Champion 76533: My favorite generator for off-grid living

When we bought our off-grid property, we knew that one of the first things we would need is electricity.  And the most affordable way to get reliability power when you’re off the grid is with a generator.  After some serious research, we went with the Champion 76533 Dual Fuel generator and we’ve been really happy with it.  So he’s a review from an ACTUAL owner of this generator.  You know, unlike those blogs that recommend stuff they’ve never used to get a commission.

The Champion 76533 provides a reliable and consistent 3800 watts of continuous power with 4750 starting watts.  And did I mention that it can run on either Gasoline or Propane right out of the box?

In summary, the Champion 76533 is a reliable, dual-fuel capable, reasonably priced generator with enough power to run a window A/C unit, a refrigerator, computer, modem/router, and the lights all with an electric start push button.  It’s not the perfect generator for everyone.  It’s not the quietest around and doesn’t come with a remote, but for my purposes and the price, it’s just right.

Why go with a Dual Fuel Generator?

Gasoline generators are sort of the standard when it comes to portable generators.  But porting gas around is actually quite a hassle.

Gas sloshes around in the gas can, sometimes spilling out.  In fact, it’s tough to pour from a gas can without losing some.  When gas cans get warm, they puff up from the gas vapors.  And worst of all, gasoline is unstable.  By that I mean that if you let it sit for a while, the gas goes bad.  Using old gas in any engine can cause it to sludge up and stop working properly.

Propane, on the other hand, doesn’t spill out every time you use it.  You just connect the hose from your propane tank to your generator and then turn on the valve.  If the hose is screwed on correctly, everything seals and you don’t leak out any smelly gas all over your hands.  Propane is much more stable too.  You can store propane in a tank for years and not run into issues with it.

One of my favorite benefits of using a propane generator is it gives you the flexibility to have a large tank installed at your cabin site which you can use with your generator, grill, propane oven, refrigerator, etc.  Off-grid electricity can be expensive and hard to come by in large quantities, so using propane for your oven and even refrigerator can allow you to use the generator for everything else, like lights, devices, and even air conditioning.  And if you’re going to use propane for so much, you might as well install a tank on the property.

With a large (1000+) gallon tank you can have a truck come fill it once a year and have all you need to power everything.  Of course your preferred tank size and fill frequency will depend on how much you use it.  But for the average weekend cabin visitor 1000 gallons will last a long time.

For portability, propane does have some downsides.  Propane tanks, even 20 gallon ones) are big and kind of heavy.  Definitely not as portable as a 5-gallon gas can.  This particular generator will give you about 9 hours of use out of its 3.4 gallon gas tank and about 10.5 hours of use out of a 20 lb propane tank.  The cost of each fuel varies all the time, but on average that means it’s usually a bit less expensive to run gas than propane.  But that’s the beauty of the Dual Fuel generator.  When you want to use gas, just use gas!

What Can the Champion 76533 Power?

The Champion 76533 has the following outlets.

  • 1 – 120 Volt, 30 Amp RV outlet
  • 1 – 120 Volt, 30 Amp locking outlet
  • 2 – 120 Volt, 20 Amp household outlets

If you’re going to run an appliance that requires 240V then the Champion 100165 is your best option.  But it’s unlikely you’ll need 240v in an off-grid situation unless you’re powering a whole cabin and you’re using an electric oven.

It’ll basically provide the power you need for a small cabin assuming you don’t have a large central AC system, refrigerator, and electric oven.  It can start and run a 15,000 BTU AC unit.  It can run all the other basics at the same time such as lights, a refrigerator, your modem and router, a fan, a TV, etc.  That said, if you’re planning to power a full-size cabin with all of the above and more, then once again I recommend the Champion 100165.

How Loud is the Champion 76533?

The Champion 76533 isn’t the quietest generator in its class to say the least.

At 23 ft, its noise output is 68 dBA.  That’s about the same volume as a vacuum cleaner or a car driving past on the freeway that’s 25 ft away.

You can definitely get quieter generators, but to do that you’ll probably need an inverter generator.  And an inverter generator with this power output will cost more than a pretty penny.  See the end of this article for my favorite quieter generator.

One great tip to quiet the generator is to point the exhaust side away from where people are.  The side with the exhaust output is much louder than the rest of the generator so pointing it in a direction that won’t bother anybody will help quite a bit.

How does the Champion 76533 Perform and How’s the Fuel Usage?

The Champion 76533 starts up and runs exactly as expected.  The electric start is a nice feature.  My other generator has a pull start which works well, most of the time…

The gas tank on this thing is 3.4 gallons.  At base level use that’ll run the generator for 9 hrs.  But keep in mind that if you’re powering an air conditioner, that run time could be much shorter.   For comparison purposes, a 20lb propane will run it for 10.5 at base level output.

When using this generator, I’ve seen a pretty steady power output.  Some generator will have big dips in power, enough even to shut it down.  I haven’t had that problem with the 76533.  This whole line of generators seems to run reliably.  You’ll really only see dips in power if you put a big load on it.

Which brings me to my next point.  Don’t set your A/C thermostat too low when you first turn it on.  If it’s hot outside and you turn on a window A/C unit with the thermostat set to 68° you’ll probably trip the breaker on the generator, or cause a dip in power output that shuts it off.  Set the thermostat to more like 80° and slowly turn it down as the temperature inside decreases.  If the thermostat on your A/C registers a huge difference between the temperature inside and the set temperature, it’s going to draw way too much power for any portable generator.

The generator also has built-in surge protection so a sudden spike in voltage won’t harm anything that’s plugged into the generator.

Starting up the Champion 76533

The Champion 76533 starts up really easy.  It has a simple electric start and the battery comes included so you can start it up right out of the box as long as you bring along some oil.  More on that later.  The battery for the electric start is also rechargeable and it charges while the generator runs, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to start it later.

What this generator doesn’t have that I would love is a remote start.  If you’re inside the cabin on a cold morning and you need to kick on the generator, you’ll have to go outside and push the button.  No way around that.

Champion does make a great generator with remote start that I love, but it’s spendy and for the price has significantly less power output.  It is a lot quieter though since it’s an inverter generator so if you don’t need this much power, it’s a great option.  You can see some other highly recommended generators at the end of this post if you’re concerned about power, noise, or remote start.

How’s the Weight and Portability of the Champion 76533?

First things first, this generator weighs 119 lbs (54 kg).  So portability is sort of in the eye of the beholder.  It’s not going to be light and easy to carry around.  Even lifting it in and out of a pickup will take a couple people.  But for the amount of output (watts) this generator is actually quite portable.

This generator has rubber tires that are a lot nicer than the cheap plastic wheels you see on a lot of “portable” outdoor products.  But one cool feature of the wheels is that they aren’t filled with air.  They’re called never-flat tires because they literally can’t go flat.  It also has a folding handle make it easy to wheel around.

How much does the Champion 76533 cost and where should I buy it?

I bought my generator on Amazon.  I love the 2-day shipping I get with Prime and the generous return policy.  They’re also good about price matching if you find is somewhere else cheaper.  You can find this generator at a lot of home improvement stores, but I’ve found them out-of-stock one too many times.

Right now, the Champion 76533 is $449 on Amazon.  But depending on how much power and portability you actually need, you could spend as little as $277 for this dual fuel generator.  Or, you can get this same generator with only slightly less power, but with a remote start for about the same price.  See some of the specific options for power and portability below.

Check the current price of this generator on (affiliate link to Amazon for the exact model I’m reviewing here).  Just be careful if you order from another online store.  A lot of these models are really similar with almost the same name but with different features and specs.  So if you want what I’m reviewing here, make sure it’s the same model number and has the features described in this article.

Unboxing the Champion 76533

The Champion 76533 dual fuel generator literally comes with everything you need to run it right out of the box except for motor oil.  So don’t plan to unbox this thing up at the cabin and start it up without bringing along some motor oil.  It comes with just enough oil in the engine to safely ship it and no more.  Use the chart here from the owner’s manual to determine which oil to buy.

It even comes with the battery for the electric touch-start.

This generator runs on either gasoline or propane right out of the box.  No conversion kit or adapters required.  Just hook up the propane hose (also included) and tank or fill the gas tank and you’re good to go.  You select which fuel you want to use with a simple switch and you’re off to the races.

What do I need to do to Maintain the Champion 76533?

They recommend that you change the oil every 100 hours of run time.  It has a run-hours meter right on the front too, which helps keep track of when you need to perform regular maintenance.

Really, that’s about all the maintenance that’s required.  Just don’t leave a tank full of untreated gas in it for months at a time and you won’t have to worry about it running well.  We’ve been using ours for over a year now on a very regular basis and haven’t had any issues with startup or running.  Just follow the maintenance schedule and procedures in the owner’s manual and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

That said, I’ll try to update this post as we use this generator more.  If I run into any issues at all, you’ll know about it.

What similar generators should I consider?

Too much power?  If you don’t need all that power, you can actually save a bunch by going with the 3,500 running watt Champion 46597.  If you’re willing to forego the portability of wheels you can save even more.  But, this is a gas-only generator so keep that in mind.  We’re talking almost $200 in savings by going with a 3,500 watt generator without the wheels that only runs on gas.  So if you’re on a budget, check out these lower-cost options here.

Want a remote?  The Champion 46539 offers 3,500 running watts and 4,000 starting watts and remote start for about the same price as the 3,800 watt Champion 76533.  But again, it runs on gas only.  So if you want remote start to turn on the generator from inside the tent or cabin, check out the Champion 46539 here.  

Need more power?  If you want to run the refrigerator, A/C and a Washer/Dryer all at the same time, then keep reading.  The Champion 100165 boasts 7,500 running watts and 9,375 starting watts.  The tradeoff is noise.  This generator operates at 74 dBA at 23 feet unlike the Champion 76533 that runs at 68 dBA.  The difference is probably more than you think so keep that in mind.  But, this one is dual-fuel so if you want to power a whole cabin and use propane to do it then check out the current pricing for the Champion 100165 here.

Want less noise?  My favorite generator for RVs and camping is the Champion 75537i.  It’s an inverter generator which allows it to run much quieter.  We’re talking 58 dBA.  That’s a lot quieter than the 68 dBA of the Champion 76533.  You can even get this generator with remote start.  The tradeoff is power, price, and fuel.  This generator is available with remote start at 3,100 starting watts (only 2,800 running watts) which is plenty for camping and RV use but probably a bit light for a cabin.  The price of this is about double what you pay for the Champion 46597.  And, it only runs on gasoline.  If this sounds like the generator for you, check out an in-depth review over on CamperReport.com or look at current pricing here on Amazon.

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