What Is A Portable Inverter Generator?

Red portable inverter generator on floor

Portable Generators

A portable generator is a generator that you can easily transport from one place to another. Generators use fossil fuels to run an internal combustion engine, which converts fossil fuel energy into mechanical energy that creates electricity through electromagnetic induction.

Conventional portable generators involve each rotation of the engine produce a block wave of AC power. In order to produce the required amount of voltage, the engine of a conventional portable generator must spin at 3,600 rpm, no matter how much load there is on it.

If you are planning on buying one, do check out our article on the best portable inverter generators. Also to determine the appropriate size of one before buying, read this article as well.

What is a Portable Inverter Generator?

So, what is a portable inverter generator, you ask? Well, a few years ago, Honda introduced a new kind of generator. This machine was lighter, quieter, smaller and far more efficient than its conventional counterpart.

A portable inverter generator produces more AC electricity in a single rotation than a conventional portable generator. The raw electricity produced is first converted into DC current. The DC current then passes through an electronic inverter module, which converts the DC electricity into highly efficient AC electricity ready for use.

Disadvantages of Portable Generators

Conventional portable generators are incredibly noisy machines. They are also not fuel-efficient and they are considerably bulkier than their inverter counterparts. When producing electricity, generators produce alternating currents in block waves.  This distortion is known as total harmonic distortion. In order for the electricity to be safe for use with sensitive electronic devices, the total harmonic distortion should be less than 6 percent, but conventional portable generators produce around 9 percent or more.

Advantages of Portable Inverter Generators

On the opposite end of the spectrum, portable inverter generators are lightweight, efficient, make less noise and they are pretty convenient to carry around because of their incredibly compact size. The power from inverter generators is a lot cleaner in terms of the total harmonic distortion. Inverter generators remain below the recommended 6 percent total harmonic distortion limit.

Due to their increased effectiveness, the size can be even smaller. For instance, you can expect a 1,000 watt portable inverter generator to weigh no more than 30 lbs and it’ll be around the same size as a compact water cooler.

There is also the fact that inverter generators vary the speed of rotation, based on the electrical demand. This means less fuel and noise is produced as compared to a standard generator, especially on low loads.

Uses of Inverter Generators

The lower levels of total harmonic distortion allow you to use portable inverter generators to be used for a number of purposes. Ideally, they set themselves as the perfect equipment for campers, fishermen and hunters out in the great outdoors. All of them might need a source of electricity without having to lug around something too bulky.

Features to Consider

There are small design differences, which can make a difference in how well you can maintain them. They also affect the price of the machine:

  • Control panels that show frequency, voltage output and hours used along with warning lights in case of overload.
  • Some models include the option to allow switching to power boost options for higher rpm instead of the auto-power saving mode.
  • Some models also include battery charging cables, generator covers and a spark plug wrench. There are even models that are designed to connect with another generator of the same kind through parallel cables.


After learning what a portable inverter generator is, you will probably understand that it is a much better investment than a conventional generator. It is a lot cheaper to operate, but you should know that it costs significantly a lot more than a conventional generator.

Inverter generators with higher capacity become more and more expensive as you go along. That being said, the costs are definitely covered over long-term use, you get double the power if you use two units in parallel connection and use them separately when you need to.

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