Fun With Generators

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The day before I was due to move out of my house I went to set up the generator that I received from only to discover I couldn’t. There wasn’t much to setting this generator up, but when I was installing the rubber feet and wheels I quickly realized one wheel wouldn’t install and so the drama began…

Since I was going to be living in the RV full-time I knew I was going to need a generator. After reading many reviews and watching many YouTube videos I settled on a Westinghouse WGen3600 Portable Generator from Amazon Prime. It arrived just before I was scheduled to be out of my house, but in the rush to pack I didn’t get to it until the day before only to run into a snag, but first, I took note that there was oil around the inside of the bag and box that the generator arrived in. As I was unpacking it I was getting covered in oil. Not cool at all, especially when the oil cap was installed. So I wasn’t sure where the oil came from. Westinghouse did provide a quart of oil, which was nice, but that wasn’t where the oil came from.


Setting Up The WGen360 (Round 1) – 04-15-2018

The first steps to setting up this generator are to install the little rubber feet on the front and the two wheels on the back. The rubber feet went on fine.


The first wheel installed fine as well. However when I stood the unit I I could see the top bars were bent down a bit, one side more than the other, indicating damage. Also, it’s hard to see from this photo, but the side panel is bent in on the left! You can also see some oil on the lower bar in front of the wheel.


The wheels install by a pin that acts as the axle and goes through the wheel into the mount on the frame. At that point a cotter pin / clip holds the axle in place as shown here on the wheel that was installed.


When I went to install the other wheel I found the pin hit one of the motors mounts and wouldn’t go through far enough to get the cotter pin / clip into it.


I didn’t even continue at this point. There on the side of the generator was the lifetime technical support number! I decided to call them and figure this out. Unfortunately it was Sunday and I got an answering service. They took my information and said someone would call me back within 24-48 hours. So I had to cover the generator up and wait.


Here’s a different angle on the wheel that installed fine.


Here’s a different angle on the wheel that wouldn’t install. After 48 hours and no call back I took it upon myself to call back. They first assumed I was doing something wrong. When I assured them that I wasn’t they assumed I had the wrong wheel kit for this generator. I sent them the photos above of the working wheel and the non-working wheel asking how could one wheel install fine if I had the wrong kit? At this point they recommended I return the unit since they didn’t carry spare parts to send me. Considering the damage to the unit I agreed and contacted Amazon, who sent a replacement right out and sent me a return label for the current one.


Setting Up The WGen360 (Round 2) – 04-23-2018

Luckily, I was initially staying in an RV Park, so I was able to have the replacement sent there. When it arrived I took it out of the box and put the other one back in its box.


Removing the replacement unit from the box, the first thing I noticed is that there was more oil leaked inside this box than the previous one. There was also oil all over the second unit as well.


I went to install the wheels and guess what? Same situation. One side had the motor mount in the way of the axle pin. Once again I contacted technical support who sent me photos of what it should look like and then suggested that I send it back…again…


Noticing that the panel on this unit was bent as well I decided to return it. However, I was sick of waiting for replacement units only to go through all this, so I decided to return both units and not buy another one from Amazon. At this point I decided I needed to get one locally. Even if it cost more money it would be worth the time I saved waiting for shipping and having to unpack and repack these heavy things up.


Harbor Freight Predator – 04-25-2018

I went back to YouTube and started looking up videos of units from Lowe’s, Home Depot and Harbor Freight. Surprisingly the Harbor Freight Predator units got good reviews and there were many videos of them not only being reviewed, but of oil changes and load tests.


Ironically, the Predator Generators were on sale at Harbor Freight the day I went there and I left with the 3500 Watt Super Quiet Inverter Generator.


Delayed Reaction – 06-12-2018

I had so much going on over the next month or so that I never set up or tested this generator! It sat on the back of my truck covered up, but never had fuel, oil or even the battery connected. Finally while staying at a different RV Park I decided to get it ready, knowing that once I left this particular park I would be boondocking more than not and would need the generator. If you look closely at the handle in the back you can see the cable bike lock I have to secure the generator to the cargo ring on the side of the bed. Minimal security, but it prevent anyone from just easily walking off with it, not that this thing would be easy, as heavy as it is.


While I didn’t need to install wheels, rubber feet or handles on this unit, I did need to put oil into it.


While Harbor Freight did not include a quart of oil like Westinghouse did, they did include some tools and a handy funnel for putting the oil in. In all fairness, the Westinghouse unit did have a couple of tools as well.


Once oil was added it was time to connect the battery, which is accessible behind this panel. It is not connected from the factory, but is connected easily enough.


The next step was to add fuel. Fortunately for me the RV Park I was at was also a gas station.


After adding fuel I decided to run it for a few minutes and make sure there were no obvious problems, however I didn’t really need it at this point since I was connected to shore power. It started on the first try and I was amazed how quiet it was. There was more noise coming from my tool box rattling than from the engine itself.


After cooling off I covered the generator using the cover I purchased from Amazon for the Westinghouse generator. It fit nicely!


Boondocking Break-In – 06-15-2018

So up to this point I was mostly in RV Parks or travelling so not really using much power and when I was it was in diners or cafes and just to keep my laptop charged.


Currently I am at a Cabela’s parking lot and actually using the generator for real. It purrs like a kitten! I can’t believe how quiet it is. The ambient noise and birds in the area make more noise than this generator. I’ve also had rigs and Class A motor homes parking along side me running their diesel engines all night, so I can stealth run any time when that is happening.


Final Thoughts

All in all, I really like this Predator Generator. It has sufficient power for my needs and should be able to run my air conditioner if need be, though I haven’t tried that yet since it has been so cool and windy lately. Compared to the Westinghouse generators, this unit is much heavier and as you can see, I run it right off the back of my truck. I don’t want to lift this off the back of the truck if I don’t have to. My RV cord reaches just fine from the connection on the RV to the generator.

The Westinghouse units were listed as RV ready, having a 30A RV outlet right on the front, and while the Predator does not, it comes with a FREE 30A RV Adapter that plugs into the Twist Lock connector and then you still have two (2) 120VAC outlets for charging your power tool batteries or whatever.

I don’t have any experience with Harbor Freight in terms of customer service related to this generator, but I have to say I am quite disappointed with Westinghouse. The technical support wasn’t what I expected and it seemed pointless to call them if I was just going to keep returning busted generators. As far as them being damaged, you could say it was the fault of the carrier and not Westinghouse, but consider this. One unit was delivered by UPS while the replacement was delivered by FedEx. Both were damaged in the same exact way. I am more inclined to think they’re not adequately protected / packed for shipping and that reflects poorly on Westinghouse. The Harbor Freight unit, by comparison had thick blue packing foam around it and everything was solid inside the box. No oil leaks or anything.

As I continue to use the Predator I will post any relevant updates here that affect my overall opinion of it or anything I think people need to know. Until then, take care and safe camping!

Follow Chris Savage:

At age 48 I decided to downsize, minimize and shed things that cause me stress and contribute to my declining health. For 22 years I've spent most of my time indoors in front of a computer. It's time to change that!

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