How to Convert DC to AC

Written by john gugie
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Converting DC power to AC can be done many different ways. Most consumers only need the simplest method, which is with a DC-to-AC power inverter that can be attached to a battery or a vehicle cigarette lighter. A power inverter converts DC (battery) to AC (electric) current at various voltage and frequency levels with transformers. They are often used to power televisions, VCRs, DVD players, computers, lights and power tools.

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Things you need

  • DC-to-AC power inverter with alligator clips and/or a vehicle cigarette lighter adaptor
  • 12-Volt battery

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    There are many brands of power inverters with many options. The main options to consider are the input and output power limits. Our example uses a NEXXTECH 400-Watt power inverter with an 800-watt surge limit and two 3-prong AC outlets. It also comes with two cables--one with a cable with alligator clips and another with a vehicle cigarette lighter adaptor. It can be purchased for under £39 at most electronics stores, such as Circuit City.

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    You can use a single 12-Volt battery or one found in a vehicle.

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    Set up the inverter. You need to decide if it will be connected to the battery directly or through a vehicle cigarette lighter. If direct, connect it to the cable with the alligator clips. If to a cigarette lighter, connect it to the cable with the cigarette lighter adaptor. Take the cable's two ring connectors, connect them to the inverter's two terminals and tighten the nuts until snug. The red cable goes on the red positive DC terminal, and the black cable goes on the negative DC terminal.

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    Connect the battery to the inverter. If connecting the battery directly to the inverter, use the cable with the alligator clips. Securely clip the negative--black--clip to the negative battery terminal and the positive--red--clip to the positive battery terminal. If connecting the battery to the inverter with a cigarette lighter, use the cable with the cigarette lighter adaptor. Insert the plug into the cigarette lighter.

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    Turn the power inverter on. Flip the switch to on and the power light should be lit.

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    Plug your electric device(s) into the power inverter's two 3-prong AC outlets. Be sure the devices have a combined input requirement of below the inverter's maximum output level.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not reverse the polarity (positive to negative) connection because it may damage the power inverter and battery.
  • When not using the power inverter, always disconnect the cable clips from the battery to prevent the discharge of power.

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