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Best Inverter Generator 2016

Although it would be simple to label one model as the best inverter generator, we think it makes more sense to separate the models based on price, and then choose the best for each price range. This provides a greater selection for a wider variety of shoppers as well as provides insight into the additional value and characteristics between price ranges.

Use this comparison chart to compare models directly

What is an Inverter Generator?

Conventional generators consist of an energy source, usually a fossil fuel such as diesel, propane or gasoline, which powers a motor attached to an alternator that produces electricity. The motor must run at a constant speed (usually 3600 rpm) to produce the standard current, whereas a traditional inverter draws power from a fixed DC source and uses electronic circuitry to invert the DC power into the AC power. That’s the more complicated explanation.

Inverter Vs. Portable

The main thing you need to understand is that Inverter generators are a new breed of portable generators that are compact, twice as efficient and definitely longer lasting than the older portables you’re probably use to.

What Makes It Different?

A conventional portable generator produces AC sine wave power but it is not an exact match to the profile of power received from your local transmission station or delicate device. The end result is that there is lower efficiency in operating machinery, loss of power, heavier load on the generator and even the chance of damaging a plugged in delicate device.

How Does It Work?

Inverter technology takes the raw power produced by the generator and uses a special microprocessor to condition it through a multi-step process. First, the generator's alternator produces high voltage multiphase AC power. The AC power is then converted to DC. The DC power is converted back to AC by the inverter. The inverter also smoothens and cleans the power to make it high quality and safe for more sensitive electronics.

The generation of DC begins almost as soon as the engine begins turning the generator. As the engine increases in speed, the DC voltage rises. As the load increases, the voltage will fall. The microprocessor controlling the inverter compensates by sensing the AC output voltage of the generator and adjusts the speed of the engine to keep the voltage at a consistent level. This saves fuel since the engine only turns as fast as necessary instead of at a constant high speed and also makes it safe for more delicate electronics, like your new $600 phone.

Pros:

  • Most Efficient
  • Perfect for equipment that runs on non-sinusoidal current
  • Safest generator for electronics
  • Quietest type of generator available
  • Generally weigh the least

Cons:

  • Most expensive per watt
  • Not as powerful
  • Harmonic distortion
  • Fewer Choices

Check out this GIANT comparison chart!

When equipment that requires a pure sine wave receives a modified sine wave instead, it operates inefficiently, exerting more effort than should be necessary to achieve the desired result. Consequently, the equipment can age prematurely and unexpectedly fail during service. Check whether you need a pure sine wave generator here.

Inverter Distinguishable Features:

Safe for Electronics

Safest type of generator to power your delicate electronics.

Low Power Output

Inverter generators are generally used for smaller appliances, therefore most inverter generators produce a relatively small amount of power compared to portable or standby generators.

Lighter, Smaller Size

The integrate parts of the engine and the generator allows inverter generators to be smaller and lighter weight than traditional models.

Super Quiet Generator

On an average the noise level is considerably lower compared to conventional generators because with inverter, the engine is not running at full speed constantly. Special sound dampening materials and engines built specifically to be quiet also help to make inverter generators incredibly quiet.

champion 73536i 2000 watt generator

Best Inverter Generator Under $500

A cheap inverter generator under $500 is great for small camping trips when you need to charge cell phones or a few samll appliances. However be warned, these are lower quality and yo can expect them to be louder, less safe for electronics, and less efficient than higher priced models

Champion 73536i Inverter

The Champion 73536i is a compact and fairly light portable inverter generator weighing just 48 pounds. It produces 2,000 watts of surge power and 1,700 watts of power when running continuously.

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Power and Efficiency

This generator is powered by a 4-stroke engine and requires gas. The engine on this generator is better protected than most as other reviews have mentioned its robust durability even during high wind storms. Even though this may be true, we recommend checking out a Gen-tent or generator enclosure for extra safety.

The variable speed technology allows you to switch to economy mode at any time, allowing for reduced noise production and better fuel efficiency.

Clean Power

The inverter technology of this Champion 2000-watt generator allows the engine to produce what is technically called "clean electricity" which is another name for its AC output has a low total harmonic distortion. This 2000-watt generator laso has parallel capabilities meaning it can be combined with another Champion 2000-watt generator to produce over 3,600 watts of power.

Safety

The Champion power generator comes with two major safety features: The overload protection technology works to prevent the electric appliances and equipment connected to it from damage, and the low oil sensor shuts the engine off automatically when there is not enough fuel for it to run on. That way, the engine is well protected from serious damage.

The amount of electricity produced by Champion 73536i 2000-watt portable generator is not enough for powering a wide range of kitchen appliances, but you can run a number of those in case of an emergency. The main purpose of this portable generator is to power the appliances in recreation vehicles, cabins and campsites. You can also use it for electric tools. It is light, compact and durable, and is equipped with the latest technology. The generator can also be used in the long term while saving on fuel.

honda eu2000i

Best Inverter Generator Under $1000

A little more expensive, generators at this price point will be a little higher quality. While power output may not increase dramatically, you can expect these inverters to be safer, quieter and more efficient overall.

Honda EU2000i

The Honda EU2000i generates 2000 watts at peak power and 1600 watts of power under continuous usage. The EU2000i is a crowd favorite in the inverter generator space, it's light, durable, user-friendly and best of all, super quiet.

The Honda EU2000i is a high performing reliable inverter generator in a compact size. Whether you need one for camping, excursions or simply as an additional backup in your garage for expensive tools, this is definitely oen of the top small inverter generators on the market.

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Excellent Portability and Additional Features

This inverter generator starts smoothly with the pull starter mechanism. It does not have any resistance issues that would cause discomfort when frequently used. Weighing only 46 pounds, this generator is truly portable. Its fuel tank capacity is 1.1 gallons which may sound small, but because of how efficient this generator is, is can run for over 6 hours at 50% load. This particular model is one of the quietest availale at 59 decibels. This is very low and causes just a quiet hum in the background, comparable to the amount of noise produce by two people talking with a normal tone.

AC and DC Outlets - Easy Maintenance

This generator comes with two AC outlets and one DC outlet making it very flexible and reliable. It's easy to keep this generator in good condition, changing the oil can be very troublesome on some generators but this one is easy to deal with. It also protects itself from permanately damaging the generator down by automatically shutting itself down

Distinguishable Features:

Eco Throttle: This fuel-saving technology adjusts the engine’s speed to the optimum level depending on actual load, allowing the generator to run up to 9 and a half hours on just 1 gallon of fuel.

Honda Advanced Inverter Technology: The microprocessor controls the operations of all sensitive electronics. This results in stable, clean power in a smaller, lighter package.

Parallel Operation Capability: Two EU series generators can be linked in parallel, doubling the load capacity to face increased demand (like microwave, lights and TV running together)

The Honda EU2000i is not the most powerful model in the inverter generator market but it is capable of keeping a few key appliances running during emergencies. It's built to be safe for electronics and it has a decent run time. Power outages come unexpectedly and it is necessary to have a backup source, especially for lighting.

yamaha ef2800i inverter generator

Best Inverter Generator Under $1500

First of all, the Yamaha EF2800i can run for seven hours under the full load, but can run up to 15 hours when you’re using it at 25% load. Having that said, it had enough power to supply an RV air conditioner at 13,500 BTU, vacuum, a router and a power tool like a chain saw when we tested. This machine is also a CARB-compliant equipment which means that it has passed strict regulations imposed on generators and can be sold in the State of California. It is rated at 2800-watts for AC output.

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Safe, Efficient Power

The Yamaha EF2800i is an inverted generator that uses its engine to make an AC current. Then it uses an inverter module to transform the AC power to DC for a smoother direct existing power. After that, it inverts the direct current back to the well-regulated 120V AC. It is less likely to fry electronic equipment than with other basic types of generator sets on the market, which makes this generators one of the safest ones and therefore the moderately higher price is justified.

This is an environment-friendly generator, meaning it helps reduce emissions in the air. Yamaha claims the generator is the quietest generator in its market segment. And with a range of only 56-60dBA, it just might be. Yamaha EF2800i trumps for recreational, trade and domestic applications alike.

3000 watt inverter

Best Inverter Generator Under $2000

Now we're talking quality. These generators will be more powerful but they won't increase as dramatically as you would think. Again, inverter generators are fore delicate electronic devices or tools. That being said, these generators are quiet, good for the enivornment, easy to maintain, efficient, and damn expensive.

Yamaha EF3000iS

The Yamaha EF3000iS inverter generator can deliver 2,800 watts of continuous clean electricity while being able to surge up to 3,000 watts. This generator, like all inverter generators, produce clean electricity that can be used to power sensitive electronic equipment safely.

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Powerful Engine

The Yamaha EF3000iS 2,800-watt portable inverter generator is equipped with a 171 cc OHV single cylinder, air cooled 4 stroke engine which is started on this model with a recoil rope which utilizes the auto decompression for easy starting. The rated amperage is 23.3 amps for 120V which is 2796W (~2800W), the max available amps is 25 amps at 120V which is the 3000 watts for surge.

Efficient, Clean and Quiet Operation

The Yamaha EF3000iS inverter generator uses gasoline as fuel. It is equipped with a fuel tank with a capacity of 3.4 gallons and per the marketing of the unit it can run for 19 hours at 25% load capacity. This generator has an acoustically designed sound reduction system which makes for a even quieter generator producing between 53dB and 60dB of sound at about 23 feet away.

Yamaha EF3000iS is fuel efficient and produces electricity that is low in distortion and can be considered very clean which can run sensitive electronic equipment safely. This makes this generator ideal for camping or for use in your RV to power electrical appliances while also allowing to be used in your home as a backup power source in times of emergencies to run a few essentials.

Smart Throttle

The generator has a smart throttle and can sense loads which lets it run for long periods of time conserving fuel. This saves fuel since the engine only turns as fast as necessary instead of at a constant high speed. Since the engine runs at the lowest possible speed necessary to meet the power demand, it is quieter during periods of low demand than a conventional generator and uses less fuel to produce clean power.

Conclusion

Inverter generators have a large number of advantages over traditional generators; they're lighter and more efficient, the power they produce is safe to power sensitive equipment, as well as many other things. With traditional generators, there are surges in the AC output that could damage valuable elctronics, they are less portable, and overall less efficient. But even with these drastic differences, it's important to purchase the right generator that fits your unique situation.

Take a look at all of our Inverter Generator Reviews