Power Inverter Articles

Power Inverter vs. Generator: Pros and Cons

Power Inverter
 

Power Inverter vs. Generator: Main Pros and Cons of Power Inverters Over Generators

When considering converting power to be used by electronic devices and household appliances, the options generally narrow down to the two obvious choices: A gas-powered generator or a DC to AC power inverter. While there are some circumstances that lean toward gas-powered generators being the wise choice, most pros-and-cons lists will end up with power inverters winning the argument. Let’s look at why.

The circumstances surrounding where you’ll be using your power source always help decide your best options. For this article, we’re considering both backup power from your home (saved for power outages) and power away from home (in an RV, a semi-truck, or a hunting cabin). In both situations, you want reliable power that allows you to run your electronic devices. The main differences when deciding Power Inverter vs. Generator include efficiency, fuel and noise.

Efficiency
You can purchase gas-powered generators and power inverters that will supply you with plenty of power to run your devices. However, most gas-powered generators will not be able to supply you with efficient power that’s identical to the power supplied to your home by the power company; neither will cheaper power inverters, called Modified Sine Wave Inverters. Large gas-powered generators can get pretty close to consistent, clean Pure Sine Wave power and there’s a type of power inverter—appropriately called Pure Sine Wave Power Inverters—that gives you power which is identical to that supplied by the power company. Most appliances and devices are designed to run from Pure Sine Wave power. Most of them can run on Modified Sine Wave power, but they may run hotter than usual and may not run as efficiently.

If efficiency is a big deal for your situation, a Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter is right for you.

Fuel
Generators convert power from gasoline. A power inverter converts battery power and therefore eliminates the need for gasoline. Using gasoline as your power supply comes down to storing it and having enough of it. Gasoline can only be stored for about one month without any additives. Therefore, if you’re planning on having a generator for backup power in your home, you’ll have to keep fresh gasoline on-hand, as you likely won’t want to be running to the gas station in the event of a weather-related power outage. The next issue is having enough of it while you use the generator. A 5000-watt generator can run through about one gallon every hour.

If storing enough fresh gasoline is difficult for your situation, a power inverter is your best bet.

Noise
This one is easy. Generators produce noise. Cheap generators produce a lot of noise. Power inverters are silent.

If you are using your power supply in an apartment or campsite, noisy generators are a nuisance; a power inverter is your best bet.

In these three main areas power inverters come out on top. Of course, power inverters do have some factors to consider as well, such as how large of a battery will you need to run your desired devices and how much a capable power inverter will cost? Hopefully, you can now compare the advantages and disadvantages between gas-powered generators and power inverters based on your situation and narrow your search down to one that best serves your purposes.

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It’s Hurricane Season, Do You Know Where Your Power Inverter Is?

Hurricane Season Inverter

 

It’s Hurricane Season, Do You Know Where Your Power Inverter Is? Keeping the Power on During a Power Outage.

Each year, hurricane season wreaks havoc on the east coast of the United States and other areas of the world. Among the damage to beloved communities comes damage to the power grids that pump electricity into surrounding homes. In this article we’ll look at how to be proactive and ensure you still have access to electricity in your home during an emergency power outage.

For those living in cities and towns affected by yearly hurricane season, the likelihood of prolonged power outages is all too real. Even during seasons that result in minimal damage, heavy rains and winds can keep the power down for extended periods of time, leaving you and your family without refrigeration, lighting, Internet and TV. Plus, should you have pets that rely on power to survive, such as fish in aquariums, they are also counting on a continual power source.

While a backup gas generator can offer power during an outage, they aren’t probable to keep on hand if you live in an apartment, condo or townhouse. Plus, they can be pretty spendy. The next obvious choice is keeping an ample supply of battery power on hand in the case of an emergency. To convert this power for use by your household appliances and devices, you’ll need a DC to AC power inverter.

While there is a wide range of power inverters available today, with all different sizes and features, one of the most common features for those looking to keep the power on during a power outage is the automatic transfer switch. Power inverters with an automatic transfer switch ensure your devices will get power during an outage even when you’re not there to manually make the switch. Simply plug your crucial appliances, such as refrigerators, into the power inverter and it will pull power directly from the house (AC) when available and switch to battery power (DC) automatically in the event of an outage. This feature is especially helpful during time of mandatory evacuation, giving you peace of mind that your appliances—such as flood pumps—will continue to operate in your absence. Plus, when you consider the hundreds of dollars you’ll save by keeping perishable food refrigerated and keeping your basement from flooding, a power inverter with a transfer switch almost pays for itself.

The important part is keeping you and your family safe during hurricane season. WWL TV, a weather-focused news station out of Louisiana, lists these tips for hurricane safety after the storm has hit:

  • Do not enter a building if you smell gas; Call 911
  • Do not light a match or turn on lights
  • Wear waterproof boots and gloves to avoid floodwater touching your skin
  • Wash your hands often with soap and clean water, or use a hand-cleaning gel with alcohol
  • Avoid tetanus and other infections by getting medical attention for a dirty cut or deep puncture wound
  • Do not turn on any electric or gas service until the safety of these utilities has been confirmed
  • If power remains disrupted use flashlights
  • Candles left unattended can start fires
  • If there has been structural damage to your home or to trees in your yard ask for assistance from a professional before you risk getting injured from fallen debris

Click here to find inverters with automatic transfer switches like the ones discussed in this article.

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Looking for a little power while camping?

Car Camping Inverter

Looking for a Simple Power Inverter for Camping? Don’t Need All the Bells and Whistles?

“We don’t need a lot of power while out on our weekend camping trips, but we prefer to have some. What type of power inverter do we need for camping in a pop-up trailer?”

This is a common question. You want to use some simple devices out camping, but you don’t use enough to warrant an elaborate battery bank or solar panel setup. For most weekend campers who “get off the grid” without having a furnished RV typically go out with a small camping trailer or the old-fashioned way, a.k.a. tent camping. For these campers, it’s common to want to use some simple devices, such as radios, hair dryers, curling irons, coffee makers, can openers, etc. These are not the campers looking to run a washer and dryer, air conditioners, refrigerators, vacuums, microwaves or variable-speed power tools. Therefore a simple power inverter for camping that has an appropriately sized battery can do the trick just fine.

Take into account the number of watts your desired devices will use when running. Here are some examples of some simple devices that make camping just a little more electric:

  • Radio/CD Player – About 75 watts
  • Laptop computer – About 75 watts
  • Crockpot – About 275 watts
  • Fan – About 300 watts
  • Blender – About 300 watts
  • Small TV (20 – 30in) – About 200 watts
  • Small travel coffee maker – About 750 watts

All of the estimates above are closer to the high end of their estimated running wattage. Therefore, with the exception of running a number of devices all at once, you should be able to get away with a 1000-watt inverter. Therefore, any device—or combination of devices that require less than 1000 watts—can be operated seamlessly with a 1000-watt power inverter.

Also, for these simple devices, a modified sine wave power inverter—rather than a pure sine wave power inverter—will fit your camping needs just fine. Modified sine wave power inverters do have some limitations, but for your needs, they aren’t inhibiting. For more of an explanation on the difference between modified sine power inverters and pure sine power inverters, watch this video. Basically, for sake of this conversation, the modified sine wave power inverter will suit your needs AND save you money. Click this link to find a variety of modified sine wave power inverters at and below 1000 watts that will be perfect for your camping needs.

For running simple devices while out on a weekend camping trip, a 1000-watt modified sine wave power inverter will run you between $75 – $200. Enjoy your camping trip!

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Pure Sine Wave Inverters VS. Modified Sine Wave Inverters

Power Inverter Brands

What Kind of Power Inverter Do I Need? A Simple Look at Pure Sine Wave Inverters vs. Modified Sine Wave Inverters

There are loads of articles available online that dissect the difference between what they call pure sine wave power inverters and modified sine wave power inverters. For many users, they just want to know if they can choose a less expensive modified sine wave power inverter and still run their devices. This article takes a look at the basics.

All power inverters convert DC power (which is power stored in batteries) to AC power, which is the power supplied by the electric company and fed to your home. Electronic devices need AC power to operate, but power inverters generally output power in two forms, modified sine wave vs. pure sine wave.

Simply put, pure sine wave power flows in even, arching waves, whereas modified sine wave power flows to your devices in chunky, square waves. The square waves are giving power to your device “all or nothing,” so to speak. Your device will run properly, or not. The power is coming through in a less seamless fashion. Gaining power that is flowing in modified sine waves does not come through as clean and efficient—it doesn’t flow to the device as “pure.” The devices will
get the power they need to operate, but when it comes to devices like fans, TV’s, radios and lights, they will tend to buzz, as they are running a bit “hotter,” due to the way power flows to them.

The cons of running your devices on modified sine wave power is that they will run less efficiently, which will commonly result in the device or appliance not running properly, interference or a “buzz”. For devices that aren’t sensitive, like a vacuum or water pump, it might not matter to you at all. They will use a little more wattage and make a little more noise. But, for devices that need an even flow of energy to function properly, like variable-speed power tools, you are going to get all or nothing. No matter how tightly or softly you pull on the trigger to your power drill, it is going to be full-speed or off. This doesn’t mean that a blender with different settings can’t be used at a high or low setting; it certainly can. But because they are getting energy that is less efficient, the devices you run on Modified Sine Wave power can wear out sooner than if they were constantly operating via pure sine wave power, like that supplied in homes.

Some devices and appliances that require a pure sine inverter are:

  • Microwaves
  • Laser printers
  • Variable speed tools
  • Cordless tool battery chargers
  • Some TV’s
  • Key Machines
  • CPAP machines with humidifiers
  • Medical equipment
  • Sensitive electronics

The main “pro” in running your devices on modified sine wave power is that the modified sine wave power inverter costs you less initially.

When considering pure sine wave DC to AC inverters vs. modified sine wave DC to AC inverters, the conversation can lead you into a geeky look into a side of electricity and power you never cared to see. However, consider the types of devices you’re running and weigh your options accordingly.

If you have a device that you are unsure of whether or not it requires a pure sine wave inverter, give us a call.

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Power Inverter for Tailgating

Inverter for Tailgating

“Where we’re from, tailgating IS the sport, and this year—thanks to the electricity provided by our new power inverter—we made the playoffs.”

-Karen H., Burlington, Iowa
Growing up in Burlington, Iowa, you learn to love two things: Iowa Hawkeye football and tailgating before Iowa Hawkeye football. Going to college at the University of Iowa means you really learn the ropes of tailgating, but you’re usually still a broke college student, so you make do. Then, upon graduation and getting a “real job,” you continue tailgating but are able to bump it up a notch, moving from canned beer to blended cocktails on warm days and hot toddies on the chilly ones.

Nothing beats being out in the parking lot of the stadium with thousands of Hawkeye fans of all ages. However, how you do it makes all the difference. Meeting my now-husband was a big step forward in my tailgating game. He had propane heaters and a long-bed pickup truck. Our first year together, we roughed it in some areas, but stayed warm thanks to the heaters, which were a big hit with all of our tailgating neighbors. Then, each season, we started adding to our artillery. Eventually, we had done just about all we could with battery power and charcoal. It was time for an upgrade.

Those who had elevated their game to the RV-level were living in luxury out on the blacktop. We weren’t quite there yet, but we were ready to bring about the ability to cook food, watch TV, blend drinks, listen to the radio and keep ourselves toasty. For that, we needed power.

We pack our truck full. We’re talking chairs, heaters, grills, coolers, more chairs, games and lots of Hawkeye gear. There’s no room for a clunky generator. Plus, we’d heard some stories from our tailgating friends about getting complains for their noisy generators. So, we looked into battery power for running our blenders, crockpots, foot heaters, heated blankets, coffee pots and TVs. We found out after some research that a power inverter could convert the power from our truck’s battery into AC power for our electronic, “plugged” devices. Great!

We quickly grew tired of monitoring our usage and being concerned if we were draining our truck’s battery too much. Therefore, we bought ourselves some deep-cycle batteries and let the worry slip away. On those cold Iowa days, we liked having the peace of mind that our truck’s battery was going to start after a long, fun day. Having the dedicated deep-cycle batteries, we were tailgating superstars, making blended drinks, keeping a hot pot of coffee on and offering our guests heated blankets why they lounged at our tailgate station. Come to find out, we became the envy of our tailgating friends and inspired them to move to the DC to AC power inverter way as well. I guess one hot drink under a heated blanket goes a long way for enjoying your time out on the pavement in front of the stadium!

Go Hawkeyes!

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