Power inverters, or inverters, is an electronic device or circuitry that changes direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). The input voltage, output voltage and frequency, and overall power handling depend on the design of the specific device or circuitry.
Power inverter device which produces a multiple step sinusoidal AC waveform is referred to as a sine wave inverter. To more clearly distinguish the inverters with outputs of much less distortion than the modified sine wave (three step) inverter designs, the manufacturers often use the phrase pure sine wave inverter. Almost all consumer grade inverters that are sold as a “pure sine wave inverters” do not produce a smooth sine wave output at all, just a less choppy output than the square wave (two step) and modified sine wave (three step) inverters. However, this is not critical for most electronics as they deal with the output quite well.
Where power inverter devices substitute for standard line power, a sine wave output is desirable because many electrical products are engineered to work best with a sine wave AC power source. The standard electric utility provides a sine wave, typically with minor imperfections but sometimes with significant distortion.
Sine wave inverters with more than three steps in the wave output are more complex and have significantly higher cost than a modified sine wave, with only three steps, or square wave (one step) types of the same power handling. Switch-mode power supply (SMPS) devices, such as personal computers or DVD players, function on quality modified sine wave power. AC motors directly operated on non-sinusoidal power may produce extra heat, may have different speed-torque characteristics, or may produce more audible noise than when running on sinusoidal power
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