Predator 3500 Inverter Generator Review: Is it the Right Choice for Your RV?

Predator 3500 Inverter Generator Review

Whether you’re looking for an RV generator for emergencies, boon-docking or any other reason, choosing a generator is often a hard decision to make.

Generators are an expensive piece of kit and you don’t want to be stuck with one that you’ll need to return, or worse still, one that lets you down when you need it in a future emergency.

Normally, it makes sense to play it safe, stick with what you know. However, when I heard about the Predator 3500 Inverter Generator, not to mention its price, I thought it would be worth checking it out.

Lightweight, super quiet and economical, all at a third of the price of a Honda equivalent. This was one case where I was prepared to try out something new and I’m glad I did.

In my opinion, the Predator 3500 is an excellent generator for the price. Okay, it’s not perfect, run at a full load the Honda is possibly quieter. The Predator also doesn’t have a fuel gauge and its small wheels make it a little difficult to move around.

However, in terms of design and performance, this really is an excellent generator. It’s 3000 running watts provide all the power you’ll need for your average RV set up, with an extra 500 start-up wattage. Used at half-load, it is barely audible and even at higher loads you could definitely use it at a campground and not upset the neighbors.

In short, the Predator 3500 is not too far behind a Honda and at a third of the price. That’s a huge saving.

So, if you’re wondering if the Predator 3500 Inverter Generator is the right choice for your RV, check out my review and find out what I thought.

Performance

Predator 3500 Inverter Generator Performance

Let’s start with a few performance specifics, the Predator 3500 Inverter Generator has a 212 cc air-cooled gas engine that puts out a maximum of 3500 Watts, with a continuous running power of 3000 Watts.

Basically, a 3000 Watt generator is plenty to run your RV’s AC unit and keep your fridge and lights on whilst allowing for a couple of low-drain appliances.

The extra 500 watts surge power, allows for appliances that require extra power on start up, such as your AC unit and your refrigerator. This ensures that you don’t overload your generator and you don’t have to worry about things cutting out.

For my running needs off grid, the Predator 3500 provided me with plenty enough watts to keep my AC running, fridge, LED lights,  laptop and TV. If you’re unsure about your needs, simply add up the wattages of the various appliances you need to have on simultaneously.

Bear in mind that when you’re off grid you are going to need to make some compromises and avoid having more than one high-drain appliance on simultaneously. For your average RV set up, 3000 Watts is plenty enough.

As an inverter generator, the Predator 3500 provides a clean power curve, so you don’t have to worry about using it to power sensitive electronic devices such as laptops and smart phones. This was a big plus for me in purchasing the Predator 3500 as electronic overload protection is  essential.

I’m pretty sure it’s a major selling point for everyone looking for a safe way to power their RV, whether it’s just for emergencies, day to day use  or a week’s holiday dry camping.

In my opinion, the Predator 3500 provides great performance and with its actual running power of 3000 Watts, unlike a lot of similar models which have a 3000 Watt start-up, the Predator definitely has the edge and allows me to run more of my appliances without having to disconnect others.

Noise Level

The Predator 3500 is rated at 57 dB and it really is pretty quiet considering the wattage you get out of it. Obviously if you’re running it at full load, it’s going to be louder. However, it really is much quieter than a lot of its competitors.

If like me, you like to go off grid and enjoy the great outdoors, this generator is ideal as you can run it and it won’t detract from the tranquility you get when you’re dry camping. Yes, I can hear it, I know it’s there, but it’s not annoying and you could certainly have a conversation with somebody without having to raise your voice.

For info, 60 dB is equivalent to background music, so at 57dB provided you’re not running at full load, you barely notice it at all.

Weight & Portability

Weighing in at around 115 pounds with a full tank, the Predator 3500 Inverter Generator is lighter than the average 150 pounds medium-sized inverter generator. It is, however, a fair bit heavier than it’s main competitor the Honda 3000i.

With its built-in carry handles and wheels, the Predator is easy and light enough to move around, although its wheels are pretty useless if you’re not on even, smooth terrain. I changed my wheels out for more substantial ones, but that’s really a personal choice.

As I use mine a lot, it’s important for me to be able to maneuver it easily and at the price I paid, I really have no issue spending a little extra upgrading the wheels.

Start Up

The Predator 3500 features a nice, easy to use push button electric start. I’ve had absolutely no problems whatsoever with starting it up. I was pleasantly surprised that in spite of this unit’s low price, electric start up batteries were included, which really is unbeatable.

Some of the more expensive models require you to pay out another $50 or so on top of the thousands you’re already paying, not to mention the hassle of having to order them and not being able to use your generator right away. So this really proves the company to my mind, there’s a lot of good design and thought gone into this generator, without inflating prices to rip the consumer off.

Fuel

The Predator 3500 runs on unleaded gasoline, which offers good fuel efficiency and is easy to pick up just about anywhere, ideal for RV use. These were my main priorities and the Predator 3500 fulfills them for me. I have a friend who only uses his a few weeks over summer.

For ease of maintenance for his style of use, he actually converted his Predator 3500 to run on propane. Apparently, it was pretty simple to do and using propane instead of diesel only knocks a few hundred watts off its performance.

For me, as a regular user, I’m happy with my Predator running on gas, but if this is something that interests you, it’s worth bearing it in mind as a possibility. Also be aware that this will void any warranty, so be sure you make an informed decision before making any kind of modifications.

While we’re on the topic of fuel, a few specifics, the Predator 3500 has a 2.6 gallon fuel capacity tank, which is fitted with a low fuel shutoff, so you don’t have to worry about damaging the engine by running out of gas.

With your 2.6 gallons of fuel, you’re set for up to 11 hours running time at a 25% load. The Predator 3500, with its low fuel consumption and high-level fuel efficiency, has more than fulfilled my average daily needs when dry camping.

Obviously when you’re going off grid you need to make certain changes to your energy consumption than you would when you’re on shore side power, like not having other high-drain appliances on at the same time as the AC. This is true of all generators and the Predator 3500’s low fuel consumption makes it a great choice.

Unfortunately, the Predator 3500 does not come with a fuel gauge. If this is your first generator, you may be thinking this might be a bit of an issue, but given the low fuel shutoff and the hours counter, once you’re used to running it, you’ll find you don’t really miss out not having a fuel gauge.

I mean, yes, it would be useful for a one glance check, but its not indispensable. Plus as it’s gasoline, there are no shortages of places to pick up extra fuel if you ever make a miscalculation.

Features

Considering its price, the Predator 3500 comes with a good set of features, many of which you’d only expect to see on higher-priced models.

The Predator 3500 has a low oil shutoff feature to protect your generator, if you ever get a little sloppy maintenance-wise. In any case it’s a great feature to have and gives you that little extra peace of mind. What’s more, this generator actually features an low oil shutoff indicator light, so you can tell straight away when it’s cut out  because of low oil. A useful little feature that saves you time, hassle and guesswork.

Aside from the low oil shutoff indicator, the Predator 3500’s digital LCD display is clear and easy to read, something that’s important when you’re outside in all conditions. There’s also a overload indicator light and one to indicate the outlet in use, so you can easily tell that all is working fine at a glance and be alerted when it’s not. .

For those of you looking for a generator to run in parallel, then good news, the Predator 3500 is parallel compatible. This allows you to hook up the generator to another for extra wattage. Bad news, unfortunately the Harbor Freight kits for parallel running the Predator 3500 are not easy to come across.

If you know what you’re doing, you could probably sort something out yourself, however, this would void your warranty. If you’re really looking for a generator to run in parallel and the Predator 3500 is top of your list, I’d recommend getting in touch with Harbor Freight directly to see how the supply is going on Predator 3500 parallel kits before committing to purchase.

Moving on to outlets, the Predator 3500 has two 120V AC grounded outlets, one 120V AC twist-lock outlet and a 12V DC two pin outlet, for charging your batteries.  Basically everything you need, even more so considering you get a 30-amp RV adapter, DC cable, spark plug wrench, screwdriver and fuel funnel all included in the box. Pretty impressive given the Predator’s competitive pricing.

Service & Maintenance

As with any generator,  regular maintenance tasks are extremely important, such as oil changes and regular start ups if you’re storing it over long periods. Also, remember to change out the fuel if you’re leaving it standing over several months.

Thanks to its low oil light and hours counter, maintenance is easier on the Predator 3500 than several other generators that I’ve used in the past. A simple glance at the hours counter lets me know straight away long I’ve had it on for since  last serviced it and I can schedule future services based on my usage.

The Predator 3500 comes with a 90 day full refund or replace warranty. Once you’ve purchased your unit, you can get in touch with manufacturers Harbor Freight, within 30 days of your proof of purchase and upgrade to a one or two year repair or replace plan. This is entirely optional, but it’s an interesting option nonetheless.

Price

The Predator 3500 is much cheaper than its main competitions. You can find plenty of cheaper generators, however, ones that run as quiet as this one, with inverter technology, 3500 Watts and a relatively light weight are all much higher priced. For this reason, the Predator 3500 is extremely good value for money, even more so when you consider the features that come as standard.

FAQs

Q: How loud is the Predator 3500?

A: The Predator 3500 is a quiet generator, rated at 57 dB. You won’t notice it is running from inside your RV and it will not disturb your neighbors if you’re using it at a campground.

Q: How much does the Predator 3500 weight?

A: The Predator 3500 weighs approximately 115 lbs with a full tank. Your average medium-power generator weighs in at around 150 lbs, although you can find some that weigh less than 100 lbs. In any case, your average person will be able to lift it onto a truck or into your RV.

Q: How do I break in the Predator 3500 generator?

A: To break in your Predator 3500 generator, it’s recommended that you initially run it without a load. After adding oil and gas, run your generator for around 8 hours without a load then stop and change the oil. This will help to remove any small pieces of metal that are common with brand new engines.

After changing the oil, run your generator with a light load to make sure it’s running smoothly. Harbor Freight recommend that you do not exceed loads of 75% for the initial 25 hours runtime. So keep things light and easy until your generator’s well worn in. After 25 hours change the oil again and you can use your generator as needed.

Q: How do I start the Predator 3500 generator?

A: To start your Predator 3500 generator, simply use the electric push-button start.

Q: How much oil does the Predator 3500 need?

A: The Predator 3500 needs 20 fl oz of oil. You’ll need to change the oil after 8 hours, then again at 25 hours to complete the break-in period.

Q: Where can I buy a Predator 3500 generator?

A: You can pick up a Predator 3500 generator in stores or online.

Q: Who makes the Predator 3500 inverter generator?

A: The Predator 3500 inverter generator is manufactured by Harbor Freight.

Q: Which oil should I use for my Predator 3500 generator?

A: The Predator 3500 runs best with synthetic oils such as Mobil 1.

Summary

The Predator 3500 Inverter Generator is a powerful, high-performance generator that is perfectly suited to RVing. It may not be the quietest of all, or the lightest, however, it is definitely quieter than many of its competitors and if used at a light load you will barely hear it. It has enough wattage to power any standard RV setup, including your AC. Easy to use, with its electric push-button start, the Predator 3500 offers excellent value for money and I would recommend it to any RVer looking for a new generator.

17 thoughts on “Predator 3500 Inverter Generator Review: Is it the Right Choice for Your RV?”

  1. Matt Huddleston

    Hello,
    Excellent article; very informative and well written. You mentioned your friend that converted his Predator to run on propane; could you please tell me if he used the kit that replaces the existing carburetor or the kit that installs a bushing with propane nozzle between the air cleaner and factory carburetor? Also, can you advise if his experience has remained good and if he is still happy?

  2. Had two of them. Took the first one back because the black carbon it produced clogged up the spark arrestor so bad the generator would go into overload and shut down. Got the new one and it did the same thing after only 30 to 40 hours of operation. Cleaned the arrester 4 times in 212 hours of operation. Each time I restarted, a puff of black smoke would come out. Put full stabilizer in every refill and it didn’t help. Was in dry camp with many other people and they all had the same problem.

    1. Remove the carbon cannister thats connected to the air cleaner. Its a California carb thing. Totally useless. I did it and fixed the problem. There is a You Tube video that tells how. Its easy.

      1. I`m thinking on buying the Predator 3500. I`d like the You Tube link that Sid speaks of on removing the carbon canister.
        Please help!
        Sounds like a nice generator but I`d like to watch that video 1st.
        Thanks!
        Phil

    2. I started having problems with my 3500 predator inverter on our 2nd camping trip. Had problems starting it the 3rd day.. Finally got it started, but ran real rough for a few minutes and then ran good again. Called harbor freight and the guy there told me to clean the exhaust screen. Cleaned all the soot off and it started right up and ran great.. I live in Colorado and he told me it clogged up so fast because of altitude. Will start cleaning it after every trip and see what happens

  3. I agree with your Mobil 1 evaluation, but based on the fact that there is a break in period, initially a petroleum base oil, for 8-10 hours should be used, after which one can switch to Mobil 1. I filled it with 20 ozs of a non synthetic 10w30 Valvoline and will drain it after the break in period and switch to Mobil 1 or Royal Purple.

  4. Great review, very informative. I contacted my RV’s AC manufacturer, who told me I needed 3500 watts to run my air conditioner. I’m assuming that’s the start load, not the run load. I’m very hesitant to buy, as I’d hate to buy it and find out it won’t do it. I have a Generac 2000 inverter generator now, which obviously isn’t big enough to do it, but if I buy this and it won’t work, then I’m saddled with 2 generators that won’t do it. We camp off-grid, and the forecast for the rest of this week is high 80’s with horrid humidity. There’s a local guy here who runs his ice cream truck off one of these, and I was impressed with the noise level.

    1. The Predator 3500 Generator is enough for a 15,000 btu rv air conditioner that has approximate starting and running watts of 3500W and 1800W respectively. The minimum wattage of the generator you need is equal to the starting wattage of your air conditioner. Once the air conditioner is running you could also run other items.

    2. You could always install a soft start on ac compressor. Pulls less load, and I herd people are running 2000 watt generators after installation.

  5. I have a prediter 3000 an after starting it starts surging like the gov. Is going up an down . tyres cleaning carb an replacing plug . don’t no for sure what prob. Is ???

  6. There is an error in the review. The generator does NOT have a low fuel shutoff. It has a low OIL shutoff. There is a label on my new Predator 3500 that says if you…….” Notice DISCONNECT POWERED DEVICES before generator shut off. Shut off under load damages generator.” So it seems to me if you run it until it runs out of gas while under load your generator could be “toast”

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