If you're considering a power inverter for home usage then you've come to the right place!
Today, just about every single thing that we do relies on one thing: Electricity. From cooking meals, doing the dishes, even spending our idle times, we make use of it in one way or another. More than just making our lives easier, it has now been accepted to be a necessity in today’s society. Regardless of the seasons, electricity is vital during the dark evening hours and for regulated temperature control.
The vast majority of people rely on power directly from the grid, but a power inverter and battery setup can be useful in some circumstances, such as if you want to rely solar power, or place less reliance on the grid.
In this article we're going to cover everything you need to know about power inverter for home usage, as well as recommending some of the most reliable inverter options.
To determine just how much power you need for your household, multiply:
WATTAGE x 20% (safety margin) = MINIMUM SAFE INVERTER SIZE.
We'd recommend going for the largest capacity that your budget will allow for, in order to future proof your energy needs. It's likely that your power needs will increase over time rather than decrease.
1. Easier and Safer to Operate than Generators
If you require electricity for a few appliances at a time, than a power inverter makes a perfect backup for your household, when regular electricity is unavailable. Power inverters simply have to be hooked to a car battery, and are simpler than most generators. Most power inverters come with the necessary wires for connections making installation easy.
2. High-Quality Electrical Output and Parallel Capability
The technology employed in the use of generators allows them to give a power output that is on par with necessary housing requirements. Inverters can also be combined with other power inverters should added power be necessary. This is because power inverters are capable of parallel connections, allowing you to use two lightweight and small power inverters instead of bulky generators for all types of applications, be it for outdoor or home use.
If you're planning on using a power inverter for home usage maintenance is more important than ever for the fact of safety. Classic generators usually have to be maintained periodically to ensure electrical output is kept at an optimal level. Apart from a checkup, it is also necessary to replace oil or fuel every 200 hours worth of use. Unlike generators that require frequent maintenance, all inverters require is a yearly battery inspection.
1. AC waveform
The smoother, more solid the AC waveform, the better quality of inverter. A sine wave inverter is recommended for loads that are sensitive, such as small electronics. Smaller households, like a cabin or those that do not have sensitive loads can still use a modified square wave inverter without detrimental results. These square waves are not as drastically altered like that of a pure sine wave, making it a cheaper buy.
2. Power Rating
Determining the power rating is crucial in the case of off-grid power inverters, because they deliver all the power needed by AC loads. These inverters come with detailed information which explains about their continuous power, as well as "surge" capabilities in the short term.
3. Idle power consumption
While efficiency matters in the operation of these off-grid power inverters, it also has to ensure that they remain efficient even when they are not working. It matters that it makes of as little power as possible upon being powered, known as the tare or idle power consumption. An inverter can consume as much as 50 W for this, and some can consume for much lower, at 10 W.
These small changes can bring about consumption changes in power, where 1 kWh or more can be consumed. A bunch of off-grid inverters can use a search mode for lower energy consumption in this phase, consisting of the shutting off of the features of this inverter except the search capability whenever no load is present.
This is beneficial, as many homes are in need of continuous AC power, including answering machines and security systems, negating any possibility of energy savings from the search mode.
4. Battery voltage
Nominal battery voltages used for off-grid inverters are usually at 12 to 48 VDC, and a surge in power and conversion efficiency is optimal for inverters with a voltage rating of 24 and 48 VDC ratings. Bigger inverters are designed for bigger batteries of up to 240 VDC, but in these cases, it needs experts to install, even for different battery constructions.
Making use of 48 VDC battery tanks isn't as advantageous, and could also be hazardous unless you need a bigger system size, more than 30 kW. Remember you'll still need to power your batteries somehow, the obvious choice being with solar panels.
Typically, off-grid inverters usually come with AC transfer switches and a built-in battery charger, allowing for a stable backup source connection to charge the battery in case it is insufficient.
6. Surge power
A surge is defined as a great amount of energy that is given off at short periods of time and is needed in generators and inverters upon startup. AC motors, pumps, and power tools are just some of the devices that need surge power.
7. Conversion efficiency
Efficiency is measured based on the amount of power that is available for the AC loads to be powered. The ranges for inverter efficiency are usually at 70%, and some can be as efficient as 96%. Their performance depends on how much the AC loads get powered, in addition to properties of the given waveform. For low levels for power, typically at 100 W or less, very low efficiency of just 25% to 50% can be expected.
8. Neutral/ground switching system
The AC transfer switch is where the key difference will rise between an off-grid and a mobile inverter. To ensure a ground fault does not happen whenever the RV boat is plugged on shore power or onto a pedestal, mobile inverters usually add switching circuits, allowing an AC output neutral and ground conductor connection by adding more circuits to it.
This helps prevent a ground fault, which can can lead to electrocution, shock, or even death.
9. Backup AC load panel
You never really know when you are going to be needing more electricity, hence the need for a backup battery system. Backups generally require an AC load panel for circuits to keep it working in case an outage will take place. Getting a backup may be time-consuming, as you must install the panels and wire the individual circuits.
Batteries are where the power comes from to get a device up and running. They should be treated with care, especially in places with more than one season. They must be kept warm in the winter, and cool during the summer. Batteries should also be kept in a safe place, away from pets and children. Most batteries last from between three to twelve years, depending on capacity, usage, and regime.