In the typical home, there are a great many appliances and electronics that we plug into the outlet, never giving much thought to where the electricity to run them comes from. This is fine, though, as the local power company is taking care of things so we don’t have to. When you are out on the road, however, on a camping trip or even simply plugging the cell phone or GPS into the cigarette lighter to recharge, a dc to ac converter is required and one must pay attention to specific details to ensure the safe and proper use of obtaining the needed power.
Starting with the basics, DC (direct current) power is generated from things such as fuel cells, batteries or solar panels. AC (Alternating current) power is typically used to run your computer or television, basically everything electrical in your home. This is why the dc to ac converter is so important: it allows us the freedom to be outside of our homes but still be attached to the gadgets and devices we love. It provides a portable power source.
A dc to ac converter also provides increased power. Think of dc power as a relatively straight line. There are little changes in that line, meaning that a direct current supplies a constant, low voltage amount of power. Unfortunately, this is not usually enough electricity to operate an appliance.
Now, envision ac power as a wavy line. The peaks and valley offer a varied amount of voltage (usually a higher amount) at any given time, hence the term alternating current. Using a transformer can also boost the voltage to an even higher level.
There are many different dc to ac converters available for purchase, either on the internet or most local automotive stores. Choosing the right one is important so that you don’t end up blowing a circuit or worse yet, ruining your battery and/or appliance. Take into account the tips listed below when purchasing a dc to ac converter.
The first consideration should be voltage. If you have a 12-volt battery (the most commonly used external power source), you are going to want a 12-volt dc to ac converter. This is pretty logical, of course. Be aware though that this is important! Trying to pass too much voltage through a converter not specified for it can cause an electrical fire.
Next you should consider the amount of wattage the appliance you want to power uses. This can normally be found on the appliance itself or in the manual that the appliance came with. You must make sure that the wattage created by the converter exceeds the amount you will be using. The reason for “exceeding wattage” is because many appliances create a power surge (more power than what is actually needed to operate the appliance) when they are first turned on.
There are other things to take into account when using a converter, though the two listed are probably most important. If you need further assistance, it may be helpful to ask a salesperson when you are making a purchase. Be sure to read all instructions before plugging in any appliance.