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A Foundation To Understading Power Inverters

Power inverters are incredibly handy devices that accommodate a variety of applications—anything from powering a cell phone to running a home’s lighting fixtures, air-conditioning and sump pump.   Power inverters can be life-savers—if one’s electric power were to go down for hours, days or weeks, a power inverter could supply the needed electricity to run home medical equipment, such as portable oxygen systems.

Power inverters convert DC current to AC current to run electrical appliances at home, at a cabin, in an RV, boat, car, truck or plane.  They are versatile, portable and provide energy where it is needed, when it is needed!

DC/AC Difference:

As stated, power inverters convert Direct Current (DC) into Alternating Current (AC).  This conversion must take place since everyday appliances, of all types, run on AC current which is the same as  electricity your home receives from the utility company.

DC current is the type of electricity that works simultaneously to positive and negative electrical poles.  Your car battery, for instance, utilizes DC power.  AC power is the type of current that flows back and forth, between poles, rather than at the same time, like DC current does.

Two Basic Types Of Power Inverters:

Two main types of power inverters are called “modified sine wave” or “pure sine wave”.  This refers to how the electronic signal might look if it were visible to the human eye.   Both inverter types can operate a vast array of various-sized electrical equipment and household appliances.

1:  Pure Sine Wave Inverters:

Pure Sine Wave power is quite close to an ideal sine wave; and in some cases, a pure sine wave power inverter can provide an even better waveform than one’s utility company.  A Sine Wave inverter will produce a smooth and consistent flow of electricity in the required voltage; and this is a significant benefit of this type inverter in that the device requiring the electricity from the inverter will not suffer from surges and lows in power output and will, therefore, perform more seamlessly.   A cleaner current is produced; and ‘clean’ simply refers to the wave produced.  Pure inverters produce smooth and repetitive waveform while modified inverters produce a square waveform.

Depending on the application, the wave form may not make a difference.  For example, if you turn on your lamp with a standard incandescent light bulb, a modified sine wave and a pure sine wave will allow the light bulb to burn the same.   Now, if you use your computer monitor, you will see the difference between the pure and the modified sine wave.  With the pure, the monitor will exhibit a superior image and you will get superior quality with the operation of devices that must operate smoothly, such as medical equipment.  Most electrical equipment is specifically designed to work with a true sine wave and nothing else.

2:  Modified Sine Wave Inverter:

As seen on Don Rowe, modified sine wave inverters use less intricate switching and filtering circuitry and the frequency and voltage of their outputs may vary and produce some noise and irregularities.  With that said, however, modified sine wave inverters will safely power many appliances and devices that can accept distortion in their input power.

As with most things in life, you will pay more for increased quality.  Depending on the power rating, the cost of a modified sine inverter can be significantly less than a pure sine inverter.

The bottom line lies with what type of power you need and for what application.  When the electricity is down, or you need the comforts of home when you’re away from home,  you’ll be glad you have the electricity that power inverters provide!

Nebraska is home to Karen’s retirement from educating as well as her current writing career.  From wagan to kisae inverters, she is a great resource on the world of inverters.

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