Inverters are great appliances. They can effectively allow you to continue with your usual routine even in case of a power cut. If you live in Indian cities, there is a huge chance you totally understand the qualms of losing electricity when you really need it. As we all moved to working from home, having that power backup ended up being that much important. There was no scope of missing out on work due to the usual issues of power cuts. A lot of people went ahead and bought themselves a power backup generator, or an inverter.
Now, since this decision was made more due to an urgent need, a lot of people did not research about inverters and just went ahead and bought one. This has caused a lot of folks to get stuck with a machine that provides them too much than they need, or too less.
This is the reason the best way to make a purchase is to first make sure you find out all the necessary details about the product.
Let me help you understand what exactly to look for while buying an inverter for home. There are not a whole lot of things to jam into your brain, but just the basic amount of information everybody should know about.
Firstly, if you do not have a lot of appliances you want running in case of a power cut, consider using a UPS instead of a complete inverter. UPS are great appliances too, they might give out a lot less power than an inverter, but you can totally use it to power your laptop, charge your phone, run a table fan, and a few other things. However, you would have to invest in a bigger UPS too if you want it to run for longer. Most commonly found UPS are actually quite small at less than 500VA. If you wish to buy a competent UPS, the best one is a 1100VA which can easily power your desktop PC for quite a while before shutting down. Bigger UPS can cost a bit though and it is necessary that you understand these basic differences between an inverter and a UPS.
UPS generally come with an in-built battery that charges automatically and will stay on even if the power shuts down. An inverter works in a similar way but actually requires a much bigger battery to transfer electricity all around your house. Beside the larger battery, inverters also tend to be a lot more expensive and larger in size. You would definitely need to allocate some space for it if you are looking to purchase one.
If you want to run appliances other than computers and fans, or if you are living with multiple people, it is always a better idea to get an inverter instead. UPS are great, but work with only a few devices at a given time. An inverter can be connected to the mains and will give power to the whole house when need be.
If you are being rather confused about how exactly to go about buying an inverter, these few details can be kept in mind to make your task that much easier.
- Total power requirement – The first thing you should be looking at is the total amount of power you need from your inverter. Essentially, you would have to calculate the total energy consumption of the appliances you wish to run using your inverter. There is a simple formula to calculate the power you would require from your inverter compared to the appliances you want running. A CFL bulb is 20W, a fan is 80W, a tube light is around 40W, and a TV is around 120W. So, if you want to run 4 fans, a TV, 6 CLFs, and 2 tube lights, your total power requirement would come to around 640W. While buying an inverter, make sure it can support a load of 640W at least.
- Inverter capacity – Once you have listed the power requirements, compute the capacity of the inverter in accordance with the requirement. Measured in VA, you can get the capacity by dividing your required power by 0.8. So essentially with a 640W power requirement, you would need an inverter of around 800VA. Anything lower than this would not prove beneficial, anything beyond this would be overkill. It is always good to aim over than under though.
- Backup time – Given the capacity of the inverter, and the total power requirement, that is going to determine the backup time your inverter might provide. A bigger, more powerful inverter against a lower power requirement would last much longer.
- Brand and warranty – There are tons of different brands that sell inverters. Choosing the right one depends on how readily maintenance is available in your area. Check against that and choose the right kind. Also, since inverters can last you a very long time, make sure you get one with enough warranty so you can effectively keep it maintained without paying a lot of money.
- Battery size and capacity – The formula to estimate battery capacity is as follows – [total load * backup hours needed] / battery voltage. Battery voltage is around 12V, so according to the formula, to run 640W of appliances, you would need a battery with the capacity of at least 320AH.
- Additional features – As smart home devices are getting common, inverters are too. A really modern inverter can allow you a digital display and can be controlled and monitored over WiFi after connecting your phone to it as well.