It does pay to read reviews as you get information from other people’s experiences with the same product. These reviews are not written in stone and only reflect preferences, opinions, and some experiences. Take them with a grain of salt as you only get an idea of how the device works
Some reviewers call the Predator 3500 a very quiet device. That is a positive characteristic that will help you avoid trouble in crowded campsites. This Harbor Freight generator is called a very good workhorse for a mid-size unit.
To learn more about the Predator generator, just continue to read our article. It provides the information you want to know about so you can make an intelligent purchase decision. Not everyone likes power items when they are sold by Harbor Freight
Since this brand of generators is sold by Harbor Freight, you should not be surprised to find out that these inexpensive generators are made in China. The company’s name is Power TEAM which is a subsidiary of Maystar International Group.
The Maystar company was started in 1973 and doe sits manufacturing in Guangzhou, China. This does not mean that the Predator is a bad generator but its quality may not be on the same level as Honda, Yamaha, or other top generator brands.
While being made similar to both Honda and Yamaha generators, this brand is not a clone of those two top brands.
If you are strictly looking at the construction side of the generator, then the specs and materials will answer this question in the positive. Just look at the following specs and features to see that it is competitive with more expensive generator brands:
- peak watts- 3500, running time watts 3000
- engine- 212 cc air-cooled OHV gas engine
- Built-in cast wheels for smooth movement
- LCD digital LCD screen to monitor low oil overload and features Low oil indicators
- Electric start
- Fuel efficient
- Power output is a clean power curve
- Parallel capable
- Noise level: 57db
- Includes 30 amp RV adapter.
- Backup pull start in case the startup battery dies
- Automatic low oil shutdown
- Fully enclosed unit to protect the interior and ensure that it is quiet
- Components made from copper which is longer lasting
- Throttle switch for increased fuel efficiency, leading to low fuel consumption.
- Overload protection
- Weight- 99 pounds approx
- Size- 22 by 11 inches
So far we have not run across any RV or trailer owner that warns everyone to stay away from this generator. The experiences and opinions we have come across so far have been mostly good. Plus, it has been given 4.5 out of 5 stars by one reviewer.
If you want more information on the Predator line of generators then read our article at this link.
There are differing opinions on this topic. Some people will say that with proper maintenance, you can have the Predator generator last up to 20 years. Other people claim that under the same conditions, it will last for 50 years.
Generally, longevity for generators is given in hours not years. Some people will say 10 to 15,000 hours is a good run under proper maintenance while others may say 20,000 hours.
It will depend on a variety of factors that will determine how long your model will last. If you use your generator sparingly, then it may reach that 50-year mark. It is hard to predict as some RV situations can have electrical problems that ruin the generator faster than it should have died.
If you leave it exposed to rain, mist, snow, and other moisture-generating weather conditions, do not expect it to last for a very long time. Just make sure to take care of it properly under all weather conditions so the device can last a very long time.
Again, this will depend on how well you care for your generator. As we said in the previous section, you can count on using it for roughly 10,000 to 15,000 hours. Some people may get more and others may get fewer hours of use out of this generator brand.
The manual may call for oil changes every 6 months or 100 hours but that is not set in stone either. You do not have to do it on the dot of 6 months or 100 hours. You will have some leeway there.
But maintaining the generator does include proper and regular oil changes. Also, you need to use the right fuel as the manual does clearly state that 87+ octane unleaded gas is the only fuel you should use in the engine.
It also states that you cannot go above E10 as too much ethanol will ruin the engine. If you live in a region of the country that uses higher percentages of ethanol in its gas supply, you may have a hard time abiding by those instructions.
Also, make sure to use the right oil as that will help protect your generator from harm.
This generator is rated at 57 decibels. That makes it quieter than many top brands and more expensive generators. That is one reason this brand is so popular. It can be used in tight camping situations without really disturbing your neighbors.
To give you an idea of how loud 57 decibels is, here is where it lies on the comparative noise chart. 57 decibels is just below normal and conversational background music. Then it is about 17 points above normal house noise.
Then it is 18 points below a vacuum cleaner or average radio volume. The rating you want to avoid is 85 decibels as that is where the problem for your hearing starts. Anything louder than 85 decibels is harmful to your hearing.
80 to 89 decibels is an air conditioner and power lawn mower rating. This is also the noise rating for heavy traffic and a busy restaurant. Believe it or not, a toilet flushing can reach 75 decibels.
The average daily noise level ranges between 46 and 70 so the Predator is well within average and safe noise levels.
The quiet noise level does help view this generator brand and generator in a positive light. You do not want to make a lot of noise when you are camping near other RV or trailer owners. This generator will achieve that level of neighborly behavior.
This generator may not be the best unit on the market but its lower price will fit most budgets and you can get some good use out of it over the years. It is a good generator for how and where it was constructed.
Plus, this model puts out some very good starting and running watts which is what you need when you are boondocking. The drawback to this specific unit will be that it does not have a remote start. And it does not have a very large gas tank.
That latter drawback means you may be refilling this generator a lot more than you want to. 11 hours on 1/4 load is impressive but if you need more than that, then you need a nice gas supply on hand to keep it running.
While the price is attractive, the quality and run-time are just not there. It is a good backup generator to have but not the best for primary use.
Unfortunately, not many people talk about this important factor. It is not impressive to talk about and may scare some potential customers away. What we can tell you is that the Predator will run for 11 hours at 25% load.
However, if you increase the load to 50% then your run time drops by more than half. You can expect to use the generator for about 5 hours at 50% load. What do those two rates tell you?
You may get about 2 hours of use on a full load. The more power you need, the harder the generator works. The harder the generator works, the more gas it uses up.
What this also tells you is that you need a very good gas supply on hand or at least a gas station very close by to run this generator at full load all the time.
For most RV and trailer owners, you do not need an expensive generator. Most RV owners are not full-timers nor do they boondock a lot. A Harbor Freight Predator 3500 inverter generator may just be what you need for your RV living situation.
They are inexpensive, do a good job, and can last for decades if you take care of them. They are good for your budget as well.