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Old 01-04-2018, 06:54 AM   #1
762x51
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M.O.C. #19434
Harbor Freight Predator 3500 Generator

Has anyone gotten one of these generators? They look to be the same as the one sold at Northern Hydraulics and cost a lot less.

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Old 01-04-2018, 08:05 AM   #2
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I have heard good things about this generator. I have a champion and we love it. Look at reviews, and all generators get bad reviews, even the mighty Honda. Try to avoid ethanol fuel and run the generator dry before storage. I have had my generator for 5 years and every time i store it, no fuel is left in the tank and it was ran dry. But we only use our Gen-set for power outages.
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Old 01-04-2018, 08:32 AM   #3
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Had my 3000 Honda inverter for 22 plus years, changed the oil every two years (synthethic) and never shut off the fuel to it or run it dry, never had any issue with it starting at all. Sits in the back of my GM diesel truck all the time. Battery died after a few years didn't replace it until 2 years ago when I upgraded from the 2006 gmc diesel to a new 2015, could no longer reach over the box and pull the cord so I put in a battery so I could lean over and turn the key. Still working perfect after all these years... one of the best investments we have made.
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Old 01-04-2018, 09:36 AM   #4
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We've had a Kipor for over 10 years that mirrors speedster100's story about reliability and the battery not being replaced till later on in ownership. It has always started up for me. What you do need to consider about units that are more or less categorized as
"off brand" is should you need it worked on ... who's going to do that and where and how easily are they going to source parts.
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Old 01-07-2018, 08:39 AM   #5
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it must be the one

I have a friend that has one. He uses it at the craft shows to power his router making signs for sale. He swears by it and says the others are to expensive for him. I have heard this running under load and it is very quite, less noise than my 2 Yamaha 2000`s under load. If you buy it and don`t like it you can take it back, try that with a Honda. If it breaks toss it and buy another, try that with a Honda. To each his own.
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Old 01-07-2018, 08:52 AM   #6
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I have a Champion 3500/4500. It would start the roof air on our old 5th wheel but would not restart it after it had built up pressure. A friends Honda rated the same powered his A/C no problem. The Honda's are built solid as a rock. The off brands are not built nearly as well (our Champion's fuel tank split after we towed it on a trailer just once). There is of course a hugh price difference between the Honda's and off brands but the old adage "you get what you pay for" definitely applies to portable generators!!


Perhaps, it is good that some lower priced competition is coming onto the market. Competition will hopefully drive down the cost of the Honda's and maybe encourage some innovation/improvements (like fuel injection for instance).


If your using the generator for something light duty and just on occasion then the off brands will proably suffice. If you plan to rely on it frequently and will be powering stuff near the load limit then better go with the name brand units!


I would also be very careful about buying stuff at Harbor Freight. Don't get me wrong my truck automatically turns into their parking lot every time I go to town BUT they do sell some stuff that is junk. You just have to judge very carefully what you are going to use it for and how high of a quality you need. For example: I bought a wet tile saw at HF that I have used to remodel a couple of small bathrooms. It worked well enough for that purpose but if I was laying tile for a living it would not have been suitable.


I am assuming your looking only at portable units and not an installed one. There are several threads on this website that go into the pros and cons of Onan generators but that is a whole other animal....
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Old 01-07-2018, 09:25 AM   #7
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I was looking for a generator that could be carried in the bed of our truck with the Montana hooked up and be able to start it when we stop for the night and have it run our AC. I had bought a WEN 56310i generator that was rated at 3100 surge and 2800 continuous watts and it ran our 15K BTU AC just fine. The problem was that it's pull start and it's really hard to get at the pull start handle when it's sitting in the bed of the truck.

Yes, I'd like to have a Honda but their price was just more than I wanted to spend for something that wouldn't be used often.

The Predator being rated at 3500 peak watts should run our AC just fine and with the electric start solve the issues I had with the WEN generator.

I have bought one when they had them on sale for $650 and the closest equivalent Honda would have been the EU3000iS that would have cost around $2,000 and has a lower wattage rating. Yes, the Predator 3500 is probably not as well built as the Honda but it's received a ton of good reviews.
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Old 01-07-2018, 10:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 762x51 View Post
I was looking for a generator that could be carried in the bed of our truck with the Montana hooked up and be able to start it when we stop for the night and have it run our AC. I had bought a WEN 56310i generator that was rated at 3100 surge and 2800 continuous watts and it ran our 15K BTU AC just fine. The problem was that it's pull start and it's really hard to get at the pull start handle when it's sitting in the bed of the truck.

Yes, I'd like to have a Honda but their price was just more than I wanted to spend for something that wouldn't be used often.

The Predator being rated at 3500 peak watts should run our AC just fine and with the electric start solve the issues I had with the WEN generator.

I have bought one when they had them on sale for $650 and the closest equivalent Honda would have been the EU3000iS that would have cost around $2,000 and has a lower wattage rating. Yes, the Predator 3500 is probably not as well built as the Honda but it's received a ton of good reviews.
Sounds like you got the unit that is right for you. The wife and I have the EXACT same need for one. Really interested in how your unit works out. I had the same thoughts when I bought the Champion for our former 30amp 5th wheel (a lot cheaper than a Honda and I would only need it every now and then). Although I must admit I am trying to talk the wife into letting me get a Hobart welder/generator to put in front of the hitch. It costs $3K but it's a welder too and as such I will get a LOT of use out of it around our country estate.
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Old 01-07-2018, 10:15 AM   #9
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Hi James,

I do think it was the right generator for our needs but with the outside temp at 21 degrees now it would be hard to get the 15K AC to load the generator -

I'm sure we will use it several times this summer and let's hope it works as well as the WEN would, when I could get it running. All I can do right now is keep my fingers crossed -

Orin
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Old 01-07-2018, 11:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 762x51 View Post
I was looking for a generator that could be carried in the bed of our truck with the Montana hooked up and be able to start it when we stop for the night and have it run our AC. I had bought a WEN 56310i generator that was rated at 3100 surge and 2800 continuous watts and it ran our 15K BTU AC just fine. The problem was that it's pull start and it's really hard to get at the pull start handle when it's sitting in the bed of the truck.

Yes, I'd like to have a Honda but their price was just more than I wanted to spend for something that wouldn't be used often.

The Predator being rated at 3500 peak watts should run our AC just fine and with the electric start solve the issues I had with the WEN generator.

I have bought one when they had them on sale for $650 and the closest equivalent Honda would have been the EU3000iS that would have cost around $2,000 and has a lower wattage rating. Yes, the Predator 3500 is probably not as well built as the Honda but it's received a ton of good reviews.

A 50/30 dog bone and a long cord from the rear of the 5er to the genny? Thinking my 5er is 43' and would need a bit more to the front of the truck bed. UNLESS there is a way to wire in the battery compartment as well.
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Old 01-07-2018, 11:26 AM   #11
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A 50/30 dog bone and a long cord from the rear of the 5er to the genny? Thinking my 5er is 43' and would need a bit more to the front of the truck bed. UNLESS there is a way to wire in the battery compartment as well.
To get around that issue, as my factory installed 50A connector is on the back wall of the trailer, I had a automatic transfer switch laying on the shelf so I installed it and a new 50A connector on the side of the trailer just behind the pass through storage door. Now I can use either the original or new connector to power the trailer. This makes it easy to connect to a generator sitting in the bed of my truck.

That brings up a simple question - Why in heck does the factory install the 50A connector on the rear wall? Makes no sense at all to me as 1) it cost more to install it back there and 2) mounting it on the side of the trailer would make it more convenient.

In the photo you can see the 50A connector I installed that's just behind the front compartment door.

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Old 01-07-2018, 12:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 762x51 View Post
To get around that issue, as my factory installed 50A connector is on the back wall of the trailer, I had a automatic transfer switch laying on the shelf so I installed it and a new 50A connector on the side of the trailer just behind the pass through storage door. Now I can use either the original or new connector to power the trailer. This makes it easy to connect to a generator sitting in the bed of my truck.

That brings up a simple question - Why in heck does the factory install the 50A connector on the rear wall? Makes no sense at all to me as 1) it cost more to install it back there and 2) mounting it on the side of the trailer would make it more convenient.

In the photo you can see the 50A connector I installed that's just behind the front compartment door.

Our 3791RD has the 50A connector on the side just behind the rear wheel and I really like that. Just this morning I viewed videos on You Tube rating the Preditor 3500 and it looks really good. Check it out. I plan to add one soon!
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Old 01-07-2018, 12:59 PM   #13
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My 381TH is generator prepped so I assume that it is already wired to the front for 50amp? If not, I am capable of running my own wiring. However, I plan to put the plug on the hitch. That way I will only need a short flex cord less than 10' to go from the gen to the plug! Simple and clean solution.


My unit does have the plug on the rear wall and like you said that makes ZERO sense! Not having it in a storage area makes installing a cord reel more difficult. And I have yet to see a power connection at the REAR of a campsite. They are always on the drivers side without exception (at least at all the campsites I have been to so far.).
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Old 01-07-2018, 01:07 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by mtlakejim View Post
<snip>My 381TH is generator prepped so I assume that it is already wired to the front for 50amp?If not, I am capable of running my own wiring. However, I plan to put the plug on the hitch. That way I will only need a short flex cord less than 10' to go from the gen to the plug! Simple and clean solution.


My unit does have the plug on the rear wall and like you said that makes ZERO sense! Not having it in a storage area makes installing a cord reel more difficult. And I have yet to see a power connection at the REAR of a campsite. They are always on the drivers side without exception (at least at all the campsites I have been to so far.).
You should have a box somewhere in the front compartment area for you to connect a generator and you should be able to just connect a 50A plug there.
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Old 01-07-2018, 01:24 PM   #15
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You should have a box somewhere in the front compartment area for you to connect a generator and you should be able to just connect a 50A plug there.
I was thinking that the main feed proably ran up toward the front anyway so your most likely correct. Still I plan to run the wiring up to the trailer hitch so it is a cleaner setup. That hollow space under the hitch would be an ideal location for a plug box. Better that than a bird or wasp nest lol
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Old 01-07-2018, 01:39 PM   #16
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I agree that that would be a good place for the plug but in my case it wouldn't work. I have a Reese Airborne Sidewinder so mounting the plug there would have been difficult. I guess I could have installed it on the side of the hitch mounting plates but running the wire there would have been difficult.

Where I installed it was much easier as all I had to do was remove the rear panels in the pass through compartment which exposed all of the wiring. I went to Home Depot and bought the wire (6 gage as I recall) and redoing the power wiring was fairly simple.
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Old 01-07-2018, 09:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 762x51 View Post
To get around that issue, as my factory installed 50A connector is on the back wall of the trailer, I had a automatic transfer switch laying on the shelf so I installed it and a new 50A connector on the side of the trailer just behind the pass through storage door. Now I can use either the original or new connector to power the trailer. This makes it easy to connect to a generator sitting in the bed of my truck.

That brings up a simple question - Why in heck does the factory install the 50A connector on the rear wall? Makes no sense at all to me as 1) it cost more to install it back there and 2) mounting it on the side of the trailer would make it more convenient.

In the photo you can see the 50A connector I installed that's just behind the front compartment door.

I am curious as to why you need to use an automatic transfer switch in your install of the additional 50A receptical?

I would like to do the same for my Montana, I thought I could just add additional wiring to the existing terminals from the rear plug mimicking the plug in the forward location?
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Old 01-07-2018, 09:41 PM   #18
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I am curious as to why you need to use an automatic transfer switch in your install of the additional 50A receptical?

I would like to do the same for my Montana, I thought I could just add additional wiring to the existing terminals from the rear plug mimicking the plug in the forward location?
The transfer switch disconnects the plug that you are not using. If you simply parallel the existing plug then your original plug will have voltage on it's pins when you are connected to the add on plug.

This would be incredibly dangerous.
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Old 01-07-2018, 10:21 PM   #19
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I do have the Predator 3500 and am totally happy with it. It runs my 15K A/C just fine. It starts easily with the key or 1 or 2 pulls of the cord. I think it is quieter than my Honda 2000! I only have about 15 hours on it. I don't run it out of fuel but I always use Stabil fuel treatment. I don't use the genny all that often so I didn't want to spend the big bucks for a Honda 3000.
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Old 01-08-2018, 09:11 AM   #20
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tell ya what, let us know how your off brand cheap Chinese generators are working in 22yrs after hours and hours of usage and let us know whether the $600 was worth it. Seen quite a few different ones come and go, if they last more than a few years (Kipor) prices climb up pretty quickly and then they usually get hammered with a lawsuit and supply dries up... We've used our Honda during power outages a few times over the years when the power went out for hours or in two occasions days to supply the house keeping lights, fridge and furnace running. I had two buddies with off brands that couldn't handle the constant use and they blew up, the units were replaced under warranty and blew up again, they now have Honda's..............different strokes for different folks but if you are looking at long term reliability you are likely gambling.
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