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The inverter is what converts DC power into usable AC power for our appliances.
There are several specs of the inverter that are important to look at.
1- Maximum continuous output:
Usually this is the rating on the inverter. However sometimes I see inverters rated out the maximum surge output (which is usually twice there continuous output). Generally you can’t expand the inverter, so if you get a small inverter capable of 500 watts, you will never be able to run anything that takes more than 500 watts. However there are a few inverters (The one in the Titan solar generator is on of those) that are designed to be able to add more inverters to increase the total output. Usually these inverters are very expensive, like the Magnum inverter, or the outback inverter (both sell at over $2,000).
2- Surge power:
This is important for starting heavy loads, such as a motor (well pump, compressor, saw, etc). Generally these types of loads take twice or even 3 times there running power to start.
3- Wave type:
We talked about sine wave vs modified sine wave previously. Even though modified sine wave inverters are less expensive, I would never suggest getting one for a solar generator, or emergency power. It is worth it to pay the extra money and get a pure sine wave inverter
There are two types of efficiency. The first is the maximum inverter efficiency, which is what most people look at, but it is a little miss leading, because the inverter is almost never this efficient. Most of the time it is lower. The more important efficiency to look at is the no load power draw. This is the minimum power your inverter will consume even when you are not running anything. Now it is important to know that the larger the inverter, the larger this power draw will be. For example, a 500 watt inverter may only draw 4 watts, where a 5,000 watt inverter will draw 40 watts. It is kind of like comparing a Geo metro with a v10. The v10 will be burning a lot more fuel at addle than the Geo metro. A good rule of thumb is that it should not pull more than 1% of its rated continuous output.