Shopping for a generator may look challenging because of the numerous options available. Most consumers get confused and end up making the wrong choice of a generator based on their needs. Hence, it is critical to consider all the essential factors first before making a purchase to ensure you’ll get the perfect fit. So Portable Generator vs Inverter? What’s right for you?
The most confusing category is choosing between an inverter generator and a conventional one. If you don’t know too much about generators, then it is easy to think these two terms refer to the same thing.
However, there are huge differences between these two types, as explained here below.
Once you know the differences, you’ll be able to know the best backup power unit for your home or office.
Conventional Generator Overview
The conventional generator has been used for a long time, and its core principles have largely stayed the same. This type of generator features a source of energy, which is typically fossil fuel like diesel, gasoline or propane. That energy source powers a motor that is fixed to an alternator that produces electricity.
We can also consider a portable generator as a conventional generator, based on how it works.
You can use conventional and portable generators during a power outage to keep your lights on and keep your fridge running. The advantage of a portable generator is that you can also take it with you when going off the grid for camping and you need to power your cooking equipment and radio in your cabin or RV.
A notable feature of a conventional generator is that it requires constant speeds of roughly 3,000 RPM to generate a stable electrical current that is fit for most households. However, if the engine speed changes during operation, then the total power output also fluctuates. This fluctuation feature is one of the reasons many people prefer inverter generators in the discussion of inverter vs generator.
Inverter Generator Overview
Over the years, generators have been labeled as noisy and bulky tools. The minute you speak of a generator that is what comes to many people’s minds. However, with the advancement of technology, there is new electrical equipment in the market. This is the inverter generator. It is changing all these notions that people have of generators as it is smaller, quieter, and also quite light. However, these generators are more expensive than their counterparts, but they are worth all the money. Below are some of the distinct advantages of an inverter generator, and why you need it.
How Do Inverter Generators Work?
Inverter generators transform DC power to AC power with high frequency. This process usually eliminates power fluctuations that come with the older generator models. The inverter technology usually takes the raw power that is produced by the generator and uses a microprocessor to condition it into a several step process. This starts with the generator’s alternator producing high voltage multiphase power that is converted to DC. The DC power is then converted to AC by the inverter. This also smooths and cleans the power to ensure that it is of high quality.
The main disadvantage of conventional generators is their regular power surges during usage. These fluctuations in power output can harm the connected electronic devices. That is why more portable generators are coming with integrated inverters that convert the DC current into AC current.
A portable generator with an inverter can deliver constant electrical supply without any surges. The power that an inverter generator produces is stable and adequate to power all your household appliances, from your delicate flat-screen television and fridge to your computer and other devices.
The 7 Main Advantages of an Inverter Generator
Inverter generators are more portable than their fuel-powered generator counterparts. They are usually more lightweight, and some of them will come with wheels and carrying handles. The reason as to why they are more portable is because they have a smaller fuel tank. They do not need a big tank since the power they need to produce with their fuel efficiency is enough for it. Therefore, they do not require that much fuel to reach their maximum load, as their counterparts do. Also, inverter technology is used to integrate the parts of the engine and the generator, therefore making them smaller and lighter than the traditional models.
2. High-Quality Power Output.
Using inverter technology, these machines usually have the power that is close to line power, more than the other traditional models. This technology used in the inverter generators enables them to produce electricity that is similar to that used in the homes.
3. High Fuel Efficiency.
Inverter generators have a higher fuel efficiency than the traditional fuel-powered generators. This has all to do with how its engine runs. An inverter generator can adjust the speed at which the engine is running, to only that which is required by the load. This is different from the conventional generators, which usually run at a constant speed of 3600 rpm. This is the speed that it needs to deliver 120 volts.
On the other hand, an inverter does not need to run at that speed to deliver electricity to homes. They will run at a slower rpm while maintaining the same power and frequency. The fuel consumption will, therefore, also be reduced by around 40% since the engine does not continuously run at full speed. It also helps to reduce exhaust emissions and reduce the total harmonic distortion.
4. Parallel Capability.
These inverter generators can be paired with other identically sized units to double the power capacity. This parallel capability will help you to use two smaller and lighter generators to do the work of one large generator. You will not need a new transfer switch connection. Therefore, since an average inverter generator usually holds up to 4000 watts of powder, you can double that power, which will be great for you.
5. Quiet Operation.
Inverter generators are quieter than the other conventional models. One of the huge disadvantages of traditional generators is their high noise levels. However, with inverter generators, this issue is tackled. They usually produce noise at less than 60 decibels, which is quite comfortable for everyone and will not pollute the environment. There are two reasons why these generators have a quiet operation. One of them is due to the mechanics, and the other, the design. For the former, the engine usually runs at a slower rpm; therefore, it produces less noise. For the design, the manufacturers ensure that they use unique sound dampening materials to make them quiet. Examples of such materials include mufflers and enclosed casing. Since these generators being quiet is a high selling point, they go to great lengths to ensure that it remains so, or even better.
To provide excellent electrical output, the older generator models require periodic maintenance. Without this, they will not produce the needed power and will wear out. The oil that is used usually needs to be replaced after every 200 hours of use. Therefore, if you have not sued the generator for more than a month, the fuel will drain. Inverter generators, on the other hand, do not need any special treatments when it comes to their maintenance. All they need is an inspection of the batteries, and you will be good to go. The batteries need to be inspected only once a year, therefore less work for you.
7. Clean Electricity.
Inverter generators are known for producing clean electricity. This is due to their steady frequency that comes with minimal harmonic distortion. From the sine waves produced by this generator, you will see that it produces perfect sine waves, unlike the traditional generator whose frequency is not steady. This steady and clean electricity makes these generators perfect for connecting to sensitive home equipment such as laptops. This is attributed to the way its electricity is comparable to the one from the mains supply. This is also why you do not need a transfer switch to connect the generator to the mains supply, especially during recreational activities like camping.
As seen above, inverter generators have lots of advantages, and it’s these reasons they have become so popular.
The major disadvantage of inverter generators is they can be pricy, however they have so many advantages we believe they are worth it.
Portable Generator vs Inverter: Comparison Of Key Features
Here are some factors you should consider when choosing a generator:
The run time of your generator will depend on the size of its fuel tank. Here, someone can fix any size of a fuel tank to generators, regardless of whether it is a conventional or inverter generator.
If you want more run time and greater fuel efficiency, choose a unit with a larger fuel tank.
Most of the new inverter generators are incredibly portable, light and small. You can find one between the 30 and 50 pounds with a size of two or three cubic feet. Also, inverter generators typically run quietly compared to conventional ones, which is a clear advantage when you don’t want to annoy your neighbors.
Total Power Output
Inverter generators primarily focus on providing comfort, convenience, and portability, along with quiet operation. That means that they typically have a lower power output as compared to conventional generators. Meanwhile, you can get conventional generators in any power output you would want, ranging from 500W to 50,000W and more.
Noise During Operation
An important consideration when comparing inverter vs generator is the amount of noise that the generator produces during operation. Conventional generators are significantly louder compared to inverter generators, producing up to 85 decibels as compared to a maximum of 75 decibels for inverters.
Mode Of Operation
Conventional generators have a straightforward design. As mentioned above, they come with an engine that is connected to an alternator. The AC frequency depends on the engine’s RPM rather than the load. In contrast, inverters are unique in that they use a rectifier for transforming the AC current to DC current.
An equally critical consideration when comparing inverter vs generator is the total costs, including the purchase price and maintenance costs. Conventional generators are simple, cheap and also much more affordable to maintain. Meanwhile, an inverter generator offers other notable benefits like fuel-efficiency, quieter operation and a more controlled, consisted power output.
Design And Construction Simplicity
When considering the overall design and construction of inverter vs generator, conventional units have the clear edge. Since conventional generators have fewer primary parts, the engine and the alternator it means fewer failure points. That said, inverter generators may not have the most straightforward design, but they are still durable and don’t have high failure rates.
You can connect two inverter generators together in parallel to get double the power output. That versatility means you can deploy two smaller and lighter generators to deliver similar wattage and amperage of one huge conventional generator. So, in the battle of inverter vs generator, the conventional generator loses out as it can’t offer this parallel use feature.
The Best Portable Generator
Champion 3100W Portable Generator
The lightweight Champion 75537i generator is one of the best portable generators you can get today. Despite being affordable, this generator weighs 96 pounds and offers two power output options 2,800W and 3,100W. The single cylinder OHV 171cc motor also works efficiently, and the included economy mode helps to improve fuel efficiency.
This generator comes with wheels that connect easily and stay in position when carrying the unit around to your preferred site.
Expect a respectable four-hour run-time if you run it at 50% load. Also, it is remarkably silent and produces 58 decibels.
Usability is greatly increased by the wireless remote and push to start button. Because of the use of a spark arrestor, the unit won’t start up if you don’t have the required fuel and oil levels.
This Champion power generator is well reviewed by many consumers and it is amongst the best-selling units.
- The unit can deliver a long 9.5-hour run time under 25% load
- It comes with safety features, including overload protection
- It operates quietly and generates 53 decibels at around 23 feet away
- It has a streamlined design for easy stacking
- It is made with tubular steel frames that increase its overall safety and durability
The Best Inverter Generator
The Honda EU2000I is an impressive 2,000W portable generator that features an inverter.
It is a straightforward and highly dependable power generator. It is fuel efficient, super quiet and can power your TV, fridge, satellite, coffee pot, laptop and more.
The 98.5cc engine here is one of the best in this category. The reliable power output it produces allows it to efficiently handle large and inductive loads without tripping its safety overload circuitry.
Since Honda also has a wide network of service centers, you can be certain that any issues will be resolved quickly. Overall, it is one of the best inverter generators you can purchase today with overwhelmingly positive ratings by its users.
- The unit runs on a robust 98cc Honda OHV engine
- It features two 120V and 20A outlets
- It automatically shuts down once oil drops below the required limit
- It’s quieter than conventional generators with a maximum noise level of 59 decibels
- It’s also fuel efficient and can run for 8 hours on a single gas refill
Portable Generator vs Inverter: Which Type Should You Buy?
These two types of generators are ideal for medium and lightweight to heavy duty daily tasks. The 2,000W Honda EU2000I is the best choice for general home use while the 3,100W Champion 75537i is perfect for commercial applications. However, both generators are equipped with convenient features and provide great power backups wherever you use them.
You should now be confident regarding comparing the inverter vs generator topic. That information will help you decide which type is the best fit for your situation.