Skip to comments.I'm Back From The Night Of Tornadoes And Needing Some Advice On An Inverter(VANITY)
Posted on 05/02/2011 7:56:59 AM PDT by proudofthesouth
Just wanted to say that I've missed y'all these past few days. Wednesday day and night was frightening here in northern Alabama.
I was blessed that all I lost was a refrigerator full of food and 4 days 6.5 hours without power. There are others that have lost so much, much more. My beloved Alabama has been torn apart. But people have been WONDERFUL!!!!! Grocery stores and gas stations were open ASAP; restaurants rather than having to throw out their food were giving it away; others were having ice trucked in from out of state and were giving it away; people were following the rules for 4 way stopping at non working red lights; local radio stations have been on the air continously with community information; neighbors have been helping neighbors; out of state electrical workers have come in to assist. I'm proud of my state.
The worst that has happened to me other than throwing out a fridge full of food (which my home owners insurance is reimbursing me for) is a bad case of sunburn from staying outside and reading.
Would like some advice from FReepers please. I can't afford a generator but heard on the radio about something called a step up inverter that's fairly inexpensive. Its small enough to just run a reading lamp, camping fridge, computer, etc.. How do these work? (Where do they get their power from?) How expensive are they and where can I purchase one?
Glad to be back and I hope that none of my fellow FReepers suffered any losses in last weeks storms.
....see if your insurance co will allow you to rent a power supply item. (or be reimbursed)
You can get them in various wattages depending on your needs (within reason).
an inverter is a dievice that converts DC current Like say from your car’s cigarette lighter or other 12v DC source, into the AC power that runs most house hold appliances and portable electronics. A 75w inverter goes for about $20 and a 300 W unit is usually under $100. Bigger than that and you’d have to go to a specialty shop that caters to long haul truckers
Mostly this would be useful for recharging battery dependent items like cell phones and laptops, or running a TV or two, and you’d want to run the car ever 15 min or so to keep from completely draining the battery. For preserving perishables, I recommend getting out your camping coolers and then finding your nearest source of dry ice
An inverter would run off of your car’s cigarette lighter socket. I don’t know about running a refrigerator. The outlets in my car can only run 120W.
Inverters take a 12 volt battery source (like a car battery) and bump them up to 110 volts a/c. This power can then be used for a lamp, fridge, tv, etc. Problem is they aren’t necessary cheap, and for best results require expensive deep-cell batteries you need to keep topped-off. Your best best is a cheap/small gas generator from Harbor Freight, Northern Tool, or craigslist.
Glad you made it through relatively OK. What you’re describing works like a UPS for your PC, a battery with an electronic inverter that converts the 12 volt DC (or whatever) from a battery to 120 volt AC to run regular appliances. Unfortunately it may not do what you want, at least not for very long. With no means of recharging, you’re limited to the capacity of the battery and a camping fridge would probably run it down in a day or two. Efficient LED lights and chargers for computers, phones, etc would be fine, probably a week or more if you are careful. Definitely no cooling appliances or other high current loads or you’ll run the battery down in a matter of an hour or less. Plus you’ll pay more than for a comparable size generator - and for the same $ you could get a generator that would run anything in your house.
See here for some examples: http://www.boatandrvaccessories.com/PORTABLEPOWERSUPPLY.htm
It’s hard to beat the power density of gasoline!
Stop by your local truck stop, they’ll sell inverters.
Inverters run directly from a car cigarette lighter. Low power only - don’t try to run your television or refrigerator from one, but you can get enough to run lights and maybe a fan. A laptop, stuff like that. One end plugs into your car lighter, the other end is a female 110 volt AC power cord socket.
Get the highest wattage in your spending budget - some are as low as 75 watts, and really can’t even run a laptop more than a couple minutes without overheating and shutting down. A couple hundred watts at least would be good.
Probably want to run your car engine (pay attention to the exhaust) while you’re using one, so you don’t drain the battery - so it’s strictly a stop-gap. I’d recommend a long extension cord between your car with the inverter - to whatever you’re running off the combination, to prevent Carbon Monoxide issues. However all that said inverters do in fact work, my own backup plan involves a 12-volt battery, an inverter and a solar panel.
Just remember. Don’t drain your battery. Hard to get anywhere if you can’t start your car.
I bought a 2000 watt one on sale at Northern Tool a few years back for $175. It is large enough that I use it to run power tools off my truck.
Last tidbit after reading the other posts. If you go with one of the smaller inverters to just power a couple of very small items... it’s not just about running the car battery down to nothing... it’s also about the type of the battery. Car batteries don’t handle deep discharge very well. You’ll beat the life out of ‘em in no time if you run them down to zero constantly. When I mentioned “deep cycle batteries” I should have said... that’s marine, golf cart, gel batteries. And, now we back at the cost thing. Wish there was an easy answer.
We use six marine deep-cycle batteries for the inverter in our motor home (allows boondocking.) Works well but expensive.
You should consider this:
The others are telling you straight scoop. The inverter converts DC (battery) to AC (house current). If you get one big enough to run an LED lamp, a computer and your modem (I would guess that you need to power it to stay connected to the Internet, you would need one one in the 300-500 watt range. But be advised that the inverter turns low voltage DC current into high voltage AC current and there will be a significant current draw on the battery( 25 t0 40 amps) and it will discharge fairly quickly. You will need the largest deep cycle marine battery you can find.
Glad to hear you made it through fine.
Real house-power setups run 48 or 72 volts with very large battery banks. IF you want to run the house, it will cost you. Inverters run from a few kW to 10s of kW. All are expensive.
If you buy a small unit look to see what type of inverter you are buying.
True sine wave will run TVs, and other electonics. Modified sine wave inverters are good for lights (incandecent), power tools and the like.
In the end, just remeber, as with most things in life, you will get what you pay for. Or, maybe less. Do some homework and make the choice based on that.
Compare prices closely, they vary wildly based on dealer markup.
Remember that inverters DO NOT create 60 cycle AC. They create an AC wave form much higher, in order to stay somewhat efficient. They are not efficient use of limited power. About 50% of the input power is generally available AC at the load. Inverters consume fairly high power from the battery to simply make the power available, ie. low load (small AC load) still consumes a lot of power.
Since they create something other than 60 cycle AC, many things cannot be powered by them, those that rely on the frequency of the AC.
I noticed that there are some pretty cheap AC generators at Harbor Freight (Chi Com but price right). (800 watt unit starting at $129 on their website.)
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