This new generation of generator converts the AC power produced by the engine to DC, and then back to AC power. This results in clean, low distortion power that you can utilize for numerous applications. Not only that, but inverter generators also consume less fuel, produce less noise, and require less maintenance than traditional generators.
We’ve prepared this article to teach you everything you need to know about these generators. We’ll also show you how to find the best one that meets your needs.
Why Buying an Inverter Generator?
The real question is – why you still haven’t bought an inverter generator?
Generators are incredibly useful tools. Not only do they ensure you have electricity in times of crisis, but it also allows you to use your power tools on locations that are off the grid.
Inverter generators are a massive improvement to regular generators in both efficiency and noise level. These machines are not only lighter and less noisy, but they also come with quite a few additional features.
Unlike conventional models, inverter generators can adjust the speed of the motor according to the power requirements. What this means is that they are more fuel-efficient and, in extension, eco-friendly. Inverter generators are 40% more efficient because of their ability to rev down when consumption is low.
Another thing these machines offer is high-quality electrical output and parallel capability. The power they produce is almost identical to the one provided by the electrical grid. Inverter generators can also be paired (as long as they are identical units) for even higher power output.
The pairing capability gives you some versatility – you can use two smaller generators instead of one bulky one. This gives you some redundancy, which is vital for those situations when you need an uninterrupted power supply.
Another reason why you should buy an inverter generator rather than a conventional one is the ease of maintenance. Old fashioned generators require regular maintenance to provide a consistent power supply. This means that you’ll have to replace the oil every 200 hours of use.
Furthermore, if a regular generator hasn’t been turned on for more than 30 days, the fuel drains from the carburetor. This means you’ll have a hard time starting it up. Inverter generators, on the other hand, only require periodic inspection of the batteries.
We especially recommend you to buy a generator if you live in an area that’s often hit by hurricanes. You don’t have to live without electricity for days while rain and howling wind beat at your house.
If you’re a contractor or just a simple handyman, a generator is an excellent investment because it allows you to work off-grid. Even if you already own a regular generator, you should upgrade to an inverter generator because it offers an incredibly stable power supply – no longer will you have to worry about power dropping down.
Meet the Best Inverter Generators
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The Good: Silent, compact, and easy to use, the Westinghouse iGen2200 is one of the most portable inverter generators on the market. The 12-hour runtime makes it one of the most efficient inverter generators we had the pleasure of reviewing.
The Bad: The lack of a fuel/oil gauge is incredibly annoying because you don’t know how much gas is left in the tank.
The Bottom Line: Even with the lack of a fuel/oil gauge, the Westinghouse iGen2200 is an excellent generator that will be perfect for camping trips and tailgate parties.
The Good: A powerful dual fuel motor with a low level of noise, user-friendly, excellent work for its price value.
The Bad: Lack of remote starter in the model, need to charge the battery.
The Bottom Line: If you’re searching for a generator that will provide the right amount of power with the low rate noise level, Champion is what you need.
The Good: With the A-iPower, all your basic power needs will be covered. You can carry it with ease at concerts and your camping trips, and it will never let you down during backout.
The Bad: No electric start, just a pull-cord. Runs only for 7 hours. You can’t use it for a medium-size camper.
The Bottom Line: If you need a generator that will cover just your basic needs, the A-iPower is the right choice. Excellent engineering and quality for a low price.
All of the Factors Considered
Your search for an inverter generator that will perfectly fit your needs can quickly become frustrating because the market is flooded with samey models that, on the first look, offer similar features.
You also have to consider the model’s size and weight, fuel consumption, power output, and much more. So, to make things easier we’ve conducted research on this topic and created a useful list of factors you should consider when buying an inverter generator!
The most crucial factor in any generator is its power output. Generators commonly have two power ratings:
- Surge power (sometimes referred to as maximum power)
- Continuous power (sometimes referred to as running power)
The surge power represents the amount of power a generator can sustain for a few seconds to allow for motor-driven appliances to power-on, such as refrigerators, bandsaws, power drills, etc.
The running power refers to the amount of electricity a given generator can produce over its entire runtime. Inverter generators produce clean running power, which means you will be able to use sensitive electronics like computers and LCD TVs.
The easiest way to calculate how much power you need is just to add up all the wattage requirements of the devices you want to power with the generator. Keep in mind that this sum has to be smaller than the rated running wattage of the generator, so you don’t overload it. We recommend you leave some breathing room for charging electronics because that’s possible with inverter generators.
Keep in mind that generators are limited in the amount of power they can produce – the most powerful generator we’ve reviewed, the Champion, offers a maximum of 3400 watts of surge power and 3100 watts of continuous power. This is more than enough to power quite a few household appliances. However, if that’s not enough, you can always hook up another inverter generator in parallel with a connection kit.
Adding more gas to your generator can be incredibly time-consuming because you need to wait for the machine to cool down fully before you can top off the tank. This means the runtime of the generator is just as important as the power output since you don’t want to lose power in critical moments.
The runtime of an inverter generator is usually measured at 25 or 50 percent load and steadily decreases as more power is drawn from it. The runtime itself is determined by the fuel efficiency of the engine and the capacity of the fuel/gas tank. The runtime varies significantly from model to model because they feature different motors and fuel tanks.
Power generators can run on either gasoline or propane gas. Fuel-powered generators usually have a set runtime because they’re limited by the size of their internal gas tank. On the other hand, generators that run on propane gas have a variable runtime because they’re only limited by the size of the external canister. This means that you can always get a bigger propane canister if you’re not happy with the current runtime of your generator. Furthermore, you can daisy-chain multiple propane canisters for an almost indefinite runtime.
The main selling point of inverter generators is their relatively low noise level, especially when compared to regular generators, which can get incredibly noisy. Inverter generators are usually up to 10 decibels quieter than regular generators in the same power output class.
Most inverter generators are quiet enough to allow for a normal conversation a few feet away from it. In fact, they are so quiet they won’t wake up your neighbors. However, they are not entirely silent, which means you’ll have to be careful when using them while camping.
The reason why inverter generators are so silent is because they can modulate the amount of work depending on the amount of power draw. This modulation is the sole reason why inverter generators have a longer runtime than regular generators.
The best inverter generator will have a decent ratio between the noise and the amount of power it produces.
While generators are not extremely dangerous, it is recommended for an inverter generator to offer some built-in safety features.
One major safety feature most inverter generators come with is an enclosed engine, something most regular generators don’t have. This feature helps reduce the noise level and also protects the engine parts from damage during transport. Furthermore, it ensures you won’t burn yourself on any hot parts of the exposed engine.
Another useful safety feature most inverter generators have is the automatic low-oil shutoff. This feature detects whenever the engine oil is dangerously low and shuts down the generator before the lack of oil causes permanent damage to the engine as well as cause power surges. If you regularly maintain your generator, it will never automatically shut down due to low oil. You should switch out the oil every 50 to 100 hours of runtime.
The last, but not the least important feature an inverter generator should have is overload prevention. Overload prevention ensures you won’t exceed generators running capacity (or surge capacity) by shutting down the machine to prevent a power surge or damage to the engine.
Size & Weight
This feature should be clear and cut. Not everyone has enough free space to house a 7500 Watt generator. Furthermore, if you’re planning on taking your generator on a camping trip, you will have to factor in how much trunk space you will have left after you’ve loaded the generator.
Generators can weigh over 100 pounds, depending on the size of the motor. Because of this, you should always look for a generator that has wheels or a carrying handle. There is no point in getting a model that you will have trouble moving around.
Now that we’ve covered all key features these devices should have, it’s time to meet the models we feature in this article. We compared them to one another based on the key elements we talked about, and graded them for each important feature on a scale from 1 to 10.
In-Depth Reviews of 4 Best Inverter Generators
WEN 56202i Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator
Incredibly silent running
The WEN 56202i is incredibly quiet. In fact, 56202i is one of the quietest models on the market. When on a 25% load, this generator produces only 51db and 55db when at a 75% load. This makes it perfect for use on an RV or for camping because you won’t have to shout to be heard while the generator is running.
Clean energy output
While all inverter generators produce clean power, this is even more true for the WEN 56202. It provides clean power with only 0.3 total harmonic distortions when at 0% load, and only 1.3 total harmonic distortions when on 100% load. This means you can safely use this generator with sensitive electronics such as LCD TVs, computers, and smartphones.
Do you want to maximize your fuel efficiency? No problem, just flip the eco-mode switch on the front panel and vanilla and presto, the generator will rev down if the consumption is low. This mode will ensure every drop of petrol goes unwasted, which is especially useful if you want to reduce your carbon footprint.
The perfect amount of outlets
The WEN 56202i comes with just enough outlets to cover all your needs. It features two 3-prong outlets, a 12DC port/outlet, and two 5V USB ports. The inclusion of USB ports is incredibly useful, and we wish more generators started incorporating them.
Who Is This Product For?
If you’re looking for a reliable inverter generator for your camping trips or for prepping, look no further than the WEN 56202i. This is the most popular alternative to the much pricier Honda or Yamaha models.
This generator will serve you well in most situations, whether you’re camping or during a blackout. Maybe it won’t be able to run your power tools, but it is more than capable of running most of your house appliances and sensitive electronics. Very few models offer excellent fuel efficiency, a decent power output, and are so quiet at this price point.
What To Watch Out For
Not all products are perfect, and this also goes for the WEN 56202i. Thankfully, there are any serious issues with this product.
The most annoying thing about this generator is the oil changing. Not only does 56202i require an oil change every 25 hours, but the process itself is incredibly tedious. To change the oil, you have to unscrew the four bolts holding the side panel and then pour in the oil. This way, you are risking spilling oil over the motor.
Another thing we don’t like about this product is that it doesn’t ship with a grounding cord. These cords are only a couple of bucks a pop, and we don’t understand why the manufacturer didn’t include it with the generator.
Even with the downsides factored in, the WEN 56202i is an excellent inverter generator. It will not be suitable for use with professional power tools, but it will power everything else, just fine. It’s an excellent general-purpose generator that will power your house appliances during a blackout.
Westinghouse iGen2200 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator
Superb fuel efficiency
The first thing that sticks out when you take a look at the specs of the Westinghouse iGen2200 is its low fuel consumption. This generator can run for 12 hours when on a 25% load off of one gallon of fuel. This means you’ll be able to run a single TV or a refrigerator for half a day without worrying about the generator shutting down.
The iGen2200 weighs only 46 pounds. This is incredibly lightweight for a generator that uses a 79cc motor and can output 1800 watts. Thanks to the in-built carrying handle, you can easily carry it where ever you need. It is also quite compact, not much bigger than a suitcase, which means you can fit it in the tiniest of places.
Just like the WEN, the Westinghouse iGen2200 produces only 49 to 52dBA when at a 25% load. This is equivalent to two persons talking, which means you won’t wake up your neighbors when you start this generator up. It also means you won’t have trouble sleeping when camping.
Easy and safe to use
You won’t have much trouble starting up this generator. Just turn the knob to “run” give the cord a few times, and the motor will start purring. The three indicator lights will warn you if you’re running low on oil or if you’ve overloaded the machine. For additional safety, the iGen2200 features a 20 amp circuit breaker; you can easily reset with a push of a button.
Who Should Buy This Product?
The Westinghouse iGen2200 is a perfect choice for avid campers and those who are looking for a reliable inverter generator as a backup power supply. Thanks to the low noise level, you will be able to enjoy a normal conversation or enjoy the sounds of nature.
This generator is also an excellent choice for tailgate parties if you’re into that stuff. It will ensure the party goes on until the sunrise on less than a gallon of fuel.
What To Watch Out For
Most issues associated with the iGen2200 are usually caused by user error. Because of this, we recommend that you study the manual thoroughly and get familiar with the way this generator works.
However, there are a few issues that aren’t related to user errors. The most annoying thing about this product is the lack of a fuel gauge. You do have indicator lights that will warn you when fuel is low, but that isn’t enough. An oil and fuel gage could make this product leaps better than it currently is.
Another thing that we find troubling about this machine is the position of the cooling vents. You can find it at the bottom of the unit, which means you can’t set it on the grass or dirt since you can cause it to overheat.
The Westinghouse iGen2200 is an excellent portable inverter generator for its price and power output. It doesn’t supply a whole lot of power, so home use I a bit limited. However, when out camping or at a tailgate party, this generator will provide more than enough electricity to keep the lights and a few appliances running. Furthermore, you can get another unit and set it up to work in parallel, doubling the power output.
Champion Portable Inverter Generator
Most generators only have a recoil starter, which involves pulling a cord to start the motor. However, the Champion also comes with an electronic start feature. This makes it convenient and easy to use. Unfortunately, Champion doesn’t come with a remote starter. However, the electric start is still really reliable and secure.
Low noise level
The noise level for a generator with this much power output is incredibly low. Producing only 59 dBA, you can still hold a conversation when it’s running. This makes the Champion a perfect companion for outdoor activities like camping where you are around other people. The noise level will be affected by the kind of load you are running. It will be the most silent when running on quarter-load, and with the Economy mode on.
The Champion has a 1.6-gallon fuel tank and a motor that can run on standard unleaded gasoline. However, the Champion is a dual fuel generator, which means it gives you the option to use propane gas as fuel. This gives you more versatility, and most importantly, a longer runtime because you’re only limited by the size of the propane canister.
The Champion comes with a 3-year limited warranty with free lifetime technical support. This guarantees that if you ever experience problems with the generator, you can resolve them fast even after your warranty has expired. The professional experts can help you to find a solution. While this might not be considered as a key feature, there are very few companies that have a dedicated customer service that is actually helpful.
Who should buy this product?
If you are looking for a decent inverter generator, with the right amount of power, and with the exceptionally low noise level, this is a product for you. It’s great for easy transport, thanks to the build-up wheels and a carry handle transport will be a piece of cake. You get a lot of useful features with this generator, like an option dot use either gasoline or propane. If searching for easy to use and user-friendly product, you will not be disappointed in this Champion model.
What to watch out for
There are also some flaws with this product, like every other product, there is a place for improvement.
You will need to charge the electric start battery every now and then. If the generator is left sitting around, the battery will probably wear down. So the battery charger will be an excellent addition if you want your generator to get you through an emergency power loss situation.
Other than that, most other issues you can come across while using this generator will be caused by a lack of maintenance. As long as you switch out the oil regularly and keep the starter-battery charged up, you won’t have any issues with this generator.
The Champion generator is easy to use and offers a decent power output. You will need one of these if you ever find yourself camping or when the power goes out.
Thanks to its low noise level, you won’t be annoyed by the droning noise in the background while holding a conversation. Most importantly, it’s dual-fuel motor ensures you can have an indefinite runtime as long as you have a big enough propane canister.
Champion Portable Inverter Generator
The A-iPower generator weighs only 46 lbs, so it can be placed in the category of lightweight and portable generators. This generator can be carried around with ease by just one person, which makes it perfect for the go. Further improving its convenience, the A-iPower can be carried with almost no effort with the featured handle.
Light indicators and fuel gauge
The A-iPower has several light indicators and a built-in fuel gauge, which is a nice feature. The light indicators will show you when the generator is ready to use when it’s overloaded and when the oil levels are insufficient. The fuel gauge allows you to take a quick look at the fuel level of the generator at any time.
This inverter generator has a fuel consumption of just 0.16 gallons per hour at 50% of load, which makes it one of the more fuel-efficient generators on the market. The A-iPower has a one-gallon tank, so it means that it will run for 7 hours, consuming 0.16 gallons every hour.
When compared to other 1500-2500W portable generators on the market, the A-iPower sticks out with its low price. Therefore, if you are looking for a portable generator that is on your budget, this would be a good option. Also, this generator is sold in all 50 states.
Who Should Buy This Product?
The A-iPower will suit everyone who needs a general-purpose inverter generator. If you are a camping enthusiast and wish to enhance your freedom and nomad lifestyle, this generator will be a perfect choice for you. Or, if you are just going on a camping trip, tailgating, or a concert, the A-iPower will suit you perfectly. It will also serve as a great backup power source if your utility company is dodgy with its power supplies.
What To Watch Out For
This generator is placed at the low among generators of its kind when it comes to autonomy. The A-iPower has a 7-hours runtime, which is pretty low for its power. So, if autonomy is your priority, this generator won’t be a good option. This generator doesn’t have an electric start, so you will have to use a pull-cord.
Also, if you want to run a medium-size camper or RV air conditioning unit, you shouldn’t go with this generator. If you need 2500W for starting and 1700 W for running, the A-iPower is not a good option because it won’t run even after several attempts.
Even with its downsides, the A-iPower is still an excellent inverter generator. It might not be best suited for powering appliances that require a heavy power load to start, but it will surely serve you for basic needs such as light source and charging. It will also not let you down during a blackout in your house.
The Best Inverter Generator – WEN 56202i
Choosing the best product from the four we showcased was incredibly tricky. All generators ran really silent, had fuel-efficient motors, and produced the amount of power that was advertised. However, not all offered the same mix of features, ease of use, and overall value. This is why, after a prolonged debate, we decided to pick the WEN 56202i Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator as the winner.
The WEN 56202i was the only product that offered excellent power output, was easy to maintain and use, and came at a reasonable price point.
Generators are one of the most useful machines you can own. They are a must-have if you’re living in a hurricane area. These machines have been around for over a century. However, inverter generators are a relatively new invention and are yet to grow in popularity. Thankfully, the manufacturers are working hard on providing you a product with the best mix of price, functionality, and performance. Thanks to this effort, the quality of products has been pushed up considerably.
It can be quite tricky to choose a generator just for your needs, which is why we prepared this article. If you don’t agree with our choices, that’s okay because the final decision is ultimately yours. We are here to help you make the right decision. We hope we helped you found this article useful, and if you did, please share it with your friends!