Inverter Safety (& Advice)

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 09:07
ThreadID: 79290 Views:3583 Replies:3 FollowUps:9
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Hi all,

Long time reader and more recently registered, soon to become full member of EO.
I have read through all the forum threads/blogs (my best source of information) and doing some further online research. Currently working between Italy, Croatia and Greece I have no one around to ask in 'basic English', so revert so my fellow Aussies for sound advice.
I have to admit to being a bit confused regarding the 'safety' of these inverters. Looking for one for our VW Kombi in Europe and then eventually at home later in the year for our intended troopy. (all european plug equipment)
Charging will be laptop/phone/recharge batts/razor/torches etc. I have decided the 'pure' sine wave due to advice on here and have summised that a 350w would suit my uses for the moment.(the bigger ones are much more expensive)
Waeco make the 'MSP352' model, which I see is not listed on the waeco.com.au website. They only have the Modified SW models.
Through my work I can get 'quite cheap' the following msp 352 model
http://www.tcschandlery.co.uk/9359/Waeco-SinePower-MSP352---MSP354-.html
is this inverter first of all safe to use as it is? and is it a good model based on the specs listed?

Thanks all in advance.

Regards Paul
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Reply By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 10:44

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 10:44
If you are happy with 240v floating around in your vehicle.

I installed several extra lighter sockets and used them with the different chargers permanently in them

Used a 12-19v step up power module to run the laptop with no probs as long as its at least a 6amp 90w model.

Not a fan of being in a ditch with the car live and no one can get you out.

Unlikely I know but it could happen

You may also be reducing the voltage again to charge all these things so why use two steps when 1 wil do.


AnswerID: 420613

Follow Up By: Steve and Viv - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 13:05

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 13:05
I'm a bit the same in the thoughts about travelling along with 240 floating around. Apart from the water issue I'd hate for the plug or lead to fray or wear and then maybe touch the cargo barrier and then have the kids touch that. Again, unlikely but possible. I also use DC to DC converters for the lap top while in the car. While at camp though I do have and use a pure sine wave inverter
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FollowupID: 690794

Follow Up By: Patrol22 - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 13:21

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 13:21
You've got 240v "floating around" you house and caravan....what's the difference in having a properly protected and set up inverter in your car. I've had an inverter set up for several years now and all works fine....and armageddon hasn't struck me truck:-)
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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 14:21

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 14:21
It isnt "floating" around in either. It is securely fastened and mostly out of harms way.

No one can tell how someone else will set the vehicle up and one persons idea of safe may be "Just stuck under a seat" whereas someone else may fix it high up on the cargo barrier.

Just because you havent had an accident with it doesnt mean no one will or even you may tomorrow.

My reasoning is you cant have an accident with whats NOT there.

I really dont care The guy asked for opinions and that is mine.

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FollowupID: 690798

Follow Up By: CruisinDub - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 02:23

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 02:23
Thanks for the inputs from all.

Would you have different opinions if the inverter was seperated by a large cut of switch when not in use?

The worry seems to be having 220v live whilst driving and having an accident/water etc. understood.

Could a large isolator be fitted just outside the battery box to stop any issues with 240v unless using it?

Is the Inverter in the link able to be 'switched off'?

The only leads would be the two red/black 12v leads to the inverter. When used I would invision that we would plug the laptop/torches etc directly to the inverter/unplug after use.

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FollowupID: 690893

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 09:08

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 09:08
CruisinDub,
I'm sure the inverter presently would have an 'on/of' switch, so when switched "off" there is no 240v produced anyway.

To ask if the inverter was seperated by a large cut of switch when not in use, implies this switch is to be installed in the ' 12v ' (+) cable between the Aux battery and the inverter 'on/off' switch anyway.

"Could a large isolator be fitted just outside the battery box to stop any issues with 240v unless using it?"
This is a 12v cable and is not live to 220v or 240v current

If the inverter does NOT have an individual 'on/off' switch, maybe a second choice inverter would be a better choice

'Maîneÿ . . .
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FollowupID: 690912

Follow Up By: Patrol22 - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 09:17

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 09:17
Agree with Mainey. Mine is a 500w inverter that I bought from Derek Best who advertises on this forum. The 240V side is switched and this also starts a fan to keep the unit cool. The unit is securely mounted in my storage unit and I do have a 60 amp circuit breaker on the 12 volt side and pretty close to my aux batteries which are also low down in the storage unit. I keep the inverter isolated from the batteries for the most part. Apart from charging batteries for the cameras etc, I use my inverter to drive the little 300w sunbeam food saver.
We often cook up a number of meals and vacuum seal them for use while travelling - especially during periods of one night stops. On longer stop overs we cook as needed. Not saying this is a good approach for everyone but it works for us.
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FollowupID: 690913

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 20:31

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 20:31
Paul,

There's been some heated discussion on inverters and safety here recently, but it's generated a lot more heat than enlightenment.

The one your link points to appears to be a quality unit, and should be perfectly safe to use. BUT - as with all high voltage sources, if something goes wrong, such as water ingress, it MIGHT become dangerous if there is also some fault in the insulation of the output lead or any appliance attached to it. Being in a metal vehicle makes this situation far more dangerous than it would be in your home, since the vehicle can become one of the electrodes.

The high voltage exists between two wires in the output cable. The danger from high voltage electricity does not come from TOUCHING either of these wires. It comes from the current that can flow through your body if you touch one of them AND are also connected somehow to the other wire. The particular risk in a metal vehicle is that an insulation breakdown could result in at least a partial connection between one of the wires and the body of the vehicle. If you then touch the vehicle (hard to avoid if you're inside it) and also the second wire you will get a nasty shock, which could be fatal. This situation requires two faults to occur, so the risk is small, very very small with quality gear kept clean and dry. The consequences though are potentially very serious.

I prefer to use individual 12V adapters to run all the technology. Suitable adapters are available for anything you are likely to need - laptop, cameras, ipods, torches....... Using 12V adapters you avoid the hassles and risks of high voltage, use less power from your battery, save money. If you prefer the flexibility of an inverter, I think the one you've suggested is a good choice. The specs look good, though the standby current (1.2A) is a bit high and the efficiency (<90%) not too flash.

HTH

John
J and V
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AnswerID: 420679

Follow Up By: CruisinDub - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 02:09

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 02:09
Hi John,

Hope this finds you well. Thanks for your objectional and also serious reply. Appreciate the input and also the further information.
The forum question finds that while some people use an inverter alot, others are pointing me away from it.

Our current VW kombi has 220v input from shore side and we try to do all our charging from this and when we are in camp grounds with power.
We would like to be a bit more flexible and thought that an inverter, (350w) would be an option to help the neccessity to have regular and constant 220v power input.

We have not had a need for one previously, but do like the idea of being more able to stay away from camp grounds.

Some more serious thought for this. We figured the 200 euro would quickly pay for itself when not having to go to camp grounds just for basic 220v input such as charging and powering up again.

(our kombi has a large under bed storage where the service battery is located.)
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FollowupID: 690892

Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 20:40

Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 20:40
Paul,
I've had my 300 Watt PSW inverter for a number of years now, and use it when traveling and also when stationary too.
I'm not getting into a floating argument as mine is 'attached' to the end of a timber bed frame so it goes nowhere.

However, I do run all 240v through a 4 plug powerboard which is protected by an inline 240v fuse, which I believe should be just as mandatory in a 240v circuit as it is in a 12v circuit.

Maîneÿ . . .
AnswerID: 420683

Follow Up By: CruisinDub - Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 02:32

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 02:32
hello mate,

have read some of your replies on this subject and seen the forum thread where there was much discussion about your set up of the 'rcd' circuit breaker etc.

I foresee that I would connect to the service battery located under our rear bench seat storage of our VW Kombi rock/roll bed cupboard up high on the side.

I can see us using only one outlet at any one time, hence the 350w choice.
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FollowupID: 690894

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 08:56

Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 08:56
Paul,
I use the individually switched, 10 Amp, powerboard so I can charge 4 items simultaneously and l find it not only saves time but is much more convenient also.

Maîneÿ . . .
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FollowupID: 690911

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