Inverter Vs. Converter – When Do We Need One And Why?

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Inverter Vs. converter is confusing to inexperienced. Even when the inverter itself is a type of converter, but in common terms, a converter is used for the machine that either rectifies AC electricity supply input to DC electricity supply output or the one that converts the level of voltage/current in DC or AC current. The differences below are based on the common market knowledge of converters and inverters.

FeaturePower InverterPower Converter
Rectification of AC to DCNoYes
Inversion of DC to ACYesNo
Voltage conversion in AC/DCNot itself but does it by a built-in transformer/converterYes
Maintenance LowLow
Efficiency85% to 98%85% or slightly above
PriceAffordable (Starts at $100)Cheaper (Starts at $30)

Read my blog on Inverter Vs. Generator here.

Power inverter and converter together offer you the mobility to charge your dc batteries from grid supply AC power through a converter and then consume that dc stored power in the battery for your regular AC appliances through an inverter.

If we didn’t have a converter, we could not charge the batteries from the AC grid supply, and if we didn’t have an inverter, we would have to change all our regular appliances into dc appliances, which again would not work on the grid current AC.

Quality Inverters and converters both are expensive. If you buy regular inverters or converters that have low surge load sustenance for a few seconds only, they will get damaged easily and will not have a good life.

So, to take the advantage of power conversion, always buy quality inverters and converters which are slightly expensive but have perfect protection schemes installed to save them from the load, voltage, or current surges.

A power inverter is an electric machine that has a series of circuitry to invert 12/24v dc power from the batteries or any other dc power source to 120/240v at 60/50Hz AC power. It has 85-98% efficiency of DC to AC electricity power conversion. Inverter’s fundamental components are electronic switches, transformers, and filters. Modern inverters come with built in charge controller too. Read my guide on Power Inverter here.

A power converter is an electronic term used to convert the current/voltage level in DC power, frequency in AC power, rectifying AC current to DC electricity, or inverting DC to AC. These all-specific jobs are performed by choppers, cyclo converters, rectifiers, and inverters respectively. A converter is the combination of different electronic switches to perform any of the above tasks. Read about solar inverter in my blog here.

  • Inverter And Converter Work Process
  • Voltage conversion
  • Cost Factor
  • Availability And Maintenance
  • Efficiency
  • Application

AC and DC are the two forms of power flowing. If you want to consume power for your everyday electric appliance, it will mostly require AC power, but if you want to charge your batteries or you don’t have an adapter but want to charge your phone, then you will require DC power.

So, to charge your batteries, you will need a converter to rectify 120/240v AC into 12/24v dc to use with dc appliances. Then to consume your stored power in the battery, you will need an inverter to invert that 12v dc into a 120/240v AC supply.

Here’s my guide to best 1000 watts inverter.

Power inverter only inverts the power from 12/24v dc to 12/24v AC, then it uses a step-up transformer or even converter to step-up voltage into 120/240v. While a converter can change the value of voltage/current through its electronic switching circuits called choppers or cycloconverter.

Read on best 2000 watts inverter here.

Inverters as used for high-power inversions, and that is why they are more expensive than converters. Modern grid tie Inverters themselves have a converter circuit inside, that is why they not only take 12/24v dc supply from the battery but also charge them from 120/240v grid supply.

There are bulky converters used at starting stations of HVDC transmission line, which converts hundreds of thousands of AC voltages into DC output voltage, which are more expensive, but for a common person requirement, they will find inverters expensive than a converter.

My guide to best 3000 watt inverter here.

Converters and inverters both are easily available in electric stores and online stores such as Amazon, eBay, and other e-commerce markets. In the market, you will find regular size inverters from a few hundred watts to 30kW maximum, but if you are looking for more than that size, then contact directly with the manufacturing companies.

Most power inverters and converters come with manufacturer warranty. And they don’t need much maintenance in general.

Here’s my list of best solar fence chargers.

The efficiency of all electronic power conversion methods is relatively high than electromechanical conversion. An electronic converter has efficiency above 85%, and for an inverter, it is between 85-98%. That means while converting power from one AC to DC or vice-versa, these power electronic devices consume 3-15% of power themselves.

Here’s why solar cells need an inverter.

Talking of applications, converters are used for the following purposes:

  • AC to AC voltage/current conversion as some devices require 120v at 60Hz and some 240v at 50Hz.
  • DC to DC voltage/current conversion as batteries either give 12v or 24v dc supply, so to receive both kinds, you will have to use a converter.
  • Convert electricity generated from conventional generator to use with DC appliances.
  • AC to DC conversion is the most common use of converter to charge the batteries from the grid AC power supply.
  • Electrical machine-motion control change in voltage and field current is achieved by the converter, which offers you the mobility of changing the speed of many electric machines.
  • Active power filters as cycloconverter change the frequency of power and work as a filter.
  • HVAC rectification into HVDC, for power transmission at longer distances.

Best inverter size calculator here.

Power inverters have the following applications:

  • DC to AC conversion converts 12/24v dc to 120/240v AC.
  • A solar power system is installed with an inverter to invert DC-produced power into AC utilization power for the regular electric appliance.
  • RV battery, solar panel, boat battery, and automobile battery use power inverter to convert battery storage dc power into AC power for electric appliance power consumption.

Best flickering flame solar lights of my choice is here.

Inverter Vs. Converter In a Nutshell

An inverter inverts DC supply input into AC supply output, where a converter may convert the level of voltage/current in dc supply or convert the AC supply input into DC supply output. Before buying any of them, first, get to know your requirements. Your power source’s form of current, your load form of current, and level of utilization voltage and current. That might help you to know what fits best for you. And you got my inverter vs. converter comparison for any reference.

Read why living near a solar farm is not a great idea. Read mono vs. poly solar panels guide here. Here’s the differences between NiCd vs NiMh batteries.

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