Can A Generator Damage Electronic Devices?

Many people depend heavily on generators to run their electronic devices. With this, it would be extremely problematic if anything happened to your devices.

Can a generator damage electronic devices? Inverter generators are safe to use with electronics, but you should be cautious when using non-inverter generators to power electronic devices. This is because inverter generators produce reliable, steady electricity without any surges. Non-inverter generators may have surges in electricity which could damage electronics. 

Not all generators are created equal. Some are built to protect even the most sensitive electronics, while others are only meant to be used for larger household appliances and basic lighting.

Will Generators Damage Electronics?

There are two basic types of generators: inverter generators and non-inverter generators. Both types of generators can be portable or permanently installed into your home. Nowadays, a major factor that must be considered when purchasing a generator is the safety of your electronics. Electronics are very sensitive and run on clean electricity.

Clean electricity, in this context, is electricity that is produced and then processed to make it more reliable. The current is steady, rather than prone to surges and spikes. Clean electricity is created by inverter generators. When electricity is used immediately after being produced without any further processing, it can be called dirty. This is lower quality and may have spikes that can damage electronics. 

When a generator produces this unsteady electricity, it is more likely to cause power surges. These power surges damage your expensive electronics. Electronic devices operate using microprocessors and microchips that power surges can damage. 

Perhaps you were told to unplug any electronics every time the power went out? This is because people were nervous that when the power comes back on, there would be a sudden surge of power that would damage the devices. 

Dirty electricity is the kind of power created by non-inverter generators. A standard generator, especially if it’s older, is likely to be a non-inverter generator. If you are concerned about protecting your devices, make sure you purchase a generator that is specifically stated to be an inverter generator.

What Are the Best Inverter Generators for Powering Electronic Devices?

The following chart compares our top three picks for the safest inverter generator for your electronics. Click on the name of the generator to see purchasing options and more exact pricing information.

GENERATORNEXPOW Portable Power StationOpens in a new tab.WEN 56380iOpens in a new tab.CHAMPION 3400Opens in a new tab.
PORTABLEYesYesYes
WEIGHT3.1 lbs.111 lbs.95.7 lbs.
WATTS (W)1503,8003,400
RUN TIME (hrs.)48 (depends greatly on usage)8.57.5 (gas)/14.5 (propane) 
FUELSolar BatteryGas (.7 gallon)Gas (1.6 gallons) or Propane
STARTElectricElectricElectric
PRICE$$$$$

What Other Steps Can I Take to Ensure My Devices Are Not Damaged?

Anyone who cares about protecting their electronic devices should invest in at least one surge protector strip. A surge protector strip prevents power surges from reaching your device while simultaneously allowing you to plug in multiple devices into the same power source.

It is a safe practice to use a surge protector even when using the main power supply in your home, but a surge protector can also add an extra layer of protection to your devices when using an inverter generator. This surge protector Opens in a new tab.has 12 outlets and a long cord so you can use it to plug in and protect all your devices in one area. 

Another precaution you can take to ensure the safety of your device is to purchase an Uninterruptible Power Supply, or a UPS. UPS devices store up electricity that can be used to protect your device when power is unexpectedly interrupted due to a power surge, power noise, power instability, or sudden power outages. UPS devices do not operate for long periods of time like generators, but they start working immediately after the power source fails. 

UPS devices give you time to safely disconnect, back up, or power off your devices in the event of a power failure. A UPS device can be used on its own, or if you have a larger generator, you can use a UPS System in conjunction with it to safeguard your devices. If you do connect your UPS device to a generator, make sure it is compatible with a generator. 

What Should I Consider When Selecting an Inverter Generator?

On top of ensuring the safety of your devices, there are additional factors that should be consideredOpens in a new tab. when looking for a generator that is safe for your electronics:

Portable v. Standby

  • Portable: If you run a food truck, move a lot, or camp a lot, then you want a portable generator.
  • Standby: These generators are installed in your house and are usually made to automatically turn on when the power goes out.

Weight

Weight is less important when purchasing a standby generator because you won’t be carrying a standby generator around a lot; however, weight can be a deal-breaker when shopping for a portable generator. You need to be able to lift the generator and move it around without over-straining.

Wattage

Everyone’s electricity needs are different. If you need a lot of electricity to power several devices and several large appliances, you’re going to want to look at generators with higher wattages. If you only need a generator to power a few small devices or one or two large appliances, a smaller wattage generator will work for you. 

To calculate how much wattage you need, add up the wattages on all the devices and appliances you want to power with the generator. These wattages are printed somewhere on the device, appliance, or the user’s manual.  

Run Time

Running a food truck for several hours a day will demand longer run time capabilities than charging your devices for an hour while on a camping trip. Run time also affects how often you need to refill the tank on your generator. 

If you need to run your generator for several days due to a major power outage, you’re going to want a generator that has a long run time and a large tank to minimize the refills you need.

Fuel

Generators run on either propane or gas. Some can run on both. Consider the pros and consOpens in a new tab. of propane and gas to determine which fuel type is best for you:

Propane: 

  • Tends to be less efficient than gas
  • Better for the environment
  • Sold in larger containers (generators can run for days without being refilled)
  • Easier to store
  • Requires extra precautions in earthquake-prone areas
  • Difficult installation and maintenance

Gas:

  • More efficient than propane
  • More reliable in cold weather
  • More readily available in emergencies
  • Generator tanks can only hold a few gallons of gas (needs more refills when running the generator for long periods of time)
  • Easier to install
  • Dangerous to store in wildfire-prone areas
  • Can leave deposits in the generator’s engine (requires more maintenance and can break down the engine over time)

Solar:

  • A battery start
  • Needs sunlight to charge
  • Lower wattage (can only power a few small devices)
  • Great for frequent travelers
  • Better for the environment
  • Lighter weight

Thermoelectric:

  • A battery start
  • Needs a difference in temperature to charge (a hot side and a cold side)
  • Can only power one device at a time
  • Made specifically for powering electronic devices
  • Great for frequent travelers
  • Better for the environment
  • Light weight
  • Technology is still evolvingOpens in a new tab. (not yet widely available)

Starting Method

Generators can be started in two ways:

Recoil: 

  • A pull start (requires more physical effort)
  • No need to charge (better for long-term use and use off the grid)

Electric:

  • A battery start (much easier)
  • Needs to be regularly charged via an outlet/solar panel

Price

Finally, the price is something you should consider when purchasing a generator. Generators can cost anywhere from $400 to $3,000. Extremely large generators can cost even more than this. 

If your generator needs to be installed into your home, installation costs can add hundreds of dollars onto the price of the base unit. A cost-saving method you may consider is purchasing a used generator, but make sure you know it runs correctly before purchasing.

Charging Your Electronics Safely: Now You Know

A generator will not damage your electronic devices if you use an inverter generator because inverter generators produce clean energy that is reliable. Take your time when choosing a generator. Everyone has different electrical needs, and this can greatly affect which generator is right for you. 

To ensure the safety of your devices, use a surge protector and/or an Uninterruptible Power Supply in conjunction with your generator. Following this guide will help you protect your devices while keeping you connected to the rest of the world.

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