Submitted: Friday, Apr 04, 2003 at 21:07
ThreadID: 4225 Views:3304 Replies:4 FollowUps:13
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Hi gang,
I am considering buying an inverter for use in my caravan.
The main use would be to operate an Engle fridge and 18w fluo tube and a couple of 25w incondecant globes.
Thank you.
PS> I have seen some advertised at Jaycar. Has anybody had any expirience with these?
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Reply By: Scott - Friday, Apr 04, 2003 at 22:19

Friday, Apr 04, 2003 at 22:19
Ray why do you want to convert 12v into 240 when you can run your Engel directly off 12vDC. You can get 12vDC fluro lights at 20watts and 25w 12v incadescent globes. A 12vDC 8w fluoro light would put out substantially more light than a 25w bulb.
Jaycar Dick Smith and most other cheap inverters all come from the same factory in Taiwan. Some other guy posted the factory link here late last year.
AnswerID: 16900

Follow Up By: David N. - Saturday, Apr 05, 2003 at 10:27

Saturday, Apr 05, 2003 at 10:27
AlsoRay, don't even contemplate running incandescent lites unless you have unlimited 12v capacity- there are somany other more efficient alternatives...... however you asked the question.. so
Incandescent bulbs run a power factor of 1, so you can just do a direct conversion of the watts, flouros- well they vary, but remove any power factor capacitor in your flouro and then you need say 30% more capacity to run it (this varys depending on the flouro unit your running and the inverter- some are more "honest"in output than others.)
As for the frig- run it on 12v- if you must run it on 240 for some reason you'll probably need a lot more "capacity" than the actual running wattage of the frig- but again this depends a lot on the inverter you are using. The only way to find out what you need might be trial and error- there are so many variables. The other alternative is togofor a much bigger inverter- but that costs both efficiency AND dollars...
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Follow Up By: David N. - Saturday, Apr 05, 2003 at 10:29

Saturday, Apr 05, 2003 at 10:29
PS the jaycar inverters are pretty good- although much better are available (for MORE dollars).
FollowupID: 10524

Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 00:55

Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 00:55
David, I'm curious about what you mean by "remove any power factor capacitor in your fluoro". A guy at Rainbow Power Company told me once that most cheap inverters don't like running fluoros and may possibly fail. He said that it was a problem to do with the power factor, but I didn't really understand what he was on about. Are you saying that there's a bit you can remove from a standard fluoro, that will make it ok to run through an inverter?
FollowupID: 10561

Follow Up By: Martin Brown - Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 04:36

Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 04:36
I do a few electronic and electrical repairs on the road while travelling for extra money to supplement the pension and needed good light better than 12v fluoro lights and have two standard 240v 20w fluoro converted to run from 12v. I bought these while in WA
I use one outside the van for bbq at night

I did not think fluoro lights had power factor correction capacitors in them as standard. Only high power type fluoro lights have capacitors fitted or if there are large numbers on one circuit.
Never tried running a standard 240v fluro light from an inverter.
FollowupID: 10566

Follow Up By: Martin Brown - Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 04:44

Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 04:44
Went to the Jaycar website to buy some goodies and this popped its head up
Just had a quick scan of the article and looks informative
FollowupID: 10567

Follow Up By: David N. - Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 21:13

Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 21:13
zigglemeister asked about capacitors...
Yes, most flouros have a power factor correction capacitor in them for connection to mains power. The "modified sinewave" inverters(ie:most that are sold) do NOT like having this capacitor-simply remove it and your flouro will run much better off a cheap inverter.
In my old caravan I could run two 40watt standard flouros (one inside and one outside) off a cheap 150w inverter no problem at all after removing the capacitors. BTW don't get confused between the "ballast" and the capacitor- the ballast is an essential part of the circuit for a flouro.
However if you don't know what you are doing get professional help, because you can kill yourself off the the 240 v from an inverter just as you can from mains power.....
There are some very good quality and very efficient 12v flouros becoming available now- way better than the cheapies from auto accesory shops (but unfortunately also a fair bit dearer) Jaycar sell some now, the "2D" one is 16w -about $50 and the 12w one about $40- they are dear but HEAPS better than their cheaper alternatives....
FollowupID: 10597

Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Monday, Apr 07, 2003 at 08:49

Monday, Apr 07, 2003 at 08:49
Thanks David and Martin, that's very helpful info for me. A further question for David, though - if you remove the capacitor, can that light still be used on normal AC, or does it then become dangerous? I am living in a remote area of Vanuatu, using solar panels for power. I have both a 12V circuit and a 240V circuit (off a 550 watt modified-square-wave inverter) through the house, for different things. When I get low on power I unplug the whole AC house circuit from the inverter and plug it into a small generator, which I also then use to run a battery charger to top up the 12V batteries at the same time. I am having a lot of trouble with some of the 12V lights at the far end of the house from the batteries (I think the wiring is corroding very quickly at the joints - our tropical conditions are not very good for it) so would like to replace them with 240V ones - but as you can see, sometimes that's off a generator, sometimes off an inverter.
FollowupID: 10614

Follow Up By: David N. - Monday, Apr 07, 2003 at 12:34

Monday, Apr 07, 2003 at 12:34
Yes --flouro minus the capacitor still works perfectly on 240v. Only difference is it will have a lower power factor, which won't be a problem.
If you buy a 240v flouro new, you can ask for with OR without the power factor correction capacitor.... ie: Hi or low power factor. (It's all to do with inductance- the supply authorities don't like low power factor as it means they need bigger cables, transformers etc.)
FollowupID: 10625

Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Monday, Apr 07, 2003 at 14:16

Monday, Apr 07, 2003 at 14:16
Thanks David, that was really helpful. Have just been and removed the capacitor from a 240 V fluoro that up till now I have usually only been able to run off the generator. If the inverter was cold, it would trip out on overload when I turned the light on, even though it's only 36 watts (2 x 18 watt tubes) and it's a 550 watt inverter. Tried it just now, started up fine (but the inverter was warm - been running the laptop, so that's not 100% conclusive yet). I'll check it in the morning, but it looks like I'm on a winner. Many thanks!
FollowupID: 10634

Reply By: Jack - Saturday, Apr 05, 2003 at 16:59

Saturday, Apr 05, 2003 at 16:59

I don't know much about inverters,and don't own one, but Dick Smith has Digitor 240v - 12v/300 watt inverters on special for $99.86 (save $28 it claims) for their current Easter Sale. Not sure if this is good value, but thought I would pass it on. They are on the front page if you have the catalogue.
AnswerID: 16930

Follow Up By: Scott - Saturday, Apr 05, 2003 at 18:18

Saturday, Apr 05, 2003 at 18:18
We use the Dick Smith inverters in our tour buses to run all sorts of gear. Never had one fail and they are good value for money. The 150w and 300w are the ones we use. The passengers charge their laptop chargers, shavers, mobile phone chargers CD players and anything else they can find to plug in.
FollowupID: 10541

Follow Up By: Jack - Saturday, Apr 05, 2003 at 19:31

Saturday, Apr 05, 2003 at 19:31
Thank you Scott. May be something I should consider, as I have a laptop, planning on getting a GPS system soon, and also run a digital camera that needs batteries recharged from time to time. Mobile charges quite well out of the ciggie lighter.
Thanks for the tip ..
FollowupID: 10548

Follow Up By: Martin Brown - Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 04:09

Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 04:09
Jack Tandy have a good 12v NiMH battery charger for about $35 which will charge 4 NiMh batteries at once. I use it nearly everyday to charge AA NiMh batteries as my digital camera, Uniden UHF x 2 hand helds, GPS, portable radio, Maglite torch all use AA NiMh batteries. I have been buying the NiMh batteries at Coles Supermarket for 2 pkt AA Panasonic 1800mAh for $11.69 Cheapest and best value NiMh batteries we have used.

In the current Dick Smith Cat they have the Kerio Auto/Air universal Notebook Adaptor for $98 which is better than running an inverter to charge your laptop. You can look it up on the DSE website and enter in the Cat No M0695
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Follow Up By: GaryInOz (Vic) - Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 10:38

Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 10:38
Try Cat No M9695
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Reply By: Jack - Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 06:49

Sunday, Apr 06, 2003 at 06:49
Much obliged Martin. Off to the shops ... Thank you.
AnswerID: 16952

Reply By: David N. - Monday, Apr 07, 2003 at 13:22

Monday, Apr 07, 2003 at 13:22
For those wanting to run flouros off inverters- many of the new generation (electronic) compact flouros do NOT like modified sine wave power-you might have to test yours to see how they run. However conventional ballast type flouros, including the older generation Philips (eg SL20) which have a mini ballast, work just fine.
AnswerID: 17044

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