Pros and Cons: Inverter Generator

Inverters are a relatively recent innovation that improves on traditional gas, propane, and diesel generator technology in numerous ways — particularly in portable applications.

Like all fossil fuel-powered generators, inverters use an internal combustion engine — not unlike one in a car or truck — to burn gas and create mechanical energy.

An alternator converts mechanical energy to alternating current (AC) electricity — either for further processing or immediate use.

By adding an inverter to the electricity generation process, the AC electricity produced by the engine and alternator is converted to DC electricity and then back to AC again for output.

This conversion process has numerous benefits…

However, it also comes at a significant cost and isn’t suitable for all applications.

So, what are the pros and cons of inverter generators?

Let’s take a look. 

Inverter Generator Pros

Inverters may prove a superior alternative to traditional gas generators — particularly in portable applications where the generator operates at low loads, like 60% of the maximum AC output capacity or less.

Here are the primary advantages.

Fuel Efficiency

Traditional gas generators operate at only one speed — full.

Inverters throttle up and down based on how much electricity you consume.

For example, if you have a 2000W inverter generator but regularly power only 1000W of appliances simultaneously, you’ll use approximately half as much fuel as a traditional generator. 

The closer you get to an inverter generator’s maximum AC output, the more its fuel efficiency advantage diminishes.

For example, that same 2000W inverter powering 1800W of electronics will only provide +/- 10% more fuel efficiency than a conventional portable generator

When it comes to fuel efficiency, inverter generators deliver the most benefit under low-to-medium electrical loads.

“Cleaner” Power

A common complaint about conventional generators is that they output “dirty power.”

The most basic gas generators output AC electricity directly from the alternator without additional conditioning. 

Old-school generators like this may still have their place on construction sites where they’re primarily used for power tools.

However, the surges and fluctuations in current and voltage inherent to electricity created by combustion engines and alternators without additional processing can damage or destroy sensitive electronics.

The “noise” that makes power “dirty” is measured by total harmonic distortion (THD).

Conventional generators produce AC output with THD as high as 25%.

High-end inverters can reduce THD to as little as 1% — making them suitable for most sensitive electronics like servers, desktop computers, and hard drives.

However, most inverters have a 30ms – 50ms switchover time during a blackout.

That’s barely the blink of an eye, but it can still harm sensitive electronics.

Hybrid inverter + solar generator solutions like EcoFlow’s DELTA Pro 3 + Smart Generator 4000 (Dual Fuel) provide even cleaner pure sine wave power and can function as a UPS during an outage.


(Source: Hearing Health Foundation)

Less Operating Noise

Traditional gas generators are loud.

Many models operate at between 80 and 100 decibels (dB) — as loud as an oncoming subway train.

Inverter generators — particularly models with a closed frame design — can operate as quietly as 60 dB.

However, they’re still significantly louder than a portable power station like EcoFlow DELTA 2 Max, which can operate at 30dB and is safe for indoor use.

Paired with the EcoFlow Smart Generator (Dual Fuel) inverter, you can charge the DELTA 2 Max with gas, propane, solar panels, and numerous other options, such as AC (household) electricity.

Inverter Generator Cons

Now that we’ve examined the benefits of inverter generators, it’s time to look at the drawbacks…

More Expensive

Inverter generators require additional components — including the inverter itself — and are more costly to manufacture than conventional generators.

Naturally, that added expense gets passed on to consumers.

Having said that, inverter generators have come down in price in recent years and have also increased in performance.

For example, the EcoFlow Smart Generator 4000 (Dual Fuel) inverter offers 4000W of AC output and integrates seamlessly with EcoFlow DELTA series portable power stations and solar generators. It currently retails for about $1800 USD.

Output Power Limitations

Inverter generators max out at around 9000W of AC output, and most models sold are in the 2000W to 3000W range.

Limited AC output means that while inverters may excel at applications with low to medium electrical loads, they may lack the output required for standby and whole-home backup generators

However, unlike conventional generators, inverters can be chained together in parallel, which can overcome insufficient AC output for some applications.

No Indoor Use

“Cleaner” power is often used as one of the main selling points of inverter generators.

Thanks to the ability to throttle based on electricity consumption, an inverter may burn less gas or propane than a conventional generator to produce the same wattage — particular under light to medium loads.

The power is also less “dirty” in terms of total harmonic distortion.

But it’s essential to understand that inverter generators still burn fossil fuels to produce electricity.

No conventional or inverter generator that runs on gas, propane, or diesel can be operated indoors.

EcoFlow DELTA Pro Ultra can recharge with an inverter or gas generator and multiple other input methods, including solar panels, and is 100% safe for quiet use indoors.

EcoFlow DELTA Pro Ultra Charging Inputs

Charging MethodMaximum Input (1 x Inverter) Maximum Input (2 x Inverter) Maximum Input (3 x Inverter) 
Solar Charging5600W11200W16800W
AC Input (Wall Socket)3000W6000W9000W
AC Input Smart Home Panel 2 (Wired)7200W14400W21600W
AC Input EV Pile (Wired)7200W14400W21600W
Fossil Fuel Generator (Cable)7200W14400W21600W
EcoFlow Smart Generator (Dual Fuel)1800W3600W5400W

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Worth Getting an Inverter Generator?

Inverter generators tend to have a higher price tag than conventional portable generators. But they make up for the higher upfront cost with better fuel efficiency, cleaner power output, and quieter performance. As far as saving money, you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you operate your inverter under light-to-medium electrical loads (60% or less of maximum AC output capacity).

Final Thoughts

Inverters offer better fuel efficiency and quieter performance than conventional gas generators, but they still have limitations.

A hybrid inverter generator solution like EcoFlow DELTA Pro 3 + Smart Generator 4000 (Dual Fuel) offers all the features of a high-end inverter that runs on gas or propane with many additional benefits, including solar charging, indoor use, and clean, renewable power.

Whether you need a portable generator for camping or a standby generator for whole-home backup power, EcoFlow has a solution for you.

Check out our selection today.

EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here