Author Topic: Harbor Freight Generators...anyone have one?  (Read 2624 times)

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Offline Shawn B

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Harbor Freight Generators...anyone have one?
« on: October 01, 2010, 12:53:05 PM »
Considering purchasing this generator:

http://www.harborfreight.com/engines-generators/gas-engine-generators/16-hp-6500-rated-watts-7000-max-watts-portable-generator-66603.html

I like the electric start feature, along with the wattage and price.

Looks like too good a deal for the money, if the thing is to last long.

What's everyone's thoughts?
"The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on Earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule." Samuel Adams

Offline John Raabe

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Re: Harbor Freight Generators...anyone have one?
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2010, 01:09:52 PM »
I bought one from Harbor Freight about 3 years ago. I think it puts out 4500 watts and has a Subaru engine with electric start. The one you are considering is larger. The key switch went out after the first year and I've used the pull starter ever since. It has never failed to start (I run it for ~10 minutes every 6 weeks or so..). It has plenty of power for our house uses (freezer, Refr, kitchen stuff, lights, & computers).

I don't have it wired into the panel - I run extension cords for the few hours it is normally needed for our power outages.
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Offline diyfrank

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Re: Harbor Freight Generators...anyone have one?
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2010, 01:30:47 PM »
We use harbor freight generators and power tools at work and I see them used more and more on jobs now days. I think you would be more than happy with the performance for the price.
 I have a champion gen. It's china, similar to the harbor freight models. It broke on me a month back after around 100 hours.  I called the tech line. It was an easy fix. [cool]
I've never bought a quality tool in all my life so take it for what it's worth.
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Offline MountainDon

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Re: Harbor Freight Generators...anyone have one?
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2010, 04:29:48 PM »
One good thing, other than the price is the engine has a cast iron sleeve.

Chances are it'll be good value.

It will most likely also be noisy as there are no claims to any particular sound level in the specs and it runs at 3600 RPM's at all times. Hopefully if you plan on running it a lot you can place it some distance from where you will be.


Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline Shawn B

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Re: Harbor Freight Generators...anyone have one?
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2010, 04:53:47 PM »
One good thing, other than the price is the engine has a cast iron sleeve.

Chances are it'll be good value.

It will most likely also be noisy as there are no claims to any particular sound level in the specs and it runs at 3600 RPM's at all times. Hopefully if you plan on running it a lot you can place it some distance from where you will be.


Is this a internal sleeve, where the piston travels?


Is 3,600 RPM constant, or is it at max output?  I plan on placing it about 20-30' from the cabin. It will be used for power outages and to equalize the battery bank of a future solar system.
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Offline MountainDon

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Re: Harbor Freight Generators...anyone have one?
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2010, 05:28:45 PM »
Yes, the sleeve the piston travels in. That's much better than some engines that run the piston in an aluminum cylinder.


Most generators like this run at a constant 3600 RPM's because that is what's needed to produce 60 Hz AC power. The engine carburetor is set up to run at the governed 3600 RPM's and vary the throttle opening as the load changes. Some, better, higher priced generators run at 1800 and art geared to spin the generator at 3600.  Inverter generators, on the other hand, vary the speed of the engine as the load varies; that's why those small Hondas are so whisper quiet. They use DC alternators and invert the power to the 120 VAC. They run much quieter and use less fuel. My Yamaha is not as quiet as the Hondas but didn't cost as much; still much more than all these others, though.

I used to have a 4 KW standard noisy type. For use at a campsite it was hard to bear; I would not use it unless we were alone, what the FS calls dispersed camping (in the trees someplace). If I was using something like that at the cabin perhaps a three walled "enclosure" to deflect sound away from the cabin could help a little. You have to watch the air flow though.

I did improve the exhaust noise a lot with a super duper silencer, but that did not help out all the mechanical noise. An engine designed specifically for quiet generator use also has more webs cast into the internal and external structure. The engineers do analysis to prevent mechanical harmonics increasing the mechanical sounds. Engines used in most "garden variety" generators are not generally designed like that. But everything that is done to make it quieter boosts the price.

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline suburbancowboy

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Re: Harbor Freight Generators...anyone have one?
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2010, 04:35:29 PM »
I bought a 3500 watt one a couple of years ago.  The amp output was horrible.  I can't even run my circular saw or air pump with it with out the breaker kicking off.  I would by one at home depot.  That way you can return it if you have problems.  HF warranty is crap unless you by the extended warranty.

Offline Shawn B

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Re: Harbor Freight Generators...anyone have one?
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2010, 01:10:27 PM »
Thanks everyone for your thoughts. Thanks Mt.Don for the detailed explanation. I'm probably going to hold off for awhile, and look around locally at what's available.
"The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on Earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule." Samuel Adams