What is an inverter generator? What makes it different from other generators? Why should you buy one? How do you find an inverter generator that fits your needs? We know you have a lot of questions, and we have the answers. Here’s everything you need to know about these generators, including why, how and where you can use them.
What Makes Inverter Generators Different from a Conventional Generators?
Alternating Current (AC) doesn’t send electricity in one direction. Instead, it’s constantly switching polarity. While DC wiring has positive and negative wires, AC wiring has neutral and hot wires to move electricity as it changes direction. Grid power uses large generators that deliver electricity that smoothly alternates between positive and negative current. If you hooked an oscilloscope to one of your home outlets, you’d see a smooth sine wave on the screen, moving at a rate of 120 times per second, or 120 Hz.
A portable generator has an engine attached to an alternator. This alternator makes alternating current with a frequency around 120 or 240 Hz. Due to engine speed fluctuations and interference, the actual speed and waveform can vary. This is called “dirty” power. If you hooked an oscilloscope to one of the outlets on these generators, you’d see a jagged wave with spikes. Most appliances work fine with this type of power, but electronics can’t handle these fluctuations. Run a TV or a computer off of this unregulated power, and they may exhibit some glitches. Run these devices for too long, and they will fail.
An inverter generator has an inverter that smooths out the flow of power between the alternator and the sockets, so it’s just like the electricity you get at home. This smooth waveform power, or “clean” power makes it safe to use these inverter generators with your electronics.