Electricity is a big part of our consumption of any type of energy. While inverters are only a small player within the electricity game, they can have an impact on electricity consumption and, as a result, on the electric bills.
So, do inverters increase electric bills? No, inverters do not increase electric bills. As a matter of fact, the opposite is often true – the use of the proper kind of inverter can actually help to decrease electric bills over time.
But in order to understand exactly how it is that the use of inverters can save the consumer money, we need to take a step back. There are some individual aspects that we need to consider:
- Types of inverters
- How inverters are used
- Inverters and energy generation
Once we have a handle on the purpose and function of inverters, then we can fully appreciate their money saving capabilities.
Types of Inverters
Without delving too much into the science of how electricity works, an inverter is a device which converts direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). Based on output, there are three different types of inverters:
- Sine wave (also called pure sine wave)
- Modified sine wave
- Square wave
Sine waves are, for all intents and purposes, “standard.” They are the waves produced in the setup provided by your electric company, and thus, are the purest form of energy. Sine wave inverters are the types of inverters most often found in residential and commercial buildings. This inverter model is the most expensive of the three, but can support the most devices, as we’ll see later.
Modified sine waves are just that – sine waves that have been modified. The output is slightly blockier and not as fluid as the sine wave, therefore not as clean or efficient. This inverter model is generally cheaper than the pure sine wave inverters and is the most widely available to the consumer. You can find them at your local home improvement store or at certain auto supply shops.
Square wave inverters are typically the cheapest inverter option, and their practical uses are very limited when compared to the other two types of inverters.
How Inverters are Used
The type of inverter used may impact the function of certain appliances. For example, the following devices are supported at peak capacity by sine wave inverters:
- Breathing machines (and certain other medical equipment)
- Certain types of televisions
- Microwave ovens
- Certain types of battery chargers
In the case of modified sine wave inverters, most common appliances can function using this model, but may not necessarily operate at maximum capacity or efficiency.
Have you ever noticed the way that certain fluorescent lights emit a humming sound when turned on? That’s because a device meant to function optimally on a pure sine wave inverter is instead being run on a modified sine wave inverter. It still works, but not quite as well.
Square wave inverters chiefly host only motors, so their scope of use is severely limited compared to the other two types.
So if you’re going to buy an inverter based on the scope of its use, it’s definitely worth the extra cost to purchase the pure sine wave inverter.
We’ve already established that the primary purpose of inverters is to convert DC current into AC current, but there are some instances in which the opposite process will need to take place, such as in the case of a cellphone charger. Certain brands of inverters come with these rectifier components included, which change the AC current of the wall socket into the DC current needed for the device.
Inverters and Energy Generation
We’ve seen the differences in the sorts of inverter waves, and the sort of devices powered by each. But the real money-saving capabilities of inverters come in the ways in which inverters can produce energy. There are two main methods of inverter energy generation:
- Inverter Generators
- Solar panels
Granted, the costs of installing solar panels or purchasing a generator may seem like a lot upfront, but the long-term cost-benefit is well worth it. Consider the following aspects of each:
When the electricity in a house goes down altogether, it’s a good idea to have a generator on hand. And in the battle between conventional and inverter generators, the second option has much to offer.
- Inverter generators produce the same, clean sine wave energy as would normally be produced by a power grid, thereby allowing devices to function at optimal performance levels
- Because of the DC to AC conversion, the inverter generators are more stable, and thus, are safer to use. Less noisy, too.
- Inverter generators, though run on fossil fuels, are more energy efficient than their conventional cousins. This energy efficiency can lower fuel costs.
While we do not recommend the use of inverter generators because of the impact they have on the environment, they are a better alternative to normal generators in situations where, for whatever reason, only these two options are available.
This option is certainly much more interesting because of the low impact it has on the planet compared to other forms of energy generation.
As it happens, one of the main components in the use of solar panels is the inverter. In brief, solar energy works this way: When the sun’s rays hit the solar panels, a DC current is generated. Inverters installed on the panels do what they do and convert the DC current into an AC current suitable for use with all of your appliances. If you would like to know where is the best position to place your solar inverter, be sure to read our post “Where Should I Place My Solar Inverter?“.
While solar panels may be more expensive in the short-term (even though prices are getting more and more competitive), the savings over the life of the solar panel system can be tremendous. And, obviously, there is the much lower climate impact that solar panels have, which is becoming more and more important every year.
Exactly how much money can you potentially save using solar energy? In some cases, upwards of $10,000. Here’s a handy calculator that can help to give a rough estimate of how much money you can potentially save using solar energy, which ultimately means using inverters.
Entering the property and utility information from one of our collaborators into the calculator above, the estimated annual savings ended up being $28,000. And not only that, but the installation of solar panels would increase the estimated property value by more than three per cent.
If you would like to know a bit more about solar power, be sure to check our post “What Is Active Solar Design?“.
While pure sine wave inverters and may cost a bit more than you might think, they are very energy efficient, which makes up in many ways for the monetary cost.
And if that doesn’t do it for you, the unbelievable amount of money potentially saved by inverters and solar energy is certainly worth looking into.
If you enjoyed this article and are interested in inverters, you would like our post “Can an Inverter Store Power?“.