Inverters vs. Converters
If you’re just getting started in the world of inverters, solar energy, generators and other off-grid electricity options, you may have come across converters in addition to power inverters. While the words might be similar, these two devices are actually quite different, and are used for different end results in building an off-grid energy network. But how exactly do they differ? And how can you make the most out of each of them?
What Are Power Inverters?
When you plug a device directly into a wall outlet, you’re generally tapping into city-provided alternating current (AC) electricity, energy that can easily power your devices, tools and appliances. This type of energy is used for many things, including microwaves, refrigerators, alarm clocks, computers, medical equipment and more. However, AC energy isn’t always available. In fact, if you’re using batteries, sometimes the only type of electricity that you have available to you is direct current (DC) energy, something that isn’t easily converted into usable electricity for your devices. This is where power inverters come in. Power inverters are connected to these batteries and other sources of energy, and they turn the provided power into usable AC electricity that can then be delivered to electronics via outlets provided on the inverter.
Power inverters are used for many things due to this ability, including but not limited to solar panel systems, off-grid energy networks, adding electricity to vehicles like buses and boats, and backup energy networks in case the power goes out due to a natural disaster. Power inverters also come in three unique types: pure sine, modified sine and square sine. Pure sine power inverters provide electricity that’s most similar to city-provided outlet power: smooth, consistent energy that can reliably power a range of devices. Modified sine and square sine power inverters offer blockier waves that results in a less consistent energy flow, which can be fine for less sensitive equipment. These latter types of power inverters tend to be more affordable as well.
In essence, power inverters are used to convert DC electricity to usable AC energy. You’ll frequently come across them when designing off-grid power networks. But if power inverters are made to convert energy, then what are power converters?
What Are Power Converters?
Converters tend to be less common than power inverters, but they also serve a useful function in energy preservation and production. Specifically, while an inverter changes the energy type as it’s transferred, converters leave the current type as-is and instead change how much voltage is transmitted to devices. For example, a 24 VDC to 12 VDC step down converter will convert a 24-volt direct current system down to a 12-volt direct current output. You then have the ability to run commercial equipment, medical devices, electronics and other appliances that are designed for 12-volt DC power. There are many different types of converters, but generally speaking, these types of devices will follow the same basic principles of keeping the current type the same but changing the voltage amount.
Now that you have an idea of what separates these two types of devices, you don’t have to worry about mistaking one for the other when building an off-grid energy network, backup power system, solar panel system or any other type of electricity network. Make sure to browse the rest of our blogs as well so you can be fully prepared when you use an inverter or converter. You’ll find helpful information about using an inverter to build a home backup power system and how to decide which inverter to use for camping, as well as other topics.
Hi, your new upcoming grid tie 6500w inverter information states the all in one product is perfect for net metering. I am relatively new to solar technology, but am quite familiar with backup generators and auto/manual transfer switches. My question is ,,,,if i build my system with more than enough solar capacity to run everything i need and have excess electricity will your gridtied inverter feed my excess solar back into the grid?
It is designed as a grid tie inverter that can be used to “sell” power back to your power company. You will want to speak to your power company about their requirements for grid tie units before purchasing.