How To Prep, Run & Maintain Your Portable Generator

generator with wheel kit - brand new

You just bought– or are about to buy– your first generator. That’s great, it’ll be a valuable asset to you and your family, especially in times of emergency. But even though it’s got a gas engine and a pull cord, a generator isn’t the same thing as a lawn mower or weed whacker. There are a number of steps in the process of prepping, running and maintaining your gas generator that you should be aware of before you do anything with it. Here are a few tips to make sure you get smooth, safe operation, and the power that you need:

generator outdoors

  • CRUCIAL– If you take anything away from this article, it’s NEVER run your generator in a garage (even an open garage) and NEVER run it in the house. Keep it outside, at least 15 feet from the house, and way away from all windows. As valuable as your generator is to keeping things going, it’s also a carbon monoxide machine.

generator manual

  • Before you do anything, read the generator’s manual, from cover to cover. The more you know about your portable gas generator, the more apt you are not to do anything wrong, and it will provide many years of low-maintenance emergency power.

grounding rod

  • Prior to setup, you need to ground the generator. This is done by connecting a #6 AWG grounding wire from the Grounding Terminal to a grounding rod which is at least 24 inches in the earth. The grounding rod must be an earth-driven copper or brass rod that can adequately ground the generator. The grounding wire and rod may not be included with the generator, so make sure you get those as well when you make your purchase.
  • A premium feature that some gas generators have is an electric start, which makes for fast, effortless starts. If yours has an electric start, now’s the time to make sure the 12v battery is installed and connected.

generator oil fill

  • Now it’s time to add the fluids. A key to long engine life is oil. Also, without oil the generator won’t start. Check the manual and make sure you’re using the right type and changing it according to manufacturer’s specifications. SAE10W30 is often recommended for general-purpose, all-temperature use.

generator gas fill

  • Add fuel to within 1″ of the rim of the tank. Be careful never to overfill. Unless otherwise instructed, use regular Unleaded 87 Octane gasoline.

generator startup

  • Now you’re ready to start the generator. Note the slight difference in the above chart between the Manual Start and the Electric Start.
  • Let your generator run briefly before you plug anything in it, and make sure when you do plug, that the appliance is off. Plug in appliances one at a time, and power each one up before you plug in the next one. You want to make sure you’ve got the power to spare. Pay attention to the watts of each unit before you plug it in after the other; you want to always stay under the generator’s max. If the generator overloads, it could damage the appliances.
  • Now you’re ready to rock n’ roll!

Other tips to keep in mind…

  • Never connect your generator with a power cord into an electrical outlet in the house. This power will “back feed” into the utility lines running to your house, and in the event of a blackout, this could kill a utility crew called in to restore power to your neighborhood.
  • Only use  the proper power cord. The power supplied by your portable gas generator is measured in watts. A power cord is measured in amps. If, for whatever reason, you need a replacement power cord, choose one that matches the most powerful outlet on your generator. The power cord would need to be heavy-duty, at least 12 gauge, and less than 100 feet.
  • Never refuel a running generator, or even one with a still-hot engine. The heat could ignite the gasoline. Shut it off and let it cool for at least 10 minutes. And only refuel in a well-ventilated area.
  • Change the oil during lengthy outages. Check your manual for the proper intervals. If your generator doesn’t have an hour meter (telling you how long it’s been running), keep a log so you don’t lose track.
  • Conserve your gas! If your neighborhood’s power went out, chances are the local gas stations are also in the dark. Only use whatever appliances you need to and, if possible, turn it off overnight. A refrigerator can handle no power for 3-4 hours, and your neighbors will love the break, too.

When you’re done

  • When the power comes back, drain the gas from the generator. If you leave the gas in, it can ruin the carburetor.
  • Change the oil one last time.
  • Every month, feed the generator a 1/2 gallon of gas and run it for at least a 1/2 hour. This will prevent blockage in the carburetor.

Your portable gas generator will be ready for the next emergency, and will last for years!

When you’re ready to purchase your generator, but need help determining what size to get, here’s a GENERATOR BUYING GUIDE to help you out. And don’t make any decisions until you’ve had the chance to look at the award-winning Predator Generators at Harbor Freight Tools! Read the reviews and research the YouTube videos, and you’ll learn for yourself what a great value they really are.

Hyperbole aside, in the event of an emergency, having a portable gas generator can mean the difference between life and death for you and/or a member of your family.

The Best New Products of 2013

Happy 2014, Harbor Freight fans!  We hope it’s been a great year full of completed projects both large and small.  While you look forward to the next job, whether it’s a big challenge or a fun hobby, let’s reflect back on the top new products unveiled in 2013.


13 HP (420cc) OHV Horizontal Shaft Gas Engine

This behemoth gas engine runs cleanly and powerfully, making it an ideal replacement for a variety of bigger machines like log splitters and chippers.


3000 Watt Continuous/6000 Watt Peak Power Inverter

A great, portable power source to conveniently power items like TVs and small electronics on the go!


Triple Ball trailer Hitch Mount with Hook

This triple ball mount fits almost any hitch coupler and features a convenient built-in pull hook.


Floor Jack Cross Beam

This handy Cross Beam works with your floor jack to keep loads stable and balanced.


Truck Bed Cargo Unloader

Quickly unload up to a ton of cargo from the bed of your truck with the simple turn of a crank!


150 Watt Portable Halogen Clamp Light

Illuminate just about any project with this convenient, portable hanging light!


120 LED Rechargeable Under Hood Work Light

This adjustable work light attaches directly under your hood for illumination while you handle engine work.


Motorcycle Tire Changer Attachment

Works with our Portable Tire Changer for changing motorcycle tires quickly and easily!


2500 Peak/2200 Running Watts, 4.7 HP (125cc) Portable Inverter Generator

A great, powerful generator that’s ideal for camping, the RV, or boating.


56”, 8 Drawer Roller Cabinet Top Chest

Add 15,600 cu. In. of space to your 11 roller cabinet with this spacious top chest!


As you can see, there were a lot of great, useful tools released last year with new features and new modifications, but still with the same low Harbor Freight price.  If you see one that was missing from your holiday gifts, there’s always time to pick one up for yourself.  And keep an eye out right here at for the new products debuting in 2014!

Harbor Freight Tools Father’s Day Gift Guide

father's day butterfly

Ah, Dad… He’s the guy who taught you how to hammer a nail, ride a bike, catch a fish and belch like a man. When he came home from work, he’d give you that bear hug, smelling like cold air and Old Spice, his five o’clock shadow bristling against your baby-butt-smooth cheek, and you loved it. He was the soft touch when it was time to go to bed, but you needed just a little more TV time… and when you went to bed, he could throw you up in the air like you were flying! He knew how to make your mom laugh like no one else, and he knew how to make the perfect pancakes on Sunday morning.

Father’s Day is the day we get to thank Dad for all of it– for making our childhood more magical, and for making us feel special when he took the time to do things with us. Harbor Freight understands what dads like, and he knows how you can thank them, too. All you have to do is visit the website and you’ll know why it’s their favorite toy store. So to help make the decision of what to get him easier, here are 10 popular items currently on sale at Harbor Freight Tools, any of which that will make him smile:


1. Drill Master 3/8″ 18 Volt Cordless Drill/Driver with Keyless Chuck #68239

Drill Master 3/8" Cordless Drill/Driver

This Harbor Freight favorite is a great general-purpose drill; home use, furniture building, etc. The keyless chuck is tight, the power is strong, and users love the LED light! This high performance cordless drill driver has 21 torque clutch settings to handle a variety of chores around the house and garage. It includes an electric brake and the battery is interchangeable with other 18-volt Drill Master tools. For sale at $18.99, it would cost more to buy a new battery for any other drill! In fact, pick up a Drill Master 18V NiCd Replacement Battery along with it, so when Dad’s on a roll, he’ll never have to stop to charge!


2. Pittsburgh Automotive Pneumatic Adjustable Roller Seat #46319

adjustable roller seat

What a great idea to save the back and knees! With a thick cushion, integrated easy-to-reach storage tray and a 15″ to 20″ lift range, this pneumatic adjustable roller seat is as practical as it is comfortable. Non-marring casters allows for smooth mobility while the 360 degree swivel seat and one-hand height adjustment lever let Dad get into the perfect position for whatever he’s doing. Whether it’s working on a bicycle, motorcycle, washing and waxing the car, lug nuts, changing brakes, wheel bearings, painting low cabinets, etc., he’ll be quietly thanking you again and again while he’s relaxing on his roller seat. At just $22.99, this is the ticket!


3. Pittsburgh 22-Piece Fully-Polished SAE and Metric Combination Wrench Set #47467

22 pc wrench set

The legendary Pittsburgh 22-piece combination wrench set from Harbor Freight includes 11 of the most widely used SAE wrench sizes and 11 of the most popular metric sizes to accommodate almost any wrenching moment. Fully polished, they’re made of chrome vanadium steel and a chrome plate finish for added durability, and come with an organized portable storage rack for quick access. This wrench set is great for everything from around the house to auto work– even working on trucks, trailers, tractors and farm equipment! And at just $16.99, everyone should have a set of these! And did I mention the lifetime warranty? This set of wrenches is awesome!


4. Pittsburgh 21 Piece High Visibility 3/8″ Drive SAE/Metric Socket Set #67900

21 pc SAE metric socket set

A good socket set makes your life so much easier. How about a great socket set? Well, now you’re talking! The wrenches in the Pittsburgh professional-quality set are constructed of rugged chrome vanadium are triple-chrome-plated. They also come with high visibility markings for quick and easy socket selection, a quick-release ratchet with reversible 72-tooth gearing and a comfy cushion grip. An awesome set, believe me, and it beats paying hundreds for those big name brand sets off the tool trucks. And, of course, it’s got that lifetime warranty! Pick up a set (or two!) for just $14.99.


5. Pittsburgh 60 Piece Alloy Steel SAE/Metric Tap & Die Set #35407

60-pc tap and die set

And while we’re talking about incredible deals on hand tools, what do you get the man who’s got all the wrenches and sockets he’ll ever need (like that’s going to happen)? Why, a Pittsburgh 60-pc. SAE-metric tap & die set, of course! Thread and bore taps like a pro with this tap and die set!  This tap and die set will perform– and out-perform!— other tool & die sets that cost ten times as much. Each tap and die is constructed of long-lasting alloy steel and the sizes are embedded in, not printed on, the surfaces. This set will cover most all Dad’s tap and die needs and, in no time, it’ll become his go-to tool for creating and repairing his own screws and bolts. For the home workshop and auto shop; thread plastic, wood, brass, and even plate steel– everything from an aluminum frame to a hardened steel bumper! Tell Dad to keep them oiled and they’ll last him a lifetime– which, it just so happens, is how long the warranty lasts. Only $29.99 at Harbor Freight.


6. Chicago Electric 4″ Angle Grinder #91222

4-inch grinder

Dad will save time and hacksaw blades with this angle grinder. This lightweight grinder is powerful and easy to operate while he’s cutting or shaping a brick walkway, cutting steel bolts, rebar, masonry, plaster, copper or galvanized pipe. or grinding welds, removing rust, removing bolts, sharpening sections on blades like sickle bars, etc. This grinder’s 4.5 amp ball-bearing mount motor delivers 11,000 RPMs for fast stock removal. It also has a spindle lock for fast and easy wheel changes, easy access brushes, a removable side handle, an easy-to-replace carbon brush and aluminum gear housing.  Included with the grider are a 4″ grinding wheel, arbor wrenches and a 7/8″ arbor adapter. Other cutting blades sold separately. An incredible price at $19.99!


7.  Cen-Tech 3-In-1 Jump Starter and Power Supply #38391

3-in-1 power supply 38391

The car battery on Dad’s old Crown Vic been dead for months? No problem! This jump starter will easily jump-start nearly any weak or dead 12-volt car battery. Tell him to throw it in the trunk and never worry about getting stuck somewhere again. The #4 industrial copper booster cables include durable alligator clips that can easily attach to any car battery, and the jumper’s got a built-in 3.6 watt light to illuminate his sight under the hood, making this a perfect jump companion to have on the road! It also comes with an invaluable power supply for electrical equipment in case of an emergency, such as a C-PAP, spotlight, air pump, etc. The Cen-Tech jump starter/power supply has an automatic cutoff to prevent overcharging, a charge/battery level indicator, and an easy-to-read battery indicator. And before he can say, “What are you, a Rockefeller?” tell him, “Dad, relax. It was only $42.99 at Harbor Freight!”


8. Central Machinery 1-Ton Chain Hoist #996

1 ton chain hoist

This hoist lifts loads up to 10 feet high easily, thanks to its sturdy, hardened steel chain. The strength of this hoist can lift up to 2,000 lbs. hassle-free and includes a mechanical load brake to give operator more control when lifting or spotting. Works wonderfully with a gantry or I-beam. Dad can use it for lifting and swapping out engines and trannies like they’re not even there– for a lot less than an engine lift!– hoist motorcycles for chain and other maintenance, lift the front of a tractor or heavy-duty truck for tire repair, etc. Rugged and reliable, this chain hoist is ideal for heavy loads at the auto repair shop or industrial warehouse. This jewel works as smooth as silk., and for only $44.99, is worth every penny. He’ll love it!


9. Predator 420cc, 5500 Watts Max/5500 Watts Rated Portable Generator #68529, #68526

5500 watt generator

Powered with a reliable Predator engine, this portable generator is ideal for emergencies, job-site use, recreation, family reunions, heating and cooling. The generator features a 420cc air-cooled OHV gas engine, a low oil indicator, UL-listed circuit breaker and 11 hours run-time at 50% capacity. With a heavy-duty steel roll cage for protection, this is the ideal portable generator for powering countless electronics, appliances and tools! And if Dad’s left without power after a storm or other occurrence, this will keep him going with whatever he needs to power. On sale for Father’s Day at $469.99, the 5500 watt generator comes in a standard and California-certified model.


10. Harbor Freight Tools Gift Cards

gift card

The ultimate go-to Father’s Day present when you don’t know WHAT’S going on in Dad’s head!  He’ll appreciate this ’cause he gets to choose exactly what’s he’s had his eye on. You can even have it sent directly to him if you order online; just enter his mailing information on the Shipping Address page. Harbor Freight has gift cards for $10, $25, $50, $75, $100 and $500!

So, take some time and check out these and other tremendous Father’s Day deals at Harbor Freight Tools. And when you give your gift to your dad, mention something about those childhood memories, and thank him. Chances are, that’s the best present you could have given him. The tools don’t hurt, though.

Truckin’ Magazine: The Ultimate Work Truck– with Harbor Freight Tools

The Ultimate Work Truck Stocks Up on Harbor Freight Tools

If you thought “ultimate work truck,” how do you envision it might be outfitted? The staff at Truckin’ magazine recently took up that challenge, and in their October and November 2012 issues ran a 2-part series on creating the “Ultimate Ford F-150 Work Truck”– with a little help from Harbor Freight Tools!

Taking a 2012 F-150 SuperCab in Part 1, they installed a cool bed slide, a monster ladder rack (capable of holding 1,000 lbs) and a sweet commercial-grade diamond-plate toolbox.

In Part 2, they went on a shopping spree at Harbor Freight Tools and picked up a Predator 4000 Watt Portable Generator— to which they installed a shock/motion-activated alarm in the back of the truck, lest any covetous individuals think bad thoughts– a 17 Ft. Type 1A Multi-Task Ladder as well as a full stock of tools for the toolbox:

Then to fortify their heavily-equipped new rig, they installed a ladder lock, and secured the toolbox and everything else with a myriad of cables and locks, including the hitch. The end result: a “certifiable worksite on wheels.”

Take a peek at Truckin’ magazine’s drool-inducing articles– with lots of pics– and while you’re at it, check out the low prices and great reviews of the aforementioned tools on Harbor Freight’s website!

Tailgate Warriors… Come Out and Play!

Football! The season couldn’t have come fast enough. I was getting sick hearing nothing but politics and hopscotching around TV reruns.  But– hallelujah!— it’s time once again for Pac-12 and pro ball (Go Big Blue!)– clear the boogie boards and swimming noodles out of the man cave, kick the PS3 crap off the floor and fill the chest freezer with wings, poppers, bacon and shredded cheese. And more importantly, get ready for the blacktop!

The tailgate party is a sacred ritual, much like a holy pilgrimage or pantsing the new kid. And like any ritual that requires serious reflection, one needs to decide how they will prepare for it. For example, go with the beer shorts, don’t go with the beer shorts? Obviously, if the beer helmet is out, it leaves you looking for a viable alternative. Also boning up on your cornholing and knowing the ACO regulation cornhole rules.

To throw a successful tailgate party for a bunch of your swellest buds, you’ll want to bring awesome gear. Of course a lot of what you bring depends on your power source, if any. A gas-powered generator can bust your options wide open– and there really are a ton to consider: a crock pot for the Lil’ Smokies or nacho cheese sauce, an electric grill for burgers and dogs, a portable oven for pizza, a mini-fridge, a heater or fan–depending on the weather, a string of lights or lanterns, a radio or other sound system, an LCD TV with portable satellite receiver, a PA (“attention, fans of other team…”}, a blender or margarita machine, coffee maker… hey, you could be there as long as 12 hours, man. Gear up for any possibility.

That said, my recommendation is getting the Chicago Electric 3050 Watt 7 HP Gas Generator. It runs quiet, it’s great on gas and it’s got all the juice you need to make it a helluva party! This is Harbor Freight’s most popular generator, and the proof is in the praise:

“I use this to power my refrigerators and freezer during outages, as well as charge and run needed electronics. It is very nice for this application since you can run for 24 hours on 10 gallons. She is very quiet… fires up easily and runs smoothly. Very nice product. “

Another customer had this to say:

” I use it mainly (for) hunting and camping, but have used it for power outage. It run a 5th wheel camper AC during day and furnance at nights with TV, frig, lights, PC, water pump, with no problems, and the 4-gallon tank runs it for approx 6 hrs. with over 50% pull on it. A sweet generator for the$$$ for sure. “

Besides football tailgate parties, this generator’s the perfect companion for rave parties, swap meets and fairs, rock concert tailgates, camping, and as I previously pointed out, areas of paranormal activity.

While you’re at it, I suggest you pick up an 8″ Never-Flat Generator Wheel Kit or a slightly-more-economical Mover’s Dolly along with a handy-dandy Swivel Handle. You’ll thank me, I promise. And finally, grab a 10′ x 10′ Popup Canopy while you’re there. Unless burn is your team color.

Harbor Freight Gets Prepper Props

In this country’s growing Survivalist Nation there’s a tribe known as the “Urbivalists”– or “urban survivalists”—preppers who live in towns and cities, and have adapted their survivalist skills to more metro environments. One such urbivalist is Dan, a “self-proclaimed tenderfoot and city kid” who runs a survival-themed blog called The Daily Prep. Recently, Dan posted a video of a shopping trip he made to Harbor Freight–

–which included a tour of some of his favorite products.  “It’s a man mall!” he proclaimed.

It’s no wonder HFT is popular with those who take survival preparation seriously. A renowned purveyor of hard-to-find and odd hardware– plus, a huge selection of essential tools and supplies at extremely low prices– it’s a no-brainer. (Brains? Zombies? Apocalypse? Harbor Freight!)

So, what were some of the products Dan thought fellow preppers should look into? The video does a good job showcasing generators, welders, tarps, car battery jump starters, jerry cans, rope, axes & hatchets, duct tape (“of every kind!”), magnesium fire starters, solar panel kits, knives, slingshots, safes, winches, flashlights and batteries— and Harbor Freight’s low prices make preparation a lot more doable.

FYI, for those looking to prep their home for the garden variety emergency, HFT also carries towing supplies, trailer hitches, alarms & security products, jack stands, engines, head lamps, cast iron frying pans, face masks, space saver vacuum bags, air compressors… you get the point. Harbor Freight is the “go-to store” for your doomsday prepper needs.

The Daily Prep isn’t alone when it comes to survivalist forums swapping favorite HFT products that they keep in their arsenals. Surf the ‘net and you’ll find tons of great ideas. And while you’re at it, why don’t you share yours with us?