GeneratorGrid.com is an independent review business. I am not affiliated with any manufacturers and do not accept paid reviews. When you buy through my links, I may earn a commission which helps me purchase more generators for testing. - Scott Krager
Last Updated on October 16, 2022 by Manager Access
Today, I am going to take a deep dive into the Coleman CG3500i to show you how this 3500-watt generator can be a great addition to your arsenal.
Table of Contents
- Functions and Ease of Use
- Noise Level
- Specs, Gas Consumption & Capacity
- Service, Manual & Warranty
- Coleman CG3500 Portable Generator VS the Competition
- Online Reviews and Scores
- Potential Problems / Known Issues
- Review Summary- My Opinion: Should You Buy it?
- Coleman CG3500i
This generator is made by Coleman’s Powersports division, so you can expect the same great Coleman quality you have grown to love.
Let’s take a closer look at the Coleman CG3500i and all of its available features.
Functions and Ease of Use
Taking a first look at the Coleman CG3500i, you will notice that it is nice and compact with an integrated handle for easy moving.
The front of the generator is going to house a control center where all of your main controls will reside along with a fuel fill-up cap directly above it.
This makes for quick and easy use of the generator.
As far as power outlets go, you can expect to get two AC 120V plugs and a 12V DC battery charging plug to power your most needed items.
The two switches located on the control panel are going to control the engine (on and off) and the economic mode (on and off).
You will also notice three LEDs labeled Output, Overload, and Oil Alert. These are designed to be indicator lights to keep you informed of what is going on with your generator.
When it comes to buying a portable generator, most people are looking for power ratings and noise levels.
After all, depending on your setting, the noise that the generator puts out will greatly affect where you will be able to use it.
As an industry-standard, generator noise levels are measured in decibels and noise readings are usually taken at 23 feet away from the generator.
For most larger generators, a decibel rating of 70-80 is the industry standard. To put that into perspective, this is going to be about as loud as a vacuum cleaner.
On the Coleman CG3500i, you can expect a decibel rating of 63dB.
This makes it one of the quietest generators on the market and will keep it quiet enough to use in your backyard or at a campsite without disturbing neighbors too much.
Specs, Gas Consumption & Capacity
- AC Maximum Output Starting Watts: 3,500W
- AC Rated Output Running Watts: 3,000W
- Engine Displacement: 149.5cc
- Run Time @ 100%: 3 Hours
- Tank Size: 1.5 Gallons
- Noise Level 63dB
- Weight: 70lbs
With a run time of 3 hours at 100%, it is kind of hard to compare it to other 3000-watt generators on the market as most companies rate these at 25-50% load.
However, 3 hours from only 1.5 gallons at max capacity seems to be a pretty decent run time depending on how you will be using it.
At 3000 running watts, this generator is a great addition to your campsite, tailgate party, or for home backup power to power fans, TVs, or anything else smaller than large appliances.
One of the biggest drawbacks is going to be the weight. At 70lbs, I would have hoped for a second grab handle or a collapsible handle and wheels.
This weight is a lot for one person to hold and move, so make sure that you plan ahead and bring a wagon or dolley if you plan on moving it around.
This generator is an inverter
A digital inverter module converts the raw power that is generated from DC to AC power. The inverter function means that you can use it to power sensitive appliances and electronics.
Service, Manual & Warranty
A leader in the outdoor industry, Coleman is known for their high-quality products and is trusted in camping and tailgating settings. On this particular generator, you can expect a 1-year warranty to cover your CG3500i.
This 1-year warranty will cover your generator from defects in manufacturing or craftsmanship from the date of purchase.
While it isn’t the greatest warranty, it is still really good as you can put a portable generator through a lot in one year.
As far as the maintenance goes, you can expect to follow the same basic generator maintenance procedures as you would with any gas generator.
Coleman CG3500 Portable Generator VS the Competition
With all of the specs and features out of the way, let me walk you through how the CG3500i stacks up against the competition.
I am going to look at a couple of generators in the 3000-watt range to compare.
VS Generac GP3000i
The first competitor I am going to put the Coleman CG3500 up against is the Generac GP3000i. With 181 reviews at the time of this article, it should be some pretty stiff competition against Coleman.
Power Ratings – The Coleman CG3500 is going to outpower the Generac GP3000i as the Generac only puts out 3000 starting watts and 2300 running watts.
With 3500/3000 watts on the Coleman, the CG3500 is going to win the power rating round.
Noise Levels – Since Generac does not offer sound levels for their generators, it is hard to compare the two for this round.
However, at 63dB, the CG3500 is going to be hard to beat. The Generac does offer a fuel efficiency mode that will reduce noise levels, so I am interested to see how this performs against the Coleman.
Power Outlets – As far as power outlets go, the clear winner is going to be the Generac GP3000i.
Since the Coleman only offers a couple of 120 AC outlets, it wasn’t necessarily hard to beat, but the GP3000i packs a punch.
You will get 2 120V outlets, a 20A 120V twist outlet, and two USB outlets. You will also get a parallel port for future upgrades if needed.
Coleman Generator VS Briggs & Stratton 30545
Comparing the Coleman to a Briggs & Stratton generator gives us a great competition of big brands who dominate in multiple industries.
With the Briggs & Stratton 30545, we can easily see how it stacks up to a similar generator.
Power Ratings – Much like the Generac, the Briggs & Stratton generator is a smaller wattage generator putting our 3000 starting watts and 2600 running watts.
Although it has a lower power rating, it still has many great features.
Noise Levels – While I have stated that the Coleman generator is one of the quietest on the market at only 63dB, the Briggs & Stratton edges it out at 58 dB using its quiet Power Technology.
Power Outlets – When it comes to power outlets, there really isn’t any competition as Briggs & Stratton is the clear winner by a mile.
The 30545 blows most generators out of the water with 4 120V outlets, a single 12V DC outlet, a USB port, and a parallel port.
Coleman CG3500 VS Champion 3400 Watt
In a more apples-to-apples comparison power-wise, I put the Coleman up against the Champion dual fuel 3400-watt generator.
Power Ratings – In the closest match in this competition, the Champion puts up the best fight when it comes to power ratings.
It offers 3400 starting watts and 3100 running watts. It is also a dual fuel generator which allows it to be run on gasoline or propane.
Noise Levels – The Coleman generator is beat out once again on the noise ratings by the Champion as the Champion provides a 59db noise level.
Power Outlets – It was a closer battle on power outlets with this generator on power outlets compared to the others as it only has 2 120V AC outlets, but you also get an RV plug and a DC outlet.
Online Reviews and Scores
At the time of this post, the Coleman Powersports CG3500i-A generator had 26 online reviews on Amazon.
Out of the 5-star rating, it held a 2.8-star record with an evenly spread amount on each star level.
The negative reviews that I read were that the generator had stopped working within the warranty period.
While this can be a nuisance, we can only hope that Coleman Powersports will honor a warranty on these problems.
Potential Problems / Known Issues
While there are no current recalls or TSBs on this generator, I do have a concern about how many people experienced failure within the first year of ownership.
Most of the recent reviews were all great, so let’s hope that Coleman has noticed the problem and come up with a solution.
Review Summary- My Opinion: Should You Buy it?
So now that I have shown you just about everything you need to know to make a purchasing decision, it only comes down to whether this is right for you or not.
At 3000 watts, this generator is going to be a great generator to have for just about any light-duty use.
3000 watts will be enough to power small refrigerators, stereo systems, TVs, and other smaller appliances.
You will just need to keep in mind that this generator only has 2 120v outlets to use.
I would also suggest taking the weight into consideration as it weighs 70lbs and only has a single built-in handle. If you are not able to handle this type of weight, you may look at getting a wagon or dolley to assist with moving it.
Scott Krager purchased generatorgrid.com in the summer of 2020 and quickly began to buy every generator under the sun! He currently has over a dozen generators and the number is growing quickly. He lives in Portland, OR near his family and friends.