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Old 07-09-2018, 03:57 PM   #1
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HF Predator Inverter Generators.

I wanted to start a page that specifically deals with the current range of Harbor Freight Inverter Generators for owners.
I think it makes sense to cover both the 2000W, and 3500W units here.
Lets discuss, and share our experiences.

The opinion out there seems to be that they are pretty darn good for the $.

This is NOT the place to bash them, or post that we should have bought a Honda, or whatever negative opinion is UNLESS you own/owned one, and had a bad experience. Plenty of other threads where you can post your opinion

I'm thinking costs, post your deal, or when there is a coupon, etc.
Also, Oil, filter, service, longevity, modifications, security of, etc.

GO!
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:21 PM   #2
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So, let me start.

HF 2000w Unit.
Bought 6/17/2018, here in CA.
Fathers Day Coupon, $449, plus we bought the 2 year warrantee @99.99.
Added a 2 gallon fuel can and some Stabil 360 fuel treatment, Tax, and we were about $600 out the door.

First impressions were good.
Unit was well packaged, came with a small tool kit in a pouch(Spark plug wrench, open ended wrench, and a screwdriver).

I added the 10/30 oil they suggest, which was not included, but I had some to hand(10/30 Synthetic Diesel oil).
There was some oil evident in the crankcase, so the unit was probably test run during production, and drained for shipping.

Filled it with oil, and gas(with Stabil 360 added), and opened the gas tank vent.
Then pulled the starter cord maybe 5/10x with the start switch in OFF to prime the gas into the carb, and oil into the engine.
I noted the pull starter is very light, and easy to pull for me, at 6' 4" and 240lb.... ish...

Flipped the switch to START and pulled again... the unit fired and ran before I was maybe 1/3 into the stroke with a puff of blue smoke, but after 5 seconds I flipped the switch to RUN and the unit purred into a steady gait.

I weighed it and it came in just under 55 lb full of oil and fuel.

My GF was able to start it no problem, and she is half my size or less. I'm sure she could pick it up, but it would be a struggle.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:38 PM   #3
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I only have maybe 20 minutes run time on it so far.

HF quotes 61db @20' ish I think.

I did a noise test, and at 8' away in my back yard, and I don't know if my meter and yard is representative, but these are the results idling on Eco Mode.

The 67db reading is from the exhaust side.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:53 PM   #4
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By comparison, my UST 3500w unit is close to 80db....
And my on board Kohler 7000w generator is 70+db outside and 65db inside the Motorhome.
Im thinking, unless we want AC, we will carry this little baby to use, and keep the neighbors happy...

I think the exhaust could be modded by adding a bigger external muffler, or deflector, and I'm sure that could yield some noise reduction.
Likewise, adding some simple baffling or a box over the unit is a well known quietening.

I did buy a Ulock, and cable to keep the unit in my possession...
Altho I hear people saw thru the plastic handle and steal these lightweight generators anyways!

A Master Lock 8118DPF Vinyl-Covered Mini U-Lock, Steel, 3-11/16 Inch fits perfectly around the handle, and was $18.
And...
Lumintrail 12mm (1/2 inch) Heavy-Duty Security Cable, Vinyl Coated Braided Steel with Sealed Looped Ends, 7' long, was $14.99.

Both off Amazon.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:56 PM   #5
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I also added a digital hour meter for $6.50...

Storing todays fuel, is a concern, and with that in mind....
Today I received u a USCarburation Propane/Tri-Fuel snorkel kit I spotted on Ebay, for a bargain price and I will be working on that over the coming days...
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Old 07-10-2018, 09:23 AM   #6
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Sounds like you think you have found nirvana, there Steve! Enjoy!
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:25 AM   #7
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The HF 2000 unit looks remarkably similar to the Wen 2000 unit. I bought two of them off Woot.com a couple of years ago for about $350 each, if I recall correctly.


I'm extremely interested in the tri-fuel option. I have never run mine yet; haven't put gasoline in them. I would prefer to run them on propane (like I run my home back-up generator--no carburetor issues and no fuel storage issues). I realize running on propane de-rates the unit, especially at higher altitudes, but the convenience outweighs the loss of power. I also bought the paralleling kit.


If the tri-fuel installation goes well, it would be great to know, as well as any tips, hints or tricks.


Keep us in the loop! I might have bought the HF units if I didn't already have the Wens. But, I also paid less for the Wen units than the HR price.
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:26 AM   #8
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I bought the 3500 watt unit a year ago from HF. It was on sale for either $629 or $649. I think at the time the regular price was $699. I've noticed they have gone up since I bought mine. I just couldn't justify paying over $2,000 for the Honda unit. I know guys will say there's piece of mind in owning the Honda but a buddy of mine has had issues with his 2000 watt Honda unit so nothing is guaranteed.

I've used it a handful of times with the Airstream and it has worked flawlessly and operates the heat and a/c. Really impressed with how quiet it is and is certainly comparable to the Honda in terms of noise level. In fact, I think the HF is a little quieter.

In addition to camping, I've used it for a few power outages at the house. One outage was for a little over a day and it ran continuous in cold conditions except for refilling the gas tank. It was able to power two 1500 watt heaters and the fridge.

Prior to purchasing it, I had read that Harbor Freight is trying to upgrade some of their product lines with these inverter generators and their new line of welders. They want to start offering some mid line type products instead of some of their usual low end stuff. Last time I checked, the 3,500 watt generator had over 600 reviews and was something like 4.6 out of 5 stars. That's pretty good and you'd know if the unit wasn't that good it would come out in the reviews.

The only thing I do is make an effort to start it and let it run about once a month. I also put Seafoam in the gas that goes into the generator since it acts as a stabilizer. So far, it has worked perfectly and starts right up every time. I would not hesitate to recommend them.
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:44 AM   #9
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Nirvana, I doubt that exists, except for the people in the campsite if I use the HF 2000, as apposed to the Kohler!

Good stuff people... Keep the info and experiences flowing!

I dont think these units have an oil filter, so I ordered the little Billet Magnetic dipstick and drain /fill tube... under $30.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/PREDATOR-20...53.m1438.l2649

I also found this Youtube video on the US Carburation Tri-Fuel conversion kit for the 2000W, which is worth watching. The list the conversion kit at $236 I think. I cant find a kit for the 3500 listed or mentioned.

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Old 07-10-2018, 10:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnklJoe View Post
The HF 2000 unit looks remarkably similar to the Wen 2000 unit. I bought two of them off Woot.com a couple of years ago for about $350 each, if I recall correctly.


I'm extremely interested in the tri-fuel option. I have never run mine yet; haven't put gasoline in them. I would prefer to run them on propane (like I run my home back-up generator--no carburetor issues and no fuel storage issues). I realize running on propane de-rates the unit, especially at higher altitudes, but the convenience outweighs the loss of power. I also bought the paralleling kit.


If the tri-fuel installation goes well, it would be great to know, as well as any tips, hints or tricks.


Keep us in the loop! I might have bought the HF units if I didn't already have the Wens. But, I also paid less for the Wen units than the HR price.
Just for you Joe....

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Old 07-10-2018, 02:14 PM   #11
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Bought a 3500 this summer. Did the break-in per HF manual. At 54 hours on hour meter it would not start. Dumped the fuel and took it to HF for an instant replacement (I didn't even have the box, no problem). Current one has 150 hours with no problems. Draining the oil is a pain so I made a screw fitting with a vinyl hose. Will run everything in my 1989 Excella 32 but will not run microwave and A/C simultaneously.
Love it.
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Old 07-10-2018, 02:21 PM   #12
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Retired now , but was in the repair business and have had lots of experience with trying to repair many makes / models from the high-end , low-end , commercial & military .
The only good thing is they are cheap - but if you have any abilities , you can find used 0r repairable quality brands , you can spend the same or less than the cheap types .
2 of the main issues with cheap brands / chineeze stuff is how easily the have failures - pet-cocks breaking off too easy , gas gages melting within the 1st week on a bunch ,
and the worst issue is most of these there are no parts / for repair , sometimes there are maintenance part , but not repair - as example pet-cocks or gas gages .
More you need a generator the less you should look at cheap units .
One of the most recent [ retired but still help friends out ] an owner needs for his C-Cap machine - where a mask for breathing at night .
He had not owned it long and did not need much , lot of shore power .
They copy quality , like Honda - but not good enough to use the same parts .
So to me its a one-off advantage - you need one in a hurry and have little money to buy - but in the long run - you easily spend more replacing often .
I'm again talking about owning / repairing most every generator out there for 40 - 50 yrs.
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Old 07-10-2018, 03:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnTF View Post
Retired now , but was in the repair business and have had lots of experience with trying to repair many makes / models from the high-end , low-end , commercial & military .
The only good thing is they are cheap - but if you have any abilities , you can find used 0r repairable quality brands , you can spend the same or less than the cheap types .
2 of the main issues with cheap brands / chineeze stuff is how easily the have failures - pet-cocks breaking off too easy , gas gages melting within the 1st week on a bunch ,
and the worst issue is most of these there are no parts / for repair , sometimes there are maintenance part , but not repair - as example pet-cocks or gas gages .
More you need a generator the less you should look at cheap units .
One of the most recent [ retired but still help friends out ] an owner needs for his C-Cap machine - where a mask for breathing at night .
He had not owned it long and did not need much , lot of shore power .
They copy quality , like Honda - but not good enough to use the same parts .
So to me its a one-off advantage - you need one in a hurry and have little money to buy - but in the long run - you easily spend more replacing often .
I'm again talking about owning / repairing most every generator out there for 40 - 50 yrs.
A very helpful post from a person with extensive first-hand experience.

Thanks John!

Regarding reviews on HF, Amazon, forums, etc:

Consumer reviews can be helpful, but they can also be misleading.

Positive reviews often go something like this: "It's shiny; it arrived on time; I got a great deal; I haven't used it yet (or very briefly) but it seems well made..."

Negative reviews can be a result of ignorance and/or operator error. Quite often the review isn't even about the product, it is directed at the vendor.

Point being that it's not enough to look at the percentage of positive (4-5 star) reviews vs the 1-2 star reviews. It's important to actually read a good sample of both pos and neg reviews to get an idea of how legitimate they are.

Another very important factor for pos reviews is, how much use had the item had when the review was written. This is particularly true with generators. Many people -- particularly those that are not RVers, buy generators "just in case" -- for backup power, and then never/rarely use them.

For a pos review to be meaningful, the item must have had a significant amount of use when the review was written -- and that's rarely the case, because most vendors prompt buyers for reviews soon after purchase and then never follow up. A cynical person might say that's done on purpose.

FWIW, my sense of things is that the Predator and Champion brand generators seem to work well for most people -- but I can't recall any reviews from owners who have run their unit for 1,000-1,500+ hours.

That's not a criticism in any way. My guess is that Champion, Predator, and other Chinese generators will not have the service life of a Yamaha or Honda, or perhaps be as trouble-free over the long run, but that's OK. They don't cost as much and most people will not use them enough to wear them out.

IOW, for many/most people they may be the best choice.

Buying a Honda or Yamaha may be the equivalent of buying a dump truck when a pickup will do just fine.
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Old 07-10-2018, 03:51 PM   #14
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All good, relevant info.

But....
As I stated in the other thread, our family needed a light, portable, 2000w unit, that will be used maybe 3 to 5 times per year, or so, and "Maybe" more in an emergency(We live in CA).
Spending $1000+ or $2000+ did not make sense to us....
A Honda or the like is almost certainly a better built unit, but is it twice as good?
Maybe, or maybe not.

I heard that these Predator units are the best "CHonda" clones out there.

It is purely a personal, usage, or financially based choice, plain and simple.

The point of this thread, as I wrote in the opening post, is to discuss the HF Predator units, and our good, or bad personal experiences.

Listen, I'm a gear head.
I understand that using synthetic oil is better, and that today's gas has Ethanol in it which is the Black Death for the fuel systems of IC engines, especially if they sit more than they are used.

That why I'm "Prepping", this unit to run of propane, or whatever I have to hand!
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