Who needs an inverter? Why buy one? In truth, it is a very comfortable and very useful device for those who have a boat or a camper, even if its applications go far beyond.
Those who decide to buy an inverter do so because they need to transform direct current into alternating current. Hence the origin of the name because, precisely, it reverses the current. Which inverter to choose for your car, boat or camper?
If you grope in the dark take a look at our guide; here you can find some indications that will help you identify the model that best suits your needs
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Power Inventors Buyer Guide
Pure or Modified Sine Wave?
The inverters on the market can be divided into two categories, those with a pure or modified sine wave. Without going into too technical details.
It is enough to say that both of these devices are used to transform or invert, the 12-volt direct current coming from the battery of the car, boat or camper in 220-volt alternating current.
The advantage is to be able to power different types of electrical equipment comfortably and wherever you are, even away from traditional power outlets. Attention, however: it is always advisable to check first if the device to be powered cannot be damaged.
In particular, it must be considered that the modified sine wave inverters are the simplest and cheapest ones and, however versatile, they are able to supply current only to a limited range of devices such as, for example, mobile phones, tablets, radios, etc.
Pure sine wave, however, are more complex, they have a higher price but offer better performance because they reproduce exactly, or even better, the type of voltage present in the domestic power supply.
The advantage is to be able to power, in addition to those mentioned, also devices with higher sensitivity or with an internal motor such as drills and other DIY tools.
Compare prices and performance but, after establishing which type of inverter you need, you should immediately decide what power you need. If you buy a model with insufficient power, you will not be able to power your device.
Furthermore, one very important factor must be taken into account: the power declared by the manufacturer is nominal and refers, that is, to the direct connection between the battery and the inverter by means of special cables.
Usually, however, it is used more comfortably through the cigarette lighter socket. In this case, the power expressed is significantly reduced, even by half.
For example, a nominal 300-watt inverter will only be able to supply about 150 watts, powering only equipment that needs a maximum power of 150 W such as battery chargers, readers and radios.
300 effective watts should suffice, for example, for more complex systems such as systems with decoders, PCs, amplifiers, and so on.
Very useful are the USB ports sometimes present on some inverters that allow you to recharge mobile phones and tablets more comfortably.
Fan and Fuse
The inverter produces heat to function and, for this reason, all models integrate a cooling fan which, however, could prove to be too noisy, especially for those who are in places where silence is required.
In these cases, the best brand of inverter could be the one that makes less noisy appliances or that, at least, do not activate the fan when the inverter is turned on but only when the inverter is overheating.
Finally, it may happen that you have to replace the blown fuse and, if it is external, it will be easier to change because it will not be necessary to disassemble the entire inverter casing.
Where the Inverter Is Applied
In order to provide as complete a picture of the situation as possible, we want to briefly define in which situations the use of an inverter is required.
In this way, in our opinion, the reader will have the clearest ideas. An uninterruptible power supplies, for example, the inverter converts the battery voltage into alternating current.
But such a device is also necessary in the case of the transmission of electrical energy, transforming this into direct current energy to be transferred to the electrodes when it is required to be fed into an alternating current network.
But an inverter is also indispensable for those who, for example, want to equip their home with photovoltaic panels, transforming direct voltage into alternating voltage.
The Type of Wave
The inverters are distinguished by the type of sine wave that can be pure or modified. It is first of all important to know that equipment and appliances equipped with a motor work with pure sinusoidal voltage.
But also, for example, a Hi-Fi or a computer need a sine wave, only that in this case it must be of a modified type. These details must be kept in mind when deciding to buy an inverter.
When we read the inverter specifications we must be aware that the declared power is nominal, the result of a direct connection between the battery and the inverter. But if the latter is connected, for example, to the cigarette lighter, the actual power could even be halved.
This must make us reflect and lead us to consider, before the purchase, what will be connected to the inverter. For example, if the power available is 150 W, we must know that it will be possible to connect devices for which this power is sufficient.
For Charging Tablets and Smartphones
The most modern inverters offer the possibility to recharge devices such as smartphones and tablets. In fact, they have one or more USB ports.
Moreover, especially if used in the car, the inverter occupies the cigarette lighter, the only socket also useful for charging the smartphone. But using a device with USB ports, you won’t experience any problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to Buy an Inverter?
You can buy a 12 V 220 V inverter in a shop or in an electronics megastore, but you can also find one in a shop dedicated to camping and equipment for campers or boats.
An alternative solution is to buy online, as you will have a wide range of models to choose from. You will also find cheaper prices and you can take advantage of the various offers to save.
How Much Does an Inverter Consume?
It depends on the wattage and the connected devices. With a coffee machine that consumes 800 W, the inverter will consume at least 6.5 Ah counting that this device will be used for short periods.
The consumption is different if a laptop or TV is connected, devices that can also be used for several hours. In general, to find out the consumption of the different devices you have to divide the wattage by 10 by 12 V.
Is It Difficult to Use an Inverter?
Most of the models on the market are very intuitive, the only precaution you must have is never to connect devices that are not supported by the maximum inverter wattage.
To use an inverter, all you have to do is connect it to the vehicle’s cigarette lighter socket and connect the device you want to use in one of the inverter’s electrical outlets. In any case, always read the instruction manual, especially if you are a beginner.
Is It Safe to Use an Inverter?
Yes, the 12 V 220 V inverters have safety systems to protect against overloads, voltage drops or high temperatures, so they can be used without any risk. You just have to be careful in case you connect them to the battery via terminals.
However, if the inverter has protection against pole reversal then you will have nothing to worry about. Before purchasing a model, always check that it has various integrated safety systems.