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Old 04-12-2008, 10:09 AM   #1
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12v Television or Inverter

Is there any benefit to trying to find a 12v LCD television and DVD player over just using a standard TV and player with a small, portable inverter? The small inverters are readily available and are inexpensive, while DC televisions and players seem to be an oddity in North America. Are there drawbacks to using and inverter that I may not be aware of? Also, what size would be suitable? A local store has 100W to 3000W inverters, so how do I know which would be big enough for what I need?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-12-2008, 11:06 AM   #2
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I kind of like things that multi-task (credit to Alton Brown). So I have a 17" Dell flat screen that has a power supply much like a laptop's. This kind of unit doesn't draw much power - I have used a 150w inverter. I now have a larger inverter -400w cheap from Costco - but the tv doesn't need it.

When we are not camping, I move the tv into our sunroom (that's the multi-tasking part).

Pat
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Old 04-12-2008, 11:38 AM   #3
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If you are going to buy a inverter why go small when you can for a little more money have something that you can use with more things?... I was told many years ago and would like to know if it still true or not..."The larger the inverter the less it needs to work the less draw on battery life"
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:00 PM   #4
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All electronic devices have power supplies that adapt an input voltage to the voltage(s) their circuits need. It is generally true that the more of the voltage adaptation going on, the less efficient the process will be. Therefore using an inverter, as one more voltage adaptation step, is less efficient.

In practical terms, the inefficiency loss isn't that much and there are compensating benefits. This is especially true given the fact that the efficiency losses are on a par with nominal variances in battery bank performance.

As for inverter sizing: there is some variance in efficiency over the range of power delivered but it usually isn't much for modern decent inverters. Generally you are talking 90% +/- 5% or so. So the factors in choosing inverter size generally have more to do with cost, quality, and input requirements.

True sine wave inverters are less efficient than stepped or pulse width inverters. Usually, a good stepped inverter will satisfy most needs with good efficiency but the prices of 2kw sine wave inverters aren't really that bad.

One factor with inverters is how they handle standby. This is often a significant efficiency concern. Good inverters can shutdown when not needed pinging the circuit to see when something has been turned on needing power. That saves energy.

Another factor is the ability to handle very small loads. Some inverters need a minimum load to work properly,

If you get a good quality inverter, you'll find these things specified. I had an old Trace 2kw inverter that was most efficient (95%) at 500 watts or so and needed 30 watts or so to come out of standby.

Once you get above a hundred watts or so, you need to start to worry about the link between the battery and the inverter and the battery's ability to deliver current. When the draw gets to a kilowatt or so it is time to start to be concerned about the impedance of the inverter feed, too.

Keep in mind that large currents and steady currents both have aggravated impact on available battery capacity compared to lower and less constant current draws. A typical group 27 AH rating is for about 5 amps steady for 20 hours. Double that current and the available energy capacity goes down by near 15%. That is why the DVD movie in the evening can have a drastic impact on how much battery you need.
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Old 04-12-2008, 02:49 PM   #5
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When you're on battery power, you really ought to keep your total power draw to 100 Watts or less. There are exceptions, of course, like if you're needing quiet time for two hours to watch the movie and you're going to start you genset first thing in the morning. But people who think 1000 Watt inverters are useful either have a multi-battery bank in their RV or they just like to buy new batteries real often.

A 400 Watt inverter is going to handle anything you ought to be doing, plus it will have a good low-draw idle (usually) mode. Don't even think of toasters and hair dryers!

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Old 04-12-2008, 02:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cameront120
Is there any benefit to trying to find a 12v LCD television and DVD player over just using a standard TV and player with a small, portable inverter?...
hi cam'

the primary benefit claimed for 12v rv/marine video gear is build quality...

jensen claims their units are better built for the mobile environment, which may/no be true or significant.

i don't see much evidence of higher failure rates on the sony/sharp lcd units commonly used in rvs...

and this might partially b related to how frequently consumers update these gadgets.

here are some relevant threads on this issue with links to 12v gadgets.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f450...ion-31763.html


http://www.airforums.com/forums/f450...ion-30145.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f450...ter-35375.html

on the inverter side, i favor using smaller versions AT the outlets as needed.

xantrex, belkin, radio shack and others offer these small inverters in 100-200w sizes...

determine the power needs for the tele and use something with 20-30% more capacity...

the 19 sony is 80-90 watts so a 150 w inverter works well.

a tele with bulit IN dvd player is a nice idea but do you want standard or blu-ray dvd?

since i rely on a laptop/evdo card for communication on the road, the built in dvd player fills the 'movie' purpose,

and had the benefit of battery OR connected power. i carry extra batteries and have 12 hours or so of laptop juice.

i like the idea of an imac or win/pc 4 the all in one approach, but unless full timin' would hate to leave it IN the rv when not camping.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f317...top-29406.html

cheers
2air'
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Old 04-12-2008, 03:31 PM   #7
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any benefit to trying to find a 12v LCD TV

Quote:
Originally Posted by cameront120
Is there any benefit to trying to find a 12v LCD television and DVD player over just using a standard TV and player with a small, portable inverter? The small inverters are readily available and are inexpensive, while DC televisions and players seem to be an oddity in North America. Are there drawbacks to using and inverter that I may not be aware of? Also, what size would be suitable? A local store has 100W to 3000W inverters, so how do I know which would be big enough for what I need?
Thanks in advance!
I am of the opinion that using a 12 volt TV is more efficient than going thru an inverter. If you put your hand on your inverter after it has been running for an hour, it will feel quite warm. This means that the conversion process is wasting some of the electricity as heat. Samsung and Panasonic make 12v TVs and there are probably others. My Panasonic is a Hi Def model FLM-1511 that draws 4 amps at 12V.

That said, I also carry a 150 watt inverter for other small applications like recharging electric toothbrush, razor, etc.
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Old 04-12-2008, 03:35 PM   #8
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But people who think 1000 Watt inverters are useful either have a multi-battery bank in their RV or they just like to buy new batteries real often.
Many folks find that heating a cup of coffee in the microwave or running a hair drier for a couple of minutes is no big deal as far as batteries go. A 2kw inverter properly wired can do this on a typical Airstream 2 battery bank without a hassle.

running the A/C is another ballgame, though.

In light of Joe's distributed power idea it should be noted that wiring resistance losses at 120v are quite a bit less than at 12v. That is an argument for putting the inverter close to the batteries and running a 110v trailer.
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Old 04-12-2008, 03:44 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Leipper
... wiring resistance losses at 120v are quite a bit less than at 12v. That is an argument for putting the inverter close to the batteries and running a 110v trailer.
which is an argument 4 battery powered toys n gadgets (without ANY wiring tethers) in the bedroom...

cheers
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Old 04-12-2008, 05:36 PM   #10
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My 17" LCD is placarded as 115VAC, 38 watts. My ancient Directtv receiver at 85 watts. Bought a 300watt true sine wave inverter and have been very happy with it. Runs the sat and the tv with plenty left over to recharge the laptop.

I actually use the inverter even when on shore power as the inverter output is cleaner than commercial power in a surprising number of places...

mike
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Old 04-12-2008, 06:45 PM   #11
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Thanks so much for the information all.

It looks like I have some reading to do in the links provided. Then we'll see if I actually understand any of it.
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Old 04-12-2008, 07:20 PM   #12
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Why not check out the selection at your local truck stop? They will have both 12volt tv's and dvd's, as well as some inverters. Even if you don't buy from them, at least you can see it and hold it in your hands, and read the fine print on the labels. And stuff that is built for "truck use" is usually pretty rugged, though not so much as marine.
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Old 04-12-2008, 08:13 PM   #13
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My notion of a truck stop is a service station with a diner attached. What you describe sounds like a store or such and I wouldn't even know how to find a truck stop as you describe it. Do we have those in Canada?
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Old 04-12-2008, 08:21 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by cameront120
My notion of a truck stop is a service station with a diner attached. What you describe sounds like a store or such and I wouldn't even know how to find a truck stop as you describe it. Do we have those in Canada?
Good question. The one I am thinking of has multiple fuel pads, driver lounge, restaurant, and a small store to purchase things like tv's and dvd players, along with other trucker goodies. It seems you have some Flying J's up there, here's a link:
Welcome to Flying J Travel Plazas Website! Wi-Fi Hotspot Truck Stops
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