When people talk about generators, they would usually associate them with big, bulky, greasy, and noisy machines that are used during power outages. Generators also provide power in areas where electricity from the grid is not sufficient or available. A grid is a network of power lines maintained by transmission and distribution utilities.
What is a Generator?
Outside the power grid, you can use a generator to produce your own electrical energy. It is like a small power plant that produces electricity using fuel such as gasoline, diesel, natural gas, or propane. The most common type of generator is the one that runs on gasoline.
Households and business establishments switch to generators for their power requirements in case of a blackout. When you plan to hold an event or activity in an area where there is no power line, a generator would be most useful.
A generator uses the same principle employed by power plants to generate electricity. Michael Faraday discovered electronic magnetic induction in 1831 to make a simple generator. Electricity was first used for arc lighting and telegraphy in the 1830s. In the 1860s to 1870s, inventors found a way to mechanically generate electricity. Generators using direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) were developed soon after. Thomas Edison used DC generators when he devised electric lighting.
Generators can produce electricity that may be used for long and short intervals. Most household generators require little maintenance and run on gasoline, diesel, and other types of fuel. Generators are often costly, with some households deferring acquisition of the machines because of the price.
Different Kinds of Generators
There are three kinds of generators including conventional, silenced, and inverter. Depending on your needs and your specifications, you may opt to get any of these three generators.
These generators were the first to be developed and become commercially available. They usually run on diesel, gasoline, propane, or LPG. An alternator is attached to a motor which runs constantly at 3600 revolutions per minute (rpm) to produce electrical current needed by households, regardless of the load.
Conventional generators are usually bulky and would need wheels to be transported. They are not as portable as inverters. As they are also noisy and cause vibrations, most camping grounds ban the use of conventional generators. Many of these machines produce 75 decibels, the same sound level caused by a chainsaw or a revving engine. This will surely disturb your neighbours in the campsite.
Conventional generators have one advantage over the small inverters, though. They have a bigger fuel capacity which translates into a longer running time. It can produce a maximum of 50,000 watts. It also has a lower upfront cost, but it consumes more fuel than the other types.
As the name suggests, these generators produce less noise because they are enclosed in an acoustic cabinet. The big sound-proof enclosure, however, makes them bulky and difficult to set up or transport.
This is a product of the advancement in electronic circuitry. Like the conventional generator, an inverter produces alternating current (AC), but is converted into direct current (DC) before being inverted back to clean AC power.
Clean AC power now has the desired frequency and the needed voltage. Because of this inversion, a constant flow of current is maintained in your appliances. This prevents power fluctuations and possible damage to your appliance. Laptops, smartphones, watches, game consoles, LED TVs, and some kitchen appliances use microprocessors and would definitely benefit from an inverter generator.
Inverter generators were mainly created for convenience and portability. You may bring an inverter whilst camping because it only weighs 60 to 80 pounds. Inverters are now the top choice of campers and households. It is also very quiet at only 50 decibel (db) units, or just as loud as a normal conversation.
Bringing this with you in a quiet mountain side will no longer be an issue with the other campers because of its quiet operation. You can even fit it inside your car or RV. At home, it can power a fridge and an air conditioner.
Inverters are also fuel efficient because its engine speed adjusts to the power load, unlike the conventional types that run constantly at 3600 rpm.
Summarised Benefits of an Inverter Generator
|Portability||Heavy and bulky
Needs a frame and wheels
|Bulky because of the acoustic cabinet||Small
Can easily fit in a car or RV
|Fuel Efficiency||Uses a lot of fuel||Uses a lot of fuel||Fuel Efficient|
|Maximum Power Output||500 – 50,000 watts||500 – 50,000 watts||Between 1000 – 4000 watts only|
|Quality of Power||No processing||Same quality as electric ity||Best for appliances and gadgets with microprocessors|
|Price||Cheapest Generator||Price is higher because of acoustic cabinet||Highest amongst the three|
What Appliances Can You Use with a Gentrax Inverter Generator?
Inverters are the most efficient among the three types of generators. Among inverters, one brand stands out. In the 2017 portable generator reviews in Australia, the Gentrax 3.5KW (kilowatts) was awarded as Australia’s Best Generator. It can run most air conditioners and small appliances. Before deciding to buy a generator set, you must first consider the following:
1. What appliances will you connect to the inverter generator?
It is important to understand how many watts are needed, so you can buy the appropriate generator with enough wattage for your appliances. If you buy a generator without anticipating the devices that will be connected, you might end up overloading the system and cause damage to your gen set and to your devices and appliances as well.
Furthermore, you might not even be able to use the generator when you most need it. On the other hand, choosing something that is too big will mean an unnecessary expense.
Most appliance and device manuals have information on the wattage used by the appliance. Ensure that you have calculated it. As a rule, the sum should be lower than the watts offered by the generator. Your total electrical load should determine the capacity of the generator. It would be counterproductive to buy a generator and adjust your usage of appliances. It should be the other way around for your own convenience.
All household appliances including gadgets and devices could be connected to a Gentrax Inverter Generator as long as the total watts do not exceed the max output of the machine. The Gentrax inverter GSI-XHAX only has a max output of 800W, so it is only suited for very light usage including lights and small appliances.
2. Will you use the generator for camping, for daily use, or for back-up?
It is also important to understand how you intend to use the generator. This will help you decide what type of converter you will buy. If you intend to use it as a back-up for lighting at home, a small inverter generator will be enough. However, if you intend to use it as a power back-up for your business, you may need to get a generator with a higher capacity.
A conventional generator, on the other hand, will not be suitable if you are going camping. Aside from being noisy, it is very heavy.
Remote areas usually use generators for lighting and for heating. If this is the case, a small inverter may also be enough. If you will connect more appliances, you need to reconsider another size of inverter.
Choosing your Generator
You should buy a generator depending on your intended usage. Compute the watts by multiplying the amps with the volts. The overall wattage of your appliances should be less than the watts of your generator.
For example, if the total power consumption of your refrigerator, toaster, and lighting is 1800 watts, you should get a generator that has 3500 watts. This will prevent overloading in case you decide to connect another device.
Here is a list of common home appliances and their corresponding generator size.
|Below 2000 watts||Radio, TV, Iron, Radiator, Gas Range, Toasters, Lights, Heating, Portable Drill and other power tools that will not exceed 1000 watts and ¼ – ½ HP motor|
|2000 – 3500 watts||Washers, Gas Dryers, Hotplate and ¾ HP motor|
|3500 – 5000 watts||Refrigerators, Freezers, Airconditioner (120 V), Microwave, Dishwashers and ¾ HP motor|
|Over 5000 watts||Airconditioner (240 V) and 1 HP motor|
Large inverters have up to 5000 watts of power at 220 volts which is already enough to power your house and your appliances. These inverters can be connected directly to an electrical panel that comes with a safety switch, also known as a transfer switch. There are midsized inverters too that produce between 2500 watts to 4500 watts. Midsized inverters allow you to connect your devices directly to the generator. For camping, 2000 watts is more than enough and can be easily carried at about 60 pounds.
The topseller of the camping inverter generators is the GS-CEDD. This has a maximum output of 3.5KW and can last up to eight hours in one full fuel tank. Its fuel capacity is 5.7 liters of mobile gasoline and it only weighs 28 kilos. It costs $629 in Outbaxcamping including free shipping.
Whilst conventional generators may be the cheapest type of generators, you may have to sacrifice convenience for just a few dollars.
Reminders for Generator Safety
Whichever you finally decide to buy, here are a few reminders to prolong the life of your generator set:
- Follow the manual when using it for the first time. If you are unsure on what to do and how to connect it, talk to a professional.
- Do a test run. Before plugging all your devices, try one first and check if it is working. Do not get excited and connect everything.
- Buy compatible wires, plugs, and extension cords if needed. Extension cords are safety hazards and should be avoided at all times. If it is not possible, buy the gauge of cord recommended for your generator and check the maximum wattage the cord label can carry.
- Calculate your power needs and stick to it. Calculate how much watts you will need. If you are uncertain about your initial estimate, you may use a wattage calculator.
- Keep safe. Remember that for your safety, you should only operate the generator outdoors. Carbon monoxide is released by generators and can be fatal in enclosed spaces such as a garage or a garden shed.
- Do not forget to gas-up. Always stock-up on gasoline and make sure to use approved containers for storing gas. Check the running time of your generator and do not allow your generator fuel tank to become empty.
There are a lot of cheap generators in the market offering exaggerated performance. Most of the time, it is too good to be true because it will not be able to deliver on its promise and may even wreak havoc on your appliances.
Some inverters offered in the market also use modified sine wave which is why it is cheaper. Inverters with modified sine wave are not intended for delicate electronics like laptops, digital clocks, smartphones, and radios. The few bucks that you might have saved because of this might even cost you more in the long run. Stop using it as soon as you realize that your inverter is not compatible with some of your gadgets and appliances.
Among appliances that may not run on these inverters are the controls of washing machines because of the silicon-controlled rectifier (SCR), home automation, and battery chargers used for cordless tools.
It is best to rely on products that are tested by other consumers. Do not be blinded by low prices. Gentrax Inverter Generators are very affordable, with capacity ranging from 2.5kw to 6k. Some inverters are even as light as 8.5 kilos for a 6-hour running time.
Gentrax is rated the best inverter generators in the Australian market today based on portable generator reviews. Such assessments are from satisfied customers who found the product they are looking for in Gentrax. Gentrax is already a proven brand with over 50,000 generators sold since 2010. All its products have passed Australian standards and come with full warranty. Browse through our products today!