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All we need to know before buying Inverter and Battery

We have seen that technological advancements have the life a lot easier for us. But, the one key element behind the success of these digital growths is electricity. It’s really hard to imagine our life without electricity. In developing countries like Nepal, occasional power cuts have been normal. However, we are not okay with that as the power cuts affect our connectivity and harm our gadgets and equipment. Therefore, we need an inverter to reduce the effect of those power cuts.

Here, we have discussed the inverter, types of inverters, working, and how you can buy the best inverter in Nepal.

What is an Inverter?

Inverters are electrical pieces of equipment that convert direct current( DC) to alternating current (AC). Well, it may seem a bit technical, but the simple thing is that the inverter converts the power stored in the battery back into a usable form. Most of our home appliances work on alternating current, but the power stored in the battery is in direct current form. Therefore, we needed equipment that can convert our stored energy into a usable form. That’s what the inverters do for us. We store the energy into the battery when we have electricity so that we can use them back in case of power cuts. Especially, since the rise of load sheddings in Nepal, Inverters have been very popular equipment for every household.

Types of Inverters

There are three basic types of inverters available in Nepal. First of all, you must understand them and then you can buy the best inverter suitable for you.

1. Pure Sine Waveform

Pure Sine Waveform inverters are the one that supplies clean, reliable and consistent current from the battery. The waveform of electricity converted by these inverters is a sine wave which is similar to the waveform of the electricity supplied to our home by the electricity authorities. Such inverters are perfect for you if you have multiple home appliances and devices with higher power consumption. However, such inverters are more expensive than other inverters.

Features
  • More efficient than other inverters
  • Adjustable to your power needs
  • Various options available
  • Best for the sensitive equipment
  • Expensive

2. Modified Sine Waveform

The modified sine waveform inverters are the ones that work well with multiple devices but do not offer a smooth transition from DC to AC. Therefore, they may take a brief pause while switching during the power cutoffs.

Features
  • Works well with multiple devices
  • Slower transition/switching
  • Affect the efficiency of devices
  • Budget-friendly

3. Square Waveform

The square waveform inverters are the one that generates a square-shaped wave. The square waves are less compatible with the devices. Therefore, they are not as efficient as other inverter types.

Features
  • Works fine with a few devices
  • Readily available in the market
  • Less expensive
  • Noisy due to square waveform
  • Less efficient

How to choose the best Inverter?

In case you are planning to buy the best inverter in Nepal or upgrade your old one, you are in the right place. Here, we will discuss how you can choose the best inverter for your home or office use. As your power requirements and finances may vary with your neighbors, you should not blindly follow them. It’s difficult to pick the one that perfectly fits your need. Here, we have step by step guide to help you pick the best inverter for you.

Step 1: Calculate your power requirements

First of all, you have to be sure about the number of devices you will be using during the power cut-offs. These devices may include bulbs, fans, routers, computers, etc. Now, based on the data you acquired, calculate the energy consumption.

The number of:

Bulbs: n1

Fans: n2

Computer: n3

Power of

CFL bulb: 15 W

Ceiling fans: 80 W

Computer: 200 W

Then, calculate the total power consumption as,

Power= n1*15 +n2*80+n3*200

Once, you know the power consumption, it will be easy for you to choose the inverter that will give you the perfect power supply.

Step 2: Select the VA rating of the inverter

The term VA stands for Volt Ampere. It is the rating of the voltage and current supplied by the inverter to the appliances. In an ideal case, if the inverter works with 100% efficiency, then the power requirement and the voltage supplied by the inverter are the same. Typically, the efficiency of the inverter ranges from 60 to 80%. The efficiency is also called the power factor. It is the ratio of power required by the appliances to the power supplied by the inverter. It ranges from 0.6 to 0.8.

Suppose, your power requirement is 600 Watts. And, the average value of the power factor is 0.7. Then, the VA of an inverter is calculated as:

Power of Inverter(VA)= 600/0.7 = 857.142 VA

Now, you can pick the inverter with 900 VA for your use. Inverters with 900/1000 VA are easily available in the market.

Step 3: Select the Battery Size

Choosing the perfect inverter is merely the half job. Now, we have to pick the correct battery size. Batteries are the backbone of any inverter system. The output of your inverter depends largely on the quality of the battery used. Now, you have to choose the perfect battery size that can run all your equipment for the desired number of hours. The capacity of the battery is measured in Ampere Hours (Ah).

To know the battery size needed, decide the number of hours you need battery backup.

Suppose, you need a battery backup of 3 hours, your power requirement is 600 watts, and your battery voltage is 12 volts. Then, the battery capacity is calculated as:

Battery Capacity= ( Power requirements(watts) * Backup(hours)) / Battery voltage(volts)

Battery Capacity = (600*3)/12= 150 Ah

Therefore, the battery capacity of 150 Ah will work best for you.

Furthermore, it is really important to understand the battery types before buying one. Now, let’s understand the battery types.

Types of Battery

1. Lead-acid

They are lightweight, easily rechargeable, and produce an accurate amount of current. They may last up to 5 years with proper and timely maintenance. Additionally, they are the frequently used batteries with inverters.

2. Tubular

They are the most popular battery type used with the inverters. They are highly recognized for their higher efficiency and durability. They have a longer life span of 8 years or more. Due to their efficiency and durability, they are expensive and yet very popular.

3. Maintenance-free

They are sealed acid batteries that can last up to 4 years without any maintenance cost. Recently, they are gaining more popularity due to their durability and maintenance. However, you might need some irregular check-ups.

Preventive Measures for Inverter

Inverters are very helpful in case of power cuts. They light up our house and prevent the malfunctioning of our electrical equipment. Here, we have discussed some of the preventive measures for the Inverter.

1. Wiring

All the electrical appliances used in our home have some sort of wiring connections. Most of our wiring connections are done by expert electricians. That’s why it is crucial to have proper wiring connections with the inverter as well. In case of any error, the result may be fatal.

2. Placement of the Inverter

It is very crucial to understand the placement of your inverter. It should be placed in a cool and moisture-free place. As there is electrical circuitry involved with the inverter, it should be placed out of the reach of children. Moreover, avoid placing your inverter directly in sunlight, near the heat sources, and close to any inflammable materials.

3. Earthing

As earthing reduces the chances of short circuits, every household must have a very well-managed earthing facility. Also, we should be cautious about touching the inverter body as it may not have a shockproof body.

4. Power Overloading

It is highly advisable to use a limited number of appliances at a time. If we connect multiple devices simultaneously, it may lead to power overloading. Power overloading may cause serious damage to your inverter and battery. You must minimize the use of high-energy-consuming appliances like refrigerators. In case, you have to use such appliances, make sure all other appliances are turned off.

All you need to Know about the battery

The basic unit of a battery is a cell. Thus, the battery can be defined as the collection of one or more cells. Due to the potential difference between the two poles, the battery forces the flow of electrons in the circuit. The battery transforms the stored chemical energy into electrical energy. A battery must have two terminals: anode (negative terminal), and cathode (positive terminal). Additionally, the battery must have a chemical called electrolyte to store the energy.

What is the battery made of?

Batteries are usually made of 3 basic components

  • Electrode
  • Electrolyte
  • Separator

Let’s discuss these components in detail.

1. Electrode

All the batteries must have two electrodes and each of them plays a different role in the battery. One of the electrodes is connected to the positive terminal and is called a cathode(+). And, the other electrode is connected to the negative terminal called an anode(–). The current in the circuit is directed away from the positive terminal, cathode, to the negative terminal, anode.

2. Electrolyte

Electrolyte contains electrically charged particles called ions. The ions react with electrodes to produce the required potential difference between the cathode and anode. The electrolyte is present between the two electrolytes forming a medium.

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3. Separator

The separator keeps the anode and cathode divided.

Types of batteries

When classifying the batteries, there are a lot of things to consider. Batteries may be classified based on the chemical used, manufacturing process, electrode matter used, size, and other factors

Batteries can be classified into 2 major types:-

1. Non-rechargeable batteries( Primary Batteries) 2. Rechargeable batteries(Secondary Batteries)

A. Primary Battery

They are the ones that can not be recharged once depleted. The chemical inside these batteries goes through irreversible changes. Among all the batteries, alkaline batteries are the most popular type of primary battery. They are readily available in sizes like AA or AAA.

Depending on the chemical used, primary batteries can be outlined below.

1. Lithium Battery

Lithium batteries are the most commonly used type of battery. One of the key points to note about such batteries is their energy density. They have the highest energy density among the battery types. They are sold mostly in the AA, AAA, and 9V sizes. However, their mAh values range beyond 4000 mAh. They last longer even under heavy use.

Advantages
  • Last 4 times longer than alkaline batteries
  • Light-weight
  • Best for heavy use
  • Function well in extreme temperatures
  • Great for emergency devices
  • Have a shelf life of 10-12 years.
Disadvantages
  • Expensive than any other batteries
  • Highly flammable in nature
  • Requires safe disposal
  • Comparatively smaller in size.
2. Alkaline Battery

Alkaline batteries are very economical to buy and easy to dispose of. This makes them extremely popular among the people. They have a capacity rating above 2000 mAh. Such batteries are suitable for moderate to heavy use and are available in all standard sizes.

Advantages
  • Great product for the price
  • Longer life due to the potassium hydroxide
  • Shelf life of 5-10 years
  • Function efficiently even in the extreme temperatures
  • Good for the outdoor devices like flashlights
  • Easy for the disposal
Disadvantages
  • Heavy without any additional voltage
  • It may not work well with high-energy-draining devices
  • Leaking may lead to the inconvenience
3. Carbon Zinc Battery

They are very inexpensive but they have very low energy density. Sometimes, these batteries won’t be able to supply enough power to high-energy-draining devices.

Advantages
  • They are cheaper than other batteries
  • Available in various sizes
  • Easily available in the market
Disadvantages
  • Very low energy density
  • Unable to perform in extreme climates
  • Can’t power high energy-draining devices
  • Low shelf-life of 2-3 years
4. Silver Oxide Batteries

They are used mainly in wristwatches and small devices. Due to the presence of real silver, they are sold only in button cells where the amount of silver is insignificant to the cost of the battery.

Advantages
  • High energy to weight ratio
  • Very long operating life
  • Works very well in compact devices
  • Comparatively, double the amount of energy compared to a similar alkaline type battery.
Disadvantages
  • Due to the expensive materials used, difficult to use in high-power devices.
5. Zinc-Air Battery

They are a unique type of battery due to their construction. Such batteries generate electrical power through exposure to oxygen. They are not suitable for wristwatches but good for hearing aids. You should remove the sealing tab from the battery to activate the battery, allowing airflow.

Advantages
  • Comparatively higher energy density
  • Inexpensive batteries
  • Replacement for the mercury batteries
Disadvantages
  • Sensitive to the extreme temperatures and humidity
  • Dries quickly once exposed to the outside air.
  • Reduced battery life

B. Secondary Battery

They are the battery with a reversible type of chemical reaction. When we apply the external voltage, the current passes through the battery and reverses the chemical reaction. However, all the chemical reactants are not restored. Every time we try to charge the battery, this cycle repeats.

Examples: Lithium-Ion Battery, Nickel Cadmium battery, Lead Acid battery, etc.

They are a cost-effective solution to save money in the long run. They are mostly used with devices that use power more frequently like mobile phones. Depending on the chemical used, they are various types of rechargeable batteries.

1. Lithium-ion Battery

Lithium-ion batteries are the most popular and regularly used batteries in today’s world. Chances are your mobile phone or laptop is getting its power from the lithium-ion battery. They are durable in nature and can be recharged over and over again. They do not require any sort of maintenance and provide very high energy density. However, they require a special kind of charger that works on a lithium-ion charging algorithm.

Advantages
  • Small and thin with very high energy density
  • It is very quick in charging and slow self-discharge; less than 5% of its full strength per month.
  • Very high performance
  • Eco-friendly and safe to use
Disadvantages
  • Not available in regular sizes
  • Protection circuit required to prevent over-heating
  • Overall capacity will deteriorate over time
  • Requires special type of charger
2. NiCd

They are a very popular choice for toys, digital cameras, or other high-energy draining devices. They are available in various standard sizes like AA, AAA, and 9V. Such batteries are unique as they maintain a steady voltage up until the battery is depleted. For example, the brightness of the flashlight will remain constant until the power of the battery is depleted.

Advantages
  • Cheap and easy to find
  • Low internal resistance makes it quick to charge and discharge
  • Delivers constant power
Disadvantages
  • Can’t be stored well over a long time
  • The battery must be fully discharged before recharging
  • Over-charging declines the battery’s capacity
  • Not eco-friendly
  • Uses a specific type of charger only.
3. NiMH

They are high-density batteries used in high-energy-draining devices for a short period. We must know that they have low cycle life. Moreover, they can be recharged only about 500 times. While they are powerful, they are not suitable for the devices like smoke alarms, TV remotes, or clocks. Similar to the NiCd batteries, NiMH also delivers at full power until all of its energy discharges.

Advantages
  • High energy density than NiCd
  • Eco-friendly
  • Delivers power at full capacity.
Disadvantages
  • Requires a full charge before use
  • Over-charging may decline the battery capacity
  • Discharges at a very high rate
4. Lead Acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries are the most popular batteries used in inverters and a large number of other devices. They are the oldest rechargeable batteries. The functioning of the batteries is simple. They have 2 electrodes that are dipped in the electrolyte solution. As the name suggests, the electrodes are lead and lead dioxide. Lead-acid batteries are used with the inverters. There are two types of lead-acid batteries. They are:

1. Flat Plate Battery

They are the lead-acid batteries used in the inverter. Such batteries are suitable for areas with low consumption duration and frequent power cuts. They are cheap but require regular maintenance for optimal performance.

Advantages
  • Cheaper than other batteries
  • Useful for short consumption period
Disadvantages
  • Require regular maintenance
  • Not good for indoor use
  • Have a shorter life span
  • Take longer time to discharge
2. Tubular Batteries

The tubular batteries are generally large-sized lead-acid batteries. They are suitable for areas with longer but fewer power cuts. They are more expensive than the flat plate battery but the longer life makes up for the price.

Advantages
  • Suitable for deep discharging
  • Perfect for areas with longer but fewer power cuts
  • Charging is fast and efficient
  • More reliable than any other batteries
  • Longer warranty period
Disadvantage
    Expensive than flat plate batteries

Things to consider while buying a new battery

There are a large number of batteries available in the market with different lifespans and warranty periods. Therefore, it can be difficult for us to pick the one suitable for us. Here, we have a list of things to consider while buying a new battery.

1. Battery Size

Batteries are available in different sizes. Therefore, you must know your requirement first. If you want to fit the battery bigger than the size, your remote can hold, it won’t work.

2. Battery Freshness

The freshness of the battery is indicated by the code on the battery. This code consists of letters and numbers. The letter represents the month and the number represents the year. For instance, C/9 represents the march of 2019. You must not buy a battery older than 6 months from the date of manufacturing.

3. Reserve Time

Reserve time refers to the amount of time the battery can run on its power. First of all, you must know your own reserve time required, and then, you must pick the one with a possibly larger reserve time.

4. Power Requirement

Power requirement refers to the sum of powers you want your battery to deliver. To calculate your total power consumption, add the power markings of all the devices you want to run on your battery power.

5. Maintainance

Batteries do require some occasional maintenance. The maintenance cost of a sealed or dry battery is lesser than the battery with caps and liquid electrolytes. Therefore, you must look for a battery with lower maintenance costs.

6. Warranty period

You should always look for a battery with a longer warranty period.

7. Ampere Hour(Ah)

This is the measure of the capacity of the battery. The higher value of Ah means the battery can maintain the load for a longer period.

Inverter Faqs

1. CAN I RUN MY INVERTER ALL THE TIME?

Answer:- No, you can’t run your inverter all the time. Discharging your battery completely may harm the life of the battery. You must make sure you are not running the inverter more than required.

2. HOW LONG CAN THE INVERTERS RUN?

Answer:- Inverters can run for hours, depending on the size of your battery. People use them as the backup option for the supplied electricity. Therefore, they usually run for 3-8 hours.

3. Can I run my computer with the inverter?

Answer:- Yes, of course, you can run your computer with the inverter. In fact, inverters are considered the best backup power options for the computer system.

4. CAN WE POWER THE MICROWAVE WITH AN INVERTER?

Answer:- Yes, the microwave can be used with an inverter. However, they are comparatively very high power consumption, and hence, they may drain the battery very fast. Therefore, they must be used for a shorter period of time.

5. WHAT APPLIANCES SHOULD NOT BE POWERED BY THE INVERTER?

Answer:- Although all electrical appliances can be powered by the inverter, it is not always practical. You must avoid using appliances that consume a very high amount of power. For example, appliances like heaters or air conditioning consume very high power. Therefore, they may drain the battery very quickly. We must understand that the problem is not with the inverter but with the power of the battery.

6. WHAT IS ON-LOAD?

Answer:- No-load is the amount of current used by the inverters without any load for an inverter. It is simply the power consumed by the inverter itself when switched on.

7. WHY IS THE FAN IN MY INVERTER NOT RUNNING?

Answer:- It’s for the good. Most of the inverters’ fans are connected with the thermal switch which only allows the fans to run after a certain temperature point is reached. This saves the charge in your battery and reduces unnecessary noise.

8. ARE THE INVERTERS WEATHERPROOF?

Answer:- No, the inverters are not weatherproof. You should protect them from the water, extreme heat, and lightning storms. As the storms may overload the inverter and damage them permanently.

9. WHY SHOULD WE USE A 24-VOLT INVERTER INSTEAD OF 12-VOLT INVERTER?

Answer:- For a given power rating, a 24-volt inverter will need the half current as a 12-volt inverter. Therefore, they reduce power consumption and increase efficiency. Also, the high current transistors are expensive so, the inverter will be cheaper.

10. WHICH WIRE SHOULD I USE: ALUMINUM OR COPPER?

Answer:- Although aluminum wires are lighter and cheaper, they also have higher resistance and are difficult to connect. On the other hand, copper wires are expensive but offer lesser resistance. Resistance is the inability of current to pass through a medium. Therefore, we must use copper wire with our inverter.

Battery FAQs

1. What do you mean by Ah rating?

Answer:- Ah stands for Ampere hour. 1 Ah means 1 ampere of current supplied by the battery for 1 hour. It is used to represent the power that can be supplied by the battery until fully discharged.

2. Do I need to add acid to my battery?

Under normal conditions, you never need to add acid to the battery. In the case of standard, auto, and marine batteries, distilled water should be added on occasion. Furthermore, if the battery is shipped in a dry state, we must add electrolytes to the battery.

3. Do the batteries self-discharge when they are not in use?

Regardless of their chemistry, all sorts of batteries when left idle. The rate of discharge depends on the type of battery and the temperature around the battery.

4. Is there any temperature limit for charging the lead-acid batteries?

The temperature should not exceed 120°F when charging the lead-acid batteries. In case the temperature reaches this point, the charger must be pulled off immediately.

5. Do I need to condition my Laptop or Notebook battery?

Yes, it is important to condition the battery of your laptop or notebook. Conditioning means fully discharging the battery every two to three weeks. If we fail to discharge, it will reduce life significantly. However, in the case of a Li-ion battery, you don’t need any sort of conditioning.

6. What is the difference between NiCd and NiMH batteries?

The key difference between the NiCd and NiMH batteries is that NiMH offers a higher energy density than NiCd’s battery. Additionally, NiMH batteries are less prone to suffer from the memory effect. As NiMh batteries do not contain heavy metals, they are more eco-friendly than NiCd batteries.

7. How much can I tilt the batteries?

In the case of the flooded batteries, 22 degrees from the vertical position is the maximum recommended tilt. Whereas, the dry batteries can be operated vertically or horizontally.

8. What is the life expectancy of the battery?

The life expectancy of batteries is dynamic and depends on the application variables. It depends on the size of the battery, depth of discharge, type of load used, maintenance, temperature, and charging algorithms.

9. How can I read the date code on the batteries?

In the battery code, the letter represents the month and the number represents the last digit of the year.

A-L= January-December

For example:

G5 stands for July 2015.

10. How can I recycle my old batteries?

You must recycle your old batteries. They can be recycled by returning to the battery retailer, automobile service center, manufacturer, and recycling centers.

11. How to connect batteries in a series combination?

To connect the batteries in series, the positive terminal of the first battery is connected to the negative terminal of the second battery. And, the positive terminal of the second battery is connected to the negative terminal of the third. In this connection, the voltage of the combination is the sum of the individual voltages. However, the capacity of the batteries remains unchanged.

12. How can I connect the batteries in parallel?

In the case of the parallel combination, the positive terminals of all the batteries are connected and the negative terminal of all the batteries are connected at one point. Here, the capacity of the combination is the sum of the capacity of all the individual batteries. However, the voltage remains unchanged.