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Ups Vs Inverter Vs Generator: Detailed Comparison

When the power supply gets interrupted it may cause mayhem. It is then you need backup mechanisms like inverter, generator, and UPS to run your electric devices.

Although they work for the same aim, they differ from each other. But what makes them different?

In this article, we will learn how an inverter, generator, and UPS run and the working principles behind them.

We will also evaluate the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of the trio.

Let us get started with our UPS vs. Inverter vs. Generator debate.

Before that, let us learn about each power backup unit in detail.

1. What Is Inverter?

inverterInverters, also called AC Drives, are power electronic devices. The primary function of an inverter is to convert direct current (DC) voltage to alternate current (AC) voltage.

How does an Inverter Work?

The inverter takes the AC power supply from the AC mains and converts it into DC using a rectifier. This converted DC charges a battery. Since all household systems and industrial applications use AC power, the inverter immediately re-converts this DC to AC power. This is a continuous process, and there is no time interval.

Where do you Use an Inverter?

You find the application of inverters mostly in households or small offices to re-establish power supply during an electricity blackout.

What is the Source of Power Supply for the Inverter?

Unlike a generator, the inverter does not need any external power source to generate electricity. Instead, it draws power from the battery and stores it in the battery in the form of DC. That said, the performance of the inverter is majorly dependent on the type of batteries installed in the device.

What are the Significant Features of an Inverter?

An inverter helps in restoring or re-establishing the power supply immediately after a power cut. It comes with both automatic and manual options for power restoration. Automatic power restoration takes just a few seconds to restore the electricity. In the case of a manual restoration, there are high chances of power blanking out until the re-establishment of electricity.

What are the Advantages of Using an Inverter?

Let us take a look at the benefits of using an inverter as a power backup solution:

  • You can use an inverter at homes or small offices.
  • These devices come in various capacities like small and large.
  • The inverters come in a variety of options suitable for different purposes and equipment.
  • The inverters are eco-friendly, as they do not cause any pollution.
  • Some inverter models are cost-effective.
  • They do not make a loud noise when operating. They are relatively silent.
  • The inverters are ideal for sensitive electronic appliances like computers, printers, etc.
  • The backup time of the inverters is mostly dependent on the load. The lower is the load, the higher will be the backup time.
  • They offer convenient and uninterrupted power backup.
  • In case of a power interruption, the inverter can supply power to some selected appliances at home for about four to six hours.
  • The next-generation inverter models are compatible with solar power.
  • An inverter has lower running costs.

What are the Disadvantages of Using an Inverter?

Below are the limitations of using an inverter:

  • In case of a power outage in your entire area and if the battery gets totally drained, then there is no use with the inverter.
  • You can use your inverter for only a few hours. Extended usage may cause the battery to drain out completely.
  • These inverters require regular maintenance of the batteries.
  • Because of a small disruption in the power supply, electronic appliances like a computer will reset or restart on an inverter.

2. What Is A Generator?

generatorA generator is nothing but a temporary source of power whenever there is a power outage.

How does a Generator Work?

As the name says, a generator works by generating electricity once it starts. It is an electromechanical device that uses the principle of electricity and magnetism for electricity generation. It converts mechanical energy into electrical energy for producing power.

Where do you Use a Generator?

The application of generators is mostly found in areas that use AC power supply as the power stations, industrial areas, and other residential areas. You use a generator when there is a requirement for a lot of electricity.

What is the Source of Power Supply for the Generator?

Since a generator converts mechanical energy into electricity, it requires mechanical energy sources to generate power. These include fuels like diesel, kerosene, petrol, etc.

What are the Significant Features of a Generator?

A generator is of great help when you want to use multiple devices, equipment, or applications simultaneously for a prolonged period.

What are the Advantages of Using a Generator?

Let us learn about the various advantages of using a generator:

  • A generator does not require an existing power supply to generate electricity.
  • It is very useful in an area where there is no power supply at all.
  • It is a most powerful device as it helps in providing electricity to a whole building or heavier equipment.
  • A generator can provide a lot of power for a longer time.
  • Generators are available in different fuel capacity options.
  • The amount of power produced by a generator can be from 500 watts to up to 50,000 watts.

What are the Disadvantages of Using a Generator?

Here are the disadvantages of using a generator:

  • You need to start a generator whenever there is a power outage.
  • When using a generator, there is a power disruption from the time of power cut till the generator starts.
  • It tends to make a lot of noise when operating.
  • It is not environmental-friendly because it causes a lot of pollution due to the fuel.
  • You cannot install a generator inside your room or house.
  • A generator has higher running costs with relatively low efficiency.
  • It has high maintenance costs and replacing the parts is a very costly affair.
  • Storing and replenishing fuel could be an inconvenient task.
  • A generator can pose a risk of fire hazard.
  • They run at the same speed, i.e., 3600 rpm, irrespective of the load. That said, it will cost your higher even when there is less load.
  • Generators are not compatible with solar panels.

3. What Is A UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply)?

upsA UPS, also known as Uninterrupted Power Supply, is a power backup system that keeps your electrical appliances running without any interruption during a power cut.

How does a UPS Work?

A UPS features a battery and a battery charger that come in a single standalone unit. It stops the power interruption to the electrical devices during a power blackout.

Where do you Use a UPS?

A UPS is exclusively designed for supplying uninterrupted power to computers and other electronic systems. It provides a sufficient amount of power to your computer systems so that you have ample time to save the data and shut them down safely during a power outage.

What is the Source of Power Supply for UPS?

Just like an inverter, a UPS also draws power from the battery. That said, the performance of the UPS is majorly dependent on the type of batteries installed in the device.

What are the Significant Features of a UPS?

The UPS can easily switch from the grid power source to its own power source almost instantaneously. While the inverters create a more significant lag, the UPS comparatively draws electricity from the battery without any time lag.

What are the Advantages of Using a UPS?

Let us take a look at the benefits of using a UPS as a power backup solution:

  • You can use a UPS for your computers at homes or small offices.
  • A UPS protects from voltage fluctuations since it draws power from the battery.
  • The advanced versions of UPS come with a combination of all the three (UPS, inverter, and generator) built-in. When that said, it first acts as a UPS and then changes to a built-in inverter or generator all by itself, accordingly.
  • They do not make a loud noise when operating. They are relatively silent.
  • A UPS does not need an external source for generating electricity.
  • The UPS is ideal for sensitive electronic appliances like computers, other electronic equipment, etc.
  • It delivers a continuous power supply and stops the electronic system from getting switched off.
  • There is no time lag when there is a power interruption.
  • The time lag for a UPS is about one to three milliseconds, whereas for an inverter it is around 500 milliseconds.

What are the Disadvantages of Using a UPS?

Below are the limitations of using a UPS:

  • A UPS system is costlier than the inverter.
  • It can provide a power supply for a limited time, i.e., for about 10 to 15 minutes only.
  • They are exclusively for IT systems and other electronic equipment that can get damaged by a sudden power cut.
  • A UPS requires high maintenance and also involves high maintenance costs.
  • A UPS system does not last forever. It has a life period of about 10 years on average.
  • It cannot protect heavy appliances from power failures.
  • A UPS needs a professional for installation.
  • It consumes more power than any other standalone device.
  • You need to connect your UPS system to a power outlet to keep the battery in it always charged.

What Are The Key Differences between Generator, Inverter, and UPS?

Here is a comparison table depicting the differences between a generator, inverter, and UPS. This comparative analysis will give you a complete and easy understanding of these power backup systems.

UPS vs. Inverter vs. Generator

PARAMETERS UPS INVERTER GENERATOR
Functionality A UPS generates electric power. An inverter generates electric power. A generator generates electricity.
Working Principle  A UPS works by stopping the sudden interruption of power to the equipment. An inverter works by converting DC to AC. A generator works by generating electricity by converting mechanical energy into electricity.
Source Of Power Supply A UPS gets the power supply from AC mains. An inverter gets the power supply from AC mains. A generator gets the power supply from external sources like fuels (diesel, petrol, kerosene, etc.)
Power Storage A UPS stores the electric power in the form of DC in the battery. An inverter stores the electric power in the form of DC in the battery. A generator does not store power but generates electricity and supplies it directly to the AC mains.
Offering Power Supply A UPS can provide power back to a single machine. (Computers and electronic systems) An inverter can offer power backup to multiple devices. A generator supplies electricity directly to the AC mains.
Noise A UPS does not create any noise when operating. An inverter does not create any noise when operating. A generator creates a lot of noise when operating.
Method Of Operation A UPS turns on automatically the moment it detects an interruption in the main power supply. An inverter has switches and sensors. The sensors detect the power cut and then switch on the inverter after the main supply turns off. You need to start the generator manually using a chord.
Time Lag There is no time lag in UPS in case of a power interruption. The time lag for a UPS is about one to three milliseconds. There is a significant time lag for an inverter when compared to a UPS, which is around 500 milliseconds. When using a generator, there is a power disruption or time lag from the time of power cut till the generator starts.
Amount Of Power Supply The amount of power supply offered by the UPS to the electrical equipment is solely dependent on the charge on the battery. The amount of power supply offered by the inverter to the electrical appliances is solely dependent on the charge on the battery. A generator continues to generate electricity as long as there is an external power source.
Power Backup Time A UPS can supply power backup to the computer and other electronic systems only for about 10 to 15 minutes. In case of a power interruption, the inverter can supply power to some selected appliances at home for about four to six hours. In case of a power interruption, a generator can generate electricity and supply it to homes as long as the machine runs.
Environmental-friendly The UPS systems are eco-friendly, as they do not cause any pollution. The inverters are eco-friendly, as they do not cause any pollution. The generators are not environmental-friendly because they cause a lot of pollution due to the fuel.
Price A UPS is costlier than the inverter. An inverter is less expensive than UPS. A generator is the most expensive temporary power source.

Conclusion:

To sum up, all three power backup devices are very useful and serve various purposes. UPS systems secure your sensitive electronic appliances like computers, other electronic equipment, etc. They save the data from being lost by not allowing the machine to turn off immediately in a power outage.

When you have an inverter installed at home, you do not have to worry about the power cut. You can still use your selected appliances for a good four to six hours without any interruption. If something more than that, it is better to opt for a generator.

A generator is a temporary source of power supply to your home for a longer duration.

I hope this article gave you clear insights into the functionality and pros and cons of UPS, inverter, generator. Now that you are equipped with complete information about these power backup systems, invest in one that is perfect for your home and business needs.

Let us know if you find this information helpful and insightful. Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.

If you want to share your inputs or thoughts concerning this article, do not hesitate to post them in the comments below. We would love to hear and learn from you.

Stay healthy and stay safe!!!

8 Responses

  1. Great article detailing specific differences with the 3 options. I have a balanced supply, inverters for the 4 to 5 hour, thereafter a genset for the longer power outages.

  2. You mentioned that inverters can be used for computers as well but if there is a lag and computer goes off then what’s the point.

  3. THANK U I am 74 live alone ,power goes out I need a power source . Your info was superb for me because it gave me a clear comparison . In AZ summer is very hot air conditioner is crucial so I must decide between inverter and converter your article helped a lot . I dont like fuel but converter might be my only option for where and what I need

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