Basics about power inverter-
In general terms, a power inverter is an electrical device that converts DC voltage to AC voltage. Battery DC voltage cannot provide the higher power needed to run electric appliances, gadgets, devices, and likes. Whereas AC voltage can produce the high power required to run appliances, devices, machines, etc. A car power inverter converts the DC voltage of the car battery to AC voltage, which is the type of electricity available at household electric outlets coming from power grids. So a power inverter will enable you to power appliances and gadgets while you are outdoor, camping, or journey. Also, during a power outage at home, a power inverter can provide power to household appliances from the vehicle battery.
What is DC voltage-
DC voltage produces Direct Current, which flows in one direction. The magnitude and polarity of DC voltage remain constant. DC voltage has zero frequency. The Direct Current flows from the positive terminal to the negative terminal of a DC voltage source such as a battery, solar cell, and thermocouple. DC voltage is commonly used for low-voltage and low-current applications and off-grid appliances.
What is AC Voltage-
AC voltage produces alternating current. AC voltage lines of each country have a frequency that can be 50Hz or 60Hz. Even generators are available that can produce AC voltage of any given frequency. AC voltage also has an amplitude whose polarity constantly changes with time. AC voltage transmits on a phase and a neutral line. AC voltage delivers high efficiency making it suitable for high voltage work. AC voltage amplitude can be easily stepped up using a transformer.
Types of power inverter-
Most of our everyday electrical applications such as industrial, commercial, household appliances run on Alternating Current (AC) power. However, AC power cannot be stored in a battery for future use. For storing AC power on a battery or capacitor, it must be converted to DC power. This battery or capacitor held DC power will be needed to revert back to AC power before connecting to appliances or machines. Power inverter is the device that converts battery DC power to variations of AC power. Here we will discuss classifications of power inverters based on their output voltage characteristics. Based on the kind of output voltage, there are three types of powers inverters such as.
- 1Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- 2Modified Sine Wave Inverter
- 3Square Wave Inverter
1. Pure Sine Wave Inverter-
The output voltage waveform of a pure sine wave inverter is smooth and almost identical to voltages supplied by the electricity utility companies in households or businesses. Pure sine wave smoothly crosses the zero-volt line. All appliances and machines available in the market are designed to run on a pure sine wave to produce the highest possible output. A pure sine wave voltage is a must for some appliances to help them generate maximum output. Only fewer appliances operate solely on pure sine wave voltage. Pure sine wave inverters give the highest appliance safety. This type of inverter is 2 to 3 times more expensive.
2. Modified Sine Wave Inverter-
The construction of modified sine wave inverters is an easy task compared to pure sine wave inverters. The output voltage of this type of inverter has a square wave-like shape with an added step. Modified sine waves have delays at the zero-volt line while crossing. Most appliances and equipment work on a modified sine wave voltage without any problem. Some might work with reduced efficiency. Some might draw higher power from the modified sine wave inverter. Whereas some might produce buzzing noise. Modified sine wave inverters are ideal for those having a tighter budget. So, before buying a modified sine wave inverter, it is advisable to review the manufacturer's recommendation for all appliances that the inverter expected to power up.
3. Square Wave Inverter-
Square wave inverters produce square wave output which is strikingly different from pure sine wave or AC supply voltage. There is seldom use of a square wave inverter. Since all appliances are designed for operating on the true sine wave, the application of square wave voltage may damage them, resulting in a high loss. When connected to a square wave inverter, many appliances become heated and generate high noise. Square wave inverters are only good at some universal motor-based simple devices. These types of inverters are the cheapest of all.
How power inverter works-
At the first stage of converting DC voltage to AC voltage, a power inverter transforms the battery DC voltage to pulsating DC voltage. This pulsating DC voltage is not as smooth as the true sine wave of AC voltage. Then the pulsating DC voltage goes through electronic filter circuits called a rectifier. A rectifier smoothens the pulsating DC voltage to resemble AC voltage. As the pulsating DC voltage is repeatedly filtered, it becomes more like a true sine wave of AC voltage. The number of such filters in a circuit and their effectiveness determine the quality of the output AC voltage. The finer the quality of output AC voltage, the higher the cost of the power inverter.
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Useful electric terms related to power inverter:
Resistance (R)- In electronics, resistance points to the measure of opposition to current flow offered by conducting material or medium. Its symbol is R, and the unit is the Ohm (Ω).
Current (I)- Current is the flow of electricity in a conducting material from positive to negative potential (Voltage) area. It is caused by the flow of electrons from the negative to positive potential (Voltage) region. The unit of current flow is Ampere (Amp).
Capacitor (C)- The capacitor is a passive electronic component that stores electric energy. A capacitor allows AC current/voltage to pass through it but blocks DC current/voltage. Capacitance is expressed as Farad (F), Microfarad(µF), Nanofarad (nF).
Inductor (L)- An inductor/coil is a passive electronic component that allows DC current/voltage to pass through it but blocks AC current/voltage. It stores electric energy. The symbol of inductance is the letter L. While the units of inductance are expressed in Henry (H), Microhenry (µH), and Nanohenry (nH).
Power (P)- When electric voltage/current is applied to an electric circuit, device, appliance, gadget, they consume electric energy. Electrical power is the rate at which electric energy is converted/consumed per unit time. It is work done per unit time. Voltage multiplied by current produces power (P=VxI). Electric power is measured as watt in the International System of Units (SI), which equals joule/second.
Transistor- The transistor is an active electronic component made of solid-state semiconductor materials. It is the basic building block of all kinds of electronic systems. It allows regulating the current that follows through it. So, it can act as a conductor as well as an insulator. A transistor is mainly used in electronic circuits to amplify electronic voltage/current, it also works as a switch.
Diode- The diode is an active electronic component. Most of the modern diodes are made of semiconductor material. A diode allows a much higher amount of current to flow in one direction compared to the opposite. A diode is used in an electronic circuit as a switch, rectifier, oscillator, voltage regulator, modulator, demodulator, and some other purpose.
Frequency- The term frequency specifies the number of alternating cycles of AC voltage/current. Its unit is Hertz (Hz). One Hz equals one cycle/second.
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It is cool to own a power inverter. Power inverters are especially useful as an instant power solution for those who travel frequently, works in a remote location, camp, and so on. If you wish to buy a power inverter, we humbly invite you to go through our reviews. Happy outing!