The Don Rowe Blog
Power Inverters—Know Before You Buy
The convenience of having a power inverter on hand when you need or want one is, indeed, a luxury! Power inverters are extremely versatile and can ensure life-saving performance of military equipment for America’s soldiers in remote corners of the world; they can allow for electricity in off-the-grid schools in Third-World countries; and inverters can be counted on for the delivery of essential power for such things as space heaters and microwave ovens, during a prolonged blackout. Whether one is using a 75-watt inverter or a 5,000-watt inverter, power inverters are used every-day, around the world, for virtually any application, imaginable!
Ask Yourself Three Basic Questions:
In a nutshell, power inverters take battery power in the form of DC or direct current, and convert it into standard alternating current, known as AC, just like the power supplied by the electric grid for your home. If you’re thinking about purchasing a power inverter, there are three basic questions you should ask yourself, before you buy:
1: How Much Power Will I Need?
Smaller inverters, such as a 75-watt model that plugs into your car’s outlet, would allow you to charge your cell phone and other small gadgets, including your child’s DVD player, during road-trips. That same inverter, however, could never be used for a hair dryer or toaster oven, simply because those larger devices require more electricity. Before buying an inverter, be clear about how much power you will need for your particular application. If you’re not sure how to calculate how much power you might require, consult with a power inverter specialist who can thoroughly address any questions or concerns.
2: What Type Of Wave Will My Inverter Produce?
Most inverters on the market, today, produce what are known as a ‘modified sine waves’. This type of wave is widely used for a variety of tools and appliances, without any problems. However, there are some tools, devices and appliances such as a laser printers, microwave ovens or home medical equipment that require a more refined wave called a ‘pure sine wave’. If these types of devices were subjected to modified sine waves, they could become permanently damaged. Pure sine waves are the same type of wave you and I use in our homes for everyday electrical needs. A pure sine wave inverter produces–you guessed it–pure sine waves. Pure sine wave inverters represent the most technologically advanced and diverse inverters; and they can provide the widest use of applications. With pure sine inverters, equipment runs more efficiently, motors stay cooler, and the power is cleaner.
Again, if you’re not sure if the power inverter you plan to purchase produces a modified sine wave or a pure sine wave, consult with a pro.
3: Do I Need A Built-In Charger And Transfer Relay?
Most models of power inverters simply take direct current battery power and convert it into useable, ACpower. Once the battery is discharged, however, one is left with the assignment of charging the battery back up again. There are some inverter models, however, that have built in chargers. This means that when AC power is available, power inverters with on-board chargers will, automatically, recharge your batteries—a convenience, indeed! When making that important purchasing decision, decide whether or not you want a built-in charger or an independent charging system for your battery.
A quality inverter represents a significant investment so make sure you’re investing in the right kind of unit for your particular needs!