Traditional fossil fuel-powered generators have seen significant technological advancements in recent years, including the introduction of portable inverter generators. How do they compare to portable power stations, and which is the better option?
We’ll cover the main differences to help you determine the best pick for you. Let’s jump in!
What Is an Inverter Generator?
Inverter generators run on fuel like gasoline or propane. The main difference between inverters and gas generators is that inverters improve the quality of electricity delivered. It allows users to plug in appliances or devices without fear of damage.
An inverter generator converts AC electric current into DC electric current. It then inverts it back into AC to create a much cleaner wave of electricity.
While more expensive compared to traditional fossil fuel generators, inverter generators offer a more fuel-efficient and quieter way to power your essential appliances and devices during emergencies like a power outage.
The cost of inverter generators can vary significantly depending on numerous factors, including:
- The type of fossil fuel used (diesel, gasoline, natural gas, propane)
- Power output capacity
- Fuel storage capacity
- Length of warranty
There’s a reason this new category of portable generators exists and is used by many. What makes inverters so popular?
Here are three reasons:
Inverter generators produce cleaner power when compared to conventional gas generators. The conversion process it undergoes results in cleaner energy. It also translates to higher quality electrical output, which protects devices and appliances from damage.
Unlike conventional generators, these portable devices won’t be a nuisance or drown out nearby conversations (even when running at full tilt). If you’re looking for minimal noise, this is a top option.
Inverters are much more fuel-efficient than traditional fuel-powered generators. Unlike older generators, they will adjust the engine’s speed to meet demand. Conventional gas generators operate at a constant rate.
Further, with improved fuel efficiency, users won’t have to fill the tank as often. They’ll run for longer, produce lower emissions, and make less noise.
Inverter generators have their perks, but there are also significant downsides to consider.
Here’s what you can expect:
Conventional generators are usually cheaper than inverters. Inverters are more expensive because of the innovative technology integrated into them.
The good news is that for the price, you also get quiet operation and fuel efficiency, which you don’t get with traditional gas-powered generators.
Can’t Be Used Indoors
You should never run an inverter generator indoors. It may look small and harmless, but its combustion engine releases exhaust gases that could poison or kill you.
The toxic fumes mean you cannot use inverter generators inside your house, in a garage, shed, under a deck, or anywhere within 15 feet of your home.
What Is a Portable Power Station?
Portable power stations (PPS) are energy storage units with multiple port options (AC, USB plugins, and wall outlets). They keep devices and appliances energized on the go.
Their lightweight, compact build makes them portable, and they typically come with handles or wheels to increase portability.
Understand that a portable power station is essentially a big battery that stores energy from the grid (wall plug, car alternator, etc.). It only stores power; it doesn’t generate it.
If you want to, however, it’s possible to turn your portable power station into a solar generator by purchasing solar panels. Your solar generator will generate energy from the sun. The battery will store this energy until it’s ready to use.
What are some advantages you can expect when investing in a PPS? Here are four reasons portable power stations continue to rise in popularity:
Portable power stations are light and about the size of a small drink cooler. Many of them come with ergonomic handles and wheels for ultimate convenience. They’re great devices for off-grid living, camping trips, or home backup during power outages.
You can recharge the lithium-ion batteries in portable power stations in several ways:
- Solar panels
- Wall plug-in
- Car charge adaptor
The convenience makes them a popular choice for those looking for clean energy. Our recommended method is to harness the sun’s power and enjoy clean, renewable, and free fuel all year long!
Portable power stations are extremely quiet — even more so than inverter generators. No one wants to be interrupted by a loud generator, and a PPS ensures you aren’t.
Perhaps the biggest perk is that a PPS is safe to use indoors or outdoors as there are no emissions of any kind — including carbon monoxide gases. It is incredibly convenient for households with small children or individuals living in apartments.
With benefits like these, there must be a catch, right? Well, there are only a couple:
No Standalone Energy Generation
Unlike inverter generators, which use fuel to generate energy and convert it into AC power through built-in inverter technology, a portable power station doesn’t have that capability. It’s more like a giant battery or energy reserve bank.
That said, you can turn a PPS into a solar generator by attaching solar panels. Panels like those from EcoFlow have built-in inverter technology, so you don’t need to worry about building your own solar generator from separate components.
Portable power stations don’t come cheap. They are on the pricey side, often costing as much as an inverter generator. As opposed to inverters, however, they are highly portable, offer renewable charging, and are indoor (and environmentally) friendly.
What Are the Main Differences Between Inverter Generators and Portable Power Stations?
Inverter generators use fossil fuels to generate energy, whereas portable power stations require power from an external source, like solar panels or a household wall outlet, to store energy.
Inverter generators utilize fuel (gasoline or propane), while portable power stations are battery-operated.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Use
Inverter generators can ONLY work outdoors. Using them indoors can be catastrophic. A portable power station is safe to use indoors or outdoors.
When dealing with fuel, you need to take safety precautions, as the gases released from the combustion engine could poison or kill you, and liquid fuels always carry an added risk of fire.
A PPS doesn’t use fossil fuels; it’s battery-operated, making it much safer.
Inverter or Portable Power Station? Final Thoughts
Choosing between an inverter generator and a portable power station can be difficult.
Both offer backup power at your fingertips when you get caught in a blackout. The difference is that you can only utilize inverter generators outside since they use fossil fuels like gas or propane that create harmful emissions. This makes inverter generators better suited for outdoor recreational activities like camping or boating.
A PPS is a cleaner alternative that acquires power from an external source, meaning no noise or toxic emissions. You can safely use it indoors or outdoors. This makes a PPS ideal for recreational activities as well as home backup solutions. With a wide variety of charging options — including clean, renewable solar energy — portable power stations are far more versatile than inverter generators.
For most applications, portable power stations come out on top as they produce cleaner energy, can be used both inside and outside, and don’t have the same safety risks as inverters. Whether you live in an RV and need power on the go or want a backup solution in case the power goes out, a PPS is a top option.
Browse our portable power stations to learn more!