EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INVERTERS
WHAT IS AN INVERTER?
Very simply, an inverter is an electrical device that utilises a low voltage DC power source and transforms the output into a much higher voltage, while at the same time converting that DC input to an AC output, similar to the power you’d find in your home.
WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
An inverter means you can use your home appliances while on the road. While specialised 12 volt appliances are available, they are less common and more expensive than the conventional 240 volt devices you’d find at home. Inverters are important simply because many devices need more power than a 12 volt DC battery can provide and an inverter is the easiest and most efficient way to create that power. Inverters are a quiet solution when compared to a generator and that makes them priceless for after-hours use, without disturbing the peace and quiet.
HOW DO THEY WORK?
An inverter uses either a mechanical switch, or electrical components, to rapidly change the direction of the DC current input, which creates alternating current. From there the current is fed into a transformer, which sends the now alternating current through a coil and transforms the output by a large factor, increasing the output voltage from 12 volts to 240 volts in this case.
Inverters should be hard-mounted (or at least secured) to reduce the risk of damaging components, they must also have good air-flow around the body of the unit so that the cooling fan is able to work affectively. Above all it’s important that you position them close to the battery – because of the potential for high current draw, if the inverter is situated more than 1.5m away you will need cable over 10mm thick to cope with the high current and high heat that it creates.
REGULATIONS AND LEGALITIES
Wiring up the 12 volt to your inverter is legal for the DIYer, as is using any normal 3 socket plug into the 240 volt circuit – for example, connecting a powerboard to your inverter and then mounting that powerboard in an easy to reach space is absolutely legal and will save you install costs! However, any wiring in the 240 volt side of things must be undertaken by a licensed electrician – like the power points at home, the 240 volt AC produced by an inverter can be fatal. To ensure safety, always use a Residual Current Device, or RCD, which detects any short circuits in the system and immediately cuts the power – they can and do save lives and it’d be an oversight not to install one. Many companies sell a mobile RCD which means you’ll also need to make use of the heavy ground on the body of the inverter.
TO FIND OUT WHICH INVERTER IS BEST FOR YOUR SET UP, CLICK HERE