Let’s Start with the Battery Inverter
So exactly what is an inverter generator? To understand the portable inverter generator and how it compares to the common portable generator, we’ll first look at inverter technology in its simplest form.
You might be familiar with a common 12 volt battery inverter which is an electrical device that converts 12-volt DC power into 120-volt AC power.
Typically you run this type of inverter off of your car’s battery or off of a deep-cycle battery that you buy specifically to power the inverter. Although fairly inexpensive, the shortcoming is that typically an inverter is a useful solution if you can keep your power demands in the 200-watt range.
You could get one with a more useful 2,500 watts, but it will cost close to $1000 and that’s not including the bank of deep-cycle batteries and a charging system. For more demand than that, you should consider a fuel powered inverter generator.
Consider a car’s battery has a reserve capacity rating. A typical rating is 80 minutes, which means the battery can supply 25 amps at 12 volts for 80 minutes. Without going into the math, if you draw 120 watts continuously, at 10amps, this might last three hours, possibly eight hours on a deep-cycle marine type battery. But then you have to recharge the battery.
The reason I mention that is, some will opt for a portable generator for most of the daytime duties of a power outage, then run a couple of lights at night off of an inverter. You can run a couple of 15 watt bulbs (2.5 amps) for about 12 hours on a car battery.