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Inverter Vs Converter: What’s the Difference and How Does It Work?

The right voltage is imperative for any electrical device to work properly. Too little voltage and the device won’t work as effectively or work at all for that matter. Too much voltage and your device could malfunction or worse blow up.

Now we can’t have many electrical outlets with different voltages. It would be too expensive and too much of a hassle when using different devices. Fortunately, science came to the rescue with inverters and converters. 

In his piece, we will look at inverter vs converter. What makes each component different from the other and the functions of each? Hopefully, after reading this piece, you won’t be blowing anything up anytime soon.

What Is a Power Inverter?

An inverter is a device that converts voltage from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) at a particular frequency and voltage. 

Take, for instance, a house that needs power supply in Alternating Current of about say 250 volts. The only power available may be in direct current form. With an inverter, you can still supply sufficient power to the house and everything will work perfectly.

Inverters are mandatory for any electrical installation or device that requires alternating current from a DC power source.

How Do Power Inverters Work?

There’s a lot that goes to transform AC to DC. You don’t need to be an electrical engineer to understand the basic concepts of this energy transforming phenomena. 

To make this explanation much easier, let’s first look at what an alternator is. You probably have heard of an alternator, especially if you own a car. The alternator is a rotating electrical device that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. 

The basis of this conversion is a principle called electromagnetic induction. In its simplest form, consider a coiled wire and a magnet. As the magnet approaches the coil, it induces an alternating current in the coil. 

A transformer applies the same principle. However, in a transformer, a coil called the primary coil induces the current to another wire coil, the secondary coil. The current won’t be the same, depending on the size of the coils or number of winds of the secondary coil.

When you change the direction of current on the primary coil, you have yourself the simplest form of an inverter, a square wave inverter. The result will be a square wave whose frequency depends on the time you change the current direction in the primary coil.

The Types of Inverters

Next, we’ll look at some of the basic types of inverters. Peter Copper Hewwit invented the first inverter in 1902. Ever since there have been lots of modifications and improvements to the first inverter model.

Here are the types of inverters available today:-

  • The square wave inverter- This name is because this inverter produces a square wave output. It has the load, the DC source, and four switches. It is the simplest form of an alternator and has widespread applications everywhere.
  • Pure Sine Wave inverters- These inverters are very expensive, so most people shy away from getting them.
  • Modified square wave inverters – These inverters have a step between each square wave. The step reduces any distortion that causes problems in electrical devices. They are cheaper but more effective than the conventional square wave inverters.

What Are Power Converters?

Converters do the inverse of inverters. Instead of converting Direct current to alternating current, converters convert AC to DC.

When it comes to inverters vs. converters, the difference is quite distinctive. These very different devices have one thing in common; they both transform energy. 

They are different in their applications and their working mechanisms too.  Almost every device has a converter in the broader sense.  Apart from AC to DC conversion, converters can also convert DC to DC from one voltage to another.

Types of Power Converters

There are different types of converters with various applications. The three main ones are:-

  • Analog to digital converters (ADC Converters) – These are the most common types of converters. They convert the analog input voltage at the source to a number proportional to the voltage magnitude. Some non-electrical devices can also be ADCs like encoders.
  • Digital to digital converters (DDC) – They convert one type of digital data to another type of digital data form. A good example of a DDC is a coaxial audio converter or these products.
  • Digital to Analog Converters (DAC) – These converters, as the name suggests, convert digital code to analog signals. The sound cards in your PC is a great example of pretty effective DAC converters.

Inverters vs. Converters: The Lowdown

Each of these marvels of technology has its advantages and its drawbacks. Let’s look at the pros and cons of the converter and the inverter.

Pros of Inverters

  • They are very effective and are a must-have for some electrical installations.
  • They come in various types to fit various budgets. 
  • They have a faster response to cooling loads and also with heating devices.
  • Reduce the risk of any electromagnetic disturbances with other devices

Cons of Inverters.

  • Needs a good power source for any recharging
  • Don’t work well with sensitive devices and equipment
  • Not very effective for motor loads

Pros of Converters

  • They are very reliable since they don’t have any mechanical moving parts
  • They are very efficient with minimal power loss
  • They have a fast dynamic response
  • Most of them are very portable and small

Cons of Inverters

  • The current overload capacity isn’t so good
  • Automatic regulators are very pricey

Inverter vs Converter: There’s the Difference

Hopefully, you know what makes inverter vs converter different. All in all, these devices are essential and have broad applications in our households and industries too.

Remember when settling for either do your research first. Not all converters might apply to your particular needs. Always consult a professional before making any major purchases.

Check out our other articles and learn another new thing today.