Electronics

How to Buy the Best Inverter for Your Home or Car – A Buying Guide

How to Buy the Best Inverter for Your Home or Car – A Buying Guide
Written by Shikha Mehta

How many times have power cuts disturbed you while doing something important on your computer? Or, how many times do you waste time while stuck in the traffic for hours? Whether it’s your home or your car, if you have an inverter, both problems can be solved.

An inverter is the best backup you can have when you face power cuts due to bad weather. If you connect the same device to your car battery, you can run your laptop with the charger in the car itself. Now that enables you to work under all circumstances, isn’t it?

In this guide, starting from understanding an inverter, we’ll look into what is the best kind you can have.

What is a Power Inverter?

If I were to define it scientifically, it is an electronic device that converts DC (direct current) into AC (alternate current). Did that just go above your head? Let’s understand this by stepping into the world of electricity:

  • Direct current is when electricity flows in a single direction. In order to charge any battery, it needs to receive DC power.
  • Alternate current is when the direction of electricity flow keeps changing. This generates more power, which you need to run all your electronic appliances.

Here’s how an inverter will work in an apartment or an office:

  • Now, an inverter will have a battery which will be connected to your appliances as well as the main power grid.
  • It has an alternator that converts DC into AC by constantly controlling the frequency of power.
  • When the power supply is there, it will use it to charge its battery.
  • When the power supply is not there, the power stored in the battery will get converted into AC current and provide electricity to your electronic appliances.

Simple! The above technology is also used in devices like air conditioners. In fact, having an inverter AC has its own benefits.

Now, when you have one in the car, this is how it works:

  • You connect the inverter alternator to your car battery and the appliances installed in it (which would need AC).
  • Whenever you want to turn on your TV or any other device that runs on AC, the power from the battery will get converted by the inverter into AC. This will help you run any other electronic device you may have connected to or installed in your car.

Why Do You Need an Inverter Connection?

Having an inverter is actually having a backup during an emergency situation. It is true that in the age of the internet, the place does not matter when you need to get your work done. If you have a laptop with an internet connection, you could be working from home or your car too.

Added to this, if you own an inverter, you can work in the middle of a disaster too. You could be having uninterrupted power supply. However, I have experienced power cut and loss of internet connection for days when there was a cyclone in my city. Or shall I say, I didn’t actually have to face it because my inverter was working.

Now, I’ll give you another situation. Let’s say that you’re going to work with your laptop in your car. Suddenly, it starts raining heavily and you’re stuck in the traffic for hours. Now you can take out your laptop and start working right away. But how long do you think it will work without a charger? Having a car inverter solves this problem.

What Are the Types of Inverters You Can Have?

An inverter is nothing but a DC to AC converter. Yet, the structure and functioning of the device varies in many ways. Thus, we can classify inverters in many ways, based on the source of energy they use, where we use them and their functioning.

On the Basis of Place of Usage

Inverters are used both for indoor places as well as cars. The main difference lies in the size of the inverter of course.

  1. Inverter for Home/Office: These are not only big in size but also designed to power all electronic appliances present in the indoor space you want it for. This may be a home, an office, a store, a factory or an entire building.
  2. Car Inverter: These are compact enough to be installed inside a car. They are designed in a way that you can directly connect them to the car battery. Since you usually don’t have many electronics in a car that need alternate current to work, the capacity of these inverters is comparatively lesser.

On the Basis of Source of Energy

The regular inverters are simply connected to our power supply grid which give us electricity during a power cut. However, you do have eco-friendly inverters too that use solar energy as their main source of power supply.

  1. Conventional Inverters: These are the regular inverters that are connected to our main power grid on one end and to our fuse on the other end. These are further divided into 2 types:
  • Current Source: These inverters are fed with direct current which they convert into alternating current whenever needed.
  • Voltage Source: Here, the input provided to the device is voltage that produces direct current. The circuit then converts this voltage into AC of the required magnitude and frequency.
  1. Solar Inverters: A solar inverter is connected to a photovoltaic solar panel on one end and the fuse or electricity grid on the other end. So, you may be getting your regular electricity from the conventional source but the backup power comes from the sun. If you know how solar energy works, you’ll get how the inverter works too.

There are 3 types of solar inverters you can use:

  • String Inverters: Here, the solar panels are placed in rows or strings. The inverter is connected to every string of the grid, drawing DC from each. They produce up to 100 kW of power and are 98% efficient.
  • Central Inverters: We’ll add an extra component to string inverters to get a central inverter. Every string of solar panels is connected to a combiner which is in turn connected to the inverter. Thus, it can produce more than 100 kW of power and has an efficiency of 98.5%.
  • Microinverters: As the name suggests, they are small in size. You need them in bulk because each of these are connected to a single solar panel. For this reason, they might simply cost you more, even though they can produce more power.
  1. Hybrid Inverters: These work with a battery, which is connected to a solar panel as well as an electricity grid. Thus, it can charge its battery from either source, depending on which one has more power.

On the Basis of Output Characteristics

If you study the waveform of various inverters, you’ll find the pattern can vary. There are 3 types of wave patterns that the voltage can form:

  1. Square Wave Inverters: As the name suggests, the wave pattern is in square form here. Even though they have simpler designs, they are the least efficient inverters among the 3. These waves are mostly produced due to the presence of a switch that turns on and off frequently. They are noisy, cheap and only support motors.
  2. Pure Sine Wave Inverters: This is the type that you will need for your home or office as they have higher capacity, function more smoothly and are supported by all your appliances. The wave pattern here is smooth and even.
  3. Modified Sine Wave Inverters: The pattern of waves produced by these inverters is somewhere between a pure sine wave and a square wave. The shape is similar to sine wave but the lines are squarish and not smooth. They aren’t as efficient as a pure sine wave, but can work for light and old appliances.

Factors to Consider When You Want to Buy an Inverter

There are plenty of factors that will affect the purchase requirement of your inverter. You need to match your requirements and electricity consumption with the capacity of the device available in the market. Thus, here’s what you need to prioritize:

Type of Device

Always go for a pure sine wave inverter, even though it is the most expensive. Coming to the input, voltage source is more efficient than current source. A solar inverter is advisable only if you have solar panels on your roof. Else, they don’t make any sense.

Capacity

When you look for inverters in the market, they’ll specify the efficiency of power supply in percentage form. It can range anything between 60-80%. In case of a solar inverter, this may even go above 90%. The higher the percentage, the better it is.

VA Rating

This is the ratio between the power supply you require and the power supply efficiency of the inverter. So, if you need 600 watts in total and the efficiency is 70%, the VA rating will be 857 VA, which is considered great.

Battery Capacity and Ampere Hours

How long will your inverter battery be able to provide power supply? You’ll be given the time duration as to how long can a battery last to supply power. You’ll be given the voltage of the battery too. These are needed to calculate the ampere hours (Ah) or capacity of the battery, which is:

power requirement x number of hours / battery voltage

Thus, if your power requirement is 600 watts, you’ll need a battery of 150 Ah.

Brand and Price

This applies for any product that we buy, that it is of a reputable brand and within our budget too. Always go for a brand that does the installation for you and includes the charges in the price of the inverter.

Warranty

Usually, an inverter can last for approximately 10 years. The warranty is usually provided for its battery which is usually for more than 2 years and less than 5 years.

Top 5 Inverters for You

Now that we know what kind of an inverter we want, let’s check out the best 5 models available out there:

Luminous Zelio+ 1100 Home Pure Sinewave Inverter UPS

This is one of the best-selling products online, featuring LCD display of power back-up status and charging time. You don’t have to worry about overload or short circuit if you own this device and for a luminous inverter price, it is super reasonable. It works on 1 luminous battery; in case you need to change it.

Device Capacity: 900 VA

Voltage: 12V

Price: ₹5,499

Warranty: 2 years

Microtek Pure Sinewave UPS Sebz-1100VA 12V

Being a pure sine wave inverter, this also works noiselessly. The best part about having a Microtek inverter is that the battery work for really longer and the voltage range is in your control.

Device Capacity: 950 VA

Voltage: 12V

Price: ₹4,489

Warranty: 2 years

Luminous Solar Hybrid 1100/12V Home UPS

This is a hybrid inverter with an efficiency of 98%. It works with a battery or solar panel of maximum 12V. It is lightweight, compact and charges quickly.

Device Capacity: 700 VA

Voltage: 12V

Price: ₹5,501

Warranty: 2 years

Vantro Car Power Inverter 200W with 4 USB & 2 AC Port with Digital Display

This power inverter for car comes with 2 AC outlets, 4 USB ports and LED display that shows the current car battery voltage. It provides protection from overload, short circuit, overheating, over voltage and low voltage.

Device Capacity: 200 W

Price: ₹2,399

Warranty: 1 year

Portronics CarPower One Portable 200W Car Inverter with Single AC 220V Output (POR-003, Black)

This is a super lightweight, portable and user-friendly car inverter. It has 2 USB ports, 1 AC outlet and eve a cup holder. You can even connect it to your car’s cigarette lighter socket if it is inbuilt.

Device Capacity: 200 W

Price: ₹3,299

Warranty: 1 year

Which Inverter is Right for You?

Depending on what you need your device for and how much electricity you consume, you need to make your right choice. What I have listed above are the best brands of inverters for indoor spaces as well as cars. Mostly, they’ll support everything you use on a regular basis:

  • 3-4 lights, 3 fans, 1 TV and 1 refrigerator (in case of home)
  • 1 laptop and 2 mobile phones (in case of a car)

This is generally our regular consumption level of electricity at home or in a car. In a commercial space, the requirement would be much more. Thus, you choose your inverter accordingly.

About the author

Shikha Mehta

I discovered my talent in writing while I was in high school. Since then, I discovered the joy of sharing your knowledge with people around you. This is the reason why I love making my contributions to Insights of Technology. Being a certified content writer, I have been writing on several topics, science & technology being one of my favorites.

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