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What is an Inverter Generator

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  • 27-08-2020
What is an Inverter Generator

What is an Inverter Generator?

An Inverter Generator is used as a backup power supply when there is a grid power outage, or in locations where grid power is inaccessible. They can also be used as a permanent solution, providing maintenance is kept up. To generate electricity, inverter generators convert AC power (alternating current into DC power (direct current), and back into AC power. They are designed to provide a steady electrical current to power your appliances more efficiently and reliably.

How does an Inverter Generator work?

An inverter generator uses different fuel sources, such as natural gas, gasoline, diesel and propane to convert the electricity. The fuel source is used by the engines of generators, which connect to the alternator.

In an inverter generator, the AC power is produced by the alternator before it is passed to the rectifier which converts it into DC power. Then, the computer inside the generator inverts the DC power back into AC power to be sent to the control panel, to implement a steady current for your electrical appliances. This powers your appliances more efficiently, giving them a better performance. 

During this process, an inverter generator produces a sine wave, which is basically the flow of the energy generated. If the sine wave is smooth, the electricity produced by the generator is of a higher quality. Inverter generators are known to have the smoothest sine waves compared to the other types of generators.

Features of an Inverter Generator

There are several differences between each type of generator. The inverter generator has only been around for a short time, so have many more advanced features.


Inverter generators have a lower noise level during operation, as they have sound-absorbing features. This means you'll have no distractions whilst your generator is in use. This is important for generators used for work purposes, as the sound could cause loss of concentration, or customers at a hotel or restaurant.

Compact and Lightweight 

As this type of generator is smaller, lighter in weight and portable, it's easy to move them around and transport them from place to place. This is useful for construction sites, moving from job to job. Being compact also makes inverter generators easier to store away as they can be folded to make them smaller.

Engine Speed 

The engine speed of an inverter generator doesn't have to remain constant at around 3600 rpm like the electric motor of a conventional generator. They can adjust according to the power output of the appliances to reduce the amount of wasted energy. This could save money and also the environment.

Fuel Efficiency 

Generators with inverters are the most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly option. This is because they can adjust their engine speed to meet various power requirements and will only produce the amount of power necessary for your electrical equipment, so less fuel will be wasted.

Run Time 

The fuel tank in inverter generators are smaller than most other types of generators; however, they have an average running time of around 10 hours. This running time would be ideal for most users, including residential, construction work, offices, camping and outdoor events.

Parallel Device 

Inverter generators have another special feature that other generators don't have, known as a parallel device. This means that if you wish to use smaller inverters, they can still produce the same amount of power as a larger one would by being paired up.

Difference between Inverter Generators and Traditional Generators

To power appliances, the energy must go to the control panel of a generator. However, the process varies between traditional generators and inverter generators. When generators convert chemical energy into electrical energy, the electricity is measured on its cleanliness, known as total harmonic distortion (or THD).

Traditional Generators

In traditional generators, the power is generated by the alternator, which sends it to the control panel, without passing through any other parts. Therefore, this means that the energy isn't clean, so will have a higher total harmonic distortion.

Inverter Generators

Compared to traditional generators, inverter generators produce cleaner energy. They are much more quiet during operation and can be moved around easily. The energy produced by the inverter generator passes through the alternator, rectifier, computer and control panel before it powers your electrical appliances.

What Other Types of Generators Are There?

There are three main types of generators, including inverter generators. The other two main types are known as portable generators and standby generators. Although they share many similarities, the differences make them suitable for various purposes and power requirements, and it's crucial to find the one that suits you best.

Portable Generator 

Portable generators are ideal for incidents such as natural disasters that cause grid power outages. They can withstand adverse weather conditions, continuing to supply power to electrical appliances. Portable generators are useful for construction sites to power tools, due to the durability features, and residential purposes for your home appliances.

Standby Generator

Standby generators can automatically switch on when the power fails, and automatically switch off when the power comes back on, using signals from the electrical supply. They are usually used as a backup system in larger buildings, holding a large number of people such as hospitals, hotels, restaurants and apartments.

Uses of an Inverter Generator

To get the most out of your generator, it's essential to consider factors such as your power requirements, how long you'll need the generator to run for and what you are using your generator for. Once you have considered these factors, you'll be able to find the right generator that will suit your needs.

Home Use
An inverter generator can power your whole house, from the refrigerator to the central heating, lighting, cooking appliances and your television. However, you must make sure the size you get meets your power requirements. 

Construction Site
To power your tools at a construction site, generators are the ideal option. They are able to supply power to large areas, i.e. the area that the workers are going to build on, and they handle harsh weather conditions. 

Camping/Outdoor Leisure Activities
If you enjoy outdoor leisure activities such as family camping trips or fishing, inverter generators can be beneficial. For example, to power your stove, lighting or electric heater, as they are small, easy to move around and come in different sizes to suit smaller power outputs. 

Car Battery
If you connect your inverter generator to your car battery, you will be able to charge it for around 10 hours. However, it's essential to get advice and help from a professional if you want to do this, as it can get quite technical.

Sizes of Inverter Generators

The size of a generator is measured in watts, rather than weight, height, length or width. The higher the wattage, the larger the generator is, and the lower the wattage, the smaller the generator is. To work out which size generator you need, you need to work out the power output of each electrical appliance you want to be powered by your generator. This is done by finding out the starting watts, running watts and total watts of each electrical appliance, adding them together and comparing them to the generator sizes.

Getting the right size is so important, as if you buy a generator that is too large for your power requirements, then you'll be overpaying for the energy you aren't using. On the other hand, if you buy a generator that is too small for your rated wattage, then your appliances won't be getting enough energy causing them to underperform, and your generator could overheat.

Advantages of an Inverter Generator

  • Quiet noise level
  • Adaptable engine speed
  • Fuel efficient
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Easy to move around
  • Low maintenance
  • Produces clean power
  • Parallel device operation
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Smaller fuel tank

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