What to consider before buying a generator


The future of loadshedding in South Africa is something that is discussed at length. Sadly there is much uncertainty on the subject, but the bottomline is unfortunately that it is very much a part of life in the country.

With that comes the demand for backup power sources, and questions of what kind of generator could suit our daily ‘survival’ needs. RYOBI stocks a variety of petrol and inverter generators, and in this edition of the blog we elaborate on these to ensure you can make an informed decision around purchasing.

Petrol/conventional generator vs inverter generator

When it comes to buying a generator, comparing these two types will be the first thing to consider. Both conventional and inverter generators use internal combustion to create energy that then gets converted into an electric current. The differences between the two from here comes in how the current is produced, and the quality of this current.

Conventional generators produce ready to use power as it were via a mechanical alternator to create alternating current (AC). Inverter generators also produce AC power in this way, but then convert this current into direct current (DC) with a microprocessor then inverting it back into cleaner AC power.

This three-phase process produces a high quality, more consistent and reliable AC power, which closer resembles the type of power you would get from the grid.

Inverter generators then produce cleaner and more efficient power, with less noise compared to the conventional generators. This though naturally comes at a greater price compared to conventional generators which is a key purchase consideration.

With this fundamental addressed, we now need to move onto key attributes that you need to consider for personal use.

Safety/usage: If your backup power generator is going to be needed for sensitive electronics or anything telecommunications orientated, the cleaner and more efficient power of an inverter generator is recommended here. Conventional generators sometimes run the risk of providing power that isn’t as stable and consistent in quality, and this could damage appliances.

Noise: When it comes to personal household use, noise is a major factor. Conventional generators may not be allowed to be used in building complexes due to noise pollution. They can be housed in noise-proofing units, but this will add to the cost, and naturally decrease mobility. The clear winner here is the more efficient inverter generator, with some models packaged for extra ease of use and noise reduction.

Mobility: For most use cases, a generator can be left in one convenient place. But if needed in a variety of places, or to be taken on leisure outings, the smaller, lighter weight and more efficient inverter generator again comes out tops.

Amount of power: Powering building and office settings naturally require hefty units, often fixed in basements. This is a kind of commercial generator which sits outside of our product range. Looking more to the household/small office/mobile use, you need to firstly consider what you are looking to power. In times of power outages, if your needs are complex and varied then you would naturally need a superior amount of power with your generator choice.

For a reliable starter generator, the RYOBI RG-1280i Inverter Generator has a 5l fuel tank and run time of 6 hours which can keep the basics of your wifi and TV working, along with being able to charge your essentials like a phone and laptop.

Moving up incrementally from here allows for greater run time and greater power output. For longer outages and more general use power, the conventional generators come more into their own than the more specialised inverters.

The final thing to consider when comparing inverter to conventional generators, is that the former requires little to no maintenance depending on the model. The conventional generators however do require more maintenance to keep them running as efficiently as possible, and will also require more attention around setting up.

For more on the full range of RYOBI generators, click here


For an example of one of our super compact and easy to use inverter generators, below is the RYOBI RG-3200i