An inverter is a gadgets that convert energy stored in a battery to AC current that will power your appliances.
Some important features about inverters are their low noise and emission-free operations as well as their convenience.
One of the things you must know about inverters is that they are alternatives to power and not the major source of power supply.
The first challenge for an inverter is that you need to charge the batteries.
You need electricity to charge the battery of your inverter.
In countries like Nigeria where a power supply is not steady, you may not get enough power supply to charge your battery, which could result in the low performance of the inverter.
It will be best for someone who has at least 12 hours of public power supply per day or someone who has a generator but wants a noise-free alternative to get an inverter.
“A good alternative source for charging your inverter will be with solar panels.”
It is crucial to note that an inverter is more suited for loads like household and office electronics, e.g. TVs, Computers, Printers, lights, etc.
Inverters are not best with elementary loads, so if you are going to be operating lots of machines with motors in them, a generator may be a better option, except you can find an industrial grade inverter.
Your Power Needs
Once you make a decision to purchase an inverter, the next stage is to calculate your power needs. Simply make a list of the gadgets that you will be operating with the inverter.
The other step is to get a VA equivalent of the power, which we assume a power factor of 0.8 gives 400 VA.
After calculating a total load of your gadget, the next step is to derate the power inverter to create some allowance for flexibility and to ensure the inverter does not overwork itself.
To derate, just multiply your total load by 2. So, you will buy an inverter with a power rating of 800VA or higher.
You may also decide to multiply by 3 to give more operation allowance for the inverter. It is also important to note that the aim of derating is to ensure that your inverter does not operate at full-load or near full-load, which will make the device durable.
Types of Battery
You don’t just purchase an inverter; you also need to purchase an inverter battery which is where the inverter derives its energy from.
There are so many types of inverter battery but the best battery for your inverter is the SMF deep cycle inverter battery. SMF is an abbreviation for Sealed, Maintenance Free. Although you can use the normal car battery, they emit poisonous fumes which could be hazardous to your health. This means SMF battery is convenient for indoor installation.
Another type of battery to use that requires low maintenance is the tubular battery, which is also deep cycle batteries.
Number of Batteries Required
In the same way, a 3.5KVA/48V inverter will need a minimum of four 12V batteries. While purchasing an inverter, it is important to know the minimum number of battery required.
For instance, a fully charged 200 Ah battery can theoretically deliver 6 hours of power while a fully charged 100 Ah battery can only manage 3 hours.
To increase a battery capacity and use time, you connect more batteries in parallel or reduce the load on the inverter.
For instance, connecting two 200 Ah batteries in parallel will result in a theoretical energy capacity of 400 Ah and increase the theoretical use time to 12 hours and to connect batteries in parallel you must account for the input voltage.
However, a 12V input inverter will require one 12V battery in each parallel set, a 24V input inverter will require two 12V batteries in each parallel set and a 48v input inverter will require four 12V batteries in each parallel set etc.
Hence, a 48v input inverter will require eight 12v batteries for 2 parallel sets and twelve 12V batteries for 3 parallel sets.
Solar Energy Support
The inverters that come with solar energy support enable you to connect solar panel(s) to your inverter and tap from the free energy of the Sun.
The Solar Panel powers your battery ensuring you have enough energy when needed. Depending on the capacity of the Solar panel.
It can charge the battery while providing power for your appliances. Solar inverters can also charge your batteries through generators or public power supply.
Note that if you do not purchase a solar inverter, you can still upgrade a regular inverter for solar energy by buying a solar charge controller.
It is important you hire a technician to install your inverter except you have exceptional electrical skills. Surprisingly, some retailers and online stores that sell inverters offer options with the installation kit, making installation easier for you or a trained technician.
The manufacturer provides installation accessories of the inverter which ensures everything works perfectly. However, it is always advisable to take up the installation kit when buying an inverter.
Also, ensure that the cabling connecting the inverter to the battery is short. This will reduce energy losses.
Installation cost for inverters ranges from 5,000 to 25,000 Naira depending on the complexity of the system.
Inverter Pricing & Brands
Pricing of inverters for home and office range on the basis of the level of sophistication and power output.
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