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)|
|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|
|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.
|Gentrax Inverter Generator||58|
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.
|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|
|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.
|Mobile phone charger||5|
|Smartphone||2.5 – 5|
|Router||7 – 10|
|Printer||20 – 30|
|Game console||120 -200|
|Fridge||200 - 400|
|Hair dryer||300 - 600|
|Dishwasher||1100 - 1600|
|Coffee maker||800 - 1400|
|Toaster||800 - 1500|
|Kettle||2000 - 3000|
|Grill||1000 - 2000|
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.
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. Outbax 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 Outbax.