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Inverter vs Generator | Comparison of Inverter and Traditional Generator

If you live in an area that has frequent blackouts or power outages, then a backup generator is a very good investment. Using a generator, you can continue to run different essential electrical devices (freezers, heaters, lighting, etc.) in your home even when the utility power fails. Traditional or Conventional Generators are the only choice of generators until recently. You can get them as portable or standby. A new kind of generator known as an Inverter Generator is starting to dominate the “low-power” backup system. What are the differences between a traditional generator and an inverter generator? Which one should you buy, Inverter or a regular generator?

In this guide, let us understand the basics of Regular or Traditional Generators and Inverter Generators. We will see their respective pros, cons, and working. After that, we will make a simple Inverter vs Generator comparison.

A Brief Note on Traditional Generator

Traditional GeneratorA conventional generator, also known as a traditional generator, is a type of generator that uses a simple mechanical process to produce electricity. We often use traditional generators as backup power sources for homes and businesses during power outages.

It typically consists of an internal combustion engine that runs on gasoline, propane, or diesel fuel. The shaft of the engine is connected to an alternator that produces AC power. The engine runs at a constant speed to produce a fixed frequency of AC power, typically 60 Hz in North America.

You can get traditional generators as Portable or Standby form factors. Conventional generators are capable of powering large devices, appliances, and equipment, such as refrigerators, air conditioners, power tools, etc.

While conventional generators can produce a large amount of power, they can also be noisy and produce fluctuating power output, which can be damaging to sensitive electronics.

Working of a Generator

A traditional generator, also known as a conventional generator, works by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. Here’s a basic overview of how a traditional generator works.

As it is essentially an internal combustion engine, it burns fuel (gasoline, propane, natural gas, or diesel fuel) and produces rotational power.

The spinning engine turns a shaft, which is connected to an alternator’s rotor. The alternator consists of a set of electromagnets (in the rotor) that spin around a stationary set of stator windings.

As the rotor spins, it creates a rotating magnetic field that induces an electrical current in the stator windings. This electrical current is the AC power output of the generator.

The voltage and frequency of the AC power output are determined by the design of the generator and the speed of the engine. In North America, the output voltage of the generator can be 120V or 240V but the frequency of the AC is 60Hz.

The AC power output then passes through a circuit breaker and a set of electrical outlets. You can use this power to run appliances, tools, or other electrical devices.

While traditional generators are simple and reliable, they can produce power with fluctuating voltage and frequency, which can be damaging to sensitive electronic devices.

They can also be noisy and less fuel-efficient than other types of generators (inverter generators) that use advanced electronics to produce a cleaner, more stable power output.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Generator

Here are some of the pros and cons of traditional generators.


  • Traditional generators are capable of producing a high power output, which makes them ideal for powering heavy-duty appliances and equipment.
  • You can use them as a backup power source for homes, businesses, shops, etc. If you like to travel in RVs or go camping, then you can use small portable generators to power the electrical appliances inside your RV, camper van, or motor home.
  • Conventional generators are less expensive than inverter generators, making them a more budget-friendly option.
  • Regular generators are easy to maintain than inverter generators, with simple engines that are easy to service and repair.
  • The build quality of traditional generators is very sturdy and can withstand rough handling, heavy usage, and harsh weather conditions.
  • You can get regular generators as portable (you can move them or carry them from one place to other) or standby (these have a permanent location and you cannot move them).


  • The main drawback of traditional generators is the unstable power supply. The power output of traditional generators is often inconsistent, with fluctuations in voltage and frequency. This can be damaging to sensitive electronic equipment (computers, audio, stereo, etc.).
  • Traditional generators are often noisy which may not be ideal for some situations. These generators can be disruptive in residential areas, camping, etc.
  • While you can get generators that run on different kinds of fuel (propane, gasoline, natural gas, and diesel fuel), the overall fuel efficiency of regular generators (both portable and standby) is very poor. This means traditional generators may require more frequent refueling.
  • Traditional generators can be heavy and bulky. Even though you get some portable models, they are still heavy units. Standby generators are even larger devices that don’t even have the option of moving from one location to other.

Applications of Traditional Generators

Traditional generators have many applications. Here is a small list of important applications of generators.

The first and main application of generators is backup power devices during emergencies. You can use traditional generators as a backup power source in case of power outages, especially in areas with unreliable power grids or during natural disasters.

There may not be access to a reliable electrical source in construction sites or work sites. You can use portable generators in these situations to power all the tools and equipment.

If you want to organize events and outdoor activities, then access to shore power might not be possible at all times. Traditional generators are very useful as you can use them at outdoor events, concerts, or festivals, to provide power for lighting and sound equipment, etc.

Another outdoor application is camping. Many of us like to go fishing, hunting, or camping on the weekends. If it is a short trip, then you can manage without power. But if you stay for a couple of days, then a small portable generator can provide power to all your electrical and electronic appliances and gadgets.

Traditional generators are also useful in agricultural settings to power farm equipment and irrigation systems.

If you work at remote locations such as mining or oil exploration sites, then access to electricity is very limited. You can use regular but portable generators to provide power.

Overall, traditional generators are very versatile devices, you can use them in a wide range of applications where a reliable power source is necessary.

A Brief Note on Inverter Generator

Inverter GeneratorAn inverter generator is a type of generator that produces high-quality, stable electrical power suitable for powering sensitive electronics such as computers, laptops, smartphones, audio equipment, speakers, and TVs.

Inverter generators use advanced electronic circuitry to convert the AC power generated by an internal combustion engine into DC power, and then back into AC power with a digital inverter module. This produces a clean, stable power output that is similar to the power from a wall outlet.

The size and power ratings of inverter generators are small when we compare them to traditional generators. Also, inverter generators are more fuel-efficient and quieter than traditional generators, making them a popular choice for camping, tailgating, and outdoor events.

Working of Inverter Generator

An inverter generator works by converting DC power into clean, stable AC power. Here is a basic overview of how an inverter generator works:

The inverter generator, similar to a traditional generator, has an internal combustion engine. It burns fuel, such as gasoline or propane, to produce mechanical (rotational) energy.

Next, the shaft of the engine rotates the rotor of the alternator. The similarities between traditional generators and inverter generator end here. While the alternator in a traditional generator produces 60Hz AC Power, the alternator in Inverter Generator produces high-frequency AC power.

The magic of the inverter generator begins here. A rectifier circuit takes this high-frequency AC power and converts it to DC power. Further, an inverter circuit converts the DC power back into a stable, low-frequency (60Hz) AC power.

Irrespective of the voltage and frequency of the AC Power from the alternator, the electronic control circuitry somehow manages to produce AC Power with consistent voltage and frequency.

As a result, the output AC power of the Inverter Generator is clean and stable, making it suitable for powering sensitive electronic devices.

An important point about inverter generators is that a special control circuit constantly monitors the load that we connected to the generator and changes/adjusts the speed of the engine.

This means an inverter generator is much more fuel-efficient and quieter than traditional generators, and also, they produce fewer emissions.

In summary, the electronic circuitry of an inverter generator produces a high-quality, stable power output that is suitable for powering sensitive electronic devices, while also providing the fuel efficiency and portability of a traditional generator.

Pros and Cons of Inverter Generators

Here are some of the pros and cons of inverter generators.


  • The main advantage of an inverter generator is its stable power output. Inverter generators provide a stable power output that is safe for sensitive electronic devices such as computers, audio, etc. Thus, inverter generators are ideal for use in homes, RVs, and other situations where clean power is essential.
  • A special circuit in the inverter generator adjusts the speed of the engine as per the load that we connect. As a result, inverter generators are much quieter than traditional generators. You can use them in residential areas or situations where noise is a concern.
  • Another advantage of variable engine speed is fuel efficiency. As the engine doesn’t run at a constant speed, inverter generators are typically more fuel-efficient than traditional generators. This means they can run for longer periods on less fuel or the time between refueling is not frequent.
  • Inverter generators are often lightweight and compact, making them easy to move around and transport to different locations.


  • The main drawback of inverter generators is their cost. Inverter generators are often more expensive than traditional generators, making them a less budget-friendly option.
  • If you want to run several powerful appliances or power a lot of devices, then an inverter generator is not the ideal choice. Inverter generators are typically less powerful than traditional generators, which makes them unsuitable for powering heavy-duty equipment or appliances.
  • Inverter generators have more complex electronics than traditional generators. So, if you are thinking of servicing or repairing one, then forget it as they are very difficult to repair or service.
  • Even though they have good fuel efficiency, their small size and small fuel tank mean inverter generators have a short run time. You might also need to perform more frequent refueling.

Applications of Inverter Generators

Inverter generators have many applications. Here are some popular ones.

Just like regular generators, the main application of inverter generators is using them as a backup power source for homes, shops, and small businesses.

If you live in an area with unreliable power grids or frequent natural disasters, then inverter generators can come in handy to power all your essentials.

They can provide clean and stable power output, making them suitable for powering sensitive electronic devices such as computers, laptops, smartphone charges (basically anything with a switching power supply), audio equipment, speakers, TVs, etc.

Inverter generators are very useful in RVs and camping, as they are portable, fuel-efficient, and quiet. You can also use them at outdoor events, such as concerts or festivals, to provide power for lighting and sound equipment.

Do you own a mobile business? Then small and portable inverter generators can be very useful for your business such as food trucks or mobile offices, where you need a reliable and portable power source.

The power rating of inverter generators is less than that of regular generators. This might limit the chances of using inverter generators in construction sites. Nonetheless, you can use the inverter generator to power tools in worksites and job sites. The advantage of an inverter generator is they are small and you can easily carry them from one site to other.

Overall, inverter generators are very versatile devices. They are useful in a wide range of applications where a stable and clean power source is necessary. They are particularly suitable for applications where noise and portability are a concern, and where you need to power sensitive electronic equipment.

Inverter vs Generator

Inverter generators and traditional generators both produce electrical power from gasoline, propane, or diesel fuel, but there are some key differences between the two.

Here is a simple Inverter vs Generator comparison that covers some of the main differences between inverter generators and conventional generators.

Size and Portability

Traditional generators are available as portable and standby options. Standby Generators are big, bulky, and importantly fixed in one permanent location. Portable generators are much smaller than standby generators.

Inverter generators are also a type of portable generator but they are generally smaller and more lightweight than traditional portable generators. Hence, you can easily move or transport them.

Similar to traditional portable generators, inverter generators also have built-in handles and wheels, making them easy to move around.

Power Rating

This is an important specification for all generators. The power rating of a generator describes the total available power in watts from the generator.

Standby generators being the largest of the three, have a very high power rating. You can get standby generators with 25,000 Watts or more.

Traditional portable generators also have decent power ratings. You can get them with a power rating in the range of 2,000 Watts to 15,000 Watts.

Finally, inverter generators have the smallest power rating numbers. Most inverter generators in the market have a power rating of 2,000 Watts to 4,500 Watts.

Power Quality

Inverter generators provide a more stable and consistent power output, with less harmonic distortion, making them better suited for powering sensitive electronics like laptops, smartphones, and TVs.

Conventional generators can produce a more variable power output, which can damage or even destroy sensitive electronics.

Fuel Efficiency

Inverter generators are generally more fuel-efficient than conventional generators, thanks to their advanced electronics that automatically adjust engine speed to match the power demand. This can result in significant fuel savings over time.

Traditional generators operate their engine at a constant speed irrespective of the amount of the load. Hence, their fuel efficiency is not that great.

Noise Level

Continuing on the variable engine speed factor or inverter generators, they can run much quieter than traditional generators. The typical noise level of inverter generators is in the range of 50 to 65 decibels (dB). As a comparison, this is similar to the noise level of a normal conversation.

Traditional generators can produce noise levels of 70 to 100 dB, similar to the noise level of a lawn mower or chainsaw.


Inverter generators are generally more expensive than conventional generators, due to their advanced electronics and other features. However, the added cost can be justified by the increased fuel efficiency and improved power quality.

Overall, inverter generators are a more advanced and efficient type of generator. They are suitable for powering sensitive electronics and operating in quieter environments.

However, they can be more expensive than regular generators. Traditional generators are still a reliable and cost-effective option for powering larger appliances and equipment.

Which one to buy, Inverter Generator or Traditional Generator?

The choice between an inverter generator and a traditional generator depends on your specific needs and priorities. Here are some factors to consider:

If you need a generator to power sensitive electronic devices, such as laptops or smartphones, an inverter generator is likely the better choice. They produce a clean and stable power supply with minimal harmonic distortion.

Traditional generators, on the other hand, produce a more erratic power (commonly known as dirty power) that can damage sensitive electronics.

Inverter generators are generally more fuel-efficient than traditional generators because they adjust the engine speed according to the power demand. This means they only produce as much power as needed, reducing fuel consumption and extending the run time.

Traditional generators, however, run at a constant speed, which can lead to higher fuel consumption.

Inverter generators are generally smaller, lighter, and quieter than traditional generators, making them easier to transport and store. If you plan to use your generator in remote locations or need to move it frequently, an inverter generator may be a better choice.

If you need a generator to power large appliances or power tools, a traditional generator may be the better option. They can produce more power and typically have a higher wattage capacity than inverter generators.

Inverter generators tend to be more expensive than traditional generators, due to their advanced technology and features.

Overall, if you prioritize clean power output, fuel efficiency, and portability, an inverter generator may be the best choice. However, if you need more power output and don’t mind a heavier, louder, and less fuel-efficient generator, a traditional generator may be the better option.

It is important to consider your specific needs and budget before making a decision.


If you are in the process of buying your first backup generator, then you will have two options. They are the traditional generator and inverter generators.

Both regular generators and inverter generators have internal combustion engines to produce rotational mechanical power. But how these two devices produce the final alternating power is very different.

In this guide, we saw the basics of regular generators and inverter generators. We saw their workings, pros, cons, and applications.

After that, we made an inverter vs generator comparison where we compared different aspects of inverter generators and traditional generators. Finally, we finished the guide with an explanation of choosing the right generator.

We hope that this guide on inverter generators vs traditional generators could help you understand all the essentials of these two power-producing devices.

If you feel we missed something or want us to add anything, do let us know in the comments section. It will not only help us but also other readers.

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