(Last Updated On: January 12, 2021)
What do you need: A traditional generator or an inverter generator?
What is an inverter?
An inverter is an electronic device that converts the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). Everyone uses an inverter as an emergency back up in times of power shutdown. The inverter also functions as stand-alone equipment for applications such as solar power. It works as a backup power supply. Inverters drain charge from batteries. Gas generators, automobile engines, solar panels, or any other conventional power supply sources charge these batteries. Another use of inverters is to support a bigger circuit such as a power supply unit, or a UPS.
You can get different types of inverters available in the market. They vary in the shape of the switching waveform. Different types of inverters have different circuit configurations, efficiencies, advantages, and disadvantages. You can use an inverter to function almost all household electronic Circuit Board Repair Service. It is useful in power electronics and electrical equipment rated at the ac mains voltage. You can use inverters in switched-mode power supplies.
Types of inverters.
Inverters are of two types: Single phase inverters and Three-phase inverters.
Full Bridge and Half-Bridge inverters are the two types of Single phase inverters. Half Bridge inverter is a basic unit of a Full Bridge inverter. It constitutes two switches. Each of the Half-Bridge inverter’s capacitors has a voltage output equal to Vdc/2. The constituted switches complement each other as in one switch on when the other goes off. Full Bridge inverter circuit functions by converting DC to AC. This happens by closing and opening the switches in the right sequence. This type of inverter has four different operating states that depend on closed switches.
A Three-phase inverter alters an input DC into Three phase output AC. The 3-arms are delayed with a 120° angle to produce a 3-phase AC supply. Each inverter switch has a fifty percent of the ratio and controlling takes place after every T/6 of time T. Three-phase inverters have two conduction modes, 120 modes of conduction and 180 modes of conduction.
Applications of Inverter
- The inverter generator applications vary from tiny car adapters to office and household applications with large grid systems.
- Inverters functions as a UPS. (Uninterruptible Power Supplies)
- It functions as stand-alone inverters.
- Solar power systems use inverters.
- It is the basic unit that builds an SMPS (Switch Mode Power Supply)
- Electrical appliances like Centrifugal fans, pumps, mixers, test stands, and web handling equipment constitute inverters.
- An inverter controls the speed of the compressor motor. This is to drive variable refrigerant flow in a refrigeration or air conditioning system.
- Inverters convert low-frequency AC power to a higher frequency in induction heating. The process involves rectification of AC power to provide DC power. The inverter then changes the DC power to high-frequency AC power.
- Electroshock weapons and tasers use the inverter to generate thousands of V AC out of a small 9 V DC battery.
- People use it to power homes in case of power shutdowns.
Pros and cons of inverter generators
- Portability: One of the key advantages of an inverter generator is portability. Most types of inverter generators are lightweight. They come with wheels and handles for easy transportation. The smaller fuel tank is the reason for inverter generators portable advantage over conventional generators. Inverter generators produce less power compared to traditional generators. Therefore, they only require less fuel, hence a small fuel tank.
- Fuel Efficiency: Because of the way the engine functions, inverter generators are more fuel-efficient than the traditional fuel-powered generators. The engine in a traditional portable generator runs at 3600 pm. This is the speed the inverter requires to run at to deliver 120 volts and 60Hz. While an inverter generator still delivers clean electricity without running at 3600 pm. An inverter generator can cut down energy consumption by running at a slower speed when required. It reduces the total harmonic distortion.
- Noise level: Inverter generators are less noisy compared to traditional generators. The noise produced by inverter generators is less than 60 decibels, the volume of an average conversation. But the traditional generators sound like lawnmowers. The reason for less noise is two, one that has to do with its mechanics and the other is a matter of design.
Firstly, the mechanics of the inverter generator is slower and steadier, therefore produces less noise. Secondly, the manufacturers paid attention to creating a design enclosing casing, installing mufflers, etc., for noise reduction. The reduced noise level is a big selling point of inverters that the manufacturers try to improve every time.
- Clean electricity: Inverter generators deliver clean electricity. The frequency of inverter generators is steady with minimal harmonic distortion. The graph of the sine waves produced by an inverter generator shows the details of clean electricity. The sine waves produced by the inverter generator is perfect without any clearly visible scratches like the frequency produced by a traditional generator. Therefore, inverter generators are safe for connecting sensitive devices like mobile phones, laptops, and medical devices.
- Parallel capabilities: An average inverter generator has about 2000-4000 watts of power. Many new inverter generator models have parallel capabilities to double that power. A parallel capable inverter generator connects to a second inverter generator of the same model to double the power. This process does not require an extra transfer switch connection. More power enables inverter generators to function as a home backup generator as well.
- Power: A conventional generator produces more power than an average inverter generator. The power of most inverter generators lie between 2000- 4000 watts, and the power of a traditional generator is above 4000 watts of power. An inverter generator might not help you power a home or heavy-duty machinery and tools. They are more suitable for outdoor activities, RV vans, household electrical appliances, etc.
Parallel Capabilities: Inverter generators are on the pricier side. You have to pay more to get more facilities.
What is a conventional generator?
Conventional generators are the most commonly purchased generators. A conventional portable generator is a fuel-powered engine with an alternator that has an electrical output. The portable generators use three different types, gasoline, diesel, and propane. Some portable generators are hybrids, that is, the engine can run on more than one type of fuel. The most common is a combination of gasoline and propane.
Key characteristics of a conventional portable generator are the engine speed and the corresponding electrical output. A traditional fuel-powered portable generator runs at 3600 rpm to generate 120 volts and a frequency of 60 Hz. One of the main disadvantages of most fuel-powered conventional generators is that it cannot maintain a steady 3600 rpm. The voltage and Hertz also fluctuate referred to as harmonic distortion. Fuel-powered portable generators fail to provide clean electricity. That is due to the constant changes in electrical output or high harmonic distortion. Since it does not produce clean energy, it is not suitable for sensors like laptops, DSLR cameras, mobile phones, etc. Fuel-powered portable generators are so noisy as they are fluctuating at 3600 pm.
Fuel-powered traditional generators work on a correlation between its fuel tank, power, and run time. The bigger the fuel tank, the more power and the longer the run time. Some conventional generators can produce upwards of 10,000 watts of power. That means these are quite large and heavy generators. Despite their size and weight, most conventional portable generators come with wheels and a handle for portability.
Things to consider before buying a generator
- Think about what you need to power
- Make a list of tools and appliances that you need to power using the generator.
- Calculate the wattage required. You can check on the nameplate or instructional manual of appliances to find the wattage required by individual tools.
- Select a generator that has load capacity than your power requirements.
- Decide if you want to invest in a generator for outdoor purposes or indoor purposes.
When to buy an Inverter Generator
As mentioned before, conventional portable generators are quieter, are more compact, and lightweight. They are more fuel-efficient, are safe for sensitive electrical devices, and are generally more environmentally friendly. The negative aspect of an inverter generator is that you have to spend more money to get one. And when compared with traditional generators, they produce less power.
Considering the pros and cons, an inverter generator is more suitable for occasional use. It is excellent for outdoor activities, like camping. It is a good choice when you need less power and convenient, clean electricity.
When to buy a traditional portable generator
The main advantage of a regular portable generator is that it produces more power than the inverter generator. The traditional generators are bulkier, heavier, make much more noise, and produce more greenhouse gas emissions.
A regular portable generator is the best option for a backup generator for the home. People who live in areas where there are frequent power outages or risks of natural events like blizzards that can cut the mains electricity supply should consider getting a regular portable generator. Worksites can use models with rough track wheels and a sturdy build.
Install an outdoor electrical outlet for the generator?
Is it possible to connect a generator to an outdoor outlet?
Yes, it is possible to connect your generator to an outdoor electrical outlet. In fact, it is a great idea to do if you live in a cold area and need your furnace to work. But definitely, it is not the legal way to connect your generator.
How to install an outdoor electrical outlet?
Pick the right electrical outlet: You have to keep a few things in mind before choosing an electrical outlet for outdoor use. According to the National Electrical Code, you should ensure safety with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) circuit. You can identify a GFCI circuit by its ‘test’ and ‘reset’ buttons, and You must check if the ‘WR’ is embossed on the GFCI circuit since the outdoor electrical circuit must also be weather resistant.
If your newly purchased home already has the main electric outlet installed, do not hesitate to go and check. They might not be safe in some cases. Check the configuration, wiring, etc. of the pre-installed outlet before moving in.
Install the outdoor circuit properly.
Install Outdoor Electrical Outlet with a cover plate and a gasket to protect it from the weather. Use external mounting brackets to seal the connection else moisture can easily get into the circuit. Moisture will eventually trip the breaker and make the outlet melt. You must be extra careful while installing an outdoor electrical unit because inadequate protection from the weather can lead to electrical fires.
Ensure that the electric current grounds when required. This will safeguard the equipment used in the circuit breaker and the system. A 3-bulb receptacle tester will help you check the electric current grounding.
Add a weatherproof cover to the outlet.
The flip-up tabs work to protect your outlet against the weather if the external socket is not used. But, flip-up tabs are not a great way to protect outlets when it is in use. You can choose to use the National Electrical Code certified weatherproof cover to prevent moisture from entering the active outside plug box. It is advised to use a protective cover that has the same configuration as your GFCI outlet design. You can get good quality weatherproof covers for various electrical equipment.
The decision of which type of generator is best depends on the purpose it would serve. An inverter generator appears to be the best option for frequent campers. It is helpful as a backup source of electricity during road trips. A traditional generator is the best to power a home or a worksite as they produce more power. Figuring out how much power you actually need and where you need a generator will help you decide between the options.