Inverter Generators: Pros and Cons

Australia is a vast territory with various wildlife and natural parks. If you want to travel from Uluru National Park to Perth, make sure to bring a camping generator or inverter generator and know its pros and cons.  Bringing a generator will ensure that you have lighting and communication access whilst you are in the wild; otherwise, you may face an unpleasant surprise.

How inverter generators work

AC (Alternating Current) power refers to the current flow that alternates rapidly. In Australia, the standard is 50 times per second. When viewed in an oscilloscope – a professional device used by electricians – an alternating current appears as a smooth wave or true sine wave.

On the other hand, DC (Direct Current) power refers to the power supply from a battery.

It is the current that doesn’t fluctuate and change direction. DC appears as a straight line in an oscilloscope. Because DC current cannot be used on appliances that need AC, an inverter must change this DC to AC. A microprocessor-controlled inverter generator can produce this AC with the quality of a true sine wave viewed in an oscilloscope.

The inverter generator uses a two-step process to convert the AC into DC and again into AC. This two-step process yields a clean and efficient power supply. When the engine turns, the DC generation begins and the voltage falls when the load increases.

The inverter microprocessor senses the AC output voltage and adjusts the engine speed and keeps this voltage at a consistent level. This results in more fuel savings because the engine will only need to run at a speed necessary for the load appliance. When the load or demand increases, the microprocessor increases the engine speed which results in higher production output whilst maintaining a steady AC signal.

Components of an inverter generator

Common to all types of inverters are the following components: an inverter microprocessor, acoustic enclosure, vent air outlet, vent air inlet, intake silencer, fuel system, cooling and exhaust, battery charger, and engine. An inverter generator uses a neodymium magnet in place of brushes. The control panel may feature economy mode controls, LED indicators for power, and warning systems.

Types of an inverter generator

Modified sine wave creates power identical to the square wave. Devices such as pump motors, fans, refrigerators, and fans would run less efficiently.

Square wave is the least expensive and good for powering universal motors.

Sine wave produces clean energy similar to the energy company. This is ideal for most of the devices that run efficiently on true sine wave, especially electronic sensitive devices.

Pros of using an inverter generator

  1. Portable

A portable generator with a handle and wheels would ease your camping experience. A sturdy wheel system would ensure more portability in an all-terrain environment.

Inverters are light because they use an inverter microprocessor, instead of the heavy alternator found in old-fashioned or conventional generators.

  1. True sine wave

A true sign wave generator would run appliances with efficiency. Appliances with delicate electronics would only run efficiently in true sine wave generators. In electronics, a true sinewave shows a smooth wave with crests and troughs, unlike the modified sine wave with an irregular wave pattern. You can see this in an oscilloscope found in technicians’ labs or hospitals.

Earliest models of generators featured sine-wave or conventional generator, followed by the rectangular wave and the recent true-sine wave.

True sinewave produces less harmonic distortion than other waveforms. Devices that run efficiently in true sign wave include:

Devices that run efficiently on true sine wave
Laser printers
Laptop computers
Radios
Digital clocks
Medical equipment
Cordless tools
Electronic ballasts
Cordless power tools
Devices with Silicon-controlled rectifier

 

When you run a device in a not-true sine wave generator, it will either go hotter or stop working altogether. You will be using a device that consumes more electricity.  The following are the benefits of a true sine wave generator:

  • Power tools such as a drill with motors produce less heat.
  • Rice cookers and heaters work faster.
  • It prevents damage to devices and appliances with sensitive electronics.
  • It has less noise such as found in radios, TV, and phones.
  • It prevents computer errors and shutdowns.
  • It provides clean energy without the risks of drops and spikes that could damage sensitive electronics.

 

  1. Less noisy operation

At 58DB@7m, a conventional generator is quieter than a conversation. You won’t want a generator that sounds like a chainsaw.

Noise source Rate
Jet Over 100
Automobile 80
Garbage truck 80
Conversation 60
Gentrax inverter generator 58
Light traffic 50
Rustling leaf 40
Whisper 30
  1. Fuel economy selector

You can run generators for eight hours at economy mode. With this feature, you can reduce the engine speed whilst keeping a steady and quality power output for devices that need less power.

  1. Power efficiency

Inverter generators can adjust their motor speed depending on the load. This is unlike the conventional generator that runs at 3600 RPM regardless of the appliance load. This results in gas savings and more electricity time. For instance, a conventional generator would consume two gallons of gas, whilst an inverter would use less fuel for the same amount and time.

  1. Hardened plastic and metallic housing

Inverter generators constitute high-density plastic or HDP, aluminium, and stainless housing. These three materials can resist blunt force, humidity, rain, and direct sunlight. You can also find generators with anti-rust housing for all kinds of weather.

  1. Designed for various purposes

An inverter generator is designed for camping, outdoor parties, construction, and any outdoor activities that need a stable power supply.

  1. Warranty

 An inverter generator comes with a one to two-year warranty that provides consumer protection coverage in case of factory defects and conditions covered. The Australian Consumer Law ensures that you are compensated or entitled to refund in case of damage. You will save money within the warranty coverage.

  1. Parallel capable and high-quality output

An inverter can produce power akin to the one used in houses. To increase such power, you could pair another inverter generator with a unit of similar size and rating to double capacity.

  1. Clean and usable power

The inverter generator works by converting an AC power into DC power, and then again into clean AC power.

  1. Less maintenance

An inverter doesn’t need heavy maintenance, unlike other old generators that need oil replacement after more than 150 hours of use. This will free you of special instruments and countless hours of troubleshooting.

Cons of using an inverter generator

Inverter generators that produce true sine wave can be expensive compared to modified sine wave generators. However, the advances in technology could reduce these costs.

Best uses for the inverter generator

Camping

Use an inverter generator during caravanning, 4WD adventure, boating, hiking, and camping. You could charge your laptop, mobile, radio, portable freezer, and tablet using an inverter generator as your camping generator.

Outdoor activities

You can use it in concerts, festivals, market, outdoor parties, cultural trade shows, and fund-raising campaigns.

Job sites

Construction and archaeological sites need stable power generation.

Emergency

Australian wildfires, floods, and storms can cause blackouts. During natural disasters, you will need stable electricity to carry out rescue operations or keep you in constant communication with relatives and the government.

Professional

You will need an inverter generator that can run a sensitive lab equipment without the risk of damaging them.

How to choose an inverter generator

  1. Weigh the pros and cons. Usually, the pros would outweigh the cons. For instance, an expensive but quality generator would outweigh its cons because of its quality and durability.
  2. Don’t rely on price alone. What you pay is what you get. If you do, you would get generators that are not fuel efficient, durable, and would cost you more in maintenance than what you bought at face value. Do a research about the inverter generator features such as power output, housing build, and fuel efficiency.
  3. Read customer reviews about the products and the company that supplies it. Read blogs, forums, and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. You could read up client reviews in various consumer review sites.
  4. Compare the product features, power output, warranties, decibel, prices, and operating time.
  5. Determine if the product meets the Australian Regulatory Compliance mark. This will ensure that the product passed rigorous technical and industry standard tests.
  6. When choosing two generators, buy a bigger one for your house and a portable generator for outdoor activities or as a reserve.
  7. Choose generators with a high-power capacity. This allows you to use several devices simultaneously.
  8. Know your wattage needs for your appliances. If the unit’s power is in amps, follow the formula amps x volts = watts. Add up the required watts of all the items that will run simultaneously. Because a wattage listed by the appliance’s manufacturer would not be exact compared to the actual power usage, add a 10% correction factor on top of the total power requirements. Take note that the starting wattage and running wattage could be different depending on appliance type. These total watts would determine the power rating of the inverter generator that you will need.
Appliances Wattage Appliances Wattage
Coffeemaker 850 Kettle 3000
Radio 100 Computer monitor 100
Clothes Dryer 700 -1, 1600 Hair dryer 2000-2200
Television Over 300 Desktop computer 700
Clothes iron 1,250 Landline phone 10
Electric Oven 2,000 TV 120
Dehumidifier 500 Vacuum cleaner 2000
  1. Decide on the fuel type. Not all generators feature similar fuel. Some run on diesel or gasoline while others use liquefied petroleum gas.
  2. Bi-fuel are generators that run on dual fuel, which could be either propane or gasoline. This type adds flexibility because you can choose whichever is available.
  3. Tri-fuel adds more flexibility than bi-fuel. This one combines the three advantages of each fuel type – propane, natural gas, and gasoline. During times of fuel scarcity, you could choose among the three based on availability or scarcity.
  4. A diesel generator requires less maintenance and features efficiency and economy unlike those that run on other fuel types. In addition, diesel is safer than gasoline because it requires a high temperature for burning. Diesel generator, however, is more expensive than the other types.
  5. A gasoline generator is inexpensive compared to the other types because its fuel is common. Its drawback is that it would be difficult to find gas during natural disasters or blackouts. In addition, gasoline can absorb moisture in a month. Gas features a low flash point temperature and is more dangerous to store than diesel.
  6. Decide on your purpose for buying a generator. Generators are designed and built for the following purposes: commercial, professional, home, outdoor, and professional. The commercial type addresses the needs of businessmen, farmers, and recreationists.

A home standby generator provides homeowners with a steady energy source to power the fridge, HVAC system, freezer, air conditioner, and kitchen appliances. The outdoor generator would serve campers and hikers.

The professional generator serves the needs of businesses or not-for-profit institutions that use delicate electronics or machines such as computers, photocopiers, and professional laboratory equipment.

Safety and maintenance tips when using the inverter generator

  1. Read the manufacturer’s instruction manual first.
  2. Know the wattage of your appliances.
  3. Avoid using the machine indoors, as this will emit carbon monoxide–a poisonous gas.

The symptoms of CO poisoning include dizziness, headaches, faintness, shortness of breath, fatigue, and nausea.

  1. Install a carbon monoxide detector indoors.
  2. Turn off the machine before refuelling.
  3. Occasionally run the machine to keep its engine lubricated.
  4. Keep the machine in a cool, dry, and debris-free place.

Conclusion

There are no perfect inverter generators. Some of them are designed for specific applications. These generators may or may not comprise certain features. There’s only a reliable inverter generator that can give you a clean power supply, fuel economy, and weatherproof housing.

How can Gentrax help?

Gentrax helps you choose an inverter generator for sale that offers fuel and energy efficiency. We have been in the industry since 1989, providing campers and businesses with quality and reliable generators. For more info, visit https://gentrax.com.au/.

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