The Best Inverter Generator – Buyers Guide
Some people tend to get confused about the differences between a conventional generator and an inverter generator. Conventional generators were first used as an energy source through the use of fossil fuel such as gasoline, propane or diesel. There is a motor that is connected to an alternator to produce electricity.
Now the inverter generators are a better version of the conventional generators. It uses high tech magnets and advanced electronic circuitry. Inverter generators are basically 3-phase generators that output AC current same as the usual generators. The difference is that the current is converted to DC. Afterwards, it will be inverted back to clean AC power that retains a single phase. Therefore, inverter generator is a combination of generator and inverter technologies.
Top 5 Best Selling Inverter Generators on Amazon:
- ADVANCED DESIGN: 50% quieter and 20% lighter than a traditional 4250-watt generator, plus Economy Mode saves fuel and extends engine life, and Intelligauge monitors voltage, frequency and operating hours
- QUIET TECHNOLOGY AND EXTENDED RUN TIME: 64 dBA is great for RVs, tailgating, your next project or home backup, with 4250 starting watts and 3500 running watts for up to 22 hours run time on gasoline
- CLEAN ELECTRICITY FOR SENSITIVE ELECTRONICS: RV Ready with a 120V 30A RV, plus two 120V 20A household outlets with clean power (less than 3% THD) plus two convenient USB ports
- PARALLEL READY: Increase your power output by connecting up to two 2800-watt or higher inverter or digital hybrid with the optional Parallel Kit (sold separately)
- CHAMPION SUPPORT: Includes 3-year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support from dedicated experts
- Using gasoline, produces 2000 starting watts and 1600 running watts. Using propane, it produces 1800 starting watts and 1440 running watts.
- DUAL FUEL: Operate your 2000-watt portable generator right out of the box on either gasoline or propane, plus at only 39 pounds, this inverter is one of the lightest 2000-watt inverters in the industry
- QUIET OPERATION: With an ultra-quiet 53 dBA from 23 feet, enjoy 2000 starting watts, 1700 running watts and up to 11.5 hours run time on gasoline, and 1530 running watts and up to 34 hours on propane
- PARALLEL READY: The optional, sold-separately clip-on parallel kit enables this inverter to connect with another 2000-watt Champion inverter to double your output power
- CLEAN POWER FOR SENSITIVE ELECTRONICS: Includes two covered 120V 20A household outlets with clean electricity (less than 3% THD), a 12V automotive-style outlet, plus a handy dual port USB adapter
- 3700 Rated Watts and 4500 Peak Watts at Less Than 3% THD – Telescoping Handle – Gas Powered – Remote Start With Included Key Fob, Electric and Recoil Start
- Features a 5–20R 120V Duplex Household Outlet, an RV-Ready Tt-30R 30 Amp Outlet and Two USB Outlets – Great Choice for Travel Trailers or Home Use – Strong Enough to Run All Your Essentials
- Led Data Center: Rotating Digital Display Shows Fuel Level, Power Output, Remaining Run Time, Voltage Output, and Lifetime Hours
- Extremely Quiet, Extremely Fuel Efficient: as Low as 52 dBA Noise Output and Up to 18 Hour Run Time on a 3. 4 Gallon Gas Tank – Features “Economy Mode” for Maximum Fuel Efficiency
- Ultralight body weighs in at a mere 39 pounds for easy transport and storage
- Extremely quiet operation comparable to the sound of a normal conversation according to the US Department of Health and Human Services
- Produces 2350 surge watts and 1900 rated watts of clean power for safe charging of sensitive electronics (phones, tablets, televisions, computers, etc.)
- Fuel shutoff maximizes the generator’s lifespan by using up the remaining fuel in the carburetor before shutting down
- Includes two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle, two 5V USB ports, and a two-year warranty
- Dimensions: 23.2" L x 18" W x 20.1" H | Weight: 99.2 lb
- EPA III and CARB Compliant
- 212cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 3800 surge watts and 3400 rated watts with a half-load runtime of up to 8.5 hours
- Fuel shutoff maximizes the generator’s lifespan by using up the remaining fuel in the carburetor before shutting down
- Produces clean power to prevent damage to sensitive electronics such as smart phones, tablets and laptops
Conventional Generators VS Inverter Generators
Conventional generators are bulky and heavy. You might need a metal frame and wheels to move it from one place to the other. Inverter generators are portable and light in weight so you can bring it everywhere you want. It is easy to transport because it usually comes in just a few cubic feet and weighs for up to 25 to 50 pounds. You can easily keep it as well when not in use or place it in your car when traveling.
Conventional generators have big and heavy fuel tank which means it can supply a certain amount of power that is needed. And since it can accommodate large tanks, it can deliver power supply in long run times. On the other hand, inverters have a limited fuel capacity because of its compact and lightweight body. Therefore, it can only run for a shorter period of time.
Inverter generators have fuel-efficient engines which help in saving fuel and helps in reducing exhaust emissions. Inverters can last up to eight to ten hours and can save as much as 40% fuel. When it comes to noise, inverter generators are quieter than the conventional one. It has special mufflers and sound-dampening technology to lower the noise. The conventional ones run at a constant speed
Noise is what separates the types of generators. The inverter generators which are designed from the ground up tend to generate less noise. This category of generators has quieter engines, specialized muffles and technology that’s designed to dampen noise results in generators creating little to almost no noise! In addition to that, conventional models of generators require to run at a constant speed (usually around the 3600 rpm range) in order for them to generate electricity at desirable amounts (usually this is around 120VAC @ 60Hz). If the engine speed is variable then the qualities of the power that is generated by the generator also change which is justified since engine speed must remain constant. Of course, engine speeds also means noise generated constantly; which is more notable when the generator operates at full speed. On the other hand, an Inverter Generator is capable of adjusting the electrical characteristics of the power produced through the use of micro-processors and specialized electronics.
Through that; the engine of the generators can throttle back whenever the workload is light and as a result, it will save fuel and at the same time; reduce noise generated. For instance, the Yamaha EF2000iS; produces only 51.5 decibels of sound whenever it is operating at a quarter of its full load. Take note that 51.5 decibels of sound is comparable to that of a quiet office. If the generator is operated at full load; it generates only 60 decibels which is on par with normal conversations between individuals. Try comparing that to most conventional models of generators; those models generate around 65 to 75 decibels of sound which is best compared to noise generated by street traffic, a crowded and noisy restaurant or a barking dog.
MAX POWER OUTPUT
Most of the generators that are found on the market have a variable size depending on what you need for your power generating needs. They range from the smaller 500 watt variants up to the 50,000-watt and higher models which tend to be bigger. On the other hand, Inverter generators generally focus on both quiet operation and portability means that their maximum output tends to be more limited, with most models of Inverters being available usually around 1,000 to 4,000 watts.
QUALITY OF POWER PRODUCED
Most conventional models of generators is best described or summarized as an engine that is linked to an alternator and runs on a pace that produces the desired AC frequency; regardless of the load on it; since load increases the engine’s throttles so it keeps the engine speed at a constant pace. Output of the alternator is linked directly to the load without any form of processing.
However, if we’re talking about an Inverter Generator; the engine is linked to a very efficient alternator which produces AC electricity which is similar to your standard generator model but that’s where their similarities end since Inverters tend to have a rectifier which is utilized to convert the AC power into DC; and then it utilizes capacitors in order to smooth it out to a certain degree. The DC power afterward is inverted back into clean AC power; with the desirable frequency and voltage (For example, 110-120 VAC @ 60Hz). The regulation is very good and the system produces more consistent power characteristics which don’t scale to the engine’s speed. The result is clean power (also known as “pure sine waves”) which is something that could give conventional generators a run for their money since Inverter Generators can provide electrical quality that’s comparable to that of your electric company! Why is this vital? Well, nowadays more and more products utilized a form of microprocessor; ranging from phones, computers, TV’s, gaming consoles, printers and even kitchen appliances and working and power tools. The microprocessors are very sensitive to the quality of the electricity that end up using. For instance, if you would use a conventional generator to power them up; the not “clean” power could contribute to the malfunctioning of the device or even outright damage them. In conclusion, if you are to utilize a generator for sensitive electronics; that’s where you might want to consider using an Inverter generator instead to power them up.
A common trait among Inverter Generators such as the Yamaha EF2000iS Model is that it can be paired up with an identical unit so that you can effectively double your power capacity. This means, that you can utilize two smaller, lighter and of course, portable generators to provide the same wattage and amperage that is almost compared to a single larger generator unit which tends to lack the advantages of that of the Inverters; being portable, lighter, space-friendly and noiseless. Take note that if you are to do this, you will need a specialized cable to link up your two generators which tends to be not supplied with the generator; but is available if you’re willing to pay for an extra cost.
SIMPLICITY OF DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
While there’s no evidence that Inverters are too complex or have a higher failure rate in comparison to the conventional generators. According to most buyers; simplicity of the design and construction tends to be a big boon for conventional generators. That’s because conventional models are basically, as said earlier is a motor with an alternator attached to it and are very simple machines – easy to run or operate, maintain and to repair. However, the motor just cranks along at a constant rpm; usually at 3600 and there are no complex controls or any features on the generator. Inverters have been present for about a number of years at this point; the technologies that are utilized on those models are well-tested; and the type of generator hasn’t showed any form of reliability issues in comparison to their conventional counterparts. In summary, simplicity of the design and construction is either a boon or is a negligible matter and is just a matter of a buyer’s preference.
While inverters do have a plethora of attractive advantages; it does have one notable downside. The main downside of Inverter Generators is their cost; one of these generators is more expensive in comparison to their conventional counterparts which sport an identical power rating. While the benefits are notable; namely portability, convenience and fuel-efficiency and noiseless operations, price is the notable drawback. However, if you are to weigh the criteria needed for the generator that’s worth using; you have to check the right type to use, the application and of course, the cash that you’re willing to spend for a generator. But from the looks of the soaring popularity of the inverter generators and their respectively overall good reviews and reception that the likes of the Yamaha EF2000iS receive consistently; it’s clear that more and more people are willing to invest in an expensive but more advantageous model as it will help them in the longer run.
Portable generators have been present for a good number of years; but it’s within the last few years that the technology for the Inverter generator has been created; resulting in generators becoming safe and compatible for electronics such as TV’s, BluRay, Smartphones and even computers. In fact, there are models that Solar-powered such as the Yeti-400; that aside from being powered by the sun, is also utilizing Inverter technology.
While the Inverters are more expensive that your standard generators; do take note of the number of advantages that they have in offer for you; especially when using them in the longer run.
Now, let’s take a look at the best Power Inverter Generators we have on the list; we’ll also cover their respective advantages and disadvantages.
Our Editor’s Pick of The Best Power Inverter Generators
| Power Inverter Generator Brand
|Running Wattage||Startup Wattage||Runtime||Weight|
|Honda EU2000i||1600 watts||2000 watts||8 hours||45 lbs.|
|Wen 56200i||1600 watts||2000 watts||6 hours||48 lbs.|
|Yamaha EF2000iSv2||1600 watts||2000 watts||10.5 hours||44 lbs.|
|Yamaha EF3000is||2800 watts||3000 watts||18 hours||136 lbs.|
|Honda EU3000i||2800 watts||3000 watts||20 hours||131 lbs.|
|Champion 75531i||2800 watts||3100 watts||8 hours||96 lbs.|
Honda EU1000i Inverter Generator – The reliable workhorse
The top pick in the list in this rundown of Inverter Generators is the Honda EU1000i Inverter Generator. It’s pure and simple; and the generator itself is a reliable workhorse.
Among all the generators in the group; it’s the largest model at 98.5cc which basically means it has better handling of larger loads (over 1000 watts); as well as larger inductive loads such as the startup wattage without risk of overloading its circuitry. A good thing about Honda is that there’s a large number of service centers in the country meaning if anything goes wrong; you won’t have to go far to get it fixed.
Just like every other engine that Honda has made; the Honda EU1000i Inverter Generator is no different from its many cousins despite of its portability; being a reliable workhorse for providing power.
The average runtime of the Honda EU1000i Inverter Generator at 25% is clocked in at 8.1 hours. If at 1600 watts; then it drops to 3.4 hours. A bit less of the Champion but ahead of the Wen. It also has an “Eco Throttle” mode to make it fuel efficient as much as possible.
At 45 lbs., the Honda EU1000i Inverter Generator is a relatively light model; and it has a convenient handle on the top which makes it less of hassle to transport unlike the Champion. If carrying weight is a concern; don’t worry as it is the lightest model in the group.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|– Very quiet
– Parallel Capability- Honda has a worldwide service network- Can run at 8 hrs on the average on a single tank
|– Shortest run-time
– There’s no fuel indicator so we need to open the fuel cap to check levels- Pricy
Conclusion: It truly lives up to the reputation that Honda has when it comes to engines. The EU2000i may be pricier than most models in this group but you only pay for it once. On the other hand, it has a worldwide service network meaning access to a technician is never too far, making it great in the longer run.
Wen 56200i – A budget option for a reliable Inverter Generator
- Dimensions: 18" x 11" x 18" | Weight: 48 lbs
- Noise Level: 53 dB operation
- EPA III and CARB Compliant 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts
- Great for campgrounds, construction sites, tailgates and power outages
- Produces clean power to safely operate and prevent damage to sensitive electronics such as phones, tablets, televisions and computers
The first thing you’ll notice about the Wen is that it is a cheaper alternative if you can’t afford the Honda generator. Don’t be fooled by its rather cheap cost in comparison to other generator models; it’s still a very reliable generator that can rival the more expensive models.
With three outputs (namely 2x 120V AC@60Hz Ports, 12V DC Port and 5V USB Port), it is flexible compared to the EU2000i or the soon to be covered Yamaha; and performance-wise, it can even rival their performance! It also has Parallel Capability which is a nice plus. On the other hand, it has an average runtime of 6 hours at 25% load making it the shortest load in the group; and with a small engine, it’s not that efficient in fuel usage.
Portability-wise; it’s slightly heavier than the Honda at 48 lbs.; but it also has a streamlined shape making it easy to carry around.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|– It has excellent price
– Parallel Capability
– It has an Effective Energy Saver Mode
– Has USB Chargers
|– A rather weak Economy Mode
– Loudest of the group
– Shorter run-time in comparison to other units
Conclusion: Shall you be on a tight budget but still need a reliable generator to have, then the Wen 56200i is a solid choice despite of its drawbacks in terms of runtime and lower power output.
Yamaha EF2000iV2 Inverter Generator – Clean power, noiselessness and good price in one package
- 1600 watt rated AC output, 2000 watt maximum AC output, 13.3/16.7 amps @ 120V
- Super-quiet muffler with USFS-approved spark arrestor - 51.5 dBA at 1/4 load
- Smart Throttle varies engine speed based on load - improves fuel economy and reduces noise
- Inverter system with Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) control
- CARB Compliant
The EF2000iV2 from Yamaha as said earlier combines clean power, noiselessness and good price in one deal. It runs at a steady 1600 watts; while its startup is good at 2000 watts which is ideal for induction loads such as the likes of refrigerators and other equipment that require more energy.
It has the longest runtime in the group as its 79cc engine boasts the capability to run up to 10.5 hours In a single load of gas assuming at 25% load. With only 51dB at 25%; it also is the least noisy model in the group.
Features include outputs with 2x 120V (13Amp) outlets and a 12V charging outlet. It has an economy mode too which controls the speed depending on the load making it very quiet when operating under this mode. Larger loads though will force it out of economy mode. It has an automated shut-off if ever it runs low on fuel. Two negatives though is that it has no USB charging ports for phones and tablets; and Yamaha models have a reputation of burning oil.
Portability-wise; it’s not exactly heavy at 44 lbs.; although the older folks do have trouble carrying it.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|– Stackable Parallel Capability
– Very Efficient Economy Mode
– Quiet Operations
– Long run time averaging on 10.5 hours at 25% load
|– Heavier compared to other models
– Uses a larger amount of fuel to run
- Conclusion: The Yamaha EF2000iV2 combines three good criteria into one package. Long engine run-time, clean energy, noiselessness and lower price makes the Yamaha a great power generator to have.
Yamaha EF3000iS – Power and Price in one package among the 3000W Category
- Sound absorbing material, used in key locations, does not resonate sound
- Helps reduce carburetor cleaning and repairs by eliminating stale gas in the carb
- Greater fuel efficiency and noise reduction by automatically adjusting engine speed to match the load
- Continuous operation for up to 19 hours without refueling
- Recharge 12 volt batteries for RV, auto, or marine, etcetera
The EF3000iS is another excellent model made by Yamaha as it has a similar set of features present in the Honda models.
The 171cc engine is roughly around the same size as that of a Champion; while slightly smaller than the Honda which has 196cc; it happens to be louder at both lighter and full loads (53db VS 49dB when operating at 1/4 load while 60 dB VS 58 dB when at full load). It’s also twice expensive compared to the Champion.
Sadly, the 3000iS is rather not so efficient on the fuel compared to its Honda counterpart. With only a 3.4 gallon tank; it can only offer 18 hours at 1/4 load which is two hours shy of a Honda operating at the same load. On the other hand, this is cheaper.
Portability-wise; it’s heavy at 136 lbs; and has a set of wheels. However; the wheels are ideal for pulling over concrete and packed dirt whereas you will struggle if you would traverse over gravel or softer surfaces making it a bit unwieldy compared to the Champion.
Performance-wise; startup ease is comparable to its Honda counterpart; only needing one pull. With 2x 120v 20Amp Outlets, a 12V and a 30V RV-compatible outlet; it’s somewhat flexible. The controls can be easily found and they include the on/off switches, economy mode and the gas controls. It has had overload and low oil indicators on the panel too. What’s cool though is that this model also allows Parallel Capability; but this needs an accessory pack to pull it off.
It requires a little bit of maintenance, but refilling the oil can get a bit tricky.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|– Lots of Power
– Parallel Capability
– A very effective energy saver mode
– Pretty good service network
– Can run 18 hours on a single tank at 25% load
|– A bit noisier than the Honda
– Wheels aren’t great
– Oil refilling can be tricky
Conclusion: The Yamaha EF3000iS really is a great contender against its Honda counterpart; while similar to its Honda counterpart in features, it does however come in at a lower price.
Honda EU3000i – Expensive but Powerful Inverter Generator!
Compared to its rival, Yamaha; the Honda EU3000i is still a potent workhorse but tends to be a bit behind in the list since it is somewhat a bit pricier than its Yamaha counterpart.
On the other hand; Honda is noted to have the quietest generators; particularly in this category. At full speed, it generates only 58dB (2dB less louder than the Yamaha) making it ideal for quiet applications such as camping for instance. With a big engine; Honda is very fuel-efficient. At full load of 2800W; it can run for 7 hours and if it runs at 25%, then it can last for 20 hours, clearly blowing the Yamaha EF3000iS out of the water in terms of longevity.
In terms of portability; it has wheels which unfortunately do not fare well on surfaces that is not smooth asphalt or concrete. With four rotating wheels, it can be a hassle to push in a straight direction. Luckily it has handles so lugging it between two individuals is less of a problem.
In terms of performance; the EU3000i is a beast since it runs continuously at 2800W at 23A; and that’s because of its large 196cc 6.5 HP engine. It’s capable of loading AC units in an RV without a hassle and with a quiet operation; your nosy neighbors won’t know that it is running.
Similar to the Yamaha, it has 2x 120V 20Amp receptacles, a 30C RV-ready receptacle and a 12V port. The EU3000i can be run in parallel for twice the power.
Maintenance-wise; it’s no problem too since Honda has a large support and technical network if ever problems arise. Other than that, maybe oil changes and cleaning the spark plug is sufficient enough to make it last.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|– Lots of Power
– Parallel Capability
– Very quiet
– Effective Energy Saving Mode
– It has the best service network
– Runs up to 20 hrs at a 25% load
|– Wheels aren’t great outside of concrete or smooth asphalt
Conclusion: While it is an expensive model; the Honda EU3000i is a rather attractive choice for those who are looking for a choice generator. Take note that its primary advantages over the Yamaha is that it has a larger support network and can last for two more hours
Champion 75531i – The budget powerhouse of the 3000w Inverter Generator world!
- Quick Touch Panel – Access all your controls in one spot, plus Champion’s safe design includes a low oil shut-off sensor and holds 0.6-quarts of oil (recommended 10W-30)
- Ultra-Quiet Operation – 58 dBA is perfect for RVs, tailgating, your next project or backup power for your home, featuring 3100 starting watts and 2800 running watts with up to 8 hours run time
- Clean Power for Sensitive Electronics – RV Ready with a 120V 30A RV, plus two 120V 20A household outlets with clean electricity (less than 3% THD) and 12V DC outlet
- Smart Economy Mode – Can reduce the electrical load, providing quieter operation, extended engine life and better fuel economy
- Champion Support – Includes 3-year limited warranty with FREE lifetime technical support from dedicated experts
While it lags behind the Yamaha and Honda due to its small size; on the other hand having a price that’s half compared to the two makes it an attractive choice. With a good service network and decent feats; it’s no wonder why it wins the budget choice.
While it has an efficient 171cc engine, it has a 1.6 gallon fuel tank which means it is unlikely to last through the night; but that’s non-factor if you’re using the Champion for non-camping activities. It lasts on an average of 8 hours.
Portability-wise; the Champion wins here since it has wheels; with a back set being larger and with a handle; a single person can push it around which goes nicely with its light 96 lb. Weight. Careful on the handle if it’s on the right side since that’s where the exhaust unit is found especially after long usage.
With 2800w of continuous power; and 3100w for inrush power, the 75531i is a pint-sized powerhouse among the 3000w models. It gets also its additional power from its efficient 171cc engine. Again as mentioned earlier; it won’t last long compared to the Honda and Yamaha as it can run up to 8 hours; on the flipside, it operates quietly.
Maintenance-wise; oil changes and spark plug cleaning must be done on a regular basis and sadly; there’s not much Champion support centers compared to that of Yamaha and Honda; leaving you at a tougher time if it needs repairs.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|– Easy to start
– Works quietly
– Very Effective Energy Saving Mode
– Lightweight; making it portable
|– Small gas tank
– Shorter run time
– Wheels are still small
Conclusion: Cheap but potent; the Champion is a solid unit that can provide clean power at a very budget-friendly price. It’s good; but make sure you won’t run the generator overnight due to its short run time.
What I’ve noticed here is that Yamaha models have a tendency to be cheaper than that of the Honda models and makes them an attractive choice since their generators also tend to have similar features. On the other hand, the Honda models tend to be very reliable in spite of being a bit more expensive than their Yamaha counterparts. There are also budget options if you can’t afford a generator from those two brands; but take note of the drawbacks and you’ll be fine.
Now before, we finish our review; let’s take a look at some of the important questions.
- Which Inverter Generator Brand is the most reliable? It’s Honda. With a track record of manufacturing engines; especially those of cars, it’s no wonder that Honda sports some of the best generator models. While they are a bit more expensive, they’re reliable on the longer run. If you want generators that are easier to obtain; then go for Yamaha.
- Which Inverter Generator Brand has the best warranty? Varies between two to three years; depending on the brand.
- Why choose Inverter Generators over Conventional? While they have a tendency to be more expensive than their conventional brethren; Inverters have an advantage over four categories namely Noise, Power Generation, Power Quality and Parallel Operation making them more attractive in the longer run. Take note that you only need to pay once; and the device is good as yours to utilize.
- How to maintain Inverter Generators? Frequency-wise; it depends on the model since there are low-maintenance and high-maintenance models; which either requires oil change and cleaning from time to time. This allows your generators to have a longer lifespan and on the other hand; shall issue arise then consider making a visit to the nearest technical support center to get your Inverter generator back into tip-top shape.
Before we put an end to this article; keep in mind that the best stuff tends to not come easy. You must be willing to invest money to obtain an ideal generator for use in providing power to your devices. For those who don’t have enough cash to shell out; don’t fret since there are budget-friendly options that come at a low price but still a solid choice, overall.