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Inverter Generator: How They Work and What They Mean for Your Business

how inverter generators work
Written by Jamie Masterson

Inverter generators are becoming increasingly popular day by day. They are portable, provides clean energy and serve you for a long time (If you take good care of it). However, many of us don’t know how exactly this amazing piece of machinery works.

Well, not anymore. Today, we’re taking a deep dive into how inverter generator works and what exactly are they made of. We’ll try to explain the work process of an inverter generator as clearly as possible. Let’s get right into it.

How Inverter Generators Work

inverter generators work

The components

The internal setup of inverter generators is more complicated than the traditional type. More parts are used to convey the power output and some of these machines run on fossil fuel.

Aside from the fuel tank to draw power from, these generators also have an inverter, battery, and alternator.

That being said, the two major components of a converter generator are a conventional generator and an alternator that is fixed into a single housing.

The process

How inverter generators work - The process

Step 1: The engine

The engine runs on either diesel, gasoline, propane, natural gas, or fossil fuel. It is electronically controlled and a computer changes the speed during the run.

Step 2: The alternator


An alternator is attached to the engine that produces the power.

Conventional generators produce AC power using their mechanical alternators but inverter generators produce DC power. They use a digital electronic alternator to invert the power back to AC.

The alternator doesn’t produce the final output but it produces more frequency when the engine rpm goes up. The AC power is then converted since it’s not usable.

Step 3 and 4: Rectifier and computer

These generators use a rectifier for the AC to DC conversion, which is then inverted back to AC output by a computer inside the machine.

The 120V 60Hz AC output is what you use to power electronic items at home or office.

How Differently Inverter Generators Work From Traditional Ones?

How Differently Inverter Generators Work From Traditional Ones

Inverters run at variable speeds to meet your electrical demand. This allows them to often run quietly at a low rpm and save fuel. Traditional generators can’t do that since they are required to run at a constant 3600 rpm speed to produce electricity.

Inverter generators deliver a smoother, cleaner, and steadier flow of power with less than 5% harmonic distortion, which makes them perfect for power-sensitive electronic equipment such as stereo setups and laptops.

Benefits of Using Inverter Generators

  • Smaller and lighter equipment
  • Can be paired with identical units to multiply the power output
  • Quiet operation
  • Eco mode extends runtime and saves fuel
  • Low harmonic distortion
  • Run at variable speeds to meet electrical demand
  • More portable

Problems with inverter generators 

  • High-level electronics make them more expensive
  • Can’t power heavy-duty tools or equipment


1. How long can I continuously run an inverter generator?

The automatic throttle-down feature allows inverter generators to have a better fuel economy and extended runtime. You can expect them to run from 10 and 16 hours while non-inverter diesel and gasoline models may operate between 6 and 10 hours.

2. Can I leave an inverter generator in the rain?

Generator instructions warn not to run them in the rain and you need to protect them from moisture buildup. The ideal location for such situations is a dry surface under a canopy-like structure.

About the author

Jamie Masterson

With decade-long experience as a generator technician, Jamie has worked with USA’s top generator manufacturers and suppliers as an independent contractor.

The long years of service to the industry has taught Jamie the ins and outs of troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining all kinds of generators in home, industrial and outdoor settings.

Jamie thinks this platform is a great opportunity to share his tips and tricks with you so you can make the most of such power equipment for better living.

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