Inverter Generators Vs. Conventional Generator – Which One Should You Choose?

The sale of generators is expected to rise in the next few years steadily. Whether you're looking to watch your TV while travelling or charge your phone during power outages, a generator offers a convenient portable source of power.

However, there’s one big choice to make when selecting a generator; inverter or conventional generator?

Like any tool in life, it depends on what you’re going to use them for. Sure, both of them are sources of power, but beyond that, there’re stark differences.

By definition, none of these power sources is better, but there’s one that is suitable for you.

So, which should you choose?

Conventional generators, also known as standard generators, are the cornerstone for portable power sources.

They’ve been around for quite some time, and the core concepts of power production have remained largely unchanged.

At the very basic, they consist of an energy source (fossil fuel), which drives a motor to generate electricity.

A notable feature on the power equipment is the motor runs at a constant speed (3600 rpm) to produce AC.

Inverter Generators

The inverter generators are a recent development and often seen as an upgrade to the conventional generators.

Inverters feature an advanced circuitry. The advanced circuitry maintains a single phase, a pure sine wave, which is stable and does not fluctuate.

Differences Between an Inverter and Conventional Generator

A core difference between these two lies in their output. Inverters generate stable and "clean" output.  A conventional generator, on the other hand, generates a fluctuating and unstable output.


Inverter Generator

Standard Generator

Weight, Size &Portability

Lightweight and easy to store

Heavy and Bulky


Shorter (smaller fuel tank)

Longer runtime

Fuel efficiency



Noise level



Quality of Output





Budget options

Size/ Weight/ Portability

Generally, inverter generators are small and lightweight. It's not rare to find inverter generators weighing 30 to 50 pounds and with sizes ranging just a couple of cubic feet.

What this means is that they're ultra-portable, easy to transport and store. Ideally, they're suitable for use for RVing, hiking and any outdoor events.

Contrastingly, standard generators are both heavy and bulky. While the conventional generators are technically portable, thanks to the frames and wheels, they’re a task to move around since most of them weigh anywhere from 70+ pounds.

Weight aside, they lack the convenience factor of the small and lightweight inverter generators.

Fuel Efficiency

Conventional generators usually have their motors running at a constant speed, regardless of the load. The load here refers to the output power requirements.

What this means is whether you’re powering a simple bulb, or powering your water boiler, the conventional generator will generate similar outputs.

Inverter generators, on the other hand, can automatically adjust the power output, depending on the load.

The automatic adjustment helps to optimize the power output. This is because the generator will produce just enough power and no surplus.

In effect, this will reduce fuel consumption and improve on the overall efficiency.

Run Time

For similar run times, inverter generators are more fuel efficient.

Conventional generators, however, are bigger and bulkier. This means they’ve large fuel tanks to support the operations.

The large fuel tanks usually translate to longer run times. Most of the conventional generators have a run time of anywhere from 8 to 10 hours. This is more than sufficient for the average applications.

The inverter generators, on the other hand, are small and feature small tanks, meaning their run time is drastically reduced.


The issue of noise is one that truly separates the inverter and conventional generators.

Inverter generators are naturally quiet. The presence of special noise mufflers and dampening technology, for instance, helps to keep the noise level amazingly low in ​Quiet Generators.

Further, the inverter generators can automatically adjust their engine speed, meaning the engine can throttle back when the load is light. This not only helps to conserve fuel, but it minimizes the noise levels.

In contrast, the conventional generators are noisy since they run at constant speeds. In most cases, the noise rating starts from 75 decibels. While it's within the acceptable range, it can be quite frustrating, especially if you're in search of serenity.


Both of these power sources generate an AC output. The engine on both models is connected to an alternator, which helps to convert the DC power to AC output.

In an inverter generator, however, the alternator comes with a handy rectifier.

Further, inverter generates electricity in three phases. First, the high-frequency energy is converted to AC than to DC and back to a stable AC.

The stabilization of the current is done through the capacitors on the rectifiers. The capacitors will smoothen and removed any surges. The results of this are a pure sine wave.

A pure sine wave is a cleaner and stable form of power. It is akin to what you would get on your conventional power grid.

This means the output generated from the inverter generators is ideal for use on sensitive electronics such as laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.

In comparison, the conventional generators will supply a more sassy output and that with a lot of fluctuation and surges. While this distorted output will do for most of the electrical appliances, it’s not suitable for the sensitive equipment.

Max Power Output

Inverter generators are primarily focused on comfort, quiet operation, and convenience.

While they’re in no way less-performing than the conventional generators, they have a lower power output.

The conventional generators, in contrast, are performance-oriented beasts, and you can find conventional generators with output ranging anywhere from 500W to 50,000W and more.


Inverter generators have plenty of desirable features.

Also, they supply clean and stable electricity that can be likened to what you would get on your power grid.

It’s not a surprise that they’re quite a costly option.


You now have the difference between the inverter and conventional generators.

Which, between the two, do you think will address your electricity needs adequately?

David Hughes

Hey, I’m David Hughes - a free spirit with a passion for power tools blogging. With more than a decade in the construction field, my mission is to help the everyday workers realize their dream by sharing on creative ideas, tips, and reviewing products.

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