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Old 07-13-2019, 06:37 AM   #1
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HF Predator 3500 Owners Please

We own the above generator. Recently while camped in the desert at 7000' on a day with the outside temps running in the 90's,our gen went into overload mode and I am looking for reasons why.

The AC was the only thing on, batteries were fully charged, and the gen started and ran fine for about 10 minutes, but then started to cough and wheeze and shut itself off with the overload warning light lit. The gen re-started but the results were the same. Our AC unit is 13,500 BTU, which under desert conditions should pull about 19 amps, and I understand there is some performance loss for elevation, but it seems I should have had plenty of power.

I am looking for reasons why. Did I get a bad unit from HF? It only has about 15 hours on it and was properly broken in and has had more than the required maintenance.

I know that a hard start capacitor is a possible cure, but it just does not seem that it should be necessary with a gen this size.

We are still in the desert environment and Mama is not happy without AC, so we are forced to stay in overpriced campgrounds till I find a solution

Comments and questions from electrical and generator gurus are both appreciated and welcomed.

Thanks guys.

Wally
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Old 07-14-2019, 09:36 PM   #2
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WOW! Kind of surprised by the lack of response here. Is my situation so unique that no one has any thoughts or ideas? Help would be appreciated.
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Old 07-14-2019, 10:12 PM   #3
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I've had mine approximately 2 years now, and the only issue I've had with mine is that it's a little hard to start in sub freezing temps. I'm not sure I could pull start it if I had to when it gets below mid teens. It does start eventually with the electric start.


You might try loosening the gas cap to see if somehow it isn't venting. This can cause stalling after it has run for a bit. Mine runs a little rich at altitude, but still runs, just fouls spark plugs and flame arrestors slightly quicker. The original spark plug in my generator was garbage and I ended up replacing it at the first oil change as I recall. Depending on how it goes bad, a spark plug can fail as it heats up. It would probably be worth your while to try Slapping in a new plug, and spares are always good to have around.


I've also seen a couple posts where folks removed the door for the oil fill port to allow better airflow to the carb. I haven't had any air flow issues but it has evidently worked for some.



Thats all I can think of at the moment.



Good luck
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Old 07-15-2019, 05:22 AM   #4
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How old is the gas in it ?

How old was the gas you poured in it ?

How long has it sat between uses ?

Did you store it with gas in the carburator for more then a month ?
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:32 AM   #5
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Another thing to look at is the max amps the plug is on the gen.

I have one of the 4000 watt (3200 running amps) and all the plugs on it state 13 amp max.
Even the 220 plug shows that.
Not sure which model you have exactly but you might check the max amps.
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:43 AM   #6
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Does the overload coincide with air conditioner startup? A clamp on amp meter would verify if the draw on the generator is more than allowable.
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Old 07-16-2019, 09:53 AM   #7
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Any updates as to what you found? Many of us could potentially learn from your misfortune. One other possible input might be something like the fridge trying to kick in on electric. My norcold polar max draws 600 watts on electric.
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Old 07-16-2019, 11:19 AM   #8
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Your A/C could draw as much as 40 amps momentarily on start up. This won't show up on a clamp on ammeter. Your genny is only capable of about 30 amps. A start capacitor could help or something a little pricier like a Micro-Air Soft start module. Also you are losing almost 30% of the generator engine power at 7000 ft elevation. Hopefully your generator is working properly.
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Old 07-20-2019, 09:13 PM   #9
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Thanks for the thoughts guys. i have been off the grid for a week so and just now getting caught up. The gas is fresh-well maybe a month old at the most- and is mid grade non-ethanol gas. The generator gets run every month. sometimes with and sometimes without a load. I need to check the AMP rating on the plugs and will report back on that. I can change the spark plug-a quick and easy job. I did try running it with the oil door removed and it made no difference. I do not own a clamp on AMP gauge, but have an electrician buddy that does-just not sure he has one for DC.

These are all good thoughts and I appreciate the feedback. I will do more checking next week and report what I find.
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Old 07-20-2019, 09:46 PM   #10
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Don't need a DC amp meter. Inverter and all 120 volt generators are are AC.

The coughing and wheezing suggests carb , gas or gas filter issues, not electrical overloads.
With an electrical overload the engine would work hard right up to the point it shut down electrically.

Did you have the gas cap vent open all the way.

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Originally Posted by WNDOPDLR View Post
Thanks for the thoughts guys. i have been off the grid for a week so and just now getting caught up. The gas is fresh-well maybe a month old at the most- and is mid grade non-ethanol gas. The generator gets run every month. sometimes with and sometimes without a load. I need to check the AMP rating on the plugs and will report back on that. I can change the spark plug-a quick and easy job. I did try running it with the oil door removed and it made no difference. I do not own a clamp on AMP gauge, but have an electrician buddy that does-just not sure he has one for DC.

These are all good thoughts and I appreciate the feedback. I will do more checking next week and report what I find.
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Old 07-21-2019, 07:20 AM   #11
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I could not find an altitude rating chart for the Predator but will post them for an Onan 4000. Loss percentage should be close.
500 feet and below 4000 watts
2500 feet 3720 watts
5500 feet 3300 watts
above 5500 feet, 3300 watts minus 140 watts for each additional 1000 feet.

At 7000 feet this would leave 3090 watts for a 4000 watt generator. Your generator could be down to around the 2000 watt area at 7000 feet.

Some of the a/c brands can draw 80 amps on start up. A normal digital amp draw meter will not record the total amp draw. I use and old analog. I watched a YouTube video where the guy from Soft Start had build a special digital meter that would capture the total start up amps.
Coleman does sell Power Saver a/c unit that draw considerably less power than a normal unit. More money to buy but might be worth it.
I was at Harbor Freight here in Michigan where we are currently and there was a guy returning the same generator for a similar problem. The reviews on Harbor Freight also have a similar problem listed. If you are still in the 90 day warranty you might want to return it.
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Old 07-25-2019, 03:16 PM   #12
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Thought I would offer some up-dated information.

We have returned home and checking out the generator was high on the after trip priority list. Today, I let the generator run for about 2 1/2 hours (elevation 500') with the AC running and it never hiccuped. I turned the microwave on while the AC was running and the genny barely changed notes. I then turned the fridge to electric along with the AC and microwave, and the genny pulled down a little but recovered.

All of this was done with the same gas, spark plug and gas cap we have had with us for the trip.

I think leadman is on the right path here and we had just lost too much performance due to our location and it's elevation. I think that I will install a hard start capacitor that may help when we get back into higher elevations, and I am going to put a new spark plug in it just because I can believe that HF used the cheapest thing available to them when they made the genny.

Thanks to everyone that chimed in here with your thoughts. Every one was appreciated and I hope I can pay it forward some day.
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