noise level for a highway range with a 68 dBA at 23 feet. It will be hard to carry on a normal conversation at close distances, but you should still be able to talk at a raised voice level. The 70dBA range is load enough that you will have difficulty hearing someone unless you are close to them.

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Dimensions and Weight

The Champion 46539 is just over 2 ft. cubed at plus or minus 2 feet in each direction, the manufacture published dimensions are (L x W x H): 27.2″ x 24.2″ x 23.6″. This is approximately 9 cu. ft.. This is slightly different than you’ll find in the sales page listings. This puts it in the general range of other units, but slightly larger overall. Also note this is

The generator weights 140 lbs. and you can add another 25 or so pounds with gas and oil. The wheel kit does make it portable and is on the heavy side for this power range.

Typical Uses and Needs

This Champion 46539 Portable Generator is good for emergency and recreational needs. It will power a majority of your household in emergency setups and works great for RV needs. As it’s on the heavy side and a little bulkier than most you’ll want to consider your storage availability for both the garage and your RV.

Display & Control Panel, Start-up

Champion 3500W Control Panel

Champion 3500W Control Panel

The control panel is well laid out and easily accessible. It provides two duplex plugs on the right side, and moving to left you have the slant prong NEMA TT-30R plug and then the twist lock 30 amp receptacle. All are only 120V.

Above the plugs is circuit breakers for the plug sets.

Further to the left in a top to bottom column are the meter, ignition switch, battery switch, and ground terminal.

Starting with the Intelligauge(TM) meter with 3 mode digital readout for running hours, voltage and hertz. The unit is set up for 120V and 60 Hz only, so the meter should confirm the output, if you’re getting something different then it’s time to call customer service.

The battery switch allows starting electrically either with the ignition switch or using the remote control.

To use the remote you have to have both the ignition switch and battery switch on to enable the Receiver Control Module (RCM) for remote operation. You have the potential to drain your battery if the ignition switch is left in the on position (claims to be several weeks).

For grounding, Champion recommends connecting a 12 AWG minimum copper wire between the generator ground terminal and a copper rod driven into the ground.


The engine is typically electric start but does use a recoil rope as an alternate starting method. It is hidden behind the protective side panel and requires you to pull side ways to the engine which can increase rope wear if used a lot. However with the electric start this shouldn’t be a major concern.

Below are the steps to starting and stopping the Champion 4000 watt generator. (assumes proper assembly and setup for oil and gas are completed)

Remote or Electric Start Up (for manual recoil see owners manual for choke use:

  1. Level the generator on a solid surface
  2. Turn off all electrical loads
  3. Turn on Fuel Valve
  4. Turn on Battery Switch
  5. Press Ignition Switch to on
  6. The engine uses an auto choke so no carburetor adjustment or choking is required.
  7. Use either the remote start (press and release start button) or use the electric start on the control panel (press and hold to roll engine, release if it doesn’t start in 5 seconds)
  8. Allow warm up for a few minutes before using.

Shut Down:

  1. Disconnect or turn off electric devices
  2. Let run for a few minutes to reduce engine and generator temperatures
  3. Turn fuel cock off (let engine run to fuel starvation, a few minutes)
  4. Turn engine switch and battery switch to OFF
  5. Turn fuel cap air vent to off.


Champion recommends running your unit every 14 days for 20 minutes if you expect to be using it occasionally. For longer term storage they recommend putting a fuel stabilizer in the tank. Why you wouldn’t run it dry and empty the tank I’m not sure.

After that you should clean up the generator and perform typical maintenance. They also recommend putting a small amount of oil in the engine cylinder and slow cranking to coat it. That’s a good preventive measure for long term storage.

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Additional Features

Champion 3500W Accessories

Champion 3500W Accessories

The Champion Power Equipment Model 46539 does not come with a lot of bells and whistles, it’s a basic unit providing a straight forward power production.

It does come with a 8″ wheel kit to provide for portability, however it comes with only one handle which can make it a little more difficult to move.

Additionally it has a support leg with vibration mounts, oil funnel, oil, spark plug socket and the remote starter.

It uses a 1 inch tubular frame making it reasonable solid construction and durable for standard use.

Add to Cart>> Champion 4000 Watt Portable Generator

Care and Maintenance and Use


Usage is straight forward. As noted in the start up section discounting or turning off all power requirements is needed to starting. Although the remote start allows for a 15 second delay you could have appliances plugged in, but best practice is to make sure they are turned off.

Remote shutoff will cut power completely so that as the generator shuts down and loss of voltage and frequency will not harm your electric devices.

The generator should be kept level and in a clean and dry operating environment. It is not setup as a construction site unit and therefore should not be used in excessive dust/dirt or moisture conditions.

Care and Maintenance

The first oil change should be done after 5 hours of operation.

Periodic maintenance seems to be more stringent with the Champion generators.

Daily checks or 8 hours of operation include oil and air intake and muffler for level and cleanness.

For 50 hours of operation or on seasonal changes they are adding cleaning the air filter and for heavy use changing the oil.

At 100 hrs of operation or seasonally, change oil, clean and adjust spark plug, clean spark arrester, clean fuel tank and filter. check and adjust valve clearance (be sure you can do this or get someone that is very knowledgable.)

For the generator you need to make sure it is kept clean.

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Warranty and Repairs

Champion 46539 4000 watt portable generator has a 2-year limited warranty, but what that means is that it’s parts and labor for 1 year, and parts for 2 years. In commercial or industrial use it’s 90 and 180 days respectively..

The Warranty:

  • The owners manual has a location to record Model number, serial number, date of purchase and purchase location which is needed when ordering parts or getting service.
  • The owners manual lists numerous requirements that if not followed will void the manufacturers warranty. It’s common sense stuff, but be aware of it.
  • Any transportation charges associated with the repair or replacement are the purchasers responsibility.
  • Warranty issues are handled via phone or email to troubleshoot and then, at their option, authorize additional service from their centers. Any repairs without authorization will not be covered.
  • Warranted against defects in material or workmanship.


The typical wear and use and cosmetic defects are not covered under warranty. Specific lack of care and maintenance, abuse, or incorrect use is excluded.

Consumer Comments

This model is 3500 rated watts and 4000 surge/starting watts it is a highly rated portable generator on Amazon. As of this writing it was getting a 4.6 out of 5 starts. 94% were giving it a 4 star or better rating. Low ratings were due to receiving the unit with damage not on performance.

Noise: Several users have commented that the generator was quieter than others they were around, most recently during hurricane Sandy where many were in use. Generally as expected they had to raise their voice to be heard. For RV’ers the overnight running may be loud for the neighbors, but not necessarily to bad, if next to idling semi-trucks you won’t even hear it.

Fuel economy: Based on loads applied the fuel efficiency generally was good. However the gas fill was a bit awkward and must be done a slow rate. Also noted was exhaust or gas smells where not present and likely due to the CARB compliance.

Power needs: Generally this size provides the majority of owners with the power they need to keep household appliances running. Typically they are running at about half load and enjoying the fuel economics. One user did experience issues with loads over 2000W, but didn’t provide background on elevation or other considerations.

Usage: Power management might be required depending on what you are running, watching starting power is needed if you’re using say a fridge and a furnace. Many folks used this unit during hurricane Sandy and remarked on how well it performed over the long haul.

Those that got a transfer switch installed where happy with the decision and those that didn’t were putting it on the wish list for next order.

Assembly: Generally can be completed in 20 minutes, with easy assembly of wheel kit, vibration mount, handle and adding oil.

Shipping: This is one area where complaints are common. Every bad review was based around damage during shipping or as delivered.

Customer Service: Generally there have been very good comments about human responses and knowledgable service personnel. In all the reviews only a couple had problems and were more about the inconvenience if it needed to be taken to a service location. With less than 1% in the real complaint department overall service appears to be very good.

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Pros & Cons

Pluses and Minuses for Champion Power Equipment Model 46539 3500W Portable Generator


  • Economically priced unit for size range
  • Reliable power and fuel efficient
  • Reasonably quite.
  • Electric start
  • Remote start
  • Easy and quick assembly
  • Mid range on weight
  • CARB compliance.
  • Comes with wheel kit, vibration mount, and handle
  • Comes with oil and funnel.
  • Very good customer service


  • Lack of 240V receptacle
  • Difficult oil fill and check
  • slightly bulkier than more compact units
  • Some difficulty in adding fuel which can lead to spills


Street price for Champion 46539 3500 Watt Portable Generator ranges below $400 and in some cases in the low $300s. But beware to include shipping costs when comparing prices as it’s been over $100 in some cases.


There are a number of accessories you you’ll may need or wish to have when picking up this generator: (click image to add to your amazon cart)

  1. Champion Power Equipment No.C90011 Generator Cover for Champion 3000W-4000W Models
  2. 5 gallon CARB Compliant gas can – This is just a good idea to have a CARB compliant storage for your gas.
  3. Power cord – You’ll want to be sure you can reach to your appliances and tools outside the noise area and inside the house if it comes to it.
  4. Appliance Load Tester for finding out exactly your device power usage or need.
    Yamaha ACC-0SS58-40-44 Reliance Control Am/Watt Appliance Load Tester for EF1000iS Yamaha Inverter
  5. 30 amp Power Cord and Inlet Box:
    Reliance Controls PC3010 10-Feet 30-Amp L14-30 Generator Power Cord for up to 7500-Watt Generators
    Inlet Box – Reliance Controls PB30 L14-30, 30 Amp For Up To 7,500 Watt Generators
  6. Transfer Switch: For connecting to house or sheds:
    Reliance Controls 31410CRK Pro/Tran 10-Circuit 30 Amp Generator Transfer Switch Kit With Transfer Switch, 10-Foot Power Cord, And Power Inlet Box For Up To 7,500-Watt Generators
  7. 30 amp Power Cords:
    Most recommended for commercial use for using full amps: Coleman Cable 01915 3-Feet Generator Power Cord Adapter, 10/3 Splitter Y Adapter, L5-30P to (2) Lighted 5-20R
    Conntek 20601-020 20-Feet, 30-Amp 125/250-Volt L14-30P/R , 4 Prong Transfer Switch Cord/Generator Extension Cord
    GenTran 25-Foot 10/3 30-Amp Generator RV Hook Up Power Extension Cord RJB10325RV

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The Champion 46539 is a top seller and highly rated and verified reliable by the users.

It provides 2400 watts at the duplex plugs and up to 3500 watts for the RV and twist lock plugs. with an additional 500W for surge you’ll be able to run most of your appliances and tools without problems.

This unit is only for 120V as it doesn’t provide 240V or DC outlets. It’s got the basics and not a lot of frills. Being CARB compliant it is usable in all 50 US states.

You will only be able to use between 2000W and 2400W with the duplex plugs and can reach the 3500W with the 30 amp receptacle for twist lock or transfer switch and RV use.

This unit is an economical and fuel efficient model for RV use and emergency power. It is also good for light construction work and will provide ample power at a reasonable capital investment.

Similar Generation Units:

The following Champion Power Equipment Portable Generators are similar to the above but at different wattage sizes

6800 watts: Champion Power Equipment 42436 1500-Watt Portable Generator, CARB Compliant


1500 watts: Champion Power Equipment 42436 1500-Watt Portable Generator, CARB Compliant

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