The two basic states of electric power are the direct current and alternating current. All household appliances are powered using alternating current means – even our phones which use DC batteries are charged using alternating current.
Simply put, Inverters convert direct current to alternating current electric power.
You might be led to ask, why then is there a direct current supply?
Energy has to be stored in a stable state and as far as electricity is concerned, DC is the ideal means of storing energy, i.e. in batteries.
Using car power inverters, the output of the car battery which is naturally DC would be converted into AC so that you can also use it for other applications such as phone charging, stereo powering, cigar lighting and even to create sparks for the ignition of the vehicle itself.
How Does Power Inverter Work?
For inverters to work, they need to be connected to a battery (in this case, the car’s battery) and convert its output to an AC supply. To do this, there are at least three different connection configuration namely;
- Through the Fuse Panel:
The fuse panel is the regulatory part of the car’s electric circuit. This means is considered in heavy duty applications when the devices to be connected consume large amounts of energy – like a TV set for example.
Mostly, some of the fuse panel slots are empty and an inverter can be wired into them to generate electricity for your personal use. Obviously, this would take a certified engineer to connect.
- Connection through the Cigarette Lighter/ the car’s 12V accessory socket:
This is the most common means known to car users. You can simply get an inverter from a convenient store and hook it up to the cigarette lighter or the 12V accessory socket and you’re good to go.
However, there are limitations for this means. The output of inverters connected through the cigarette lighters are limited to 5 – 10 amps of supply. This means that the output supply can’t be used for heavy duty applications.
- Direct connection to the car battery:
For the aforementioned means, the inverters are also connected to the car battery but indirectly. In this case however, the inverter is actually directly connected to the battery of the car using an inline fuse.
Thus , it is very important to connect via the inline fuse to avoid accidents on the car battery, the car itself, or even your appliance.
Since direct connection to the car battery is an option considered for heavy duty applications, it’s always important to consider the impact of such connection on the battery itself. With this in mind, its best to get an additional battery if you intend to really use it for your appliances.
Some vehicles have room for additional batteries which also charge alongside the car’s original battery and cause no harm whatsoever to it. With this, you could conveniently use the inverter even when the vehicle isn’t running.
Types of Power Inverters
The major car inverter types are based on their output waveforms or in simpler terms, the nature of their output. The kind of output waveform directly influences the kind of electronics you could use with it. The two major types of car power inverters are described thus;
- Modified Sine wave inverters:
As the name implies, they produce a modified sine save output waveform which is good enough for simpler devices and consumer electronics. They work for about ninety percent of the consumer electronics, however, it can’t charge any battery-operated tool.
Some computers and printers experience interferences on this inverter type while others seem to work fine but to be on the safer side, consider a safer option.
The only safe thing about this option is your budget. It’s very cheap, but it might cost you a lot more if you need some serious juice.
- Pure Sine wave inverters:
While this type tends to be the more expensive option, its AC output is very similar to the ones available in conventional output supplies. However, it’s always best to check with the manufacturer’s specification before purchasing it.
Benefits of Power Inverters
This almost seems rhetorical considering how easy the many benefits of this invention comes to mind. Most importantly, those who spend a lot of time on the road can benefit from the use of a car power inverter. The same goes for camping, over-the-road truck drivers as well as other smart applications.
Heck, it could be your new power supply when your electric bill is due.
Some of the devices that you can power from your vehicle using the inverter include; Television sets, DVD and Bluray players, catalytic heaters, game systems, cooking equipment as well as power tools. However, don’t forget to check in with the manufacturer before plugging in any devices for the sake of your battery and the device you are about to power.
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