So confused y inverters.

Submitted: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:02
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I've done a search with "inverter" and come up with 76 results. I've been through about 20 of them and they are all talking way above my head.

Please allow me to ask in simple blonde terms what type of inverter I need.

We have 2 deep cycle batteries in the back of our ute that run our fridges. They are not connected to the engine batteries. The guy who did our canopy put some 12v plugs in so we could pull power from the batteries.

We ONLY want to charge things. These being AAA batteries, ipods, the kids DS's and the laptop (I know this is somehow different!). We will never ever run something like a air con or microwave or anything like that from it. JUST recharging.

People have said for that we just need a little cigarette lighter inverter and others have said we need something more.

If we wanted something that we could just plug in at night when we pull up what do we need. If it is allowed could you link me to an example?

I presume running from the cigarette lighter needs us to be moving?

Are there any other options.



lol. I've just ben asked to also ask you if we want to run an air compressor off the inverter does it need to be different?

Thanks for being so patient with my questions
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Reply By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:14

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:14
You can charge all those devices without an inverter. However if you want to use an inverter a 300W or 500W inverter would be fine. And yes you can use a Cig Lighter inverter although they come with alligator clips and clipping onto the battery terminals direct is a better option.

Remember though you can charge you Ipod with a Ipod 12V Car Charger as with laptops and even rechargeable batteries. Running an inverter is fine but you are drawing more power this way than just using 12v methods for re-charging.
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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:20

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:20
here's some simple ebay links for reference, you would need to tell me what laptop you have or you can buy a universal laptop charger.

Ipod Car Charger 12V

Cig Lighter Battery Charger

Universal 12V laptop Charger (Need to check your model)

Off course these are just randon samples, there are plenty of choices.
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Follow Up By: Allan B, Sunshine Coast, - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:56

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:56
Would you trust your precious Iphone/Ipod to a $1.99 charger?? Not me!!

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Allan

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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:58

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:58
Allan, As I said these are samples of what is available. Irrespective you aren't going to damage your Iphone via something like that. Now Allan I'm tipping you would have somehthing more creative to say than that so spit it out,,.! LOL
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Follow Up By: Allan B, Sunshine Coast, - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:17

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:17
Yair Terra, not having a shot at you mate but as I said in my main response, I have damaged two expensive products by using these chargers which then helped to justify purchase of the inverter. The OEM cigar-lighter supply cords that come with products such as navigators seem to be OK but many of these "after-market" chargers are very cheaply built and dodgy. But, "ya pay yer money and take yer chances."

The last one to give trouble is still on my bench if you would like it for free. It ruined an expensive phone battery! When I opened it to inspect........ well if the workmanship was by my first-year apprentice, he would have received some "additional training"!

That first example of yours was listed at $1.99!!
Have I "spat it out" enough or do you want more of my experiences of dodgy electronic products. Mind you they get repetitive and boring?

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:19

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:19
Allan that was the best "Spat it Out" ever, thanks very much..! Dodgy Electronics have some great specials at the moment mate, don't miss out..!
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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:37

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:37
Some great deals going here guys on cheap electronics..?

Some Great deals here, don't miss out
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Reply By: Member - Chris & Debbie (QLD) - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:36

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:36
Missy
The simplest and easiest thing for you to do is just buy a
300 watt minimum pure sinewave inverter.
The little cigarette lighter inverters usually will not be large enough to run/charge a laptop. Of cause there are other ways and probably better
but you wanted an easy answer and what I have given will do all that
you require...

Chris
VKS737 - Mobile 1089
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Follow Up By: Member -Dodger - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 17:03

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 17:03
Another vote for a 300watt Pure sine wave inverter.
Once purchased it will last for a long time and is the better choice although it is a lot more than a modified one.

Here is a link for one.
Inverter Pure sine wave.

I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

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Reply By: Allan B, Sunshine Coast, - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:50

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:50
As TerraFirma has said you can obtain chargers for those devices that you have nominated which will operate directly from 12 volt without the need for an inverter. However, you would need to purchase and carry these 12v charging modules, probably a different one for each device. Also some of these devices are poorly manufactured and I have damaged batteries in both my phone and camera with what seemed quality 12v chargers.

My recommendation is to use an inverter as it can be useful for many things within its power capacity. I suggest that an inverter of at least 350 watt rating. Note that there are tree types of inverter: Square Wave, Modified Sine Wave, and Pure Sine Wave in ascending order of price. This refers to the waveform of the 230v output and some devices such as computer power supplies do not take kindly to the Square and Modified types, so to be sure and to protect your expensive devices it is best to pay extra and use only Pure Sine Wave types.

There are many sources on the market so you could shop around but I purchased a 380 Watt Pure Sine Wave inverter from Jaycar (MI-5162) for $269.00 and am happy with it. See here.

The "little cigarette lighter inverter" would be unlikely to supply your laptop.

You could plug the inverter into the 12v plugs in the back of the ute or into the cabin cigar-lighter socket although the ignition may need to be "on" for this one to work but not necessarily "moving". However take care not to flatten your cranking battery using this outlet.

If by "compressor" you mean one capable of inflating your tyres then no. Such a compressor would draw too much power and in any case they are normally designed to run from 12 volt only.

I do not agree with TerraFirma that an inverter would draw more power than the 12v chargers. These chargers usually use a "Voltage Regulator" type of circuit which is not very efficient.



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Allan

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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:05

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:05
Allan, Typically I believe inverters use more power than by using a direct 12v source, perhaps not all the time. I do not believe an inverter is necessary for charging all those small devices, perhaps the laptop. I sailed Sydney to Hobart with a Toshiba laptop using a direct 12v source, it was a better option than an inverter for a whole host of reasons. If you are advising Missy to keep it simple and therefore use an inverter then I can accept that, however your comments are not quite accurate.
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Follow Up By: Allan B, Sunshine Coast, - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:41

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:41
Terra, Sure there can be good reasons to use a direct 12v source power supply if it is good quality. I'm sure that the Toshiba supply was the best option for that application for a number of reasons. Avoiding 230 volts in a yacht being not the least! I would have done the same if I had the skills to be a sailor! LOL

Sure, inverters are not 100% efficient and I cannot support my argument with measured values but these cigar-lighter chargers normally employ an integrated-circuit voltage regulator which drops the voltage from 12 to whatever by the simple technique of "dissipation" which is not very efficient. Some are even more crude by using a resistor and a zener diode.

The larger the inverter, the more it will waste with its inefficiency but it will compete at the higher power levels.

My comments may have been less than comprehensive but they were not inaccurate. Your expression that inverters "use more power" than direct 12v sources was equally incomplete.

And yes, part of my recommendation to Missy was a means with which she would be familiar and avoid duplication of devices and at the same time provide sufficient power for her lap-top.

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Allan

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Follow Up By: Allan B, Sunshine Coast, - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:47

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:47
Oh and don't forget, Missy can probably plug her hair dryer into the inverter!!!

(Only kidding Missy)

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Allan

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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:56

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:56
Allan, your comment re using a direct 12v source if it's good quality is an obvious one. Associating the phrase "If it's good quality" applys to everything not just 12v sources. If you are going to recommend a single source of power to Missy please may I suggest the following:

1. A replacement fuse or 2 for the inverter.?
2. An understanding of the risk of flattening a battery using an inverter.?

Inverters can blow fuses for varying reasons and a single source of power failure could make Missy's trip a sad one. I would recommend a 12v charger for the Iphone as well, an inverter just to charge an Iphone or Ipod is silly IMO.

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Follow Up By: garrycol - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 16:09

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 16:09
I think you guys need to get a room.
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Follow Up By: ModSquad - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 22:39

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 22:39
Allan & Dean,

please refrain from "hijacking" the post with personal banter/responses. The forum is aimed at eliciting meaningful responses for postees. We thinks Garrycol has hit the nail on the head ;-)

Enough said.

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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 22:59

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 22:59
This post has been read by the moderation team and has been moderated due to a breach of The Chit Chat Rule .

Forum Moderation Team
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Reply By:- Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:51

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 13:51
Thanks for your answers.

The laptop is a Dell. On the power pack it says it is a 65w. Does that sound right?

To the PP can you link me to a page with one on it?
Can you also tell me about your "other" methods?
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Follow Up By: Bushtrek - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:40

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:40
For your Dell Laptop, forget about Invertors and plugs, bets to purchase ($96) and Dell Combination Powre Adaptor, Dell Part No; 450-13972. Description here:
Dell Combination Power Adaptor (Aus/NZ)
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Follow Up By: Allan B, Sunshine Coast, - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:50

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:50
Forget about plugs, Bushy? The illustration with the link shows SEVEN!!! LOL

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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:58

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 14:58
The Dell 12v power pack would be an intelligent purchase if you intend on doing lots of travel, it's simple and only draws the power you need.
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Follow Up By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 12:19

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 12:19
I have a work Dell Laptop - they use unique plugs and I could not find an aftermarked 12V charger and went with the Dell one.

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Pete
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Reply By: Member - Barry (NT) - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 15:26

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 15:26
From what you said a 150w inverter will do the trick . Can type with cig lighter plug now rated at 150w (about $80) and you don't normally need expensive pure sine wave inverter.

We use modified sine wave (often called square wave) for similar things for 3 years no problems.

Look for simple solutions, BUT not el cheepo I would suggest.

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Reply By: Moose - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 16:33

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 16:33
Bet you're even more confused now :-)
If you hang around this site long enough you'll find there is no simple answer to any question.
But you'll get lots of different opinions and ideas and from those you'll need to make up your own mind.
So let me add to your dilemma. I would suggest you not buy the smallest inverter for the job (assuming that's what you decide to get) - buy the next size up and it will cope better.
I have a 300w unit (bought at KMart on special for about $70 some time ago) and it runs all sorts of stuff, including laptop, and charges batteries no worries.
Have fun researching.
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Follow Up By: Member - Barry (NT) - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 21:26

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 21:26
Why 300w with associated higher DC current draw when 150w will do the job???? Doesn't really make sense to me.
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Follow Up By: Allan B, Sunshine Coast, - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 22:08

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 22:08
Barry, the DC current draw is primarily related to the 230v load regardless of the inverter wattage rating.

In fact, using Jaycar's catalogue data for modified sine inverters, the 150w and the 300w models both have the same standby current of <300mA and an efficiency of 90%. In fact so also do the 400w and 600w. So on this data the larger inverter will draw no more dc current for the same 230v load.

The 150w is listed at $49.95 and the 300w at $79.95. So double the power rating will only cost a 37% increase in price and could be worthwhile if there is any possibility of needing the extra capacity in the future.

Does that make some sense?

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Allan

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Follow Up By: Moose - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 11:58

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 11:58
Spot on Allan - the larger one allows for furture growth in the number of "toys" that need charging.
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Reply By: ChipPunk - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 16:40

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 16:40
As above - a 150W inverter for a 65W laptop should be fine.

The sizing is based on the load - eg, 65W requires say 80-100W allowing for inefficiencies etc, but 150W is a common size.

Last Thursday Aldi introduced a "weekly special" 12V 600W inverter for $59 - a pretty good price. (400mA standby current; not a bad unit except perhaps for its low-quality DC connector - the plastic caps may come off.) For the price it's hard to beat. See aldi-offers-2827_13299

Keep in mind DC current. As an approximation, divide inverter output by 10. EG - a 150W output inverter will probably consume 150/10 = 15A at full output from a battery - though this will be less if the battery is charging (because power Watts = volts x current; battery voltage can vary from (say) 11V to over 14V).
Since a cigar socket is limited to 15A (if that - most are 8A or 10A), 150W is the generally the highest output.

The best is usually to power via heavy cables direct from a battery.
But for 65W laptop, assume 70/10 = 7A which is okay (via a cig socket).
Cables will get warm if they are current stressed.

Other chargers will consume far less.

I originally got a 150W inverter as a universal solution for mobile phones, cameras, shavers, coffee grinders etc etc. It was cheaper buying two 150W inverters than the dc-dc equivalents for each item. (IE - I had a spare if the first failed - not that it ever has.)

Since then I have acquired many dc-dc chargers etc which are far more efficient electrically (not that that maters on the road), but the inverters are still handy for my rechargeable shaver and AC coffee grinder, and for guests with their appliances.


Another consideration - there are two main inverter types - namely "true" sinewave output, and pseudo- or stepped-sinewave.
A sinewave is a nice curvy ripple like waves on water.
A stepped-sinewave is like 3 rectangular blocks placed on top of each other so it approximates a real sinewave.

The stepped-sinewave is electrically noisy and may cause interference, and some loads won't like it.
However charges etc are fairly robust and should not be bothered about that - especially if multi-voltage types (200-250V, 110-240V etc).
I general, anything that has a SMPS (switched-mode power supply) should not care about stepped or true sinewave. And sine most devices there days are SMPS (TVs, mobile-phone chargers etc).
The stepped-sine can cause extra heating of some PSU (power supply unit) components, but this is becoming rarer as PSUs are ruggedised for modern distorted mains supplies, inverters, UPS etc.
(FYI - all inverters can cause interference because of their internal switching. This is separate to the stepped-sine output interference.)

Most inverters are able to supply double their rating for a short period - eg, 150W long-term and a brief 300W. That's to handle load inrush currents.
AnswerID: 417275

Reply By: Patrol22 - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 20:42

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 20:42
Did a 20000km trip last year and before going I bought a 500w inverter off Derek Bester (ABR) who advertises on this forum. Worked like a dream....charged everything up and let me operate my 300w Sunbeam vacuum sealer as well. You don't need top shelf stuff at all unless you intend operating sensitive test equipment etc. My laptop is still going strong as is my digital camera and other stuff.
AnswerID: 417298

Reply By: Mick O - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 22:51

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 22:51
Hey Missy,

seems you've been bombarded with responses. Look I've had a 300W pure sine wave inverter for years and to be honest...it's never bloody used! Like you I need to charge small things like handheld UHF's, AA battery chargers, camera and video batteries and of course the laptop.

I always use a Kerio adapter for the computer as it allows the computer to be powered during use which MAY be an issue with some modified sine wave inverters. Two years back I went to Dick smiths and bought a "coffee cup" 150 watt inverter for $80. It has been great. It has a single 240V plug and a USB plug for Ipods. It utilises a cigarette type plug for powering itself.

What I would recommend is looking underneath the 240V charging cradles and apparatuses that you wish to use. Everyone of them should have the minimum watts required for charge. Ie; my 18V Ryobi cordless drill requires a 75W charge capability. This is easily handled by the DSE inverter. I think you will find that most of the things you need to charge will fall well inside the range of a well made 100W or 150W inverter.

If I could be so bold as to offer a further piece of advice, rather than rely on your factory fitted cigarette lighter, make sure you have a separate cigarette lighter type plug fitted in the cab of the vehicle form your aux battery using heavier cable. This way you know that it will handle any current draw required without overheating and you van fuse it appropriately. I use a triple plug Projecta unit with over load switching. It was about 40 bucks.

I hope this helps and I will endeavour to scour the DSE site to find a link to the actual inverter.


Cheers Mick
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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 23:12

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 23:12
Missy,
Forget the air compressor for now, reason being they will NEED be two very different capacities, one is small and other is huge ( capacity & price )

As mentioned a small 300 Watt inverter will do what you want.
I don’t think you should buy less than 300w for the sake of usability.

make sure it’s a *Pure Sine Wave*
make sure it has *fan forced cooling*
is as close to *94% efficiency rating* as you can find.

Maîneÿ . . .
AnswerID: 417316

Reply By: missy - Monday, May 24, 2010 at 19:05

Monday, May 24, 2010 at 19:05
Thanks for everyone's input.

I think we have decided to go for the 300w pure sine inverter.

Now the question is which brand.

We went to Jaycar and they only sell powertec. After a quick google there are a few bad reviews. In everyone's opinions are these warranted? Or is it just that so many people buy them there are always going to be some duds?

Other than this brand where can I walk in and buy a decent brand?

I know I can order via the net but would really like to be able to buy a quality unit in an IRL store.

Any suggestions?
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Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Monday, May 24, 2010 at 19:33

Monday, May 24, 2010 at 19:33
Image Could Not Be FoundMaîneÿ . . .
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Follow Up By: Allan B, Sunshine Coast, - Monday, May 24, 2010 at 19:37

Monday, May 24, 2010 at 19:37
Hi Missy,

Oh dear! I have a Powertech inverter from Jaycar and now you tell me that there are some bad reviews! I did a thorough(?) google search and only found one instance of a fault (the ghost of Willem actually). Could you link me to some that you found or tell me your search string?

In general, Jaycar sell quality products and stand behind them so here's hoping.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Flynnie - Monday, May 24, 2010 at 20:50

Monday, May 24, 2010 at 20:50
I have a Powertech 380 watt. It is used mainly as a backup during blackouts. It is not part of my camping gear as I don't pack anything that needs 240 volt. I am very favourably impressed with its performance. It can run the computer and it can run the washing machine but not at the same time.

It was a gift and so not an item that I researched before I got it. I like it a lot.

I have not looked up any reviews on the Powertech. I reckon reviews on the internet should be taken with caution. Some reviews are genuine, some are not, some give the impression rare faults happen every day. Finding balanced objective reviews is very difficult.

Flynnie
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