What type of generator do I need?

Inverter? AVR? conventional?...when searching for the right generator type, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the jargon. Luckily, working out which is the best generator for you is easier than it looks. What type of generator do i need?

What Type of Generator Do I Need?

Essentially it comes down to getting the right voltage control. Take a look at our cheat's guide below and you'll soon be powered up with the right generator:

1. Conventional (Condenser Type)

The conventional generator has a condenser type voltage control which is suitable for power tools and resistive loads such as a kettle, toaster, lights and other equipment not requiring a great accuracy of power supply. These low-maintenance brushless generators are generally very sturdy, making them a great choice for tradies, farmers and builders wanting to power tools and equipment such as drills, saws pumps etc. However, because they don't regulate the voltage, they aren't suitable for equipment that will be sensitive to power surges, spikes or "brownouts" (partial blackouts). In other words, they're not recommended for charging laptops, mobile phones or tablets.

Also, no matter what load is connected, the conventional generator will run at one speed only, making them less fuel-efficient than other models...meaning if your conventional trade generator is rated at 5000 watts continuous, it will constantly be putting out 5000 watts no matter the draw. So even though they are typically cheaper to buy, they are not the most economical type of generator available.

Conventional generators may be fitted with optional safety extras and can also come built for particular applications such as welding or mining specific jobs.

Crommelins 8.5kVA Workcover Approved; popular in the hire and rental industry
8kva Petrol Generator: for trade and farm use

2. AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulation)

As the name suggests, automatic voltage regulation (AVR) generators regulate the voltage output. This makes sure the power supply is consistent, without brownouts or spikes. As a result, AVR generators are best for use with more sensitive equipment and also to start electric motors. However, it's worth remembering that even though they regulate the voltage, they don't generate the purest of sine wave power that today's high-tech equipment requires - for that you need an inverter generator (below).

AVR generators, on the other hand, put out a modified sine wave, and are able to run most appliances. They are typically medium to large sized generators and are popular for home or business back up purposes, coming in both portable and stationary formats. AVR can also be custom fitted to many conventional trade generators if you require the versatility of running both heavy equipment as well as more sensitive appliances. Auto-start generators which are popular for home solar back up and automatic mains back up are also fitted with AVR alternators.

Generators for home use
Auto Start AVR Generators are great for home solar or mains back up

3. Inverter (Electronic Voltage Control)

As a rule of thumb, the more advanced the technology, the higher the chance that it requires a pure sine wave. And that's where the inverter generator comes in.

The inverter control system maintains a consistently high accuracy level of voltage and frequency fluctuations with very low wave distortion. The result is power that is as smooth as what you get from the grid - often smoother. Not only do inverter generators deliver the purest of power, their other huge advantage is that they automatically adjust their engine speed in direct proportion to the load applied so you get the maximum fuel efficiency.

Typically, you'll find invertor generators are best for small domestic appliances and recreational use, such as camping, fishing/boating, caravanning and 4WD-touring. We also find these types of generators to be especially popular for mobile business such as; coffee carts, food vans/trucks and market stalls.

Yamaha Inverter Generators: great for recreation or mobile businesses

Inverter generators are designed to be very quiet, lightweight, and portable. On the flipside, they usually won't put out as much power as conventional and AVR generators, so aren't suited to heavy loads or industrial use. The My Generator inverter range includes units from 800 watts up to around 7000 watts, with the Yamaha 2000w inverter generator model being one of the most popular units:

Pat Callinan shows the EF2000iS

Now you're worked out which generator type is right for you, check out our range of generators at mygenerator.com.au, or call us on 1300 400 122 with any additional questions!

DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.

8 thoughts on What type of generator do I need?

8 March 2021
Hi, i want to use a generator to charge my DJI agras agriculture drone battery. The charger have 2600w output what kind of generator do you guggest and how many KVAs?

My Generator Response
Hi Nikos, This sounds like a large charger. Can you provide the make and model number of the charger so we can take a look? We'll need to look at the input power rather than the output. Thanks.

6 October 2018
I have a 31 foot 1997 30 amp Class C rv that the 4000 watt generator does not work. Will an AVR work to run my AC, fridge, lights, and 32 inch hdtv or will i need an inverter generator? Most places we go have electric but there are times we need a generator. TIA.

My Generator Response
Hi Mike, in our experience an AVR generator will be fine to run your described appliances. The voltage regulator will protect your appliances from any large surges that could cause possible damage. Typically RV owners will opt for an inverter generator however, as they are usually quieter and more fuel efficient than comparable sized open from AVR conventional gensets. Thanks

9 May 2018
The Gentech Honda 12kVa inverter has the right capacity for me, I think. However I would like to hardwire the power to my home via a change over switch, mains to generator. Can this model give me, say, 32 Amps to my house? Or is 15 Amps its highest output. I've seen 9 kVa with 27Amp 3 pin? Thanks

My Generator Response
Hi Bevis, the Gentech EP120i Honda 12kVa Inverter Generator is a popular model for backup power to homes and small businesses. The maximum that can be drawn from each outlet is 15A. If you need to get more power from the generator you would need to have the electrician hardwire from the breaker/Alternator source. Note: 9600W is the maximum output and should not be run at that level regularly. You will get the best performance out of the generator if there is a buffer of power for peak demands. Thanks

17 March 2018
I live on a mining claim in central QLD I have 3 generators a ABLE diesel generator/welder, a Yamaha EF 2800 and a senci se10000e which of these if any are suitable to run my new home along with solar power and invertor?

My Generator Response
Hi Peter, if you intend to use the generator to back up your home solar system then you need to check with your solar installer what generator (size and type) is best compatible for your particular set up. Your small Yamaha Inverter Generator may be suitable, or you may require a larger generator such as a model from our Solar Auto Start Generator range. Domestic solar systems vary in size and type so the solar installer for your particular system can best advise what generator will suit. Many thanks

12 January 2018
Hello. I want to have a safe generator to run outdoor music events. I would be looking at maybe 1200 to 1500 watts of sound and i don't want anyone's amplifiers to get fried. I currently own a 7000 watt avr generator that has circuit breakers and i've been using a surge protector on top of it. I've used it a few times and it has worked alright. Do i really need an inverter generator for the long run? Help me keep live entertainment alive. Steve

My Generator Response
Hi Steve, an inverter generator would still be recommended. For your required application, you will get much quieter operation and because they auto-idle up and down based on power output required, you get better fuel efficiency compared to conventional generators. Additionally, you are looking to run electronic equipment and thus quality inverter generators deliver the cleanest of power ensuring your equipment will not be damaged. For around 2000 watts of power, we would recommend any of the following popular models: Yamaha 2000w Inverter Generator Cromtech 2400w Inverter Generator Briggs & Stratton 2200w Inverter Generator Feel free to call our team on 1300 400 122 if you would like to discuss further - Happy entertaining mate!

17 October 2017
Hi, I want to power my home with a 12KVA generator with an AVR or Capacitor regulator. My diesel tractor has 17 HP.on the power takeoff, but the only hangup is to power my computers etc. I do have a 1500 watt 12v inverter, and a cigarette plug in [12v to 110v] suggested by apple as good to charge the computer. So do I buy the cheaper capacitor regulated generator and cobble together a way to charge sensitive light load computers etc, or get the AVR controlled a have a modified sign wave ? Thanks very much, Derek

My Generator Response
Hi Derek, the smallest size PTO Tractor Generator we have is 17kVA and requires 23hp to run. We recommend a generator with Automatic Voltage regulation, or even better a generator that puts out pure sine wave power like this Gentech Honda 12kVA Inverter Generator - It's a pure sine wave ideal for home or small business back up and you can void the tractor all together. Thanks

4 July 2017
Is an AVR generator ok for charging an iPad or would I need an inverter? If AVR is not sufficient, is there a way to use a separate device (maybe a UPS?) to provide clean power for charging the iPad?

My Generator Response
Hi Joel, Hi, a quality AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulator) generator reduces the voltage fluctuation to /- 2.5%, making it suitable to run all your domestic appliances, including small electronic items like iPads. Typically most people will run other household items at the same time as their small electronic devices, e.g. fridges, lights, pumps, air conditioners etc. If you only wanted to run small electronic devices and nothing else, then you would use a small suitcase style inverter generator, as they are typically smaller, lighter and quieter than AVR generators. Thank you.

29 September 2016
Really great article - I had no idea what type I needed, after reading this definitive article now I do! I'll be buying my inverter from you shortly for this upcoming wet season.

My Generator Response
Thanks Adam!

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