What is a Power InverterPower Inverters convert DC current from the 12 volt battery in your car, truck, or RV into 115/120 volt AC current. Power inverters are becoming more and more popular every day. With today's world of mobile electronic devices for both work and leisure, the need to have an AC outlet in our vehicles is vital. This is where power inverters come in. Power Inverters convert the voltage from your vehicle's battery into common "household" power so that you can operate your AC powered devices on-the-go.
Inverters convert your vehicle's battery power "DC" (Direct Current) to "AC" (Alternating Current). They also change the operating voltage from 12-Volts (DC) to 110-Volts (AC) giving you the same power for most appliances, chargers and tools that you would get from plugging them in at home, at the office or on the job site.
Choosing The Right InverterPower Inverters are available in two main types: hard-wired "permanent" install and portable cigarette lighter plug styles providing wattages ranging from 100 to 2000 watts. Choosing the right inverter for your needs is not complicated. Just answer a few questions about how you will use the inverter, what devices you will use the inverter for and how much power the devices you will use require. Remember to consider future uses, including additional devices you may wish to add later.
To choose the correct inverter start with how you will use your inverter:
If you plan to use your inverter daily, or the devices you wish to power require over 150 watts, choose a semi-permanent or hard-wired style inverter. These designs give you more flexibility for higher power output and number of devices you can use at the same time.
Read your device's owners guide or look on the device itself to determine the operating wattage of the device. Some appliances and tools give you the operating Amperage (Amps) instead of wattage. Use the formulas below to convert Amperage to Wattage (or Wattage to Amperage):
Convert Amps to Watts:AMPS x VOLTS = WATTS Example: 8.5 Amps x 110 Volts = 935 Watts
Convert Watts to Amps:WATTS ÷ VOLTS = AMPS Example: 1320 Watts ÷ 110 Volts = 12 Amps
To determine the size vehicle alternator needed to keep up with a specific inverter, you need to convert AC wattage to DC amperage (the value vehicle alternators are measured in) In the example below, you would need a 91 amp alternator to provide a continuous draw of a 1000 watt inverter:
Convert AC Watts to DC Amps:AC WATTS ÷ 12 x 1.1 = DC AMPS Example: 1000 Watts ÷ 12 = 83.33 x 1.1 = 91.66
Important Information About Waveform Output:
The output waveform of Inverters is referred to as "square wave" or "modified sine wave." Some very sensitive electronic equipment and some medical equipment (listed below) may not operate satisfactorily on "square wave" or "modified sine wave." It is a stepped waveform designed to have characteristics similar to the pure sine wave shape of utility power. A waveform of this nature is suitable for most AC loads (including linear and switching power suppliers used in electronic equipment, transformers and motors).
NOTE: These are general minimum size recommendations for inverters that utilize one positive and one negative cable (single cable set) only, and may not be correct for all inverters or applications. Cable size recommendations may vary among inverter brands and models, so check the Owner's Manual for the model you purchase before buying the wire for it.