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Old 02-05-2014, 12:08 PM   #1
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Inverters, controllers and sine waves oh my!

Hi Everyone,
We just purchased a 2011 FR 24ft toy hauler. We're very happy with it and look forward to a summer of fun.

I'm currently collecting data on a solar setup but my immediate need is to install a power inverter. We want to be able to run the TV, Xbox and laptop off the existing two 12v batteries.

I'm thinking of getting a 2k watt unit that has a remote monitor capability so that it's future proof and I won't need to replace it later when I add solar. Is this overkill? Do I need to add a remote monitor if I plan on having one on the controller? The biggest thing I think I'd like is the on/off switch. I notice the inverters also double as battery chargers but I thought that was the job of the controller? If I plan on running things like LED TVs and PCs do I HAVE to have a pure sine wave inverter? I've been reading a lot and can't find a clear answer to these questions so I appreciate your help.

tldr; looking to buy an inverter, what type/size should I buy if I'm adding solar

thanks,
J5
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Old 02-05-2014, 12:49 PM   #2
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I've been spending a lot of time researching the same questions. Planning on adding some solar to the Roo this spring.

On the inverter, I agree - its about as clear as mud whether you absolutely need pure sine or not. Sounds like the microwave isn't going to like modified sine wave, but I can't see running the microwave on battery, so I scratched that as a concern. Flourescent lights and variable speed motors seemed like no-no's for modified sine wave, but I don't have any of those in the camper. I read some chargers and adapters don't like it either. However, I have a cheap 400W Diehard modified sine wave inverter that we used for several trips to power the laptop and cel phone charger while driving on long trips. I guess ignorance was bliss - everything worked fine. Never even thought about it until I got into this solar project. It was a plug so we plugged them in and everything worked...

So, I just scored a good deal on a Xantrex XM 1800 inverter on e-bay. My conclusion after a lot of reading was that I wanted a hard wired inverter with a transfer switch. This fit the bill at a reasonable price. With the camper covered for the winter, and now burried in snow, I haven't had a chance to try it out yet.

There seem to be a couple common setups out there:

Basic inverter with only recepticle output for 110V. Then you plug in what you need directly, you make up a double end cord and backfeed one of your circuits, or you add a couple 110v outlets and connect them with a plug to the inverter. If you want pure sine at a fairly low cost, this might be the way to go. May or may not get any remote panel in this setup.

Option 2 is what I did. Something like 1000 to 1800 watt inverter with hard wired connection points and a transfer switch. Then you can add a sub-panel and power a couple of circuits. The beauty of this is when you have shore power, everything works as normal and it will automatically switch to battery power when not connected to shore power. These middle of the range inverters either come with or have the option to add a remote panel, which I think you really need in this setup. Gives you the on/off switch to save battery when you don't need the inverter idiling and gives you a current reading to monitor battery charge. I plan to wire this in a slight variation by just running the camper's one 110V circut through the inverter and back to the breaker panel. Works the same as a sub-panel, but you don't actually have to put in second panel - just wire the inverter in between the shore power and the exisitng breaker.

Then option 3 is the high end system. Big 2,000 - 3,000 watt inverter/charger. Has a good 3-stage charger built in and you disconnect the cheaper factory supplied charger. Takes better care of your batteries when on shore power. Then the inverter is hard wired and you use the subpanel to run multiple 110V circutis. In large MH's and TT's where you have big loads, this is the way to go for extended time on battery power. Then you go with 4 or more batteries. This is pricey. The inverter/chargers start in the $1,000 range ang go up from there. If you plan to add solar, your solar charge controller is probably going to be a 3-stage controller. Get a decent one and if you store your camper in the sun, let the solar maintain your batteries, which gives you a good quality charger without the extra cost of the inverter/charger.

Here is a link to a comparison chart on the Xantrex models to compare some options:
Power Inverters Comparison Chart

Hopefully this winter weather ends at some point so I can get this stuff installed. This got rather lengthy, but hopefully its helpful...
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Old 02-05-2014, 01:25 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnnyfive View Post
Hi Everyone,
We just purchased a 2011 FR 24ft toy hauler. We're very happy with it and look forward to a summer of fun.

I'm currently collecting data on a solar setup but my immediate need is to install a power inverter. We want to be able to run the TV, Xbox and laptop off the existing two 12v batteries.

I'm thinking of getting a 2k watt unit that has a remote monitor capability so that it's future proof and I won't need to replace it later when I add solar. Is this overkill? Do I need to add a remote monitor if I plan on having one on the controller? The biggest thing I think I'd like is the on/off switch. I notice the inverters also double as battery chargers but I thought that was the job of the controller? If I plan on running things like LED TVs and PCs do I HAVE to have a pure sine wave inverter? I've been reading a lot and can't find a clear answer to these questions so I appreciate your help.

tldr; looking to buy an inverter, what type/size should I buy if I'm adding solar

thanks,
J5
Inverters are kinda of funny. Depending on what brand of things that you want to run off of it. Had both on a boat Mod and pure, pure wave is alot cleaner and seems to do well with all equipment. I would pay the difference and go with the pure. especially if you are using it to run any electronics. I also would get one with a remote panel. I think you would be happy with it. You will not have a problem with solar with either I had solar on my sail boat, when I wanted 110v all I had to do was press the remote button. Hope that helps. You can look them up on google and you will see the difference in the wave they produce. I know that the mod wave did cause static at times depending what was running at the time I use it. But also that was 10 years ago. Also they do sell them with out the charger built in, you can save some bucks their.
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