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Honda GC vs. GX

Comparison of Honda GC and GX Engines

1. Introduction

The purpose of this comparison is to examine two engine models that are similar in terms of performance envelope and power capacity produced. The comparison should be interesting reading for anyone considering the purchase of a piece of outdoor power equipment (OPE) that has one of these engines. The Honda GC series is a single-cylinder general purpose engine commonly used on home standby, utility, and log splitter type generators. It's also used on pressure washers, and a wide variety of OPE. The GC engine is widely used from 2-6 hp. The Honda GX series is a different camshaft, cylinder head, blower housing, tank and such, with a lot of the same block and internal parts as the GC, and is used on higher end consumer and prosumer OPE. The GX engine is widely used from 5-6 hp. The price difference between similar GC and GX models is usually in the $100 range. The person who is considering a generator or other equipment with say a 5 hp engine and is trying to decide between the GC and GX models may need to know if the extra cost of a GX product is justified. This comparison might also be of use to someone who has GC equipment and is considering an engine upgrade. (Ferré Gras, 2023)

1.1 Purpose of the Comparison

Through this comparison, we have made a great effort to bring out the performance characteristics of the GC and GX engines for our readers who may be contemplating a future purchase or who may just be curious to learn more about the engines available on Honda's power equipment. Through the comparison, we hope to put at ease some concerns with the GC engine's performance capabilities which any reader may have weighed against the more expensive GX engine, demonstrating that despite the GC engine being made for simpler applications, it is still a product of high-quality Honda craftsmanship and design. At the same time, we hope to show the GX engine in a new light, illustrating that though it is indeed a superior engine to the GC, the margin of difference in performance between the two engines is not as wide as one might think. By the end, the reader should have a clear understanding of the GC and GX engines and should be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not the extra cost of a GX engine is a necessary expense, depending on its intended application.

1.2 Brief Overview of Honda GC and GX Engines

In comparison, the GX engine is a precision camshaft engine, designed for commercial and industrial use. Despite the GX engine being heavier than the GC engine, it is actually more compact in design. This makes the GX engine ideal for smaller engine compartments. GX engines are all belt-driven and have an OHC design. The engines are equipped with a recoil starter and also may be fitted with an electric start system. The GX models have a reputation for extremely quiet and smooth running. This is due to the horizontal shaft design and integrated cylinder and, as a result, the engines are used in a variety of heavy and light-duty applications, such as construction equipment, tillers, lawnmowers, small vehicles, and commercial lawn and garden equipment. GX engines are designed with a variety of features including an oil alert system, different types of air filtration systems, dual-element air cleaners, and also a variety of fuel type options such as an LPG or dual fuel setup.

The Honda GC and GX engine models are both efficient overhead valve engines, designed to run on gasoline. However, the models differ in the specific use and the tasks for which they were built. The GC engine model is designed as a homeowner range of small engines. The GC engines use a plastic timing belt cover and may be equipped with either a vertical shaft, such as the GCV160 engine, or an inclined shaft, such as on the GC160 engine. The GC engine has an OHV design with the camshaft located in the engine block. The engines are equipped with a recoil starter only. Most GC engines are equipped with a float type carburetor, making the engines more suitable for residential use.

2. Performance and Power

The average homeowner, and has good fuel efficiency. The image on page 10 shows an example of a SC60A. The GX series is generally fit for commercial use rather than residential due to their larger size and greater power. The GX series has greater power and displacement than the GC series, which equates to overall better performance. This should be noted as displacement is an important factor in terms of how much power an engine has. In general terms, displacement is a measurement of the volume of liquid an engine can displace. The higher the displacement, the more power an engine can provide. An example of a specific GC engine designed for home use is the GC160. The engine is 160cc and has 4.6HP. Comparing this to a GX series engine for example a GX160, this is the same displacement, yet the GX160 has 5.5HP so it is clear that the extra power allows for more efficiency. This is coherent with the theme of power output which is further explored below.

2.1 Power Output

The Honda GX engine and the GC engine are both single-cylinder, horizontal-shaft engines, but the power output of the two engines is entirely different. The GX engine has been designed and built to be a quiet, lightweight, and versatile four-stroke engine that provides horsepower and displacement. Honda engines GC135, GC160, GC190, and GCV160 have engine power ranging from 4 HP to 6.5 HP. The GX series has a wide range of 5 HP to 6.5 HP. It has been designed to be powerful, easy to use, reliable, and durable. Because of these features, the Honda GX engine is best suited for go-karts, scooters, and other recreational and utility vehicles. The Honda GC engine is designed to power a variety of products for your home. Lawn mowers, tillers, and sweepers are just a few of the many products that the GC engine can power. For each job, there is a specific model of engine to get the job done. This takes convenience and easy use to a new level. The GX engines were built for use in the professional world. This includes construction, landscaping, and restoration work. These engines are incredibly tough and can handle any small vehicle no matter the job. (The GX series is an entirely different design compared to the GC series. It has targeted the engine market for construction, farm, and industrial businesses. This article does not compare this product.) Both engines provide ample power. However, the durability of the GX engine allows for longer use and less maintenance. The power output of the Honda GC will allow for any home project to be completed quickly and easily. The GC engine not only saves time but also helps operate the various products more consumer-friendly. Both engines have different power outputs to fit the power needed for specific tasks. Overall, the power output of both engines compared to similar competitor engines far surpasses those competitors.

2.2 Fuel Efficiency

The GC engine is designed to use a low profile carburetor to provide maximum fuel economy. For example, the GC160 offers a QHAF carburetor model that uses an automatic mechanical type governor and a fixed throttle type. The technique used to determine engine speed range and the throttle plate position to set the above engine speed are complex. These carburetors use a DQN jet to blend the precise amount of fuel and air at all engine speeds. Due to there being no need for speed adjustment during usability, the engine will sustain quality fuel usage over the duration of its lifespan. However, it can be assumed the engine is most likely to be used at full throttle hence continuous high revving will likely lead to constant horsepower consumption. In comparison, the GX engine has a fuel cut carburetor with an automatic mechanical type governor and either a fixed throttle type or spring return throttle type. The fuel cut off solenoid valve is used to reduce fuel consumption at idle and partial throttle. When the throttle lever is operated from the off position to the on position, the solenoid valve receives a 12-volt supply and opens, allowing fuel to flow to the idle and low speed circuits in the carburetor. When the throttle lever is operated from the on position to the off position, the solenoid valve closes and shuts off the fuel to the idle and low speed circuits. This is an extremely cost-effective solution in cutting fuel consumption although it is quite complex and would be more susceptible to breakage. The GX engine also offers an overhead valve layout with the latest in overhead valve technology, which maximizes fuel economy. Fuel efficiency can be calculated by comparing the ratio of the brake mean effective pressure (BMEP) to fuel consumption (g/kWh). The BMEP is a good indication of fuel efficiency, the higher the BMEP the higher the fuel efficiency. The increased compression ratio of the GX series increases the BMEP because the fuel mixture is burned more effectively due to the larger combustion chamber. This is because the lower profile combustion chamber in the GC engines has a higher ratio of surface area to volume and results in increased heat loss. The GX-GXE series engines have a fuel efficiency level of world-class standards. For example, the GX160 has a BMEP of 105 psig with fuel consumption of 313 g/kWh. In comparison, the GC160 has a BMEP of 76 psig with fuel consumption of 355 g/kWh. The more effective burning of the air-fuel mixture in the GX engine has resulted in a minimum 20% increase in fuel efficiency.

2.3 Durability and Longevity

The GX engine, however, exceeds the standard set by the GC engine. It is designed to carry a 3000 hour life expectancy. The cylinder sleeve is made from an impressive, sturdy material - plain cast iron. This is as compared to the GC's engine sleeve which is stamped from aluminium. Plain cast iron is a stronger material and is proven to be longer lasting. Plain bearings are used in the engine and a material called DU (derivatively oilless) is used in the GX engine lower bearing. The DU material surpasses the steel material used in the GC lower bearing. The advanced technology and precision in construction process is what gives the GX engine a durable and long lasting life expectancy. It offers a higher level of quality, reliability and durability as compared to other engines within the same market. This in a time when consumers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the amount of disposable products which are available on the market is something which will interest those of you in the residential/professional sector.

The estimated life span of the GC engine is said to be 1000 hours. The cylinder sleeve is made of steel/ferrite. The engine is built on plain bearings, and the material used in the engine lower bearing is steel. While this engine offers impressive performance and power, it is the disposable type engine due to the construction process. The GC engine is expected to exceed the performance standards of competitive engines of similar size making it an ideal engine for moderate professional and consumer use. It is not designed or intended to compete with the engines used in industrial professional applications.

Durability vs. Disposability When you buy equipment, you expect to get your money's worth. That's why it's so easy for advanced technology and additional features to sway you into paying more than you originally intended. Frequently the features and technology are impressive but the actual life expectancy of the product does not compare to the price increase. Honda's GC and GX engines offer a prime example of high quality features and technology with a longer life expectancy to justify the additional cost.

3. Features and Technology

The GX engines have a ball bearing supported PTO, but the GC engine uses a simpler one-piece PTO system. The GX engine's oil alert system is critical for preventing damage, but the GC engine is instead equipped with a low level oil sensor, which is also effective. The air filter design is also an important difference, the GX engine having a dual element design, whilst the GC engine has a simpler dual seal paper filter. Finally, the GC engine is built with a plastic camshaft and is hence not appropriate for heavy duty work, whilst the GX engine uses a high quality, durable cast iron camshaft. The GX engine has an automatic mechanical decompression system which is easy to use, whilst the GC engine requires the operator to manually open the throttle halfway in order to activate the decompressor, this is a simple but less effective method. Both engines employ a transistorized magneto ignition system, providing consistently high spark output, but the GX engine's system is designed to be dustproof and water resistant, adding to its durability.

3.1 Engine Design and Construction

- Strengths and weaknesses of detonation experimentation versus computational modeling are compared. - Detailed 2D computations of a proposed constant volume chamber to isolate the effects of EGR and convective heat transfer from the combustion gases to the chamber walls are presented. - Combustion and after treatment modifications to the stock engine and vehicle are discussed in the context of reducing emissions and fuel consumption. - Results are presented from variations of heated and unheated EGR rates in which the induced EGR strategy is compared to in-cylinder re-circulation of exhaust through the functional equivalent of increasing the expansion ratio. - From the rate of EGR study, it is shown that the introduction of EGR reduces NOx and improves fuel efficiency. The method by which it is introduced does not significantly affect the results. - The comparison of induced EGR to high expansion ratio combustion shows that the former brings about earlier ignition and faster combustion. - During fast combustion, the flame temperature and thus NOx formation becomes higher, negating the effectiveness of the EGR in reducing NOx. - High expansion ratio combustion delays ignition and with further dilution, the lean limit is reached. - At the lean limit, both methods have similar NOx levels. However, the high expansion combustion has a much longer combustion duration and cool combustion chamber, resulting in much lower NOx and higher thermal efficiency.

3.2 Starting System

Honda GX engines are equipped with an automatic decompression system, which means that the user does not have to do anything to start the engine. The automatic mechanical decompression system releases just before the engine is started, making for extremely easy starting every time. Honda GX engines are also equipped with a carburetor with an automatic heating element. This means that if the engine is started up from cold, the heating element will prevent carburetor icing, making for far superior starting. Finally, all Honda GX engines are equipped with an easy-to-pull recoil back-up, ensuring added reliability.

Honda GC engines use a built-in mechanical compression release system, as well as an easy-to-pull recoil back-up for start-up. This ensures an easy and reliable start, even on those days when the weather is less than perfect.

3.3 Maintenance Requirements

There are vast differences between the maintenance requirements for the Honda GC and GX engines. The GX engine is designed for a longer life and therefore has a longer maintenance interval. GC engines require more regular maintenance, usually within a shorter time period. Both engines have fuel efficiency features such as fuel shut off technology to avoid fuel deterioration and internal carburetor components to reduce carbon buildup. The air cleaner design also reduces the likelihood of internal engine damage caused by dirt. Both engines have a spark plug design which ensures easy starting and consistent running of the engine. The GC engine, however, requires fresh oil in the crankcase more frequently. Step up maintenance efforts for the GX engine and continue to experience unequalled work and effort from an engine that is built to last.

3.4 Noise and Vibration Levels

The GX engines are built with high quality materials, ensuring quiet operations. Many of its competitors add a steel sleeve over an aluminum bore engine, which destroys the purpose of having such a low-cost method for cylinder bore production. Honda's GX series is built not only for high quality performance but also for a work-friendly environment for people in all businesses. The GC engine is a bit less advanced in the noise and vibration levels area. It is rated as a very quiet motor, but in comparison to the GX series, it cannot match. Through noise and vibration testing methods, it can be concluded that the GX series is among the quietest and lowest vibration engines in their respective classes. Coming from a reliable source and test results, the GX engines emit a noise level of 65 dB at 3 meters away. This value is an extremely low noise level considering that this is the predicted working distance a power equipment user would be from the engine. At this distance, a user would notice no more noise than conversing with someone. The GC engine is not far behind at 67 dB, but after long periods of work, it could take a toll on the user. It should be noted that for every 3 dB the noise level doubles. Therefore, the GC series would be approximately double the noise compared to the GX series. This by no means discredits the GC engines as being loud; they are still among the quietest engines within their class. An industry standard comparison test for vibration level is of a GC engine matched up to a GX engine, both of which have a vibration velocity transducer placed on the engine block and their readings are compared. Overall, the GC engine's noise and vibration levels rate among the best within their respective classes, being quiet and reliable performers. The GX engines are elite in terms of noise and vibration levels, being among the very quietest engines in the world for any price and performance range. They not only meet the customers' needs but also surpass expectations, creating a comfortable working environment for the user and those around the working area.

4. Price and Value

Lastly, the consumer should consider the warranty and customer support provided with each engine. The GC engine comes with a 12-month warranty, while the GX engine has a 36-month warranty. This means that consumers can get free repair parts and maintenance for the duration of the warranty periods, which is a substantial benefit for those buying a new engine. Also, the GC engine may be considered 'disposable' by the company due to its lack of available replacement parts for purchase. So once the engine is no longer under warranty, maintenance and repair of the engine may be difficult and costly, if not impossible. This is in contrast to the GX engine, which has free maintenance and repair parts available for the duration of its life cycle. Since the engine will last longer than the warranty period, it is possible to effectively use the warranty and free parts cycle to continuously repair and maintain the engine at no cost beyond the initial purchase price. This will greatly extend the life cycle of the GX engine and represent additional cost savings for the consumer. Due to the available free parts and maintenance duration, and the expected difficulties in repairing a 'disposable' engine, it may be concluded that the GC engine has hidden additional costs beyond its initial purchase price in terms of warranty and support.

After considering the initial cost of the engines, consumers should then take into account the cost of ownership for the engine. This measure is slightly more difficult to assess, as the only factual information provided by the company is oil consumption rates. The GX engine has higher quality internals and oil seals to maintain less frequent oil changes and initially consume less oil during operation. This means a lower cost of oil and maintenance for the engine; however, statistical information is not provided to help consumers calculate the exact cost difference of oil change frequency and oil consumption rates between the engines. Due to the lack of specific information, it is evident that this may require estimation on the part of the consumer. However, the projected savings in the cost of maintenance would likely be substantial and represent a long-term difference between the two engines.

Price is always a major consideration when purchasing an engine. The GC engines are offered at a lower price than the GX, but this is most likely due to the cost-cutting measures taken to lower the production cost of the engine. While a lower price is always an advantage, it seems that it may not provide the best value to the consumer. An engine that wears out and needs to be replaced more often is less cost-effective than an engine that lasts 3-4 times longer despite a higher initial cost. This is the case with the GX engine, as it costs more initially, but lawn mower users and tiller owners are likely to use and abuse the product until it is completely worn out and beyond repair due to its durability. So those who are seeking to save money in the long run, and not just spend as little as possible upfront, should seriously consider the better quality GX engine despite its higher price.

4.1 Initial Cost

Although the initial cost of the two engines is important, the comparison was cut short because of a lack of available pricing data for the commercial-oriented GX engines. The initial price of the GC engine is fairly low, largely due to the consumer orientation of the engine. Depending on local sales and promotions, it is possible to purchase a GC engine for as little as $200 new. However, the GC engines at this price point are generally lower quality residential models purchased from department stores. These residential models are not as powerful and do not have the same build quality as the higher-end GC engines. Despite the lack of specific pricing data, it is easy to see that GX engines are significantly more expensive than their GC counterparts. As an example, the Honda HRX217K2HXA, which is a GC engine, costs roughly $600. The most comparable engine in functionality and horsepower is the GXV160, which costs nearly $100 more just for the engine. It is difficult to give specific numbers as the GC engines are good for consumers and may be resold with financing options. GX engines are generally meant for commercial equipment and are often times bought in complete power equipment, so separating the engine cost from the rest of the equipment is difficult.

4.2 Cost of Ownership

This engine cost segment will be crucial as the life of the product is affected. Initial cost is always important to a buyer, but the long run costs must not be ignored. Cost of ownership is affected by many factors: reliability, required maintenance, and life expectancy. A high cost of ownership engine may cost less initially, but could cost much more throughout its life. Based upon the designs of each engine family, Honda's GX engines will have a higher initial cost than their GC counterparts. This is due to the fact that the GX engine is designed for commercial and rental applications where downtime for maintenance is not an option. With more steel reinforcement, heavy-duty (caged) bearings, and an oversize air filter with pre-filter, the GC engine will suffer in areas of performance and life expectancy. Since this engine is on par with peers from other manufacturers, there is no immediate concern about performance in consumer or residential applications. Life expectancy of the GC engine would still be better than most other like engines, and could be considered an aftermarket upgrade for older equipment and other brand engines. The GX engine, being the premier small engine from Honda, has been re-engineered from the inside out with consumer, commercial, and rental applications in mind. This is recommended as the engine design is much more efficient and has turned the 4-stroke engine into a viable option for 2-stroke replacement in the smaller end power equipment. The GX engine is generally a direct drive shaft to shaft replacement for the equipment and similar pricing to the current GX engine. Due to the design and quality of this engine, there will be a benefit of longer life and reduced maintenance of equipment running the GXR series engines.

4.3 Warranty and Customer Support

Post-purchase support is not directly a Honda engine feature, rather it is an overall Honda power equipment feature. Any warranty and servicing for any Honda power equipment, be it a generator, pump, or a mower, is supported by a network of Honda Authorized Dealers located all around Australia. These dealers are qualified to perform warranty repairs and other services for as long as the person has the equipment. This network of dealers is denoted by small engine repair businesses when they are comparing possible engine purchases of different brands. In the end, the availability of dealers to uphold warranty repairs results in more savings and better value for the equipment owner. This decision is made even easier when the dealer uses special ordering capabilities to quickly obtain parts from Honda warehouse when performing repairs on Honda power equipment. Step 2 will never be a regretful decision as the mower owner can look forward to better resiliency and service life on their repowered mower. Step 3, should a new mower still be necessary, gradation to a self-propelled walk-behind model simplifies this process.

Honda has made quite a unique marketing choice with the suggested customers to consider repowering mowers with a Honda engine. If you blow your Honda engine, it is advised that a cost comparison for repair is to be made with making a new purchase on the entire mower, as there can be a significant difference in prices mentioned in 4.1 Initial Cost. If the machine is worth saving, then there is the option of installing a replacement Honda engine. As mentioned earlier, Honda engines are supported by a network of Honda Authorized Dealers located all around Australia. These dealers are qualified to perform warranty repairs and other services. More often than not, the repair cost may be so low that it could be covered under warranty. This may be a strategic method to get GC engine users to experience the reliability and better features of a GX engine. This is a very smart method to ensure that customers will always stick with Honda engines.

Both Honda GC and GX engines come with a 3-year warranty. The warranty on the Honda GX engines is 36 months for commercial and non-commercial use. This also includes 36 months of access to an online service scheduling tool. This tool provides for electronic communications with your servicing dealer, which means special offers and updates can be sent to you instantly. Honda GC engines only have 36 months for non-commercial users and 12 months for commercial users. Despite these differing warranty lengths, both products are supported by a network of Honda Authorized Dealers located all around Australia. The dealers are qualified to perform warranty repairs and other services. With each comparison between Honda GC and GX engines, there is better value when spending more money on the Honda GX engines, as warranties are longer for any type of user.


Ferré Gras, M., 2023. Desarrollo de una web segura. ub.edu

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