Anything! Ok… almost anything.
In general most equipment or devices that you use at home or a commercial job can be used with an inverter but check with your equipment manufacturer.
Audio Equipment Some top-of-the-line audio gear is protected by SCRs or Triacs. These devices are installed to guard against power line spikes, surges, and trash (nasties which don’t happen on inverter systems). However, they see the sharp corners on modified sine wave as trash and will sometimes commit electrical hara-kiri to prevent that nasty power from reaching the delicate innards. Some are even smart enough to refuse to eat any of that ill-shaped power, and will not power up. The only sure cure for this (other than more tolerant equipment) is a digital or pure sine wave inverter.
Computers Computers run happily on modified sine wave but better on pure sines. The first thing the computer does with the incoming AC power is to run it through an internal power supply. We’ve had a few reports of the power supply being just a bit noisier on modified sine, but no real problems. Running your prize family-heirloom computer off an inverter will not be a problem. What can be a problem is large start-up power surges. If your computer is running off the same household inverter as the water pump, power tools, and microwave, you’re going to have trouble. When a large motor, like a skill saw, is starting, it will momentarily pull the AC system voltage way down. This can cause computer crashes. The fix is a small, separate inverter that only runs your computer system. It can be connected to the same household battery pack, and have a dedicated outlet or two.
Ceiling Fans Most variable-speed ceiling fans will buzz on modified sine wave current. They work fine, but the noise is annoying. Invest in a pure sine.
Radio Frequency Interference All inverters broadcast radio static when operating. Most of this interference is on the AM radio band. Do not plug your radio into the inverter and expect to listen to the ball game; you’ll have to use a battery powered radio and be some distance away from the inverter. This is occasionally a problem with TV interference when inexpensive TVs and smaller inexpensive inverters are used together. Distance helps. Put the TV (and the antenna) at least 15 feet from the inverter. Twisting the inverter input cables may also limit their broadcast power (strange as it sounds, it works).
Phantom Loads and Vampires A phantom load isn’t something that lurks in your basement with a half-mask, but it’s close kin. Many modern appliances remain partially on when they appear to be turned off. That’s a phantom load. Any appliance that can be powered up with a button on a remote control must remain partially on and listening to receive the “on” signal. Most TVs and audio gear these days are phantom loads. Anything with a clock—amplifiers, coffee makers, microwave ovens, or bedside radio-clocks—uses a small amount of power all the time.
Medical Equipment Customers frequently ask us about the use of inverters for medical equipment. Unless specifically noted in the regulatory approvals for the product, assume that no AIMS inverter has regulatory approval for use with medical devices or life support equipment. If you use a AIMS Power Inc. inverters with a medical device it’s at your own risk. We recommend only using pure sine inverters.