Solar power inverter, outback inverter, battery charger inverter, true sine wave inverter, auto inverter… Confused? What is the best power inverter for you? The following information should help demystify your inverter choices!
WHAT DO INVERTERS DO?
Inverters are an electronic device that converts 12 volt or 24 volt direct current (DC) battery power input to alternating current (AC) electricity mains voltage (110V or 220 volt inverter or 240 volt inverter depending on where you live). The 240v inverter is the current inverter Australia mains match to. perth inverter
Though three phase inverters do exist, the single phase inverter DC AC – suitable for normal household appliances – is by far the most commonly used type.
Battery chargers charge in the other direction so are sometimes called an AC to DC inverter but this is not strictly correct as inverters, by their very definition, always act to step up voltage.
HOW CAN YOU USE AN INVERTER?
Renewable Energy Systems
For the usual alternative power systems, wind or solar energy is converted to 12 volt or 24 volt battery power. So you need a wind or solar power inverter capable of converting this power to mains power.
If you are using 24 volt batteries you’d need a 24 volt inverter, and for 12 volt batteries you’d use a 12 volt inverter. (See below to see if either a modified or true sine wave inverter is the best power inverter for your situation.)
Outback Inverter inverters perth
In remote situations a portable power to go inverter is very handy. As an auto inverter it can be connected to the battery of your vehicle to deliver power whenever and wherever you need it – to your caravan, boat, campsite or weekender.
An increasingly popular choice in such situations is to use portable inverter generators that also have the capacity to act as a portable battery charger inverter combination – and so double as an automotive battery charger.
A small solar energy photovoltaic panel can also be mounted to your vehicle or weekender for the purpose of recharging its battery. Similarly, particularly on boats, a small wind turbine can be rigged to achieve the same purpose of complementing the function of your outback inverter.
Inverter Backup Power
Though you may prefer to rely on a diesel or petrol powered electricity generator for your remote power needs, it is always useful to have inverter backup power available. In the event of generator failure, running out of fuel, or to give the generator a rest, your inverter can simply be connected to a vehicle battery (of matching voltage) to deliver instant power.
An auto inverter is handy for running appliances with low wattage and start up power needs such as lights, televisions, DVDs and computers. (See below to see if either a modified or true sine wave inverter is the best power inverter for your situation.)
If you attempt to run appliances with high power needs you’ll rapidly run down your battery, and your inverter might not have enough power to start some appliances with high start up power needs such as water pumps and refrigerators (see below for guidelines for choosing the best power inverter to match your appliances).
DO YOU NEED A “PURE” TRUE SINE WAVE INVERTER?
For any inverter application – whether as a wind or solar power inverter, outback inverter, auto inverter or for inverter backup power – you’ll need to decide if you are going to need a true sine wave inverter or a (much cheaper) modified sine wave inverter.
Many people start off with a modified sine wave inverter because they are usually less than half the cost of the pure sine inverter. Unfortunately, as many discover, you are not able to run everything on modified sine wave inverters.
What is the best power inverter for your situation?
Inverter sine wave quality affects the ability of the inverter to run particular electrical appliances.
Appliances that have an electronic circuit (i.e. it has a digital readout somewhere on it) require a true sine wave inverter to run as the modified sine wave inverter provides only intermittent cycles or waves of power when such appliances need continuous power to maintain their digital functions.
Many electronic appliances produced today use sophisticated technology that requires a true sine wave inverter to start or run. Examples are computers, laser printers, some charging devices for mobile phones or power tools, and modern washing machines.
Though many laptops run directly from their own battery, even when connected to mains power, and should be able to run OK on a modified power inverter, it is probably safer as a laptop LDC inverter to use the true sine wave type.
So, in general, your microwave, stereo, small fridge, lights, DVD player – will all run just fine on modified sine wave. However, in the case of a microwave inverter, you’d need the pure sine inverter to keep its digital readout (e.g. clock) working properly.
Another important difference worth considering between the modified and the true sine wave inverters is their “draw”.
Generally speaking, pure sine inverters are much more efficient – meaning they draw a lot less from your battery system to run themselves than would a modified sine wave type of the same wattage capacity.
Though most inverters feature a cut-off switch that prevents them from totally depleting your batteries this could be critical for outback inverters and auto inverters running on vehicle batteries which could be run down much faster where the modified type is used.
So you’d effectively get less use from your battery if you were using the cheaper modified power inverter, and if the batteries are weak to begin with, such treatment could be enough to knock them out altogether… potentially leaving you stranded!
WHAT SIZE INVERTER DO YOU NEED?
A range of power inverters is available from 150W to a maximum of around 5000W inverter for modified and 3500W for pure sine wave inverters. Anything bigger than the 5000 watt power inverter would draw a horrific amount of power out of a battery system so are not commonly used.
So, what is the best power inverter size for your needs? Do you need a 700 watt power inverter, a 2000w power inverter, a 3000 watt inverter or a 5000W inverter?
What’s Peak Wattage?
Perhaps the most important consideration when choosing the best power inverter size to match what you want to use it for is the startup wattage needs of your appliances.
Some appliances have notoriously high start-up requirements.
Though a small fridge, for example, might be labeled as using 300 Watts of power, to start the compressor in the fridge when it is first switched on will often require 4 or 5 times this wattage! This is called peak wattage.
Choosing the best power inverter for you becomes further confused by the peak capacity of the inverters themselves. When you look at inverter ratings a 700 watt power inverter may have a peak capacity of 1400 watts so if you have an appliance rated at 800 W and it has a peak wattage requirement of 5 times that to start it, your inverter will not be able to handle starting the appliance.
This is where a lot of people get caught with inverters – they do not understand the starting current required for some appliances.
Waterpumps are very hard to run on power inverters of any kind because they require more than 5 times their operating wattage to start.
For example, if you have a small water pump that is 600 W you would need a 3000 watt inverter (or stronger) to start the pump. However, once the pump had started, it would then only draw 600 W from the inverter.
And there is a catch!
If you buy a really big, say 5000w inverter, to run a small appliance such as a 600 W water pump – you run the risk of rapidly depleting your battery power reserves as the inverter may draw as much as the water pump to run itself (especially if it is the less efficient modified sine wave type – see above!). solar power inverter
NON-PORTABLE AND PORTABLE INVERTER GENERATORS
Is portability an important consideration for choosing the best power inverter for you? For fixed wind and solar power inverters, probably not, but for auto inverters and outback inverters, then obviously yes!
But for some applications the inverter needed is going to be heavy and cumbersome whether you like it or not.
Inverter welding machine applications are one example.
With the advent of new technology, inverters are now being produced that able to be used for TIG or MIG welders. Some inverters are sold as power inverters, battery chargers and TIG welding inverters all rolled into one.
They can be handy but rather expensive. The main disadvantage is their weight – they are extremely heavy and difficult to move around unless on wheels.