Champion vs Predator Generators: Which is Better for You?
If you’ve been doing your homework, you’ve already determined that both Champion and Predator generators are great choices, and that these two companies in particular are well known for not just quality, but for exceptional value as well.
So really either one would be a great choice, but which is better, Champion or Predator generators? Which one should you get?
To make it easier let’s look into this subject in a bit more detail, in this direct comparison of Predator vs Champion generators in 2023.
If you’re in a hurry, and want to get to the key takeaways, here you go:
Predator vs Champion: Executive Summary
Harbor Freight Predator generators are well made, affordable and always a great value, and can be strongly recommended.
Champion generators, however, are quickly becoming legendary for their extreme material and build quality and their reliability – both long term and day to day – and if anything offer an even better value than Predator.
We here at The Final Kit really love Champion, for their design and ease of use, their features and specs, and for their overall quality, and while we think a Predator generator would be a fine choice, an equivalent Champion model might prove to be a better option, as seen in a direct comparison of two very popular models.
The Harbor Freight Predator 59137 is a great generator at a good price, and it’s easy to understand why it has become so popular.
That said, the Champion Power Equipment 201184 is, retail to retail, a tiny bit less expensive, and more likely to be found at a discount. It is significantly more powerful, has other advantages – like longer running time and remote electric start – and for our money it is a better designed and better built product.
- Start and stop with ease from up to 80 feet...
- 61 dBA is great for RVs, tailgating, or...
- The optional parallel kit (sold separately)...
Again, these are two of the companies’ most popular models, but if you compare roughly equivalent models from Predator and from Champion all the way up and down their product lines you tend to see the same thing – Predator generators are great, and you can’t go wrong with any of their models, but Champion generators are not just better, but usually better values as well.
In my way of looking at things, there are many factors that go into choosing the right generator – power, noise level, design and usability, size and weight and more – but the most important factor of all, whether you are using the generator for emergencies or anything else, is dependability.
And from that perspective either company is fine, but if I had to rely on a generator for my life, my home and family, or just my next tailgate party, I would trust Champion more than almost any company out there.
Predator Generators vs Champion Generators: How to Choose?
In the first section of this article I will take a look at Champion generators and Harbor Freight Predator generators overall, comparing the companies and their product lines in general terms.
Then, in the second section, I will look more closely at two of the most popular portable inverter generators for each company – the Predator 59137 versus the Champion 201184 – in a direct comparison.
Even if you are looking for a different model, the direct comparison between these two models should prove interesting and helpful, as the points made there do tend to apply up and down both product lines, and by the end of the article you should have a good picture of which is best for you and your needs.
Predator vs Champion – The Big Picture
Predator is a brand of Harbor Freight, which has been around since 1970, or well over 50 years now. They do not directly make their own generators, but using overseas manufacturing plants, but seem to have strict and close control over those processes, as evidenced by the very high quality and consistency of their generators.
Champion is a bit newer on the scene, having made generators for around 20 years now. In that relatively short time the company has earned a reputation for low priced equipment that is almost unbelievably high quality – way more than you would expect for the money – and is known to manufacture generators that are well designed, well made, exceptionally stable and quiet and that offer extreme long-term reliability.
I recently wrote a similar comparison article, between Predator vs Honda Generators, and in that piece there was good reason to choose a Predator. Yes, Honda generators are better products – maybe the best you can get – but they also tend to be around twice the money, and so in that comparison Predator really stood out for their value.
Another key difference was that Honda generators are not CARB compliant, meaning you cannot purchase or use them in California – another plus for Predator, which is legal to use in all 50 states.
But in this article, Predator vs Champion, those differences are not applicable.
For one thing, both Predator and Champion generators are fully CARB compliant (which not only means they are legal for both sale and usage in California, but that they are a little bit kinder to the environment).
And for another, Predator and Champion generators are much closer to each other in price – and, in fact, though this comes as something of a surprise, Champion models are often even less expensive than Predator, especially since they are more likely to be found at a discount price.
As far as features go, Champion and Predator are really pretty comparable. They tend to have very similar layouts, with nice quality controls, switches and connectors and very useful display panels, and the general design and usability is typically very high with both companies’ products.
In terms of build quality, fit and finish, hands-on experience might make a user slightly prefer Champion, whose generators just seem better finished, more solid and more quiet and smooth running. This is a slight difference, though, and both companies’ products are in fact very well made.
In terms of long-term reliability, our experience, as well as industry and customer reports, tend to favor Champion, and this time by a bit more clear of a margin. Harbor Freight Predator generators are actually well known for their dependability, but Champion products are at another level, and their reputation is stellar in this regard.
Add to this the superb customer service and support you get from Champion, and it is pretty easy to see that if security and dependability are important in choosing a generator – and, again, to me they are pretty much the most important factors – Champion is a better choice than Predator.
But, as with so many purchases, we might finally have to come down to price, and – surprise, surprise – Champion generators are often less expensive, or for the same price offer more power – we’ll see more of this in the head-to-head comparison of two specific products below.
But even if they were more expensive, I would still choose Champion Power Equipment generators over Harbor Freight Predator generators – I use my generators for all kinds of things, but the main reason I want to have one on hand all the time is for emergencies, where having a dependable generator can literally be a life-saver.
And again, in this respect both companies and their products are absolutely fine, but I myself simply trust Champion more, and would rather have one of their generators on hand than almost any other company’s.
Bottom Line: Champion or Predator Generator
In many ways, Predator and Champion generators are very similar, and both are very good quality, well designed and well made products.
Close comparison of their generators, though, does reveal some ways in which Champion generators are better – they are a bit quieter, smoother and more stable, are seemingly better finished and better built, and in my (and others’) experience are more dependable.
If Predator generators were significantly less expensive, they would be an obvious budget choice, and an easier recommendation, but in fact Champion generators are quite often less expensive, or for the same money provide higher power levels, and are clearly better values – better than Predator, but also better than most other companies, and in fact quite possibly the best value line of generators on the market today.
Both Harbor Freight and Champion Power Equipment are great companies, but Champion’s customer support is second to none, and they are a joy to work with.
Bottom Line: Get a Champion!
Champion 201184 vs Predator 59137: Head to Head Comparison
The Harbor Freight Predator 59137, a 3000 watt portable inverter generator with 3500 watt surge rating, is easily one of their most popular models overall, and a very well designed and well made product.
Similarly, the Champion 201184 is an enormously popular generator, and offers an impressive 3500 watts of running power, with surge/starting power rated at 4500 watts. It too is an exceptionally well made and well designed product.
Both are inverter generators, meaning they offer much more pure, clean and stable AC power than standard generators, making them suitable for use with even the most sensitive electronic gadgets and gear, like computers and laptops, smartphones, tablets, televisions and gaming systems, smart appliances, CPAP machines and medical equipment and more.
And, given their size and power output, both are great for basic home power backup, and really ideal for RVs (even with aircon), work sites and lots of other applications. Both are also fully RV ready, with standard 30 amp plugs.
When you look at the features and specifications of the two, there are not many really important differences, but perhaps most notable is that the Champion, for about the same money as the Predator, offers a significant increase in power.
|Champion 201184||Predator 59137|
|Noise Level||61 DBa||56 DBa|
|Run Time – Quarter Load||14 Hours||11 Hours|
|Weight||101 Pounds||102 Pounds|
|Power Saving Mode?||Yes||Yes|
|Carbon Monoxide Monitor?||Yes||Yes|
|Electric Start||Yes, with Remote||No|
Again, there aren’t any huge differences between the two, but there are a few things to point out:
Champion 201184 vs Predator 59137: Key Differences
- Both are true inverters, meaning they are safe for even sensitive electronics, and both have excellent safety and automatic shutdown circuitries.
- The Champion has more power, in fact 500 watts more running power, and a full kilowatt more starting power – not a huge increase, but this can make quite a difference with air conditioners, some kitchen appliances and lots of high-draw power tools.
- The Predator is quieter, though I should probably qualify this, because after using both of them I don’t really hear a difference – I suspect the solidity and stability of the Champion’s frame, and the smoothness of its engine, are part of the reason, but it seems, in actual usage, just as quiet.
- The Champion 201184 runs longer, having a full 14 hours run time versus the Predator’s 11 hours – a significant difference.
- While both generators have nice electric start, the Champion has remote start, and from my experience the Champion is a bit quicker to start, though I never had problems with either.
Based on features, specifications and performance, the Champion 201184 does have a pretty clear advantage, and for approximately the same price.
Predator 59137 vs Champion 201184: Bottom Line
It ends up that this is not really that close of a race.
I do want to say clearly that the Predator 59137 is a great generator – well made, nicely designed, easy to start and easy to use – and it should provide many, many years of dependable service.
But for the same money – and, again, often a bit less with discounts – the Champion 201184 is just a better generator. It has more power, a longer running time and a remote electric start and, all other things being about the same, these three are pretty major considerations.
But it’s more than just that – while Harbor Freight is a fine company, and I totally trust their products, I have even more confidence in Champion, which seems to be a better made and more dependable generator, and from a company that prides itself – and rightly so – on their superbly helpful, friendly and easily accessible customer service and support.
So yeah, either way you can’t go wrong, but in the direct comparison we made I can’t help but conclude that the Champion 201184 is a much better choice than the Predator 59137, and I find the same to be true with their entire product lines.
The aptly named Champion is the real winner, then, and their products are among the ones we recommend most frequently here at The Final Kit.