Many people interchangeably use Inverters and generators considering both help you to power appliances and devices during a power outage. However, there are some technical differences that clarify the difference. Conventional generators use mechanical sources of energy like gas, petrol or diesel to force movement in electric currents present in wirings. Inverter generators run on inverters drawing power from them.
AC or DC?
A battery is a critical part of an inverter. The performance and durability largely lie in inverter batteries, but first, let’s delve deep into the science around electricity to understand inverters and batteries. To understand batteries and inverters, it’s important to know the basics of electricity. Electricity is a flow of electrons or direct current (DC). This means, ideally, in a simple flashlight where there is a circuit linked to a battery, it transports the energy between the battery and light directly. This is done until the battery energy is depleted.
However, in appliances that are larger, electricity works in a different way by being supplied by an outlet from the wall called Alternating Current (AC). In this case, electricity switches direction 50-60 times each second. This explains the switch on your device which can control all electrons filling the cable vibrating back and forth. This vibratory movement is what converts electrical energy into heat – like in the case of lamps that need a switch on and off to function.
Almost all the appliances we use at home are designed to run from AC power. Any appliance that needs DC power to run has to go through a separate device called rectifier to convert from AC to DC.
What is an inverter used for?
An inverter is an equipment that converts DC voltage to AC. The inverter may be used in applications such as solar power as a backup power supply using batteries that are charged. Although inverters can be hefty especially if they have built-in battery packs, there are many portable options available that can prove beneficial. Karen Lao from Kruger Power (https://krugerpower.com.au) explains that an inverter generator is more portable than a regular generator. The smallest inverters are portable in the size of a car radio box that can be plugged to produce AC to charge something basic like a laptop or a mobile phone.
There are different types of inverters with varying circuit configurations, efficiency levels, etc. Circuits are classified based on the switching technology, switch type, waveform, frequency, and output waveform. Just as appliance power requirements vary, so do the inverter’s power supply. It’s best to pick an inverter that’s rated a quarter higher than the appliance you want power supply for. It is important to note, inverters can provide power during peak short times as opposed to a long period of time.
Batteries & Inverters
Batteries are the lifeline of inverters. They are responsible for the optimal performance and durability of an inverter. In short, batteries and inverters are a mutual partnership. As with any other equipment of use, these two need immaculate maintenance to ensure a long life. An inverter is critical as a backup for power supply during a power outage.
Since batteries ensure inverters performances are at it’s best, it’s important to ensure batteries are maintained well. Here are some tips to maintain batteries:
- Well ventilated space
Always use a well-ventilated space to install an inverter. An inverter gets heated up while charging and during use. A well ventilated airy area reduces the battery heat up and frequent water topping requirement.
- Use batteries frequently
It’s important to keep using the batteries frequently after installment. Should a power cut not occur, ensure to discharge batteries at least once a month and charge separately.
- Water levels
Ensure to check the water levels of batteries every two months. The water level should be maintained between the minimum and maximum levels. It is important to use distilled water to fill the requirement. Using tap water or rainwater has adverse effects as it contains minerals and other impurities which evidently affect battery life.
- Keep battery surface and vents clean
Always keep the battery surfaces dusted and clean using a pure cotton cloth. This must include the vents around the battery as blocked vets can lead to hydrogen gas accumulation. This could potentially lead to an unsafe scenario of a battery burst.
- Battery terminals rust-free
Ensure battery terminals are rust and corrosion-free. Should they get corroded, use a DIY method of pouring hot water with baking soda over the corrosion. Use a toothbrush to brush off the deposits on the terminals. Once these are cleaned, apply Vaseline or any pure petroleum jelly onto the terminals, nuts, and bolts to avoid corrosion in the future. Rusting is a serious performance buster, It reduces current flow to and from the battery.
- Disconnect extra load when not in use
Inverters use energy stored in batteries. These supply current to electronic devices to keep them fully functional even when power is off the grid. This translates to the more load or devices used, the more power that will be sucked off the battery leading to a shorter back up period. Ensure to disconnect extra loads particularly when not in use to extend battery life and back up period.
- Replace or repair damaged parts
As with any part of the equipment, this too can get damaged needing repair or replacement. Regular inspection of batteries can help you ascertain when the battery needs to be replaced or if the inverter needs a repair. It’s important to ensure you are using the correct battery for the inverter requirement. This is also called as the battery capacity.
If cleaning batteries don’t fit in your schedule, seek professional help from companies that are dedicated to maintaining battery and inverter health. They are experts in the field and help to improve the life of your inverters due to regular maintenance. Maintaining batteries and inverters regularly can ensure a full operation especially at the hour of an unexpected power outage when you most need it.
Newly middle-aged wife of 1, Mom of 3, Grandma of 2. A professional blogger who has lived in 3 places since losing her home to a house fire in October 2018 with her husband. Becky appreciates being self-employed which has allowed her to work from 'anywhere'. Life is better when you can laugh. As you can tell by her Facebook page where she keeps the humor memes going daily. Becky looks forward to the upcoming new year. It will be fun to see what 2020 holds.