How to Test a Power Inverter

A power inverter is a device designed to convert direct current power or DC power to alternating current power or AC power. These devices are used in automobiles, trucks and RVs to provide power to televisions, DVD players, and other AC-powered devices. Larger inverters are often used in solar power systems. Making sure these devices are operating properly is very important. An incorrectly operating inverter can overheat, start a fire, or trigger a blackout. Below are test procedures for checking a power inverter. Not all steps can be used on every power inverter.

Things You'll Need

  • Voltage meter
  • Ammeter
  • Screwdriver
  • Socket wrench set


    • 1

      Check the inverter's wiring by comparing it to the inverter's wiring diagram.The wiring diagram is supplied with the installation kit if this is a new installation. Some inverters have the wiring diagram stamped on the bottom of the inverter. The diagram can also be found by searching the make and model of the inverter on the Internet.

    • 2

      Check each wire. For example: if the diagram shows a red power wire running from the positive terminal of the battery to the positive power terminal of the inverter, make sure you have a wire that does the same thing. If the wiring looks correct, turn the inverter on and check to see if the inverter power light comes on. No power light means either the inverter is damaged, or it is not receiving power.

    • 3

      Check the inverter's fuse to make sure it has not blown. Large inverters have a fuse attached to the back of the inverter. Smaller inverters use an external fuse which is usually attached to the red positive wire running from the positive battery terminal to the positive inverter power terminal.

    • 4

      Turn on the voltage meter. Connect the red probe of the voltage meter to the positive terminal of the power inverter. Some inverters do not have terminals to connect to. These types of inverters usually have a positive and negative wire for connecting power to the inverter instead of terminals for connecting power. Make sure the voltage meter is set to read DC voltage. Connect the black probe of the voltage meter to the negative terminal of the power inverter. Record the voltage. The voltage should be within + or - 10% of the battery supply voltage if the inverter is powered by a 12-volt battery system.

    • 5

      Disconnect the probes from the inverter. Set the voltage meter to read AC voltage. Plug one probe into one of the two AC slots on the outlet built into the inverter. Plug the second probe into the second AC slot. Write down the voltage reading. The voltage should be within + or - 10% of 115-volts.

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