Can You Add an Inverter to a Generator? | Technicalities Explained in an Easy Way

An inverter generator, just like solar panels, provides a temporary or permanent backup power source for your family and can help you run a few appliances in an emergency. But did you know it’s possible to add an inverter to a generator?

Key Takeaways

  • A generator converts mechanical energy into electricity. 
  • Inverters convert DC—direct current into AC—alternating current.
  • Generators provide more wattage than inverters. 
  • An inverter is more efficient than a generator.  

How can you add an inverter to a generator? The method is simple and could be easy enough for anyone. You need to know the basic differences between inverters and generators and an understanding of how electricity works within them. Read more to understand an inverter and how to add it to a generator.

Can You Add an Inverter to a Generator? 

One can add an inverter to a generator to power critical loads for extended periods during power outages. If the primary AC power source is down for an extended period, the vital load needs a continuous power supply. The inverter can power the critical loads, but the generator helps lessen the burden on the inverter battery.

A few things to note when running an inverter and generator simultaneously exist. First, you’ll need to ascertain that the generator is sized correctly for the inverter. If the generator is too small, it won’t be able to handle the load of the inverter and could cause damage.

Then, you’ll need to ensure that you’ve done the wiring correctly. If not, you could end up damaging your equipment or causing a fire. After that, you’ll need to carefully monitor the output of both the inverter and generator. If one drops off, you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

a person turning on the generator

How to Add an Inverter to a Generator

An inverter converts DC—direct current into AC—alternating current. That means inverters can take power from your generator and turn it into usable household power. It can be a great choice if you need to power critical components or electronics during a power outage.

One thing to note is that not all generators are equal. Some generators may not have enough power to run an inverter effectively. However, most standard generators should have no problem powering an inverter. Just be sure to check the features and specifications of your particular model before making a purchase.

Differences between Inverters and Generators

There are vital differences between inverters and generators that you should know before deciding which one is right for your needs. Generators typically run on gasoline or diesel, while inverters usually run on electricity from inverter batteries. That means that inverters are ‌quieter than generators and don’t produce fumes. Inverters also are smaller and lighter than generators, making them more portable.

various generators and inverters

Regarding power output, generators typically provide more wattage than inverters. However, an inverter can often provide enough power for small electronics like laptops or phones. A generator is likely a better option if you need to supply power to large appliances or power tools.

Another critical difference between these two types of backup power is the power supply method. An inverter converts DC into AC, while a generator produces AC power directly. That means an inverter is ‌more efficient than a generator since there’s no loss in conversion.

How to Choose the Right Inverter for You

Assuming you’ve decided you need an inverter for your generator, there are still a few things to consider before purchasing. Inverters come in different shapes and sizes, so choosing the right fit for your needs is essential.

To start, you’ll need to decide which type of power inverter is right for you. There are two main types of inverters: 

  • Pure sine wave
  • Modified sine wave

The modified sine wave type is the most common and typically the more affordable option. The pure sine wave inverter is less common but provides cleaner power that you can use with sensitive electronics. It is also a great option for camping caravans, semi-trucks, and other utility vehicles, where Installing a power inverter is a great way to ensure that you have backup power in case of an emergency.

Once you’ve decided on the type of inverter you need, it’s time to pick the suitable model. When selecting an inverter, pay attention to the following:

Continuous wattage: This is the amount of power the inverter can provide continuously without shutting off. Select an inverter with a constant power supply that meets or exceeds the inverter wattage requirements of your critical loads.

Surge wattage: This is the power the inverter can provide for short periods, such as when starting up a device with a high start-up wattage requirement. Pick an inverter with a surge wattage that meets or exceeds the power supply requirements of your devices.

Output voltage: Most devices run on either 110V or 220V

inverter packed in a box

How Big of a Generator Do I Need for an Inverter?

You can comfortably use your generator to charge your inverter. However, you will need to ensure that the generator is rated for the inverter. You can achieve this by consulting the owner’s manual for your inverter.

Can You Run a Computer on a Generator?

You can run a computer on a portable generator. Generators convert mechanical energy into electricity, typically producing unstable power. Computers require a reliable source of power. As such, you’ll need an inverter to streamline the AC power from the generator into safer and more reliable power for the computer.

A generator typically produces a fair amount of noise. Suppose you’re using the computer for sensitive audio or video editing tasks. In that case, you might use headphones or earplugs to avoid being disturbed by the generator’s noise.

Generator-powered computers can be subject to voltage fluctuations. To help protect your computer from damage because of voltage fluctuations, consider investing in a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). A UPS will provide clean, stable power to your computer and help prevent data loss if there’s a power outage.

Do I Need an Inverter for My Generator?

You’ll need an inverter for your AC generator to power sensitive household appliances like computers or TVs. That’s because generators produce “dirty power” that can damage delicate electronic equipment. Inverters convert that dirty power into clean power that won’t harm your electronics.

a generator by the car

Things You Should Consider Before Connecting an Inverter to a Generator

Before connecting an inverter to a generator, consider the following:  

  •  To work correctly, you must match an inverter to the specific renewable energy source and generator.
  • The size of the inverter must be appropriate for the amount of power that the renewable power source and the size of the generator will generate.
  • The inverter must be capable of handling the voltage and frequency of the generator.
  • The inverter generator must be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions to work correctly and safely.

If you’re considering adding an inverter to your AC generator, it’s essential to consult a professional to ensure that it will be compatible and safe. While it’s possible to add an inverter to most generators, there are some risks involved you should know before making any modifications. With the help of an expert, you can add an inverter to your generator and enjoy the benefits of having backup power without sacrificing safety.

portable generator used for camping


How Do You Differentiate an Inverter from a Generator?

The significant difference between an inverter and a generator is how they deliver electricity. An inverter converts DC power into AC. Portable generators produce AC power directly.

Can You Parallel a Generator and an Inverter?

Yes, you can parallel a portable generator and an inverter. Most inverter generators can still be connected in parallel using cables with a 30-amp outlet. In the absence of a companion unit, these cables are used to connect two identical generators in parallel.

Do I Need an Inverter with My Generator?

Yes, you need an inverter with your generator to protect electronics from a power surge. A generator provides unstable power, which may damage sensitive home appliances. Just make sure that the generator is appropriately sized for the inverter.

How Do I Make My Generator Safe for Electronics?

It is possible to make your generator power safe for electronics. It will result in a smooth power supply. You can do this by adding an inverter. Just make sure the two are compatible.

Can You Run a Solar Inverter with a Generator?

No. You cannot run a solar inverter with a generator. The solar inverter power system, including the inverter battery, is not compatible with a generator. In extreme cases, it can cause a fire outbreak. 

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