Find out whether you can add an inverter to a generator so you can choose the right machine and/or invest in extra gear instead.
If you find a suitable inverter and follow the safety guidelines, you can theoretically add it to a regular generator.
That being said, in practice, it will be hard to find a compatible inverter that can make the most of all the power portable generators offer.
In turn, you generally want to invest in an inverter generator if you plan to power any sensitive electronics.
One potential exception if these sensitive electronics do not need that much power.
In that case, you could get a small inverter and use the rest of the available power to run your other devices that can deal with higher THD levels.
Can you use an inverter with a generator?
To use an inverter you simply need a power source with the right specs. That means in theory it can work with a generator if you satisfy the other requirements.
However, you want to know that in practice, many of the inverters on the market need DC power input.
And even if your generator has an outlet with this type of power, you may need an adapter to connect it to the inverter.
After all this work, you will likely still find the capacity of the small DC outlet of your generator lacking.
On top of these setup challenges, the inverter requires an extra investment too.
So while there are a few inverter kits for generators, they are not always convenient and/or budget-friendly to set up.
At least compared to investing in a good inverter generator in the first place.
Why you could want an inverter on a generator
If you do find a good inverter for your generator, there are two main reasons why you would want one.
First of all, regular portable generators tend to produce power with high THD levels.
In turn, this high-THD power involves a risk of damaging sensitive electronics like your phone, TV, microwave, and certain refrigerators.
And even if you don’t make your devices completely unusable the first time, high THD power tends to come with faster wear and tear.
In short, if you plan to run any electronics like the ones mentioned with your generator, you generally want an inverter (if this is not yet built-in).
Do you need an inverter if I have a generator?
From the overview above, you will likely understand that you may still need an inverter if you have a regular generator.
More specifically, to power sensitive electronics safely, you generally want an additional inverter.
Even just a small one could help you power a few weaker electronics.
You can then still use the rest of the high THD power to run devices like a sump pump or well pump that can typically deal with this non-inverter electricity.
Downsides of using an external pure sine wave inverter on your generator
Getting an external pure sine wave inverter on your regular generator may sound good at first but comes with downsides too.
As mentioned, the first challenge is actually finding an inverter that connects to your specific generator in a reasonably convenient way.
And even if it “fits” through something like the DC outlet, you may only have a limited amount of power available.
You don’t want to forget about the extra investment either.
Besides these things, carrying around the extra separate inverter makes your portable generator just a bit less portable.
Additionally, you miss out on some of the pros of inverter generators like quieter operation.
Lastly, there is a small extra safety risk if the inverter can come in contact with moist ground or something similar.
Is a generator with an inverter better than one without?
When it comes to details besides price, a generator with an inverter is typically better than one without.
At the same time, you may find a generator without an inverter good enough for your needs. This option is generally more budget-friendly.