In today’s world, we are constantly plugging in more and more electronic devices into sockets, and using more and more power. Some of these devices are rechargeable, and can be used independently – for a short time, at least. But at some point, you’re going to have to give it some more juice. This is fine when you’re at home and have plenty of sockets available. But what if you’re traveling in an RV or a mobile home?
Some might think you can just plug it into your cigarette lighter, and that is fine for smaller devices like a cellphone, but what about something on a bit of a larger scale? This is when you’ll need a power inverter.
So What Exactly Is a Power Inverter?
A power inverter is a complex tool that produces simple results (isn’t that how it always is?). In essence, what a power inverter does is take a direct current (DC) power source and converts it into an alternate current (AC). In the majority of these cases, it draws the power from the battery of your car, which produces direct currents. This is what makes it so useful when you’re on the road and want to power a laptop or something bigger. This is only one use case, though.
Why Do We Need AC?
The type of batteries typically found in RV’s produce direct current rated at 12-volts, while more heavy-duty batteries might be able to produce 24-volts. Unfortunately, many of the devices we use at home are built to use the typical 120-volt AC power supply they came with. When you compare just the voltage alone, you can see there is a significant difference in the amount of power supplied. Essentially, DC batteries just don’t have enough power output to get the job done.
This issues is also compounded by the way direct current batteries work in comparison to alternate currents. A direct current’s flow path goes from the negative terminal, into the completed circuit board, and then ends in the positive terminal. As the name implies, alternate currents can alter the direction of the flow, and can do so very quickly.
So in essence, most devices simply aren’t compatible with DC batteries. That’s where the power inverter comes in, it can actually boost the voltage before it changes the current into an alternate current.
When Would I Ever Need to Use One?
As we went over in the section above, you would need to use a power inverter if you had a device that ran on AC power, but only had a DC power source. The most common uses are for mobile homes or RV’s. RV’s are basically homes on wheels. How are you going to power your microwave, toaster, or your TV? The answer, is through your power inverter.
Power inverters are incredibly useful tools for the road. They help you power electronic devices that would otherwise be useless. So if you plan on taking any trips in your RV, don’t forget your power inverter. Purchasing one can be a daunting task as there are many different models, sizes and features. Read up on our buying guide to learn which one best fits your needs!