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How to Shop for Inverter Generators and Inverters

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inverter generators

Inverter generators and inverters refer to advanced types of electrical devices that convert direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) which has less total harmonic distortion (THD). Inverter generators can supply constant and stable electricity, compared to conventional ones and provide you with a safe energy source for sensitive devices. When you choose to buy one, it is helpful to consider these factors.

Buying tips for both inverter generators and inverters

Check the supplier or vendor reputation

Search the internet for product reviews and company reputation. Customers will talk about their positive experiences, while dissatisfied ones would complain about bad features, ratings, and power output. Check out the forums, blogs, supplier websites, and social media.

Read the technical manuals

Regardless of model and features, a technical manual can help you learn about tips, accessories, upgrades, installation procedures, warranties, terms, and conditions.

Buying tips for inverter generators

Consider quality over quantity

While all brands or makers promote best features and prices, not all inverters are equal. While others are cheap, you may be surprised to see a broken inverter after a short period of use. A cheap inverter might have substandard housing build, electronic parts, and motor versus a quality one that is built to last for long repeated use. Avoid inverters that are too good to be true. What you pay is what you get.

Check the warranty

Know the start and end of the warranty, the contact for warranty service, the action that the company will take if the product fails, the covered parts, and the limitations and conditions of the warranty. An example of a good warranty is a one-year coverage that can give your device protection against factory defects or damage.

Think about the power quality

A good inverter produces stable and continuous electricity akin to the electric company source. This power quality is crucial to run devices with sensitive electronics such as laptops, fridges, game consoles, and smartphones.

Choose a quality material build

An inverter generator’s housing is made of aluminium, stainless steel, and hardened plastic. Quality housing materials protect the inverter’s circuit board, controls, and indicator lighting from water, corrosive chemical, snow, and mud.

Consider Australian RCM standard approval

The Regulatory Compliance Mark of Australia provides certification for electrical devices. A device with this approval ensures that it passed an industry standard certification test.

Use diesel inverter generator

Diesel is one of the most common and inexpensive fuels. Unlike gasoline, diesel runs inverter generators with more efficiency and less noise. It also lasts longer because a diesel inverter generator produces the same power output as that of gasoline generators. Diesel makes mechanical parts last longer because of the fuel’s self-lubricating effects.

Opt for generators with pure sine wave

Inverter generators with pure sinewave produce quality, steady, and reliable AC output. A generator running with other forms of sine wave (square, triangle) can cause devices to heat up easily, which can wear down the motor and damage sensitive electrical devices. A square wave inverter can support appliances such as fans, pumps, motors, and lights but is not suitable for powering sensitive electronics. A true sinewave consists of smooth, repeating ploughs and crests (wave) versus other waveforms with irregular and non-repeating waves. A pure sine wave voltage falls and rises abruptly, unlike the modified sine wave that shows the square shape.

When you use a pure sine wave, you are providing a device with less total harmonic distortion (THD) which is beneficial for sensitive circuitry such as small-scale devices that run a laptop, tablet, server, netbook, and flat screen television. Some devices also run efficiently with pure sinewave inverter generators.

Devices that Run Efficiently on Pure Sinewave Inverter Generators
Clocking devices in ovens, alarm clocks, and radios
CPAP Machine with dehumidifier
Delicate electronics (computer, smartphone)
Fridge
Hard drives, laser printers, magneto-optical hard drives, photocopiers
Light fixtures and florescent lamps with power factor correction capacitors
Metal halide lamps
Microprocessor controlled sewing machine
New furnace models with microprocessor control
Oven
Power tool chargers
Power tools such as drill
Variable speed power tools

 

A pure sinewave inverter generator offers these advantages:

  • It makes computers last longer by preventing shut-downs and errors.
  • It reduces device noise or hums. On TVs and phones, this means less hums or noise.
  • It makes appliances run efficiently and reduces heat.
  • Appliances such as oven and rice cooker cook faster.
  • It prevents damage to electronic equipment that contains sensitive electronics such as rechargeable battery powered devices and laser printers.
  • Its motors generate less heat while running at intended speed.

Use a portable generator

Because you might need a power generator for outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, mining, or threading, use a portable, robust, and lightweight generator. You can also opt for a generator that uses foldable quad wheels or handles grip to increase portability.

Choose quiet inverter generators. Conventional generators produce noise akin to a circular or chainsaw. An ideal silent generator is 58DB@7m. In addition, such types can produce vibrations that can loosen or shorten the lifespan of mechanical parts. Choose a gentrax inverter generator with anti-vibration mountings such as shock absorber, rubber, and metal isolators that can dampen energy.

 

Feature Rate
Car 70
Garbage disposal 80
Gentrax Inverter Generator 58
Light traffic 50
Pin drop 10
Public conversation 60
Whisper 30

 

Consider a rust-resistant generator

Choose inverter generators with a rust-resistant material such as aluminium, stainless steel, and HDPE plastic. The rust-resistant material protects your generator’s circuit board and controls your investment.

Think about the thermal protection feature

Prolonged use of the device can increase the heat generated from the circuit because of moving electrons. The ambient temperature topped with heat from the circuitry and the IC chip can shorten the lifespan of your inverter. A heat dissipater or sink made up of solid aluminium and a mini-fan can release or reduce heat such as in a 300W inverter and power inverter for camping.

Choose generators with an oil warning system

This feature ensures that your generator is safe from damage. A sensor and warning system automatically shuts off the power when the oil goes below the safe operating level.

Select generators with overload protection

An overload protection feature keeps your power supply from damage due to output short-circuits and overcurrent.

Choose generators with fuel economy features

An economy switch control can save fuel by lowering the engine speed, while keeping a steady and quality power output. This is essential for running devices that need less power. A 3.6-litre fuel capacity is enough to keep your generator running for eight hours at economy mode.

Buying Tips for Inverters

Identify your inverter application

If you own bigger appliances that demand high wattage, you will need bigger and higher power ratings for your inverter. Appliances such as air conditioners, freezers, and electric heaters require continuous and high power. If you use only inverters for your less power-hungry device, use those with the minimal rating.

Identify the inverter size that you need

Add the wattage of your appliances and ensure that the total wattage is lower by 25% to 50% of the inverter’s total wattage.

Take note that inverters are different from uninterruptible power supply

While they both supply power, their specific functions are different from each other. Knowing their differences will help you determine whether you need a UPS or an inverter.

Feature Inverter UPS
Power output Pure sine wave or sine wave Sine wave
Switching speed Low to high switching speed (20-40 minutes) High to very low switching speed (2-4 minutes)
Usage For backup of fans, appliances, TV For backup of desktop or laptop computers
Price Higher than UPS Lower than Inverter
Voltage fluctuation Yes No
Supplying power Long duration Short duration
Circuit Battery Controller and Inverter
Connection Directly connected to the devices Connected to the battery and appliances
Types Grid tie inverter and standby inverter Line-interactive, double/online conversion and offline standby
Battery and rectifier Has external battery for DC power Has in built battery and rectifier in its circuit
 

 

For inverter types, a grid-tie inverter can transmit unused electricity. It does not require battery. A hybrid inverter can function both as an off-grid PV system and grid-tie PV system. The off-grid or stand-alone works from a storage battery. It provides power for industrial and residential purposes.

Go for an inverter with overload protection

A 100W inverter contains overload protection in the form of fuse or circuit breakers. For instance, a 20 amps device receives current only within this range. When a current exceeds this range, an overload melts the fuse metal and a power trip ensues.

Determine the inverter capacity

The total load power must not exactly equal the inverter VA rating because of the power factor that varies from 0.6 to 0.8. To calculate, follow this formula:

Inverter capacity (VA) =   Total Power Needed

Power Factor

Choose the power rating that fits your needs

Different devices require different power ratings. A 600W inverter and 1000W inverter can support devices such as laptops, monitors, game consoles, and other devices with values lower than the power rating range. A 240v-12v inverter can support devices with that range. Below are the power ratings of various devices. The wattage depends on the device’s model and type.

Appliance Wattage
Electric Fryer 1200
Window type 1000
Iron 1000
Water Pump 600
Washing Machine 500
Conventional Freezer 445
Freezer 150
Shaver 15
Mobile phone charger 5
Clock radio 1-2
Smartphone 2.5 – 5
Router 7 – 10
Printer 20 – 30
Fan 10-25
LED TV 20-60
Laptop 20-75
Game console 120 -200
Electric drill 900-1000
Fridge 200 – 400
Hair dryer 300 – 600
Dehumidifier 300 -700
Central AC 2000-2500
Dishwasher 1100 – 1600
Vacuum cleaner 200-700
Coffee maker 800 – 1400
Toaster 800 – 1500
Microwave oven 600-1500
Kettle 2000 – 3000
Grill 1000 – 2000
Dryer 2000- 4000

 

Consider the battery type

The best battery type should be lightweight and long-lasting. Such battery types include lead acid, lithium-ion, and nickel-iron. Each has its own pros and cons when it comes to capacity, longevity, and maintenance. Consider their discharging and recharging capacities.

Determine the battery capacity

First, consider the Ah (ampere hour) value which you can use to determine the battery capacity. Common Ah battery values include 100, 120, 150, 180, and 200. Higher Ah value means a stronger battery. Second, determine how much power your inverter’s power support can provide and how many hours your inverter can provide it during a power outage. Third, decide between a double or single battery inverter. A double battery constitutes the same Ah value multiplied by 2. As inverters run on battery, you need to calculate the battery capacity.

Required Backup Hours X Total Power Needed (Watts)

No of Batteries X Battery Efficiency X Battery Voltage

The battery capacity =   3 X 400         = 55

2 X 0.9 X 12

Choose an inverter with overload protection

These features protect an inverter against overload shutdown, overheating, and overvoltage. This protection comes in three types – broad, medium, and fine protection. Broad protection provides the best shield because it can protect even against direct lightning strikes. Medium protection provides a medium shield against an indirect lightning strike. Fine protection provides the least shield, but it can still protect against a distant lightning strike and residual overvoltage.

Conclusion

There is no perfect inverter, but there is a reliable one that is suitable for any situation and weather condition. As technologies in fuel, microprocessor, voltage protection, and new materials evolve, new models of inverters come with better terminal protection and longer power supply.

Outbaxcamping can help you choose the best inverter generators and inverters for your home and outdoor activities. These power devices have passed the Australian RCA certification and were tested for pure sine wave guarantee. They have energy saving controls. They are manufactured from precise engineering and built with high-quality materials and parts. For more information, visit Outbaxcamping.

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