Can inverters charge automotive batteries?

Can inverters charge automotive batteries?

Inverters have become a dominant source for enjoying more extended power in most Nigerian homes. It came at a time Nigerians are grabbling with untold hardship due to the unavailability of electric power. Even when it is available, the cost of using it is becoming unbearable for users. Resort to using inverters as a reliable back against power failure is not as popular as using it as a primary source of power for most Nigerian homes that see almost nothing of public power supplies. Surprisingly many inverters are also serving offices and locations of power distribution companies who are smart enough to understand the usefulness of inverters. Now you know that power distribution companies buy inverters as a backup (sometimes as a primary source). Why would you wait, go ahead, buy inverters, and save yourself the stress associated with not having electrical power in your home?

This article seeks to explain the function of the inverter, why, and how to use it to charge both the power bank (Deep cycle batteries use to power homes) and any automotive battery. The question the article seeks to answer is "can inverter charge a car battery? The short answer is yes. However, we will clarify specific reasons why there are few differences between the car battery and the deep cycle inverters. Both are battery to store power for later use and work with the sample principle but serve different purposes. We will see how real soon.

Automotive Batteries:

An excellent definition of battery is from NASA. A battery is "a device that translates chemical energy into electricity." Batteries are composed of cells. These cells are what contain the actual energy. They store chemical energy and transform it into electrical energy on command. That's what powers your devices, from your TV remote to your electric toothbrush.

Most car batteries rely on a lead-acid chemical reaction to get things moving and grooving. These batteries fall into the "SLI" category. SLI stands for "starting, lighting, and ignition." This type of battery provides short bursts of energy to power your lights, accessories, and engine. Once the battery jolts the engine to life, subsequent power supplies are by the alternator. Most vehicles come with a generic SLI battery from the factory.

How Automotive Batteries Work

  1. A typical SLI battery has six cells. Each cell has two plates or grids: one is made of lead, and the other has lead dioxide. Each cell can produce about 2-volts of energy. In most automotive batteries, you have six cells, and therefore a 12-volt battery.
  2. The plates are full inside sulphuric acid that triggers a reaction between the two plates. In scientific terms, the acid acts as a catalyst.
  3. This acid will trigger a reaction on the lead dioxide plate, causing the plate to produce two things: ions and lead sulfate.
  4. The ions produced by the lead dioxide plate react to the adjacent plate to produce hydrogen and lead sulfate.
  5. The result is a chemical reaction that produces electrons. The electrons race around the plates and generate electricity. The electricity flows out of the battery terminals to start your engine, turn on your headlights, and play the radio.
  6. This chemical reaction is entirely reversible, which is why you can jumpstart your battery and continue to charge it throughout its life. By applying current to the battery at just the right voltage, lead and lead dioxide will form on the plates, and you can reuse your battery, over and over again!

Remember, we are just describing how an automotive battery works, and that is the battery we use in cars and trucks. It is different from the inverter battery. Now let us understand how inverter batteries work and the main differences between them.

Inverter batteries

Inverter batteries design is to provide a small amount of current consistently for longer durations of time.

All the backup power solutions, Inverters, and UPS function by converting the DC into AC as all of our electric appliances run on AC power. UPS and Inverter batteries are also known as deep cycle batteries because they can discharge over a much longer time than Automotive batteries.

Types of inverter batteries

The collective knowledge with users of inverters is that an inverter must be used with an inverter battery. The battery is a vital part of an inverter. The performance and life of an inverter largely depend on its battery. There are several classifications of inverter batteries. For this article, we shall stick to just 3 of them:

  1. Tubular Batteries
  2. Lead Acid Batteries
  3. Maintenance Free batteries

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries are the most common inverter batteries. These are rechargeable in nature and produce a large amount of current. They are light in weight and most economical. They usually last for 3-4 years. But they require regular maintenance. The electrolyte level check and topping must continue regularly. They also release harmful gases during charging and discharging. So they must be installed at a well-ventilated place at home.

Maintenance Free Batteries

Maintenance-free or batteries that require no maintenance are the sealed lead acid batteries that do not require electrolyte level checks and topping up. They are fit and forget type batteries are safer compared to regular lead-acid batteries. But they are costly compared to regular lead-acid batteries and have a shorter life.

Tubular Batteries

Tubular batteries are the most popular and efficient inverter batteries. They have an intricate design, excellent efficiency, longer operational life (8+ years), and low maintenance. Because of so many advantages, they are costly.

You have to be careful about the batteries that are available in the market. People usually go for branded inverter sets and unknown brand batteries. But it is not the right combination. Stay clear of batteries without a warranty. They have many downsides like poor efficiency, low safety, miserable operational life, and high maintenance. Do not kill your inverters by using these less efficient batteries.

The difference between Automotive batteries and Inverter Batteries

The design of these batteries is different. The automotive batteries consist of a large number of thin plates. The thin plates provide a large surface area of plates to react with the electrolyte to produce a higher current quickly.

The Inverter Batteries consist of a lower number of plates, which are much thinner than automotive batteries. The inverter batteries' electrolyte volume is more so that the chemical reaction takes more time to produce current. The inverter battery's design with a sheer number of plates makes Inverter Batteries provide a consistent amount of current for extended periods.

How inverter works with a battery

Inverters converter DC from the battery into AC that we use to power our homes and all associated appliances that use AC to function properly. The inverter also gets power from the power utility source and charge the battery connected to it to store the energy for later use. A lot goes on inside the inverter. When power comes into the inverter when the AC mains supply is available, the AC mains sensor senses it, and the amount goes to the Relay and battery charging section of the inverter. AC primary sensor activates a relay, and this Relay will directly pass the AC mains supply to the output socket. The line voltage in this situation will drive the load. Also, the line voltage connects to the battery charging section. The line voltage converts to a DC voltage(12V DC or 24V DC usually), then regulated, and the battery starts to charge. There are individual circuits for sensing the battery voltage, and when the battery fully charges, the charging stops. In some inverters, there will be a trickle charging circuit which keeps the battery always at full charge.

Conclusions; Can inverter charge automotive batteries?

The inverter does not discriminate which battery is a deep cycle or for storage of power and eventual discharge when needed or the automotive battery that can generate quite a large amount of energy to give power to the vehicle. After the battery starts the car, the alternator begins giving the vehicle the required electrical energy. The inverter charges both automotive batteries and the inverter batteries. Finally, the answer to the question "Can inverters charge automotive batteries? The answer is yes. Anyone can quickly charge their automotive batteries with the inverter. Anyone who wants to attempt this must have the technical know-how to fix the cables back the way it is. Just know how to fix everything thing back the way it was.

13th Aug 2020 Theodora Nnagbo

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