Tuesday, 4 February 2014

What Is a Digital Inverter Generator?

'What is a digital inverter generator and what can it do for me?' I can answer this quite briefly so here goes.
Old technology generators use a gasoline engine that is designed to run at one speed, usually 1500 revolutions per minute. These generators directly output alternating current (AC). There are two big problems with this. The first is that even with no electricity being used, the engine still turns at this speed. This makes the engine very wasteful of gasoline. The second massive problem comes about when a fault on the engine causes engine speed to increase. The reason why the engine is kept at its design speed is to maintain the frequency and voltage of the alternating current. This is fixed according to the territory where the machine is to be used.
A digital inverter generator, on the other hand, produces direct current (DC). This output then passes through an inverter, a device that alters the current from DC to AC and 'cleans' the output. This results in electricity that has a 'pure sine wave' rather than the 'modified sine wave' produced by the older generators. The pure sine wave output will safely run the most delicate electronics that are common in almost everything electrical today. Modified sine wave electricity is fine for many workshop tools, but is wholly unsuitable for most common electronics.
The second part of the question was 'What can it do for me?' We've partially answered that question but there is something very important to add. Because the electrical output is going through an inverter the engine doesn't need to run fast all of the time. The double advantage of this is that the engine will wear less and so last longer, but it also means that the machine is cheaper to run.
Inverters have been around for many years, boats use them to produce mains power from their 12 or 24 volt leisure battery sets. In the past, say twenty years ago, they were incredibly expensive. Also, most old inverters produced a modified sine wave. As time has passed, the development of the personal computer and micro electronics has allowed development of digital inverter generators. This makes the pure sine wave achievable more cheaply than ever before.
Honda was the first company to use digital inverter technology in their generators, and they turned the market on its head. Other manufacturers quickly followed suit. Inevitably some are better than others. Reliability and after sales service are extremely important in generating trust between a manufacturer and its customers. It is always a very good idea to read reviews by people who actually own a particular generator that you may be interested in. Such people tend to be brutally honest about their experience, good or bad, and these reviews can help you decide which way to go.
If you are considering a smallish generator for emergency use at home you really must choose an inverter type. By doing this you have no reason to worry about damage to flat screen TV's or anything else that contains sensitive electronic components.

By Stewart Haynes

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