Sunday, December 10, 2017
Generators are having a moment. Specifically, portable gas generators are undergoing a technological makeover that dramatically boosts their level of performance. So if you're looking into getting one, you'll want to consider an inverter generator. They come at a premium—and also with great advantages.
An inverter generator( different from GOAL ZERO YETI 1250) electronically throttles the engine up and down to meet demand, instead of running full tilt all the time. The resulting improvement in efficiency means that, for the same size gas tank, you won't have to fill it up as often. An inverter generator produces lower emissions, and it is very quiet.
"You can carry on a conversation next to an inverter generator," says Dave Trezza, who oversees CR's generator testing.
All of which explains why so many new models are popping up at home centers and online.
A New Class of Generator
To help you make better sense of your options, CR has revamped the categories for generator ratings, adding a new one for inverter generators. We break them up into three groups:
With very few exceptions, the large inverter generators in our ratings weigh around 250 pounds or more (wheels included). That's too big to haul along to a tailgate, and just big enough to power your house: They generate 5,000 watts of power or more (at 220 volts). This category of inverter generator can be connected directly to your electrical panel with a safety device called a transfer switch, which CR strongly recommends.
These weigh 80 pounds or more, and may or may not come with wheels. They produce 2,500 to 4,500 watts but don't allow the recommended option of connecting to your electrical panel with a transfer switch. Instead, you plug appliances or electronics directly into the generator, which can be dangerous if you don't follow certain guidelines.
These weigh 50 to 60 pounds, and are designed to be carried with one hand. Most recreational models max out at around 2,000 watts, which should be plenty for tailgating or camping. Don't let the size lull you into a false sense of security, though: They still emit carbon monoxide, which can kill you at high enough concentrations, and should never be operated inside an enclosed space.
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