# What is an inverter?
Most of us associate inverters with emergency power back-up – a device that magically lights up our house when the government cuts the main supply of electricity.
This belief is only partly right.
Yes, one of the uses of the inverter is to provide power back-up but if that was it then why would they use inverters in developed nations, where they never face power cuts, like US, UK, Australia etc.?
Simple Definition for Inverter:
Simply speaking, inverter is a device that turns Direct Current (DC) from batteries to Alternating Current (AC).
And we hear you asking,
# what the hell is this DC and AC ?
Direct current (DC) is produced from the source of energy such as batteries or solar panels.
Unfortunately, direct current can’t be carried to over long distances – that is why the main electricity supply we get in our houses is in AC – alternating current.
All of our electronic equipment is made to run on AC because that’s what we get in our main power supply. AC and DC look something like this:
As you can see, direct current is really like its name. DC is so direct that it just flows in one direction whereas alternating current is more like a sea with waves – it goes high and low.
# Now here comes the problem:
If batteries and solar panels (the original source of energy) generate DC and but all of our ordinary electrical equipment like fans, TV, lights, laptops etc. can only run on AC then how can we power them through batteries and solar panels?
Inverter solves the problem:
Inverter takes DC from batteries or solar panels and converts it into AC so that you can plug and play electric stuff like fans, TV, lights, blenders, laptops etc. through the inverter, anywhere.
In countries like India when the main (grid) power supply is often cut, inverters keep the power up through batteries – they convert the DC power stored in batteries into AC as they are attached to the main power socket of our house so that we can continue operating our electrical equipment even during power cuts
# How are the batteries charged?
Inverters in India have an in-built charger in them to charge batteries. When the main grid supply is on they charge the batteries.
In foreign countries, people use inverters when they are cruising in their RVs, private boats or camping in remote places to use their electric gadgets like blenders, TV sets, laptops, microwaves etc. They can power the gadgets by simply plugging them into inverter, and the inverter is charged from the car batteries.
FYI: The technology has advanced too much that inverters are obsolete in India as they have been replaced with Home UPS – a device which intelligently combines the features of inverters and UPS into a single unit. No one buys an inverter these days, they buy UPS.
To find out what is UPS and how it is different from inverters, wait for our next post.
And today we also have electrical equipment that run on DC – no need of inverters. Su-Kam has those as well but that would be covered in another topic