Predator 3500 Generator Review | Is It Worth The Money
The Predator 3500 Inverter Generator is quiet, but just how quiet is it and are they worth it?
We have been using the Harbor Freight Predator 3500 Generator for 2 weeks straight now while Dispersed Camping in Western Montana and have really put it to the test, so lets dive in.
The first thing I am going to tackle is the price. If you have looked in to Inverter Generators at all, you know the prices are all over the map. The first one I looked at buying was the Honda and it was over $2,300. Having used plenty of Honda products in the fire service, I know their small engines are damn near bullet proof.
2,300 Bucks is a big nut to crack though, so I kept looking. I came across several other brands, and happened to stop in Harbor Freight for some small tools and saw the Predator 3500, and it was listed for $799. After seeing the prices of the other brands, my first thought was nothing this “cheap” is going to be worth it. But still, for One Third of the price, it piqued my interest enough to do some digging.
Quiet RV Generator
After a few days of diligently searching the internet for the good the bad and the ugly on the Predator 3500, I decided it was indeed worth taking a shot on the “cheap” generator. The price has gone up around $150 since we purchased ours a few months ago, but even in the $950 range, I would buy it again.
The only thing that DOESN’T come in the box is a quart of 10/30 Motor Oil that you need to fill before firing it up for the first time. Every other thing you need comes with this little power house. Included in the box is a small tool kit for attaching the battery to use the starter, a funnel to fill your oil, a spark plug wrench, a small set of “jumper cables” to attach the Predator 3500 right to a battery, and a 30amp Twist Lock to RV Plug adaptor.
Before its first fire up, you need to fill the oil, which is easy to do through the oil fill access door using the included funnel. The next step is to attach your battery cables to your battery, and you’re ready to go. Total initial setup time was under 5 minutes.
Fuel Up & Fire Up
The instruction manual says to use StaBil fuel stabilizer because the ethanol fuel tears up small carburetors, and the StaBil negate the ethanol’s effects, as well as prevent the fuel from turning to jelly if you let the generator sit stored for months with fuel in the tank.
The Predator 3500 boasts a ridiculously long run time of 11 hours on 2.5 gallons of fuel under a 25% load. That seemed like a number that would be a “lab results only” kind of statistic and I couldn’t wait to prove it wrong. We topped off the onboard gas tank, and got a 2.5 gallon gas can and topped it off as well, so we a spare “full tank” of gas on the ready as I was certain there would be no way it would reach 11 hours.
Predator 3500 Generator
Yesterday at 5:00 pm we fired up our Predator 3500 so we could watch TV in the RV and to charge up our batteries for the over night power draw of the fridge, water pump etc. My Wife and I subsequently fell asleep on the couch and never shut it down for the 10:00 pm quiet hour curfew. We also both managed to sleep the entire night until the sun was starting to come up the next morning, which in itself is unheard of.
Thankfully we are Dispersed Camping, and there was absolutely no one else in the area we were camping in, so we weren’t “those guys” with their generator running all night (more on that in a minute)
I opened my eyes about 6:15 am, set up the coffee pot, and hit the power button on my morning autopilot routine. When the little LED turned on and I could smell the Folgers starting to permeate air, I remembered we are boondocking, and I shouldn’t have power right now.
The Predator 3500 was STILL RUNNING 13.25 Hours Later!
Predator 3500 Fuel Efficiency
Now I am not sure how, perhaps the Predator 3500 has a 3 gallon tank but is “rated” as a a 2.5 gallon? I don’t know, either way it was still running. The little gas gauge on the top of the tank said it was dead empty, and then I did something I DO NOT recommend.
I opened the gas cap while it was running to see if there was actually any fuel in it. There was, not much at all, barely a coating on the bottom of the tank, but there was indeed still fuel in it.
I grabbed our spare gas can and refilled the tank, and fired it back up. The Predator 3500 Generator enjoyed less than a 5 minute rest before I fired it right back up, and continued to use it for the rest of the day. It diligently performed as advertised for the entire day, powering our Residential RV Fridge, Two
Desktop Computers, a Coffee Pot, One of our 2 AC Units, and our living room TV.
We probably had it pretty close to its 25 amp max for most of the day, as it was a “work” day, where my wife and I were both working on articles for the website, YouTube videos, and downing coffee like there’s no tomorrow. The Predator 3500 just kept on going, without issue.
More on that in a minute
Like I mentioned earlier, we both fell asleep on the couch and blew the quiet hour shut down. We both really hate to be “those guys” at a campground, and do everything we can to make sure we are using proper camping etiquette so everyone can have an enjoyable experience on their camping trips.
We got lucky and there was no one else here, but what if their was? I know it’s a super quiet generator, but super quiet in the day time, isn’t the same as at midnight when the ambient noise level is at negative 10. I had to know, how much of an A-Hole would I have been if we had neighbors?
So with coffee in hand, I started walk the campground to see how far the sound of the Predator 3500 Generator running would travel. To my amazement, at the very next camp site, in any direction, it was just about undetectable.
When I say undetectable, I don’t mean that it is 100% silent. I mean to say that you CAN hear it, but you CAN’T tell its one campsite away. It sounds as though Someone, has a generator running Somewhere, way over there.
We have a YouTube video you can watch by clicking here, of when we first bought it and tested it, with real world, unedited volume levels to see what I mean for yourself.
Is It Quiet
The back of the generator where the exhaust comes out is louder than being on any of the other 3 sides. However, since we were on the outer edge of the camping area, the exhaust was pointed away from the rest of the campground. So even if someone had pulled in after we fell asleep, it wouldn’t have prevented them from falling asleep either.
Predator 3500 Generator Cons?
We have been using the Predator 3500 Generator pretty rigorously over the last 2 weeks, and there has only been One Drawback. I can’t even really say its a drawback, more of a personal preference.
The generator comes with a Twist Lock to RV adapter, so you can plug your RV into the 30 amp generator outlet. It is a short adapter, only about 3 inches long, twist lock male on one side, RV female on the other. So, It works.
My only hang up, is that RV Plugs are heavy. So the weight of the RV power cord on the adapter just made me a little uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, We used it like that for a few days, without issue, and it never failed or pulled loose, or gave me any real reason to give it a negative on this one, I just didn’t like it.
My solution was to buy a dongle, with a power wire between the twist lock and the RV plug end, so that the weight of the RV plug was on the ground, and not hanging on the adapter on the generator.
Our Unbiased review of the Predator 3500 Generator is 5 out of 5 stars. We have not been paid for a review or endorsement in any way. I would buy it again, even at the higher price point. And one added benefit, is you can daisy chain two of them together and have 50 amp total service should you need too. Even with buying Two of them, you would still be under the price of a single comparable Honda.