The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Portable Inverter Generators

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Portable Inverter Generators

What is a generator?

A generator is typically a machine or mechanical device that is used to produce electrical energy. Whilst it does not directly produce electricity, the mechanical energy produced by a generator creates electromagnetic charges that then pass through an alternator and undergo energy conversion from one form to another. The resultant output is electric energy that can be enough to power up your lights, electrical appliances, and other devices.

Why are portable inverter generators important?

Australians just love the great outdoors and are very much inclined to spend time trekking, fishing, hiking, and camping in lakeshores, beaches, recreational parks, or in the wilderness. However, sometimes work, school, and other responsibilities restrict or limit their time for enjoying these activities. They have to endure working on school papers, sitting in their offices, conducting meetings or even running around the city doing an assortment of odd jobs instead of enjoying a much-needed vacation camped out or chilling in an RV.

With the advancement of technology, people can now multi-task, which means they can have the best of both worlds. They can pursue their dream vacation for a weekend, or even for a longer period if they want to without worrying about being away from school or job for too long or missing on important events and tasks. How is this possible? Through the use of a standby generator, of course. With a portable generator, a student, an executive and anybody can stay camped out in the outdoors and still be connected with the world.

With the recent models of generators, specifically the portable inverter generators, smart phones and laptops can be charged in no time at all even in isolated places where there are no existing power grid and electrical connection. You’ll have no worries in busting your gadgets as the latest designs and models are very compatible with your latest electronic equipment.

Are all generators created equal?

Not all generators are created equal, although all are expected to provide electric power when and where it is needed.

If you are a business owner, you would probably need an industrial type or heavy-duty generator so that you can continue providing your services despite any power interruption. Portable or mobile types would be appropriate for your requirements if you are a residential owner or individual user like a camping enthusiast for instance.

What are the types of portable generators?

If you are a homeowner or has a family who loves camping and trekking in Australia’s wilderness, you definitely need a portable generator. There are three different types of portable generators available in the market: the conventional type, the silenced type, and the inverter generator. Each type has its own salient features that differ from the others.

Conventional generators

The most common are conventional type generators, as they are the first models offered in the market.  However, the noise they produce can be a cause for concern, especially if you use it in proximity with other people such as your neighbours.  Conventional models are also heavier. With portable generators (named as such because they can be moved from one place to another), you would need a steel frame to hold them, as well as wheels to move them from one location to another.

Silent generators

The silent generators are those installed in cabinet-type enclosures which minimise the noise they make when they are running. Whilst these are quieter than conventional generators, they are still noisier than inverter ones. Even if these are also considered portable, they still appear the heaviest or most bulky because of the acoustic cabinet that is used to contain the noise they make.

Portable inverter generators

 800watts inverter generators gentrax camping

The third type, which adopts the latest technology, is the portable inverter generator.  It is the most improved version to portable generators.  Hence, it is increasingly becoming popular and draws more buyers.

How are generators powered?

There are models that can run on crude oil by-products that are commonly used as auto fuel such as diesel, gasoline, and propane or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Everything you need to know about portable inverter generators

Less noise feature

As attested by manufacturers, an inverter is a quiet generator, and makes less noise than the silenced type.  It uses a sound-lowering technology that throttles back the engine when the load required is on a minimum level.  This feature is already a plus factor if you are considering buying one. You would not want your neighbours or those camped near you or your recreational vehicle (RV) to be disturbed by a consistent rumbling like a chainsaw which is typical of conventional types.

Whilst it is important, the dampened sound technology is not the only distinguishing feature that sets a portable inverter generator apart from the conventional and silenced-type models.

Here are some other special features of the latest models of portable inverter generators that would enhance your interest and encourage you to buy your own unit.

Different sizes that match consumer needs

A portable inverter is available in three different sizes: (1) an industrial-sized one can power an entire house; (2) a mid-sized unit enables you to directly plug appliances and gadgets; and (3) a truly portable one that you can carry with your hand is ideal for recreational needs such as camping and fishing expeditions.

Ideal weight and excellent portability

Regardless of weight, there are no real issues on mobility and portability for inverter generators.  Even the heaviest models may come with handles and wheels, which allow you to take them around anywhere you want.  Moreover, most new models have pneumatic and durable tires, so a rough terrain is not a problem.

The lightweight units can be carried by hand like a travel bag, a laptop bag, or a tool box.

Affordable price ranges

Prices vary depending on the model as well as the wattage and size.  There are really compact ones ideal for few loads or when you just need to power your cell phone or a portable light in your campsite.  This model is lightweight at about 8kgs and costs around $740. A mid-range model which is reported as the bestseller costs less than $1,000, weighs around 35 kilos, and can produce a maximum 3,500 watts.

Safety features

You may be concerned and apprehensive when using a machine or a device that has the capacity to produce electricity, as most persons would think of fire and electrocution. After all, accidents that can be caused by faulty electric surge can result in damage to both lives and properties.

Fortunately, the latest models of inverter portable generators come with different safety features designed for secure and risk-free use.

Some of these include a protective mechanism for your circuit breaker that eliminates the chance of overloading.

Another built-in mechanism in the generator is a voltage regulator, such that when your requirement is down to a minimum, speed is automatically reduced which also minimises the noise produced and of course, your fuel consumption.

Because of this safety feature that adjusts your generator’s capacity according to your load requirement, cost-efficiency is also achieved in terms of fuel. Other than that, most models of inverter generators are compatible and can run on quality petrol (like automobile gasoline).  You also optimise fuel consumption and eliminate waste.

Another feature of newer designs is the automatic shut-off mechanism when oil runs low and gets near critical level. This feature protects your engine, thereby extending or prolonging its useful life.

Sparks can cause fire but there are new models that have spark arrestors, so there’s no need to worry about your generator being a fire hazard even if it uses petrol, which is a highly combustible material.

The best advantage of inverter generators

3.5kw inverter generator gentrax camping

The best advantage so far of a portable inverter generator is its ability to create clean energy.  This is the result of a double processing method or micro processing which it undergoes to convert energy from one form to another, and then back again to the first usable form.

To simplify, a conventional generator produces alternating current (AC) through the energy conversion method.  The AC produced can then be used to power up appliances, lighting, and devices. 

On the other hand, an inverter has the capacity to produce more AC which is in raw form and has to be converted into direct current (DC), which is simply the energy that you get from a battery. The inverter module then further converts the DC power back to standard AC power (about 120 volts and 60 Hz).

In this form, your AC power is in sine waves and would no longer block waves, which consequently make it safe for your more sensitive electronic equipment  and devices such as smartphones and laptops. Sine waves create energy with low audible performance that is commonly measured by total harmonic distortion (THD). The lower the sound is, the better. A low-rate THD is achieved when using an inverter.

Thus, even the most sensitive medical equipment that run on a microprocessor can be powered by an inverter generator without you worrying about its safety against abnormal power surge.

Simple and easy to operate

Most inverter models work like auto engine. Knowing the principle of how your car’s engine works can help you understand how a genset runs and how you should care for it.

Simple is better.  Choose a model that is as easy to operate as turning it on and off. The latest models already have built-in safety features that would adjust the unit during abnormal or faulty conditions.

How to be an informed consumer

All those mention of technical and scientific terms such as the different types of energy, wattage, sound waves, voltage, conversion, alternator, inverter, fuel consumption, etc. can confuse and boggle the mind of the average consumer.  Imagine walking in a home improvement store and being assisted by an overly enthusiastic agent desperately wanting to clinch a sale.

Whilst the assistance of store crew is significant, you should also do your own research before clicking that button (if you are shopping online) or giving your nod to the model the store is pitching for.

It would be helpful to know what you intend for the unit or its purpose in your household before deciding on shopping. You may be thinking of getting one to use for emergency power outage only. If you are a nature lover and you frequently trek to camping sites, then you really need a handy unit that you can load in your car anytime.

Make your choice between a range of models not only based on price, but also on the long term usage of the product.  Inverters might cost more than the average conventional generator set, if you are comparing between wattage capacities. However, if you take into consideration the low fuel consumption and the safety of your appliances and important gadgets (phones, laptops), you might want to go for the high technology, fuel-efficient inverters.


Whilst all brands and models carry a warranty, it should not be enough to put your mind at ease before completing a sale.

Know all about where your retail store gets its units or be familiar with your manufacturer and distributor. For all you know, the cheap brand and model you’ve picked from an obscure store has no available spare parts, which make it a costly disposable item.

Choose a model where there is enough after-sales guaranteed support service from the distributor to your retail store.

Value for your money

If you want satisfactory and guaranteed safe performance from your inverter generators, be sure to get your unit from a store that carries only high quality models. Check out to know which models would match your needs. Gentrax distributes only top quality inverter generators to reliable stores in Australia. 

Make sure that you get your unit from legitimate Gentrax outlets.  If you choose to buy a Gentrax unit, you do not only get a dependable portable generator and the best value for your money. You also create a good and lasting relationship with your distributor.

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Inverter Generators: Pros and Cons
Inverter Generator versus Conventional Generator