Difference between Generator and Inverter

A generator is an electromechanical machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. While an inverter is an electronic device that converts direct current (DC) into AC. The inverter takes DC power stored in a battery and converts it into alternating current(AC).

Nowadays, due to the ever-increasing demand for electricity in households and industries for running various electrical appliances and machinery, some kind of backup is necessary in order to ensure the continual working of electronic devices and machines without any form of power disruption. There are mainly two kinds of electricity backup devices namely – Generators and Inverters.

In this article, we will discuss the differences between the generator and inverter as backup devices with their basic introduction.

What is an Electric Generator?

A generator is basically a machine that transforms mechanical energy from different sources into electrical energy as output. The input mechanical energy is obtained from steam turbines, wind turbines, hydro turbines, etc. The principle of operation of an electric generator is based on the concept of electromagnetic induction. According to this principle, when the rotor of the generator wounded with a coil of conducting wire is placed in a magnetic field, it results in the generation of electromotive force (EMF) induced on it.

Electric Generator

A generator plays a very vital role in providing the needed electric power supply when there is a power cut or power failure. The generators utilize non-renewable sources of energy such as coal, oil, natural gas, etc. which requires high upkeep. But the upside of using a generator for power production is that it can run for a longer duration. The generator also takes renewable sources like wind & tidal to generate electricity.

What is an Inverter?

Inverter is an electronic circuit that generates alternating current (AC) when direct current (DC) is supplied to it. In order to ensure the proper working of electronic devices in homes and industries, the inverter is comprised of an additional circuit. This additional circuit is used for managing the loads attached to the inverter and for enabling proper charging of the battery when required.


Inverters are considered stand-alone backup devices that function similarly to power adapters, to power up various electronic equipment via the traditional wiring system. Inverters find a wide range of applications in running several home appliances such as refrigerators, fans, lamps, and other devices consuming low power. Inverters are also used for a variety of industrial applications like manufacturing plants, power stations, transportation facilities, oil production, pipeline control station, etc.

Difference between Generator and Inverter

The table below illustrates the important differences between a generator and an inverter.

DefinitionAn electric generator is a machine that transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy.Inverter is an electric device that produces an alternating current (AC) from a Direct current (DC) as input.
Produced voltageThe generator provides an output power of about 220 – 230 volts, at a frequency level of 50Hz. The 440 volts,11 kV generator is also manufactured to cater to a bulk power requirement.Inverter generates 220 – 230 volts of alternating current from 12 or 24 volts of DC power.
Power sourceThe generator relies on conventional sources of energy as input fuel to function such as natural gas, coal, oil, diesel, etc.Inverter operates on a battery. Therefore, it relies entirely on electricity as input for charging purposes.
Initial starting durationThe generator takes a long time to start working in the event of a power blackout.Inverter starts working immediately during a power outage, as it has automated functionality.
CapabilityGenerators have the capability to withstand heavy mechanical loads.Inverters being run on low power, have comparatively lesser capacity and can handle low-power devices.
UpkeepGenerators require frequent and high maintenance as they run on natural resources like diesel, natural gas, etc. For instance, the distilled water, greasing oil, etc. have to be changed often for generators.Inverters being stationary devices running on a battery, that is charged by electricity, do not need high upkeep.
Weight and dimensionGenerators being large-sized machines are quite bulky.Inverters having compressed sizes are comparatively lighter.
Fuel storageGenerators need space to store fuel.Inverters do not demand any storage space.
Power generationThe power rating of generators ranges from 500 watts to 50 kW or even more.The power rating of generators ranges from 1000 W to 4000 W or even more.
ExpenseGenerators are relatively less expensive as compared to inverters.Inverters are comparatively more expensive than generators having the same power rating.
Pollution issuesGenerators produce a lot of noise and environmental pollution due to the emission of smoke and harmful gases due to the combustion of fuels required to generate electricity.On the contrary, inverters operate on chargeable batteries and thus have no adverse impact on noise or environmental pollution.
ApplicationsGenerators find numerous applications in the production of electricity for power plants, and behave as emergency generators in hospitals, water supplies, etc. when there is a power outage.Inverters are generally used to operate industrial machines or domestic electronic devices such as PV systems, wind turbines, refrigerators, fans, ACs, etc.


In conclusion, this article highlights the most prominent differences that set the generator and inverter apart from one another. Both generators and inverters are used as power backup devices that start functioning in conditions of complete power failure, affecting the working of various important machinery in factories and industries.

However, there exists a lot of significant differences between them. One of the most prominent differences is that generators are big and bulky electrical machines that perform the conversion of mechanical energy into electrical energy with the aid of external fuels. While inverters are relatively lighter, low-powered electronic devices that require DC power from a battery source in order to generate an AC power supply.

Leave a Comment