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PORTABLE GENERATOR OR INVERTER – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Mar 22, 2017

You have a need for portable power, but you don’t know whether to choose an inverter generator or a portable generator, or what the difference is between the two. A simple explanation comes from A-iPower, a manufacturer of inverters, generators, pressure washers, water pumps, and gasoline engines.

Portable generators use a combustion engine, which must turn at 3,600 rpm to generate electrical output, typically of 120/240 volts at 60hz frequency. The engine runs at a constant speed, regardless of electrical load.

Portable generators allow you to run essential appliances when the electricity fails. Portable generators aren’t just for power outages, they provide a means of power for DIY projects, hobbies, power tools, and outdoor events where you may need additional electricity. Although portable generators offer the greatest output and extended run times, they are heavier to transport, and also use more fuel.

While portable generators serve many purposes, inverters with their light weight, and low noise levels, are ideally suited for camping, RV, marine, tailgating, and other uses in the outdoor recreation market.

The advantage of inverter technology

“Inverter generators combine a gas powered generator with an electronic inverter board, which provides benefits of variable speed and cleaner power,” explains Dorrance Noonan, CEO of A-iPower. “Variable speed allows the generator to vary the engine speed based on the power output the user needs, so if you are only running a TV and light, your inverter generator will be running quieter, using less fuel, and extending the life of the generator.”

Inverter technology also provides a sine wave equal to the power delivered by a utility. The electric current is consistent and stable, allowing the consumer to power more sensitive electronics such as laptops or tablets and HDTVs without voltage fluctuation.

Inverters can work in case of a power outage at home, but they won’t be able to power multiple appliances at once, for example a refrigerator and an air conditioner. An inverter with 2,000 watts can individually power a security system, laptop, dishwasher, furnace fan, kitchen appliance, television, or sump pump.

Noonan advises that when choosing an inverter, look for one that has enough receptacles for all the items you plan to run. Inverters that have USB adapters will allow you to charge a battery or cellphone. A-iPower inverters also come equipped with a built-in parallel kit, allowing two generators to connect for nearly double the power. Currently, only two inverters can be paralleled but future technology may allow for multiple parallels.

Be Safe When Using Your Generator

Always read and follow the manufacturer’s operating manual and instructions before running a generator.

  • NEVER run a generator inside the house or a garage. Running engines give off carbon monoxide fumes, which can be lethal. Keep the generator away from open windows, vents, and doors.
  • Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “backfeeding.” This is an extremely dangerous practice that presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household protection devices. Either plug appliances directly into the generator with power cords that are in good condition or have an electrician install a certified transfer switch.
  • Be careful when refueling the portable generator. Shut it down and allow it to cool down between fills.
  • Do not operate the generator near combustible materials.
  • Don’t get the generator wet or you risk the possibility of electrocution. Running it in your garage is not safe either because the carbon monoxide fumes can seep into your house. There are products on the market that provides a tent-like cover on the machine, allowing you to safely run it and refuel it during wet weather.