Due to the similarity of these terms and the fact that many people use them almost interchangeably, customers can seem a little confused about the difference between conventional (regular) generators and inverter generators.
Customers frequently ask what the differences between these two types of generators and which is better for them is. in this post, we’ll answer this question. Keep reading!
Conventional (regular) generators have been around for a long time, and their basic concepts remain largely the same. They are made up of an energy source, usually a fossil fuel like diesel, propane, or gasoline, that powers an electric motor linked to an alternator, which produces electricity.
To produce the standard current required for most home use (usually 120 or 220 volts AC @ 60 Hz), the motor must run at a constant speed (usually 3600 rpm). If the engine’s RPM fluctuates, the power output’s frequency (Hz) also fluctuates.
Inverter generators are relatively recent, enabled by advanced electronic circuits and high-tech magnets. These are usually three-phase generators that output AC like most conventional generators, but this current is then converted to DC and then again inverted back to a clean AC source, maintaining a single-phase pure sine wave under the desired voltage and frequency.
Because these units employ the same technology used by generators and inverters, they are probably most correctly called “inverter generators”.
What is the difference between conventional & inverter generators?
How do conventional (regular) generators work?
Conventional (regular) generators use propane, gasoline, or diesel for power, and the energy is converted into electricity by an alternator. Some models use a dual fuel system, with propane usually serving as the secondary source. The voltage regulator keeps it running smoothly. This type of generator emits smoke like your car or lawn mower. The bigger the model, the more electricity it produces.
How Does An Inverter Generator Work?
Inverter generators work by converting alternating current to direct current and then converting it back to alternating current to produce cleaner waves of electricity.
Conventional generators produce so-called “dirty” power with voltage spikes that can damage sensitive electronics. It has a high total harmonic distortion called THD, representing the difference from the standard 60 Hz frequency. If you plug your computer into a regular generator, power fluctuations can cause the computer to lose memory or operate incorrectly.
Inverter generators “clean up” that electricity by reversing the waves, allowing a consistent flow of current without the ripples and irregularities of dirty electricity. Its net THD is less than 6%. You need an electrical engineering course to understand all the intricacies of how it works. Just know that inverter generators can improve power quality and allow you to plug in your computer or smartphone without worrying about damage.
The main difference between a conventional (regular) generator and an inverter generator is the inverter’s ability to clean up power for sensitive electronics.
There are other differences. Let’s discuss these:
a) Fuel efficiency
The second significant difference is that inverter generators are more fuel efficient. It can adjust the engine’s speed depending on the required power. For example, if you only want to power one light, the engine will run slower and draw less current. If you add a second light, the engine will speed up to meet the extra demand.
This differs from conventional (regular) generators, which operate at only one speed, regardless of power demand. Of course, inverter generators save more energy because they don’t run at full power all the time.
Inverter generators have a limited power range—the maximum output inverter generator only produces about 7,000 watts. That’s far lower than some conventional (regular) generators that can generate more than 17,000 watts.
For this reason, inverter generators are generally not used in emergency backup settings unless you only need to power a few small items. More commonly, inverter generators are used in recreational applications such as camping, picnics, etc.
In terms of cost, conventional (regular) generators have a lower initial price and are more affordable if you require a large amount of power. Because of their innovative technology and the added benefits of noise and economic efficiency, inverter generators are more expensive.
d) Design and construction simplicity
While there is no proof that inverter generators are overly complex or have a higher failure rate than conventional generator types, some believe that regular generators have an advantage in terms of design and construction. Since traditional (regular) models are just a motor with an attached alternator, they are simple machines – easy to run, maintain and service. The motor spins at a standard rpm (usually 3600) without any complicated controls, electronics, or anything else going wrong.
Inverter generators, on the other hand, have been around for a long time. Their technology is generally well-tested, and the inverter generators have no significant reliability issues compared to regular generator designs. So the question of whether the simplicity of design and construction is an advantage of conventional (regular) generators is a matter of personal preference.
e) Parallel operation
Many inverter generators can be paired with another identical unit to double your power capacity. This paralleling capability means you can use two smaller, lighter generators to deliver the same power and current as a more significant generator.
Conventional (regular) generators cannot provide this capability. It’s worth noting that in order to benefit from the combined power output, you’ll need a special cable to connect your generators. You can purchase this cable separately, or in some cases, it is included when you buy a pair of generators at the same time.
The noise problem is what differentiates the two types of generators. Inverter generators are usually designed from the ground up to be relatively quiet. Quieter engines, special mufflers, and sound-reduction technology reduce noise to surprisingly low levels.
Advantages of conventional (regular) generators
Their conventional (regular) generators are big and heavy. They have higher fuel capacity. Using more fuel, you can run conventional (regular) generators for long periods without running out of fuel.
The power output of the generator and inverter is in stark contrast. If you are operating heavier equipment and need a lot of power, rely on a generator to produce 500 watts to 50,000 watts. So, if your job requires a lot of power and takes a long time, a conventional (regular) is a better solution.
Disadvantages of conventional (regular) generators
- Higher long-term maintenance costs due to wear and tear of moving parts
- Higher noise output
- Higher pollution from using fossil fuels
- Higher operating costs due to and relatively low efficiency
- Inconvenient to refill and store fuel
- It runs at the same speed of 3600 RPM so you can expect the same noise even with fewer connected devices. Costs are higher when load requirements are lower.
- Not compatible with solar panels
Advantages of inverter generators
Life during a power outage is much easier if you have a generator. If the generator is portable and very quiet, it will be the perfect companion to carry to the campground to charge your electronic devices quickly. Inverter generators offer all these advantages.
Inverter generators have many advantages, which we list below.
1. Clean energy source
The main advantage of inverter generators over conventional generators is that they provide pure alternating current and their harmonic content is less than 5%. That means it’s perfect for charging your electronic devices.
As you know, electronics such as mobile phones and laptops have become integral to our lives. They need to keep working, so the power you charge them with must be clean, have tolerable harmonics and have no spikes to protect their delicate circuitry. For this, inverter generators are a good choice.
If there are spikes and the power supply is not clean, it will also reduce the life of other appliances.
2. Parallel Mode
Another noteworthy benefit of inverter generators is their paralleling capability. Most inverter generators are self-contained, which means that when a single generator is not enough, two or more generators can be connected in parallel to increase the power output.
This connection can increase power output when needed. However, when you don’t need the extra power, you can take it off and store a backup generator.
It will keep the generator portable when it does not have as much power as a larger generator. Even if you need more power at a distance, handling two small generators is easier than one large one.
Their abilities can come in handy in emergencies, but not all have parallel abilities, so ensure you have them.
3. Fuel efficient
Compared with regular generators, inverter generators are very fuel efficient. The ability of the inverter generator to run at a variable speed rather than a constant speed, like a conventional generator, accounts for this fuel efficiency.
Conventional generators run at a constant speed to keep the frequency constant. Still, the working mechanism of inverter generators allows them to run at different speeds depending on the load connected to the output.
If you are powering less equipment, the generator will only use that fuel to maintain the speed for that particular load.
4. More Portable
Because they have conversion stages, inverter generators are not designed to provide more power. These stages involve electronics that can handle voltages up to a specific limit.
For the same running time, inverter generators use less fuel than conventional generators.
This means they will have a smaller fuel tank, significantly reducing the size and weight of the unit. Also, having a handle and wheels would further increase portability.
5. Quiet operation
Another significant advantage of inverter generators is their noise level. They run quietly. The noise level of the inverter generator is kept within the level of 50 to 60 dB.
The reason is the use of a special muffler, and the casing absorbs the sound of the engine very well. Also, the motor in an inverter generator does not work as hard as a conventional generator. The noise of an inverter generator decreases as the load connected to it decreases.
Inverter generators do not maintain a constant speed. If the load is reduced, the speed will also be reduced, and the noise level will also be reduced.
Disadvantages of inverter generators
There are also some disadvantages of inverter generators. Let’s discuss these.
1. Related expenses
The functionality and convenience you get from an inverter generator are worth the price. They are quieter, run smoother, have cleaner power, and have better fuel economy than traditional generators. But it all comes with a higher price tag.
Regular generators will cost less, but they require frequent maintenance and lack the features and benefits offered by inverter generators. Therefore, we recommend using inverter generators instead of conventional generators.
2. Less power output
Inverter generators are powerful power sources with many advantages, but they are not as powerful as conventional generators. They cannot provide the power you get from conventional generators.
They’re small and compact for portability, but they don’t cut the line regarding power generation.
You can run some small appliances with an inverter generator. Still, you won’t have to consider a conventional generator if you want to power larger devices like an air conditioner unit.
As mentioned, these generators are parallel capable, so you can always have two inverters
generators with the same power rating and connect them in parallel for more power.
How to choose an inverter generator?
You must first determine two things before selecting the best inverter generator:
What are you going to use it for?
How much power do you need?
If you want to back up large areas of your house during a storm, the inverter won’t get the job done. It would help if you had a larger emergency portable generator or a home standby generator. But a bigger inverter generator might cut it if you want to power some basic projects.
Inverter generators, on the other hand, are ideal for recreational use. An inverter generator will be a great convenience if you enjoy parties or camping.
Determine how many watts you require once you’ve identified your application. The more things you want to power at once, the larger the unit you will need.
As you can see, despite the many improvements that inverter generators bring, there is still a place for conventional (regular) generators, so they are still going strong in the market.
However, inverter generators broaden the horizons of how much we can do with generators and help us make life easier and more enjoyable.
Hopefully, now you know which is best for you, you’ll make a more informed purchasing decision.
If you still have questions, contact us online or call BISON experts at (+86) 17380831819.
inverter generators are a convenient, fuel-efficient way to power your sensitive electronics during a power outage. many find that the fuel savings, quiet operation, and portability offered by inverter generators make up for the higher upfront cost.
if you have frequent power outages and are looking for a lot of backup power, use a larger portable generator or a home standby generator. suppose you're looking for the convenience of backup power for travel, minor power outages, or outdoor activities. in that case, you can't beat the performance of an inverter generator, and it's well worth it.
do not! the first safety rule for generators is never to run them indoors. inverter generators may appear small and innocuous, but they contain an internal combustion engine that emits poisonous exhaust.
there are no exceptions to this rule. you cannot use an inverter generator in a detached garage, shed, open garage, under the deck, or anywhere within 15 feet of the house. people have died doing this, and there is no acceptable workaround.
in theory, the inverter generator can be used the same way as a conventional generator. there is a difference due to their lower power.