Inverters convert (invert) DC power stored in a battery or battery pack at 12, 24, 36, or 48 volts DC to AC power at 115 VAC (or 230 VAC). These are handy to have in a self reliance situation, as there are some devices that only run on AC power, even if only infrequently used. We recommend trying to find DC input devices whenever you intend to run from DC power, to avoid the losses (inefficiency) inverting introduces, but as mentioned, some things are not available DC powered, or you may find yourself in a self reliance situation without planning time.
Inverters come in various wattage output, and modified sine or pure sine form. Pure sine is the AC power from your utility grid at the wall outlet. Modified sine approximates this with a stepped form, which is not as favorable to proper operation of some devices. Heat, static, distortion, and other things can be introduced. The modified sine units are much less expensive than pure sine, and available almost anywhere, so you can acquire a decent watt output unit for a reasonable price. We only carry pure sine inverters, as they are more specialized, and we deal with a lot of audio, video, surveillance, security, and industrial applications. We also recommend a pure sine unit for self reliance, as this gives you the facility to run any device that operates on AC power of the same voltage as your unit (presuming you have enough wattage output).
A 600 watt inverter will operate computers, radios, most TVs, lights, most small appliances, etc., though not all at the same time. A 1500 watt inverter will run most all tools, microwaves, etc., and would be a recommended level. There are units large enough to run an entire household, but these usually are reserved for large solar, wind, hydro systems where grid power is not used, or only used as backup. These whole house systems are ideal for self reliant living, but expensive, and beyond the scope of this section.
The length of time you can run an inverter, is directly related to the watt consumption and the amp hours of battery storage. If you want to be able to run high wattage devices, or a lot of them, or run for a long time before having to recharge the battery or pack, you need high amp hour batteries, and several of them. Remember, you can use the batteries from your golf cart or RV, if you assemble them in a 12 volt, 24 volt, or whatever voltage configuration your inverter is. You also should have the facility to recharge whatever batteries you pull from with your inverter, to lengthen the time you can operate AC devices.