When do you need to use a 12-volt converter?


Quick Answer

A 12-volt power inverter converts the direct current voltage provided by a source such as a automobile battery into between 110 and 120 volts of alternating current used to power most common electric devices. Inverters are typically rated by the wattage they can provide; exceeding this rating can drain the power source.

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Full Answer

Twelve-volt power inverters are useful to create alternating-current electricity to power consumer electronics in situations where there is no access to reliable power infrastructure. The limitation of an inverter depends on the particular brand; more expensive models more closely mimic the pure sine wave power output of household electricity than less expensive models, which are less efficient at powering devices. Some types of inverters compromise and produce a modified sine wave output that is an approximation.

Larger capacity power inverters are used in residential, commercial and industrial situations for a variety of applications. Inverters that transform 24- and 48-volt direct current, for example, are often used in home power systems, while 200- and 300-volt inverters convert from power generation such as solar panels and wind turbines. Inverters that handle hundreds of thousands of volts are used in utility power transmission to step down the direct current to useful residential levels.

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