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Generator vs Inverter Generator – Which One Is Better For You?

In this helpful article, we have covered Generator vs Inverter, main differences in terms of efficiency, weight, runtime, portability, cost, and reliability. We have also explained the inverter generator’s benefits in detail.

Being an energy, environment, and power expert, I have been through a lot of conventional and inverter generators over the past several years.

Whether you need a generator for camping and RV, as a backup power source, or you are going to stay off the grid, I will tell the major difference between a conventional generator and an inverter and will help choose the right model.

What Does Inverter Generator Mean?

Conventional generators use a mechanical alternator to produce AC (alternating current) power that is ready to use in your AC appliances. An inverter generator also produces AC power but is converted into DC (Direct current) power.

Later, but with the use of a microprocessor, DC power inverts back into AC Power.

Why Inverter generators Are The Best Portable Generators?

There are a ton of confusing terms tossed around in the generator marker which will confuse you if you are not familiar with them.

A lot of generators are labeled as “labeled as portable generators” but there are many differences in the size, technical aspects, fuel efficiency, and design among generator types.

Inverter generators are often considered the best among portable generators because they are easy to carry, and they pack a lot of power in a tiny casing.

The electricity generated by inverter generators is more fuel-efficient, smoother, and quieter. The flow is also constant and all of that is in a casing that is easily carried around.

Checkout our detailed guide about what is an inverter generator

How Many People Purchase Generators In The U.S?

According to the Industry size Forecast report, the portable generator market in 2017 was over USD 1.2 billion and is set to exceed the annual shipment of 1.5 million units by 2024.

Back in 2013, only 3% of people had standby generators, and 12% had portable generators. That value increased to 5% last year due to a surge in natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, extremes colds which lead to power outages.

The generator market has seen tremendous growth because technology is improving to more budget-friendly, efficient, quieter, and compact generators to produce clean power.

Generator vs Inverter generator

Generator vs Inverter Generator

Inverter generators are mostly portable types and people prefer these generators to keep their electricity going even in power outages.

Inverter generators are lighter, quieter, and produce smoother power with no fluctuations as we see in the standard generators.

The standard generators operate at a constant speed which is non-adjustable. It causes unnecessary noise, fuel consumption, and exhaust output.

Inverter generators adjust their speed based on the power requirement.

Conventional Portable Generator:

It can run on more than one type of fuel and it is meant to run 3600RPM to generator 120V and a frequency of 60 hertz.

However, the main problem of these portable conventional generators is that they cannot maintain a constant 3600 RPM speed to generator 60 hertz which causes fluctuations.

These fluctuations are called harmonic distortion. These harmonic distortions can cause harm to sensitive devices like laptops, cellphones, cameras because these devices require clean energy.

Harmonic distortion less than 4% is considered excellent. Not maintaining a constant 3600 rpm causes so much noise.

Conventional portable generators can produce as much as 10000 watts of power, the bigger the fuel tank, the more the power.

Inverter Generator:

It also produces an output of 120V at 60 hertz, the flow of current is much stable and continuous.

In other words, the harmonic distortion is significantly lesser than conventional generators. That is why inverter generators are known for producing clean power.

Inverter Generator vs Generator

Conventional generatorInverter Generator
Produces AC powerProduces DC, then DC back to more stable AC
Produces more power depending on the size of the fuel tank and mechanical differences. Not as fuel-efficient. Tends to be bulkier.More energy efficient. Automatically adjust to the load. Needs less fuel to produce more energy.  
Portable conventional generators can reach over 10,000 wattsAverage power production of 1200 watts to 4000 watts. Here is the guide about what appliances can a 4000 watts generator run
Not portable mostly, but can be portable with the help of a handle and wheels.  Mostly portable. Commonly, weighs between 40 to 60 pounds.
Produces more Noise.Produces less noise despite producing the same amount of power as a conventional portable generator.
Don’t offer parallel connections because they are already powerful.Offers a parallel connection. Two separate generators of the same brand can be connected to double the power.
Not easier to find a conventional portable generator that is EPA and CARB compliant and produces fewer greenhouse gases.Easier to find environmental friendly inverter generators
Cheaper to purchase if you need more power.A bit expensive compare to conventional. It is a newer technology and these units are quieter, produce a smoother and constant flow of power, are portable, have less harmonic distortion, and are energy efficient.

Generator vs InverterWhich Generator Is Better For You?

When To Choose An Inverter Generator?

Inverter generators are more suitable for outdoor activities like camping, RV, and occasional use.

It is suitable when you don’t need a lot of power but you need something clean and reliable. It is also suitable when you need to save electricity.

People mostly purchase inverter generators when they need something portable. It is not for you when you need a huge amount of power like 7000 to 10000+ watts.

When To Choose A Conventional Portable Generator?

A conventional generator can produce a huge amount of energy despite being heavy, bulky, and noisy (not all).

People mostly purchase these generators as a backup power source to run the entire house in case of any emergency, or power outages.

Nowadays manufacturers are trying to make these generators compact, portable, and quieter to increase their sale value.

Generator VS Inverter – Which One Is Better?

Depends on the user. An inverter generator might be a better option for campers and RV users, someone who needs a portable unit with clean energy, and a conventional portable generator works best as a backup for home or a work site when a lot of power is required.

So it boils down to the choice of the user. You need to think about the power you need think about your power consumption and how much electricity you need.

Checkout the comparison of Solar and Gas Generator


Top 3 Best Portable Inverter Generators

1. Honda EU2200i 2200 watt Inverter Generator

FEATURES & SPECS

  • Weight: 46.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20.98 x 12.24 x 19.72 inches
  • 1800 watts rated. 2200 watts peak
  • 48 decibels at 25% load.
  • 8.1 hours running time at 25% load
  • Manual recoil starting type
  • (2) 120V 20A outlets
  • Eco throttle switch
  • .95 gallon tank capacity
  • Highly durable body
  • 3 years warranty

2. WEN 56200i 2000W Inverter Generator

FEATURES & SPECS

  • Weight: 48 pounds
  • Dimensions: 18 x 11 x 18
  • 2000 surge watts, 1600 running watts
  • 1 gal. Fuel tank
  • Noise levels: 55dB from 15 feet away on ECO mode
  • 58dB from 15 feet away on Normal mode
  • Fantastic form factor
  • Ports: 2 three-prong 120V, 1 12V DC, 1 5V USB
  • 9.3 hours runtime at 25% load

3. Champion Power 200987 4500W RV Ready Portable Generator

FEATURES & SPECS

  • Weight: 90 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 23.2 x 17.7 x 20.1 inches
  • Noise: 61dB
  • Running watts: 3500W
  • Surge watts: 4500W
  • Outlets: 120V 30A RV outlet (TT-30R), two 120V 20A (5-20R)
  • 212cc Engine, 2.3 gal tank. More than 14 hours running time at 25% load
  • Recoil start. Electric wireless remote start
  • Parallel support available
  • Less than 3% harmonic disturbance.

Top 3 Best Convectional Generators

1. DuroMax XP12000EH Dual-Fuel 10000 Watt Generator

FEATURES & SPECS

  • Weight: 224lbs.
  • Dimensions: 30 x 29 x 26 inches
  • 12,000 surge watts, 9500 running watts
  • Engine: 475cc
  • Electric start and manual recoil
  • Noise levels: 74dB standard
  • Propane and gasoline fuel type
  • Outlets: x2 120V 20A, x1 120V 30A, X1 120/240V 50A, x1 120/240V 30A
  • All copper winding
  • MX2 technology to get the maximum power
  • 3-years factory warranty

2. Durostar DS10000E 10000 Watt Generator

FEATURES & SPECS

  • Weight: 215lbs. assembled weight
  • Dimensions: 40 x 29 x 27.5 inches
  • 10000 surge watts, 8000 running watts
  • 8.3 gallons fuel tank
  • MX2 power boost technology
  • 457cc engine
  • All copper winding and entire metal construction
  • Outlet: x1 120/240 50A, x1 120/240 30A, x1 120V 30A, x2 120V 20A
  • Noise levels: 76 to 80dB

3. WEN DF1100T 11000 Watt Dual-Fuel Generator

FEATURES & SPECS

  • Weight: 214lbs.
  • Dimensions: 27. 3 x 20.6 x 21.9 inches
  • Voltage: 240V and 120V
  • 457cc Engine
  • On gasoline: 11,000 surge watts, 8,300 running watts
  • On propane: 9,500 surge watts, 7,500 running watts.
  • Simple dial selection to switch between fuels
  • 6.6 gal fuel tank. 8.5 hours runtime at 50% load.
  • Outlets: x4 120V GFCI, x1 120V 30A twist lock outlet (L5-30R), x1 120V/240V 50A outlet (NEMA 14-50R), x1 12V DC cigarette-lighter-style plug.
  • 2 years of warranty

I am a passionate environment engineer, who has been in the solar, and inverter generator industry for years. I have been a part of multiple safety and environment-related courses such as IOSH, Fire Safety, Solid Waste Management, etc. I have been installing solar plants for residential purposes since 2018.

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