What is a Sine Wave Inverter?
If you’re a fan of camping or extensive road travel, but also enjoy modern conveniences that run on electricity, a sine wave inverter may be your new best friend. Sine wave inverters are devices that transform power from a battery into the same type of power you get from a typical wall outlet in your home or office.
Specifically, sine wave inverters transform direct current (DC) from a battery into an alternating current (AC). The AC power can then be used to run appliances, lamps and light strips, compressors and other devices that cannot run directly on battery power.
The concept of a sine wave inverter is relatively straightforward, but things can get a bit more complicated when you start to browse through all the different sine wave inverters out there. You’ll find two main types of inverters: pure sine wave inverters and modified sine wave inverters. Once you know the differences between the two, you’ll know the right inverter to choose.
When You Need a Pure Sine Wave Inverter
Pure sine wave inverters are typically the most expensive of the bunch. That’s because they produce AC power that most closely matches an actual sine wave, or the power provided by wall outlets. A pure sine wave is a steady, continuous wave that provides a smooth, periodic oscillation.
Pure sine wave inverters are at the top of the list of functionality, with the ability to run any and all equipment designed to work on a pure sign wave. All devices you power with a pure sine wave inverter will work to their full specifications. Another note is that certain devices will only work with pure sine wave inverters, and there’s a risk of damage, malfunction or not functioning at all if you try to run them with other types of sine wave inverters.
Devices that require pure sine wave inverters include:
- Appliances with AC motors, such as refrigerators, compressors or microwaves
- Other devices, like bread makers, certain battery chargers and light dimmers
- Audio and video equipment, satellite systems
- Certain medical equipment, such as many CPAP devices for sleep apnea and oxygen concentrators
Pure sine wave inverters cover all bases, ensuring everything you power with it will be running to its full functionality and capacity.
When You Can Use Modified Sine Wave Inverters
Modified sine wave inverters are usually the least expensive sine wave inverters, as they create a type of sine wave that’s easiest to produce. Their polarity rapidly switches from positive to negative, which creates a waveform that is more like a square wave than the rounded arc found with the pure sine inverters.
Most equipment may still work fine with a modified sine wave inverter, although there are certain exceptions. Some devices will run at reduced power or risk damage with a modified sine wave inverter, while others won’t run at all. Check your manufacturer’s guide for specifics, especially for laptops.
Devices you don’t want to try to run on modified sine wave inverters include:
- Motors, along with devices and appliances with motors, like fans, refrigerators, microwaves. The lower efficiency of the modified sine inverter will cause the motors to require too much power to function, overheating or damaging the unit.
- Any appliance with digital clocks or electric timers will not operate properly, with the clocks and timing devices often getting their power from the peak of the sine wave. The flattened wave pattern doesn’t provide the peak they need, and it can cause malfunction.
- The same type of issue arises with equipment that use electric temperature controls or variable speeds. A variable speed drill, for instance, may only run on high or low speeds with a modified sine inverter, rather than all the speeds in between.
- Certain fluorescent lighting devices will not operate as brightly, and others may make annoying buzzing or humming noises.
Unless you have equipment that specifically falls into the exceptions, modified sine wave inverters can provide a cost-effective option for many devices. They’re also the most common and popular inverters on the market.
Picking Equipment to Match Your Application
If you find yourself planning on the inverter being hooked up to public power, a generator or another power source and acting as a back-up source, you want a pure sine inverter charger. They have a built-in charger that will store power in a battery bank automatically when connected to outside power. With a transfer switch included as well that seamlessly transitions from external power to the inverter’s stored power, these are an excellent fit for mobile uses such as in a car, boat, RV and more.
Choosing the best sine wave inverter for you depends on its intended use. Review the variety of equipment you expect to run with the inverter, along with any specific manufacturer instructions that outline the type of inverter that works best. You can then move forward with confidence to select the optimum inverter for your needs. You can also shop with confidence when you shop for sine wave inverters at The Inverter Store.