Welcome to our Generac IQ3500 Review. Should you buy it? Well, the short answer is “Yes!” but this article will give you all the details you need to decide if it’s right for you. In addition, I look at a few other alternative inverter generators that you might want to consider. But again, everything depends on your needs and budget. Let’s take a closer look…
Introducing : Generac iQ3500
When Generac set about developing the quietest 3,500W generator, they went above and beyond what anyone could have anticipated. As a very affordable quiet inverter generator, the Generac iQ3500 has caused quite a sensation in the world of portable generators.
Not only is the Generac iQ3500 more powerful than the sensationalized Honda EU3000iS, it is up to 40% quieter. Though, we have to take the manufacturer’s word for this. On their website, Generac make this claim “based on independent third-party testing”. They don’t, however, provide actual noise level specs to compare. I have no reason to doubt the Generac advertising. One thing is abundantly clear, this is a truly quiet generator. Almost eerily quiet. You may find yourself going outside to see if the generator is actually running.
Apart from being the quietest in its class, the Generac iQ3500 has a lot more to boast about. The all-metal enclosure, instead of the usual plastic, is another trait that this generator shares with the much more expensive Honda model.
Given the massive price difference, I’m not going to make this generator review about the Generac iQ3500 vs Honda EU3000iS. In some ways, it can be considered a worthy rival, though I still believe Honda have the upper hand when it comes to long term durability and, to some extent, incredible fuel economy.
Instead, I’ll be comparing the Generac iQ3500 to some of its competitors in a similar price range: the WEN 56380i, Champion 100263, and Westinghouse iGen4500. All these generators have received accolades from knowledgeable reviewers and generator buyers.
The Generac iQ3500, along with the others in this review, are all wonderful RV generators. They have the power to supply a large RV air conditioner. They all provide clean, low THD, pure sine wave inverter electricity, and are really quiet machines. To this end, they are also great generators for home power during an outage.
Generac iQ3500 Review
- Ultra-Quiet – Advanced inverter technology and enclosure design provide optimal quiet performance
- POWERRUSH ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY – Delivers over 50% more starting capacity allowing you to do more with less
- IDEAL FOR WORK OR PLAY – Durable steel enclosure, clean inverter power and easy portability make this the ideal generator for jobsites or recreational activities
- ELECTRIC START WITH POWERDIAL Start/Run/Stop – Three operation settings integrated into one simple-to-use dial (*Battery Included)
- DIGITAL SMART LCD – Digital Wattage Meter, Run Time Remaining Display, Generator Status, Hour Meter and Fuel Level
- Economy Mode Reduces noise and fuel consumption
My first impression of the Generac iQ3500 is that this is an incredibly well-made machine. The elegant enclosure consists of steel panels that improve sound insulation and give the generator a much more robust feel.
Of course, a generator this durable is going to be a little on heavy side. At least the strong handles help when it comes to portability. This review will unpack all the details. In many ways, this ultimately modern inverter generator has set the bar really high for any manufacturer wanting to compete. This statement refers both to value for money and pure engineering brilliance.
Getting started is pretty straight forward. The Generac iQ3500 has a 3-position dial on the user panel (stop, run, choke). There’s no guesswork or searching for levers and fuel valves. Press the electric start button, and the quiet 212cc Generac engine springs to life. It also has a recoil starter if the onboard battery fails. Anyone starting this generator for the first time will be astounded at how quiet and smooth it is.
I have to say, I wasn’t blown away by the fuel consumption. It’s quite reasonable, though more toward average, not exceptional. The gas tank is certainly large enough to be convenient – 2.6 gallons. With an average fuel consumption rate of just over 5 kilowatt-hours per gallon, you can expect a runtime of 14.1 hours from a tank of gas at 25% rated load with the economy switch in the on position. This means that when the power output is less than 25%, the engine speed is lowered. At a reduced RPM, the engine uses less fuel and is quieter, a feature that is common to most inverter generators. At 50% average load (1,500W), fuel economy is a little better (per kilowatt). You will get about 8.9 hours runtime for each tank of gas.
By now, most of us are aware of the benefits associated with inverter supplied power. The pure sine wave Generac inverter is exactly what I’ve come to expect from this technology. It provides clean power for electronic equipment with <3% THD. The economy mode saves fuel and reduces noise. Like most other inverter generators, the Generac iQ3500 has parallel connection ports. Using the parallel kit (sold separately), you’re able to use two iQ3500 generators in parallel, thereby doubling the power output from 3,000 running watts and 3,500W peak power to 6,000W continuous output, with a 7,000W surge capacity.
With a single Generac iQ3500, you have more than enough power for your average camping needs. Though this is a little short of what you may require when using the generator to supply a home. The parallel connection option provides the best of both worlds. A compact portable generator that can easily be taken on vacation and supply your RV. At home, when portability isn’t your main priority, you can use two generators to provide the extra power for more appliances.
The control panel is easy to use and provides a convenient selection of outlets. The regular 2 X 20A 120V (15-20R) receptacles are to be expected. These allow you to connect up to two standard household extension cords to the iQ3500. It also has a 30A 120V outlet, which is great for connecting to an RV or a transfer switch. This will allow you to supply power directly to your electric panel at home. Two USB ports offer a convenient way to charge devices like cell phones.
All of the AC outlets are protected by circuit breakers and you have the usual array of indicator LEDS – overload, low oil, and output, which tells you the system is okay and ready for use. When the oil is too low, the engine will shut off to prevent damage. The Generac iQ3500 also has a handy digital display. A touch button allows you to scroll through a number of modes for user information. The LCD screen will display output watts, runtime remaining (based on output and fuel level), generator status, total running hours, and fuel level.
The weight is possibly the only drawback to the Generac iQ3500. It weighs 109.1 pounds. I suppose this isn’t too bad when you take into account the tough metal construction, electric starter, and onboard battery. There are strong handles on either side of the generator, making it perfectly easy for two people to carry the machine. Even one person can have a comfortable grip with a good balance of the weight for easy carrying. I would think a lot of people who aren’t up to lifting this generator would have preferred a wheel kit. Unfortunately, this is not an option.
I would have expected a powerful 3,500W/3000W inverter generator, with such a high spec level and extremely durable build quality, to cost well over $2,000. This where the Generac iQ3500 really shines. It doesn’t cost much more than a grand, possibly half the price of many competing machines. The fact that this generator is quieter than most, even those with a lot less power, is truly amazing. Incredible value for money from one of the top American generator manufacturers. This is also one of the few generators that has a 3-year warranty for both domestic and commercial use. Most generator manufactures, except premium brands (like Honda), only provide a 1-year commercial warranty, even if the residential warranty is 2 or 3 years. A clear indication that Generac is confident about the quality of this machine.
WEN 56380i Review
- Extremely quiet operation minimizes noise; EPA III and CARB Compliant
- 212cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 3800 surge watts and 3400 rated watts with a half-load runtime of up to 8.5 hours
- Fuel shutoff maximizes the generator’s lifespan by using up the remaining fuel in the carburetor before shutting down
- Produces clean power to prevent damage to sensitive electronics such as smart phones, tablets and laptops
- Includes two 3-prong 120V receptacles, one AC 120V NEMA TT-30R RV receptacle, one 12V DC receptacle, two 5V USB ports, a digital load and fuel display.
- 2-year warranty
The WEN 56380i is astonishingly cheap for the power it provides. The technology used in this generator is not compromised by the low price tag. It has an inverter that is far superior to more expensive machines and has all the gizmos that a true technophile is looking for in a modern inverter generator. The design is also one of the best for portability.
If you’re looking at your budget and want to get the most powerful inverter generator for your money, it would be difficult to convince you that the Generac iQ3500 is better value than the WEN 56380i. The WEN generator provides more power – 3,800W peak power (surge watts) and 3,500W running power (rated watts). Despite being a more powerful machine, the WEN generator is considerably cheaper than the Generac iQ3500.
VIDEO | A Closer Look at the WEN 56380i
One could argue that Generac is a better brand, but this is debatable. The WEN 56380i may not be as tough as the Generac iQ3500. It has a more conventional plastic housing; unlike the durable metal we see on the Generac. The WEN 56380i is not as quiet either. No surprise there, the Generac iQ3500 is undoubtedly the quietest when compared to any 3000W – 4000W inverter generator. The WEN 56380i is certainly not a noisy beast, with a noise level of only 57dBA at 25% load.
One thing I always mention when reviewing WEN inverter generators is the paradox of the superb inverter. One would not expect a cheaper machine to utilize the best technology, exceeding the most expensive alternatives. This makes the WEN inverter remarkable. Second only to Yamaha for the lowest harmonic distortion. Most inverter generators, like the Generac iQ3500, are rated at <3% THD. Despite being one of the cheapest, the WEN inverter delivers just about the cleanest power, less than 1.3% THD. Yamaha inverter generators, like the EF2000iS, are the only models to improve on this, rated at less than 1%. This is as good as it gets, and the WEN is certainly not far behind. Not to mention, much cheaper.
The EPA III and CARB certified 212cc engine also defies the cheap price tag attached to the WEN 56380i. This is a quiet and very efficient engine. Even though the gas tank isn’t that large, only 2.2 gallons, it still provides pretty good runtimes, 8.5 hours at 50% rated load.
I really like the way they have designed the starter switch. The WEN generator has a dial for stop, run, and choke, quite common on most generators these days. It is the simplest way of starting a generator. The cool trick in the WEN playbook is the start button for the electric starter. It is fitted inside the fuel selector dial. This really is a single touch electric start generator. It also has an Auto-Off position which will drain the carburetor of fuel before shutting the generator off. A hassle-free precaution when storing the generator. A trusty, never-fail, old-fashioned recoil starter is provided as a backup.
The WEN 56380i has one of the best control panels. The digital display features prominently and has everything in wonderful display format. A digital output and fuel level display are visible at a glance. It also has a numeric display in the center, for more technical information, like voltage, watts, frequency, and run time. AC and DC outlets cover all bases: 2 X 20A 120V outlets, 1 X TT-30R (RV ready) 30A 120V outlet, 1 X 12VDC outlet, and a 5V USB port. It has the requisite ports for a parallel kit if you want to increase your power, using two WEN generators.
Where the Generac iQ3500 failed somewhat, portability, the WEN 56380i really rises to the occasion. It weighs a very reasonable 99.2 pounds and has a bunch of features that make it easier to move about. Like the iQ3500, the WEN generator has strong handles with plenty of grip, making it as easy as possible to carry. It also has a built-in wheel kit and a retractable handle. You can pull this generator like a suitcase. Very practical, provided you’re on a paved surface. The wheels are not designed for rough terrain.
The WEN 56380i is, possibly, the winner in the budget generator category. I would give the Generac iQ3500 a few extra points for durability. Although, this is personal rating, not a result of certified testing. When all is said and done, the WEN generator is much, much cheaper. Yet, this machine is more powerful, has a top-notch inverter. In addition to all this, it is one of the best for portability. Okay, it’s not as quiet as the virtually silent Generac iQ3500 and the warranty isn’t as impressive. The WEN 56380i is backed by a 2-year warranty.
Champion 100263 Review / Dual Fuel
- Dual Fuel – Operate your 3400-watt portable generator right out of the box on either gasoline or propane, plus the unit holds 0.6-quarts of oil (recommended 10W-30) and has a low oil shut-off sensor
- Convenient Electric Start with 3-Position Ignition Switch – Battery included, plus Quick Touch Panel allows you to access all your controls in one spot.Noise Level :59 dBA at 23 feet. Frequency 60 Hz
- Ultra-Quiet Operation – 59 dBA is perfect for RVs, tailgating, your next project or backup power for your home, featuring 3400 starting watts and 3100 running watts with up to 7.5 hours run time on gasoline
- Clean Power for Sensitive Electronics – RV Ready with a 120V 30A RV, plus two 120V 20A household outlets with clean electricity (less than 3% THD) and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter
- Champion Support – Includes 3-year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support from dedicated experts
Champion Power equipment are, I guess, the champions of dual fuel generator technology. They have one of the widest selection of models that offer the choice of gas or propane to use as fuel for your generator. If you need an inverter generator in the 3,500W ballpark, and want the dual fuel advantage, this is one of the few models available. If you don’t want to spend much more than $1,000, it may be your only option.
Dual fuel has its pros and cons. With environmental concerns around carbon emissions, propane has become increasingly popular. It burns cleaner than conventional gasoline. The choice of fuel types, provided by dual fuel engines, has the additional advantage of versatility. You may not always have gas available, and propane can be a handy substitute.
The downside of using propane is the lower output watts. Even when using gas, the Champion 100263 is a little underpowered when compared to the Generac iQ3500. The champion dual fuel inverter generator delivers a peak of 3,400W starting power and 3,100W running power when running on gas. Using propane, the specs are even less impressive: 3,060 starting watts and only 2,790 running watts.
The Champion 192 cc 4-stroke engine has proven itself to be quite a formidable workhorse amongst the more affordable, light to medium duty generators. It’s not the quietest, but still very reasonable – 59dBA at 25% load, using the economy mode. Fuel consumption is also pretty good. The Champion 100263 has one of the smallest gas tanks for this size generator, 1.6 gallons. A full gallon less than the Generac iQ3500. Despite the difference in fuel tank capacity, the Champion generator is not too bad when comparing runtime, 7.5 hours at 25% load. Though nothing beats the convenient runtime that you get from a propane tank. This generator will run for 14.5 hours at 25% load on a single tank of propane.
The user panel is a bit old-fashioned when compared to the more sophisticated generators in this review. There is no digital data center. The only information provided is in the form of an old-school gas gauge fitted to the tank. It doesn’t have ports for USB chargers either. Though, I don’t see this as a deal-breaker. The Champion 100263 does have the most important receptacles for an RV or home inverter generator, these being 2 X 120V 20 outlets and a TT-30 120V 30A RV outlet. It also has a 12VDC battery charging port. A handy feature if you use deep cycle leisure batteries for your RV or boat. Like the others, the Champion 100263 has the option for parallel connection to increase the wattage.
Portability is great. The Champion is one of the lightest generators in this class, weighing in at 95.7 LBS. It has strong handles on either side, at the top of the generator, much like the Generac iQ3500 and WEN 56380i. This gives you the best way to carry the generator. It also has a built-in wheel kit. Like the WEN generator, the wheels aren’t that big and certainly not heavy-duty all-terrain wheels.
Since dual fuel generators are more expensive than conventional gas equivalents, the Champion 100263 is very competitively priced when compared the Generac iQ3500. If dual fuel operation is what you’re after, this generator is one of the best deals available. You also have the benefits of clean inverter power and a good power to weight ratio. The Champion brand has earned recognition as one of the best value US generator manufacturers. The 3-year warranty is a worthy testament to this.
If you’re looking for the biggest inverter generator on the market then you’ll be interested in our review of the DuroMax XP9000iH — new for 2021.
- Powerful – With 9,000 peak watts and 7,600 running watts, this generator is perfect for emergency home power, jobsite use, or camping with your RV.
- Dual Fuel– This generator runs on gasoline or propane. Ideal when fuel is scarce such as after a natural disaster or other emergency.
- Inverter Technology – Provides clean, stable power for sensitive electronics including televisions and computers.
- Remote Start – Start the generator conveniently with the remote control.
- Automatic Transfer Switch Ready – Equipped with an ATS outlet making it easy to connect to a compatible Automatic Transfer Switch
- Battery Tender – Keep your generator’s battery charged and ready to start at a moment’s notice.
- Low Oil Shutoff – Protects your investment by automatically shutting the generator off when it senses that the oil is low.
- Digital Control Center – The Digital Control Center features an LCD display showing hours run, voltage output, and load level.
- Parallel Capability – Connect two XP9000iH inverters together to double your power to 18,000 peak watts and 15,200 running watts. (Parallel kit sold separately.)
- Complies with Emissions Standards – All DuroMax generators are both approved by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and CARB (California Air Resources Board) and follow strict guidelines to ensure our generators are as environmentally friendly as possible.
Westinghouse iGen4500 Review
- 4500 peak watts, 3700 running watts and runs for up to 18 hours on a 3.4 gal. gas tank
- Enhanced fuel efficiency – variable engine speeds allow 30% to 50% higher fuel efficiency than a traditional generator
- Compact and powerful design – features telescoping handle and never-flat wheels for easy portability at 98 lb.
- Remote start (key fob) and push button start make this generator convenient to operate
- Super quiet – as low as 52 dBA with double-insulated acoustic enclosure, asymmetrical cooling fans, and low tone mufflers to reduce operating noise
- Safely powers sensitive electronics such as laptop computers, cell phones and more
- Real-time LED display with runtime, remaining fuel, load/output, volts and lifetime hours data
- RV Ready TT-30R outlet keeps this compact generator versatile for campgrounds, tailgates, and other outdoor festivities
- All Westinghouse portable generators are functionally tested in the factory and may contain minimum residual oil and/or fuel odor
I’ve been a keen observer of the Westinghouse brand since they entered the portable generator market a few years ago. This has to be my favorite value generator brand. The Westinghouse iGen4500 is in a very similar price range to the Generac iQ3500. Though I feel it is a better generator. I’ve become quite an advocate of this brand for providing outstanding engineering at a very reasonable price. That is, in my opinion, the true definition of excellent value for money.
The good value starts when comparing the power output. The Westinghouse iGen4500 beats all the others for wattage. With a peak output of 4,500W and 3,700 rated watts, it is better value than the Generac iQ3500 when comparing buck per watt. This is also a state of the art inverter generator, with all the associated benefits – clean low THD power (<3% THD), economy mode, and parallel connectivity.
I believe that Westinghouse engine technology is almost at the same level as the big guns, like Honda and Yamaha. From an engineering perspective, the 224 cc engine powering the iGen4500 is of the highest standard. In general, Westinghouse engines are made to last. Fuel economy is another Westinghouse hallmark. The iGen4500 has a mighty large gas tank, compared to the other generators in this review. Then again, it is the most powerful, so we’d expect it to be a bit on the thirsty side. Yet it isn’t really. Instead, you get an incredible runtime of 18 hours (at 25% rated load) from the 3.4 gallon gas tank.
Noise levels are also really good, almost as remarkable as the iQ3500. The Westinghouse iGen4500 has a noise rating of only 52dBA. I assume this is at 25% load, using the eco mode to lower the RPM. This generator is also near the top of ratings for easy portability. It weighs 98 pounds and has great handles, as well as a built-in wheel kit.
The Westinghouse iGen450 has no shortage of additional luxury features. It has a remote fob, allowing you to start or stop the generator from a distance of about 100-yards. One of the spin-off benefits of this feature is an automatic choke. Since you are not at the generator to engage the choke for cold starts, this is essential. The automatic choke also simplifies manual starting. You only need to turn the generator starting dial to the on position and then press the electric start button. No need to wait for the engine to warm up and then disengage the choke, this is all done for you.
Adding to the modern conveniences is a full digital display. Much like the WEN inverter generator, the Westinghouse iGen4500 has digital fuel and power output displays that are visible at a glance. It also has a detailed numeric LCD display for voltage, frequency, and lifetime running hours.
The outlets are great. I like the inclusion of a battery charging port. This allows you to use a remote battery charger (supplied with the generator) to charge the onboard battery when the generator is stored. No worries about a flat battery or battery damage from prolonged discharge. A really great idea. Another cool feature, that I really appreciate, are the plastic covers protecting all the outlets. You get the most important outlets – 2 X 20A 120V, 1 X 30A 120V, and 2 X USB ports. The usual safety features, circuit breakers, low oil shut off, and warning lights, are pretty much a given on a generator like this.
Everything you need, and then some. This is what the Westinghouse iGen4500 represents. A robust and reliable 4,500W inverter generator with some wonderful extras, like a remote starter fob and external battery charger. You’d expect this generator to be one of the most expensive in its class, not one of the cheapest. This is the real magic behind the Westinghouse iGen4500. Above average quality at a below average price. The warranty is pretty good too – 3-years residential and 1-year commercial.
As is usually the case when reviewing Westinghouse generators, this is my personal pick of the bunch. It might not match the Generac iQ3500 as the quietest but is a close second. All other specs are off the charts when comparing the iGen4500 to any of a similar price.
Visit the Westinghouse site to learn about their long history of innovation. You’d be hard pressed to find a better quality inverter generator. Ultimately the choice is yours. You can’t go wrong with any of the generators in this article, but some are better than others.