Are Portable Inverter Generators Safe for Electronic Gadgets?

Are Portable Inverter Generators Safe for Electronic Gadgets?

We are in the age where electronics have rapidly taken center stage and there is no sign of slowing down. Today, people have become more and more dependent on smartphones and other gadgets in their everyday life so it’s really important to know how to take good care of them. Electronic gadgets are typical consumer electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, e-readers, laptop computers, and other nifty devices. It can also include medical electronic devices or equipment that you can’t live without. Portable inverter generators like the Honda EU series, on the other hand, are a type of generator that’s lighter weight and quieter that’s why they are perfect for camping, powering your RV, DJ-ing event, sporting event vendors, food truck, on-site job, or any off-grid outdoor activities. When using a portable generator, it is important to know if they are gadget-friendly!


So can I charge my iPhone or laptop to a portable inverter generator without damaging them? The quick answer to this question is YES… portable inverter generators are safe for your electronic gadgets. Thanks to the advanced Microprocessor-controlled inverter technology making it possible to develop portable inverter generators that can produce “clean” AC power. Clean in this context does not mean environment-friendly but an electricity that is free from voltage surges and spikes although most portable inverter generator today are eco-friendly as well.

But Why Should I be Worried?

Well most electronic devices today use some kind of microprocessors and microchip components that are designed to handle specific voltages in order to perform a task. These components communicate with each other through signals that are determined by voltage threshold levels corresponding to logical “1” or “0”. It is easy for a signal sent as logical “1” to be received as logical “0” when voltage surge or spike occurs. Simple errors like this can cause your data to start getting corrupted and lead to system failure over time. 

Printed Circuit Board

An extreme example of the detrimental effect of voltage surge would be a lightning strike while you are watching TV resulting in a power surge that can instantly fry the circuitry inside your TV. Components might not be able to handle the huge amount of power causing permanent damage. Power surge can also cause arcing between two conductors that are physically not connected resulting in short circuit. The effects of voltage surges are not always immediate. Even if your electronic device may still work, the damage can significantly reduce the life of your smartphones or laptop computers. This is one of the reasons why some gadgets last longer than others even though they are from the same brand.

How Portable Inverter Generators Produce Clean AC Power?

Conventional generators have been around for a long time so the technology is pretty old. In fact, the first smaller generators came out in the early 1900’s. Honda introduced the first innovative portable generator in January 1965 that ultimately became their best-selling unit among all Honda power products during that time. With conventional generators, the AC power output come directly from the AC alternators which converts mechanical energy of the motor to electrical energy in the form of multi-phase alternating current (AC). However, without any subsequent processing, the result is a “not so clean” AC power. This quality of electricity is good enough before computers ruled the world. Commercial electric companies are very much aware of this that’s why they work hard to provide us with “clean” AC power.

Portable inverter generators on the other hand are recent development. Honda is also the first to integrate inverter technology in their portable generators. In 1998, Honda introduced the Microprocessor-controlled Sine Wave Inverter which allows electricity to be generated with smooth sine-wave characteristics. The result is high quality power output with a waveform that is essentially the same quality of electricity from commercial electric company or your outlets at home. The raw high voltage multiphase AC power produced by the generator’s efficient alternator is converted to DC by the rectifier. Then the precision “Sine-wave inverter” control system, which smoothens and cleans the signal, will digitally convert the DC back to the desired standard 120V at 60Hz AC power that is reliable and high quality regardless of engine speed… also called “clean” AC power.

Evolution of Waveforms

The best way to differentiate conventional generators vs inverter generators is by looking at their waveforms. Commercial AC or alternating current generates a sinusoidal or sine wave that is pure and almost perfect. The waveforms produced by conventional generators are sometimes triangle or square sine wave and they contain distortion or noise. The AC power produced by portable inverter generators are ultra-clean and is akin to electric companies because it kinda goes through a filtering process resulting in a ultra clean AC power that is ideal for sensitive electronic devices such as smartphones and computers.

How Inverter Generator Works
Diagram showing how inverter generators produce clean AC power.

How Can I Tell If My Electronic Gadgets Have Microprocessor or Microcontroller?

Hard to tell for sure unless you open and look inside your electronic devices. But I would say any electronic device that is required to be charged or plugged and built in year 2000’s or later will most likely have some kind of microprocessor or more commonly microcontroller. If you are not sure, it is always better to be safe than sorry and assume that they do. You can also reach out to the manufacturer’s technical support if necessary. They are usually more than welcome to answer questions.

What Else Can I Do To Protect My Electronic Gadgets?

You can do a two-tiered approach especially if you have several electronic devices to connect to a portable generator. Get one of those point-of-use surge protection strips that you can plug to your portable generator. Multiple electronic devices can be plugged into one strip so you don’t have to worry about charging your smartphone while working on your laptop computer.

Another good option is to use a UPS… and no, not the one that delivers your online orders. UPS or Uninterruptible Power Supply provides a constant power source for your electronic devices in the event of power outage. Most UPS available today comes with surge protection which can help minimize power spike to help protect your electronic gadgets from damage. The only consideration is to make sure your UPS unit can work with your portable generator. Not all of them do.

Conclusion

Protecting your electronic devices from voltage surges should be considered of high importance especially if you can’t live without them. Portable inverter generators are safe for most sensitive electronic devices because they provide ultra clean AC power that is comparable to your home electricity. This is made possible by advanced technology enabling manufacturers to equip their portable generators with microprocessors. So if you are preparing for that big weekend camping trip or tailgating party, you can be sure that your portable inverter generator will keep your electronic devices charged and at the same time safe from damage.

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