The Predator 3500 generator is from Harbor Freight, a discount tools, and equipment provider. It is an inverter-type unit that runs on gasoline. It promises quiet, fuel-efficient operation for providing electrical power in remote areas, at job sites, and in the event of commercial power failure.
It competes with similar models from Honda, Westinghouse, and Champion, and it isn’t noteworthy for any special features. But, Harbor Freight has an excellent reputation for standing by its products, unlike some of the less expensive generators you may find.
Predator 3500: Features & Benefits
Let’s look at some specific features of this portable generator and how they can benefit the end-user.
Power Output, Run Time
The Predator 3500 from Harbor Freight has a 212 cc engine that can create a maximum power output of 3500 watts. That’s the peak power output, but the running wattage for this unit is 3000 watts. When running at approximately 25% of its maximum output, the generator will run for about eleven hours.
Outlets, Hook Up Provisions, and Possibilities
The Predator 3500 features dual 120VAC outlets for standard electrical plugs. Both outlets are grounded. There is also a 120VAC twist-lock outlet for appliances and a DC two-pin outlet with 12 volts of power.
Starting, Remote Start
The Predator 3500 has an electric starting mechanism, so you don’t have to pull a starting cord to power the unit on. However, it does not have a backup starting mechanism. So you have to make sure to keep the battery charged, or you will not be able to start the unit.
Portability, Dimensions, Weight
The Predator 3500 weighs just less than one hundred pounds (99.2 Lbs.). Its dimensions are 22.75” by 17.3” by 20” – making it relatively small for its power capacity. It has four wheels with one at each corner, so you can move it across an open, flat space reasonably quickly. But, it is a little bit too heavy to move on your own since it’s relatively heavy and there’s no carrying handle.
There is a metal bar over the control panel, but it’s off-center, making the unit unbalanced if you try to carry it this way. The wheels will not work on a rough surface either, so be prepared to either use a couple of people or a hand truck to move this generator.
There are some other features to be aware of too.
Paralleling with Other Generators
You can use this Predator generator in parallel with another identical unit. But, the conversion kit to do so is not part of the factory package. You’ll have to buy it separately from Predator. However, once you have it, you can run both generators together and create up to 7,000 watts of power.
Control Panel Features
The control panel has an LCD display that shows the output voltage of the generator. It also shows the power and frequency of energy production. You can also use the control panel to activate the ‘Eco’ mode to modulate the throttle.
Security, Alarms, Accessories
This Predator unit has an automatic fuel shut-off system, so you won’t wreck it by allowing it to run out of fuel. It also has a low oil sensor, which will shut the unit down if it gets too low on oil, preventing the engine from damaging itself. It’s a good idea to check the oil level before running the unit and periodically when you’re using it.
The emissions this unit produces will vary by how fast the engine is running. The eco-throttle mode will tune the speed of the engine to the current demand. For instance, while there’s only one small light plugged into the unit, it will run the engine slower for the minimal demand. When you add more appliances, the engine will speed up to produce more power.
Harbor Freight’s official warranty for this unit covers every part of it for the first ninety days after your purchase. After that, it covers the engine for a period of up to two years. However, they have a 24/7 customer service line, and some customers have reported successfully getting assistance for things not explicitly by the terms of the warranty.
About the Manufacturer
Harbor Freight sells this Predator 3500 generator. But, it’s made by a Chinese manufacturer that rebrands the same design under quite a few different names. This generator performs to the same standards as brands that cost much more in some head-to-head comparisons.
Some questions about this generator come up all the time.
Is this generator loud?
This generator creates 57 decibels of sound at peak operation. That’s very quiet compared to similar equipment.
Does the generator come with oil and gas?
No, you’ll have to fill up the oil and fuel reservoirs on your own according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Predator 3500 Generator: Things to consider before buying
This generator is probably best for people who need a reasonably portable generator but who don’t need to move it very often. It would be ideal for a campsite, a job site, or a remote area where you need power. It would also work very well in a power outage where you don’t need as much capacity as a standby generator.
The Predator 3500 is a solid generator for anyone who has a helper to assist them in moving it. It’s not massively heavy, but it’s probably a little too hefty to move on your own. It can power home appliances, a few lights, some light construction tools, and even RV equipment like a furnace or refrigerator.
- Relatively affordable
- Eco-throttle mode to save energy and reduce fuel consumption
- Reliable electric starter
- Too heavy to move on your own
- Wheels aren’t that great
- Very limited warranty
- A parallel conversion kit costs more
- 3000 watts of power / 3500 watts peak power
- Easy-to-use control panel with LCD display
- Electric start
Predator 3500 Generator: Social Proof
After searching the internet, there seem to be quite a few favorable reviews for The Predator 3500.
This generator is very quiet and mentions that its rating from an independent evaluator rivals that of a much more expensive unit from Honda. He also mentions how quiet it is.
The Predator 3500 is the REAL DEAL, and the generator is super quiet and ideal for commercial usage and backup power during major storms. He mentions that you have to make sure to run it for at least five hours to clear out the engine and that you may be able to find a discount at your local retailer.
The Predator 3500 is one of the most reliable generators he’s found for his food truck operation. He thinks that the gas tank could be bigger but that it’s overall reliable, lightweight, and very dependable.
Predator 3500 Generator: Related Products
Here are three alternatives to the Predator 3500. For each, you’ll see how it stacks up against the Predator model.
Westinghouse Outdoor Power Equipment iGen4500
The Westinghouse iGen 4500 is slightly heavier than the Predator, weighing 104.7 pounds. It is slightly quieter, making 52 decibels of sound. It’s equally autonomous, but it runs a little bit longer, up to eighteen hours on a single tank of fuel. It also has an economy mode to reduce fuel consumption during periods of light demand. It is pretty much the same price as the Predator 3500.
WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800
The Wen 3800 is almost the same exact weight as the Predator 3500 (99.2 pounds). It has the same decibel rating (57 dB) and is just as autonomous. Its run time is slightly less, at only 8.5 hours at half-power. It costs about a third less than the Predator 3500. This generator has a similar array of plugs but adds a convenient 5V USB port.
Champion Power Equipment 201052 4750/3800
The Champion 4750/3800 weighs more than all the other generators here (119 pounds). It’s also louder, with a decibel rating of 68 dB. It can run on its own for up to fourteen hours on gasoline, or you can run this unit on propane for up to 10.5 hours. It’s about half the price of the Predator 3500.
Predator 3500 Generator: Conclusion
The Predator 3500 is a portable generator that’s ideal for situations where there isn’t commercial power available. So, it’s a great choice for off-grid homes, job sites, campgrounds, RV parking sites, and in the event of commercial power interruptions.
It’s sturdy and offers a fuel management system to slow the motor down when you’re not asking for maximum power. It features a convenient electric starter with the press of a button, so you don’t need to pull a cord to start it. There are lots of generators on the market, and this is a bit of a budget choice.
However, it holds up very well compared to top brands like Honda in head-to-head comparisons. If you’re curious about the Predator 3500, check it out today!