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July 15, 2013

What’s Power Inverter?

What’s Power Inverter?

A power inverter is a device that converts DC power (also known as direct current), to standard AC power (alternating current). Inverters are used to operate electrical equipment from the power produced by a car or boat battery or renewable energy sources, like solar panels or wind turbines. DC power is what batteries store, while AC power is what most electrical appliances need to run so an inverter is necessary to convert the power into a usable form. For example, when a cell phone is plugged into a car cigarette lighter to recharge, it supplies DC power; this must be converted to the required AC power by a power inverter to charge the phone.

How Inverters Work

DC power is steady and continuous, with an electrical charge that flows in only one direction. When the output of DC power is represented on a graph, the result would be a straight line. AC power, on the other hand, flows back and forth in alternating directions so that, when represented on a graph, it appears as a sine wave, with smooth and regular peaks and valleys. A power inverter uses electronic circuits to cause the DC power flow to change directions, making it alternate like AC power. These oscillations are rough and tend to create a square waveform rather than a rounded one, so filters are required to smooth out the wave, allowing it to be used by more electronic devices.

Power inverters produce one of three types of power wave signals.

Each signal represents a quality of power output. The first set of inverters made which are now obsolete produced a Square Wave signal. Square Wave signals produced power that was not reliable or consistent. The second wave signal is the Modified Square Wave also known as the Modified Sine Wave. Modified Square Wave Inverters are the most popular and produce efficient stable power that can run most standard electrical equipment. Pure Sine Wave inverters produce the most reliable and consistent power wave signal. This makes them the most expensive to acquire. Some equipment that are sensitive such as rechargeable tools and medical equipment require Pure Sine Wave inverters.

Power inverters come in different shapes and capacities.

The conventional models are small rectangular boxes with an attached wire and jack that can be plugged into the cigarette lighter port on the dashboard of a car. Some models have jumper cables that can be connected directly to battery terminals. The box would normally have about two outlets to plug in your electrical equipment. You could use a power inverter in your car or boat to power devices such as laptops, video games consoles, a small television or DVD player. They also come in handy in emergencies when there is a power outage. They are also helpful sources of energy on camping trips, beaches and parks where conventional electricity is not available. Power inverter can also be used in areas with unstable power supply.

The inverter is connected to batteries and the main electrical source.

When there is an electrical power supply the system is designed to charge the batteries to store power and when there is a power outage the inverter draws DC current from the battery and converts it to AC to power the home. The capacity of a power inverter would determine the type and number of devices it can be used to power. Models differ in wattage capacity and you need to be sure you a get an inverter that suits your needs.

News, 2013

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