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Old 08-09-2012, 08:41 AM   #1
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Need inverter advice

I just bought a Surveyor 189. Had them install an extra deep cycle battery. Has 2 #30 lb tanks, so I've got lots of gas on hand. I don't use much electricity - stove, refer, grill, heat,lantern, etc all on gas.

My plan with this trailer is to do some weekend boondocking. Maybe some 3 day weekends. For longer times or really hot places, I have a Yamaha 2000.

I detest using the microwave, so I don't need to power that. I'm changing the lights to LED. Not sure if my TV is DC or not - that could be a problem. I have fantastic vent fan installed by dealer - seems to cool off the trailer quite well and that is DC of course. Only need the AC for those 90+ degree nights in the summer.

I don't recall seeing any 12 volt outlets in my trailer, so I probably need to hook an inverter directly to batteries. So my question is, if I get an inverter, should I just backfeed my electrical system thru one of the 110 outlets, or should I just sting a drop cord to use specific appliances like tv, coffee pot, awning light, etc. as needed?

I toyed with the idea of solar recharging, but I can't really justify the expense and the drilling of a bunch of holes in my new trailer. Already have a generator if needed. Think I can get thru a weekend without it and preserve my zen?
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:57 AM   #2
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I used a dedicated extension cord (routed through the camper) for a long time before I wired up some INVERTER fed outlets.

I just switch the surge protector plug between the two when needed.
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:13 AM   #3
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That is really cool.

With a two battery setup, how should I wire my inverter? - neg on one battery pos wire on the other?
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:20 AM   #4
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Also, can I ask a dumb question?

Inverter sizes are all over the place - my first instinct is to buy a big one, for the just-in-case scenario. If I have no users, do they sit in an idle mode and not draw anything, or very little, from the batteries? Do they ramp up the draw as the demand picks up? Or do they just suck the power they are rated for and put it out in the AC system?
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:32 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by wincrasher View Post
Also, can I ask a dumb question?

Inverter sizes are all over the place - my first instinct is to buy a big one, for the just-in-case scenario. If I have no users, do they sit in an idle mode and not draw anything, or very little, from the batteries? Do they ramp up the draw as the demand picks up? Or do they just suck the power they are rated for and put it out in the AC system?
Since I am "doing it over again" a 1000 watt pure sine inverter is on my holiday list.

You will not have enough battery power (even with two) to use the output of anything bigger than 1500 watts. Spend the extra to get a PURE SINE unit.

Remember you will need to fuse the inverter based on its peak output at it's lowest input voltage (cutout - normally 10.5 battery volts)

So a 1500 watt inverter with a 2000 watt peak will yank an incredible 200 amps out of your battery and needs to be fused at 175 amps for safety.

A fully charged, 2 battery, 140 AH setup will last about 30 minutes if you use all 1500 watts continuously.

a 2000 watt inverter with a 2500 watt peak will yank an even more incredible 240 amps out of your battery and needs to be fused at 200 amps for safety.

A fully charged, 2 battery, 140 AH setup will last about 15 minutes if you use all 1500 watts continuously.

The reason is in the attached discharge graphs and the paper on the Peukert Effect.
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:39 AM   #6
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Understood. Think my wattage needs are very low - I'd do something else for coffee - that little bugger seems to be the worst offender. TV, lights, etc are probably just a couple hundred watts anyways.
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:23 PM   #7
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The easiest way to get power from my inverter to the outlets is thru the main power cord. But that would power the battery charger too. Is there a way to shut that off?
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:48 PM   #8
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The easiest way to get power from my inverter to the outlets is thru the main power cord. But that would power the battery charger too. Is there a way to shut that off?
It maybe the easiest, but it certainly the most dangerous.

Most converters are piggybacked off of a circuit breaker in the power panel.
In mine, that same breaker powers the fridge, the entertainment center outlets, and the outside outlet. Killing that breaker will also kill that which you want to power. You would need to move the converter to a circuit breaker that you will not be using when running on battery, like the microwave / fireplace breaker.

Plugging into the shore power cable might seem the "ideal" solution, until the DW plugs in her hair dryer and runs your battery dead in 10 minutes. Recharging that seriously depleted battery could take all day running your generator.

I prefer to use an extension cord or a home run inverter only circuit. I plug that into a surge strip so I can always control what I am powering off the inverter.
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Old 08-13-2012, 11:09 PM   #9
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It maybe the easiest, but it certainly the most dangerous.

Most converters are piggybacked off of a circuit breaker in the power panel.
In mine, that same breaker powers the fridge, the entertainment center outlets, and the outside outlet. Killing that breaker will also kill that which you want to power. You would need to move the converter to a circuit breaker that you will not be using when running on battery, like the microwave / fireplace breaker.

Plugging into the shore power cable might seem the "ideal" solution, until the DW plugs in her hair dryer and runs your battery dead in 10 minutes. Recharging that seriously depleted battery could take all day running your generator.

I prefer to use an extension cord or a home run inverter only circuit. I plug that into a surge strip so I can always control what I am powering off the inverter.
I don't have that problem, or the danger that you reference, Herk.

My 2000w inverter is powered from my battery bank, and supplies a single 120v exterior outlet, which I installed right next to the 30a, 120v input on the TT's drivers side. If I want to power-up my 120v outlets throughout the TT, I just have to switch the breaker for the 12v converter "off" in the factory power center (the converter is on it's own individual breaker), and make sure that the fridge is on "manual-propane". I then utilize a 2' long cord that I made-up and plug the trailer into itself!

By making the two switches, (converter off, and fridge on manual-propane) this keeps me from trying to charge that battery with the converter while draining it down with the inverter, and it keeps me from using 120v for the fridge, which would be a big electrical draw.

What it DOES for me is put 120v to all of my outlets, allows me to use small appliances and other 120v devices, including our microwave oven.
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Old 08-14-2012, 05:48 AM   #10
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I don't have that problem, or the danger that you reference, Herk.

My 2000w inverter is powered from my battery bank, and supplies a single 120v exterior outlet, which I installed right next to the 30a, 120v input on the TT's drivers side. If I want to power-up my 120v outlets throughout the TT, I just have to switch the breaker for the 12v converter "off" in the factory power center (the converter is on it's own individual breaker), and make sure that the fridge is on "manual-propane". I then utilize a 2' long cord that I made-up and plug the trailer into itself!

By making the two switches, (converter off, and fridge on manual-propane) this keeps me from trying to charge that battery with the converter while draining it down with the inverter, and it keeps me from using 120v for the fridge, which would be a big electrical draw.

What it DOES for me is put 120v to all of my outlets, allows me to use small appliances and other 120v devices, including our microwave oven.
Seems an elegant solution. With the correct equipment and everyone's understanding of the risks involved (perhaps dangerous was an over reach) it can be done.

Simply plugging in your shore power cord into the inverter through an adapter has risks and that was what I was trying to present.
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