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The Generac iQ3500 is a quiet generator that provides all the power I need for BBQ competitions and weekend trips in the RV.
Disclosure: Generac compensated me for this post. Opinions are my own.
When I travel around the country for BBQ competitions, I often find myself in a field or parking lot. As an RVer, I find myself in even more remote locations. Sometimes I have power. Most times, I don’t.
Because of my fun, remote lifestyle, I need a portable, quiet generator.
I had the pleasure of learning about Generac generators at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas in 2017 and 2018. At the latest show, the ladies at the booth introduced me to the new iQ3500 that was being released in 2018.
I was immediately impressed with the reduced noise levels, power capabilities and sleek design, so I couldn’t wait for its launch.
How much power do I need?
When shopping for a generator, this is probably the most important question. Don’t just think about what your needs are today. Think about what your power needs might be in the next couple of years.
You can go with the Generac iQ2000 or GP2200i if you’re just needing to run some pellet grills and lights, but if you start adding a trailer with air conditioning, microwaves or coffee makers, you’re going to want more juice.
When I tested the iQ3500, I ran the AC and microwave in the trailer, and it was using just over 2,000 watts. If I would have added a pellet grill, it would have spiked another couple hundred watts, which still leaves me 1,000 or so watts for the refrigerator.
I’ve found that the 3,500-watt size is perfect for all my needs. I can even plug in my curlers or blow dryer. Gotta look cute while grilling :)
The manual explains how many approximate watts standard devices use. It includes a breakdown for power tools, too. I appreciate the versatility. While I use this for camping and BBQing, we can also use it when we bring out the table saw, which uses 1,700-2,000 watts.
Another bonus with having the extra power, is that you can help out your brothers and sisters in barbecue, and let them plug in. You’re already a grilling powerhouse, if you’re a competitive BBQer, now you can literally be the powerhouse.
The iQ3500 retails for $1,299. If that’s out of your price range, and you don’t need this much power, the GP2200i retails for $599 and the iQ2000 for $799. But I recommend investing in the larger generator, if you can make it work with your budget. It really pays off to have the extra wattage.
Usually, more power comes with more sound, but Generac has done some third-party testing, comparing their iQ3500 to the Honda EU3000is, and found that it is 40% quieter. I did my own testing, comparing it with my Ryobi 2300, and the Generac was significantly quieter.
In fact, I had the Generac fired up on Fremont Street at the Downtown Throw Down BBQ Competition in Las Vegas, and people were walking by in awe. They saw the lights on, and they knew I had power, but they couldn’t hear the generator.
They were placing bets about whether it was on or not. Granted Fremont Street is a pretty noisy place, but it still is a testament to how discreet this generator is.
It uses an advanced inverter technology in an enclosed environment for ultra-quiet performance. It also has an economy mode option, which reduces noise and fuel consumption. You can switch it to this mode when your power demands aren’t as high.
I tested the sound levels at home without a power load, using a decibel app on my phone.
Decibel Reading ~ 12 inches from rear*
Economy Mode Off
Economy Mode On
Decibel Reading ~ 12 inches from front*
Economy Mode Off
Economy Mode On
*Keep in mind, this app isn’t as good as a true decibel reader, and the ambient sound in my backyard was around 50 decibels without the generator, because we live under a flight path. The app worked well to demonstrate the differences, but in a controlled environment, the readings are probably lower.
When I stood 10 feet in front of the generator, the sound was reduced even more. The economy mode registered 65 decibels. When I turned the economy mode off, it was 69 decibels. My Ryobi tested 5-9 decibels higher in every scenario.
When I take it to competitions, I don’t even notice it in the background.
Once you’re hooked up and ready to go, the Digital Smart Display keeps you updated with all of the information you need. With the push of a button, you can scroll through the wattage meter, run time remaining, generator status, hour meter and fuel level.
Knowing the fuel level was so helpful at my last comp. I knew I needed power for 6 hours, and when I saw I only had fuel left for 4 hours, I sent a teammate on a quick fuel run.
After a while, the display returns to the home screen, which is fine, but I wish I could keep it on the fuel level or run time remaining without having to push a button, so I could just look over for an update.
The Generac iQ3500 uses the new PowerRush™ advanced technology. This delivers 50% more starting capacity, increasing electrical current upon demand.
I love the electric start. All I have to do is push a button to turn it on. This is so much easier than cranking it like a lawn mower.
It has two large handles on both sides, so you can pick it up and move it. My husband can move it on his own, but I need a second person to help me, because it weighs in at 109 pounds. I think we’re going to set it on a furniture dolly in the future, so we can easily push it around, if we want to move it.
To get started
Getting started is super easy. First thing you’ll do is connect the battery. The battery powers the electric start. It’s located just below the main display.
Remove the battery, and attach the red connector, using the included screwdriver.
Attach the black connector the same way.
Cover the connections with the plastic boots.
Return the battery to the generator, and fasten to secure.
To add oil, which is also included, open the side door.
Unscrew the orange oil cap.
Use the included funnel to add oil. Be sure to review the manual. It comes with oil, but the recommended viscosity of oil does vary based on your climate. SAE 30 is recommended for warmer climates, and 10W30 is recommended for cooler climates.
Use the dipstick, which is connected to the cap, to ensure you’ve added enough.
Close the door, and add the fuel. The tank is conveniently located at the top of the generator.
You’re all set. It’s time to power up. Turn the PowerDial™ to choke, and push the electric start button. Really, you just need to push a button. It does have a crank start, but I haven’t needed it yet.
Turn the PowerDial™ to run, and plug in your power cords.
The control panel has two 120-volt/20-amp outlets (regular plugs), one 120-volt/30-amp outlet and two USB ports. The 30-amp outlet is the outlet I use to power the trailer.
It uses twist lock technology, which prevents it from accidentally sliding out. I had to buy a twist lock adapter to make it work, but it cost less than $10.
There are also parallel outlets, in the event that you want to connect another generator to this one for even more power.
The only additional thing that I’ve noticed is that it does hop a bit when I jolt it with a little power demand. It’s no problem, just make sure that it has a little space around it for when this happens.
If you want to check out my Generac iQ3500 in person, come see me on the competition trail.