What is a Power Inverter
A power inverter is a DC (battery) powered device that converts DC (Direct Current) power into AC (Alternating Current) power. The output is usually 120 VAC, 60 Hz (North American domestic power) or 230 VAC, 50 Hz, International power.
How Does a Power Inverter Work?
A power inverter converts DC power into conventional AC power allowing you to use your favourite devices when an AC outlet is not available. Simply connect an inverter to a battery source, plug your appliance into the inverter and you’re set!
What Can I Use an Inverter For?
With a large enough battery bank, and a powerful enough inverter, almost anything, within reason, can be operated from a power inverter including everyday appliances such as lights, fans, AC, power tools, TVs and VCRs, lights, audio/visual equipment, and computers. Pure sine inverters are ideal for running sensitive test equipment: oscilloscopes, scales, stereos & video equipment, etc.
What Size Inverter do I Need?
The size of your inverter is dependent on the load you will be powering. You will need to calculate the total (Watts or Amps) of all appliances you plan to power. Virtually all AC powered equipment will bear a label (usually placed near where the wire enters the unit), indicating how many Amps or Watts of electricity the unit uses.
It is not recommended to run two heavy pieces of equipment simultaneously, such as a refrigerator and a microwave or a vacuum cleaner and a microwave, unless a very large capacity inverter is being used.
A 100-Watt light bulb consumes just under 1 Amp of electricity per hour. (120 Watts = 1 Amp of AC power), 8 Amps draw of electricity (9 x 100-Watt light bulbs) are approximately the equivalent of 960 Watts or just under 1 kW (1000 Watts of power).
- Starting Load
Some appliances require an initial surge of power to start up, called a Starting Load (or Peak Surge). The Starting Load is considerably higher than the Continuous Load and must be considered when sizing the inverter, the battery and the cables that connect the two.
Watts x 2 = Starting Load*
*This is an approximation. Some appliances may require a greater starting load (3 to 7 times the continuous rating).
- Continuous Load
The Continuous load of your application is the amount of power it needs to run over the long term. Once started, an appliance needs less power to continue operation than it needed to start up.
Amps x 220 (AC Voltage) = Watts*
*This is an approximation.
How Do I Know Which Inverter to Buy?
Different devices require specific wattages to run correctly and efficiently. Please refer to our estimated loads for each inverter bundle to help you find the inverter that is right for you.
How Should I Select the Right Size Inverter?
First add up the power ratings of all the appliances, then buy the next larger inverter! At least that is the simple answer. Note, however, that some appliances, such as refrigerators, and microwaves have a surge requirement. Some inverters are designed to supply such surges, but since every appliance has its own requirements sometimes you will need to get a bigger inverter than you would otherwise think. Note that the inverter isn’t the only consideration when you are pondering the mysteries of startup surges. The battery must also be able to supply the surge power, and the cables must be able to supply the increased current without dropping the voltage too much.
What is the Difference Between Square, Modified & Pure Sine Wave?
0700inverters.com neither recommends nor offers any inverters that produce a “square” wave. Square Wave units are not efficient and could be harmful to some electronic equipment. Square Wave units were the pioneers of inverter development and, like the horse and buggy, do not figure on today’s power inverter highway.
Modified Sine Wave
The most common, general-use inverters available are of the “Modified Sine Wave” variety, usually available at more moderate and competitive pricing. Modified or Quasi Sine Wave output inverters are designed for efficiency while still being inexpensive to make. Although scientifically designed to somewhat simulate Pure Sine Wave output, Modified Sine Wave inverters do not offer the same “perfect” electrical output. As such, a by-product of Modified sine wave output units is electrical noise. Some lower-grade TVs and stereos use power supplies incapable of eliminating common mode noise. This may cause a “hum” on your radio or sound system or a “grain” or small amount of “snow” on your video picture.
The main drawback with Modified sine wave inverters is that some appliances with timing devices, light dimmers, and some battery chargers, as well as variable speed devices may not work well, or indeed, may not work at all.
Pure Sine Wave
For any device that requires sensitive calibration, it is advisable to use a Pure Sine Wave inverter. Pure or True Sine Wave inverters provide electrical power similar to the output of your wall plug, which is highly reliable and does not produce the electrical noise interference, which may result from use of a modified sine wave unit. With its “perfect” sine wave output, the power produced fully assures that your “sensitive loads” will be correctly powered, with no interference.
Some appliances which are likely to require Pure Sine Wave include digital clocks, battery chargers, light dimmers, variable speed motors, and audio/visual equipment.
Why choose Between a Modified Sine and Pure Sine Wave Inverter?
Modified sine wave power inverters are more portable than pure sine wave power inverters, lighter, and lower in cost. If your device will handle voltage fluctuations, a modified sine wave inverter should be considered. Most devices that people typically wish to power will work fine with a modified sine wave inverter, as a precaution, please contact the manufacturer of your device to determine if it is compatible.
Pure sine wave power inverters motor’s run cooler, last longer and provide very clean power like you would receive from a power company. Devices such as laser printers, digital clocks, and most medical equipment require a pure sine wave inverter to run correctly. As noted above, as a precaution, please contact the manufacturer of your device to determine if pure sine wave power is required.
How is an Inverter Different than a UPS?
A UPS typically includes the battery and battery charger in one stand-alone unit. However, there are UPSs that use external batteries,
UPSs also can have communication with the equipment that it is powering letting the equipment know that it is operating on standby, giving it shutdown warning, or communicating with the human in the loop. Inverters typically don’t have this communication.
What is the Difference Between an Automotive "Cranking" and Deep Cycle Battery?
Automotive batteries provide high burst of power for use by equipment and are usually adequate for small inverters, (< 500 Watts). Deep Cycle (marine) batteries are best for larger inverters as they are designed for several hundred charge/discharge cycles. (Automotive batteries wear out much more quickly after heavy discharge).
How Do I Charge the Battery For My Inverter?
Because inverters operate from a DC (Direct Current) power source, usually a battery bank (one or more batteries), the battery source will have to be recharged at some point. This can be done using either your usual AC source or your generator; an external charger can also be used with your inverter. You can also charge your batteries using solar panels
What are Some Safety Precautions to Keep in Mind?
Improper use of a power inverter could result in personal injury. Please read this carefully.
Keep the inverter free from moisture as liquids conduct electricity, which may lead to serious damage or injury!
Do not use the inverter near flammable materials or where fumes or gases may accumulate.
How Far Can I Keep my Inverter From my Batteries?
Keep the cables between your inverter and batteries as short as possible. This will help your batteries perform their best and keep the inverter’s signal clean. The cables that come with the inverter are “rated” or good for up to six ft. If you plan on going over six ft., drop down to a larger gauge cable. This is pretty important stuff that should NOT be overlooked. If the cables between your battery and inverter get hot while under heavy load, then you should use heavier cables.
Can I Use an Extension Cord With my Inverter?
Yes, no problem. If cables need to be run, it is best to keep inverter as close as possible to batteries. Use extension cords on the output side (VAC output) rather than extending the VDC cables. VAC extension cords should not exceed 200 feet or you will have signal loss
What is the Low Voltage Alarm & Shutdown?
The low voltage alarm will sound when the DC source falls below a certain level usually 10 volts on a 12 volts battery and the automatic shutdown will power off the inverter. This is done to save your battery(ies) so you can restart your system
My Inverter's Fans Won't Come on
On almost all of inverters, the fans are connected to a thermal switch which will only allow the fans to come on when they reach a certain temperature. This helps keep your batteries holding their charge longer, and also makes it QUIET!
Is my Inverter Weatherproof?
No. Treat your inverter like you would your TV. You wouldn’t put your TV outside in the rain, please don’t leave your inverter there either. Be aware of lighting storms. If struck, your inverter would go into a permanent overload state and may even smoke it. If using in a marine environment, try to keep it tucked away underneath, in a dryer area.
What Type of Batteries do You Recommend?
Most of our customers prefer to use deep cycle batteries with their inverters. A few advantages are:
Delivers higher peak amps faster than conventional batteries
Provides up to twice the life of conventional batteries
More consistent voltage across the discharge curve
Superior cold and hot weather performance vs. conventional batteries
Why Do I Need Such Humongous Cables to The Battery When a Small Cord Takes The AC Output Fine?
Power is volts times amps (Watts = V x A). So if you have a lot of voltage you don’t need many amps. Roughly you need 12 times as much current from the 12 volt battery as you need from the 110 volt AC outlet. Current is what causes cables to heat up, not voltage. That is why they use thousands of volts in power transmission grids. The thing to do when you have lots of current is to lower the resistance of the cable. The larger the wire the lower the resistance. Think of the cable as a water pipe. A big pipe (wire) can carry more water (current or amperage) with less pressure (voltage), and will present less pressure (voltage) drop from one end of the pipe to the other.
Another consideration is how far the cable has to run from the battery to the inverter. Long cable runs are expensive, either in copper or efficiency, or both.
Should I Use Aluminum Wire, or Must I Use Copper?
Aluminum is cheaper and lighter, but it also has higher resistance for a given guage, and is more difficult to connect to. If you are an expert in such things, or know one, and need the advantages that aluminum gives, go ahead. If not, why not use the best conductor, copper? (Silver is slightly better, but it is cheaper to use a larger diameter copper).
Make sure to use good insulation, 90°C rated or better. Also, running two sets of parallel wires instead of one can cut down on the wire heating due to more surface area.
Make sure to follow all applicable electrical codes. Inverters must be grounded properly, and treated with respect, since they put out potentially lethal voltage. A lot of smart people have worked for 100 years to develop rules which will keep you out of trouble if followed. These rules are called the national electrical code, and your friend the electrician has it memorized (or knows where to look it up).
Should I Use a Laser Printer With an Inverter?
Only if you must. Laser printers use up a surprising amount of power (due to the heated rollers), and will discharge your battery faster than you expect, even on standby. If you do, make sure the inverter is rated for the power of the printer plus computer plus monitor. It doesn’t do any good to have your computer brown out as soon as the the printer starts to print. Ink jet printers, on the other hand, use a surprsingly low amount of power.
A battery is a device that stores energy while it is being charged and releases energy while it is being discharged. There are a lot of different battery technologies, but lead acid batteries, which consist of plates of lead dioxide and spongy lead, immersed in a sulphuric acid solution contained in a durable housing, are most appropriate for use with inverters and mobile power solutions.
Lead acid battery technology has come a long way since 1859, the year it was invented. You no longer have to check the state of charge with a hydrometer, or top the batteries up with distilled water. Batteries are now safer, more reliable and in some cases, virtually maintenance free. Lead acid batteries are recommended for use with inverters because:
- They are low cost, widely available and easy to manufacture
- They are durable and dependable when properly used and stored
- The self-discharge rate is lower than that of other battery technologies
- There’s no memory effect
They can produce a lot of current very fast, which is important in inverter applications.
Deep Cycle Versus Starter Batteries
Lead acid batteries are suitable for applications requiring a big, sudden discharge of current (what you need to start the engine on a boat, or in a car or RV) or a slow, steady discharge of current (to run your scooter, or watch a TV). These two classes of application generally require different battery technology, but they share some characteristics. Lead acid batteries of similar amp hour capacity will require about the same length of time to recharge, and all lead acid batteries are damaged by heat, and by storage in a discharged state.
The technology for starter batteries is simple. Many thin plates of lead in the electrolyte give lots of surface area, thus lots of potential current. This is the kick you need to get your car to start on a frosty morning.
Thick plates make batteries better suited to deep cycling – the type of battery that works best with an inverter. Thick plates aren’t the best for short high current use. If you have a quality deep cycle battery, you can discharge and recharge it more than 1500 times. A starting battery can be discharged perhaps 30 times before it will no longer accept a charge.
Because of the differences in the way the lead plates inside the battery are placed, the battery charging requirements are slightly different for the two styles of battery. Batteries that are not charged in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions can over gas (referred to as “boiling”) if overcharged, or sulfate if undercharged. Improper charging reduces the battery capacity and life cycle; that’s why it’s important to use the right charging technology to protect your investment in your batteries.
Unless they are properly charged, you won’t get the rated capacity back out of the batteries. There’s no free lunch: You can’t take energy out that you haven’t put in. Further, you’ll shorten the life cycle of any battery if it’s not properly charged. This is because the sulfur crystals which are deposited on the active material of the plate during discharge (while you are running your inverter or DC load) will not be forced back into solution during the charge cycle. Over time, these crystals become harder and thicker, reducing the access of the electrolyte to the plate and ultimately reducing the battery’s capacity.
How Big a Battery Is Needed?
Batteries last longest if you only discharge to 50% of capacity and then recharge as soon as possible after the discharge. If you want to run a 1 amp light for 50 hours between charging, you would need a battery which will deliver about 100 amp-hours. Although you can discharge a battery much further than this, you will begin to decrease the battery’s cycle life. A good deep cycle battery might deliver 1,500 (or more) discharges to the 50% level. By increasing the discharge to 95% you can reduce cycles to a hundred or so. So don’t undersize your battery bank, or you will be buying batteries much more often than necessary.
Gel Cell, Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) or Liquid Cell (Flooded Lead Acid) Batteries?
Which type of battery you buy depends on your application, your charging system, your budget, your willingness to trade convenience for cost, and weight considerations. Some advice applies to all types of batteries. The following advice is not meant to supersede specific product instructions or cautions supplied by the battery manufacturer.
Unless your battery charger can be programmed to output the appropriate charging cycle for different battery types, use only one battery chemistry – Liquid (also called Flooded), Gel, or AGM. Different battery types on one bank may result in undercharging or overcharging, and reduce the battery life. This may require you to replace all of the batteries in your system at once.
Never mix old batteries with new ones in the same bank. While it seems like this would increase your overall capacity, old batteries tend to reduce the new ones to their deteriorated level.
Regulate charge voltages based on battery temperature and acceptance (manually or with sensing) to maximize battery life and reduce charge time.
Ensure that your charging system is capable of delivering sufficient amperage to charge battery banks efficiently. A rule of thumb is that for every battery rating, the charger must be about 10% of the battery capacity. For example, a 20 amp alternator can support 100 to 200 amp hours of battery capacity.
Keep batteries clean, cool and dry.
Check terminal connectors regularly and clean in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid loss of conductivity.
Add distilled water to flooded lead acid batteries when needed. It is important to adequately submerse the plates in solution, and also not to overfill which will cause loss of electrolyte when charging due to the volume expansion of electrolyte due to gas bubbles generated within the acid electrolyte. Most flooded batteries have a piece of plastic sticking down from the vent cap/filler opening inside the cell a certain height above the plates, which provides a visual depth indication when to stop filling with distilled water. Using a flashlight, watch for the acid solution’s meniscus forming when the liquid level hits this level. Don’t overfill much past this point.
There are a few factors that need to be considered before you determine the quantity of batteries needed. First, consider the type of battery you intend to use with your application. Next, determine the size of the battery and the number of amp hours you require between charge cycles. Most people have a 100-200 amp-hour battery bank, but this depends on use of your system.
In many cases there are additional “hidden loads” that will draw power from the inverter even when they are turned off. Some examples are: TV tubes being kept warm and microwave & VCR clocks. In addition to AC loads, there may also be DC loads that draw power from the same battery bank as the inverter. These loads can include CO detectors, accent lighting, bay lights, and water pumps. Phantom loads may consume over 70 amp hours per day and most banks will be depleted in about three days with the inverter running with no loads connected.
Battery Installation Tips
- Ensure that the battery is properly secured to prevent movement or vibration wear.
- Do not over tighten the hold down bracket
- Connect high amperage accessories such as a winch to the top terminals only. Do NOT use the side terminals.
- Replace any cables and connectors that have corrosion, rust, or other damage.
- Do not install batteries in a non-ventilated or sealed compartment.
- Do not lift or handle the batteries by the terminals.
- Do not over tighten terminal bolts
Connecting Batteries Together in Parallel
If your battery application requires more starting power or reserve capacity you can install multiple batteries together in parallel by connecting the like terminals together (positive to positive / negative to negative). Each time you add a battery in parallel you increase the CCA and Reserve Capacity, the voltage remains at 12 volts.
Why Would You Use a 24 Volt Inverter Instead Of a 12 Volt Inverter?
At a given power rating a 24 volt inverter will need half the current as a 12 volt inverter. This makes the entire system more efficient, and since high current transistors are expensive, the inverter will be cheaper.
Suggestions for Connecting Batteries In Parallel
Use batteries of identical make, model, and age.
Make sure cable gauge is sufficient to handle the higher current flow.
Prevent cables from shorting
Use only high quality connectors, clean all contacts prior to installation.
Periodically check all connections for snugness.
If you are unsure of this procedure, kindly contact us 0817 109 9716
Batteries Charging Stages
Multistage charging ensures batteries receive optimum charging, but with minimal wear and tear, regulating the voltage and current delivered to the batteries in three automatic stages:
Bulk: Replaces 70-80% of the battery’s state of charge at the fastest possible rate.
Absorption: Replenishes the remaining 20-30% of charge, bringing the battery to a full charge at a slow, safe rate.
Float: Voltage is reduced and held constant in order to prevent damage and keep batteries at a full charge.
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Shipping is usually free within Lagos and Abuja but there is usually a fixed call out charge for troubleshooting problems.
Do You Still Have a Question?
Please feel free to contact a customer service representative, just Dial 0700INVERTERS (0700 468 378 377) or 0817 109 9716 or email us at 0700Inverters InfoDesk
Dial 0700INVERTERS (0700 468 378 377)
or 0817 109 9716