As you might know, inverter generators run more efficiently and quieter than conventional generators. Above all, inverter generators deliver better quality power than the gas generator you’re used to.
But what you might not realize is exactly what goes on in there during the power production process and how the machine ends up producing the high-quality power output that has made it so popular.
In this guide, we’ll discuss exactly how an inverter generator produces electricity and how to use one properly.
Let’s dive in.
How does an inverter generator work?
We shall open our talk about the workings of an inverter generator by getting inside an inverter generator…..
Inside an Inverter Generator
Although inverter generators imitate a standard portable generator in most ways, they include advancements that help overcome the age-old problems of normal generators- crappy current, roaring noise, and running inefficiently (meaning they burn more fuel).
To start with, just as in the old-fashion generator, it is the alternator that actually converts the mechanical or chemical energy to produce the AC energy.
I should mention that a generator never creates electrical energy as you might think- it rather uses the power of motion to force the electrons contained in the wire (of its windings) through an electric circuit.
Next, the raw high voltage AC power is changed to DC power and back to AC form. I know you’re wondering why this seemingly repetitive procedure is important.
Let me explain:
You see, despite improvements in energy-control technologies including the deployment of voltage regulators in modern-day generators, the power that’s ‘made’ by the alternator still suffers from random changes in output frequency and is subsequently susceptible to harmonic distortion.
Now, all your sensitive devices – coffee maker, laptop, digital clock, microwave oven, and the like- ‘hate’ such an unstable current and you could easily damage it by plugging it into a source with such an unclean current.
The AC-DC-AC transformation gets rid of the issue in inverter generators. That brings me to the most crucial addition to an inverter generator: inversion technology.
These generators – and they’re so called because of this – are integrated with special inverter technology (with a unique microprocessor) to help undertake the all-important AC-DC-AC power multi-step conversion process.
In short, the inverter will smoothen out and clean the power during the procedure to upgrade its quality. The outcome is a perfectly-balanced electric current that your sensitive apparatus will be proud of.
You now understand the number 1 advantage of these generators: stable, consistent power that’s safe for the most delicate electronic equipment.
Modified sine wave vs pure sine wave: what to pick?
What does an inverter generator run on?
As we have seen above, inverter generators are not very mechanically distinguished from the typical generator and run on normal sources like gasoline, diesel, propane/LPG, etc.
They, however, have special controls (Honda calls its control Eco-Throttle) that automatically synch the engine speed to a level just sufficient to power the plugged-in load.
This is big news because the reduced RPMs bring greater fuel efficiency in inverter generators compared to other generators. In fact, the invention has been known to lower fuel consumption by as much as 40% in some models.
If you are an ardent camper, that could mean huge savings on your budget over the years. What’s more, this also helps reduce carbon emissions since the engine doesn’t run at full throttle constantly.
We all want a better environment for humankind so this again makes these generators an amazing choice. Finally, because of the enhanced fuel efficiency, they, on the whole, come with smaller gas tanks making them less bulky for travel.
I should add that most inverter generators have various parts combined making them smaller and lighter. For instance, in most Honda machines, the engine flywheel is merged with the alternator making them extremely portable.
Why are inverter generators so quiet?
If you draw up a decibel comparison table for inverter generators vs standard generators, you’ll be shocked by the massive difference in the noise levels between the two categories of generators.
This once more boils down to the special construction of inverter generators…
One explanation for the dampened noise and vibration is the previously explained special controls -the engine hardly runs at full speed and it will be much quieter.
The other key is the included sound dampening features in the best models- a casual glance in the market shows that the newest versions come with specially engineered casing and similar innovations to help cut down on the noise.
A word on power capacity in inverter generators
Unlike your ordinary generator, you can pair two inverter generators in a parallel connection where you have more power requirements as long as they have equivalent output.
This is again a wonderful development for those who need more power and don’t want to bring bigger generators off the grid. You simply pack your two tiny generators in the RV and you’re good to go as far as your energy demands are concerned.
In the next section of our “how does an inverter generator work” guide, we look at its proper usage, otherwise, you can go for the large inverter generators.
How to use an inverter generator properly
Using your inverter generator properly will help you get the most out of your pricey investment.
The following steps apply though its best to follow the recommendations in your owner’s manual:
- Do proper wiring and connections: Setting up your inverter generator is pretty easy even if you lack much know-how about engines. Refer to the manual for instructions.
- Add only the manufacturer-endorsed oil, gas, and other supplies: Before running your inverter generator, pour in the recommended fuel, oil, and the other supplies (to the suggested level).
- Run it on the recommended load: Each inverter generator is engineered to carry a specific load, which must not be exceeded.
- Observe service conditions: It’s vital that you complete the highlighted service procedures in a timely manner. You should, for example, replace the engine oil and clean the air filter along with the sediment tray and the spark arrestor when the time comes.
The idea of investing in an inverter generator makes sense considering its distinct pros- more fuel efficiency, super clean power, minimal noise, maximum portability and more.
You now understand how the whole system works and how the above advantages come about. The only drawback is that these machines are quite expensive but again nothing good comes cheap.
In any case, the benefits outweigh the cost by far.