Blackouts, permanent failures, or any other power outage bring havoc to your home. All these things disrupt your daily routine and inhibit the appliances that keep people safe during extended periods of intense heat. Here is when generators come into play.
But when it comes to electricity distribution, the standard terms used are not just generators but inverters. Many people are often confused over the use of generators and inverter to convert DC to AC. There’s a question that I often hear from other people: Can I add a solar inverter to a generator and enhance its efficiency?
This article we will share an insight into adding an inverter to a generator. But, before getting into the main topic, let’s take a brief look at how both of them differ from inverter and invertor generator.
What is an inverter for generator
Inverters are devices that can be used to convert the direct current generated by a generator into alternating current.
However, it is worth emphasizing that even if you are using an AC generator, it is best to match an external inverter with your generator.
Because many generators cannot maintain a stable frequency, and the voltage may wander, what’s worse it makes sine wave AC, which may damage your devices.
So, if you need to run sensitive electronics, it’s advisable to equipped an external pure sine wave inverter (Which is better than modified sine wave inverter) with the generator.
In addition, if you want to store the energy power by the AC generator to a battery, a AC-DC power inverter, battery charger or inverter charger will be necessary.
For this I recommend an inverter charger, such as the All in One inverter charger from PowMr,which can be connected to a generator and meet all of the above needs with a single device:
Converts the alternating current generated by the generator into a pure positive square wave current to protect the electrical equipment
Converts AC current from the generator to DC power
Service as a battery charger to store DC power in the battery
Note: It's important to check the generator's specifications and consult with the manufacturer or a qualified electrician before selecting an inverter to use with a generator.
Difference between generators and inverters
A generator is an electrical generating device that produces power from external sources. In contrast, an inverter gets power from DC supply and then converts that power into AC.
In other words, an inverter converts the DC to AC which is used by all household appliances. However, a generator generates electricity from various sources of mechanical energy.
Both of the electrical devices have their advantages and disadvantages. But is it possible to use both of them together? Or can we add an inverter to a generator? The next section of this article will answer all these queries. So, do stick till the end.
Inverter generator vs regular generator
What is regular generator?
Regular generators use a mechanical alternator to produce alternating current (or AC).
Inverter generators, on the other hand, generate electricity with advanced electronic circuitry and high-tech magnets. These are typically three-phase generators that output AC current like most conventional generators, but that current is converted to DC and then to AC.
Regular generators, usually fueled by gasoline, diesel or natural gas, are much cheaper, but its production of carbon monoxide is a worrying factor.
The portable generators have transformed much in recent years. These technological makeovers have increased their efficiency and overall performance from the past. If you’re planning to use a portable generator, then you consider using an inverter with it.
What is inverter generator and how does it work?
An inverter generator uses advanced electronics and magnets to produce AC power that is then converted to DC power and back to AC power with very precise voltage and frequency control.
This allows the inverter generator to produce a clean and stable AC power output that is safe for sensitive electronics and appliances. Inverter generators also have the ability to adjust the engine speed to match the load, which makes them more fuel-efficient and quieter than regular generators.
What’s the difference between the inverter generator and regular generator?
Other differences between inverter generators and regular generators include:
Inverter generators are generally more compact and lightweight than regular generators, making them easier to transport and store.
Inverter generators are generally quieter than regular generators, which makes them suitable for use in residential areas or other places where noise pollution is a concern.
Inverter generators are generally more expensive than regular generators (which need to add an external inverter), due to their advanced technology and features.
Overall, the choice between an inverter generator and a regular generator will depend on your power needs, budget, and intended use. If you need to power sensitive electronics or appliances, and/or require a quieter and more fuel-efficient generator.
Do I need an Inverter for my generator?
Yes, you can add an inverter to a generator to have a longer run-time when there is a power outage. The essential load requires an uninterrupted power supply when the main AC power supply falls for an extended time. The inverter can be used to power the critical loads.
The generator can start manually or automatically when the power cuts and the inverter battery is out of charge. In this way, the inverter won’t be alone to bear the excessive burden.
What the inverter does is that it draws the power from the generator instead of its batteries and continues to power the critical loads. In such a situation, the run time of the inverter doesn’t get affected by the battery’s capacity.
Moreover, the extended run time can be achieved by using extra batteries. But since this method costs more and also acquires more space, it isn’t worth using. An inverter backed up by an AC generator is the simplest way to produce power for a longer time at an affordable price.
How to add an external inverter for generator
The connection between the generator and inverter is complicated and involves the issue of grounding, so it is advisable to consult a professional before proceeding.
Step 1. Connect the generator, breaker and the inverter
The generators include a breaker to control its start and stop. Connect the generator, breaker and inverter in order following the manual.
Step 2. Set the start and stop parameter of the generator
Current inverter-chargers integrate an automatic generator starter. This device sends the starting signal to the generator set automatically when it detects the need for support from the network or generator
The discharge limit on batteries to start the generator should be taken into account. If the value is below 40%, will reduce the battery’s number of life cycles. Higher values mean less use of the reserve. The manufacturer or installer should be consulted on the recommended minimum threshold.
Power wiring must be done according to technical standards similar to those used for the rest of the electrical installation. The power to be transmitted and the length determine the appropriate cable section. For low-voltage installations, the maximum voltage drop established by the Low Voltage Directive in a single lead is 1%.
Step 3. Ground the generator
When using only extension cords, you do not need to use a ground rod. (this can be found in the user manual of the generator).
If you connect the generator to a switchboard (building electrical system, RV, etc.), you need to connect the generator to a ground rod.
The grounding rod must be driven into the earth and then connected to the ground lug on the generator via the ground wire. The ground rod must be at least 8 feet into the earth.
We strongly recommend that you check and comply with all applicable federal, state and local regulations related to grounding.
Conclusion - Why do you need an external inverter for your generator
It’s because an inverter is a much safer option to use and also boosts the performance level. When using a portable generator, there’s a high risk of carbon monoxide (CO). Inverters now offer the CO safety shut off feature for improved fuel efficiency, reduced noise, and safety.
An inverter attached to a generator will electronically throttle the engine up and down instead of running full tilt to meet the demand. This ultimately improves efficiency, which means that you don’t have to fill up the gas tank again and again. Also, it emits a lower percentage of CO and makes less noise.
Some generators come with a built-in sensor that triggers the automatic shutoff of the carbon monoxide gas that builds up to an extreme level and can become dangerous in enclosed spaces. Also, some generators have engines that emit less CO gas at the start. But it won’t improve the efficiency or provide benefits that the inverter might offer.