When choosing a generator for your home, you have various options. How do you know which to choose: a solar generator, an inverter generator, or a traditional generator? Understanding how this device works can better help you understand the benefits of this modern, high-powered, and specialized piece of equipment.
What Is an Inverter Generator?
An inverter generator is a piece of equipment that helps make clean, stable, and usable power for your home. Compared to a traditional generator that creates AC power with variable spikes in voltage, an inverter produces a safe, stable power perfect for sensitive electronic devices. The inverter generator is usually preferred for sensitive devices like laptops and smartphones. This type of generator is relatively energy-efficient and reliable but can come with a hefty price tag.
How Do Inverter Generators Work?
Inverter generators produce power by turning AC into DC, then back to AC, which is sent to your electronic devices within your home. The inverted AC that flows back into your house is much cleaner than the AC produced by a traditional generator.
Inverter generators work by creating power with an integral alternator within the generator. The alternator produces AC power that is then sent to a rectifier component within the generator. Once inside the rectifier, the AC is converted to DC power or direct current. From there, the output current is sent to the inverter circuit, where the DC power is inverted back to AC. This inverted AC electricity is then routed to the generator’s control panel outlet plugs.
The inverter is powered by an internal computer that works to lower the Total Harmonic Distortion of the AC power, sometimes abbreviated to THD. The THD is an important measurement to understand to appreciate the several benefits associated with an inverter. THD refers to the variations and spikes in power coming from the generator. Usually, a traditional power generator is said to have “dirty” power because the electricity from the generator has a high distortion level, sometimes as high as 25%.
A high distortion means the power supply is prone to voltage spikes, damaging sensitive electronics like laptops and smartphones. Cleaner output with minor variation means your electronics will be better protected and can even result in appliances running more efficiently.
So, the inverter generator creates a cleaner output power by transforming the AC power to DC and back to AC. Usually, the current coming from an inverter will have a THD level well below 1%. The inverter makes a “clean” power that is more reliable and safer for expensive, high-tech, and sensitive electronics.
What Are the Pros of an Inverter Generator?
There are several fantastic benefits to owning an inverter generator. Some of the most notable benefits include:
- Less Noise – An inverter generator can provide quieter operation, making less noise than a traditional generator. This is partly because inverter generators can adjust engine speed to whatever is needed and also because they are usually specifically designed for quiet operation.
- Parallel – Unlike conventional generators, it is possible to link multiple inverter generators together to create more power capacity. Because some inverter generators aren’t as powerful as traditional generators, having the ability to use numerous generators together can help give you the power you need. Be sure to check your specific models to ensure parallel capability is possible, as they need to be compatible.
- Fuel Efficient – Inverter generators have better fuel efficiency than conventional portable generators. Inverter generators can adjust their engine speed depending on how much power is needed, running slower if the load is light. This is unlike traditional generators, which run at full speed at all times. This means that under typical operating conditions, inverter generators use less fuel, resulting in fuel savings.
- Longevity – Because inverter generators can regulate the speed at which their engines run, there tends to be less wear and tear on mechanical components within the engine. Less wear and tear means a longer lifespan for this specialized generator compared to traditional generators.
Quick Tip: The Honda EU3000iS has all these qualities in spades!
What Are the Cons of an Inverter Generator?
Of course, even the best pieces of equipment will have some downsides to ownership and operation. Some of the downsides to owning an inverter generator include:
- Output – Compared to a conventional generator, an inverter has limited power. The largest portable inverter generators available will produce around 7,000 watts, whereas some conventional generators can produce up to 17,000 watts. This discrepancy is why inverter generators are usually used for specific equipment and may not be the best option for emergencies such as a power outage.
- Price – Inverter generators are much higher priced per watt than traditional portable generators because of their specialized operation. Expect to have a high price tag for an inverter.
- Outdoor – Unlike a solar generator, an inverter generator can only be used outdoors. This device puts off dangerous exhaust gas that can quickly fill a home and poison you. The inverter should only be used outdoors, at least 15 feet away from your home. This can make operation difficult or inconvenient.
Is an Inverter Better than a Generator?
Inverter vs generator, which is better?
First off, an inverter by itself can only convert DC power from an external source to AC power. So an inverter and a generator are not really comparable. So let’s assume the question is “is an inverter generator better than a conventional generator?”.
An inverter generator is a better option than a conventional generator if you are concerned with having a clean, uninterrupted electrical power supply to your electronics. Because the inverter generator works to create clean power that is stable and safe, it is best used in specialized applications. The inverter generator is ideal for sensitive electronic equipment, like laptops, desktop computers, smart TVs, or smartphones.
If you only plan to power appliances in the event of an emergency or you are looking for a portable generator to use with your RV, inverter generators may not be the best option for you. A small, affordable inverter generator has limited power, making it too weak to power high-wattage appliances, or use multiple heavy-duty power tools at the same.
In the event of an emergency, an inverter will not be able to give you the high-capacity power a large traditional portable generator can. While it may be possible to link several inverter generators together to increase power output, this could be costly.
If you really did want to learn more about the difference between a generator and an inverter, click on the preceding link.
Summing Up How Does an Inverter Generator Work
Inverter generators are specialized generators that are used to create clean, usable, and stable electricity. The current coming from an inverter generator has minimal distortion, making it safe and easy to use for sensitive electronic devices like laptops, desktop computers, or televisions. The inverter generator is fuel-efficient, quiet to operate, and can be linked together to create even more power output.
Quick Tip: To maximize the service life and reliability of your generator, check out our generator maintenance page.