Is an Inverter AC or DC?

By:Michael Johns

ac or dc

Are you trying to find out if an inverter is AC or DC?

Like any piece of equipment, it’s important to understand how it works in order to safely use it.

There are both input and output ports on a power inverter to correctly wire up and hook up appliances. Getting this wrong will mean your inverter won’t work and even pose a safety hazard.

If you’d like a better understanding of how a power inverter works then you can check out my article on How an Inverter Works (Explained in Simple Terms).

In this article, I’ll go through what parts of an inverter are AC or DC. Plus some handy tips for hooking up your inverter.

Is Inverter AC or DC?

An inverter works by converting Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC). 

This means an inverter operates on DC power. You must connect your inverter to a DC power source like a battery or solar panel. 

Once you hook up your inverter to DC power it will then work by converting the DC input power into AC output power.

This AC output on an inverter is what you use to run your appliances and devices. The AC output is usually 120 Volts or more making it the same as the mains electricity at home

You cannot run an inverter using AC power – This would defeat the purpose of an inverter as you could just plug your appliance into the AC electricity source.

Where Can You Get DC Power for an Inverter?

Now you know that an inverter runs of DC, you might be wondering where you can hook up your inverter?

The most common way is to use a deep-cycle battery or vehicle starter battery. This allows you to convert the DC power in these batteries into AC power to run your appliances off-grid.

Inverter with battery

You can connect directly to a battery using alligator clips or O-ring cables provided with your inverter. 

Adding to this, cars have 12V DC outlets inside the vehicle. Using a cigarette lighter plug cable you can run your inverter from this port. It is great to run small electronics while you are driving. However, these ports are usually limited to 150 watt output so can’t run high-powered inverters.

Final Words: Inverter is AC or DC?

Now you know that an inverter is DC. It is designed to convert DC into AC power.

You must run an inverter using a DC power source in order for it to operate. 

There would be no point in connecting an inverter to AC power as you can run your appliances directly from AC electricity without an inverter. Just like you do at home from the mains socket in the wall.

I hope this clears your question up and thanks for reading.