Skip to comments.Using inverters for emergency power
Posted on 11/08/2012 3:43:18 PM PST by virgil283
"Looking for some low-cost power backup? Given recent storms and the growing number of blackouts, you certainly have companyand perhaps fresh memories of spoiled food, a flooded basement, no heat or air conditioning and (if you have well water) no water for bathing or household chores....We found that inverters can keep at least some of your homes essentials energized. But youll need to prioritize: Even the smaller, 900-watt PW900-12 was able to run a freezer, two refrigerators, two sump pumps, lights, and chargers for various electronics for our staffer at homebut not all at once. ."
I've spent 2 years living with, and one year relying on an inverter.
It's not plug and play.
I have long been prepared with alternative power sources (four to be exact) and recommend that everyone place at least a small inverter in the emergency supplies. A 400 to 500 watt inverter can be the difference between insanity and a semblance of normalcy in a crisis. Keeping a laptop, a cell phone, or an e reader charged and possibly a modem running is critical.
One word of advice: you get what you pay for with inverters. Don’t expect a Dollar Store device to be reliable when your life may depend on it. Spend $50 and get a decent small inverter.
I tried to get one here on Long Island right after Hurricane Sandy - these was not one to be found anywhere.
You’re right Robert —Get a good one— it will pay to have a way to recharge a phone or batteries. I’ve been thinking of installing an extra battery in my truck. There’s a module that lets the vehicle charge both batteries but isolates the second battery so you can use the inverter on it but it keeps the main battery seperate so you can always start the car...
The OP doesn’t sound like he is advocating and off-grid set-up, just a simple means to power small electronics. That is easily done plug and play through a 12v cigarette outlet.
I’m with you in terms of scaling up the system. I’m running nearly 4k watts off a battery bank that is recharged by generator(C4H10, C3H8, or diesel) solar, and or wind. My cabin is completely off the grid and I’ve never struggled for electricity. A system such as this is not plug and play and not for a novice to undertake - it took me a ton of research and some trial and error to get it right. Charging a laptop in your car, on the other hand, is plug and play.
Strongly consider getting a sine wave inverter to run motors (furnace, refrigerator). Sensitive electronics may need something better yet.
I wouldn't recommend any inverter over about 1500 watts. You will not be able to power it off of your car battery without heavy cables and even then you will have to keep your engine running. If you are looking for 2500 watts or more you are better off buying a generator.
In an automobile, in addition to the isolator for the second battery (which is a great route to go!), you can also add a farad capacitor. A lot of stereo enthusiasts utilize them to stabilize power to amplifiers when the draw spikes. A decent capacitor can be found on Amazon for $100 and will assist with peak and start-up load through the inverter. Good luck, you’re on the right track! Always be prepared.
what is that?
Although a small 400 watt inverter will not power much, it has bailed my ass out more than once.
I have one under my car seat with two 12v outlets.
Runs computers, vacuums, cell phones, battery chargers, etc.
Love it. Saves me a lot if hassle. When a device gets low on power and I’m on the road I just plug it into the outlet and keep on going while it’s charging.
I have two more for the other cars but I almost never drive them so I haven’t felt the need to install. I’ll use the other cars as backup if need be.
The inductive load on startup of a motor like that can fry a small inverter.
Even one of the little 450 watt units like I have here in the house for easy access requires that you know what your load is, how it starts up, and what effect it has on your equipment.
You can't run a radio off of a square wave inverter very well. ;)
Get an inverter, sure, and practice with it. You can kill batteries, kill inverters, and kill appliances. Sometimes, if you are really lucky, you can do all three, and still leave your brother-in-law alive.
What, they don't junk X-Ray machines anymore? I think that's where my last 2 large caps came from. ;)
I agree, I would never put a sump pump on a small inverter. The best rule of thumb is to double your start-up power (IMO). I have a well pump that I run at my cabin that has one heck of a start up draw - fortunately, I don’t use it as a pressurized system (I use it to fill a tank in the beams of my cabin and allow gravity to pressurize my lines).
Why just go buy $129 900 watt gas generator at Harbor Freight or Home Depot?
We built a gadget that would handle the startup (duplicating the soft-start circuit, but we didn't know that) and decided, to heck with it, go for a bigger hammer.