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Monday, January 20, 2014

Inverters and Converters

Generally speaking, the gadget you plug into your cigarette lighter receptacle in your car that gives you AC power for your laptop is called an INVERTER. If you have an RV, and you plug into park power, your CONVERTER changes the park's AC power to DC for your coach batteries and lights and what not. A lot of people have trouble remembering which is which. This makes sense, as both CONVERT one type of electricity to the other type.
And actually, an INVERTER is a type of CONVERTER according to this Wikipedia article. Generally, though, if you want AC power from a DC source, you want an INVERTER. If you want DC power from an AC source, you want a CONVERTER. Which is actually a RECTIFIER but that's not going to be on the box from Camping World.
Confused? Sometimes even the manufacturers are confused. I took these pictures in Walmart. All these devices do the same thing: they produce AC power from a DC source. They all plug into the DC outlet of a vehicle. They are all listed on Walmart's website as INVERTERS, which is what they are. However....

Notice that according to the package, the Schumacher products are described as CONVERTERS. No wonder we're confused.