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Choosing the Correct Battery Type for Solar Panels

In this blog I will break down the different battery types available to use with your Solar Panels. Lead acid batteries have large capacities and are often available in many places around Australia. A lot of people ask me "which lead acid battery should I use with solar panels?" I always recommend using sealed AGM lead acid batteries wherever possible and will describe in this blogs the benefits of using this type of battery with iTechworld portable solar panels.Starter vs. Deep-Cycle Batteries
Starter batteries are designed to deliver short, high-current bursts for starting a vehicle engine, and are designed to discharge only a very small part of their capacity. If you were to use a starter battery as a way of running your caravan/motor home/camper trailer it would corrode very quickly, the plates and the chemistry are designed to stay nearly 100% fully charged most of the time. They cannot handle the discharge and charge needed when running your RV on Solar Power.

For solar charging applications, I always recommend an iTechworld deep cycle battery. Cheap knock off batteries are available via eBay but come with very little warranty and you can never be sure you are getting the correct Amp Hour battery that you have paid for. Typical car batteries can be used but will not be suitable long term. ITechworld Deep cycle batteries are designed with larger plates and different chemistry to avoid the corrosive effect of frequently using the full capacity. They are designed to be charged and discharged by solar and can handle the strain of using most of its capacity.

Flooded, vs. Gel vs AGM
There are a different types of deep cycle batteries available in Australia: flooded, sealed gelled, or fully sealed AGM. For most situations a fully sealed AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) is the safest and best option. ITechworld fully sealed AGM batteries require absolutely no maintenance whatsoever. There is no need for ventilation and they will not spill. You can use flooded batteries and they will cost a lot less, but they require adequate ventilation, maintenance, and also have the potential liability of tipping or spilling. Not ideal when there are kids around and not ideal on bumpy roads.

If iTechworld AGM batteries are maintained properly, they will function at 80-90% efficiency for 7 - 10 years. Most people would agree that its a decent return for a $270 investment. The key to obtaining this life span is to maintain a full charge when ever possible. This simple rule of thumb will extend the battery life and maintain a higher efficiency.

 

FULLY SEALED MAINTENANCE FREE SOLAR BATTERIES

 

 

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

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Should I connect my Solar Panels in Series or Parallel?

CAN I MIX DIFFERENT SIZE SOLAR PANELS?

 A common question asked by many iTechworld customers:

"Can I join one of your 120W Solar Panels with my existing 200W Solar Panel on my roof to get 320W?"

Mixing and matching Solar Panels can be done. In order to get the results you are looking for though you must take all the factors into consideration beforehand. In this blog I will look at the different ways of connecting Solar Panels together to make an array. I will break down the basic fundamentals to give you an idea of what wattage you should expect from your array.

When you are looking to connect Solar Panels produced by different manufacturers together the problem does not come from different manufacturing styles or cell type, it comes from the electrical characteristics of the solar panels. Watts, Volts and AMPS.

There are two ways to wire up Solar Panels. Series and Parallel. Both have their own purpose and applications and both have different outcomes when hooking up Solar Panels of different wattage together.

Firstly lets take a look at connecting Solar Panels in series. Solar Panels are usually connected in series to obtain higher output voltage. This is usually the case with 24v systems.

If we connect 4 x 150w Solar Panels in series the total power is calculated as follows:

 

 Total power = 150W + 150W + 150W + 150W = 600W

 

However if we were trying to create 620watts of power using different wattage solar panels we would have a different outcome.

 

 

Total Connected Power = 140W + 160w + 160w + 160W = 560W

 

The 140W Panel actually drags the 3 other 160W panel’s wattage down to 140W as well meaning we effectively have 4 x 140W Solar Panels.

So when connecting Solar Panels in series always try to keep the electrical properties of the solar panels identical to get the full benefit of the solar array.

Now lets look at connecting Solar Panels in Parallel. Solar Panels are connected in parallel to obtain higher output current. More AMPS. This is usually used with 12v set ups.

 For Solar Panels connected in parallel total power is calculated as follows:

 Total connected power = 140W + 150W + 150W + 150W = 590W

Unlike Solar Panels connected in series, the different Wattage parameters do not effect the overall outcome of the array. However if the voltages of the Solar Panels are drastically different then this can cause some discrepancies.

With this knowledge it should stand you in good stead when you are looking to expand your Solar array on your caravan, motor-home, boat and RV.

The great thing about blog entries is that its just the start of the conversation, do you have anything to add? Do you have a question about the information provided? Have your say in the comments section below.

 

How do Solar Panels work? HERE

Generator vs Inverter Generator which is better? HERE

How to level up your Inverter Generator's charging potential HERE

Everyone likes camping, they just don't know it yet HERE

Read about our New D4 Satellite finder that locks onto C1 HERE

Read our easy Solar installation guide HERE

Read how Generator Inverters work HERE

Read iTechworld Generator Reviews HERE

Read how to use a Generator Inverter HERE

Read how to avoid a drained battery HERE

Read about light weight Solar Panels HERE

Read 5 great tips to get the most out of your Solar Panels HERE

Read our comprehensive guide on Inverters HERE

Read about the benefits of travelling with Solar Power HERE

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

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How do Solar Panels actually work?

Solar panels are so common placed nowadays that we almost take them for granted. We see them on houses, office buildings, boats, RV's and even on ruck sacks. Personally I have always been fascinated by the science behind Solar Panels.

 

 

So how does it work?

Solar is a renewable energy resource that uses photovoltaic (PV) systems to create electricity. A solar PV system uses light to generate electricity, which you can then use to charge your Caravan, Motorhome, boat, 4x4 or other RV’s batteries.

  1. The sun's light (photons) is absorbed by the solar panel.
  2. The silicon and conductors in the panel convert the light into Direct Current (DC) electricity, which then flows into a Regulator/Solar Charge Controller.
  3. The Regulator/Solar Charge Controller brings the solar panel voltage down to around 14v to charge the battery effectively.
  4. The Regulator/Solar Charge Controller then makes sure that the Solar Panel never over charges the battery.

Origins

Its almost crazy to think that the first ever Solar Power experiment was demonstrated by French physicist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel In 1839, at age 19, he built the world's first photovoltaic cell in his father's laboratory. I wonder if he ever thought that what he was doing would change the way the world was powered. Of course Solar technology has come on leaps and bounds and now we are seeing Solar Panels with very high efficiency ratings ( See the iTechworld 100 Watt Semi Flexible Solar Panel Solar cell efficiency refers to the portion of energy in the form of sunlight that can be converted via photovoltaics into electricity.

Efficiency

The efficiency of the solar cells used in a photovoltaic system, in combination with latitude and climate, determines the annual energy output of the system. For example, a solar panel with 20% efficiency and an area of 1 m² will produce 200 Watts at Standard Test Conditions, but it can produce more when the sun is high in the sky and will produce less in cloudy conditions and when the sun is low in the sky. In central Colorado, USA which receives annual insolation of 5.5 kWh/m²/day, such a panel can be expected to produce 440 kWh of energy per year. However, in Michigan, USA which receives only 3.8kWh/m²/day, annual energy yield will drop to 280 kWh for the same panel. At more northerly European latitudes, yields are significantly lower: 175 kWh annual energy yield in southern England. Luckily we do not see a great deal of difference in Solar Panel test results here in Australia and we are fortunate to live in country ideal for Solar.

 

Different Types of Solar Cells

Solar cells are typically named after the semiconducting material they are made of. These materials must have certain characteristics in order to absorb sunlight. Some cells are designed to handle sunlight that reaches the Earth's surface, while others are optimized for use in space. Solar cells can be made of only one single layer of light-absorbing material (single-junction) or use multiple physical configurations (multi-junctions) to take advantage of various absorption and charge separation mechanisms.

Solar cells can be classified into first, second and third generation cells. The first generation cells—also called conventional, traditional or wafer-based cells—are made of crystalline silicon, the commercially predominant PV technology, that includes materials such as polysilicon and monocrystalline silicon. Second generation cells are thin film solar cells, that include amorphous silicon, CdTe and CIGS cells and are commercially significant in utility-scale photovoltaic power stations, building integrated photovoltaics or in small stand-alone power system. The third generation of solar cells includes a number of thin-film technologies often described as emerging photovoltaics—most of them have not yet been commercially applied and are still in the research or development phase. Many use organic materials, often organometallic compounds as well as inorganic substances. Despite the fact that their efficiencies had been low and the stability of the absorber material was often too short for commercial applications, there is a lot of research invested into these technologies as they promise to achieve the goal of producing low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells.

Crystalline silicon

By far, the most prevalent bulk material for solar cells is crystalline silicon (c-Si), also known as "solar grade silicon". Bulk silicon is separated into multiple categories according to crystallinity and crystal size in the resulting ingot, ribbon or wafer. These cells are entirely based around the concept of a p-n junction. Solar cells made of c-Si are made from wafers between 160 and 240 micrometers thick.

Monocrystalline silicon

Monocrystalline silicon (mono-Si) solar cells are more efficient and more expensive than most other types of cells. The corners of the cells look clipped, like an octagon, because the wafer material is cut from cylindrical ingots, that are typically grown by the Czochralski process. Solar panels using mono-Si cells display a distinctive pattern of small white diamonds.

Epitaxial silicon

Epitaxial wafers can be grown on a monocrystalline silicon "seed" wafer by atmospheric-pressure CVD in a high-throughput inline process, and then detached as self-supporting wafers of some standard thickness (e.g., 250 µm) that can be manipulated by hand, and directly substituted for wafer cells cut from monocrystalline silicon ingots. Solar cells made with this technique can have efficiencies approaching those of wafer-cut cells, but at appreciably lower cost.

Polycrystalline silicon

Polycrystalline silicon, or multicrystalline silicon (multi-Si) cells are made from cast square ingots—large blocks of molten silicon carefully cooled and solidified. They consist of small crystals giving the material its typical metal flake effect. Polysilicon cells are the most common type used in photovoltaics and are less expensive, but also less efficient, than those made from monocrystalline silicon.

Ribbon silicon

Ribbon silicon is a type of polycrystalline silicon—it is formed by drawing flat thin films from molten silicon and results in a polycrystalline structure. These cells are cheaper to make than multi-Si, due to a great reduction in silicon waste, as this approach does not require sawing from ingots. However, they are also less efficient.

Mono-like-multi silicon (MLM)

This form was developed in the 2000s and introduced commercially around 2009. Also called cast-mono, this design uses polycrystalline casting chambers with small "seeds" of mono material. The result is a bulk mono-like material that is polycrystalline around the outsides. When sliced for processing, the inner sections are high-efficiency mono-like cells (but square instead of "clipped"), while the outer edges are sold as conventional poly. This production method results in mono-like cells at poly-like prices.

Thin film

Thin-film technologies reduce the amount of active material in a cell. Most designs sandwich active material between two panes of glass. Since silicon solar panels only use one pane of glass, thin film panels are approximately twice as heavy as crystalline silicon panels, although they have a smaller ecological impact (determined from life cycle analysis). The majority of film panels have 2–3 percentage points lower conversion efficiencies than crystalline silicon. Cadmium telluride (CdTe), copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) and amorphous silicon (a-Si) are three thin-film technologies often used for outdoor applications. As of December 2013, CdTe cost per installed watt was $0.59 as reported by First Solar. CIGS technology laboratory demonstrations reached 20.4% conversion efficiency as of December 2013. The lab efficiency of GaAs thin film technology topped 28%.The quantum efficiency of thin film solar cells is also lower due to reduced number of collected charge carriers per incident photon. Most recently, CZTS solar cell emerge as the less-toxic thin film solar cell technology, which achieved ~12% efficiency. Thin film solar cells are increasing due to it being silent, renewable and solar energy being the most abundant energy source on Earth.

Cadmium telluride

Cadmium telluride is the only thin film material so far to rival crystalline silicon in cost/watt. However cadmium is highly toxic and tellurium (anion: "telluride") supplies are limited. The cadmium present in the cells would be toxic if released. However, release is impossible during normal operation of the cells and is unlikely during fires in residential roofs. A square meter of CdTe contains approximately the same amount of Cd as a single C cell nickel-cadmium battery, in a more stable and less soluble form.

Copper indium gallium selenide

Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) is a direct band gap material. It has the highest efficiency (~20%) among all commercially significant thin film materials (see CIGS solar cell). Traditional methods of fabrication involve vacuum processes including co-evaporation and sputtering. Recent developments at IBM and Nanosolar attempt to lower the cost by using non-vacuum solution processes.

Silicon thin film

Silicon thin-film cells are mainly deposited by chemical vapor deposition (typically plasma-enhanced, PE-CVD) from silane gas and hydrogen gas. Depending on the deposition parameters, this can yield amorphous silicon (a-Si or a-Si:H), protocrystalline silicon or nanocrystalline silicon (nc-Si or nc-Si:H), also called microcrystalline silicon.[46]
Amorphous silicon is the most well-developed thin film technology to-date. An amorphous silicon (a-Si) solar cell is made of non-crystalline or microcrystalline silicon. Amorphous silicon has a higher bandgap (1.7 eV) than crystalline silicon (c-Si) (1.1 eV), which means it absorbs the visible part of the solar spectrum more strongly than the higher power density infrared portion of the spectrum. The production of a-Si thin film solar cells uses glass as a substrate and deposits a very thin layer of silicon by plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD).
Protocrystalline silicon with a low volume fraction of nanocrystalline silicon is optimal for high open circuit voltage. Nc-Si has about the same bandgap as c-Si and nc-Si and a-Si can advantageously be combined in thin layers, creating a layered cell called a tandem cell. The top cell in a-Si absorbs the visible light and leaves the infrared part of the spectrum for the bottom cell in nc-Si.

Gallium arsenide thin film

The semiconductor material Gallium arsenide (GaAs) is also used for single-crystalline thin film solar cells. Although GaAs cells are very expensive, they hold the world's record in efficiency for a single-junction solar cell at 28.8%. GaAs is more commonly used in multijunction photovoltaic cells for concentrated photovoltaics (CPV, HCPV) and for solar panels on spacecrafts, as the industry favours efficiency over cost for space-based solar power.

Multijunction cells

Multi-junction cells consist of multiple thin films, each essentially a solar cell grown on top of each other, typically using metalorganic vapour phase epitaxy. Each layers has a different band gap energy to allow it to absorb electromagnetic radiation over a different portion of the spectrum. Multi-junction cells were originally developed for special applications such as satellites and space exploration, but are now used increasingly in terrestrial (CPV), an emerging technology that uses lenses and curved mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto small but highly efficient multi-junction solar cells. By concentrating sunlight up to a thousand times, High concentrated photovoltaics (HCPV) has the potential to outcompete conventional solar PV in the future.]:21,26

Tandem solar cells based on monolithic, series connected, gallium indium phosphide (GaInP), gallium arsenide (GaAs), and germanium (Ge) p–n junctions, are increasing sales, despite cost pressures. Between December 2006 and December 2007, the cost of 4N gallium metal rose from about $350 per kg to $680 per kg. Additionally, germanium metal prices have risen substantially to $1000–1200 per kg this year. Those materials include gallium (4N, 6N and 7N Ga), arsenic (4N, 6N and 7N) and germanium, pyrolitic boron nitride (pBN) crucibles for growing crystals, and boron oxide, these products are critical to the entire substrate manufacturing industry.


A triple-junction cell, for example, may consist of the semiconductors: GaAs, Ge. Triple-junction GaAs solar cells were used as the power source of the Dutch four-time World Solar Challenge winners Nuna in 2003, 2005 and 2007 and by the Dutch solar cars Solutra (2005), Twente One (2007) and 21Revolution (2009).GaAs based multi-junction devices are the most efficient solar cells to date. On 15 October 2012, triple junction metamorphic cells reached a record high of 44%.

 

Price Drop

Adjusting for inflation, it cost $96 per watt for a solar module in the mid-1970s. Process improvements and a very large boost in production have brought that figure down dramatically according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. A recent observation states that solar cell prices fall 20% for every doubling of industry capacity. It was featured in an article in a popular Australian weekly newspaper. With the solar market increasing every year, we can continue to expect to see price drops on solar panels with no decrease in the quality of product.

 

We Believe we have the Best 12v Solar Panel Range in Australia

 

 

 

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

 

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How to take care of your AGM Deep Cycle Batteries

Top tips from industry insiders and manufacturers.

With sealed construction and a designed service life of seven - ten years, AGM deep cycle batteries require very little maintenance, especially when compared to their flooded cell counterparts. Nevertheless, knowing how to correctly charge and look after your deep cycle battery is crucial in optimising its performance and life span.

To help you get the best out of your deep cycle battery, we’ve put together a guide to charging and maintenance. Still got questions? Click the contact us tab and fire away!

Storage

Never store your battery in a discharged state, this can cause sulfation (see below) and make it difficult to recharge the battery fully. Keep your battery in a cool and dry place with plenty of ventilation and remember to recharge if storing for more than four months.

Preventing Sulfation

Sulfation occurs when the sulfuric acid within lead-acid batteries reacts to form a lead sulfate on the battery’s negative plates. The surface area of the acid on the plates is reduced, making it hard for the battery to hold its charge. The best way to prevent sulfation is by charging your battery before storage. If it’s too late for that, try using a reverse pulse desulfation charger such as the 12V 8A Automatic Reverse Pulse deep cycle battery charger. The specialised battery charger can reduce effects of sulfation by using reverse pulse technology to limit the battery’s internal impedance while charging.

Charging Your Battery

Correctly charging your deep cycle AGM battery is crucial in maintaining performance. Overcharging your battery can damage the internal structure of the battery while undercharging can shorten its lifespan. The trick is to find the correct voltage for your battery, which in the case of AGM deep cycle batteries, is 14.7v. 

While it is possible to charge your AGM deep cycle battery using a traditional petrol generator, most have insufficient regulators and can damage your battery. For safe and effective charging, use the iTechworld 20Amp 240v battery charger or consider using an iTechworld solar system with regulator for a cleaner power option.

Using a Battery Charger

A 240v ‘smart’ charger, such as the iTechworld 20Amp 3 Stage deep cycle battery charger is a great tool to accurately charge your deep cycle battery. The new devices automatically detect the type of battery being charged by sending a pulse into the battery to determine its internal resistance. It can then decipher the voltage that best suits that type of battery, meaning you don’t need to worry about overcharging or even removing the battery from the charger when it’s finished.

 

 

 

Charging From Solar

For cost effective and environmentally friendly power, consider using an iTechworld solar system to charge your AGM deep cycle battery. This method is especially useful for motor home or caravan owners who are without access to grid power but do have portable solar panels. After placing the solar panels in the sun, the power they produce can be run through a regulator set to charge AGM deep cycle batteries. While the fluctuation in power levels of 12v solar panels would damage a battery if left unregulated, using a regulator such as the iTechworld intelligent Solar Charge Regulator ensures the correct voltage is consistently fed into the battery.

 

AGM DEEP CYCLE BATTERY 

SOLAR PANELS

SOLAR CHARGE CONTROLLERS/REGULATORS

BATTERY CHARGERS

Generator vs Inverter Generator which is better? HERE

How to level up your Inverter Generator's charging potential HERE

Everyone likes camping, they just don't know it yet HERE

Read about our New D4 Satellite finder that locks onto C1 HERE

Read our easy Solar installation guide HERE

Read how Generator Inverters work HERE

Read iTechworld Generator Reviews HERE

Read how to use a Generator Inverter HERE

Read how to avoid a drained battery HERE

Read about light weight Solar Panels HERE

Read 5 great tips to get the most out of your Solar Panels HERE

Read our comprehensive guide on Inverters HERE

Read about the benefits of travelling with Solar Power HERE

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

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Honda Yamaha Generator vs Inverter Generator

Honda Yamaha Hyundai iTechworld Generator

 

Because of the similarity of the terms and the fact that many people use them almost interchangeably, there seems to be quite a bit of confusion among consumers as to what the difference is between a generator, an inverter and an inverter generator. And once you know what the difference is, which one is better? We’ll try to provide succinct, informative answers to these questions here, so read on!

 


 

Generators

Conventional generators have been around for quite a while, and the basic concept behind them has remained essentially unchanged. They consist of an energy source, usually a fossil fuel such as diesel, propane or gasoline, which powers a motor attached to an alternator that produces electricity. The motor must run at a constant speed (usually 3600 rpm) to produce the standard current that most household uses require. If the engine’s rpm fluctuates, so will the frequency (Hertz) of electrical output.

 

Inverters

A traditional inverter draws power from a fixed DC source (typically a comparatively fixed source like a Deep Cycle Battery), and uses electronic circuitry to “invert” the DC power into the AC power. The converted AC can be at any required voltage and frequency with the use of appropriate equipment, but for consumer-level applications in Australia, the most common combination is probably taking the 12V DC power from car, boat or RV batteries and making it into the 240V AC power required for most everyday uses.

 

 

Inverter Generators

Inverter generators are a relatively recent development, made possible by advanced electronic circuitry and high-tech magnets. These are generally 3-phase generators that output AC current like most traditional generators, but that current is then converted to DC, and then “inverted” back to clean AC power that maintains a single phase, pure sine wave at the required voltage and frequency.
 
Because these units employ the technologies used by both generators and inverters, they are perhaps most correctly called “inverter generators” but since people tend to simplify terminology, “inverter generator” often gets clipped, sometimes to “inverter” and sometimes to “generator” which leads to confusion as to what is what and which one is being discussed. In spite of this lack of clarity, both terms are commonly used to refer to inverter generators, even by the manufacturers. (As a side note, it should be mentioned that Inverter Generators are also sometimes called "I-Generators"

 
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to settle this debate over nomenclature here, but you should be aware of the terminology when you’re dealing with the topic of consumer-level electrical power generation.

 

OK Ian – But Which One is Better?

First, we’ll leave traditional plain old inverters aside, as they are not suitable for most applications you might have in mind when you are looking for a “generator”, and we’ll focus on a comparison of the two types of machines that can properly be called “electric generators”.
 
So what’s better: conventional, tried and true generators, or the newer inverter-style generators? Well, as is often the case, there is not just one answer to this question. It depends on a number of factors, including what applications you have in mind and your budget. Let’s take a look at a number of important considerations and how each type of generator stacks up for each of them. 


Size / Weight / Portability

Many of the new inverter generators are surprisingly small and lightweight for the electrical generation punch that they pack. Sizes of just a couple of cubic feet and weights in the 18 to 40 kg range are not uncommon today. This means that they are a breeze to transport and store, and while you might not want to take one on a hike, they will easily fit in your car, boat or RV. In contrast, many conventional generators are heavy and bulky, often requiring a substantial metal frame and wheels. While they are technically portable in that they can be moved from place to place, they lack the convenience factor of the smaller, lighter inverters.


 

Fuel Efficiency / Run Times

Conventional generators are often designed simply to get a certain amount of power where it is needed, and to keep the power on. Factors like the size of the unit have not been a major consideration. This has meant that conventional designs can often accommodate sizeable fuel tanks, with the obvious result being relatively long run times. Inverter Generators on the other hand are frequently designed from the get-go to be compact and lightweight. This means they can’t have a big, heavy fuel tank. The obvious result of a more limited fuel capacity is shorter run times. Nevertheless, inverters Generators fuel-efficient engines and their ability to adjust engine speed to the load at hand means they make better use of the fuel they do have (savings can be as much as 40%), and their run times of 6 to 12 hours  are generally more than adequate for their applications. A more fuel-efficient Inverter generator also helps to reduce exhaust emissions.

 


Noise

The issue of noise is one that truly separates the two categories of generators. Inverter generators are often designed from the ground up to be comparatively quiet. Quieter engines, special mufflers, and sound-dampening technology are used to reduce noise to amazingly low levels. In addition, conventional models have to run at a constant speed in order to produce electricity with the desired characteristics. If the engine speed varies, the qualities of the power generated also change, which is clearly undesirable, so the engine speed must remain constant, and with that comes the constant noise of a generator running at full speed. Inverter Generators, on the other hand, can adjust the electrical characteristics of the power produced using microprocessors and special electronics. This means that the engine can throttle back when the load is light, saving fuel and substantially reducing noise. The iTechworld 4.8KVA Inverter Generator, for example, produces just 52 decibels at of sound when running at 1/4 load at 7m away, and only about 57 decibels when running at full load. (An electric razor is rated at 68 decibels!) In contrast, many conventional generators are rated at 65 to 75 decibels – the same range that includes chain saws and jet engines!
 

Max Power Output

Conventional generators come in just about any size you want, from 500 watts up to 50,000 watts and higher. Inverter generators’ focus on quiet operation and portability means that their maximum output possibilities are more limited – they are mainly available in 1000 to 4000 watt models.
 

Quality of Power Produced

A conventional generator is nothing more than an engine connected to an alternator and run at a speed that produces the desired AC frequency, regardless of the load on it (as the load increases the engine throttles up to keep the engine speed the same). The output of the alternator is connected directly to the load, without any processing.
 
With an inverter generator, the engine is connected to an efficient alternator, which produces AC electricity, just like a conventional generator. But then a rectifier is used to convert the AC power to DC and capacitors are used to smooth it out to a certain degree. The DC power is then “inverted” back into clean AC power of the desired frequency and voltage (e.g., 240v AC). Regulation is very good and this system produces consistent power characteristics independent of the engine speed. The result is much “cleaner” power (“pure sine waves”) than is possible with a conventional generator, essentially the same quality of electricity that you typically get from your electric company. Why is this important? Well, more and more products today use some form of microprocessor. Not just your computer, but also your phones, TVs, game consoles, printers, DVD players, and even kitchen appliances and power tools. And all these microprocessors are very sensitive to the quality of the electricity they use. Using power that isn't "clean" can make these devices malfunction, or even damage them. So any application that uses sensitive electronics – and that includes a lot more things than you might think – will likely benefit substantially from the cleaner power provided by an inverter generator.
 


 

Simplicity of Design and Construction

While there is no evidence that inverter generators are overly complex or that they have a higher failure rate than conventional types, it is true that some people see simplicity of design and construction as an advantage for a conventional design. Since conventional models are basically just a motor with an alternator attached, they are fundamentally simple machines – simple to run, maintain and repair. The motor just cranks along at a standard rpm, usually 3600, and there are not usually any complicated controls, electronics or other things to go wrong. That said, inverter generators have been around for a number of years now. The technologies they use are generally well-tested, and inverter generators have not demonstrated any significant reliability issues in comparison with traditional designs. So whether simplicity in design and construction is an advantage or a negligible issue is really just a matter of personal preference.
 

Price

With all their advantages, inverter generators must have a downside, right? Well, if there is one, it is probably cost – an inverter generator simply costs more than a conventional one with a similar power rating. So the benefits – portability and convenience, fuel-efficiency, much lower noise levels, and so on – do come at a price. In weighing which type of generator is right for you, you'll have to look at your application and your budget. Only you can decide if the higher price tag is worth the extra features and benefits. But judging from the soaring popularity of inverter generators, and the excellent reviews that models like the iTechworld 4.8KVA Inverter Generator consistently receive, it is clear that more and more people are deciding that the advantages are definitely worth the price tag. With iTechworld’s aggressive marketing strategy to take on the big boys in the Inverter Generator world it is now possible to get a high performace 4.8KVA Inverter Generator for just $1899. See HERE
 

 

Conventional Generators vs. Inverter Generators

Both conventional and inverter generators have some inherent advantages and drawbacks. We think the criteria we’ve discussed in this article are the most critical ones in choosing which technology is right for you. To sum things up, we’ve compiled our take on the above considerations in the table below, and indicated which type of generator comes out on top for each of them.
 


 

 

 

So Which One Wins – the Conventional Generator or the Inverter Generator?

Again, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons. If all you need is to get some power someplace where there isn’t any, and you are more concerned with dollars than decibels, a conventional unit may be the way to go for you. But more and more people are finding that the convenience, portability, quiet operation and clean power offered by modern units like the iTechworld 4.8KVA Inverter Generator is definitely the way to go.

 

 

How to level up your Inverter Generator's charging potential HERE

Everyone likes camping, they just don't know it yet HERE

Read about our New D4 Satellite finder that locks onto C1 HERE

Read our easy Solar installation guide HERE

Read how Generator Inverters work HERE

Read iTechworld Generator Reviews HERE

Read how to use a Generator Inverter HERE

Read how to avoid a drained battery HERE

Read about light weight Solar Panels HERE

Read 5 great tips to get the most out of your Solar Panels HERE

Read our comprehensive guide on Inverters HERE

Read about the benefits of travelling with Solar Power HERE

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

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