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aguabonita
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 9:44 pm    Post subject: Inverter question Reply with quote

Hi y'all. Going on our first big trip and want to know what type of inverter to get (how many watts)? We want to be able to charge our cell phones, iPod, video camera, etc. Perhaps we should just get cig lighter adaptors? danka. ps. Van Cafe rocks.
Kev Cool
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sc-surfer
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I installed a 2000 watt unit. It has a peak output of 2500 watts. It has been enough for about anything I need. Charges my laptop, phones, ipod. I have used it to run a vacume (sp?), a soldering iron, and charged my cordless drill while working in the van. The only thing I have noticed is that when I use a Vac, the battery charge light will dip into the yellow on start up.

I highly recomend putting one in. It has been a luxury to just throw a switch and plug stuff in to a regualr outlet!!

If you want some hookup tips, I posted a step by step some time back, use the search. Or pm me.

Monte

And yes, Van Cafe does rock. Great guys!
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mightyart
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Get 12 volt adapters to recharge stuff.
With an inverter(which takes power to run) you are taking 12 volt dc power, converting it into 120 AC power, then converting it back to DC power to charge your DC batterys.
Get car lighter cords and go from DC to DC
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singlewc
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:14 am    Post subject: Re: Inverter question Reply with quote

hwy1westy wrote:
Hi y'all. Going on our first big trip and want to know what type of inverter to get (how many watts)? We want to be able to charge our cell phones, iPod, video camera, etc. Perhaps we should just get cig lighter adaptors?
Kev Cool


If all you want to do is recharge those small things, just grab a 400watt inverter at any FLAPS, Home Depot, etc. Forty bucks, and often less on sale. (you could get by with 200W if you wish)

Such small devices do not require a lot of power, so you will get what you need, pretty cheap, plus you can run a lamp or two, a radio, or watch a DVD with a 400 watt inverter (although cheaper ones may generate a bit of noise into the picture)


The quick and dirty math shows that 400W / 12V is 33 amps, if you were to max it out. Recharge as you drive, and don't even worry about taking out of the battery.


12V adapters are probably the best thing, but then if you want to run something else, you have to keep digging up the adaptors, whereas, an inverter lets you run what you got, even if you don't have it right now.

John
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ianstone
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sc-surfer wrote:
I installed a 2000 watt unit. It has a peak output of 2500 watts. It has been enough for about anything I need. Charges my laptop, phones, ipod. I have used it to run a vacume (sp?), a soldering iron, and charged my cordless drill while working in the van. The only thing I have noticed is that when I use a Vac, the battery charge light will dip into the yellow on start up.

I highly recomend putting one in. It has been a luxury to just throw a switch and plug stuff in to a regualr outlet!!

If you want some hookup tips, I posted a step by step some time back, use the search. Or pm me.

Monte

And yes, Van Cafe does rock. Great guys!



same here, 2000W continuous, 2500w peak\
i installed a 2nd battery setup with relay & emergency switch
Smile
its nice cuz i can use a blender for margaritas, charge phone/computer/etc and have never had a problem with it.
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tencentlife
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is funny. Ian and sc, you guys are so overpowered it's sick. 2kw is 170amps out of the battery. Your car battery couldn't push that inverter for more than a minute, and the plates would be warped all to hell if it did. Your alternator is rated 90A, which means on a good day it'll make 75. Lucky for you, the loads you're powering are so small. For everything you've named, except maybe the vacuum, if it's a shopvac, a 300-400w would have more than enough power. I run my whole house and shop on a 2kw sinewave. Refrigerator, water pump, 3hp compressor, drillpress, bandsaw, highspeed grinder, power tools galore. But it takes a 750Ah deep cycle battery bank to push that kind of power staedily. A full-on desktop computer with LCD screen and satellite link uses less than 300w. Add a CRT monitor and you're up to about 450w. Why have so much capacity if you can't use it?
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lovedavdubs
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tencentlife wrote:
This is funny. Ian and sc, you guys are so overpowered it's sick. 2kw is 170amps out of the battery. Your car battery couldn't push that inverter for more than a minute, and the plates would be warped all to hell if it did. Your alternator is rated 90A, which means on a good day it'll make 75. Lucky for you, the loads you're powering are so small. For everything you've named, except maybe the vacuum, if it's a shopvac, a 300-400w would have more than enough power. I run my whole house and shop on a 2kw sinewave. Refrigerator, water pump, 3hp compressor, drillpress, bandsaw, highspeed grinder, power tools galore. But it takes a 750Ah deep cycle battery bank to push that kind of power staedily. A full-on desktop computer with LCD screen and satellite link uses less than 300w. Add a CRT monitor and you're up to about 450w. Why have so much capacity if you can't use it?


Bragging rights Twisted Evil Laughing

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 9:15 pm    Post subject: Winston Got Wired... Reply with quote

With a 1200 watt inverter. It's been more than enough to run his microwave, the Saints be praised, and doesn't seem to pull too much from the auxiliary battery even with 10+ minutes of use. The Microwave draws about 600 watts, but my philosophy favors unused excess rather than insufficiency.

Haven't hooked anything else up to the thing. It's a Coleman, and has shown no vampiric tendencies when turned off, which I do immediately after using it.

Best!
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tencentlife
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I figured bragging rights might enter into it. It's like having a totally hopped-up twin-turbo Porsche road machine when you never get out of Manhattan gridlock. I'm not putting anyone down, you can spend your money any way that makes you happy, I just think it's funny. I design and troubleshoot lots of solar power systems, and one of the ongoing comedy/tragedies is how people will pick components that are so grossly out of balance.

On the other hand, you could add seven more batteries and have a kick-ass powerplant.
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lovedavdubs
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tencentlife wrote:
Yeah, I figured bragging rights might enter into it. It's like having a totally hopped-up twin-turbo Porsche road machine when you never get out of Manhattan gridlock. I'm not putting anyone down, you can spend your money any way that makes you happy, I just think it's funny. I design and troubleshoot lots of solar power systems, and one of the ongoing comedy/tragedies is how people will pick components that are so grossly out of balance.

On the other hand, you could add seven more batteries and have a kick-ass powerplant.


Any idea how to link more batteries? Diagram etc. Think Just curious
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sc-surfer
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No need for me to brag, but I do like to know that there is ample reserve for surges etc...

I had a smaller 400W in my work truck. Worked fine for charging batts. and stuff, but if I needed to run something that had a motor, the startup surge would trip the breaker.

Now with the "over powered" unit I can use these things without a problem. I never draw 2000 watts continously, but the setup can handle the startup surge.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sc-surfer wrote:
No need for me to brag, but I do like to know that there is ample reserve for surges etc...

I had a smaller 400W in my work truck. Worked fine for charging batts. and stuff, but if I needed to run something that had a motor, the startup surge would trip the breaker.

Now with the "over powered" unit I can use these things without a problem. I never draw 2000 watts continously, but the setup can handle the startup surge.


Agreed Cool I power sanded my entire poptop out on the street with my inverter. I otherwise would have had to run about 10 extension cords down from my third floor apartment. Rolling Eyes
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tencentlife
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I said the vacuum was the only item anyone mentioned that might be a bigger load than a 400w could handle. But you said the charge indicator dips into the yellow when you start it, and that's your battery saying it can't push that many amps so voltage is falling rapidly. The inverter corrects for this, down to about 10-10.5 volts on most MOSFET modified-square-wave types (below which point it will just shut off), but as it does that, amp draw from the battery goes up proportionally (V x A = W). Those factors are colluding to heat and warp the plates in your battery, getting it closer and closer to an internal short. Continuing that kind of use will shorten the life of the battery, and your earliest symptom may be that the battery just quits, like the fellow here whose horn didn't work the other day, because plates are shorted inside. That's what has happened when a lead-acid battery just up and dies. Just so you know what you're doing. I'm not trying to argue, just educate. Your inverter has ample surge capacity, but you don't really have the reserve, because that has to come from the battery.

There are also inverters in the 700-800w range. They would give a decent compromise between having some excess capacity, but not being able to draw so much current as to create damaging heat in the battery. There are even true sine wave ones in that range. For a bit more money, everything you run except straight resistive loads (incandescent bulbs and heating elements) will be about 15%more efficient, and you'll have no hum from flourescents, and no noise in electronics that have cheap power supplies. A lot of older NiCad charges wouldn't operate on modified square wave (these are the ones sold as "modified sine wave", but no engineer would describe it that way, that's just marketing, the wave is square). But if most of your loads are small, like under 150w, the additional operating overhead of the sinewave unit, about 25w typically, may offset the efficiency. Modified square wave inverters only have an operation overhead of about 8-10w. Noise-free electronics and flourescents may be worth it to you, though.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Just so you know what you're doing. I'm not trying to argue, just educate.
Wink Its all good. Information is key. If you know it...tell it.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lovdavdubs, here's a couple links that you might find helpful.

Some basic schematics of battery bank configurations (at a fellow's site who is also an excellent source of electrical parts):

http://www.solarseller.com/battery_bank_wiring_diagram.htm

A retailer's site with FAQ's about many things power-related:

http://www.affordable-solar.com/solar.learning.library.htm

One warning: if you decide to experiment with building a larger battery bank to match all that nice inverter capacity you've got, and I certainly encourage you to do so, 'cause it's fun to have lotsa power, make sure you incorporate decent safety measures. Battery banks are potentially dangerous for several reasons, the worst of which is a battery's ability to dump all the current it has stored into a dead short. If you've ever arced the poles of a car battery with a wrench, and seen the nice welding job it can do on piece of steel, you already know what I mean. At minimum, install a Class T fuse on the main positive pole of the bank, so if there is ever a dead short in your system it will be interrupted before your Van goes up in flames.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool Thanks! We like to have occasional jam sessions out in the woods. this set up would come in handy. I may try to fabricate some sort of portable multi battery system that can be removed when not needed. The gears are turning now Think
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm with ya. Once you have an independent power system, it becomes kind of addictive. I want to be able to plug in and do whatever I want wherever I go.

I've been thinking of attaching some angle to the main frame rails underneath, and making a rack system that could hold a gel-cell bank that could be quickly taken in and out. From there it turns into an electric van once gas passes $5/gal.

You should check out Home Power magazine ( www.homepower.com ) if you're interested in learning more about power systems. They've had some articles on pretty large systems in VW vans and converted school buses before. Unfortunately nowadays their online archives charge fees for past articles, but the CD-ROMS have complete back issues. Tons of great educational stuff, from a layperson's point of view.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

not to interupt or anything Wink but it sounds like I could get by on an 400 or 800 watt inverter. I'm not an electronics wiz like tencent so i'm wondering if it's an easy setup? Does it plug directly into the battery. It looks as if there is an adaptor plug of some kind just for such a system.
Kev
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome. Thanks. I hope It'll be a long while before gas does reach that cost. Hmm Electragon....Electrafalia...souds cool.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hwy1westy wrote:
not to interupt or anything Wink but it sounds like I could get by on an 400 or 800 watt inverter. I'm not an electronics wiz like tencent so i'm wondering if it's an easy setup? Does it plug directly into the battery. It looks as if there is an adaptor plug of some kind just for such a system.
Kev


I had to do a little wiring. Nothing drastic though. I'll take some shots for you. stay tuned
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