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Power Inverters

 
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NUTSgoWEEE
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:06 pm    Post subject:  Power Inverters Reply with quote

Going on quite a trip next week (NY to LA) with a friend in a van. I have a 300W power inverter which i've used for charger mp3 players, camera batteries, etc for years with it hooked up to the cigarette adapter in the impala. I did try once to power my laptop (I believe the power brick says 72W) and it worked, powered the laptop just fine, but a loud buzzing/beeping came from the inverter and wouldn't go away so I stopped using it after a minute or two.

Any reason it should do this? I assumed the laptop was drawing too much power or something's wrong with the inverter and can't supply enough? I'm considering buying a 600 or 1000W inverter for this trip so we can charge batteries and power a laptop, etc. Is it safe to plug a 1000W inverter into a cigarette adapter? Should thick gauge wire be wired (with a fuse) directly to the battery?

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preston87
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:38 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Any power inverter over 150 Watts should be wired directly to the battery with an in-line fuse on the positive lead. Check the inverter manual for the suggested fuse for your application.
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XXWoodmanXX
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:38 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

preston87 wrote:
Any power inverter over 150 Watts should be wired directly to the battery with an in-line fuse on the positive lead. Check the inverter manual for the suggested fuse for your application.


x2

If you pull up your center console and checked out your front and rear 12v cig. lighter wires? They're very inadequate when it comes to handling alot of current. Sad
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NUTSgoWEEE
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:57 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

So you think the 300W inverter wasn't able to pull enough current from the cigarette lighters? Shouldn't it have just blown the fuse before reaching the wire's limits?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:15 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

My inverter will beep and power off if the engine is not running.

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XXWoodmanXX
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:52 am    Post subject:   Reply with quote

NUTSgoWEEE wrote:
So you think the 300W inverter wasn't able to pull enough current from the cigarette lighters? Shouldn't it have just blown the fuse before reaching the wire's limits?


The fuse might, yes. However, after seeing my work's 2002 Trailblazer lighter socket "brown" the wires with the 400W inverter we had in it, I'm a bit hesitant to install one in my own personal vehicle without running a more robust 12v line and ground.

Personally, I'm going to run a 10ga. or even an 8ga. line from the batt. when I decide on one I want.
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NUTSgoWEEE
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:23 am    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Frank wrote:
My inverter will beep and power off if the engine is not running.
Mine will do the same, but this happens when the engine is running so I can only assume it's just not able to pull enough current.

XXWoodmanXX wrote:
Personally, I'm going to run a 10ga. or even an 8ga. line from the batt. when I decide on one I want.

Looks like I'll be doing the same, probably 10ga for a 600W inverter.

What about fuses? The 300W one I have has a fuse right on the front of it so is that just an in-line fuse with the battery or is that for the output of the inverter? I believe the 300W has a 35A fuse on it.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:30 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Take the watts of any inverter and divide by 110v and that will tell you how many amps you will be pulling at max load.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:38 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

XXWoodmanXX wrote:


Personally, I'm going to run a 10ga. or even an 8ga. line from the batt. when I decide on one I want.


10ga. is to small. 4ga is usually suggested for most inverter applications. This site gives you more information: http://www.donrowe.com/inverters/inverter_faq.html.

You also need place a fuse within 12 inches of the battery (the closer the better). This site gives info on sizing the fuse: http://www.reuk.co.uk/Fuses-fo.....erters.htm.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:08 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Yes, but the information given on your link provided states that 4ga. is "recommended for applications 1500 watts and below". That's a pretty broad spectrum, considering hardly any passenger car needs anything up to or exceeding 1500w. That's sport utility or recreational vehicles. Besides, I'm thinking 400-500w for mine. No need for more.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:52 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Fallguy wrote:
Take the watts of any inverter and divide by 110v and that will tell you how many amps you will be pulling at max load.


That assumes 100% efficiency and doesn't take power factor into account... it's typically higher than that... not to mention, that the current draw on the AC side, not on the 12V DC side (car side).... that's watts/12 ( divided by efficiency)

At 600 Watt inverter that is 100% efficient would draw a max of 50amps on the DC side

BBEngineer

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:18 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

I didn't know you couldn't run an inverter from the cigarette lighters.... though last weekend was the first time, and it was a 300 watt inverter which ran for about 10 minutes total.

Hmmm. I don't like the sound of "browned wires". Confused

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NUTSgoWEEE
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:11 am    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Well I bought a 400W peak inverter today and here's what the manual says:

Quote:
The power source may be a battery or regulated DC power supply. As a rough guide, divide the power consumption of the load (in watts) by the input voltage (12 in the case of a vehicle battery) and divide by 0.7 for efficiency loss. This will give you the current (in amps) which the power source must deliver.

Example: Load is rated at 400 Watts

Power source must be able to deliver: 400/12/0.7 = 47.6 Amps


While I already understood all that, here's what I'm having trouble with. My laptop brick says the following
Quote:
Input: 100V - 240V ~ 1.1A - 0.5A 50/60Hz
Output: 19.5V 3.9A


So the transformer is supplying the laptop with 76W of power, so my best guess is the transformer (to be safe) is 60% efficient, meaning the power brick itself requires around 125W

I also have a few battery chargers that are rated at 10W, 10W and 30W but they wont all be used simultaneously obviously.

Here's another quote from the inverter manual:
Quote:
Do not exceed the maximum power: 140 Watts when the inverter connects to the cigarette plug. Excess power can damage the cigarette plug.

Well I'm glad they suggest using a cigarette plug up to 140 watts (11.6 amps) as most cigarette plugs are fused at 10A.

The inverter came with a cigarette plug to spade connectors which looks to be about 14ga wire and thicker wire with battery clamps and spade connectors which looks about 8ga but unfortunately, only about 18 inches long so no chance of running those to the battery.

So what it comes down to is that I can run wiring through the firewall to the battery but it will be somewhere around 4' long and I'm not running #0 wire. I have very limited time (three days) to get everything ready and I'm not sure where to find anything less than #10 AWG crimp-connectors.

If I run 4' - 5' of #10 AWG stranded wire, how much current can I draw safely and what fuse should I put on it?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:57 am    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Ended up running 6ft of 10 awg from battery to inverter then about 2ft 10awg to ground with 30A fuse at battery. Everything worked great, only powered one laptop at a time and a phone/battery charger here and there. Inverter itself barely even got warm although we weren't using even close to the full 400W capacity.

Thanks guys.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:50 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Excellent. I plan on getting a 600W or greater to power the following:

- Laptop
- PS1 or PS2 slim console
- 7" or greater LCD for gaming or DVDs


Should make roadtrips a little more tolerable for everyone. Smile
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