Technology is evolving very quickly, and you will see this advanced technology in daily use machines too. I bet you have heard about the inverter generator, but you may don’t know how they are different.
Well, for starters, Inverter generators aren’t around for much time. They are designed based on the concept of “Power Inverters,” which are widely used in power converting circuits in the grid as well as cars too.
So today, we are going to talk about what are inverter generators, why you should use them, and how they are different than standard generators.
Difference between inverter generator and conventional generator
Working of generator
The fuel is ignited in the chamber, and with the help of combustion gases, the rotor of the generator is rotated through the mechanical gears. As the rotor cuts the magnetic field produced by the stator, the electricity is produced, which is collected through the rotor.
Now you know how any generator works.
The conventional generator produces the direct AC current (we will understand this part later), whereas the inverter generator produces AC current just like the normal generator, but then it converts it to DC current then again converts it back to AC power.
Let us understand this phenomenon with the help of this equation.
This is not as hard as you think it is. Anyone with simple math skills can understand it.
So as you can above, that is the equation of speed of rotation of the generator, be it alternator or synchronous generator.
As you know, the frequency of the current in the USA and Canada is 60Hz, and it must remain 60Hz for the proper function of your electrical appliances.
And p is the number of poles used in a particular generator. All the household generators have two pole arrangement, so here p=2.
Now in order to get f=60 (given that p=2), the generator must run at a constant 3600 RPM speed no matter what.
The conventional generator produces AC current directly, so it has to run at a constant 3600 RPM speed, but that is not the case with inverter generator, here’s how.
The inverter generator can produce power at any frequency (hence, it can run at any speed it wants) and then it will convert that lower frequency power to DC power.
Note: inverter has the ability to convert the DC power to any desired AC power containing any frequency you want.
So now the internal inverter will convert this DC power to 60Hz 120AC power, and due to process, the inverter generator has no need to run at a constant 3600 RPM speed.
In the above portion, I explained how both the generators differ in terms of internal structure. Now let’s understand why the inverter generator is so fuel-efficient.
As I said earlier, the conventional generator must run at 3600 RPM no matter what amount of power you need, and this consumes a great deal of fuel.
Let’s understand this by the above example. Suppose you have a non-inverter generator that can provide 2000 watts of continuous power. Now let’s say you want to run a 100-watt device on it. And then you want to run a 1000-watt machine on it. In both cases, the generator must run at 3600 RPM to produce 60Hz AC current.
As you can guess in both cases, the same amount of fuel going to be consumed irrespective of its load demand. So unless you are running your generator on maximum capacity, you will lose a great deal of money on fuel.
Now let’s take an example of an inverter generator. Suppose you have an inverter generator that can supply 2000 watts of continuous power. And first, you want to run a 100-watt device on it and then you want to run 1000-watt device on it. In the first case, it will slow its speed only to produce 100-watt power output, and hence, it will consume less fuel. And in the second case, it will increase its rotating speed to produce the 1000 watts of power accordingly.
And I mentioned earlier; the inverter generator does not need to run at 3600 RPM speed so it can adjust its speed to produce the power according to its demand. In short, the inverter generator will save you a lot of money on fuel costs.
After fuel efficiency, this is the main reason for people to buy an inverter generator. Even at 100% load, any particular inverter generator will produce a maximum of 62 decibels of noise, which is equal to the noise of an average conversation. So you can guess how quiet they actually are.
The generator produces noise mainly due to the combustion of fuel and mechanical gears. As the load demand increases, the generator will burn more fuel to meet the demand, and hence the noise production also increases.
In the case of a conventional generator, the generator is constantly running at 3600 RPM, which is minimum noise it will produce, plus it has no noise minimizing parts in it, which increases the noise even further.
But the inverter generator adjusts its speed according to its load demand, so it is relatively quiet. So at maximum load, it will produce the maximum noise, which is very unlikely.
Additionally, the inverter generator is fitted with sound dampening materials and special mufflers, which helps in reducing the noise even further.
So the inverter generators are way quieter than the conventional generator, and thus you can use them for outdoor activities like camping and fishing.
Quality of power
The power produced by conventional generator contains a modified sine wave and the reason being is that its speed fluctuates when load demand increases or decreases. Thus, its frequency also fluctuates, and as a result, the produced power contains a lot of dips and peaks.
Due to this, the THD (Third Harmonic Distortion) of the power also increases. This resultant power is dangerous for sensitive devices like laptops, smartphones and TV because they use the microprocessor.
Also, this kind of unclean power heats up the devices consists of inductive load, and almost all of your appliances are inductive type. If you use this electricity continuously, then the life of your electronic devices may get shortened.
Inverter generator, on the other hand, uses the power inverter to produce pure sine wave power, which contains less than 3% THD, so in short, this power is very clean and safe to use.
Maximum power output
This is a rather disadvantage of an inverter generator. The conventional generator comes with a variety of wattage ratings starting from 1000 watts to above 12000 watts so you can simultaneously run as many appliances as you want without overloading the generator.
The highest power output inverter generator available on the market can only produce 5000 running watts. The inverter generator cannot produce high power because their rectifying and inverting circuit cannot handle high power. And another reason is that IGs are designed to be portable and lightweight, so that is why they do not come with bigger engines hence low power output.
But by joining two identical portable inverter generators together, you can get higher power output, which is very clean and not to mention the low noise operation.
The inverter generator comes with so many great features, so there is no doubt that it isn’t cheap. It is also true that if you go for high-end features (such as dual-fuel capability, wireless start, additional safety features and so on) in an inverter generator, then it is going to be very expensive.
But it doesn’t have to be that way because there are some affordable alternatives available too. So, in the end, it comes down to what you need from an inverter generator, and after addressing that issue, you will be able to choose the perfect generator for you.
The inverter generator is superior to the conventional generator in every aspect except for some negligible cons. If you need a generator for regular usage and if you are going to run your generator at its maximum capacity, then I advise you to choose the conventional generator because its cost of electricity produced per kilowatt is more than a traditional generator.
On the other hand, if you need a quiet generator for occasional use with maximum fuel efficiency, then the inverter generator is the best choice.