Generators

by: Bobby Barr

Advantages:

  • Self contained
  • Portable

Disadvantages:

  • Possibly expensive
  • Can be noisy
  • Heavy
  • Must carry gas if you are going to refill it on site
  • May need a power supply to convert the electricity from AC to DC
  • Maintenance

Conventional Generator versus Inverter Generator:

Conventional generators are by far more cost effective. They use a fuel powered engine that powers and alternator. That alternator outputs an AC current that outputs directly to the items requiring power. The simplicity allows for lowered prices and more potential power output. The downside of these is that they must run at a particular speed (around 3600 rpm) to achieve the 60 Hertz that is typical of the 120 volt power in the US. This makes the conventional generators fairly noisy. The power generated is also not very clean. This can shut down or even damage sensitive electronics such as computers or televisions.

Inverter generators are much more complicated and expensive than a conventional generator. Like the conventional models they use a fuel source to power and engine. The engine powers an alternator that outputs AC voltage. That AC voltage is transformed into DC voltage using a rectifier. Large capacitors are in place to smooth out the power and finally that is inverted into clean AC power that is safe for all electronics. These extra steps not only provide cleaner power, but is actually much more efficient. It also allows the engine to run at only the necessary rpm to handle the required load at the time. The result is less noise and less fuel consumption.

Summary:

The truth is inverter generators are much better for the RC community to use strictly as a source for power supplies and chargers. However if you need to power an RV, travel trailer or large enclosed trailer, then a conventional generator is the way to go. In those cases there are typically deep cycle batteries installed as well that the electronics are connected to. This buffers and smooths the power as not to harm sensitive electronics.