The Don Rowe Blog
Power Inverters: What Would We Do Without Them?
Power inverters are the handiest of devices—they come in a variety of sizes and power capabilities; and their job is to convert DC current into useable AC current. The applications for power inverters run the gamut—from powering household appliances to being able to play electronic devices while boating or flying in a plane to having access to power during a black-out to providing essential electricity for military communications equipment in hostile environments—without power inverters, much of the world would come to a stand-still.
There’s another application that relies on power inverters, also—tents! Having access to reliable energy in the outdoors when you’re miles from home is a coveted luxury, unless you’re the type who loves ‘roughing’ it with no electricity at all. But for those who love the comforts of home, here’s an interesting application that requires the use of a power inverter—a light-up tent—without light bulbs!
Yep, no light bulbs at all, nor flashlights nor lanterns—it’s called electroluminescent technology; and it involves elasticized, pliable material that is woven into special canvas tent panels. Once plugged into A/C (alternating current via a power inverter) an electric field flows over the material’s multiple layers, causing charged molecules to be released into the panel. Voile`! The result is illumination of visible white light. Forget breakable bulbs or cumbersome lanterns. Since the fabric used is very bendable, it’s a breeze to pack. Imagine having the inside of your tent light up this way just by using electricity from a battery—how cool!
Eric Bruton is a scientist working with a St. Louis research lab; and he says: “What we do is generate an electric field across the phosphor which causes the phosphor to emit light.”
Other Interesting Applications:
Aside from white light, the tents can, also, be designed to produce infrared light which is invisible to the human eye. This has immense military applications for soldiers who can use night vision goggles to covertly work inside their tents without compromising the secrecy of their locations. Research is forging ahead with a military device as specific as energy-powered, foldable maps that will emit their own infrared light so they can be read in complete darkness, again, using night vision goggles. Scientists are expanding applications to include light-up panels on safety vests for construction workers and joggers, bicycle helmets used at night, signs for advertising everything from beer to candy bars, posters, lamps, inflatables and even electroluminescent tape (some use this tape for glow-in-the-dark costumes)—again, all made possible through the use of power inverters, large or small, which allow AC current to be used in a myriad of ways.
Interestingly, part of one on-line ad for electroluminescent tape states: “Just peel off the EL Tape and stick on any surface. This product does not come with an inverter, so it will not glow without one.”
So, there you have it—whether it’s the military involved in covert operations or a partier wanting to embellish a Halloween costume, power inverters are there, in any size needed for any application required, to keep our world going strong!