Whether you’re trying to power an air pump from your car while camping or you’re trying to use a backup generator at home while the power is off - learning how to convert DC to AC power supply is a great idea for anyone. Chances are, you’ll need to do it at some point in your life.
And fortunately for you, you’ve come to the right place. Because today, we’re going to teach you how to convert DC to AC power supply with ease using an inverter. You’re also going to learn about a few different use cases for the inverter - in other words, situations where you may need to rely on a DC to AC conversion. But first things first - let’s go over a brief refresher regarding AC vs DC.
AC vs DC Power - What’s The Difference?
No, it’s not just a band name - AC and DC are the two types of power supply in our world today. One was made famous by Thomas Edison (DC), and the other was made famous by Nikolai Tesla (AC). They both have their place, and there is still much debate today over which is superior. In our blog post covering the difference between AC and DC power supplies, you’ll learn all there is to know about these two types. For now, we’ll just give you a brief introduction and overview of the two types for the sake of this article.
AC, or alternating current, provides power in an alternating current - it’s in the name. This means that power alternates between positive and negative, jumping back and forth along the wavelength. DC, or direct current, is the exact opposite - it provides power in a steady, straight line.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself - why would we use AC if it’s not a steady supply like DC? Well, they each have their own unique pros and cons that make them suitable for different scenarios.
For example - AC is great because it can be safely shut off when needed, it can be transported more efficiently with less loss of power, and it can easily be transformed. This is why it is the most common source in our households and offices. DC power, on the other hand, offers advantages of its own. For example, there is no advance or delay in the power supply - it’s constant, as the direct current name implies. This power supply can also be safely and easily stored in batteries, capacitors, etc.
All things considered, we need both AC and DC power supply. But there are certain situations where you’ll be presented with a DC power supply and you need to convert it to AC power. Let’s take a look at some such examples.
Why Would You Need To Convert DC To AC Power Supply?
At the onset of this article, we discussed two specific instances in which you’ll need to convert DC power to AC power. Most household appliances run on the AC power supply built into your home. That includes your refrigerator, for example. And say your home suffers a power outage - you’re worried about your food thawing and going bad. Can’t you just plug the generator in or use a 12v car battery? Not as things stand - because those external power supplies provide DC power. You need to first convert the power.
Another example is when you’re out camping - you want to blow up an air mattress or charge a phone battery. Unfortunately, your car’s battery won’t work as it is - again, it must be converted.
In industrial practices, one such case where you may need to convert DC to AC is in the medical field. Medical power supplies require an uninterruptible power supply as a backup in case the primary power supply fails. This backup UPS will require a DC to AC conversion most of the time.
There are plenty of other unique scenarios in which you need to learn how to convert DC to AC power supply - and for that, you’ll need an inverter. Let’s discuss.
How To Convert DC To AC Power Supply With An Inverter
So, how do you convert direct current to alternating current? Simple - with an inverter.
An inverter is a revolutionary device that converts DC to AC - pretty straightforward. This is the exact opposite piece of equipment of a rectifier. A rectifier is what you’d use to convert an AC power supply for a DC power device. This is why we are able to have devices and equipment designed for AC power supply and DC power supply without any real issue - because we’re able to convert between the two relatively easily.
Now - back to the inverter. Allow us to explain more in-depth how it works:
How An Inverter Works
While there are two types of inverters out there - mechanical and electronic - we will really only discuss electronic inverters, as these are the most common type of inverter in play today. They work to smoothly vary AC output from a DC input. Inductors and capacitors live inside the inverter to facilitate this process.
A proper inverter also relies on a means of transforming the voltage of the current source to be used by the device that will be using the power. This is where the transformer comes into play. Because some degree of power will be lost in the conversion process, it is imperative that the output power is less than the input power.
With all these different components working in synergy to convert DC to AC power supply, you can imagine how large inverters get. They are typically pretty large and heavy - especially so if they have built-in battery packs, as most do. This helps them work in a standalone way - but of course, comes with added size and weight. Furthermore, inverters generate a substantial amount of heat through this process. This means they need some form of heat sink to absorb this heat and prevent it from damaging surrounding components. As such, this adds to the size and heft of inverters. All this considered, you’ll be surprised when you first see an inverter in person - they are pretty large compared to what you may have originally suspected the device to look like.
What Size Inverter Do I Need?
You came here to learn how to convert DC power to AC power - and you now know that requires an inverter. You also know now that inverters take up space - so, how big of an inverter do you need? Of course, this will depend on the voltage requirements of the specific device you’re hoping to power. Sizing requirements for a small air pump will vary drastically from sizing requirements for your fridge. Our recommendation is to size up at least an additional 25% of your expected power requirements. For example - if your AC power supplied device requires 120v of electricity, but you’re converting DC power to run the unit - 150v is a safe bet.
It is also worth noting that converting DC to AC power is a short-term fix - this approach is not sustainable long term.
Final Thoughts On How To Convert DC To AC Power Supply
That concludes our guide on how to convert DC power to AC power - all you need is a quality inverter. We recommend a true sine wave inverter rather than a square wave or modified sine wave. While you’ll end up paying more, you will enjoy greater efficiency, stability, and safety.
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