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What is an Inverter Generator?

29th Jun 2018

You may have heard of an inverter generator; in fact, the term is often used interchangeably with generator. This can create some confusion about the differences between a generator, an inverter, and an inverter generator. Those differences matter; they can help you make the best decision when you purchase a new unit.

Standard Generators

Standard generators have improved over the years, but they have changed little in their most basic designs. They hold a source of energy in the form of fuel and use it to power a motor. That motor is attached to an alternator that produces electricity. The motor has to run at a constant speed—RPM—to supply a constant electrical current to the home.

Inverter Generators

To understand an inverter generator, it helps to first understand basic inverter technology. A standard 12-volt battery inverter, for example, converts that DC power into 120 volts of alternate current (AC) power. Standard generators and inverter generators both use fuels to power a combustion engine. In a normal generator, one engine rotation means a single block wave of AC power, which means that the engine has to run at approximately 3,600 rpm to produce 120 volts of power.

The inverter generator was created to produce more AC power per engine rotation. This doesn’t happen instantly; the electricity must become direct current (DC) power, first—DC power is the type that comes from a battery, while AC power comes from your home’s outlets. (Take a look at the Generac IQ2000 Watt Portable Inverter Generator 6866.)

The electronic inverter module transforms DC power into the normal 120-volt power. This power is also no longer in block waves. Instead, it’s in sine waves that can be measured as Total Harmonic Distortion. More sensitive appliances need that Total Harmonic Distortion to be as low as possible—under 6%, generally. Inverter generators help create this gentler power, which is also quieter.

If you need help choosing between a standard generator and an inverter generator, we can help you find what you want at Nationwide Generators.