An inverter generator produces direct current power and then converts it to alternating current power using digital electronics. The other type of generator is a conventional generator, which uses a mechanical alternator to produce AC power. There is no power conversion performed by conventional generators.
Inverter generators are generally lighter and smaller than conventional generators. They also cost three to five times more than do conventional generators.
Conventional generators must run at 3,600 RPM constantly in order to generate electricity. Inverter generators, on the other hand, can run at variable speeds depending on the electrical demand. This allows the inverter generator to run at slower speeds most of the time. This saves fuel, and it also greatly reduces the amount of noise produced by the generator.
As a general rule, inverter generators produce cleaner power. This basically means that there is a reduced risk of fluctuations. This cleaner type of power is necessary if the generator is being used to power sensitive electrical equipment, such as high-definition televisions, computers, hospital equipment and specialized equipment in a laboratory setting.
Many inverter generators now come with surge-protecting ground-fault circuit interpreters, which guard against shock and provide protection against spikes, surges and brownouts.