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The inverter is a basic component of any independent power system that requires AC power. Inverters convert DC power stored in batteries into AC power to run conventional appliances. Popular items run from an inverter include computers, entertainment systems, power tools and kitchen appliances.

Just over a decade ago inverters were so inefficient and unreliable, many people restricted themselves to 12 volt lights and appliances. If you have tried shopping for 12 volt appliances lately, you will find there is a limited selection available. The efficient and reliable modern inverter and the availability of efficient, inexpensive 120 volt AC lighting has led many people to wire their dwellings for AC power only.

There are three waveforms produced by solid state inverters. The simplest, a square wave, used to be all that was available. Today it is very rare. Many appliances will not operate on a square wave.

Modified Sine Wave
Modified sine wave or quasi-sine wave inverters were the second generation of power inverter. They are a considerable improvement over square wave inverters. These popular inverters represent a compromise between the low harmonics (a measure of waveform quality) of a true sine wave inverter and the higher cost and lower efficiency of a true sine wave inverter.

Modified sine wave inverters approximate a sine wave and have low enough harmonics that they do not cause problems with household equipment. They run TV's, stereos, induction motors (including capacitor start), universal motors, computers, microwave, and more quite well. The main disadvantage of a modified sine wave inverter is that the peak voltage varies with the battery voltage. Inexpensive electronic devices with no regulation of their power supply may behave erratically when the battery voltage fluctuates.

True Sine Wave
True sine wave inverters represent the latest inverter technology. The waveform produced by these inverters is the same as or better than the power delivered by the utility. Harmonics are virtually eliminated and all appliances operate properly with this type of inverter. They are, however, significantly more expensive than their modified sine wave cousins.

Grid Intertie
These inverters are designed to interact with the utility and sell power back to the utility when there is a surplus. Two distinct styles are available: those that have no battery storage and feed power directly into the grid, and those that function like a standard battery based alternative energy system, but when there is excess power it is sold back to the utility.

You can truly become your own power company and not only a user of power, but a provider as well. There are multiple layers of bureaucracy that surround this issue, to say the least! Expect to hear more about it in the future as BC Hydro and Canada in general lag behind the United States and European countries as far as accepting this technology.

You can purchase a fully certified grid intertie inverter system that is compliant with world wide accepted standards, plug it into your house and become a power provider. This is not Science-Fiction, or a product from Popular Mechanics. These are certified products that are available, off the shelf for people just like you to use!

Battery and Inverter Subsystem

The heart of most stand alone alternate energy systems is a battery and inverter subsystem. If you are already using a gas or diesel generator you should consider a battery and inverter subsystem. This subsystem allows you to achieve the following benefits before making a decision about PV, wind or micro hydro.

* AC power is available 24 hours a day with the flick of a switch.
* The generator can be run at convenient times for direct AC power and battery charging.
* Generator operation is more efficient.
* Energy costs are lower because generator run time is reduced.
* Generator capacity is better utilized as a result of battery storage.


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