Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Using an inverter for emergency power is by far the most common use. The Hurricane season is here for those of you in the east and down south. I hope that this article will help all of you to be more prepared in the likely event that power failure occurs. Here are some helpful tips about running an inverter during a power outage.

Before you purchase an inverter you will want to take a piece of paper and a pen and write down all of the appliances that you feel are necessary to have during a power outage. After you write down all that you need to run go to each one of the appliances and look on the back or bottom for what is called the service tag. This tag will show you a few important specs that help with picking the correct size of the inverter. The first spec that you will most likely come across is the voltage this will either be 110,115, or 120vac.

In some cases you may find that the voltage is between 205vac and 240vac. You will need a special inverter to run this appliance. We will get to that later.

The next spec you will find will be the Amps. For example this should read like this 6.0a or 6.0 amps. What you will do now is take the volts lets say 115 and multiply by amps 6.0 and this will give you 690 watts. The equation should look like this Volts x Amps = Watts or in this example 115 x 6.0 = 690. Ok, Now that we got that out of the way we can start sizing an inverter that is going to work well during a power outage.

The most common inverter sold for emergency home back-up power is a 2000 watt. The reason for this is that most people want to hook them up to there car and the 2000 is perfect for most vehicles and will run most appliance's. When you hook the inverter up to your vehicle to run the inverter you will want to try to keep the inverter close to the battery and out of any weather. I get a lot of calls about why inverters sometimes won't work when they are hooked to the vehicle this way. Most people hook these up with jumper cables. This is not the best way to do this. Jumper cables do not give a proper connection to the inverter. The best way to hook them up is with a ring terminal that fits properly over the inverter post.

Next we have to cover how the battery will hold a charge. You will want to keep the vehicle running while the inverter is hooked up. This will allow the vehicles charging system to keep a charge on the battery while the inverter is in use. If the car is off the inverter will still work. However, for prolonged use the inverter will work best if the vehicle is running. This just about covers using an inverter for emergencies with a vehicle.

When using an inverter for emergency back-up power in a home without a vehicle there are a number of ways to accomplish this. First you can have say two 12 volt batteries and hook them in parallel and one inverter. This will give you enough power to run say a reproduction off and on for two days or so depending on the size of the batteries. If you decide to do this you may want to have at least one back-up battery for the system in case power failure exceeds your battery time.

The next option is for complete home back-up. This is the best option but one of the most expensive. The system will require a large bank of batteries at a higher voltage say 24 volt or 48 volt. However, they do make 12 volt systems but they are less efficient. The best batteries to use in a large bank like this are the 6 volt batteries either made for solar or golf carts. They have a much higher reserve time and are cost effective. The next component is an inverter/charger. These are great for home back-up they have three key components. The components are an inverter, a charger, and a transfer switch. They come in sizes ranging from 1500 watts to 5500 watts. The battery chargers that are included range from 70 amps to 150 amps and will charge the input DC voltage of the inverter. This system is a lot more complex then that of a inverter and battery. Most of the inverter/chargers do not have built in AC outlets and require an electrician or professional solar installer to hook them up.

The way that the inverter/charger will work is that the inverter will work when the power is off and the battery charge will charge and maintain the batteries while the power is on. Since the battery charger that is included is a three stage battery charger with smart charging capabilities it is safe to leave the batteries hooked up to this at all times. The internal transfer switch will allow for automatic switching. This means that you will not have to do anything when the power goes out. The inverter/charger will start running all of the appliances you have selected all by itself. Even though the inverter/chargers are more expensive they are much more convenient and you won't even know that the power went out.

Now that we covered the home back-up without a vehicle lets talk about 240vac appliances. Even though there are inverters that will work for this you may want to consider not running them during a power outage because of the large draw from the batteries that they have. If you must run a 240 vac appliance you will want to have a complete separate system from the 110vac inverter system that is running the common household appliances such as the refrigerator or lights.

I hope that this entry will help those of you who are faced with hurricanes and other sources of power outages. You can find a great selection of power inverters at Any questions or comments would be appreciated.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Power Inverters and Air conditioners

I get a lot of questions about running an air conditioner on a power inverter. The air conditioner is one of the hardest household appliances to run off of an inverter. The first thing to do when getting ready to run an air conditioner on an inverter is to get all of the specifications for the AC unit. The most important spec that you will need is the LRA rating. What this stands for is locked rotor amps. The LRA rating is what the AC unit will draw from the inverter while the compressor starts up. This is a very important spec when sizing an inverter for use with an AC unit. After you get this spec you will multiply it by the voltage and this will be the startup wattage needed by the inverter.

For example if your LRA is 60.6 amps if you multiply this by 115 you will get roughly 7000 watts at start-up.

The next thing to take into consideration for a AC unit is battery bank size. The best batteries that we have found that work well with inverters are the 6 volt golf cart or solar batteries. These are more cost effective and on average have higher amp hour ratings then the traditional group 27 12 volt deep cycle batteries. The 6 volt batteries will be connected in series. This will double the voltage to 12 and keep the amp hour rating the same. The inverter will see this as one big 12 volt battery. Your average 6 volt battery is 220 amp hour and sells for approx. 65.00. and your average deep cycle 12 volt battery group 27 is 115 amp hour and sells for 130.00. So if you get two of the 6 volt batteries it is twice the size at 12 volt s and you pay just about the same amount . If you want any kind of run time with a air conditioner it will require a large battery bank. I would have to say a minimum of 4 6 volt batteries wired in series to get longer then an hour. One of your best sources for the 6 volt batteries is a golf course. Reason for this is because the golf courses will really only use the battery for 6-9 months before getting rid of them.

Your next step in setting up a system for use with an AC unit is finding a sufficient recharge source for the batteries. You will want to have a minimum of a 150 amp alternator to recharge a system with a small AC. There are also many other options avaiable such as solar, wind or hydro.

This will get you started. I will post more about air conditioners and inverters as the questions come in.

Welcome to my Power Inverter Blog

I welcome you to my blog. My name is Jon and I work for I decided that with all of the questions that I get on the phone with customers I would bring them here and post some of the more interesting ones and possibly help someone else that may be having the same problems with their power inverter. I welcome any questions that anyone may have regarding power inverters.