AC (alternating current) power supply is used for almost all of our residential, commercial and industrial needs. However, AC cannot be stored ready for future use. Instead, AC is converted into DC (direct current) which is then stored in batteries and ultracapacitors.
When AC is needed, DC is converted back again. The device that is used to do this is called an inverter and it converts DC to variable AC. This variation can be in the magnitude of voltage, number of phases, frequency or phase difference.
A while back, inverters were only used in large-scale applications, but today many of our electrical devices rely on inverters to work.
In this blog, we take a look at the three main types of inverter and what they can be used for.
Square wave inverters
Square wave inverters are one of the simplest types available. They are cheaper, simpler in design and more efficient than sine wave inverters.
However, they won’t be appropriate to use in all situations and they are best suited to low-sensitivity applications such as lighting and heating. Square wave inverters have been known to make a humming noise when connected to audio equipment and they are generally considered unsuitable for sensitive electronics.
Sine wave inverters
Also referred to as pure sine wave inverters, these devices produce a multi-step wave output. It is generally the most common type of inverter and your electric utility company will likely provide a sine wave.
One major benefit of sine wave inverters is that the majority of electrical equipment on the market is designed and engineered to work best with a sine wave AC power source. This tends to make it a more desirable option than its counterparts as it guarantees that the equipment will work to its full specifications.
Appliances such as microwave ovens will only produce their full output with sine wave power and a few appliances, such as bread makers and light dimmers, require a sine wave to work at all.
Sine wave inverters are the more efficient option and consume less power, and they can be adjusted according to your personal power requirements. However, this does mean that they will generally be the more expensive option.
Modified sine wave inverters
A modified sine wave inverter is somewhere between the other two types. Its waveform is actually more like a square wave inverter but it has a three step output instead of two.
It should work absolutely fine with the majority of electrical equipment although the power could potentially be reduced with some devices. They also tend to be less efficient than other inverter types because AC motors in fridges, fans and other similar equipment will use more power from a modified sine wave inverter. This also means it will produce a humming noise during operation.
We hope this brief overview of the different types of inverters has been useful in helping you understand which to select for your electrical equipment. To get started, you can take a look at our product catalogue.