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Quick review: Harbor Freight Predator 1400

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They are currently on sale for $400 each after coupons, so I picked up two and the HF parallel kit for under $900 after tax.

From the website:

  • SUPER QUIET™ enclosure significantly reduces generator noise levels, operating at only 60 dBA
  • Pure sine wave inverter technology safely powers sensitive electronics such as smartphones, laptops, and TVs
  • CO SECURE™ technology automatically shuts down the generator for safety when harmful levels of carbon monoxide are detected
  • Reliable PREDATOR® 54cc engine provides plenty of power for tools and small appliances
  • Longer runtime: up to 7.3 hours @ 25% load per fill-up
  • Electronic Speed Control Mode (ESC Mode) optimizes engine performance to maximize runtime
  • Double your power by adding a second PREDATOR® 1400 unit with the optional RV Ready PREDATOR® Parallel Kit (sold seperately)
  • Low oil, overload, and output light indicators
  • Fully enclosed high-impact housing with outlet covers to protect against the elements and rugged working conditions
  • Electronic overload protection with integrated reset button
I'm not going to get into longevity concerns. For one it's too early. Secondly, these are tertiary and/or "hand out" gensets. I already have a tri fuel converted Yamaha E7200E "rock crusher", another tri fuel Yamaha EF2000i inverter (although the inverter board failed at 40 hours) and, at my BOL, a tri fuel converted Predator 3500 inverter. I've no plans to add the US Carb tri fuel kit to these new units.

Moving on...

After adding Honda 10W30 and full tanks of non ethanol gas, each fired up on the third or fourth pull and idled fine. I added some light electrical load and, after one hour, one the generators sputtered and stopped. I restarted it several times but it would never idle smoothly and stopped running entirely with even a small load. On a hunch, I pulled the spark plug and discovered that it was carboned up.

I could have replaced the low quality "Thor" plug and continued on, but since it stopped several times while under load I decided to return it to HF. After watching my video and seeing the plug, they exchanged it with no questions asked.

Wood Finger Thumb Nail Flooring



I can't say for sure what caused the plug to foul in such a short period of time: bad plug, bad carb, or burning oil. I didn't waste time investigating. Tearing into it could have invalidated the warranty and made it impossible to return later. Since it was only a few days old, the few minute drive to HF was the quickest and simplest solution.

Now that they have a few hours of low load time, I connected the parallel kit and moved up to a generic electric heater to continue the break in. Neither generator has the power to keep the heater running for more than a few seconds before tripping the overload breaker, so I imagine that it uses ~ 1500 watts. But with two parallel generators, they should be operating at 2/3 capacity and under the recommended break in limit.

Note: the actual "synching" takes place inside the generators and not the parallel junction box. Also, the Predator 1400s work with the kit despite them not being listed on the box.

Automotive lighting Motor vehicle Automotive tire Automotive tail & brake light Automotive design



Next, I connected my generic oscilloscope. Whether at idle, in eco mode, lightly loaded or half loaded in parallel, the sine wave remained clean, the frequency stable at 60 Hz and the voltage above 125V. Given that they are still breaking in, I haven't checked the sine wave at full load, but I imagine that it will continue making clean power until the demand exceeds capacity.

Here's the money shot while paralleled and powering the heater:

Slope Rectangle Font Science Electronic device


Other than the issue with the fouled plug, my initial impression is positive. The sine wave is clean and it maintains frequency control and constant voltage. So it seems like the electronic functions are working as the should. Again, times are early and I can't comment on the mechanical reliability.

Had there been a crappy return policy then I would feel differently. Just be sure to start the break in promptly to discover these gremlins, which generally manifest themselves before too long.

I can't yet comment on run time, but the 7 hour figure @ 1/4 load is probably in the ball park.

I'll replace the oil after the first full tank of gas and replace the stock plugs with the equivalent from NGK.

Although I don't expect these units to accrue many hours, I'll add to the post if there are any problems.
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Thanks for the quick review, the predator has some interesting specs the best one being the weight of 33lbs. It's interesting what specs they publish and what they don't, they mention a run time of 7hrs but I couldn't find the fuel capacity.

I was on a hunt for a generator earlier this year I went with a Wen 2k; 2000/1700 watts, 39lbs. 51db, 10.8hr run time and 1 gallon tank for $360 all in/delivered. I was looking for something that was light, quite, sips gas and can output at least 1500 watts, much like the Predator my Wen had a couple of QC issues I was able to remedy. I could have bought the Honda equivalent but at $1200 I'll deal with a couple QC issues.

Why did you go with 2 small Predators instead of one 2250/2500 watt equivalent and saved a fair amount, I understand 2 is one and 1 is none but you have a good amount of generators plus the added complexity, space and maintenance of another generator?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the quick review, the predator has some interesting specs the best one being the weight of 33lbs. It's interesting what specs they publish and what they don't, they mention a run time of 7hrs but I couldn't find the fuel capacity.

I was on a hunt for a generator earlier this year I went with a Wen 2k; 2000/1700 watts, 39lbs. 51db, 10.8hr run time and 1 gallon tank for $360 all in/delivered. I was looking for something that was light, quite, sips gas and can output at least 1500 watts, much like the Predator my Wen had a couple of QC issues I was able to remedy. I could have bought the Honda equivalent but at $1200 I'll deal with a couple QC issues.

Why did you go with 2 small Predators instead of one 2250/2500 watt equivalent and saved a fair amount, I understand 2 is one and 1 is none but you have a good amount of generators plus the added complexity, space and maintenance of another generator?
My wife can better manage two small ones than lugging the larger Yamaha EF2000.

Also, two hand outs are better than one. lol
 

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Several years ago we bought a Predator generator, as I recall it was about a 7500 watt machine. Turned out to be a piece of junk, we had bad luck with it from the start. The generator shattered the first month, no problem, it was under warranty and we got another one! The same happened with the second one about four to six months later. After the third one (engine came apart) we quit, no more Chinese made generators for me!
 

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I like the two idea better as well. Much easier to put one of those knock off hondas in a backseat, trunk, or bed without anybody noticing as well. That and the smaller generators are generally quieter. Thats funny you had such bad luck with the predators. Had to be a quality control because they have been great for many throughout the hurricanes.
 
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