What is an inverter?

Ever wondered when there is a power cut but your lights still stay on? What makes the lights stay on when there is no electricity supply? Is it magic? Close but no, not exactly. It’s an inverter. So what is an inverter?. An inverter is an electronic rectangular shaped device that saves power and uses that power to keep the lights on when the main source is cut off. These devices are mostly battery run. If you want a more technical definition, then, an inverter is a device that converts DC (Direct Current) voltage to AC (Alternating Current) voltage.

AC and DC are two types of current flow in a circuit. In DC, the electric charge is unidirectional i.e. the electric charge flows in only one direction. Unlike DC, in AC the electric current flows both ways changing direction at regular period of times. Direct Current is used in appliances where there is a steady supply of current. Home appliances like fans, lights, television, refrigerator etc. run on DC current.

Alternating Current is basically used in devices where the current is constantly changing. For example, a battery. The voltage that is needed for basic power supply comes up to 230 V AC. Inverters come in all sizes which differ according to their power supply. The range lies between 50 watts to 50,000 watts. The average storage capacity of an inverter varies between 1.2 KWh and 3KWh.

You can convert watts into ampere by simply dividing watts by voltage. Ampere is much easier to judge, and you can easily decide what capacity inverter is required for your use.

Basic Types of Inverters

There are three types of inverters. They are:

  • Sine Wave Inverter

Sine Wave Inverter is the most basic inverter invented. Sine waves are emitted when AC machinery is rotated. Sine Wave Inverters are slightly more expensive as most of the devices like light dimmers, toasters etc. work with only these kinds of inverters.

  • Modified Sine Wave Inverter

Modifies Sine Wave Inverter, as its name suggest, is a modified form of Sine Wave Inverter. Its wave forms are square in shape with more steps in it, unlike Sine Wave Inverter. This type of inverter has less efficiency turnout and motor equipment like refrigerators take more time to charge and run than it would have taken usually.

  • Square Wave Inverter

Square Wave Inverter is the cheapest inverter and its wave forms are in the square shape, hence, the name. They are seldom used anymore as they are only capable of running very simple devices.

Difference between Inverters and Generators

Many people and consumers are often confused between an inverter and a generator which is natural as both the devices work to give the same output i.e. power supply in case of electricity cut.

  • A generator is used to supply power for heavy powered supplies. It acquires mechanical energy and converts it into electrical energy from an external source. Generators are bigger in size and are mainly used to distribute power unlike inverters which are portable and supply power to light supplies. An inverter acquires energy from the same source which converts direct current voltage into alternating current voltage. It is powered by sources like batteries, solar cells and fuel cells.
  • A generator typically acquires mechanical energy from gasoline, natural gas and fuel. An inverter typically has stored power in the form of batteries and solar energy cells.
  • A generator is recommended for areas where the power cuts are longer in duration and have brief and short power surges often. Generators have the ability to provide service for a longer period of time, comparatively speaking. An inverter is recommended for areas where power cuts are short and occasional so that the stored energy in the battery or solar cells isn’t completely used up.
  • Generators are high maintenance in the sense that it takes time and effort to kick start a generator. Unlike generators, inverters are easy to maintain as they automatically start when there is a power cut. Also, you don’t have to manually switch the inverter off when power is reinstated unlike generators where the user has to switch the device off mechanically.
  • In terms of comfort, generators create a lot of noise when in action unlike inverters which makes no noise at all.

What is an inverter and its misinterpretation with Batteries

Some consumers are often confused regarding battery run inverters. Following are some serious misconceptions regarding battery inverters and the truth behind them.

  • Battery inverters need to be filled very often.

The answer to this question is no. I don’t know what your idea of “very often” is but you don’t have to fill water in the battery daily. If the inverter has been used frequently then you need to refill the battery at least once in every couple of months, not more than that.

  • Distilled water can be substituted with tap water.

There is a difference between distilled and tap water. Tap water has many natural minerals in it which doesn’t go right with batteries of your inverter. Distilled water is specially created by removing those natural minerals so that the battery doesn’t react with these minerals. It is an absolute no no to substitute distilled water with tap water.

  • Storing battery in your fridge can extend its life.

The answer to this question is a straight no. Storing food in your fridge is absolutely acceptable as that is its main job but storing a battery is not acceptable. This action can actually cause some negative effect as the chemicals in the battery can react in an abrasive manner in such unfavorable environment.

  • Discharge your battery completely before recharging in order to increase its life.

This statement is not at all true. It is not at all necessary to discharge your battery before recharging. There are no proven facts that such an action can extend your battery’s life.

  • Inverters should be installed in a loft.

No, inverters generate heat and should be ideally in a well – ventilated place where there is not much movement. Installing an inverter in a loft is a bad decision as that location is not well ventilated and is well insulated.

Tips for using Home Inverter

  • Make sure the area where the inverter is installed stays dry and clean.
  • It is suggested to regularly check and refill the battery tubes.
  • It is highly recommended to install your inverter in a dry and well – ventilated location to diffuse off the heat generated.
  • Make sure that the battery remains rust free and doesn’t corrode.
  • Keep children and pets away from the battery.

Inverters have become an essential part of our lives and make it hassle free for us to function without electricity. They make our life easy and fill up the void that is created by power cuts. Inverters are available at reasonable rates so don’t wait and start browsing for inverters that suit best for you.

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