Difference between inverter and converter?

When it comes to electrical transformers and portable power supplies, many people struggle to decide whether an inverter or converter is the best for their needs.

In this article, we will look at the main difference between inverter and converter and examine the pros and cons of each device so that you can make a more informed decision for yourself and your family.

Now both devices work to convert electricity from different sources to make it useful for your devices, although they don’t work in the same way.

Read on to find out what the right option is for your RV and other conditions.

What is a power inverter?

An inverter converts, which is why some people call it a converter, direct current (DC) from a DC source to high voltage alternating current (AC).

The idea is to create DC power from sources such as a car battery that are compatible with only AC appliances such as coffee makers, some laptops, refrigerators, DVD players, and more.

After transformation, your electronic devices will enjoy high-quality power: the power is almost the same quality as the mains voltage.

This makes it an extremely handy gadget to take to your car/RV as you can still toast, make coffee, watch your favorite teams play, just to name a few while traveling or on vacation.

What is a power converter?

The job of the inverters is to convert back, but this time it works the opposite of how inverters work: switch AC to DC.

It connects an inverter to numerous power sources (a generator, outlets, etc.) and converts the incoming electricity into electrical voltage that the connected device can use.

In fact, some converters these days are super smart, automatically detecting raw power once connected to a source and transforming it to the exact voltage your device needs.

Many people realize it, but most of the time we use inverters.

Consider this:

Do you have a laptop.

Of course you switch it to direct current when you give a presentation.

But if you suddenly get a low battery notification in the middle of your conversation, wave to your host and ask him to help you plug it in.

And voila, you can run the presentation to the end.

The question is, how did you change the laptop’s power system from DC to AC?

Well, it wasn’t!

It is the built-in power converter that changes the AC power coming from the plug into DC voltage for using your laptop.

Do you understand me?

In simple terms, the function of a basic converter is to convert from AC to DC.

The procedure is technically called rectification because it involves “rectifying” alternating current (which sometimes flows in the opposite direction) so that it flows in only one direction, much like direct current.

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Inside a power inverter

An inverter can be fully electronic or a combined mechanical and electronic circuit.

Like transformers, they also contain components such as inductors and capacitors to facilitate the conversion of electricity from direct current to alternating current.

In addition, the inverters incorporate various circuitry to automatically detect and deal with various situations that may arise when it is in operation or standby.

An example of these scenarios is overload, overheating, and overload.

Some of these can be hazardous to your equipment and it is important that your unit stops them immediately.

Inside a power converter

A standard power converter is not that complicated and consists mainly of an inner circuit and a power supply.

The circuit’s responsibility is to quickly move, stabilize, and eventually convert the current being fed into the type of electricity it needs.

You can check out other components including semiconductor switches, inductors and capacitors depending on the application it is designed for.

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How do inverters run?

An inverter gets its input voltage from a 12V battery (deep cycle batteries work best) or from a pair of batteries connected in parallel.

Just plug it into a battery and then connect your AC devices to the inverter.

Keep in mind that the battery needs to be charged, so it is usually connected to a car, generator, solar panels or even the wind.

That said, we also have inverters with built-in batteries that function as stand-alone portable power boxes.

Either way, proper wiring is essential if you want to get the most out of your inverter, as faulty wiring hinders its efficiency, leading to a premature battery drain.

How do power converters operate?

As mentioned above, power converters are usually part of the power supplies and other electrical circuits in many appliances, both at home and in our offices.

However, power converters are more than conventional rectifiers and perform numerous electrical transformations.

In fact, these are multi-capacity systems capable of:

  • Change a fixed alternating current (AC) input to a variable AC output.
  • Convert a fixed direct current (DC) input to a variable DC output (and vice versa). A DC-DC converter can decrease or increase a DC voltage as needed.

In short, it is quite versatile and can perform many functions.

In motorhomes, for example, the job of the inverter is to change the input AC voltage to DC voltage before using the DC current to charge your motorhome’s batteries.

Difference between inverter and converter: Typical applications

Now let’s see when to use these seemingly rival electrical accessories:

When to use a power converter

A converter is the only method of charging your RV’s battery system (remember it converts AC to DC).

There are chargers for RV battery converter designed for this and you need one if you have that in mind.

In addition, the converter distributes the modified direct current to other components of the motorhome.

Another example of when a power converter is normally needed is when injecting.

That’s because other countries use different power systems and your electronic devices may not work in sockets abroad.

A converter takes whatever voltage is there and turns it up or down to make the connected tool work.

When to use a power inverter

Inverters are mostly used for home/business emergency power.

You can also carry one in your RV, especially pure sine wave inverters, if you have sensitive devices — laptops, smart TVs, freezers, and the like — that you want to power while you’re in the middle of nowhere.

The other case where I find inverters quite useful is for those who prefer green energy and have invested in solar systems as a result.

An inverter converts solar energy into usable AC voltage.

The salient difference between an inverter and an inverter is that an inverter switches from direct current to alternating current while an inverter switches from alternating current to direct current.

And while you understand this is helpful, the most important thing is to consider your specific needs before deciding what might be best for you.

We’ve listed some of the typical uses of both devices to give you an idea, even if you’re considering going for an inverter, an inverter, or both.

Obviously we haven’t exhausted everything – that would take pages and pages of discussion, including tons of technical stuff – and you need to keep an open mind.

Inverter or generator, which is best for home use?

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