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FEATURES OF INVERTERS Ground Fault Protection

Inverters that have built-in GFCI protection are advised for powering portable electrical devices specially if used outside the house. Ground fault protection is a feature that instantly turns off the inverter if it gets damp or wet. The inverter then resets, senses the conditions and turns itself back on if the problems have been resolved. The GFCI feature protects the user from electrical shocks and the potential risk of a fire.

Transfer Switch
Some power inverters have a built-in transfer switch so you can switch from inverter power to utility power when available. The transfer switch allows external power to be transferred to appliances automatically. Typically this feature is found on more expensive high-end inverters.

Solar Power Support


A power inverter is also an essential part of a solar power system. It converts the DC power generated by solar panels and stored in 12V batteries to 230V AC power suitable for household or industrial use. These systems can be costly, as they often involve additional electrical work and equipment to incorporate the system into a household's current electrical system.

POWER INVERTER OR GENERATOR?


Whether to use an inverter or a generator depends on the type of load and how often you will need emergency AC power. Generally, an inverter is more economical power alternative to run items under 1000W, suitable for small appliances, TVs, VCRs, DVD players and other low load devices. If you plan to operate a refrigerator, freezer, washer, dryer or well system, then a generator is a better choice. If your planned power consumption exceeds 2000W, you should choose a generator, as the draw in the battery will rapidly deplete its power.

HOME APPLIANCE POWER USAGE


The typical usage of power appliances which you can use for approximate calculations is as in the table below ( do check the actual appliances wattage for caculating wattage):

Appliance
Fan Tubelight

Power (in Watts) Starting (in Watts)


100 50 200 100

TV Laptop Washing machine - with heater Washing machine - without heater Air Conditioner (1.5T) Air Cooler Refrigerator (150W)

120 75 1200 2000 2200 1000 150

240 100 2400 3200 4000 2000 300

CHOOSING THE RIGHT INVERTER SIZE


Power inverters come in many sizes, measured in watts (W). The amount of wattage you will require depends on the total draw of the devices you'd like to use. Many appliances and power tools have their wattage rating indicated on the product itself. Wattage rating can also be calculated by using this formula: Volts x Amps = Watts To determine if several appliances can be operated at the same time, simply add up their wattage ratings to see if the total falls within the specifications of the power inverter. For example, if you have a two-outlet inverter and will be plugging in 2 devices at once, add up the total wattage of both devices, then add at least 50% more to account for peaks or spikes in the power draw. For example if your DVD player draws 100W and your laptop another 100W, a minimum 300W inverter ((100W + 100W) x 150% = 300W) is recommended. Make sure the power of the inverter is listed as "continuous". Some inverters are listed at a certain wattage, but can only draw that wattage for a short period of time (i.e.: 5 minutes) and then will shut off, reset themselves and resume functioning. These outages can be frustrating to you and harmful to the device you are powering. If the item is motor driven, it requires additional start-up (surge) wattage (typically 2-3 times the continuous wattage required) to start the device. For example, a saw that runs at 700W might require 1400W to start up. If your inverter only supplies 1000W, you will not be able to start it up. In this case, you would want to select an inverter rated at least 1400W surge to handle startup needs.

TYPES OF INVERTERS
Power inverters produce one of two different types of wave output:

Modified Sine Wave True Sine Wave

Modified Sine Wave Inverter


Modified sine wave inverters deliver power that is consistent and efficient enough to run most devices adequately. These types of inverters are the most popular and affordable. They are also small and highly efficient. The Vector power inverter line is based on modified sine wave technology.

True Sine Wave Inverter


True sine wave inverters are the most expensive, but they also deliver the most consistent, highest quality wave output. Some sensitive equipment requires a true sine wave, like laptop computers, tool battery chargers, professional audio/video equipment, certain medical devices and variable speed tools. If you aren't sure if the device you want to use requires a true sine wave or not, call the manufacturer to ask. Any AC device will run on a true sine wave inverter, whether it requires it or not.

Modified and True Sinewave Inverter Output

Advantages of True Sine Wave Inverter


Output voltage wave form is pure sine wave with very low harmonic distortion and clean power like utility-supplied electricity. Inductive loads like microwave ovens and motors run faster, quieter and cooler. Reduces audible and electrical noise in fans, fluorescent lights, audio amplifiers, TV, Game consoles, Fax, and answering machines. Prevents crashes in computers, weird print out, and glitches and noise in monitors. Reliably powers the following devices that will normally not work with modified sine wave inverters: o Laser printers, photocopiers, magneto-optical hard drives o Certain laptops and computers o Some fluorescent lights with electronic ballasts

o o o o o

Power tools employing "solid state" power or variable speed control Some battery chargers for cordless tools Some new furnaces and pellet stoves with microprocessor control Digital clocks with radios Sewing machines with speed/microprocessor control

BATTERY BASICS FOR INVERTERS


Generally, the size of the battery is determined by the wattage load and the projected runtime. Using a battery that is not strong enough can cause the inverter not to power up and may lead to discharging issues that could permanently damage the battery. The formula mentioned below can be used to calculate the battery size: Battery size = Inverter rating in watts input voltage x usage time (hrs) e.g. 300W 12V x 5 hours = 125 Amp Some other formulas that you should know are: To Convert AMPS to WATTS: WATTS = AMPS X 120 (AC voltage) The result is a ballpark figure of wattage required for continuous load of device. To calculate approximate Startup Load: Starting Load = WATTS X 2 The result is a ballpark figure of wattage required for starting load of most appliances. Devices like air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers and pumps may have a start up surge of 3 to 7 times the continuous rating. Formula to convert AC Watts to DC Amps: DC Amps = AC Watts divided by 12 x 1.1 Continuous rating: Maximum combined wattage + 20%.

AMPERE HOUR OR AH RATING


Ampere Hour is a measurement of electrical capacity the amount of energy the battery will store. Current multiplied by time in hours equals ampere-hours. This is the most important measure to be looked at when choosing a battery for an inverter. A current of 50 amps for one hour would be 50 AH at the 1hr rate; a current of 30 amps for 5 hours would be 150 AH at the 5hr rate. AH ratings vary with temperature, and also with the rate of discharge. For example, a battery rated at 100 AH at the 6-hour rate would be rated at about 135 AH at the 48-hour rate. The ratings during actual use can change due to effects of temperature and internal resistance.

INVERTER BATTERY DISCHARGE RATE


C10 is the available capacity of the battery when discharged over 10 hrs. C20 is for 20Hrs and so on. These indicate how many amperes the battery will supply for 10 and 20 hours without dropping below a certain voltage. So, lesser the discarge rate, the lesser electricity you will be able to draw for the designated period.

TYPES OF INVERTER BATTERY Lead-acid battery


Lead-acid batteries are the oldest type of rechargeable battery. Most of the inverters batteries are lead acids battery of different types.

1. FLOODED/VENTED
These batteries need maintenance and distilled water to be filled periodically. The traditional engine start and traction style battery. Liquid electrolyte is free to move in the cell compartment User has access to the individual cells and can add distilled water as the battery dries out. Popular uses are engine starting and deep cycle designs.

Deep cycle battery


The deep cycle batteries are specifically designed to be less susceptible to degradation due to cycling, and are required for applications where the batteries are regularly discharged like uninterruptible power supplies. These batteries have thicker plates that can deliver less peak current, but can withstand frequent discharging.

Deep Cycle Inverter Battery

They are also known as traction batteries or golf cart type. They should be used in order to be able to handle the repeated discharge/charge cycles and hence are more suitable for applications.

Based on Design
a.) Pure Plante The Plante positive plate batteries can provide long life but at a relatively high expense than flat plate or tubular batteries and hence find less use nowadays.

Pure Plante Inverter Battery

Flat Plate Inverter Battery

b.) Flat Plate The positive plate is a rugged lead alloy grid which is filled with a specially compounded paste active material c.) Tubular batteries

Tubular Inverter Battery

The positive plate is composed of a series of parallel polyster tubes filled with lead oxide, this prevents 'Shedding'. They are recommended for back up power for UPS and Inverters where environmental conditions are tough and high ambient temperatures are common. These are capable of long hours of backup.

2. SEALED

Sealed Inverter Battery

These batteries are generally maintenance free. This term can refer to a number of different constructions, including only a slight modification to the flooded style. Although user does not have access to the cell compartments, the internal structure is still basically the same as a flooded battery. The only difference is that the manufacturer has ensured that a sufficient amount of acid in the battery to sustain the chemical reaction under normal use throughout the battery warranty period.

a.) VRLA battery


Valve Regulated Lead Acid battery - this is a sealed battery. The valve regulating mechanism allows for a safe escape of hydrogen and oxygen gasses during charging and hence no seperate room is needed for keeping the battery.

VRLA Inverter Battery

AGM Inverter Battery

b.) AGM battery


Absorbed Glass Matt battery - a sealed battery. Newer sealed battery with "Absorbed Glass Mats", or AGM between the plates. These batteries have all the advantages of gelled batteries, but can take much more abuse. These are also called "starved electrolyte" or "dry" batteries because the glass mat is only 95% saturated instead of being fully soaked, which means that they do not leak acid even if the casing is broken.

Generally AGM batteries have about 20% less capacity, cost about two times more, and have a shorter cycle life than comparable flooded lead acid batteries. However, AGM batteries do not need watering, are safer (no acid spilling out), can be placed in a variety of positions, have a slower self-discharge characteristic, and are more efficient in charging and discharging than flooded batteries. AGM batteries are more for light cycling applications where power cut duration are low.

c.) Gel battery

Gel Inverter Battery

The gel cell is similar to the AGM style because the electrolyte is suspended, but different because technically the AGM battery is still considered to be a wet cell. The electrolyte in a GEL cell has a silica additive that causes it to set up or stiffen. The recharge voltages on this type of cell are lower than the other styles of lead acid battery. Probably the most sensitive cell in terms of adverse reactions to overvoltage charging. Gel Batteries are best used in VERY DEEP cycle applications and may last a bit longer in hot weather applications. If the incorrect battery charger is used on a Gel Cell battery poor performance and premature failure is certain.

COMMON MISTAKES WITH LEAD ACID BATTERIES


Undercharging: Generally caused by not allowing the charger to restore the battery to full state of charge after use. Continually operating the battery in a partial state of charge, or storing the battery in discharged state results in the formation of lead sulfate compounds on the plates. This condition is known as sulfation. Both of these conditions reduce the battery's performance and may cause premature battery failure. Undercharging will also cause stratification. Overcharging: Continuous charging causes accelerated corrosion of the positive plates, excessive water consumption, and in some cases, damaging temperatures within a lead acid battery. Deep cycle batteries should be charged after each discharge of more than 50% of the batteries rated capacity, and/or after prolonged storage of 45 days or more. Under watering: In deep cycle, lead acid batteries water is lost during the charging process. If the electrolyte level drops below the tops of the plates, irreparable damage may occur. Water levels should be checked and maintained routinely. Over-watering: Excessive watering of a battery results in additional dilution of the electrolyte, resulting in reduced battery performance. Additionally, watering the battery before charging may result in electrolyte overflow and unnecessary additional maintenance.

HIGH OR LOW D.C. VOLTAGE?


Higher-voltage systems tend to be more efficient and put a lower load on the batteries. Factors other than the battery enter into the system's overall efficiency.

TEMPERATURE FOR CHARGING BATTERIES


When charging lead acid batteries, the temperature should not exceed 52oC intermittently or 45oC. At this point the battery should be taken off charge and allowed to cool before resuming the charge process.

CHECKING IF BATTERY IS BAD


To determine if the battery system is experiencing a problem, fully charge the batteries then shut off the charger and remove all electrical loads. Allow each battery in the system to stand on open-circuit for about one hour. Measure the voltage of each battery. If the battery voltage spread exceeds .30 volts for a 12 volt battery, a problem is indicated. Battery voltage alone does not confirm a problem. When the voltage spread indicates a problem, confirmation is accomplished by taking electrolyte specific gravity readings using a hydrometer. If the specific gravity readings show a spread greater than .030 (30 points), give the batteries equalization charge i.e slow constant current charge @ 3% of the battery capacity in amperes.

SAFETY AND INSTALLATION TIPS FOR INVERTERS


Always use a power inverter that is rated high enough for the device(s) you are running and avoid adapters that would allow more outlets than the unit is designed to accommodate.

Place the inverter on a reasonably flat surface, either horizontally or vertically. The inverter should not be installed in the engine compartment, due to possible water/oil/acid contamination, and excessive heat under the hood, as well as potential danger from gasoline fumes and the spark that an inverter can occasionally produce. It's best to run battery cables to a dry, cool inverter mounting location. Keep the inverter dry. Do not expose it to rain or moisture. DO NOT operate the inverter if you, the inverter, the device being operated, or any other surfaces that may come in contact with any power source are wet. Water and many other liquids can conduct electricity which may lead to serious injury or death. Avoid placing the inverter on or near heating vents, radiators or other sources of heat. Do not place the inverter in direct sunlight. Ideal air temperature is between 50 and 80 F. In order to properly disperse heat generated while the inverter is in operation, keep it well ventilated. While in use, maintain several inches of clearance around the top and sides of the inverter.

Do not use the inverter near flammable materials. Do not place the inverter in areas such as battery compartments where fumes or gases may accumulate. Inverters work best with a battery that is in good condition and fully charged. A weak battery will be drained easily if demands are too high. This could leave you stranded so be sure to check the battery's condition before using a power inverter in a stationary vehicle. Make sure the inverter is properly ventilated. Even a small inverter generates heat. Check to see if there is an internal fan with any inverter over 100 Watts. Place the inverter in a well-ventilated area when in use. Check the owner's manual for the proper wire size for battery cables when connecting the inverter to the battery. Most manufacturers recommend 4 to 10 feet of cable length, depending on the inverter. Avoid aluminium wire because it has higher resistance to current flow than copper wire