What Is an Inverter Generator? Pros & Cons

Last modified on May 11, 2022
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In the last few years, portable gas generators have undergone a number of technological improvements. One is essential for safety, while the other considerably improves the performance level for some breed of generator known as inverter generator. If you’re thinking about purchasing a portable generator, you might want to think about buying an inverter.

Instead of running at a steady speed regardless of the amount of the load, an inverter generator works by adjusts the engine speed to the present electrical demand. In addition to reducing fuel usage, this also minimizes excessive noise.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be prevented by some new portable generators with built-in sensors that automatically turn off if CO levels rise above a certain threshold. Some even have engines that produce less CO from the start.

There are a growing number of inverters on the market that feature a CO safety shutdown in addition to enhanced fuel efficiency and reduced noise. For the most part, inverter generators are often more expensive than traditional portable units, but they have some significant advantages.

As demand fluctuates, the engine is electronically throttled to match it, rather than operating always at maximum power. With the increased efficiency, you will not have to fill up the gas tank as frequently, which will save you money. Inverter generators are also more environmentally friendly and quieter than traditional generators.

How Does an Inverter Generator Works?

As an introduction to the operation of inverter generators, let us first examine how all generators generate electricity. When it comes to generators, there are two primary parts: engine and alternator. Gasoline or propane is burned in the engine and a shaft is turned as a result. A rotor and a stator are the two major parts of the alternator.

The engine shaft rotates the rotor, which causes electricity to be generated in the stator. This energy is routed to the control panel, where it is used to power everything you require, including power tools, appliances, and other devices.

In a typical generator, the electricity generated by the alternator is supplied directly into the control panel. Power is not always “cleaned up” when it passes through voltage regulators or other protective devices…. As a result, traditional generator power has a larger THD (total harmonic distortion) than inverter generator electricity.

On the other hand, the operation of an inverter generator is distinct. The alternator’s alternating current (AC) power is fed through a rectifier, which converts it to direct current (DC). An internal computer converts the DC power back to AC before sending it to the generator’s main control panel.

Due to the computer-controlled power supply, inverter generators have lower total harmonic distortion (THD) than normal generators. It’s crucial to think about THD when you’re powering sensitive gadgets such as cellphones, computers, and tvs. To avoid harm, these gadgets require “clean” power (electricity that has small THD).

Although inverter generators tend to be smaller and quieter than their traditional counterparts, they often have lower peak power outputs and cost more.

Types of Inverter Generator (By Power)

1. Small/Recreational

You can carry these in your hand while walking or standing or in a backpack. They’re designed to be used with one hand only.  They usually weigh about 50 to 60 pounds and run up to 2,000 watts. You can use them for camping, tailgating, or even while fishing.

2. Midsized

Depending on the model, these can weigh up to 80 pounds and have wheels. There is no transfer switch connection option with these units, even though they provide between 2,500 and 4,500 watts of power. Instead, you connect in your appliances and devices straight to the generator, which might be unsafe if you don’t follow a few basic guidelines.

People who travel in recreational vehicles will find this size to be ideal. You can easily unload and move these generators to a safe distance from your RV before using them to power plug-in gadgets such as a toaster or a microwave.

3. Large

The majority of the big inverter generators in our rankings weigh between 250 and 500 pounds (wheels included). That’s too large to transport to a tailgate party, but it’s just big enough to provide electricity for your entire residence. They produce more than 5,000 watts of power at 220 volts. The category includes models that you can hook up to your electrical panel and are protected with a transfer switch.

Types of Inverter Generator (By Design)

There are two primary types of inverter generators: closed-frame and open-frame.

Closed-frame inverter generators are the most common form. The quietest and most compact inverter generators are closed-frames. Their outer shell is filled with sound-absorbing insulation, lowering their acoustic impact greatly. They’re compact, lightweight, and convenient for carrying anywhere. Because they lack this insulation, open-frame inverter generators are noisier than closed-frame counterparts, yet they are still 50% quieter than regular generators.

Closed-frame inverters produce power that is cleaner, although open-frame generators may be able to handle bigger loads than closed-frame inverters.

Inverter Generators – Pros & Cons

An inverter generator may be a good alternative for your off-grid electrical needs, but you must take into account all of the generator’s features and your individual scenario before making a decision. If you’re buying an inverter generator, here are some things to consider:

Inverter Generators – Advantages

Low Noise Level

For the most part, inverter generators emit noise that is barely audible beyond a conversational level of 60 dB or less Because it runs more slowly and steadily, the little engine is quieter than a traditional generator. To reduce noise, inverter generators are built with an enclosed enclosure and sound-isolating mufflers.

Cleaner Power

The electronic technology of the inverter creates a sine wave that emits significantly less emissions and produces significantly cleaner electricity than a typical generator. Electronics can operate more safely in a high-quality electrical output environment.

Portability

Due to the smaller fuel tank, inverter generators are much more portable than traditional fuel-powered generators.

Fuel Efficiency

When compared to traditional fuel-powered generators, inverter generators save a significant amount of money in fuel costs. Unlike a normal generator, an inverter generator dynamically adapts its engine speed to match the load, rather than a fixed speed. By reducing the generator’s speed, more fuel can be saved.

Easy Maintenance

Conventional generators take a lot of time and money to maintain, but inverter generators require less upkeep. Maintaining the generator just requires battery inspection, that should be performed once a month to ensure that it operates as intended.

Inverter Generators – Disadvantages

Price

The cost of an inverter generator is typically more than a standard portable generator. Although the unit’s initial price tag may seem prohibitive, the benefits it offers often outweigh the downsides.

Lower Output

Because they are not as strong as bigger conventional generators, inverter power generators typically have outputs ranging from 2000-3500 watts to 9000 watts.. It is possible to run a few smaller home appliances, RVs, and other outside equipment with a basic inverter generator. The inverter generator can be used in parallel with a second generator to boost power production.

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