Flickering light tripped circuit breakers, and electronics that keep breaking are some common signs that you are experiencing dirty electricity. That may sound more like the premise of an adult film, but it’s a very common occurrence with many standby generators. While all generators produce electricity, they are not all clean power generators.
This isn’t to say that you will be forced to deal with flickering lights or worry for the safety of your electronics every time you shift power over to your back-up generator, though. Below, you’ll find out how to clean up generator power for electronics along with how to get clean power from a portable generator. These guidelines also offer great advice if you are currently trying to decide what kind of generator will best suit your needs.
Electricity is delivered in the form of sine waves. “Clean power” is when those sign waves come along a consistent frequency and voltage. Think about the image of a sine wave on a graph. If the power supply is clean, the waves will all be the same height and equal distance apart.
Unfortunately, many generators produce inconsistent, or “dirty” electricity. The sine waves will spike high, drop low, and sometimes come closer together or farther apart. For large electric uses, like lights, this can be seen as flickering power. For more delicate electronics, it can do serious damage to hardware like computer chips. This may not ruin the device immediately, but it will cause it to wear out, or break, much sooner than it normally would.
Generally speaking, power is considered “clean” once the distortion of the waves is less than 6%. This means that there is less than 6% variation, or distortion, between the waves’ height and frequency. When the power is coming at that consistent rate, electronics can function consistently, which is better for their health and well-being.
The best way to ensure that you have clean power is to use an inverter generator. These generators offer a range of benefits. They are usually small, portable units that are easy to store, easy to use, and easy to fuel. Inverter generators are available as small as a handheld size for tools or to charge electronic devices or as large as a 3,000-watt unit that can power an entire RV.
Whatever size inverter generator you decide you need, you’ll be glad to have clean power straight from the source. Inverter generators start by producing the same dirty power as a larger, traditional generator. But they don’t send out that dirty power.
Inverter generators convert that dirty AC power into DC power and then invert it back into clean AC power. All of this happens right there inside the generator without you having to do or check anything.
Modern inverter generators are efficient enough to often have a distortion rate of less than 5%, which is amazing. You can confidently plug a phone, tablet, laptop, or handheld gaming system into an inverter generator without worrying about the safety of the device. The sine waves created by inverter generators will be evenly spaced and similar enough in height to be as gentle with your device as you are.
If you already have a generator, and it isn’t producing clean power, there’s no reason to panic. There are a few options for cleaning up the power output to protect your electronic devices while ensuring that your lights don’t flicker. None of these options are as easy and convenient as having an inverter generator, but you’ll likely find one that will work for you.
An uninterrupted power source, sometimes called an uninterrupted power supply, or UPS for short, is one option to clean up a power supply. It works in a way that is very similar to an inverter generator.
A UPS will take in the dirty electricity from your generator and convert it back and forth to produce a clean sine wave. This will give you an uninterrupted power supply that consistently feeds electricity to your electronics at a very steady rate, hence the name.
While a UPS can be great for your electronics, they don’t always work with generators as well as you might like. They can’t always handle the wide range of distortion that can come from a standard generator. This is not an insurmountable obstacle; it just might mean that you have to find the right UPS to work with your generator.
A line conditioner is a unit that you can connect to your generator to clean the electricity coming out of it before the power is sent to your sensitive devices. It uses an automatic voltage regulator to ensure that the power being sent to your electronics is flowing at a clean and steady rate.
An automatic voltage regulator, or AVR, can clean the power coming out of your generator without having to convert it to DC power and then back to AC power. These are a handy way to clean up the power coming from your generator. The only consideration with these is that you will need to be sure that the one you choose covers the range of output that will be coming from your generator.
Ensuring that the power you generate is clean will keep your sensitive electronics safe. While many generators produce a lot of distortion, an inverter generator is a clean power generator that will give you the confidence to plug in your sensitive electronics, knowing that their circuitry will be treated to evenly spaced, steady sine waves.
Even if you have an older, larger, standard generator, there are options available for how to get clean power from a portable generator. Some people find success with uninterrupted power supplies, or UPS’s. Others may find a line conditioner with an automatic voltage regulator to be easier to match to their generator. Whatever method you decide to use, ensuring that you have a clean power generator will protect all of your electronics from surges and variations in frequency and voltage.