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iTechworld Fact sheet: Pure sine wave VS modified sine wave

Alternating current
So, you’re looking to purchase an inverter to run an AC-powered device off a battery or other DC source. Will you need a pure-sine-wave inverter (PSW), or will a cheaper modified-sine-wave inverter (MSW) do the job?
 
To answer that question, let’s begin by looking at what AC is. For starters, it’s short for alternating current. In other words, it denotes a current that repeatedly changes direction. This goes for the output of both pure- and modified-sine-wave inverters. Both are AC. What sets the two apart, is how the current changes direction and how long it stays level. Have a look at the pictures below.




As you can see, the pure sine wave features a smooth, flowing rhythm. It’s similar to what you’d think of as a “wave”. Consequently, it’s also called a “true” sine wave. This is more or less what you get in your power point at home, and it is what most household appliances are designed to run on.
 
In contrast to this, the modified sine wave features prolonged highs and lows as well as plateaus at zero voltage, giving it a rather squarish look. Not surprising, then, that it’s also called a “square” sine wave.

 
Some appliances are compatible with a modified sine wave; others are not. As a general rule, the more complex the appliance, the likelier it is that it requires a pure sine wave. But to be absolutely sure, you should always go by what the manufacturer says. To give you a better idea of how the different waveforms affect different appliances, let’s have a look at the two waveforms in greater detail, though.
 
Modified-sine-wave inverters
MSW inverters utilise filters to round the corners of a square wave; hence the word “modified”. As previously mentioned, however, the shape of the wave remains quite square.
 
Because of the plateauing peak outputs, appliances running on a modified sine wave will have to deal with more power for a longer time, and this equals additional heat. For this reason, many appliances that are designed to run on grid power will overheat if run on a modified sine wave.


 
Nevertheless, MSW inverters do have their place. Since they don’t require as many components as pure-sine-wave inverters, they are relatively cheap. And they typically use DC power more efficiently than PSW inverters, meaning that your battery will last longer. So, if you plan to run only normal light bulbs and induction or shunt motors, for instance, an MSW inverter will be the right choice for you. However, as previously mentioned, take heed: if you are unsure of whether your appliance will run on MSW, make sure of it before you plug it in.
 
Pure-sine-wave inverters
Manufacturing a PSW inverter is a lot more involved than making an MSW inverter, and this translates into a higher price. But what you get for the additional cost is peace of mind. Appliances are getting increasingly complex; these days, even seemingly simple devices feature advanced microprocessors, and, oftentimes, MSW will not agree with these microprocessors. A PSW is the only safe choice.
 
For example, many devices rely on a PSW to time their operation by counting how often the wave passes through zero voltage. This works well on the smooth grid AC. But when such devices are run off an MSW inverter, their microprocessors are tricked by the MSW’s plateaus at zero voltage, which results in miscalculations of time, leading to poor performance and shorter product lifespan.


 
A PSW inverter, on the other hand, gives you an output that is close to identical to that of household power, which makes it perfect for any appliance that you’d normally plug into the wall. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that even normal household appliances may produce abnormal loads for short periods of time. Motors and fridges, for example, may require a significantly higher wattage during 5-15 seconds at start-up. Quality PSW inverters deal with this by having a 40%-100% surge capacity. So, when shopping for inverters, always read the specifications and make an informed choice.
 
In short

  • Modified-sine-wave inverters are relatively simple and cheap products that generally will use battery power more efficiently than pure-sine-wave inverters.
     
  • Only basic products such as normal lights bulbs and induction or shunt motors can safely be run on a modified sine wave.
     
  • Pure-sine-wave inverters require many components and therefore come at a higher cost. They produce current that is close to identical to that of grid AC, making them perfect for running sensitive electronics.
     
  • If in doubt as to whether your appliances can run on a modified sine wave, always check with the manufacturer.

 

Read our comprehensive guide on Inverters HERE

Read iTechworld Generator Reviews HERE

Read how to avoid a drained battery HERE

Read about light weight Solar Panels HERE

Read 5 great tips to get the most out of your Solar Panels HERE

Read about the benefits of travelling with Solar Power HERE

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

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Travelling with Solar Power

The benefits of Travelling with solar power

Solar power is a clean form of energy that’s natural, renewable, and best of all free. Using the correct portable solar system allows you to free camp at remote locations without sacrificing luxury items such as fridges, LED camping lights, mobile devices and more. Using the correct solar system in these locations will generally mean you can avoid paying heftier fees for powered sites. Additionally, adding some portable solar panels means you don’t have to detract from the peace and quiet you went outdoors to find.

 

What you need to travel with solar power

A self-sufficient solar setup requires fit for purpose solar panels that combine compactness, portability and functionality. All iTechworld Solar Panels will come with a solar regulator. Other important equipment you need will be a deep-cycle auxiliary battery and an inverter if you’re planning to charge 240v appliances such as a laptop or television. The way these products fit together is simple: solar panels gather power from the sun, which then flows into the battery via the solar regulator. Also known as a charge controller, solar regulators are important because they prevent damage to your battery from fluctuating charge or overcharging.

Solar panels come in different forms: mono-crystalline, poly-crystalline and thin film amorphous. Mono-crystalline panels lead the way because they are more affordable but also more efficient than poly-crystalline, meaning out of two panels the same size, a mono-crystalline solar panel will gather more solar power. Amorphous panels need greater surface area compared to mono and poly crystalline panels. Amorphous panels are generally 5 - 6 time more expensive than poly and mono panels for the equivalent wattage and do not represent good value for money. On going reports of connectors in amorphous panels becoming damaged due to extensive folding also can not be ignored. All iTechworld solar panels are high quality, Mono-crystalline, German Certified, hail proof solar cells. The best cells available in the Australian market today. These cells come with full performance guarantee.

 

 

What are your solar power requirements

Calculating your equipment’s power usage is key to creating a solar power system that’s tailored to you. Without a basic understanding of how much power your equipment is using, you could end up purchasing the incorrect battery, solar regulator or wrong-sized solar panel. If any one of these products is too small you could end up with a flat battery earlier than expected, or worse, a damaged solar regulator or battery. To calculate your usage, keep in mind most devices will have its power draw on the label that’s on the product, after which you need to work out how long per day you will operate the equipment to calculate it’s overall power draw. A handy tool to use if the power consumption is not marked on the label is the iTechworld in line Amp Meter.

Here’s an example of a basic setup: to run a medium-sized fridge that draws 4amps and some LED camping lights that draw 0.25amps each, a 120W folding solar panel kit coupled with a 100amp deep cycle battery  would cover your needs and then some. To find out what products you require to fit your needs call iTechworld on 08 9472 7200 or send an email.

 

What bearing does my position have on Solar Power?

How much power your panels gather depends on their size, how they’re used and the amount of sunlight hours in a day. To start off with, the biggest misconception of solar power is that ‘all sunlight is created equal’. While the output of a solar panel is dictated by sunlight, other factors including geographic location, ambient temperature and time of year have an influence over how much power is on offer for your solar panels to gather. Check out iTechworld's handy sun tool below.

 

Solar power do's and don'ts

The most common equipment to power with a solar setup include 12v fridges (which can account for upwards of 60% of your total power draw), camping lights, satellite TV systems and inverters, which would then be responsible for charging 12v appliances such as laptops and televisions. When it comes to lighting, LED lights are preferable as their light patterns are highly focused and their power draw is minimal in comparison to fluorescent and halogen lights. Additionally, avoid powering major heating appliances like hair dryers from your power inverter, as these are energy-intensive and will waste your battery’s hard-earned power.

 

 

Using solar panels when travelling

Getting the most from your solar panel set up is the main aim of the game. For people who are on long distance trips, roof-mounting Semi Flexible solar panels on your camper trailer or caravan is ideal, as this allows you to gather power as you travel. Meanwhile for shorter trips, a folding panel is the best option to save space.

Keep your solar panels clean, dust that gathers on solar panels will obstruct sunlight and detract from the panel’s performance. This is a greater problem for mounted panels, as they are constantly exposed and have to contend with any dust kicked up from travelling off-road. To remedy this, regularly wipe them down with a microfiber cloth, as using a more abrasive material will potentially scratch and damage a panel.

Understanding solar power terminology

The relationship between Watts, Volts and Amps can be confusing when misunderstood, though basically:

 

 

Watts (Power) = Volts x Amps

 

Watts, volts and amps form the basis of most solar power jargon, though on their own or even in a formula probably won't make much sense to most campers. To get a better understanding of what these terms mean and how they fit into your understanding of solar power call iTechworld on 08 9472 7200 or send us an email

 

VIEW THE BEST PORTABLE SOLAR PANEL RANGE IN AUSTRALIA

 

Learn how to choose the correct Generator HERE

Learn how to avoid a drained battery HERE

Learn about light weight Solar Panels HERE

5 tips to get the most out of your Solar Panels HERE

Comprehensive guide on Inverters HERE

 

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

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Connecting Batteries in Series or Parallel

12 Volt Battery Systems

Finally an illustrated description of what it means to connect batteries in series or parallel.

We frequently get asked the question, "How am I supposed to connect my battery if I want to double the capacity but not the voltage?", or similar questions. It can be confusing if you've never done it, but hopefully this will make it simpler.

Connecting in series

When connecting your batteries in Series you are doubling the voltage while maintaining the same capacity rating (amp hours). Just use a jumper wire between the negative of the first battery and the positive of the second battery. Run your negative wire off of the open connector from the first battery and your positive off of the open connector on your second battery.

Connecting in Parallel

When connecting in Parallel you are doubling the capacity (amp hours) of the battery while maintaining the voltage of one of the individual batteries. Use a jumper wire between the positives of both batteries and another jumper wire between the negatives of both batteries. Connect your positive and negative wires to the same battery to run to your application.

 

Still not sure?

Call 08 9472 7200 to talk to an expert.

 

Read how Generator Inverters work HERE

Read iTechworld Generator Reviews HERE

Read how to use a Generator Inverter HERE

Read how to avoid a drained battery HERE

Read about light weight Solar Panels HERE

Read 5 great tips to get the most out of your Solar Panels HERE

Read our comprehensive guide on Inverters HERE

Read about the benefits of travelling with Solar Power HERE

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

Read more +