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Power inverter info request

Discussion in '2nd Gen. Tacomas' started by TAC1, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. TAC1

    TAC1 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Hello Forum,
    I plan to install a power inverter in my 08 DCSB 4.0 sometime soon ($). I just want to have it in case I ever decide to plug a coffee maker, toaster, laptop, small fridge, tv, or charge up my drill. Things of that nature. I have a few questions:

    * What is the maximum wattage that I can run without damaging my alternator (although the truck will be off sometimes).

    * Whats a good brand that won't cost me an arm and a leg?

    * Even though these converters come with fuses I would like to run something like an on/off type switch so that when I am not using it there is NO power going to it. I would like to install this switch behind the fuse box under the hood and attach it to the drivers side inner fender so it as to be water resistant.

    * I want to install it under the passenger seat and I will ground it to the bolt from the seat but I also need to know what gauge cable to run with whatever wattage I am able to safely use.

    * If anyone has personal experience with a power inverter, please give me some feedback.

    Thanks :)
     
  2. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    Well, to start with, it sounds like you think the items in that list are all similar in draw. They are not. Some of that stuff will draw 1500 watts, and others will barely draw 40.

    As a practical matter you really cannot run more than about 400 watts unless you have dedicated batteries and a specialized system built to support it. At 400 watts you are already pulling 33 amps. That is a big drain if you plan to sustain it for any length of time.

    It's also the case that inverters are best chosen so that you are not running at the peak output. 50% to 75% of the rated max is a better number. If it were me, I would get a 400 watt and limit most of my use to items around 250 watt or less. You can charge a drill at that, or a computer. Small TV's draw around 40 watts. Forget about anything with a heating element.

    You definitely want a breaker on the supply line. For a 400 watt inverter #10 wire should be fine for a moderate run. I would use #8 if the run is over 10-12 feet, especially if you exercise the upper end much. Most good inverters have a switch built in, so an external switch is not needed. I've had good luck with AIMS inverters.
     
  3. brian

    brian Another Traitor

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    I would also recommend an AGM or better battery, and probably a dual battery setup would be nice if you're talking fridges and stuff. IDK if you're talking about running the truck or not...
     
  4. TAC1

    TAC1 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Hello badger,
    I appreciate the info. What is a breaker and do you have a pic or part # for one?
    How do I know what size breaker to buy and are they water resistant?

    Hello brian,
    I plan on having the truck running and if I do have the engine off then I will start it every 15 minutes or so. If that is a good time interval.

    Sorry guys but I am electronically challenged. I appreciate the info so far :)
     
  5. Drunknsloth

    Drunknsloth Indffrnce will be the fall of manknd but who cares

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    This is what he is talking about
    http://www.amazon.com/100-HIGH-POWER-CIRCUIT-BREAKER/dp/B003IYWGXY

    You don't have to get this exact one, it was the first one on google that showed up. The Amp size that you buy depends on how many wattage your inverter is running. It basically acts as a fuse and if it blows you can just reset it. Pretty much like a circuit breaker in the utility room of your house.
     
  6. TAC1

    TAC1 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    OOOOOHH! I've seen those.
    Sorry for so many questions but if I DO go with a 400w then what size breaker do I need to buy and if I go with an 800w then what size breaker for that one. I see that the breakers are measured in AMPS & I don't know the formula for that per wattage of the inverter.
     
  7. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    Tac, I'm talking about something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Bussmann-BP-C...352522412&sr=8-2&keywords=12v+circuit+breaker

    They come in all different ratings and they have auto reset. That means they will shut down for a short period of time if overloaded and then reset automatically. They are water resistent. A short run of 10ga wire should be fused/breakered at no more than 30amps. 30 amps will produce about 18 watts of heat in the wire before the fuse / breaker blows. Place the breaker close to the battery.

    I must warn you though that specifc needs in terms of wire size and fusing requires accurate information about loads, load duration, and length of run. With an inverter you have 2 issues to deal with. One is the safety of the circuit, and the other is the voltage drop across the circuit. Inverters do not like excessive voltage drop, and most will actually shut down if the incoming voltage is below a certain level.

    When you decide on the unit you want, and measure the distance of the wire run, we can give you more specific information.
     
  8. Drunknsloth

    Drunknsloth Indffrnce will be the fall of manknd but who cares

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    Power (Watts) = V (Volts) * I (Amps)

    So I (Amps) = Power (Watts) / V (Volts)
    400W/12V = 33.4 A

    Using the 80% rule you want all the components including wires, relays, connectors ect to be able to handle at least 42 Amps.
    You can get a 50 Amp circuit breaker, or maybe a 45 Amp fuse, but make sure your fuse holder can handle 45 Amps (maybe one used for audio amplifiers for subwoofers).

    Here's a good thread to get some basics:
    http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/technical-chat/103969-electronics-basics-reference.html
     
  9. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    Actually this is not correct. The amperage of the breaker is chosen to protect the wire, not the device.
     
  10. Drunknsloth

    Drunknsloth Indffrnce will be the fall of manknd but who cares

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    Well I was under the assumption the wire capacity would be well over the capacity of the inverter.
     
  11. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    Here is a callculator for wire size that is pretty useful. It allows you to enter a specified voltgae drop. I would recommend 3%

    http://circuitwizard.bluesea.com/#
     
  12. ecoterragaia

    ecoterragaia Well-Known Member

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    I have a 700w inverter from Harbor Freight i got for 50 bucks. Been using it for two years now with no issues. I used 4 gauge flexible welding cable from the local hardware store, and a 300 amp marine battery disconnect switch to keep it turned off (the switch is waterproof and cost like 10 dollars on Amazon). Inline fuse is 60 amps.
     
  13. Shadetree

    Shadetree Well-Known Member

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    For every amp of 120 VAC (120 Watts) of load through an inverter, between 11 and 13 amps are required at at 12 VDC to produce it. 12-volt appliances tend to be more efficient. Sufficient headroom sizing should also be applied for inductive loads.
     
  14. BamaToy1997

    BamaToy1997 ASE Master Tech Vendor

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    Having worked iwth inverters for many years, I have to disagree with your math process. A 400 watt power inverter is not 400 watts at 12 volts. That wattage output is based on the 120 volt output. So when you do the math as you indicated it would actually be:

    400W/120V=3.33 amps.

    If you look at inverter specs you will see this is accurate. I have run 1100 Watt inverters off my Tacoma with no problems at all. If your method of calculations were correct, I would be drawing almost 92 amps of current!

    Just wanted to make sure the proper math was being applied.

    Also note that this is the OUTPUT. Proper protection on the INPUT or 12V side should be based on the owners manual for the inverter.

    with a 400Watt/120V output, you would be looking somewhere in the range of 40Watts at 12V. This equates to APPROXIMATELY 3.33 amps of current to run the inverter. There will be more due to the electronics involved and such, but shouldn't be more that 10 amps, as I have run a 400Watt inverter off a cigarette lighter plug that was only fused at 10 amps on my previous two trucks.
     
  15. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    um, ..... no. You can't get more wattage out of an inverter than you put in. In fact since inverters are all less than 100% efficient, the wattage in will always be higher than what you demand on the 120V side.

    Yes, you can run a 400 watt inverter on a 10 amp fuse, as long as you never draw much over 120 watts. It is a very simple equation: watts = amps x volts. It takes roughly 10X the amps on the 12V side to get the equivalent wattage out the 120V side.
     
  16. TAC1

    TAC1 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Hello ecoterragaia,

    Would you mind posting some pics so that I can see your set-up?
    What have you powered with that inverter and have you done it with the engine off or on?
    Where is the 60 amp fuse located in the line, near the battery or the inverter?
    I wanted some one who is running one who can tell me their personal experience with it, like you. There is a Harbor Freight near my job so I can go there. I was looking for 800 watts but 700w may be fine also.

    I appreciate everyone's responses!
    Thanks :)
     
  17. BamaToy1997

    BamaToy1997 ASE Master Tech Vendor

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    Then I will just appreciate the fact that I draw much more than 120 watts and never blow my fuse. I disagree, but I will not argue the point.
     
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