To be prepared is half the victory – Miguel de Cervantes
If there’s one thing that 2020 taught us, it’s that anything can, and will, happen; that you should always expect the unexpected and that you should always be prepared for every eventuality.
While we never thought that the world would ever come to a grinding halt, the fact that it did, became the catalyst that stopped us procrastinating about doing all of the things that we always said we said we would and focused our attention on actually doing them instead.
It was the year that we finally decided that enough was enough and that we had to pay less attention to the age-old lie that bigger was better and actually concentrate on the things that mattered in life.
While we knew that the generator we were currently using, was more than capable of doing what we wanted it to do, we also became painfully aware that if we needed to pack up, and leave, in a hurry, it was far too large for us to take with us, and as such had very little, if any practical value. It was time for a change.
We’ve always been fans of portable generators and having used them for work and at home, were, and are, firm believers in their near-infinite practicality and adaptability.
When the lights do go out, the only practical way to get them back on again is with a generator.
That’s why we’re firm generator advocates because when the worst does happen, with a generator onside, you’ll be able to weather almost any storm.
But as we’ve already said, it was time for a change, and we needed to downsize and that’s why we started looking at inverter generators.
What Is an Inverter Generator?
An inverter generator is a small, household power generator that uses a gasoline-powered engine to convert the energy that it produces into a stable, safe current via a two-stage process that converts AC current into DC current before changing it back into usable AC current again.
While the technology isn’t exactly new, it was new to us and if it hadn’t been for us having a surplus of time thanks to the pandemic, we’d probably never have even considered replacing our old model generator with an inverter.
But the more we found out about inverter generators, the more they seemed like the answer to our prayers.
The more research we did, the more the name Predator kept coming up over and over again.
They were, by all accounts, responsible for engineering, designing, and manufacturing one of the better mass-market inverter generators, the Super Quiet 3500.
And best of all? Every single one of Predator’s generators is American made.
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A funny thing happened when we ordered our inverter generator. We discovered that Predator isn’t the name of the company that makes the generators.
It’s actually a brand name that long-established California tool manufacturer and wholesaler, Harbor Freight uses for their range of gasoline generators.
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While it didn’t make any practical difference, as brand loyalty isn’t a philosophy that we subscribe to, it did serve to further endear the Predator to us, as Harbor Freight aren’t exactly a multinational company, and we’ve always been more inclined to support the underdog.
Cranking Up the Power
We knew that the Super Quiet was going to be small before it turned up, but we had no idea how small it was actually going to be.
Just twenty inches high by twenty inches wide, it took us a while to believe that anyone could cram a motor into something so small, but once we managed to control our incredulity, we devoted ourselves to far more practical matters.
As we’ve already said, we don’t place much stock in names, but suffixes are a different matter altogether. At least they are as far as generators are concerned.
The number that’s always attached to a generator isn’t just a fancy title, it actually refers to the peak amount of power that the generator will produce, which in the case of the Predator Super Quiet, is three thousand five hundred watts.
Even though it’ll produce three and a half thousand watts at peak operation, the Super Quiet produces a normal running output of three thousand watts, which is more than sufficient to help you ride out a blackout, power your camping ground, if you choose to pack it and take it on vacation with you and can keep you firmly in the loop and connected to the world if you ever need to bug out and head for the hills.
It uses a two hundred and twelve cubic centimeter engine that runs off a one-gallon tank and makes six horsepower, to produce up to eleven hours of power at half load.
All of which means that it’ll keep making all the power that you want and need it to as long as there’s fuel in its tank.
We pushed it as hard as we could and ran a stereo, a laptop, and an RV refrigerator off the Super Quiet for an afternoon, and when we were finished, according to the fuel gauge, it still had enough gas left for three or four more hours of power generation.
How Quiet Is the Super Quiet?
This inverter generator earned its name for a reason and that’s because, according to Harbor Freight, it’s one of the quietest inverter generators that you can spend your hard-earned dollars on.
And they’re not wrong. Going from the endless motor chatter of a standard portable generator to the whispered hum of the Predator was a little disconcerting, and we spent most of the first hour checking to make sure that it was still running and hadn’t stalled or cut out.
Harbor Freight’s figures state that it makes around fifty-seven decibels of noise at peak operation, and we’re forced to believe them, because even though we have no idea how to accurately measure that figure or even how loud fifty-seven decibels is, we do know how quiet the Predator is. How quiet is it?
As its name says, it’s super quiet.
And it isn’t just quiet.
The Predator 3500 is also incredibly easy to use and intuitive, and as well as having four separate one hundred and twenty-volt outlets, it’s also CARB (California Air Resources Board) compliant, which means that it adheres to the strictest emission controls in the country and is legal to use in any, and every state.
It doesn’t just generate electricity, while it’s making power, the Super Quiet plays its part in helping to save the planet and secure the future.
All of That Power Has a Price
One of the lessons that we learned early on was that if something seems too good to be true, it’s usually because it is.
There’s no such thing as perfection, and as close as the Super Quiet comes to hitting the flawless mark, it does have a few minor design issues.
If you try to continuously run it at peak output, don’t be surprised when the tank runs dry after a couple of hours, which means that you can throw the numbers that Harbor quotes straight out of the window.
Like any gas-fueled engine, the harder you push it, the less you’ll get out of it.
The Super Quiet also has a weight problem, and while we knew that the motor would make it heavy, we didn’t realize just how heavy it would make the Super Quiet.
It may be small, but it weighs one hundred pounds, which realistically makes it about as portable as our old generator was.
If you are going to attempt to take it with you wherever you go, make sure that you have a fairly strong friend with you or that you’ve been eating your Wheaties, otherwise if you try to move it on your own, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up seriously damaging and hurting yourself.
Efficiency is also surprisingly expensive, and even though the Super Quiet is far from being the most expensive inverter generator on the mass market, it’ll still give your pocketbook and bank account a beating that they won’t recover from in a hurry.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly generator option, it might be wise to look elsewhere.
The Inverter Verdict
There were a lot of things that we loved about this inverter generator.
It’s efficient, it’s smart, intuitive and as well as being ecologically friendly, and able to power just about anything that you’ll need it to. It also has a surprising number of safety features built-in, so even if it does run out of gas or oil while it’s powering your home, it’ll shut itself down to prevent its motor tearing itself apart in an attempt to squeeze every last bit of power out of its tank.
And if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s so heavy and hadn’t cost as much as a fairly decent second-hand car, the Super Quiet would have easily become our generator of choice.
But as it stands, it’ll have to be content to take second place and become the back-up to our ever dependable back up.