Inverter vs Generator vs Converter Comparison: What are their Difference?

You are looking for devices to convert the power to be used by such electronic devices or household appliances, aren’t you? There are two common and obvious options that would highly recommend in this case: inverter vs generator vs converter. Now, you may have some curious questions about them, I think. Do not worry. You may find out your answers below.

Inverter

Inverter vs converter

An inverter (power inverter) is known as an electrical device that converts the DC (direct current) power to the AC (alternating current) power. In most cases, the input DC voltage is often lower while the output AC is equal to the grid supply voltage of either 120 Volts or 240 Volts, depending on the line voltage of every country.

Using an inverter, it is unnecessary to find DC powered appliances, or a generator to enjoy the comforts wherever at home.

There are several ways to classify inverters, below are someones:

  • Based on the mode of operation:
    • Stand-alone inverters (supply stable voltage, frequency to load)
    • Grid-connected inverters (the most commonly used option)
    • Bimodal inverters (more expensive and are used less)
  • Based on the output characteristics:
    • Single-phase inverters
    • Three-phase inverters
  • Based on the inverter’s internal topology:
    • Square Wave inverters
    • Modified Sinewave inverters
    • Pure sine wave inverters

Inverters were just used in some main applications before. These days, they are being used extensively as a compulsory electronic device, which many of main electronic equipment depend on. The reason for that is not only due to their universal function of converting DC voltage to AC voltage, but also because of the high efficiency, reduced power costs and versatile applications.

See also: AC DC

Converter

A converter is electrical or electro-mechanical equipment used to convert electrical energy. It may convert AC to DC or vice versa.

Converter vs Inverter

Photo: dwstucke

There are three common types of converters:

  • An analog-to-digital converter (ADC)
  • Digital-to-analog converter (DAC)
  • Digital-to-digital converter (DDC)

Converters are now widely used in the electronic devices, power supplies or circuits requiring specific voltage and current levels.

Inverter vs Converter

In comparison with inverters, converters are usually mentioned. Both are electrical devices that convert current but do different functions. The following table is the comparison between them:

InverterConverter
DefinitionElectrical devices convert the voltage from DC to AC.Electrical devices convert the voltage from AC to DC.
FunctionsConvert DC electricity from solar panels, batteries or fuel cells to AC.

Convert DC power from solar panels to AC for the electric grid with micro-inverters.

Supply AC power if main power is not available in UPS or uninterrupted power service.

Used for induction heating.

Convert AC to DC.

Detect amplitude modulated radio signals.

Supply polarized voltage for welding.

DrawbacksNot perfect for inductive AC and motor loads.

Sensitive electronic devices can be destroyed by poor waveforms by low batteries.

Need a good source of power for re-charging.

Poor current overload capacity.

Good quality Automatic regulators are more expensive than Mechanical ones.

All the inverters are converters, but not all the converters are inverters. So, in some cases, another possible choice to a converter is an inverter.

If you own a recreational vehicle (RV),  you may need some necessary devices such as a power inverter for RV or RV power converter.

RV Power Converter and Power Inverter

  • RV inverter

Working as a power inverter for RV, this is an indispensable tool to run the standard domestic appliances in your RV, motorhome or caravan.

When taking a camping trip, the RV inverter is a big help. It is helpful especially when you camp in places without electrical hookups, but need something to run such luxury items, like LD, PC, TV, a microwave, or an air conditioning, etc.The best power inverter for RV is one of the things that help you to keep your RV satisfying to stay in.

See also: How to Select the Best Inverter for an RV?

  • RV power converter:

The RV power converter is used to charge and maintain batteries and run DC loads from an AC source when plugged into shore power.

RV appliances and fixtures won’t run without a proper RV converter. It ensures that power is properly distributed throughout the RV. The RV power converter is mostly used to bring power to lights, vent fans, fridges, etc.

See also: How to Test RV Converter Correctly?

Generator

Besides the inverter and the converter mentioned above, one more noticing equipment is a generator.

An (electric) generator is a machine, which converts chemical or mechanical energy into electrical energy, which is then distributed to be used. Particularly, the mechanical energy inside the generator works as an electrical conductor, causing the flow of electric charges in the unit’s wiring. This is how to generate the electric current.

portable generator

Generators are usually categorized into two main types depending on the electric current produced is either AC or DC; or classified according to the mechanical power source by which they are driven, such as water or steam power.

When mixed or ignited, generators may use chemicals or other materials that produce electricity. Generators do not create electrical energy itself but generate a flow of electricity by forcing the movement of electrons through an external electric circuit.

A generator is often used for many purposes. For instance, in your RV, besides the inverter and the converter, it is a useful piece of equipment to take along on camping trips where has no access to electricity for a while.

Moreover, a good RV serves as a comfortable home outside of your actual home. You may fill it up with modern decorations,full-sized appliances, electric gadgets, and other comfortable features. In this case, the best RV generator is a great option that helps you to make your RV modern and functional. It is also necessary to consult some RV generator reviews to get a good camping generator.

See also: What Size Generator Do I Need for My RV?

The Difference Between Inverter vs Generator

It is essential to know the difference between inverter and converter, especially where you want to change or convert power from one energy form to another.

The table below will summarize some of their common differences:

InvertersGenerators
FunctionsDraw power from a fixed DC source and use electronic circuitry to invert DC to AC.Produce electrical power
Time and effort to startTake no time gap in the onset of power.

Start on their own, once power is gone.

Take considerable time.

Take the effort to start.

FuelUse stored DC electrical energy in a battery (or a battery bank). Require not much maintenanceUse fossil fuels (diesel, propane, gasoline) as the main power source to run an engine. Require periodic maintenance
NoiseBe virtually silent.Be noisy.
CapacitiesAre available in lower capacities.Be available in high capacities.
RequirementsRequire installation and wiring.Can be started right out of the box.
Availability in places with power cutsBe more convenient in places with short power cuts.Be more advantageous in places with long power cuts

Those are some factors showing a distinct difference between inverter and generator. So, which is better? There is no clear-cut winner here. It’s up to you to evaluate each of these devices. Consider what you need is.

Some Notices in The Installation

Inverter installation

  • It must be installed in accessible and reasonably flat areas that are rather clean, out of direct sunlight, away from fire and smoke, and have suitable ventilation.
  • Always keep the inverter dry, away from rain or moisture.
  • The leads have an appropriate size and must be kept to a minimum practical length to avoid the voltage drop and overheating.
  • The inverter should be placed as near as safely possible to the power bank (battery packs), but not in the battery or engine compartment.
  • For the best performance, other surfaces or objects should be at least 250 mm far away from the ventilation openings.
  • Place the inverter carefully and check it often to avoid the insects that nest in the heat dissipation vents.
  • Routinely maintain the inverter and its battery. Replace if the battery is damaged and not combine old and new ones in a system.

Generator installation

  • The generator should be installed in a separate room or enclosure. In case, it must be in the same room as the rest of the system, put it far away from other components and cover its outside.
  • Allow enough space around the generator.
  • If it is automatically started by other equipment, it must carry suitable signs and the auto-start system must include an isolator to disable it during repairing.
  • There should be sound reducing generator enclosures because it can be noisy and affect where you put them.
  • Generator fuel must be kept in an appropriate container in a safe location.

In conclusion

This topic gives us a full overview of the inverter vs generator vs converter, as well as their basic differences and some installation notices. Expectedly, you may have your answers and easily figure out which one of these can best adapt to your needs.

Inverter vs Generator vs Converter

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Reference:

https://mhs2go.com/blog/why-you-need-an-inverter-for-your-rv/

https://www.engineersedge.com/motors/generators_types.htm

http://www.yourhome.gov.au/energy/batteries-and-inverters

http://www.donrowe.com/power-inverter-faq-a/258.htm

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