If you want to use a portable generator as a backup power supply for your home, there is something you need to be aware of. Not all electronics cooperate well with conventional open frame portable generators. The so-called sensitive electronics such as LCD TVs, computers or audio equipment need electrical power with less than 5% of Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) to run smoothly. Otherwise, they can get damaged quickly. Unless your portable generator is an inverter type, connecting it to your sensitive equipment can wear it out sooner or even cause permanent damage.
Quite a few people consider getting a power line conditioner for generator. But is it really a good solution?
What is a power line conditioner?
A power line conditioner is a special device made to provide an additional layer of protection for your sensitive equipment. Their main task is to keep your electronics safe during the brownouts and overvoltages.
The present-day power conditioners come up with automatic voltage regulation keeping the voltage fed to your electronics at a steady level.
A line conditioner ensures that any voltage fluctuations or line noises are not going to have any negative impact on the functioning of your appliances.
However, they do not clean the modified sinewave produced by typical open frame portable generators.
Therefore using a power line conditioner along with your generator is not going to do anything to protect your sensitive electronics.
Your only bulletproof solution is to get an inverter generator.
The cheap inverter generators I recommend here cost only 2-3x the price of a good line conditioner.
They’re also 100% safe to use with your sensitive electronic equipment.
There’s really no point in wasting $200 on a power line conditioner for knowing that it’s not going to protect your electronics.
Especially if you can pay slightly more and get a proper decent 2000-watt inverter like WEN56200i (Amazon often sells it for less than $500!).
You could easily use it to run things like a TV, computer and home theater without problems.
Are line conditioners better than surge protectors?
In fact, line conditioners already have the surge suppression mechanisms incorporated in their design. This makes them a much more robust and comprehensive solution, designed specifically to handle the massive spikes in voltage. Surge protectors normally won’t deal with huge surges very well, especially if you want to use them with multiple appliances.
How much does a line conditioner cost?
If you’re still thinking about purchasing a line conditioner, you certainly shouldn’t skimp on quality. All in all, this is a device that can save your expensive electronics. When comparing two line conditioners, you definitely don’t want to make the price your primary criteria. You’d better spend $50 or even $100 more on a trusted power line conditioner from a reliable manufacturer rather than get a cheaper model just to realize that it fails when you need it most.
Having said that, there is also no need to buy very expensive power conditioners.
My personal recommendation is to look for the ones priced in the $100 – $250 range. Always check out the customer reviews to see what are the actual users’ experiences. Check out the conditions of the warranty too. Most of the quality power line conditioners come up with a 2-year warranty which should cover any potential damage caused in the event of the failure. However, that’s something you should clarify anyway before your purchase.
Which power line conditioner should I buy?
There are dozens of good quality line conditioners on the market and as long as you stick with the ones which get mainly positive reviews, you should be totally fine.
One model I recommend is Tripp Lite LC1800. It is a very solid, well-designed model made of quality materials. It is also relatively inexpensive given its high quality. It was made specifically with sensitive electronics in mind and is a good choice if you’re looking for a reliable power line conditioner for your computer, home theater etc.
It has a built-in automatic voltage regulation providing steady protection from under and overvoltages as high as 140V. It can handle serious brownouts too.
This power line conditioner features 6 outlets making it possible to connect to several appliances at once.
Power line conditioners are not meant to clean the modified sinewave produced by portable generators.
They do a great job in protecting your electronics from brownouts and overvoltages but that’s about it.
If you want to run your electronic equipment with a portable generator then inverter generators are by far your best solution.
Alternatively, if you are looking for a small generator for indoor use, you can also have a look at these solar-powered portable generators.