From time to time I get people emailing me with “DC To AC converter for car” in the subject line. This has inspired me to write an article to clear up a commonly confused bit of technology. Many people think they need a “power converter” when what they actually need is a “power inverter”. Let’s take a minute and talk about these two different devices.
A power inverter is a device that takes 12, 24, 36, or 48 volt direct current or DC power and changes it into 120 or 240 volt alternating current or AC power. Most of the time when people are asking for a 12 volt to 110 volt converter, they actually mean that they want a 12 volt to 110 volt inverter.
A device does actually exist that is a 110 volt to 12 volt converter that sort of works in the opposite way as a power inverter works. These devices are also known as transformers or power supplies.
A common reason that someone may want to buy this kind of a device so they can power their 12v electronic devices in their camper or motor home while their RV is plugged into a 110 VAC power source at a campground. A power converter takes the standard 110 volt AC power, steps it down to 12 volts and converts it to DC power.
You might be interested to know that many standard household devices use power converters. Many electronic devices like computers actually need low voltage DC power to operate properly. You probably have dozens of electronic devices around your home that have a large square box as the plug instead if a small 110 VAC electrical plug. These boxes are often referred to as “wall warts” because they are a bit unsightly. These wall warts are actually small AC to DC power converters that change your standard household electricity into something that these devices can actually use.
You see, these devices are similar in the sense that they change electricity from one from to another form but what each device actually does is quite different. Hopefully this article has cleared up any confusion that you might have been having. If you are still confused, please send me an email and I’ll try to answer any specific question that you might have.