Pros and Cons of Inverter Generators in 2022

Pros and Cons of Inverter Generators

Pros and Cons of Inverter Generators – Inverter generators are a modern version of portable generators with an electronic improvement. Instead of maintaining a steady speed regardless of the size of the load, an inverter generator automatically adapts its engine speed to the present electrical demand. This greatly reduces fuel consumption and noise levels. When compared to conventional portable generators, they provide a number of benefits. However, there are still a lot of people who want to know if an inverter generator is a better choice for them. These generators are slightly more expensive, but they operate much more reliably, longer, and quietly.  In this article, we’ll explore these generators’ pros and cons versus conventional generators.

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What Is an Inverter Generator?

An inverter generator is a novel type of power source that has gained popularity in recent years due to its ability to provide clean, stable AC power without the necessity of sound-proof enclosures. As you might expect, they are significantly quieter than conventional generators and may be adjusted to generate 120 or 240 volts.

You probably have heard several times how inverter generators use less fuel and are quieter than conventional generators. Why is this the case, do you ever wonder? Keep reading as we address all of your inquiries regarding the inverter generator now. You must first comprehend the operation of an alternator.

Pros and Cons of Inverter Generators
Inverter generator for boat, camping or motor racing (Reference: mitropower.com)

The alternator is nearly identical to the generator, but there is one significant difference. In an alternator, the rotor is stimulated by DC current, creating a powerful magnetic field. And since the stator reduces the magnetic field created by the rotating rotor, electricity is generated and collected through the stator. However, in a generator, the armature winding rotates in a magnetic field that is fixed, and the stator generates this magnetic field with the aid of the excitation winding. Carbon brushes, which quickly wear out and must be constantly replaced, are used to gather electricity through the rotor.

 

Difference Between Inverter Generator And Conventional Generator

The inverter generator has several benefits that we will describe later that the conventional generator or non-inverter generator does not. The inverter generator produces AC current, transforms it to DC current, and then converts it back to AC current. 

Pros and Cons of Inverter Generators
How Does an Inverter Generator Work? (Reference: electricaleasy.com)

Let’s use this equation to explain that an inverter generator is also fuel-efficient.

 

  N =\frac{120f}{p} 

 

Where N is= Synchronous Speed, f is Frequency and p is Number of Poles. 

All generators, including inverter generators, alternators, and conventional generators, create electricity using this equation, which describes the rotor speed of the generator. America and Canada utilize the 60Hz frequency, hence f=60 and P are the number of poles on any given generator. With the exception of those utilized for hydropower, almost all generators use a two-pole configuration. 

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Now, as you are aware, the frequency of the current must be 60Hz, and if there is even a small fluctuation, let’s say 58Hz or 61Hz, it might harm your equipment.  To produce f=60, the value of n must be 3600 RPM, according to basic math (Rotations per Minute). Therefore, the generator’s rotor must always turn at a constant 3600 RPM. And if this speed changes, the frequency of the output current could as well. You now understand that the conventional generator must always operate at 3600 RPM, regardless of the need for power.

Allow me to explain it using this example. Let’s say you want to operate a 100-watt bulb, and your generator has a 1000 watt continuous output capacity (not peak output). Then it must burn some fuel, am I right? Now imagine that you wish to power a 500 watt electronic equipment. In both scenarios, the generator will undoubtedly use fuel, but it will also need to spin at 3600 RPM in order to generate 60Hz electricity. As you can see, there is clearly fuel waste; it is not excessive, but some gasoline does go to waste.

So let’s examine the inverter generator now. The inverter generator, as I mentioned before, generates electricity in three stages: first, it generates AC power, then converts it to DC power, and last, it converts it back to AC power. This is especially useful when you require less power from the inverter generator since the generator will rotate at a slower speed (using less fuel) and output electricity at a lower frequency. The rectifier will then convert it to DC power, which will subsequently be converted to 120V 60Hz electricity via the inverter circuit.

Allow me to explain it using this example. Consider that you wish to power a 100-watt light using an inverter generator that can deliver 1000 watts constantly. And after that, you want to power a 500-watt appliance on it. In the instance of a 100-watt bulb, the inverter generator will use less fuel than a conventional generator since it won’t need to provide a 60Hz supply, which means that its rotational speed will be very low. And in the instance of a 500-watt device, the rotor will rotate appropriately (far less quickly than 3600 RPM) in order to provide the necessary power.

 

Noise Output

Now that you are aware of their differences in fuel efficiency, let’s examine their differences in noise output.

The burning of fuel and the movement of mechanical gears are the major causes of noise produced by the generator. Because the rotor requires a lot of torque to cut the intense magnetic fields of a stator, the noise grows as the load demand rises. And as a result, the chamber’s high fuel content ignites, increasing noise generation in the process.

Up to 85% load capacity, the portable generator will continue to create the same amount of noise, but after that point, the noise level will become even higher. However, an inverter generator automatically changes its speed in response to the amount of power required; as a result, it will be quieter at low power requirements. Additionally, the portable inverter generators have special mufflers and sound-dampening materials that contribute significantly to noise reduction.

 

Pros and Cons of Inverter Generators

When evaluating if an inverter generator is a good alternative for your off-grid electrical needs, you must analyze all aspects of the generator as well as your specific situation. In order to examine and weigh your alternatives, consider the following advantages and disadvantages of inverter generators.

Pros and Cons of Inverter Generators
A Typical Inverter Generator (Reference: norwall.com)

 

Advantages of Inverter Generators

  • Fuel Efficiency: Inverter generators use far less fuel than conventional fuel-powered generators. In contrast to conventional generators, which operate at a constant speed, an inverter generator automatically changes the engine speed to only what is necessary by the load. Less fuel is required since running the generator at a lower speed conserves energy.
  • Cleaner Power: When compared to a conventional generator, the sine wave produced by the inverter’s electronics technology emits far less emissions from fuel and much cleaner power. Electronics operate in a safer environment when the electrical output is of higher quality. Parallel capability is also made possible by the output quality.
  • Parallel Compatibility: When you require extra power, an inverter generator may be connected to another one. You can employ multiple generators to replace a bigger, bulkier conventional generator.
  • Low Noise Level: The majority of inverter generators create noise at or below 60 decibels, which is the sound of a quiet conversation. The little engine runs at a slower and more consistent rate, creating less noise than a traditional generator. The construction of inverter generators uses a noise-reducing design that includes an enclosed casing and built-in mufflers for sound insulation.
  • Easy Maintenance: Compared to their conventional equivalents, inverter generators require relatively minimal maintenance. Only the battery has to be inspected, which should be done monthly to guarantee smooth performance.
  • Portability: Inverter generators are more lightweight than conventional fuel-powered generators due to the smaller fuel tank.  Most portable inverter generator models include carrying handles and wheels for convenient movement.

 

Disadvantages of Inverter Generators

  • Cost: Inverter generators often cost more than conventional portable generators, which is a disadvantage. The equipment might be expensive up front, but it offers various benefits that in many cases make the investment worthwhile.
  • Lower Power Output: Inverter power generators are not as powerful as larger conventional generators, with outputs ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of Watts. A typical inverter generator can power certain modest home appliances, RVs, and outdoor machinery. The inverter generator can operate in parallel with a second generator to boost power output.
  • Costly Repairs: The inverter generator has the ability to evaluate the load and vary the rpm in response. Typically, this service is operated electronically. You will have trouble  locating a service provider if it breaks down. For your particular equipment, you must utilize an approved servicing facility.
  • More Complicated: The design of a conventional generator is straightforward. The motor typically runs at 3600 RPM and never stops once it is turned on. If demand changes, the motor’s rpm cannot be changed by the alternator. The motor attempts to automatically maintain the load at the normal rpm after detecting the change in load.
Pros and Cons of Inverter Generators
Inverter Generator Rotor Replacement (Reference: ifixit.com)

 

So, What Generator Should You Use?

The answer is complicated since it is dependent on your power requirements. As you may know, inverter generators are quite costly, and they are meant to be portable and compact, therefore their power output is very limited. A conventional generator is a better choice because of its low initial cost if you need one on a regular basis and for loads that are above 60 or 70 % of the capacity. An inverter generator is the better choice, nevertheless, if you want a quiet generator with clean power output.

 

FAQs about Pros and Cons of Inverter Generators

 

  • How Long Does An Inverter Generator Last?

Based on this query, you may anticipate the typical portable camping generators to last 1,000–2,000 hours. Manufacturers of portable inverter generators, like Gentrax, also provide full support or a guarantee for units with up to 1,000 hours of run time.

 

  • Can A Refrigerator Be Run By An Inverter Generator?

Yes, an inverter generator can power a refrigerator, but doing so will need more energy than usual. For this appliance, it is recommended to utilize an alternator generator. It only has to supply the right voltage, which is 120 volts for US units and 240 volts for international units.

 

  • How Do I Hook Up An Inverter Generator To My House?

Simply connect the gen cable to the generator’s 20- or 30-amp outlet. The opposite end is divided into multiple home outlets, from which you may begin safely attaching more extension cables indoors.

 

  • What Size Generator Do I Require To Power My Home?

ou can power even the most essential household appliances, including the refrigerator, freezer, well pump, and lighting circuits, with a generator rated at 5,000 to 7,500 watts. All these devices may be operated simultaneously by a 7500 running watt generator.

 

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