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PRODUCT REVIEW: Poor man’s power supply – Harbor Freight 800W genset

September 9, 2012

Photo courtesy hankswandering.com.

(GunNews) – Here’s a little genset that will provide portable power for anyone who’s considering a generator but doesn’t want to invest a lot of money.

Harbor Freight has an inexpensive 800ish watt generator for $99.  With their 20% off coupon that’s usually in every issue of the NRA family of magazines (or Google it and print your own), it’s yours for a mere $79.

Online, owners of these units are generally pretty impressed with them.  They run about 5 hours at 50% load (400ish watts), using a fuel-oil mix (50:1).

I have one I received as a gift back in late ‘07 that is the same body, but branded “ETQ”.  Rural King has the same units branded as “Rural King” generators as well, but nobody has them as inexpensive as Harbor Freight with that 20% off coupon.

What will this little genset do?  It’ll run a number of compact fluorescent construction lights, your laptop, a couple of fans, battery chargers (including 8A 12VDC directly from the genset), many power tools, and other loads up to about 800 watts (6.5A).

What won’t this generator do?  It won’t run your refrigerator, furnace blower motor, well pump or large power tools.

It’s fairly quiet (about 72db at 22 feet) with a load and weighs about 50 pounds fully fueled.

 

UPDATE:

I've since used my little genset another forty or fifty hours since writing this article in 2011 and it's continued to provide quality, reliable and trouble-free service for me.  I've since purchased a pair of inverter generators which are *much* quieter (no need for a 100'+ cable run to move the generator away so its noise isn't obtrusive while lecturing at Appleseed events or other firearm training courses), *much* more fuel efficient (the inverter sets I've got use about 1/2 the fuel or less compared to what this one consumes) and no fuel-oil mixing (not onerous, but one more step to complete before refueling).

In further use, I've found this little set will burn through a gallon of gas in about 4-5 hours of run-time under a 500-600W load.

Given my appreciation for the benefits of the (*much!*) more expensive inverter units, my little HF-equivalent doesn't see much action today, save for the monthly exercise runs to keep it ready for use.  But I know it will start and run and provide electricity in an emergency.

Keep your eye open for the Harbor Freight 20% off coupon in your NRA publications and in other publications.  It makes this little genset very affordable for those on a budget.