Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Converter and Inverter

Converter vs Inverter

In order to operate a device properly and not blow it up, you need to supply it with the right voltage level. But with the different voltages available, we need to transform the voltage into what we need. Converters and inverters are what we would need to achieve this. The main difference between converters and inverters is what they do to the voltage. An inverter changes a DC voltage into an AC voltage and either increases or decreases it into the appropriate level. In comparison, a converter changes the voltage level but does not change its type; so an AC voltage would still be AC and a DC voltage would still be DC.

The single biggest purpose for an inverter is to provide power that is similar to what we get from the main power line when it is not available. A clear example of this is in an Uninterruptible Power Supply where a DC voltage, typically 12V or 24V, is converted into an AC voltage of either 110V or 220V when the power from the mains is cut-off. In comparison, converters are typically used just to convert the voltage to appropriate levels. Good examples of this are voltage converters that are used if you have a 220V device and 110V mains or vice versa. Another example is a voltage converter used to charge cellphones, which needs a 5V DC voltage, from the 12V DC voltage of a car’s lighter socket. In both cases, only the voltage levels are being changed and not from AC to DC and vice versa.

When it comes to the complexity, an inverter is far more complex since generating AC from a DC source is far more difficult. Converters are relatively simple since DC-DC or AC-AC conversion, especially if it’s step down, is easy.

Most of the time, what a person really wants is a converter to make the supply voltage appropriate to the needed voltage of the device. The only time when you would need an inverter is if you want to run a device or appliance meant to operate from the main power line when you only have batteries. Inverters are becoming more popular along with solar power systems where you only get a low voltage DC supply to power ordinary appliances that either run on 110V or 220V AC.


  1. A converter changes the voltage but doesn’t change its type while an inverter changes voltage as well as type
  2. Inverters are used in Uninterruptible Power Supplies while converters are used by pretty much all appliances
  3. Inverters are typically a lot more complex than converters


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  1. So I need a “converter” that plugs into my car to run my coffee pot when camping?

    • To power your home coffee maker from your car cigarette lighter, you will need an INVERTER…converting 12v DC to 120v AC.

  2. This patently wrong information. At least half wrong. The inverter portion is ok, but the CONVERTER part is totally wrong.

    In common use, a converter converts AC to DC and can be used to charge batteries or usually power battery operated items. Thus “converting” 120V AC to 12VDC or lower (or higher). I have never seen a 120v DC converter but I use a 120v AC to 2.5v DC converter every day for my phone!

  3. Hello
    I wonder why rectifiers are called
    AC to DC converter?

    Some sources tell that conveter convert from AC to DC….

  4. Just get a flux capacitor and that will fix EVERYTHING!!!?

  5. So I need inverter not converterif I want to use photocopying machine from solar panel

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