How to Choose a Power Inverter for Your Needs?

Lynsey Underground

Posted on January 26 2018

The job of an inverter (AKA power inverter) is quite straightforward — Change DC electricity into AC electricity that can be used by household appliances. The source of the DC electricity could either be solar generators or batteries. However, with tons of models and options, shopping for an inverter could be a little overwhelming sometimes. Understanding several basic concepts on this matter can help you make much more informative decision. Don't worry, the learning curve is very gentle, all you need is merely common sense.
What Can I Use An Inverter for? 

Using an inverter to "generate" power from a battery can be an invaluable resource for anyone who finds themselves away from traditional AC power sources. Technically, the inverter cannot generate any power, the power is provided by the DC source, say, an automotive battery. However, some inverters were engineered as a hybrid of battery and normal inverter, for instance, the Suaoki Powerhouse, it's equipped with a 20,000mAh battery. The upside of this design is that you’ll have portable power, for instance, you can charge the inverter with your solar panels in the day and use that power during the night.
Anyway, whether it is to run appliances you want to use while you are on the road or to run a 10-hour marathon of Game of Thrones in the woods with your camping buddies, you'd be better off with an inverter.

Now, let's get familiar with more specific terms.
Image: Hellobc. Camping with AC power is a better experience than without it
Wave Form Output

Currently in the mainstream market, there are two types of wave form: square wave and sine wave. Despite the fact that they are both competent to provide AC power to household appliances, sine wave output is more desirable because many electrical products are engineered to work best with a sine wave AC power source. 

And there're two types of sine wave output: the pure sine wave and the modified sine wave. Generally speaking, the pure sine wave is better for applications, especially those that have sensitive electronic components. The other option, the modified sine wave inverter is less expensive but good for simple applications such as radios. The difference is this: The pure sine wave is natural and curved. From peak to peak there is a full range of frequency in-between. Modified sine waves are rigid waves, only outputting the top peak and the lower peak alternatively, with no range in-between.
Image: Solarmust. Modified Sine Wave
Image: Solarmust. Pure Sine Wave
Talking About Numbers 

One of the most important factor that must know before buying an inverter is your "Power Requirement". The wattage rating on power inverters tells you how much power they can transfer – as long as your power source holds out. 

Suppose you have a 100W laptop and a 60W light bulb (Incandescent) to run simultaneously, simply add up the wattage of each device and make sure the inverter will supply sufficient AC power. In this case the inverter should provide at least 160W AC power, the S601 is apparently fully capable of that. If you need even higher power than 200W, consider Suaoki PS5B Inverter, which features a 300W AC power output.
From left to right: Suaoki S601 Inverter, Suaoki PS5B Inverter
Another factor you should pay attention to is Input Voltage (DC) and Output Voltage (AC): Select an inverter that matches the voltage of the battery supplying power to it. For example, if you are using a 12V battery, choose a 12V DC inverter. Output Voltage (AC): the output voltage should approximately match the standard AC voltage of your country.

We've covered the basics. Do you know how to change the ideal inverter for your situation now? 

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