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Old 04-21-2006, 07:17 PM   #1
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power inverter

Hello all,
Since I am a new 2005 25' Safari owner (and new to this forum), I am a bit unfamiliar with using power inverters. I am planning on using a laptop, cell phone chargers, camera chargers, and small draw appliances (no microwaves or AC units). Any recommendations? Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-21-2006, 07:41 PM   #2
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We use a 225 watt unit that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket.
It will run the laptop, or 3 phone/radio chargers.
You will get the low battery "beep" if the vehicle motor is off.
The truck generator puts out 13.5 volts, but the battery only has 12 volts by itself, so the alarm beeps to let you know, but still works fine.
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Old 04-21-2006, 07:52 PM   #3
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First, wherever possible, I try to use a 12VDC charger for as much as I can. That eliminates loss due to inefficiency in an inverter. Look at the OUTPUT voltages of the power supply/charger units. If they say 12-14VDC, you can run the device directly off the 12VDC system with a cord from Radio Shack.

I also generally prefer to use a DC to DC converter supply for the laptop. I got ours from Dell, but if you have an expensive laptop, I'd consider a quality 12VDC power supply from Lind Electronics.

The INPUT wattage of the laptop power supply and other chargers is usually printed on them, but sometimes instead there is an INPUT amperage at 120VAC. Multiply the input amperage times 120 to get the watts.

Cheaper inverters output what they call, "modified sine wave." In my opinion, it should be called "modified square wave," since it's wave form is a stair step, rather than a smooth sine wave. This can cause inductive things like motors and transformers, especially in "wall wart" power supplies to run hotter. For many things, the extra heat isn't a problem, but for some it is, and can shorten their life.

True sine wave inverters are much more expensive, but could be cheaper than replacing chargers for some equipment.

Don't forget that with inverters, the amperage coming out of the batteries is roughly 12 times that being fed to the 120VAC appliance. Running at it's maximum output, a 100W inveter can take two fully charged 100 amp-hour batteries down to 50% charge in 10 hours.

Something else to consider is that the 12VDC cigarette lighter outlets in the Winegard antenna plates are only rated at 8 amps. That's what an 80W inverter will draw at full output. Exceed that and you could damage (melt) them. Any larger inverter should be hardwired into the 12VDC system, preferably as close to the batteries as possible. Long wire runs from the batteries to the factory lighter outlets can drop enough voltage to make the inverter give a low voltage warning.

Just some thoughts...
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Old 04-21-2006, 07:55 PM   #4
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Hi Bluegrass,

Welcome to the forums! If you are planning to use the inverter in your trailer be aware that it will draw down your battery in fairly short order unless you are also connected to a generator or campground power post. Solar panels are also a good option but they are expensive!

Make a list of all the devices that you plan to use at any one time, add uo the wattage that they wioll draw and get an inverter that is about 50% larger (for reserve capacity). There are a lot of makers out there now, but I have had great results wth Xantrex products.
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Old 05-24-2006, 12:42 AM   #5
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Question Mini-fridge on Inverter??

If wired correctly, do you think a mini-fridge (160w) would run on a 400w inverter while trailering? Gas/elec fride is toast and not ready to lose a leg to get another. Just want to keep things cold between hookups.
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Old 05-24-2006, 07:16 AM   #6
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rcloeffler, I doubt it. I have an "apartment" fridge in my A/S. The nameplate says it draws 1.9 amps or about 228 watts. My Vector 400 watt inverter will not start it. I even hardwired it to a battery with a foot of cable, and it still tripped. 160 watts is about 13 amps. You may want to go with a larger inverter, so you have enough starting current. Fridge and A/C compressors need lots of juice to get started.
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