In the search for the ultimate quiet RV generator, the Generac iQ3500 needs to be taken seriously. Being the quietest 3,500W inverter generator, it has enormous appeal for RV and homeowners seeking an almost silent power source with the advantage of clean, low THD, electricity suitable for sensitive electronic equipment.
The generator gurus will, for the most part, agree that the Honda EU3000iS is the best 3,000W inverter generator. I’ve always agreed with this sentiment. Honda are, probably always have been, the kings of portable power generation equipment. Then I took the time to really study the Generac iQ3500 (Model No: 7127). I find it difficult to reconcile my longstanding admiration for the Honda brand with the pure value for money presented by the Generac quiet 3,500W inverter generator.
I’m astounded by the price, almost half of what you’d pay for the renowned Honda model. Whilst paying considerably less, you’re getting a quieter generator, with more power. Yes, we cannot overlook the impeccable Honda reputation for outstanding quality and service excellence. We have to ask ourselves: Is the Generac iQ3500 that far behind? This is the most popular American generator brand. Though, in fairness, I think this is one of those Generac models that have been outsourced. Probably made in China. That’s my guess anyway.
I would not let this deter me. The Generac reputation is solid and most of the known brands make use of foreign manufactures to some extent. In the end, we need to trust the final quality control. This would be the guys in the US that ensure when we buy a Generac machine, it meets their high quality standards, regardless of the geographical location for the factory.
When it comes down to it, you’re getting a good quality 3,500W inverter generator, able to compete with any of the top brands, at a fraction of the price. How can anyone argue with this kind of value? Apart from the iQ3500, Generac have a huge selection of inverter generators at incredibly reasonable prices. To this end, I’ll also be reviewing two, even more affordable, Generac inverter models: the Generac GP3500iO (open frame 3,500W inverter generator) and the GP3000i quiet 3,000W inverter generator.
Generac iQ3500 ǀ A comprehensive Review
- POWERRUSH technology: 3,500W peak power, 3,000W rated power
- Durable steel housing
- TRUEP POWER, Pure sine wave inverter with less than 3% Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)
- Digital Smart LCD display: Watts; runtime remaining; generator status; hour meter and fuel
- Parallel ready
- Economy mode reduces fuel consumption and noise levels
On their website, Generac go to great lengths to promote the iQ3500 as being far superior to the Honda EU3000iS. Since they’re bold enough to make this claim, I’m going to take them up on the challenge. Can this inexpensive inverter generator really match up to the industry leader?
According to their advertising pitch, the Generac iQ3500 is supposed to be “40% quieter than Honda”. Scroll down to the fine print: “over 5dB(A) quieter than the EU3000iS, based on independent third-party testing.” Here’s the thing, Generac don’t actually provide noise level specs for this generator. With advertising standards being what they are, I don’t think they can make a public statement like this without verified documentation to back it up. For all intents and purposes, I’m willing to accept their claim as fact. I can testify that you will barely hear this generator sitting in your RV, with the machine about 20’ away. Even at full power, it sounds like a distant murmur. I’m guessing well under 50dBA at 25% output or less, only a little over 50dBA at full power. Never as loud as a normal speaking voice. There is no quieter 3,500W gas generator on the market. At least, none that I know of.
Generac also claim 16% more power and 50% more starting capacity. Well, that is true. The Generac iQ3500 delivers 3,500 starting watts, a real advantage if you’re using a 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner. Running power is also a bit higher than the EU3000iS, which supplies 3,000W peak and 2,800W running power. The Generac iQ3500 has a rated (constant) output of 3,000 watts. With a price difference of around a thousand bucks, the cheaper Generac iQ3500 seems like the deal of the century. Can it really be that simple?
When we start looking at long-term value for money, we can’t ignore durability and fuel consumption. Here things become somewhat complicated. Who can say how these generators will fare 10 – 15 years from now? I believe that the Honda EU3000iS will endure the test of time. The Generac iQ3500 probably won’t last as long as the Honda generator. Of course, this can only be speculative, I cannot see into the future. What I can say from experience, is that there can be no better engine than the Honda GX200 to power a generator of this size. This engine has proven, time and again, to be as indestructible as it gets. My guess is that many years after the Generac has given up the ghost, the ever-reliable Honda will still be purring away as effortlessly as the day you bought it. Honda GX engines are also known for incredible fuel efficiency. Though the Generac 212cc engine, used for the iQ3500, is not at all thirsty. I wouldn’t consider fuel efficiency as deal breaker when comparing the Generac iQ3500 vs Honda eu3000iS.
When it comes down making a decision, it will be about lifespan and reliability. I’m pretty sure, almost convinced, that the Honda will prove to be the better generator over the years. Is this worth paying an extra $1,000+ for? HMMMN. That’s a tough one. Lets’ face it, a grand is a lot of cash. You’re going to get many years of faithful service from the Generac iQ3500, by which time you could take all that money saved and almost buy another brand new generator. I’ll leave you to decide how you prefer to spend your hard earned cash.
Having done my best to address their attempt at comparing the Honda EU3000iS to the Generac iQ3500, I’ll simply review the iQ3500 for what it is, a wonderfully affordable 3,500 watt quiet inverter generator.
At the heart of any gas generator lies an engine that needs to be reliable and fuel efficient. In this regard, Generac has met with the challenge. The 212cc OHV Generac powerplant starts easily with a single dial, for stop, run, and choke. It has an electric starter and a recoil backup starter. This is a thoroughly modern, smooth running engine, meeting all environmental standards. Emissions are in line with EPA and CARB regulations, making this a 50-state legal generator. Fuel efficiency is near the top of the scale. At just under 6 Kilowatt-Hours per gallon, the Generac iQ3500 can compete with any of the best inverter generators when it comes fuel economy. The 2.6 gallon gas tank provides a really good 8.9 hours runtime at 50% load, reaching 14.1 hours at 25% load. As is the norm with inverter generators, an economy switch on the control panel reduces the RPM at low output, less than 25% of the rated load. This means that if you’re using 750 watts or less, the generator will reduce the engine speed, using less fuel and lowering the noise levels. An engine also experiences less wear at low RPM, prolonging engine life and reducing maintenance costs.
The Generac iQ3500 has a fairly rudimentary user panel in terms of outlets. As this is one of the best RV inverter generators, it’s pleasing to see the L5-30R 120V 30A outlet. On a generator like this, I view this an essential. It also has 2 X 20A 5-20R 120V 20A standard household outlets. This is the sum total of AC outlets. A 20A breaker supplies the 50-20R outlets, with a main 25A breaker, doubling up for the 30A outlet. It also has 2 X 5VDC USB ports(1A/2.1A). A 3-position dial is used to switch the generator on or off and operate the choke. A push button activates the electric starter, with the economy mode switch directly adjacent to this. Ports for the parallel connection kit (sold separately) are on the user panel. A full function digital display offers the best of modern convenience. You can choose between a variety of information options: output watts, remaining runtime, generator status, running hours, and fuel.
I like the durable metal enclosure. The trend for quiet inverter generators is to use a fashionably molded plastic housing. Plastic is great for weight reduction but does not offer as much protection from those inevitable bumps and knocks that a portable generator has to endure. The denser metal plates also offer improved sound insulation. The obvious disadvantage of extra weight is quite noticeable. The Generac iQ3500 weighs 109.1 pounds and there is no option for a wheel kit. Lifting this generator for transportation is the only option. Fortunately, it is fitted with strong handles, perfectly positioned at either side along the length of the generator.
I think comparing the Generac iQ3500 vs Honda EU3000iS is a little ambitious to say the least. While the Generac brand has brought us some mighty tough industrial grade generators, the iQ3500 is not quite in the heavy-duty league. This is a domestic, medium-duty generator. The Honda EU3000iS is an expensive, high-end generator. There can be no real comparison in this regard. While the Honda probably retains the title of best in class, the Generac is certainly the best for your budget. In terms of practical daily use, the Generac iQ3500 knocks it out of the ballpark. It is unbelievably quiet and has all the power you could want for an RV. It is also quite capable of supplying basic home power during an outage. The price tag is phenomenal for a brand of this caliber. Even though you’re getting a generator this cheap, it is still backed by a name you can trust with a 3-year warranty. Any way you look at it, this is quite irresistible. I’ll reiterate my opinion that the Generac iQ3500 is the best value for money in the 3,000 – 3,500W quiet inverter generator class.
Generac iQ3500 Downloads
- PowerRUSH Technology – Delivers over 50% more starting capacity
- up to 25% lighter – for improved portability
- True power technology – clean power for sensitive electronics
- RV ready – connect directly to RV to power most RV air conditioners up to 15, 000 BTU
- USB outlets and parallel ready – connect 2 units together for double the power
As a true sine wave, 3,500W portable inverter generator, the Generac GP3500iO is identical to the iQ3500. The primary difference between these generators being that the GP3500iO is an open frame generator. It is nowhere near as quiet as the sublimely silent Generac iQ3500. There are some technical details that differ, though this is essentially the same generator, with the same engine and True Power inverter. The GP3500iO is cheaper than the iQ3500. This makes it an incredible deal for anyone who requires a 3,500W inverter generator, if you don’t mind the extra noise. For a home backup inverter generator, it should be great, it is not as loud as most open frame generators. In a campsite, with noise level restrictions, the Generac iQ3500 will be of greater benefit.
As I mentioned, the GP3500iO uses exactly the same Generac 212cc engine as the iQ3500. This means the same great reliability and excellent fuel consumption – 11-hours at 25% load and 8-hours at 50% load. The reason the GP3500iO doesn’t have the same runtime as the iQ3500, is that the former has a smaller, 2.37 gallon gas tank. The actual fuel consumption per kilowatt-hour is identical. Power output is just as impressive: 3,500W peak capacity, with a rated capacity of 3,000W.
The GP3500iO also has the advantage of an economy mode, reducing fuel consumption and noise when the power demand is less than 25%. Because of this, Generac like to advertise this generator as being 50% quieter. This can be a little misleading. The Generac GP3500iO is much quieter than similar Generac models that don’t have an economy (low-RPM) switch. This would only apply, if the economy mode is switched on, and the load remains lower than 25% of the rated output, meaning less than 750W. At loads higher than 25%, without the low RPM advantage, it is pretty much the same as most other generators of this size in terms of noise levels. This generator can also accommodate a parallel kit, allowing for two generators to be connected together, doubling your available watts.
The Generac GP3500iO does not have an electric starter. This helps reduce the price, one of the reasons this generator is cheaper than the Generac iQ3500. Without an electric starter motor and battery, coupled with the absence of heavy metal sound insulating panels, the GP3500iO is substantially lighter than the Generac iQ3500. It weighs only 74.3 pounds. Like the Generac iQ3500, this model does not include a wheel kit. Though the lower weight makes it more portable than the quiet 3,500W Generac model. The robust metal frame provides ample comfortable positions to lift the generator easily.
Outlets provide on the GP3500iO control panel are basically the same as the Generac iQ3500, pretty basic. You have 2 X 120V 20A (5-20R) outlets and a 120V 30A twist lock outlet for your RV or home power transfer switch. It also has 2 X USB ports and ports for the parallel connection kit. The digital display is not that sophisticated, only displaying running hours. Standard warning lights indicate low oil, overload warning, and system okay. Below the LED info lights, is an economy switch. This model has the same convenient starting dial: Off, On, Choke. The recoil starter is on the control panel, adjacent to the starting dial. I like the tough metal panel, with a recessed design, offering extra protection for the dials, outlets, and switches.
Selling for less than $700, the Generac GP3500iO is appreciably cheap, around $600 cheaper than the Generac iQ3500. This cheaper price is understandable when you consider that the GP3500iO is not a quiet generator and it does provide the ease of an electric starter. It does, however, deliver the watts needed for a large RV air conditioner, with the added advantage of low-HD inverter power, at a fantastic price.
Generac GP3500iO Downloads
- PowerRUSH Technology – Delivers over 50% more starting capacity
- Quiet inverter power
- Easy to carry – compact & lightweight with built-in handle Weight: 59.5 LBS
- TruePower – clean power for sensitive electronics
The Generac GP3000i is cheaper than the iQ3500, not as cheap as the GP3500iO. This is a quiet inverter generator, delivering 3,000 surge watts and 2,300 watts of running power. It is almost as quiet as the Generac iQ3500. The plastic housing, which is more common for quiet inverter generators, does not provide as much noise insulation, compared to the more expensive Generac iQ3500. The GP300i is, however, incredibly lightweight.
Despite being a smaller inverter generator, with a less powerful (149cc) engine, the GP3000i is not as fuel efficient as the Generac iQ3500. Offering a pretty unimpressive 4.9 kilowatt-hours per gallon, this generator is about average in terms of fuel economy. As this is a compact, delightfully portable generator, it does not have a particularly large gas tank – only 1.06 gallons. With a smaller gas tank, and not the best fuel consumption, runtimes aren’t that great either: 5.8-hours at 25% load and 4.5-hours at 50% load. Like the other inverter generators, the GP3000i has an economy mode, reducing noise and fuel consumption at loads below 25% (575W or less).
Of the three Generac inverter generators, featured in this review, the GP3000i has the most basic control panel. You have the essential outlets for home, tailgating, and RV use: 2 X 120V 20A household outlets, and a 30A 120V twist lock outlet. It also has 2 X 5V USB ports. There is no digital display, only the regular warning lights for overload, low oil, and system okay. It has the convenient Generac 3-position starting dial (Off; On; Choke). In a bid to reduce weight, there is no electric starter. Parallel ports allow you to connect a second GP3000i generator, thereby doubling the power output.
The greatest advantage to this generator, compared to the Generac iQ3500, is portability. The Generac GP3000i weighs only 59.5 pounds. It has the stylish, curvaceous plastic housing, synonymous with modern inverter generator design trends. This includes a large, well-balanced handle, making it pretty easy to carry.
While not as powerful, quiet, or economical as the outstanding Generac iQ3000, the GP3000 has some advantages. It is cheaper, though the actual value in these savings are debatable. Especially when you consider your gas spend over the years. The only thing this generator has to offer, is improved portability. It has the same great 3-year Generac Warranty, ensuring a good quality standard. Personally, I’d prefer to pay a little extra for the Generac iQ3500.