What are inverters like?
Inverters can be very big and hefty—especially if they have built-in battery packs so they can work in a standalone way. They also generate lots of heat, which is why they have large heat sinks (metal fins) and often cooling fans as well. As you can see from our below photo, typical ones are about as big as a car battery or car battery charger; larger units look like a bit like a bank of car batteries in a vertical stack. The smallest inverters are more portable boxes the size of a car radio that you can plug into your cigarette lighter socket to produce AC for charging laptop computers or cellphones.
Just as appliances vary in the power they consume, so inverters vary in the power they produce. Typically, to be on the safe side, you'll need an inverter rated about a quarter higher than the maximum power of the appliance you want to drive. That allows for the fact that some appliances (such as fridges and freezers or fluorescent lamps) consume peak power when they're first switched on. While inverters can deliver peak power for short periods of time, it's important to note that they're not really designed to operate at peak power for long periods.
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