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240V Power in your 4WD : Don’t leave the luxuries of home behind when you head bush

on Monday, 12 June 2017. Posted in Leisure

240V Power in your 4WD
240V Power in your 4WD

These days you really can take all the modern conveniences of home with you out in the bush. A quality inverter can turn the 12v power out of your batteries into 240v power to run laptop chargers, TVs and even microwaves and coffee machines! Here’s what you need to know when selecting an inverter. 

SIZE COUNTS

Inverters come in sizes from 100W to 3000W+. To figure out what sized inverter you need, think about what appliances you want to run and how much power they will use.  Some appliances need more initial power to start up, so you’ll need to consider the start-up load in your calculations.  It is not uncommon for 4WDers to select an inverter that is too small for their needs so buy a model that is 10% to 20% more powerful than your largest load.  For example, if you want to run a laptop (150W) and a LCD TV (250W) at the same time you would select an inverter around 500 Watts.  ((150W + 250W) + 20% = 480W). Remember, there’s no such thing as ‘too big’ when it comes to inverters!

PURE SINE WAVE?

Inverters can produce modified sine wave or pure sine wave power.  Modified sine wave uses simple technology to convert power in a square or stepped wave form which makes it affordable.  It can produce power spikes which can damage appliances with sensitive electronics. Pure sine wave inverters create power in a smooth wave which better matches the power found in your home.  It is better to use a pure sine inverter for appliances such as LCD TVs, laptops and digital microwaves. Pure sine wave is a much ‘cleaner’ power and won’t risk damaging delicate and expensive electrics, so always look for this whenever possible.

BIG-POWER ITEMS

We all love our morning coffees while camping.  However a coffee machine can use a large amount of power (up to 1600 Watts) requiring a 2000 Watt Inverter.  However there is more to consider than the inverter size here.  Running a coffee machine can run your batteries down fast, so you may need to consider upgrading your batteries.  Same goes for a microwave which can use up to 1000w even for the smallest one. Imagine being able to run a hair-dryer out in the bush after an unexpected downpour! If high-power items are a must then you’ll need a large inverter, a large battery bank and a good DC-DC charging system to keep the batteries charged up and in good condition. 

QUALITY IS VITAL

Inverters produce high voltages which can result in damage to appliances, personal injury and loss of life! We’ve personally seen the internals of cheaper inverters that are poorly insulated, which can cause short circuits which can be dangerous.  Make sure you buy a quality inverter such as a Victron inverter. Bainbridge Technologies sells a large range of Victron inverters and inverter chargers which are high quality, pure sine wave, reliable and safe. Ideal for camping and boating are their Phoenix 12V range (available in 750W, 800W, 1000W, 1200W, 1600W and 2000W).

INSTALLATION

The cable for your inverter needs to reflect the current capacity and voltage drop.  The longer the cable between your battery and inverter the greater the voltage drop.  Cable lengths should be minimized to reduce voltage drop.  When installing cables avoid sharp bends and passing cables across sharp edges such as a drilled hole.  Rough roads and corrugations will cause cable insulation to fail at the sharp edge.  It is important to follow installation instructions provided by manufacturers.  Ensuring all wiring is of good quality and has proper fuses. Ensure the inverter cannot be exposed to moisture, dirt or dust.

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