What is a Power Inverter?

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FAQs About Power Inverters

A power inverter is an extremely handy gadget that converts energy from a car engine, the sun, wind, or other sources into usable power for your appliances and devices while you’re on the road. You can also use this power to fire up your generator. You just connect your inverter to a battery and plugin your devices.

Power inverters are a must for people who use RVs, camp, live off the grid, homestead, or want to be sure they have an emergency power supply. Are you confused about how to buy the right one? Here are some questions you might have about choosing the best power inverter for your needs.

Q. What Size Inverter Should You Buy?

That depends on how many amps or watts you plan to use on a daily basis. To get this number, add up the watts or amps of every device or appliance you plan to power. You’ll find the number listed on a decal or plate on the appliance. Add extra wattage to your total to be sure you have enough for unexpected needs.

Q. How Do You Calculate How Many Amps You Need?

You must know the continuous load number and the startup load number of each device you plan to run.

To convert amps to watts:

  • Multiply the number of amps by 120 (standard voltage).
  • This will give you the continuous load number of the device.

To calculate startup load:

  • Multiply watt number by 2.
  • The startup number will tell you whether your inverter can handle that amount of wattage.

Keep in mind that some large appliances can have what’s called a start-up surge, which can be five times bigger than their continuous load number.

Q. Should You Use Sine or Modified Sine Waves?

When you shop for an inverter, you’ll see you have a choice between a modified sine wave and a true sine wave, which is sometimes called a pure sine wave. You may also notice a big price difference. What is the difference? Is the extra money worth it?

The answer is, modified sine wave works for most standard uses. It the most common and most affordable type of inverter on the market. If you’re running lights, kitchen appliances, power tools, and similar items, a modified sine wave inverter is perfect.

If you plan to run sensitive equipment like a computer or medical equipment, however, splurge on a pure sine wave inverter. Pure sine wave or true sine wave inverters produce a cleaner, quieter and faster connection. Some computers and other sensitive devices won’t run on a modified sine wave current.

Some people solve the problem by having two inverters. They use a modified sine inverter for everyday needs and reserve a pure sine wave inverter for special equipment.

Q. What Are Some Safety Tips for Using an Inverter?

Follow these tips for the safe operation of a power inverter.

  • Always keep the inverter on a flat surface.
  • Don’t keep the inverter near the engine. Oil, gasoline, and fumes are dangerous when combined with electric power.
  • Don’t place your inverter in direct sunlight, near a radiator, or close to any heat source.
  • Keep the inverter dry. Don’t use it if you or the inverter are wet.

Get Help with All Your Electrical Needs

SESCOS can help you choose and install an inverter. When you need help with any electrical issue, call SESCOS for fast, reliable service.

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