Inverter generators vs generator – Your generator can help you power all sorts of appliances and devices when grid electricity isn’t an option.
I’ve been through a few generators in my time, and I can tell you, having the right one ready to go when you need it is a huge relief.
Whether you’re going to be staying off the grid, preparing for the unknown, want to have a backup for a medical device, or just want to have the whole backup electricity thing solved, choosing the right generator for your specific circumstances is a must.
Inverter Generators Vs Generator due to the similarity in usage, most people interchange these terms a lot, and there seems to be confusion among consumers on the differences between a inverter generators and conventional generator.
And after knowing the differences, which one is better between the two? We will try to provide the most detailed answers to all these questions, so read on.
At a Glance: Recommended Best Inverter Generators
- Firman 2900 Watt Inverter Generator
- Honda EU2000i
- Honda EU1000i Inverter Generator
- Generac iQ2000
- WEN Inverter Generator
- Best Generator for Travel Trailers
Best dual fuel inverter generators
- Firman 2900 Watt Inverter Generator
- Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Electric Start
- Westinghouse iGen4500DF Dual Fuel Inverter Generator – 3700 Rated Watts Gas & Propane Powered – Electric Start
- Champion Power Equipment 100402 2000-Watt Dual Fuel Parallel Ready Inverter Portable Generator
Considering getting an inverter generator?
The tough thing about being prepared for an unexpected emergency is figuring out exactly what you’ll need. After all, if you don’t know what you’re going to be facing, it’s hard to be sure which tools you’ll want to have on hand.
That’s why I am going to go over some of your generator options so that you’ll be able to get a better idea of what units may work for your individual needs.
Inverter Generators and Standard Generators
Two popular generator options are inverter and standard variants. They each have some great applications. For years, people have been using portable generators to keep their electricity going in all kinds of situations.
However, only recently have inverter generators become popular. Let’s go over the differences between these two options.
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Inverter Generator vs Standard Generator
Inverter generators are smaller, lighter, and quieter than standard generators. They’re pretty innovative in that they are able to convert DC power into AC power with high frequency.
This conversion process eliminates power fluctuations like the ones you see in standard generators.
Both inverter and standard generators come in many different configurations with various power capabilities and fuel sources.
An inverter generator is just a generator with a built-in inverter.
When it comes to inverter generator vs standard generator operation, the real difference comes in with overall efficiency.
Standard generators operate at a constant speed. While reliable, these speeds are also non-adjustable. They can cause unnecessary noise, fuel consumption, and exhaust output.
Inverter variants are able to adjust their speeds according to the power requirements that are needed.
Inverter equipped generators have innovative engines which vary their speeds depending on the load they’re under. This makes generators with inverters quieter, more fuel efficient, and more environmentally friendly.
What is an inverter generator?
Inverter generators draw power from a DC source (e.g., a solar panel or a car battery), and converts the DC power into AC power using electronic circuitry.
The converted electricity can be produced in different voltages and frequency, depending on the equipment to be used.
Most inverter generator convert the 12V DC power from a DC source and convert it into the 120V AC power used by most appliances.
What is a generator?
Conventional generators have been around for quite some time, and the core principles used to make them have always been the same.
They are made up of an energy source, which is usually a fossil fuel such as propane, diesel or gasoline. This energy source is used to power a motor that’s attached to an alternator to produce electricity.
The engine needs a constant speed of about 3000 rpm to produce a standard current that’s used by most households. If the engines speed fluctuates, the power output will also fluctuate.
Just about every generator runs off either gas, propane, or both. You’ll definitely want to choose a generator that you’ll have an easy time keeping fueled.
Gas generators are super efficient, easy for most people to use, and reliable. Gas motors aren’t complicated either so if your gas generator breaks, you will probably be able to figure out what’s wrong with it pretty quickly.
On the downside, gas can be hard to store without a fuel stabilizer.
Also, if the power is out citywide, you can’t just go get some gas from a gas station. Gas pumps require electricity to work.
Finally, gas is a bit corrosive and can leave all kinds of residue behind. Gas generators will require regular cleaning. You’ll want to take good care of your carburetor, check your fuel lines, and look out for corroded gaskets.
Propane is easy to store and has a very long shelf life. In addition, it is pretty much impossible to spill. Propane burns pretty clean as well meaning that you won’t have to clean your generator out as much.
However, propane is less efficient than gas. You’ll use more of it. Plus, propane engines can be complex and hard to fix.
Finally, if you’re expecting cold temperatures, consider that propane is pretty much useless in temperatures below 20ºF.
Dual fuel generators are a great option as well. They let you use either fuel type, meaning that you’ll have a bit more room to improvise in a power loss situation.
Inverter generators vs generator – which one is better?
First, let’s not think of the traditional old inverters because they cannot power appliances which can be powered by generators.
Here we’re going to talk about two devices that can generate electricity well. So which is the best between the two?
The difference depends on some factors, which includes the appliances to be powered, the number of appliances, and your budget. Let’s discuss some of the most important portable energy device factors and how each device stacks up for them.
Generator inverter size, weight, and portability
Many inverter generators are quite small for the amount of power they carry.
Inverter generators are easy to store and transport, and for those who want some power for hiking or camping, inverter generators can easily fit in your car.
In contrast, many generators are usually noisy, heavy and bulky, which requires them to to be mounted on frame and wheels.
While they are also portable, they lack the convenience factors of being smaller, quieter and lighter.
Inverter generator fuel efficiency and run time
Generators are mostly designed to generate a certain amount of power needed to keep electrical appliances running. With generators, factors like the size of the unit have not been mainly considered.
On the other hand, inverter generators are designed to be compact and lightweight since they don’t need big fuel tanks like generators.
Although a limited fuel capacity means they have shorter run times, inverters have fuel efficient engines which adjust the power produced to match the load’s requirements.
Inverter generators save up to 40% of the fuel and have run times of approximately 10 hours, which are just enough for most users. Inverter generators also help to reduce exhaust emissions.
Noise level difference between generator and inverter
According to GreenGear global, the main difference between inverter generator and a conventional generator is the noise levels.
Generators are usually very noisy and run at constant speeds of typically 3600 rpm to produce electricity. The engine speed should remain constant to generate electricity.
On the other hand, inverters can adjust the amount of power produced using microprocessors.
This means that the device can regulate its power output depending on the load applied making it quieter than generators.
Quality of power generated by inverter generator
Since a generator is only an engine running at full speed to produce the desired frequency regardless of the load on it, the engine throttles up to keep the amount of generated electricity the same.
The alternator’s output is directly connected to the load without processing.
With inverter generators, AC electricity is produced by converting direct current into alternating current.
DC capacitors smooth out the current produced to a certain degree before it gets converted into alternating current and the desired voltage and frequency.
Inverters produce consistent and reliable power which does not rely on the engine speed.
The power generated by inverter generator is much “cleaner” than the power produced by conventional generators. This power is almost of the same quality as the electricity typically supplied by your electric company.
What’s the importance of using a cleaner power source?
Well, today most products including your televisions, mobile phones, and computers have microprocessors that are very sensitive to the quality of electricity used.
If these devices use a power source that’s not clean, they may end up malfunctioning, or they might even get damaged.
Which is why I personally have, and truly trust, a solar generator.
Any application that requires sensitive electricity (most devices do) will benefit from the cleaner power produced by inverters.
I personally have and use a Goal Zero Yeti, but it has a finite amount of power stored…Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium
Inverter generator price comparison
There are fewer advantages when it comes to generators unless you need a very high power output.
Conventional generators are also cheap and less costly to repair. Its simple design and functionality make the spare parts easily available at fair prices.
Although inverter generators are more compact, quieter, convenient and fuel efficient with controlled power outputs, they are available at higher prices.
But it’s up to you to evaluate how much you need each factor and how much you have budgeted for the device.
Review of one of the Best Selling Generators – WEN Inverter Generator
Parallel device operation inverter generator
Most inverter generators can be paired with identical units to double the powers capacity.
With parallel capability, you can use smaller inverters to produce the same amount of power produced by one large generator.
Conventional generators do not have this feature. Conventional generators need special cables to connect them to their output, and they cannot be paired with identical units.
Read our review of the Champion Dual Fuel 9000 Watt Gas and Propane Generator.
Inverter generators vs conventional generator, which is the best?
It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of each of the devices for your situation.
If all you need is some power where there isn’t any, and your more concerned about the budget the quality, a conventional generator will work for you.
But most people have realized that convenience, quiet operation, clean power, and portability is exactly what they need.
Generators with inverters offer better fuel efficiency
Inverters make generators significantly more efficient.
These generators are able to automatically adjust their engine speeds to match the needs to the application that you are using them for.
They only produce enough power to run the electrical devices or appliances placing a load on them.
This means that they will ultimately conserve fuel better.
Higher quality electrical parallel capability and output
Inverters automatically make a generator more technologically advanced.
They produce power similar to the power that’s used in a home or residential area.
Another feature is that you can also pair them with identical units for more power output.
So, instead of using a large and bulky standard generator that makes a lot of noise, you could use two inverter equipped generators and get the same power output with twice the efficiency.
Generators with inverters are easier to take care of than non-inverter variants.
You won’t have to use as much fuel, meaning less residue, and longer continuous running time. You’ll have to inspect your battery once a year, but that’s about it.
With an inverter equipped generator, you’re not going to have to replace your carburetor, fuel lines, or gaskets as regularly. Plus, they use less oil.
Inverter generator – What you need to know
Inverter generators or standard generator: Which is best for you?
You can also checkout this Inverter Generator Reviews
We have also reviewed what we think are two of the best inverter generators on the market: Honda Inverter Generator vs Generac Inverter Generator
What are your options?
There are quite a few generators out there for you to choose from. You can decide between gasoline, propane, or combination dual-fuel generators.
What fuel source will you have the easiest access to? Generators also come with various engine types and power output ratings.
Are you only planning to power a few devices for the night or will you need a daily power source that you can trust for months at a time?
You can also choose between standard generators or inverter variants.
Both have their uses and can be valuable assets when you need electricity on the fly.
Firman 2900 watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator
Whether you are a traveler who enjoys having electricity everywhere you go or a homeowner who wants to always be prepared, having a good inverter generator is a huge step forward.
Quiet, compact and portable, the Firman Dual Fuel Inverter Generator worked greatly for me.
Without a doubt, in my case, the device’s practicality and convenience were huge selling points.
However, what really convinced me that this is a great generator was its outstanding performance using either gas or liquid propane.
Firman Dual Fuel 3200 watt / 2,900 watt Inverter Generator
As far as I know, the Firman 2900 watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator is the first inverter generator that can run on two different types of fuel.
Take into account that, depending on whether you use gas or liquid propane, the device’s output may vary.
In fact, using gasoline allows a slightly larger running wattage of 2900W (and a peak wattage of 3200W). Meanwhile, using liquid propane gets you 2600 running watts.
Rest assured, however, as this difference is basically non-important for most uses. At any rate, having the choice between these two types of fuel makes the generator more versatile and practical.
Featuring a capacity of 1.8 gallons, the Firman Inverter Generator can run for up to 9 hours on a full tank of gasoline. Using propane instead of gasoline, that run time is reduced to 8.5 hours of continuous use.
For most people, that is certainly nothing to scoff at, particularly considering the consistency and reliability of the output.
As a matter of fact, this generator produces a clean sine wave with less than three percent of total harmonic disruption or THD. That means no sudden rises in wattage that could damage your electronic devices.
In terms of design, there is a lot to say about the Firman Dual Fuel Inverter Generator. For one, it is notable that its closed body design provides security to all its components.
Without a doubt, this gives the device an advantage over traditional generators with an open frame. At the same time, the device is compact and lightweight enough so that one person can carry it.
With a total weight of 97 pounds, it can be easily lifted using its built-in handle. If that is not possible, though, don’t worry: The device includes a wheel kit that makes it even easier to move around.
In addition to all its main functions, the Firman Dual Fuel Generator boasts a few additional security and monitoring features that are certainly welcome.
Take the useful control panel for example. At all times, it shows important measurements such as voltage, frequency and remaining lifetime hours.
Whenever any of these measurements get too low, the device produces warning lights that will prompt absent-minded people like me to correct the situation.
In order to further ensure safety, the generator also features an automatic low-oil shut-off and a circuit breaker.
Firman Dual Fuel Inverter Generator Advantages
- It can be used with two different types of fuel.
- Compact and portable.
- Great performance.
But the Firman Inverter Generator, as with all dual fuel generators, will produces less wattage when used with liquid propane.
Personally, I like inverter Generators – Especially Solar Generators
They make generators run better and for longer.
Plus, inverter equipped generators are generally a lot lighter, quieter, and more efficient. It’s easier to store them as well.
However, if you need high-output power and don’t want to mess with anything overly complicated, standard generators work just fine.
If you’re going to go with a standard generator, I’d opt for a powerful and reliable dual-fuel unit.
No matter which generator configuration you ultimately choose, remember to consider your surrounding circumstances.
Know where you’ll be using it, how much power you’re going to need, and if you will be able to maintain and clean your generator while off-grid.
Thanks for reading, and good luck!