Comprehensive guide and terminology for portable generators and inverters 2016
How to choose the best portable generators and inverters
The specific features of each portable generator are only a part of the problem. It is often complicated to choose the right portable power generator because you may not know the amount of power you need for each of your home appliances and devices in case of home applications. These power needs and technical specifications are often quite different that those you may need for recreational and even for industrial applications.
Here we briefly examine the power requirements for standard home applications. See a complete and detail review of the 20 best portable generators and inverters for 2016. If you want to evaluate your current home power needs, you should consider first if you use normal city or specific well water, for example. The reason is that well pumps are high power consuming devices that usually require more than 3800 watts (or 240 volt generator).
Another question would be if your home heating system is based on electricity, heat pump, gas or oil forced air. For the latter, a small generator that produces 2500 watts could be enough. It is worth noting, however, that heat pumps are extremely high power consuming devices and only strong generators of 15,000 watts can run them. Therefore, heat pumps are not typically powered by small portable generators.
Finally, the question related to the type of hot water power system is also important. While electric heaters require 4500 watts, gas or oil fired heaters need much less power (around 2500 watts). While these appliances are the quite power consuming, there are multiple home appliances that do not require so much power. For example, a typical light bulb can be 60~100 watts, a 25” colour TV (150 watts), clock radio (1 watt), desktop computer (100~450 watts), electric blanket (200 watts), electric shaver (15 watts), home internet router (5 watts), inkjet printer (20~30 watts), laptop computer (50~100 watts), oven (2150 watts), washing machine (500 watts), toaster (800 watts~1800 watts) and scanner (10~18 watts). In general, sensitive electronic appliances such as a laptop are not suitable to be powered by a standard power generator because of the power output is not stable enough. For such sensitive electronic devices, the consistent power is extremely important to avoid damages. Fluctuations in power can cause equipment to shut down too.
Inverters for Home appliances and sensitive electronics
In general, the AC power sine wave should be a smooth curve. The more stable the power, the smoother the curve should be. There are multiple technical ways to regulate the voltage on a generator. Here we will not describe them in detail but the list is as follows: Brushless, AVR (Autmomatic Voltage Regulator), DAVR (Digital Voltage Regulator), iAVR(Intelligent Automatic Voltage Regulator) CycloConverter and Inverter. While all of these methods generator AC power sin waves, the smoothness of the curve increases from the Brushless type (usually inexpensive generators used in industry) to the CycloConverter and Inverter. The Inverters are not strictly speaking generators but produces the cleanest power of all. They are optimized for sensitive electronics such as laptop and desktop computers. In addition, they also produce less noise, have lower weight and better fuel efficiency to classical portable generators.
Recreational vehicles and industrial applications
But home appliances are only a part of the vast world of applications for power generators. Recreational and industrial applications are also increasing and new models emerge in the market year by year. For camping sites, you may be advice to find a balance between power, weight-portability and noise levels. For campers, tailgaters and boaters, you may usually need 1000~2000 watts to handle most needs. You should carefully check the power requirements of your electronic appliances (e.g. blender, coffee pot, etc) before starting your outdoor excursion. In contrast, for RVers (recreational vehicles), you are advice to consider the size of your AC units.
Also note that the AC requirements depend on other factors such as ambient temperature and the efficiency of your specific model. For industrial power needs, the generators are not considered to be portable and tend to static or fix. In this guide, we focus on portable generators that can be enough for home appliances but also powerful enough to help your needs in job locations, construction and farm sites among others. They are organized in four power categories, from less than 1,000 watts to more than 3,000 watts. We hope this information can eventually assist you to choose the right portable generator or inverter for your precise needs!