Inverter has become a necessity than a luxury with frequent power cuts. People now want to run all home appliances including air conditioners, televisions and refrigerators for their convenience.
WHAT IS INVERTER
A power inverter converts DC power to standard home AC power. This lets you run AC electrical equipments during power outages conveniently.
TYPICAL USES OF INVERTERS
Inverters normally have one or more standard outlets to power laptops, small TVs, DVD players and other home appliances like light and fans.
FEATURES OF INVERTERS
Ground Fault Protection
If the inverter gets damp or wet Ground fault protection instantly turns off the inverter. The inverter turns itself back on if the problems are fixed. GFCI feature protects people from electrical shocks and fire.
Power inverters have a built-in transfer switch which switches from inverter power to utility power when electricity comes. The transfer switch allows external power to be transferred to appliances automatically.
Inverter today also support solar power system. They convert DC power generated by solar panels and store it in batteries. These get transformed to power which can be used for home appliances. These systems can be can be expensive and hence might not be advisable for individual homes.
POWER INVERTER OR GENERATOR?
Generator typically is needed for higher power needs.
An inverter is more economical power alternative to run items under 1000W and is ideal for small appliances like light, fan, laptop, TV other low load appliances. To operate a refrigerator, washing machine, AC and other high load appliances, a generator is a better option.
For power consumption above 2000W, a generator will be a better option.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INVERTER AND UPS
Both provide backup when there is a power outage. In case of UPS the switch is instantaneous whereas in case of inverters there is a lag in switch.
Hence in case of critical applications like computers a UPS is needed.
For household appliances like fan, light, cooler etc. the gap is fine and hence an inverter works well.
An inverter is typically cheaper than a UPS.
The typical usage of power appliances which you can use for approximate calculations is as in the table below ( do check the actual appliances wattage for caculating wattage):
Power (in Watts)
Starting (in Watts)
Washing machine - with heater
Washing machine - without heater
Air Conditioner (1.5T)
CHOOSING THE RIGHT INVERTER SIZE
The size of inverter is measured in watts (W). The amount of wattage needed depends on the appliances that need to run.
Many appliances have the wattage rated on the product. Wattage rating can also be calculated as:
Volts x Amps = Watts
The sum of wattage of all appliance should be within the specifications of the inverter. e.g. if you are planning a 2 outlet inverter then take the sum of wattage and add another 50% to account for any surges in power draw. For example if your tubelight draws 50W and fan draws 50W you should go for at least a 150W ( 50W+50W+50% of (50W+50W) ) inverter.
Make sure the power of the inverter is listed as "continuous". They should not draw the wattage for a short period of time and then will shut off, reset themselves and resume functioning. Such outages can be frustrating and harmful to the appliances.
There are certain appliances that need a start-up wattage which is higher than the normal running wattage e.g. a washing machine that runs at 500W might need 1000W to start. So the inverter rating should have considered 1000W instead of 500W as otherwise the washing machine will not start
TYPES OF INVERTERS
Power inverters produce one of two different types of wave output:
Modified Sine Wave
True Sine Wave
Modified Sine Wave Inverter
Modified sine wave inverter are most popular and cheaper. They are efficient enough to run most hone appliances properly. They are also smaller than other types of inverters.
True Sine Wave Inverter
True sine wave inverters are the most expensive. They deliver the most consistent, highest quality wave output.
These can have high surge capacity which indicates that they can exceed the rated wattage for limited time which is helpful in starting appliances.
Some equipment requires a true sine wave like laptops, battery chargers and so on. AC appliances will run on a true sine wave inverter.