Inverter recommendations

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TreXTerra

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I am preparing for a prolonged off-grid trip and I would like to get an inverter so I can charge my camera battery and possibly a laptop. I'm looking for something that will run off at standard 12v plug and will not need any special wiring or mounting to use. (Eventually I will be adding a second battery, some breakers and another fuse box, but not right now.)

In the past I ended up with an inverter that got so hot it was capable of melting the carpets (that inverter eventually cooked itself to death), I'd like to avoid that this time around. I also don't want the cheapest thing possible that will burn out on me right when I need it.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Mad Garden Gnome

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Inverters get hot. That's the nature of the beast, that's why they have fins n fans. If the unit you have fulfills your needs, would you consider mounting options that would prevent burnt skin, melted plastic, or cabin fires? I plan on ducting mine so it will get an assist from convection cooling.
 

TreXTerra

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The problem is that I don't have one at the moment. I know that they can get hot, but some seem to be capable of cooking my breakfast. Good heat sinks and cooling will be important considerations in the purchase.

In the future I will probably do a mounted inverter, but I want that to be part of a major electrical overhaul I have planned. Right now I need something I can plug in when I need it and can stash away when it isn't in use.
 
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Lifestyle Overland

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@BlindIo42 With the types of loads you're listing, you should be able to get by with a smaller inverter (between 100W & 400W). Here's a couple suggestions:




This should take care of your camera charger and most types of laptops. (If you're running a workhorse laptop with tons of graphics power then go with the larger unit.)

Also, excessive heat isn't a normal condition. If you have it in a ventilated area, open to ambient cabin temps (under 80 degrees) then it shouldn't be melting carpet.
 

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My wife went on a business trip a few years ago and got 3 of these in a vendor goody bag. 100w is just enough for a laptop or to charge any USB device to include camera batteries. We keep one in each daily driver along with one in our BOB/trip pack. That means we almost always have two on us.

A larger, more dutiful inverter would be needed for Refrigerators and that type of thing but for small stuff, the portability of these keeps them in our kits.

 

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I'm looking at these small cup holder ones. It would be so easy to throw in truck and be done. I don't plan on running a fridge or anything too big. But, I have a cig lighter type in the back...These make me want to cut the plastic around it and mount of the whole unit into that hole and connect it. I'd use it for charging devices and pumping up kids mattresses. Hmmmm...may be too much trouble when I can just buy the cup holder one...
 

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I have this Bestek 400W inverter, and with my limited testing of it using the lighter plug, it worked fine running a 150W light bulb for ~5 minutes without getting too hot. I want to run heavier wiring to the back of my Outback and using that instead of the lighter socket for more potential power if needed.

http://amzn.to/1WasyAZ


 

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What's the size of the fuse in your cig lighter? Toyota's are typically 20 Amp which means in a perfect world, they could do 240 watts at 12V. Don't try to adapt a larger inverter with a cig lighter plug if it doesn't come with one.
I keep a couple of those kind that just plug into the cig lighter and it has one three prong 120V plug that I use for phone and camera battery chargers. If I want to run my "Bullet" for a smoothie, I plug it into my hard-wired inverter and don't worry about it.


Dan.
 

Steve

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Yea, my fuse is 20W, as well. That's why I'm going to hardwire it when I get home. I just ran out of time before we headed out west in mid-September. Actually, I haven't used it on the trip yet at all...
 

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This just popped up on the Amazon deals page:


Not sure on this brand, but the reviews are good and the price is right.
 

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A good place to shop for inverters is DonRowe.com good support and customer svc.
 

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No offense guys, but those are some cheap products... they may do okay, but I wouldn’t trust my sensitive laptop to one...

I’m a Navy Electronics tech, so I understand inverting principles, and I’m a previous RV’er, and now work at an RV shop.

If you really want to do it right, get a Xantrex with a pure sine wave output. The modified sine wave inverters are NOT for sensitive electronics.

I just looked at a nice Xantrex for a customer today, and about a 650 watt pure sine wave Xantrex was somewhere around $250-$300. It was a black model, can’t remember the exact model number.

You can go cheap if you want, but you are putting your expensive electronics at risk by doing so.

James
 

Lifestyle Overland

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No offense guys, but those are some cheap products... they may do okay, but I wouldn’t trust my sensitive laptop to one...

I’m a Navy Electronics tech, so I understand inverting principles, and I’m a previous RV’er, and now work at an RV shop.

If you really want to do it right, get a Xantrex with a pure sine wave output. The modified sine wave inverters are NOT for sensitive electronics.

I just looked at a nice Xantrex for a customer today, and about a 650 watt pure sine wave Xantrex was somewhere around $250-$300. It was a black model, can’t remember the exact model number.

You can go cheap if you want, but you are putting your expensive electronics at risk by doing so.

James
Agree 100%. If you're running electronics very often then pure sine wave is a must. We now have a 1000W Xantrex PSW in the 4Runner and its big brother the 2000W unit in our Turtleback. Occasional use is ok on the cheap units, but not ideal for the longevity of the chargers or batteries.
 
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Kelso

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Also keep in mind the power limitations of the 12v socket as these are fused. Not likely to get more than 100W without directly wiring it to the battery which is how anything worth buying should be installed.

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