If the output wattage produced by your current inverter generator is not able to meet your household needs and you want to increase the power supply, you have two options.
One, get a new high wattage generator and discard the current one, which might not be an excellent idea on the economic front.
Two, you can connect a similar wattage inverter generator unit to your current one and increase the total output wattage to satisfy your requirements.
Here, the parallel kits come into the picture.
In this article, we will discuss how a parallel kit works along with its pros and cons and help you have a broad understanding of parallel kits for portable generators.
What is a Parallel Kit?
Some portable invertible generators have a parallel connection capability i.e.; you can pair one inverter with others to get more power output.
This way, two inverters can run in parallel and produce power equal to one large inverter unit.
Parallel kits are mainly used to combine two or more portable inverter units. Parallel inverter cables are used to connect the power of multiple inverters placed side by side or stacked.
For this, the inverters need to possess parallel connection capabilities and are of the same model and build and should be compatible.
Most manufacturers provide a dedicated parallel kit along with the inverter unit with a parallel connection capability.
Most of the time, you cannot use the parallel kit of one manufacturer with other company’s generators.
Both the parallel kit and the generator should be from the same manufacturer.
This is because each generator has a dedicated computer inside it, which should be synchronized with the other one.
How Parallel Kits Work?
First, the two or more compatible portable inverter generators are physically connected using parallel cables. Then the outputs of the two generators’ are synchronized to obtain the combined power.
The synchronization is attained by matching the waveform of one generator output voltage with the other generator’s voltage waveform.
In the case of a three-phase power supply, the phase sequence of both the generators must be matched.
Phase angle difference must be zero, and the sine voltage peaks of both generators should match.
When two generators are running in parallel, the load of the electrical appliance is equally distributed between the two.
This process is called as load sharing .
There are many ways of load sharing, depending on the model, and is usually monitored by the onboard processing system. When the load demand increases, the generators consume more fuel.
There is paralleling switchgear, which can be used to achieve maximum output when your power demands are high and attain minimal output when the demand is less.
Want to check a parallel kit in action? Here is a quick video on one popular inverter generator parallel kit by Champion –
Benefits of Parallel Kits for Generators
Parallel kits offer some key advantages and enhance your inverter units’ performance. In this section, we will let you some of the significant benefits of parallel kits.
If your power demand increases, you can use parallel kits and connect multiple generators to increase the output wattage.
At the same time, if you don’t need high wattage anymore, you can drop the connection anytime and use a single inverter unit to support your power needs.
Not only can you obtain the desired wattage using the parallel kits but also save the fuel by running an only necessary number of generator units.
It is cheaper to connect two inexpensive small inverter units using parallel kits instead of buying an expensive large generator.
The redundancy of the generator units connected using parallel kits offers high reliability.
If you have one large generator unit and it fails or breakdown abruptly, then your emergency backup is cut off completely.
By connecting generator units using parallel kits, even if one of them fails, the load is shared among other units, and you will not be entirely out of power.
The load redistribution is done automatically on a priority basis. This is one of the most significant advantages of using parallel kits.
With the help of parallel kits, you can add as many inverter units as you can as long as the physical space is available to fit them. In case you run out of space, drop the redundant units.
Parallel kits made it possible for the generators to be installed even in small spaces, rooftops as they don’t need a large footprint as single large high capacity units do.
Big bulky single generators might give you the required high power output, but they are challenging to take with you on a camping trip or other outdoor activities.
Using parallel kits will ensure the required high power and, at the same time, easy transportation because of the small portable inverter units.
Ease of maintenance and service
It is challenging to maintain a large bulky high capacity generator. Using parallel kits allow you to connect small portable generators in parallel.
This, in turn, makes it easy to maintain service or repair as you can take away only one generator unit, which is failed instead of the entire system.
Limitations of Parallel Kits
Parallel kits offer a lot of advantages, but at the same time, some critical limitations to them are worth looking into. Here, we will discuss the cons of parallel kits.
Parallel kits can be used only with inverter generator units. They cannot be used with any other fuel generators.
Also, they can’t be used with all portable inverter units but only those with parallel connection capability.
Sometimes, it might be possible to use parallel kits with non-inverter generator units, but it is a very complex and cumbersome process.
If the two generators are not correctly synchronized, both of them will get damaged. You should make sure the frequency, phase, voltage of generators in the parallel connection are matched.
If the connections are made wrong, or wrong sized cables are used, it could result in the breakdown of all the inverter generators in the parallel connection.
When to use parallel kits?
Here are a few scenarios –
1) If you are going on a trip on your RV or camping near the riverside and need extra power to run your appliances, you have to buy a new generator that meets your needs.
If you don’t want want to do that, you can use parallel kits to get the extra wattage by just adding another inverter unit to your existing one.
2) If you have two inverters with parallel connection capability with the same output and same brand, you can use identical kits.
In case your generator manufacturer provides a parallel kit with your inverter unit, you can use without buying an extra kit and save money.
Mostly, high wattage generated by using parallel kits is used for appliances that draw large amounts of power like air conditioners, refrigerators, and microwaves.
When you need a reliable backup power supply during emergencies, you should use parallel kits with your portable generator units.
Using parallel kits also makes maintenance, service, and repairs easy.
Parallel kits offer you lots of advantages for the efficient usage of portable inverter units.
But they also come with this own set of limitations.
We hope we have done our best in explaining the functioning of parallel kits for portable inverter generators along with its pros and cons, and we hope this helps you to get a better idea of parallel kits if you considering using them.