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How an Inverter Works
Clifford W. Mossberg
The process of converting low voltage direct current (DC) electricity into high voltage alternating current (ac) is not particularly "hi-tech" but it has several levels of complexity. The most complex levels use high tech solutions and are frequently employed because they make efficient and reliable inverters. In this article I will not try to explain the esoteric details of such "techy" stuff – I'm not qualified – but I will try to give the novice user a basic idea of what is going on inside that heavy box hooked up to the batteries.
Inverting really means Switching Polarity
At the simplest level alternating current (ac) can be achieved by a simple switching device which just swaps connections to the battery leads.
In the very basic circuit and graph in illustration 1, a simple DC resistance is shown, for instance a light bulb. The "voltmeter" I have drawn is the type which registers zero in the center of the meter, so current flow in either direction through the resistance (bulb) will show up as movement of the needle to either the left or right of zero, depending on the polarity of the battery hook-up.
Simple DC resistance circuit
V o l t a g e
When the resistor is hooked to the battery,
current will start to flow. The voltmeter will
measure a voltage drop equal to the voltage
which the battery can produce. If the battery
was 12 volts and the resistance was an 0 automotive tail light bulb the reading of the
volt meter would be 12 volts. The graph shows that this would start the instant the resistance was hooked to the battery and would stop just as suddenly when the resistance was disconnected. The length of time the voltage shows on our voltmeter could be anything in this example, from milliseconds to hours.
In illustration 2 the leads from the battery to the resistor have been switched so the resistor is hooked up opposite what it was in illustration 1. You will notice that the voltmeter is now deflected to the same
Simple DC resistance circuit with opposite polarity to 1A
Second half cycle of inverter opperation. Leads to battery are switched; voltage turns on in opposite direction, remains on for some period of time, and is turned off.
First half cycle of inverter opperation. Leads
to battery are connected; voltage turns on, remains on for some period of time, and is turned off.
V o l t a g e
Home Power #23 • June / July 1991
Image | How an Inverter Works
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