Sine Wave Inverter

What is a Sine Wave Inverter?

A sine wave inverter is a device that converts direct current power to a form of alternating current power that can be used by modern appliances by modifying the waveform shape of the current.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sine wave inverters are so-called because of the sinusoidal shape of the graph when charted.
  • Sine wave inverters are more expensive than modified sine wave inverters, but are compatible with more appliances.
  • Inverters are required to convert DC power to a more commonplace AC power.

Understanding Sine Wave Inverters

Power that is delivered by the utility company to your home comes in the form of an alternating current that has a basic sine wave shape. This power is required for most modern electronics to function correctly. It has a standard frequency of around 60 cycles per second (Hertz) in North America and 50Hz in South America and Europe.

When a direct current power is supplied to a power system (such as your home), a device called an inverter is required to convert the power’s waveform into the standard sine wave shape that modern appliances require to operate.

There are two types of waveforms produced by high-quality inverters. These are called “modified sine wave” and “true sine wave”. All appliances work with pure sine wave inverters, while many may not work with modified sine wave inverters.

The biggest advantage to a sine wave inverter is it’s compatibility with other appliances. Nearly all electronic devices on the market today are compatible with power output by a modified sine wave inverter, while only some devices are compliant with the modified sine wave inverters. As might be expected, pure sine wave inverters are more expensive than modified sine wave inverters, so they are best used for primary residences where reliability and compatibility are of a higher concern.

A modified sine wave looks more ‘blocky’, or ‘stair stepping’ in shape when graphed because they increment the power in large steps rather than as a smooth oscillation native to the sine wave inverter.

Related Terms

Modified Sine Wave – A version of a true sine wave that is characterized by a distinct ‘blocky’ appearance. It still is a sine wave as it is repetitive and oscillatory in nature, but rather than a smooth oscillation like a sideways letter ‘S’, it is more square in shape.

Inverter – Or power inverter, is a device which converts direct current energy to alternating current energy so that it can be used by typical household appliances.

Sine Wave – A geometric wave that smoothly moves up and down at a regular interval, and is defined by the function y = sin x.