Inverter Generator: Guide to Help You Buy and Maintain the Unit
Inverter Generator – There are plenty of benefits that an inverter generator can offer compared to regular standby generator and portable generator. It generally produced energy more efficient, cleaner, and with less noise as well. The only downside is that it may not be able to produce a comparable amount of power to conventional generators, but that wouldn’t be a problem if your demand for electricity wasn’t too high. If you are already considering getting this particular type of generator, here are some recommended models of the highest quality.
Best 10 Inverter Generator 2020
1. Honda EU2200i
Honda EU2200i is one of the easiest portable inverter generator models to carry around. It has a handy built-in handle and a lightweight body measuring just 48 pounds. The fuel tank is also small with a capacity of 0.95 gallons.
Because the tank is small, you may have initial concerns that the tank will not work for a long time, but don’t worry because it works very efficiently. The 8 hour uptime it has at 25% load already has a reputation for small generator. The power it generates is pretty average for a generator with 2200W as surging power and 1800W as running power. It provides the option of economic mode, where it switches to the proper load of power output in automatic.
Honda EU2200i operates very quietly with 48 dBA noise at 25% load, which is quieter than majority of models that available on the market. This inverter generator fulfills all the CARB regulations and produces low emission, which when combined with silent operation, makes it perfect to bring on outdoor activity.
- Its body is very lightweight
- The sound is very quietly
- It offers economic mode to save energy
- It has long runtime even with tiny tank
- It doesn’t have fuel gauge to monitor the consumption
2. Champion Power Equipment 75537i
Champion is a manufacturer that’s known to deliver quality portable generators with strong and sturdy built, and this model is apparently no exception. The casing frame is made from robust cast iron material and tires to withstand rough track. On the inside, it offers no less impressive quality with 3100W surging power and 2800W running power. The power it generates is also clean so you can feel safe to connect it with various sensitive devices.
Theruntime of Champion Power Equipment 75537i is reasonably long with 8 hours at 25% load, even with relatively compact tank of 1.6-gallon. It is a highly efficient and user-friendly inverter generator, as it conveniently has three types of starter systems: electrical, manual, and remote start. The last starter mechanism allows you to control it up to 80 ft away. Moreover, the portability is supported by double u-shaped handles on both of its end, with foldable feature so it can be rolled anytime you want it to.
- It has strong body frame and high portability
- The power output is higher than the average
- It works very efficiently, especially with the economy mode
- Its weight is slightly heavier than its counterparts
3. Yamaha EF2000iSv2
It is rather clear that EF2000iSv2 has a design more to use on outdoor activity with its lightweight and compact body frame. At solely 44 pounds, it runs very silently and environmentally friendly. Do not be deceived by its small size, this model is quite ahead in terms of running time and technology.
It features advanced details such as air-cooling system to conserve the heat. Having this feature means this inverter generator is ideal to use on various temperature conditions, whether it’s currently hot or cold.
The power it produces comes decently at 2000W surging power and 1600W running power, which can be doubled by using parallel function and the output it has is clean. The gasoline petcock makes it runs quiet efficiently; you may expect it to satisfyingly run for 10 hours at 25% load.
Each feature and aspect of the Yamaha EF2000iSv2’s design affects the noise it produces, even to lower it. At 25% load, this inverter generator only generates 51.5 dBA and at 50% load, it reaches 61 dBA of noise level.
- It has parallel compatibility features
- The body is lightweight and compact
- It runs very quietly and efficiently
- The power output it produces is relatively low
- It has no display screen
4. Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200
The next recommended model of inverter generator comes from Briggs & Stratton, which has 2200W surging power and 1700W running power. At this power output level, you can use it to charge your personal electronic devices, but it won’t be a reach to expect it to power various small household appliance, although decidedly one at a time.
When the fuel tank is fuel, Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 is able to run up to 8 hours at 25% load. Just like almost all of inverter generator models, it also operates much quieter than the conventional generators. That being said, P2200 is not exactly the quietest model you can purchase, as it produces 59 dBA at quarter load and 57 dBA when runs on eco-mod.
P2200 provides advantage of parallel capability, so you are able to connect two generators in the same model and double up the power. The parallel capability of this model is pretty special, as it also can be connected to the Briggs & Stratton P3000 as well – a feature that cannot be found often in other models.
- It has parallel compatibility due with PowerSmart series models
- It has automatic low-oil shutoff
- It doesn’t have USB port
5. Westinghouse WH2200iXLT – 2200 Watts
Westinghouse is a generator manufacturer from America that is renowned for their quality products. WH2200iXLT is an inverter generator model that can be trusted in case you need emergency power backup in times of outages. It has enough power to run several of your essential appliances at home at once.
WH2200iXLT is capable to run up to 13 hours even with its compact 1.3-gallon fuel tank. Even so, the runtime is depending on the load you’re using as it runs in shorter time if you use it on full load. The clean energy it produces is ideal to connect with your sensitive electronic devices. As for the noise, you can be assured it won’t be disturbance to your neighbor with 52 dBA at quarter load.
The parallel capability of this inverter generator is amazing. Aside from being compatible with the exact same model, it also offers compatibility with other generators from Westinghouse, such as iGen2500, iGen2200, and iGen1200. The environmentally-friendly feature is supported by the fact it has minimum fuel odor and residual oil, as well a being USFS and EPA compliant.
- It has amazing fuel-efficiency
- The sound is very quietly
- It’s far more affordable than other known brands
- It has great parallel compatibility with other models from the same manufacturer
- It has no fuel gauge
6. WEN 56200i
As another inverter generator with great money value, WEN 56200i is a model that costs only a fragment of famous brands such as Yamaha or Honda. With excellently silent operation, lightweight body frame, economy mode feature, and auto low oil shut off system, it makes an ideal generator to purchase.
Its fuel tank is smaller than most of models in this list with 1-gallon capacity, but it comes with fuel efficiency. In fuel tank condition, the engine is capable to run up to 6 hours at half load – a pretty impressive fact considering its weight and size.
This inverter generator model comes with one USB port at 5V, perfect to charge smartphone, laptop, and tablet. The running power it provides at 1600W is not mind-blowingly amazing but it is more than decent to take on outdoor activities. It might not the best choice to back up your home appliances, but still able to power a refrigerator and several lights.
- Its run time is impressively long for the size
- The engine operates at very low noise level
- The price tag is highly more affordable than other models
- It doesn’t have fuel valve
- The material is coming from plastic so it might feel and look somewhat cheap
7. Pulsar PG2000iSN – 2000 Watts
With running power of 1800W, Pulsar PG2000iSN is a slightly more powerful inverter generator than some of its rivals. This model features 80cc engine OHV, which capable to run for 6 hours at 50% load with its full fuel tank of 1.18-gallon. Regardless of where you use it, PG2000iSN has a design to provide reliable performance.
At 59 dBA noise production level from 10 ft. away, it’s quite noisy but still ideal to use both for entertainment and outdoor purposes. The body weighs 47 pounds, makes it highly portable to bring anywhere – not to mention it has practical suitcase-like design.
On top of the portability it offers, this inverter generator also produces safe electrical power output. The outlets are comprised of two 120V and one 12V auxiliary power outlets, as well as one USB port to recharge small devices such as smartphone and tablet. It is capable to power 10,000 BTU air-conditioning in RV too. Moreover, you can use Pulsar PG2000iSN to power various electronic tools such as drill or saw conveniently.
- It has very decent run time
- It has parallel compatibility with its counterpart model
- The design appearance is very compact, portable, lightweight, and modern
- It produces quite loud noise on higher loads
8. Briggs & Stratton P4500
Using a 240cc OHV 40-stroke engine, Briggs & Stratton P4500 is a model that capable to bring out 4500W surging power and 3700 running power. It consumes gasoline on its rather large-sized fuel tank of 3.5-gallon capacity to operate, and is able to run on average 16 hours at 25% load.
This inverter generator provides both conventional pull starter system and the user-friendly electric starter, for the convenient of its users. It doesn’t produce too loud noise at 60 dBA, but still louder than a lot of its competitors. P4500 produces clean energy with less than 3% THD (Total Harmonic Disruption) so it’s safe for sensitive electronic devices.
There are a total of several AC outlets in the P4500’s control panels, which are two 120V/20A and one 120V/30A outlet. Additionally, this inverter generator offers two DC outlets that both comprised of 5V USB ports that let you recharge personal electronic devices like tablet and mobile phone.
- The price tag is in the expected range
- It has both manual and electric starter mechanisms
- It has automatic shutoff feature when the carbon monoxide level is too high
- The amazing power makes it ideal to use on RV
- There is no remote start
- It doesn’t fulfill CARB and EPA regulations
9. Generac 6866 iQ2000
To let you make the power output adjustable, Generac 6866 iQ2000 features three operation modes, which are the Standard Mode, Economy Mode, and Turbo Mode. They offer you to get efficient fuel consumption, quieter noise level when operating, or more powerful wattage respectively.
This inverter generator model is amongst the quietest of several best ones in this list. It generates noise on 53 dBA when put on estimated distance of 25 ft. away. Even though the power it produces is not exactly the highest, you can complement it by utilizing the parallel capability feature.
- It has three running operation modes
- Its body is very lightweight and portable
- It’s quite affordable
- It might be prone to more issues due to extra technology
10. Champion 100263 – 3400 Watts
It is not too often that you can find an inverter generator that can run on gasoline and propane – however this Champion 100263 3400 Watts is one of them. By using its practical fuel selector dial, you’d be able to switch the fuel energy type easily and quickly. The inverter technology from Champion allows you to use eco-mode, in which the engine can operate on lower electrical load, generates less noise, and has its life extended while using more effective fuel consumption.
This inverter generator is compatible to power any RV, thanks to its 30-amp outlet. The power it produces is sufficient to operate highly demanding appliances such as huge air conditioning unit at 15,000 BTU.
Champion 100263 is able to generate 3400W surging power and 3100W running power in gasoline fuel, with estimated runtime is up to 7.5 hours at quarter load. It produces 3060W surging power and 2790W running power in propane fuel, with runtime of 14.5 hours at quarter load.
At 23 ft away, this inverter generator operates with 59 dBA noise level. The safety feature comes with sensor of low oil automatic shutdown. Since the power output is clean, you are safe to connect various sensitive devices.
- It generates high wattage of power
- The design is very solid modern
- It features technology of dual fuel
- It’s compatible to connect with RV
- It doesn’t have remote start
What is Inverter Generator?
Having similar basic purpose to other types of generators, an inverter generator is amongst the essential tools to own to provide backup or additional power source. For example, it provides extra power in the event of power outage caused by natural disaster, as safety net and support your household by keeping various appliances running. It ensures that you still have plenty of power boost for electronic and entertainment devices such as refrigerator, lights, or even smartphones.
That being said, this particular type of generator is a different breed than its counterparts that you’re probably familiar to already. The similarity lays in the fact that both use fuel in the form of gasoline, propane, or diesel to convert to usable electric power.
To provide ready-to-use power, an inverter generator use inverter that’s controlled by computer system. It results in a more efficient, lighter, and quitter operation than other generator types. In addition, it makes sure that the produced power has less fluctuation, more or less similar to regulator. The inverted power is cleaner in general, which is essential if you were to use it as recharging station for sensitive electronic devices like laptops and phones.
A power inverter may come in various designs and sizes, just like the conventional generators. It means some models might have better or more specific features from others. Knowing what it takes to consider a model as a high-quality product and being able to compare their differences is the key to find the most suitable model for all of your power needs.
The Power Quality of Inverter Generator
A power generator – whether it is a standard, conventional, silenced, diesel, or petrol ones, has similar working mechanism. It basically has engine that connected to AC alternator with fixed speed no matter what load is being used. The engine will use more amount of fuel while working at the same speed when the load is increased and vice versa. The windings of main alternator has direct connection to the load.
Now, note that the principle above doesn’t apply to an inverter generator. It’s true that engine on this type of generator is still connected to alternator to produce electrical power. However, an inverter use rectifier in order to convert AC to DC power, then it’s being smoothed out by capacitor, which then inverted to the AC type of power back. As the result, it generates independent power more consistently regardless of its engine speed, along with cleaner energy compared to conventional generator.
The modern electronic products and appliances today such as TVs, computers, smartphones, or printers are mostly using microprocessor. These devices have sensitive quality, that’s why using power sources with unstable voltage or frequency may result in failure or damaged devices that cannot be repaired.
The Difference between Inverter and Regular Generator
Choosing inverter generator is all about its power capability and where do you need to use it – at home during outage or for outdoors activities such as camping, tailgating, or an RV trips. With enough capacity, any regular generator, inverter or not, will do the job well. However, it is important to note that such small generators sometimes aren’t capable to handle bigger jobs. If you pick generator with less than 2000W power capacity, chance is, it will have trouble to run big appliances such as air conditioner or refrigerator.
Inverter Generator and Regular Portable Generator
In order to start, motors need almost six times power as it needs to run. For an instance, a standard household regulator requires 2700W to start but only need 900W to run. This starting power measurement is also known as the maximum watts or surging watts, and it is what mostly used by companies to name their inverter generator products. It is the opposite of regular portable generator which usually named by its running power capacity. Here are the examples:
- A 3500W power inverter usually has 3500W surging power and 3000W running power capacity.
- A 3500W power portable usually has 4500 surging power and 3500W running power capacity.
Another thing that makes power inverter and power portable different is their power quality, which has been explained above. Having clean power source is important if you’re going to use it for electronic items such as smartphones or laptops. Some portable generator may disrupt the alternating current signal to a concerning degree, reaching up to 25% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) which can lower down depending on how heavy the load is used.
Majority of inverter generator models generates highly stable clean signal, with less than 3% THD. This number is even typically the worst scenario. Just take a look at the products’ output specification to find out. That what makes the power inverter is more preferable to regular generators.
The Key Features of Inverter Generator
The possibility of difference in terms of how a generator is used and designed is depending on how it runs. Read an overview that briefly explains how inverter generator differs from standard portable generators in several points available below.
- Power inverter doesn’t need installation cost or take up much spaces.
- It doesn’t emit smokes or fumes.
- It is much easier to operate than standard generator.
- It produces much lower noise level than standard generator, even though it’s not completely without sound. (Read also Quiet Generators)
- It has excellent portable design, which makes it easy to move and store anywhere – no need to worry about bringing it to busy and crowded environment.
- It runs on batteries on some models, which mostly included on the purchase.
- It generates cleaner sine waveform. Standards generator directly connects AC alternator to the load without any further execution, whereas inverter generator converts the output in AC to DC to AC back, resulting in far more stable, cleaner, and better-quality power that eliminates any shock or damage possibilities to your appliances.
- It is designed with more modern appearance than conventional generator.
- The majority of inverter power model is equipped with economy mode operation to work more efficiently, which requires lower power and use less amount of fuel.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Inverter Generator
As with any other product in the market, inverter generator has its own share of upsides and downsides. You can look at some of them below.
Compact design and lightweight body
The technology of power inverter makes it possible for companies to design highly compact and super light body frame, which is ideal to bring for outdoor uses. In general, power inverter can provide similar efficiency as conventional generator at half of its size. You can find a lot of models that incorporate ergonomic handle to practically carry it anywhere, but also packed it away when not in use.
More stable power with better quality
Don’t let yourself be fooled with their small size, as power inverter can giver better power quality than the conventional generator. The clean power it produces and the absence of fluctuation are probably the best features to get from this particular unit. No need to worry about sudden surges power that will damage and crash sensitive various sensitive devices.
High efficiency of fuel
Inverter generator is generally not a gas-guzzler machine. It runs effectively, meaning with less money you can get more power. It can automatically adjust the engine speed to match with applied load, to optimize the fuel efficiency while maintaining the supply. The outcome is longer runtime continuously, with stable power and frequency for your appliances.
Lower noise production level
The generators made for camping are notorious of producing loud noise, which may cause inconvenience for people around you. However, with inverter technology, it is no longer an issue. This type of generators doesn’t need to run at full speed constantly, thus it is far quieter than its traditional sibling. In addition, most models are designed with muffler, insulator, and sound-proof casing to minimize the noise level.
The main disadvantage of using power inverter is the expensive price tag. Inverter models are typically pricier compared to other types of generators such as standby and portable models. Even though the initial cost might be higher, you can be assured that its operating costs in total are lower. This total cost is already including the fuel and the maintenance costs as long-term investment.
Another downside that you have to consider is the clear contrast of the power output between inverter generator and other generator types. Inverters generate power in range of 1,000 to 4,000 watts, whereas other generators may produce power in range of 500 to 50,000W. Therefore, inverter power might not be the best option for you to choose if you were to use it for heavy-duty and large equipment with higher power requirement.
Buying Guide to Pick the Ideal Inverter Generator
Before you purchase any type of product, especially a valuable one that you’re going to use in long period of time, it is important to gather the information about them to make a sound buying decision. There are so many models of inverter generator in the market, so you have to narrow your options. Here are several tips to follow to help you pick the ideal model:
The required amount of power
Choosing the perfect generator size for you, as its surging watts and running watts, is depending on the type of appliance that will be powered. Surging watts are the initial amounts of watts needed by motor-based products to run for couples of seconds. It is the maximum wattage that can be generated. Meanwhile, running watts are the constant watts required to keep the appliances or devices to run.
The period of run time
Looking for how long a generator can run in half-load is the best way to select a model. The longer its run time, the less frequent you need to fill the fuel. Picking power inverter with minimum 10 hours at 50% load can guarantee you to get full sleep at night.
The amount of outlets
It is important to pick an inverter generator that has decent amount and the right type of outlets. To run larger item with higher wattage requirement such as air conditioner, select generator that has 30-amp twist lock outlet.
Even though portable generator has design to be carry around easily, it can be quite heavy. Power inverter is typically lighter. Some models even have design with wheels and folding handles to make it easy to move and store around.
Plug cord set
Several models of generators have heavy-duty cord set. A cord set costs less than $90 and can provide power for four household appliances with single cord, to eliminate the necessity of numerous extension cords.
The maintenance levels
Just like all machinery items, inverter generator needs to be stored and maintained properly to ensure that it runs well and has long lifespan period. Search for detailed maintenance review of a model, or ask the seller about the maintenance a model required.
Not all power inverters are made the exact same, in fact, there are large differences in terms of quality in an array of selections. A renowned name such as Honda might be more expensive than others, but provides strong and reliable performance. However, the brand doesn’t need to be the main consideration when making a purchase decision for a generator.
The given warranty
Warranty is a big giveaway if you’re trying to know how long a product will last. When a product comes with long warranty, chance is, its manufacturer is confident with the estimated period that exact generator will last for its users.
Maintenance Tips for Inverter Generator
Proper and consistent maintenance are the keys to have your inverter generator to last longer. Planning in advance on how you can optimize the most out of an investment is the easiest, most powerful and safest way to make sure that the product can be counted anytime. Below are several helpful tips to maintain your power inverter.
1. Operate the engine at regular interval of time
Generator is a machine after all, and a machine has to be used properly to work well or else they will rust. Most manufacturers advise to use generator in periodic intervals, with each run spans for half to an hour long to charge the electric starter that uses battery.
2. Have supplies of oil and filter
Brand new generators typically need oil change by the next 25 hours. From there, you have to refill the tank and throw the old fuel away once every 50 to 60 hours. That’s why it’s better to have oil and filters prepared in advance that can last your generator for at least couple of days.
3. Regularly lubricate the engine
While shutting off the inverter generator, you have to examine the engine oil each time. Oil that stored at the top part of the engine must be drained back to keep a track of its classification and viscosity. Keep the level of oil always in the full as best as you can.
4. Keep the batteries in sharp check
Weak or even dead batteries are amongst the most common reasons of failure in generator system. To ensure that your machine is running properly and well-maintained, it is essential to ensure that the batteries are on fully-charged condition. Doing regular examination of battery status is highly recommended to prevent hiccups.
5. Make sure the fuel is not running out
Do not ever let the generator runs on dry fuel tank. If the fuel tank is running out of gas, the power will stop. In addition, the electrical load of the connected appliances will draw the magnetic field from the generator. So, make sure that you have the tank filled before using it.
6. Drain out the remaining fuel
Upon purchasing a generator, having fuel storage must be one of your main things to consider. In case you use the machine and it has some fuel left in the tank, it must be drained that the next time you refill the tank it is already in empty conditions. Fuel as short stored life, especially gasoline – if they get deteriorated, there is a possibility of contamination that can damage the generator’s engine.
7. Utilize stabilizer for fuel
As it is stated in previous point, fuel can carry contamination that causes damage to the inverter generator. It might happen if the generator didn’t operate for a long time. This may create unwanted condition over the performance when you want to use the generator. A good way to prevent this issue is by investing on fuel stabilizer so the engine can work properly as it should.
Safety Tips to Use Inverter Generator
Here are several useful tips to follow in order to use your inverter generator safely.
- Always run your generator in open setting with a lot of ventilation around. As the engine produces deadly carbon monoxide, it’s not safe to be operated inside building, garage, or home.
- Never plug it to the wall socket to prevent back feed. Only use heavy-duty cords to connect the outlets in generator with your appliances.
- Have the generator already turned on before you plug any appliance or device. To prevent overloading condition, turn or light the appliances one at time. Keep in mind that generator is mainly used for temporary purpose so make a priority.
- Generator carries electrical risk, and the risk is elevated if it runs on wet situation. When the weather creates moist or wet circumstances, use the machine necessarily. You can protect the unit by having it operated on dry surface and canopy structure over in open spaces so water will not drain or form puddles underneath. Make sure you only touch the unit with dry hand.
- Ensure that the engine it shut off and already cooled down before refuel it.
- Keep the inverter generator unit away from children and pets. Most components inside the machine retain heat that might burn anyone who touches it when running.
It is true that generator is a handy equipment to have in times of power outages. However, whether it is an inverter, portable, or standby generator, they can pose danger if they are not operated properly. It is best to always read and follow the instruction from manufacturer, ask qualified electrician or the vendor if you’re having certain problem to run the machine.
Buying a compact-sized generator is considered as lifestyle option. You need to base the purchase decision based on your specific portable electricity needs. From tailgating party, camping trip, to fishing over the weekend, this equipment can provide you reliable, efficient, and quiet electricity supply. You may use the recommended units above, or do a further research to find the perfect inverter generator.