Inverter vs Traditional Generators

There’s quite a bit of confusion on what an inverter generator vs tradition generators is.

Therefore we thought we’d present 5 videos from across the web that we think best explains the difference.

For those unable to view the videos we’ve also provided a transcript.


Inverter Vs Traditional Generators Videos:


1. Traditional Generator vs. Inverter Generator (From Champion Power Equipment)


Champion Power Equipment makes both traditional generators and inverter generators. If you’re shopping for one, it’s good to know the differences between them. All generators need to burn fuel, usually gasoline or propane, to power a motor attached to an alternator that produces power. Traditional generators use a mechanical alternator to produce AC-power, while inverter generators produce DC-power and use a digital electronic alternator to invert it back to AC-power. Therefore inverters are usually smaller and lighter, but also more expensive due to the high level of electronics used.
Traditional generators have to run at a constant 3600 rpms to generate electricity, while inverters can run at variable speeds depending on specific electrical demand. This allows the inverters to run at slower speeds, often making them significantly quieter and more fuel efficient. Inverters produce a cleaner, smoother, steadier flow of power with a harmonic distortion of less than 5% which makes them perfect for using when you need to power sensitive electronic equipment.

Champion inverters can also be paired with other identically sized units to double your power capacity. This parallel capability allows you to use two smaller, lighter generators to do the work of a much larger generator. On the other hand, traditional generators are capable of greater power output and extended run times so they can be used in a wide variety of settings: on a work site, while camping, or as back-up power for a house.

Both types of Champion generators produce dependable long lasting portable power, so no matter what you’re using it for, there’s a Champion that’s right for you.



2. Generac Portable Inverter vs Conventional Portable Generator


There are two basic types of portable generators; conventional and inverter. If you’re shopping for one, you’ll want to know the difference. All generators have an alternator that produces AC or DC power. Conventional generator models use a mechanical alternator to produce AC power, while the inverter generators produce DC power and convert it to AC power by using digital electronics. As a result, the inverter models in general are smaller and lighter. However, these smaller alternators are also a little more expensive.

A conventional generator has to run at 3600 RPMs constantly to generate electricity while inverter generators can run at variable speeds depending on the electrical demand. This allows the inverter models to run at slower speeds much of the time, which saves fuel and reduces noise. The inverter models as a general rule also produce cleaner power with a total harmonic distortion of less than 5%. That’s important if you’re powering sensitive electronics like computers. That kind of performance is typically only available on premium conventional models like Generac’s XP series. The conventional units, on the other hand are capable of greater output and extended run times.



3. Generator vs Pure Sine Wave Inverter


Just got this little generator, 1200 watt generator. This is why you don’t want to use generators with sensitive devices. That’s your SINE wave right there from this one. Not exactly the best. Not the worst, but that’s got 122 volts running this big 500 watt halogen. Its got a good load on it.

Now, I’m going to show you how I use it. Let’s leave that all plugged in. We got disconnects. I’m going to disconnect this plug from the generator. The generator is no longer plugged in, the light’s off. I’m going to turn my Pure SINE Wave Converter on. Let’s see if we can get this over here. I’ll have to move everything. Sorry if it’s noisy. You probably can barely hear me.

We’re going to plug everything I had into the Pure SINE Wave now. We have 124 volts through Pure SINE Wave. There’s our SINE wave. It looks a lot better. How I use a generator is plug it into one of these things. Plug it in, then take the positive and negative, hook it up to the batteries, and there you go. It should be charging now I believe. Right now we’re on 2 AMPs, now we’re on 10 AMPs, now we’re on 50 AMPs. Make sure it’s connected here, keep it nice and charged. Something’s not connected very well. That’s how I keep my values topped off, and I have a nice pure SINE wave. I actually have 2 chargers I can use for charging. All right, I’d just like to share that.



4. Yamaha Inverters vs Conventional Generators What’s the Difference


Many people use the term generator and inverter interchangeably but there are some big differences and good reasons why you might want to pick an inverter over a generator or vice versa. Without going into a long winded explanation of the how’s and why’s, we need to answer a few questions. Do you need to power a TV, computer, or a microwave oven, anything with a microprocessor? If so, you’re going to want a Yamaha inverter. Or are you planning to run lights, power a space heater, or use a simple power tool? And cost is a factor. In that case, a Yamaha generator will meet your needs just fine.

The biggest difference between the two is that generators take raw power directly from the alternator while inverters clean the power, producing a pure sine wave. It’s often more refined than the commercial power you get more a household outlet. This sine wave produced by inverters is totally compatible with today’ microprocessor-driven computers, appliances, and tools. A compact alternator on Yamaha inverters also keeps weight to a minimum, making them lighter, smaller, and more manageable. Yamaha inverters come with a smart drive and [inaudible 00:01:19] engine RPMs to the power mode. When demand goes up, engine speed increases for improved fuel economy and run time. Plus, reduced engine wear and lower noise.

In fact, Yamaha’s entire line of generators and inverters are among the quietest and cleanest outdoor power products in the market, so clean that all Yamaha generators comply with all EPA emissions and the strictest California Air Resources Board regulations. The choice is yours and Yamaha offers a full line of both inverters and generators, giving you a wide range of options.



5. Generators and Inverters – Category Breakdown. What are your options?


Mike Johnson: The number on the side is the peak. Not what it normally runs at nonstop. It’s going to run power tools. You’re able to run your framing crew off of this.

Gerry Barnaby: Hey. Watts going on? Barnaby here, along with –

Mike Johnson: Electric humor.

Gerry Barnaby: – Mike Johnson. See. We keep him around because he laughs at my jokes. Actually, we love him for his big brain. You know so much about tools. That’s why we feature you in these category break downs because, we need to know everything there is to know about generators, portable, and then inverters.

Mike Johnson: The inverter, not a generator. They look alike.

Gerry Barnaby: They do. You know what? For the uninitiated that’s a big point. Do you need an inverter or do you need a generator, so let’s get cracking on this.

Mike Johnson: Why not.

Gerry Barnaby: This little guy right here.

Mike Johnson: A generator.

Gerry Barnaby: Sixty eight pounds, portable and good for recreation, good for the job site if you’re a smaller crew, right?

Mike Johnson: Yeah. You’re a one man crew. You’re a one man operation. You want to control your power environment. This thing, you throw it in the back of your truck real easy. It doesn’t take up a ton of room. Its got the power you need to run a couple tools. You don’t want to run a crew off this. It doesn’t have that kind of power, but you’ve got your large 20 AMP there. You’ve got a couple of 120s coming out of there.

Gerry Barnaby: GFCI.

Mike Johnson: OSHA won’t bust you on that.

Gerry Barnaby: Nice.

Mike Johnson: Its got your couple of indicators here to keep you in the loop of what’s going on inside, but not a lot of frills, but not too expensive.

Gerry Barnaby: Already, people watching the video are going, “Hey, but how much power do I really need?” On our category page we have a menu. It’s a big thing you can look at and say this draws this much, this draws this much. You can start doing the math and say, how big a generator or inverter do I need?

Mike Johnson: The number on the side is the peak. Not what it normally runs at nonstop.

Gerry Barnaby: What’s that mean?

Mike Johnson: When something starts up, a vacuum cleaner or furnace or anything like that, it’s going to draw more power on start up, and then it’s going to back off. The power needs are the highest in the first few seconds that thing runs.

Gerry Barnaby: It’s like getting your butt out of bed.

Mike Johnson: Right, more power.

Gerry Barnaby: All energy you bare, once you’re up, you’re good to go. Let’s talk about this because this is an inverter right?

Mike Johnson: Inverter, yes.

Gerry Barnaby: Let’s get into that definition.

Mike Johnson: An inverter is going to be cleaner power. When we talk about clean power, we’re talking about spikes and low spots, brown outs in the power.

Gerry Barnaby: You mean when you’re running your vacuum cleaner and all of a sudden you see the lights dim a little bit?

Mike Johnson: Exactly. That’d be a brown out. Electronics, computers, televisions, stuff like that, they don’t really like that. If you’re going to run power off a generator, you’re going to see that to some degree. You want to run it off an inverter. It’s going to clean that power-up. You’re not going to see that brownout so much. You’re running laptop sensitive electronics, this is a great way to go.

Gerry Barnaby: It’s interesting is I look at the console right here. you got your two 120s right there, but you also have this little 12-volt DC which would be like your cigarette lighter of your, now known as your personal device charging portal.

Mike Johnson: Right? This makes a little more convenient. You can take them camping with a you can take them camping with you. Take them tailgating with you, stuff like that.

Gerry Barnaby: Sure.

Mike Johnson: Lots of different uses.

Gerry Barnaby: On this one right here it’s interesting, because it is not just a standalone inverter, you can piggyback.

Mike Johnson: That’s right this one, if you got one of these and your buddies got another one or you’ve got two of them. You can run them in parallel double your power-up.

Gerry Barnaby: That’s interesting isn’t it? It’s got a switch here, as does this one. This is an Eco throttle this guy’s power smart and that is going to kind of just deliver a little more power when necessary, but past the rated power.

Mike Johnson: It runs the engine in accordance to your power needs, so if you turn a couple lights off in your house or when you’re camping, it spools down the engine to a lower rate, so you don’t run as much gas through. It keeps a little quieter.

Gerry Barnaby: Continue on with the inverter right here, an added little panel opportunity.

Mike Johnson: Just a little different configuration from the the red one there. You’ve got your 120 outlets there as well, but on this one you’ve got a special plug that comes along with it. It fits right in here and you could use it to charge a car battery charge or a trolling motor battery, stuff like that.

Gerry Barnaby: For the people that are fashionably conscious, you can go cameo. I’ve seen them even with that team colors on.

Mike Johnson: Yeah, for tailgating and stuff like that.

Gerry Barnaby: On into the world again still of portable generators, not inverters, portable generators.

Mike Johnson: This is a generator.

Gerry Barnaby: This guy’s got job site or home written all over it.

Mike Johnson: Exactly. It’s going to run power tools. You’re able to run you’re framing crew off this. You’re going to have your 240 here. You’re going to have 120 here, not a lot of frills. A little hour meter here, that’s real nice for CARB certification.

Gerry Barnaby: You know a lot of people do think about the greenest of a machine, in fact we’ve talked to some tool testers here tool selected say, “when I go to certain places, they demand that I have CARB certification. If you’re interested in those numbers as regards each one of these machines, that is going to be on our website because all the numbers are different and it’d be impossible to deliver them for each machine right off the flight. Though you do have a big brain.

Mike Johnson: I do it it’s very large.

Gerry Barnaby: This guy, closed frame versus open open frame. What’s that going to get you?

Mike Johnson: We’re back into an inverter here, but still the close frame is gonna help isolate noise. It’s gonna make it a little more attractive. It keeps the dust and dirt out of it, where you don’t have to worry about sand getting in the motor so much. It runs a lot quieter. This is a quiet unit. This is about 60 decibels, this thing runs at. Thats a little quieter than a vacuum.

Gerry Barnaby: Right, with mountain of a man like you just speaking in the normal tone of voice.

Mike Johnson: Exactly.

Gerry Barnaby: When you say inverter on this one, this is going to be … Again it could run portions of the house, cleanly.

Mike Johnson: You can run that. You can run, if you have an RV or something like that, you’re going camping, it’d be great for something like that. You’ve got enough power here to run a whole bunch of stuff, quietly and safely.

Gerry Barnaby: Hey look daddy, there’s a key right here, so electric start right?

Mike Johnson: electric start. It’s also got pull start on the side here. You can open the access panel, and if your battery was dead you could do it that way. It’s got the I monitor system on it. which is … it’s like an hour meter with a couple more functions on it gives you some diagnostic stuff or anything ever went wrong it would help you figure out what that was.

Gerry Barnaby: You can switch the circus right here from 120 only to 120, 240. Little more versatility, and portable. It turns into a barrel style. Then there’s the bad boy the one that is so big it demands a crane hook.

Mike Johnson: Which is something I require and all my tools. I even put them on my bicycles.

Gerry Barnaby: Nice.

Mike Johnson: That way I can just move around all day long, I like my crane.

Gerry Barnaby: Well you are a giant, so it almost feels like Gulliver in Lilliput.

Mike Johnson: We broke out the big guns here so we can shoot some power.

Gerry Barnaby: What would this power?

Mike Johnson: You could power an entire job site with this thing. This is a large generator. You could power an entire building, not a small building like a house, you can power an entire building it will really move some power.

Gerry Barnaby: It has, magical circuitry. Now this right here is digital auto voltage regulator, not an inverted but I think they’re moving towards that for now.

Mike Johnson: What they’re doing is they’re saying clean power is good. That’s why you get two inverters, but sometimes in the generator you know you still want that clean power. It’s good for your saws. It’s good for your your power tools. It’s good for a lot of things.

Gerry Barnaby: And no spiky.

Mike Johnson: They’re trying to clean the power up there and it does a pretty good job.

Gerry Barnaby: Okay, and it handles more circuits for you and to do the whole job site and beyond.

Mike Johnson: Exactly.

Gerry Barnaby: You’re thinking, hey I could power my house with that if there’s a power outage. I’m going to call my buddy who seems to know more about electricity than me, have him hook something up in my box and wham, then I got juice. That is not the way to go Mike.

Mike Johnson: That is not but this is. If you’re gonna think to yourself, the power went out and I’ve got six extension cords running across my living room, going to a lamp, going to a TV, going to fridge. It’s driving me nuts. Why don’t you just jacket right into the box, use the power wires in the wall. It’s a great idea. It’s the start of a neat solution.

Gerry Barnaby: A nugget.

Mike Johnson: Exactly. What you got to think about though is, your house is not isolated. When you run power into your home system like that it doesn’t stay in your house. It electrifies the line going out to the road, it electrifies the road lines as well, so if there’s a line has been out there working on it and all of a sudden he’s got a hot cable in his hands that wasn’t hot a minute ago, he doesnt like that. What you need to do if you’re going to do that is get yourself a transfer switch. This is a version of a transfer switch. Basically what a transfer switch does, is it breaks that connection it isolates your house. Now you are just running power to your house and they can work out there safely. What you’ve got here is a good idea.

Gerry Barnaby: It’s a box with the brain because it can actually redirect power in your house based on need. In effect, they say having read the literature on this, that it becomes almost like a super booster of your generator capacity. Where you might have only had five thousand watts before, by redirecting power it will make it seem like you have that much more.

Mike Johnson: It kind of makes make some good decisions on where to put that power.

Gerry Barnaby: Hey speaking of which, what a great idea, to come and check out the category breakdown before you bought a tool. Well you can always go to the next level of intelligence, and that is go to, become a member, that’s free to do and then you can poll our members who are people just like you. They could be contractors. They could be home owners. People who have an opinion and maybe experience with the very machines or tools you’re looking to buy. Always check with us here at before you make any tool buying decision.


(the copyright of these videos remains with the original video maker at all times).