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What is an Inverter Generator?

 photo by adamkaz via iStock

If you’re reading this, you have probably asked yourself at least once, “what is an inverter generator?” Well, we’re here to help you answer that question!

This is a type of electronic generator that turns movement into usable power utilizing a magnetic field. Sounds complicated, right? 

We’ll get into what is an inverter generator, how they work, and their pros and cons in just a moment. And, of course, we won’t leave you hanging without some great tips on how to pick the best generator, share some of our favorite models with you, and also offer up a great alternative option.

Let’s get to it!

Table of Contents

What is an Inverter Generator?

portable power for camping

 photo by Dzurag via iStock

We want to help answer the big question here, “what is an inverter generator?” and before doing just that, we do like to clarify that this article is mainly about inverted generators for recreational use. 

What is an inverter generator’s way of generating electricity? That would be movement, which is created by a magnetic field. The principle is based on induction. Induction voltage is created when the magnetic field in a coil changes. 

A generator is typically made from an electromagnet that generates the magnetic field and one, three, or six coils. The generator consists of two parts, namely the stationary part (the stator) and the rotating part (the rotor or armature part).

Nowadays, you can find these generators in different power ratings ranging from 1250 to 8750 watts.

You might also ask, “What is an inverter generator, and what can it power?” These machines are mainly used to power up recreational items like a refrigerator, a freezer, a TV set, and so forth.

There is no need to worry about blackouts or low voltage problems when you have a generator like this because it will never let you down. These generators run smoothly and quietly, making them popular among campers and overlanding enthusiasts. 

How Does an Inverter Generator Work?

generator etiquette

 photo by Dzurag via iStock

To explain the question, “how does an inverter generator work?”, you first need to understand the basics of how all generators work. Simply put, it works with an engine that consumes fuel to turn a shaft. 

An alternator then converts the movement brought forth by fuel combustion and turns that shaft to usable energy. Finally, that power goes to a control panel, which can be used to power whatever item you need powering. 

So what is an inverter generator, and what makes it different from a more traditional generator? First, an inverter generator works very differently from all these other generators. And how does an inverter generator work differently from a regular generator, you ask? 

An inverter generator uses alternating current (AC) and sends it to a rectifier, where it is converted into direct current (DC). That DC power is then converted back into usable AC power by an internal computer before being sent out to the control panel to power up your items of choice. 

These generators are typically smaller than a conventional generator, and they are much quieter as well. The catch is that they simply have lower power outputs and are more expensive to buy than a regular generator. 

Pros of Inverter Generators

Generator in the grass

 photo by ivandan via iStock

Inverter generators are becoming more and more popular due to the many advantages they offer over traditional generators. But what is an inverter generator’s plus side?

First of all, these generators are much quieter than traditional generators, making them ideal for use in residential areas and camping. Secondly, they are much more fuel-efficient, which can save you money in the long run. This is partly because the engine inside will automatically adjust the engine’s speed to the output required by the connected device. 

Thirdly, these generators are smaller and lighter than traditional generators, making them easier to transport and store. 

And lastly, they deliver cleaner power than a traditional generator would. The higher quality of the electrical output created a safer environment for sensitive electronic equipment you might want to power during your camping trips, such as phones, laptops, drones, and camera equipment. 

Cons of Inverter Generators

portable power for RV

 photo by sshepard via iStock

Now, what is an inverter generator without a couple of downsides, right?

First of all, they are more expensive to purchase than a traditional generator would be. Secondly, they require more maintenance than other types of generators because of their electrical parts. Lastly, they are not capable of producing high power outputs as a traditional fuel generator would. 

A Great Alternative to Gasoline-Powered Inverter Generators

alp1000-4

When we were asking ourselves “what is an inverter generator, and why would our readers consider one,” we also wanted to provide you with an alternative. The last couple of years have been rough, and there may simply be more pressing matters than an expensive inverter generator. 

So, what do you get if you don’t want to invest in an inverter generator? We would highly recommend the ALP 1000-Watt Propane Generator. It is a much-loved product among the team of 4WDTalk. This is because the ALP 1000-Watt Propane Generator is very quiet to use and will not disturb other campers at the site or the local wildlife if you camp in the backcountry. 

alp-propane-generator-in-desert

Apart from being quiet, the ALP 1000-Watt Propane Generator is also very fuel-efficient, with the added benefit of not having to worry about fuel spilling all over the place. As a result, the ALP 1000-Watt Propane Generator is an excellent alternative to the more expensive gas-powered inverter generators.

alp propane generator

Now, while you can’t run your camper’s air conditioning with a 1000-watt generator, you can power most devices that you’ll have with you on your overlanding trips. Besides, the ALP generators can run in parallel, so you can double your power output without breaking your budget!

What Inverter Generator is Best For Me?

woman camping

 photo by adamkaz via iStock

We’ve answered the question of what is an inverter generator, but we would also like to help you find the best one for you. We think this boils down to a couple of essential questions you should ask yourself, and we have provided each feature with our personal favorite in that segment. 

The Power Output: How Much Power Does Your Inverter Need?

The first question you will need to ask yourself is how much power output do you actually need? There are many different power options available, ranging from small 250 watt generators for camping use all the way up to 12,000-watt generators for powering your entire home.

As a general rule of thumb, choosing a generator with higher power output than you need is best. This will ensure the generator has enough capacity to run multiple appliances simultaneously and avoid overloading and straining its engine. 

A Great Multi-Tasker Generator: WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Our favorite multitasker here is the WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator with Fuel Shut Off, CARB Compliant. It’s small, efficient, and more than capable of powering several smaller devices at once if needed.

The Size: Where Will You Store Your Generator? 

Another important feature is size. These generators can be pretty small and therefore easy to pack. However, the bigger the output, the bigger the device will become. 

An Easy-to-Carry Generator: Powermate PM2000i 2000 Watt Inverter Generator

Powermate PM2000i 2000 Watt Inverter Generator

The Powermate PM2000i 2000 Watt Inverter generator is another one that we would highly recommend as it is one of the smaller models out there that still produces a 2000 watt power output. 

Do You Really Need All That Power? 

You’ve asked yourself, “what is an inverted generator” now, ask yourself if you really need one to power large devices. 

A Low Power Option: Powerbright 900 Watts Sine Wave Power Inverter

Powerbright 900 Watts Sine Wave Power Inverter

 

If the answer is no, but you are still looking for an upgrade compared to your car’s cigarette or USB charger, the Powerbright 900 Watts 24V Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter is a great alternative as well. Especially for the smaller campers among us. 

This device is very affordable as well and offers dual 110V AC outlets for small appliances. In addition, this will easily charge your phone and camera simultaneously.

A High Power Generator: WEN 8750-Watt Inverter Generator

WEN 8750-Watt Inverter Generator

 

However, if you genuinely do need all that power, the WEN 8750-Watt RV and Transfer-Switch-Ready 120V/240V Electric Start Open Frame Inverter Generator will grant you more than enough power to light half the street. You can be that popular guy who brings the power plant along.

What is a generator without a little overpowered performance? You will lack absolutely nothing if you have the space for it. 

Right in Between in Terms of Power: WEN RV-Ready 4000-Watt Inverter Generator

WEN RV-Ready 4000-Watt Inverter Generator

However, if you’d instead stick with something between the minimal and maximal generator that we just mentioned, WEN has also produced a great model that is a lot more portable and still packs a punch with a good 4000 Watt of power performance. 

The WEN RV-Ready 4000-Watt Open Frame Inverter Generator is a lot easier to take with you and will still be able to power most larger devices.

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