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Old 07-23-2017, 08:31 PM   #1
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Small Inverter

I am planning to do a little dry camping this fall and would like to get a small inverter that can be plugged into the cigarette lighter to run the tv. I have a 32" LG flat screen. I bought a cheap 200 watt max inverter from Harbor Freight thinking that it would work. When I turn the tv on it shuts down like it is overloaded. I have a small 24" Scepter tv and it works it fine along with the built in DVD player. Does anyone have a small inverter that they would recommend for this. I'm not looking to wire up anything yet. I want to see how we like the dry camping before making the plunge into larger inverters and solar and such.

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Old 07-23-2017, 09:11 PM   #2
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You could be having a DC voltage drop when the inverter is operating at near max capacity that is causing the inverter to shut down. The wiring to your cigarette lighter needs to be at least 12 gauge, and the circuit fused at 20 amps (200 watts at 12V is 16.7 amps). If you have 10 gauge wire to the lighter socket, you can use a 30 amp fuse, and have a little more headroom and less voltage drop.

It is also possible, as you suggest that the Harbor Freight is not up to supplying its full rating.

The other possibility is that the load is more than 200 watts. Have you checked the combined total of everything plugged into the inverter?

just my electrical thoughts
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Old 07-23-2017, 09:57 PM   #3
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I need to find my manual find out what my tv is rated for.
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Old 07-23-2017, 10:51 PM   #4
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The power (watts) should be stamped on the case or on a plate attached to the TV.
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Old 07-23-2017, 11:11 PM   #5
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I have seen 300 watt units that plug into the cigar lighter for about $20 on amazon. I believe that is the largest you can get for a cigar lighter connection. a 300 watt unit would probably work with the 32" LG but checking the actual wattage of the TV in a manual or something would give you the answer. Try to stay about 80% of the stated wattage for continuous usage. OH, and inverters are not very efficient... they will drain your battery in a matter of a few hours. You may want to look into purchasing 12 VDC TV instead of using the inverter... much more efficient usage of your battery power.
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Old 07-26-2017, 12:48 PM   #6
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Start first with the wattage rating stamped, printed, or molded, on the back of the set. This "number" may surprise you at how low it could be.

Some 32" LED TV's consume only 55 Watts, a far cry from the Plasma's and of course the old CRT's (that also functioned as room heaters).

A 200 watt True Sine Wave inverter is nice to have and rather than plugging it into a cigarette lighter socket, consider hard wiring with a separate switch/circuit breaker.

There are units in this size available under $100 and they come with some nice features. Overload alarm and low voltage alarm warning you that you are at the end of your battery charge. Integral cooling fans also.

From my experience don't expect much from Harbor Freight electronics. Good experiences are pretty much the exception. Some of their products are OK but I prefer better quality in something like an inverter. Good ones aren't all that expensive, even the TSW's that years ago were way too expensive.

You could also consider a larger inverter like an 800 watt TSW for just over $100. This and a small 4-cup coffee pot (Like a Mr Coffee @650 watt) would give one the ability to make a pot of coffee without waking anyone up to start the generator or having to boil water for a French Press.

I like the idea of having a quiet source of AC on standby. As for the larger capacity, when you run your TV it only draws enough to power the TV along with a very small amount of power to run the electronics in the inverter.

(prices I mentioned represent what I was able to find in a quick look on Amazon).
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Old 07-26-2017, 01:08 PM   #7
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If your inverter came with a set of battery clamps / jaws ... try using those instead of the cigarette lighter, connect right up to the battery.

Low Voltage (i.e. 12 Volt) circuits require amazing amounts of current to deliver the same WATTS as their 120 Volt counterparts.

What that "means" is that, convert from 12 Volts DC up to 120 Volts AC close to the battery (current source) and then use a household extension cord to get from the inverter to the Television.


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