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Some generators have an inverter - some don't. What is the difference between an inverter and a line conditioner?
 

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Si vis pacem, para bellum
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Some generators have an inverter - some don't. What is the difference between an inverter and a line conditioner?

A conventional generator makes power by turning the shaft of the generator with a direct connection to the engine. Fluctuations in engine speed cause changes in the power frequency from the needed 60 hz and the voltage to spike or sag.

An inverter generator unit convertes the AC power produced by the generator to filtered, regulated DC. The DC is then feed to an inverter unit, similar to those stand alone units you buy to make 120v ac from a car battery, that reconverts it to AC. The inverter has controls that condition the power produced to keep the frequency and voltage at the proper voltage at steady 60hz. Check the specs. The cheap units may list the output as a modified sine wave. Avoid them like the plague. Spend the extra to get a unit with true sine wave output.
 

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Combat marxism Now!
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FYI, I started the thread in the link above to illustrate generator fuel consumption. There are a few inverter-generators in my short list.

As mentioned in posts above, quality inverter generators produce clean power AND the engine can adjust speed depending on load. This reduces fuel consumption markedly. A HUGE BENEFIT. (do not confuse efficiency with fuel consumption, they are not the same)

Simple example: Your fridge/freezer is running overnight on a Honda EU2200 inv-gen. The engine only revs up for the 30 mins the fridge compressor is running. The rest of the night, the EU2000 remains at idle, providing 120V/60HZ, ready for the fridge's next load (which may be defrost in the AM). Fuel consumed, 0.5 gal.

Contrast that with my 5500 Watt Subaru generator, which will gobble 4-5 gallons with the same tiny load.
 

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I have a whole house propane generator.
Running it on a dark night is pretty much like running a TV ad saying "here's a place with air conditioning and hot food!". You can hear it for a mile or more.
Small and quiet is a big advantage. I figure a small inverter generator in a concrete building will be a good investment. Building will be properly ventilated, and not suitable for occupants. Think concrete dog house without dog.
 

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Wile E Coyote, Genius.
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A dissenting opinion on inverter generators. - Too many electrical components to fail. (MOSFETS and Capacitors).
The whole idea is to save your bacon when everything is going wrong. That will be the moment that one of those 30 or so trouble prone devices will crap the bed leaving you with a 50 lb boat anchor.

Otherwise they have benefits as described above when they work. If you have extra generators, then having one as an inverter gen would be a good idea.

Line conditioners are devices that smooth out power ripples and spikes, mainly to protect delicate audio gear. Otherwise kind of a useless item. ALthough I guess a large UPS could be viewed as a power conditioner and would be a worthwhile thing to have.

Here is a pic of a random 6000 watt inverter.

373505


The little black cylinders are the capacitors. They are full of a fluid. They can fail by simply bursting open and spilling the contents, or explode like little hand grenades.
They fail a LOT. Especially when they are sourced from China.

The little flat black things that you can barely see along the walls top and bottom are the MOSFETS. They are power switching transistors. They fail a LOT. ANd there are likely arournd 16 of them on this device.

This device is HALF the electrical junk needed. The other have is the Power Rectifier that makes the DC to feed this device.
It has more stuff in it that can fail. Mainly diodes and capacitors.

Also, these devices like to be kept cool and dry, like any semicondtor. Not mounted to a vibrating genny running outside in all kinds of weather and wetness.

Also, there is the matter of the hundreds of solder joints on these things. They don't like vibration either. And it seems some manufacturers have forgotten how to solder things properly. So you can get failures from a simple broken solder joint.
 

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I estimate my Ryobi 2200W inverters to consume 1 gallon per full day of use. We keep enough to get through very severe incidents ... but don't forget the fuel in our lawn tractors, 4 wheelers, kids toys, etc. Minus cars, I'd bet most of us have a week's worth just in yard toys.
 

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I have both. I love my HF Predator 3500 inverter unit... runs everything in my bus... runs the basics in the house during power outages at night (quiet). Then for long term reliability, I've got an MEP-003A 10kw Onan military genset. It's obnoxiously loud but will run the whole house and is rock solid reliable. I've also got a traditional gas onan 2kw generator as a backup. Just run them all regularly. I typically start and run all of them for 15-20 minutes once a month... and under heavy load every few months.
 

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Combat marxism Now!
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A dissenting opinion on inverter generators. - Too many electrical components to fail. (MOSFETS and Capacitors).
The whole idea is to save your bacon when everything is going wrong.
I agree! That's why I recommend an open frame, quality, 11-13HP conventional generator for emergency use. It is simple, stone reliable, easy to fix, and will last thousands of hours. What's not to love?

However, 'I think' the OP wanted to charge a battery bank with his generator when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. It's not so much of a SHTF setup as it is a way to power things efficiently on those off days. For this type of semi-regular use, fuel consumption is a major concern.

Inverter generators are not more efficient, but when charging a battery bank with a tapering charge, they will consume considerably less fuel, due to engine RPM management.

This brings up another thought. "IF" the OP is not going to 'top-off' the battery bank, but simply bring it from 20% to 70%, a well chosen conventional generator and conventional charger will compete well with regard to fuel use. This is because current load will be high and the generator running at peak efficiency.

I may have mistakenly assumed he wanted to 'top-off' the batteries. Or that he might want to keep the batteries charged during extended use.
 

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I beat the system years ago by using a small 5 hp Briggs engine driving an alternator charging a battery bank. all my lighting is off the bank and the inverter was only used for the frig and other AC appliances.
I had a generator as well but it was primarily used for shop tools. And any time it did run it also had a battery charger plugged in adding to the bank as well. The bank is also fed by solar as well.
 

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We have a 12 kilowatt Honda tri-fuel generator run on propane, that during power outages (VERY frequent here in rural WV) is run for one hour after every four hours to keep the fridge and meat freezer cold. It also runs the well pump then for drinking water and baths. But what it also does that is very important is to charge our solar battery bank via an Outback inverter to near 100% (We moved to WV in August and I have not yet mounted my solar panels). During the four hour intervals the generator is off, we can pull 550 watts from the battery bank for four hours and still maintain 75% charge remaining. That's enough to keep the LED floor lamps on, the satellite internet on, the satellite TV on, and a box fan running in summer. Just remember, running a generator at 3600 RPM is like running a car at 60MPH. You have to change the oil every 100 hours or your engine will die young.
 

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I have both. I love my HF Predator 3500 inverter unit... runs everything in my bus... runs the basics in the house during power outages at night (quiet). Then for long term reliability, I've got an MEP-003A 10kw Onan military genset. It's obnoxiously loud but will run the whole house and is rock solid reliable. I've also got a traditional gas onan 2kw generator as a backup. Just run them all regularly. I typically start and run all of them for 15-20 minutes once a month... and under heavy load every few months.
I almost got me an MEP 003, on a trailer no less, at govmt auction, but got outbid. I want one bad !!!!!!!!!! They have em all the time, with low hours, but it has to be around me to pick it up.
 

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Wile E Coyote, Genius.
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I wanted him to open the case and see what it was breaking down. Evidently it has something to do with failsafe, but why the noise? I could understand a beeper or something. But it sho aint 8000W !!!

There was an Electrical Engineer in the Comments section that speculated the noise was from undersized transformers in the unit, that started to vibrate.
That thing was giving me the willies watching it. I figured something was going to explode at any moment. Either the batteries that were getting crazy hot, or something in the
inverter. The guy was working with no PPE, so he is either brave or crazy. :)

I assume there must be some sort of thermal overload protection on the thing, but those would simply blow I think. The EE 's guess is probably right. A transformer pushed so hard it was ready to get up and walk across the floor. :)
 

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A conventional generator makes power by turning the shaft of the generator with a direct connection to the engine. Fluctuations in engine speed cause changes in the power frequency from the needed 60 hz and the voltage to spike or sag.

An inverter generator unit convertes the AC power produced by the generator to filtered, regulated DC. The DC is then feed to an inverter unit, similar to those stand alone units you buy to make 120v ac from a car battery, that reconverts it to AC. The inverter has controls that condition the power produced to keep the frequency and voltage at the proper voltage at steady 60hz. Check the specs. The cheap units may list the output as a modified sine wave. Avoid them like the plague. Spend the extra to get a unit with true sine wave output.
Which inverter generators have pure sine wave power output? I've never seen that spec in manufacturer documentation. The high quality (expensive) Honda units don't make the pure sine wave claim:
Honda Generators | Inverter Generator Advantages and Benefits
From Honda's website: "The precision of Honda's inverter technology ensures its power is closer to "line power" more than any other generator design. Our inverter generators produce power that is as reliable as the power you get from your outlets at home."

I deal with utility power every day in my work. Utility "line power" is often problematic and certainly not pure sine wave quality in my experience.
 

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Converting DC to AC can never create a pure sine wave, just varying degrees of close approximations.
 

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I think if it says Honda on it it has to be good .
Honda makes the best gen set regulators in the Business.
I have a small Honda running my cabin off grid , it charges the battery for 1 to 4 hours
The power is clean it Dosent burn a lot of fuel.
Starts @ -20
I just turn The fuel off and run it dry .
Change the oil every 50 hours I use mobile one
keep the tank full of fuel
clean the air filter .
You will save in the long run just on fuel .
 

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Wile E Coyote, Genius.
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Which inverter generators have pure sine wave power output? I've never seen that spec in manufacturer documentation. The high quality (expensive) Honda units don't make the pure sine wave claim:
Honda Generators | Inverter Generator Advantages and Benefits
From Honda's website: "The precision of Honda's inverter technology ensures its power is closer to "line power" more than any other generator design. Our inverter generators produce power that is as reliable as the power you get from your outlets at home."

I deal with utility power every day in my work. Utility "line power" is often problematic and certainly not pure sine wave quality in my experience.

"Why does Honda do it better? Our inverter generators (see the portable range) provide 'pure sine wave' power. Other cheaper generators use 'square sine wave' or modified sine waves. The image below illustrates this. "
 
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