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Modified sine wave vs pure sine wave inverters

When it comes to buying power inverters, a key consideration is whether to go for a modified sine wave or pure sine wave inverter.

Below we take you through a detailed modified sine wave vs pure sine wave comparison to help you choose wisely.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is a modified sine wave inverter?

To put it in very simple language, a modified sine wave inverter delivers AC power that’s in the form of square waves.

You can look at the power as kind of distorted – has a greater degree of total harmonic distortion than that produced by pure sine wave inverters.

Now, because these inverters use very basic ‘inversion’ technology (recall that the work of inverters is to convert DC to AC current), you’ll find their prices quite friendly.

But they have their weaknesses as you will learn in a short while.

What is a pure sine wave inverter?

This is an inverter that passes power that’s smooth (flows in an even wave) and devoid of any distortion.

In fact, because of the use of contemporary technologies to clear cancel out surges and other ‘threats’ in the energy it transmits, the electricity from a pure sine inverter is as clean as the one distributed by the power utility.

For this reason, this is the best type of inverter for owners of delicate equipment like coffee makers, computers, and microwave ovens.

And, yes, you guessed correctly- these types of inverters are more expensive because of the said sophistication.

I want us to delve deeper into the modified sine wave vs pure sine wave analysis and most importantly, discuss the types of appliances each type of inverter serves best.  

Modified sine wave vs pure sine wave inverter – where to deploy each type of inverter  

If you’re like most people, the temptation to order a modified sine wave inverter is massive mainly due to the fantastic pricing.

And the good thing is that these money saviors work very well for an impressive variety of appliances including:

  • Heaters.
  • Vacuums.
  • Water pumps.
  • Light bulbs.
  • Phone chargers.
  • Certain brands of battery chargers.
  • Air cons.

Since it’s impractical to come up with a list of all appliances that can be safely powered by inverters delivering modified sine wave power, just remember this rule:

As long as it doesn’t use an AC motor, it’s probably fine with a modified sine wave inverter.

You should also be worried if you’re powering medical equipment like X-ray machines and oxygen concentrators using a modified sine wave inverter during outages.

Some are hyper sensitive and susceptible to damage if fed with power that has not been properly filtered as it’s often the case when connected to modified sine wave inverters.

On the other hand, pure sine wave inverters are installed with quality energy-filtering components like inductors and capacitors and will run a ton of sensitive equipment without any harm.

The list can be quite big here – washing machines, sewing machines, bread makers, smart TVs, digital clocks, laser printers, photocopiers, most fluorescent lights, fridges, compressors…..you name it.

As a matter of fact, pure sine wave inverters powers pretty much everything you own when you’re facing a power failure.

Other modified sine wave inverter problems

Even though a great deal of electronics work OK on inverters using modified sine wave, you need to be aware of a couple of other issues that could emerge.

Take a look:

  • Noise- motors and apparatus with mains-frequency transformers tend to make a buzzing or humming sound when running. They may also run hot.
  • Reduced efficiency- machines like microwaves are highly sensitive and require peak voltage for proper functioning. As a result, they may be significantly less productive on modified sine wave.
  • Interference some equipment suffer from interference from modified sine wave inverters hindering the device’s operation. For example, you may struggle to listen to a radio powered by a modified sine wave power inverter due to signal interference.

A word on the pure sine wave inverters pricing

If you still feel that a pure sine wave inverter is the way to go because of the nature of your devices, we have some good news….

The trend in the last couple has been a persistent fall in prices meaning that we may be seeing the introduction of budget priced models in the next few years.

Another option would be to buy cheaper pre-owned pure sine wave inverters from market places like eBay.

Converting modified sine wave to pure sine wave

Another idea that I have often seen people float around is to convert modified sine wave to pure sine wave with a gadget like an appropriate 1:1 transformer or a filter (you can build one if you have the skills).

Well, these may help round out the erratic supply from the modified sine wave inverter circuit and make it nearly as good as a pure sine wave inverter.

Problem is, it could cost you more bucks on the account of the sophisticated design and you may spend an amount very close to the outlay required for a pure since wave inverter.

For this reason, I see little economic sense in doing that.

Modified sine wave vs pure sine wave – frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What can i use a modified sine wave inverter for?

As explained above, the AC current flowing from modified sine inverter is highly capable and can potentially power typical home electronics including your laptop.

But it may not be ‘clean’ enough to operate devices like fluorescent lights and laser printers without issues.

In short, with modified sine inverter, you will be putting all sensitive devices at risk.

Do you really need a pure sine wave inverter?

Of course, a pure sine wave inverter will be safe with an expansive range of devices.

Nevertheless, the greater cost of pure sine wave inverters means that it might not be a necessity especially if you rarely require to supply backup power to equipment that’s easily destroyed by unclean energy- a modified sine wave inverter will suffice for simple electronics.

But if you have the right budget, its best to purchase a ‘native’ sine wave inverter right off the bat.

Final words

It’s clear from this modified sine wave vs pure sine wave discussion that the best type of inverter will depend on the devices you will be powering.

And for sensitive appliances that are horribly sensitive to ‘dirty’ power, you get more peace of mind by picking a pure sine wave inverter.

But if you own many simple electronics, your will be fine with the more affordable modified sine wave inverter.

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