Whether we like it or not, human beings simply can’t live without electricity. The list of devices, machines, and tools that rely on electricity is endless. Without them, our world would be plunged into chaos.
Thanks to our dependency on this fantastic power source, huge portions of the earth have now been connected to a steady supply of electricity. But what if you find yourself in an area that is vulnerable to frequent power outages or doesn’t have any power supply at all? Well, that’s where a good portable generator comes in handy.
Portable generators are designed to plug gaps in electricity supply so that you can always have access to a reliable power source, literally anywhere you go. As a result, they are used by tradesmen, as a backup power supply for homes, and even in professional sports such as car racing where teams power in remote paddocks where there is none.
Predator generators are manufactured and sold by Harbor Freight, an extremely well-regarded company, which has years of experience and expertise behind it. The company’s superb range of generators is widely regarded as being the best value of money on the market today.
That being said, Predator generators are not considered to be the most cutting edge in terms of design because they rely on more conservative technology that results in them being larger and therefore a little less portable than those using the latest technology. However, if you are looking for a bulletproof generator that is cheap and easy to maintain, then a Predator generator is definitely a great choice. To help you learn more about this brand of generators and to give you a clear picture as to which model is the best choice for your needs, we have compiled a list of the best models currently available. Also included in this article is a clear breakdown of the things to look out for when buying a new generator.
Predator Portable Generator 6500 Peak/5500 Running Watts and Generator Wheel Kit
This might not be the most powerful model of Predator generator but it is certainly one of the most popular. It is ideal as a general use generator as its 5500 watts (6500 peak) output capacity is more than enough for any kind of day-to-day situation.
This model has four 120V, 15A outlets and one 240V, 30A outlet. To give you a better idea of what this generator is capable of, let’s take a closer look at its peak power output. It can produce a respectable 54A at 120V or 27.5A at 240V. While this is certainly enough for most power tools and appliances, it is probably not a sufficient enough output for those people who want to use large appliances on all 4 120V outlets at the same time. If you are intending to do so, you should look into buying the Predator 8750 peak/7000 running Watts, 13 HP (420cc) generator.
The generator features a really sturdy steel roll cage that not only gives it a good level of protection but also makes it nice and easy to carry. Its control panel is well laid out with good spacing between the power points, while everything that needs to be reached on the engine can be without having to remove parts or squeeze fingers into tight spaces either.
This generator is a really good all-around option for tradespeople, RV’s and for general purpose use. It has more than enough power to handle most kinds of power tools and home appliances, including laptops, TV’s, phones, fans, and even larger appliances such as fridges and stoves, provided you are not using any other large appliance at the time.
8750 Peak/7000 Running Watts, 13 HP (420cc) Generator CARB Special
For those people who need a reliable backup for their home’s power supply, or just need some pretty heavy duty power output, then this is a great option. Its large 13 HP engine is capable of an impressive 7000 watt (8750 peak) power output. It has two 120V, 20A outlets, one 120V, 20A twist lock outlet and one 240V, 30A outlet. It is able to produce 60A at 120V and 30A at 240V, ensuring that you have more than enough current to run whatever you need.
There are two purchase options of this model available, one that comes with a wheel kit and one that doesn’t. We definitely recommend getting the one with the wheel kit given that the price difference is not that great anyway and having the wheels will make your life so much easier when trying to move it around.
Most people won’t require the kind of power output that this generator produces. It is really designed as a home power backup supply, for RV’s that have some pretty power-hungry appliances, or for tradespeople who find themselves needing to run more than one power-hungry tool at once. Its sizable fuel tank allows for 12 hours of continuous operation (at 50% running speed), which makes this the perfect choice for all those people who need plenty of power for long periods at a time.
4000 Peak/3200 Running Watts, 6.5 HP (212cc) Generator EPA III Special
This model offers a really good balance between power output and portability. It is a lot lighter than the larger models on this list and therefore can be moved around more easily. Its 6.5HP engine is still able to produce a respectable 3200 watts (4000 watts peak) output. It can supply a total output of 26A at 120V and 13A at 240V. Despite its more lightweight design, it still comes with four 120V, 15A and one 240V, at 30A outlets, so you won’t be short of plugs, that’s for sure.
This generator is a great option for those people who need a portable power supply that can be easily moved around on a regular basis. Its power output is certainly enough for most electrical appliances, though you might find yourself having to restrict yourself to only one large appliance at a time. This is another popular model that scores extremely high in terms of customer satisfaction.
How to make sure you are buying the right generator
There are a few fundamentals to making sure that you get the best generator that does everything you ask of it.
Arguably the most famous feature of Predator generators is the engine. They use what has been come known as the Chonda engine, which is basically a reverse-engineered Honda engine that has been manufactured in China. What are the benefits of this kind of engine? Well, the truth is that they are markedly cheaper than their Honda equivalent, allowing cost reductions to be passed onto the consumer.
The Chinese have done a really good job of copying the original engine, truth be told, though it must be said that the Chonda engine is not quite as reliable. So similar are they in design, however, that most of the parts are fully interchangeable with genuine Honda parts. The reason they suffer from a slightly decreased level of reliability is down to the slightly different materials they are produced with along with the Honda’s higher standards when it comes to manufacturing.
On the whole, the Chonda engine offers a level of performance and indeed reliability that is on par with most non-Honda generator brands. Keep in mind that Honda makes the most reliable engines on the market, which is the reason that the Chinese chose to copy them in the first place.
The most important aspect of choosing the right generator is to make sure that it is able to produce enough power to run all the electrical appliances that you need it to. Generators come in a range of different sizes, with the general rule being the bigger the generator, the bigger the power output. The Predator generator range includes models that have outputs ranging from 1600 watts (enough to power a few lights or a single power tool etc.), up to above 10,000 watts (suitable as a home emergency power backup or for use in an RV etc.).
Most generators’ stated maximum output is actually what is known as its peak or surge capacity, which is the output it is able to produce while running at its maximum RPM. Keep in mind when choosing a generator not to buy one that’s maximum output only meets your general output requirements. Otherwise, your generator will be running at maximum capacity for long periods at a time and will likely result in the motor failing very quickly.
Choosing the right design is more important than you might think when it comes to generators. First of all, you will need to choose between a wheeled generator or a hand-carry only model. In order to facilitate a better level of portability, most of the larger generators tend to have wheels fitted to them or at least offer the option of adding wheels that can be purchased separately.
Likewise, the smaller generators tend to only have carry handles for moving the generator around as they are light enough for this not to be a problem. Unless you are totally sure that you don’t intend to move your generator around much, when buying a large generator model, it is definitely recommended to get a model with wheels.
Another important aspect of design that should be carefully looked at the number of different power outlets available as well as the safety features it comes with.
Generally, you should aim to buy a model with 5 to 6 power outlets or above. You will notice that not all the outlets are the same. There are 120V outlets that are usually designed to cope with an output of up to 20 amps per outlet. These kinds of outlets are designed for use with home appliances and smaller power tools. These outlets are a slightly different in design to standard household plugs because the latter is only designed for up to 15 amps and would, therefore, be at risk of a blowout were you to plug certain appliances straight into it. Since a large part of the generator market is for people who require appliances and tools that work on 120V, the largest number of power outlets in a generator will always be this 120V type.
The other type of power outlet is a 120V / 240 V output. This is the type most commonly used for tools but with the help of additional adapters can be used for power-thirsty electronics such as ovens or dryers as well.
So far as safety is concerned, always check to make sure that the electrical equipment you are intending to use with the generator is able to handle the voltage/current output before you do, otherwise you risk blowing up your tools/appliances.
Should the worst happen, the good news is that all modern generators come with built-in circuit breakers that prevent large surges of current destroying electrical appliances or indeed electrocuting people. Once tripped, these breakers can be quickly reset to allow you to initiate the flow of electricity once more. Some models even have a ground knob that allows you to connect the generator up to a nearby ground wire making them even safer. For those only planning to use the generator as a home power backup supply, then it is certainly a good idea to buy a generator that includes this feature.
There are 3 main types of fuel source for generators today: regular gas, diesel, and propane. Most of the Predator generator models run on regular gas, but you should definitely check to make sure. It is also worth noting the size of the gas tank to see how suitable it is for your needs. Most generators offer at least 8 hours of continuous operation on one tank of gas, but some can do a lot more.
All Predator generators are built to a high standard of quality. They are solid pieces of kit that won’t need much more than general maintenance to keep them going. So far as the frames go, they are held together with strong welds and reinforced with bolts. Each frame has been well-coated in paint meaning that they won’t chip easily and so prevent rust patches from forming. The versatility of the frames is a very welcome feature as along with the engine, these are the two most common fail points of any generators.
Which brings us onto the point of engine maintenance.
If you want anything to last, then you need to take care of it, and this is certainly the case with a generator. Due to the high levels of reliability that modern generators offer, people inevitably get lulled into a false sense of security and so don’t give them the TLC that they deserve.
Key areas of generator maintenance include:
- Conducting required oil changes
- Making sure the generator is kept clean
- Touching up any paint scratches to prevent rust from developing
Additional maintenance points:
- Removing fuel from the carburetor if you are going to leave the generator standing for a long time
So far as oil changes go, you should consult your manual to establish exactly how often you will need to change the oil. Changing the oil is a vital part of maintaining any engine as the oil acts as a lubricant and prevents wear while also removing carbon from the engine that would otherwise build up and hamper efficiency.
Generally, it is recommended to change a generator’s oil every 6 months or 100 running hours. It is actually okay not to change the oil for years at a time provided you don’t really use the generator much, but as a rule, it is better to be safe than sorry. We always recommend buying good quality engine oil that has been specifically formulated for use with generator engines.
Cleaning your generator
Before and after use (after it has cooled down), you should always give your generator the once over. You only need a small piece of cloth to wipe over the whole machine to make sure it is free of dirt. Pay particular attention to the area around the air intake as this should always be kept clear of dirt. Some people like to give their generator frame a coat of wax or oil to help to prevent rust. If you choose to do this, then avoid applying any to the exhaust system or any other part of the generator that might get very hot.
Fixing paint damage
We strongly recommend that you get yourself a can of spray paint so that you can repair any paint damage as it happens. The reason for this urgency is that as soon as metal is exposed, it begins to oxidize and form rust. You can prevent this by immediately spraying over any exposed parts of the frame metal, thereby increasing its lifespan. If you look into buying parts for a generator, you will notice that for the most part, replacement frames are extremely hard to get a hold of, so unless you are good at welding – take care of your frame.
Removing fuel from the carb
If you are going to store your generator for a long time or at least don’t plan to use it regularly, then you should make sure that you don’t leave it with any fuel left in the carb. The reason for this is that over time, fuel breaks down and becomes less combustible, making the engine harder to start. To prevent this, you should always run the engine ‘dry’, which involves turning off the fuel tap and letting the engine suck the reaming fuel through the system. This will prevent fuel from sitting in the engine and going bad.
In our view, the 3 models of Predator generator we have talked about today are the best available on the market today. Which one suits you most, though, really depends on a number of factors including your budget, power needs, and how portable you need it to be. You should take the time to read each product description in full to make sure that you know exactly what you are getting, and do keep in mind that some models are available with additional wheel kits that will make your life much easier, should you need to move the generator frequently from place to place.