Generator Accessories and Extras

Generator Accessories and Extras

Along with every generator comes extra accessories like gas cans, tachometers, funnels, and other items to test and make sure your generator is working optimally. The last thing anyone needs to worry about is having a backup power source but no gas.

Below are the most common items purchased in conjunction with best-selling generators. You’ll most likely need at least a couple of these items to make maintenance and the use of power much easier.

top 5 inverter generators image

Best Inverter Generators to Buy: A Top 5 List

If you are in the market for an inverter generator, you need to be aware of its characteristics, what it does, how it works, along with the types and models that are considered the best for the money spent. So, before you run out and buy one, take a look at some of the preliminary information and the reviews of the top 5 given here to get an idea which ones are currently top of the line. No matter the model, there is one that will likely meet your needs.

Quick Overview: How an Inverter Generator Works

An inverter produces direct current (DC) power and then converts it to alternating current (AC) power using digital electronics. Digital electronics transmit information, which has been encoded digitally for the storage and processing of information. It generates AC power in phases at high frequency. Then it is converted to a direct current (DC),then back to alternating current (AC), which can be used with electronic equipment, power tools and appliances that require power.

READ OUR GENERATOR BUYING GUIDE HERE >>

Types of Output

Most inverters put out AC current in pure sine waves, others in square or block waves and still others in modified sine waves. They not only modify the signal but they can make it clearer and cleaner. Consumers need to be aware that pure sine wave AC power is the most reliable, steady and clean of the three.

A pure sine wave will deliver the same wave as what is delivered from a normal generator or a power company. There will not be fluctuations in voltage, which can occur with more traditional generators. They produce a purer energy output as opposed to square or block waves. The output from an inverter is often called clean power, which brings a stable and consistent current and a stable sine wave delivery.

Square wave inverters are not used as much as others, though they are good for powering motors in power tools. They are less expensive, but they are difficult to find.

Modified sine wave inverters create power with a wave form that is similar to a square wave. Larger items like pump motors, fans, refrigerators and other items will not operate as efficiently with this type.

Characteristics of These Generators

Most are usually compact, rectangular or streamlined in shape, considerably lighter than regular generators and are easily moved from one area to another because of their portability factor, which usually includes a built-in carrying handle. They are also safer, quieter, eliminate distortion and, depending on the model, can be started through a remote device or a pull start.

They are used for both restoring back-up power and for operating equipment such as small and large appliances, power tools, laptops, tablets, monitor screens, cellphones and other sensitive electronics. Restoring back-up power is a necessity, especially if you’re in a position to invest in a generator.

Most inverters are equipped with display panels, USB ports, 12V DC receptacle, and three-pronged 120V (Volt) receptacles. They are fuel-efficient and are usually fueled by gas, propane or natural gas, and have excellent run times.

Top 5 Inverter Generators to Buy

1. Honda Eu2000i Companion Portable Model

 

honda-EU2000-generatorThe Honda EU 2000i has a 2000 maximum wattage with a 1600 watt rated output. It contains one 20 amp 120V (Volt) outlet and one 30 amp 120V (Volt) outlet that can be linked with another Honda inverter to double the power of the GX100 OHC engine.

When two Honda EU2000i’s are linked this way, a recreational vehicle air conditioning unit is easily powered as well as more demanding power hungry equipment. This model is lightweight and quiet, particularly in the eco save mode; starts easily and runs clean and smoothly, for about 6 hours, though the gas tank could be slightly larger to accommodate a lengthier running time.

It is gasoline run and is CARB-compliant (California Air Resource Board compliance that ensures strict air quality measures in the state) for the 50 states, and it has a 3-year limited warranty.

2. DuroMax XP4400E 4,400 Watt 4-Cycle Gas Powered Portable Generator

 

With a 4400 Watt surge (3500 Watt Continuous), you’ll be able to relax knowing that the Duromax generator has you covered. With this model comes a four-gallon gas tank, an 8 hour runtime, and also an electric key start.

Highlighted Benefits:

  • 4400 Watt Surge/3500 Watt Continuous
  • 4 Gallon Gas Tank/8 Hour Run Time
  • Electric Key Start/Includes Battery
  • EPA Approved
  • Automatic Low Oil Shut Off

3. Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Portable

 

Yamaha EF2000iSv2 PortableThe Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is a pure sine wave inverter that is an upgrade from its previous EF2000is model. It is packed with power yet quiet, compact and lightweight, which makes it easy to transport and store. There is quick access to controls as well as a fuel gauge that is easy to view.

There are two 120V (Volt) AC outlets and one DC outlet-8A (amps) 12V (Volt) for charging batteries, which includes cables. It powers a number of items in various ranges and has a 1600 watt rated AC output with a 2000 watt maximum.

It also has a very quiet muffler with a spark arrestor. A Smart Throttle aids in varying the engine speed based on load, which improves fuel use and limits noise. Its  system has a Pulse Width Modulation control (PWM) that provides voltage stability. This Yamaha, like the other models reviewed, is CARB compliant (California Air Resource Board), and it has a 3-year limited warranty.

4. Champion 100261-3100 Watt Portable

 

Champion 100261-3100The 3100 maximum watt Champions 100261 has a true sine wave output along with a remote wireless starter that contains an automatic choke design for easy start and stop- up to 80 feet in distance. There is a 12V (Volt) DC outlet as well as dual-port USB adapter and battery charger.

The inverter is fully enclosed with a durable housing that eliminates sound output and enables quiet operation, and it contains integrated wheels and stow away handles for moving and storing. Its clean power output can be utilized for just about any energy need such as campsites, recreational vehicles, cabins, electronics and appliances.

A Champion 192cc OHV engine powers with a low oil shut off provides protection and extends the life of the generator. There is even an economy mode with this model that allows it to run over seven hours as it adjusts engine speed to optimum levels. Fuel use is reduced as is engine wear. There is a 2-year limited warranty and it is EPA and CARB (California Air Resource Board) certified in 50 states.

5. Westinghouse WH2400i Portable

 

Westinghouse WH2400iThe WH2400i gas powered inverter is a reasonably priced, lightweight, compact and quiet inverter that offers power at any time and any place. It can safely power sensitive electronics with its low THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) as well as provide clean power for refrigerators, power tools, smartphones, tablets and laptops with its 1800 running watts and 2200 starting watts.

There are two 120V (Volt) AC power outlets and one 12V (Volt) DC power outlet. This model has a 13 hour run time that allows for all night use and enhanced fuel efficiency along with an automatic low oil shutdown. Power can be enhanced with anchoring to another Westinghouse inverter to increase wattage and the power necessary to take on real energy eaters.

Westinghouse has provided a 2-year limited warranty on this model, and it is EPA and CARB compliant (California Air Resource Board) certified.

Inverters manufactured by Honda appear to be leaders in the industry, though their higher price-points can hold off a purchase, which comes down to where they are purchased. Yamaha, Champion and Westinghouse provide competition with somewhat lower prices and are still effective given the necessary features and fuel efficiency to get power going when electric power is limited, or is required for any number of devices that require power.

Whatever the choice, these five inverters are top of the line for most any use or need you might have.

Why Investing in a Generator is Actually Worth It

It’s 2am. Lightning strikes and the LED for your alarm clock flickers. It’s the first sign that your electricity is about to fail. Your little one comes scampering into the room screaming “Mommy, Daddy, I’m scared!” Of course, you take a minute to calm her down and remind her that the boogeyman doesn’t exist, but you have a real monster to worry about.

You just spent $300 on groceries and all the food in your refrigerator and freezer will go bad if your electricity fails. Come to think of it, your phone only has 20% charge, your laptop is dead, and your internet depends on your electricity. How will you call work? How will you find information about the current weather situation with no television and no internet?

Worse, what if it was a serious problem that caused the electrical outage, such as a tornado that came through your neighborhood? Even if it completely missed your house and you are otherwise safe, you could still be displaced for lack of basic services.

You could be without electricity for days. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you could wait out the clean up in the comfort of your own home because you were well supplied and prepared?

Winter storms present a danger as well. Even though most have gas heat, their heat won’t switch on without electricity. I remember a winter when my parents were trapped at home for a week with no electricity and no heat but what came from turning on their stove and lighting the gas with matches. They had a 3,000 square foot two-and-a-half story ranch house with a basement…but no electricity.

All they could do was wall off the kitchen with blankets and sleep on the hard tile floor. They literally lived in that one small room for a week with the exception of trips to the bathroom or trips outside to Nature’s “great outdoor refrigerator,” which thankfully preserved their food. No hot water. No showers. No TV. No light for books because the flashlight batteries wore out.

A week–cooped up in the same room–with a hard tile floor for a bed and no entertainment. They now have very reliable backup electricity.

A lot of people wonder whether a generator is a worthy investment until they find themselves replacing hundreds of dollars worth of groceries after sweltering in the heat or stumbling around in the cold and dark for days. After that, the question is no longer, “is this worth the cost?” but “which one should I buy?”

How did I become so sage about this particular decision-making process? I went through it last week. Live and learn. And now I’d love to share what I have learned with you so that you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ll never be left in the dark.

How Do I Choose the Right Backup Power for My Needs?

When deciding on a major purchase with several different factors to consider, I like to think of each decision as I would a game of table tennis. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so I just keep track of what wins for the most important factors (for my needs) and look for the best product in my price range with all of these characteristics. Here are some points to consider:

Convenience: Stationary vs. Portable

Stationary generators are large, produce a lot of electricity, and are already connected to your house’s electrical supply. If the electricity goes out, the motor switches on and supplies enough electricity (if we have chosen well) to keep your basic essentials on. You won’t need to trudge outside in the rain and mess with a pull starter or search for extension cords. You won’t be without electricity for more than a few short moments as long as your equipment is well-maintained. And best of all, you won’t lose your hard-earned groceries.

>> READ OUR GENERATOR BUYING GUIDE HERE

Lightweight machines offer the convenience of transport so they can be used for camping and traveling as well as house electricity. But they are not as easy to use for the house since they must be stored at least 20 feet away. They should also be kept in a covered area to protect them from rain. When the electricity goes out you will have to start it up, check cords for any worn areas and then plug them into the house’s transfer switch.

Fuel Supply: Propane or Natural Gas vs. Gasoline

Most small machines require large quantities of gas to provide enough electricity for your basic household appliances unless you can find one with alternative fuel capabilities. Large standby models use natural gas or propane. Natural gas and propane tend to be safer to store than gas, and gas will require stabilizers for storage.

But, sometimes all you have left is the gas in your car. That’s why having an alternative options is a bonus. Some transportable machines, even very inexpensive ones, can use both gas and propane. Some can even run on natural gas too. These are called tri-fuel options, and you can expect to pay a couple thousand dollars for one that produces around 10,000 watts. It’s worth it though if you consider the security that comes with having several different options.

Cost: Large vs. Small

Lightweight machines can cost 1/5th to 1/10th as much as a large stationary unit, yet the more expensive transportable machines (around $1,000) will produce as much energy as a small stationary one (between 5,000 and 8,000 watts). So when it comes to bang for the buck, transportable provides more watts per dollar. (Consider the fluctuating cost of gas, however.)

Starting: Manual vs. Electric

This won’t be a concern for the larger, whole-house equipment, but it applies to the smaller machines. Most small units use a manual starter instead of a switch. If you have trouble pull-starting a lawnmower, you will want a machine that will operate with an electric start.

Don’t Forget the Transfer Switch

When considering cost, don’t forget that you’re going to need to install a transfer switch for any equipment that produces over 5,000 watts of electricity to safely share it with your household appliances. While some people try to make use of only an extension cord when the electricity goes out, this is unsafe for both your electronics and for you. Your only use for an extension cord should be to plug it into the transfer switch.

Now for the last of our tips. Whichever type of machine you get, make sure it produces enough electricity to meet your appliances electrical needs. You can take a look at your energy bill to see what your daily usage is. Most electric providers will even tell you how much electricity you use on average during peak hours.

Even if you were assured by the salesperson that this is all the machine you need for your household, double check the instructions to be sure that you completely understand the capacity of your unit. You don’t want to find out that you can overtax it in the middle of a storm.

Now that you know a little more about your backup electricity choices, feel free to share this information with your friends in hopes that you can all become better prepared with your backup and safety equipment together. Meanwhile, we’ll keep the light on for you.

red honda generator in grass

The Ultimate Generator Buying Guide: Find Your Safety Solution

1

The First Question: What is a Generator?

In the chance that the power in your home would go out or not be available for use (as in non-existent), there would need to be some other type of power source. This is where a generator comes in. The generator (depending on which type used) will supply the correct amount of wattage, amperage, and portable electricity to power the necessities of your home – things like major appliances, heaters, or even air conditioners.

​There may be different questions about what type of generator a family needs, the amount of power it will provide, and even what size to get. Don't worry, we'll cover all of those questions in this guide.


2

What Needs Power and What Doesn't?

It's important to know what your power needs are. Will you need a refrigerator? How about your stove? Or, more importantly, heat or air conditioning. These factors must be considered when you're deciding the type of generator you'll need and how many watts to use.

You can use this portable generator wattage calculator for backup, recreational, or job site portable generators. There's also a home backup calculator if you're thinking about getting a standy generator model.

Here are some important items to consider:

  • Refrigerator (average 600 watts)
  • Window Air Conditioner (1,000 watts)
  • Sump Pump (750 - 1000 watts)
  • Lights around the house (100-200 watts depending if you're with the LED crowd)
  • Computers or Laptops (if you're going to use a charger)

Make your own list and decide what's most important. Each household will be different and it's up to you to prepare. Don't forget to add in additional watts since your needs are different and there's also the possibility of forgetting something.


Looking for your next generator? Have a look at the best selling generators on Amazon or best sellers at Walmart.


3

Main Types of Generators

Although it can seem overwhelming, you might find it easier than you think to pick out the type of generator you're looking to buy. Many generators have a specific purpose and are designed for a certain application such as running an entire home, supplying electricity for appliances, or just using recreationally for an RV or camping.

If you can think about how you will be using your generator at home, this will definitely push you in the right direction for the right equipment.​ Let's go ahead and cover the different kinds available.

briggs-and-stratton-20000-watt-standby-generator
Briggs & Stratton 20,000 Watt Home Standby Generator System (Amazon)

Stationary/Standby Generators

  • Start and stop automatically when power is out
  • Inform you of any maintenance needed (even with a text!)
  • Use natural gas or propane
  • Sometimes requires a permit (an electrician can help)
  • Can cost between $4,000 - $10,000
  • Typically cost more because they're automatic

champion-3500-watt-portable-generator
Champion 3500 Watt Portable Generator on Amazon

Portable Generators

  • The average portable model costs less
  • Costs are about $300 - $1,000
  • Offer electric starting (less pull starting)
  • Require stabilizer periodically for stored gas
  • Typically cost more because they're automatic
  • Batteries for electric start may not be included

A Breed of Their Own: Inverter Generators

wen-brand-portable-inverter-generator
WEN 56200i: 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator from Amazon

Inverter Generators have a specific job. They are used for recreational events and activities such as camping, tailgating, sports events, or for boats & RVs. They are portable and use less power which usually means you will not be able to run them as hard.

Another advantage to an inverter generator is that they run quietly. They are designed this way to ensure limited noise in an environment such as a campground.​ You also get the added benefit of not frying your sensitive electronics. It's important to remember these little things because that's what's going to set the inverter generator apart from a typical, cheaper portable alternative.


4

Other Features / Benefits

Although this may (or may not) seem like a laundry list, there are some options to consider when looking into your next (or first) generator.

Does Automatic Start & Stop Appeal to You?
With standby generators, you'll get the comfort of knowing that in the case of an outage, your power will continue to run and it should be seamless (given the generator is ocassionally tested). Otherwise, you'll be the one to start the generator, hook it up for power and monitor the status.

Will You Need an Electric Start?​
Without an electric start, you are required to pull start the engine (similar to a push mower). If this is no problem, then you don't have to worry. But, you may regret it in the future without it! As previously mentioned, you'll need to purchase a battery for the electric start and make sure it's kept up to date.

Are You Rolling With Wheels?​
I doubt you'll find a standby/stationary generator with wheels, but they are often found on portable models. And, sometimes, they're not included at all. How about those accessories! You're looking at about 100-200 pounds for some models, so take that into consideration.

Gauge for Checking Fuel Levels​
For an extended period of time (like a blackout) it is critical that you keep informed with how much fuel available in your generator. Without knowing, you'll have to worry about restarting and losing power. You can relate it to driving your car without a gas gauge -- it's possible, but not fun.

Having Multiple Outlets Ready
Instead of running 1,000 watts directly from one outlet, it helps to spread the load across more than one outlet. This also prevents possibly using an extension cord in a pinch with a 3-way on it. Definitely not safe.

Interested in a Quick Video? Here's a Less Than One Minute Short from Amazon 


5

The Correct Size: Is There a Right or Wrong?


When speaking in terms of size for a generator, we're not talking about wattage, but physical size. Depending on what you will need running once your power goes out will also determine how you'll move it around.

If you remember, in the features and benefits section, wheels were listed as a feature. This is where size comes into play. Moving a 100-200 pound generator around isn't going to be easy for some, although many of you out there might be up to the challenge 😉

​There really isn't a right or wrong size, but more importantly, what is the correct size for your situation?

Remember to think about the following when you need to know what size to use:

  • Does the generator come with wheels?
  • If I need more wattage, will I be moving it frequently?
  • Do I Need a Larger Fuel Tank?

Quick Tip:
Portable generators are usually underrated for running a whole house, they are for a limited number of items.

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Finding The Perfect Wattage

It's hard to think about all of the factors when considering size, weight, features, and everything else that comes with the decision of getting a generator. This section about wattage is the most important because without the right power being distributed, you can end up with electronics that fry or are seriously damaged by too much electricity.

You may come across the terms rated wattage and maximum wattage​. These determine whether the generator is running at a continuous (rated) or maximum power. When running something like a desktop computer, this requires a continuous load because the electricity is consistent the entire time the computer is on.

On the other hand, if you're running something like a television, the wattage will only be used while the TV is on. The wattage might peak over the continuous, but not the maximum. Keep in mind: the television example is not typical -- I don't think a newer television would consume upwards of 1,000 watts!


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Generator Runtime: A Feature Not To Overlook

There was a brief mention about having a larger fuel tank for a longer runtime. This is just one benefit of having a generator that will last long enough for your needs. 

The importance of runtime is that of safety. When a family is in a blackout and trying to make due of everything around them, they shouldn't have to worry about how long the generator is going to last when there's food, light, and possibly weather to worry about.

Having the longest runtime also means being proactive with taking care of your gasoline. Make sure to add stabilizer if necessary and find a generator that is genuinely good (or great) for your needs. Being on the more affordable side of the scale may not get you the additional 1-2 hours of extra runtime.​


Be prepared for your next blackout. Go buy a generator. @Lawnaholic

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8

The Transfer Switch (or a budget friendly alternative)

Reliance Controls 31410CRK on Amazon


Connecting your generator to the breaker panel in your home is no easy feat. Once you get the generator going, you have to bring all of that nice juicy power into the house for the juicy fruit in the fridge. Especially after a storm when you may consider bypassing the most important steps, you want to be safe.

Consumer Reports in this transfer switch article talks about why a generator needs one and a more in-depth look at what it does. Without regurgitating the great information there, I'll summarize.

Basically, when the power goes out, you need to connect your generator to the power source to provide the correct watts and needs for the electrical items in your home. Residential transfer switches can range from $250 - $300 (plus $200-$400 in labor) according to Popular Mechanics. These costs are typically associated with a six-circuit switch which is a more common circuit.

Using a transfer switch is no joke and should be taken seriously!​ Installation is critical and no matter the wattage of your generator (typically 5,000 watts plus), the setup will significantly matter. Read about using a professional and where to find one in the next section.

If you're looking to cover your home with a generator and simply cannot work the additional $700+ ​into your project costs, then you can think about using an interlock kit. This should also be installed by a professional and avoided if possible. Basically this is added protection for your service panel to prevent backfeeding of power and also making sure the generator doesn't get destroyed. Backfeeding is both dangerous and illegal. Take the necessary precautions to prevent this!


9

Safety Concerns


Can a portable generator run indoors?
There is never a safe time to use a generator in an enclosed area. When a generator is running with a gas engine, carbon monoxide is emitted and can (and will be) fatal. Carbon monoxide is a very poisonous gas that a human cannot tell they are inhaling. Please don't assume that you might be an exception. The exhaust will cause death in ONLY MINUTES. Not something anyone should play around with.

Should I Leave a Generator Running While Fuel is Added?
The engine on the generator should be completely cooled before adding new fuel. You'll need to coordinate use of your electronics, appliances, and other items being run by the generator. Depending on the model, it can take anywhere from ten minutes or more before the engine is cooled enough.

How Far Should a [Portable] Generator Be Placed From a Home?
A very good distance is at least 15-20 feet. With this as a safe distance, there will be proper ventilation and, as an added benefit, it will be more quiet from inside the house! But, maybe a little louder for your neighbors...

Does Fuel Stay in the Tank When Storing My Generator?
The gas tank should be empty when storing. However, if the gas remains in the tank, make sure to add fuel stabilizer to keep the gas fresh. 

Quick Tip:
Fuel stabilizer prevents things like rust and corrosion from getting into the gas tank.


10

Find & Hire a Contractor (Here's Why)

electrician for generator installation


In the previous section, we talked about backfeeding. This can be extremely dangerous and even fatal in the worst cases.

Here's the deal: when a generator starts, it is actually generating electricity. If the generator is incorrectly hooked up to your breaker panel, the electricity will go back up the neighborhood electric lines and will try to power your surrounding neighbors homes!

If there is a utility worker or someone working on a line near you, they will have a surge of electricity that they aren't expecting. When something happens to them while working, the person with the generator could face legal consequences for the harm of that utility worker.

In short, take the best practices on this type of project and don't try to do the DIY approach unless you really know what you are doing. It's not worth the risk.

Head over to porch.com for a general contractor to set you up with an installation of your new generator. Specifically, you will need an electrician to do the work. They can help you decided on the best features for a transfer switch and the correct setup.


Wrapping It Up

Deciding to purchase a generator is a big deal. This is your safety net for when the unexpected happens. A situation we don't have any control over and have to deal with. From a personal standpoint, I feel that the extra money and features should be thoughtfully considered.

I know that if everyone had the financial capability, we would all go for the standby generator, right? But, since all of us aren't millionaires, let's think about what we really need. Kind of like insurance -- pay the higher premium monthly or have a higher deductible at the time it's due?

Think about it.

lawnaholic signature

--Nick

what is an inverter generator

What the Heck is an Inverter Generator?

What the Heck is an Inverter Generator?what is an inverter generator

Lighter, more portable, and much cleaner with the electricity they produce,Inverter generators are a breed of their own. These generators typically provide lower wattage, but give the option to “invert” the electricity back into more constant flow and stable power.

What Are Benefits of Choosing an Inverter Generator?

In short, not only will you be receiving a higher quality output, but according to Honda that power will be just as reliable as one of the outlets in your home. They mentioned other features like higher fuel efficiency and also another cool feature called parallel capability. This allows two generators to be paired together allowing for double the power capacity.

One of the difficulties of running a portable generator is trying to maintain the same voltage if the engine varies in RPM (revolutions per minute) speeds. This is the beauty of an inverter generator. The power doesn’t fluctuate, but instead becomes more of a stable and constant power source.

yellow inverter generatorBack in the time around the late 90s, Honda saw the benefits of the portable generators, but knew they could be better. So what did they do? Began the pursuit of inverter technology which really no one else at the time was successful with.

As mentioned in our buying guide, inverter generators are typically used for recreational purposes. Taking them camping, finding a place to store it for an RV, or just for tailgating parties. On average, they’re usually smaller and more reliable without the hassle of wondering about the burden.

The way they work is similar to a car — a fossil fuel is used to power the engine on the generator. The engine in turn powers an alternator and that alternator “generates” your electricity. Pretty cool concept, huh? I think that was the thought about the car too — cool concept 🙂

Honda was actually the first to be successful in integrating what was then known (before 1998) as the “sine-wave inverter” control system. Believe it or not, in 1965 Honda actually had the first commercially released generator!

The big struggle in the beginning was trying to maintain the heat and sound created by the older generators. They seemed to do well when the size was larger, but trying to contain the newer components was not working out well. So, Honda took the approach to run some trial and error tests (in stages) until the power was consistent and stable enough to be used for things like electric appliances and other technology coming into society.

Okay, enough with the history lesson.

What’s The Difference Between a Conventional Generator and an Inverter Generator?

Conventional generators are the most well-known. They have been around for the longest time with the best track record. You can use a variety of gases (like diesel, regular gasoline, or propane) and simply power a motor to create electricity.

Inverter generators are still considered newer technology (within the last 20 years) and are made specifically for recreational activities like camping, outdoor fun, and similar get-together occasions. Although they may not put out the highest wattage, they tend to run cleaner and provide that stable power system.

✔ Noise Levels
Conventional generators are known for being a little on the loud side when being used. Now, I’m assuming this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem with neighbors in the case that everyone is out of power, but you just never know people’s reactions.

Since inverter generators are designed from the beginning to be quieter, that’s what you can expect. This is a similar setup to website design (don’t ask about the comparison) where websites are now written with code from a mobile first perspective. That allows developers to focus on that aspect first and then move on to the remainder of the project.

✔ Wattage Output
With a conventional (or portable) generator, you can sometimes find them with outputs of up to 20,000 watts. Not only does this give you the power you’re looking for, but it can also be used in a situation when you lose power at home.

When using an inverter generator, you are most likely not going to see that 20,000 watt power output. Expect ranges of about 500 watts to 5,000 watts. In an average case where an individual may not be using many plugs, 5,000 watts might just be plenty; however, add additional wattage for a “cushion” of unexpected uses.

✔ Fuel Efficiency
In the scenario of a conventional generator, the engine will run an average of 3,600 RPM when giving a max output. That allows for a great amount of power, but it can also create a surge in power leading to damaged electronics or even fried circuit boards. This is the last thing you want to worry about when trying to have fun outdoors, right?

The technology in the inverter generator is a digital electronic alternator and adjusts depending on the user’s needs. With this smarter control, the engine is maintained more precisely above or below 3,600 RPM. With a more varied and maintained engine comes better fuel efficiency and better quality power.

✔ Powering Sensitive Electronic Equipment
Laptops, electric grills, and other equipment with fragile circuits will benefit from an inverter generator. The distortion of power is far less than a traditional generator and helps with the sensitivity of the electronics.

✔ Long-Lasting Runtime
A good feature of both traditional and inverters are that you’re going to get a nice runtime. The technology has come increasingly farther to get the longest runtime out of a single tank of gasoline. Some models will last for 8-12 hours on a full tank — perfect for events where you’ll be outside for a majority of the day.


This Champion comparison video does a great job of showing benefits of both traditional and inverter generators. It’s compacted into a brief 2-minute overview of some of the features listed here in this article.


Higher Quality Power

The cool feature of an inverter generator is the science and technology of the way it works. When you start the generator, it creates a current that goes through an alternator. That type of current is in the AC (alternating current) form. Generally speaking, AC will move rapidly in different directions and although it can be a strong source of power, it’s sporadic.

Once the generator grabs the AC that’s being created, that current is converted into DC (direct current) for a more stable and constant power. The advantage to having the DC is that the current is now flowing more consistently in the same direction.

That last phase is for the generator to take that DC and turn it back into AC (the same type as your home outlets) to be used for the outlets on the generator. This is a game changer because now you have a high quality power source that’s going to be more reliable for your needs. Not only is it more reliable, but less worry of electricity being erratic.


Can I Use One to Power My Home?

Since inverter generators are designed to be quieter and more efficient, they don’t allow for the excess power to distribute the proper load things like a high consuming electrical appliance or multiple outlets. Now, in a special case, where you live in an RV, it may be more typical to use an inverter generator’s capabilities. But one other thing to think about is that depending on what you are running in the RV is going to decide whether it’s a good type of generator for your needs.


[thrive_text_block color=”red” headline=”Quick Safety Tip”] Running a generator causes a release of carbon monoxide which is a poisonous, odorless, and tasteless gas. There will be serious consequences if the right precautions are not followed when using an inverter generator.[/thrive_text_block]


Another exception to using one at home is if you have some guests over and you will be using electrical tools or items in the backyard. You’ll be able to benefit from the quiet noise of the generator and get a more stable wattage. Perfect for better fuel efficiency and saving money!

Are There Any Additional Items I Need To Run An Inverter Generator?

Typically the generator you purchase will come with the necessary components; however, you will need fuel and possibly batteries (for an electric start). If you choose to get a model that does not use an electric start, you won’t need batteries to power it, but be advised that you may have to pull-start the machine.

One accessory you may need to purchase is additional cables for using two identical models to run with parallel compatibility. With the two connected, you will be able to double the power capacity of your generators. A perfect case for having the smaller size and portability, but increasing your power output.

Is an Electric Start Option Included?

It depends on the model that you purchase. It’s an added option sometime as a convenience to skip the pull-start feature. If you’re really lazy (or like to be efficient) you can check out the Champion Power Equipment 75537i 3100 Watt that includes a wireless remote start function. Yep, that means you can lay in bed and start your generator.

The range for the remote start is about 80 feet — roughly the same distance as using your car door lock remote.

*Keep in mind that by having the remote start, you’ll need to periodically check the remote’s batteries to ensure they are working correctly.

All of These Features – What’s the Catch?

There’s not really a “catch” so-to-speak, but more of a question for you to consider. How much are convenience and features worth? This is not a question just for a generator purchase, but really any type of technology that saves us time or money.

The downside — and I’m not sure I would call it a downside — is that you will have to spend a bit more money to get the inverter generator you’re looking for. One of the best sellers on Amazon, the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00T7VT450″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”lawnaholic-20″ cloak=”n”]WEN 56180 model[/easyazon_link] is less than $200 as of December 2016. Not a bad price for having a consistent backup power source!

Let’s just reiterate some of the advantages that you’ll be getting should you decide to go with an inverter generator for your next camping trip (that’s an example, sorry if you aren’t a happy camper):

✔ Convenience: Getting the advantage of a quick start and long runtime.

✔ Size & Portability: You won’t have to worry about lugging some excessive weighted machine.

✔ Double Power Capacity: Carry two lightweight generators and get the same power as a conventional model.

The above is not an all-inclusive list, but may remind you of the significant advantages versus using a traditional generator. From a personal standpoint, I think the advantages are far worth it especially given the fact that once you own it, you can see the difference.


Don’t forget to check out our in-depth guide all about generators, their features, and options to consider when trying to find a generator.


Summary and Thoughts

More and more people are rooting for the better features of products. The usefulness, design, and overall options available. For an inverter generator some of these features include convenience, portability, and stable power. Having a quieter generator is certainly a plus.

One other thought about the traditional generators is that if you really attempted to get two birds with one stone, an example use of a conventional generator would be to use it outdoors at places like a campground and also have it as an alternative for backup home use. This would definitely be helpful if you needed to fire up the generator in a blackout and you wouldn’t necessarily have to worry about the limitations of an inverter model.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you’ve found value in this post. It’s important to think about backup equipment for unexpected circumstances. Being proactive can make a disheartening situation much less stressful to help yourself know that you’re prepared for the future.

Take care, and we’ll discuss more in the next one!

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–Nick the Lawnaholic