FEATURES OF A GENERATOR/INVERTER
Generators with this feature have an on board battery that allows the generator to start with touch of a button or a switch compared to the normal pull start version.
Helps you know how much fuel is left in the tank. Helps prevent running the generator dry which can be hard on the system.
AUTO IDLE CONTROL
This features idles the engine down when there is no power being drawn from it. This helps increase fuel run time and lowers noise when not in use.
AUTO SAFETY SHUTDOWN
Shut down a generator in the event of low oil, low oil pressure, low coolant level, overheating or other unsafe operating conditions.
They help prevent damage to connected equipment by stopping the current flow to the outlet if there is too much demand.
AUTOMATIC VOLTAGE REGULATOR
Helps reduce voltage fluctuations that may harm electronic devices.
Allows for easier maneuvering and transport to and from job sites.
GENERATOR/INVERTER WHICH ONE IS BETTER?
So what is better; conventional generators, or the new inverter generators? The answer to this question depends on the desired application the operator wants for the unit. Both styles have different advantages and strengths that need to be considered before and educated decision can be made. The following are a number of factors that will help guide the process.
Inverter generators are a newer addition to the product offering. Made possible by advanced circuitry and high-tech magnets, these process power through three phases. First they produce AC current like a standard generator, then the current is converted to DC, and then “inverted” back to AC current. This process creates a single phase, pure sine wave AC current at the required voltage and frequency that has almost no distortion. Inverter generators also include a processor that responds to power demands and reacts accordingly giving only what is needed. This is ideal for sensitive electronics such as computers, cell phones, and tablets. Inverters are known for their light weight and low noise output when compared to traditional generators.
Since these units employ the technology used by both generators and inverters they are often called ‘inverter generators.’ This terminology often gets shortened and they get referred to as ‘inverters’ or ‘generators’ which tends to leads to confusion to what product is actually being discussed. In spite of this lack of clarity, both terms are still commonly used to refer to inverter generators.
Our generators have been around for a long time, and the core technology behind them have remain essentially unchanged. They consist of a fossil fuel driven engine, such as diesel, gasoline or propane, which powers a motor that is attached to an alternator that produces electricity. The motor must run at a constant speed (usually 3600 RPM) to produce the standard current that electric appliances and equipment in North America require (120 Volts AC @ 60 Hertz).
SIZE / WEIGHT / PORTABILITY
Thanks to higher technology the inverter generators are surprising small and light weight for the electrical power they can deliver. They can be as smaller than your carryon luggage, and typically can easily be handled by one person. This makes them a breeze to transport and store. While you may not want carry one on a hike, they will easily fit in your car, boat or RV. In contrast, conventional generators tend to be heavier and bulkier, often requiring a heavy roll cage style frame. The larger units coming handle and wheel assemblies. While they are technically portable in that they can be moved around a job site, they will weigh in heavier than an inverter of the same watt amp output.
FUEL EFFICIENCY / RUN TIMES
Conventional generators are often designed simply to get a certain amount of power where it is needed, and to keep the power on. Factors like the size of the unit have not been a major consideration. This has meant that conventional designs can often accommodate sizeable fuel tanks, with the obvious result being relatively long run times. Inverters on the other hand are frequently designed from the get-go to be compact and lightweight. This means they can’t have a big, heavy fuel tank. The obvious result of a more limited fuel capacity is shorter run times. Nevertheless, inverters’ fuel-efficient engines and their ability to adjust engine speed to the load at hand means they make better use of the fuel they do have, and their run times of 8 to 10 hours and more are generally more than adequate for their applications. A more fuel-efficient generator also helps to reduce exhaust emissions.
Our inverters can be paired with another identical unit to double your power capacity. This type of parallel capability means you can use two smaller, lighter generators to provide the same wattage and amperage of one much larger generator – without sacrificing all the benefits of the smaller, lighter, quieter, more portable inverter units. Conventional units simply can’t offer this feature. Note that you will need a special cable to connect your generators, which is generally not supplied with the generator, but is available at extra cost.
This is one category that truly separates the two styles. Inverter generators are usually designed from the ground up to be very quiet machines. Quieter engines, special mufflers, and sound dampening technology and frames are used to reduce noise to impressive levels. In addition, inverters can adjust engine speed because they possess microprocessors and special electronics that can maintain out electricity at 120VAC@60Hz which is needed in North America. When the load demand is low, the engines can throttle down further reducing noise.
In contrast, conventional models do not have the same sound dampening technologies and have to run at a constant speed(3600 rpm) in order to produce electricity with the needed characteristics (120VAC @ 60Hz). If the engine speed varies, the qualities of the power generated also change which is undesirable. Maintaining the needed engine speed creates constant noise.
Noise is a very important factor to consider for certain applications. For example, many campsites have noise restraints, and as such conventional generators may not be allowed.
SIMPLICITY OF DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
Many people consider this an advantage to the conventional generators. They are fundamentally simple machines, easy to run, maintain and repair. The motor runs at full rpm, spins the alternator that sends power to the outlets. There can be extra features such electric start, voltage regulators that adds complexity, but they are still relatively simple machines even with the added features.
The inverter generators, on the other hand, employ more technology to give the extra performance features that conventional generators do not have. That being said, they are well tested and engineered products that are reliable as they have become mainstream products.
MAX POWER OUTPUT
Conventional Generators do have a higher maximum output that they can provide. They can achieve this because concerns such as noise or weight are typically not priority allowing them to use larger engines and generators. Inverter generators are achieving higher thresholds of power output, but still lag behind.
QUALITY OF POWER PRODUCED
A conventional generator is nothing more than an engine connected to an alternator and run at a speed that produces the desired AC frequency, regardless of the load on it. The output of the alternator is connected directly to the load, without any processing.
With an inverter generator, the engine is connected to an efficient alternator, which produces AC electricity, just like a conventional generator. But then a rectifier is used to convert the AC power to DC and capacitors are used to smooth it out to a certain degree. The DC power is then “inverted” back into clean AC power of the desired frequency and voltage. Regulation is very good and this system produces consistent power characteristics independent of the engine speed. The result is much “cleaner” power (“pure sine waves”) than is possible with a conventional generator, essentially the same quality of electricity that you typically get from your electric company. Why is this important? Well, more and more products today use some form of microprocessor. Not just your computer, but also your phones, TVs, game consoles, printers, DVD players, and even kitchen appliances and power tools. And all these microprocessors are very sensitive to the quality of the electricity they use. Using power that isn’t “clean” can make these devices malfunction, or even damage them. So any application that uses sensitive electronics – and that includes a lot more things than you might think – will likely benefit substantially from the cleaner power provided by an inverter generator.
This is one category that conventional generators have the advantage. Since the inverter generators employ higher technology, micro processors, sound dampening and other features they cost more to build. When comparing the two style of generators the inverters will always cost more dollars per watt. This is something only the buyer can decide if it is worth the extra cost for the features that he may want.