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Buying Guide For Inverter


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Power Inverters Buyer’s Guide

A power inverter converts 12V DC power to standard household 230V AC power, which allows you to run AC electrical equipment off your car or Leisure battery for mobile applications, emergencies or simple convenience.

Typical Uses

Most power inverters under 300W can be connected to a vehicle’s battery through the DC (cigarette lighter) plug on the dashboard. They might also come with jumper-like cables for connecting directly to a battery. Larger units are often hardwired into vehicles, HGV’s, van’s or boats. Inverters normally have one or more standard outlets to power laptops, small-screen TVs, video game players or power tools and other devices. A DC to AC power inverter is great for camping at parks that do not provide electricity. The toaster, blender, and boom box can all still be used. In your caravan, you can plug in devices like a digital movie camera to take videos, cook dinner with a microwave, or brew up a pot on-board with your coffee-maker/Kettle the possibilities are endless.

Some power inverters have a built-in transfer switch and battery charger so you can switch from inverter power to mains power when available. This is useful in motorhomes and boats where shore power is available and when used in an isolated location where grid power is unreliable. The transfer switch allows external power to be transferred to appliances automatically and re charge your batteries using the unit. Typically this feature is found in homes across the globe as a back up system. Our range of Inverter/Charger combi vary from 1000W to 5000W all with an integrated 20A battery charger.

A power inverter is also an essential part of a solar power system. It converts the DC power generated by solar panels and stored in 12V batteries to 230V AC power suitable for household or industrial use. These systems can be very vital when grid power is poor or non-existent. Our range of solar inverters offers an integrated solar regulator allowing solar panels to be wired directly to the unit.

Power Inverter or Generator?

The age old question!

Whether to use an inverter or a generator depends on the type of load and how often you will need emergency AC power. Generally, an inverter is more economical power alternative to run items under 5000W, suitable for most appliances, TVs, laptop, power tools, coffee machine and many more devices. If you plan to operate a refrigerator, freezer, washer, dryer or well system, then an inverter is a better choice. If your planned power consumption exceeds 10000W, you should choose a generator, as the draw in the battery will rapidly deplete its power. Generators are becoming technology of the past with the rise in fuel price and tighter rules regarding noise more and more consumers are choosing inverters.

 

 

Choosing the Right Inverter Size

Power inverters come in many sizes, measured in watts (W). The amount of wattage you will require depends on the total draw of the devices you'd like to use.

Many appliances and power tools have their wattage rating indicated on the product itself. Wattage rating can also be calculated by using this formula: Volts x Amps = Watts

To determine if several appliances can be operated at the same time, simply add up their wattage ratings to see if the total falls within the specifications of the power inverter. For example, if you have a two-outlet inverter and will be plugging in 2 devices at once, add up the total wattage of both devices, then add at least 50% more to account for peaks or spikes in the power draw. For example if your DVD player draws 100W and your laptop another 100W, a minimum 300W inverter ((100W + 100W) x 150% = 300W) is recommended.

Make sure the power of the inverter is listed as “continuous”. Some inverters are listed at a certain wattage, but can only draw that wattage for a short period of time (i. e.: 5 minutes) and then will shut off, reset themselves and resume functioning. These outages can be frustrating to you and harmful to the device you are powering.

If the item is motor driven, it requires additional start-up (surge) wattage (typically 2-3 times the continuous wattage required) to start the device. For example, a mitre saw that runs at 700W might require 1400W to start up. If your inverter only supplies 1000W, you will not be able to start it up. In this case, you would want to select an inverter rated at least 1400W surge to handle start-up needs.

Pure Sine Wave or Modified Sine Wave?

Power inverters produce one of two different types of wave output:

  • Modified Sine Wave
  • Pure Sine Wave

Modified sine wave inverters deliver power that is consistent and efficient enough to run most devices adequately. These types of inverters are the most popular and affordable. They are also robust and highly efficient. Our inverter line is based on the highest modified sine wave technology available. We have many years of experience in the market and utilise this knowledge in our products.

Pure sine wave inverters are the most expensive, but they also deliver the most consistent, highest quality wave output. Some sensitive equipment requires a pure sine wave, like high performance laptop computers, specialist tools, professional audio/video equipment, certain medical devices and inductive loads. If you aren’t sure if the device you want to use requires a pure sine wave or not, call our technical support team and ask. Any AC device will run on a Pure sine wave inverter, whether it requires it or not. Any device that plugs into the wall will work with Pure sine wave.

We supply Cotek Pure sine wave inverters, Cotek are the company who created and patented Pure sine wave technology they are the leaders in the market. All Cotek products come with a 2 year warranty.

 

Battery Basics

  • Batteries should be in good condition. Old or weak batteries should be replaced before connecting them to an inverter.
  • Vehicle batteries are not suited to repeated long discharge and recharge cycles. They will have to be replaced more often than a deep cycle Leisure battery.
  • Deep cycle Leisure batteries are a better choice as a power source for an inverter. They are designed to be repeatedly drained and recharged. It is also a good idea to have more than one battery supplying power to an Inverter over 3000W.
  • The amp hour rating of a battery is the most important measure when choosing a battery for power inverter use. This indicates how many amps a battery can deliver for a specified period (usually 20 hours), showing how long it will run before needing to be connected to a battery charger.
  • To prolong battery life, you should not use more than 50% of the battery’s rated capacity before recharging.

Safety Tips

  • Always use a power inverter that is rated high enough for the device(s) you are running . When using your power inverter continuously with a starter battery on a vehicle that is not running, the engine should be started at least once an hour for 10-15 minutes to keep the battery from discharging.
  • Power inverters work best with a battery that is in good condition and fully charged. A weak battery will be drained easily if demands are too high. This could leave you stranded so be sure to check the battery’s condition before using a power inverter in an off grid environment.
  • If the power inverter is being used while a vehicle is running as in the case of a road trip, there should be no problem with the extra draw, assuming the battery and alternator are in good condition.
  • Only inverters under 300W can be used via the cigarette lighter socket make sure your vehicle’s wiring harness can handle the current before plugging in an inverter to your cigarette lighter. You may need to hardwire the inverter directly to the battery to safely use it.
  • Make sure the inverter is properly ventilated. Even a small inverter generates heat. Check to see if there is an internal fan with any inverter over 100 Watts. Place the inverter in a well-ventilated area when in use.
  • Working with batteries can be dangerous and can result in serious injury, and improper use of a power inverter can lead to electrocution or battery failure, so for your own safety be sure to read and follow any and all safety precautions that are listed in your power inverter manual if anything is not clear please contact us for assistance.

 

Our team here at Caravan Technology are dedicated in providing high quality products that meet all demands. We have over 8 years of experience in the market and with a team of engineers around the clock to offer technical advice we are your one stop shop for portable power!

 

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They seem to infer that 5000W is the max for an inverter. I should think so too. 5000w / 14volts (if your battery is perfect) =357Amps.

 

I know my caravan battery would not do this for more than a few mSec

 

Even 300W / a more realistic 12V = 25 Amps, that's a lot of current.

 

I think this info is more appropriate to boat owners with big battery bank. Or a U boat perhaps.

Chris in Warwickshire, Elddis Odyssey 482 (2008), Mitsubishi Outlander diesel, 2017

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They seem to infer that 5000W is the max for an inverter. I should think so too. 5000w / 14volts (if your battery is perfect) =357Amps.

 

I know my caravan battery would not do this for more than a few mSec

 

Even 300W / a more realistic 12V = 25 Amps, that's a lot of current.

 

I think this info is more appropriate to boat owners with big battery bank. Or a U boat perhaps.

You are quite correct there Chris your everyday caravan user will not be using 5KW of energy. These are more suited to boats, ice cream men, mobile tyre service, on the road catering and the list goes on. . However some large motorhomes will have inverters of this size on board. ..

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You are quite correct there Chris your everyday caravan user will not be using 5KW of energy. These are more suited to boats, ice cream men, mobile tyre service, on the road catering and the list goes on. . However some large motorhomes will have inverters of this size on board. ..

In my experience large motor homes have an auto start generator not big inverters with huge battery banks. Frankly the suggestion of using an inverter to power a washer or drier is nothing short of ridiculous.

Edited by Guest
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In my experience large motor homes have an auto start generator not big inverters with huge battery banks. Frankly the suggestion of using an inverter to power a washer or drier is nothing short of ridiculous.

I do disagree there we have many customers who use washing machines and tumble driers in caravans and motorhomes. .. the rating of these appliances are more often than not the peak power rating on start up. .. many washing machines continuous running rate will be around 700-900W and if used with 200AH of AGM or GEL batteries would easily run for 2-3 hours

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,I for one, would never use a 300w inverter from a cigarette lighter supply - 300w at 12v = 25 amps. Most cigar/cigarette supplies are only rated at 10amp and to be honest 5 is enough.

 

The above info leaves out very important information about fusing and cable sizing - a 1000w inverter will draw 80+ amps at full load and that needs an appropriately fuse to protect the cabling. The cable sizing between the inverter & battery should not only be large enough take into account the amount of current to be drawn but also to minimise the voltage drop.

 

It should also be pointed out that battery capacity is usually specified at the 20hr rate (C/20) which means that to get a 100a/h from a battery you should only discharge it at 5amps for a max of 10 hours (to 50%) Taking much more than that will severely limit the battery capacity and may even damage the battery.

 

A god quality Trojan 140a/h AGM deep cycle battery will deliver 140a/h at the 20hr rate 7 amps), 127 at the 10hr rate (14amps) and only 112 at the 5 hour rate (28 amps) but to maintain the battery life of 1000 charge/discharge cycles you should not discharge them to less than 50% so you should halve the rated capacity figures to give you a realistic working figure.

Edited by matelodave

2018 S-Max Titanium 2. 0 Tdci (177. 54bhp,180ps,132kw) Powershift + 2015 Unicorn III Cadz, Ventura Marlin porch awning

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I do disagree there we have many customers who use washing machines and tumble driers in caravans and motorhomes. .. the rating of these appliances are more often than not the peak power rating on start up. .. many washing machines continuous running rate will be around 700-900W and if used with 200AH of AGM or GEL batteries would easily run for 2-3 hours

 

Well I've almost stopped laughing now, must have a look where I can fit the washing machine and drier, along with the huge water tank, yep, I can see it now NOT

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I have been reading this forum for quite a while now. I understand a lot of the topics, but NEVER do I remember any talk about washing machines and tumble driers in caravans. Has the OP any idea of what touring caravans are?

How do we get the washer or drier through the door?

I can only imagine that it is all a wind-up! Or a troll? :lol::lol:

Graham

Unless otherwise stated all posts are my personal opinion 

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I can only imagine that it is all a wind-up! Or a troll? :lol::lol:

It seems more like a misguided sales pitch to me.

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It seems more like a misguided sales pitch to me.

Or

 

Cut and paste from elsewhere (a quick plagiarism check confirms it is or at least parts of it are) hence the irrelevant aspects for caravans.

 

To the op, if you are as experienced as you claim, why not write a suitable and relevant guide for here, don't rely on other peoples errors.

 

Ap

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I have been reading this forum for quite a while now. I understand a lot of the topics, but NEVER do I remember any talk about washing machines and tumble driers in caravans. Has the OP any idea of what touring caravans are?

How do we get the washer or drier through the door?

I can only imagine that it is all a wind-up! Or a troll? :lol::lol:

 

 

It seems more like a misguided sales pitch to me.

 

 

Or

 

Cut and paste from elsewhere (a quick plagiarism check confirms it is or at least parts of it are) hence the irrelevant aspects for caravans.

 

To the op, if you are as experienced as you claim, why not write a suitable and relevant guide for here, don't rely on other peoples errors.

 

Ap

Actually guys the literature is a guide that i have produced but it is not specific for caravans it is for portable power in off grid situations. ... Maybe i should have edited it before posting as it seems some of you think I am pulling your leg. ...

 

We sell a large number of products to Africa where mains power is obviously not the most common and very unreliable. .. In this instance many customers will use inverters and batteries to run the whole electrical system including air conditioning units, chest freezers, washing machines, driers and the list goes on. ..

 

Admittedly it is not that common for caravans to accommodate washing machines but it is not unheard of. ..... another reason inverters of 5KW modified are available is because 50% of the time people do not require pure sine wave inverters and a larger modified inverter will be suitable. .....

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Sorry caravantechnology, this really doesn't add up, you stated earlier that you had many customers that us wasting machines and tumble driers in caravans and motor homes when in FACT I would suggest that you don't. You now come back and say its people in Africa, your credibility IMHO is in a very steep nose dive.

 

Looking at your website your prices don't seem competitive on solar panels and controllers so I do question what are you bringing to the table here?

 

Ap

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Sorry caravantechnology, this really doesn't add up, you stated earlier that you had many customers that us wasting machines and tumble driers in caravans and motor homes when in FACT I would suggest that you don't. You now come back and say its people in Africa, your credibility IMHO is in a very steep nose dive.

 

Looking at your website your prices don't seem competitive on solar panels and controllers so I do question what are you bringing to the table here?

 

Ap

It is true that We have had many customers over the past decade who wish ti run washing machines in motorhomes and caravans but overall it is rare. .... I merely mentioned Africa as an example of other situations we have a another company who presence is very large in Africa and we have created a specific product for this market google solar2Africa 400. .. however this company came from the fact that caravan technology was doing so much bushiness there.

 

Prices are not competitive ?? the stand alone solar panels are expensive on our site yes and we do not sell many due to the supplier being in the UK and the quality of the panels are very high and because the requirements for these type and size of solar panels are rare we are actually in the process of reviewing and updating the solar section for start of the season. .

 

However our 40W and 80W folding solar panels(very popular among caravans) which we sell thousands of are very competitive compared to our rivals and have a very good reputation and review. .. for example maplin sell a 40W panel for £200! compared to £125 at caravan technology. .....

 

You ask what i bring to the table??? I do not want to cause trouble or arguments I am simply here to offer my advice and experience in the leisure market. .

 

Caravan and leisure technology really shine in the Inverter market

 

Our modified inverters are some of the best prices available on the market and the quality is second to none they are a UK design by ourselves offering a range from 150W to 5000W. ..

 

As previously mentioned the Cotek range of pure sine wave inverters at the most robust and reliable units in the market with a 2 year warranty and E marked for use in vehicles. .

 

I apologize if you think Im having a laugh or trying be a nuisance but can assure you that is not the case

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It is true that We have had many customers over the past decade who wish ti run washing machines in motorhomes and caravans but overall it is rare. .... I merely mentioned Africa as an example of other situations we have a another company who presence is very large in Africa and we have created a specific product for this market google solar2Africa 400. .. however this company came from the fact that caravan technology was doing so much bushiness there.

 

Prices are not competitive ?? the stand alone solar panels are expensive on our site yes and we do not sell many due to the supplier being in the UK and the quality of the panels are very high and because the requirements for these type and size of solar panels are rare we are actually in the process of reviewing and updating the solar section for start of the season. .

 

However our 40W and 80W folding solar panels(very popular among caravans) which we sell thousands of are very competitive compared to our rivals and have a very good reputation and review. .. for example maplin sell a 40W panel for £200! compared to £125 at caravan technology. .....

 

You ask what i bring to the table??? I do not want to cause trouble or arguments I am simply here to offer my advice and experience in the leisure market. .

 

Caravan and leisure technology really shine in the Inverter market

 

Our modified inverters are some of the best prices available on the market and the quality is second to none they are a UK design by ourselves offering a range from 150W to 5000W. ..

 

As previously mentioned the Cotek range of pure sine wave inverters at the most robust and reliable units in the market with a 2 year warranty and E marked for use in vehicles. .

 

I apologize if you think Im having a laugh or trying be a nuisance but can assure you that is not the case

 

My only beef with you is that you published a guide on here, a caravan forum that was by your own admission inaccurate, you then tried to bluff your way through your error. The guide seems to exist elsewhere so who was the original author?

 

Solar panels you are indeed cheaper than Maplin but eBay has an 80w unit at £128

 

http://www. ebay. co. uk/itm/UK-STOCK-80W-2-40W-folding-mono-solar-panel-Portable-12V-RV-boat-camping-car-/281245833048?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item417b8ed758

 

If you're to give guidance then please make it applicable to caravans and motor homes, people may rely on this information and IMHO the guide isn't suitable without amendments

 

Ap

 

 

Ap

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My only beef with you is that you published a guide on here, a caravan forum that was by your own admission inaccurate, you then tried to bluff your way through your error. The guide seems to exist elsewhere so who was the original author?

 

Solar panels you are indeed cheaper than Maplin but eBay has an 80w unit at £128

 

http://www. ebay. co. uk/itm/UK-STOCK-80W-2-40W-folding-mono-solar-panel-Portable-12V-RV-boat-camping-car-/281245833048?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item417b8ed758

 

If you're to give guidance then please make it applicable to caravans and motor homes, people may rely on this information and IMHO the guide isn't suitable without amendments

 

Ap

 

 

Ap

Ok so maybe I should have edited it to be more specific to caravans this is because I am use to offering portable power solution's to all off grid environments and not just caravans and motorhomes. I still feel it is suitable for the forum but sorry if you don't agree.

 

The article used on our website and when advising customers I am the Author!!

 

The quality of the panel on Ebay are not worth the risk in my opinion but if it is value rather than quality then yes ebay is the place to go as with everything. ..

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The quality of the panel on Ebay are not worth the risk in my opinion but if it is value rather than quality then yes ebay is the place to go as with everything. ..

That's a very sweeping and bold statement to make. I have both bought and sold on eBay and whilst there are some inferior products on there, there are many good ones too. Careful selection is the key. The solar panel setup on my Senator cost around £220 for a 150w setup including all mounting hardware and controller with remote display. The performance has been outstanding and I can't fault it. Quotes from specialist companies like yourself were never competitive by quite a margin and quality was always quoted yet in some cases the items were identical.

 

Good luck with your venture on ct

 

Ap

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That's a very sweeping and bold statement to make. I have both bought and sold on eBay and whilst there are some inferior products on there, there are many good ones too. Careful selection is the key. The solar panel setup on my Senator cost around £220 for a 150w setup including all mounting hardware and controller with remote display. The performance has been outstanding and I can't fault it. Quotes from specialist companies like yourself were never competitive by quite a margin and quality was always quoted yet in some cases the items were identical.

 

Good luck with your venture on ct

 

Ap

That is why i said risk there are a lot of good quality products on ebay and like you we have traded on ebay in the past. .... But there is an awful lot of cheap and cheerful products available too that are too tempting for non experienced ebay users and give solar panels etc. a bad name.

 

Onwards and upwards :-)

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Caravan technology you need to be aware that whatever your intentions there will be those quick to criticise.

It's why certain contributors give up. They feel they are on a hiding to nothing.

So keep at it.

Poolebob

Honda CRV Diesel Petrol & No caravan now. :angry:

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Caravan technology you need to be aware that whatever your intentions there will be those quick to criticise.

It's why certain contributors give up. They feel they are on a hiding to nothing.

So keep at it.

Poolebob

Thanks for the heads up!! Looks like i'm learning the hard way lol. However Constructive criticism does have some potential though

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Caravan technology you need to be aware that whatever your intentions there will be those quick to criticise.

It's why certain contributors give up. They feel they are on a hiding to nothing.

So keep at it.

Poolebob

Pb you're right, I maybe was harsh as a result of seeing a new company advising the use of never tears for washing machine / tumble driers in caravans. It sounded alarm bells to me.

 

Caravantechnology, please accept my apologies for giving you a hard time.

 

Ap

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Pb you're right, I maybe was harsh as a result of seeing a new company advising the use of never tears for washing machine / tumble driers in caravans. It sounded alarm bells to me.

 

Caravantechnology, please accept my apologies for giving you a hard time.

 

Ap

Audipartner,

 

Thank you that is considerate and much appreciated. I can understand where you are coming from I have just jumped on board like the new kid on the block but hope my experience in the leisure market can be of use to others I do not wish to offend or argue with any one I am also here to learn myself and will take any criticism as a lesson on to improve my knowledge. ..

 

I hope there are no hard feelings and thank you again top man!

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Caravantech,

Can you use your modified sine wave inverters to power a TV and a mobile phone battery charger? How efficient are your inverters?

Barlyn

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Caravantech,

Can you use your modified sine wave inverters to power a TV and a mobile phone battery charger? How efficient are your inverters?

Barlyn

Hi Barlyn,

 

Yes TV and mobile phone chargers will work without any problems on a modified inverter. the efficiency of our range of modified inverters is between 85 %and 90%....

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Another welcome here for caravantechnology; I thought your article was pretty reasonable and even-handed. I use a 2kW generator and a 1. 5kW PSW inverter, and the main issue is really the caning that the inverter can give the battery. It will probably boil a small kettle twice before the low battery beep starts. However, lower current demands give reasonable lifespan. We have got an outrageous toy for this year, though - an ice maker! It only draws 140w, so I am really looking forward to endless ice in the cocktails somewhere on a Mediterranean coast.

Enjoy every minute of every day. It doesn't last nearly as long as you'd like, and there's no guarantee of coming this way again.

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Another welcome here for caravantechnology; I thought your article was pretty reasonable and even-handed. I use a 2kW generator and a 1. 5kW PSW inverter, and the main issue is really the caning that the inverter can give the battery. It will probably boil a small kettle twice before the low battery beep starts. However, lower current demands give reasonable lifespan. We have got an outrageous toy for this year, though - an ice maker! It only draws 140w, so I am really looking forward to endless ice in the cocktails somewhere on a Mediterranean coast.

Many thanks for you comment and welcoming looking forward to chatting to all you fine people

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