What Is an Electrical Inverter?

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An electrical inverter is a device that can create an alternating current from a direct current, allowing the current to go backwards and forwards instead of in only one direction. Find out how an electrical inverter works with an example from a math and science teacher in this free video on science.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Steve Jones. Today I'm going to tell you what a Electrical Inverter is. Well first of all, we have to understand that it in fact the opposite of a rectifier and it is the opposite to the thing that you usually use. So for example if you plug in your computer, you have a little black box and this rectifies the alternating current from the mains and makes it into direct current, like battery current. But what happens when you want to do the opposite. You've got your laptop and you want to run it from the car. But the car battery is 12 volts d.c. So a 12 volts d.c., for example, a car battery. So this is very important. You want from this 12 volt car battery, you want to get an alternating current like 240 volt mains current and it's not easy. In fact, to create alternating current from direct current is very difficult. But the Electrical Inverter does that job. You in fact, using a combination of capacities and inductors, you can build up voltage and make the voltage alternate, that is make the current go backwards and forwards, instead of going always the same way. Now the actual way does this is very complex. But let's look at the result of it. What you're able to do is take what is direct current, that is current flowing all in one direction into alternating current, going backwards and forwards just as in the mains. Typically, you would want something like 250 volts and 250 watts of power. If you can get 250 watts, you can run a laptop, you can run lights and so forth. So basically the Electrical Inverter enables you to use a 12 volts or a low voltage d.c. supply, usually a car battery to produce 250 volts alternating current into which you can plug your appliances, your laptops and so on.

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