Converters and inverters are electrical devices that convert current. Converters convert the voltage of an electric device, usually alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC). On the other hand, inverters convert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). See also AC vs DC.
The basic difference between various types of converters or inverters is that they vary in their nature and the devices they support.
- Analog-to-digital converter (ADC) is a device that converts the input analog voltage to a digital number proportional to the magnitude of the voltage or current. Some non-electronic or partially electronic devices, like rotary encoders, can be considered as ADCs.
- Digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is a device that converts a digital code to an analog signal. DAC are found in CD players, digital music players and PC sound cards.
- Digital-to-digital converter (DDC) is a device which converts one type of digital data to another type of digital data.
There are three types of inverters:
- Square wave inverter: This is a type of inverter which produces a square wave output. It consists of a DC source, four switches and the load. The switches can withstand heavy current flow. It is the least expensive inverter but it produces low quality power.
- Quasi wave or Modified square wave inverters: As the name suggest, the wave form is square, and not sinus as required to have pure sine wave AC. Modified square wave has a step or dead space between the square waves. This reduces the distortion or harmonics that causes problems with electrical devices. It works for all pure loads like lamps or heaters. It costs less and is more effective than square wave.
- True/Pure Sine wave inverters: These are the most expensive form of inverters. Most of the AC products run on modified sine wave inverters since they are comparatively less expensive.
Converters are used to convert AC power to DC power. Virtually all the electronic devices require converters. They are also used to detect amplitude modulated radio signals. They are also used to supply polarized voltage for welding. Converters can be used for DC-DC conversion. Here, inverter converts DC to AC, then a transformer is used to convert it back into DC.
Inverters are used to convert DC electricity from sources like solar panels, batteries or fuel cells to AC electricity. Micro-inverters are used to convert DC power from solar panels to AC for the electric grid. UPS or Uninterrupted power service uses inverter to supply AC power when main power is not available. It is also used for induction heating.
Disadvantages of Converters:
- Poor current overload capacity.
- The good quality Automatic regulators are more expensive than Mechanical regulators.
Disadvantages of Inverters:
- Not ideal for inductive AC and motor loads.
- Sensitive electronic devices can be damaged by poor waveforms by low batteries.
- It should have a good source of power for re-charging.