If you search for a 9500W inverter generator, only one name comes up, the Predator 57080. This new product from Harbor Freight is the most powerful inverter generator available. The brand has gained quite a following, with its resemblance to Honda generators at a much lower price. Of course, this similarity has raised many questions. In this Predator 57080, 9,500W inverter generator review, we’ll be uncovering the shroud of mystery behind the brand, their generators, and the origin of Predator engines.
Apart from providing the most comprehensive Predator 57080 review, I’ll be delving into a lot of questions that so many want answered. Who makes Predator generators and engines? Are predator engines Honda clones? Culminating in the important one: are Predator generators any good?
VIDEO | A Closer Look at the Predator 57080 / 9500W Inverter Generator
I’ll also provide some insight into Harbor Freight, the sole supplier of the Predator 9500W inverter generator and review one of their most popular models, the 8750 (8750W/7000W) inverter generator. To round things off, I’ll provide a review of the Honda EU7000iSNAG. Many feel that the Predator 8750 is merely a cheap knockoff of the range topping 7,000W Honda inverter generator. By comparing the two generators, this review should provide some answers.
There’s even more to come. After reviewing the Predator 57080, and it’s counterparts, I’ll also be looking into the increasing role that portable generators will play in our changing world. Climate change, and all the uncertainty it brings, has caused many of us to reevaluate the importance of reliable and sustainable electrical supply. With heatwaves, sever hurricanes, and unpredictable winter snowstorms, conventional grid supplied electricity simply isn’t as reliable as it was.
Off-grid homes, and renewable energy in general, is not a simple matter. Portable generators are often an essential component of the ideal off-grid home. They provide the backup needed when alternative power generation methods, like solar electricity, are unable to meet demand.
As our dependence on portable power increases, even more questions arise. How important is an inverter? Are inverter generators a necessity? What about carbon monoxide? There is an increasing trend amongst generator manufacturers to develop CO monitoring systems to increase the safety of using these machines. All these important questions form part of the larger debate about backup and portable power. This will be addressed through the course of this long article, filled with facts and answers to our generator related questioned.
Yes, there is a lot to come in this article. I’ll be starting with the hot topic of the moment, a review of the new and exciting Predator 57080 9500W inverter generator, followed by the smaller Predator model and its Honda equivalent. Then we’ll move onto a bunch of interesting topics that relate to using this generator, the brand and all the questions you want answered with regard to Predator generators.
Get comfortable and get ready for a long and fascinating read.
Review : Predator 9500W Inverter Generator / 57080
- CO SECURE technology automatically shuts down the generator for safety when harmful levels of carbon monoxide are detected
- Ultrapowerful PREDATOR 459cc engine provides plenty of power for large backup applications
- Pure sine wave inverter technology safely powers sensitive electronics such as smartphones, laptops, TVs
- Super-quiet enclosure significantly reduces generator noise levels, operating at only 67 dB
- Integrated hour meter makes it easy to track maintenance levels
- Electric start with non-spillable battery (included) for easy starts every time
- Includes four flat-free wheels and foldable handle for easy portability
- Includes: (4) 120v 20A GFCI protected outlets, 120v/240v 30A twistlock, 120v 30A twistlock, 12v 8A DC, (2) USB outlets
There has never been a more powerful inverter generator. The Predator 57080 provides an astounding 9,500 watts of surge power, with a running capacity of 7,600W. With this kind of power, you can keep just about your entire home powered up, including large air conditioners. Best of all, you have the advantage of low THD inverter power. This means no need to be concerned about your computer, stereo, or any electronic device that can be harmed by the “dirty” power supplied by conventional gas generators.
The relationship between Predator and Honda generators will feature quite a bit in this review. I’ll be elaborating on this topic, in some detail, after the review. Though, because there are so many uncanny resemblances between Predator generators and Honda, we can certainly accept that there is a fair deal of cloning going on. I can’t say, with absolute certainty, how much Honda engineering has been copied, but there are several clear indications that, at the very least, Honda has been a major influence in the design of this generator.
VIDEO | How CO Secure works / Predator 57080 (9500W Inverter)
Looking at the Predator 57080, in comparison to its closest Honda competitor (EU7000i), one can’t help but notice how similar they are. Even more so, when we compare the Honda generator to the similar sized Predator 8750 which I will be reviewing next. They are not identical but eerily similar. When we start to look under the skin, the similarities become even more obvious.
Although they look much alike, some of the differences are glaringly obvious. Since the Predator 57080 is roughly half the price of the Honda EU7000i (and iSNAG upgrade), it can’t possibly be exactly the same machine. Especially when you consider that the (much cheaper) Predator 57080 delivers a good deal more power. I will be pointing out the similarities and differences as we proceed with the review.
The first thing I noticed is the plastic insulating sound covers. I’ve always been mighty impressed with the metal panels used on the Larger model Honda quiet inverter generators. This is not only more durable but greatly improves noise levels. The mighty Predator 57080 is remarkably quiet for a generator of this size, at around 67dBA, I’m guessing this is measured at 25% output. Though this cannot compare to the 52dBA spec for the Honda 7,000W inverter generator. Since the Predator generator is so much cheaper (and more powerful), I wouldn’t complain about the plastic panels or noise levels.
Removing these panels, we see the impressive 459cc OHV engine, with electric starter, and a recoil backup starter. This looks like a fantastic engine and appears to be identical to the Honda GX390, powering the EU7000i. The Predator engine has a larger displacement (459cc vs 390cc). Apart from the piston and bore, these engines appear to be almost identical.
Now I’m only going by visual clues here, but I know Honda engines very well and have the utmost respect for these machines. Based on years of observation, and pretty good knowledge of engines, I’d say that this is an up-sized version of the legendary Honda GX engine. Predator engines mostly seem to be based on Honda models.
The Predator engine starts and runs as well as any Honda GX engine I’ve seen. Of course, I cannot attest to the quality of the materials used, quality control, or the workmanship. This is a Honda clone engine, not a Honda built engine. There is, in my opinion, a big difference. That’s no to say that this is an inferior engine, no one can tell just by looking at it. It will take years of hard work before we can genuinely tell if the Predator engine can hold up to the intrepid Honda original. If I were a betting man, my money would be on Honda. Though that money would be debatable in terms of value. The Predator generator vs Honda EU7000iS price difference is typically more than $3,000, depending on the retailer.
There are subtle differences between the way these engines have been constructed. For all intents and purposes though, there basic design is the same. For the more curious amongst you, I’ll provide a detailed, more technical analysis of the Honda vs Predator engine after the generator reviews. For the average generator user, daily functioning is the same. This means that the Predator 5780 is utilizes a modern, sophisticated engine with the best emission control system (EPA III and CARB certified).
It also means you get the same amazing fuel consumption for which Honda is famous. The Predator 57080 is fitted with an enormous fuel tank – 6.8-gallons. Combined with the incredible fuel efficiency of this engine, it provides incredibly convenient runtimes. With a full tank of gas, the Predator 57080 will provide you with 18.5 hours of uninterrupted power. What does this mean in the real world? If you’re at home with the refrigerator running, a large air conditioner (around 10,000 BTU), and a few low-wattage general appliances that you may be using over this period, you can expect up to 18 – 19 hours of power before you need to refill the gas tank. If you’re going to be using a vacuum cleaner and washing machine for normal household cleaning during this time, expect around 16 – 17 hours. I’d say that on average, for a mid-sized home, you will usually have at least 16-hours runtime on any given day.
The whole package is just as convenient and practical. The large generator is enclosed and mounted to a durable frame with four solid rubber wheels. Accessing the engine for oil changes, battery charging, and other maintenance functions requires a screwdriver, which is included in the kit supplied with the generator, as well as a sparkplug wrench and battery charging cables. Even though access to the engine compartment is not tool-free, it is relatively hassle-free. You only need to loosen two screws and the side panel slips out easily. It slots back into position just as easily when you’re done.
The user panel is fantastic. It has a three-position starter switch (off, on, start), with an eco-mode switch directly adjacent to this. Using this switch, you can choose to lower the engine RPM when the load demand is less than 25% (<1,900W), making the generator quieter and more fuel efficient. The choke is operated by a self-explanatory dial beneath starter switch. In an emergency, if the battery is flat, you can use a recoil starter which takes very little effort, thanks to the Honda-designed automatic engine decompression system.
The outlets are plentiful and nicely arranged, with circuit breakers for all circuits, as well as a 2-pole main breaker and GFCI protection for the 120V outlets. You have a selector switch for 120V or 120V/240V supply. This generator is transfer switch and RV ready, thanks to 30A 120V/240V and 30A 120V outlets. It also has 2 X duplex household 20A (5-20R) receptacles, a 12VDC 8A outlet, and 2 X USB ports.
This generator even has parallel connection ports. This means you can double your power output to an eye-watering 15,200W/19,000W, using two Predator 57080 generators connected in parallel. What’s even more astounding is that two of these generators, including the parallel kit, will cost less than a single Honda EU7000iS. The new, upgraded Honda EU7000iSNAG is even more expensive. It’s hard to argue with this kind of price per watt.
Like the new Honda generators, and many other brands (like Briggs & Stratton and Champion Equipment), the Predator 57080 has carbon monoxide (CO) monitoring. CO SECURE technology will shut the generator down automatically if CO levels become harmful.
As with any generator of this size, weight is not a big plus point. The Predator 57080 weighs 257-pounds. None the less, it is quite portable. With dual fold down handles and a built-in wheel kit, you can move the generator about with ease. The wheels aren’t very large, I wouldn’t rate this machine highly for all-terrain mobility. The front wheels have a foot-activated brake, making it easy to keep the generator safely in position.
While it would be difficult to convince me that there can be any better generator than the impeccable Honda EU7000iSNAG, the bean counters will have an equally hard time justifying the price difference between the Honda model and the Predator 9,500W inverter generator.
I have a boy-like love for precision engineering and enduring quality. Few generator manufacturers can come close to matching Honda when it comes to outstanding engineering. Is the copy-cat Predator 57080 as good as Honda? I sincerely doubt it. Though, we cannot ignore the basic realities of life. Is it worth paying more than twice as much for the Honda generator, which is not as powerful, when the Predator 57080 is almost identical? The popular vote is with the Predator generator. I can understand this, we’re talking about a lot of money, and this cannot be ignored.
Tech Specs / Predator 57080 (9500W Inverter)
|Model : 57080||Certification : EPAIII / CARB|
|Max Running Watts : 7600||Engine displacement : 459cc|
|Max Starting Watts : 9500||Fuel type : Gasoline|
|Output voltage : 120v / 240v||Horsepower : 15.3hp|
|Battery type : Lead acid||Low oil shutdown : Yes|
|Battery voltage : 12V (Battery Included)||Height : 28.87″|
|Weight : 253 lbs.||Length : 31″|
|Start type : Electric with recoil backup||Width : 23.75″|
|Run Time : 18.5 hours at 25%||Weight : 257 lbs.|
|Sound rating : 67 dB||CA Residents Warning – Prop 65 Info|
Review : Predator 57480 (8750W) / Inverter Generator
with Carbon Monoxide Monitoring / EXCEPTIONAL VALUE!
- CO SECURE technology automatically shuts down the generator for safety when harmful levels of carbon monoxide are detected
- Power : 8750W Starting / 7000W Running
- PREDATOR® 420cc engine provides plenty of power for large backup applications
- Pure sine wave inverter technology safely powers sensitive electronics such as smartphones, laptops, and TVs
- Electric start with battery included makes starting easy every time
- Includes large 10 in. flat-free wheels and folding handle for maximize portability
- Integrated digital display shows runtime, total hours, volts, frequency, and other information
- Heavy duty steel frame with covered GFCI protected outlets making it ideal for jobsites
- Lighted indicators for output, low oil, and overload
When reviewing the Predator 57080 9,500W inverter generator, I made several references to the Honda EU7000iS/EU7000iSNAG, this analogy becomes even more relevant when reviewing the Predator 8750. This model has been around longer than the Predator 57080 and is a closer match to the 7000W Honda inverter generator that appears to be the original upon which both Predator generators are based.
Although the Predator 8750 is not a 100% Honda cloned, there can be no denying that it is pretty much the same machine, just manufactured much cheaper. The price difference is enormous. The Predator 8750 is almost four grand cheaper than the Honda original.
VIDEO | A Closer Look at the Predator 57480
At almost 25% of the price, the Predator 8750 provides much more power than the Honda – 7,000W maximum running power and 8,750 surge power (predator) vs 7,000W/5,500W (Honda). The AC power outlets are supplied by a pure sine wave inverter, like the Honda EU7000iSNAG. On the face of things, this seems almost too good to be true. You can buy four Predator 8750W inverter generators and pay roughly the same as you would for a single Honda EU7000iSNAG and end up with a more powerful generator. There has to be a catch somewhere, right?
I’ve done quite a bit of research into problems associated with Predator generators. Not just this model but all of them. Yes, these generators are not perfect and cannot compare to the reliability and durability for which Honda is so revered. With a bit know-how, most predator generator problems can be overcome. This is something I’ll be discussing after the review for those who want to know what they’re in for when purchasing a Predator generator from Harbor freight and what, if anything, can be done to resolve these issues.
In this review, I won’t be looking at what may (or may not) be a cause for concern in the years to come. I’ll be reviewing the Predator 8750 as it is when you receive it, brand new and shiny. Apart from some QC issues, and damage during shipping, most folks are delighted with their purchase of the Predator 8750.
It is good to know that Harbor Freight are really good when it comes to addressing warranty repairs and refunds. If you don’t receive your Predator 8750 in perfect condition, you can return it within 90-days and receive a full refund. As always, shipping and handling fees are not refunded. This should put your mind at ease. This item may be cheap, but you have a good deal of reassurance from a reputable US retailer.
Now let’s get down to the heart and soul of this Predator 8750 inverter review.
The first thing you’ll notice, if you’re going to compare the Predator 8750 to the Honda EU7000iSNAG, is the absence of sound insulating panels enclosing the Predator generator. This makes the Predator 8750 a much louder generator and you don’t have the added benefit of protecting the engine and other components from possible damage. This is certainly not a quiet inverter generator at a specified noise level of 75dB. Since no power output level is provided for this noise spec, I’m going to assume that this is the best case scenario – probably at 25% output with the eco mode engaged.
One big advantage of eliminating the heavy metal panels is a significant weight reduction. There are a few other factors influencing weight, like a slightly lighter engine and a few other components that are probably not of same heavy-duty standard as the Honda generator. As a result, the Predator 8750 inverter generator weighs 112 pounds less than the Honda EU7000i. This is despite the larger engine displacement. The predator generator has a fantastic, all-terrain wheel kit and dual fold down handles.
The 420cc OHV predator engine, powering the Predator 8750, is almost identical to the Honda GX390. The predator engine has a slightly increased capacity from 390cc for the original Honda engine. A notable difference between this engine and the GX390 EFI engine used for the Honda generator is that the Predator engine is supplied by a carburetor, whereas the Honda engine utilizes advanced electronic fuel injection. This means that although the Predator engine is a slightly larger, it is lighter. I think that they may also be using less cast iron and other heavy components for the cheaper Predator engine.
The downside of carburetor vs fuel injected engines is increased fuel consumption. The Predator 8750 is thirstier than its Honda counterpart. It is, however, a reasonably economical engine, providing 15-hours runtime (at 25% load) from a 5.9 gallon gas tank. This engine is EPA III and CARB compliant. In keeping with greater modern safety standards, the Predator 8750 is also equipped with CO SECURE carbon monoxide monitoring. If CO levels become dangerous, the generator will shut down.
This is a very user-friendly generator with both electric and recoil starters. It has a conventional choke lever, that you pull to engage, and an easy to use starter switch. Like just about any other inverter generator, a switch on the user panel can be used to reduce RPM when the load demand is less than 25%, thereby reducing noise and fuel consumption at lower loads.
You have 4 X 120V 20A outlets with GFCI protection and a 30A 120V/240V outlet. In addition to the AC power outlets, the Predator 8750 also has a 12VDC outlet and 2 X USB ports. All the outlets are protected by plastic covers. Unlike the larger Predator 57080, this model does not allow for parallel connectivity. It has a digital display for power output and runtime, as well as a gas gauge on the tank.
What really astounds me about the Predator 8750 is the price. An incredibly powerful inverter generator costing a little over $1,000 is an incredible deal. A truly amazing generator for the price. The design is fantastic. This is, after all, a near copy of the Honda EU7000iSNAG which is considered by many to be the ultimate in inverter generator design. Even if we take into account that this generator is not manufactured to the high standard set by Honda, the price is just too great to ignore.
Review : Honda EU7000iSNAG / 7000W Inverter Generator
- Perfect for home back up power, RVs, outdoor events, and more
- The EU7000iS can operate a wide variety of appliances, making it perfect for portable use at home, camping, or much more. Take a look at the applications tab for more examples.
- Electronic Fuel Injection offers better fuel efficiency and lower maintenance : Smart electronic fuel injection technology increases fuel efficiency, eliminates the engine choke, and reduces fuel associated carburetor problems. And of course, the reliable Honda GX390 engine is designed for long life and superior performance.
- Honda My Generator app + Bluetooth capability
- Honda’s exclusive My Generator smartphone app offers remote generator operation and monitoring with impressive performance and unmatched convenience. The app includes wireless start/stop, operation monitoring, and service reminders, utilizing Bluetooth connectivity.
- CO-MINDER: Advanced Carbon Monoxide Detection System : Continuously monitors carbon monoxide (CO) levels. It automatically shuts down the generator before detected CO levels near the generator become dangerously high.
- ULTRA-quiet : less noise than normal conversation : Your neighbors will thank you. The EU7000iS operates at 52 to 58 dB(A), which is less noise than a normal conversation. This makes it ideal for supplemental RV power, powering outdoor events, and any other activity that requires quiet operation.
- Fuel efficient – runs up to 16 hours on 5.1 gal. of fuel
- Great fuel efficiency. Runs between 6.4 to 16 hours on a single tank, depending on the load. This makes it great for overnight power.
- Advanced inverter technology – reliable power for computers and other sensitive equipment
- Honda’s inverter technology means stable, clean power in a smaller, lighter package. The precision of Honda’s inverter technology ensures our inverter generators produce power that is as reliable as the power you get from your outlets at home.
- Easy folding handles : The EU7000iS has convenient handles that can be raised for transport and lowered for more compact storage. You’ll be thankful when it comes time to store it.
- Integrated i-Monitor provides information on hours of operation, wattage and engine speed, as well as diagnostics for convenient dealer servicing.
- GFCI Outlets : The EU7000iS features two GFCI 20 amp, 120 V duplex outlets, meeting ETL and NEC standards.
- 120/240V Selector switch – More usable power, more flexibility
- Choose between using both 120 and 240 Volts, or 120 Volts only. This allows for the total generator output to be available through any of the 120 volt outlets, limited only by the capacity of the individual outlet. This enables you to power units with larger wattage requirements.
- 3 year residential and commercial warranty : Peace of mind knowing that if anything happens you’ll be covered for three years.
- Add more power by connecting two EU7000iS with optional parallel kit : Need more power? Add a second EU7000iS for additional power. Two identical models can be paralleled with an optional kit for up to 14000 watts of power.
- Robust wheels make it easy to maneuver and transport.
- Convenient push button electric start
- Easy recoil starting is also available as a back up.
- Protected by Oil Alert : Protects the generator by shutting the engine off when low oil is detected.
- Electronic circuit breakers : Protects the generator from being overloaded.
- Fuel gauge standard
When I first reviewed the Honda EU7000iS I concluded that this was the best generator ever built. Years have passed and others have tried to imitate the Honda success story. They say that imitation is the best form of flattery. I’m sure the Honda marketing execs aren’t too pleased by the flattery they’ve received. With the Predator 57080 and 8750 being more powerful, and much cheaper, it must have affected Honda generator sales.
Regardless of how competing generator brands have attempted to match the top of the line Honda inverter generator, I still believe none come close. This is, after all, the best that Honda has to offer and there can be no comparison when it comes to the Honda pursuit for perfection.
VIDEO | An unbiased Look at the Honda EU7000iSNAG
The Honda EU7000iSNAG is basically the same great generator as the trusted EU7000iS, with an upgrade in the form of CO Monitoring. This seems to be the way of most generator manufacturers in recent times. Launched in the fall of 2020, the new 2021 Honda EU7000iSNAG now has the advantage of even safer operation. Carbon monoxide poisoning, from the use of portable generators in enclosed areas, is more prevalent than many might have thought. As a result, Honda has equipped the EU7000iSNAG with a CO sensor which measures the amount of carbon monoxide in the air surrounding the generator. When these levels become dangerously high, an alarm will sound and, soon after, the generator will shut down.
► Honda 7000W Inverter Generator / Honda EU7000SNAG (Review)
Apart from this pretty important improvement, the Honda EU7000iSNAG remains the fantastic machine that we’ve come to admire. It is powered by the magnificent Honda GX390 EFI engine. Second only to the much larger Honda V-Twin, this has to be the finest engine developed for the portable power market. Painstaking research and engineering, over several decades, has seen the GX engine evolve from fantastic to near perfection. By replacing the old-fashioned carburetor with electronic fuel injection (EFI), this engine is even more fuel efficient than the phenomenally economical carb engine. The fuel consumption for this generator is unparalleled.
VIDEO / How to Operate the Honda EU7000iSNAG
The Honda EU7000iSNAG has a fairly modest gas tank for a generator of this size, 5.1 gallons. Despite what may appear to be an undersized fuel tank, this generator provides incredible runtimes. Fill the tank, and you can run the Honda EU7000iSNAG for up to 16-hours at 25% load. If you’re really pushing the envelope, running this generator at full power continuously, you’ll still get 6.4 hours from a tank of fuel. Really cheap to run, and wonderfully convenient. The fuel injection system does more than improve fuel economy. It is also ultimately reliable and requires basically no maintenance over the (very long) lifespan of the machine.
The Honda EU7000iSNAG is CARB compliant. In the other 49 states, Honda sell the same generator with a different suffix to the model number. The Honda EU7000iSNAN is the EPA certified version of this generator.
The Honda EU7000iSNAG produces 7,000 watts of surge power, with a continuous running capacity of 5,500W. before the advent of the Predator 8750 (followed by the even more powerful Predator 57080) the Honda EU7000iS was the most powerful inverter generator you could get. It is still the quietest generator for its size. Almost unbelievable.
VIDEO | Learn how the Honda CO Minder System Works
Thanks to all-metal, super insulated panels enclosing the EU7000iSNAG, it is super quiet. Noise levels at maximum rated power is only 58dBA. This is quieter than an average speaking voice. Many quiet inverter generators, with engines half the size, cannot boast this type of silent running. At 25% load, with the eco mode switch on, the Honda EU7000iSNAG won’t be more than murmur from a distance of 23-feet, only 52dBA. The really solid metal panels don’t just make this the quietest generator, by watts, it also makes the machine virtually indestructible. Even in the most punishing conditions, the engine and alternator are shielded from harm.
There is a drawback to building the most robust portable generator. Top-grade metal components are not lightweight, making the Honda EU7000iSNAG exceptionally heavy, 263.2 pounds. In a bid to make this a portable generator, albeit a heavy one, it is equipped with a heavy-duty, all-terrain wheel kit. The wheels display the same enduring quality as with every other component on the generator. The Honda EU7000iSNAG has two fold down handles, also of the highest quality standard.
A user friendly generator, in every way, the Honda EU7000iSNAG has an electric starter, with a recoil starer as a backup. Because this is engine has electronic fuel injection, there is no need to concern yourself with a choke. The onboard computer constantly adjusts the fuel and air mixture in accordance with the ambient temperature. This means, whether cold or hot, the Honda engine always performs with optimum fuel efficiency and as smooth as an engine can be.
The control panel, like the rest of the generator, is designed to take life’s knocks in its stride. All the outlets and switches are recessed into an impact resistant dashboard. Here, you’ll find 2 X duplex 125V 20A outlets, a 30A 125V locking outlet, and a 125V/250V locking outlet, making this a transfer switch and RV ready generator. All the power outlets are supplied by electronic circuit breaker and are protected by tough plastic covers.
VIDEO | Basic Maintenance for your Honda EU7000iSNAG
The i-Monitor digital display is the most advanced of its kind, thanks to the onboard computerized diagnostic and engine monitoring system. The small LCD screen provides the usual information, like running hours and watts. It also displays additional information, like engine speed and diagnostics. The normal warning lights for low oil, system okay, and overload are at the top of the user panel, along with ports for a parallel kit and an economy mode switch.
After reading the Predator 57080 review, it would be tough to convince some that the Honda EU7000iSNAG is worthwhile. This generator is much more expensive. Perhaps, a price difference of a couple of hundred bucks might not be such a great concern, but when you can buy a much more powerful generator for around $3,000 less, things take on an entirely different perspective.
Perhaps it’s my old-fashioned, dogged insistence that machines need to last for decades and my fascination with brilliant engineering, but I still feel that the Honda EU7000iSNAG is the ultimate inverter generator, and worth every penny. Honda reliability is, as the saying goes, priceless. Fuel economy and build quality that exceeds every norm, is even more valuable. Add a couple of bucks for Honda peace of mind, in the form of a 3-year commercial and residential warranty, and you may possibly see the sense in paying north of $5,000 for the best generator ever made.
Who Makes Predator Generators?
Because so many brands, that appear to be made in the USA are not, this question is asked about so many products. Popular retail brands seem to go to great lengths to disguise their Chinese origin.
Writing product reviews, often has me on a wild goose chase to find the truth behind where a particular product is made. Nine times of out ten, the answer is China. This search has me harking back to history, when Marco Polo set out discover the Silk road, a secret route to China in ancient times. Today, trade with China is more dominant than in any other period in history. While the route to China is no longer a mystery, the actual origins of Chinese-made products often is.
Googling “who makes Predator generators?” mostly ends up with the same results. The answer being Harbor Freight. I wasn’t entirely convinced by this answer, as Harbor Freight has always been an importer of bargain goods, not a manufacturer. After some in-depth research, I found a rather checkered past to the Predator brand.
One thing I could establish with certainty, is that is that Predator engines and generators were originally manufactured by the Lifan Group. A manufacturing company in Chongqing, China. Established in 1992, Lifan Industry Group has been responsible for manufacturing a wide variety of products, from sports shoes to motorcycles and cars. It seem as though the company have concentrated their initiative to now only manufacturing motorcycles. Though, there isn’t complete transparency about what happened to their other manufacturing endeavors.
A cursory observation reveals that Predator engines, used in the Predator generators, are identical to the Honda clone engines originally manufactured by the Lifan Group. It appears that no one wants us to know who actually makes Predator engines and generators today.
I was not going let it rest here. I continued to search for Predator Engines and Lifan equivalents to make my own comparisons. You can still find engines being sold bearing the Lifan brand. These engines are identical to those sold by Harbor Freight with the Predator brand. These engines are also used in DuroMax generators. Identical to both Predator and Lifan engines, DuroMax engines are simply rebranded versions of the same basic unit.
All these engines bear an uncanny resemblance to similar models made by Honda. I have been left to draw my own conclusions on the matter. I cannot confirm with certainty who actually makes Predator generators and engines. Logic dictates that they are still made in the same Lifan factory in China. Harbor Freight may have purchased the brand or may have some other financial interest in the company. There is no record of this that I could find, it is all pure speculation. Call it an educated guess. I have no doubt, regardless of who actually owns the brand, these generators are made in China.
While some have a strong disdain for Chinese-made products, I don’t share this opinion. A generator can be great, mediocre, or plain junk. It makes no difference where the factory is located, it is about the engineering, materials used, and quality control. How does the Predator fare by these criteria?
Are Predator Generators any good?
The answer to this question is going to be a long one. I have some firm opinions on the matter, and you should be aware that these are I my opinions, and not shared by everyone. Before diving into these murky waters, I have to be clear on one thing. Predator generators are fantastic for the price. The majority of buyers are attracted the absolute bargain they’re getting.
I suppose we have to start by answering another common question: Are Predator generators Honda clones?
Predator engines (or rather, Lifan engines) are not unique to the Predator generator brand. There are many variants, used by different brands. Despite all the mystery and intrigue surrounding these engines, they all appear to come from the same factory in China. There basic design is most definitely copied from various Honda GX models. Though Predator engines are not exact clones of the Honda originals. There are subtle differences.
One thing I noticed when comparing Predator engines to the Honda originals, is that the materials used are not always the same. The carburetor fitted to the Predator 420cc engine (used in the Predator 57080) looks very similar to the Honda carburetors that I’m familiar with. I was, however, drawn to the fact that the Predator carburetor has a brass float chamber. The Honda carburetor uses an aluminum alloy. The brass version is obviously cheaper, but not as good.
As we move deeper into the Predator vs Honda debate, I would like to make a quick comparison to the basic philosophy behind the brands. This is important, not only when assessing Predator generators, it applies to all cloned products.
From its inception, Honda has placed an emphasis on building the best engines. Countless hours and millions of dollars have been spent on research and development over many decades. Honda engineers are persistently improving their engines. This massive investment is obviously going to reflect in the price we pay for Honda products.
When another manufacturer uses this innovation, they are obviously saving on the R & D costs. That should not concern us as consumers, if the product is the same. However, the effort to reduce costs is not limited to R & D. Cheaper materials also help bring the price down. The cloned product will often have minor changes in order to use cheaper components or to be used for different applications. In the end, I see it like this; the Honda philosophy is how to build the best. The Predator philosophy is how do we build the best engine cheaper. This could be a win-win for generator buyers. Though it isn’t that simple.
To illustrate this point, I’m going to compare the 420cc engine powering the Predator 57080 and 8750 inverter generators. This engine is basically a slightly modified Honda GX390 engine. The most significant change has been to increase the engine capacity from 390cc to 420cc.
To increase engine capacity, you don’t have to change much. This can be achieved by increasing the piston diameter, by boring a slightly larger cylinder in the engine block. There is no need to change the block or engine head. Shortening the piston will also increase capacity. The aim is to increase the combustion chamber volume. This allows more fuel to be used with each stroke, thereby increasing engine power. If you don’t know much about engineering, this may seem like a no-brainer. More power from the same engine, without increasing manufacturing costs. Sounds great.
If it were this simple, surely the Honda engineers with all their expertise and research would do the same. Why not? This is where the philosophy of researching and building the best engines reveals its hidden value. The exact size of the Honda GX engines didn’t happen by accident, it was calculated meticulously and then tested to ensure that the engine will perform optimally under all conditions and always remain reliable.
When you increase fuel combustion in the engine, this generates more heat. The original Honda GX390 engine was designed for the perfect for the size of this engine. Airflow across the head is able disperse the heat generated during fuel combustion. By increasing the displacement, the engine will run hotter. Without redesigning the cooling system to accommodate the extra heat, you run the risk of overheating. As a result, Predator engines are notorious for overheating issues.
The issue of overheating won’t always be a problem. The Honda engine was designed to run at full RPM, continuously, in any type of operating conditions. Some may consider this over-engineering. Since the original engine was tested for situations that don’t often occur in real life, you may never encounter this problem with your Predator generator. On a cool day, you should always be okay. Even on a particularly hot day, the engine will only overheat if it runs for a prolonged period of time at high RPM.
If you’re going to use one of the larger Predator generators with an up-sized Honda engine, I would recommend taking some precautions to protect the engine from overheating. Avoiding exposure to direct sunlight will help. Use the generator in the shade or construct a generator tent to keep it cool. You can also remove the panels that enclose the generator. While this will increase noise, it will provide additional ventilation to cool the engine. Some people have drilled holes in the panels to improve cooling. An electric fan will always do the trick. You could simply plug a fan from your home into the generator and direct it toward to the engine. A more permanent solutions would be to purchase an electric cooling fan from auto-parts store. This can be mounted to the back of the engine, behind the built-in mechanical fan. Installing a thermostat will switch the fan on when the engine temperature increase.
Cloned engines often experience carburetor problems. This is because the carburetor is one of the most sophisticated components on the engine. A myriad of parts have to be precision engineered to work in perfect unison. Inferior manufacturing techniques and materials often result in a carburetor that becomes problematic as the years go by. The best solution to a persistently problematic carburetor is to replace it with a better one.
It’s not always possible to retrofit an original brand carburetor to a cloned engine. Some Predator engines can be adapted to use a Honda carburetor. You would need to do some research before attempting this. If you start to experience carburetor problems with your Predator generator, I strongly advise investigating the possibility of fitting a Honda carb to the engine. It will save you a lot of headaches and money in the future.
Probably one of the greatest concerns when buying cheaply manufactured generators, is the question of quality control. High-end brands usually place a high value on reputation, even it costs more to achieve this. The Honda factory, like many top engine manufacturers, inspect components along the production line. QC is an ongoing and meticulous job. Defects are not tolerated at any point in the manufacturing process. Zero tolerance quality control is expensive. It would be much cheaper not to remanufacture components that only have minor defects.
When your motto is to build an engine cheaper, not better, QC is not as strict. If a component is not perfect, but okay, the QC manager (who is more concerned with cost over quality) will let it pass. This often results in out of box failure or component damage soon after.
Less than ideal QC practices are all too common these days. Fortunately, this will be covered by your warranty. It may be an inconvenience, but you will have the problem addressed. Because of this risk, you need to rely on brand integrity and a retailer you can trust.
About Harbor Freight —
Harbor freight has become one of the most popular American retailers. This has to do with their common-sense approach to purchasing and distribution, along with a dedication to customer care.
In 1977, this California company started out with a basic idea of supplying goods cheaper by purchasing directly from the factory. The concept of “cutting out the middleman” means that we, as consumers, benefit from lower prices. This is not unique. Large retailers use their buying power to bring us goods at lower prices. However, bigger is not always better. This is especially true when it comes to customer care.
Importing cheap goods from countries like China may mean better prices but this can also mean poor warranty response. This is where Harbor Freight has proven to be a retailer deserving of merit. When researching the Predator generators for this review, I took a look at countless customer reviews. There were those inevitable complaints about defective products being delivered. This is something I see even with even the best of brands.
What I found reassuring is the response these guys received from Harbor Freight customer care. Many have commented on the prompt and friendly reaction they received when dealing with warranty repairs and refunds. The Harbor Freight policy of a money back guarantee within 90-days of purchase is great. While this promise is offered by other retailers, it is not always easy to get your money back. Harbor Freight seem to be very accommodating when it comes to refunding customers and expediting warranty claims.
It is this policy that has earned the brand a loyal following.
Portable Generators in a Changing World —
Climate change and energy crisis. These two words seem to go hand-in-hand and have become a part everyday conversation. The causes of climate change has become a hot topic.
Some experts say this is simply a natural cycle, 2,000 years ago, our planet was much warmer than it has been over the last few centuries. There are those who feel that we are returning to weather conditions that were once normal.
There’s a more common view that climate change is due to our use of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gas emissions that result from this. While I’m no scientist, I think the truth probably lies somewhere between the two. There may be a natural tendency toward increased global temperatures which is exasperated by the emission of greenhouse gasses.
Regardless of the reasons, there can be no doubt that our climate is changing. Even the most optimistic among us cannot deny that it is happening and there is little we can do to stop it. Renewable energy is a great step forward. However, despite our greatest efforts, we are going to be experiencing extreme temperatures and storms in the years to come.
We need to be realistic and adapt to the changes that are upon us. Reliable electricity supply is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Global population is increasing. There is an increase in urbanization, especially in the developing countries. Our reliance on electric technology is increasing with each year. All this means that global demand for electricity is increasing rapidly. The balance between supply and demand has become extremely fragile, increasing the probability of prolonged outages.
Climatic extremes brings with it a new set of complications. Storms and hurricanes are becoming more frequent and severe. Damage to infrastructure during a storm often results in blackouts that can last for days, sometimes weeks. Emergency power from backup generators becomes essential at a time like this.
Most blackouts and brownouts occur during a heatwave. When hot weather becomes extreme, the demand for electricity to supply refrigerators and air conditioners surges. The electric grid becomes overloaded and vast areas are left without electricity. This is when we most need electric power in our homes and businesses. The food in your refrigerator will spoil rapidly in hot weather if there is no power to keep it running. This is also when we most depend on our air conditioners.
As the climate becomes more unpredictable and temperatures more severe, we will become more dependent on emergency backup power. A portable generator is the best solution.
Portable battery power stations are great for short outages if we don’t require much power. These machines may be emission-free, but they don’t supply the type of current needed for refrigeration and air conditioning. Limited battery storage also means that you won’t have the power you need for longer outages. Battery power has its advantages, though not for every situation.
As we face the inevitable fact that electricity supply is probably going to become less reliable in the future, we need to consider the importance of providing for this. An efficient inverter generator may become more of a necessity than a luxury.
Unlike the archaic gas guzzling, fume belching generators of yesteryear, modern inverter generators use relatively little fuel and have excellent emission control systems. I wouldn’t call this green power. It is about the best we can do with the technology we currently have. It is the only sure means of providing enough electricity to keep our homes functioning normally during a prolonged power outage.